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violation of public faith does not occur in history. It has never been defended, except on the ground of state necessity. But can state necessity, under any circumstances, justify a system of policy, by which three fourths of a large population of a large nation is to be eradicated?
"It is true," exclaimed Mr. Pitt upon Mr. Fox's India bill, that the measure is said to be founded "on necessity. But what is this? Is it not necessity that has been the plea of every illegal exercise of power? and every exercise of oppression? has "not necessity been the plea of every usurpation? of "every infringement of human rights *?"
"How it is possible," says sir Henry Parnell †, "to defend William and his ministers from the "charge of acting with perfidy to the catholics, it "is not easy to discover: that they were guilty "of violating the treaty, no one can deny. The many glaring violations of the treaty of Limerick, are a scandal to the boasted good faith of the English nation, and a mockery of that equitable religion, whose precepts are founded upon the purest principles of justice and humanity."
Molyneux's Work, intituled, " The Case of Ireland's being "bound by Acts of Parliament in England.”
It is difficult to conceive a condition of greater degradation and misery, than that, to which the
* Bishop Tomline's Life of Pitt, vol. i. p. 142.
catholic inhabitants of Ireland were, at this time, reduced. An event now took place, from which the gradual but slow amelioration of the general state of Ireland may be dated: and in this, though very indirectly and very scantily, still, in a certain measure, the catholics participated.
For some time, the manufacture of wool in Ireland had been on the increase: it was supposed to employ twelve thousand families in the metropolis, and thirty thousand dispersed over the rest of the kingdom; and the exportation of it to foreign markets was considerable. The English began to feel a jealousy at the prosperity of this branch of Irish commerce, and several acts* were passed to restrain it, and to confine the exportation to England. But the trade was almost wholly in the hands of the protestants; and as soon as the English government began to check it, these began to feel the oppressive system of English policy. This led some inquisitive spirits to question the right of England to legislate for Ireland: among these, Mr. William Molyneux, member for the university of Dublin, a man deeply versed in the constitution of his country, honoured by the friendship of Locke, and esteemed by the good and wise men of his time, as a patriot and a philanthropist, particularly distinguished himself by his celebrated pamphlet, intituled, "The Case of Ireland's being "bound by Acts of Parliament in England." He observed, that the claim of the English parliament
1 W. & M. c. 32; 4 W. & M. c. 24; 7 & 8 W. & M. ch. 28; 9 W. & M. c. 40.
must be founded on purchase, conquest, or precedents. As to the first, he showed that there was no pretence for it; as to the second, he contended that Ireland was not so conquered by Henry the second, as to give the parliament of England any jurisdiction over Ireland: and as to the precedents, by which this jurisdiction was attempted to be established, he professed to show, that no such precedent of an earlier date than thirty-seven years could be produced; and that the latter precedents had never been acquiesced in, but always complained of.
His work was generally read, and gave such offence to the English government, that it was complained of in the house of commons, and referred to a committee: they reported it to contain many dangerous positions; and to counteract its impressions, the parliament of Ireland passed the act" for "the further security of his majesty's person and "government," by which they re-enacted the English statute of the third of William and Mary.— From this time, till the legislative recognition of the independence of Ireland in 1782, the question never was at rest. There was always a party, who professed to maintain the rights of Ireland against the tyranny of England, and to promote, in opposition to her narrow politics, such measures as were of a nature to increase the importance and happiness of Ireland. For a considerable time they joined the government of England in its systematic oppression of the catholics; still, by disseminating some general principles and truths, favourable to civil and
religious liberty, they prepared, though at a great distance, the public mind to receive the strong appeals made to their understandings and feelings, which in a subsequent but distant time, were made to them by the catholics.
The conduct of William the third in respect to the Irish roman-catholics.
"THE peculiar state of Ireland," says Mr. Macpherson*, "seems to have been overlooked in "the contest. The ground upon which the depri"vation of James had been founded in England "had not existed in Ireland. The lord lieutenant "had retained his allegiance. The government "was uniformly continued under the name of the prince; from him the servants of the crown had "derived their commissions. James himself had "for more than seventeen months exercised the "royal functions in Ireland. He was certainly "de facto, if not de jure, king. The rebellion of "the Irish must therefore be founded on the
position, that their allegiance is transferrible by "the parliament of England. A speculative opi"nion can scarcely justify the punishment of a "great majority of a people. The Irish ought to "have been considered as enemies rather than as "rebels t."
• History of Great Britain.
+"BOSWELL. Pray, Mr. Dilly, how does Leland's History "of Ireland' sell?—JOHNSON (bursting forth with a generous
It appears that the views of William himself in respect to the Irish catholics were those of wise and humane policy; that he sought to conciliate the body of the nation by promoting its general prosperity, and of the catholics in particular by a liberal toleration of their particular creed, and a complete protection of their persons and properties. But these enlarged and just notions did not accord with the designs of those, to whom he was obliged to confide the government of this country, and on whom the precariousness of his own title rendered him dependent: these forced him into measures to which he was averse from his nature, and which were incongruous with his notions of policy. If we are to believe a respectable and intelligent writer*, the catholics made due allowances to William for the circumstances in which he was involved; "his kindness and partiality deserved their "esteem, conciliated their affections, and fixed "their allegiance: they took the oath prescribed
by the articles of Limerick, and neither the secret practices of the exiles, nor the examples of plots
indignation,) “The Irish are in a most unnatural state; for "we see there the minority prevailing over the majority. "There is no instance, even in the ten persecutions, of such "severity as that which the protestants of Ireland have exer"cised against the catholics. Did we tell them, it would be "above board: to punish them by confiscation and other "penalties, as rebels, was monstrous injustice. King William "was not their lawful sovereign; he had not been acknow"ledged by any parliament of Ireland, when they appeared “in arms against him.”
• O'Conor's History, p. 157, 158.