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supineness of the magistrates, which was complained of and admitted on all hands? But he considered it as a measure to intimidate the Protestants of that kingdom, and to furnish an immediate pretext for an unconstitutional police bill. If those turbulences were not exaggerated, government was highly censurable for not having prevented them in time: if they were so, they were more criminal for having created ill-founded alarms. Mr. Longfield, who lived near Cloyne in the county of Cork, wholly disclaimed the existence of such turbulence as had been represented under the desperate auspices of a Captain Right, whence his followers were called Right Boys. He informed the house, that his demesnes bordered the town of Cloyne : that although he had heard much of these disturbances last session, he had observed nothing of them in the course of the summer: the bishop of that diocese had not applied for any military assistance, but lived quietly secure at home, in the protection of the neighbouring gentlemen. The first thing that could be called a disturbance, induced him to think government had a hand in it. Some very respectable people of Cloyne came to him, and told him that a bailiff belonging to the high sheriff had been sent amongst them, with notices to provide a quantity of arms and ammunition, and a number of horses, by the following Sunday, for the use of Captain Right. It appeared odd, that a sheriff's bailiff should be employed on such a business, and, as a magistrate, he sent for him. He confessed the fact of having served the notices, and said he was employed by Captain Right. He was desired to give information against Captain Right, which he refused; upon which the honourable member committed him to gaol, returned the bills against him, and brought persons of credit, who had sworn examinations, and were ready to prosecute ; but to his astonishment, the grand jury threw out the bills. Mr. Kemmis, the crown solicitor said, he could do nothing without an order from government, and as he was not in the habit of asking favours from government, there the matter dropped.
This was the first disturbance he had heard of; the next was that Captain Right swore some of the people in his neighbourhood to observe his regulations; yet another gentleman and he, attended by a single servant, had made this formidable Captain Right a prisoner, and safely lodged him in gaol. Such being the case, there ought not to be a general charge of delinquency against the county of Cork, because some of its magistrates were supine. After what he mentioned, government sent forces down to that part of the country ; two of their officers were Englishmen, one a Scotchman; the people could not be supposed to have any very great partiality for them, or
they for the people, yet they lived unmolested in good quar. ters, and never had occasion to be called out to quell any disturbance.
A nobleman of great talents, knowledge, experience and sagacity, had the chief command of the troops sent into the province of Munster. If they had his report, were there any way of coming at it, it would shew that none but the lowest wretches, who groaned under the most intolerable oppressions, were engaged in any disturbance. If that noble lord were present, he would make them shudder at the account of the miseries of that wretched people.
Sir James Cotter said, he came very lately from that county, and to his knowledge, great disturbances did exist, and his report was confirmed by Mr. Warren. He had often been an eye witness to the violences of the deluded people. The honourable gentleman (Mr. Longfield) who had a great estate, and lived in the midst of his tenants, with a number of servants and dependants about him, might feel no apprehension ; but he, who had but a small fortune and few servants, had not, he said, for nine months last past gone to bed a single night that he was sure of rising in the morning with his life. He then related to the house an account of his having once been fired at by the insurgents, and of his being stopped by a number of armed men, who, as a very great favour, suffered him to depart unhurt.
Mr. Curran observed, that had this address been, as all addresses that he had ever read or heard of were, composed of unmeaning stuff, he should not now rise to speak to it. But it was an address, that tended to inspire the mind of the chief governor with indignation for the wretched people of that country; an address tending to impress the father of his people with the idea of their being in open revolt, to divert the royal mind from listening to the complaints of afflicted subjects, or alleviating their miseries; it was a gross invective. To say it was necessary, was adding irony to invective.
The people were oppressed, and before they poured the last drop into the vessel, and caused the waters of bitterness to overflow on them, they should well consider if the representatives of the nation had been remiss, if the magistrates throughout the kingdom had criminally been supine ; let them lay the blame at the right door; cease to utter idle complaints of inevitable effects, when they themselves have been the causes. The man who would say, that the constitution in church and state was in danger, from the simple insurrection of a parcel of peasants, without order, without a head, without a leader, undisciplined, unarmed, or only partially so, he would not take to be a very wise man; and the man who would say so from any
thing, save an error in judgment, he would not take to be eithor a wise or an honest man.
Is it any wonuer, said he, that the wretches whom woeful and long experience has taught to doubt, and with justice to doubt, the attention and relief of the legislature, wretches, that have the utmost difficulty to keep life and soul together, and who must inevitably perish, if the hand of assistance were not stretched out to them, should appear in tumult? No, Sir, it is not. Unbound to the sovereign by any proof of his affection, unbound to government by any instance of its protection, unbound to the country, or to the soil, by being destitute of any property in it, 'tis no wonder that the peasantry should be ripe for rebellion and revolt : so far from matter of surprise, it must naturally have been expected.
The supineness of the magistrates, and the low state of the commissions of the peace throughout the kingdom, but particularly in the county of Cork, should be rectified. A system of vile jobbing was one of the misfortunes of that country: it ex. tended even to commissions of the peace : how else could the report of the four and twenty commissions of the peace, sent down to the county of Clare in one post be accounted for? Even the appointment of sheriffs was notoriously in the hands of govern. ment; and through jobbing, sheriffs themselves could not be trusted: two sheriffs ran away last year with executions in their pockets, and the late high sheriff of the county of Dublin had absconded.
He concluded by moving the following amendments, viz.
outrages have not originated in any disaffection in your ma. “ jesty's subjects of this kingdom to your majesty's government, “ or in any concerted design of disturbing our present happy con“ stitution either in church or state, but have been wholly con“ fined to some individuals of the lowest class of the people, “ whose extreme indigence and distress, may be the occasion, " though they cannot be a justification of such illegal proceed“ings; and it is a further consolation to us to know, that the “ ordinary powers of the law now in being are fully adequate, “ if duly exerted, to punish and restrain such excesses.
“ At the same time we humbly beg leave to represent to your
majesty, that the public expences of this country have en“creased to a degree so far beyond the ability of the people to
bear, that we feel ourselves called upon by our duty to our “ constituents, to reduce those expences by every mode of re“ trenchment, consistent with such honourable and necessary sup
port to your majesty's government, within such limits as may “ be compatible with the very exhausted resources of a distress" ed people ; and we do not doubt of having your majesty's
“gracious approbation of a measure so essential to the commercial “hopes of your kingdom of Ireland, as well as conducive to the
permanent peace and prosperity of this kingdom :" but they passed in the negative.
On the 31st of January, 1787, when the house was in a committee upon that part of his excellency's speech, which related to the commotions, which in some places disturbed the public tranquillity; the attorney-general (Fitzgibbon) submitted to the house the following narrative of facts, which he said had come to his knowledge respecting the proceedings of the insurgents.* Their commencement was in one or two parishes in the county of Kerry, and they proceeded thus : the people assembled in a Catholic chapel and there took an oath to obey the laws of Captain Right, and to starve the clergy. They then proceeded to the next parishes on the following Sunday, and there swore the people in the same manner, with this addition, that they (the people last sworn) should, on the ensuing Sunday, proceed to the chapels of their next neighbouring parishes, and swear the inhabitants of those parishes in like manner.
Proceeding in this manner they very soon went through the province of Munster. The first object of their reformation was tithes; they swore not to give more than a certain price per acre ; not to take them from the minister at a great price; not to assist or allow him to be assisted in drawing the tithe, and to permit no proctor. They next took upon them to prevent the collection of parish cesses; then to noininate parish clerks, and in some cases curates; to say what church should or should not be repaired; and in one case to threaten that they would burn a new church, if the old one were not given for a mass house. At last they proceeded to regulate the price of lands, to raise the price of labour, and to oppose the collection of the hearth-money and other taxes.
In all their proceedings they shewed the greatest address, with a degree of caution and circumspection, which was the more alarming, as it demonstrated system and design. Bodies of 5000 of them have been seen to march through the country unarmed, and if met by any magistrate, who had spirit to question them, they had not offered the smallest rudeness or offence ; on the contrary they had allowed persons charged with crimes, to be taken from amongst them by the magistrate alone, unaided with any force. Wherever they went, they found the people, as ready to take an oath to cheat the clergy as they were to propose it; but if any one did resist, the torments which he was doomed to undergo, were too horrible even for savages to be supposed guilty of. In the middle of the night he was dragged from his bed, and buried alive in a grave lined with thorns, or
* 7 Par. Deb. p. 57.
he was set naked on horseback, and tied to a saddle covered with thorns: in addition to this, perhaps his ears were sawed off. There was that day an account received of two military men, who had exerted themselves in the line of their duty, being attacked by a body of Right Boys, and perhaps murdered, for there was but little hope of their recovering of their wounds. The way in which the Right Boys perpetrated that crime, was ; the two men were walking together armed, they set a dog at them, when one of the men fired; he had no sooner thrown away his fire, than a multitude rushed upon the two from behind the ditches, and wounded them in a most shocking manner.
Upon the best enquiry, there was not the least ground to accuse the clergy of extortion. Far from receiving the tenth, he knew of no instance in which they received the twentieth part. He was well acquainted with the province of Munster, and that it was impossible for human wretchedness to exceed that of the miserable peasantry in that province. He knew, that the unhappy tenantry were ground to powder by relentless landlords. He knew that, far from being able to give the clergy their just dues, they had not food or raiment for themselves; the land. lord grasped the whole, and sorry was he to add, that not satisfied with the present extortion, some landlords had been so base as to instigate the insurgents to rob the clergy of their tithes, not in order to alleviate the distresses of the tenantry, but that they might add the clergy's share to the cruel rackrents already paid. It would require the utmost ability of parliament to come to the root of those evils. The poor people of Munster lived in a more abject state of poverty
than human nature could be supposed able to bear; their miseries were into lerable, but they did not originate with the clergy; nor could the legislature stand by and see them take the redress into their own hands. Nothing could be done for their benefit while the country remained in a state of anarchy.
Upon the best consideration that he had been able to give the subject, two circumstances, which had contributed to spread the commotions, required to be immediately corrected.
The first was, that under the present existing law, the kind of combination, which pervaded the province of Munster, was deemed but a misdemeanor; a bailable offence, and no magis. trate could refuse to take bail for it.
The second was, the insufficiency and criminal neglect of magistrates throughout the great county of Cork; there was scarce. ly a magistrate that would act. In the neighbourhood of the city of Cork, indeed, one gentleman, Mr. Mannix, exerted himself, much to his own honour and the public benefit. In the west of the county, Mr. Cox also behaved with great propriety. If