Imatges de pÓgina

coming perquisite, and is not inattentive to the proceedings of the steeds. The furrow which is to be the depositary of the future crop, is not unlike, either in depth or regularity, to those domestic furrows which the nails of the meek and much-injured wife plough, in some family quarrel, upon the cheeks of the deservedly punished husband. The weeds seem to fall contentedly, knowing that they have fulfilled their destiny, and left behind them, for the resurrection of the ensuing spring, an abundant and healthy progeny. The whole is a scene of idleness, laziness, and poverty, of which it is impossible, in this active and enterprising country, to form the most distant conception; but strongly indicative of habits, whether secondary or original, which will long present a powerful impediment to the improvement of Ireland.

The Irish character contributes something to retard the improvements of that country. The Irishman has many good qualities : he is brave, witty, generous, eloquent, hospitable, and open-hearted; but he is vain, ostentatious, extravagant, and fond of display — light in counsel — deficient in perseverance - without skill in private or public economy — an enjoyer, not an quirer - one who despises the slow and patient virtues

who wants the superstructure without the foundation — the result without the previous operation — the oak without the acorn and the three hundred years of expectation. The Irish are irascible, prone to debt, and to fight, and very impatient of the restraints of law. Such a people are not likely to keep their eyes steadily upon the main chance, like the Scotch or the Dutch. England strove very hard, at one period, to compel the Scotch to pay a double Church ;- but Sawney took his pen and ink; and finding what a sum it amounted to, became furious, and drew his sword. God forbid the Irishman should do the same! the remedy, now, would be worse than the disease: but if the oppressions of England had been more steadily resisted a century ago, Ireland would not have been the scene of poverty, misery, and distress which it now is.

The Catholic religion, among other causes, contributes to the backwardness and barbarism of Ireland. Its debasing superstition, childish ceremonies, and the profound submission to the priesthood which it teaches, all tend to darken men's minds, to impede the progress of knowledge and inquiry, and to prevent Ireland from becoming as free, as powerful, and as rich as the sister kingdom. Though sincere friends to Catholic emancipation, we are no advocates for the Catholic religion. We should be very glad to see a general conversion to Protestantism among the Irish ; but we do not think that violence, privations, and incapacities, are the proper methods of making proselytes. Such, then, is Ireland at this period,

a land more barbarous than the rest of Europe, because it has been worse treated and more cruelly oppressed. Many of the incapacities and privations to which the Catholics were exposed, have been removed by law; but, in such instances, they are still incapacitated and deprived by custom. Many cruel and oppressive laws are still enforced against them.

A ninth part of the population engrosses all the honours of the country; the other nine pay a tenth of the product of the earth for the support of a religion in which they do not believe. There is little capital in the country. The great and rich men are called by business, or allured by pleasure, into England; their estates are given up to factors, and the utmost farthing of rent extorted from the poor, who, if they give up the land, cannot get employment in manufactures, or regular employment in husbandry. The common people use a sort of food so very cheap, that they can rear families, who cannot procure employment, and who have little more of the comforts of life than food. The Irish are light-minded — want of employment has made them idle — they are irritable and brave — have a keen remembrance of the past wrongs they have suffered, and the present wrongs they are suffering, from England. The consequence of all this is, eternal riot and insurrection, a whole army of soldiers in time of profound peace, and general rebellion whenever England is busy with other enemies, or off her guard! And thus it will be while the same causes continue to operate, for ages to come, — and worse and worse as the rapidly increasing population of the Catholics becomes more and more numerous.

The remedies are, time and justice; and that justice consists in repealing all laws which make any distinction between the two religions; in placing over the government of Ireland, not the stupid, amiable, and insignificant noblemen who have too often been sent there, but men who feel deeply the wrongs of Ireland, and who have an ardent wish to heal them; who will take care that Catholics, when eligible, shall be elected*; who will share the patronage of Ireland proportionally among the two parties, and give to just and liberal laws the same vigour of execution which has hitherto been reserved only for decrees of tyranny, and the enactments of oppression. The injustice and hardship of supporting two churches must be put out of sight, if it cannot or ought not to be cured. The political economist, the moralist, and the satirist, must combine to teach moderation and superintendence to the great Irish proprietors. Public talk and clamour may do something for the poor Irish, as it did for the slaves in the West Indies. Ireland will become more quiet under such treatment, and then more rich, more comfortable, and more civilised ; and the horrid spectacle of folly and tyranny, which it at present exhibits

, may in time be removed from the eyes of Europe. There are two eminent Irishmen now in the House of Commons, Lord Castlereagh and Mr. Canning, who will subscribe to the justness of every syllable we have said upon this subject; and who have it in their power, by making it the condition of their remaining in office, to liberate their native country, and raise it to its just rank among the nations of the earth. Yet the Court buys them over, year after year, by the pomp and perquisites of office; and year after year they come into the House of Commons, feeling deeply, and describing powerfully, the injuries of five millions of their countrymen, — and continue members of a Government that inflicts those evils, under the pitiful delusion that it is not a Cabinet Question, — as if the scratchings and quarrellings of Kings and Queens could alone cement politicians together in indissoluble unity, while the fate and fortune of one, third of the empire might be complimented away from one minister to another, without the smallest breach in their Cabinet alliance. Politicians, at least honest politicians, should be very flexible and accommodating in little things, very rigid and inflexible in great things. And is this not a great thing? Who has painted it in finer and more commanding eloquence than Mr. Canning ? Who has taken a more sensible and statesmanlike view of our miserable and cruel policy, than Lord Castlereagh? You would think, to hear them, that the same planet could not contain them and the oppressors of their country, — perhaps not the same solar system.

* Great merit is due to the Whigs for the patronage bestowed on Catholics.

Yet for money, claret, and patronage, they lend their countenance, assistance, and friendship, to the Ministers who are the stern and inflexible enemies to the emancipation of Ireland !

Thank God that all is not profligacy and corruption in the history of that devoted people—and that the name of Irishman does not always carry with it the idea of the oppressor or the oppressed - the plunderer or the plundered — the tyrant or the slave! Great men hallow a whole people, and lift up all who live in their time. What Irishman does not feel proud that he has lived in the days of GRATTAN? who has not turned to him for comfort, from the false friends and open enemies of Ireland ? who did not remember him in the days of its burnings and wastings and murders ? No Government ever dismayed him—the world could not bribe him—he thought only of Ireland - lived for no other objectdedicated to her his beautiful fancy, his elegant wit, his manly courage, and all the splendour of his astonishing eloquence. He was so born, and so gifted, that poetry,

forensic skill, elegant literature, and all the highest attainments of human genius, were within his reach ; but he thought the noblest occupation of a man was to make other men happy and free; and in that straight line he went on for fifty years, without one side-look, without one yielding thought, without one motive in his heart which he might not have laid open to the view of God and man.

He is gone! — but there is not a single day of his honest life of which every good Irishman would not be more proud, than of the whole political existence of his countrymen, — the annual deserters and betrayers of their native land.

« AnteriorContinua »