Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

or threatened, the most disastrous effects. Each successive accession of the Whig party to power, accordingly, for the last half century, has been marked by the immediate commencement of some perilous measure, and the nation has on every such occasion narrowly escaped shipwreck from their enormous innovations. Mr Fox, in 1783, instantly prepared his India Bill, which, if it had not been defeated by the firmness of the House of Peers, would, by vesting the whole patronage of India in the hands of the Crown, have long ago subverted the balance of the constitution, and destroyed the liberties of the people by the influence of Eastern corruption. No sooner were they installed in power, in 1807, than they set about forcing Catholic emancipation at once on the sovereign and the people-a measure which has wellnigh overthrown the equipoise of the constitution, even at a subsequent period, and which, if persisted in at that time, would unquestionably have led to a civil convulsion. No sooner had they got possession of the reins in 1830, than they set on foot measures of finance which threatened ruin to the great commercial and colonial interests of the empire; and, when defeated in that, united all their strength to subvert the ancient constitution of the empire.

But it is in the very magnitude of these changes, and the vital interests which they every where affect, that the best security against their ultimate success is to be found. All the great interests of the empire our agriculture, our colonies, our shipping, our commerce, are threatened by these perilous innovations. Nothing but the way in which, for a quarter of a century, they have deluged the country with sophistical principles, could have enabled the authors of these changes to remain a week at the head of affairs: they are borne forward merely on the stream of error and passion which they originally

formed, and have now urged into a torrent. But the practical effect of these ruinous innovations must, ir the end, open men's eyes to the de lusion on which they are founded and convince those whose under standings have become so warped a to be inaccessible to every other spe cies of persuasion. Already every branch of industry-every man who lives by his labour in the country, i suffering from their innovations, I fatal measures can be retarded a little longer, the tide must set in the other direction.

Still greater hope is to be derived from the reaction of genius and wisdom, against violence and igno rance, which is now so powerfull taking place, and promises soon t purify the streams of thought of al the dross and poison with whiel they have so long been polluted. 1 is this under current perpetuall flowing, which corrects the errors o prevailing institutions, and ultimate ly comes to influence the measure of government, by swaying the opi nions of those who direct it. Al ready the talents of the conservative party have been splendidly drawr forth; already have the youth of England flocked to the side of truth" at both universities, and the cause of order triumphed in every field where it has been brought to_combat the principle of misrule. In the solitude of thought, the drops of genius are beginning to fall from their crystal cells, and the fountains of eloquence to pour forth those mighty streams which, unlocked in a moment of peril and alarm, are destined to vivify and improve mankind through every succeeding age. It is in such contemplation of the healing powers of Nature, that men, in arduous times, are best fitted to discharge their social duties; and the sufferings are not to be regretted which awaken men to noble feelings, and amidst the passions which distract, point to the wisdom which finally governs the world.

INTERCEPTED LETTERS FROM A ROMAN CATHOLIC CLERGYMAN RESIDING IN IRELAND, TO A FRIEND IN ROME.

How we came into possession of the following important documents we do not feel ourselves called upon to say, further than that, in giving them to the world, we are guilty of no breach of private confidence.

They contain' disclosures respecting the views of the Roman Catholic party in Ireland, which will not come by surprise upon the readers of this journal, as they are in accordance with all our previous anticipations. We required them not for the confirmation of our opinions. But there are many to whom they must be of use. Facts are stubborn things, and often bring home conviction to minds that would have been inaccessible to argument.

truth in what he says respecting her present condition, yet, generally speaking, her deficiencies are exaggerated, and the errors that are committed in the disposal of her patronage, are noticed with too much censoriousness and too little discrimination. Nevertheless, we have not thought it right to withhold such animadversions from the public. A man's enemy is often his best looking-glass. It is better to see our faults through a medium by which they are extravagantly magnified, than not to see them at all. We may then be enabled to realize the poet's wish,

T

"Oh, wad kind Heaven the giftie gie us
To see ourselves as others see us,
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,

An foolish notion,"

and the very malice that exults in our anticipated destruction may prove like the noise of the rattlesnake, the warning that apprizes us of our dan ger.

[ocr errors]

It was, of course, with no such view the following letters were written; but it is with no other they are now submitted to the reader. They furnish food for much reflection. They prove the exceedingly unsound foundation of our present policy. They evince the watchful wiliness of our adversaries, and our own supineness and infatuation. They show how much more has been

The reader will smile at the serious earnestness with which this popish writer argues in favour of the notion, that, because events have strangely combined for the temporary exaltation of his cause, that cause is therefore under the guidance of a special providence. The induction is far too limited to warrant the conclusion that he draws; but it is important as evincing the deep sincerity as well as the enthusiasm of his persuasions. The time will come when we shall be able, by tracing events a little farther, to reverse the inference, and to show how all things, even the most apparently adverse, work together for good, and how true religion shall have been benefited by the tempo-granted rary exaltation of its enemies. Meanwhile, it is well to be instructed by these enemies in their own designs, and to be distinctly forewarned by them upon what it is they calculate for the accomplishment of their gigantic projects.

When the writer speaks of his own party, we may give the most implicit credit to his statements. Not so, when he speaks of the Established Church. Although there is much

MY DEAR FRIEND,

[ocr errors]

upon compulsion," than should have been conferred by prudence or by wisdom. In a word, our folly is now so apparent, and our danger so imminent, that if we fail to profit by this last and most striking exhortation to take heed, furnished as it were by the sparkling of the assassin's dagger which has dropped unawares from its sheath, miracles would fail to rouse us,-" we would not be convinced even though one rose from the dead!"

LETTER I.

You are naturally desirous to know how matters go on in Ireland: I mean, of course, the only matters which should or ought to interest youthose which concern our hitherto af

flicted religion-the true Church of God in the Wilderness. Truly, my friend, deep is the joy with which I inform you that nothing can at present be more prosperous. Upon the Continent, you tell me, all is gloom

[ocr errors]

and danger-and every thing seems to threaten unsettlement and change. Here, also, changes appear at hand, but changes which will be for the better; changes which I cannot but regard as the speedy forerunners of of the re-establishment of our Holy Church in this country. It is, there fore, some consolation to know, that, if you should be driven u from home by the approaching continental trou bles, there is every reason to believe that Ireland will be speedily in a condition to merit even a higher distinction than that of the Island of Saints," by affording a hospitable asylum to the persecuted orthodoxy of Catholic Europe. imam ai I know you will be a Is to learn the grounds upon which I thus confidently predict“ a consummation so devoutly to be wished." They are many and

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

we are indebted

[ocr errors]

alarmed by the violence of our agitators in this country. It was so extreme, and, as it appeared to me, so injudicious, that I feared it would have disgusted our friends, and furnished Government with an excuse for coercive measures that might have interminably protracted the hour of civil freedom. But I was soon to be agreeably deceived, and made to feel, by joyful experience, that, when God is for us, not even our own folly can counteract his wise decrees. The Duke of Wellington, who acceded to office with a secret determination to carry our question, made that very violence an excuse for appearing to be frightened into concessions, for which he would not suffer us to be indebted to his sense of justice. You know the very little interest which I took in what was called the great question of Emancipation." You also know my reasons for my coldness upon that sub

fection from our holy faith; and civil liberty would have been dearly purchased, if

was an conséquence

of true re

ligion. If, therefore, a Protestant Parliament had openly and generously thrown wide its gates to the outcast Irish Catholics, and, in the true spirit of enlightened liberality, invited them to enter, I feared that the proverbial warm-heartedness of my countrymen might have thrown them off their guard, and, in the ardour of their unsuspecting gratitude, exposed them to heretical contamination. But, see how the course of events was actually ordered, and adore the wisdom of a superintend ing Providence! That which was deThat policy, was nied to justice and

strong someus-some of them them slender some for which arising from some ject. I feared it might lead to a deproceeding from folly, I would say the infatuation, of our our enemies some from the unwary ignorance of our friends; but, all conspiring to the same end, with an unity of purpose so curiously perfect, that I Usato ascribe should deem it impiety not to the whole to the guidance of a graciously superintending Providence. Yes, my friend, the God of our fa thers still watches over the affairs of our Church, and will 1 Visit his afflicted children here with a speedy and effectual deliverance. We have suffered long under the tyranny of the enemies of all righteousness. Our sacred soil has long been polluted by the unhallowed footsteps of the Saxon and the stranger. nger. The time is not far distant when we shall cast off the yoke, and exhibit to convulsed and agitated Europe the glorious spectacle of a country combining the blesscle of a country combining th ing of true belief with possession of national and legislative independence. But you are, patient for my reasons for all these confident predictions. You shall have them-listen-in ordine cuncta

docebo."

yielded to fear That which was refused, when concession would have

ed,cious by being unconstrain

granted when the proposed measure of liberality was thankless

sonnow, im- because extorted! Then, those civil

aware of the

immunities, which, I was apprehensive, would have dissolved our party, were conferred upon them under circumstances by which our party was

ces which led, in 1829, tocumstan- still kept together. They were made

passing of the Catholic bill. It was carried by those who had always been our consistent and determined enemies. I confess that, at that period, I was

to feel that the privileges which they acquired were the reward of political violence. They learned the secret of their own strength-the importance of their own union; and they

P

sooner than have recommended.But, does not all this only shew that events have been overruled by Providence? Results have been produced by the folly of our agitators, and the infatuation of our enemies, which no wisdom or foresight on our part could have rendered probable. May the same Almighty Power still continue to preside over our affairs, and may we, with humble gratitude, learn to estimate the value of his divine protection, fibopad, shewn how the I I have now, I trust, measure w which it was apprehended would have ruined us as a sect, and weakened us as a party, was granted in a manner and under circumstances which increased and consolidated our political and religious importance. If it fou If it found us strong, it has made us stronger, But that is not all, or even half. Whilst it promoted union and confidence among us, it has caused divisions, and carried dismay, among our adversaries. This I shall now proceed to explain to yollo Tuo to and Mr The Duke of Wellington Peel were, you know, regarded as the heads of the Tory party. They were distinguished, during their ນາ whole political lives, by hostility to our claims. They both Went out of office when Mr Canning became premier, because they would not act under a prime minister who was a powerful and determined advocate of Emancipation, although Mr Canning had pledged himself not to make that measure a cabinet question, and would have left his colleagues free and free and unshackled to oppose or support it as they pleased. embarrass him a ser and, in Well, they contrived to cripple and during the shortlived period of his power, and, in the end, broke his heart. That brilliant declaimer may be said, literally, to have fallen a victim to their hostility and his own ambition. He was succeeded by a weakling who was as amiable as a man as he proved imbecile as a Minister: a friend, asy also, to our claims; but from that very circumstance altogether incapable of accomplishing any thing for us. Had either Canning or Lord Goderich remained in power to this hour, we should have been still in bondage. But it pleased HIM who ruleth on high so to order things

are, accordingly, now that they are invested with all the privileges of the state, as compact and as resolute for the accomplishment of those ulterior objects to which you and I so ardently look forward, as ever they were, in the day of their disabilities, for the attainment of Emancipation. But, you will ask me, was the iron Duke, as he is called, really frightened by the Catholic Association? No, more than I was. There was not a man in England who knew better the stuff of which they were made. There was not a man in Europe, who would have been less likely to quail, if there was any real danger. But the Duke, some how or other, began to consi, der that the measure of Emancipation was a wise one deOf religion, I believe no one accuses him of caring very much. And the arguments of Burke, and Fox, and Grattan, who advocated the measure when it really might have produced what they would have considered salutary effects, began to impinge upon the retina of the Duke's mental vision, at a time when circumstances had altogether altered the state of the ques tion, and when the most sanguine of its enlightened advocates would have acknowledged that the benefits to be expected from it were doubtful. The Duke's character as a warrior was complete. His exploits placed him at the head of the chivalry of Europe. He was ambitious of the character of a statesman; and supposed that he could not exhibit either his power or his wisdom in this new character more decidedly, than by carrying a measure which, baffled the ability of the greatest senators that ever W Were tion. He wished to eclipse Pitt and at the head of an English administra Fox and Cannings as completely as he had conquered Bonaparte. To this I attribute his conduct. He was not frightened by the Catholic Association into the surrender of their civil privileges but he would not suffer their violence to divert him from the settled purpose of conferring their civil privileges upon them. It was a grand thing to say he was afraid of civil war. It had its effect upon fools and dotards, and furnished him with a pretext for doing that very thing, which, had there been the least ground for his apprehension, he would have cut off his right hand

[graphic]
[graphic]
[ocr errors]

here below, that what we never could have obtained from our friends, we obtained from our enemies. There is an old proverb which says that "no enemy can match a friend." This our adversaries were doomed to prove; while for us was reserved the happier experience of its converse, namely, that no friend can match an enemy. The Duke of Wellington came into power with the loud acclaim of the Protestant party, who regarded him as a leader by whom their intolerance should be rendered as triumphant in the cabinet as the arms of England were in the field. But how little did they know what awaited them! And, truly, I may also add, how little did he know what awaited him! In a word, he deceived their hopes,-he abused their confidence. Their own chosen champion defeated the intolerants; and the same act which wrecked his party, and ruined himself, struck the chains off the hands of the liberated millions of Catholic Ireland! Yes, our emancipation would have been but half accomplished if it had been brought about by the Whigs. The Tory, or conservative party, as they are called, would still have existed in their unbroken strength, and have been able to oppose the most serious obstacles to those ulterior views, with reference to which alone faithful believers have ever looked with any degree of earnestness to the removal of civil disabilities. But when the same act which consummated our political hopes, annihilated, or almost annihilated, the faction which could alone effectually contend against us in our pious endeavours for the re-establishment of our ancient ascendency; when our exaltation was not more sudden or complete, than their humiliation was unexpected and disastrous, how is it possible to refuse our assent to the conviction, that the same power which led the Israelites through the Wilderness, and caused them to pass dry-shod through the Red Sea, while overwhelming destruction awaited their oppressors, was visible in the great deliverance which was now vouchsafed to his persecuted Church, and in the prodigious discomfiture which was visited upon her heretical enemies!

The Duke betrayed his party; and nothing less should be expected by him than that his party should have deserted him. And yet, I think, if he apprehended that, to the extent that it has actually taken place, even his iron nerves would have shrunk from the consequences. He hoped, perhaps, that, after a season, the resentment of his old followers would have passed away; that they would have had reason to acknowledge the ridiculous nature of the apprehensions which they entertained of popish influence; or, if any such apprehension appeared likely to be realized, that they would have been rallied under his standard by a sense of com-. mon danger. But he reckoned without his host. The Tories, to do them justice, were deeply sincere in their abhorrence of popery, (as the poor deluded creatures are wont to call true religion,) and were stung by the Duke's treachery to a degree of madness which rendered them reckless of every consideration but that of revenge. To hurl him from power seemed now the summit of their ambition, without any regard to ulterior consequences. The vindictive creatures resembled the insects of whom the poet has said, "ponunt in vulnere vitas." They succeeded in their object. The Duke was compelled to resign: and the consequence was, the promotion of an exclusively Whig administration. Lord Grey, who assumed the reins of power, felt himself without that customary support without which, as the constitution at present stands, the affairs of government cannot be carried on; and, although a most haughty aristocrat, and pledged by a declaration that he would" stand by his order," has been compelled, no doubt most unwillingly, to court popular support by proposing a measure of legislative reform, the most sweeping and radical that ever was entertained by a British Parliament. Oh! my friend, how delightful is it to see the differ ́ent parties in the heretical State all pursuing courses so directly favourable to the very cause to which any of them would least desire to be subservient! Their hostility to our Holy Church has not been neutralized merely by their insane divisions:-it has been rendered fatal to themselves. Should the meditated

« AnteriorContinuar »