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the supposed constitutional principle of protestant ascendancy, without maintaining a principle confessedly unconstitutional,- that there are laws which, though the repeal of them would be salutary in the very highest degree, it is not within the power of parliament to repeal? This, lord Coke declares to be an impossibility*.
But let the principle be conceded, let it be admitted to be the duty of the legislature to preserve the protestant ascendancy, because in consequence of the revolution in 1688, this has become a principle of the constitution. Still,-if, according to all rational calculation, centuries must pass away after catholic emancipation shall take place, before there will be twenty catholics in the upper or forty in the lower house, what real, what substantial danger can be justly apprehended to the protestant ascendancy from the measure ? Can this imaginary danger be put into comparison with the real dangers, the real losses, the real inconveniences of every kind, both actually felt and reasonably to be apprehended, from the increasing agitations and discontents which
Inst. 42.—And see 25 Edw. III. s. 6, and the very curious and interesting proceedings, Rot. Parl. 21 Rich. II. 50. 52. The record closes with this observation :
“ N're Si le roi apres avisement et deliberation arec les prelats " et clergie de son roialme a bien entendu qu'il ne purra obliger
ses successeurs—rois d'Angleterre-par leur serment, ne par “ autre voie, contre la liberté de la corone."
“Our lord the king, after advising and deliberating with “the bishops and clergy of his kingdom, fully understands, “ that he cannot bind his successors, kings of England, by his “ oath or in any other manner, against the liberty of the “ crown."
now exist and must increase among the large catholic population of these realms, and the morbid results of these agitations and discontents to the state?
Thus then, all the pretences for the continuance of catholic degradation are reduced to this ONE ; and when it is fairly set and fairly weighed against its certain mischievous and ruinous consequences,—THIS ONE kicks the beam.
V. It also affords some comfort to the catholics to observe that, though the majority in the house of lords against the bill is appalling, it is much less than has appeared on several former divisions.
VI. Finally,—this majority, though numerically great, may be reduced to the expression of unity, here the prospect begins to clear.
Bringing down the presumptive heir of the crown to oppose their petitions, wounded the feelings of the catholics : they are willing to believe that if it had been known how much it distressed them, it would not have been advised.
But, however afflicted,- they are not dismayed: they conceive, that the resort of their adversaries to such an extraordinary measure, proves that they found themselves in a circumstance of extraordinary difficulty: the Θεος απο μηχανης is never introduced except in cases beyond human power, and never twice in the same drama.
Besides,—they never forget that, in January 1792, Mr. O'Hara tendered a catholic petition to the Irish house of commons, and that one person only,-Mr. Denis Brown,—the very gentleman who seconded Mr. Plunkett's motion, voted for its reception :-that, on the 11th day of the following February, the petition was presented and rejected with marked indignity, by a majority of 208 votes to 23:-that, on the 10th of the following January, the lord lieutenant in the speech, by which he opened the sessions of parliament, recommended the consideration of the catholic question to both houses of parliament ;—that, in the following February, Mr. Secretary Hobart himself brought in their petition ;-that it was respectfully received and discussed ;-—and that a few weeks afterwards, that is, within one year after the contemptuous rejection of Mr. O'Hara's motion,—the memorable bill for the relief of the Irish catholics, passed with scarcely a dissenting voice, in either house.
Surely then, there is no rational ground for despair.
“O socü comitesque! “ Cras ingens iterabimus æquor."
HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF THE IRISH CATHOLICS
SINCE THE REVOLUTION IN 1688, TILL THE ACT PASSED FOR THEIR RELIEF IN 1793.
In the second volume of these memoirs *, we have given a summary view of the state of the catholics of Ireland till the articles of Limerick ;
• Vol. ü. c. 46.
we shall now attempt to present our readers with a similar account of the principal events in their history from that time till the act, which was passed for their relief in the year 1793 ; --which act *, with some events in their subsequent history, is mentioned in former parts of this work.
Articles of Limerick.
By the first article of this treaty,--all the romancatholics of the kingdom of Ireland were to enjoy such privileges in the exercise of their religion, as they enjoyed in the reign of Charles the second and their majesties were to use their endeavours to procure, (as soon as their affairs would permit them to summon a parliament), such further security in that particular, as might preserve them from any disturbances upon the account of their religion. .
By the second article,-all the inhabitants or residents in Limerick or any other garrison, then in the possession of the Irish, and all officers and soldiers then in arms under any commission of king James in the counties of Limerick, Clare, Kerry, Cork and Mayo, and all commissioned officers, submitting to his majesty's obedience, and their heirs, were to hold and enjoy their estates and all rights, titles, privileges and immunities, to which they were entitled in the reign of Charles the second,
# Vol. ii. p. 142.
and to profess, exercise and follow all professions, trades and callings then open to them, on taking the oath of allegiance prescribed by the act of the first year of the reign of their majesties :“ I, A. B. do solemnly swear, that I will be faith“ ful and bear true allegiance to their majesties king William and queen Mary.”
By the ninth article,--the oath to be submitted to such roman-catholics as should submit to their majesties government, should be this oath of allegiance, and no other.
against the roman-catholics. In opposition to this solemn engagement, the parliament of king William passed several acts, which are thus stated in a report of a committee of the Irish house of commons :
1st.“ An act against the authority of the see of “ Rome. It enacts, that no person shall attribute “ any jurisdiction to the see of Rome; that the
person offending shall be subject to a premunire; “ and that all, who have any office from the king,
every person entering into orders, or taking a degree in the university, shall take the path of supremacy
2d. " An act restoring to the crown the an. “ cient jurisdiction over the state ecclesiastical and “ spiritual : it likewise enacts, that every ecclesias“tical person, every person accepting office, shall “ take the oath of