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there would be no deficiency of ample resources for carrying it into effect. They had also submitted their general principles to the prelates themselves, the majority of whom expressed the most decided approbation. They had even held meetings with those reverend persons upon the best mode of bringing those' principles into action. At one of those meetings, Dr. Reily, the catholic primatej Dr. Troy, the arch-bishop of Dublin, and four others who were present, made very considerable offers of pecuniary aid, more than might have been expected from their limited incomes. Dr. Reily likewise proposed the sketch of a plan nearly as follows: that there should be a grammar school in each diocese, where the lower branches of education should be elementarily taught; that there should be four provincial academies, where such youths as were designed for the church, for other professions or literary pursuits, should be received from the diocesan schools instructed in the languages and sciences; lastly, that there should be one' grand seminary, in which those who had passed through any of the provincial schools should be entered for the purpose of standing publie examinations; such as were destined for the church, to receive the necessary testimonials for their ordination, and such as were otherwise disposed, to qualify themselves for degrees, in whatever college they should think fit, which might be authorised by law to confer those dignities.
This outline, with some other materials, had been referred to Dr. Ryan, Dr. M'Neven and Mr. Lyons, three gentlemen ex« tremely well qualified for digesting a more detailed plan, and they were actually occupied on the subject. They hoped by its accomplishment to deserve, and probably to acquire to themselves and their fellow labourers, the gratitude of their countrymen and of posterity, for a wise and comprehensive system of education, which should not only benefit the catholic bodv, but also embrace the general civilization of Ireland; which, independent of its direct advantages, might by the force of emula. tion, awake the established institutions from their present torpor, and perhaps even excite the silent sister of the English universities, into something like literary exertion. But while they were indulging their enthusiastic expectations, there is strong reason to believe, that the catholic hierarchy had privately stated these proceedings to administration, and given it the option; eitheu to permit the members of that religion to establish a popular system of education, which might not be conducted entirely tp the satisfoction of the court, or to assist the prelates with its influence and resources to establish another, over which they having entire controul, could so manage, as to make it subservient to every purpose which government might wish to derive from such an institution. On these latter terms a bargain appears to have been concluded, in which the address to his excellency was to be part of the price for court protection. Certain it is, that after that address was presented, all co-operation and confidence between the prelates and the laity was destroyed^ and the gentlemen who were preparing a popular plan, were assured they might desist from their labours, as an arrangement had been made for catholic education, which should be solely conducted by the bishops, under the auspices of government and the sanction of parliament,
The projected system of' strong measures was now to be compleated by the legislature. The report of the secret committee of the lords, asserted, with a strange confusion of .expressions, that the existence of a self-created, representative body of any description of the king's subjects, "taking upon itself the government of them, and laying taxes or subscriptions," to be applied at the discretion of that representative body, or of persons deputed by them, was incompatible with the public safety and tranquility. The convention bill was therefore brought in and passed; but although it Was professed to be calculated solely against such bodies as were described in the report, its title was to prevent the election or appointment o£ unlawful assemblies,
1 2 "under "under pretence of preparing or presenting public petitions, or other addresses to his majesty or the parliament." The bill enacted that all such assemblies should be unlawful; but it had the mercy to declare, that his majesty's subjects might still petition the king or parliament. A traitorous correspondence bill was likewise enacted, conformable to that in England. To preserve the same uniformity, and perhaps also as an equivalent for the sacrifices to which opposition had freely consented, a libel bill and place bill were permitted to pass.
On the 19th of July, Mr. George Ponsonby, in the name of his brother, presented a bill for the more equal representation of the people in' parliament. The former gentleman, with his connexions, had ever since the regency dispute joined the opposition; and by their influence, as well as by his own abilities he had acquired as much consideration and importance as could be conferred by a party, which adhered neither to government nor the people. The outline of the plan proposed by this bill was, that three representatives should be appointed for each county, and for the cities of Dublin and Cork. With regard to other cities, boroughs, towns or manors, that persons residing within the distance of four miles every way from the centre of each> (within such variations as necessity might demand) should have a right to vote for its representatives, if possessed of a ten pound freehold: that no person admitted to the freedom of any corporation, should thereby acquire such a right, unless he were also seized within the city or town corporate, of a five pound freehold, upon which he or his family resided for a year before the election and admission; that this regulation should not extend to persons acquiring that freedom by birth, marriage, or service: and lastly, that an oath should be taken by every person returned to serve in parliament, that he had not purchased his seat.
This plan may perhaps not unjustly be considered as flowing from the principle of property qualification, adopted by a society
which which called itself the friends of the constitution, liberty, and peace. When the union of catholics and dissenters in pursuit of the same objects, had succeeded in raising the question of reform from the neglect into which it had fallen after the Convention of 1784} and that the force of public opinion was bearing powerfully upon that point, a number of noblemen and gentlemen of the first rank and fortune, with the duke of Leinster at their head, collecting around them as much as possible the friend* pf reform in parliament, in the whig chib, and at the bar, form, ed themselves In the latter end of 1792, into a society under that name. It was expected by its respectability to overawe, and by its moderation to curh the much more democratic United Irishr pien. When .it bad thus superseded, what its partizans termed faction and sedition, it intended to put itself at the head of the peiiii!?. That its loyalty might be unquestioned, a disavowal of republican principles was made an integral part of its admission test. So long as the Irish ministers were balancing upon their line of conduct, they patronised, as much as was consistent with their characters, this check upon their most formidable oppo-nents; by means of which silent approbation, and of the society's own landed connection!!, it was enabled to put out some offshoots in ether parts of the kingdom. But when reform was to be seriously resisted, the friends of peace were not found forward to struggle against the storm, and the society expired of laugour, while the United Irishmen were maintaining t;hemselvea against denunciations, prosecutions and imprisonments. These last in Dublin had also submitted to public consideration a plan of parliamentary reform, on the broad base of universal suffrage, for which they were become unequivocal advocates.
In truth, however, by this time, all prospect of accomplishing any thing on that subject, had every where disappeared.— The hope that had been excited by the unanimous consent of parliament to go into a committee, was disappointed by the rejection of Mr. Grattan't resolutions, and the adoption of Sir
John John Parnell's amendment; it was completely blasted by the successive adjournments, which defeated every attempt to render the committee's proceedings of any avail; and the presenting of Mr. Ponsonby's bill, was rather considered as the formal discharge of a promise long since made, than as a step towards success.
The expression too, of that spirit which called for reform, was greatly restrained by the coercive measures of government and parliament at home, and by the gloomy appearances abroad. France was agitated by the defections of its generals, the insurrections in the west, the contest between the mountain and the girondists, and the successful pressure of foreign armies. Even when that country again began to assume an offensive aspect,, and determined on the motion of Barrere, to rise in mass, the enthusiasm by which it was actuated, failed of exciting correspondent demonstrations in Ireland; very much indeed from the efi fects of domestic terror, but in many cases unquestionably from a contemplation and horror of that beginning system in the French republic. The professions of atheism, and the open mockery of Christianity, shocked a people that always cherished and respected religion. The carnage committed by the revolutionary tribunals, and the tyranny of the committee of public Safety, deeply, afflicted the lovers of liberty andjustice. The assertions boldly made by the. anti-reformists, and the adherents oB government, that those outrages were essentially connected with the march of democracy, alarmed the timid, revoked, those, whose liberal politics were more the result of feeling than of reflection, and even co-opera(ed with the measures of government, in compelling many of the philosophic reformers to wait in silence a more favourable opportunity, when what had been los^ of public reason and public strength, should be again restored.
[1974 ] ^n s'ate °^ act've outcry on the one partt and temporary inaction on the other, parliament again, met on the 21st of January* 1794;. During this session, pppp