Page images
PDF
EPUB

veto, or charter of unbounded liberty to oppose the king, has aided Prussia and Austria in riveting her chains. Here we know our king from his cradle. The object of our homage depends not on the caprice of a father, nor on the ambition of the nobles. It is determined by the law. As our king never dies, we are exposed to no revolutions by the choice of a successor. "The order of succession is, in mo"narchies, founded on the welfare of the state : it is not fixed for the reigning family ; but because it is the interest of the state, that it should have a reigning family.'*

ART. III. HEREBY utterly abjuring any allegiance or obedience (unto the person taking upon himself the style and title of Prince of Wales in the life-time of his father, and who, since his death, is said to have assumed the style "and title of King of Great Britain and Ireland, by the name of Charles the Third, and to any other person claiming or pretending a right to the crown of these realms.

The proofs of this article may be seen in the explanation of the first. It is impossible to serve two masters. Allegiance is due to the reigning sovereign, and from the earliest times, to him alone. In whose name is justice administered ? • In the name of George the Third.? In whose name are we protected from the midnight robber? In the name of •George the Third,' &c. &c.

Now, Sir, I must entreat your patience. You know, that in all parliamentary debates on the oppressive operation of the penal laws, the Stuarts are the greatest obstacle in the Catholic way to a legal indulgence. They are considered by some of the illustrious members, as the polar star by which we expect to steer one day into a haven of safety and deliverance; whilst we ourselves look on them as planets of a malific influence.

• Aut Sirius ardor, “Ille sitim morbosque forevs mortalibus ægris, “Nascitur, et lævo contristat lumine cælum.”

Vircin. * Montesquieu, Esprit des Loix, vol. II. p. 192.

To state the case, and disabuse gentlemen, amiable and humane, in all other respects, but, unluckily for our interest, too suspicious of a foreign attachment, which we absolutely disclaim, let us view the Stuarts in three respects: first, with regard to the obligations they have conferred on us: second, with regard to what we expect from them : third, with regard to their claims to the crown of England, in quality of descendants of its ancient and rightful kings. If there be no incen. tive to gratitude on our part, no right to our allegiance on theirs, the bonds of attachment are dissolved, and the great panegyrists of our love for the Stuart line, reduced to the alternative of adopting the unreasonable whim of the poet:

( Amo te, Zabede, sed nescio dicere quare.'

I love you, Charles, but I know not why,' or persuading themselves, that love is kindled by the flames of tyranny and oppression. The first is absurd, the second unnatural. .

First, as to our obligations to this inauspicious family: history can inform you, that James the First signalized his generosity in our favour, by giving, under the finesse of laws, six counties in Ulster to Scotch planters. Hume attempts to justify his countrymen by the following shift: She gave them arts and manufactures in exchange.' The cruel Ahab was more generous; he offered real money for Naboth's vineyard. Grateful souls ! bless your benefactor; he improved your minds at the expence of your bodies; and, like your preachers in Lent, famished your flesh to fatten your spirit.

Charles the First ran the same course with his father. No end of seizures, inquisitions, and regal plunder. Shamed at last into desistance by the Irish parliament, an artful stratagem is devised, equally calculated to answer the ends of rapacity, and exculpate the monarch. You have read in Suetonius, how Tiberius eluded the law that prohibited virgins to be put to death. A young lady is arraigned and condemned: the emperor permits the hangman to violate her, and throws the blame on her executioner. Remove the scene of action from Rome to Ireland, and in a dissimilar plot, the characters are much the same. The Earl of Strafford is named vicegerent, and takes the blame upon himself;

the king thanks him for his seasonable advice; and Ireland sees Tiberius and Sejanus revived in the persons of Charles and his favourite. In these two reigns, pursuits were not extended to goods and chattels alone. The sword of tyranny reached to conscience itself. Spiritual supremacy and religious uniformity, were inforced with such rigour, that according to Borlase, some of the clergy used to hang themselves. A sarcastic remark! the falsity whereof, was more owing to their constancy, than to the lenity of the Stuarts. Charles the Second, who, according to Lord Lyttleton, could have become as despotic a prince as any in Europe, sets up a sham court of claims, to save the appearance of justice. He confirms Cromwel's grants to the adventurers, who followed the banners of this regicide, tinctured with the blood of the royal martyr, obliges his enemies by the sacrifice of his defenders, consents to the special exception of Irish Catholics from the general act of indemnity, refuses the least assistance to Lord Rochfort, who sold his estate to support him during his exile, and give his sanction to a ridiculous law, declaring it high treason to call the king a Papist. Of all the transgressors of this law, he himself was the most signal, whereas he was confessed and anointed by a Benedictine monk: and the magistrates must have been very remiss that did not hang him for contravening such an important decree, prohibiting to suspect for religion, a king who practised none. "

* Nec lex æquior ulla est,
• Quam necis artifices arte perire sua.'

· Ovid. 1. However, the Irish Catholics can never sufficiently thank him, for not punishing with halter, gibbet, and exenteration, a requiescat in pace. . . To this long train of Stuart hostilities, James the Second is the only exception. As Dissenters and Roman Catholics were equally disqualified, he removed all penal restraints. Religion influenced him, doubtless. But did not his favours and indulgence extend to Scotch dissenters, as well as to Irish Catholics ? Did not the good of the state, strengthened by the affections and power of its subjects, ever and always weakened by their tepidity and indigence, require then, as it does now, a relaxation of oppressive laws? And was it not the king's interest, to endeavour to render all his subjects prosperous and happy? Did he but proceed on a legal plan with the consent of his parliament, without arrogating to himself a dispensing power, which the nation vests in the aggre. gate body of king, lords, and commons ? But can the conduct of James the Second stand the test? Or must not an Irishman be blind in not perceiving the partiality of this cherished twig of the Stuart stem?

Ambition, or love for their fellow subjects, induces kings to exchange the gaieties of a palace for the fatigues of the field, and to fly into the arms of death, from the bosom of sensuality and voluptuousness. But more especially in those critical junctures, when the crown is at stake, and the majesty of the monarch, on the point of sinking into the subject, the springs of nature play with an extraordinary elasticity; the radiancy of the throne, glistening in the monarch's eyes, absorbs and eclipses the perception of danger: pride supplies the place of valour, and despair metamorphoses the coward into the hero.

In the vicinity of an army of thirty thousand men, master of the strong holds and garrisons of his realms, at the first report of the Prince of Orange's arrival in England, James the Second, with the apathy of a Stoic, or the timidity of an old woman, throws the royal seals into the Thames, disappears, leaves three kingdoms in the utmost anarchy and con. fusion, the reins of government without a hand to manage them, and his subjects uncertain to whom they are to transfer their allegiance.

Instances of the kind are scarce to be met with in the chronicles of kings; a hand that would not unsheath a sword in defence of three realms is better calculated for a muff than a sceptre. Queen Elizabeth, almost in sight of an army of fifty thousand Spaniards, reviews her troops, rides through the ranks, animates, incites, encourages her men: “Behold, your queen! Victorious, I shall reward 'you; defeated, I will die with you.' But Buchanan's contrast of James the First to Queen Elizabeth, is applicable to James the Second.

. Rex fuit Elizabeth, nunc vero regina Jacobus. . : Error naturæ par in utroque fuit,

In English:

* « Nature was mistaken in those two extraordinary productions : Elizabeth was Ga man: James a woman."

Recalled by Tyrconnel from France to Ireland, our Alexander lays siege to Londonderry, from whence he is

repelled by a Protestant minister, at the head of a hand, - ful of men half famished. This was a glorious contest

between a king and a priest : the sword and the gown. Cedant arma toga.

The banks of the Boyne are quite as inauspicious to his laurels. Here, contrary to the advice of his officers, he compels them to encounter a formidable army of fifty thousand veterans, commanded by the ablest generals of that age. Remark his orders and dispositions. With a select party of his army he places himself on Dunmore hill, out of cannon reach; and gives a strict charge to Sarsfield, (Lord Lucan) not to fire at his son, who was come sword in hand to deprive him of his crown. A boding omen of future victory! In battle, let a general ride up and down to animate his troops, never fire into his quarters; you will gain the field. Seeing the Irish, though dispirited by his partial commands, and unanimated by his example, repel the enemy, and keep the battle in suspense, he cries out, spare my English subjects, spare my English subjects. Lo, the most beloved king of the Stuart race! Pious, and tender-hearted, he would not have scrupled to re-possess himself of the throne at the expence of Irish blood, but the purchase would have been too dear, when acquired with the loss of English subjects.

It was the duty of the Irish to fight for their king. But when they perceived that he preferred his son-in-law's life to their security, and his own interest, in my humble opinion, they were acquitted of their allegiance. It was his own choice. His daughter, queen Mary, during her husband's absence, ordered all Papists and reputed Papists, to depart ten miles from London. Her reign would have swelled the code of penal laws, and expanded the ten miles into a wider circuit, had not king William controuled the spirit of oppression, so co-unnatural to the Stuarts. Exposed to the power of Lewis the Fourteenth, ready to back the claims of

« PreviousContinue »