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ed, in jail, or on the informers lists, that the greatest part of the rest fled through fear; so that the land lay untilled, for want of hands to cultivate it, and a famine was with reason apprehended. As for the better sort, who had something to lose (and who, for that reason, were the persons chiefly aimed at by the managers of the prosecution), they were at the utmost loss how to dispose of themselves. If they left the country, their absence was construed into a proof of their guilt : if they remained in it, they were in imminent danger of having their lives sworn away by informers and approvers ; for the suborning and corrupting of witnefíes on that occasion, was frequent and barefaced, to a degree almost beyond belief. The very stews were raked, and the jails rummaged in search of evidence; and the most notoriously profligate in both were selected and tampered with, to give informations of the private transactions and designs of reputable men, with whom they never had any dealing, intercourse, or acquaintance; nay, to whose very persons they were often found to be strangers, when confronted at their trial.
In short, so exactly did these prosecutions in Ireland resemble, in every particular, those which were formerly set on foot in England, for that villainous fiction of Oates's plot, that the former seem to have been planned and carried on intirely on the model of the latter; and the same just observation that hath been made on the English languinary proceedings, is perfectly applicable to those which I have now, in part, related, viz. “ that for the credit of the nation, it were indeed better to bury them in eternal oblivion, but that it is necessary to perpetuate the remembrance of them, as well to maintain the truth of history, as to warn, if possible, our pofterity and all mankind, never again to fall into fo shameful and so barbarous a' delusion."
CH A P.
Some prospect of mitigating the rigour of the popery
laws. All this while, the chapels of the Roman catholics were suffered to be open, and the exercise of their religion was actually connived at; although that religion was, at the same time, accused, in the spirit of the framers and advocates of the popery laws, of prompting its professors to these pretended acts of rebellion ; which proves to a demonstration, that these laws, notwithstanding their pompous title, were primarily intended, rather to deprive these people of their property and substance, than of the free exercise of their religion ; since having long since taken from them almost all that was real of the former, they have left them unmolested with regard to the latter.
By this connivance, however, the defenders of these laws pretend, that the objection from the breach of the articles of Limerick is removed ; as these articles promised nothing more than that the Roman catholics
* “But it seems (says Mr. Young) to be the meaning, wish and intent of the discovery laws, that none of them (the Irish catholics) should ever be rich. It is the principle of that fyftem, that wealthy subjects would be nuisances; and therefore every means is taken to reduce, and keep them to a state of poverty. If this is not the intention of these laws, they are the most abominable heap of self-contradictions that ever were issued in the world. They are framed in such a manner that no catholic
shall have the inducement to become rich....... Take the - laws and their execution into one view, and this state of the
cafe is so true, that they actually do not seem to be so much levelled at the religion, as at the property that is found in it.
The domineering aristocracy of five hundred thousand protestants, feel the sweets of having two millions of laves : they have not the least objection to the tenets of that religion which keeps them by the law of the land in subjection ; but property and flavery are too incompatible to live together : hence the special care taken that no such thing should arise among them.” Young's Tour in Irel. vol. ii. p. 48.
should not be disturbed in the exercise of their religion. But (besides that there is a wide difference between a meer connivance and a privilege, the former being purely negative, or a non-hinderance, depending solely on the will or caprice of the persons conniving ; the latter, an actual and positive power of doing what is not otherwise prohibited, which power or privilege was the thing stipulated by the said articles, not only to be preserved, but also to be enlarged by a future parliament; whereas the quite contrary has been fince done by these laws;) how can it be seriously imagined, that the catholics of Ireland enjoy, at this day, the free exercise of their religion, when that very exercise is precisely the cause of their being robbed, pursuant to those laws, in so many instances, of both their liberty and property! Nothing certainly can equal the absurdity of supposing the exercise of that religion to be free and undisturbed, at the same time that it is forbidden and restrained by a multiplicity of severe legal penalties, which are still occasionally inflicted.
Under all these unjust suspicions, pressures, and restraints, did the Roman catholics of Ireland labour, by the operation of the two felf-executing popery acts of the second and eighth of queen Anne, without the least glimpse of any reasonable hope of redress, until the year 1775 ; when a prospect seemed to be opened to them of some future alleviation in the legislature's free and unsolicited tender of an oath of allegiance, which has afforded them the long-wished-for opportųnity of wiping off, effectually, those foul aspersions which for so many years past have been cast upon both, by their ignorant or malicious enemies. In that year, a majority of humane and enlightened members, in both houses of parliament, having been themselves witnesses of the constant dutiful behaviour of the Roman catholics of Ireland, under many painful trials and conscious that their long perseverance in such bę. haviour was the best proof they could have given of the integrity of that principle, which had hitherto withheld them from facrificing conscience and honour
to any temporal interest, fince rather than violate either by hypocritical professions, they have, under all trials, patiently suffered in that particular: these truly patriotic members, I say, influenced by such motives, caused the aforesaid oath to be franed, which as it is the most certain ieft, that can pollibly be required or given by men, of the fincerity of their profeffions must sufficiently ensure their civil duty and allegiance.
As the conciliating spirit of the framers of this oath manifestly appears in the preamble to it, it may not be improper to insert it in this place at large.
« Whereas many of his majesty's subjects in this kingdom are desirous to testify their loyalty and allegiance to his majesty; and their abhorrence of certain doctrines imputed to them ; and to remove jealoufies, which bereby have, for a length of time, fubfisted between them and others, his majesty's loyal subjects; but upon account of their religious tenets, are by the laws now in being, prevented from giving public assurances of such allegiance, and of their real principles, good-will and affection towards their fellow subjeås ; in order, therefore, to give such persons an opportunity of testifying their allegiance to his majesty, and good-will towards the constitution of this kingdom, and to promote peace and industry among the inhabitants thereof, be it enacted, &c.”
This test, so well calculated to answer all the necesfary purposes of civil duty and allegiance, was, at its first promulgation, voluntarily and chearfully taken by a great and respectable number of the Roman catholic clergy, nobility, gentry, and people; when no other apparent benefit to them was either proposed or expected from it, but that of testifying, in the most effectual manner, their loyalty and attachment to his majesty's person and government, as well as their abhorrence of certain impious doctrines, most uncharitably imputed to them by their enemies.
с C HA P.
The catholics of Ireland state their grievances in an
humble address and petition to the lord lieutenant to be laid before his majesty.
ABOUT this time these people, fearing that neither the number nor quality of their grievances were truly made known to his majesty, or his council in England; from whom, in the last resort, their redress was expected ; set forth and delineated some part of the most considerable of them, in the following dutiful address and petition; which, in order to its being transmitted to England, and laid before his majesty, was presented, in due form, to his Excellency the Earl of Buckinghamshire, lord lieutenant of Ireland, by the Right Honourable the Earl of Fingal, the Honourable Mr. Preston, and Anthony Dermot, Esq. And as it has been hitherto but in few hands, and indeed exhibits a rare and striking picture of persevering loyalty, under oppression, I will here communicate it to my readers.
To the KING's most Excellent MAJESTY. The humble Address and Petition of the Roman
Catholics of Ireland, Most gracious Sovereign, WE your majesty's most dutiful subjects, the Roman catholics of your kingdom of Ireland, with hearts full of loyalty, but overwhelmed with affiction, and depressed by our calamitous and ruined circumstances, beg leave to lay at your majesty's feet some small part of those numerous and insupportable grievances under which we have long groaned, not only without any act of disobedience, but even without murmur or complaint; in hopes that our inviolable fubmiffion, and unaltered patience under those severe pressures, would fully confute the accusation of seditious principles,