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ter into resolutions in any words they choose, to the following effect:
At a meeting of the Catholics of the county of regularly contened, this
in the Chair, RESOLVED, That of this county, and
of the city of Dublin, have been this day chosen by the Catholics of this county, as their Delegates to the General Committee.
Resolved, That it is our instruction to our said Delegates, to support in said Committee, as the voice of all the Catholics of this county, that an humble representation be made to our gracious Sovereign and to Parliament, of the many severe laws which oppress his Majesty's faithful subjects, the Catholics of Ireland, although no cause
founded in wisdom or policy is assigned for their continuance; imploring it, as essential to our protection, and to secure an impartial distribution of justice in our favor, that we be restored to the ELECTIVE FRANCHISE, and an equal participation in the benefits of the TRIAL BY JURY.
According to its present form of Constitution, the General Committee is open not only to persons delegated by others, but to every Roman Catholic of landed property in the Kingdom. From this mixture of REPRESENTATIVE and PERSON. AL association, inconveniences which every one may remember, but which at present it is useless to dwell on, have arisen. To guard against similar inconveniencies in future, we have recommended to your consideration the above sketch of a new system; the object of which is to give to the Committee somewhat more of a REPRESENTATIVE, and somewhat less of an INDI. VIDUAL capacity : and we beg leave to offer to you the following observations in support of our plan.
Men appointed by others must hold themselves accountable to those from whom they derive their trust; and, therefore, must regulate their conduct by the standard of general opinion ; or, if they be unwilling to take such a standard for their rule, and to obey the instructions of their constituents, they may be removed from the places they hold, to make room for others more practicable, and less inclined to set the dictates of private sentiment, or private interest, in opposition to the general will, and the public good. Under a system which is thus REPRESENTATIVE, and where the trust is revocable at pleasure, SEDUCTION
cannot be practised, nor can Division again take place; or, at least, the remedy is so near the evil, that little danger is to be apprehended from either.
Our plan, by making attendance a duty, will, we apprehend, serve to bring a greater number of country gentlemen into the Committee than have formerly appeared among us. While admission remains so easy as it does at present, and while so many persons are exempted from responsibility and control, we have little reason to expect that country gentlemen will desert their homes and their immediate concerns, to promote an interest which is remotely or obscurely felt; but we hope that the honorable distinction of representing others, added to the obligation of a solemn promise, will not fail to reconcile those who shall happen to be delegated, to admit of some temporary hardships, in order to promote the public good. By collecting, occasionally, a number of country gentlemen in Dublin, we flatter ourselves that the Committee will be enabled to speak the sentiments of its constituent members with distinctness and precision; and that the country parts of the Kingdom will be provided with the surest means of acquiring whatever information may be necessary on the subject of Catholic affairs. From this prompt communication of opinion and intelligence, we foresee great advantages; advantages which, under the present system, are wholly beyond our reach; as the landed gentlemen are responsible only to themselves, and as the Dublin Delegates have frequently little knowledge of their constituents. The attendance of a great number of country gentlemen will justify such a reduction of the number of Delegates for the metropolis in the General Committee, as may be judged advisable; a measure which was always desirable, but which could not be heretofore accomplished, as the attendance of landed gentlemen was so uncertain and irregular.
Every endeavor should be used to cultivate and improve the friendship of our clergy. The clergy and laity, having but one interest, should have but one mind, and should, therefore, mutually combine their talents, their opinions, and their exertions, in order to effectuate our common emancipation. This union of sentiment and design, this interchange of counsel and of aid, will serve to strengthen the bonds of a common friendship, and will be the best security against innovation in matters which relate to religion.
The clergy, being the natural guardians of morality, will undoubtedly consent to co-operate with the laity, when they consider that the restoration of the elective franchise to the Catholic community will tend to prevent those perjuries which are so common at, and which disgrace the return of electioneering contests. By such conduct will the clergy secure to themselves that influence over the laity of their own persuasion, which it is useful that good clergy should have; and that respectability among persons of other persuasions, which must naturalty result from the increased importance of the people to whom they belong. It is unnecessary to point out the advantages which a restoration of the elective franchise would produce in our habits and modes of life ; in the state of national as well as individual happiness. Let it suffice to say, that not only laymen, but every Catholic bishop and priest, would, by the acquisition of so valuable a privilege to the Catholic body at large, find his condition meliorated in a variety of shapes and circumstances, which cannot easily be reduced within the compass of exact calculation. The silent operation of this right would, in the lapse of time, contribute to raise a respectable yeomanry in the Kingdom ; and this yeomanry, giving on the one hand a new infusion of vigor to the commonwealth, would, on the other, supply a fund, from which the clergy would derive the means of a more honorable support, and more proportionate to their uncommon labors and merits, than at present they enjoy.
When this plan shall have been adopted, and the returns in consequence made, the Committee will, in the course of next Winter, consider, as a measure of the last importance, what further improvements may be necessary in the mode of electing Delegates on future occasions, in order to secure a permanent, extensive, and effectual method of collecting the general sense of the Catholics of Ireland.
UpWe beg leave to recommend it to you most earnestly, to carry the above plan into IMMEDIATE execution. It is of the utmost consequence that we should have this addition of country gentlemen as sooN AS POSSIBLE, in order to give due weight and efficacy to our humble application to the Throne, which we are ADVISED to make this Summer, before the Parliamentary arrangements are formed for the ensuing Winter.
As soon as your Delegates shall have been chosen, we request that you will make a return of their names, and address it to our Secretary, Mr. Richard M Cormick, Mark's-Alley, Dublin.
SEPTEMBER 13, 1792.
At a meeting of the Sub-committee of the Catholics,
RANDAL M’DONNELL, Esq. in the Chair. The Sub-committee having seen, with great concern, a variety
of publications, censuring the circular letter lately issued by them, said to be signed EDWARD BYRNE, and erroneously stated to be illegal and unconstitutional, have thought it their duty to submit that letter to the inspection of the Hon. SIMON BUTLER and BERESFORD BURSTON, Esq. two gentlemen of the first eminence in the profession, and who have the honor to be of his Majesty's Council.
The case and opinions of those gentlemen, which follow, will
demonstrate that the Committee have taken no step whatsoever, which the laws and Constitution do not fully warrant.
The Catholics of Ireland, laboring under laws by which they are deprived of every share in the Legislature, rendered incapable of serving their country in any office, civil or military, and deprived of an equal participation with their fellow-subjects of other persuasions, in the benefit of the trial by jury, are desirous of laying their grievances before the King and Parliament, and supplicating redress.
As the most effectual method of collecting the sense of the Catholic body, and laying it before the King and Parliament, a General Committee from that body was formed, for the purpose of making application to the Legislature, from time to time, on the subject of their grievance, and praying that redress, to which their loyalty and attachment to their Sovereign, and obedience to the laws, justly entitled them.
In the last session of Parliament, the General Committee, as individuals, did, on behalf of themselves and their brethren,
present a petition to Parliament, praying relief, which petition was, with circumstances of unprecedented severity, rejected; and, as one of the many causes of said rejection, it was alleged, that the persons whose names were affixed to said petition were a faction, unconnected with and incompetent to speak the sense of the Catholics of Ireland. In order to obviate every such objection in future, the General Committee framed a plan, which is sent herewith, for the purpose of procuring the attendance of such persons from each county as were best acquainted with the sentiments, and could best declare the voice of the Catholics of Ireland, who should be by them deputed as Delegates to the General Committee, with instructions to support, in the said Committee, as the voice of the Catholics, by whom they were deputed, “That an humble representation be “made to their gracious Sovereign, and to Parliament, of the “ many severe laws which oppress his Majesty's faithful sub"jects, the Catholics of Ireland, although no cause, founded “ in wisdom or policy, is assigned for their continuance, implor“ing it as essential to their protection, and to secure an impar«tial distribution of justice in their favor, that they may be “restored to the elective franchise, and an equal participation “ in the benefits of the trial by jury."
Charges and insinuations of a very heavy nature have been thrown out, and menaces used by many bodies of men, and individuals, to prevent the carrying the above plan into execution, under a pretence that it is contrary to law, and that the meeting projected therein would be a Popish Congress, formed for the purpose of overawing the Legislature.
The General Committee, abhorring, and utterly renouncing, such imputations, and desiring to regulate their conduct in strict conformity to law, request your opinion upon the following queries:
1st. Have his Majesty's subjects of Ireland, professing the Roman Catholic religion, a right to petition his Majesty and the Legislature for the redress of grievances, equally with Protestants; and if not, wherein do they differ?
2d. If they have this right, may they lawfully choose delegates, for the purpose of framing such petition, and presenting the same, in a peaceable and respectful manner; - and if they may not, by what law or statute are they forbidden to do