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this age capable of persisting. Formerly a similarity of religion made a sort of country for a man in some quarter or other. A refugee for religion was a protected character. Now, the reception is cold indeed : and therefore as the asylum abroad is destroyed, the hardship at home is doubled. This hardship is the more intolerable, because the professions are shut up. The church is so of course. Much is to be said on that subject, in regard to them, and to the protestant dissenters. But that is a chapter by itself. I am sure I wish well to that church, and think its ministers among the very best citizens of your country. However, such as it is, a great walk in life is forbidden ground to seventeen hundred thousand of the inhabitants of Ireland. Why are they excluded from the law? Do not they expend money in their suits ? Why may not they indemnify themselves, by profiting, in the persons of some, for the losses incurred by others? Why may not they have persons of confidence, whom they may, if they please, employ in the agency of their affairs? The exclusion from the law, from grand juries, from sheriffships, and undersheriffships, as well as from freedom in any corporation, may subject them to dreadful hardships, as it may exclude them wholly from all that is beneficial, and expose them to all that is mischievous in a trial by jury. This was manifestly within my own observation, for I was three times in Ireland from the year 1760 to the year 1767, where I had sufficient means of information, concerning the inhuman proceedings (among which were many cruel murders, besides an infinity of outrages and oppressions, unknown before in a civilized age,) which prevailed during that period in consequence of a pretended conspiracy among Roman catholics against the king's government. I could dilate upon the mischiefs that may happen, from those which have happened, upon this head of disqualification, if it were at all necessary.
The head of exclusion from votes for members of parliament is closely connected with the former. When you cast your eye on the statute book, you will see that no catholic, even in the ferocious acts of queen Anne, was disabled from VOL. III.
voting on account of his religion. The only conditions required for that privilege, were the oaths of allegiance and abjuration—both oaths relative to a civil concern. Parliament has since added another oath of the same kind : and yet a house of commons adding to the securities of government, in proportion as its danger is confessedly lessened, and professing both confidence and indulgence, in effect takes away the privilege left by an act full of jealousy, and professing persecution.
The taking away of a vote is the taking away the shield which the subject has, not only against the oppression of power, but that worst of all oppressions, the persecution of private society, and private manners.
No candidate for parliamentary influence is obliged to the least attention towards them, either in cities or counties. On the contrary, if they should become obnoxious to any bigoted or malignant people amongst whom they live, it will become the interest of those who court popular favor, to use the numberless means which always reside in magistracy and influence to oppress them. The proceedings in a certain county in Munster, during the unfortunate period I have mentioned, read a strong lecture on the cruelty of depriving men of that shield, on account of their speculative opinions. The protestants of Ireland feel well and naturally on the hardship of being bound by laws in the enacting of which they do not directly or indirectly vote. The bounds of these matters are nice, and hard to be settled in theory, and perhaps they have been pushed too far. But how they can avoid the necessary application of the principles they use in their disputes with others, to their disputes with their fellow-citizens, I know not.
It is true, the words of this act do not create a disability; but they clearly and evidently suppose it. There are few catholic freeholders to take the benefit of the privilege, if they were permitted to partake it; but the manner in which this very right in freeholders at large is defended, is not on the idea that the freeholders do really and truly represent the people; but that all people being capable of obtaining freeholds, all those, who, by their industry and sobriety merit this privilege, have the means of arriving at votes. It is the same with the corporations.
The laws against foreign education are clearly the very worst part of the old code. Besides your laity, you have the succession of about four thousand clergymen to provide for. These having no lucrative objects in prospect, are taken very much out of the lower orders of the people. At home, they have no means whatsoever provided for their attaining a clerical education, or indeed any education at all. When I was in Paris, about seven years ago, I looked at every thing, and lived with every kind of people, as well as my time admitted. I saw there the Irish college of the Lombard, which seemed to me a very good place of education, under excellent orders and regulations, and under the government of a very prudent and learned man (the late Dr. KELLY.) This college was possessed of an annual fixed revenue of more than a thousand pounds a year; the greatest part of which had arisen from the legacies and benefactions of persons educated in that college, and who had obtained promotions in France, from the emolument of which promotions they made this grateful return. One in particular I remember, to the amount of ten thousand livres, annually, as it is recorded on the donor's monument in their chapel.
It has been the custom of poor persons in Ireland, to pick up such knowledge of the Latin tongue as, under the general discouragements, and occasional pursuits of magistracy, they were able to acquire; and receiving orders at home, were sent abroad to obtain a clerical education.
By officiating in petty chaplainships, and performing, now and then, certain offices of religion for small gratuities, they received the means of maintaining themselves, until they were able to complete their education. Through such difficulties and discouragements, many of them have arrived at a very considerable proficiency, so as to be marked and distinguished abroad. These persons afterwards, by being sunk in the most abject poverty, despised and ill-treated by the higher orders among protestants, and not much better esteemed or treated, even by the few persons of fortune of their own persuasion; and contracting the habits and ways of thinking of the poor and uneducated, among whom they were obliged to live, in a few years retained little or no traces of the talents and acquirements, which distinguished them in the early periods of their lives. Can we, with justice, cut them off from the use of places of education, founded, for the greater part, from the economy of poverty and exile, without providing something that is equivalent at home?
Whilst this restraint of foreign and domestic education was part of an horrible and impious system of servitude, the members were well fitted to the body. To render men patient, under a deprivation of all the rights of human nature, every thing which could give them a knowledge or feeling of those rights was rationally forbidden. To render humanity fit to be insulted, it was fit that it should be degraded. But when we profess to restore men to the capacity for property, it is equally irrational and unjust to deny them the power of improving their minds as well as their fortunes. Indeed, I have ever thought the prohibition of the means of improving our rational nature, to be the worst species of tyranny that the insolence and perverseness of mankind ever dared to exercise. This goes to all men, in all situations, to whom education can be denied.
Your lordship mentions a proposal which came from my friend the provost, whose benevolence and enlarged spirit I am perfectly convinced of; which is, the proposal of erecting a few sizerships in the college, for the education (I suppose) of Roman catholic clergymen.* He certainly meant it well; but, coming from such a man as he is, it is a strong instance of the danger of suffering any description of men to fall into entire contempt. The charities intended for them are not perceived to be fresh insults; and the true nature of their wants and necessities being unknown, remedies, wholly unsuitable
* It appears that Mr. Hutchinson meant this only as one of the means for their relief in point of education.
to the nature of their complaint, are provided for them. It is to feed a sick Gentoo with beef broth, and to foment his wounds with brandy. If the other parts of the university were open to them, as well on the foundation as otherwise, the offering of sizerships would be a proportioned part of a general kindness. But when every thing liberal is withheld, and only that which is servile is permitted, it is easy to conceive upon what footing they must be in such a place.
Mr. Hutchinson must well know the regard and honor I have for him; and he cannot think my dissenting from him in this particular, arises from a disregard of his opinion : it only shews that I think he has lived in Ireland. To have any respect for the character and person of a popish priest there-oh! 'tis an uphill work indeed. But until we come to respect what stands in a respectable light with others, we are very deficient in the temper which qualifies us to make any laws and regulations about them. It even disqualifies us from being charitable to them with any effect or judgment.
When we are to provide for the education of any body of men, we ought seriously to consider the particular functions they are to perform in life. A Roman catholic clergyman is the minister of a very ritual religion: and by his profession subject to many restraints. His life is a life full of strict observances, and his duties are of a laborious nature towards himself, and of the highest possible trust towards others. The duty of confession alone is sufficient to set in the strongest light the necessity of his having an appropriated mode of education. The theological opinions and peculiar rites of one religion never can be properly taught in universities, founded for the purposes and on the principles of another, which in many points are directly opposite. If a Roman catholic clergyman, intended for celibacy, and the function of confession, is not strictly bred in a seminary where these things are respected, inculcated and enforced, as sacred, and not made the subject of derision and obloquy, he will be ill fitted for the former, and the latter will be indeed in his hands a terrible instrument.