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PAYING THE CLERGY.
justice be preserved between Catholic and Protestant. Thus far I am a thorough rebel as well as yourself; but when you come to the perilous nonsense of Repeal, in common with every honest man who has five grains of common sense, I take my leave."
It is entertaining enough, that although the Irish are beginning to be so clamorous about making their own laws, that the wisest and the best statutes in the books have been made since their union with England. All Catholic disabilities have been abolished; a good police has been established all over the kingdom; public courts of petty sessions have been instituted; free trade between Great Britain and Ireland has been completely carried into effect; lord lieutenants are placed in every county; church-rates are taken off Catholic shoulders; the county grand jury rooms are flung open to the public; county surveyors are of great service; a noble provision is made for educating the people. I never saw a man who had returned to Ireland after four or five years' absence, who did not say how much it had improved, and how fast it was improving; and this is the country which is to be Erin-go-bragh'd by this shallow, vain, and irritable people into bloodshed and rebellion!
The first thing to be done is to pay the priests, and after a little time they will take the money. One man wants to repair his cottage; another wants a buggy; a third cannot shut his eyes to the dilapidations of a cassock. The draft is payable at sight in Dublin, or by agents in the next market town dependent upon the commission in Dublin. The housekeeper of the holy man is importunate for money, and if it is not procured by drawing for the salary, it must be extorted by curses and comminations from the ragged worshippers, slowly, sorrowfully, and sadly. There will be some opposition at first, but the facility of getting the salary without the violence they are now forced to use, and the difficulties to which they are exposed in procuring the payment of those emoluments to which they are fairly entitled, will, in the end, overcome all obstacles.* And if it does not succeed, what harm is done by the
*Smith had a conversation with Dr. Doyle, at a time he was anxious to learn as far as possible what effect the measures he was proposing would have upon the Catholics. He proposed that Government should pay the Catholic priests. They would not take it," said Dr. Doyle. "Do you mean to say, that if every priest in Ireland received to-morrow morning a Government letter with a hundred pounds, FIRST QUARTER of their year's income, they would 10
attempt? It evinces on the part of this country the strongest disposition to do what is just, and to apply the best remedy to the greatest evil; but the very attempt would do good, and would be felt in the great Catholic insurrection, come when it will. All rebellions and disaffections are general and terrible in proportion as one party has suffered, and the other inflicted; any great measure of conciliation, proposed in the spirit of kindness, is remembered, and renders war less terrible, and opens avenues to peace.
The Roman Catholic priest could not refuse to draw his salary from the state without incurring the indignation of his flock. "Why are you to come upon us for all this money, when you can ride over to Sligo or Belfast, and draw a draft upon government for the amount?" It is not easy to give a satisfactory answer to this, to a shrewd man who is starving to death.
Of course, in talking of a government payment to the Catholic priest, I mean it should be done with the utmost fairness and good faith; no attempt to gain patronage, or to make use of the pope as a stalking-horse for playing tricks. Leave the patronage exactly as you find it; and take the greatest possible care that the Catholic clergy have no reason to suspect you in this particular; do it like a gentleman, without shuffling and prevarication, or leave it alone altogether.
The most important step in improvement which mankind ever made, was the secession from the see of Rome, and the establishment of the Protestant religion; but though I have the sincerest admiration of the Protestant faith I have no admiration of Protestant hassocks on which there are no knees, nor of seats on which there is no superincumbent Protestant pressure, nor of whole acres of tenantless Protestant pews, in which no human being of the five hundred sects of Christians is ever seen. no passion for sacred emptiness, or pious vacuity. The emoluments of those livings in which there are few or no Protestants, ought, after the death of the present incumbents, to be appropriated in part to the uses of the predominant religion, or some arrangements made for superseding such utterly useless ministers immediately securing to them the emoluments they possess.
Can any honest man say, that in parishes (as is the case frefuse it ?" 66 Ah, Mr. Smith," said Dr. Doyle, "you've such a way of putting things ""-Lady Holland's Memoir, p. 276.
quently in Ireland) containing 3000 or 4000 Catholics and 40 or 50 Protestants, there is the smallest chance of the majority being converted? Are not the Catholics (except in the North of Ireland, where the great mass are Presbyterians) gaining every where on the Protestants? The tithes were originally possessed by the Catholic Church of Ireland. Not one shilling of them is now devoted to that purpose. An immense majority of the common people are Catholics; they see a church richly supported by the spoils of their own church establishments, in whose tenets not one tenth part of the people believe. Is it possible to believe this can endure?—that a light, irritable, priest-ridden people will not, under such circumstances, always remain at the very eve of rebellion, always ready to explode when the finger of Daniel touches the hair trigger?-for Daniel, be it said, though he hates shedding blood in small quantities, has no objection to provoking kindred nations to war. He very properly objects to killing or being killed by Lord Alvanly; but would urge on ten thousand Pats in civil combat against ten thousand Bulls. His objections are to small homicides; and his vow that he has registered in Heaven is only against retail destruction, and murder by piecemeal. He does not like to teaze Satan by driblets; but to earn eternal torments by persuading eight million Irish, and twelve million Britons no longer to buy and sell oats and salt meat, but to butcher each other in God's name to extermination. And what if Daniel dies, of what use his death? Does Daniel make the occasion, or does the occasion make Daniel?-Daniels are made by the bigotry and insolence of England to Ireland; and till the monstrous abuses of the Protestant Church in that country are rectified, there will always be Daniels, and they will always come out of their dens more powerful and more popular than when you cast them in.
I do not mean by this unjustly and cowardly to run down O'Connell. He has been of eminent service to his country in the question of Catholic Emancipation, and I am by no means satisfied that with the gratification of vanity there are not mingled genuine feelings of patriotism and a deep sense of the injustice done to his country. His first success, however, flung him off his guard; and perhaps he trusted too much in the timidity of the present government, who are by no means composed of irresolute or weak men.
If I thought Ireland quite safe, I should still object to injustice. I could never endure in silence that the Catholic Church of Ireland should be left in its present state; but I am afraid France and England can now afford to fight; and having saved a little money, they will, of course, spend it in fighting. That puppy of the waves, young Joinville, will steam over in a high-pressure fleet!—and then comes an immense twenty per cent. income-tax war, a universal insurrection in Ireland, and a crisis of misery and distress, in which life will hardly be worth having. The struggle may end in our favour, but it may not; and the object of political wisdom is to avoid these struggles. I want to see jolly Roman Catholic priests secure of their income without any motive for sedition or turbulence. I want to see Patricks at the loom; cotton and silk factories springing up in the bogs; Ireland a rich, happy, quiet country!-scribbling, carding, cleaning, and making calico, as if mankind had only a few days more allotted to them for making clothes, and were ever after to remain stark naked.
Remember that between your impending and your past wars with Ireland there is this remarkable difference. You have given up your Protestant auxiliaries; the Protestants enjoyed in former disputes all the patronage of Ireland; they fought not only from religious hatred, but to preserve their monopoly ;-that monopoly is gone; you have been candid and just for thirty years, and have lost those friends whose swords were always ready to defend the partiality of the government and to stifle the cry of justice. The next war will not be between Catholic and Protestant, but between Ireland and England.
I have some belief in Sir Robert. He is a man of great understanding, and must see that this eternal O'Connelling will never do, that it is impossible it can last. We are in a transition state, and the Tories may be assured that the baronet will not go too fast. If Peel tells them that the thing must be done, they may be sure it is high time to do it;—they may retreat mournfully and sullenly before common justice and common sense, but retreat they must when Tamworth gives the word-and in quick-step too, and without loss of time.
And let me beg of my dear Ultras not to imagine that they survive for a single instant without Sir Robert-that they could form an ultra-tory administration. Is there a Chartist in Great
Britain who would not, upon the first intimation of such an attempt, order a new suit of clothes, and call upon the baker and milkman for an extended credit? Is there a political reasoner who would not come out of his hole with a new constitution? Is there one ravenous rogue who would not be looking for his prey? Is there one honest man of common sense who does not see that universal disaffection and 'civil war would follow from the blind fury, the childish prejudices and the deep ignorance of such a sect? I have a high opinion of Sir Robert Peel, but he must summon up all his political courage, and do something next session for the payment of the Roman Catholic priests. He must run some risk of shocking public opinion; no greater risk, however, than he did in Catholic Emancipation. I am sure the Whigs would be true to him, and I think I observe that very many obtuse country gentlemen are alarmed by the state of Ireland, and the hostility of France and America.
Give what you please to the Catholic priests, habits are not broken in a day. There must be time as well as justice, but in the end these things have their effect. A buggy, a house, some field near it, a decent income paid quarterly; in the long run these are the cures of sedition and disaffection; men don't quit the common business of life, and join bitter political parties, unless they have something justly to complain of.
But where is the money- about £400,000 per annum. come from? Out of the pockets of the best of men, Mr. Thomas Grenville, out of the pockets of the bishops, of Sir Robert Inglis, and all other men who pay all other taxes; and never will public money be so well and wisely employed!
It turns out that there is no law to prevent entering into diplomatic engagements with the pope. The sooner we become acquainted with a gentleman who has so much to say to eight millions of our subjects, the better! Can anything be so childish and absurd as a horror of communicating with the pope, and all the hobgoblins we have imagined of premunires and outlawries for this contraband trade in piety? Our ancestors (strange to say, wiser than ourselves), have left us to do as we please, and the sooner government do what they can do legally, the better. A thousand opportunities of doing good in Irish affairs have been lost, from our having no avowed and dignified agent at the Court of Rome.