E. B. Murray (ed.), The Prose Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Vol. 1
pg 8Editor’s NoteAdvertisement.
The lowest possible price is set on this publication, because it is the intention of the Author to awaken in the minds of the Irish poor, a knowledge of their real state, summarily pointing out the evils of that state, and suggesting rational means of remedy.–Catholic Emancipation, and a Repeal of the Union Act, (the latter, the most successful engine that England ever wielded over the misery of fallen Ireland,) being treated of in the following address, as grievances which unanimity and resolution may remove, and associations conducted with peaceable firmness, being earnestly recommended, as means for embodying that unanimity and firmness, which must finally be successful.
pg 9AN ADDRESS, to the IRISH PEOPLE.
1I am not an Irishman, yet I can feel for you. I hope there are none 2among you who will read this address with prejudice or levity, 3because it is made by an Englishman; indeed, I believe there are not. Critical Apparatus4The Irish are a brave nation. They have a heart of liberty in their 5breasts, but they are much mistaken if they fancy that a stranger 6cannot have as warm a one. Those are my brothers and my 7countrymen, who are unfortunate. I should like to know what there 8is in a man being an Englishman, a Spaniard, or a Frenchman, that 9makes him worse or better than he really is. He was born in one 10town, you in another, but that is no reason why he should not feel for 11you, desire your benefit, or be willing to give you some advice, which 12may make you more capable of knowing your own interest, or 13acting so as to secure it.—There are many Englishmen who cry down 14the Irish, and think it answers their ends to revile all that belongs to 15Ireland; but it is not because these men are Englishmen that they 16maintain such opinions, but because they wish to get money, and 17titles, and power. They would act in this manner to whatever 18country they might belong, until mankind is much altered for the 19better, which reform, I hope, will one day be effected.—I address you 20then, as my brothers and my fellow-men, for I should wish to see the 21Irishman who, if England was persecuted as Ireland is, who, if 22France was persecuted as Ireland is, who, if any set of men that 23helped to do a public service were prevented from enjoying its 24benefits as Irishmen are—I should like to see the man, I say, who 25would see these misfortunes, and not attempt to succour the 26sufferers when he could, just that I might tell him that he was no 27Irishman, but some bastard mongrel bred up in a court, or some 28coward fool who was a democrat to all above him, and an aristocrat pg 1030to all below him. I think there are few true Irishmen who would not 31be ashamed of such a character, still fewer who possess it. I know 32that there are some, not among you my friends, but among your 33enemies, who seeing the title of this piece, will take it up with a sort 34of hope that it may recommend violent measures, and thereby 35disgrace the cause of freedom, that the warmth of an heart desirous 36that liberty should be possessed equally by all, will vent itself in 37abuse on the enemies of liberty, bad men who deserve the contempt 38of the good, and ought not to excite their indignation to the harm of 39their cause. But these men will be disappointed—I know the warm 40feelings of an Irishman sometimes carries him beyond the point of 41prudence. I do not desire to root out, but to moderate this honorable 42warmth. This will disappoint the pioneers of oppression and they 43will be sorry, that through this address nothing will occur which can 44be twisted into any other meaning but what is calculated to fill you 45with that moderation which they have not, and make you give them 46that toleration which they refuse to grant to you.—You profess the 47Roman Catholic religion which your fathers professed before you. 48Whether it is the best religion or not, I will not here inquire: all 49religions are good which make men good; and the way that a person 50ought to prove that his method of worshipping God is best, is for 51himself to be better than all other men. But we will consider what 52your religion was in old times and what it is now: you may say it is 53not a fair way for me to proceed as a Protestant, but I am not a 54Protestant, nor am I a Catholic, and therefore not being a follower of 55either of these religions, I am better able to judge between them. A Critical Apparatus56Protestant is my brother, and a Catholic is my brother. I am happy 57when I can do either of them a service, and no pleasure is so great to Critical Apparatus58me as that, which I should feel, if my advice could make men of any 59professions of faith, wiser, better and happier.
60The Roman Catholics once persecuted the Protestants, the 61Protestants now persecute the Roman Catholics—should we think 62that one is as bad as the other? No, you are not answerable for the 63faults of your fathers any more than the Protestants are good for the 64goodness of their fathers. I must judge of people as I see them; the 65Irish Catholics are badly used. I will not endeavour to hide from 66them their wretchedness; they would think that I mocked at them if 67I should make the attempt. The Irish Catholics now demand for Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus68themselves, and profer to others, unlimited toleration, and the 69sensible part among them, which I am willing to think constitutes a pg 1170very large portion of their body, know that the gates of Heaven are 71open to people of every religion, provided they are good. But the 72Protestants, although they may think so in their hearts, which Critical Apparatus73certainly, if they think at all they must, seem to act as if they thought Critical Apparatus74that God was better pleased with them than with you; they trust the 75reins of earthly government only to the hands of their own sect; in Critical Apparatus76spite of this, I never found one of them impudent enough to say, that 77a Roman Catholic, or a Quaker, or a Jew, or a Mahometan, if he was a 78virtuous man, and did all the good in his power, would go to Heaven Editor’s Note79a bit the slower for not subscribing to the thirty-nine articles—and if 80he should say so, how ridiculous in a foppish courtier not six feet Critical Apparatus81high, to direct the spirit of universal harmony, in what manner to 82conduct the affairs of the universe!
83The Protestants say that there was a time when the Roman 84Catholics burnt and murdered people of different sentiments, and 85that their religious tenets are now as they were then. This is all very 86true. You certainly worship God in the same way that you did when 87those barbarities took place, but is that any reason that you should 88now be barbarous. There is as much reason to suppose it, as to 89suppose that because a man's great-grandfather, who was a Jew, had 90been hung for sheep-stealing, that I, by believing the same religion as 91he did, must certainly commit the same crime. Let us then see what 92the Roman Catholic religion has been.—No one knows much of the 93early times of the Christian religion, until about three hundred years 94after its beginning, two great churches called the Roman and the Critical Apparatus95Greek churches, divided the opinions of men. They fought for a very Critical Apparatus96long time, a great many words were wasted, and a great deal of blood 97shed. This as you may suppose did no good. Each party however, 98thought they were doing God a service, and that he would reward 99them. If they had looked an inch before their noses they might have Critical Apparatus100found, that fighting and killing men, and cursing them and hating 101them, was the very worst way for getting into favor with a Being who 102is allowed by all to be best pleased with deeds of love and charity. At 103last, however, these two Religions entirely separated, and the Popes Editor’s Note104reigned like Kings and Bishops at Rome, in Italy. The inquisition was 105set up, and in the course of one year thirty thousand people were 106burnt in Italy and Spain, for entertaining different opinions from 107those of the Pope and the Priests. There was an instance of shocking 108barbarity which the Roman Catholic Clergy committed in France 109by order of the Pope. The bigotted Monks of that country, in cold pg 12Editor’s Note110blood, in one night massacred 80,000 Protestants; this was done Editor’s Note111under the authority of the Pope, and there was only one Roman 112Catholic Bishop who had virtue enough to refuse to help. The vices 113of Monks and Nuns in their Convents were in those times shame-114ful, people thought that they might commit any sin, however 115monstrous, if they had money enough to prevail upon the Priests to 116absolve them; in truth, at that time the Priests shamefully imposed 117upon the people, they got all the power into their own hands, they 118persuaded them that a man could not be entrusted with the care of 119his own soul, and by cunningly obtaining possession of their secrets, 120they became more powerful than Kings, Princes, Dukes, Lords, or 121Ministers: this power made them bad men; for although rational 122people are very good in their natural state, there are now, and ever 123have been very few whose good dispositions despotic power does 124not destroy. I have now given a fair description of what your religion 125was; and Irishmen my brothers! will you make your friend appear a 126liar, when he takes upon himself to say for you, that you are not now 127what the professors of the same faith were in times of yore. Do I 128speak false when I say that the inquisition is the object of your 129hatred? Am I a liar if I assert that an Irishman prizes liberty dearly, 130that he will preserve that right, and if he be wrong, does not dream Critical Apparatus131that money given to a Priest, or the talking of another man erring like 132himself, can in the least influence the judgement of the eternal 133God?—I am not a liar if I affirm in your name, that you believe a 134Protestant equally with yourself to be worthy of the Kingdom of Critical Apparatus135Heaven, if he be equally virtuous; that you will treat men as brethren Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus136wherever you may find them; and that difference of opinion in 137religious matters, shall not, does not in the least on your part, 138obstruct the most perfect harmony on every other subject.—Ah! no, 139Irishmen, I am not a liar. I seek your confidence, not that I may 140betray it, but that I may teach you to be happy, and wise, and good. If 141you will not repose any trust in me I shall lament, but I will do every 142thing in my power that is honorable, fair, and open, to gain it. Some 143teach you that others are heretics, that you alone are right; some 144teach that rectitude consists in religious opinions, without which no 145morality is good, some will tell you that you ought to divulge your 146secrets to one particular set of men; beware my friends how you 147trust those who speak in this way. They will, I doubt not, attempt to 148rescue you from your present miserable state, but they will prepare a 149worse. It will be out of the frying-pan into the fire. Your present pg 13150oppressors it is true, will then oppress you no longer, but you will 151feel the lash of a master a thousand times more blood-thirsty and 152cruel. Evil designing men will spring up who will prevent your 153thinking as you please, will burn you if you do not think as they do. 154There are always bad men who take advantage of hard times. The 155Monks and the Priests of old were very bad men; take care no such 156abuse your confidence again. You are not blind to your present 157situation, you are villainously treated, you are badly used. That this 158slavery shall cease, I will venture to prophesy. Your enemies dare not 159to persecute you longer, the spirit of Ireland is bent, but it is not 160broken, and that they very well know. But I wish your views to Editor’s Note161embrace a wider scene, I wish you to think for your children and 162your children's children; to take great care (for it all rests with you) 163that whilst one tyranny is destroyed another more fierce and terrible 164does not spring up. Take care then of smooth-faced impostors, who 165talk indeed of freedom, but who will cheat you into slavery. Can Critical Apparatus166there be worse slavery than the depending for the safety of your soul Critical Apparatus167on the will of another man? Is one man more favored than another by Critical Apparatus168God. No, certainly, they are all favored according to the good they 169do, and not according to the rank and profession they hold. God Critical Apparatus170values a poor man as much as a Priest, and has given him a soul as 171much to himself; the worship that a kind Being must love, is that of a 172simple affectionate heart, that shews its piety in good works, and Critical Apparatus173not in ceremonies, or confessions, or burials, or processions, or Critical Apparatus174wonders. Take care then, that you are not led away. Doubt every Critical Apparatus175thing that leads you not to charity, and think of the word "heretic" as 176a word which some selfish knave invented for the ruin and misery of 177the world, to answer his own paltry and narrow ambition. Do not 178inquire if a man be a heretic, if he be a Quaker, or a Jew, or a Heathen; 179but if he be a virtuous man, if he loves liberty and truth, if he wish the 180happiness and peace of human kind. If a man be ever so much a 181believer and love not these things, he is a heartless hypocrite, a rascal, 182and a knave. Despise and hate him, as ye despise a tyrant and a villain. 183Oh! Ireland, thou emerald of the ocean, whose sons are generous and 184brave, whose daughters are honorable, and frank, and fair; thou art 185the isle on whose green shores I have desired to see the standard of 186liberty erected, a flag of fire, a beacon at which the world shall light 187the torch of Freedom!
188We will now examine the Protestant Religion. Its origin is called 189the Reformation. It was undertaken by some bigotted men, who pg 14190showed how little they understood the spirit of Reform, by burning 191each other. You will observe that these men burnt each other, indeed 192they universally betrayed a taste for destroying, and vied with the 193chiefs of the Roman Catholic Religion, in not only hating their 194enemies, but those men, who least of all were their enemies, or any 195body's enemies. Now, do the Protestants, or do they not hold the Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus196same tenets as they did when Calvin burnt Servetus; they swear that 197they do. We can have no better proof. Then with what face can the 198Protestants object to Catholic Emancipation, on the plea that 199Catholics once were barbarous; when their own establishment is 200liable to the very same objections, on the very same grounds? I think 201this is a specimen of bare-faced intoleration, which I had hoped 202would not have disgraced this age; this age, which is called the age of 203reason, of thought diffused, of virtue acknowledged, and its 204principles fixed.—Oh! that it may be so.—I have mentioned the 205Catholic and Protestant Religions more to shew that any objection 206to the toleration of the one forcibly applies to the non-permission of 207the other, or rather to shew that there is no reason why both might 208not be tolerated, why every Religion, every form of thinking might Critical Apparatus209not be tolerated.—But why do I speak of toleration? This word seems Critical Apparatus210to mean that there is some merit in the person who tolerates; he has 211this merit if it be one, of refraining to do an evil act, but he will share 212the merit with every other peaceable person who pursues his own Editor’s Note213business, and does not hinder another of his rights. It is not a merit to 214tolerate, but it is a crime to be intolerant: it is not a merit on me that I Critical Apparatus215sat quietly at home without murdering any one, but it is a crime if I 216do so. Besides no act of a National representation can make any 217thing wrong, which was not wrong before; it cannot change 218virtue and truth, and for a very plain reason; because they are 219unchangeable. An act passed in the British Parliament to take away 220the rights of Catholics to act in that assembly, does not really take 221them away. It prevents them from doing it by force. This is in such 222cases, the last and only efficacious way. But force is not the test of 223truth; they will never have recourse to violence who acknowledge 224no other rule of behaviour but virtue and justice.
225The folly of persecuting men for their religion will appear if we 226examine it. Why do we persecute them? to make them believe as we 227do. Can any thing be more barbarous or foolish.—For although we 228may make them say they believe as we do, they will not in their Critical Apparatus229hearts do any such thing, indeed they cannot; this devilish method pg 15230can only make them false hypocrites. For what is belief? We cannot 231believe just what we like, but only what we think to be true; for you 232cannot alter a man's opinion by beating or burning, but by 233persuading him that what you think is right, and this can only be 234done by fair words and reason. It is ridiculous to call a man a heretic, Critical Apparatus235because he thinks differently from you; he might as well call you one. Critical Apparatus236In the same sense, the word orthodox is used: it signifies "to think 237rightly" and what can be more vain and presumptuous in any man or 238any set of men, to put themselves so out of the ordinary course of 239things as to say—"What we think is right, no other people 240throughout the world have opinions any thing like equal to ours." 241Any thing short of unlimited toleration, and complete charity with 242all men, on which you will recollect that Jesus Christ principally 243insisted, is wrong, and for this reason—what makes a man to be a 244good man? not his religion, or else there could be no good men in any Critical Apparatus245religion but one, when yet we find that all ages, countries, and 246opinions have produced them. Virtue and wisdom always so far as 247they went produced liberty or happiness long before any of the Critical Apparatus248religions now in the world were ever heard of. The only use of a Critical Apparatus249religion that ever I could see, is, to make men wiser or better; so far as 250it does this, it is a good one. Now if people are good, and yet have 251sentiments differing from you, then all the purposes are answered, 252which any reasonable man could want, and whether he thinks like 253you or not, is of too little consequence to employ means which must 254be disgusting and hateful to candid minds, nay they cannot approve Critical Apparatus255of such means. For as I have before said, you cannot believe or 256disbelieve what you like—perhaps some of you may doubt this, but 257just try—I will take a common and familiar instance. Suppose you 258have a friend of whom you wish to think well, he commits a crime, 259which proves to you that he is a bad man. It is very painful to you to 260think ill of him, and you would still think well of him if you could. 261But mark the word, you cannot think well of him, not even to secure 262your own peace of mind can you do so. You try, but your attempts Critical Apparatus263are vain. This shews how little power a man has over his belief, or 264rather, that he cannot believe what he does not think true. And what 265shall we think now? What fools and tyrants must not those men be, 266who set up a particular religion, say that this religion alone is right, 267and that every one who disbelieves it, ought to be deprived of certain 268rights which are really his, and which would be allowed him if he 269believed. Certainly, if you cannot help disbelief, it is not any fault in pg 16270you.—To take away a man's rights and privileges, to call him a 271heretic or to think worse of him, when at the same time you cannot 272help owning that he has committed no fault, is the grossest tyranny Critical Apparatus273and intoleration. From what has been said, I think we may be 274justified in concluding, that people of all religions ought to have an 275equal share in the state, that the words heretic and orthodox were 276invented by a vain villain, and have done a great deal of harm in the 277world, and that no person is answerable for his belief whose actions 278are virtuous and moral, that the religion is best whose members are Editor’s Note279the best men, and that no person can help either his belief or 280disbelief.—Be in charity with all men. It does not therefore, signify 281what your Religion was, or what the Protestant Religion was, we 282must consider them as we find them. What are they now? Yours is Critical Apparatus283not intolerant; indeed my friends I have ventured to pledge myself 284for you that it is not. You merely desire to go to Heaven, in your own 285way, nor will you interrupt fellow travellers, although the road 286which you take, may not be that which they take. Believe me, that 287goodness of heart and purity of life are things of more value in the 288eye of the Spirit of Goodness, than idle earthly ceremonies, and 289things which have any thing but charity for their object. And is it for 290the first or the last of these things that you or the Protestants 291contend. It is for the last. Prejudiced people indeed, are they who 292grudge to the happiness and comfort of your souls, things which can 293do harm to no one. They are not compelled to share in these rites. 294Irishmen; knowledge is more extended than in the early period of 295your religion, people have learned to think, and the more thought 296there is in the world, the more happiness and liberty will there be:— 297men begin now to think less of idle ceremonies, and more of realities. 298From a long night have they risen, and they can perceive its darkness. 299I know no men of thought and learning who do not consider the 300Catholic idea of purgatory, much nearer the truth than the 301Protestant one of eternal damnation. Can you think that the Critical Apparatus302Mahometans and the Indians, who have done good deeds in this life, 303will not be rewarded in the next. The Protestants believe that they Critical Apparatus304will be eternally damned—at least they swear that they do.—I think 305they appear in a better light as perjurers, than believers in a falsehood 306so hateful and uncharitable as this.—I propose unlimited toleration, 307or rather the destruction, both of toleration and intoleration. The 308act permits certain people to worship God after such a manner, 309which, in fact, if not done, would as far as in it lay prevent God pg 17310from hearing their address. Can we conceive any thing more 311presumptuous, and at the same time more ridiculous, than a set of 312men granting a license to God to receive the prayers of certain of his 313creatures. Oh Irishmen! I am interested in your cause; and it is not 314because you are Irishmen or Roman Catholics, that I feel with you 315and feel for you; but because you are men and sufferers. Were Ireland 316at this moment, peopled with Brahmins, this very same address 317would have been suggested by the same state of mind. You have 318suffered not merely for your religion, but 〈from〉 some other causes 319which I am equally desirous of remedying. The Union of England 320with Ireland has withdrawn the Protestant aristocracy, and gentry 321from their native country, and with these their friends and con-322nections. Their resources are taken from this country, although they 323are dissipated in another; the very poor people are most infamously Editor’s Note324oppressed by the weight of burden which the superior ranks lay 325upon their shoulders. I am no less desirous of the reform of these 326evils (with many others) than for the Catholic Emancipation.
Critical Apparatus327Perhaps you all agree with me on both these subjects; we now 328come to the method of doing these things. I agree with the Quakers 329so far as they disclaim violence, and trust their cause wholly and 330solely to its own truth.—If you are convinced of the truth of your 331cause, trust wholly to its truth; if you are not convinced, give it up. In 332no case employ violence, the way to liberty and happiness is never to 333transgress the rules of virtue and justice. Liberty and happiness are 334founded upon virtue and justice, if you destroy the one, you destroy 335the other. However ill others may act, this will be no excuse for you if 336you follow their example; it ought rather to warn you from pursuing 337so bad a method. Depend upon it, Irishmen, your cause shall not be 338neglected. I will fondly hope, that the schemes for your happiness 339and liberty, as well as those for the happiness and liberty of the 340world, will not be wholly fruitless. One secure method of defeating 341them is violence on the side of the injured party. If you can descend 342to use the same weapons as your enemy, you put yourself on a level 343with him on this score, you must be convinced that he is on these 344grounds your superior. But appeal to the sacred principles of virtue 345and justice, then how is he awed into nothing? how does truth shew 346him in his real colours, and place the cause of toleration and reform 347in the clearest light. I extend my view not only to you as Irishmen, 348but to all of every persuasion, of every country. Be calm, mild, 349deliberate, patient; recollect that you can in no measure more pg 18350effectually forward the cause of reform than by employing your Editor’s Note351leisure time in reasoning, or the cultivation of your minds. Think 352and talk, and discuss. The only subjects you ought to propose, are 353those of happiness and liberty. Be free and be happy, but first be wise Critical Apparatus354and good. For you are not all wise or good. You are a great and a 355brave nation, but you cannot yet be all wise or good. You may be at 356some time, and then Ireland will be an earthly Paradise. You know 357what is meant by a mob, it is an assembly of people who without 358foresight or thought, collect themselves to disapprove of by force 359any measure which they dislike. An assembly like this can never do 360any thing but harm, tumultuous proceedings must retard the period 361when thought and coolness will produce freedom and happiness, 362and that to the very people who make the mob, but if a number of 363human beings, after thinking of their own interests, meet together 364for any conversation on them, and employ resistance of the mind, 365not resistance of the body, these people are going the right way to 366work. But let no fiery passions carry them beyond this point, let 367them consider that in some sense, the whole welfare of their 368countrymen depends on their prudence, and that it becomes them to 369guard the welfare of others as their own. Associations for purposes 370of violence, are entitled to the strongest disapprobation of the real 371reformist. Always suspect that some knavish rascal is at the bottom Editor’s Note372of things of this kind, waiting to profit by the confusion. All secret 373associations are also bad. Are you men of deep designs, whose deeds 374love darkness better than light; dare you not say what you think 375before any man, can you not meet in the open face of day in 376conscious innocence? Oh, Irishmen ye can. Hidden arms, secret 377meetings and designs, violently to separate England from Ireland, 378are all very bad. I do not mean to say the very end of them is bad, the 379object you have in view may be just enough, whilst the way you go Editor’s Note380about it is wrong, may be calculated to produce an opposite effect. 381Never do evil that good may come, always think of others as well as 382yourself, and cautiously look how your conduct may do good or 383evil, when you yourself shall be mouldering in the grave. Be fair, 384open, and you will be terrible to your enemies. A friend cannot 385defend you, much as he may feel for your sufferings, if you have 386recourse to methods of which virtue and justice disapprove. No 387cause is in itself so dear to liberty as yours. Much depends on you, far 388may your efforts spread, either hope or despair; do not then cover in 389darkness wrongs at which the face of day, and the tyrants who bask pg 19Critical Apparatus390in its warmth ought to blush. Wherever has violence succeeded. The 391French Revolution, although undertaken with the best intentions, Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus392ended ill for the people, because violence was employed; the cause 393which they vindicated was that of truth, but they gave it the 394appearance of a lie, by using methods which will suit the purposes of 395liars as well as their own. Speak boldly and daringly what you think; 396an Irishman was never accused of cowardice, do not let it be thought 397possible that he is a coward. Let him say what he thinks, a lie is the 398basest and meanest employment of men, leave lies and secrets to 399courtiers and lordlings; be open, sincere, and single hearted. Let it be 400seen that the Irish votaries of Freedom dare to speak what they 401think, let them resist oppression, not by force of arms, but by power 402of mind, and reliance on truth and justice. Will any be arraigned for 403libel—will imprisonment or death be the consequences of this mode 404of proceeding: probably not—but if it were so? Is danger frightful 405to an Irishman who speaks for his own liberty, and the liberty of 406his wife and children:—No, he will steadily persevere, and sooner 407shall pensioners cease to vote with their benefactors, than an 408Irishman swerve from the path of duty. But steadily persevere in the 409system above laid down, its benefits will speedily be manifested. 410Persecution may destroy some, but cannot destroy all, or nearly 411all; let it do its will, ye have appealed to truth and justice—shew 412the goodness of your religion by persisting in a reliance on these 413things, which must be the rules even of the Almighty's conduct. 414But before this can be done with any effect, habits of SOBRIETY, 415REGULARITY, and THOUGHT, must be entered into, and 416firmly resolved upon.
417My warm-hearted friends, who meet together to talk of the 418distresses of your countrymen, until social chat induces you to drink Critical Apparatus419rather freely; as ye have felt passionately, so reason coolly. Nothing 420hasty can be lasting; lay up the money with which you usually 421purchase drunkenness and ill-health, to relieve the pains of your 422fellow-sufferers. Let your children lisp of Freedom in the cradle—let 423your death-bed be the school for fresh exertions—let every street of 424the city, and field of the country, be connected with thoughts, which 425liberty has made holy. Be warm in your cause, yet rational, and 426charitable, and tolerant—never let the oppressor grind you into 427justifying his conduct by imitating his meanness.
428Many circumstances, I will own, may excuse what is called 429rebellion, but no circumstances can ever make it good for your pg 20430cause, and however honourable to your feelings, it will reflect no 431credit on your judgments. It will bind you more closely to the block 432of the oppressor, and your children's children, whilst they talk of 433your exploits, will feel that you have done them injury, instead of 434benefit.
Editor’s Note435A crisis is now arriving, which shall decide your fate. The king of Critical Apparatus436Great Britain has arrived at the evening of his days. He has objected 437to your emancipation; he has been inimical to you; but he will in a Editor’s Note438certain time be no more. The present Prince of Wales will then be 439king. It is said that he has promised to restore you to freedom: your 440real and natural right will, in that case, be no longer kept from you. I 441hope he has pledged himself to this act of justice, because there will 442then exist some obligation to bind him to do right. Kings are but too 443apt to think little as they should do: they think every thing in the 444world is made for them; when the truth is, that it is only the vices of 445men that make such people necessary, and they have no other right 446of being kings, but in virtue of the good they do. The benefit of the 447governed is the origin and meaning of government. The Prince of 448Wales has had every opportunity of knowing how he ought to act 449about Ireland and liberty. That great and good man, Charles Fox, 450who was your friend, and the friend of freedom, was the friend of the 451Prince of Wales. He never flattered or disguised his sentiments, but 452spoke them openly on every occasion, and the Prince was the better 453for his instructive conversation. He saw the truth, and he believed it. 454Now I know not what to say; his staff is gone, and he leans upon a Editor’s Note455broken reed; his present advisers are not like Charles Fox, they do 456not plan for liberty and safety, not for the happiness but for the glory 457of their country; and what, Irishmen, is the glory of a country 458divided from their happiness? it is a false light hung out by the 459enemies of freedom to lure the unthinking into their net. Men like 460these surround the Prince, and whether or no he has really promised 461to emancipate you, whether or no he will consider the promise of a 462Prince of Wales binding to a King of England, is yet a matter of 463doubt. We cannot at least be quite certain of it: on this you cannot 464certainly rely. But there are men who, wherever they find a tendency 465to freedom, go there to increase, support, and regulate that 466tendency. These men who join to a rational disdain of danger, a 467practice of speaking the truth, and defending the cause of the 468oppressed against the oppressor; these men see what is right and will 469pursue it. On such as these you may safely rely: they love you as they pg 21470love their brothers; they feel for the unfortunate, and never ask 471whether a man is an Englishman or an Irishman, a catholic, a heretic, 472a Christian, or a heathen, before their hearts and their purses are 473opened to feel with their misfortunes and relieve their necessities: Editor’s Note474such are the men who will stand by you for ever. Depend then, not 475upon the promises of Princes, but upon those of virtuous and 476disinterested men: depend not upon force of arms or violence, but Critical Apparatus477upon the force of the truth of the right which you have to share 478equally with others, the benefits and the evils of Government.
Editor’s Note479The crisis to which I allude as the period of your emancipation, is 480not the death of the present king, or any circumstance that has to do 481with kings, but something that is much more likely to do you good: it 482is the increase of virtue and wisdom which will lead people to find 483out that force and oppression is wrong and false: and this opinion, 484when it once gains ground, will prevent government from severity. 485It will restore those rights which government has taken away. Have 486nothing to do with force or violence, and things will safely and surely 487make their way to the right point. The Ministers have now in 488Parliament a very great majority, and the Ministers are against you. 489They maintain the falsehood that, were you in power you would Editor’s Note490prosecute and burn, on the plea that you once did so. They maintain 491many other things of the same nature.—They command the majority 492of the House of Commons, or rather the part of that assembly, who 493receive pensions from Government, or whose relatives receive 494them. These men of course, are against you, because their employers 495are. But the sense of the country is not against you, the people of 496England are not against you—they feel warmly for you—in some 497respects they feel with you. The sense of the English and of their Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus498Governors is opposite—there must be an end of this; the goodness of 499a Government consists in the happiness of the Governed, if the 500Governed are wretched and dissatisfied, the Government has failed 501in its end. It wants altering and mending. It will be mended, and a 502reform of English Government will produce good to the Irish-503good to all human kind, excepting those whose happiness consists in Critical Apparatus504others' sorrows, and it will be a fit punishment for these to be Critical Apparatus505deprived of their devilish joy. This I consider as an event which is 506approaching, and which will make the beginning of our hopes for 507that period which may spread wisdom and virtue so wide, as to leave 508no hole in which folly or villainy may hide themselves. I wish you, O 509Irishmen, to be as careful and thoughtful of your interests as are your pg 22510real friends. Do not drink, do not play, do not spend any idle time, do 511not take every thing that other people say for granted—there are 512numbers who will tell you lies to make their own fortunes, you 513cannot more certainly do good to your own cause, than by defeating 514the intentions of these men. Think, read and talk; let your own 515condition and that of your wives and children, fill your minds; 516disclaim all manner of alliance with violence, meet together if ye will, 517but do not meet in a mob. If you think and read and talk with a real 518wish of benefiting the cause of truth and liberty, it will soon be seen 519how true a service you are rendering, and how sincere you are in 520your professions; but mobs and violence must be discarded. The 521certain degree of civil and religious liberty which the usage of the 522English Constitution allows, is such as the worst of men are entitled 523to, although you have it not; but that liberty which we may one day 524hope for, wisdom and virtue can alone give you a right to enjoy. This 525wisdom and this virtue I recommend on every account that you 526should instantly begin to practice. Lose not a day, not an hour, not a 527moment.—Temperance, sobriety, charity and independence will 528give you virtue; and reading, talking, thinking and searching, will 529give you wisdom; when you have those things you may defy the 530tyrant. It is not going often to chapel, crossing yourselves, or 531confessing, that will make you virtuous; many a rascal has attended 532regularly at Mass, and many a good man has never gone at all. It is not 533paying Priests, or believing in what they say that makes a good man, 534but it is doing good actions, or benefiting other people; this is the 535true way to be good, and the prayers, and confessions, and masses of 536him who does not these things, are good for nothing at all. Do your 537work regularly and quickly, when you have done, think, read and 538talk; do not spend your money in idleness and drinking, which so far 539from doing good to your cause, will do it harm. If you have any thing 540to spare from your wife and children, let it do some good to other 541people, and put them in a way of getting wisdom and virtue, as the 542pleasure that will come from these good acts, will be much better 543than the head-ache that comes from a drinking bout. And never Critical Apparatus544quarrel between each other, be all of one mind as nearly as you can; 545do these things, and I will promise you liberty and happiness. But if, 546on the contrary of these things, you neglect to improve yourselves, 547continue to use the word heretic, and demand from others the 548toleration which you are unwilling to give; your friends and the 549friends of liberty will have reason to lament the death-blow of their pg 23550hopes. I expect better things from you; it is for yourselves that I fear 551and hope. Many Englishmen are prejudiced against you, they sit by Critical Apparatus552their own fire-sides and certain rumours artfully spread, are ever on 553the wing against you. But these people who think ill of you and of 554your nation, are often the very men who, if they had better 555information, would feel for you most keenly; wherefore are these Critical Apparatus556reports spread, how do they begin? They originate from the warmth 557of the Irish character, which the friends of the Irish nation have 558hitherto encouraged rather than repressed; this leads them in those 559moments when their wrongs appear so clearly, to commit acts 560which justly excite displeasure. They begin therefore, from 561yourselves, although falsehood and tyranny artfully magnify and Critical Apparatus562multiply the causes of offence.—Give no offence.
563I will for the present dismiss the subject of the Catholic 564Emancipation; a little reflection will convince you that my remarks 565are just. Be true to yourselves, and your enemies shall not triumph. I 566fear nothing, if charity and sobriety mark your proceedings. Every 567thing is to be dreaded, you yourselves will be unworthy of even a 568restoration to your rights, if you disgrace the cause, which I hope is 569that of truth and liberty, by violence, if you refuse to others the 570toleration which you claim for yourselves.—But this you will not do. 571I rely upon it Irishmen, that the warmth of your characters will be 572shewn as much in union with Englishmen and what are called 573heretics, who feel for you, and love you as in avenging your wrongs, 574or forwarding their annihilation.—It is the heart that glows and not 575the cheek. The firmness, sobriety, and consistence of your outward 576behaviour will not at all shew any hardness of heart, but will prove 577that you are determined in your cause, and are going the right way to 578work.—I will repeat that virtue and wisdom are necessary to true 579happiness and liberty.—The Catholic Emancipation I consider, is 580certain. I do not see that any thing but violence and intolerance 581among yourselves can leave an excuse to your enemies for 582continuing your slavery. The other wrongs under which you labor, 583will probably also soon be done away. You will be rendered equal to 584the people of England in their rights and privileges, and will be in all 585respects, so far as concerns the state, as happy. And now Irishmen 586another, and a more wide prospect opens to my view. I cannot avoid, 587little as it may appear to have any thing to do with your present 588situation, to talk to you on the subject. It intimately concerns the 589well-being of your children, and your children's children, and will pg 24590perhaps, more than any thing prove to you the advantage and 591necessity of being thoughtful, sober, and regular; of avoiding foolish 592and idle talk, and thinking of yourselves, as of men who are able to be 593much wiser and happier than you now are; for habits like these, will 594not only conduce to the successful putting aside your present and 595immediate grievances, but will contain a seed, which in future times 596will spring up into the tree of liberty, and bear the fruit of happiness.
597There is no doubt but the world is going wrong, or rather that 598it is very capable of being much improved. What I mean by this 599improvement is, the inducement of a more equal and general dif-600fusion of happiness and liberty.—Many people are very rich and 601many are very poor. Which do you think are happiest?—I can tell 602you that neither are happy, so far as their station is concerned. 603Nature never intended that there should be such a thing as a poor 604man or a rich one. Being put in an unnatural situation, they can 605neither of them be happy, so far as their situation is concerned. The 606poor man is born to obey the rich man, though they both come into 607the world equally helpless, and equally naked. But the poor man 608does the rich no service by obeying him—the rich man does the poor 609no good by commanding him. It would be much better if they could 610be prevailed upon to live equally like brothers—they would 611ultimately both be happier. But this can be done neither to-day nor 612to-morrow, much as such a change is to be desired, it is quite 613impossible. Violence and folly in this, as in the other case, would 614only put off the period of its event. Mildness, sobriety, and reason, 615are the effectual methods of forwarding the ends of liberty and 616happiness.
617Although we may see many things put in train, during our life-618time, we cannot hope to see the work of virtue and reason finished Editor’s Note619now; we can only lay the foundation for our posterity. Government 620is an evil, it is only the thoughtlessness and vices of men that make it a 621necessary evil. When all men are good and wise, Government will of 622itself decay, so long as men continue foolish and vicious, so long will 623Government, even such a Government as that of England, continue Editor’s Note624necessary in order to prevent the crimes of bad men. Society is 625produced by the wants, Government by the wickedness, and a state 626of just and happy equality by the improvement and reason of man. It Critical Apparatus627is in vain to hope for any liberty and happiness, without reason and 628virtue—for where there is no virtue there will be crime, and where 629there is crime there must be Government. Before the restraints of pg 25630Government are lessened, it is fit that we should lessen the necessity 631for them. Before Government is done away with, we must reform 632ourselves. It is this work which I would earnestly recommend to Editor’s Note633you, O Irishmen, REFORM YOURSELVES—and I do not 634recommend it to you particularly because I think that you most need 635it, but because I think that your hearts are warm and your feelings 636high, and you will perceive the necessity of doing it more than those 637of a colder and more distant nature.
638I look with an eye of hope and pleasure on the present state 639of things, gloomy and incapable of improvement as they may appear 640to others. It delights me to see that men begin to think and to act 641for the good of others. Extensively as folly and selfishness has 642predominated in this age, it gives me hope and pleasure, at least, to 643see that many know what is right. Ignorance and vice commonly go 644together: he that would do good must be wise—a man cannot be 645truly wise who is not truly virtuous. Prudence and wisdom are very 646different things. The prudent man is he, who carefully consults for 647his own good: the wise man is he, who carefully consults for the good 648of others.
649I look upon the Catholic Emancipation, and the restoration of 650the liberties and happiness of Ireland, so far as they are compatible 651with the English Constitution, as great and important events. I hope 652to see them soon. But if all ended here, it would give me little 653pleasure—I should still see thousands miserable and wicked, things 654would still be wrong. I regard then, the accomplishment of these 655things as the road to a greater reform—that reform after which 656virtue and wisdom shall have conquered pain and vice. When 657no Government will be wanted, but that of your neighbour's 658opinion.—I look to these things with hope and pleasure, because I 659consider that they will certainly happen, and because men will not 660then be wicked and miserable. But I do not consider that they will or 661can immediately happen; their arrival will be gradual, and it all 662depends upon yourselves how soon or how late these great changes 663will happen. If all of you, to-morrow were virtuous and wise, 664Government which to-day is a safe-guard, would then become a 665tyranny. But I cannot expect a rapid change. Many are obstinate and 666determined in their vice, whose selfishness makes them think only 667of their own good, when in fact, the best way even to bring that Editor’s Note668about, is to make others happy. I do not wish to see things changed 669now, because it cannot be done without violence, and we may assure pg 26670ourselves that none of us are fit for any change however good, if we 671condescend to employ force in a cause which we think right. Force 672makes the side that employs it directly wrong, and as much as we 673may pity we cannot approve the headstrong and intolerant zeal of its 674adherents.
675Can you conceive, O Irishmen! a happy state of society—conceive 676men of every way of thinking living together like brothers. The 677descendant of the greatest Prince would there, be entitled to no 678more respect than the son of a peasant. There would be no pomp and 679no parade, but that which the rich now keep to themselves, would 680then be distributed among the people. None would be in magni-681ficence, but the superfluities then taken from the rich would be 682sufficient when spread abroad, to make every one comfortable.— 683No lover would then be false to his mistress, no mistress would 684desert her lover. No friend would play false, no rents, no debts, no 685taxes, no frauds of any kind would disturb the general happiness: 686good as they would be, wise as they would be, they would be daily 687getting better and wiser. No beggars would exist, nor any of those 688wretched women, who are now reduced to a state of the most 689horrible misery and vice, by men whose wealth makes them 690villainous and hardened. No thieves or murderers, because poverty 691would never drive men to take away comforts from another, when 692he had enough for himself. Vice and misery, pomp and poverty, 693power and obedience, would then be banished altogether.—It is for Editor’s Note694such a state as this, Irishmen, that I exhort you to prepare.—"A 695Camel shall as soon pass through the eye of a needle, as a rich man Critical Apparatus696enter the Kingdom of Heaven." This is not to be understood literally. 697Jesus Christ appears to me only to have meant that riches, have Critical Apparatus698generally the effect of hardening and vitiating the heart; so has 699poverty. I think those people then are very silly, and cannot see one 700inch beyond their noses, who say that human nature is depraved; 701when at the same time wealth and poverty, those two great sources 702of crime, fall to the lot of a great majority of people; and when they 703see that people in moderate circumstances are always most wise and 704good.—People say that poverty is no evil—they have never felt it, or 705they would not think so. That wealth is necessary to encourage the 706arts—but are not the arts very inferior things to virtue and 707happiness—the man would be very dead to all generous feelings who 708would rather see pretty pictures and statues, than a million free and 709happy men.
pg 27710It will be said, that my design is to make you dissatisfied with your 711present condition, and that I wish to raise a Rebellion. But how 712stupid and sottish must those men be, who think that violence and 713uneasiness of mind have any thing to do with forwarding the views 714of peace, harmony and happiness. They should know that nothing 715was so well-fitted to produce slavery, tyranny, and vice, as the 716violence which is attributed to the friends of liberty, and which the 717real friends of liberty are the only persons who disdain.—As to your 718being dissatisfied with your present condition, any thing that I may 719say is certainly not likely to increase that dissatisfaction. I have 720advanced nothing concerning your situation, but its real case, but 721what may proved to be true. I defy any one to point out a falsehood 722that I have uttered in the course of this address. It is impossible but 723the blindest among you must see that every thing is not right. This 724sight has often pressed some of the poorest among you to take 725something from the rich man's store by violence, to relieve his own 726necessities. I cannot justify, but I can pity him. I cannot pity the fruits 727of the rich man's intemperance, I suppose some are to be found who 728will justify him. This sight has often brought home to a day-labourer 729the truth which I wish to impress upon you, that all is not right. But I Critical Apparatus730do not merely wish to convince you that 〈y〉our present state is bad, 731but that its alteration for the better, depends on your own exertions 732and resolutions.
733But he has never found out the method of mending it, who does 734not first mend his own conduct, and then prevail upon others to 735refrain from any vicious habits which they may have contracted—736much less does the poor man suppose that wisdom as well as virtue is 737necessary, and that the employing his little time in reading and 738thinking, is really doing all that he has in his power to do towards the 739state, when pain and vice shall perish altogether.
740I wish to impress upon your minds, that without virtue or 741wisdom, there can be no liberty or happiness; and that temperance, 742sobriety, charity, and independence of soul, will give you virtue—as 743thinking, enquiring, reading, and talking, will give you wisdom. 744Without the first, the last is of little use, and without the last, the first 745is a dreadful curse to yourselves and others.
746I have told you what I think upon this subject, because I wish to 747produce in your minds an awe and caution necessary, before the 748happy state of which I have spoken can be introduced. This cautious 749awe, is very different from the prudential fear, which leads you to pg 28750consider yourself as the first object, as on the contrary it is full of that 751warm and ardent love for others that burns in your hearts, O 752Irishmen! and from which I have fondly hoped to light a flame that 753may illumine and invigorate the world!
754I have said that the rich command, and the poor obey, and that 755money is only a kind of sign, which shews, that according to 756government the rich man has a right to command the poor man, or 757rather that the poor man being urged by having no money to get 758bread, is forced to work for the rich man, which amounts to the same 759thing. I have said that I think all this very wrong, and that I wish the 760whole business was altered. I have also said that we can expect little 761amendment in our own time, and that we must be contented to lay 762the foundation of liberty and happiness, by virtue and wisdom.— 763This then, shall be my work: let this be yours, Irishmen. Never shall Critical Apparatus764that glory fail, which I am anxious that you should deserve. The 765glory of teaching to a world the first lessons of virtue and wisdom.
766Let poor men still continue to work. I do not wish to hide from 767them a knowledge of their relative condition in society, I esteem it Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus768next 〈to〉 impossible to do so. Let the work of the labourer, of the 769artificer—let the work of every one, however employed, still be 770exerted in its accustomed way. The public communication of this 771truth, ought in no manner, to impede the established usages of 772society; however, it is fitted in the end to do them away. For this 773reason it ought not to impede them, because if it did, a violent and Critical Apparatus774unaccustomed and sudden sensation would take place in all ranks of 775men, which would bring on violence, and destroy the possibility of 776the event of that, which in its own nature must be gradual, however 777rapid, and rational, however warm. It is founded on the reform of 778private men, and without individual amendment it is vain and 779foolish to expect the amendment of a state or government. I would 780advise them therefore, whose feelings this address may have 781succeeded in affecting, (and surely those feelings which charitable 782and temperate remarks excite, can never be violent and intolerant,) if Critical Apparatus783they be, as I hope, those whom poverty has compelled to class 784themselves in the lower orders of society, that they will as usual 785attend to their business and the discharge of those public or private 786duties, which custom has ordained. Nothing can be more rash and 787thoughtless, than to shew in ourselves singular instances of any 788particular doctrine, before the general mass of the people are so 789convinced by the reasons of the doctrine, that it will be no longer pg 29790singular. That reasons as well as feelings, may help the establishment Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus791of happiness and liberty, on the basis of wisdom and virtue, 〈is〉 our 792aim and intention.—Let us not be led into any means which are 793unworthy of this end, nor, as so much depends upon yourselves, let 794us cease carefully to watch over our conduct, that when we talk of Critical Apparatus795reform it be not objected to us, that reform ought to begin at home. 796In the interval, that public or private duties and necessary labors 797allow, husband your time so, that you may do to others and 798yourselves the most real good. To improve your own minds is to join 799these two views: conversation and reading are the principal and chief 800methods of awakening the mind to knowledge and goodness. 801Reading or thought, will principally bestow the former of these—the 802benevolent exercise of the powers of the mind in communicating 803useful knowledge, will bestow an habit, of the latter, both united, 804will contribute so far as lays in your individual power to that great 805reform, which will be perfect and finished, the moment every one is Editor’s Note806virtuous and wise. Every folly refuted, every bad habit conquered, Critical Apparatus807every good one confirmed, is so much gained in this great and 808excellent cause.
809To begin to reform the Government, is immediately necessary, 810however good or bad individuals may be; it is the more necessary if 811they are eminently the latter, in some degree to palliate or do away Editor’s Note812the cause; as political institution has even the greatest influence on 813the human character, and is that alone which differences the Turk 814from the Irishman.
815I write now not only with a view for Catholic Emancipation, but Editor’s Note816for universal emancipation; and 〈to〉 this emancipation complete 817and unconditional, that shall comprehend every individual of Critical Apparatus818whatever nation or principles, that shall fold in its embrace all that 819think and all that feel, the Catholic cause is subordinate, and its 820success preparatory to this great cause, which adheres to no sect but 821society, to no cause but that of universal happiness, to no party but 822the people. I desire Catholic Emancipation, but I desire not to stop 823here, and I hope there are few who having perused the preceding Critical Apparatus824arguments will not concur with me in desiring a complete, a lasting 825and a happy amendment. That all steps however good and salutary 826which may be taken, all reforms consistent with the English 827constitution that may be effectuated, can only be subordinate and 828preparatory to the great and lasting one which shall bring about the Critical Apparatus829peace, the harmony, and the happiness of Ireland, England, Europe, pg 30830the World. I offer merely an outline of that picture which your own 831hopes may gift with the colors of reality.
832Government will not allow a peaceable and reasonable discussion 833of its principles by any association of men, who assemble for that 834express purpose. But have not human beings a right to assemble to Editor’s Note835talk upon what subject they please; can any thing be more evident 836than that as government is only of use as it conduces to the happiness 837of the governed; those who are governed have a right to talk on the 838efficacy of the safe guard employed for their benefit. Can any topic Editor’s Note839be more interesting or useful, than on〈e〉 discussing how far the 840means of government, is or could be made in a higher degree 841effectual to producing the end. Although I deprecate violence, and Critical Apparatus842the cause which depends for its influence on force, yet I can by no 843means think that assembling together merely to talk of how things 844go on, I can by no means think that societies formed for talking on 845any subject however government may dislike them, come in any 846way under the head of force or violence. I think that associations 847conducted in the spirit of sobriety, regularity, and thought, are one 848of the best and most efficient of those means which I would 849recommend for the production of happiness, liberty, and virtue.
850Are you slaves, or are you men? if slaves, then crouch to the rod, Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus851and lick the feet of your oppressors, glory in your shame, it will 852become you if brutes to act according to your nature. But you are Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus853men; a real man is free, so far as circumstances will permit him. Then Critical Apparatus854firmly, yet quietly resist. When one cheek is struck, turn the other to 855the insulting coward. You will be truly brave; you will resist and 856conquer. The discussion of any subject, is a right that you have 857brought into the world with your heart and tongue. Resign your 858heart's-blood, before you part with this inestimable privilege of 859man. For it is fit that the governed should enquire into the 860proceedings of Government, which is of no use the moment it is 861conducted on any other principle but that of safety. You have much 862to think of.—Is war necessary to your happiness and safety. The 863interests of the poor gain nothing from the wealth or extension of a 864nation's boundaries, they gain nothing from glory, a word that has 865often served as a cloak to the ambition or avarice of Statesmen. The 866barren victories of Spain, gained in behalf of a bigotted and 867tyrannical Government, are nothing to them. The conquests in 868India, by which England has gained glory indeed, but a glory which 869is not more honourable than that of Buonaparte, are nothing to pg 31870them. The poor purchase this glory and this wealth, at the expence of 871their blood, and labor, and happiness, and virtue. They die in battle 872for this infernal cause. Their labor supplies money and food for 873carrying it into effect, their happiness is destroyed by the oppression 874they undergo, their virtue is rooted out by the depravity and vice 875that prevails throughout the army, and which under the present 876system, is perfectly unavoidable. Who does not know that the 877quartering of a regiment on any town, will soon destroy the 878innocence and happiness of its inhabitants. The advocates for the 879happiness and liberty of the great mass of the people, who pay for 880war with their lives and labor, ought never to cease writing and 881speaking until nations see as they must feel, the folly of fighting and 882killing each other in uniform, for nothing at all. Ye have much to Critical Apparatus883think of. The state of your representation in the House, which is 884called the collective representation of the country demands your 885attention.
886It is horrible that the lower classes must waste their lives and 887liberty to furnish means for their oppressors to oppress them yet 888more terribly. It is horrible that the poor must give in taxes what 889would save them and their families from hunger and cold; it is still 890more horrible that they should do this to furnish further means of 891their own abjectness and misery; but what words can express the 892enormity of the abuse that prevents them from choosing repre-893sentatives with authority to enquire into the manner in which their 894lives and labor, their happiness and innocence is expended, and what 895advantages result from their expenditure which may counterbalance 896so horrible and monstrous an evil. There is an outcry raised against 897amendment; it is called innovation and condemned by many 898unthinking people who have a good fire and plenty to eat and drink; Critical Apparatus899hard hearted or thoughtless beings, how many are famishing whilst 900you deliberate, how many perish to contribute to your pleasures. I Critical Apparatus901hope that there are none such as these native Irishmen, indeed I Critical Apparatus902scarcely believe that there are.
903Let the object of your associations (for I conceal not my approval 904of assemblies conducted with regularity, peaceableness and thought 905for any purpose,) be the amendment of these abuses, it will have for 906its object universal Emancipation, liberty, happiness, and virtue. Editor’s Note907There is yet another subject, "the Liberty of the Press." The liberty of 908the press consists in a right to publish any opinion on any subject 909which the writer may entertain. The Attorney General in 1793 on the pg 32Editor’s Note910trial of Mr. Perry, said, "I never will dispute the right of any man fully 911to discuss topics respecting government, and honestly to point out Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus912what he may consider a proper remedy of grievances."—"The 913Liberty of the Press, is placed as a centinel to alarm us when any 914attempt is made on our liberties."—It is this sentinel, O Irishmen 915whom I now awaken! I create to myself a freedom which exists not. Editor’s Note916There is no liberty of the press, for the subjects of British 917government.
918It is really ridiculous to hear people yet boasting of this 919inestimable blessing, when they daily see it successfully muzzled 920and outraged by the lawyers of the crown, and by virtue of what are Editor’s Note921called ex-officio informations. Blackstone says, that "if a person 922publishes what is improper, mischievous, or illegal, he must take the Editor’s Note923consequences of his own temerity;" and Lord Chief Baron Comyns 924defines libel as "a contumely, or reproach, published to the 925defamation of the Government, of a magistrate, or of a private 926person."—Now, I beseech you to consider the words, mischievous, 927improper, illegal, contumely, reproach, or defamation. May they 928not make that mischievous, or improper, which they please? Is not 929law with them, as clay in the potter's hand? Do not the words, 930contumely, reproach, or defamation, express all degrees and forces 931of disapprobation? It is impossible to express yourself displeased at 932certain proceedings of Government, or the individuals who conduct 933it, without uttering a reproach. We cannot honestly point out a 934proper remedy of grievances with safety, because the very mention 935of these grievances will be reproachful to the personages who 936countenance them; and therefore will come under a definition of 937libel. For the persons who thus directly or indirectly undergo 938reproach, will say for their own sakes, that the exposure of their 939corruption is mischievous and improper; therefore, the utterer of 940the reproach is a fit subject for three years imprisonment. Is there 941any thing like the Liberty of the Press, in restrictions so positive, yet 942pliant, as these. The little freedom which we enjoy in this most 943important point, comes from the clemency of our rulers, or their 944fear, lest public opinion alarmed at the discovery of its enslaved 945state, should violently assert a right to extension and diffusion. Yet 946public opinion may not always be so formidable, rulers may not 947always be so merciful or so timid: at any rate evils, and great evils do 948result from the present system of intellectual slavery, and you have 949enough to think of, if this grievance alone remained in the pg 33950Constitution of society. I will give but one instance of the present 951state of our Press.
952A countryman of yours is now confined in an English gaol. His Critical Apparatus953health, his fortune, his spirits, suffer from close confinement. The air 954which comes through the bars of a prison-grate, does not invigorate Editor’s Note955the frame nor cheer the spirits. But Mr. Finnerty, much as he has lost, 956yet retains the fair name of truth and honor. He was imprisoned for 957persisting in the truth. His judge told him on his trial, that truth and 958falsehood were indifferent to the law, and that if he owned the 959publication any consideration, whether the facts that it related were 960well or ill-founded, was totally irrelevant. Such is the libel law. Such 961the Liberty of the Press—there is enough to think of. The right of 962withholding your individual assent to war, the right of choosing 963delegates to represent you in the assembly of the nation, and that of 964freely opposing intellectual power, to any measures of Government Critical Apparatus965of which you may disapprove, are, in addition to the indifference 966with which the legislative and the executive power ought to rule Critical Apparatus967their conduct towards professors of every religion, enough to 968think of.
969I earnestly desire peace and harmony:—peace, that whatever 970wrongs you may have suffered, benevolence and a spirit of 971forgiveness should mark your conduct towards those who have 972persecuted you. Harmony, that among yourselves may be no 973divisions, that Protestants and Catholics unite in a common interest, 974and that whatever be the belief and principles of your countryman 975and fellow-sufferer, you desire to benefit his cause, at the same time Critical Apparatus976that you vindicate your own; be strong and unbiassed by selfishness 977or prejudice—for Catholics, your religion has not been spotless, 978crimes in past ages have sullied it with a stain, which let it be your 979glory to remove. Nor Protestants, hath your religion always been 980characterized by the mildness of benevolence, which Jesus Christ 981recommended. Had it any thing to do with the present subject I 982could account for the spirit of intolerance, which marked both 983religions; I will, however, only adduce the fact, and earnestly exhort 984you to root out from your own minds every thing which may lead to 985uncharitableness, and to reflect that yourselves, as well as your 986brethren, may be deceived. Nothing on earth is infallible. The Priests 987that pretend to it, are wicked and mischievous impostors; but it is an 988imposture which every one, more or less, assumes, who encourages 989prejudice in his breast against those who differ from him in opinion, pg 34990or who sets up his own religion as the only right and true one, when Editor’s Note991no one is so blind as 〈not〉 to see that every religion is right and true, 992which makes men beneficent and sincere. I therefore, earnestly 993exhort both Protestants and Catholics to act in brotherhood and 994harmony, never forgetting, because the Catholics alone are 995heinously deprived of religious rights, that the Protestants and a 996certain rank of people, of every persuasion, share with them all else Critical Apparatus997that is terrible, galling and intolerable in the mass of political 998grievance.
999In no case employ violence or falsehood. I cannot too often or too 1000vividly endeavour to impress upon your minds, that these methods 1001will produce nothing but wretchedness and slavery—that they will 1002at the same time rivet the fetters, with which ignorance and 1003oppression bind you to abjectness, and deliver you over to a 1004tyranny, which shall render you incapable of renewed efforts. 1005Violence will immediately render your cause a bad one. If you 1006believe in a Providential God, you must also believe that he is a good 1007one; and it is not likely, a merciful God would befriend a bad cause. 1008Insincerity is no less hurtful than violence: those who are in the 1009habits of either, would do well to reform themselves. A lying bravo 1010will never promote the good of his country—he cannot be a good 1011man. The courageous and sincere may, at the same time, successfully 1012oppose corruption, by uniting their voice with that of others, or 1013individually raise up intellectual opposition to counteract the 1014abuses of Government and society. In order to benefit yourselves 1015and your country to any extent, habits of sobriety, regularity, 1016and thought, are previously so necessary, that without these Critical Apparatus1017preliminaries, all that you have done falls to the ground. You have 1018built on sand. Secure a good foundation, and you may erect a fabric 1019to stand for ever—the glory and the envy of the world!
1020I have purposely avoided any lengthened discussion on those 1021grievances to which your hearts are from custom, and the immediate 1022interest of the circumstances, probably most alive at present. I have 1023not however wholly neglected them. Most of all have I insisted on 1024their instant palliation and ultimate removal; nor have I omitted a 1025consideration of the means which I deem most effectual for the 1026accomplishment of this great end. How far you will consider the 1027former worthy of your adoption, so far shall I deem the latter 1028probable and interesting to the lovers of human kind. And I have 1029opened to your view a new scene—does not your heart bound at the pg 351030bare possibility of your posterity possessing that liberty and 1031happiness of which during our lives powerful exertions and habitual Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus1032abstinence may give us a foretaste. Oh! if your hearts do not vibrate 1033at such as this; then ye are dead and cold—ye are not men.
1034I now come to the application of my principles, the conclusion of 1035my address; and O Irishmen, whatever conduct ye may feel your-1036selves bound to pursue, the path which duty points to, lies before me 1037clear and unobscured. Dangers may lurk around it, but they are not 1038the dangers which lie beneath the footsteps of the hypocrite or 1039temporizer.
1040For I have not presented to you the picture of happiness on which 1041my fancy doats as an uncertain meteor to mislead honorable 1042enthusiasm, or blindfold the judgment which makes virtue useful. I Critical Apparatus1043have not proposed crude schemes, which I should be incompetent to Critical Apparatus1044mature, or desired to excite in you any virulence against the abuses 1045of political institution; where I have had occasion to point them out I 1046have recommended moderation whilst yet I have earnestly insisted 1047upon energy and perseverance; I have spoken of peace, yet declared 1048that resistance is laudable; but the intellectual resistance which I Critical Apparatus1049recommend, I deem essential to the introduction of the millennium 1050of virtue, whose period every one can, so far as he is concerned, 1051forward by his own proper power. I have not attempted to shew, 1052that the Catholic claims or the claims of the people, to a full Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus1053representation in Parliament, are any of those claims to real rights, Critical Apparatus1054which I have insisted upon as introductory to the ultimate claim of 1055all, to universal happiness, freedom, and equality; I have not 1056attempted, I say, to shew that these can be granted consistently with 1057the spirit of the English Constitution: this is a point which I do not 1058feel myself inclined to discuss, and which I consider foreign to my 1059object. But I have shewn that these claims have for their basis, truth 1060and justice, which are immutable, and which in the ruin of Editor’s Note1061Governments shall rise like a Phoenix from their ashes.〈1〉
1062Is any one inclined to dispute the possibility of a happy change in 1063society? Do they say that the nature of man is corrupt, and that he 1064was made for misery and wickedness? Be it so. Certain as are Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus1065opposite conclusions, I will concede the truth of his, for a moment.— pg 361066What are the means which I take for melioration? Violence, corrup-1067tion, rapine, crime? Do I do evil, that good may come? I have recom-Critical Apparatus1068mended peace, philanthropy, wisdom.—So far as my arguments Critical Apparatus1069influence, they will influence to these—and if there is any one now Editor’s Note1070inclined to say, that "private vices are public benefits," and that 1071peace, philanthropy, and wisdom, will, if once they gain ground, 1072ruin the human race; he may revel in his happy dreams; though were 1073I this man, I should envy Satan's Hell. The wisdom and charity of 1074which I speak, are the only means which I will countenance, for the 1075redress of your grievances, and the grievances of the world. So far as 1076they operate, I am willing to stand responsible for their evil effects. I 1077expect to be accused of a desire for renewing in Ireland the scenes of 1078revolutionary horror, which marked the struggles of France twenty 1079years ago. But it is the renewal of that unfortunate æra, which I 1080strongly deprecate, and which the tendency of this address is 1081calculated to obviate. For can burthens be borne for ever, and the 1082slave crouch and cringe the while. Is misery and vice so consonant to 1083man's nature, that he will hug it to his heart?—but when the 1084wretched one in bondage, beholds the emancipator near, will he not 1085endure his misery awhile with hope and patience, then, spring to his 1086preserver's arms, and start into a man.
1087It is my intention to observe the effect on your minds, O Critical Apparatus1088Irishmen! which this address dictated by the fervency of my love and 1089hope will produce. I have come to this country to spare no pains Editor’s Note1090where expenditure may purchase your real benefit. The present is a 1091crisis, which of all others, is the most valuable for fixing the fluctua-1092tion of public feeling; as far as my poor efforts may have succeeded in 1093fixing it to virtue, Irishmen, so far shall I esteem myself happy. I 1094intend this address as introductory to another. The organization of a 1095society, whose institution shall serve as a bond to its members, for 1096the purposes of virtue, happiness, liberty, and wisdom, by the means 1097of intellectual opposition to grievances, would probably be useful. 1098For the formation of such a society, I avow myself anxious.
1099Adieu, my friends! May every Sun that shines on your green 1100Island see the annihilation of an abuse, and the birth of an Embryon 1101of melioration! Your own hearts—may they become the shrines of 1102purity and freedom, and never may smoke to the Mammon of 1103unrighteousness, ascend from the unpolluted altar of their devotion!
Editor’s Note1104No. 7, Lower Sackville-street, Feb. 22.
1105I have now been a week in Dublin, during which time I have 1106endeavoured to make myself more accurately acquainted with the 1107state of the public mind, on those great topics of grievances which Critical Apparatus1108induced me to select Ireland as a theatre, the widest and fairest, for 1109the operations of the determined friend of religious and political 1110freedom.
1111The result of my observations has determined me to propose, an 1112association for the purposes of restoring Ireland to the prosperity 1113which she possessed before the Union Act; and the religious 1114freedom, which the involuntariness of faith, ought to have taught all 1115monopolists of Heaven, long, long ago, that every one had a right to 1116possess.
1117For the purpose of obtaining the Emancipation of the Catholics, 1118from the penal laws that aggrieve them, and a Repeal of the 1119Legislative Union act: and grounding upon the remission of the 1120church-craft and oppression, which caused these grievances; a plan 1121of amendment and regeneration in the moral and political state of 1122society, on a comprehensive and systematic philanthropy, which shall be 1123sure, though slow in its projects; and as it is without the rapidity and Critical Apparatus1124danger of revolution, so will it be devoid of the time servingness of 1125temporizing reform—which in its deliberative capacity, having 1126investigated the state of the government of England, shall oppose 1127those parts of it, by intellectual force, which will not bear the touch1128stone of reason.
1129For information respecting the principles which I possess, and the 1130nature and spirit of the association which I propose, I refer the 1131reader to a small pamphlet, which I shall publish on the subject, in 1132the course of a few days.
1133I have published the above address (written in England) in the 1134cheapest possible form, and have taken pains that the remarks which 1135it contains, should be intelligible to the most uneducated minds. 1136Men are not slaves and brutes, because they are poor: it has been the 1137policy of the thoughtless, or wicked of the higher ranks, (as a proof pg 381138of the decay, of which policy, I am happy to see the rapid success of a Editor’s Note1139comparatively enlightened system of education,) to conceal from 1140the poor the truths which I have endeavoured to teach them. In 1141doing so, I have but translated my thoughts into another language; 1142and as language is only useful as it communicates ideas, I shall think Critical Apparatus1143my style so far good, as it is successful as a means to bring about the 1144end which I desire, on any occasion, to accomplish.
Editor’s Note1145A Limerick Paper, which I suppose, professes to support certain 1146loyal and John Bullish principles of freedom—has, in an essay for 1147advocating the Liberty of the Press, the following clause: "For 1148lawless license of discussion never did we advocate, nor do we 1149now."—What is lawless license of discussion? Is it not as indefinite as 1150the words, contumely, reproach, defamation, that allow at present, 1151such latitude to the outrages that are committed on the free 1152expression of individual sentiment. Can they not see that what is 1153rational will stand by its reason, and what is true stand by its truth, as 1154all that is foolish will fall by its folly, and all that is false be 1155controverted by its own falsehood.—Liberty gains nothing by the 1156reform of politicians of this stamp, any more than it gains from a 1157change of Ministers in London. What at present, is contumely and 1158defamation, would at the period of this Limerick amendment, be Critical Apparatus1159"lawless license of discussion"; and such would be the mighty 1160advantage, which this doughty champion of liberty proposes to 1161effect.
Editor’s Note1162I conclude, with the words of Lafayette—a name endeared, by its 1163peerless bearer, to every lover of the human race. "For a nation to 1164love Liberty it is sufficient that she knows it, to be free it is sufficient Critical Apparatus1165that she wills it."
〈1〉 Note. The excellence of the Constitution of Great Britain, appears to me, to be its indefiniteness and versatility, whereby it may be unresistingly accommodated to the progression of wisdom and virtue. Such accommodation I desire: but I wish for the cause before the effect.