There are two ways of success for the Irish—arms and persuasion. They have chosen the latter. They have resolved to win their rights by moral force. For this end they have confederated their names, their moneys, their thoughts, and their resolves. For this they meet, organise, and subscribe. For this they learn history, and forget quarrels; and for this they study their resources, and how to increase them.
For moral success internal union is essential.
Ireland, through all its sects and classes, must demand Repeal before the English Minister will be left without a fair reason to resist it, and not till then we be in a state to coerce his submission.
Conciliation of all sects, classes, and parties who oppose us, or who still hesitate, is essential to moral force. For if, instead of leading a man to your opinions by substantial kindness, by zealous love, and by candid and wise teaching, you insult his tastes and his prejudices, and force him either to adopt your cause or to resist it—if, instead of slow persuasion, your weapons are bullying and intolerance, then your profession of moral force is a lie, and a lie which deceives no one, and your attacks will be promptly resisted by every man of spirit.
The Committee of the Repeal Association have of late begun to attend to the Registries. The majority of Irish electors belong to the middle class; and if all of that class who could register and vote did register and vote, it would be out of the landlords’ power to coerce them. The landlords have awoken to a sense of their danger. They begin to know that if once the quiet patriots of this country conclude that reform of the landlords is hopeless, the only barrier between them and their tenants will sink, and they will sink too.
There will be less landlordism next election—at least we warn the landlords that there must be less.
If, then, the majority of members chosen by the middle class oppose Domestic Legislation, the middle class is suspected of not being truly national—the sincerity of the People is made doubtful—an impediment is opposed to Repeal, which the Repeal Association properly strive to upset.
Therefore do they and we urge the Repealers to serve notices diligently, accurately, and at once. Therefore do they and we prompt them to attend at the Sessions, and boldly claim their rights as citizens contributing to the State, and entitled to a vote in electing its managers; and therefore do they and we advise each constituency to consider well whether they have or can procure a representative whose purity of life, undoubted honesty, knowledge of politics, and devoted zeal to secure Domestic Government fit him to legislate in St. Stephen’s, or to agitate in the Corn Exchange, or wherever else nationality may have a temple.
We say, the advocacy of a “Domestic Legislature,” because that is what Ireland wants. We are a province, drained by foreign taxation and absentees, governed by a foreign legislature and executive. We seek to have Ireland governed by an Irish senate and executive for herself, and by Irishmen; and although a man shall add to this a claim for a share in the government of the empire, and of course a consent to give taxes and soldiers, therefore that (though to us it seems unwise) is not such a difference as should make us divide. He is a Repealer of the Union as decidedly as if he never called himself a Federalist. Such Repealing Federalists are Messrs. Crawford, Wyse, John O’Brien, Caulfield, Ross, O’Malley, O’Hagan, Bishop Kennedy, and numbers of others in and out of the Association. In selecting or in agitating about Members we must therefore never forget that a Federalist is quite as likely to be national as a technical Repealer, and that if his morals and ability be better than those of a so-called Repeal candidate, he is the better man.
We have also classed morals, ability, and zeal as being quite as requisite as national opinions in a Representative.
If our Members were a majority in the House, it might not be very moral, but at least it would have some show of excuse if we sent in a flock of pledged delegates to vote Repeal, regardless of their powers or principles; though even then we might find it hard to get rid of the scoundrels after Repeal was carried, and when Ireland would need virtuous and unremitting wisdom to make her prosper.
But now, when our whole Members are not a sixth of the Commons, and when the English Whigs are as hostile to Repeal as the English Tories, and more hostile to it than the Irish Tories—now, it is plain we must get weight for our opinions by the ability and virtue of our Members; and therefore we exhort the People, as they love purity, as they prize religion, as they are true to themselves, to Ireland, and to liberty, to spurn from their hustings any man who comes there without purity and wisdom, though he took or kept a thousand Repeal pledges.
We want men who are not spendthrifts, drunkards, swindlers—we want honest men—men whom we would trust with our private money or our family’s honour; and sooner than see faded aristocrats and brawling profligates shelter themselves from their honest debtors by a Repeal membership, we would leave Tories and Whigs undisturbed in their seats, and strive to carry Repeal by other measures.
Conciliation, virtue, and wisdom are our moral means of success. They must be used and sought on the hustings as well as in the Conciliation Hall. We must not prematurely, and at Heaven knows what distance from an election, force a good and able man to accept a pledge or quarrel with us. Pledges are extreme things, hardly constitutional, and highly imprudent in a well-governed country. Nevertheless, they are sometimes needed, as are sharper remedies; and such need will exist here at the general election. No man must go in for any place where the popular will prevails unless he is a Repealer or a Federalist; and, what is equally essential, an upright, unstained, and zealous man, who will work for Ireland and do her credit. But it seems to us quite premature to insist on those pledges from honourable, proud, and patriotic men now, who will, in all likelihood, be with us before an election comes, provided they are treated with the respect and forbearance due to them whether they join us or not.
These are some of the canons of moral force; and if, as we trust, Ireland can succeed without cannon of another kind, it must be by using those we have here mustered.