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the idea is ridiculous. He will hand them over to lord lieutenants of counties, justices of the peace, and other persons, who for the purpose of vexing and turning to derision this miserable people, will pick out the worst and most obnoxious they can find amongst the clergy to set over the rest. Whoever is complained against by his brother, will be considered as persecuted : Whoever is censured by his superior, will be looked upon as oppressed : Whoever is careless in his opinions, and loose in his morals, will be called a liberal man, and will be supposed to have incurred hatred, because he was not a bigot. Informers, tale-bearers, perverse and obstinate men, flatterers, who turn their back upon their flock, and court the protestant gentlemen of the country, will be the objects of preferment. And then I run no risk in foretelling, that whatever order, quiet, and morality you have in the country, will be lost. A
A popish clergy, who are not restrained by the most austere subordination, will become a nuisance, a real public grievance of the heaviest kind, in any country that entertains them : and instead of the great benefit which Ireland does, and has long derived from them, if they are educated without any idea of discipline and obedience, and then put under bishops, who do not owe their station to their good opinion, and whom they cannot respect, that nation will see disorders, of which, bad as things are, it has yet no idea. I do not say this, as thinking the leading men in Ireland would exercise this trust worse than others. Not at all. No man, no set of men living are fit to administer the affairs, or regulate the interior economy of a church to which they are enemies.
As to government, if I might recommend a prudent caution to them,-it would be, to innovate as little as possible, upon speculation, in establishments, from which, as they stand, they experience no material inconvenience to the repose of the country,-quieta non movere. I could say a great deal more; but I am tired; and am afraid your lordship is tired too. I have not sat to this letter a single quarter of an hour without interruption. It has grown long, and probably contains many repetitions, from my total want of leisure to digest and consolidate my thoughts; and as to my expressions, I could wish to be able perhaps to measure them more exactly. But my intentions are fair, and I certainly mean to offend nobody.
Thinking over this matter more maturely, I see no reason for altering my opinion in any part. The act, as far as it goes, is good undoubtedly. It amounts, I think, very nearly to a toleration, with respect to religious ceremonies; but it puts a new bolt on civil rights, and rivets it to the old one, in such a manner, that neither, I fear, will be easily loosened. What I could have wished would be, to see the civil advantages take the lead : the other of a religious toleration, I conceive, would follow (in a manner) of course. From what I have observed, it is pride, arrogance, and a spirit of domination, and not a bigoted spirit of religion, that has caused and kept up those oppressive statutes. I am sure I have known those who have oppressed papists in their civil rights, exceedingly indulgent to them in their religious ceremonies, and who really wished them to continue catholics, in order to furnish pretences for oppression. These persons never saw a man (by converting) escape out of their power, but with grudging and regret. I have known men, to whom I am not uncharitable in saying, (though they are dead) that they would have become papists in order to oppress protestants; if, being protestants, it was not in their power to oppress papists. It is injustice, and not a mistaken conscience, that has been the principle of persecution, at least as far as it has fallen under my observation. However, as I began, so I end. I do not know the map of the country. Mr. Gardiner, who conducts this great and difficult work, and those who support him, are better judges of the business than I can pretend to be, who have not set my foot in Ireland these sixteen years. I have been given to understand, that I am not considered as a friend to that country : and I know that pains have been taken to lessen the credit that I might have had there.
I am so convinced of the weakness of interfering in any business, without the opinion of the people in whose business I interfere, that I do not know how to acquit myself of what I have now done.--I have the honor to be, with high regard