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that the bill brought in by Sir Hercules Langrishe, a constart supporter of government was long thought of, maturely digested and reflexedly approved of by government before it was ushered into the House of Commons: yet has that very circumstance been notoriously falsified by the Earl of Clare in the most solemn manner.
*" With respect to the old code of the Popery laws, there cannot be a doubt that it ought to have been repealed. It
was impossible that any country could continue to exist under " a code, by which a majority of its inhabitants were cut off 6 from the rights of property. But in the relaxation of these. " laws there was a fatal error. It should have been taken up 66 systematically by the ministers of the crown, and not left in " the hands of every individual, who chose to take possession of "? it, as an engine of power or popularity. This, however, was46 done; and before the subject attracted the notice of the ser“ vants of the crown, the Popery laws were unequivocally re6 pealed so far as they affected the rights of property, were re
laxed in every clause of intolerance, which affected the Popish 16 worship; and the profession of the law was opened to persons “ of the Popish religion, without qualification or restriction. In " 1792, a giddy young man, now no more, was brought over
here from England by the Catholic committee, as their avow" ed agent, who, immediately after his arrival, commenced a " warm canvass of the members of both houses of parliament “ for the political interests of his clients, and in the course of 5 this canvass I can state, from my own knowledge, his great “ argument was, an unequivocal offer of the services of his cli
ents to men whose stations naturally gave them some weight " in the public councils, to establish their political power on a “ basis not to be shaken, if they would put themselves at the " head of the Catholic body.”+
* Speech of the Earl of Clare, on the 10th of February, 1800.
An account of these first transactions has been left us by the young man, whom the chancellor had thus charged with levity, who evidently acted under the advice of his father, and whose revising pen is discoverable through the style, language, and sentiments of the whole pamphlet. It is entitled, An Address from the general Committee of the Roman Catholics to their fellow Protestant Subjects, c. published in Dublin, 1792. Here we find the following account of the division of the Catholic boily. (P. 5.) “ In the first place it is "incumbent upon us to reduce the confused mass of obloquy, which has been “ heaped upon us, into some kind of certainty, both in its substance and in “ its application. We shall afterwards examine the grounds of it. For this "' purpose we are to premise, that a division in the Catholic body has been is artfully imagined, and strongly insisted upon; of which one part is honour" ed with the appellation of the real Catholics; the men of birth, property, er education, character, morals, and understanding: The other part is repre. is seated, as a base, umlettered, mechanical, poor, and vulgar herd; the ob.
'The body of the Roman Catholics, though necessarily anxious to be relieved of the hardships they had so long laboured under, could not be altogether insensible of the new and unaccustomed sympathy and liberality of any of their Protestant countrymen.
“ scure tenants of the counting house, and the rude tillers of the soil; men “ incapable of comprehending the principles of society, or the ties of moral " obligation.
“ First, it is proper to remark, that the distribution and contra-distinction of "men, which is here supposed, implies an entire and previous dissolution of “ the social band, and one which if ever it takes place, can only exist for the
destruction of the superior class. But fortunately for the prosperity, the * peace, and the honour of Ireland, no such division has yet been effected
among the Roman Catholics. It is true indeed, that a division (if the defec« tion of so small a number can be called a division) has been fomented, and " yet subsists, which however it is to be lamented upon other grounds, is not ~ of the nature above described. Two parties are seen amongst us, one com. “ posed of those who (from motives best known to themselves) have been u induced to put their hands to the address of the 17th of December ; for "s which act Lord Kenmare has been declared unworthy of our confidence: " the other party consists on one hand, of this committee, delegated for the « purpose of transacting the concerns of the Roman Catholics; and on the e other, of all those who have come forward in various resolutions of appro« bation to this committee, and of abhorrence of the imputations, which Lord " Kenmare's address has obliquely thrown upon us, but which many of the " addressers themselves have since honourably disclaimed.
" Of these two parties it is evident, that the pompous and encomiastic side
of the picture above delineated, is meant to apply to the followers of Lord " Kenmare; the villifying and opprobrious expressions relate to this commit, " tee, and to those who have supported it. Before we proceed to expose the " injustice of this application in both its parts, we wish to have it understood, " that in discharging ourselves from illiberal reflexions, we only mean to re* ject those which imply some evil moral quality. We should be far from the " mean and insolent vanity, so unbecoming a Christian and a man, of taking “ pride in the accidents of birth, wealth, and education, in whatever degree 4 we might possess them. We do not account ourselves better than those “ whom perhaps a kinder providence, has placed in the most humble life, and
who serve their generation with a more obscure, or a less successful indus. " try. Why should indigence be insulted? We do not despise the poor, nor ** him who with the sweat of his brow, bears all the burden of the common “ curse. Our actions will show, that we are not willing to sacrifice, for ob. “ jects of avarice and ambition to ourselves and to our children, the necessary “ security, the just importance, the protecting franchise of the man, whose " hard toil obtains from our mother earth the very bread we eat. When, “ therefore, it is asserted, that we are only the unlettered, poor, mechanical " members of our persuasion; we deny it only because it is not the fact. As “ far as it regards ourselves, the imposture is less material. But, when it is “ considered, that it is not this committee alone, who are represented as des. “ titute of property, character, and knowledge, incapable of discerning social * good or public utility; but that all the Roman Catholics, who have stood “ forth on this occasion, the principal merchants of so many trading cities, the " householders of all the parishes of this capital, the landed proprietors of so * many counties, are involved in this indiscriminate reproach of meanness, « poverty and ignorance; common sense, and the feelings of mankind exact “ from us an authentic assertion of the truth. We declare then, and we are “ warranted in declaring, that the names and characters of the persons who “ have signed resolutions in favour of the general committee, are of the first * respectability in every class, and every line which the law has left open to
The Catholics did not weigh to a scruple those differences, by 'which the religious tenets of the established church and the Dissenters varied from their own; nor did they open old accounts to discover whether the asperity of Puritanical rigour had been softened by the assumption of Protestant ascendancy: those, who upon the broad basis of constitutional freedom adopted the principle of their emancipation could not but be received with cordiality, as the welcome heralds of the cessation of their bondage, and coadjutors in the glorious work of their delivery. Although the Catholics were not generally admitted into the different societies, which had lately been formed and instituted for promoting the great popular objects of civil freedom and reform: yet it was morally impossible, that many Catholic individuals should not at that time have sympathized with their Protestant brethren in the forwarding of those objects. Nothing however had been ever suggested, much less attempted by them as a body towards their attainment. Under the existing vehemence of political prejudice it was found prudent in the body, to prove to the legislature as well as the nation at large, as the fact was, that the exertions of their body were exclusively confined to the relaxation of the penal code. * " us. Let those who have read their resolutions themselves judge of their “ capacity, and say whether they are, as has been insinuated, below the stand“ ard of the human faculties, and incapable of political combinations, or " even of appreciating their own wants, and their own grievances.
“ It has been represented, that they have no stake in the prosperity of their “ country, and nothing to hazard in the event of public calamity. If we are " to speak of their substance, to bring the estimate within the lowest possible " calculation, we cannot compute the property of those who have already s signed resolutions in our favor (to say nothing of ourselves, or of those “ who are yet to sign) at less than ten millions sterling; we should come
nearer the truth, if we should say twenty millions. If mercantile, and per“sonal wealth constitutes the greater part of this sum, it is because the pro"perty of the Roman Catholics is principally vested in trade, and that we " have been long incapable, and are but lately qualified to acquire real estates. " But though Providence has not frowned upon our humble industry, we repeat “ it again, that we solicit relief not for the sake of the rich, but for the sake of " the poor. And if we were all sunk (as too many of us are) in one dreary lot “ of hopeless poverty, we should only possess a stronger claim to the charities o of parliament, and one argument more for a participation in equal laws.
“ But it is said these addressers are the landed interest. A landed interest « is certainly respectable, and deserves much, but not the whole attention of a " legislature; that is to say, where it is united, and not when it is in a state of “ unnatural separation from the general mass of property. It so happens, s however, that a much greater proportion of that very property is with the “committee, than with the followers of Lord Kenmare."
*Thus were their exertions expressed by their agent Mr. R. Burke: “We “ now proceed to shew, that the principles and conduct imputed to us, are "equally destitute of foundation. It is said, that we are turbulent and sedi“ tious, that we have formed regular pkins for the intimidation of parliament, " and that instead of making application for favoul's, we assert claims of right, “ of speculative right unknown to the constitution, and subversive of society. “ These are the charges; we are not afraid to repeat them. Whether we in.
On the 19th of January, 1792, the parliament was opened by a speech from the throne, in which his excellency, after having communicated to them the marriage of the Duke of York with the Princess Royal of Prussia, observed, that the constant attention they had shewn to the interests of Ireland made it unnecessary to recommend to them a continuance of that wise system of policy, from which their country had received such inestimable advantages in the increase oi her trade, credit and manufactures, The address, which was moved by Lord Thurles and seconded by the hon. G. Knox, imported the thanks of that house to his majesty for continuing in the government a lord lieutenant, who had shewn a zealous uisposition to forward every measure that might contribute to the public welfare; and that they were convinced of his decided resolution to support the due execution of the law; and that under his firm administration they should feel confident of the maintenance of good order and government : upon which Mr. Grattan said, he most cheerfully concurred in every thing honourable to his majesty, and sincerely rejoiced in every circumstance, which could really add to his public and private happiness, which must give pleasure to every branch of his majesty's subjects, and to none more sincerely than to his loyal people of Ireland. They must ever rejoice in the auspicious increase of the illustrious House of Hanover, whose accession to the throne of these dominions had been attended with so many blessings to that country, as well as every other part of the empire. So far he was ready to concur in the address. But to that part of it which went to declare thanks to his majesty, for continuing in the government of this country a lord lieutenant and an administration whose measures he had found it necessary to oppose, and who had uniformly opposed every measure urged for the good of their country, he could not give his assent. Ten years had elapsed since they had recovered their constitution,
“timidate, or are ourselves the object of intimidation, is for those to pronounce “ who hear the imputations with which we are covered, and the vengeance “ which is denounced against us. What have we done, or what are we able “ to do, which makes it necessary for the newspapers and pamphlets of the “ day, to threaten us with the unf Ided terrors of Irish, and even of British “ power? This we conceive is something like intimidation. But why is it, that « while on one side we are reprobated as vile, and as of no account in the scale « of public judgment: on the other, we are treated as enemies of the most “ dreadful importance? Such are the inconsistencies into which our enemies “ are hurried. It is the perturbation of the passions
“As to the committee we are to observe, that if it is an improper, it is at “ least no recent institution. It was formed about twenty years ago, under " the immediate eye, and tacit sanction of government. From that time for" ward, all the parliamentary and general business of the Roman Catholics have “ been transacted through that channel by every minister, and every public “ man, to this very day.”
and three since, in the opinion of some, they had lost it. Their present ministers had made two attempts on their liberties; the first had failed, and the second had succeeded. They could remember the propositions; the people of Ireland would not consent to be governed by the British parliament: an expedient was devised, let the Irish parliament govern the people of Ireland, and Britain govern the Irish parliament. She was to do so specifically in those subjects in which she had been most oppressive; monopolies of commerce east and west. They were to put down the Irish constitution, in order to put up the monopoly against Irish commerce. The ministry, who conducted this trick, took care to make the Irish advance by a certain number of propositions, under an assurance, that the British cabinet would to an iota accede, and they made the Irish parliament give an additional revenue on the faith of that accession. They then suffered the propositions to be reversed; turned them against the country from which they were supposed to proceed, and made them fatal at once to their constitution, and her commerce. The individuals concerned in that business, some of them, had pledged themselves against an iota of alteration: they broke their honour. The Irish minister was pledged to a specific system; he prevaricated; in the attempt on her liberty he was a violater; in taking her taxes a swindler. This measure was defeated by the influence principally of that part of the aristocracy, who refused to go through the bill; and who had been dismissed. They who made the attempt had been advanced and rewarded. The path of public treachery in a principal country leads to the block; but in a nation, governed like a province, to the helm.
The second attempt was their modelling of the parliament: in 1789, fifteen new salaries, with several new pensions to the members thereof, were created at once and added to the old overgrown parliamentary influence of the crown. In other words the expenditure of the interest of half a million to buy the House of Commons; the sale of the peerage and the purchase of seats in the commons; the formation of a stock-purse by the minister to monopolize boroughs, and buy up representations. This new practice whereby the minister of the crown becomes the common borough-broker of the kingdom, constitutes an offence so multitudinous and in all its parts so criminal, as to call for radical reformation, and exemplary punishment; whether the persons concerned be Lord Buckingham or his secretary, ur those who became the objects of his promotion, because they had been the ministers of his vices. It was a conspiracy against the fundamental laws of the land, and sought to establish, and had established, in the place of a limited monarchy, a corrupt despotism; and if any thing rescued the persons so concerned from the name