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late to discuss not only the catholic best efforts in support of the laws ; claims, but the whole policy of the and if any argument could have been empire ; and it were superfluous to wanting to induce the ministers to act endeavour to prove the right of the with vigour, surely the conduct of Irish government to suppress it. It the catholic delegates themselves was is a principle of common sense, which such as to rouse in them all the enerrequires no support from an act of gy of which they were capable. The the legislature, that a system of de- members, of the catholic parliament. legation not regulated by the laws, who presumed to discuss the whole must at all times prove extremely dan- affairs not only of the catholic commugerous ; that if the people can be nity, but of the Irish nation, did not brought together through the medium content themselves with preparing a of representatives not acting under the petition for the redress of the catholic authority of the constitution, their grievances, but wandered into the proceedings must give just cause of most violent discussions on every subalarm; and that no set of men can ject which was calculated to raise the presume to represent the nation ex- passions of the multitude, and to hurry cept those who are chosen to serve in them into acts of insurrection. The parliament according to the constitu- ministers, therefore, determined to put tion of the country. The very prin- the convention act in force; but they ciple of delegation, therefore, cannot were anxious also that this measure of be recognized, because if it were once necessary vigour should be preceded admitted, a small number of factious by a most careful enquiry into the and discontented persons might ac- character and views of those against quire an influence over the body of the whom it was directed, and by paterpeople quite inconsistent with the sta- nal warnings to the people to be on bility of a regular government. It their guard against the delusions which were vain to say that such men had prevailed among them. Notwithstandbeen collected together merely for the ing the accusations, therefore, which purpose of preparing the catholic pe- were brought against the Irish governtition, or of performing any other law. ment by Earl Fitzwilliam in the House ful act; for as it must be evident that of Lords, and by Lord Milton in the their efforts may, with the greatest House of Commons, it may be assertease, be devoted to other purposes, ed with confidence that it was acting their meetings can never be constitu- in the strict discharge of an importtional, even if it could not be proved ant duty ; that it was merely exercithat in point of fact they had deviated sing a power which would have befrom the avowed and legitimate ob- longed to it independently of any spe. ject of their assembling. But those cial enactment, but which had at all who on this occasion contended for events been distinctly conferred by an resenting so audacious an insult on the express provision of the legislature. constitution, did not confine then. The history of this statute, of selves to general and abstract topics ; which so much has been said, may an act of the Irish parliament had be explained in a few words. been passed with the express view of a season of great turbulence, when putting down assemblies of this kind, the same artifices by which the demawhich had already on more than one gogues of Ireland now endeavoured occasion threatened the tranquillity to convulse the country had been put, of Ireland The Irish government in practice, the legislature found it. was therefore called upon to exert its self compelled to declare, in a more

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formal manner, the common law of projects which the laws of no well-rethe land, by denouncing those socie- gulated country can ever permit. ties which, under false pretences, were I'here was no necessity, therefore, for endeavouring to usurp the powers of proving that the real objects of these the legislature, and to subvert the laws assemblies was not that of petitionand constitution of the country ; by ing, for the statute directly announdeclaring, in short, that any conven- ced that the privilege of petitioning,tion implying the principles of delega- a privilege which in other circumstantion, is illegal and unconstitutional. ces may be legally exercised, -was by In that season of anarchy, it was the such representatives employed as a practice of these demagogues to as- mask to conceal their illegal proceed. semble in their representative capacity ings. It was enough to convict the under the pretence of petitioning par. catholic delegates under the law, that liament; the convention act, however, they adopted a mode of preparing expressly declared, that all those who their petition which was in itself unshould assemble in this manner, and constitutional, and which a special under such pretences, should be held statute had declared to be illegal. guilty of a misdemeanour, and should But there was little need for entering incur certain penalties. Such was the on such arguments in discussing the origin of the statute which the Irish case of the catholic delegates, since, so ministers resolved to enforce.

far from confining themselves to the When the Irish government deter- mere object of petitioning, they had mined to put down the catholic parlia- maliciously entertained, and discussed ment, after its proceedings had exci- with the greatest violence, not only ted great alarm, and the measure of its

every question connected with the dotransgressions against the laws had mestic affairs of Ireland, but with the been completed, various futile pre- general policy of the empire. The contexts were set up in defence of the de- duct of the Irish government, therelinquents. The convention act, it was fore, in putting down the convention, said, provided only for the dispersion was not only justifiable, but laudable of such assemblies as were convened in the highest degree ; and its advounder the pretence of petitioning ; but cates had no very difficult task in mathe catholic delegates had not assem. king a firm and vigorous defence abled under any pretence, but had met gainst the groundless charges which for the real and serious purpose of were brought forward at the begin. preparing the catholic petition. --The ning of the session. answer to this reasoning, however, was It was an unfortunate circumstance twofold. The act had manifestly pro- for the supporters of the motions, that scribed all assemblies brought toge- the general question of catholic emanther under the forms of representa- cipation had been blended with the tion; and it could be of no import- enquiry into the conduct of the Irish ance that these illegal assemblies at. government. If a motion had been tempted to cover their designs by a temperately brought forward for the mere pretence-by affecting to be en- consideration of the catholic claims,— gaged in preparing petitions to the if the question had been agitated in legislature. The act declared, that the spirit of fairness, and with a view they fraudulently availed themselves of to deliberate discussion, there was a a privilege, the exercise of which is chance that the motion might have otherwise quite lawful, to embark in been received and referred to a com. mittee. But such was the conduct of will be necessary to complete the outthose to whom unfortunately the in- line of the parliamentary proceedings terests of Ireland were at this time on the subject of the catholic claims. committed such was their hostility to On the 21st of April, Lord Dothe administration, and so severe were noughmore moved in the House of the terms in which they arraigned the Lords, “ That a committee should be measures of government, that it would appointed to take into consideration, seem as if they had exerted themselves the laws imposing civil disabilities on to make the ministers their enemies, his majesty's subjects professing the and to kindle a feeling of the most catholic religion, and that the petition lively resentment against their own of the Irish catholics and protestants, cause. They blamed the Irish gø. as well as of the English catholics and vernment for the efforts which it had dissenters, should be referred to a com. made to secure the

peace
of the coun-

mittee.” On the 23dof the same month, try,--they actively and warmly took Mr Grattan made a similar motion in the part of those who had endeavoured the House of Commons, which was to infiame the minds of the Irish po- followed by a very full and able discuspulace; and with such topics of dis- sion. A considerable majority, howcussion, they most indiscreetly com- ever, appeared in both houses of parbined the great question of catholic liament against the motions. On the emancipation. Those who were really 22d of June, Mr Canning concluded interested on principle in the success an eloquent speech, by moving, that of the catholic petitions,—those who the House of Commons “ should, fairly and honourably desired that this early in the next session of parliament, great question might be put to rest take into its most serious considerafor the sake of the security and hap- tion, the state of the laws affecting piness of the empire ; the catholics his majesty's catholic subjects in Great themselves, and all who were inclined Britain and Ireland, with a view to to support them on fair and honour- such a final and conciliatory adjustable principles, must have disapproved ment as might be conducive to the of such proceedings. The conse- peace and strength of the united kingquences were such as might have been doms, to the stability of the protesexpected ; both the motions were re- tant establishment, and to the satism jected by a very large majority. faction and concord of all classes of Such was the fate of this attack his majesty's subjects.

This motion upon the conduct of the Irish govern- was, after an able debate, carried by a ment; but the catholic question was majority of 129; and it was generally not so easily disposed of. As this sub- supposed that the catholic cause had ject, however, has become of such mag- thus obtained a complete and permanitude in the politics of the country- nent triumph. And the question might as it was so often discussed during the indeed have been carried about this course of this session of parliament, period, had it not been for the folly and occasioned so brilliant a display of of some persons whom the catholics talent and eloquence, a more expanded had unhappily permitted to interfere view of it is reserved for a separate with their affairs. But while Mr chapter, which shall be entirely de- Canning's motion was under discusvoted to a question, which, in the sion in the House of Commons, some course of this year, filled the public resolutions passed by a catholic meet. mind with the utmost anxiety... Buting in Dublin, made their appearbefore interrupting the narration, it ance, demanding the unqualified COR:

VOL. V, PART.I.

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cession of the catholic claims, as a prudence, and their hopes of a speedy matter of right, declaring that nothing recovery of their privileges removed less would satisfy the catholics of Ire- to a greater distance than before. land, and threatening their enemies They very soon became sensible of with the most exemplary vengeance. the errors which had been committed The Catholic Board, as this strange by the late aggregate meeting ; and association is pleased to style itself, some of the more respectable members was even imprudent enough to avow, lost no time in calling an extraordithat these resolutions had been known nary meeting, to rescind the resoluin London before the vote was taken tions which had given so much ofon Mr Canning's motion; and to boast, fence. This meeting was attended by that the violence of an Irish conven- some of the most respectable of the tion had intimidated the House of Irish catholic gentlemen, who regretCommons in the late memorable de- ted that they had been absent from bate. These wild measures which the late aggregate meeting, and dewere pursued by the demagogues in clared in the most pointed terms their Dublin, and not disavowed by those disapprobation of the resolutions, and whom they pretended to represent, their apprehensions of the dangerous had great influence on the British consequences which might result from legislature ; and when the Marquis an act of such consummate folly. Wellesley brought forward in the The feelings of the protestants in House of Lords, a motion precisely England were strongly roused by the in the same terms with that which result of the discussion on Mr CanMr Canning had carried in the House ning's motion ; and threatening let. of Commons, it was negatived, al- ters were sent to some members of though by a very small majority.-- opposition, on account of the facility The temper of the legislature, and of with which they had conceded the the country at this period, might thus catholic claims. "It was thought that have ensured the triumph of the catho- their exertions had contributed to the lic cause, had the petitioners themselves late result which was so much deprebehaved even with tolerable prudence; cated; that they had spared no pains but they gave themselves up to the to promote that object, and had somemanagement of deperate men, and they times condescended to make a quesfound the legislature prepared to put tion of general and serious interest, down their daring pretensions. They one of mere party politics.—There were thus taught a lesson, which it is was no reason, indeed, to believe that to be hoped they will long remember the recent proceedings in the House that threats and violence will be of of Commons were warmly approved no service to their cause ; that it is by the people, since not a single petheir interest to disengage themselves tition had been presented from any from the unhappy connections which county or corporate body in England they have imprudently formed ; that in favour of the catholic claims. It it is their duty to disavow the lawless was supposed, therefore, that if the proceedings of their self-elected repre. question had taken the same turn in sentatives, and that the British par- the House of Lords, which it did in liament has too much virtue ever to the Commons, a very strong sensation yield to the insolence of faction or the would have been produced, and that frenzy of rebellion.

although the people of Great Britain Thus were the fairest prospects of had remained passive so long as they the catholics blasted by their own im. imagined that they had no reason to

dread the concession of the catholic So soon as the intelligence of the reclaims, they might have been roused sult of Mr Canning's motion reached to very serious outrages, had the con- Ireland, they proclaimed not only that cessions been actually made.---An im- the resolutions of the aggregate meetpression prevailed at this time, that the ing had influenced the vote of the leaders of the different parties had House of Commons, but that the vote found it convenient to enter into a itself amounted to a pledge that the kind of compromise on the subject; resolutions to their full extent would that they had agreed to barter away be carried into effect. « The House the constitution ; that whatever was of Commons," said they, “ stands catholic, had been erroneously con- pledged to the early consideration of sidered by them as liberal and tolerant, the laws affecting the catholics ; that while the protestants had been unjustly pledge was given with a full knowdescribed as mere bigots and perse jedge of the resolutions at the last cutors. Many persons were disgusted aggregate meeting in Fishamble-street; with the conduct of the catholics let the cabinet bring forward the sor themselves, who refused to receive much-talked-of securities; the cathoconcession as a favour, and claimed "lics of Ireland have irrevocably deterevery thing as matter of right; who mined not to give any security." They rejected all conditions with contempt, added, that they would not enter and imperiously dictated to the legis- into any treaty ; that they would not lature in what was emphatically de- stoop to any compromise;" and from scribed as the genuine spirit of catholic such declarations, it was inferred, that arrogance and ambition. It was in. the success of the catholic question sinuated, that the late concession had was not what the leading agitators been unfairly made ; that the coun- desired. They hoped that the legistry had not been told the whole truth; lature would insist on having securithat the question did not relate to ties ; while the catholics might be prethe mere granting of a few privileges vailed upon to refuse them; and they and places that the catholic religion fondly believed that animosity and was to become the religion of the disturbance, the dissolution of the state in Ireland, and that the measures union, and the separation of the two now pursued would be found to be countries, might be the consequence. mere preliminary steps to the dissolu. They recommended to the catholic tion of the unión, and the separation freeholders to oppose any candidate, of the two countries. There can be who should not pledge himself to supno doubt, indeed, that such principles 'port the catholic question, or who were avowed by some of the Irish should have lent, or was likely to lend, demagogues; and not only was this his support to the administration ; 80 circumstance strongly insisted on, but that whatever measures were proposed the whole acts and proceedings of the by the ministers, were to be systema, catholic committee were recapitulated, tically resisted by men who designated as affording decisive evidence, that their the protestants as intolerant persecu. views must naturally and inevitably lead tors and bigots. By such proceedings to the most disastrous results.

the catholics failed to attain the object It must, no doubt, be confessed, that which they had so much at heart. Some the conduct of some demagogues, illustrious members of the House of who had at least the indirect sanc- Lords, among whom was the Duke tion of the catholics, was in the high- of Cumberland, expressly declared, est degree indisereet and insulting. that they voted against Lord Welles

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