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commor sufferings. The former body, being in the state just described, rejected the proposal. The latter, secluded from public life, and from their earliest infancy brought up to patient suffering, scarcely dreamed of the possibility of a change in their lot, and felt that coming openly forward in defence of their own just rights, was an attempt almost unnatural. They preferred remaining passive sufferers, to throwing themselves in the way of farther prosecution. To appeal to the people might have been equally vain ; no means had been taken to acquaint them with their rights or their power to assume them, and the science of showing them their strength was not known.
In these circumstances, application was made to the commercial body, whose rise has been above noticed ; and chiefly by the merchants in Dublin and its neighbourhood, an associotion was formed for the management of Catholic concerns.“ The first collection of individual Catholics since the revolution, who dared to meet and consult on Catholic affairs.” At the formation of this society, the Roman Catholics ventured, for the first time, to approach the throne; and the address of 1759 was signed by four hundred persons, and presented to the Lord Lieutenant through the Speaker of the House of Commons. The answer was for some time delayed, and the petitioners trembled for the step they had taken. They were, however, finally assured that the zeal and attachment which the Catholics professed could never be more seasonably manifested than at this juncture; and that, as long as they conducted themselves with duty and affection, they could not fail to receive his majesty's protection.” Even this was, to them, a source of new and unexpected hope. “ These were the first words of encouragement given by the house of Hanover to its oppressed Irish subjects. They diffused universal joy. Addresses poured in from all sides'; but so debased by the most servile adulation of the reigning powers, and by ungrateful vituperation of the French, to whom, from the treaty of Limerick up to that hour, they were indebted for every benefit
the exile for his home, the scholar for his education; their ancient and decayed aristocracy for commissions in the army for their younger sons--that their freer descendants blush in reading the disgraceful record, and turn aside in disgust from the melancholy evidence of the corrupting and enduring influence of a long continued state of slavery."
For what a heavy burden of natural evil have the authors of the penal laws to answer, beyond the direct effects of their enactments !
Although the feeling thus raised was not, perhaps, entirely in conformity with the wishes of the patriotic men who had accomplished this measure, yet they thought it right to seize the opportunity, and to make it produce better fruits. They matured a plan, by which delegates from the different parts of the country should meet as an association, representing the Roman Catholics of Ireland. This, however, was a plan then too ingenious and refined, for the knowledge which this great body possessed of their own power. The meetings were at first very
limited in number; and, though they afterwards increased, they seem to have been far from fulfilling the designs of the projectors. On the accession of George III., another step was taken. “ The address and humble petition of the Roman Catholics of Ireland,” prepared during the previous reign, but for some time held back from a fear that it was conceived in too bold a tone, was signed by six hundred names, and presented to the king. In this document, the Catholics dared to claim something more than mercy, spoke of justice, and appealed to the terms of the treaty of Limerick. It detailed the grievances of the Roman Catholics, in terms similar to those of a later address, which has been quoted above, but in a somewhat bolder spirit. This document was the unfortunate origin of one of those divisions which, till later days, too often interrupted the effect of the best devised measures for the amelioration of the condition of the Catholics. The sufferings of the Catholic aristocracy had not taught them that amelioration could be best secured by the union of all the sufferers. On the other hand, it bad made them, by completely separating
hem from political struggles, more proudly exclusive. They 100ked with disdain on every effort which did not originate with themselves and acknowledge their own paramount claims to consideration.
In this spirit, headed by Lord Trimleston, they did not hesitate to make an open breach with the other members of the Association, and to present a separate address. The breach continued to widen, and to produce the most damping effects on the progress of the association. On the other hand, no measure had been adopted, or, perhaps, could probably then have been taken, to include the common people in the general movement. These, at the same time feeling the miseries of their situation, had recourse to their native and natural practice of wild justice; the Whiteboys made their first appearance; and the Association, afraid of being identified with their outrages, kept farther aloof. An invasion was at this time feared from France: and, indeed, the wreck of an expedition fitted out for that purpose had landed at Carrickfergus. It was the wish of the Roman Catholics that no excuse should be given for associating their endeavours with those of the national enemy. From these conflicting causes, the Association died in 1763. The efforts made, however, had, through the whole country, roused a feeling of inquiry and of hope, which did not die with the Association.
The effects were felt in Parliament, where a party, which might almost be called popular, came into existence; public measures were more boldly discussed, and, on some occasions, carried in favour of the Catholics. A constitutional measure was afterwards carried, limiting the duration of Parliaments. The Irish member was previously elected for life; and it was considered that a great boon was obtained for his constituents, when Parliaments were octennial, or sat for eight years. The Catholics ventured to appear in the courts of justice, and to show the iniquity of the laws, by not submitting voluntarily to their operation. The principle of a public fund was established — a principle to which Ireland owes much. The system was ramified to a considerable extent through the
country; and when the rights of a Catholic were debated in a court of law or in Parliament, his fellow-sufferers, in many in stances, relieved him of the expense of obtaining justice, by a levy." But the unfortunate outrages still continued. Whiteboys assembled at night, dressed in white shirts, turning up the ground, levelling enclosures, and destroying cattle.
These commotions were not produced by religious differences—they were the sheer effects of bodily suffering, consequent on the Protestant monopoly. It was felt by the Protestant peasant as well as the Catholic; and equally awkward means were taken to meet it. The Oakboys in Armagh rose against a law which compelled the peasantry to spend a considerable portion of their time in making the roads; and the Steelboys rose in Antrim, on the simple ground of being charged rent they could not pay. The two last, along with the Peepo'-day boys, consisted chiefly of Protestants. Their proceedings began in time to assume a political aspect; and, though the Protestants had taken care at first to designate the whole by the term “ Popish disturbances,” they saw in those of their own friends a good political engine, of which they made fear
Society was again disorganized by them, though not by act of Parliament, and they had recourse to breaches of the laws to support their supremacy. The Protestant peasant, as miserable as the Catholic, through the instrumentality of the Protestant landlord, was taught that the Catholic was the person who had injured him, and on whom he should be revenged. The Protestants made a still bolder effort—that of connecting some of the leading Catholics with the acts of the Whiteboys, and the French invasion. For this purpose, they fixed on Nicholas Sheey, parish priest of Clogheen in Tipperary, and, after driving him from one jury to another, procured a verdict against him, and had him executed. There cannot be the slightest doubt that he was innocent, or that his adversaries suborned persons of the most infamous character to bear evidence against him.
Let us now return to the history of some ameliorations of the laws against the Catholics, which, though slight and par
tial, were the first fruits of their exertions, and augured a successful harvest. In 1762, the heads of a bill passed the Irish Parliament, empowering Papists to lend money, and secure it on landed property; but its opponents contrived that it should be lost in England. In the following year, it was again brought forward by Mr. Mason, who supported it by the most effectual of all arguments—its utility to the Protestants as well as the Catholics yet still could hatred blind men to their self interest and the Protestants clamoured forth that this measure would put the Roman Catholics in possession of the land, and, therefore, that, of course, the protestants would be deprived of it. This principle ruled, and the measure was a second and third time rejected. The firmness, however, with which it was urged was a step gained; but it was not till the year 1772 that the first measure of actual relief was doled out to the Catholics, under the inviting name of “ An act to encourage the reclaiming of unprofitable bogs." The act stated that there were many bogs in the country which were not only totally unprofitable, but the very neighbourhood of which was unwholesome, and, therefore Roman Catholics might take long leases of them and bring them into cultivation. This was considered so enormous a concession, that it was necessary to balance it by an act for the encouragement of converts to the Protestant religion.
In the following year, the act to enable Catholics to lend • money on securities was revived and passed, along with a measure to enable them to take long improving leases. There was a disposition in the majority of the Irish Parliament to crush these measures; but the British government had got a new lesson in ruling. A voice from beyond the Atlantic had just thundered in their ears the power of a united people when roused by oppression; and, resolving to avoid a similar mistahe to that which had just been committed, they insisted that some concession should be made to the Irish Catholics. A bill passed, enabling Catholics to testify their allegiance, according to the method of their own political creed. Their simple allegiance was now too important a matter to be mixed up with questions of form. Mr. Townshend declared, in the English