« ElőzőTovább »
medium, as the scholars of foreign universities ; let science be cultivated, let eloquence be studied, and the principles of good taste be fixed in the mind ; and, above all, let a deep persuasion, founded upon the evidence of the facts brought home to their own doors, be established, that the Government of these countries, instead of giving to the church of the people a cold and equivocal support, which rather blighted than sheltered it are unaffectedly anxious to nurture and to sustain it, and upon noble and extended branches to make it bear valuable fruit. While I give this recommendation, I am far from meaning to say that the University of Dublin is to be despoiled in order to enrich its younger sister. Let their portions be both independent of each other, and let the establisament, more directly connected with the state, be the more favoured of the two. No Roman Catholic will begrudge the wealth of that University, where it must be owned that, as far as the students are concerned, there is no invidious distinction between Catholics and Protestants maintained. But the preference to be still given to Dublin College is perfectly compatible with a large extension of favour to the Institution, which has hitherto been treated as a mere step-child, and allowed to starve for want of a sufficiency of aliment for its natural and wholesome sustenance.
The advocates of the established Church in Ireland, and especially Lord Plunket, have repeatedly insisted that the distribution of a number of well-educated persons through the country, who were bound by their profession to maintain a decency and a regularity of conduct, so far from being injurious to the community, was accompanied by signal advantages, and tended to counteract the evils of squirearchy in Ireland. They have expatiated upon the good results of the system of residentship, which the recent enforcement of it among churchmen was likely to produce, and have plausibly contended that the want of a local gentry was supplied, in a great degree, by the members of the established religion, who, in the great majority of instances, spent most of their time in their curés. I am not prepared to controvert the justice, to a certain extent, of these observations ; but if it be true, that a body of enlightened gentlemen, with moderate incomes, whose manner and deportinent afford incentives to civilization, are calculated to be useful, though they should be the ministers of a religion which is not only not that of the people, but which has been the object of their antipathy, bow much larger would be the advantages which would ensue from the location in every district of a well-educated, refined, and intelligent clergyman, with literary tendencies, and accomplished manners, unattended by the domestic solicitudes which are acidental to the connubial condition of the Protestant clergy, and placed in a happy and virtuous mean between indigence and luxury, with leisure and inclination to cultivate his own mind, and to improve the habits of those who should be committed to his charge. The creation of such a clergy in Ireland, for which there exists admirable materials, would, beyond all doubt, work a great national improvement; and the first measure to be adopted for the effectuation of this end, is the larger endowment of Maynooth. It appears to be strangely incongruous that the sum of 25,0001. should be annually granted to the Kildare-street Society, for the purposes of education, and that no more than 98281. should be granted for the academical instruction of that most influential body, which might be easily rendered the moral police of Ireland.
The consideration of the means of pacifying and mitigating the peasantry through the instrumentality which I have suggested, leads me to some reflections upon the course which is now pursued in order to keep them under restraint. There can be little question entertained as to the failure of the constabulary force in the prevention of crime, and in the production of peaceful habits amongst the people. A small party of ten or twelve men, dressed in green jackets and trowsers, with leathern belts round their waists, to which a sword is appended, and provided with a musket and cartridge-box, are stationed in the midst of an enormous and most tumultuous population. They are generally Protestants, and Protestants of the worst class, most of them being initiated into the mysteries of Orangeism. Their functions alone would be suf. ficient to make them the objects of popular aversion, and it seemed to be scarcely necessary to superadd religion as a farther ingredient of alienation. Knowing that they are detested, and being few in number, they are rendered cruel by the danger to which they are exposed, and when surrounded by an angry rabble, are always ready to have recourse to their fire-arms and to their bayonets, and in many instances anticipate, instead of waiting for provocation. The number of homicides (to use the most modified phrase) committed by the police in a single year, affords a proof of the necessity of introducing some alteration in the structure of this rural force. It is but necessary to refer to the dreadful transactions at Borriso’kene in order to illustrate the justice of this observation. If it were inquired of me what expedient I should adopt, with a view to the proposed amelioration, I would suggest, in the first place, that, in the selection of persons to serve in the police, care should be taken to create a mixture of Catholics and of Protestants, and that a preference should, in general, be given to the professors of the creed of the people. Before the settlement of the Catholic Question, it was quite natural, and indeed it was almost necessary, that a government built upon the principle of exclusion should, even in the exercise of its inferior patronage, take care to sustain the system of ascendency, and draw the underlings of power from the same storehouse of orthodoxy out of which higher functionaries were supplied. As the monopoly of all the important offices at the bar, in the revenue, and in the rest of the higher departments of society, held the gentry of Ireland together, and produced a coalition, of which Protestantism was the cement, so amongst the inferior order of Protestants, the loyal plebeians of Ireland, the conviction that they would be equally the objects of predilection, and that the whole of the minor but multifarious emoluments of Government were to be distributed amongst them, bound them in bonds of self-interest as strong as any of the ligatures by which their superiors were tied together. There are several acts of the Irish Parliament, in which provisoes are introduced that all the watchmen in Dublin, and in other considerable towns, should be Protestants. The English reader of such clauses may be at first disposed to start, but a little reflection will convince him, that if the exclusive policy was to be maintained, there was every reason to extend it to the lower from the better orders of society. I account for the majority of Protestants in the police upon this principle of selection. There is no longer any motive for practising these expedients in order to strengthen the Protestant interest. To keep the country was formerly its object, and it was only by the uniform and systematic preference of the smaller caste, and by the creation of division, that this could be effected; but now that all danger of losing the country is entirely passed by, the object should be to pacify and to civilize it, and the attainment of these ends requires upon the part of the authorities an adaptation of the means to the character, habits, and prejudices of the people. To apply these abstract remarks to the subject which gave rise to them, the constitution of the constabu. lary force, I think it obvious that the Irish gens d'armerie, as they have been not inappositely designated, should be made as little obnoxious to the peasantry as it is possible ; and that, if authority be always more or less odious, and especially in a country circumstanced as Ireland is, efforts should be made to divest it, as far as it is possible to do so, of the qualities which create antipathy; and to make it acceptable to the people, the Catholicity of the police would go a great way in accomplishing this purpose. If every Sunday they were seen marching to chapel, and not to church, and if they were mixed with the populace round the altar, while the priest (Father Spain, for example) lifted up his hands, and exclaimed, “ Dominus vobiscum !” the extension of this indiscriminate benediction over all his auditors would divest even the most obnoxious portion of his congregation of a good deal of their offensive attributes, and induce the people to merge the police-man in the Catholic, to pardon the shouldering of the musket for the sake of the genuflection at the altar, and almost to embrace with cordiality the man whom they now regard with horror, and for whose blood, in every tumult, they feel a ferocious appetite, to which there is not unfrequently applied the stimulant of wrong. It will not be enough that the great mass of the police should be Roman Catholic; it would also be most useful that the chief constables should be selected from the same portion of the community. On the character of the chief-constables must in a great measure depend the dispositions and the conduct of the persons, under his control. It would be judicious to confer upon the Catholic priesthood some little patronage in the selection both of the men and of their superiors. This privilege would operate as a compensation for the want of salaries from Government to the priesthood, to which, at least in the present state of the country, I am entirely averse. If the priest, the chief-constable, and the force under him, could all be made to pull well together, it is sufficiently clear that a far more effectual and better-combined system of local superintendence over the public quiet would be the result; and if any person who reads these observations shall be disposed to think that I am recommending an investment of influence and authority in the Catholic body, and especially in its clergy, I answer that the great and paramount object is to tranquillize Ireland ; to impart civilization to her people; to eradicate and tear up the propensities to savageness and ferocity, and to superinduce pacific and well-ordered habitudes amongst all classes of the community. Before objects of such incalculable importance, all others should vanish. There is no price too extravagant for the purchase of public repose and the acquisition of general tranquillity; and, if I shall be told that I am virtually proposing a species of Catholic ascendency,
in the measures which I recommend, even if I were to acknowledge the charge in its widest latitude, still, if rapine, murder, and conflagration could be put down by these means, from the utility of their end they would derive their vindication. Provided the furies can be bound, it is of litele moment how chains are fabricated. But in truth, there is no ascendency, nor any thing like an ascendency of Catholic influence contained in these expedients. It might as well be said, that, because Greek sailors work the Turkish vessels, therefore the Greeks are the masters of the Ottoman pavy. I have assigned to Roman Catholics, according to my plan, no situations which can give them an undue, or even a considerable political influence. Of what account in the balance would be all the artificial weights which I have superadded to Catholicism, if it were to enter the scales against Protestant property ? Let not the members of the Establishment take alarm, their millions of acres will outweigh the school-bouses of the Catholic clergy and the barracks of a Catholic police.
The administration of justice must immediately engage the attention of the Government. The same policy which gave a Protestant character to the inferior departments of the executive, did not, of course, fail to impress it upon the public tribunals. This was not only consistent, but inevitable. In times of civil commotion, justice throws down her balance, lifts the veil from her eyes, and brandishes the sword. I , am surprised that Protestants take the impeachment of the partial administration of the law in bad part. How could they have existed amidst an inflamed and exasperated nation, unless they had reserved to themselves the artificial constituents of power, and counteracted the immense disproportion of numbers by the influence of combination ? The instincts of self-preservation operated to a great extent in all the expedients which were adopted in order to maintain a predominance, and nowhere so much as in the administration of the law. The judges were Protestant by Act of Parliament; but that was not sufficient. The conspicuous station, which is occupied by a person who fills judicial functions, must render him exceedingly cautious in the manifestation of his biases ; whereas the comparatively obscure, and the transitory nature of the duties of a juror, render him less obnoxious to criticism, and readily commend his delinquencies to oblivion. I am convinced that there has been much fouler work practised in the sequestration of a jurors' chamber, than was ever in the worst times perpetrated on the bench. It will be, I hope, recollected, that I am not now indulging in any invective against the system which existed before Catholic Emancipation had made it superfluous. I am at the same time accounting for the existence of past and almost inseparable abuses, and pointing out the inexpediency of adhering to them with a factious pertinacity, when circumstances have undergone so great a change. There no longer exists any plausible motive for arraying a band of Protestants in the jury-box, whenever a delinquent against not only the laws of society, but of humanity, is put upon his trial. In the recent trials which took place in the county of Tipperary, in almost every case the jurors were Protestants. I do not mean to say that the Crown paid any regard to the religion of those who were put aside. The panel, however, is so constituted, that Protestantism is always to be found at the top; and, indeed, it is of such depth, that the twenty challenges given to the prisoner cannot get below it, and reach the substractum of Catholicity which is to be found in the lower degrees of the panel. This is a most serious evil. Though justice may be administered with the purest impartiality by a body of Protestant jurors, still a community so suspicious and distrustful as the Irish peasantry will always refer their verdicts to their religion. It has been often said, but it cannot be too frequently repeated, that it is of as much consequence to impart a confidence in the administration of the laws to the lower classes, as to render it pure and unbiassed. I cannot avoid the expression of a wish, that as much attention had been paid to the character of justice as to its purity; for it is as baneful that its reputation should be tarnished, as that its integrity should be debauched. Positive directions ought to be given to compound the juries of mixed ingredients. It must, bowever, be admitted, in fairness to the Irish Government, that they have already taken one great step in effecting a material improvement ; a great number of Roman Catholic gentlemen have been named sheriffs for the succeeding year, in the counties where their respective properties are situated. The sight of a Catholic sheriff in his carriage drawn by four horses, as he enters the assize town with the judges, while a long train of halbert-bearers, attended with a brace of trumpeters, make up the procession, will have an imposing influence upon the great mass of the spectators, whose political notions are not unfrequently founded upon such apparently insignificant circumstance. But until either the appointment of the sheriffs of the city of Dublin shall be wrested from the Corporation, or the Corporation itself shall receive a large accession of Catholicity, (an event by no means probable,) it will be utterly impossible to render the administration of the law satisfactory to the people. The case with respect to the sheriffs of Dublin is very simple. The sheriffs elect the jurors, the corporators elect the sheriffs, and the corporators are, almost to a man, possessed by the most violent spirit of factious partizanship. The very sources being thus discoloured, it can scarcely be expected that the currents that flow out of them should be exceedingly crystalline and pure. This vitiation of justice in the metropolis is the more disastrous, inasmuch as almost all important political questions which fall within the cognizance of our public tribunals are decided by Dublin jurors. The press is thus completely at the mercy of the Corporation; and it is to be feared that it is not merely in matters of a direct political tendency that these evil influences have an operation, but in cases between man and man, and where there is no ostensible avenue for the admission of political motive ; it is to be apprehended, and at all events it is habitually suspected, that the men who are so eminent for their factious zeal beyond the jury-box, are not entirely free within it; and that the same passions which act upon them in all the walks of ordinary life, are not, the moment they assume their inrist functions, miraculously put aside. But, however the fact may stand, it is certain that the Corporation juries have grown into general discredit. It is a common observation that “a Catholic has little chance with them;" and whether it be well or ill founded, it is clear that pains ought to be taken to do away this most injurious of all impressions. If the Government shalt seriously determine to abate this abuse, they will not find it very difficult. They have a vote in the appointment of sheriffs as it is; but this is a power which they will be slow to exercise,