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speech, 1°. That it is the undoubted right of every subject to petition any branch of the Legislature. 2 That to injure any subject for the exercise of that right is oppressive and tyrannical. 3 That the assembly heard with strong feelings of regret, that one of their members had been deprived of an office, which he had enjoyed for 22 years under the Crown, for having exercised that privilege in his corporate capacity..

Conference The deputies after their arrival in England


of the Ca

ties with Mr. Pitt


tholic depu- having arranged the points, which were to be urged with Mr. Pitt, were admitted to an open conference with him on the 12th of March. They stated the general object of their mission, premising, that the Catholics were extremely anxious to place their case and its merits under his protec-. tion, considering him to be a sincere friend to their cause. They had in him every hope and expectation, as under his administration they had ob


*The conference lasted precisely 50 minutes. It is retailed rather at large, as an authentic document of Mr. Pitt's real feelings on the ground of his secession, and an unequivocal recognition of the pledge, under which he had returned to power. He now professed it to be a duty to resist that vital state measure, which because he could not carry in 1801, found it his duty to resign his power. Thus formally superseding the deliberative powers of the constitution, and the sworn duties of the cabinet, by surrendering them to the private and unadvised opinions of the executive. Eight deputies attended the conference viz. the Earl of Shrewsbury, (Waterford and Wexford in Ireland) Earl of Fingall, Viscount Gormanstown, Lord Southwell, Lord Trimblestown, Sir E. Bellew, Coun sellor Denys Scully and Mr. Ryan. Lord French had not then arrived in London.

tained almost all the indulgences they enjoyed. 1805. No one could be more sensible than he was of the incalculable advantages of the measure: they looked therefore confidently to the concurrence of his power and will to give it effect. They assured him, that the body of Catholics in Ireland was loyal and constitutional; and it was their general sense, that an application in their behalf should at that time be made to the Legislature, in order that their case should be fully discussed and thoroughly understood by their fellow subjects. That this had' become the more necessary from the misrepresentations calumnies and invectives of Sir Richard' Musgrave, and other writers connected with the Irish Government, from which they had received but too much countenance and credit: and that an unworthy advantage had been thus taken of the silence, moderation and forbearance of their body. That it equally was for the good and safety of the Empire, that the real feelings and sentiments of the Catholics, should be well understood in foreign countries, and that the enemy should. not speculate upon the aberration of the Catholic mind from the duties of allegiance: and that their attachment to Government and respect for the Legislature could not be more emphatically evinced, than by a temperate and constitutional application to Parliament, as to the only tribunal, from which they expected redress. They therefore urged him to present their petition in the ordinary way.

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Mr. Pitt acknowledged that the confidence of Mr. Pit's so very respectable a body as the Catholics of Ireland was highly gratifying to him; he had read with satisfaction a copy of their petition transmitted to him through Sir Evan Nepean, in which they very judiciously refrained from insisting upon the object of it, as a matter of right and justice. He always had considered it, as he still did, as a very political and expedient measure, and that therefore the time of proposing it, was an essential consideration in his mind: for the time must always enter into a measure of expediency. There existed at that particular time strong and decisive objections against proposing it to the consideration of the Legislature.* That he knew not when

* Mr. Pitt might on this occasion have candidly acknowledged what Lord Hawkesbury publicly and officially declared in the House of Lords on the 26th of March 1807, in debating the grounds of the Grenville administration's retiring from office; that although Mr. Pitt had in 1801 gone out of office on that question, yet on his return he voluntarily engaged, that he never would again bring the subject under the consideration of his Majesty. "He did not state that with any view of casting reproach on "Lord Grenville, whose conduct was different, but to shew the

regard, which a great Minister had paid to the wishes of his King on a question, which involved scruples of conscience in "the Royal breast" It is now certain, that Mr. Pitt returned to office under a special pledge to withhold and resist that necessary and vital measure. Lord Hawkesbury involves him deeper in the system of pledges, than others, who though they submitted to, did not volunteer their pledges on accepting office, Had Mr. Pitt condescended to avow his pledge, it would have spared him on this, as on other occasions the laboured trouble of dis guising the truth, forging expedients and inventing reasons for decoying his followers and deceiving the public.


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they were likely to be removed: he hinted very plainly (not in express words) what those objections were under those circumstances he must decline presenting their petition, as he could not, propose any measure grounded upon it. He wished, that the Catholics had seen, as he did, the. extreme unfitness of the time for discussing their case under such unfavourable circumstances. The bringing it then under discussion was very disadvantageous to the welfare of the Empire, and par-, ticularly injurious to the Catholic body, as it put in hazard the ultimate success of their wishes, by obliging many Members then to oppose, who would at another time support the measure. He must however allow, that as they had come to that determination, they had conducted their proceedings and brought their petition forward in a manner most peaceable moderate and laudable, and he cordially complimented them upon it; but at that time it was impossible for him to present their petition.

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The deputies still urgently entreated Mr. Pitt to continegive them the protection of his great name and ference. situation. They assured him, that the object of their petition was nearest to the hearts of the people of Ireland: that they would never drop or lose sight of it, but persevere in bringing it under the consideration of the Legislature session after session. He replied, that there was no reason to suppose, that the subsisting objections would be removed by the next session, or when they would be removed. He cautiously avoided giving any intimation pros

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pect or hope of relief, at any particular period. The deputies then expressed their anxiety, that he should at least countenance a declaratory vote or resolution of the two houses of Parliament in favor of the policy and expediency of the measure, which though short of their wishes, would tend mainly to conciliate the Catholic mind in Ireland, by holding up some sure prospect of redress, however, distant or uncertain as to time. That some such earnest for their protection from the Imperial Parliament was at that time absolutely necessary for Ireland. That the welfare of his Majesty's service and the security of the Empire required it. That the very same principles had been recognized in 1778 by the Parliament of Ireland, in the preamble of an act then passed in favor of the Catholics, as is specified in the petition.* That no reasonable

* "Your petitioners furthermore humbly shew, that 26 years have now elapsed, since their most gracious Sovereign and the Honorable House of Parliament in Ireland by their public and deliberate act declared, that "from the uniform peaceable behaviour of the Roman Catholics of Ireland for a long series of years, it appeared reasonable and expedient to relax the disabilities and incapacities, under which they laboured, and that it must tend not only to the cultivation and improvement of this kingdom, but to the prosperity and strength of all his Majesty's dominions, that his Majesty's subjects of all dominations should enjoy the blessings of a free constitution, and should be bound to each other by mutual interest and mutual affection." A declaration founded upon unerring principles of justice and sound - policy, which still remains to be carried into full effect (although your petitioners are impressed with a belief, that the apprehen

sions, which retarded its beneficial operation previous to the Union, cannot exist in the Parliament of the United Kingdom.)

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