Page images

vere in petitioning session after session, to be de- 1806
terred by no circumstance, no season, no pretext,
until their rights should have been conceded, as
they ultimately must be. They felt the force of that
advice more powerfully under the then existing
circumstances, than when it was first given. What
wonder then, that the Lord Lieutenant should
have written to ministers, that a disposition had
arisen amongst the Catholics to prosecute their
claims; as Lord Howick ayowed in his Expose.
It was not against the individual ministers of the
day they had been encouraged and goaded to per-
severe in urging their claims, but against their
postponement and refusal, and the hollow plea of
inexpediency. In their judgment, these had re-

the new

and King's

On the 13th of December 1806, the new Par- Meeting of liament met, and was opened by commission. The Parliament, Chancellor read the King's speech, which did not speech. contain a syllable, that could be tortured into any application to Ireland. The opening and failure of the negociation with France, and the general state of the Continent constituted the greatest part of it. As usual, it lamented the weight of taxes necessary to meet the difficulties of the times, and recommended economy in their application. If Ireland could conceive herself specially alluded to in the general peroration, it will as far as it can fairly apply to the then existing state of that country, be found in parts of it to contain the direct reverse of truth and fairness. "The long series of mis


fortunes, which has afflicted the Continent of



Europe, could not fail to affect, in some de gree, many important interests of this country. "But under every successive difficulty, his Ma jesty has had the satisfaction of witnessing an "encreasing energy and firmness on the part of "his people, whose uniform and determined re"sistance has been no less advantageous than ho

norable to themselves, and has exhibited the "most striking example to the surrounding na"tions. The unconquerable valour and discipline "of his Majesty's fleets and armies continue to be ú displayed with undiminished lustre; the great

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

sources of our prosperity and strength are unim "paired; nor has the British nation been at any "time more united in sentiment and action, or "more determined to maintain inviolate the inde"pendence of the empire, and the dignity of the "national character. With these advantages, "and with an humble reliance on the protection "of the divine Providence, his Majesty is prepar "ed to meet the exigencies of this great crisis, "assured of receiving the fullest support from the "wisdom of your deliberations, and from the "tried affection, loyalty and public spirit of his "brave people."

Every measure of state, which related to the concommuni- tinent, or affected the prosecution of the war, as


tions with


the Catho- formally excluded Ireland from being committed or interested in it, as if no part of the sinews or supplies of warfare were furnished from that country. The death of Mr. Fox, and the consequent decay of public confidence in the ministry, the


total failure of the negociation for peace, and the 1906, encreased urgency for recruiting the army and the navy, incalculably enhanced the consequence of Ireland in the eyes of the government, who knew more of that inexhaustible hive of war than they. were willing to proclaim. It would be puerile to affect to negative the simple averment, that the Irish Catholics are the Irish nation. Whatever, therefore, affects that body in general, becomes a national object. Mr. Ponsonby was indefatigable in his interviews with the different Catholics, whom he saw separately, to keep the grand question at rest. The various results of these several interviews will probably never be known, and it is even unimportant to the public, that they ever should be.. The open conduct, however, of the Irish Catholics, in the intermediate time, affords a strong lesson to the Irish government (this is not a history of other governments) upon the effects of the governors deceiving the goterned. For ten months had they been glutted with cold official comments upon season and expe diency. They had seen the new ministry, since the death of Mr. Fox and the unsuccessful termination of Lord Lauderdale's mission to France, make a bold appeal to the public upon the whole of their conduct, by dissolving a parliament, in which they had never wanted a majority; they consequently considered them as firmly settled in their places, as that term can import the probable duration of a British ministry embodying the weight of talent and influence of the country.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Still was the call for quiescent confidence the louder. That necessarily created suspicion; for it was left to them to draw the inference, that the measure, which Mr. Pitt (according to their doctrine when out of place) might have carried wheu in power, they were either unable or unwilling to carry when in power themselves. The Catholics became then more generally disposed than ever, to act up to the kind and sincere advice they had formerly received from Lord Grenville, to petition session after session, till their prayer should be granted. As government had frequent communications with de tached persons and parties of Catholics, so did those Catholics hold frequent conferences with one another, in which they compared and coolly commented upon the nature and effects of their separate communications. The general result was little short of unanimity to bring their claims before that Parlia ment, of which their friends then in power were supposed to command the confidence. The widest range of prospective politics offered not a more favourable opportunity of bringing them under the consideration of the legislature.


At a general meeting of the Catholics, on the meetings. 7th of January, 1807, at the Cock Tavern, Henry

street, Lord French having been called to the chair, it was Resolved, That the undersigned be summoned by the Secretary to attend a meeting of Roman Catholic gentlemen, to be holdden at the Star and Garter, on Monday the 12th inst. The intended list alluded to in the resolution could not be produced at that meeting, from the irregularity


of individuals not answering the notices sent 1907. to them. Nor could the list of persons chosen by ballot to assist the gentlemen elected by the householders of their respective parishes, in 1806, be obtained by the secretary in time. Thus the secretary was unable to fulfil the intentions of the meeting. Other gentlemen, who had been present at former meetings issued summonses, and the secretary was directed to write to the Catholic peers, to request their attendance, and to make it known as much as possible, that the attendance of as many country gentlemen as possible was desired, in order that every means should be exerted. to reconcile all parties, and prevent further divisions of the body. The gentlemen, who were chosen by the different parishes on this occasion, waived the idea of delegation, which evinced on their parts a wish to meet their fellow-subjects in the manner best calculated to insure union and harmony; and to embody on this occasion the rank, talent, respectability and popularity of the Catholic body. These were the sentiments expressed at the meeting, and which regulated the contents of the letter addressed by the Secretary to the Earl of Fingall, Viscounts Gormanstown and Southwell, and Sir Edward Bellew, Bart. which were dispatched to them on Saturday, the 10th inst. On Monday, the 12th, answers to those letters were received, lamenting, that previous pre-engagements prevented their attendance on that day. These letters contained a full returnof the compliment, and the strongest impressions

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »