Page images
PDF
EPUB

50

EULOGY ON DEAN KIRWAN. [CHAP. II.

The armed youth of the country, like a thousand streams thundered from a thousand hills, and filled the plain with the congregated waters, in whose mirror was seen for a moment the watery image of the British Constitution. The waters subside, the torrents cease, the rill ripples within its own bed, and the boys and children of the village paddle in the brook.”

Alluding to the Barren Land Bill, which the law-officer of the Crown had pronounced to be an excellent measure, but which had been abandoned by the Government to please the bench of Bishops, Mr. Grattan introduced a remarkable panegyric on Mr. Kirwan, one of the most distinguished and eloquent of Irish preachers.

“I congratulate the church on its alliance with the Ministers of the Crown: but let me assure them it will not serve their promotion. They live under an administration which has but two principles of promotion for church, or law, or anything,-English recommendation, and Irish corruption. What is the case of Doctor Kirwan? That man preferred this country and our religion, and brought to both a genius superior to what he found in either; he called forth the latent virtues of the human heart, and taught men to discover in themselves a mine of charity, of which the proprietors had been unconscious. In feeding the lamp of charity,* he had almost exhausted the lamp of life. He comes to interrupt the repose of the pulpit, and shakes one world with the thunder of the other;—the preacher's

* Collected for the female orphans at charity sermons preached by the Rer. Walter Kirwan, Dean of Killala.

£ s. d.
April, 1792, at St. Anne's Church

. 752 16 11
1793, at St. Peter's
1794, Ditto .

718 5 5
March, 1796, Ditto .

· 1014 0 0 1798, Ditto .

. 900 5 0 1799, Ditto .

• 788 5 0 May, 1801, Ditto .

. 884 16 6 1803, Ditto .

. 1003 4 6 1804, Ditto

. 749 10 8 1805, Ditto .

. 633 90 E. LATOUCHE.

£8257 4 6 This document came from this excellent lady, who interested herself so much in this charity, and who set so good an example in Ireland.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

CHAP. II.] DESIGNS OF GOVERNMENT DENOUNCED. 51

desk becomes the throne of light; around him a train, not such as crouch and swagger at the levees of princes, (horse, foot, and dragoons, but that wherewith a great genius peoples his own state, - charity in action, and vice in humiliation ; vanity, arrogance, and pride, appalled by the rebuke of the preacher, and cheated for a moment of their native improbity. What reward ? St. Nicholas within, or St. Nicholas without !!* The curse of Swift is upon him,-to have been born an Irishman, and to have used his talents for the good of his country! Had this man, instead of being the brightest of preachers, been the dullest of lawyers; had he added to dullness venality; had he aggravated the crime of venality, and sold his vote, he had been a judge: or had he been born a blockhead, bred a slave, and trained up in a great English family, and handed over as a household circumstance to the Irish viceroy, he would have been an Irish bishop, and an Irish peer, with a great patronage, perhaps a borough, and had returned members to vote against Ireland ; and the Irish parochial clergy must have adored his stupidity, and deified his dullness. But under the present system, Ireland is not the element in which a native genius can rise, unless he sells that genius to the Court, and atones, by THE APOSTACY OF HIS CONDUCT, FOR THE CRIME OF AIS NATIVITY.”

The conclusion of this memorable speech shews the idea Mr. Grattan entertained of the Government, and the impression on his mind that their intention was to abolish the Irish Parliament. He adds,

“ The people of this country suppose that England acceded to their liberties, and they were right; but the present Ministry have sent the curse after that blessing:hear the curse - You have got rid of the British Parliament, but we will buy the Irish; you have shaken off our final judicature, but we will sell yours; you have got your free trade, but we will make your own parliament suffer our monopolists in one quarter of the globe to exclude you, and you shall remain content with the right, destitute of the possession. Your corporate rights shall be attacked, and you shall not stir. The freedom of your press, and the personal freedom of the subject shall be outraged, and you shall not arraign. Your city shall be put under con

* Two poor Dublin parishes.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

tribution to corrupt its magistracy, and pay a guard to neglect and insult her. The seats of justice shall be purchased by personal servitude, and the qualification of your judges shall be to have borne their suffrage and testimony against the people. Taxes shall be drawn from the poor by various artifices to buy the rich. Your bills, like your people, shall be sold. You shall see the genius of your country neglected, her patriotism dismissed from commission, and the old enemies of your constitution made the rulers of the realm."

CHAPTER III.

Roman Catholic Bill of 1792, proposed by Sir Hercules Langrishe,

supported by Mr. Hobart the secretary-Catholic resolutions—Mr. Richard Burke-His petition, and character-Conduct towards Mr. Egan- Protestant petitions in favour of the Catholics—Mr. Grattan's description of Protestant ascendancy-Mr. Latouche moves the rejection of the Protestant and Catholic petition-The Bill passesViolent debates-Mr. Napper Tandy's quarrel with Mr. "TolerQuestion of privilege - Mr. Tandy's trial and acquittal - Speaker Foster's speech-Prosperous state of the country-Declaration of the Catholics-Circular letter of Coinmittee-Corporation and Grand Jury instigated to address against the Catholics--Opinion of lawyers on the legality of the Convention-Meeting at Mr. Forbes's—Mr. Grattan's letters to Mr. M'Can and Mr. Berwick --His interview with the Prince of Wales and Mr. Pitt-Their opinion of the CatholicsConvention meet and send their petition to the King by their own delegates—Their correspondence with the Minister-Character of Mr. Keogh-Opinion of Edmund Burke.

The year 1792 opened auspiciously for the Roman Catholics. The advice that the Opposition had given them not to make their case a party question, was attended with good consequences, inasmuch as the Minister came forward in their support; and when Sir Hercules Langrishe, on the 25th of January, moved for leave to bring in a bill to remove certain restraints and disabilities under which they laboured, Mr. Hobart, the Secretary, got up and seconded his motion. This was a great point gained by the Catholics, and which probably ensured their success.

Sir Hercules recapitulated the measures passed in their favour. The first (rather singular in its nature) was in 1774, when the Legislature gratified the Roman Catholics by giving them an opportunity to testify their allegiance* by framing an 54 ROMAN CATHOLIC Bill of 1792. [CHAP. III. oath for them. In 1778 they granted them some substantial concessions as to the purchase of property. In 1782, further concessions were made; a liberal policy then gained the ascendant; the system of severity which before was considered prudent, was then looked on as unjust, and they directly acquired the power of purchasing land, which in 1778 had been granted imperfectly: they obtained the rights of property, and a free exercise of their religion.

* Though the legislature imposed the oaths, such was the neglect at the office in keeping them, that the greatest delay and difficulty occurred when the Catholics afterwards were obliged to prove their qualification.

Sir Hercules expressed his regret at the conduct pursued at their public meetings, and the exhortations not to be satisfied until everything was conceded, which he considered would alienate their friends and not advance their cause. They had, however, come forward* to vindicate them

Dublin, 4th February, 1792. * General Committee of Roman Catholics, Edward Byrne, Esq., in the

Chair. Resolved, that this committee having been informed, that reports have been circulated that the application of the Catholics for relief go to unlimited and total emancipation; and that attempts have been made wickedly and falsely to instil into the minds of the Protestants of this kingdom an opinion that our applications were preferred in a tone of menace; that as it appears that several Protestant gentlemen have expressed great satisfaction on being individually informed of the real extent of our applications, and our respectful manner of applying for relief; have assured us, that nothing could have excited jealousy, or apparent opposition to us, from our Protestant countrymen, but the above mentioned misapprehensions.'

That we therefore deem it necessary to declare, that the whole of our late applications, whether to his Majesty's Ministers, to men in power, or to private members of the legislature, as well as our intended petition, neither did nor does contain anything, or extend further, either in substance or in principle, than the four following objects.

1st. Admission to the profession and practice of the law. 2d. Capacity to serve in county magistracies. 3d. A right to be summoned and to serve on grand and petty juries.

4th. The right of voting in counties only, for Protestant members of Parliament; in such a manner, however, as that a Roman Catholic freeholder should not vote unless he either rented and cultivated a farm of 201. per annum, in addition to his forty shillings freehold, or else possessed a freehold to the amount of twenty pounds a-year,

That, in our opinion, these applications not extending to any other objects than the above, are moderate and absolutely necessary for our general alleviation, and more particularly for the protection of the

« PreviousContinue »