Page images



dared to hold public conventions on political matters. Many successive meetings were holden at Mr. Ryan's, rising gradually in number from scores to hundreds. At one of those meetings, in which Lord Fingal was chairman, a vote of thanks was proposed by counsellor Scully to Mr. Ryan, for having had the boldness to permit Catholics to assemble in his house. He acted in his own house, not as a secretary, but as a controuling or principal agent (if not by delegation, yet by acquiescence) to those, who convenedthere to represent and manage the interests of the general body of the Irish Catholics. He was chosen at one of these meetings (not without some turbulent opposition) to go over in 1805, as one of the deputies from that body to Mr. Pitt, which delegation has been before noticed. As that deputation was, by Mr. Pitt's refusal to present the petition, driven to apply to Lord Grenville and Mr. Fox, Mr. Ryan, then, for the first time, and in quality of a deputy

from the Catholics of Ireland, became personally · known to Mr. Fox. * At Mr. Ryan's house, the

As it is not the intent of this work to record the public acts or conduct of the Isish Catholics, but of the Irish nation (though they numerically form the decided majority) we omit the details of the debates at the several meetings of Catholics in Marlborough-streur, which ran into the most disgraceful altercation and dissentions. All were unanimous in their anxiety to attain the common object of emancipation. But the inexperience of so many persons ardent in a great common cause, created differences as to the mode of attaining it, as wide as if they had contested for adverse objects. It is observable, that the public city and (perhaps even) the heat of dissention, into which those

general discussions had taken place preparatory to the presentation of the petition in 1805, though the committee usually sat at the house of Lord Fingall. All the Catholic peers had been nominated standing menibers of that committee. *

Catholic meetings frequently split, have seldom failed to end in pational good. Sooner or later, they have forced into publicity facts and circumstances mainly beneficial to the present and future generations. In ás much, therefore, as any such debates or parts of debates involve the government of the country, and tend to develope the system, which this history is chiefly calcy. lated to disclose, the author feels it his duty to offer a faithful statement thereof to the public. The contest between the contending parties arose chiefly from the alleged assumption of a right in Mr. Ryan and his friend and adviser (closely connected by affinity) Mr. Randal M.Donnell, a most respectable mer. chant, a tried and zealous servant in the Catholic cause, to constitute a committee or body of their own nomination, to represent the body of Irish Catholics, and a charged attempt to convert their influence over that body into an instrument for advancing their own personal interest with the minister of the country. A personal difference in a Catholic debate, in July, 1810, occasioned the publication of Mr. Ryan's correspondence with Mr. Fox, which it is of high importance to the country to be accurately known. It not only involves the character and conduct of Mr. Fox; but tends directly to shew the liability of the body of the Irish Catholics to be sacrificed to the ambition or lucre of the real or pretended leaders of the body in their pursuit of constitutional freedom..

• In January 1805, Lord Hawkesbury, by direction of Mr. Pitt wrote to Lord Hardwicke, that the discussion of the Catholic question would particularly embarrass his Majesty's ministers, and would be determinedly resisted by Mr. Pitt. This letter was communicated to Lord Fingall, and laid before the Catholic committee. Counsellor Bellew, the friend and counsellor of Lord Fingall, contended, that to forward their petition then,

and Mr. Fox.

1906. Mr. Ryan has himself informed us, that after Mr. Ryan the delegates had accomplished the object of their

mission, and previously to his departure from London, he called upon Mr. Fox, in order to take his leave. At that interyiew he obtained his permis, sion to enquire his opinion and advice on the Ca. tholic question, previous to the succeeding session of Parliament, which he fully and freely conceded. In consequence of which, Mr. Ryan consulted with Sir Thomas French, and having been assured by


when the administration was adverse, would be defeat and disgrace; and that įhe prejudices of the people of England would be roused by the discussion, so as to prevent the possibility of obtaining the object at any future period. Mr. O'Connell and Mr. Scully, with much warmth pressed the propriety of their forwarding their petition ; and finding, that Lord Fingal was like. ly to gain over a majority, they openly declared, that they would forward their petition ; and the Lords, if they thought fit, might secede and act the same part they had in 1792. The menace had the desired effect. Lord Fingall and his friends acquiesced. At a subsequent and very turbulent meeting in Marlboroughstreet, Mr. Ryan was proposed as a delegate by Mr. M.Donnell, and supported by Sir Thomas (now Lord) French; and after much tumult and disorder, Mr. Ryan was elected. The spirit of dissension attended the delegates to England, and prevailed so far, that the interchange of common civility ceased between two of them, who in public and private mutually charged each other with betraying the interests of the Catholic body. After the return of the delegates, some şelect partial assemblies were holden at Mr. Ryan's to receive the report of the delegation; but most of the very persons, who had usually attended those meet. ings, became so dissatisfied, that they refused to attend, to vote thanks to the delegates for their upright and honourable conduct in the fulfillment of their important mission. Soon after which they called a final meeting, and dissolved their committee.

him, that no injury could result from his corres- 1806. ponding with Mr. Fox, he addressed to him a letter on the 25th of November, 1805, in the stile of a public or accredited agent or manager of the Catholic cause in Ireland, and asking Mr. Fox's ad. vice, how he was to act in the ensuing year, after having told him what he had done for the body in the preceding year, Mr. Fox answered this letter, as he would have written to an authorized agent or representative of the Catholic body.* Thus far

Copies of this whole correspondence were published by Mr. Ryan in the Freeman's Journal on the 11th of August, 1810.

Copy of Mr. Ryan's letter to Mr. Fox.)

"? Dublin, Nov, 25th, 1305. " SIR, ,“ When last I had the honor of seeing you, I requested, and "! you were so good to grant me the liberty of soliciting your af unrivalled good opinion on the subject of the Catholic move" ments here, in their endeavours to procure the repeal of the « remaining penal laws, which affect their body. I am fully "? sensible of the singular favour you have conferred upon me ” by granting this privilege, and I pray you will be assured, " that no consideration short of the sleep feeling, which is ex" cited by the present important crisis, and the consequent in!! creased necessity there is of calling forth all the energies of " the empire, could prevail upon me to trespass upon the time " of one, whose mind must be so fully occupied. I am con"? vinced, it has not escaped your recollection, that the Catholic : deputies acquainted Mr. Pitt in the interview they tad with "bim, that it was the intention of the Catholics of Ireland to " apply to Parliament every session, until all the disqualifications, “ under which they labour, shall be removed, and that they " çommunicated the same jatentions to you and your illustrious

. 1806. had the correspondence proceeded between Mr.

Fox out of place, and Mr. Ryan, holding no species
“ friends, when they were bououred with an interview at Lord
“ Grenville's. The Catholics were induced to this determina-
“ tion from the conviction, they continue to entertain of the be-
“ neficial effects, which the discussion of the question must ever
“ produce. The eloquence and wisdom, which will be exerteil
" in its support in Parliament, 'will cuntinue to diminish the
a number of our opponents there, whilst the agitation of it
“ amongst ourselves will bring back the public mind from spe.
“ culating on more distant politics to the consideration of our
“ local question; instead of being discouraged by our late de-
“ feat, we are animated by the most confident hopes, that the
“ day cannot be distant, when our success will be compleat;
“ which are justly founded on the support we have obtained
“ from the great proportion of the rank and talent of the Par.
“ liament. The Catholics, therefore, are pledged to come for.
“ ward in the next session. Their inclination to do so in ge-
" neral, and the late unfortunate disasters on the continent have
" encreased their desire to be put on the footing, which will
“ render them qualified in every part of the British empire lo
“ perform their duty to their sovereign and their country. It
“ is useless for me to tell Mr. Fox, that no palliative measure
“ can have the eflect of satisfying our body, or securing the
“ safety of this country. It has been governed for a long
“ period of time without any regard to the conciliation of the
“ great portion of its inhabitants. Hence has arisen the dan-
“ ger of the present period, which will continue, until the con-
" duct you have so often recommended to be adopted towards
“ Ireland, shall be carried into the fullest effect. Catholic
“ emancipation once granted, there would be an end to all fear
“ for this unfortunate country : until it shall be granted, it will
,“ be held by England on a very insecure basis. Having trou-
“ bled you so far upon a subject you are already so well ac-

" quainted with, allow me to solicit your having the kindness .to give me your advice, how I ought to act at this conjecture.

• In the last year I comnienced the discussion here, out of which « arose the petition of the present year; I feel; I am pledged

« PreviousContinue »