« PreviousContinue »
will have lost almost all her customers, except this poor country, so that there will be hands enough to work up her goods without our assistance. We must either go begging once more in shoals about the streets, or go to sea without hopes of prize money, or list for soldiers, which God knows is a poor life, and, in that case, who is to take care of our families ?
Now suppose the French are beaten, what shall we get to make us amends for all this misery? Nothing! But suppose, on the other side, Dumourier, or whatever his name is, the French General, wins the battle, what becomes of the war then ? At any rate it is no matter to us, for let who will get the battle, the poor are sure to suffer all the hardship; God forgive the great people, whoever they are, that advised our good King to this war; there is not one of them will lose an hour's sleep or a meal's meat by it; but it is not so with us; we are hard set enough to live already, and a month's idleness sends us all starving. I wish before they were so brave in declaring this war, that they had taken a walk through the Liberty and other places that I could bring them to; but God help the poor, for they are able to help nobody, and, therefore, nobody cares for them.
I have a great deal more to say, but neither you can afford time to read, nor I to write a long paper. If I find you like this, you shall hear from me again. In the mean time I am your friend and comrade,
A LIBERTY WEAVER. Marrow-bone Lane, March, 1793.
A Brief Caution to the Roman Catholics of Ireland.
(By a real Friend to the Rights of Mankind.] MY BELOVED BRETHREN : In all the warmth of Christian love and sincere friendship, I call upon your attention to the following brief address :
That our claims to participate in the rights and privileges of liege subjects are justly founded, no one pretends to deny. Peaceable demeanor and long approved loyalty have had a desirable effect, in obtaining a relaxation of the penal laws; and, at the approaching session, I hope and trust we shall gain all that we want.
There is one thing only to prevent it; and against that one thing I wish the more earnestly to caution you, as there is good reason to fear that secret enemies are working hard to defeat our intentions.
Take care, then, let me earnestly entreat, that you do not place too great a reliance on people of other religious persuasions, who offer their advice and assistance unasked. Even if sincere in their professions, it can do you no service; but if deceitful, may do irreparable mischief. Consider whether they be not alike enemies to Protestants and Roman Catholics, whether they are not jealous of the relaxations already obtained, and wish, by misleading you, to prevent your gaining any more.
Remember Lord George Gordon. That 'mad fanatic showed the rank hatred of his party to the Roman Catholics by fire and massacre. Take care ! for there may be Gordons here, who, not less inveterate, though more artful, will, under the mask of friendship, prove themselves as bitter enemies.
“An open foe may prove a curse ;
A Short Answer to a “ Brief Caution to the Roman Catholics
[By a Liberty Boy.) DEAR COUNTRYMEN: I bought last night for a halfpenny, the address to which I mean this as an answer; and though it was printed on coarse paper, it was easy to see that the writer of it was no common hand. He sets out with great professions of good will to you and your cause, and when he thinks that he has by this means, got you all on his side, he lets the cat out of the bag, and gives you fair warning to 66 take care of the Presbyterians, for, if you do not, your good friends the Government will be very angry with you, and whether you have right on your side or not, if you join those fellows in the North, you shall get no relief at all," and so he tells some nonsense about Lord George Gordon, and concludes.
Now, my dear countrymen, do not you see the plain English of all this ? Long ago, when you and your Protestant brethren were foolishly and wickedly ready to cut each other's throats at
every hand's turn; whenever your Committee applied for relief to the English Government at the Castle, the answer they always got, was, “Gentlemen, We love you of all things, and would do any thing to serve you; but we are afraid of those Presbyterians in the North, who would resist you and us with arms in their hands, so we beg you will excuse us.” And with this answer (which, by-the-by, was a lie) you were obliged to be, or at least to seem, contented. But now times are well mended with us. The Presbyterians in the North, and particularly in Belfast, which you all know is the life and soul of that quarter, are convinced of the folly and injustice of keeping up old quarrels, and wasting against you the spirit that should be exerted against the common enemy, I mean the wicked, bribing taxing Administration of this country. They come forward, like honest and hearty Irishmen, ready to forgive and forget, and they intreat you to do the like; they bind themselves by a solemn promise never to rest until you are put on the same footing in all things, with themselves; and many of the best and bravest and wisest among your people have joined and shaken hands with them, and thousands and tens of thousands more of you will follow them. Now see what Government and their dirty hack writers say. The minute they find that they are beaten out of their old lying excuse about the Presbyterians being your enemies, they change their note, and roar out "take care what you are doing; if you offer to go near those fellows in the North, we are done with you for ever; as you made your bed, you may lie in it, but we wash our hands out of you." Now, my dear countrymen, is there a man among you that does not see through this poor stuf
stuff? Government think they have you completely in their hands, and they are determined, if they can, to keep you so: for this bad purpose, they have got some men among you of very high rank, and very low principles, to go about begging your names, if you can write them, and your marks if you cannot, to slavish and shabby addresses to the Castle, throwing yourselves on the mercy of the great people there, and declaring that if you get ever so little, you will be very thankful, and if you get nothing at all, you will stay as you are, and be very thankful, and such mean trash unworthy any true honest hearted Irishman; but, above all things, abusing your General Committee, and those wise men and gallant patriots among you who
have cordially shaken hands with your Protestant countrymen. Now the way that the Castle has got hold of these men, is curious; one of them, who is commonly reputed a Lord, knows very well that he has not half so good a claim to the title as my Lord Hackball, and so he wants the King to make him over again, that he may be something or other, for, at present, he is neither fish nor flesh, but a good for nothing kind of a mule between a peer and a commoner. Another is a young gentleman who wants to come to the bar, which, if he can obtain, he does not care a rush if you and your children after you, remain black slaves as you are these ten thousand years to come. And this is the worthy pair who, after endeavoring to blow up your General Committee, and failing in the attempt, now go about getting names and marks to their papers, one that he may be called my Lord at the Castle, and the other, that he may wear a big wig and a black gown in the Four-courts.
Now is it worth your while to desert your countrymen, and sell yourselves and your children to eternal slavery, for the sake of propping up two such rotten posts? What will you get by it? Is it any music to you to hear one of these honest gentlement called my Lord,” and another of them “Counsellor?” Will it put a coat on your poor backs, or a halfpenny roll in your children's bellies? Are two millions and a half of you, wretched as you are, of less value than two corrupt ambitious and selfish men? No, my dear countrymen, have no dealings with them; put your trust in your Committee; they are honest men, and never deceived you, because your interest is their interest; do not be led out of your way by great men or their understrappers, who will speak you very fair, till they have gained their dirty ends, and then sell the pass on you. A great man, as he is called, very often turns out a great rap, and the greater he is, the less likely he is to take care of you, or your affairs, provided he can carry his own job. But I need say no more on this head, because you are a shrewd knowing people, who see a thing very quick, and it is not very easy to impose on you. The whole truth of the matter is, that Government are frightened out of whatever wits they had, for fear you should unite with your Protestant brethren; and well they may, for they know well enough that whenever that happens, there is an end too at once to their heavy taxing, and their dirty jobbing, and their
sinking the public money in their own pockets, and building fine palaces out of the sweat and blood and bowels of the people, and then setting scoundrels of policemen at their doors to watch them, and making you pay dearly, God knows, for all. All this would be stopped short; whereas now, while you and your Protestant brethren are watching each other like cat and mouse, and wrangling and sparring like fools, they get on fair and easy picking the pockets of both of you, and laughing at you into the bargain.
Now the Castle being so eager to prevent your uniting, is the very best reason why you should do it; and you may take it as a safe rule when they want you to do any thing, to go directly and do what is totally opposite: do you think people at the Castle care about you or your sufferings, where all they can sack and wring out of you, is too little to divide among themselves, and buy votes in Parliament ? Be assured, my dear countrymen, and read this part of my paper again and again till you have it by heart, and teach it to your little children, that “ Ireland never will be happy, nor a flourishing country, until you have an honest Government; and that is what you never will have, until we are all united and one people."
For God's sake and your own sake, open your eyes, and let it not be said that, while you and the Presbyterians were like two mastiffs, worrying each other for a bone, a dirty English cur came in between, and carried it off from both of you.
A LIBERTY BOY. Crooked Staff, January, 1792.