« PreviousContinue »
and have actually ordered uniforms and accoutrements to be made and provided for such per•ons as they shall be enabled to seduce from their allegiance, to enter into the said illegal associations; and whereas these dangerous and seditious proceedings tend to the disturbance of the public peace, the obstruction of good order and government, the great injury of public credit, and the subversion of the constitution, and have raised great alarms in the minds of his Majesty's loyal subjects. Now, we, the lord lieutenant and council, being determined to maintain the public peace, against all attempts to disturb the same, and being desirous to forewarn all such persons as might unadvisedly incur the penalties of the law in this behalf, by concurring in practices of a tendency so dangerous and alarming, do hereby strictly charge all persons whomsoever,on their allegiance to his Majesty, to abstain from committing such offences. And we do charge and command the lord mayor, magistrates, sheriffs, bailiffs, and other peace officers within the county and city of Dublin respectively, to be careful in preserving the peace within the same, and to disperse all seditious and unlawful assemblies; and, if they shall be resisted, to apprehend the offenders, that they may be dealt with according to law." This had the expected effect. Republicanism had not taken root in the capital: the National Guards, conscious of wanting public support, did not muster; a few appeared in the streets, and three at the appointed parade, Rowan, Tandy, and Carey; shortly after, the uniforms prepared for
it were seized, and this new military association extinguished.
This, however, did not prevent an attempt to re-embody the old volunteer corps, now nominally existing, who had been favourably alluded to in the proclamation. For this purpose, on the 14th, the following Address was issued by the United Irishmen of Dublin. This became the subject of a criminal prosecution: an ex-officio information was filed against the secretary; after a trial of ten hours, on the 29th of January, 1794, Mr. Rowan was found guilty, and sentenced to pay a fine of £500, to be imprisoned two years, and until the fine was paid, and to give security for his good behaviour for seven years, himself in j£2000, and two sureties in £ 1000 each.
The Society of United Irishmen at Dublin, to the Volunteers of Ireland, William Drennan, Chairman, Archibald Hamilton Rowan, Secretary. Citizen soldiers,
You first took up arms to protect your country from foreign enemies and from domestic disturbance. For the same pur. poses, it now becomes necessary that you should resume them. A proclamation has been issued in England, for embodying the militia, and a proclamation has been issued by the lord lieutenant and council in Ireland, for repressing all seditious associations. In consequence of both these proclamations, it is reasonable to apprehend danger from abroad, and danger at home. From whence but from apprehended danger are those menacing preparations for war drawn through the streets of this capital, or whence, if not to create that internal commotion which was not found, to shake that credit which was not affected, to blast that volunteer honour which was hitherto inviolate, are those terrible suggestions, and I u. moors, and whispers, that meet us at every corner, and agitate at least our old men, our women and children. What.
TOL. Iv. 3 B
ever be the motive, or from whatever quarter it arises, alarm has arisen, and you, Volunteers Of Ireland, are there. fore summoned to arms at the instance of government, as well as by the responsibility attached to your character, and the permanent obligations of your institution. We will not, at this day, condescend to quote authorities for the right of having and of using arms, but we will cry aloud, even amidst the storm raised by the witchcraft of a proclamation, that to your formation was owing the peace and protection of this island, to your relaxation has been owing its relapse into impotence and insignificance, to your renovation must be owing its future freedom and its present tranquillity. You are therefore summoned to arms, in order to preserve your country in that guarded quiet, which may secure it from external hostility, and to maintain that internal regimen throughout the land, which, superseding a notorious police or a suspected militia, may preserve the blessings of peace by a vigilant preparation for war.
Citizen soldiers, to arms! Take up the shield of freedom, and the pledges of peace—peace, the motive and end of your virtuous institution. War, an occasional duty, ought never to be made an occupation. Every man should become a sol. dier in the defence of his rights; no man ought to continue a soldier for offending the rights of others. The sacrifice of life in the service of our country is a duty much too honourable to be entrusted to mercenaries, and at this time, when your country has by public authority been declared in danger, we conjure you by your interest, your duty, and your glory, to stand to your arms, and in spite of a police, in spite of a fencible militia, in virtue of two proclamations, to maintain good order in your vicinage, and tranquillity in Ireland. It is only by the military array of men in whom they confide, whom they have been accustomed to revere as the guardians of domestic peace, the protectors of their liberties and lives, that the present agitation of the people can be stilled, that tumult and licentiousness can be repressed, obedience secured to existing law, and a calm confidence diffused through the public mind in the speedy resurrection of a free constitution, of liberty and of equality,—words which we use for an opportunity of repelling calumny, and of saying, that, by liberty we never understood unlimited freedom, nor by equality the
levelling of property, or the destruction of subordination.— This is a calumny invented by that faction, or that gang, which misrepresents the king to the people, and the people to the king, traduces one half of the nation, to cajole the other, aud by keeping up distrust and division, wishes to continue the proud arbitrators of the fortune and fate of Ireland.—Liberty is the exercise of all our rights, natural and political, secured to us and our posterity by a real representation of the people;—and equality is the extension of the constituent, to the fullest dimensions oj the constitution, of the elective franchise to the whole body of the people, to the end that government, which is collective power, may be guided by collective will, and that legislation may originate from public reason, keep pace with public improvement, and terminate in public happiness. If our constitution be imperfect, nothing but a reform in representation will rectify its abuses; if it be perfect, nothing bat the same reform will perpetuate its blessings.
We now address you as Citizens, for to be Citizens you became Soldiers, nor can we help wishing that all soldiers, partaking the passions and interest of the people, would remember that they were once citizens, that seduction made them soldiers,—" but nature made them men." We address you without any authority, save that of reason, and if we obtain the coincidence of public opinion, it is neither by force nor stratagem, for we have no power to terrify, no artifice to cajole, no fund to seduce.—Here we sit,—without mace or beadle, neither a mystery, nor a craft, nor a corporation. In four words lies all our power,—UNIVERSAL EMANCIPATION and REPRESENTATIVE LEGISLATURE; yet we are confident, that on the pivot of this principle, a convention,—still less—a society,—less still, a single man, would be able, first to move and then to raise the world. We, therefore, wish for catholic emancipation without any modification, but still we consider this necessary enfranchisement as merely the portal to the temple of national freedom. Wide as this entrance is, wide enough to admit three mil. lions—it is narrow, when compared to the capacity and comprehension of our beloved principle, which takes in every individual of the Irish nation, casts an equal eye over the whole island, embraces all that think, and feels for all that
suffer. The catholic cause is subordinate to our cause, and included in it, for, as UNITED IRISHMEN, we adhere to no sect, but to society, to no creed but Christianity, to no party, but the whole people.—In the sincerity of our souls, do we desire catholic emancipation, but were it obtained tomorrow, to-morrow would we go on, as we do to-day, in the pursuit of that reform, which would still be wanting to ratify their liberties as well as our own.
For both these purposes, it appears necessary that provin. cial conventions should assemble preparatory to the convention of the protestant people. The Delegates of the catholic body are not justified in communicating with individuals, or even bodies of inferior authority, and therefore an assembly of a similar nature and organization, is necessary to establish an intercourse of sentiment, an uniformity of conduct, an united cause, and an united nation. If a convention on the one part does not soon follow, and is not soon connected with that on the other, the common cause will split into the partial interest; the people will relax into inattention and in. ertness; the union of affection and exertion will dissolve, and too probably some local insurrection, instigated by the malignity of our common enemy, may commit the character and risque the tranquillity of the island, which can be obviated only by the influence of an assembly, arising from, assimilated with the people, and whose spirit may be as it were knit with the soul of the nation,—unless the sense of the protestant people be on their part as fairly collected and as judiciously directed, unless individual exertion consolidates into collective strength, unless the particles unite into mass, we may perhaps serve some person, or some party for a little, but the public not at all. The nation is neither insolent nor rebellious nor seditious. While it knows its rights it is unwilling to manifest its powers. It would rather supplicate administration to anticipate revolution by a well timed reform, and to save their country in mercy to themselves.
The 15th of February approaches, a day ever memorable in the annals of this country as the birth-day of new Ireland— Let parochial meetings be held as soon as possible. Let each parish return delegates. Let the sense of Ulster be again declared from Dungannon on a day auspicious to union, peace and freedom, and the spirit of the north will again become