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country; an organization, which, if it was not for the purposes of mischief, at least was calculated to excite suspicion. The spirit of our constitution was founded upon suspicion; and he had a right to assume that this body, though it might not intend evil at present, might be turned to it at some future period. They had their agent in every parish, and their correspondent in every town. Their intentions might be good, but with such machinery, how easily might they be converted into a political engine of the greatest mischief? Was it not a fit subject of jealousy, when it was found that they had instituted committees of finance, of grievances, and of education? The assumption of such powers was inconsistent with public liberty, and ought therefore to be put down without delay. The House was accustomed to admire the popular part of our constitution; and justly, for the checks by which it was guarded were extremely wise. It held its deliberations under the will of the Crown, which could suspend them at any moment. No such check existed upon the Catholic Association; which held its meetings in no definite place, and was free from all control as to their time or duration. The House never instituted a criminal prosecution without great precaution, and always with the consent of the Crown, to which it previously sent an address. The House, too, always guarded against bearing down an individual by its weight but no such scruple existed in the members of the Catholic Association; it was under no control as to the prosecutions it instituted, and even went deliberately to create prejudices against the accused, by distribut

ing ex-parte statements of the evidence to be produced against him. In that House they were not accustomed to vote away money to individuals, without a committee being appointed to examine into his claims to remuneration. The Catholic Association, on the contrary, voted away money at will, without any restrictions, and thus arrogated to itself powers which were possessed by no other body in the country. What would be the consequence of establishing the principles on which it was founded?-the establishment in all directions of counter-associations by individuals for their own protection. The country would, in consequence, be filled with dismay, confusion, and anarchy; for if parliament would not provide protection for individuals, they would very soon provide it for themselves. Therefore, with reference both to the political mischief and to the corruption in the administration of justice which this Association was calculated to create, the House was bound to apply the remedy which had that evening been proposed.

Mr. Denman contended that there was no analogy between the present case, and that of the Constitutional Association. Was it, he asked, the object of the members of the Constitutional Association to repel attacks made on themselves-to complain of the unequal administration of justice to their own members? On the contrary, they acted as if the attorney-general was either blind, or negligent of, or inadequate to his duty; and instituted a series of jobs, which they called prosecutions, against individuals for offences, for which the accused, if guilty, ought to have been attacked by the attorneygeneral with ex-officio informations.

The Catholic Association, on the contrary, subscribed only to prosecute those who had injured Catholics, and to repel aggressions under which, he trusted, no class of the king's subjects ought ever to rest quiet. They were aggrieved by degrading laws and unjust exclusions, and in consequence were treated, by the magistracy of Ireland, with a degree of partiality hardly credible in this country. They had therefore subscribed to repel injury and to organize a system of mutual defence. The Constitutional Association existed for no such purpose; for it prosecuted state offences, and was always engaged in attack, never in defence. The Catholic Association had never prosecuted any offences which were in their nature strictly political. They had indeed instituted proceedings against the "Courier," for a paragraph alleged to be libellous on the Catholic College of Maynooth: but a libel on the College of Maynooth, which afforded instructors to all the Catholic body, was in fact a libel upon themselves. The conduct of the Catholic Association, therefore, was in no respect similar to that of the Constitutional Association. Mr. Denman, after touching upon various collateral topics, concluded with a vehement invective against the Court of Chancery and the lord chancellor.

The debate was then adjourned to the following day.

In the second night's debate, Mr. Pelham, Mr. Grattan, Mr. Maberly jun., colonel Davis, Mr. Dominic Browne, Mr. R. Martin, Mr. Warre, and Mr. Calcraft, against the motion, and sir N. Colthurst, Mr. Dogherty, Mr. W. Williams, and Mr. C. W. Wynne,

in support of it, went over the common topics. After these gentlemen had spoken, Mr. Plunkett rose. The Catholic Association, he observed, proceeded on a plan different from the other numerous defiances of the law which had existed in Ireland. A number of gentlemen had formed themselves into a club, not merely for the purpose of forwarding the Roman Catholic question, but " for the redress of all grievances, local or general, affecting the people of Ireland." They undertook the great question of parliamentary reform the repeal of the Unionthe regulation of church-propertythe administration of justice-the visitation of every court, from that of the highest authority, down to the court of conscience. He did not deny, that if a set of gentlemen thought fit to unite for those purposes, it was in their power to do so; but then came the question as to the means which they employed; and those means he denied to be constitutional. They had associated with them the Catholic clergy— the Catholic nobility-many of the Catholic gentry, and all the surviving delegates of 1791. They had established committees in every district, who kept up an extensive correspondence throughout the country; and, though consisting originally of a few members, they had now increased to 3,000. They held permanent sittings, where they entered upon the discussion of every question connected with the peace and tranquillity of Ireland. Not satisfied with this, they proceeded to establish a Roman Catholic Rent; and in every single parish of the two thousand five hundred parishes into which Ireland is divided, they established twelve Roman Catholic collectors, who

taken together, made an army at once of 30,000 collectors; unarmed, he admitted, in every thing but prayers, entreaties, and influence. Having raised their army of collectors, they brought to their assistance two thousand five hundred priests; and thus provided, they went about levying contributions on the peasantry. Now, this was a direct violation of the principles of the British constitution. "I do not say," continued Mr. Plunkett, "that it is illegal in the strict sense; for if it were, the Irish government would be able to prosecute, and need not have come here for a remedy; but, I will say, that an Association assuming to represent the people, and in that capacity to bring about a reform in church and state, is directly contrary to the spirit of the British constitution. Do I deny the right of the people, under this free constitution, to meet for the purpose of promoting the redress of grievances in church and state, by discussion and petition? Most certainly not. Do I mean that they have not a right to form themselves into clubs and bodies? Certainly not. But I do deny that any portion of the subjects of this realm have a right to give up their suffrages to others, have a right to select persons to speak their sentiments, to debate upon their grievances, and to devise measures for their removal, those persons not being recognized by law. This is the privilege alone of the Commons of the United Kingdom; and those who trenched upon that privilege, acted against the spirit of the British constitution. I will not assert that there may not be cases, where no danger would be likely to arise from such an assumption of authority. But I must

treat the case now before the House as it really stands; and I contend, that if there be a body of people in Ireland who stand forward as the representatives of six millions of their fellow-subjects, such an assembly ought to be put down." Even if they were the wisest and worthiest men that ever wielded the resources of any state, he would not allow them to exercise an authority of this description. Το whom were they accountable ? Where was their responsibility? Who was to check them? Who was to stop their progress? By whom were they to be tried, by whom were they to be rebuked, if found acting mischievously? If the executive in the state wielded great powers, the constitution pointed out the mode in which it was to be done. But, in this instance, the society assumed the power both of the legislative and executive bodies, and rejected all the checks by which the latter was hemmed in and surrounded. They met when they pleased; and, in point of fact, they were in the habit of sitting from January to December, and of exercising their powers with as much strictness and severity as any absolute monarch could do. Individuals connected with them went into every house and every family; they mixed in all the relations of private life, and afterwards detailed what they had seen or heard with such a degree of freedom, with such a degree of publicity, with so great a want of restraint, that it required more courage than belonged to ordinary men to express a fair and candid opinion: and the numbers of the Association were increased, in consequence, from time to time, by a body, he believed, of right unwilling conscripts. With respect to the

this was.

interference of the Catholic Association with the administration of public justice, he could not conceive a more deadly instrument of tyranny, irreconcileable with justice, than The Association claimed to represent six millions of the people of Ireland; and then they claimed the right of denouncing, as an enemy to the people of Ireland, and of bringing to the bar of justice, any individual whom they chose to accuse (no matter on what grounds) of having violated the rights of that people. Was not this a mockery? Could the party so accused come safely to trial, when the grand inquest of the people of Ireland were his accusers? and when those accusers had in their power the application of money levied on the people of Ireland? The consequence must inevitably be, that magistrates and persons in authority must yield to such a power, or else they must array

themselves against it. Looking to the consequences, he knew not which was the worse alternative. In either case the country must be a prey to wretchedness. The courts of justice would be converted into so many arenas, where the passions of those who appeared in them would be displayed with the utmost malignity. There party would be opposed to party, and thus would those courts become scenes of factious contention. And, when such was the state of things, the marquis Wellesley must be content to lie under the heavy reproach, the painful imputation, of not having allowed this institution to die of its own follies! The noble marquis, in accordance with the rest of the government of Ireland, wished to put that Association down; and, in his (Mr. Plunkett's) opinion, the determination was a

wise one. Was it, he asked, to be desired, that an institution of this kind should be kept up, merely because it was supposed by some individuals, that it was impossible to carry the measure of emancipation by any other mode? Of what materials did gentlemen think the Protestants of Ireland were composed, if they imagined that the Protestant body would not establish a counter-association? Would they not seek the means of defending themselves? He did not believe that amongst the Catholics there was any present intention of having recourse to force: but he would say, they were not their own masters. They must obey the command and behests of those under whom they had placed themselves. Was it the intent of those leaders to adopt violent measures?

He did not say

it was; but he would say, that even those leaders were not their own masters. If they got the dregs of the population under their command, and if that population became irritated, they might rest assured, however good their intentions might be, that desperate men would take the lead of them, and produce a catastrophe which they did not now contemplate. They would be forced down that precipice where they now meant to stop, as surely as a man, placed on the brink of a steep rock, and pressed from behind by a million of persons, must give way to the power which pushed him onwards. It was, therefore, no answer to his argument to say, that the intentions of the Association were now honest and peaceable.

But gentlemen said, "although the mischief is great, you ought not to proceed, because there is another remedy-that is the granting of Catholic emancipation." He himself considered Catholic eman

cipation as a claim of right and justice, and as that measure, with out which all other measures to render Ireland contented and tranquil must be ineffectual. But, when it was proposed to the House instead of the measure now before them, the question was, "Can we have it?" He thought not. But those who opposed the proposition now under discussion, turned round and said, "Because we cannot have that measure, do not put down the mischief, the existence of which we admit." This appeared to him to be bad reasoning. The question, then, arose," By whose fault was it that we could not have emancipation?" Let that question be examined, and let those by whose fault itarose give the answer: but, whether or not they could name those with whom the fault lay, still there were circumstances which made it necessary to resort to the present measure, as the only one which could immediately give an effectual check to a great growing evil.

The remainder of Mr. Plunkett's speech was employed chiefly in repelling the charges of inconsistency and of desertion of his party, which had been brought against him, on account of his acceptance of office under a ministry which did not make Catholic emancipation a cabinet question.

He was answered by Mr. Tierney, who ridiculed the account which Mr. Plunkett had given of the Catholic Association. Among other alarming assertions, he said, the right hon. and learned gentleman had stated, that they had an army of 30,000 men; armed with nothing but a little leather bag in their van; and a slate, in order to register their collections. And this army was headed by no less than 2,500 priests! If the right hon.

gentleman meant to insinuate that these 30,000 collectors, and 2,500 priests, applied their collections to an improper purpose, why did he not say so at once? Or, if he meant to state that they collected subscriptions in Ireland to such an enormous amount as to be absolutely dangerous and alarming, why did he not speak out, and plainly tell the House so? But, what was the fact? Was there any such enormous amount so collected? No: here was, at best, a miserable subscription obtained by pence, raised upon all the counties of Ireland. It was the general contribution furnished by the whole country; and yet it amounted to no more than the paltry sum of 10,000l. But, did the right hon. gentleman really think, that if he could get his bill passed into a law, and put down this Catholic Association, he could at the same time stop this collection? Why; that collection was at present confided to, or principally made by, priests. Well! priests might be prohibited by a law from collecting this rent for the Association; but it was very well known, that the Catholic priests of Ireland collected monies among their flocks for other purposes besides those of the rent. And, was it possible to find out, if the Roman Catholic population still continued their weekly subscriptions of three-halfpence cach for ordinary purposes, what became of the other halfpenny? Then, the only difference which the bill could make as to that matter, would be, to convert that, which was at present an open and avowed contribution for a declared purpose, into a secret and a clandestine proceeding. By passing the bill, the House would be compelling the Irish Catholics to resort to this

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