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Chap, were elecled by persons deputed, two from each


s^^—j parish. Assembling on the third of December 1792, in Dublin, and holding its session in Taylor's Hall in Back-lane, whence it was called in derision the Back-lane parliament, the convention voted a petition to the king, and afterwards adjourned, having appointed a permanent committee of nine for the management of catholic affairs during its recess. Catholic A petition, representing the grievances of the peepu ' 'nal statutes, the meritorious patience and long tried loyalty of the Irish catholics, was committed to five deputies elected by the convention, at whose head was Edward Byrne, a wealthy merchant. In their way though Belfast these gentlemen were gratified by the cordial attention of the protestant inhabitants, of whom the lower sort expressed in shouts their wishes for the success of the petition, and, unharnessing the horses, drew the carriages of the deputies through the town, at their departure. Proceeding to London though Scotland, they were introduced, on the second of January 1793, by secretary Dundas, to the king, who received their petition in a very gracious manner, and at the ensuing meeting of the Irish parliament, he recommended to that body, through the lord lieutenant, a serious attention to the condition of his catholic subjects. Catholic To weaken the force of opposition in parliament dedanuon. &^ml their ciaimSj an(l to conciliate the protestants, the catholics had published a solemn disavowat of some dangerous tenets commonly supposed to be entertained by them, and added the declarations of

some some catholic universities abroad, which had been c"^pgiven in answer to queries proposed from England,v—v—' when indulgence to catholics in that country had been a subject of consideration. Such doctrines had been actually reduced to practice by catholics, as appears from indubitable records, but had been reprobated by others of the same communion, and probably those of Ireland were at this time sincere in their disavowal. They abjured as detestable and impious theopinions that princes excommunicated by the Pope, or any ecclesiastical authority whatsoever, may be murdered or deposed; that men may be lawfully murdered on account of their being heretics; that actions immoral in their own nature can be justified under pretence of their being committed for the good of the church, or in obedience to any ecclesiastical power; and that no faith is to be kept with heretics, or that oaths made to persons not belonging to the catholic communion are less binding than those made to catholics. They also declared their disbelief of the competency of any power to absolve them from their oaths of allegiance, or from any just oaths or contracts; of any right of temporal jurisdiction within this realm directly or indirectly, belonging to the Pope or any other foreign power; of the infallibility of the Pope; and of any power on earth to forgive sins without sincere and complete repentance. They finally made a solemn renunciation of all claims of lands forfeited from their ancestors, and all designs of subverting

Chap, ing the present eclesiastical establishment in Ire


Opposition While the catholic leaders, encouraged and aided

to catholics. °

1792. by many protestants, especially those of the presbyterian communion, and those who had entered into the society of United Irishmen, were labouring to influence the legislature in their favour, measures to produce a contrary influence were actively taken by other protestants, who apprehended the loss of a monopoly of power, or feared that, from the unparalleled spirit of intolerance assiduously nourished in the Romish religion, the catholics, if once admitted into a participation of political authority, would, with the peculiar zeal of their sect, avail themselves of their superiority of number, and every other possible advantage, to gain the exclusive possession of the state, and ultimately to persecute and exterminate the heretics. Resolutions hostile to the claims of the catholics, and to their plan of a convention, as of a seditious nature, were voted by grand juries, conventions of the freeholders in counties, and the corporation of Dublin. Observations on these were published in return, and the press teemed with controversial writings of the catholics and their protestant friends on one side, and of their opponents on the other, to the unhappy revival of religious animosity, which every true christian would wish to be buried in oblivion. Pariiamm- In the session of parliament which commenced on

tary transac

'ions. the nineteenth of January 1792, some new indul

1792. ."

gences, on a motion made by Sir Hercules Lan

grishe grishe on the twenty-fifth of that month, had been Chap. granted to the catholics, such as their admission to Uy-* the practice of the law, intermarriage with protestants, and an unrestrained education: but a mass of disabilities still remained, as was clearly shewn in a digest of the popery laws, made by the honourable Simon Butler, chairman of the United Irish, and published by order of that society. Among the subjects of debate brought into parliament by the oppositionists was the demand for permission to the merchants of Ireland to open a direct unrestricted commerce with India and other countries eastward of the Cape of Good^Hope. As this trade would have materially interfered with the chartered monopoly of the East-India company of British merchants, the motions for its permission were negatived by the influence of the crown. In the session of 1793, which began on the tenth of January, and ended on the sixteenth of August, the transactions of parliament were much more important.

As Edmund Burke had assumed the office of lite- 1793. rary champion for monarchy, with a violence much more calculated for his private advantage than for that of the cause which he espoused, the catholics of Ireland, to obviate the imputation of revolutionary designs on the principles of the French republicans, had chosen for their agent, *and brought to Dublin for the purpose of negociation with parliament, in 1792, a son of this furious declaimer. This plan was not successful; but to the influence of Burke in the British cabinet might in great measure


be attributed the favourable disposition of the king 'to the Irish catholics, signified to the parliament by his chief-governor. In consequence of this inter-r ference an a6t was passed in 1793, much against the inclination of many even of those members who voted for it, by which the catholics were brought nearly into the same political situation with the protestants, except that they still remained excluded from sitting in parliament, from being members of the privy-council,. from holding the office of sheriff^ and s6me other offices under the crown, about thirty in number, specified in the a6t; and that their voluntary contributions constituted the sole maintenance of their clergy. Some other bills of a popular and conciliatory nature, for which oppositionists had before in vain contended, were with the concurrence of administration, much to its honour, passed into laws. By one of these, all who should hold newly-created places under government, after the date of the bill, or other places specified, particularly these of officers of the revenue whose duty required their absence from the metropolis; and all who should hold pensions for years, or during the king's pleasure, should be excluded from sitting in. the commons' house of parliament; and the annual sum of the pensions, which then amounted nearly to a hundred and twenty thousand pounds, was reduced to eighty thousand: and by another, the bill of responsibility, no warrant from the king, for the disposal of public money, was legal without the signature, and consequent responsibility to parliament, of the


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