Billeder på siden

gentlemen, who cohered about from house to “ house, should be sent on board the fleet, or transported to the plantations *.”

Speaking generally,—all the rigorous laws which we have mentioned were actively executed, so far as their execution depended on government or its retainers : the commons came to a resolution, that all magistrates and other persons whatsoever, who neglected or omitted to put the penal laws into execution, were betrayers of the liberties of the constitution t.

The consequence is thus described by a writer, whom I have often cited and shall often cite 1;“ The loss of rights and property extinguished every “sort of patriotism, and infused the spiritless in“ difference of submissive poverty into the great “ mass of the people, who barely existed in their “ native soil, strangers to its natural blessings, the “ patient victims of its wrongs, the insensible spec“ tators of its ruin. Here they vegetated on the

potato root, decayed in the prime of life, desti“ tute of solid nourishment, and sinking to untimely

graves, their vigour prematurely exhausted by hard “ labour, and the spark of life at length exhausted

by famine."- Much of what is now visible in Ireland, too clearly shows that this representation is not exaggerated.

O'Conor's Hist. 177. + Com. Journals, vol. iji. p. 289.

1 O'Conor's Hist. 183. It ought to have been mentioned, that the act for confirming the articles of Limerick was such an evident breach of public faith, that seven spiritual and five temporal peers signed a strong protest against it.


XC. 3


Sir Henry Parnell * mentions the titles of six acts of parliament, which were passed in this reign against the roman-catholics, all vexatious and humiliating, some highly oppressive.

He concludes the account of them by the following observations

“ The loyalty of the catholics was in this reign put to a complete trial, by the Scotch rebellion “ of 1715. If, after having fought three campaigns in support of James's pretensions to the throne of Ireland, after having experienced the infrac“ tion of every part of the treaty of Limerick, and “ been exposed to a code of statutes by which they “ were totally excluded from the privileges of the “ constitution ; and if, after they had become sub

ject to the worst of all oppressions, the persecution -“ of private society and private manners, they “ had embarked in the cause of the invader, their “ conduct would have been that of a high spirited “ nation, goaded into a state of desperation by their “ relentless tormentors; and, if their resistance had “ been successful, their leaders would have ranked

among the Tells and Washingtons of modern his

tory.—But, so far from yielding to the natural “ dictates of revenge, or attempting to take advan“ tage of what was passing in Scotland, to regain their rights, they did not follow the example of “their rulers, in violating, upon the first favourable

* Hist. p. 43; 2 Geo. 1, c. 9, 10. 19; 4 Geo.l, c. 15, 16; 6 Geo. I, c. 10. + History of the Penal Laws, p. 44.

opportunity, a sacred and solemn compact; and “ thus they gave the strongest testimony, that

they had wholly given up their former hopes of “ establishing a catholic prince upon the throne. Their loyalty was not, however, a protection to “ them against the oppressions of their protestant “ countrymen. The penalties for the exercise of “ their religion were generally and rigidly inflicted, “ their chapels were shut up, their priests dragged “ from their hiding-places, hurried into prisons, “ and from thence sent into banishment *.!!

It is a subject of just reproach to the memory of the celebrated dean of St. Patricks, that his works do not contain a single passage in which he has either advocated the cause of the catholics, or so much as expressed any compassion for their sufferings : in the following passage he even describes their fallen and hopeless state with visible exultation.

* "In 1732, a proclamation was issued against the roman“ catholic clergy, and the degree of violence, with which it “ was enforced, made many of the old natives look seriously, “ as a last resource, to emigration. Bishop O'Rorke retired “ from Belanagare, and the gentlemen of that neighbourhood “ had no clergyman for a considerable time to give them “mass, but a poor old man, one Pendergast, who, before day“ dawn on Sunday, crept into a cave in the parish of Baslick, " and waited there for his congregation, in cold and wet wea" ther, hunger and thirst, to preach to them patience under “ their afflictions, and perseverance in their principles; to offer "up prayers for their persecutors, and to arm them with re

signation to the will of heaven in their misfortunes. The “ cave is called, Poll-an-Aifrin, or mass-cave to this day; and " is a melancholy monument of the piety of our ancestors.” Mem. of the Life and Writings of the late Charles O'Conor,

vol. i. p. 179.

“We “ look upon the catholics to be altogether as incon“ siderable as the women and the children. Their “ lands are almost entirely taken from them, and

they are rendered incapable of purchasing any

more ; and, for the little that remains, provision “ is made by the late act against popery, that it will “ daily crumble away: to prevent which, some of “ the most considerable among them, are already “ turned protestants, and so in all probability will

many more. Then, the popish priests are all “ registered, and without permission, (which I hope “ will not be granted), they can have no successors; “ so that the protestant clergy will find it, perhaps, “no difficult matter to bring great numbers over to o the church ; and in the mean time the common

people, without leaders, without discipline, or “ natural courage, being little better than hewers of “ wood, and drawers of water, are out of all capacity “ of doing any mischief, if they were ever so well “ inclined."

Still Swift, though unintentionally, was a great benefactor to the cause of the Irish catholics. Speaking of his Draper's Letters, a performance which, in its kind, is yet without a rival or a second, doctor Johnson observes, that “ it was from the time “ of this publication, that the Irish may date their “ riches and prosperity. He taught them first to “ know their own interest, their weight and their “strength, and gave them spirit to assert that

* Letter concerning the Sacramental Test.

equality with their fellow-subjects, to which they “ have ever since been making vigorous advances, " and to claim those rights which they have at last “ established.” This circumstance created among the protestant Irish, a party who advocated the real interests of their country against the oppressions of its governors. For some time, however, they cooperated with the party in power in their persecution of the catholics; but, by degrees, they became sensible that this was incompatible with the real interests of the nation ; and began to feel some disposition to relieve their catholic brethren. Add to this, that the catholics, though depressed and degraded, had a numerical strength, which each party felt it their interest to conciliate.

XC. 4.


The same system of penal legislation was pursued throughout the reign at which we are now arrived. It was opened by an act *, which disabled papists from voting at elections, without taking the oath of supremacy : this act completed their entire exclusion from the constitution.

The charter schools were erected during this reign; the funds of this society consist of lands,

* 1 Geo. II, c. 9, & c. 30; 7 Geo. II, C, 5, & c.6; 9 Geo. II, c. 3, & c. 6; 13 Geo. II, c. 6; 19 Geo. II, c. 5; 23 Geo. II,

c. 10.

« ForrigeFortsæt »