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members of society. Where is that people who can offer the testimony of a hundred years patient submission to a code of laws, of which no 'man living is now an advocate—without sedition, without murmur, without complaint. Our loyalty has undergone a century of severe persecution for the sake of our religion, and we have come out of the ordeal with our religion, and with our loyalty.
Why then are we still left under the ban of our country? We differ, it is true, from the national church, in some points of doctrinal faith. Whether it is our blessing or our misfortune, He only knows to whom all things are known. For this our religion we offer no apology. After ages of learned and critical discussion, we cannot expect to throw farther light upon it. We have only to say, that it is founded on revelation, as well as the religion established by law. Both you and we are regenerated in the same baptism, and profess our belief in the same Christ; you according to the church of England, we according to the church of Rome. We do not exercise an abject or obscure superstition. If we err, our errors have been, and still are, sanctioned by the example of many florishing, learned, and civilised nations. We do not enter, we disdain to enter into the cavils of antiquated sophistry, and to insult the understanding of Parliament by supposing it necessary to prove that a religion is not incompatible with civil government, which has subsisted for so many hundred years under every possible form of government, in some tolerated, in some established, even to this day.
With regard to our civil principles, 'we are unalterably, deeply, and zealously attached to his Majesty's person and Government. Good and loyal subjects we are, and we are declared by law to be. With regard to the Constitution of the state, we are as much attached to it as it is possible for men to be attached to a constitution by which they are not avowed. With regard to the constitution of the church, we are, indeed, inviolably attached to our own: First, because we believe it to be true ; and next, because, beyond belief, we know that its principles are calculated to make us, and have made us, good men and good citizens. But as we find it answers to us, individually, all the useful ends of religion, we solemnly and conscientiously declare, that we are satisfied with the present condition of our ecclesiastical policy. With satisfaction, we acquiesce in the establishment of the national church ;'we neither repine at its possessions, nor endy its dignities; We are ready, upon this point, to give every assurance that is binding upon man.
With regard to every other subject, and to every other calumny, We have no disavowals, we have no declarations to make. Conscious of the innocence of our lives, and the purity of our intentions, we are justified in asking, what reason of state exists, and we deny that any does exist, for leaving us still in the bondage of the law, and under the protracted restriction of penal statutes. Penalties
suppose, if not crimes, at least a cause of reasonable suspicion. Criminal imputations like those (for to be adequate to the effect, they must be great indeed) are, to a generous mind, more grievous than the penalties themselves. They incontrovertibly imply, that we are considered by the legislature as standing in a doubtful light of fidelity or loyalty to the King, or to the Constitution of our country, and perhaps to both. While on these unjust suppositions we are deprived of the common rights and privileges of British and of Irish subjects, it is impossible for us to say we are contented while we endure a relentless civil proscription for which no cause is alleged, and for which no reason can be assigned.
ecause we now come with a clear, open, and manly voice, to insist upon the grievances under which we still labor, it is not to be inferred that we have forgot the benignant justice of Parliament, which has relieved us from the more oppressive, but not the most extensive part of the penal system. In those days of affliction, when we lay prostrate under the iron rod, and, as it were, entranced in a gulph of persecution, it was necessary for Parliament to go the whole way, and to stretch out a saving hand to relieve us. We had not the courage to look up with hope, to know our condition, or even to conceive a remedy. It is because the former relaxations were not thrown away upon us ; it is because we begin to feel the influence of somewhat more equal laws, and to revive from our former inanition, that we now presume to stand erect before you. Conceiving that Parliament has a right to expect, as a test of our gratitude, that we should no longer lie a dead weight upon our country, but come forward in our turn to assist with our voice, our exertions, and our councils, in a work, to which the wisdom and power of Parliament is incompetent without our cooperation—the application of a policy, wholly new, to the pressing wants, and to the intimate necessities of a people long forgotten, out of the sight and out of the knowledge of a superintending legislature. Accordingly we are come, and we claim no small merit that we have found our way to the door of Parliament. It has not been made easy for us.-Every art and industry has been exerted to obstruct us: attempts have been made to divide us into factions, to throw us into confusion. We have stood firm and united. We have received hints and cautions ; obscure intimations and public warnings to guard our supplications against intimidation. We have - resisted that species of disguised and artful threat. We have been traduced, calumniated, and libelled. We have witnessed sinister endeavours again to blow the flame of religious animosity, and awake the slumbering spirit of popular terrors and popular fury.—But we have remained unmoved. We are, indeed, accustomed to this tumid agitation and ferment in the public mind. In- former times it was the constant precursor of more intense persecution, but it has also attended every later and happier return of legislative mercy. But whether it betokens us evil or good, to Parliament we come, to seek, at that shrine, a safeguard from impending danger, or a communication of new benefits.
What then do we ask of Parliament? To be thoroughly united and made one with the rest of our fellow-subjects. That, alas ! would be our first, our dearest wish. But if that is denied us, if sacrifices are to be made, if by an example of rare moderation, we do not aspire to the condition of a fair equality, we are not at a loss to find, in the range of social benefits (which is nearly that of our present exclusions) an object which is, and ought to be, the scope and resting-place of our wishes and our hopes. That which, if we do not ask, we are not worthy to obtain. We knock that it may be opened unto us. We have learned by tradition from our ancestors, we have heard by fame in foreign lands, where we have been driven to seek education in youth, and bread in manhood; and, by the contemplation of our own minds, we are filled with a deep and unalterable opinion that the Irish, formed upon the model of the British Constitution, is a blessing of inestimable value; that it contributes, and is even essentially necessary for national and individual happiness. Of this Constitution we feel ourselves worthy; and though not practically, we know the benefits of its franchises. Nor can we, without a criminal dissimulation, conceal from Parliament the painful inquietude which is felt by our whole persuasion, and the dangers to which we do not cease to be exposed, by this our total and unmerited exclusion from the common rights, privileges, and franchises, conceded by our Kings for the protection of the subject. This exclusion is indeed the root of every evil. It is that which makes property insecure, and industry precarious. It pollutes the stream of justice. It is the cause of daily humiliation. It is the insurmountable barrier, the impassable line of separation which divides the nation, and which, keeping animosity alive, prevents the entire and.cordial intermixture of the people. And therefore inevitably it is, that some share, some portion, some participation in the liberties and franchises of our country, becomes the primary and essential object of our ardent and common solicitation. It is a blessing for which there is no price, and can be no compensation. With it, every evil is tolerable ; without it, no advantage is desirable. In this, as in all things, we submit ourselves to the paramount authority of Parliament; and we shall acquiesce in what is given, as we do in what is taken away. But this is the boon we ask. We hunger and we thirst for the Constitution of our country. If it shall
be deemed otherwise, and shall be determined that we are qualified perhaps for the base and lucrative tenures of professional occupation, but unworthy to perform the free and noble services of the Constitution, we submit, indeed, but we solemnly protest against that distinction for ourselves and for our children.
It is no act of ours. Whatever judgment may await our merits or our failings, we cannot conclude ourselves, by recognising, for a consideration, the principle of servility and perpetual degradation.
These are the sentiments which we feel to the bottom of our hearts, and we disclose them to the free Parliament of a Monarch whose glory it is to reign over a free people.-To you we commit our supplications and our cause. We have, indeed, little to apprehend, in this benigner age, from the malignant aspersions of former times, and not more from the obsolete calumnies of former strife; although we see them endeavouring again to collect the remnant of their exhausted venom, before they die for ever, in a last and feeble effort to traduce our religion and our principles. But as oppression is ever fertile in pretexts, we find the objections started against us more dangerous because they are new, or new at least in the novelty of a shameless avowal. They are principally threeFirst, it is contended that we are a people originally and fundamentally different from yourselves, and that our interests are for ever irreconcileable, because some hundred years ago our ancestors were conquered by yours. We deny the conclusion: we deny the fact. It is false. - In addressing ourselves to you, we speak to the children of our ancestors, as we also are the children of
your forefathers. Nature has triumphed over law; we are intermixed in blood; we are blended in connexion; we are one race; we all are Irishmen; subjects of the Imperial Crown of Ireland. The honor of Parliament is concerned, to repress the audacity of those who tell us that you are a foreign colony; and, consequently, ought to govern according to the principles of invaders, and the policy of recent usurpation. At least we confide that you will not suffer the walls of Parliament to be contaminated with that libel upon the Government of Ireland. The shaft which was aimed at us has struck yourselves; a memorable, but, at the same time, we trust, a most auspicious example, to teach both you and us, and our common posterity, that our interests are one, and that whatever affects the well-being and honor of the Roman Catholics, is also injurious to the Protestant interest. Of the same complexion
and tendency are the two objections, one that our advancement in property and privilege would lead to a repeal of the act of settlement; the other, that our participation in the liberties and franchises of our country, would endanger the existence of the Constitution into which we are admitted.
A resumption of the lands forfeited by our and your ancestors, (for they are the same) after the lapse of so many years, (near three returns of the longest period of legal limitation) after the dispersion and extinction of so many families ; after so many transitions and divisions, repartitions and reconsolidations of property; so many sales, judgments, mortgages, and settlements; and after all the various process of voluntary and legal operation, to conceive the revival of titles dormant for 150 years, is an idea-so perfectly chimerical, so contrary to the experience of all ages and all couritries, so'repugnant to the principles of jurisprudence, and so utterly impossible in point of fact; that the Roman Catholics of Ireland, once for all, make it their earnest request to have that question thoroughly investigated, in the assured hope, that so idle, vain, and absurd an object of public apprehension, being exposed and laid open to the eye of reason, may sleep in oblivion for ever.
As to the other subject of apprehension, we have but one answer to make. We desire to partake in the Constitution; and therefore we do not desire to destroy it. Parliament is now in possession of our case; our grievances, our sorrows, our obstructions, our solicitudes, our hopes. We have told you the desire of our hearts. We do not ask to be relieved from this or that incapacity; not the abolition of this or that odious distinction; not even perhaps to be in the fulness of time, and in the accomplishment of the great comprehensive scheme of legislation, finally incorporated with you in the enjoyment of the same constitution. Even beyond that mark, we have an ultimate and if possible an object of more interior desire. We look for an union of affections; a gradual, and therefore a total obliteration of all the animosities, (on our part they are long extinct) and all the prejudices which have kept us disjoined. We come to you a great accession to the Protestant interest, with hearts and minds suitable to such an end. We do not come as jealous and suspicious rivals, to gavel the Constitution, but, with fraternal minds, to participate in the great incorporeal inheritance of freedom, to be held according to the laws and customs of the realm, and by our immediate fealty and allegiance to the King. And so may you receive us.
And we shall ever pray.
Objections having been made to this petition, upon Mr. O'Hara's presenting it, as being informal, he withdrew it; and the general committee finding that so bold and explicit a statement of their