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The nations have fall'n, and thou still art young,
And though Slavery's cloud o'er thy morning hath hung,
Thy star will shine out, when the proudest shall fade.
Dublin, June 25, 1819.
It is painful to follow the uninterrupted successes of unjust aggression. In looking over the "sad eventful history" of Ireland, we observe a people trampled upon, breathing ineffectual vengeance, and plundered during their hopeless struggles for liberty. During the Commonwealth they fought for royalty; but they were soon crushed by the iron hand of Cromwell: they afterwards raised the standard for James II., but their struggles only served to rivet their chains more firmly. The plunders of the Rebellion were sanctioned by
Worms 29 Mar 1937 (am)
the Restoration, and those of the Revolution confirmed since by numerous penal laws. "Persecution," says Swift, "is every thing that will not leave it in men's power to persecute others." The dread of the horrors of popery might have been urged, with some show of reason, as a plea for the penalties inflicted on the Irish Catholics in the dark ages; but that the present disabilities should be defended on similar grounds, is truly a matter of astonishment. Pius VII. is no more Gregory VII. than the imbecile Francis II., when he styled himself emperor of the Romans, was Marcus Aurelius, or than the modern Italians are the ancient Romans! The Irish Catholic sees every pretended obstacle to his emancipation vanished: all Catholic Europe is allied to England by the ties of amity; the heartless race of the Bourbons have been forced on the throne of France; Napoleon is chained to a rock, there to brood over his former glory; his present Holiness is a friend to Britain; the aspersions on Irish loyalty have been triumphantly disproved by the allegiance of the people to England against all Catholic Christendom-and yet there still exists a principle of hostile distinction between a conquering and an enslaved race; the one wears the badges of 600 years of triumphant oppression-the other feels itself branded with hereditary degradation.
Voltaire says that the History of England should be written by the common executioner; indeed, in looking over the annals of that
country, you will find that almost all great events have there been terminated by the "man who lives and thrives by bloody drops." We need not go so far back as the wars about the White and Red Rose, nor the events of their first Revolution: the horrible butchery of the Scotch after the battle of Culloden, by the magnanimous hero of Closter Severn, and the bloody executions of the United Irish more lately, will sufficiently attest the truth of Voltaire's remark. The Vandalism of the British during our last war, will leave a disgraceful page in their history-but it is their tyranny and misgovernment of Ireland, which inflicts the deepest wound on the national honour. I do not intend following them in all the variations of their tyranny; were I to do so, my letter (says Burke) would only be a gazette of their wanderings,-a journal of their march from error to error, through a dry, dreary desert, unguided by the lights of Heaven, or by the contrivance which wisdom has invented to supply their place.
The popery laws have, to be sure, been somewhat modified since they were first inflicted on this country. But who can read without shuddering, that as late as 1723, an act was passed by the Irish Parliament, for catching and castrating all the priests as if that proscribed race had been capable of propagating their religion and their species by the liquorish part of Natural Philosophy," as Fielding calls it! The priests and their ad
herents were dragooned into terror, and Robespierre's execrable loi des suspects was not more odious than the enactments of the British Legislature against the unhappy Catholics, whose religion, by the way, was not the only pretext for their ill-usage; but the minuter persecutions which ran like veins through the system of tyranny, were but diverging branches of this miserable policy.
Our glorious country has generally the credit of having first lighted the torch which was to illuminate, and soon set in a blaze the finest parts of Europe. Ireland being composed of very inflammable principles, soon caught the flame; and political clubs of different denominations were instituted; various associations were formed, particularly the society of United Irishmen. The Protestant aristocracy was let loose, and proved more bloody, more inexorable and rapacious than their Catholic foe. Amidst the fury of contending passions, the yell of murder and the screams of despair, individual ambition, calculated deliberately the chances of its infernal game. The sword once drawn, and the social knot cut through, it would be difficult to say what was legitimate and what was criminal. Anarchy " in Gorgon terrors clad," displayed her hideous face,
"With thundering voice and threatening mien,
The insurrection was long organized in secret, under the whip of executioners, amidst