Front Page Titles (by Subject) Another special Character of the Penal Laws. - Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, vol. 1
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Another special Character of the Penal Laws. - Gustave de Beaumont, Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, vol. 1 
Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, ed. W.C. Taylor (London: Richard Bentley, 1839). Vol. 1.
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Another special Character of the Penal Laws.
We have seen how all these laws were linked together, and formed a complete whole: still it would be a mistake to regard them as a rational system, all at the same time conceived, deliberated, and decreed. No; these laws came piece by piece, one after the other, without order, method, or visible connexion. Some openly sin against logic, such as that of 1692, which excluded Catholics from parliament, and left them the elective franchise; that is to say, disputed the ends, and left the means. This anomaly lasted until 1727, when the Catholics were deprived of their right of voting at elections.
Moreover, the law which established uniformity on one point, presented in itself a remarkable dissimilarity to all the rest. Thus, preceding laws excluded Catholics from parliament and public employments; they even recognised all sorts of rights, provided they gave any sign of conformity to Protestantism: in this last law, on the contrary, the exclusion is direct and straightforward; the last law declares in express terms, “No Papist shall be permitted to exercise the elective franchise.” In the first case, the exercise of civil rights was subjected to a condition morally impossible; in the second, a direct and absolute prohibition was enacted against the Catholics.
Were I asked the cause of these different forms in laws which so constantly and uniformly tended to a common end, I should say that this irrational form belongs to the English character, which always proceeds by precedents instead of principles, by facts instead of theories; and that the logic at bottom belongs to the passions by which the legislators were then animated. I do not know if in the annals of English legislation there could be found a series of acts presenting so much harmony of spirit, and at the same time united together by no apparent chain. The English or the Anglo-Irish legislator, whilst persecuting the Catholics, did not proclaim the principle of persecution, because he never recognised it in any way; he did not organise the general system on rules solemnly established, because this is not his mode of action. But he was animated by an ardent hate of the Catholics, the more solid as it was supported by his interests; indefatigable in advising, because it was always heard with favour; unequal in its movements, but always operating; and this hatred, which reigned despotically over the legislator’s soul, did not cease during sixty years to inspire all his actions.
In the operations of a long passion, there is always an instructive logic, which can with difficulty be traced in the more regular combinations of reason and genius.