Page images
PDF
EPUB

take three, or four, or five cases, I would interested in maintaining thy act of venture to assert, and I do assert it, to settlement so far as their own posses. amount to an impossibility. The for. sions are secured by it. A repeal of feited estates are now constituted the

the act would invalidate the titles of properties of the Roman Catholics. I

Irish Roman Catholics to perhaps it do not know a Roman Catholic who ever purchased any thing but a portion of a

twentieth of the rental, and would deforfeited estate, forfeited either by the

prive Protestants of the remainder ; church or by private individuals ;* so that is to say, it would place nineteenthat I can state with confidence to the twentieths of the property of Ireland, committee, that all the estates the Ca. wrested from Protestants, at the dis. tholies hare purchased since 1778 have posal of the new government, to rebeen forfeited estates. Then the Roman ward its more daring adherents, and Catholics have a number of leases for

to indemnify such dispossessed Ro. lives renewable for ever; and leases of lives and valuable terms of years ; all

manists as had proved themselves that I know, and I believe the proposi.

worthy of consideration by their tion may be stated universally, are upon

neutrality, or their secret services the forfeited estates. Of course, if

while the cause of repeal was in agithere was a re-assu.nption the Catholics tation. would lose those," &c.

As to the opinion expressed by Mr.

O'Connell, that few Irish claimants As illustrations, Mr. O'Connell gave

could establish a legitimate title, even examples from his own family, in which there were many estates, and only one,

were it well grounded, it would be of

little moment in the general argument. of but little value, which had not been

The matter of importance to actual forfeited or confiscated. He concluded

proprietors is the security of their own his argument thus :

titles; this lost, it concerns them little " I mention these individual instances whether their lands are to be assigned to show that the Catholic gentry are all to an individual or to be scrambled for interested in maintaining the present by a tribe. There is little to comfort system of property-that the Catholic them in the thought that successors farmers are all'interested in maintaining will not have title deeds made out in the present state of property that is de.

due form. But the Irish are better rived under the acts of settlement and those patents; and I would venture to

genealogists than Mr. O'Connell seems assert, that there is nothing that would

to imagine, and they have had valuable be so likely to create a civil war in Ire

auxiliaries in preserving their pedigrees land among the Roman Catholics, as in such a state as to furnish evidence any attempt to alter the acts of settle. not likely to be contested. Indeed, ment, or look for the old heirs or suc. the interval through which descents cessors to those properties; all the are to be traced is not very extensive. intelligence of the Catholics of the

Irish pedigrees were kept with much country, all its moral vigour, would certainly take as strong a part as prue

care, through written or traditional

testimony, as long as it was customary dence and conscience permitted them,

for the Roman Catholic gentlemen of to oppose such an alteration."

this country to seek military or civil Such is the argument of Mr. appointments on the Continent. Ad O'Connell. Roman Catholics have venturers very generally set out " to become proprietors of, and tenants seek their fortune," furnished with creupon, forfeited estates, and accordingly dentials of this description, when no have an interest in opposing the repeal other letters of credit were attainable. of those acts of parliament by which To supply the hiatus between such their titles are assured. Much might be times and the present is not a matter said against the truth of this argu- of the difficulty which has been ima. inent. We will not dispute its cor- gined. rectness. We merely deny that it is Evidence given by a witness of applicable. To what does it ainount? the highest respectability, Colonel To this: the Roman Catholic landed Irwine, of Sligo, on the same subject proprietors, among whom some lease. but not to the same effect with that of holders may be classed, in Ireland, are Mr. O'Connell, affords useful infor

* This may well be believed, especially if, as Mr. O'Connell has declared, there were no other than forfeited estates to be purchased,

mation. Mr. O'Connell's testimony success, I do not hesitate to say, because ought to be compared with it.

I believe it, that they would come for

ward and claim. " Has not a great part of the land in “ How do you know that they look Ireland been forfeited at one time or to the Protestant property ?-I will other ?-Yes ; I conceive it must have give a very strong instance of it. A been. In my own county there is but a gentleman descended from a family that small portion of property in the county once possessed a great part of one that has not been either forfeited or barony in our county, and a large estate religious land sequestered.

in an adjoining county (his ancestor “Therefore, where that is the case left the country about the time of the you have very little choice in making treaty of Limerick, and entered into purchases ?-Of course; I do not think the Austrian service, and settled in there are above three properties in the those dominions). About 1788 or 1790, county that have not been forfeited. he returned, and took possession of his

“Do you think that those who do patrimonial property; he was received make such purchases, or sell such es. very cordially by the gentlemen of the tates, know the persons who originally county. I know from my own observaforfeited those estates ?-I do not know tion, both the Grand Juries of Mayo and that they exactly do; a gentleman resi. Sligo promoted his views and wishes for dent in the country might know it, if he laying out a new line of road--it was took the pains or trouble to inquire. I run through his estate. There had been hear a good deal, being in the habit of a portion of the family estate left, as I riding without a servant, and getting have always understood, to his ancestors, into conversation with the people; and in consequence of a female of the family I do know several families who still hold having been with child at the time of the forth claims to properties. It is very forfeiture.

As soon

as the French recently that a man overtaking me, I landed, he raised a corps of 2000 men, got into conversation with him; he told joined the French, took possession of a me of a family that I know, who live gentleman's house and property adnot far from me, who could advance a joining, which he alleged had been the claim to some of your noble chairman's property of his ancestor, adhered to the property, Lord Palmerston.

French, was taken in arms at the battle Do you know to what family your of Ballinamuck, convicted and executed. own estate belonged, before the for- That is a matter of public notorietyfeiture?-- Yes ; as far as I have taken it was in 1798.”+ the trouble to inquire, the immediate place that I reside at belonged to a

Colonel Irwine gave various other family of the name of M.Sweeney, and

instances to the same effect; one we there are some of that family now resi- cannot abstain from noticing :ding on the next denomination of ground to me-part of the same estate origi

“ Is there

any

other instance you can nally. Of another denomination I have state ?_There is. The first man who was recently discovered the claimant, as I my private tutor, when I was a boy of ten conceive. Some years ago, when I let it years old, was a Roman Catholic; my to a respectable farmer, this man made father, at that time, had the accommohimself troublesome: he was residing

dation of a house belonging to a nobleas a cottager, and I had a very great

man of great rank, and in walking about difficulty in getting him out. I had the groves, that man has often said to reason, within the last eight or ten me, 'I ought to be in possession of these years, to examine the title, and I found walks that we are now amusing our. that the person who forfeited was of the

selves in ;' and within these two years same name with the individual I found that same individual, (he is now, I undersuch difficulty in evicting ; and he has stand, dead,) but with one foot then in merely gone into the next townland, not the grave, told me the same thing; and

I my estate, where he now resides.

suppose it was not to me alone that he " Are you of opinion that the Roman told it ; he most likely has told it to his Catholics who claim properties which

I only tell the committee what is have been forfeited, retain their desire

the feeling." to recover these properties, as a fixed governing principle of conduct ?--No;

Such is the testimony of one of the I will not say as a fixed governing prin

most respectable and respected resiciple of conduct; I will not go to that dent gentlemen of Ireland. It is tesextent; but that if there was such a timony which, we are persuaded, could convulsion as to give them any hopes of be corroborated by witnesses of equal

son.

+ Com. Com. May 19, 1825. Dig. of Ev. vol. i. pp. 421, 422, &c.

TANCE OF OUR FATHERS.

rank in every part of the country, if of settlement, the episcopal censor the Irish gentry were generally as ob- proceedsservant as Colonel Irwine. The distinction drawn by this valuable wit- These, and the twenty-six other deness is very important; descendants of crees, which will be too long to insert, proprietors, who had forfeited, in times

were issued in that assembly of the raof quiet and order, when law is strong

tion, concerning which, though very just and treason is discouraged, will suffer

in themselves, whilst Protestants murtheir claims to sleep-but in times of lowing words of the first book of Macca

mured, the orthodox might oppose the folconvulsion, will find in them motives bees, chapter xv. verses 33 and 34, viz. for daring exertion--the expectation • Neither have we taken the land of an. of success will arouse them.

other, nor do we seize the property of

another, but the inheritance of our fa“Oh, give but a hope_let a vista but thers, which was unjustly possessed for gleam."

a time by our enemies_but WE, HAVING

AN OPPORTUNITY, CLAIM THE INHERIWe have observed that the objection which Roman Catholic proprietors may naturally feel to a repeal of Here, we confidently affirm, the the act of settlement, admits of being strength of the repeal cause is disremoved wherever there exist the

closed. “ We seek an opportunity to means of giving them compensation claim the inheritance of our fathers." for the properties of which they become

The civil war of which Mr. O'Connell dispossessed. The parliament which speaks—the war of titles—may follow sat in Ireland during the brief reign in the train of repeal ; massacre and of James II. seems to have adopted mutual slaughter may thin the multithis principle of compensation. By tudes, maddened by success, and preone law the act of settlement was re- pare the country for a re-conquestpealed-by another, the properties of but at this moment no such results are three thousand Protestants were con

thought of by the masses impatient fiscated. The repeal of the act of of the English yoke. They look to settlement would have possibly da- their own aggrandizement - to the maged friends—the act of attainder country's independence—to the asceninflicted all its severity on enemies, dancy of their religion, and to the deand, at their cost, enabled the legisla- livering the “inheritance of their fature or the crown to indemnify adhe

thers” from the Saxon intruder. rents for their losses. Dr. Burgh,

These are the influences that urge Roman Catholic bishop of Ossory, has

them on-influences that have the enabled us to anticipate the judgment likeness of religion, patriotism, and which his church will pronounce on a

pride of birth-influences that have repetition of such enactments as these, the promise of wealth, ease, ven. if" a parliament in College-green" be geance—it is madness to think that indulged with an opportunity to renew they can be counteracted by any such them. Nearly a hundred years after devices as the tactique of party would the passing of the act of attainder-an suggest - concessions extorted from act, considering all the circumstances, timidity, or hazarded by rashness, will pre-eminently iniquitous and cruel only increase their authority, and apthat Roman Catholic bishop, chosen ply new stimulants to the masses they historiographer of the Dominican or- are preparing for rebellion. der, thus wrote of the parliament After having made these observawhich was disgraced by it:

tions, it is needless for us to say that

the policy of Sir Robert Peel, as com“There were passed in that parlia pared with that which members or ment wholesome decrees, (salubria de

partisans of the late government have creta,) thirty-five in number, of which

recommended, meets our full approval. nine, especially worthy of note, are as follows.

It remains only that we consider his

Fabian tactique in comparison with After the enumeration of these more that which eager Conservatives would remarkable decrees, which include the advise; or rather, inasmuch as the adact of attainder and a repeal of the act visers are not unanimous or very defi

• See “ By ways of Irish History” in our number for December, 1838.

nite in their suggestions, by a reference in a spirit of confidence and kindliness to the perils and difficulties of our towards them, and of severity or retroubled times—difficulties which chal. pulsion towards those whom they were lenge, from the British minister, wis- taught to reckon among the adversadom and decision of no ordinary stamp ries of their party. This policy was to meet them with success.

not altogether without its effect. It And here, when about to expose afforded some gratification to indiviour views of the policy of the two go- duals in the Roman Catholic body to verning parties that which rules the see objects of their enmity slighted, if repealers, that which guides the minis- not mortified by the government, and ter—we candidly express our hope that they perhaps were influenced to obour knowledge of Sir Robert Peel's serve a seeming neutrality, while they views is more defective and mistaken waited a fuller development of the mi. than that which we have attained of his nister's purposes and plans. The adversary's. If we have divined the plans great body, however, was altogether of the Conservative leader truly, they unmoved, or moved only by a feeling are impracticable ; because they as. of triumph at seeing disunion weakensume, as essential to their efficiency, an ing the Conservative party, and, in one tlement which has no sensible exis- instance at least, moved by a feeling of tence in Ireland -a Roman Catholic generous sympathy, and by a sense not aristocracy. There is no such thing. the less just or powerful, because in. Let us not be thought to deny the stinctive and involuntary, of unfitness claims of many a Roman Catholic to in a policy somewhat colder than had birth and breeding, and the sentiments been looked or even wished for. and accomplishinents which bestow on The explanation of this phenomenon rank and fortune their most attractive is obvious. Concessions of political graces. We admit these claims as

power, however extensive, are not freely as they can be largely made- likely to attach to the state any but but blood, and education, and fortune, those who believe that they have an are not sufficient to create an order. interest in the public tranquillity and To constitute an aristocracy there welfare. A prosperous condition in must be influence, and we have no he- social life will guarantee the safe exersitation to affirm that the Roman Ca- cise of political privileges ; but to tholic gentry, whatever their indivi- augment the franchises of the poor dual merits, are without influence in and discontented is to make them only Ireland. Since the first dawn of en- the more efficient instruments for disterprise among the Roman Catholics, affection, and to render it more plainly the influence and authority of their the interest of the disaffected to conaristocracy has been declining. There firin them in discontent. Thus it has are elements in their body, out of fared with the experiments of conceswhich it is possible to shape an aristo- sion which have been tried of late cracy, or perhaps it would be more years. The transfer of political power just to say, that there is an inert organ to the Roman Catholic body in Ireland of aristocracy, which a very wise go- has aggrandized the party bent upon vernment could call into life, but no repeal, and has stripped the friends of government can do so, which is not British connection in that body of all first persuaded that that organ has not influence and authority. The consti. life in it now.

tuencies, so far as they may be conThe Roman Catholic body in Ire- sidered Roman Catholic, are at the land consists of two orders or classes, orders of their bishops and priests, or a priesthood and a people—a priest- perhaps more generally, of the repeal hood and a people, it is now avowed, executive ; the Roman Catholic gentry bent upon the accomplishment of a who desire to represent such constipurpose which threatens, as all parties tuencies must speak their sentiments, in the legislature acknowledge, utter or, where they cannot submit to such ruin to the British empire. The mea- indignity, must be silent. Hence it sures hitherto adopted or devised by has come to pass, that concession has the Conservative ministry, in relation not won good words for the British to this estranged or disaffected body, legislature or government from any were measures calculated to increase portion of the Roman Catholics of their power or influence—the general Ireland. policy of the government was shaped We were not surprised that in the outset of his official career, Sir Ro. If the Roman Catholic gentry posbert Peel's policy for Ireland should sessed the influence which might renhave been cautious almost to timidity. der them efficient as an order, the reWe remembered the circumstances of pose which Sir Robert Peel made his failure in 1835, and that the neces- considerable sacrifices to secure would sity of his abdication was caused by have been attained. Their interests the majority against him in Ireland. are the same with those of the counWe knew how industriously it was try, and they know that rest from agispread abroad at the period of his re- tation and prosperity are connected in signation, that but for a display of the relation of antecedent and conseultra Protestantism in Ireland, many quent. But while the country demands who were driven to embrace the Mel. repose as the first of earthly blessings, bourne party would have sided with the party of most influence and authothe Conservatives, and by their votes rity among our people has an interest and influence determined many Irish in agitation, and a grounded conviction elections; and although we saw little that it could not maintain its sovereign reason to place confidence in such re- ascendancy through a long continued ports, we knew that they were to some period of national repose. The Ro. extent believed, and were not there. man Catholic priesthood in Ireland fore surprised to see them, in the prin- exercise their authority amid many ciple and practice of Lord de Grey's and peculiar perils. The influence of government, acted on. Circumstances, the Catholic church, its scriptural no doubt, were materially altered since character, its pure worship, its faiththe year 1835: Mr. O'Connell could ful teaching, notwithstanding all the not now impose a ministry on a divided opposition of Romanism, is felt and empire; but a good government might dreaded : the lives of the Catholic still be embarrassed and rendered un- clergy recommend a religion which popular by disorder in Ireland. Even seems amiable in their good works ; insurrection, desperate as such an at- while the growing intelligence of the tempt must seem, might be hazarded. Roman Catholic people, and their Sir Robert Peel took his measures so improving acquaintance with the wonwarily, that disaffection was left with- ders of nature and art, are daily in. out a single pretext of which bad men creasing the numbers over whom su. could avail themselves to cover a trea- perstition is losing its power. Add sonable enterprise.

to all this the altered relations in So far well. The new ministry was which Catholic and Roman Catholic to be judged of by its official appoint- clergy are now presented to themments. Roman Catholics in Ireland the former, in matters of pecuniary could not rise in rebellion against acts concern, only known by their bounof which their Whig or Radical allies ties; the latter imposing very heavy in parliament expressed warm appro- burdens upon them for the maintebation. There was accordingly a nance of a system which has lost much season of tranquillity. Nor was the of its power over their affections. It tranquillity merely absence of external is to be remembered too, that the disorder. Not only had “praedial efforts to impart scriptural instrucoffences" been discontinued, but even tion to them, through the medium of religious controversy became hushed. their native language as well as of the The principles, practices, and designs Scripture, have never been disconof Romanism, viewed in its political tinued. The missionary zeal which character, had been plainly exposed; the trials and afflictions of ten years the country had been, through God's of persecution had not quenched, may mercy, delivered from the sway of well have caused anxiety, and even men who had made themselves the alarm, to the Roman Catholic priestallies or the servants of that formida- hood. ble power ; all who desired only the Events of a startling nature soon public good acknowledged the desira- came to quicken their natural apprebleness of repose from the stimulants hensions. On one side they saw rising of controversies not absolutely neces- up in many a mind disbelief in their sary; and thus the policy of Sir Robert creed; on another, resistance to their Peel coincided with the views and pecuniary exactions; and they were wishes of parties who might otherwise not slow to discern that the opposition have counteracted or crossed it. to their system, or their dominion

« PreviousContinue »