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name of all the Catholics of Ireland, that they are totally prohibited from keeping or ufing weapons for the defence of their houses, families, or perfons, whereby they are expofed to the violence of burglary, robbery, and affaffination. The prohibition is ftated as general, and without exception; and that the confequence has been, that the whole body are the victims of plunder and affaffination. With refpect to the laws made in the reign of King William for difarming papists, no man who knows the hiftory of Ireland, can hesitate to say, that felf-defence and felf-prefervation rendered them at that period a measure of hard neceffity. But it would have become the men who have taken into their hands the caufe of the Catholics, to have stated, that in these laws there is an exception for every man of that perfuafion, who fhall obtain a licence from the lord lieutenant and privy council to carry arms; and that fuch a licence, has never in any instance within the memory of man, been denied to a Catholic whofe rank and education entitled him to it. And I am forry to fay, that at this hour, fuch is the rude ftate of the lower order of the people of all religions in Ireland, that if offenfive weapons are to be put into their hands, every man of property who lives in the remote diftricts, whether Catholic or Proteftant, will quickly feel to his cost, that he is daily expofed to the violence of burglary and robbery, but the people, rude as they are, I am fatisfied have a general horror of affaffination. Having thus ftated the prohibition, as contravening the great original law of nature, which enjoins felf-defence, they affert that to enforce it, a variety of ftatutes exift, not lefs grievous and oppreffive in their provifions, than unjuft in their object;

object; by one of which, enacted within fixteen years, every Catholic fubject of any rank or degree, peer or peafant, is compelled to go before a magiftrate and convict himself of the fingular offence in a free country of keeping arms for his defence, and in cafe of his refufal, is liable to the penalties of fine and imprisonment, and to the vile and ignominious punishments of the pillory and whipping. If I had not in the particular fituation of this country, in the year 1787, had occafion to look into the ftatute book, to fee whether any law exifted for reftraining the horrid exceffes committed at that period in the fouth, against the established clergy, I fhould have been ftartled at this bold affertion: to force any man to criminate himself upon oath, on pain of fine, imprifonment, pillory and whipping, would be an outrage upon every principle of natural juftice,. which would ftamp indelible difgrace upon the jurifprudence of this country. To enact fuch a law against an unoffending people, to enforce a general prohibition of felf-defence; would be a high aggravation of outrage, if it were capable of aggravation.

But what will be the aftonishment of every man who hears me, when he knows that this statute which has been thus felected for the purpose of wounding the feelings of both countries, has been moft grofsly and unpardonably miftated in its original formation, and that it now no longer exifts; it was an act paffed in the year 1776, to prevent tumultuous rifings; when the populace of the fouth, calling themfelves white-boys, were in a ftate of general tumult, and had committed the moft horrid exceffes, a claufe was inferted in the

act,

act, authorizing magiftrates to fearch for arms. and ammunition, and to fummon papifts, who might be fufpected to have either in their poffeffion, and oblige them to make difcovery on oath where they lay. If they refufed to obey the fummons, and to fubmit to answer, they were fubject to all the penalties or fines, imprisonment, the pillory and whipping; but there is an exprefs provifo, which follows the claufe, that no perfon fhall be convicted, or incur any penalty, for any offence, upon any confeffion or difcovery made on fuch examination; that the examination thus taken, fhall not be given in evidence against the perfon examined, unlefs he fhall be indicted for perjury committed upon his examination. Has it ever been alledged, that this law which was point-. ed only at a rude and mifguided populace, was ever executed against an unoffending man? Or did it ever enter the mind of any man, that this claufe was intended to enforce the acts paffed in the reign of King William, for difarming papifts? and if any magiftrate had prefumed to pervert it to this unwarrantable purpose, can there be a doubt, that he would have been severely punished for his mifconduct? But the act which was made on the fpur of the occafion, to meet a temporary evil, was made a temporary law, and actually expired in the year 1784. And I am forry to fay, that the fame exceffes which had made this ftatute neceffary, were renewed fhortly after the expiration of it, and a new law was made to reftrain them, in which, however, there is no provifion whatever to enforce the difcovery of arms and ammunition in the poffeffion of papists.

Having thus miftated the laws, by which catholics are reftrained in the use of arms, in the fame

spirit of exaggerated mifreprefentation it is afferted, that no Catholic has any fecurity for his perfonal eftate, inafmuch as the law allows and encourages the difobedient and unnatural child, to conform and deprive him of it. The unhappy father does not even by the furrender of his all, purchase his repofe. He may be attacked by new bills, if his future industry be fuccefsful, and again be plundered by due courfe of law.

By the Act of 2d Queen Anne, a conforming child was entitled to a maintenance and portion, to be charged on the perfonal eftate of a Popish parent; if the child thought fit to file a bill in the Court of Chancery for that purpofe. But this provifion has been in a great meafure done away by the Stat. of 17th and 18th Geo. II. And by fubfequent Stat. has in effect been completely defeated. The Stat. 17th and 18th of the king authorises Catholics to purchase lands for any term not exceeding nine-hundred and ninety-nine years, at any referved rent; and enacts exprefsly, that no maintenance or portion fhall be decreed to a conforming child out of any part of the perfonal eftate of a Popifh parent, fave that of fuch leafe, as may be acquired under the powers given by that Act. The idea of the Legislature, in allowing Catholics to purchase lands for terms of nine hundred and ninety-nine years, was to give them in effect the whole beneficial intereft in the land, without enabling them to acquire the freehold. But the many advantages both to feller and purchafer, arifing from this fort, of transfer of land, were foon perceived; and the act of the 21ft and 22d of the King, enables Catholics to purchase the freehold and inheritance of lands, as fully and beneficially as any other defcription of his Ma

jefty's

jefty's fubjects may do; fo that as the law now ftands, unlefs a Catholic fhall chufe in purchafing land, to take a leafe for 999 years at a nominal rent, pursuant to the act of 17 and 18 of the king, rather than to purchase the inheritance which he may do, there is no fpecies of perfonal property on which the act of 2d of Anne can operate in favour of a conforming child. It is therefore a rafh affertion indeed, conveyed in terms of bitter indignation and complaint, that the disobedient and unnatural child is allowed and encouraged perpetually to disturb the repofe of his unhappy father, and again and again to plunder him by the courfe of law. The fact is, that as the law now stands, the act of queen Anne is in this particular a dead letter; and I do not believe there is a fingle inftance in which it can now be enforced.

Having thus miftated the laws of which they complain, the perfons who act for the Catholics, proceed to accufe the landlords of Ireland of unfeeling and undifcriminate oppreffion; they affert that at the expiration of their leafes, multitudes of the Catholic tenantry are expelled from their farms to make room for Proteftant freeholders. So far as my experience goes, and I think that few men are better acquainted with the fouth of Ireland than I am, where a very great majority of the people are of the Popish religion, I can fafely fay, that this ftatement is utterly unfounded. If the landlords in that diftrict were inclined to this fort of oppreffion, the fituation of the country would most effectually defeat it, for there are not Proteftants in the country to occupy the foil. the foil. But the great misfortune of Ireland, and particularly of the lower clafs of its inhabitants, is, that at the expiration

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