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HONORABLE CÆSAR RODNEY,
Late. Attorney General to the United States
of America, Commissioner to the Spanish Provinces,
IT is now nearly four years since you were so kind as to cheer the literary efforts of one who was altogether personally unknown to you, and who sensibly feels how feeble were his claims to such condescension from such a character. May I beg of you to impute my silence on the subject to any thing rather than a spirit of ingratitude, and to believe, that in requesting you to accept the dedication of this volume, I mean rather to acknowledge than repay. the obligation. The voice of encouragement from a distant
hemisphere--from an utter stranger-and that stranger amongst the eminent of his nation, might excuse some sentiment of vanity even in the most modest. In the young Irish candidate for distinction, perhaps the excuse might be carried even to indulgence. Indeed there are few countries in which such an aspirant has so much to encounter. Our aristocracy (the natural patrons of a nation's genius) have been provincialized into the very worst kind of partizanship-into a struggle—not for honours or principle, but for the sordid emoluments and rancorous exercise of official station, and this contention, branded as it is, by every bad passion, presents no one feature of agreement save an upstart family conceit, a very stupid, a very ignorant, and a very unfounded self-appreciation. Between these precious factions Ireland is partitioned they scrutinize every probationer — they tempt every profession--and if the adventurous candidate for honourable fame disdains to subscribe himself as the retainer of the one, or the brawler of the other, he is proscribed for sacrifice by the conspiracy of both-denounced as a rebel by the slaves in
place, and as an helot by the slaves in expectancy. Such is, with but very few exceptions, the state to which foreign gold and native improbity have reduced this once prosperous and independent country! A solemn warning to the nations of the earth, that when they once barter that priceless independence, the very blessings of heaven will become a curse and a degradation-their spirit will sting them with a scorpion restlessness--and the genius which survives their fall either wander a mendicant upon distant bounty, or flash its fitful and sepulchral gleam upon the corruption into which they have degenerated. What a frightful picture —what a fiery ordeal for honourable ambition! Alas! if the spirit should not faint, or the heart break in the process, what a reflection is it for the ardent mind, that
perhaps, at the close of a calamitous career, some generous few may balance with a posthumous eulogium on its talents, the cruel penalties inflicted on its principles. This is a very painful subject, yet I am not sorry it suggested itself—it naturally associates the fame of that republic where so many of my countrymen have found a re
fuge, and where your's have proved their noble title to liberty not more by the valour with which they extorted, than by the spirit with which they are extending it. The framers of her constitution have made it an incident almost peculiar to America, that the whole world has an interest in her prosperity. With her, industry is the only wealth-virtue the only claim—talents the only distinction--religion teaches her that all its varieties of sect have one common parent, and her wisdom feels that no traitorous ascendancy should exclude him, who bears the burthens, from a share in the benefits of the constitution. It is both morally and physically impossible that such a people should not prosper-in fact, every hour of freedom has been either consolidating their strength or contributing to their glory; and it has been a magnificent rebuke to the despotic scoffers who would have unplumed their eagle, that when they might have felt its vengeance, they found its protectionthe exiled aristocrat has kissed your shore, and the unsceptred puppet of European royalty, knelt for sanctuary at the tomb of Washington. That the valour of their arms
may guard the independence---the wisdom of their rulers economize the resources, and, the fraternity of their people for ever consolidate the union of your states, is not only my prayer, but that of all my countrymen who are not at once slaves to the powerful and tyrants to the poor. .
You will perceive, my dear sir, even from this volume, that some Irishmen were formed for immortality---men, worthy of a better day than that in which they lived, and destined, perhaps, though not to save their country, yet to teach their children the principles of its redemption. Let it become the manual of your young Americans, that, when their cheeks redden and their hearts burn at the treachery which betrayed us, their humbled nature may find some consolation in the memory of those whose poverty could not be bought, and whose ambition could not be corrupted. I have the honour to be,
99, Grafton Street, Dublin,
December 1, 1818.