in both Houses of the British Parliament, by men of great rank, and in high offices in Britain. My remarks shall be confined to such parts of their Speeches, as relate to the two great classes of Irish population, to wit, those of Protestants and Romanists.


Observa. I will begin with a pamphlet entitled, “The Speech of tions on a pamphlet, ' Lord Minto in the House of Lords, April 11, 1799,'

led, because his Lord hip has consumed fixteen pages, beginning "The Speech of at page 66, and ending with page 82, in arguiry for the Lord Minto, in the right, as he styles it, of Irish Romanists to political equality House of with Irish Protestants. He styles their exclusion from Lorda, April 11, Parliament, and from about thirty of the great ofices of

the State, such as thote of Vicerov, of Lord Chancellor, of Judges, and of General in Chiel, &c. the present humiliating and degrading exclusion of the Catholic part of the Irish nation ; throughout styling Irish Romanists, Catholics, not Romanists, or Roman Catholics, excluding Proieftants from all title to Catholicity, though Christians: he states himself to be a warm friend to the measure of an Union, principally on account of its meliorating the condition, and extinguishing the discontents of a great majority of the inhabitants of Ireland, by providing for the just claims of the Catholic Irish, by an explicit article of the treaty it

founded on the assumed position, that Irish Romanists have a just right to political equality with Protefiants; which assumption his Lordship, who seems to be an expert logician, must know to be peritio principii, The dilemma is thus: • Protestant ascendancy in Ireland cannot be fupported without derogating from what may appear to.be

a natural right of the Catholic:' (in many other places he positively asserts it to be his right.) · Catholics can

o not

• not be supported in their claim of equality, without transferring to them that ascendancy, which equality of rights must draw to the larger body; this must ex-., pose the Protestants to danger, who ought to be pro• tected : and Ireland in its present fituation will be

gored by one or other of the horns of this dilemma.' He styles the Irish Protestant ascendancy a -- monopoly op

posed to common right, that is, to the right of Ro

manists to political equality.' His Lordship, being , aware of His Majesty's Coronation Oath, and the Treaty

of Union between England and Scotland ; of both which he was too cautious in direct terms 10 recommend the violation ; expresses himself thus : "I do not see how

the jus tertii, as it may be called, of England, can • affe& the relative claims of these two Irish nations (Protestants and Romanists), or of these two parts of

the Irish nation; and therefore I might have thought • it difficult to assign a sufficient reason, to preclude His Majesty, as sovereign of Ireland, from, concurring with his Irish Parliament, or even from exerting, in every lawful way, his legitimate powers, in promoting

fuch measures as might be calculated to place every class . of his Irish subje&s on an equal footing as to civil "rights, and consolidate these two hostile nations into

one peaceable and united family. All this cautious, circumlocutory, wheedling argument is used by his Lordship, to insinuate, that England has no interest in fupporting the Irish Protestants ; and that the Coronaiion Oath, and the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland, ought not to preclude the adoption of measures tending to the fubversion of the present Proteftant eslablishment in Ireland. Fiis Lordship proposes two methods of effe&ing this: one through the medium of the Irih Par


liament; the other, through that of the King's prerogative : and I wish his Lordship had condescended to explain, by what lawful exertion of the King's prerogative, the acts requiring the Oath of Supremacy to be taken, and the Declaration against Popery to be repeated and subscribed, by all Members of both Houses of Parliament, and by all the great officers of the State, can be dispensed with, or how these Aas can be repealed or altered, except by Parliament. The reje&tion of this Oath and Declaration by Romanists, is the only bar to their being on an exact level with Protestants as to all civil rights : what then can be his Lordship’s meaning in insinuating that Romanists may be put on an exa&t level with Protestants, by His Majesty's exerting in every lawful way his legitimate powers, as contra-distinguished from his concurrence with his Parliament ? Does he mean 10 insinuate that His Majesty possesses a legitimate power to

dispense with the provisions of A&ts of Parliament? . And if he does not, I hope his Lordship will take an occasion of explaining this passage for the fatisfa&ion as well of Irish as of English Protestants.

His Lordship proceeds to argue, 'I cannot admit "the ascendancy of one part of a nation over arother • part of the same nation, to the extent, and to the

purpose claimed in Ireland (that is, the exclusion of • Romanists from seats in Parliament, and from the

great offices of the State, by the obligation of the Aas 'enjoining the taking of the Oath of Supremacy and

the repeating and signing the Declaration), as capable of • assuming any character deserving the denomination

of right ; that which is wrong on one side, cannot, rintelligibly to me, become å right in the other : wrong

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

s is net a material of which it appears possible to con<struct right. The virtues of poffeffion, prescription,

or any other limitation of time, which are supposed to <cure the vices of a bad title, are not at all applicable

to the case of perpetually subfifting, and as it were i renovating wrongs, especially such as affect the poli

tical rights of great numbers of men; instead of coni verting right into wrong, they only improve and for* tify the title of those who suffer, to shake off the in sjury on the first opportunity that offers.' His Lorda.

ship then states, that the Catholics of Ireland not only .6 claim a participation in civil franchises enjoyed by 5 their Protestant countrymen, but they foster claims

on the property of Protestants, the present poffeffion < of which they treat as mere ufurpation. He theri gives a fling, in the true French taste, against the afpiring character of all Churches, as he was obliged to admit that such was the character of the Romifh Church. With a good deal of caution he insinuates, that titles to lands, or any thing else; by prescriptions are not the best ; and that all titles of Irish Protestants; either to ascendancy in political power, or to property are by prescription. The first he abfolutely condemns, as continuations of wrong , with respect to the othery the titles to landed property, he only hints a flaw, and Sheftates defect

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

:: Notwithstanding all this argument for the justice of the claims of Irish Romanifts to political equality, and after stating,' that their prospect of obtaining it by the Treaty * of Union between Great Britain and Ireland, is his prin

* cipal reason for approving that measure; and after dif.. tinguishing the two classes of Irish Protestants and Ro


[ocr errors][ocr errors]


< manists by an East Indian term of different casts : and

stating, that they are infiamed against eaeh other by mutual hatred, whose motives are irreconcilable, its

character bitter, malignant, and implacable ; that the < sovereign cast of Irishmen (that is, Protestants) claim "their sovereignty as of right, and ground it on an old 6. title of conqueft, confirmed, as they contend, by poffeffion, " acquiescence, and prefiription :' and after drawing all this picture of the state of Ireland, and in the middle of all his laboured argument of the right of Irish Romanists to political equality, his Lordship makes the following ingenuous confession: “I certainly pretend to no credit on « such points from perfonal knowledge or inquiry. I should ( wish, therefore, to qualify any thing that may appear ( rafh or peremptory,in what I hazard on such a subject,

by avowing that degree of diffidence in my own views,

which may be thought becoming with regard to facts, " which though attested, I think, satisfactorily by others, I have not fallen under my own observation. It is fincerely to be wished, that his Lordship, confeffing his own want of knowledge of the subject, had been less rash and peremptory, and had not hazarded so much on the state of Ireland, and on the subject of the claims of Irish Romanists to political equality (though, as his Lordship expresses himself, he could not help sympathizing with them, and consequently with all the members of Opposition both in Great Britain and Ireland ; and with all the Jacobins in both kingdoms; who have repeatedly proclaimed a similar sympathy), because his Lordship being a great diplomatic character, and high in the confidence of the British Government,does no small mischief to that very Government, in advancingand openly patronizing principles subversive, not only of the Irish Constitution,but of the British also,as c.

I hope

« ElőzőTovább »