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CONTAINING AN IMPARTIAL ACCOUNT OF TH PROCEED-
OF THE REBELLION.
TO ILLUSTRATE SOME FACTS.
BY THE REV. JAMES GORDON,
RECTOR OF KILLEGNY, IN THE DIOCESE OF FERNS, AND OF CANNAWAY, IN
THE DIOCESE OF CORK.
AUTHOR OF TERRAQUEA, OR A NEW SYSTEM OF GEOGRAPHY
AND MODERN HISTORY;
TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AN INHABITANT OF THE
COUNTY OF WEXFORD.
Truths would you teacli, and save a sinking land,
PRINTED BY WILLIAM PORTER,
ROM the year 1782, when, by the spirited exa ertions of the volunteer associations of Ireland, the legislature of this kingdom was rendered le. gally independent of that of Britain, and the odious restrictions, which had been most unwisely imposed on its trade and manufactures by the British government, were in a considerable degree removed, many among the Irish extended theing views to a wider sphere of political freedom. A provincial assembly, first convened at Dungannon, in Ulfter, on the fifteenth of February, 1782, confisting of the representatives of a hundred and forty-three volunteer corps, with design, among other objects, to plan and petition for a parliamen. tary reform, or a more equal representation of the commons in parliament, swelled in 1783 into a national assembly, composed of delegates from the several counties, and held in Dublin under the in
vidious title of congress ; invidious undoubtedly, fince under the conduct of an assembly so denomi. nated, the British colonies of North America had recently, by a successful war against the power of Britain, established an independent republic in the western hemisphere.
The failure of this measure in November, the same year, when the petition of congress was contemptuously rejected by parliament, was attributed
weakuess of national disunion, the triple partition of the people divided by the religious antipathies of protestants, protestant diffenters, and Roman Catholics. If all these discordant fects could be persuaded virtually to abandon religious distinctions in a pursuit of political reform, and cordially to coalefce with steady determination in their demands, parliament was imagined to be incapable of withholding its confent. As the main strength of the nation in respect to number was conceived to rest in the Romanists, who might constitute three-fourths of the whole population, to give these a proportionate weight in the system, and to interest them warmly in the plan propofed -was an object of primary magnitude with political reformers. For the removal of thofe legal restrictions and disqualifications by which the Romanists were deprived of what was accounted their due share of political power, vigorous efforts were made, and various engines put in motion.
Among the modes of agency adopted in those busy times by the favourers of innovation, was the institution of political clubs, which were formed
under several titles in the metropolis and else. where. The principal of these, denominated the whig club, or the association of the friends of the conftitution, liberty, and peace, was honoured by the sanction of some very highly respectable characters. as its members, whose object was doubtless merely to obtain the reformation of abuses in the political system, and particularly to promote the scheme of a more equal representation of the people in parliament. A few of its members, however, seem to have entertained projects of a deeper kind-projects of revolution, the total subversion of the exifting government, and the erection of a democratically conftituted commonwealth in its place.These advocates of revolution formed a connexion with other clubs of congenial principles, particularly that of the whigs of the capital, whose object was evidently a radical alteration in the political system. The determined agitators of this and other societies, which appeared not to promile a speedy success to their wishes, framed at length a more general and deeply planned association, which outlived all the rest, and far furpafled them in the vigour and conduct of its assaults on the existing constitution of the state. This was the famous combination of United Irishmen, whose profound conspiracy, after a long, obstinate, and doubt. ful struggle with the government of the kingdom, was forced in the end, by the vigilance and vigor of administration, feebly to explode in partial, irregular, and easily conquerable insurrections, instead