Page images

rectitude of intention in his episcopal capacity; and have seen, among other instances, a very marked attention in favour of two clergymen of his diocese, who had been publicly, but most falsely accused of worse than mere disaffection. This no person has ever dared to do with me; and I make no doubt that his lordship will yet discover and detest the villainy of those who have imposed on him, with respect to my political character. I have really a high respect for his lordship, and a full sense of his attention to me as a clergyman of his diocese, whose moral, character, it seems, could not be so easily injured; and if the gratitude of others is as great as mine, on a due consideration of circumstances, their feelings in that respect must be great indeed. My feelings of gratitude are strong toward another prelate, who took an early opportunity of conferring a benefice upon me, though I had never officiated in his diocese, to enable me, as he said, to pursue my studies with more ease and advantage; and I feel a pride in being thought worthy of such favour by a man, whose universal charity, unspotted sanctity, and conscientious discharge of his episcopal duty, confer honour on the hierarchy, and on the amiable, noble, and highly respectable family to which he belongs.


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Congress-Clubs United Irish-Parliamentary Reform

- National GuardsRowan - Drennan - TandyJacksonCatholic Convention-Petition Convention Bill Ferment-Fitzwilliam-United Irish-Soldiery -Militia BillFrench Negociation - Insurrection Act-Imprisonments--French Expedition--Military Execution-Organization - Orange Men-HusseyTythes-Church-Newspapers-Hand Bills-French -Mc Nevin-Atrocities -Arrests Proclamations Free QuartersViolences-Yeomen-Lord Edward

Fitzgerald-Sheares. FROM the year 1782, when by the spirited exertions of the volunteer associations of Ireland, the legislature of this kingdom was rendered legally independent of that of Britain, and the odious restrictions, which had been most unwisely imposed on its trade and manufactures by the British government, were in a considerable degree

removed, many among the Irish extended their views to a wider sphere of political freedom. A provincial assembly, first convened at Dungannon, in Ulster, on the fifteenth of February, 1782, consisting of the representatives of a hundred and forty-three volunteer corps, with design, among other objects, to plan and petition for a parliamentary reform, or a more equal representation of the commons in parliament, swelled in 1789 into a national assembly, composed of delegates from the several counties, and held in Dublin under the invidious title of congress; invidious undoubtedly, since under the conduct of an assembly so denominated, the British colonies of North America had recently, by a successful war against the power of Britain, established an independent republic in the western hemisphere.

The failure of this measure in November, the same year, when the petition of congress was contemptuously rejected by parliament, was attributed to the weakness of national disunion, the triple partition of the people divided by the religious antipathies of protestants, protestant dissenters, and Roman catholics. If all these discordant sects could be persuaded virtually to abandon religious distinctions in a pursuit of political reform, and cordially to coalesce with steady determination in their demands, parliament was imagined to be incapable of withholding its consent. As the main strength of the nation, in respect to number, was conceived to rest in the Romanists, who mightconstitute three-fourths of the whole population, to give these a proportionate weight in the system, and to interest them warmly in the plan proposed, was an object of primary magnitude with political reformers. For the removal of those legal restrictions and disqualifications, by which the Romanists were deprived of what was accounted their due share of political power, vigorous efforts were made, and various engines put in motion.

· Among the modes of agency adopted in those busy times by the favourers of innovation, was the institution of political clubs, which were formed under several titles in the metropolis and elsewhere. The principal of these, denominated the whig club, or the association of the friends of the constitution, liberty, and peace, was honoured by the sanction of some very highly respectable characters as its members, whose object was doubtless merely to obtain the reformation of abuses in the political system, and particularly to promote the scheme of a more equal representation of the people in parliament. A few of its members, however, seem to have entertained projects of a deeper kind-projects of revolution, the total subversion of the existing government, and the erection of a democratically constituted commonwealth in its place.-These advocates of revolution formed a connexion with other clubs of congenial principles, particu

[ocr errors]

: larly that of the whigs of the capital, whose object

was evidently a radical alteration in the political system. The determined agitators of this and other societies, which appeared not to promise a speedy success to their wishes, framed at length a more general and deeply planned association, which outlived all the rest, and far surpassed them in the vigour and conduct of its assaults on the existing constitution of the state. This was the famous combination of United Irishmen, whose profound conspiracy, after a long, obstinate, and doubtful struggle with the government of the kingdom, was forced in the end, by the vigilance and vigour of administration, feebly to explode in partial, irregular, and easily conquerable insurrections, instead of an universal and well-organized rebellion, the means proposed by the chiefs to overturn the constitution. ,

Originating from Belfast, where principles of a republican tendency had long been cherished, was instituted in Dublin, in the month of November, 1791, the society of United Irishmen, with the immediate view of combining into one political phalanx as many as possible of their countrymen, withoutany distinction of sect, for the effectuating of a change in the government of Ireland; or, as themselves have declared, “ for the purpose of “ forwarding a brotherhood of affection, a com"munion of rights, and an union of power among "Irishmen of every religious persuasion, and

« PreviousContinue »