Page images
[ocr errors]

to them, that under colour of oppofing heads of bills, great sums of money had been collected and raised, and a fund established by the popish inhabitants of the kingdom, through the influence of their clergy, highly detrimental to the protestant interest, and of imminent danger to the present happy establishment;" and therefore resolved further, “ that an humble address should be presented to his grace the lord lieutenant, to iffue his proclamation to all magistrates, to put the laws against popery in execution.”

In consequence of this address, the proclamation was issued by his grace, and the laws against popery were strictly executed by the magistrates in every part of the kingdom.*

These frequent resolutions of the commons, aided by inflammatory anniversary sermons, and equally inflammatory pamphlets, occasionally preached and published, diffused such a spirit of rancour and animosity against catholics, among their protestant neighbours, as made the generality of them believe that the words popery, rebellion and massacre, really signified the same thing, and thereby excited such real terrors in these latter, as often brought the liberties and sometimes the lives of the former into imminent danger. The most shocking circumstances of the Irish insurrection in 1641, and of the English gun-powder treason in 1605, were studiously revived and aggravated in these sermons, and pamphlets, with a degree of virulence and exaggeration, which, as it furpassed the most extravagant fictions of romance or poetry, so it poffefsed their uninformed, though often well-meaning, hearers and readers with lafting and general abhorrence of these people. The crimes, real or supposed, of catholics dead more than a century before, were imputed, intentionally, to all



. On the oth of March, 1731, “Refolved unanimously, that it is the indispensable duty of all magistrates, and officers, to put the laws made to prevent the further growth of popery in Ireland, in due execution.' It was also at the same time resolved, nem. con. (being the end of the session)" that the members of that house, in their respective countries, and stations, would use their utmost endeavours, to put the several laws against popery in due execution.” Com. Jour. vol. vi. f. 183.

[ocr errors]

those who survived them, however innocent, of the same religious persuasion. By these means, an antient nobleman and privy-counsellor, of great power and influence, was so enthusiastically incensed against them, that, in the year 1743, on the threatened invasion of England by the French, under the command of Mareschal Saxe, he openly declared in council, “ that as the papists had began the massacre on them, about an hundred years before, so he thought it both reasonable and lawful, on their parts, to prevent them, at that dangerous juncture, by first falling upon them.” And although the barbarity of that suggestion was quickly over-ruled in that honourable assembly; yet so entirely were some of the lower northern difsenters possessed and influenced, by this prevailing prepossession and rancour against catholics, that in the same year, and for the same declared purpose of prevention, a conspiracy was actually formed by some of the inhabitants of Lurgan, to rise in the night-time and destroy all their neighbours of that denomination in their beds. But this inhuman purpose was also frustrated, by an information of the honest protestant publican, in whose house the conspirators had met to settle the execution of their scheme, sworn before the Rev. Mr. Ford, a justice of the peace in that district, who received it with horror, and with difficulty put a stop to the intended massacre.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

• This atrocious design was known and attested by several of the inhabitants of Lurgan; and an account of it was transmitted to Dublin by a considerable linen-merchant, then at Lurgan on his private mercantile affairs,

[blocks in formation]

The conduct of the catholics of Ireland in the time of the

rebellion in Scotland, 1745. ON account of the Scottish rebellion in 1745 in favour of the pretender, in which it will presently appear that not a single Irish catholic, lay or clerical, was any way engaged, the minds of the protestants alí over the kingdom were so much irritated by the inflammatory means before-mentioned, together with the additional incentives of pastoral letters, of the like evil tendency, from all the bishops of the kingdom to their respective diocesans, that dreadful consequences, with regard to these inoffensive people, were justly apprehended; and probably would have ensued, had not the great wisdom and lenity of their then chief governor, frequently and earnestly interposed. That nobleman, though pressed from all quarters by their powerful enemies, on a pretended knowledge of their disaffection, but really from the malignity of prejudice, to put the laws in force against them, always eluded their importunities, either by his own uncommon fagacity and resolution, or by some happy turn of pleafantry, which never failed to expose the folly of their apprehensions ; for he quickly discovered, that they had neither the power nor the inclination to give the government any disturbance. And he even assured both houses of parliament, “ that France, which alone encouraged and supported the rash adventurer, had made use of him only as the occasional tool of their politics, and not as the real object of their care. That although Great Britain had, in the course of this century, been often molested by insurrections at home and invasions from abroad, Ireland had happily and deservedly enjoyed uninterrupted tranquillity. And in short, that this attempt to shake his majesty's throne,


1 Earl of Chesterfield.

would serve to establish it the more firmly, since all Europe must know the unanimous zeal and affection of his subjects, for the defence of his person and government.

The great goodness and mercy of providence in sending such a governor among us, at that period of sufpicion and danger, will be for ever most gratefully remembered by these people. Even their enemies in parliament, at the close of his administration, seem to have, in some measure, retracted their former councils of rigour and severity; for the commons in their address at the end of the session, after mentioning their late unquiet apprehensions, “ acknowledged, with chearfulness and the utmost gratitude, that the profound tranquillity which, without any extraordinary increase of public expence, the nation had hitherto enjoyed, was the result of his excellency's wife and vigilant administration ; formed upon the principles, and carried on by the uniform exercise of lenity without remissness, and of firmness without severity.

I promised to make it appear, that no Irish catholic, lay or clerical, was any way engaged in the Scottish rebellion of 1745.

I shall now endeavour to make good that promise. In the 1762, upon a debate in the house of lords about the expediency of raising five regiments of these catholics, for the service of the king of Portugal, Doctor Stone (then Primate), in answer to some common-place objections against the good faith and loyalty of these people, which were revived savith virulence on that occasion, declared publicly in the house of lords, that “ in the year 1747, after that rebellion was intirely suppressed, happening to be in England, he had an opportunity of perusing all the papers of the rebels, and their correspondents, which were seized in the custody of Murray, the pretender's secretary; and that, after having spent much time and taken great pains in examining them (not without fome share of the then common suspicion, that there might be some private understanding and intercourse between them and the Irish catholics), he could not discover the least trace, hint, or intimation of such inter


course or correspondence in them; or of any of the latter's favouring, abetting, or having been so much as made acquainted with the designs or proceedings of these rebels. And what,” he said, “ he wondered at most of all was, that in all his researches, he had not met with any passage in any of these papers, from which he could infer, that either their Holy Father the Pope, or any of his cardinals, bishops, or other dignitaries of that church ; or any of the Irish clergy, had either directly or indirectly, encouraged, aided, or approved of, the commencing or carrying on of that rebellion."

[blocks in formation]

A bill for naturalizing the Jews pases the commons.

ON account of the continued severity of the popery laws (such of them particularly as executed themselves, as all those relating to property do), great numbers of the inoffensive natives had quitted Ireland, and carried their wealth and industry with them. And such was the mistaken policy of those days, that the protestant interest of Ireland was not believed to have suffered by this ruinous, though natural effect of these laws; on the contrary, it was confidently said to be strengthened and increased, by the removal of so many of its intestine enemies out of the kingdom ! But as the strength and prosperity of a country are known and acknowledged to depend on the number and industry of its inhabitants, an expedient was soon looked for, and found, by the great wisdom of the nation, to supply the place of these self-exiled papists, by introducing foreign Jews, and providing a national settlement for those devoted vagrants. And although this expedient was, for a while, excepted against by some few over-scrupulous persons, as discovering an inordinate and precipitate zeal in its authors for strengthening the protestant interest, by a measure


« PreviousContinue »