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state—we are excluded from the revenues—we are excluded from every distinction, every privilege, every office, every emolument, every civil trust, every corporate right. We are excluded from the navy, from the army, from the magistracy, from the professions. We are excluded from the palladium of life, liberty, and property—the juries and inquests of our country. From what are we not excluded? We are excluded from the constitution. We most humbly and earnestly supplicate and implore Parliament to call this law of universal exclusion to a severe account; and now, at last, to demand of it upon
what principle it stands, of equity, of morality, of justice, or of policy. We demand the severest scrutiny into our principles, our actions, our words, and our thoughts. Where is that people, who, like us, can offer the testimony of a hundred years' patient submission to a code of laws, of which no man living is now an advocate, without sedition, without murmur, without complaint ? Our loyalty has undergone a century of severe persecution for the sake of our religion, and we have come out of the ordeal with our religion and with our loyalty, Why, then are we still left under the ban of our country? We differ, it is true, from the national church in some points of doctrinal faith. For this we offer no apology. We do not exercise an abject or obscure superstition. If we err, our errors have been, and still are, sanctioned by the example of many flourishing, learned, and civilized nations.” That mysterious and dreaded body, the “United Irishmen," had now been in existence since 1791. The great measures of reform which it called for, embraced the demands of the Catholics; and the government could not telj in how far the two bodies were united. Surrounded by so many dangers, it was found necessary to prepare for conces. sions, on which the government had, a short time before, looked as absurd. Ministers would have said, that it was dangerous to the peace of the country to grant them; and yet, when the matter came to practice, it was found that when that peace really was in danger, the best chance for preserving it was in granting them. Accordingly, the celebrated Catholic Relief Bill of 1793 was passed.
But the Government, when it brought forward this measure, could not convey its terrors with sufficient effect to those who were interested in opposing the Catholics; and it is a curious fact that the Administration which urged the sedition trials of that period, could not pass so liberal a measure of Catholic emancipation as it wished. The Ascendency had all the illiberality of the administration in England, but was not awake to the same fears. “ The inveteracy of some," says Mr. Plowden," was not to be overcome even in the agonies of their despair. Whatever could be saved to them from this wreck of their monopoly, they secured by exceptions from the broad and liberal relief, which the first form of the bill held out." The extent of the measure, as finally passed, is thus briefly and clearly expressed by Mr. Belsham :-" The chief enacting clause, enabling the Catholics to exercise and enjoy all civil and military offices and places of trust or profit under the Crown, was almost paralysed by the subsequent restrictionsthat it should not be construed to extend to enable any Roman Catholic to sit or vote in any House of Parliament, or to fill the office of Lord Lieutenant, or Lord Chancellor, or Judge in either of the three Courts of Record or Admiralty, or Keeper of the Privy-Seal, Secretary of State, Lieutenant or Custos Rotolorum of Counties, or Privy-Counsellor, or Master in Chancery, or a General on the Staff, or Sheriff or Sub-Sheriff of any county, with a long catalogue of other disqualifications.”
The Catholics had now the right to send members to Parliament ; but they could not choose representatives. The one right was destined in the end, after herculean endeavours, to enable them to procure the other; but they could not but feel that nothing was given which could be denied, and that they were still left, in a great measure, to their own exertions. It is hard to say whether more liberal concessions would have prevented the confusion which followed. At all events, the dragon's teeth had been sown long before, and the fruit was appearing in armed men. All that the legislature could then do, was to deprecate their wrath. To allow them to vote for members of Parliament, without allowing them a
choice, was adding to their power, and shewing them a prospect of what they were entitled to, while an insulting and offensive restriction was placed in their path. It is true, the means were put into their hands, by which they afterwards acquired a more complete emancipation-the means by which they are still struggling to make themselves equal with the Protestants ; but the legislature might have acted more wisely, had it removed at once all that reminded them of their inferiority, or called on them for further struggles. The Government itself shewed its consciousness of this, by act of Parliament. It attempted to prevent the Roman Catholics from issuing their complaints, by an act “ To prevent the election or appointment of assemblies purporting to represent the people, or any description or rumber of the people, under pretence of preparing or presenting petitions, &c., to the King, or either House of Parliament, for alteration of matters established by law, or redress of alleged grievances in Church or State.” It was surely a vain task to prevent the Roman Catholics--now powerful--from struggling for the rights still denied them, when the most abject subjection had been found ineffectual to deprive them of all the means of exertion.
It does appear that the Government, after the passing of the relief bill, had a partial conviction of its incompleteness, and Earl Fitzwilliam was sent to Ireland, as Lord Lieutenant in the following year, with the view, it was believed, of carrying a full measure of emancipation into effect. But the party in the Irish Parliament still acted as the good friend of the government, in resisting its unwilling efforts; and Earl Fitzwilliam, having been found to give deep offence, was recalled. One half of what they wished, in their possession, and the other almost grasped, only roused the country to a greater pitch of disappointed füry. The United Irishmen were rapidly joining the extremities of the country, by their secret tie. - The general demand for reform in the state, had set them on broader basis than the mere rights of the Catholics, and included the powerful body of Protestant Dissenters. They had Commenced their correspondence with the French republic;
and it was presumed that they exercised the influence of command over 300,000 fighting men. A cry was then raised both in the Parliament of England and Ireland, for concession, -concession at the last hour, when the foe was at the gate; -but in vain. The method determined on was a different one. It was decided that the sore should be irritated and brought to a head.
For this purpose did the Orange banditti, sanctioned by government, and hallooed forward by the Orange aristocracy, commit all the horrors which the ingenuity of lawless men, encouraged by the guardians of the laws could devise. Suspected persons were seized and subjected to tortures, which frequently brought confession, where there was no guilt. At the same time, the usual engine for making the crime, and then betraying it-the spy--was not neglected. The event answered expectation ; the rebellion was brought out, and an opportunity given for farther cruelties, which were amply retaliated. It is impossible here to enter on a detailed view of the well-known horrors of this period, but we may just remark as referring to our subject, that this outbreak has generally been characterized as a Roman Catholic rebellion; it is, however, worthy of observation that the greater part of the leaders were Protestants.
The rebellion was the forerunner of a union favourable to England. An excuse was obtained, in the meantime, for forgetting the Catholic claims, and it was not easy to remind go. vernment of them, when at the head of a conquering army in the country, Ireland was, indeed, in the state of a country newly subjected, and the terms which England offered could not be well refused. Meanwhile, the leaders of the Catholic cause remained for some time inactive. A terrible excitement prevented men from calmly considering their claims, and when brought forward, any call for a change was too apt to be associated with rebellion. After the public press had by degrees revived the spirit of discussing their claims, a meeting of the old friends of the cause was held in 1805; a petition for a complete emancipation was brought before them, but the majority, were too sluggish for the effort, and rejected it, nor could they
be roused to better exertion in 1806, when their friends came into power. This body, indeed, as it had been constituted during the last century, was of too feeble a nature to stand the shock of the rebellion. It was founded on mistaken principles, in not embracing the people. With their assistance its energy would have never died. The mass would have always felt the pressure, and always resisted it. But a limited body was differently situated. The aristocracy still held a baneful influence on the spirit of the endeavours they stood coldly aloof, refusing their assistance or strove to stifle the endeavours of the more ardent. Private influences were allowed to affect measures brought forward in the name of the general body of the catholics, and intrigue frequently ruled their destinies.
But a new era was commencing. and a very different class of men was coming forward before the world, from those who bad hitherto represented the crushed and broken spirit of the Catholics. Amongst those men appeared Daniel O'Connell, to whom, the cause of Catholic Emancipation is indebted for its success, and who wielded the power which he gradually obtained with talent and energy far surpassing that which had been ever witnessed in any of his predecessors.
A man like Mr. O'Connell, could not be long in Dublin without opportunities of rendering his opinions in public and spreading his spirit and his influence as widely as he could desire. With the possession of vast powers of acquisition, combined with intense study, he succeeded in stirring up that mass of legal knowledge, the possession of which, has rendered bin so powerful a champion and so dreaded an opponent. Sir Jonah Barrington aptly describes him as having a bottled" his legal knowledge, whether for his own life or that of others, bending those powers as a popular orator, in which, the world so know him to excel, with a profound knowledge of the technicalities of his profession, he became in every way the well employed counsel, whether to direct the passions of a jury, or to puzzle the intellects of the bench. His acquirements as a municipal lawyer, were witnessed by the extent of his private business and the opinions of his friends. Catholic meetings bad