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AN :

HISTORICAL REVIEW

OF THE

STATE OF IRELAND.

THE anniversary commemoration of the French Revolution was celebrated on the 14th of July, with the most solemn festivity and a gala, by the inhabitants and neighbourhood of Bela fast, the more strongly to mark their sympathy with the French revolution. All the armed corps of volunteers attended, and fired several feus de joie ; many striking emblems in allusion to the revolution of 1688 were displayed, marked their horror of despotism and arbitrary power. And a most sympathetic address or declaration on the occasion, was sent to the society of the Friends of the Constitution at Bourdeaux. *

* Their answer shews the boasted sympathy which at that time existed between these gentlemen in the north, and the French revolutioners. It was received by Mr. Sharman, the president of the meeting: "The Society of the Friends of the Constitution, at Bourdeaux, to the

“ Volunteers and Inhabitants of the town and environs of Belfast, in Ire

* land. Friends and Brethren,

“ YES, generous Irishmen!-Receive this appellation, “ which we have hitherto granted exclusively to Frenchmen, true friends of " our constitution. Receive it, notwithstanding the distance which separates “us; the difference of our idioms, and of our manners: Men inspired by a " love of the human kind, and the spirit of liberty, are mutually attracted, “ however distant their situations : there is nothing intermediate between “them, were they placed at different extrem ties of the globe. The citizens " who agreed to the declaration concluded on at Belfast, on the 14th July, “ 1791, are then all our brethren and our frienils

“Your address, read the 12th of this month, at one of the public sittings of " our society, and frequently interrupted by universal bursts of applause, has “ filled our souls with sentiments of delight; in contemplating the burity, the "compass, and the energy of your maxims respecting the natural and trical “ rights of man. We fancied we beheld the standard of liberty, which pre “ sophy at this day unfuris in every part of Euro, e, ar ested in its progress on " the rock of Ireland, to receive the new bomage of an enlightened people.

VOL. IV.

These public acts of communication of the Protestants in the north with France, gave particular offence to government, who manifested great jealousy and diffidence towards all persons connected with them. Mr. Tone had been secretary to the Catholic committee, and Messrs. Simon Butler and William Todd Jones were their avowed friends and advocates. Several therefore, of the Roman Catholic gentlemen of landed property, who disapproved of this general system of political measures pursued by these societies, in order to express their horror of co-operating in any degree with such men and measures, seceded formally from the Catholic committec; and on the 27th of December, 1791, presented to the lord-lieutenant a petition or address, which went no farther than a general expression of

" The truth of your sentiments, the depth of your reflexions ; the grace“ fulness of your expressions, recalled to our recollection those celebrated • bards, those immortal poets, wbom the rage of the tyrannous Edward pur" sued with his most cruel prosecutions, to stifle the voices of the country, of a honour, and of liberty.

« France has given the signal of a bold insurrection against all prejudices; rs against all abuses ; against all illegitimate authorities. May it, as you desire, " become general among the human race! That day, friends and brethren, " will arrive ; when the different parts of the civilized world shah raise together is their eloquent voice; which, like that of Belfast, sball assert the rights of as the people, and teach them to recover them by the empire of reason, and “the power of the laws.

“Receive, friends and brethren, the congratulations and thanks of a free « people, transmitted to you through us, as their organ, for the example which " you yourselves lately gave to the universe !

« We congratulate you on the talents displayed in the exposition of your " principles respecting the nature and end of government. We congratulate « you on the sagacity, the noble freedom, with which you have pointed out - the influence of the French revolution on the happiness of every people. " We congratulate you on the courage, with which you force tyrants to listen “ to expressions of that lively interest which you take in our fate; to hear the .“ prayer which you address to God, that he may protect us with his power; to “attend above all, to the ardent vows which you have offered up for our suc. « cess. In fine, we congratulate you, brethren and friends, on the respect which “ you have shewn to the National Assembly of France, by addressing to it di“rectly your declaration. Ah! that you could conceive the degree in which that " brilliant act of admiration has penetrated our souls with joy and gratitude ! "-that you could conceive how much all good Frenchmen are touched, hon« oured, filled with noble pride, when they behold the just tribute of applause, " which they themselves unceasingly offer to their regenerate assembly, passwing from mouth to mouth, from clime to clime; to that council of Sages, * who thus enjoy, before hand, the glory with which posterity will be crowned. “ We are, with the most tender affection,

“ Friends and Brothers, " The members of the Society of the Friends of the “ Constitution, at Bourdeaux.

“ AZEMA, President,

" CHAPELLE, Secretary," vs At Bourucaux, 14th of August, 1791,

" in the third year of our liberty."

submissiveness and respect to government, throwing themselves and their body upon their humanity and wisdom. *

On the 30th of December, 1791, the United Irishmen of Dublin held a special session, at which they approved of a circular letter which was calculated to encourage similar societies; and to it they annexed a declaration of their political sentiments, and the test which they had taken, as a social and sacred compact to bind them more closely together.t They also in their publications animadverted severely upon the 64 addressers. The general disposition to republicanism which appeared in the publications, and whole conduct of these new societies, became daily more and more obnoxious to government: they were chiefly composed of Dissenters: the several leading men amongst them were Protestants of the established church : it was believed and constantly preached up by the Castle, that this new, violent, and affectionate attachment of the Dissenters for their Roman Catholic brethren, proceeded not from any sentiment of liberality or toleration, but purely to engage the co-operation of the great mass of the people the more warmly in forwarding the several popular questions lately brought before parliament. The truth, however is, that their marked forwardness to applaud and sympathize with the French innovators had caused suspicions in many strong abettors of those very points, that the ulterior views of the societies then formed, (into which the Catholics were not admitted) tended to ohjects beyond the known limits of the constitution. From that time shyness, jealousy, and distrust subsisted between those new societies and the Whig Club, though the agents and writers for government attempted to identify their views, measures and principles, as appears by the newspapers, and other publications of that day.

In the county of Armagh, the local differences and internal warfare of the Defenders and Peep of Day Boys, were carried on with increased acrimony: duration naturally extended the evil ; and the extension gave the Defenders the superiority of numbers; they in their turn became occasionally assailants and aggressors. The Peep of Day Boys, occupied with their own contest, gave not into the enlarged views of liberality and attachment to the Catholics, which distinguished all the public acts of their brethren at Belfast and Dublin. Here on the contrary, appeared all the bitterness of ancient puritanical rancour against popery: and it is not improbable, that the refusal of the Earl

• A copy of the address, with the names of those who subscribed it, is to be been in the Appendix, No. LXXXVI. It highly displeased the opposite' party, and many severe things were said upon the 64 addressers : some called it an eleemosynary address.

† For this declaration, vide Appendis, No. LXXXVII.

of Charlemont to countenance and abet the, ferocious efforts of the Peep of Day Boys against the Defenders, became the immediate cause of a partner having been imposed upon him in the government of that province. For at the spring assizes for the county of Armagh, 1791, the grand jury and high sheriff entered into the following resolutions:

“ That a rage among the Roman Catholics, for illegally arm. “ing themselves, has of late taken place, and is truly alarming: “ in order then to put a stop to such proceedings, and to restore “ tranquillity, we do pledge ourselves to each other, as magis." " trates and individuals, and do hereby offer a reward of five - guineas for the conviction of each of the first twenty persons “ illegally armed and assembled as aforesaid.”

An address presented by the Ulster volunteers, to their general, Lord Charlemont, after his return from England, on the occasion of a coadjutor having been appointed with him in the government of Armagh, strongly marked the deep sense of the affront they still conceived had been put upon him by such an unprecedented appointment. And shortly after some spirited resolutions were entered into, and an address presented by the Belfast volunteers to those of Dublin on the subject of the Armagh resolutions, expressing sentiments of toleration similar to those contained in the resolutions of the Dublin Independents, and the other volunteer corps of the metropolis. Publications were industriously circuated, that the most distant idea of in. tolerance was thus warmly disclaimed on all hands, and in every quarter of the kingdom. Did the people of Ulster entertain any thing like disaffection to their Roman Catholic brethren, it was in Belfast, the largest and most populous town of the province, that the symptoms of it would have been most prevalent. Happily there no such disaffection had existed : on the contrary, a spirit of manly and enlightened liberality, which promised to promote and perpetuate that national unanimity, on which depended the hopes and prosperity of the kingdom. Resolutions of the Independent Dublin volunteers, and those of the delegates from the Protestant members of the other corps were published, expressive of feelings and sentiments which proved that the appellation of Irish volunteers should mean what it originally mcant, friends of universal and equal liberty; devoted enemies to religious bigotry and intolerance to usurpation of the common; rights of man, and the base subjection of the many to the few. It was to be lamented, that an avowal of those generous senti. ments had been called forth by a misconception of some of their fellow countrymen, no less zealous than others in the cause of general freedom; no less inimical to the bigotted intolerance of the sixteenth century,

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