« PreviousContinue »
LETTERS DURING THE YEAR 1792.
Extract of a letter of Richard Burke to the Catholic Sub-com
mittee, dated 17th June, 1792.
6. The transactions of last winter, on the most undoubted information, have made no impression whatsoever, to the disadvantage of the Catholics, on the English Government, whilst the authority of their adversaries is diminished. The Irish Government have remonstrated in the strongest manner against the further interference of the English Government, and have even insisted, as a right, that no communication shall be held with the Catholics, except through their medium. In order to enforce this demand, they have studiously exaggerated the discontents of the ruling Protestants, and have urged the difficulty, if not impossibility, of carrying on the Government on any principle to which they are decidedly adverse. The means they possess to embarrass Government by the possession of the whole state, are held out as an insuperable obstacle, and the English Ministry are threatened with the entire responsibility of the confusion which they pretend to foresee, in case that Government should persist in pressing a measure in favor of the Catholics against the general sense of the great parliamentary interests. Such are the arguments, or rather the menaces, which have been employed on the part of the Irish Government to prevent that spirit of just and liberal policy which has taken place in England, from finding its way into Ireland.
“ The judgment, the desires, the power, and the threats of all the great interests who have ruled Ireland for one hundred years, combined and speaking through the medium of its Government, must be wholly disregarded, and set at defiance, before the English Government can take any decided, ostensible part in the Catholic emancipation.
" It would, say they, be absurd in Government to risque its seeurity by discontenting the great mass of the Protestant interest, for the sake of a people who have no real power, either to embarrass Government or to support it. The Catholics, however numerous, must be considered as a loose, disorderly multitude, without unanimity or subordination, and of no real conse
quence. That long habits of depression on the one side, and the exclusive exercise of all civil functions on the other, have given the Protestants a decided superiority in vigor and efficiency. That the demands of the Catholics do not proceed from the general sense of oppression pervading the people at large, but are in fact only the discontents of a few; and that, however the Catholics may appear to embody and assume a menacing aspect, they will return into their former state of passive tranquillity, the moment the Irish Government begin to exert themselves ; the Catholics having nothing but themselves to depend upon. In a word, the real political strength and power of Ireland reside in the Protestants essentially, and, against the sense thereof, it is in vain for any English Minister to contend.
“The Catholics may rely upon it, that no obstacle whatsoever to their emancipation, has or will come from England. But he cannot flatter himself, at the present moment, though he does not altogether despair of it, that the English Government will take any active part in favor of the Catholics. On their ability to cope with the Protestant ascendency, every thing turns : for, if they be not able, it would scarcely be in the power of the English Government to improve their situation, without recurring to direct force ; which it would be vain for the Catholics to expect.
“If M. O. and his party be too much for the Catholics, the business is at an end. They have nothing to do but to recommend themselves as well as they can to the ruling party; a policy not unworthy the consideration of judicious men, and would probably be recommended by many persons of weight and condition. It certainly has its advantages, and if the Catholics gain nothing, they will lose nothing by it.
“On intimidating the Catholics, the Irish Government chiefly rely. But though they may threaten, they will not strike : for they must use the power of the . .
which will not be granted to them for such a purpose.”
Answer to Mr. Richard Burke, (written by my father.)
Sır: The Sub-committee of the Catholics of Ireland have been favored with your letter, dated the 17th June last. From that letter the committee learns, with very great regret, that,
notwithstanding your zeal and exertions in their behalf, the enemies to the emancipation of the Catholics, have, for the present, in a great degree succeeded ; that the Government here have l'emonstrated in the strongest manner, against the further interference of the English Ministers, and have even insisted as a right, that no communication should be held with us, except through the medium of themselves; and that menaces have been used, it should seem successfully, to quell the spirit of just and liberal policy, which has taken place in England, by threatening Ministers there with the entire responsibility of the confusion, which our administration pretends to foresee, should they persist in pressing a measure in favor of the Catholics, against the general sense of the great parliamentary interests. It is, however, some consolation to the committee that you desire us to rely upon it, that no obstacle whatever to our emancipation, has or will come from the part of Government in England, whose liberality towards us we shall ever remember with gratitude and affection.
Among the variety of disagreeable consequences resulting from the success of our adversaries in procuring this, at least, neutrality of the British Ministers, it is not the least prejudicial to our cause, nor mortifying to our feelings, that it prevents us from deriving the advantages which would, under more favorable circumstances, result from your personal efforts. We regret to find by your letter, that the determination of Ministers in England is such as to render all further application to them useless, at least until, by our own exertions, we may become an object of sufficient magnitude, again to attract their attention.
The committee is sensible of the justice of your observations on their present state and future conduct. We know that imputations have been often thrown out, as if we should not speak the sense of the whole Catholic people. We have repeatedly felt the force of that objection, and several of our body have, in discourse with you, often stated the inconvenience, and our determination to adopt such measures as might prevent the possibility of such imputations arising in future. We know it will give you great pleasure to hear, as it does us to be able to inform you, that such measures have been unremittingly and successfully pursued since your departure, and are now so far advanced as to be very near completion. We have strong hopes that the
event of these measures will be such as to change the present determination of the British Minister, to remove the restraint laid on them by our enemies here, and to enable them to follow the liberal dictates of their hearts, by interfering actively to forward our emancipation.
If, as we have every reason to expect, the plan we meditate proves successful, we shall again be enabled to serve and to gratify ourselves, by calling into action the zeal and ability of our friends, in the number of which, and amongst the foremost, the Sub-committee will ever with pride, gratitude, and affection, record the name of Mr. Burke. In the mean time, and during this suspension of negotiations at your side of the water, the committee are persuaded that, if any occurrence takes place, which may influence their concerns, you will give them such information
Note of Mr. Grattan.
DEAR Sır: I was favored with your letter, and much informed by the correspondence. I'll take care to return the papers in a few posts, with many thanks. I am, dear sir, your most humble servant,
Letters from Colonel Barry to Theobald Wolfe Tone, Esq. The 39th regiment is to be reviewed Tuesday, at 10 o'clock, which notice I give you, if you wish to see us.
I have every reason to believe the independent lieutenancies will be immediately given away. From hence I shall go to Lord Welles, to acquaint him with this, if his Lordship will do any thing for our friend Russell. Yours, sincerely.
H. BARRY. Great Longford street, Sunday, May 8th.
MY DEAR Sır: Since receiving your letter of the 7th, my only consideration has been, in what manner it would be best for me
to aim at accomplishing your wish; and this, after much thought, I am of opinion is most likely to be done by deferring my application to Lord Rawdon till my return to England; which will be either the end of next month, or the beginning of July, when I can, to more advantage, personally prefer it, and state to his Lordship the talents you possess, the experience in public affairs which you have acquired, and the real use to which those qualities would apply. His Lordship's desire to serve such a man, I cannot doubt; but his present ability, or his not having some other gentleman in the situation you aim at, are points on which I must confess I have many fears, as has My Lady Granard, with whom I have taken the liberty of generally consulting on the subject. To-morrow I go for Galway, to join my regiment; but there, and everywhere, you will find me your ready and faithful servant,
H. BARRY. Castle Forbes, May 11th, 1792.
MY DEAR SIR : Having, from Castle Forbes, fully answered your letter, I shall say no more on its interesting subject, but proceed to that of this. Mr. Harman, member for the county of Longford, being created a Peer, an election for one in his room must shortly take place. He puts up Mr. Barnes Harman, a relation of his own, and My Lord Granard opposes to him Mr. Sandys, whom if you can serve, either by your influence in Dublin, or writing, it will certainly be an acceptable thing to the party you act with. If you called on Lady Moira with this, she will inform you of all circumstances, and it would be best, in whatever you do, to take her Ladyship’s opinions, which I have, on all occasions, found to be the best I could adopt. It is needless to say this is a secret letter. I am not without hopes that something for the present may be settled for you by the party you act with, on this side of the water, and in a manner you would approve. I mentioned it, and the great use you are of, to Lord Granard. If I did wrong, zeal was the cause, and that you will pardon to your faithful servant,
H. BARRY. Galway, May 14th, 1792. P.S. You may talk freely with Lady Moira, and open to her your mind and situation. It would be wise.