Изображения страниц

fitions, as at at firft many of them do, they foon lofe them in the painful courfe of profeffional and parochial duties, but they must have all the knowledge, and what is to them more important than the knowledge, the difcipline neceffary to thofe duties. All modes of education, conducted by thofe whofe minds are caft in another mould, as I may fay, and whofe original ways of thinking are formed upon the reverfe pattern, must be to them not only ufelefs but mifchievous. Juft as I fhould fuppofe the education in a popifh çcclefiaftical feminary would be ill fitted for a proteftant clergymen. To educate a catholic prieft in a proteftant feminary would be much worfe. The proteftant educated amongit catholics has only fomething to reject: what he keeps may be useful. But a catholic parish pricít learns little for his peculiar purpofe and duty in a proteftant college.

All this, my lord, I know very well, will pafs for nothing with thofe who with that the popish clergy fhould be illiterate, and in a fituation to produce contempt and deteftation. Their minds are wholly taken up with party fquabbles, and I have neither leifure nor inclination to apply any part of what I have to fay, to thofe who never think of religion, or of the commonwealth, in any other light, than as they tend to the prevalence of fome faction in either. I fpeak on a supposition, that there is a difpofition to take the fate in the condition in which it is found, and to improve it in that state to the beft advantage. Hitherto, the plan for the government of Ireland has been, to facrifice the civil profperity of the nation to its religious improvement. But if people in power there, are at length come to entertain other ideas, they wili confider the good order, decorum, virtue, and morality of every defcription of men among them, as of infinitely greater importance, than the fruggle (for it is nothing better) to change thofe defcripti


ons by means which put to hazard, objects, which, in my poor opinion, are of more importance to religion and to the ftate, than all the polemical matter which has been agitated among men from the beginning of the world to this hour.

On this idea, an education fitted to each order and divifion of men, fuch as they are found, will be thought an affair rather to be encouraged than difcountenanced: and until inftitutions at home, fuitable to the occafions and neceflities of the people, are eftablished, and which are armed, as they are abroad, with authority to coerce the young men to be formed in them, by a frict and fevere difcipline,-the means they have, at prefent, of a cheap and effectual education in other countries, fhould not continue to be prohibited by penalties and modes of inquifition, not fit to be mentioned to ears that are organized to the chafte founds of equity and justice.

Before I had written thus far, I heard of a scheme of giving to the Caftle the patronage of the prefiding members of the catholic clergy. At first I could fcarcely credit it; for I believe it is the first time that the prefentation to other people's alms has been defired in any country. If the ftate provides a fuitable maintenance and temporality for the governing members of the Irish Roman catholic church, and for the clergy under them, I fhould think the project, however improper in other refpects, to be by no means unjuft. But to deprive a poor people, who maintain a fecond fet of clergy, out of the miferable remains of what is left after taxing and tything to deprive them of the difpofition of their own charities among their own communion, would, in my opinion, be an intolerable hardship. Never were the members of one religious fect fit to appoint the pallo.s to another. Thofe who have no regard for their welfare, reputation, or internal quiet, will not appoint uch as are proper. The feraglio of Cenftantinople

ftantinople is as equitable as we are, whether catholics or proteftants; and where their own fect is concerned, full as religious. But the sport which they make of the miferable dignities of the Greek church, the little factions of the haram, to which they make them fubfervient, the continual fale to which they expofe and re-expofe the fame dignity, and by which they fqueeze all the inferior orders of the clergy, is (for I have had particular means of being acquainted with it) nearly equal to all the other oppreflions together, exercised by muffulmen over the unhappy members of the Oriental church. It is a great deal to fuppofe that even the prefent Caftle would nominate biThops for the Roman church of Ireland, with a religious regard for its welfare. Perhaps they cannot, perhaps they dare not do it.

But fuppofe them to be as well inclined as I know that I am, to do the catholics all kind of juftice, I declare I would not, if it were in my power, take that patronage on my felf. I know I ought not to do it. I belong to another community; and it would be intolerable ufurpation for me to affect fuch authority, where I conferred no benefit, or even if I did confer (as in fome degree the feraglio does) temporal advantages. But, allowing that the prefent Caftle finds itfelf fit to adminifter the government of a church which they folemnly forfwear, and forfwear with very hard words and many evil epithets, and that as often as they qualify themfelves for the power which is to give this very patronage, or to give any thing elfe that they defire; vet they cannot infure themfelves that a man like the late Lord Chesterfield will ne: ficceed to them. This man, while he was duping the credulity of papifts with fine words in private, and commending their good behaviour during a rebellion in Great Bri tain, (as it well deferved to be conmended and re*warded)

warded) was capable of urging penal laws against them in a fpeech from the throne, and of ftimulating with provocatives the wearied and half-exhaufted bigotry of the then parliament of Ireland. They fet to work, but they were at a lofs what to do; for they had already almoft gone through every contrivance which could waste the vigour of their country: but, after much ftruggle, they produced a child of their old age, the fhocking and unnatural act about marriages, which tended to finish the fcheme for making the people not only two dif tinct parties for ever, but keeping them as two diftinct fpecies in the fame land. Mr. Gardiner's humanity was fhocked at it, as one of the worst parts of that truly barbarous fyftem, if one could well fettle the preference, where almoft all the parts were outrages on the rights of humanity, and the laws of


Suppofe an atheift, playing the part of a bigot, fhould be in power again in that country, do you believe that he would faithfully and religioufly adminifter the truft of appointing paftors to a church, which, wanting every other fupport, ftands in tenfold need of minifters who will be dear to the people committed to their charge, and who will exercife a really paternal authority amongst them? But if the fuperior power was always in a difpofition to difpenfe confcientioufly, and like an upright truftee and guardian of thefe rights which he holds for thofe with whom he is at variance, has he the capacity and means of doing it? How can the lord lieutenant form the leaft judgment of their merits, fo as to difcern which of the popish priefts is fit to be made a bishop? It cannot be the idea is ridiculous. -He will hand them over to lords lieutenant of counties, juftices of the peace, and other perfons, who, for the purpofe of vexing and turning to derifion this miferable people, will pick out the worst and most obnoxious

obnoxious they can find amongst the clergy, to fet over the reft. Whoever is complained against by his brother, will be confidered as perfecuted: Whoever is cenfured by his fuperior, will be looked upon as oppreffed: Whoever is carelefs in his opinions, and loofe in his morals, will be called a liberal man, and will be fuppofed to have incurred hatred, because he was not a bigot. Informers, tale-bearers, perverfe and obftinate men, flatterers, who turn their back upon their flock, and court the proteftant gentlemen of the country, will be the objects of preferment. And then I run no rifk in foretelling, that whatever order, quiet, and morality you have in the country, will be lost. A popish clergy, who are not reftrained by the most auftere fubordination, will become a nuifance, a real public grievance of the heavieft kind, in any country that entertains them; and inftead of the great benefit which Ireland does, and has long derived from them, if they are educated without any idea of difcipline and obe dience, and then put under bishops, who do not owe their ftation to their good opinion, and whom they cannot refpect, that nation will fee diforders, of which, bad as things are, it has yet no idea. I do not fay this, as thinking the leading men in Ireland would exercife this truft worfe than others. Not at all. No man, no fet of men living are fit to adminifter the affairs, or regulate the interior economy of a church to which they are enemies.

As to government, if I might recommend a pru dent caution to them,-it would be, to innovate as little as poflible, upon fpeculation, in establishments, from which, as they ftand, they experience no material inconvenience to the repofe of the country,quieta non movere—I could fay a great deal more; but I am tired, and am afraid your lordship is tired too. I have not fat to this letter a fingle quarter of an hour without interruption. It has grown long, and


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »