« PreviousContinue »
have been owing to a spirit of intolerance, on account of their religion only; and to have been uniformly carried on, upon principle, for many years after ; until they were at length heightened to such a degree of wanton cruelty, as rather dishonours the religion it was intended to serve. For in the year 1723, it having been again unanimously resolved in parliament, " that it was the indispensable duty of all magistrates to put the laws in immediate execution against popish priests : and that the neglect of several magiftrates, in executing the laws against papists, did greatly contribute to the growth of popery. Leave was given to bring in heads of a bill, for explaining and amending the two acts before mentioned, to prevent the growth
Upon which occasion, one of the most zealous promoters of that bill, having gravely taken notice, in a long and laboured speech, that of all the countries wherein the reformed religion had prevailed, Sweden was freest from those fecret, but irreconcilable, enemies of all protestant governments, popish ecclefiastics; which, he said, was visibly owing to the great wisdom of their laws, inflicting the penalty of castration on all such dangerous intruders into that kingdom. He seriously moved, that this gothic and inhuman penalty might be added as a clause to the bill before them: to which the house, after a short debate, agreed; and ordered it to be laid before his grace the lord lieutenant, to be transmitted into England, with this remarkable request on their part, “, that he would re
· Dean Swift, in his plea of Presbyterian Merit, after taking notice, that the Roman catholics of Ireland « abhorred the Jacobites and high-flyers above all other men, on account of severities against their priests in queen Anne's reign, when that party was in power ;” adds, “ this I was convinced of some years ago, by a long journey into the southern parts (of Ireland), where Í had the curiosity to send for many priests of the parishes I passed through, and, to my great satisfaction, found them every where abounding in professions of loyalty to the late king George ; for which they gave me the reasons above-mentioned; at the same time complaining bitterly of the hardships they suffered under the queen's last ministry.” Works, Dubl. edit. vol. iii. p. 274.
commend the same, in the most effectual manner to his majesty." To which his grace was pleased to answer, " that as he had so much at heart a matter, which he had recommended to the consideration of parliament, at the beginning of the session; they might depend upon a due regard, on his part, to what was desired."
The bill was accordingly transmitted to England; but rejected there, by means of the humane and earnest interposition of Cardinal Fleury with Mr. Walpole, whose great power and interest at that juncture, were then universally known. His grace the lord lieutenant, in his speech to that parliament, at the close of the session, in order to console them for the loss of their favourite bill, gave them to understand, “ that it miscarried meerly by its not having been brought into the house, before the session was so far advanced.” And after earnestly recommending to them, in their several stations, the care and preservation of the public peace; he added, “ that, in his opinion, that would be greatly promoted, by the vigorous execution of the laws against popish priests; and that he would contribute his part towards the prevention of that growing evil, by giving proper directions, that such persons only should be put into the commission of the peace, as had distinguished themselves by their steady adherence to the protestant interest." These general words, “protestant interest," seem to carry with them a vague and indefinite meaning ; but if the protestant religion is here, in any respect, signified by them, I will venture to affirm, that in no other age or nation, has religion ever been attempted to be served or promoted, by fo shameful and cruel an expedient, as that proposed in this rejected bill.
CH A P.
сн А Р.
The catholics address his majesty king George II.
THE Roman catholics of Ireland still smarting under the lash of the popery laws, after the accession of George I. and recollecting that the two last, and severest of them, were said to have been enacted as a punishment for their neglect in not having addressed her late majesty queen Anne, on her accession to the throne, were induced to think that they ought to avoid giving the like occasion of offence on that happy event, and therefore, some of the principal among them, resolved to present an humble congratulatory address to his majesty on that occasion. But the before-mentioned rebellion in favour of a popish pretender, having then broken out in Scotland and England, so unjust and general a clamour was raised against them on that account, and such virulent invectives and misrepresentations of both their civil and religious principles, daily issued from the pulpit and the press, as occasioned them to change their resolution, and to think it more prudent and safe at that period of jealousy and distrust, to remain filent in that respect; and by still persevering in their wonted dutiful behaviour, to give more substantial proofs of their loyalty, and of the falsehood and cruelty of these invectives and misrepresentations, than could poslībly be conveyed by their most submissive and zealous professions of fidelity in a formal address; and in truth, that the behaviour of these people was uniformly and unquestionably such, during that whole reign, these very enemies have been since obliged to confefs.
The consciousness of this behaviour, together with their reasonable hope, that it had somewhat abated the former prejudices of their enemies, emboldened them to draw up an humble address to his majesty George II. on his accession; which was presented with all due
respect to the lords justices at the castle of Dublin, by Lord Delvin and other persons of the first quality among them ; but so little notice was then taken either of their address or themselves, that it is not yet known whether it was ever transmitted to be laid before his majesty, as it was humbly desired it should be ; or whether even an answer was returned by their excel. lencies that it should be fo tranfmitted.
Penal laws enforced in the reign of King George II. IN the
year 1734 application having been made to his majesty, for the reversion of some outlawries, incurred by the insurrections of 1641, the former of which, particularly, as we have already observed, had been most iniquitously obtained, and had actually reduced some of the most ancient, noble and opulent Roman catholic families of the kingdom, with their numerous descendants, to absolute beggary. The commons then sitting, and juftly apprehending from his majesty's known equity and commiseration, that such application might meet with some success ; resolved upon a petition, wherein among other things, they tell his majesty plainly, and even with a kind of menace,“ that nothing could enable them to defend his right and title to his crown fo effectually as the enjoyment of those estates, which have been the forfeitures of the rebellious Irish, and were then in the possession of his protestant subjects; and therefore, that they were fully assured, that he would discourage all applications or attempts that should be made in favour of such traitors or their descendants, fo dangerous to the protestant interest of this kingdom.” This petition produced the wished for effect. The king in his answer assured the commons, “ that he would for the future discourage all such applications and attempts.”
But the commons not content with this assurance, and still fearing, that those popish solicitors, who had
been employed by the catholics in their late unsuccessful attempt, might prevail upon their clients to renew their application at another more favourable juncture, brought in a bill, avlolutely disqualifying all Roman catholics from practising as solicitors, the only branch in the law profession which they were then permitted to practise.
While this bill, which was afterwards passed into a law, was under debate in the house of commons, certain Roman catholics of Dublin and Cork, not imagining that their making legal opposition to it, would give the least offence to government, began to set on foot a collection among those of their persuasion residing in these two cities, in order to enable them to defray the necessary expences attending on such opposition. In this buliness some of their clergy in Munster happened to be engaged ; among whom, one Hennesy, a parish priest in that province, having, for his notoriously scandalous behaviour, been lately suspended by his superior, fought revenge, by giving in examinations against him, importing that the money which had been thus collected by him and others, in different parts of the kingdom, was intended for no other service, but the bringing in of popery and the pretender. Upon which these gentlemens papers were seized, and submitted to the inspection of a certain knight, who laid them before the house of commons, where they underwent the strictest scrutiny for many weeks; that venal and versatile commoner, but constant brawler against popery, exerting all his boisterous eloquence to persuade the house, from the sole evidence of these papers, though obviously harmless and insignificant in themselves, that a deep and dangerous popish plot was actually carrying on for the before-mentioned wicked purposes. And yet it appears after all, by the committee's printed report on this occasion, that the fum collected to accomplish this mighty design of bringing in popery and the pretender, did not amount in the whole to full five pounds.
The committee, however, resolved,' that it appeared