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addressed, and the Committee who had petitioned. The former were denominated, “ The virtuous and the venerable, the “ learned and the liberal." The latter were loaded with many severe epithets, and it was particularly insisted, and urged as one strong reason for the unprecedented contempt with which their petition had been rejected, that they were an obscure faction, confined merely to the capital, disowned by the great body of the Catholics, ignorant of their sentiments, and incompetent to speak or act on their behalf.
Under these circumstances of disgrace and obloquy heaped on the Committee, the bill was passed, and the Sessions terminated; but the Catholics were not satisfied. Their minds were roused to a due sense of their situation, and they determined to persevere.
Previous, however, to making any further application, the Committee, following the example of their brethren in England, which had been attended with such conciliating effects, and in pursuance of the advice of many of their best friends and ablest supporters, resolved to give to the Legislature and their country the fullest satisfaction in their power, on all topics of their faith, which were, however remotely, connected with the principles of good order and government. For this purpose they anxiously attended to every objection, and every proposal, whether resulting from motives of friendship or enmity, to secure or to subvert the hopes of emancipation; they consulted those who, from their situation and pursuits, were best acquainted with the difficulties and the doubts existing in the minds of their Protestant brethren ; they diligently studied for the modes most likely to give complete satisfaction on all these points, and, finally, after due and earnest deliberation, they published a declaration, which is annexed in the Appendix (No. I.) The measure has completely answered its purpose. The declaration has been signed, it may be said, universally, by the Catholics of all descriptions throughout the kingdom, clergy and laity; it has received the warm approbation of all the supporters, and has imposed silence on many of the opponents of Catholic emancipation.
Having thus cleared the way, in a certain degree, by the removal of prejudices so long operating in their disfavor, and so diligently propagated and continued by all who wished that Ire
land should remain disunited, and, consequently, feeble; wishing to pay every possible respect and deference to the Legislature, which had expressed doubts as to what were the real sentiments and wishes of the Catholic body; convinced that, to induce that august assembly to afford relief to three millions of loyal and peaceable subjects, they only wanted to be satisfied that it was their unanimous and earnest desire, and feeling the indispensable pecessity of an organ whereby the unequivocal sense of all the Catholics of Ireland might be fairly collected and fully expressed, the committee devised a plan, whereby the sentiments of every individual of that body in Ireland should be ascertained. A copy of that plan is subjoined in the Appendix (No. II.)
Immediately on the appearance of this plan, a general outcry was raised against it; sedition, tumult, conspiracy, treason, was echoed from county to county, and Grand Jury to Grand Jury. Even some of the Legislators of the land, high in the confidence of their Sovereign, and armed with all the influence of station and office, did not disdain to preside at those meetings and stand foremost in a premature arraignment and condemnation of those merits and those claims, on which, in another place, and in another function, they were finally to determine, artfully forecasting that at a future day they might appear to act but in conformity and obedience to the very clamor which themselves had raised.
From the violent and outrageous intemperance of language held by some of those Grand Jurors, it might be thought that the Catholics of Ireland were on the eve of a general insurrection, ready to hurl the King from his throne, and tear the whole frame of the Constitution to pieces ; the solemn tender of lives and fortunes, a measure that should be reserved for the last necessities of the State, for the actual invasion of a foreign enemy, or the impending ruin of a national bankruptcy, was repeated, until it became ridiculous. Even the peaceful Corporation of the capital caught the contagious phrenzy, and the Common Council of Dublin also made a tender of their lives and their fortunes.
It is not easy to do justice to those compositions but by extracts. The Leitrim Grand Jury denominate the plan “ An in“ flammatory and dangerous publication,” and state « That they “ feel it necessary to come forward at this period to declare that " they are ready to support, with their lives and fortunes, our
* present most valuable Constitution in church and state; and " that they will resist, to the utmost of their power, the attempts " of any body of men, however numerous, who shall presume 6 to threaten innovation in either.” The first signature to this paper is that of a gentleman, a member of the Legislature, and possessing the very lucrative place of Collector of the port of Dublin.
The Grand Jury of the county of Cork denominate the plan 6 An unconstitutional proceeding, of the most alarming, dan
gerous, and seditious tendency; an attempt to overawe Par“liament;" and state their determination to “protect and defend, “ with their lives and property, the present Constitution in church 6 and state.”
The Grand Jury of the county of Roscommon, after the usual epithets of “alarming, dangerous, and seditious," assert that the plan “calls upon the whole body of the Roman Catholics 6 of Ireland to associate themselves in the metropolis of this 6. kingdom upon the model of the National Assembly of “ France, which has already plunged that devoted country into “ a state of anarchy and tumult unexampled in any civilized 6 nation;" they state it to be “ an attempt to overawe Parlia6 ment;" they mention their 6 serious and sensible alarms for “the existence of our present happy establishment in church - and state ;” and their determination, “at the hazard of every 6 thing dear to them, to uphold and maintain the Protestant in6 terest of Ireland.” To these two last appears the signature of a noble Lord, who was Foreman of both Juries.
The Grand Jury of Sligo resolve, 6. That they will, at all "times, and by every constitutional means in their power, re6. sist and oppose every attempt NOW MAKING, OR HEREAFTER • TO BE MADE, by the Roman Catholics, to obtain the elective “ franchise, or any participation in the Government of the coun“ try,” and conclude with a tender of their lives and fortunes.”
The Grand Jury of Donegal declare that, though “they re“ gard the Catholics with tenderness, they will maintain, at “ the hazard of every thing dear to them, the Protestant inter66 est of Ireland.”
The Grand Jury of Fermanagh, professing, also, the warm66 est attachment to their Roman Catholic brethren,” feel it, however, necessary to come forward at this period to declare,
that they are “ ready, with their lives and fortunes, to support “ our present invaluable Constitution, in church and state," in which declaration they are abetted and comforted by the approbation of three noble Lords, expressed by their signatures to the said declaration.
The Grand Jury of the county of Derry, after expressing their apprehensions, lest this proceeding 6 may lead to the formation “of an hierarchy,” (consisting partly of laity,) “which would o destroy the Protestant ascendency, the freedom of the elective “ franchise, and the established Constitution of this country," tender their lives and fortunes to support the happy Constitu“tion, as established at the Revolution of 1688." A period, when, it is to be remarked, the Catholics of Ireland possessed the right of franchise, subject only to the taking a very simple oath of allegiance, comprised in two lines.
Without presuming to draw any inference, the committee beg leave here to state a plain fact. A very great majority of the leading signatures, affixed to those resolutions, are those of men either high in the Government of this country, or enjoying very lucrative places under that Government, or possessing extensive borough interest. The committee will not suppose that such considerations could have any influence on the conduct of those gentlemen, or that they could possibly bring their minds to think of sacrificing the liberty of three millions of people to the advancement of their own private interest. Be their motives, however, what they may, the fact is as it has been now stated.
It is a much more pleasing task to the committee to observe, with the sincerest gratitude, that many respectable grand juries had the magnanimity to reject, with scorn, the idea of dooming so large a portion of their countrymen to perpetual and hopeless slavery, and disdained to become accomplices in the political destruction of the peace and happiness of Ireland.
Perhaps enough has been submitted to furnish an adequate idea of the spirit of those compositions ; yet, one or two remain behind, which claim peculiar notice, as well from the sentiments which they contain, as from the elevated rank of those who presided, or assisted at their promulgation.
The Grand Jury of the county of Louth, WITH THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS AT THEIR HEAD, declare as follows, “that the allowing to Roman Catholics the right
"of voting for Members to serve in Parliament, or admitting 6 them to any participation in the Government of the king* dom, is incompatible with the safety of the Protestant esta“blishment, the continuance of the succession to the Crown in “ the illustrious House of Hanover, and must finally tend to “shake, if not destroy our connection with Great Britain, on “ the continuance and inseparability of which depends the happi“ ness and prosperity of this kingdom ; that they will oppose " every attempt towards such a dangerous innovation, and “ that they will support with their lives and fortunes the pre“6 sent Constitution, and the settlement of the Throne on his “ Majesty's Protestant House."
To such an attack this Committee would disdain to give an answer, were it not for the insinuation, that it is their wish to
shake, if not destroy, the connection with Great Britain, and that their emancipation is “ incompatible with the continu“ance of the succession to the Crown in the Illustrious House of 66 Hanover.”
For the loyalty of the Catholics of Ireland, they appeal to their uniform conduct from the Revolution to this hour, a period of 104 years, through two rebellions in Great Britain, and five foreign wars, during which time no one has ventured to impeach that conduct, until this most unjust and unwarrantable attack. The Catholics of Ireland are as loyal as the Grand Jury of the county of Louth, or as the foreman of that jury; they would, perhaps, be as ready to testify their loyalty through danger, or through death, as the loudest of their calumniators; they have lives and fortunes to devote to the service of their King and country, but they would scorn to prostitute them to the unworthy purpose of holding their brethren in chains. They are attached to the connection with Great Britain, because they feel the benefit of that connection; and they furnish, in consequence, their full quota to the support of the common cause: The fleets and armies of the empire are supplied by their numbers ; the revenue of their country supported by their contributions. But, if their loyalty were to be sapped, or their attachment to England perverted, what way could be devised more likely to shake the one, or eradicate the other, than a sentence like that of the Grand Jury of the county of Louth, which tells them at once, that liberty to Catholics