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troversy, you might have left your cause to the secretary of state, Mr. Peel, who since February last has been so devoted to the anticipation of the triumphs of No Popery, that he views without horror, perhaps with complacency, the immurement from comfort friends and lawyers of those lesser criminals in debt the humble debtors of the county of Sussex, in the jail at Horsham.
As your Grace is not contented with all these safeguards to the Protestant ascendancy, nor with your own exhibition of eloquence as a peer, and the influence of some dozen members with which you favor the British House of Commons to support your patronage of that ascendancy, permit me till more powerful pens extinguish the hopes which the intolerant may derive from your letter, to controvert some of its unconstitutional principles, and particularly most solemnly to asseverate in contradiction to your Grace, that the “ will of the people should direct the affairs of the country.” It was by that will," and for the welfare of the people alone, that the present dynasty of our beloved monarch was permitted to fill the throne which their predecessors, not only by predilection for Popery, but by their love of tyranny disgraced; and from which, by the mere " will of the people," under the blessing of God, they were most deservedly cashiered.
If the time should ever come when a scion of the house of Brunswick shall view with contempt the will of the people, and disregard their welfare by practical tyranny, he will cease to be the chosen monarch of the British'isles; he may agree and he may assort with the proprietors of boroughs as the tool of a party, but he will no longer possess that which our present king most dearly prizes—the affectionate loyalty of a devoted nation.
Had Retford by the extension of the elective franchise to the hundreds been ceded to your Grace, the minister by his consent to such cession would have exemplified contempt for the will of the people ;" but would he by this disgraceful exemplification of your theories have rendered more transparent the “purity of our constitution," or more strongly fortified the intrenchments of the Protestant church from the encroachments of Popish conspirators ?
No one has greater disapproval of some peculiar doctrines of the Church of Rome than the individual who addresses you, but on the question whether we should debar from their just political rights millions of oppressed Irishmen, I stop not to inquire by what precise mode of faith the Irish Christian seeks his God. Can this world be made only for one small body of the elect; and are the traffickers or proprietors of boroughs more able to judge who are so elected than those dignitaries who, less attached to the brick and mortar than to the sanctuary of the establishment, view the errors of their Catholic brethren with a Christian's charity, and disdain not to be warmed by the same sun—to breathe the same pure air—to associate on the same bench of justice, and in the same legislative councils of the nation to unite for the precise preservation of the British constitution ?
These Catholic brethren are descended from the same common ancestors—they are our relatives or our friends. Perhaps they would have been converted, but that their more immediate predecessors disregarded the controversy of the times, and therefore were as ignorant on such subjects as the Duke of Wellington proves himself to be when he confounds Methodists with Dissenters in his letter lately published, considering Methodists to be personally interested in the late repeal of the Test Act, which most un. doubtedly they were not.
By toleration, which is the very essence of the Protestant church-by the distribution of Bibles, on which that church professes itself to be founded-by fair controversy—by doing justice to oppressed Irishmen, and not by the sword let us prove the purity of our establishment, and the sanctitude of our intentions.
If I err, I err, my Lord Duke, in the beaten track of men as eminent for piety and for talent as any who ever trod the British soil.
If the zeal of men peculiarly pious inspire you, consult Wilberforce. That great man who still graces the terrestrial globe as the regenerator of the African race, whose services to humanity, which you will perhaps style liberalism, will be remembered when your Grace and myself are forgotten, in his last conversation some time back with me, assured me that the Catholic question had become a political, and not a religious inquiry; that the time had ceased when the exclusion of Catholics from civil rights was a proper ordination; and that, in fact by the cessation of persecution, the Protestant church would acquire fresh force.
The Catholics, no longer persecuted, would have no more power to harass the state than other seceders from the establishment.
Reduce the question merely to a question of faith to be determined by fair and just reasoning.
The Liturgy of the Church of England is the most perfect of all human compositions; the doctrines of that church are the most pure; the members of the clerical establishment fear not a comparison with those of any other profession, on the basis of their learning and the morality of their lives. To their argumentative talents, and to the exemplary conduct of their lives, and not to brute force, you may properly' trust for having in due time the conversion of the Catholics. Confound not their labors with the errors of parliamentary despots, or the silly noise of such persons as those who disturbed the late elections for Yorkshire, and other counties, by screaming “ No Popery”—seeming to consider the freeholders assembled to constitute not a house of parliament but a house of convocation, and no man qualified to direct the councils of the nation, unless to the distribution of his money for bawling adherents he added a plenitude, and gave a pledge of intolerance to millions of suffering subjects.
When you and your party, whether dukes or proprietors of boroughs, threaten to “ act for yourselves,” in what interpretation, my Lord Duke, would you wish me to consider this expression ? Is it requisite to remind your Grace that it was by disregarding “ the will of the people,” that the ancient noblesse of France involved themselves in irretrievable calamity, and deluged their country with blood ? The Corinthian pillar of polished society was stranded from that soil on which it had been so proudly reared ; and modern France is now comparatively a nation of forty-shilling freeholders.
It is true, my Lord Duke, if the sword be drawn Ireland may succumb. The English can I admit conquer as they have conquered—can massacre as they have massacred tribes of less powerful clans in Ireland ; but when Ireland has succumbed, or if a foreign state tenders to her those bonds of amity which we foolishly renounce for the pride of conquest or lust of
persecution, will our gracious sovereign thank the Brunswick associations for the loss of the brightest jewel in his diadem ?
The people of England have lived in harmony and love with their fellow-subjects of Ireland; they are indebted to them for blood spilt in their battles, of which the Irish in their own country reap no advantage—for honor acquired by their victories, which separated from Ireland England could never have obtained. 'Three-fourths of the Irish are disgusted or estranged in their affections from the mal-administration or temporising policy of those governments which preceded that in which the masterly mind of Canning, stimulated by the honorable feelings of a liberal heart, yielded conviction to the principles of his opponents.
Whilst the march of power fascinated your Grace, that of intellect directed the energies of that statesman to admit to his heart's friendship in the united esteem of his sovereign such men as a Lansdown and a Carlisle. But the change in January last restores Mr. Peel to power; and then your Grace quaintly expresses," Patriots rejoice at the anticipated appointment” of a military premier ; and then your Grace fondly hoped, “liberalism and conciliation were put an end to.”
Your Grace simply asks, «if we desert our God, will he not desert us?" And is it to the God of mercy you appeal, because we hesitate to destroy our brethren for adherence to doctrines which in better times than the present ourancestors professed, and for the errors of which doctrines I trust that the great captain of the age, whom you accuse of “not daring to act of himself,” will never dare to substitute blood and slaughter for the intellectual weapons of argument and conciliation ?
These few thoughts, written a few hours after the perusal of your letter to Lord Kenyon, will suffice till your lucubrations are replied to by abler pens than that of him, who has the honor to be,
My Lord Duke,
MARTIN STAPYLTON. 18, Manchester Square,
Sept. 23, 1828.
LORD NUGENT TO HIS CONSTITUENTS,
THE ELECTORS OF AYLESBURY.
Lilies, Oct. 17. GENTLEMEN, I have not been in the habit of wantonly obtruding on you any opinions of my own respecting the conduct of others on either local or general politics. My duty is limited to the laying my own public principles before you, and to the acting on them to the best of my power in parliament to which you have sent me; it is yours to form your own conclusions on the events that are passing round you, and to give effect to those conclusions by the means which the constitution has placed in your hands. You will also do me the justice to feel, that it is not by any act of mine that I am now forced to break that silence which many considerations have long conspired to impose on me.
On my return, after a short absence from my county and from England, I find that, during that interval, a new and extraordinary appeal has been made to you by the formation of a private society in our town, of a sort which, for some reasons, I should not have expected to see made at this time in Buckinghamshire. It is an appeal, not only against my own opinions on the subject of religious liberty, but also against that political tranquillity and neighborly spirit which I believe it to be the disposition of most of us, and I know it to be the duty of all, to endeavor to preserve throughout the utmost opposition of opinions on public matters. I am happy to find, what I might well have expected from the folly of the design, that the execution of it is in a fair course of failure. But the attempt having been made (with, however, little success or applause), for me to decline the earliest opportunity of meeting it, would be to shrink from the duty I owe you, and from the duty I owe to the peace of this part of the county in which I bear so deep an interest.
It is not my intention at this time to trouble you with any argument on the right or wrong of what is called the Catholic question. I have done so often enough already, and by all those public means which are open to us. My opinions on that question are