Imágenes de páginas

in the manner above described. It is declared that every blacksmith forging a pike, or allowing it to be made at his forge, with his knowledge, shall forfeit his license. The penalties are the same as those decreed against the possessors of unregistered arms. It is moreover provided that any smith, or other person, who makes a pike, pike-head, dagger, or the like, without license from the Master of the Ordnance, shall, upon conviction, be adjudged a felon, and transported for seven years. All persons convicted of having arms of this description in their possession are, upon conviction, to be imprisoned twelve months for the first offence; to be adjudged felons, and transported for seven years, for the second. By a later act,* licenses for making and repairing arms of any description, must be renewed yearly under a penalty of £100. The same act orders every manufacturer, in this department, to make a monthly report to the chief secretary of the number of arms sold and repaired by him, under a penalty of £20; and that official may force him to produce his books for the purpose of checking his accounts.

The act last quoted takes additional measures for securing the disarming of the Irish nation. It forbids gunpowder, arms, and ordnance to be imported into Ireland without the license of the Lord Lieutenant, under a penalty of £100 for the importer, £50 for the master, and the forfeiture both of vessel and cargo. Gunpowder or cannon may not be manufactured in Ireland without a license; and the manufacturers must return correct accounts of their stock and sales. A license to manufacture, does not entitle its holder to retail gunpowder. The retail dealer must be furnished with a license from Quarter Sessions; and this license may be withdrawn at any time, on notice from the chief secretary. The penalty for each offence against these provisions is £50. To fill up the measure of the iniquity of this enactment, it is declared that every retailer who, during the course of two calendar months, at one time, or on several occasions, sells upwards of two pounds of gunpowder to a person not licensed, forfeits £20; and any licensed person procuring gunpowder for an unlicensed person, forfeits £200.

Such were the provisions made for disarming and keeping down the people by Castlereagh and Wellington; and these iniquitous regulations have been continued by an act introduced by the reforming ministry towards the close of last session, and hurried through both Houses of Parliament with a haste that contrasts strangely with the usual snail-pace of their legislative proceedings. On the back of this, they have clapped an act "to restrain, in certain cases, party processions in Ireland," which declares all processions for the purpose of celebrating or commemorating any event connected with religious distinctions, unlawful assemblies, and the persons present guilty of a misdemeanour. The same rulers maintain in Ireland a regular army of twenty-five thousand men, an orange yeomanry upwards of thirty thousand strong, and an armed police of some seven thousand men.

It is necessary to keep all the facts here recapitulated in view, in order to appreciate at their full value, the inuendoes of the Chancellor and his Lieutenant. The Irish nation, after more than a century of unexampled suffering, venture to remonstrate against a burden hateful alike in the eyes of God and man. They shew that if relief be not granted them, they can quietly slip it off their shoulders; and the first step of those whose duty it is to guard and maintain their rights, is to

• 1 and 2 W. IV. c. 47.

strap it more tightly on. Aware of their weakness, and the overwhelming force that may be arrayed against them, they oppose a passive resistance, a resistance entirely within the limits of the law. It is true that a conspiracy to defeat the law is punishable, but that conspiracy must be proved-legally proved. Now, under these circumstances, what is the language held by our rulers. "You have been oppressed, and we are going to rivet your chains. You are weak and disarmed, we are powerful and armed cap-à-pie. It is in vain for you to remain quiet. We will declare your stillness contumacy. We will declare your crowded meetings illegal. We will suspend your habeas corpus act, and then you are at our mercy." What is this, but to force men into rebellion whether they will or not, in order to obtain a pretext for punishing them?

In the title of this paper, we have alluded to the persecution of the Presbyterians under the last Stuarts. The parallel betwixt their case and that of the Irish Catholics in our day is complete. In Scotland, as in Ireland, the quarrel between the Government and the people originated in an attempt on the part of the former to maintain a church establishment which the latter believed to be unwarranted by divine truth. The justice or injustice of that church's claims to belief and obedience is not here the question. The oppression consisted in violating the freedom of men's minds, by enforcing an external submission to an authority not essential to the preservation of the public peace, and against which the inner man revolted. In Scotland as in Ireland, the measure adopted by the people was not resistance, but merely allowing the law to take its way. They did not conform, but they allowed the penalties to be exacted. The very same methods which have been taken by Ministers to weaken the hands of the people and to strengthen those of Government in Ireland, were adopted by the counsellors of Charles Stuart. In the sum mer of 1655, orders were issued for seizing arms in the southern counties of Scotland. On the 25th of March, 1667, a royal proclamation ordered all the arms, gunpowder and ammunition, (except the walking swords of gentlemen) in the southern and western counties, to be delivered up at certain central places; empowering the sheriffs to fine all persons who did not obey. So close is the resemblance between this ordinance and the Irish gunpowder act, that imported arms and ammunition are directly pointed at. On the 2d of April, 1661, the king's life-guard was formed; the first instance of a standing army in Scotland. In the month of May, 1678, measures were taken for raising additional troops; and, shortly afterwards, a packed Parliament made a grant to the King for their maintenance. In December of the same year, the final arrangements were made for organizing a militia of horse and foot; and to complete the parallel between these forces and the Orange yeomanry, it is evident, from the letters of the Privy Council, when preparing to suppress the rising which terminated at Bothwell Bridge, that the rulers dared not call out and arm the regular constitutional horse militia, but only the wealthier heritors of those counties where prelacy had some hold. The cess granted in the year 1678, was a tax imposed for the support of Episcopacy, and was met by the Scots exactly as the Irish now meet the imposition of tithes. One stroke, and our picture is complete. The Privy Council, finding that neither the violation of the subject's constitutional rights, nor the irritating frequency of search-warrants could sting the people to rebellion, began to attach the penalties of that crime to passive non-conformity; and in their proclamations, declared

the act of meeting out of doors, although solely for the purpose of pubfic worship, seditious, and rebellious. This last drop made the cup overflow. The people crowded together for defence and redress; and their lordly oppressors, triumphing in the success of their machinations, cut them down, and rode jollily rough-shod over them.

To this parallel, we earnestly intreat the attention of his Majesty's Ministers. We know that they would repel with scorn the imputation of wishing to oppress the people, or tyrannize over conscience: but we cannot look to Ireland without feeling convinced that they are pertina. ciously doing both. We know how far human passion can blind men, once drawn within the vortex of a system, to the character of their own acts. We know that Nathan's "Thou art the man," is the only appeal that can awaken men from the flattering delusion of passion, set upon the attainment of a desired object. And therefore we adjure Lord Grey and his colleagues, by their love of their country's peace and power, by their regard for their own fair fame, when they have looked at the hideous image of Episcopalian tyranny in Scotland, long enough to feel their minds filled with loathing and detestation, to turn their gaze inwards, and scrutinize their own conduct in Ireland.

We know what their answer will be. Like the rest of mankind, when convicted of having done wrong, they will have recourse to palliatives, and seek to sin on. They will say that the oppression of Ireland by others has so maddened the people, that it is dangerous to let them loose. They will point to the outrages of Whitefeet and Blackfeet. They will hint at the Catholic's desire to ride in turn on the necks of his oppressors. Again do we point to Scottish history, and bid them read the present in the past. The pretensions of the Catholic church to control the civil power were never one whit more extravagant than those of the General Assembly in its high and palmy state in 1640; yet has it trampled upon the rights of citizens since its restoration in 1688 ? Even the Whiteboy outrages are not without a parallel in the history of the times of our persecution.* The explanation of this is to be found in Fletcher's statement of the numbers of idle, houseless desperadoes then to be found in Scotland. Those who resisted the government for righteousness sake, and those who were enemies to all law, had no nearer connexion than that of inhabiting the same country. If the peasantry learned to look with a tolerant eye on plunder and outrage, it was the fault of that Government which classed in one category of crime, and pursued with equal relentlessness, the most virtuous and the most vicious of mankind. When the night of storm and confusion passed away, when law again asserted its supremacy, and patriotism was no longer classed with murder and robbery, the natural healthy moral sense of our peasantry revived. And so will it be in Ireland. Place the Irish Catholic on a footing with the rest of his Christian brethren. The day is passed when priests of any creed could make men tools of their ambition. Give Ireland just laws, give her sons their native and due rights, and all will soon grow worthy of them.

In the character, not of partisans or flatterers, but of real friends, we again demand the attention of ministers to these considerations. There was a time when men (falsely we believe, but still plausibly,) might speak of insinuating first one amendment and then another, until

Vide Wodrow, folio edition, 1772, p. 25, " Murder of two soldiers at Newmills" and same author, passim for robberies and outrages upon the curates.

a political principle was insensibly established. When the power was in the hands of freedom's enemies, there might be some sense in seeking to steal a march upon them. These days are gone Whoever holds power in future, must do so by an open avowal of his principles, and by acting up to them as closely as he may. Personal affection and esteem may conciliate a small band of adherents; but the profession and enforcement of those principles to which the mass of the people are attached, can alone secure national confidence and esteem. That mystery which is the strength of the despot, is the weakness of a free government. Its implement is the will of the people; and that works freely only where there is perfect confidence. To the present ministers, doubt is weakness and timidity is destruction. In the enchanted hall of the poet, "Be bold" was the legend of ninety-nine doors, "Be not too bold," only that of the hundredth.

It is no ordinary stake for which we now play it is the loss or preservation of Ireland. We confess that the maintenance of an incorporating union seems to us desirable. Ireland has capabilities, and England has capital. The counties of Down and Meath are the bleaching fields of Manchester; Queen's County and Kildare, the provision grounds of Liverpool. By the aid of steam, the two islands are virtually made one. Where the local situation is so close, and society so intertwined by mutual employment and services, one government and one law is an advantage of no ordinary nature. If Ireland separate from us, our fleets must walk the waters comparatively crippled. But it is the feeling of a community of interests alone that ought to retain the Irish people united to Britain. If this feeling do not exist, the maintenance of the Union will only weaken and destroy the happiness of both. One step on the part of Ministers will determine this eventful question. Their faltering in their grand scheme for settling the tithe question towards the close of last session gives us hopes; but the language of Brougham and Anglesea is of evil augury. The welfare, the might of Britain depends upon their resolution. If they choose amiss, a more mortifying character with posterity than even that of tyrants awaits them. They will be spoken of as men who rashly grappled with a task to which both their want of knowledge and weakness of character rendered them inadequate. Their pigmy stature and their worthlessness will contrast ludicrously with the magnitude and importance of the events, among which they are mixed up. They will be the flies in amber, the Tom Thumbs of history.


In these unpoetical times one is forced to fall back upon the outpourings of the first five-and-twenty years of the century. That was the age of poetry. The clear stream rushed out, gurgling and sparkling, now in tiny jets, now in a broad impetuous flood, now calm and majestic, anon rippling and fantastic, now murmuring like a rill which runs" to hide its chilly bubbles in the grass." Every day almost brought forth a new poem, and the greedy public gobbled it down, and looked agape for the next. Scott pleased us with his clear fresh pictures of hill and dale, his easy jingle, his interesting adventures, and his heroes, the faint shadows of those forms which were to become pal

pable, warm, and breathing substances in his novels. Wordsworth sat apart on his own Westmoreland hills, flinging to the gale tones austere as the steepy hills which surrounded him; majestic as the notes which, trumpet-toned, swept up their ravines; pure and holy as the cool dim atmosphere of an old cathedral; with ever and anon a dropping passage at the close, which went right to the heart. Coleridge thrilled the blood with tales of unearthly mariners with glittering eyes, and wild-wood spirits gliding in visible form, "now in glimmer and now in gloom," and then made the pulse beat thick with the voluptuous deep-toned melody of "Genevieve," or saddened the mood by conjuring up before our fancy the ancient forests


Midway the smooth and perilous slope reclined;

Their own imperious branches swinging,
Have made a solemn music to the wind.

Beside him stood Wilson, less swelling and sustained in his notes, but equally master of all the beauteous combinations of the gorgeous and shifting elements, with a wild, yet gentle and dreamy minstrelsy. Byron (like Scott, but without his historical treasures, and calm observant eye for noting the realities of life around him) approached nearer to the prose of life than the others. It required an effort and exertion on his part to spring up into the airy realms of imagination; but once there, his intense will and glowing passion bore him onward with no undignified flight. Yet still, at every pause, he would stop to mock his own earnestness, and then again throw his whole soul into his lofty task. And Hunt was the heart-felt bard of social life; and Keats, with his Hyperion rising up through his Endymion, was undergoing a spiritual transition, akin to that which the Gothic artist's skill underwent, when his quaintly carved, arched, and pinnacled shrines for saints, expanded into lofty domes and minsters.

By far the sweetest and most purely poetical of these sweet singers, was poor Shelley; although a variety of circumstances combined to divert attention from his notes. These circumstances are so closely interwoven with his personal history, that it is impossible to avoid a brief recapitulation of its principal events.

Shelley was born at his father's seat in Sussex, on the 4th of August, 1792. He was drowned on the night of the 8th of July, 1822-before he had completed his thirtieth year. Till he was seven or eight years of age, he was educated at home with his sisters; and carried, in consequence, a bashfulness and delicate purity of feeling to school with him, rarely to be met with in boys. From his eighth to his thirteenth year was spent at Sion House school, Brentford, where the boisterous sports, and less pure language and manners of the other boys, kept him from forming intimacies with them. In his thirteenth year he was sent to Eton, whence he was soon removed to Oxford. Before this transference took place he had fallen in with the writings of Hume, and with all the rashness of a young and ardent spirit, had embraced the opinions of that philosopher. He had likewise been labouring for about a year at German: but his acquaintance with the literature of that language, obtained chiefly through the medium of English translations, for which all the rubbish seems to have been most assiduously selected, had, without extending his range of ideas, served only to imbue him with the mysticism and exaggeration of its circulating library school. A popular lecturer

« AnteriorContinuar »