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MR. O'LEJRY'S DEFENCE.
The unprovoked attack made on my character was for a long time a mystery to others as well as to myself. The perusal of several pamphlets at length enabled me to unfold it. The murmurs of the lower orders against proctors and tithecanters, induced the authors of several publications (some of them were beneficed clergymen) to wish for some other mode of supporting the clergy, less oppressive to the poor than the collection of tithes attended with continual litigations, but equally advantageous to the clerical profession* and more honourable, as it would remove every occasion o dispute between pastors and their parishioners. This plan, however countenanced by the ablest men in England, and by many sensible men of the established church in Ireland, made Theophilue mad, and the Bishop of Cloyne somewhat angry. The alarm bell was rung by Theophilus, and the presses began to teem with the Bishop's pamphlets. Some batteries were to be erected to defend the usual mode of collecting tithes. And on the walls of the church was planted the rusty cannon of popery to fire, and give notice of the approach of the enemy. It was laid down as a maxim, that in the Catholie church the clergy enforce the payment of tithes jura divino ;* and that the clergy of the church of Rome would resume the tithes with the assistance of foreign powers. This master-piece of generalship (if I may U3e a word which I cannot find in Johnson's Dictionary) succeeded. What Lord Clarendon said of the reign of Charles the First, was verified in eighty-seven. The Papists w<* re the most
* See Theppbiln".
common place, and the butt against which all the arrows were directed. Ghiliuis's letter and the Bishop's consecration oath were roused from their dusty pillows, and stripped of their long Roman dress were introduced into every circle in an English garb. The arrival of those foreigners alarmed several on their first appearance, as much (and with as much reason) as the tidings of the arrival of eight hundred Jesuits mounted on dromedaries, alarmed the citizens of London in the reign of Charles the Second, though the mes-^ senger who frightened others knew that he was secure from the danger.
It happened that in order to reclaim by reason people who had shaken off the yoke of authority, I told the whiteboys that if they had grievances to complain of, the legislature alone was competent to redress them; informing them at the same time, that no power on earth would permit any set of men to overturn established laws by private authority.* The word grievances alarmed the Bishojvfor reasons unknown to me, but best known to himself. This was the the signal of war, as if my conduct and writings had been incentives to sedition. Every advantage was taken of me. But it is now time to repel force by force, and to recover the ground of which my aggressors have taken possession during my careless inactivity.
Pray, then, my Lord Bishop of Cloyne, and you Theo
Jjhilus, whose mouth, like that of Palinurus, is better qualified or blowing that trumpet which you have thrust into mine, tuba ciere viros marlemque accendere cantu. On what ground can you bring the charge against Mr. O'Leary? Can you
ground it on my writings? You have garbled them; you avc mangled them; you had models to copy after. And imitation is no bad help. A man attempted once to deny the resurrection by the same texts that establish the belief of it. He succeeded by adding a monosyllable, and placing a point of interrogation in the room of a full stop, and transposing a word. Text runs thus:—Surrexit. JVon est hie. He is risen. He is not here. The literary magician got rid of the difficulty by punctuating and transposing the words in the following manner:—Surrexit ne?
* The letters may be seen in the Appendix.
JSfon. * Est hie. Is he risen? No. He is here. There is ingenuity. And by his skill in mangling phrases the Bishop of Cloyne changes the way of the cross is the road to the crown, into sedition. •■ • ..
When I come to the vindication of my writings, I shall show more of the Bishop's ingenuity in scattering limbs, Which I shall restore to their proper places. Doctor Woodward and I live in the same country. Can he stand forth, and arraign my conduct?
The disturbances took their rise in the diocese of Cloyne, about the month of September, 1785. I never had been in that diocese but twice on a visit to Mr. Roche of Trabulgan, who, about two years before the disturbances, had retired to Naples for the benefit of his health. I had no acquaintances in the diocese of Cloyne, except the Protestant and Catholic gentlemen of consequence. And however great my esteem for, and the.confidence I repose in them, I am not so divested of common sense as to put myself in their power; it would be the means of losing their esteem.—Want of prudence, says Load Littleton, is often times want of virtue. And I would forfeit my claim of both, if I urged a deluded multitude to their destruction by encouraging them to fly in the face of the established laws, and to deprive any person of the property secured to him by the state. For whom, does the Bishop of Cloyne take me then, when, in his Postscript, interlarded with the garbled passages of my addresses, he throws out insinuations so injurious to my character, and attempts to palliate and extenuate those insinuations under the thin gause of a salvo. I do not say that the reverend author intends to sow sedition, but if such were his design ?* will any man of sense be satisfied with the excuse of a monosyllable but or iff I am not acquainted with the lower classes in his diocese, though they know me from character, as a man more inclined to lead them into the path of subordination and peace, than to goad them to madness. . •■
I have renounced every claim to tithes by sacred vows.
* Bishop of Cloyne's Pamphlet, p. 103.
The Lord Bishop of Cloyne then may rest satisfied that I never intended to sow sedition from a rapacious view to his ecclesiastical revenues, and that I can frankly say with parson Adams to his brother Trulliber, in Fielding's Joseph Andrews, Nihil habeo cum porcis. I have no call to your tithe pigs.
The Bishop and the public must then acknowledge, that I was in no manner whatever interested in tithes, much less in fomenting riots and disorders. But common sense and prudence must acknowledge, that a person in my situation could not with propriety stand by as an indifferent spectator of tumults and disorders which threatened the peace of the community, and which I well foresaw would be construed by malevolence into a Popish confederacy against the state, as Theophilus has since construed it. Neither does the Bishop of Cloyne contradict him in the short and partial account he has given in his pamphlet of risings which he attributes to a Popish mob.
From one parish in the diocese of Cloyne, the disturbances began to spread to another, and as bad example seldom ends) where it first began, the contagion at last reached the borders of the diocese of Cork; and as a gangrene that eats its way from the extremities of the body to the very vitals.—. Captain Right's proclamations made their way to the veryheart of the city, about five months after they had been published in the diocese of Cloyne. On a Sunday morning a seditious notice was posted (and breathing nothing but a downright disrespect to the clergy) on the gate of the parish chapel, inviting such as found themselves oppressed by pampered Theologians, whose God was their belly, and whose religion was a hogshead of wine, (the very words of the notice) to meet at an appointed hour in order to regulate their pittance according to the Gospel rule, That very day I was going on business to the country, when to my surprise I met with numbers of common people reading a similar notice posted up against the gate of my own chapel. Was it meddling With the politics of the Protestant country, as the Bishop of Cloyne's favourite Theophilus upbraids me, to make war upon disorder and licentiousness? Or is it because the Bishop of Cloyne was silent and passive during the tumults which had changed his diocese into a scene of disorder and anarchy, that I should be silenced by the clamour of sedition sounding the trumpet at the threshold of my chapel? I deferred my excursion, and at every congregation from eight to one o'clock, I enlarged upon the scandal and impropriety of such proceedings, pointed out to the common people the danger to which they exposed themselves, the confusion in which they were involving the community; and made use of the most persuasive arguments in my power to reelaim them to their duty. If I deserved to be compared to any illustrious character, it is not to Mark Anthony working upon the passions of the multitude, in order to arm against Brutus and his confederates, that the Bishop of Cloyne should have compared me. If he intended a compliment, and wished to tempt my vanity, of becoming a boaster, he should have compared me rather to Junius Blesus appeasing the Pannonian legions, who had been urged to revolt against their officers by a common soldier called Persennius, the Captain Right of his days.
I thought it my duty both as a loyal subject, a clergyman, and a member of civil society, to contribute to the preservation of public order, and to guard deluded multU tudes against destruction, to the utmost of my power.
The honour and interest of the Catholic body, often misrepresented, and become the theme of scurrilous or fanatical writers, were further incentives to my zeal. I recollected the unmerited abuse given for a long time in the papers to the Catholics, because seventeen house-keepers in Dublin had unguardedly signed a requisition to the High Sheriff for the purpose of convening an aggregate meeting relative to a parliamentary reform; though I am confident the seventeen knew as little about the impropriety of their signing that requisition, and foresaw as little the offence it would give, as the High Sheriff himself foresaw that he would be attacked by the Court of King's Bench. And as to the Catholics, in their disqualified situation, they could not with either prudence or propriety, follow any other line but that of a strict neutrality in a political question, on which neither the friends nor opponents of a parliamentary reform would acknowledge