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King of England having bound himself, his heirs and successors, to fulfil the conditions of the treaty of Limerick. In place of being the free subjects of a prince, from whom they were taught to expect only justice and mercy, they were made the slaves of every one, even of the very meanest, of their Protestant countrymen. They saw the English government, on whom they had claims for protection against their own parliament, directing its fanatic councils, and confirming its crimes. By the treaty of Limerick they were left at liberty to educate, and to act as guardians to their own children : by the penal laws they neither can send them to be educated abroad, or have them educated at home, or be guardians to their own, or the children of any other persons.
By the treaty of Limerick, the free exercise of their religion was guaranteed to them. By the penal laws their chapels are shut up, their priests are banished, and hanged if they returned home.
By the treaty of Limerick, their noblemen and gentlemen were specially allowed the privilege of wearing arms, and the whole body were equally entitled to the same privilege, because, when it was executed, no law existed to the contrary. By the penal laws, no Catholic is permitted to have the use of arms, except a very few even of those who were specially comprised in the treaty.
By the treaty of Limerick, Catholics might intermarry with Protestants. By the penal laws this privilege is removed.
By the treaty of Limerick, the profession of the law was open to them ; by these laws it is taken from them.
By the treaty of Limerick, the Catholics could purchase, sell, bequeath, and inherit landed property. By the penal laws they can neither purchase, sell, bequeath, or inherit landed property, take annuities for lives secured on lands, or any longer lease of land than for 31 years ; nor could they lend money on mortgage! or vest it in public securities.
By the treaty of Limerick, the Catholics were left in full enjoyment of every political franchise, except those of holding offices under government, and of becoming members of corporations. By the penal laws, they cannot vote at vestries, serve on grand juries, act as constables, or as sheriffs or under-sheriffs, be magistrates, vote at elections, or sit in Parliament,
By a construction of Lord Hardwicke. 2 “The exclusion from the law, from grand juries, from sheriffships and under-sheriffships, as well as from freedom in any corporation, may subject them to dreadful hardships, as it may exclude them wholly from all that is beneficial, and expose them to all that is mischievous in a trial by jury. This was manifestly within my own observation, for I was three times in Ireland from the year 1760 to the year 1767, where I had sufficient means of information concerning the inhuman proceedings (among which were many cruel
By the treaty of Limerick, they were protected from being called upon to take any other oaths besides the oath of allegiance of the 1st William and Mary. By the penal laws they are required to take the oaths of abjuration and supremacy, and to subscribe declarations against the principal tenets of their religious faith.
By the treaty of Limerick, they were acknowledged as the free subjects of a British King; by the penal laws they are placed in the double capacity of slaves and enemies of their Protestant countrymen. Had they become mere slaves, they might have experienced some degree of humane treatment; but, as the policy which made them slaves, held them out at the same time as the natural and interested enemies of their masters, they were doomed to experience all the oppression of tyranny, without any of the chances, that other slaves enjoy, of their tyrants being merciful, from feeling their tyranny secure.
This statement will be sufficient to convince those who really form their political opinions upon principles of justice, that the penal laws never should have been enacted, and that it is the duty of every upright statesman to promote the instant repeal of the whole of them : because it proves a solemn compact entered into between the Catholics and the English Government, and the breach of that contract by the English Government, notwithstanding the Catholics fulfilled their part of the agreement. How can men gravely and zealously contribute to make perpetual the political disabilities of the Catholics, which were the base and perfidious means adopted by a wicked legislature to influence men's consciences by corrupt motives, and tempt and bribe them to apostacy?
As there are, however, no small number of politicians who, though they would think it an edifying exhibition to see a Catholic occasionally consigned to martyrdom,
yet would be scandalised at the bare idea of breaking faith with him in any affair of barter, particularly if they had already received from him their consideration, and that a valuable one. It will be necessary to make some further observations upon the violation of the treaty of Limerick, in order that no one may have a pretext on which he can escape the fair conclusion that ought to be drawn from what has been advanced, that the English Government and Nation are, at this day, bound to make good to the Catholics of Ireland the stipulations contained in that treaty. For, if ever there was an instance in which the consideration that formed the basis of a treaty, should have secured a liberal and a just fulfilment, it was the instance of this treaty of Li
murders, besides an infinity of outrages and oppressions, unknown before in a civilised age) which prevailed during that period, in consequence
pretended conspiracy among Roman Catholics, against the King's Government." Burke's Letter to a Peer of Ireland.
merick. In the course of the three campaigns, during which the war lasted in Ireland, the English army had been defeated on several occasions. In the North under Schomberg ; before Athlone under Douglas; and before Limerick under William himself. The victory of the Boyne was the result of the personal failings of James, not of any deficiency in the number of his army, or of any want of
courage on their part. « Exchange Kings," said the Irish officers, “and we will once more fight the battle.” St. Ruth had won the battle of Aughrim, and had exclaimed, in an ecstasy of joy,“ Now will I drive the English to the walls of Dublin,” at the moment the fatal ball struck him. And, at the time the garrison of Limerick capitulated, the Irish army was in a condition to hold out at least another campaign, with a good prospect of being able to restore the fallen fortunes of James. The besieging army had made no impression on the principal part of the city ; it was inferior in numbers to that of the garrison ; winter was fast approaching, and at the very moment French succours were on the coast, yet all these advantages did the Irish army forego, in consideration of the terms which were granted to them by the treaty of Limerick. On the other hand, in granting these terms, the English Government and Nation obtained advantages of the utmost importance. For so long as James had a powerful army in Ireland, and nearly one half of the kingdom under his dominion, the great work of the revolution was neither accomplished nor secured. The fair way, therefore, of judging of the value of the treaty of Limerick to England, is to consider how far it contributed to promote this inestimable object. If the treaty of Limerick, in any degree, led to the establishment of the revolution, the vast importance of this event should incline the people of England to act with justice, at least, towards the Catholics. But if their submission contributed essentially to crown the brilliant efforts of the friends of liberty with success, then indeed the people of England should feel zealous to act towards the Catholics, not on a cold calculation of what was merely just on their part, but with that kindness with which we always regard those who have promoted our prosperity, whether intentionally or not. That the submission of the Irish Catholics did so contribute to complete the revolution is plain, from the means which they possessed of continuing the war ; from the opportunity it afforded William to bring his whole forces to bear against Louis ; and from the termination it fixed to the hopes and the conspiracies of the adherents of James in England. Yet, notwithstanding the great concessions which the Catholics, on their part, made by their submission, in order to obtain the terms of the
treaty of Limerick, and the great advantages which the English nation, on the other hand, acquired by it, twelve years only elapsed before the Catholics were deprived of every right and privilege which was solemnly guaranteed to them by that treaty.
The only species of justification that could, under any circumstances, have been brought forward for acting in this manner towards the Catholics, would have been, the proof of the forfeiture, by misconduct, of their right to the fulfilment of the treaty. That any thing which they did prior to the treaty, could have, in justice, any
influence on measures passed subsequent to its taking place, is quite impossible ; because the treaty admitted their acts to be those of open and honorable enemies, and specifically pardoned them." As to their conduct afterwards, even their most inveterate and most unprincipled enemies did not charge them with a single transgression against the State, from the year 1691 to the year 1704, when the act to prevent the farther growth of Popery was passed. And it is very plain that no such charge could be maintained, from the paltry attempt that was made in Parliament to justify this act. It was said, “That the Papists had not demonstrated how and where, since the making of the articles of Limerick, they had addressed the Queen or Government, when all other subjects were 80 doing ; and that any right, which they pretended was to be taken from them by the bill, was in their own power to remedy, by conforming, as in prudence they ought to do; and that they ought not to blame any but themselves." No circumstance can possibly illustrate more clearly the innocence of the Catholics, and their loyalty and good conduct, from the treaty of Limerick to the passing of this act, than this mockery of justification ; nor could any thing bring to our understandings an accurate comprehension of the perfidy and baseness of that Government, and of that Parliament more distinctly, than so silly an excuse for such stern and crafty oppression.
1 "The peculiar situation of that country, (Ireland)” says Macpherson, seems to have been overlooked in the contest. The desertivn, upon which the deprivation of James had been founded in England, had not existed in Ireland. The Lord Lieutenant had retained his allegiance. The Government was uniformly continued under the name of the Prince, from whom the servants of the Crown had derived their commissions. James himself had, for more than 17 months, exercised the royal function in Ireland. He was certainly de fucto, if not de jure, King. The rebellion of the Irish must, therefore, be founded on the supposition, that their allegiance is transferable by the Parliament of England. A speculative opinion can scarcely justify the punishment of a great majority of a people. The Irish vught to have been considered as enemies, rather than rebels."--Hist. Great Britain.
2 Debates on the Popery Laws.