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degrees. But let no man hope to get rid of these laws, even in the gentlest and wisest method, without a great deal of misery, and some risk of tumult. If Mr. Bourne thinks only of avoiding risk, he will do nothing. Some risk must be incurred: but the secret is gradation; and the true reason for abolishing these laws is, not that they make the rich poor, but that they make the poor poorer.
* The boldness of modern legislation has thrown all my caution into the background. Was it wise to encounter such a risk? Is the danger over ? Can the vital parts of the Bill be maintained ?
IRELAND. (E. Review, 1820.)
1. Whitelaw's History of the City of Dublin. 4to. Cadell and
Davies. 2. Observations on the State of Ireland, principally directed to
its Agriculture and Rural Population ; in a Series of Letters written on a Tour through that Country. In 2 vols. By J.
C. Curwen, Esq. M.P. London, 1818. 3. Gamble's Views of Society in Ireland.
THESE are all the late publications that treat of Irish interests in general—and none of them are of first-rate importance. Mr. Gamble's Travels in Ireland are of a very ordinary description— low scenes and low humour making up the principal part of the narrative. There are readers, however, whom it will amuse; and the reading market becomes more and more extensive, and embraces a greater variety of persons every day. Mr.Whitelaw's History of Dublin is a book of great accuracy and research, highly creditable to the industry, good sense, and benevolence of its author. Of the Travels of Mr. Christian Curwen, we hardly know what to say. He is bold and honest in his politics — a great enemy to abuses - vapid in his levity and pleasantry, and infinitely too much inclined to declaim upon commonplace topics of morality and benevolence. But, with these drawbacks, the book is not ill written; and may be advantageously read by those who are desirous of information upon the present State of Ireland.
So great, and so long has been the misgovernment of that country, that we verily believe the empire would be much stronger, if every thing was open sea between England and the Atlantic, and if skates and codfish swam over the fair land of Ulster. Such jobbing, such profligacy-so much direct tyranny and oppression- such an abuse of God's gifts—such a profanation of God's name for the purposes of bigotry and party spirit, cannot be exceeded
in the history of civilised Europe, and will long remain a monument of infamy and shame to England. But it will be more useful to suppress the indignation which the very name of Ireland inspires, and to consider impartially those causes which have marred this fair portion of the creation, and kept it wild and savage in the midst of improving Europe.
The great misfortune of Ireland is, that the mass of the people have been given up for a century to a handful of Protestants, by whom they have been treated as Helots, and subjected to every species of persecution and disgrace. The sufferings of the Catholics have been so loudly chanted in the very streets, that it is almost needless to remind our readers that, during the reigns of George I. and George II., the Irish Roman Catholics were disabled from holding any civil or military office, from voting at elections, from admission into corporations, from practising law or physic. A younger brother, by turning Protestant, might deprive his elder brother of his birth-right: by the same process, he might force his father, under the name of a liberal provision, to yield up to him a part of his landed property; and, if an eldest son, he might, in the same way, reduce his father's fee-simple to a life estate. A Papist was disabled from purchasing freehold lands — and even from holding long leases and any person might take his Catholic neighbour's house by paying 5l. for it. If the child of a Catholic father turned Protestant, he was taken away from his father and put into the hands of a Protestant relation. No Papist could purchase a freehold, or lease for more than thirty years--or inherit from an intestate Protestant-nor from an intestate Catholic- nor dwell in Limerick or Galway nor hold an advowson, nor buy an annuity for life. 501. was given for discovering a popish Archbishop --301. for a popish Clergyman - and 1ls. for a Schoolmaster. No one was allowed to be trustee for Catholics; no Catholic was allowed to take more than two apprentices; no Papist to be solicitor, sheriff, or to serve on Grand Juries. Horses of Papists might be seized for the militia ; for which militia Papists
were to pay double, and to find Protestant substitutes. Papists were prohibited from being present at vestries, or from being high or petty constables; and, when resident in towns, they were compelled to find Protestant watchmen. Barristers and solicitors, marrying Catholics, were exposed to the penalties of Catholics. Persons plundered by privateers during a war with any Popish prince, were reimbursed by a levy on the Catholic inhabitants where they lived. All popish priests celebrating marriages contrary to 12 Geo. I. cap. 3., were to be hanged !
The greater part of these incapacities are removed, though many of a very serious and oppressive nature still remain. But the grand misfortune is, that the spirit which these oppressive Laws engendered remains. The Protestant still looks upon the Catholic as a degraded being. The Catholic does not yet consider himself upon an equality with his former tyrant and taskmaster. That religious hatred which required all the prohibiting vigilance of the law for its restraint, has found in the law its strongest support; and the spirit which the law first exasperated and embittered, continues to act long after the original stimulus is withdrawn. The law which prevented Catholics from serving on Grand Juries is repealed; but Catholics are not called upon Grand Juries in the proportion in which they are entitled, by their rank and fortune. The Duke of Bedford did all he could to give them the benefit of those laws which are already passed in their favour. But power is seldom entrusted in this country to one of the Duke of Bedford's liberality; and every thing has fallen back in the hands of his successors into the ancient division of the privileged and degraded castes. We do not mean to cast any reflection upon the present Secretary for Ireland, whom we believe to be upon this subject a very liberal politician, and on all subjects an honourable and excellent man. The Government under which he serves allows him to indulge in a little harmless liberality ; but it is perfectly understood that nothing is intended to be done for the Catholics; that no loaves and fishes will be lost by
indulgence in Protestant insolence and tyranny; and, therefore, among the generality of Irish Protestants, insolence, tyranny, and exclusion continue to operate. However eligible the Catholic may be, he is not elected; whatever barriers may be thrown down, he does not advance a step. He was first kept out by law; he is now kept out by opinion and habit. They have been so long in chains, that nobody believes they are capable of using their hands and feet.
It is not however the only or the worst misfortune of the Catholics, that the relaxations of the law are hitherto of little benefit to them; the law is not yet sufficiently relaxed. A Catholic, as every body knows, cannot be made sheriff; cannot be in Parliament; cannot be a director of the Irish Bank; cannot fill the great departments of the law, the army, and the navy; is cut off from all the high objects of human ambition, and treated as a marked and degraded person.
The common admission now is, that the Catholics are to the Protestants in Ireland as about 4 to 1-of which Protestants, not more than one half belong to the Church of Ireland. This, then, is one of the most striking features in the state of Ireland. That the great mass of the population is completely subjugated and overawed by a handful of comparatively recent settlers, -in whom all the power and patronage of the country is vested, who have been reluctantly compelled to desist from still greater abuses of authority, -and who look with trembling apprehension to the increasing liberality of the Parliament and the country towards these unfortunate persons whom they have always looked upon as their property and their prey.
Whatever evils may result from these proportions between the oppressor and the oppressed — to whatever dangers a country so situated may be considered to be exposed these evils and dangers are rapidly increasing in Ireland. The proportion of Catholics to Protestants is infinitely greater now than it was thirty years ago, and is becoming more and more favourable to the former. By a return made to the Irish House of