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Warren, Charles Ryan, and John Ball, executed this important task.
We the Catholics of the city of Dublin, have read with extreme concern, the resolutions of different bodies of our Protestant fellow subjects, in which they express their dis. approbation of the conduct of our committee, and their aversion to our claims of the elective franchise, and an equal par. ticipation of the trial by jury. But the address of the corporation of this city to the Protestants of Ireland, has filled us most peculiarly with mortification and surprise; as Irishmen, we are astonished and grieved, that the first corporation of this kingdom should have put forth a publication, teeming with false principles of government, and false statements of historic facts; as Catholics, we lament, that the same body should have misconceived and mis-stated our conduct and our objects.
We have read of what is called the right of conquest; it has also been called the right of robbery: but we do not imagine, that a doctrine, so subversive of the peace and settlement of society, and of the immutable rules of justice, that a doctrine, which in its consequences so completely warrants, and in its language so wantonly provokes resistance, would be made the foundation of the Protestant claims to the govern. ment of this country. We did not expect, that a doctrine, exploded in this island by the revolution of 1782, would be revived to our oppression. If conquest and the right of the sword could justify the stronger in retaining dominion, why did Great Britain abdicate her legislative supremacy over Ireland? or why were we all, Protestants and Catholics, actuated as one man to resist so legitimate an authority? Is that monstrous and exploded principle still to be retained for our peculiar subjection, which was felt to be false by every honest man, when applied to the subjection of his native land?
We are desired in that address to "rest contented with the most perfect toleration of our religion, the fullest security of our property, and the most complete personal liberty." They are great and important blessings, but they are not secure to any man who is a slave. They are held but by sufferance, by those who are tried without their consent, and legislated for without being represented.
We agree with the corporation in the spirit of one assertion, they " know of no power under Heaven authorized to alienate this their most valuable inheritance." Let our claims be tried by the same principle. The Catholics were the con. stituents of the very parliament which deprived them of their franchise, and thereby did indeed " alienate their most valu. able inheritance!" and though we have acquiesced under that unjust deprivation for sixty-five yeacs, and though we will continue to acquiesce, so long as the statute stands in its present form, we must still declare, as a political truth, that no elected and delegated legislature has a right to disfranchise its electors and delegators, who never entrusted their power to that body for the purpose of being made the instrument of its own destruction. And we further say, that, in our judg. ment, not even those electors could empower their represen. tatives to enslave us, their posterity.
We are likewise told by the corporation, that "experience has taught them, that without the ruin of the Protestant establishment, the Catholic cannot be allowed the smallest influence in the state." The inclinations of our body are not to subvert any establishment in this country; if they were, we are not competent to so absurd a project: and no strength, that we might derive from the restoration of our rights, would enable us to effect it, while the King, the House of Lords, the Irish Privy Council, the English Privy Council, and the Chancellors of both countries, are unalterably Protestant. If by establishment be meant religious establishment, we must further reply, that no experience has taught them so; the Protestant religion was dominant in this country long before our ancestors lost their elective franchise. Is it only since the year 1727, that Protestantism has been the religion of the state in Ireland? If by establishment be meant the government of the country, it is equally ill-founded; that is instituted for the freedom and happiness of the governed; and yet this address would imply, that procuring freedom aud happiness for three-fourths of this kingdom, would cause the utter ruin of our government. A greater libel against the constitution of Ireland was never uttered by its most declared enemy. It is sufficiently capacious to give liberty to every man; and the more its base is widened, and its blessings diffused, the more it will be fortified against the efforts of time and despotism. Nor does experience warrant the assertion. Our loss of the right of citizenship is comparatively modern; and the government of this country neither required nor gained any accession of strength by our slavery. That was effected in a time of profound tranquillity, after the uninterrupted loyalty and peaceable demeanour of our ancestors had been experienced and acknowledged for thirty.six years from the capitulation of Limerick. The causes that induced this law are now almost forgotten; but if tradition be to be believed, where history is silent, it was enacted to satisfy court intrigue, not public security; to change the balance of power between Protestant families in two or three counties of this kingdom, not to give any increase of power to the Protestants at large.
It is suggested in that address, that the Revolution was established in Ireland by force, or as it is profanely called, by " an appeal to Heaven." The Revolution in England, derived its glory and its stability from this great truth, that it was founded on the people's will. Does the Revolution in. Ireland rest upon a different foundation? Is it supported by a principle, which is the reverse of that, which rendered the Revolution in England the admiration of the world? No! it is not so; we must all concur in calumniating that great event, that our ancestors may also be calumniated. The Revolution in Ireland was not completed by the battles of the Boyne or Aughrim, but by the articles of Limerick. It was consented to by all, Protestants and Catholics. The consent of the Catholics was obtained to a compact, as so. lemnly ratified, and as speedily broken, as any in the records of history. By that compact, the enjoyment of all their rights was stipulated for to our ancestors, as a declaration of their consent. The restoration of those rights was therefore connected with the Revolution settlement of this kingdom.
We are also told, that those laws were enacted to " deprive the Roman Catholics of political power, in consequence of the many and great efforts made by them in support of their Popish King and French connexions." When, where, or how were those many and great efforts made? From their number and their magnitude, those who so confidently advance this assertion, cannot, we presume, be at a loss for an instance; but we defy the malice of invention to produce one. Our forefathers never vitiated the articles of Limerick. From the time that (hey consented to the Revolution in 1691, they never made any efforts either in support of a Popish King, or French connexions, or of any other enemy to King William and his successors. Had they even done so, the fault had been theirs—why not the punishment theirs also? Or, is it intended to be insinuated to fellow-subjects who know our loyalty, that We are anxious to have this country " governed by an arbitrary and unconstitutional Popish tyrant, and dependant upon France;" or that tee do not desire to " enjoy the blessings of a free Protestant government, a Protestant monarch limited by the constitution, (as settled by the Re. volution,) and an intimate connexion with the free empire of Britain?" If we do, why is the law continued, after the reason of enacting has ceased?
We admit, that from the momeut the Protestant began to make concessions, the Roman Catholic began to extend his claims. The first kindness of our Protestant brethren shewed a returning spirit of liberality and affection. Before that time we were not so rash as to raise our minds to the hopes of citizenship. But we were never guilty of the deceit imputed to us, of declaring that a little would satisfy us, and when that little was granted, of claiming more. Our own attention, as well as that of our Protestant fellow subjects, was directed to the most immediate and most practicable redress. We did not embarrass the measure by remote and extraneous considerations, but we never did, either in word or thought, and we never mill forego our hopes oj emancipation. Freemen would not believe us, if we said that we should be induced by any comparatively small alleviation of our grievances, to consent to perpetual slavery. - We lament that it is not true, " that the last session of parliament left us in no wise different from our Protestant fellow-subjects, save only in the exercise of political power." That assertion is falsified by the heavy code of penal laws still in force against us, many of which infringe on that security of property, and that personal liberty, which it is alleged we possess. But it is not power, it is protection we solicit. It is not power, including in it the notion of superiority—it is the equal enjoyment of our rights that we claim.
The Corporation tell us, that they will not be compelled by any authority whatever, " to abandon that political situation, -which their forefathers won with their swords, and ^vhich they have resolved with their lives and fortunes to maintain." Are We the seditious men, that would overawe the legislature and our fellow countrymen? No; Out views are peaceable, and neither insult nor oppression shall make us forget our loyalty. But wherefore this untimely threat? It wears the appearance of first urging us to despair by an eternal proscription, and then of throwing down the gauntlet of civil war. We too have lives and fortunes, which we are ready to devote to the service of our country, whenever real danger shall require it; but we will never degrade that last and most solemn act of patriotism into an idle menace and an insolent bravado.
The great question of our emancipation is now afloat, we have never sought to acquire it by force, and we hope for it now only from the wisdom of the legislature, and affection of our Protestant brethren. But, we here solemnly and publicly declare, that we never will, through any change of time or circumstance, save the actual restoration of our rights, desist from the peaceable and lawful pursuit of the two great objects of our hopes—the right of elective franchise, and an equal share in the benefit of the trial by jury.
This meeting also embraced the opportunity it afforded, to express their gratitude to the illustrious characters, in both houses of parliament, who had supported their emancipation; also to the citizens of Belfast, the Belfast Volunteers, the freeholders of Cork, and all of their Protestant brethren, who had manifested a similar inclination. The chairman, Mr. T. BraugbaJI, was ordered to transmit copies of this day's proceedings to the chairman of the town-meeting at Belfast; the chairmen of the different societies of United Irishmen; the different reviewing officers of Ulster, &c.
Agreeable to the resolution of the Catholic committee, the Catholic Convention prepared a
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