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what the substance of the petition spring what rules or orders were to is which was made a pretence of govern them? Our parliament canassembling this convention. In not meet but by the order of the order to show what little delibera- king, and cannot sit a moment longtion is necessary to frame a petition, er than he pleases; but this convenI will state to you what the state of tion, self-created, has no law but the catholics was in the year 1778, its own discretion. Such an as. and what it is now. (Here the sembly can never be tolerated under attorney-general went into a state- any form of government. This is ment of what the penal laws were no contest between the government at that period, and their gradual and the catholics.--I deny it: it is repeal; and what the restrictions a contest between the law and the were which still continue.) Let it violation of the public peace. Gonot be understood that I mean to verment would be unable to stand, speak lightly of those matters. I if it were obliged to submit to such acknowledge, the repeal of them things. The Press says, “ the right is a laudable object for men of rank to petition is attacked.” It is no and talents to pursue : but what is such thing. Because government the drift of the petition? These stop a national convention, can it restrictions can be expressed in a be said, they stop petitioning? narrow and confined compass. Because the catholics cannot have Persons capable of reading and a parliament of their own, do they writing could form a petition at complain of not having the right once, and without difficulty ; and, to petition? The attorney-general therefore, to talk of collecting a then adverted to the origin and national convention together for necessity of the convention act, the purpose, is an imposition upon which, he contended, was to precommon sense. Their petition has vent delegation : the magistrate was been again and again presented to directed to disperse them, without parliament,-—it has been discussed waiting to ascertain whether their by parliament,—and has never been purpose was legal or illegal, at the rejected for want of form. Why moment when he saw them acting has it, therefore, been now thought under or for a delegation. The necessary to summon a convention present indictment, he stated, to to deliberate upon it; to call a con. be framed on the second section of vention of 500 persons, to act in the act. The only ground of cavil the capital, day after day, and is, that they met, not under a premonth after month? Because tence of petitioning, but for its there is a rebel party, and a party purpose. He then went into an of united Irishmen at work; and ingenious argument, that the word who now endeavour to effect by pretence, as used in the statute, does artifice, what they could not do by not intend a false pretence; but force in 1798 and 1803. They the claim, the plea, the assumption may have an object in calling a of petitioning, for the purpose of national convention; because such some other object. Where the desperate, wicked, and facrious legislature intends the term in the persons always sway such assem- sense for which the delegates blies. How was this convention have contended, it always so exto act, but by the example of that presses it; as in the statute against committee, out of which were to obtaining money under false pro


tences. The 32 Hen. VIII. uses for it was evident that, unless the the word pretence, in its indefinite members could be proved to have sense, where it is described as a been delegated, the convention plea to a title. There are true act, even taking it in the sense and pretences, as well as false pretences. extent contended for by the at. The 30 Car. II. is conclusive on this torney-general, could not possi., point. This is a preventing statute: bly apply to the accused. These its title is very like that of the con- witnesses certainly failed in making vention act: it forbids more than out this material point : they proved ten persons presenting a petition; that meetings were held for the purand it uses the word pretence in the pose of appointing delegates to the same sense as a claim, a plea, an catholic committee, but they did assumption of actual petitioning for not make out that the person acsome other purpos. A delegated cused was one of the delegates. assembly overawing the legislature Accordingly, after the evidence is unlawful, whether it meet to closed on the part of the crown, the petition or not. Nothing can better counsel for the traverser declared show the intention of the conven- themselves to be unanimously of tion act, than its exceptions; it ex- opinion, that it was not suficient to cepts the elections into parliament, sustain the indictment against their and the houses of convocation. client; and therefore they did not (Judge Day observed, that such a think ic necessary to examine wito Saving was unnecessary.) The nesses,

attorney-general proceeded to infer On the second day of the trial, - from the exceptions in the act, November the 22d, Mr. Burrowes,

that the people have still the right counsel for the traverser, addressed of petitioning, if they choose to the jury. petition in the legal and accustom He began by arraigning the cona ed way, as the people of England, duct of the crown in the forma. who made a stand for their rights, tion of the jury. He lamented to are contented to do. The catholics have witnessed so little decency, or of England, he said, are as great the appearance, at least, if it was and as noble as those of Ireland, and no more, of justice on the part of Lieunder greater grievances; yetibey the crown. He did not lay any have not delegated to petition. The blame to his majesty's attorney-geparliament alone have a right to do neral, whose virtues and talents he way the test act: they have not took occasion repeatedly, in a thought it right to repeal it; and speech which lasted upwards of the question rests with them only. three hours, to panegyrize. He was If the catholics of Ireland think convinced that that honourable and they can attain their object by force, upright man would not be privy to whoever of them makes the at- any act of meanness, of unconstia tempt is a traitor to his allegiance. tutional and illegal interference on They have among them several the part of the known agents, ina orators, who, active as they are, do struments, nay, the very creatures, hot yet think that the time is come.of administration. It was noto

After this speech of the attorney- rious, that on the jury there was general, the witnesses were called not a single catholic, in a cause in ta the part of the prosecution, in which the catholic interest was so order to prove the fact of delegations deeply concerned. He reflected

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upon the circumstance with pain, administration. He said, that the not unmixed with a considerable offencc created by the statute under portion of dismay, that in a city, which the traverser was indicted, nine-tenths of whose inhabitants was, “ the representing the people consisted of catholics, not one was under pretence of petitioning the to be found on a jury in which the legislature, or any branch of it, for catholics were to be tried. It was, alteration of matter established by he feared, ominous for the country law, in church and state ;” and he when government had recourse to argued, that the representing of such paltry artifices. Nay, the the people intended by the statute, only catholic or the pannel was in- must be such an assumption or exstantly objected to : but that was ercise of authority as would amount not enough for the crown : it was to an encroachment upon those prinot content with objecting to the vileges which were exercised by the solitary catholic, but, in the spirit parliament, the only legal repreof liberality which so very honour- sentatives of the people: and he ably distinguished the administra- insisted, that it was such an astion of the country, it objected sumption only as exercised by the against twenty-two protestants upon Dungannon meeting in 1793, who no grounds whatever. These pro. acted in their own name, and assumtestants, it should seem, were under ed a legislative capacity, that this the suspicion of being friends to statute was intended to put down ; the great catholic cause. But the but that the right of petitioning was very circumstances of these chal. not sought to be affected by it, as lenges put the present jury in a appeared by the fourth section, most delicate and awful situation. which expressly provides, and, as The eyes of the country were on he thought, ex al undante cautela, chat them. From the partiality evinced nothing therein contained should by the crown to their selections be construed in any manner to prefrom among so many other of their vent or impede the undoubted right excellent and liberal fellow.citizens, of the subject to petition any branch it would naturally be concluded of the legislature for the redress of that they were prejudiced and illi- any public or privategrievance. He beral. He did not insinuate that then showed, that for the last sixty they were ;-he believed in his years the catholics of Ireland hadexheart that they were not : but see ercised the right of petitioning, and the situation in which they were communicated with the government placed by the crown,-a situation, in the manner now sought to be im. he would contend, not only indeli. peached, that is, by deputation, and cate, but almost unconstitutional. this, too, with ihe knowledge andap. They would, however, he felt con- probation of that government. In vinced, rescue themselves from the 1757, when a French invasion was peculiarity in which they were so apprehended, and Conflans actu. anhandsomely placed, as contradi- ally on our coast, two of the catho. stinguished from the remainder of lic deputies were called forward, their fellow-citizens. He should and thanked, on behalf of their first address himself to the facts, whole body, by speake: Ponsonby, then to the law,-next to the history in the name of the commons house of the catholics of Ireland, and of parliament, for their unshaken finally to the policy of the Irish loyalty ; and in 1793, the royal


assent was, on one and the same cluded by lamenting, that whilst day, given to the act under which the jury-box, on any question where the traverser was now indicied, and civil property, to however great an to the act for removing that great amount, was involved, was crowdmass of disabilities under which the ed with enlightened catholics, upon catholics had theretofore labour, the present occasion no member of ed; which latter act had been ob that community appeared upon the tained through catholic deputation, pannel; and finally implored the first to the castle, and afterwards God of all power and might so to to his majesty : and, what is still enlighten the understandings, and to stronger, the legislature, instead of touch the hearts of the jurors, as questioning the means by which it that they might bring in a verdict, was attained as being illegal or sus. at once the result of a conscience picious, in the very preamble in without blemish, and a judgement which it recites that the concessions without a cloud. were made in consequence of the The chief justice, after recapitu. loyalty of the catholic body, re. lating the evidence, proceeded to moves all doubts of the legality and define the law in 'a charge which fairness of their proceedinrs. Mr. lasted an hour and a half, of which Burrowes then argued, that the at the following is the substance : torney-general, feeling conscious He commenced by reading at that the object of the catholic was length the indictment, and then to petition, and to petition only, recapitulated the evidence of Shepand that he could not show that pard, M.Donough, and Huddlepetitioning was merely a pretext, ston. He said, that, if they bewas reduced to the necessity of con- lieved the witnesses Sheppard and tending, that pretext and purpose M.Donough, they must believe were synonymous terms ; but Mr. that on the 31st of July a meeting B. insisted they were not, in com- had taken place in Liffey-street mon sense or in legal construction. Chapel; that an election h:1d there Where the attorney-general caught taken place, for delegating five perup this interpretation Mr. B. coald sons to serve in a general assembly not conceive, unless he descended or committee of the catholics of for it into Milton's Pandæmonium, Ireland, and to respresent that where it is said by the fallen an. parish in that assembly. If they gels

believed the witnesses, who both “ Spirits, on our just pretences armid, spoke to the same facts with little fell with us."

variation, they must believe that And he insisted, that the pretence, the traverser assisted at the election in its legal sense, must be either of those persons mentioned, -that “ suggestio falsi aut suppressio veri," he was in the chair, ad put the Mr. Burrowes then showed, that the question of their appointment. If, object of the catholic bodv in the also, they believed Mr. Huddleston, appointment of the traverser in they must believe that a meeting any point of view, could not be an also took place at Fishamble-street alteration of the constitution in on the 9th of July, at which cerchurch or state-they sought to dis tain resolutions were passed; and turb no part of either they sought particularly, they would observe only to be admitted to a participa- the nature and substance of the retion of it as it stood; and he con solution, that five persons should be elected from each parish in they possibly might be injurious ; Dublin, to serve in the committee : and the remedy which the legisla. for, as the traverser did not appear ture had taken, was to declare to have interfered with the proceed. the existence of them unlawful, ings at Fishamble-street, bis respon- and to authorize the magistrates to sibility for any thing done there disperse them: and this must be would entirely depend upon the the only operative construction of connexion, if any, which they the act; for the second section deshould believe existed between clares the publishing a notice to those two meetings. If they meet, to be a high misdemeanour, thought that the meeting in Liffey, and makes it a substantive offence, street was held in pursuance of the attending and voting at any election Tesolutions entered into at Fisham- of persons to serve in the same : ble-street, they were identified; and it would be impossible that this and the acts of both were evidence section of the act could ever apply, against the traverser, On that part if it was to depend on the question, of the case he should remark, there whether the assembly met on a was certainly no evidence of their true or false pretence? which would connexion, but the coincidence in be a transaction long subsequent point of number of the fire persons so that, unless the legislature meant elected in Liffey-street according it to extend to all representative with the number assigned by the re. assemblies, save those particularly solution of the 9th, and that the excepted, these enactments of the election was for a parish in Dublin, second section would be absurd and that it took place within the and nonsense; and what would month. It was on this evidence show that absurdity greater, if the for them to say, if they believed pretence was to be a false pretence, the one was in consequence of the that the act empowered the peace other; and if so, the traverser was officer to force his way into any identified with both. In order to such assembly, and disperse it. Is apply those facts to the law, he the peace-officer to be a judge of should give them what was the the truth or falsehood of the preopinion of the court on the law, tence of the meeting, or is he to under theconstruction of the statute. wait until the pretence, the false

The act does not profess to say, pretence, of the meeting is disclosthat it was intended to suppressed, and then disperse them, while conventions meeting with a crimi. they were dispersing themselves, nal intention; and to this dily, an and the object of the meeting has assembly might meet, and not be been obtained ? So that, if the acts guilty of any criminal act, and be of the assembly were only to bring only illegal under the operation of it within the operation of the stathe statute : but it was the mecting tute, the remedy would seem to me of an assembly, however tair and in to be strangely inoperative. The nocent their motive, that was con act has done nothing, unless it has sidered by the legislature criminal prevented the meeting of all deleand dangerous, from the very na- gated assemblies, whether meeting ture of the constitutions of such for the purpose of petitioning or conventions. It was not because otherwise. they were fair intended, but be. It remains, then, if you do be. cause, from their very formation, lieve that the traverser Mr. Sheri,


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