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large number of their body to present it to the House of Lords ; the Lord Chancellor, in observing upon the petition, did not charge the petitioners with any illegality, either in assembling to frame, or in presenting the petition, but on the contrary, his lordship was pleased to commend them for the peaceable manner in which they deported themselves. The success which attended the petition, is in the recollection of most people.
ANSWER TO THE FIFTH QUESTION,
I am also clearly and decidedly of opinion, that the plan is in every respect agreeable to law, and that persons peaceably carrying, or attempting to carry the same into effect, would not thereby incur any penalty whatsoever. The plan is, indeed, unexceptionable ; while it serves effectually to obtain the general sense of the great Catholic body of Ireland, it provides every preoaution against tumult and disturbance.
SIMON BUTLER. Sept. 3, 1792.
1. His Majesty's subjects of Ireland professing the Roman Catholic religion, have, in my opinion, a right to petition his Majesty, and the two Houses of Parliament, or any of them, for the redress of grievances equally with Protestants.
2. As they have this right, it follows, as I conceive, that, where the grievance complained of affects the whole body, they have also a right to collect the sense of every individual of that body; but as the assembling them all for that purpose would be inconvenient, imprudent, and, perhaps, dangerous, I think the sense of the whole may be collected from a smaller number delegated by them for that purpose, who may frame and present such petition; and I know of no principle of the common law, nor of any statute, by which they are forbidden to do so,-it being always supposed that these proceedings are carried on in a peaceable and respectful manner.
3. I do not apprehend that a number of Roman Catholics meeting in a private, peaceable, and quiet manner, for the sole purpose of declaring their sense of the alleged grievances, and their desire of petitioning the legislature for redress, and of choosing out of themselves, one or more to assist in framing and presenting such petition, can be considered as an unlawful assembly; and I do not think that any magistrate, or other person, by, or under pretence of, the Riot Act, or any other act that I am acquainted with, would have a right to disperse such meeling.
4. I do not know of any statute in this kingdom which regulates the mode of presenting petitions to the Legislature of this
kingdom. The English statute of the 13 Car. 2. st. 1. ch. 5. has not been enacted here, that I know of; but the general law of the land requires that the petition should be presented in the most respectful and peaceable manner. The intended petition, as I apprehend, should be entitled, the petition of his Majesty's subjects of Ireland professing the Roman Catholic religion, and should be signed by a few of the Roman Catholics of each county and principal city in Ireland, on behalf of themselves and their Roman Catholic brethren of that county or city. According to the forms of Parliament here, the petition must be presented to each House by a Member of that House; in presenting the petition to his Majesty, which may be either to hiself in person, or through the medium of the Lord-lieutenant, it would I think, be prudent to follow the directions of the English statute above-mentioned, and that not more than ten persons should present it.
5. From what I have already said, I must be of opinion that the plan sent herewith to me is not contrary to law; and I cannot conceive that persons carrying, or attempting to carry it into effect peaceably and quietly, would become subject to any penalties.
I have grounded my opinion upon the conception I have formed of the law and constitution of this kingdom, from that general research which my profession has led me to make into their principles; I have not, therefore, any authorities to state.
BeresFORD BURSTON. 13th September, 1792.
V. AT A MEETING OF THE CATHOLIC INHABITANTS
OF THE CITY OF DUBLIN, duly convended by Public Summons, Wednesday October 31, 1792.
Thomas BRAUGHALL in the Chair. A copy of the letter of the Corporation of the City of Dublin, dated September 11, 1792, and addressed to the Protestants of Ireland, having been read from a public print, a Committee, consisting of the following gentlemen, viz. :Randall M Donnell,
John Ball, was ordered to prepare an answer to said publication, and to
report the same forthwith : and the Committee so appointed having reported accordingly:
ResoLVED, That the declaration which follows be published as the unanimous act of this meeting.
That we embrace this opportunity to repeat our thanks to the illustrious characters in both Houses of Parliament who have nobly stood forward in support of Catholic Emancipation, and the right of the subject to petition for redress of grievances.
That our warmest gratitude is due, and hereby respectfully offered to our countrymen, the citizens of Belfast, for the uniform and manly exertions which they have on all occasions made in support of our cause, and for the example of liberality and genuine public spirit which they have thereby shewn to the kingdom at large.
That our sincere thanks are likewise due to the different Volunteer Corps lately reviewed in Ulster, to the Societies of United Irishmen of Dublin and Belfast, to the Protestant freeholders of Cork, the different gentlemen who at grand juries and county meetings have supported our cause, and to all others among our Protestant brethren who have manifested a wish for our emancipation; and we trust we shall evince by our conduct, that we are not insensible nor unworthy of the kindness which they have shewn us.
That our Chairman be ordered to transmit copies of this day's proceedings to the Chairman of the town-meeting of Belfast, the Chairmen of the different Societies of United Irishmen, the different reviewing officers in Ulster, and the other distinguished characters who have interested themselves in the cause of Ca. tholic Emancipation.
By order of the Meeting,
Simon M Guire, Secretary.
DECLARATION. We, the Catholics of the City of Dublin, have read with extreme concern, the resolutions of different bodies of our Protestant fellow-subjects, in which they express their disapprobation of the conduct of our Committee, and their aversion to our claims of the elective franchise, and an equal participation in the benefit of the trial by jury. But the address of the corporation of this city to the Protestants of Ireland, has filled us most peculiarly with mortification and surprise; as Irishmen, we are astonished and grieved, that the first corporation of this kingdom should have put forth a publication teeming with false principles of government, and false statements of
historic facts; as Catholics, we lament that the same body should have misconceived and misstated our conduct and our objects.
'We have read of what is called the right of conquest; it has also been called the right of robbery: but we did not imagine that a doctrine so subversive of the peace and settlement of society, and of the immutable rules of justice,—that a doctrine, which in its consequences so completely warrants, and in its language so wantonly provokes resistance, would be made the foundation of the Protestant claims to the government of this country. We did not expect that a doctrine exploded in this island by the Revolution of 1782, would be revived to our oppression. If conquest and the right of the sword could justify the stronger in retaining dominion, why did Great Britain abdicate her legislative supremacy over Ireland, or why were we all, Protestants and Catholics, actuated as one man to resist so legitimate an authority? Is that monstrous and exploded principle still to be retained for our peculiar subjection, which was felt to be false by every honest man, when applied to the subjection of his native land?
We are desired in that address to “ rest contented with the most perfect toleration of our religion, the fullest security of our property, and the most complete personal liberty.” They are great and important blessings, but they are not secure to any man who is a slave. They are held but by sufferance, by those who are tried without their consent, and legislated for without being represented.
We agree with the corporation in the spirit of one assertion, they “ know of no power under Heaven authorized to alienate this their most valuable inheritance." Let our claims be tried by the same principle. The Catholics were the constituents of the very Parliament which deprived them of their franchise, and thereby did indeed “ alienate their most valuable inheritance ;” and though we have acquiesced under that unjust deprivation for sixty-five years, and though we will continue to acquiesce, so long as the statute stands in its present form, we must still declare, as a political truth, that no elected and delegated Legislature has a right to disfranchise its electors and delegators, who never entrusted their power to that body for the purpose of being made the instrument of its own destruction.And we further say, that in our judgment, not even those electors could empower their representatives to enslave us, their posterity.
We are likewise told by the corporation, that "experience has taught them, that without the ruin of the Protestant establishment, the Catholic cannot be allowed the smallest influence in the State.” The inclinations of our body are not to subvert VOL. IV.
any establishment in this country; if they were, we are not competent to so absurd a project; and no strength that we might derive from the restoration of our rights would enable us to effect it, while the King, the House of Lords, the Irish Privy Council, the English Privy Council, and the Chancellors of both countries, are unalterably Protestant. If by establishment be meant religious establishment, we must further reply, that no experience has taught them so; the Protestant religion was dominant in this country long before our ancestors lost their elective franchise. Is it only since the year 1727 that Protestantism has been the religion of the State in Ireland ? If by establishment be meant the government of the country, it is equally ill-founded ; that is instituted for the freedom and happiness of the governed; and yet this address would imply, that procuring freedom and happiness for three-fourths of this kingdom would cause the utter ruin of our government. A greater libel against the constitution of Ireland was never uttered by its most declared enemy. It is sufficiently capacious to give liberty to every man; and the more its base is widened and its blessings diffused, the more will it be fortified against the efforts of time and despotism, Nor does experience warrant the assertion. Our loss of the right of citizenship is comparatively modern; and the government of this country neither required nor gained any accession of strength by our slavery. That was effected in a time of profound tranquillity, after the uninterrupted loyalty and peaceable demeanour of our ancestors had been experienced and acknowledged for thirty-six years from the capitulation of Limerick. The causes that induced this law are now almost forgotten ; but if tradition is to be believed, where history is silent, it was enacted to satisfy Court intrigue, not public security; to change the balance of power between Protestant families in two or three counties of this kingdom, not to give any increase of power to the Protestants at large.
It is suggested in that address, that the Revolution was established in Ireland by force, or as it is profanely called, by "an appeal to Heaven.” The Revolution in England derived all its glory and its stability from this great truth
that it was effected by the people's will
. Does the Revolution in Ireland stand on a different foundation? Is it supported by a principle directly the reverse of that which rendered the Revolution in England the admiration of the world ? No; it is not so ; we will not concur in calunniating that great event, that our ancestors may also be calumniated. The revolution in Ireland was not completed by the battles of the Boyne or Aughrim ; but by the articles of Limerick. It was consented to by all, Protestants and Catholics. The consent of the Catholics was