§ Mr. Brougham
moved the order of the day that the House should resolve itself into a committee of the whole House on the Roman Catholic Relief bill. On the question, that the Speaker do now leave the chair.
§ General Gascoyne
rose and said, that his opinions as to the impolicy of this measure having remained unchanged, he was anxious to avail himself of the earliest opportunity of entering his protest against the bill now before the House. He had opposed this measure when it was introduced alone, and discussed solely on its own merits; but he was the more determined to oppose it when he found it accompanied by its adjuncts—the clergy provision bill and the elective disfranchisement bill—both of which he was bound to consider as component parts of the measure itself. Looking at it in all views, he could not help thinking, that if passed, the whole measure would be one of the most milk and water kind that ever proceeded from parliament. That part which related to the elective franchise in Ireland, 423 was exceedingly objectionable; there was no knowing to what extent it might not be carried, and where it would terminate. No man was sanguine enough to assert that the experiment would be successful. If he understood correctly the intention of the hon. gentleman who introduced the bill, it was not meant to affect the existing 40s. freeholders; but, as they expired, the right to vote which would devolve, under ordinary circumstances, on those who succeeded them, was to be done away, by which measure about 250,000 persons would be disfranchised. Such a measure as this appeared to him to be highly objectionable. Another branch of the project was, to provide for the Roman Catholic clergy, and a resolution for that purpose had already passed the House; but the bill had not yet made its appearance. Perhaps the noble lord (F. Leveson Gower) had met with some unexpected difficulty, which he could not surmount; and it seemed to him that the noble lord had already got himself into an aukward dilemma. A bill of that kind could not be brought in without the consent of the Crown, because it required a grant of public money—a very heavy grant, such as ought not to be voted without serious inquiry. If the minister stood up in his place, and declared that he gave his approbation to the measure, he should conclude that he did not do so, without having consulted his royal master, and received his commands upon the subject. The assent of the minister would imply the approbation of the king; and it was not, in a case like the present, to be looked upon at all as a mere matter of form. If, then, this approbation were not given by the Crown, the minister could not communicate its assent; and then there would be an end of one of the wings of the Catholic bill; one flank company would have retreated without firing a shot. With regard to the opinion of the people at large, he was satisfied that seven-tenths of the population of this country were decidedly hostile to concession. What was at present the state of the House? The period had arrived when the demise of the present parliament might ere long be expected: perhaps at the expiration of another session, or sooner, the parliament might die a constitutional death, as it was not likely, that it would be allowed to linger on to the last gasp. Was it quite certain, then, that if the Catholic bill passed, the next parlia- 424 ment would approve of it, and that ministers might not be called upon, on their responsibility, to satisfy the two Houses upon the subject, He did not make this remark because he was at all afraid of a dissolution. He had no apprehensions upon the subject; but it was attended with a great deal of trouble, and that trouble he and all men, were desirous, of course, of avoiding. He alluded to this state of things only for the sake of urging, that the present was not the fit period for passing a bill like that, the commitment of which stood for this evening. In his opinion if it were likely that the matter would be settled in the House of Lords immediately, it would be the duty of the minister to advise a dissolution of parliament without delay. He was as confident as any man could be, that nothing could make the bill more unpopular than tacking to it the provision for the Catholic priests. From every thing he heard, and from every thing he saw, he was thoroughly satisfied that if the House permitted the bill for the support of the priests to pass, no responsibility being attached to those who brought it forward, no adviser of the Crown having been consulted on the question, it would be attended with very serious consequences. He thought the House would be acting not only incautiously, but rashly, if they carried into effect a bill of this kind; since, in all human probability, the next parliament would recede from the enactment; and thus the country might be plunged into a state of anarchy and confusion, from which it would be difficult to extricate it. The conduct of the attorney-general for Ireland, on this occasion, surprised him much. He had called on the House, very properly, to suppress the favourite association of the Catholics—that association which was said to represent the opinions and feelings of the whole body. But, it was most extraordinary that he should, almost in the same breath, when he moved the third reading of that bill, the object of which was to put down the organ of the Catholic body, introduce another, admitting to the highest privileges in the state the very persons whose conduct had excited so much apprehension. How could his learned friend reconcile this? He wished to know to what extent it was intended they should go? He was desirous of being informed what constitutional loss was likely to be sustained by those different 425 measures, and whether any intention existed of bringing forward others? If the people of England were reconciled to this bill for emancipating the Catholics—if their feelings could be ascertained, and those feelings were favourable to it—then the measure might be passed with safety. But, as they knew not what the real feeling of the people were, he called on the House to pause. If they did not, he feared they would have reason to rue their hasty proceeding. It was not his intention to oppose the motion for going into a committee. But, as be felt very strongly on this subject, he had availed himself of the present opportunity to declare his opinion.
Sir T. Lethbridge
objected strongly to the motion for committing the bill, but he rose more for the purpose of recording his opinion than with any other object. He was decidedly of opinion that a division ought to be taken in the present stage, though he could not but admit that his hopes of success were faint. He would state shortly his views upon the question. This attempt at legislation depended upon the institution of oaths, and it went to repeal that oath which every member had taken in the face of the House and the country—the oath of supremacy. Although, no doubt, every hon. gentleman well remembered it, he begged that the clerk might read it. [The clerk read the oath accordingly, as taken at the table.] If, then, resumed the hon. gentleman, it should turn out, that the bill before the House would have the effect of violating the oath which had been just read, he need not say what would be its effect on all hon. members who looked at this subject in the same way as he did. There were two points of view from which this question might be contemplated. The first was, that every member who was returned to that House as a representative of the people of England, entered it upon the condition, implied if not expressed, that he would preserve the British constitution in church and state, as it had been handed down to us by our forefathers. This condition, according to his apprehension, no member was at liberty to get rid of. The persons by whom these hon. members had been returned were well aware of the nature and effect of this oath; and he was glad of the present opportunity of telling the House, that those persons were neither so ignorant nor so careless about it as 426 they had been represented to be, but were sensibly alive to the course which was now proposed to the legislature of the country. The other view which he took of the subject, and which, in his opinion, was not less forcible, was, that by a direct enactment, the House would recognize the authority of a foreign potentate. The terms of the oath which had been read were positively against any such introduction; and yet, by the bill, it was proposed to form a board of Catholic bishops, who were beforehand engaged by a solemn oath to obey in all respects the authority of the church of Rome. This he took to be a point which by no argument the House could get over. Arguments might be used against this with so much ingenuity, that he should find it difficult, perhaps impossible, to answer them; but he denied that any man could controvert the fact which he there advanced. He trusted that the House would see its forcible effect, and not persist in a course which must stultify all the past experience of parliament, and break down the securities which had been wisely provided for the protection of the constitution. If the House would look to the preamble of the bill, they would find a great deal about the permanence and inviolability of the Protestant church. He might, perhaps, be told, that he ought not to attempt to pull to pieces the bill; but whether in the opinion of others, he ought, or ought not, still he would do it. It was altogether a most vicious piece of legislation, and it could never be passed without a violation of that solemn engagement which they had entered into with one another and with the country. There was in the very outset of this bill a curious anomaly. It talked, as he had said, of the preservation of the Protestant establishment; and yet, in the subsequent parts of it, it proceeded to provide for the return of Roman Catholic members for Ireland. Now, in the union with Scotland, there was a clause directly against the return of any such members. This, therefore, was to him not only an important point, but one which the House could in no way get over. Not, however, to dwell upon this, he would call the attention of hon. gentlemen to the statement, that the declarations related only to matters of spiritual and religious belief, and not to the allegiance of his majesty's subjects. The truth of this statement could not be proved. If it could, why were Catholic 427 members not now sitting there? Why was it necessary to legislate for them at all? Did they not profess and entertain (and he gave them credit for the zeal and sincerity with which they did so), their faith in the supremacy of the church of Rome; and did they not vow to continue that faith to their death? Their allegiance, then, was divided. The allegiance of the subjects of these realms ought to be entire, and was payable to the sovereign on the throne; who was acknowledged to be the supreme authority in all matters, spiritual as well as temporal. Upon what pretence, then, could Catholics pretend to a consitutional and undivided allegiance? It was a contradiction in terms to talk of it, and, in fact, was wholly opposed to the truth. What was the objection of the Catholics to the oath of supremacy? It was only for one little word, to which they could not agree. And, did the oath proposed by the bill before the House (which he did not quarrel with because it was tightly worded) obviate this objection? Had any of those persons whose evidence had been taken as conclusive authority in the committees, been asked, if they would take this oath? He believed that no honourable and conscientious Catholic could be found to take this oath. He might, perhaps, misunderstand the creed of the Catholics, but he believed, nevertheless, that it would be found very difficult to induce any of them to adopt this oath? He wished to know whether the Catholic bishops would do so. He had read through the evidence of Dr. Doyle; and very heavy work he had found it. That reverend prelate had been asked, if he had taken an oath of obedience to the pope of Rome; and he answered that he had. He was then asked, if he recollected the contents of that oath, and he answered that he did not. It appeared to him rather extraordinary, that a person of his high character in the church to which he belonged should not know this. Dr. Doyle said, however, he could get a copy of the oath from the Vicar Apostolic. He (sir T. L.) did not know whether this oath had been seen by any member of the House: for himself, he had not been able to find it, high or low. He had, however, got a copy of an oath, which he believed was that taken by the Roman Catholic clergy, and which, although he would not pledge himself for its verbal accuracy, was, he believed, nearly correct. The persons 428 making it swore to pay entire obedience to their lord the pope, and to assist him in the recovery of the popedom and the royalties belonging to it against all men, —to support his authority to the utmost of their power; and, as far as was possible, to make other persons do so, and to receive as conclusive the decisions of the holy canons, and of the council of Trent. Now, how was it possible that persons who had taken this oath could with a safe conscience, substitute for it another, which in every word and sentiment was opposed to it? It was impossible to do so without the commission of flat perjury; and that consideration, if it were the only one, was, in his opinion, so important, that it ought to influence the House against going into the committee.—With regard to the commission of Roman Catholic bishops, he objected to this, because it was to be composed wholly and solely of these persons. In all the previous bills of a similar nature, security had. been provided, by the introduction of Protestant councillors among these bishops; but here there was to be no control over them; not even by the power of the sovereign himself. Was this constitutional? Was it safe or expedient, that this power should be vested in the hands of Roman Catholic bishops, who, as he had proved, had already taken an oath of unlimited obedience to the pope? Was this like the wise and cautious proceedings of our forefathers, who, after they had established the civil and religious freedom of the nation. provided a sufficient security for their future preservation? But, was there any security in this—that a Protestant monarch, a Protestant parliament, and a Protestant church, should succumb to a Catholic faith? Honourable members on the other side of the question were always forward enough to declare their determination to support and uphold the present church and state establishment. Even on the occasion of a simple petition being presented, they were ready to start up and avow their fidelity towards the existing institutions; while their conduct was directly the reverse. He would not detain the House much longer, having sifted the subject thoroughly, though he believed in an inefficient manner. But if ever there was a bill offered to parliament full of vicious principles, this was it. It had been said, in the course of the arguments used in support of the Catholic rights, as they 429 were called, that the Irish Roman Catholics of the present day were not what they were a century ago—that they had become so altered, that we might now safely admit them within the pale of the constitution. How stood the fact? The more we looked into their measures—the more we entered into a view of their proceedings—the more we looked into the conduct of the Roman Catholics, whether in Ireland or in any other part of the world— the more we should be satisfied to the contrary. Whether we looked to them in Ireland—whether we looked to them in foreign countries—or whether we looked to them in the pages of the evidence adduced before the committee of that House, the more certainly should we come to a contrary conclusion. As to the evidence before the committee of that House, it was, as might be expected, most carefully worded—it came out of the mouths of those who looked to the main chance, and who took care that it should be what was best calculated to forward their own interests under existing circumstances Its general bearing was all one way; and unless he had read it, with a great deal of prejudice, by which he had formed an erroneous opinion, it had no other tendency but that which he had described. He must advert to one or two passages in Dr. Doyle's evidence, which were conclusive on the subject. That reverend prelate had actually allowed that the pope had authority over spiritual matters in Ireland; and when asked another question, he had also stated that the nomination of Irish Roman Catholic bishops had been settled by the pope since the extinction of the Stuart family. That was telling us a good deal, and showed clearly, that the pope had an influence in these realms which was inconsistent with the well being of our government, as by law established. As to temporalities also, the same reverend prelate admitted, that if temporal offices were attached to the Roman Catholics, any interference by a Protestant monarch would be deemed inconsistent with the Roman Catholic religion. He believed this prelate spoke with sincerity. He believed that these doctrines were consistent with his creed. He believed they were in perfect accordance with all his views. It was so, and it ever would be so; as this country would find, if the Catholics were admitted within the pale of the constitution. Let any one look to the feelings and sentiments of the 430 same prelate, when writing to the Secretary of the Kildare Catholic rent Association. In his library and at his desk this Catholic bishop deliberately promulgated. opinions and doctrines to which he must ever feel himself opposed. He said "the spirit of the Catholics had not yielded under oppression, but like the ruins of their ancient greatness, which overhung that town (Kildare), retained their venerable and majestic appearance, and reminded the beholder that it had once been great and free. Although now it was enslaved by the tyranny of a worthless and base faction, it could spare from its competence, or even its wretchedness, a part of what had escaped the hand of the despoiler." This certainly was a feeling promulgated before the institution of the committee up stairs. But he could not forget, in all that had been said in that House and elsewhere about getting up petitions, what had lately transpired, when a petition was getting up in the neighbourhood of Wetherby in favour of the Roman Catholics. A Catholic gentleman of high standing, of great talents, and of considerable influence in that neighbourhood, had, after indulging in much eloquence against the anti-Catholics, proceeded to a course which was quite declaratory of the views he entertained. The pith of what he said was this: "To see our abbeys, our cathedrals, and our churches confiscated and demolished; to see our patrimony thus given up to the cruelty of Protestants, whose doctrines our consciences forbid us to believe, is beyond bearing." This, coming from a Roman Catholic gentleman and a layman, was quite sufficient to satisfy him of the danger of passing this bill. Would any man say, that, if an opportunity occurred to recover what was lost, that individual would not lend his influence— that he would not feel himself bound to lend his influence to forward the views of the Catholics; and that if he were in that House, he would not propose or promote a motion for the restoration of the Catholics to all their ancient possessions? He would now advert to the Roman Catholic Testament put forth by Dr. Troy, in 1816. The preface of that work would show what the true feeling of the Catholics was. The Papist was therein enjoined to burn or deface all heretical books, "for instance, the English Bible." The same preface went on to warn the Catholics to avoid the English Bible, as containing 431 doctrines contagious and noisome; and to caution them against listening to the Protestants, as their prayers were no better than "the howling of wolves." He would not go further through the pages of this work; but he thought it completely overturned the position, that the Papists of 1825, were not the same sort of people as the Papists of 1725. He could say, with the hon. baronet, who was now crossing the floor (sir John Se-bright), he was ashamed that a British House of Commons should, in the year 1825, be discussing the Catholic question. He felt he had said more than he ought; but he had uttered no more than what his feelings, and his duty towards the constitution, compelled him to say. Caths were of the utmost importance. He had taken an oath to perform his duty; and he never would take an oath which he afterwards intended to alter or violate. He could say, in spirit, with the late beloved monarch, who preceded the present, that "he was ready to descend from the throne—he was ready to descend to the cottage—he was ready to lay his head upon the block—but he was not prepared to violate the oaths he had taken." So he would say; he was not prepared to violate the oath of supremacy which he had taken, before the House and all the country; and which could not be reconciled, in his opinion, with the bill now before the House.
Sir John Sebright
rose to thank the hon. baronet for having repeated the expressions he had used on a former evening. He would again say, that he was ashamed to see a House of Commons at that time of day discussing this question. He would not add one word to this; because he thought that none of the arguments which had been urged against Catholic emancipation required any answer.
Mr. Secretary Peel
said, that the general impression amongst members certainly was, that the sense of the House would not be taken on the measure in its present stage. He had himself tended to create that impression, by stating that he would take the sense of the House on the third reading. He was therefore unwillling that any thing should be done in contravention of what appeared to be the general understanding. He had heard with satisfaction that it was not the intention of the gallant general, nor of the hon. member for Somersetshire to divide the House at that stage, because such a pro- 432 ceeding would be unfair towards those honourable members who were absent, under the idea that the bill would pass through the committee as a matter of course. It was hardly necessary for him to state, that he acquiesced in the proposition that the Speaker should leave the chair, only because he should have another opportunity of taking the sense of the House on the question. On the motion for the third reading of the bill, when the measure would be before them in its perfect shape, he would take the opportunity of performing his promise of dividing the House. On that occasion he should have very little to add to what he had before stated on the subject. He should, however, feel it is duty to enter his decided protest against the measure. He was certainly in a minority on the question; but, he could not carry his deference for the opinion of the majority so far as to acquiesce in the measure. He should further state, that his objections to the bill now under consideration, so far from being weakened, were strengthened by the vote to which the House had come on a former night, and by which they were pledged to make a provision for the Roman Catholic clergy. At present he hoped that no member would consider it necessary to take the sense of the House on tie question of going into a committee.
§ Mr. Butler Clarke
supported the motion. No one, he observed, had ventured to state, that Ireland and England could remain in the same situation that they were at present. The only way for them to continue the system would be by the aid of a military government; but, how long would that remain? Was it on the chance that the spirit of the Catholics would break down? But, until that did take place, no one would venture to invest his capital in the country, nor would any one live there who could live out of it. On the other hand, if the present measure was passed, he would venture to say that they might safely withdraw every soldier from the country. He had invariably supported the measure; because he thought it was the only to render Ireland serviceable. As he had voted for the putting down of the illegal associations, he had thought it right to say thus much on the present subject.
§ Colonel Trench
said, he was of opinion, that the unhappy situation of Ireland had resulted from the system of misgovern- 433 ment which has long prevailed in that country. That system had, however, been changed. The good seed was sown; but it could not be expected that the crop should be reaped directly. If government for two years longer pursued the course upon which they had entered, it would be impossible for agitators to excite disturbances in Ireland. The hon. member who spoke last had said, that nobody would carry capital to Ireland. Now, capital to a large amount had, he knew, been carried into that country; and more was about to proceed thither. That capital would produce industry; and industry would produce tranquillity. He opposed Catholic emancipation; because, in Ireland, the immense mass of the people was in an ignorant and degraded state, and were entirely under the influence of the priesthood, whom he believed to be directed, in their turn, by political persons and political feelings. The present was the proper moment for the government to make a stand against the Catholic claims. The Catholics would not be content with what parliament would give them: they would never be content until they obtained possession of supreme power. He had no objection to admit the Catholics to the privilege of a silk gown, about which so much had been said; but he would exclude them from the sacred circle of the Protestant constitution. He dreaded foreign influence, by means of the priesthood acting on an ignorant population. He had attentively considered the evidence which had been given before the parliamentary committees, and was compelled to come to a conclusion different from that to which the hon. member for Armagh had brought his mind. He hoped the House would give him credit for entertaining an honest opinion on the subject. He could declare, from his own observations, that the mass of the people of Ireland were perfectly indifferent with regard to the question of emancipation, until within the last year, when they were roused by the exertions of the priests. The gallant general had said, that he was for carrying the main body, and abandoning the wings—alluding to the Catholic Relief bill, and the two measures which were considered appendages to it. Now, he differed from the gallant general; for he felt it necessary to resist the encroachments of the main body; but would use every means in his power to promote the success of the wings. He believed 434 that those two measures would do much to promote the tranquillity of Ireland. If parliament, on the present occasion, were to make a firm stand, and to say, "thus far we will go, and no farther," the question would be set at rest for ever. It would be an insult to the English Catholics to pass the bill before the House: it would, in fact, be an acknowledgment that parliament had yielded to the threats of the Irish Catholics, what they had never been disposed to grant to the loyalty and good conduct of their English brethren.
§ Mr. W. J. Bankes
wished that his acquiescence to the proposition for going into the committee should not be misconstrued into a change of opinion. The resistance to the bill should be open and manly. It would perhaps, be modified in the committee; but no modification, no shape in which it could be presented to him, would please him. The third reading was the stage in which to take the sense of the House.
The House having resolved itself into the committee,
§ The Speaker ,
rose he said, to occupy the attention of the committee but for a very short time. After the recent and very elaborate discussion which this subject had undergone, he much doubted whether any person could say any thing new with regard to it, and he certainly was not prepared to arrogate to himself the capability of doing so. He was perfectly aware, that, according to the strict rules and forms of the House, the present stage of the bill under consideration was neither the most convenient, nor the most regular occasion, for any member to state his opinion with regard to it; but, as his opinion on the question remained entirely unchanged, and as this was the first opportunity, and perhaps it might be the last, on which he should be enabled to address the House on the measure, he trusted he might be permitted to say a few words. Nothing, then, which he had heard or read had relieved his mind from the serious apprehensions with which it was filled, with regard to this great, and, as he thought, most dangerous measure. Having said thus much, he could assure the committee, that he had no amendment to propose, nor did he wish to press a division; particularly after the opinion of the House had been so decidedly expressed on that point. However painful it might be to him to differ from the ma- 435 jority of the House—however painful it might be to his feelings to differ from those whose opinions he ought to respect, and on whose opinions he, in almost every case, placed the greatest reliance; and above all, notwithstanding he felt that the course he was now pursuing was a great evil, and to be justified only by the necessity of the case, still, feeling that a question of this kind admitted of no compromise, so long as he retained his conscientious objections to the measure of emancipation, he should be ashamed of himself if he did not declare them. He hoped the committee would pardon him for having troubled them with these few words. He had, as he before stated, no amendment to propose; nor was he aware that it was intended to propose any, or to come to any division in the committee. He had been anxious not to remain silent with regard to the present bill—the only public measure with which he had interfered, since he had had the honour to fill the Chair.
§ Mr. Peel
observed, that in 1821, when a bill similar to that now before the House was under discussion, various propositions were submitted to the House—some for the purpose of restricting the offices to which Catholics should be admitted, and others for continuing their exclusion from parliament, and the governments of the colonies. He rose for the purpose of stating, that it was not his intention to submit any propositions of that kind to the committee on the present occasion, the sense of parliament having been fairly declared on those points.
§ Sir H. Parnell
took that opportunity of stating, that the hon. member for Somersetshire, in reading the oath taken by Roman Catholic bishops, had omitted a very important passage, in which they stated, that their relations with the pope could in no way shake their fidelity to the king and royal family.
§ Sir H. Parnell
replied, that what appeared to be the objectionable parts of the oath, had been explained to be harmless by high Catholic authorities.
On the motion of an hon. member, whose name we could not learn, that the 436 form of the Catholic oath should, be amended by substituting the words "present Protestant church establishment," for "present church establishment,"
objected to the alteration, on the ground that casuists might call it an admission, that there was some other established church, besides the Protestant, existing in England. The right hon. gentleman further observed, that the oath already was any thing rather than such as was called for by the friends of the Catholic bill. It called for a disavowal by the Catholics of doctrines which no man in his senses could suspect them of entertaining. But, the fact was, that in 1821, the Catholic advocates had been taunted by their adversaries for not employing the long and formal oath provided in 1793; and, in order to satisfy as far as possible all scruples, that oath of 1793 was now returned to.
Mr. Secretary Peel
concurred in the objection of his right hon. and learned friend to the proposed verbal amendment. With respect to the form of the oath, he was perfectly willing to admit, that if an objection had been made to some parts of it, he should have agreed in the propriety of such an objection. That part of it, for instance, which called upon the Roman Catholic to disclaim the doctrine of its being lawful to murder or destroy any person under pretence of his being a heretic or an infidel, he could not but consider most objectionable; because he could not for a moment impute such principles to the Catholics.
§ Mr. Brougham
said, that the observation just made by the right hon. Secretary was every way worthy of the candid and manly course which he had pursued throughout the discussion of this question. His opposition had never been a captious or invidious opposition; but it had been uniformly frank, candid, manly, and honourable. As to the verbal amendment which had been proposed, he agreed with his right hon. and learned friend, that the substitution of the word "Protesttant" might be misinterpreted. It might be argued by captious and subtle persons, that indirectly, the legislature were admitting an established religion other than the Protestant. The form of the oath was undoubtedly liable to the same objection, as all the forms in which we abjured Catholicism; which were neither more nor less than insults on our Catholic brethren. He should agree, however, 437 to the present form; not because it was not liable to objection upon principle, but because the measure of 1821 was strongly opposed by some persons on the ground of the form of oath, proposed in 1793; not having been again introduced.
The Amendment was withdrawn by the honourable member who had proposed it.
Mr. B. Cooper
could not understand how a Roman Catholic could sincerely and conscientiously take an oath, which went to the abjuration of some of the main doctrines of his religion. He was quite sure, that if he was a Roman Catholic, he could not take such an oath. In fact, oaths of this description had been expressly declared by the pope, to be invalid and nugatory.
Mr. V. Fitzgerald
observed, that the very oath which to the mind of the hon. member for Gloucester appeared impossible for the Catholic to take, had been actually the law of the land for a considerable time, and was administered to every Catholic upon various occasions. It was known as Dr, Duigenan's oath. If the bishops abstained from taking it, so long as they were forbidden by the pope, it was a proof of their sincerity; and the fact of their afterwards taking it proved, either that the pope's opinions had been changed, or that the Irish bishops disclaimed any authority, on the part of the see of Rome, to interfere with them in matters of a temporal nature. In either case, their having once abstained from it. through principle, and subsequently subscribing to it, afforded strong evidence of their sincerity.
§ Sir J. Newport
said, that the oath in question had been framed by Dr. Duigenan, with the most scrupulous attention to the minutest prejudices of the opponents of the Catholics, and with no disposition to relieve the latter from the disagreeable task of disclaiming any imaginable objectionable doctrines. He was astonished that an oath, framed by that learned person, should have been cavilled at by any one else. Upon the point of scruple it was only necessary to say, that the heads of the Catholic church in Ireland approved of, and subscribed to, this form of oath at the present moment. There could be no doubt that it was originally framed with a view to outrage their feelings, by the learned doctor to whom he had referred; but it was also framed in total ignorance of the principles 438 of the Catholic faith. However, the House might rest content with it, seeing that it had satisfied the prejudices of those who had been the most distinguished for their hostility to Catholic emancipation.
§ Mr. Goulburn
said, it appeared to him there was no necessity to adhere so closely to the oath of 1793; and particularly when it was rendered needless by the subsequent evidence which had been received.
§ Mr. Sumner
suggested the omission from the oath of invidious passages, such as the disclaimer of "a right to murder, &c."
gave the hon. member credit for the good faith and generosity with which he made the proposition, but it did not appear to him likely to advance the success of the measure to accede to it. If the objections of this House only were to be encountered, he should have no hesitation; but, he feared the effect which the omission might have in another place. If the bill should come down from the Lords, he would receive the suggestion as a favour on behalf of the Catholics. At present he could not.
§ Mr. Brougham
said, that the oath was required to be taken only by those who were called to exercise some public function. If they should not undertake the office, there would be no necessity of taking the oath. Some honourable members objected to the oath as an insufficient security, in consequence of what was supposed to be the absolving power of the pope. But, he begged to ask what other security had they at present but that of an oath? What was there to hinder his learned friend Mr. O'Connell, from taking his seat in that House at the present day but an oath? There were many parts of Ireland—he would not name them, lest he should give alarm to some of the Irish members)—where, if Mr. O'Connell presented himself as a candidate, his election would be certain. There were also some places in England in which, if he presented himself, his return would be secure. What was it that prevented him, but an oath? "Oh, but," said the opponents of this bill, "the pope may absolve him from that oath." "No," replied Mr. O'Connell, "I do not believe that he or any other authority has that power, and therefore I will stay out of parliament because I cannot conscientiously take it." Why, the thing was quite plain, and he did not 439 despair of making it understood even by the hon. member for Bristol. The hon. member, however, and his consort the member for Surrey, who sailed together on this question, fired whole broadsides at every kind of oaths, and yet turned round and said; this was not sufficiently strong as a security. Why in the name of Heaven, or he would say as perhaps something of greater weight with those who were so much alarmed for the security of the Protestant establishment—in the name of Dr. Duigenan, and what security could they have greater than that which they already possessed? What, he would repeat, prevented the Catholic from coming into parliament without the intervention of any bill, but his respect for the sanctity of an oath, and his consequent unwillingness to take one from which he knew he could not be absolved? For his own part, he was not anxious for any oath, because he did not believe any such security necessary; but, he consented to an oath being embodied in the bill, because he knew that he had to conciliate prejudices; and if, by allowing the oath to remain, he could make even one convert in that House or in the other, he would consent to the oaths remaining as they now stood in the bill: but he did not admit they were in themselves necessary to the security of the country. He concurred with what had lately fallen from the right hon. Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, that no force could be required to enter by the door of the constitution, unless it were closed. Let the door be thrown wide open, and the force would spend itself.
§ Mr. Brougham
said, that when the clause repecting the commission came to be discussed, he would propose an amendment, but not in the point to which the right hon. gentleman adverted.
§ Mr. Peel
without meaning to anticipate the discussion on the clause, said, that when they relieved the Catholic from taking the oath of supremacy, they should also consider the situation in which they might leave the conscientious Protestant with respect to it. By the very fact of exonerating the Catholic from the oath, an admission was made, that the pope had 440 some spiritual supremacy; and yet the Protestant would still be called upon to swear that, "no foreign prince, prelate, state, or potentate, hath or ought to have any power, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or temporal, in these realms." Now, how, after an admission of the spiritual authority to the Roman Catholics, could a Protestant be called upon to swear that it did not exist?
did not think the Protestants would be in a worse situation after the passing of this bill than they were before it, with respect to the oath of supremacy. Why, his right hon. friend knew—every body knew—that the pope did at the present moment exercise a spiritual authority in this country. But, those who took the oath denying any such authority, did so with great safety, because they meant, and the oath meant no more, that no such authority or control existed over the person taking it. If the oath was intended to convey, that no such authority existed any where this country, then all those who swore that, must swear to what was false. If, however, his right hon. friend wished to have a bill to relieve the tender consciences, of any individuals with respect to the oath, he should have no objection whatever to such a course.
§ Mr. Peel
did not consider the explanation of his right hon. and learned friend satisfactory. It was true in one sense, the situation of the Protestant would not be worse than at present if this bill should pass; but, in another it would, because by this bill, the spiritual authority of the pope would, to a certain extent, be legalized; which it was not at the present moment. We were now about to grant salaries to Roman Catholic archbishops. and bishops, which would be recognizing the Catholic church as legally established, which it was not at present.
§ Mr. Brougham
observed, that after the able statement of his right hon. and learned friend, he should despair of convincing the right hon. gentleman opposite; but still he could not avoid saying a few words. If the oath of supremacy was to be understood in the sense in which the right hon. gentleman took it, no man could swear it without swearing falsely, because no man could deny, that the pope had a spiritual authority, recognized in this country by a large portion of our fellow-subjects. He had taken the oath, and he had done it safely. He had sworn not that. the pope 441 had not some authority over many of his fellow subjects, but that he had not any over him, or those who thought with him. The right hon. gentleman said, that we had not hitherto recognized the Roman Catholic establishment; but, was it recollected that the government paid for the education of Roman Catholic priests, who were commissioned by the pope? That was a recognition of the Catholic church as great as the one now proposed; and yet he had not heard of any man who had vomited forth the oath of supremacy in consequence.
§ Sir J. Newport
asked, why were the titles "most reverend "and" "right reverend" given to the Catholic archbishops and bishops, if not to distinguish their rank from that of the other orders of Catholic priesthood? The time was, when Catholic priests were hunted down wherever they were found in this country. That time was now gone by for ever. Was it intended to re-enact those penal laws, and reduce the Catholic priest to his former state? If not, why deny the Catholic hierarchy that rank to which they were by ordination entitled? When his present majesty was advised by his ministers to receive the Catholic bishops, and did receive them, at his levee in Ireland, he fully recognized them as such. It was not quite decent in a minister of the Crown now to deny that which his sovereign had publicly acknowledged.
§ Mr. Peel
said, he was not recurring to the subjects which the hon. member had introduced, nor had he any wish to proscribe the Catholic clergy. All he contended for was, that they were now about to make an alteration inconsistent with the existing law; and that some other law would be required to reconcile the oath of supremacy to the conscientious feelings of many individuals.
§ Mr. L. Foster
said, that when he took the oath of supremacy, he had done so with the understanding that the pope had not any legal authority in these countries; but the case would be different if this bill were passed.
§ Lord J. Russell
said, the time was, when the exercise of the Catholic religion in this country subjected the party to 442 persecution; but, when once that religion was tolerated, the spiritual authority of the pope was recognized to a certain extent; for the recognition of that authority formed part of the religious tenets of the Roman Catholic.
said, that as the right hon. Secretary was not satisfied with the instance of the college of Maynooth, he would furnish him with another precedent, which in his mind was conclusive. He alluded to that act of the Irish parliament, which relieved the Roman Catholics from the penalties of recusancy, on the condition that they should attend Catholic places of worship. Was not that a legal recognition of the spiritual influence of the pope within the realm?
The clause was agreed to. On the clause that provided against the eligibility of any Roman Catholic to the offices of lord lieutenant, deputy governor, lord high chancellor, either in Great Britain or Ireland, being read, Mr. Robertson moved, as an amendment, that Roman Catholics should be ineligible to represent any county, city, university, or borough, in England or Scotland. The amendment was negatived.—The chairman then put the clause containing the regulations deemed necessary, touching the appointment of bishops and deans of the Roman Catholic church in Ireland, and the commission which is to issue to Roman Catholic bishops.
§ Mr. Brougham
said, that he had an amendment to propose upon this clause. After reading the following words of the clause, "And whereas it is expedient that such precautions should be taken, in respect of persons in holy orders professing the Roman Catholic religion, who may at any time hereafter be elected, nominated, or appointed to the exercise or discharge of episcopal duties or functions in the Roman Catholic church in Ireland or to the duties or functions of a dean in the said church, as that no such person shall at any time hereafter assume the exercise or discharge of any such duties or functions within the United Kingdom, or any part thereof, whose loyalty and peaceable conduct shall not have been previously ascertained, as hereinafter provided"—he said he wished to add to them these words—"And whereas, it is fit and requisite to regulate the intercourse between the subjects of this realm and the see of Rome, be it therefore enacted, that it shall and may be lawful for his 443 majesty, his heirs and successors, by two several commissions, to be issued under the great seal, to nominate and appoint such persons in holy orders, professing the Roman Catholic religion, and exercising episcopal duties or functions in Ireland, as his majesty, his heirs and successors, shall think fit to be commissioners under the act for the two purposes before-mentioned, and that the person first named in the said commission should be the president thereof."—The hon. and learned gentleman said, that as he had before stated the grounds on which he recommended the securities, he should not now repeat them. The objection to this measure was, that by agreeing to it the House would legalize the spiritual authority of the pope. He asserted that the House would do no such thing: it would merely regulate the existence of that which had existed for many years, in spite of its enactments. That the pope had spiritual authority in this country could not be contradicted. For instance, if the pope were to ordain him a priest, and the king were to appoint him to the bishoprick of Durham—one of the most lucrative appointments, by the by, in his gift, and the best trade of all now going—he would be entitled to become a bishop per saltum, and would not require ordination from any person qualified to confer it in the English church, As a proof that he was not indulging in idle assertion, he would remind the House of a case of recent occurrence in Ireland. Dr. O'Beirne, the late Protestant bishop of Meath, was originally ordained a priest by the pope of Rome. He was then a Catholic; but afterwards becoming a Protestant, he was made a bishop without any further ordination. He would offer no further argument in addition to those which he had already advanced on the subject of securities. He saw no danger and therefore could not admit the necessity of securities. He was, however, willing to grant them, in order to obtain the support of those who were not willing to accede to the bill without securities. The learned gentleman then placed his amendment in the hands of the chairman.
Mr. Secretary Peel
said, that as the authority of bishop Horsley had been referred to in the course of the debate, he could wish hon. gentlemen would refer to the reverend bishop's speech for the arguments contained in it. The re- 444 verend prelate drew a distinction between the different authorities exercised by the pope of Rome, which well deserved the attention of the House. He admitted the pope was bishop of Rome, and that he had liberty to confer degrees within his own jurisdiction; but, he denied that the pope had any liberty to do so in this country; and upon that principle refused to remove the disabilities under which the Roman Catholics laboured. He would only say a few words on the provisions which this clause introduced into the bill. He declared, with the utmost candour, that it would be a great satisfaction to his mind, if the hon. and learned gentleman would leave these provisions entirely out of the bill. He made that declaration, not with any sinister intention of thereby defeating the bill, but from a full conviction, that such provisions were worse than nugatory. No objection which he felt to the removal of the Catholic disabilities would be removed by the existence of such securities. They were very different from those which had formerly been proposed by his right hon friend, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; and such as they were, they were disclaimed by the hon. and learned gentleman opposite, who said that they did not come from him, but were framed out of pure deference to the scruples of those gentlemen with whom he (Mr. Peel) had the honour of acting. It was remarked by the fabulist, thatThe child, whom many filters share, But seldom boasts a father's care;and the remark seemed verified in the present instance. This clause appeared to have no legitimate father. The hon. and learned member disclaimed the securities it contained; and he was ready to follow his example. They were not required, the hon. and learned gentleman said, by the Catholics; and, he would add, that they were not at all wanted by the Protestants. If any gentleman would get up and say, that these securities would be effectual securities to the Protestant church in Ireland, he would wave the objection which he felt to them; but, if no person should support them, he hoped the hon. and learned gentleman would consider whether the bill would not be better calculated to conciliate the people of Ireland without these securities, than with them. He objected to them on this ground—that they imposed on the Crown an obligation to appoint two permanent 445 commissions, composed exclusively of ecclesiastics. Besides, they provided that if the bull, dispensation, or other document received from Rome, were of an innocent nature, it should be sent to the parties to whom it was directed, but did not provide for what was to be done with it, in case it should appear to be of a dangerous description. There was likewise no penalty attached to any bishop who should exercise episcopal functions, without having received such a certificate as was mentioned in the present clause. Add to this, that no commissioner would like to impeach of disloyalty a man who had not been convicted of some disloyal act. There was nothing more vague than the ideas attached to the words loyal and disloyal; and he should therefore wish to know what construction the hon. and learned gentleman intended to put upon them.
said, that he should have no objection to throw these securities overboard, if by so doing he could ensure the company of his right hon. friend to the conclusion of his voyage; but, as he could not flatter himself with a hope of such a consummation, and as he knew that the abandonment of these securities would deprive him of the support of several of the crew with whom he was then embarked, he felt bound to keep them at all hazards. For his own part, he thought these securities to be effectual securities, and to be essential to the success of the bill. Still, is he deemed them as useless as he believed them to be serviceable, he would abide by them, for two reasons; first, because they tended to make the bill more likely to succeed; and secondly, because they tended to conciliate towards it the Protestant feeling of the country. In spite of the taunts of his right hon. friend, that these securities had not the good fortune to possess a father, he would avow that he was the person on whom this bantling had a claim for support. When he recollected that all former securities had been similar in nature to the present, and especially those which considered oaths and commissions;is admissible, he could have no reason to disown his connexion with it. Indeed, he saw a strong necessity for granting these, securities in the fact, that they recognized, for the first time, the admissibility of Catholics to the privileges of the constitution. It was also known, that Catholics lived under the spiritual control of their priests; were influenced 446 by it to a certain degree in their political conduct; and were, by means of their priests, in constant connexion with the court of Rome. He held it to be no inconsiderable security, that when the people were so much under the influence of their priesthood, that priesthood should be brought into connexion with the state, and should give to it full assurance of its peaceful and loyal behaviour. As to the objection, that loyalty was a vague term which meant every thing and nothing, he would merely reply, that it was an objection which might have had some weight supposing they had been framing an act of parliament to punish a want of loyalty. In that case it might have been necessary to define clearly the meaning of loyalty, in order to ascertain the extent of crime which was concealed under a want of it; but in the present case, no such niceness of language was required: it was only necessary that the commissioners should certify whether the candidate for preferment was what in common parlance was called a loyal or a disloyal man. He admitted that the securities of the present bill were not the same with those of the bill which he had introduced in 1821. By the bill of 1821, the commission was to consist of certain prelates, certain laymen, and certain ministers of the Crown By the present bill, no layman, nor minister of the Crown, would be admitted into it; but it would consist exclusively of Roman Catholic prelates. He considered the security of the present bill to be equally good with the securities of the bill of 1821. He should not have suggested any change in those securities, if it had not been for this reason. He thought it his duty to furnish the committee with such measures as would be thankfully received by the Catholic population; and he was informed, on good authority, that to a commission of this nature no part of it would object. It was no slight recommendation of this bill to say, that it was a measure which, in the critical state of Ireland, was calculated to give immediate and universal satisfaction in that country. He did not propose this species of security to guard against the supposition that the Roman Catholics were bad subjects. The Roman Catholics were like other subjects; if they committed crimes against the state, they were liable to punishment by the ordinary laws of the country. The dangers against which the House had to guard were those which arose from 447 the Catholics being contradistinguished, in several respects, from the other subjects of the realm. He took it for granted that the Roman Catholic prelates were good subjects—were honest men—were persons whose oaths could be relied on; and, if that were admitted, he would ask, whether it was not a great security that the Crown should be allowed to select four individuals from their body, from time to time, by whose certificate it could be assured that every person enrolled into their number was a loyal subject, and not only that he was a loyal subject, but that this nomination had been domestic and had not proceeded from the pope, or from any foreign power? Domestic nomination had been considered, from the commencement of these discussions, as a security equal to a direct veto on the part of the Crown. The people of Ireland were ready to grant domestic nomination without a murmur; whereas, the veto could not have been given to the Crown without great difficulty, and perhaps not without entering into an express concordat with the pope. In conclusion, the right hon. and learned gentleman said, that even if the question of Catholic emancipation could not be carried, he should consider an arrangement of this nature highly essential to the security of the empire, and to the tranquillity of Ireland.
§ Mr. Bankes
thought the proposed securities were quite inadequate. They were, as compared with the ones offered in 1821, merely the form contrasted with the substance.
The original clause was then agreed to. Upon the clause respecting the oath to be taken by the ecclesiastical commission,
was really at a loss to see what danger could be apprehended from the Catholic hierarchy in England.
§ Mr. Brougham
concurred in this view Of the absence of all danger from such a body.
Upon the clause for regulating the reception of bulls from the church of Rome,
§ Sir F. Ommanney
complained that the homage paid to these bulls, ought not to be encouraged; it was contrary to the second commandment, which prohibited idolatry [A laugh].
§ Mr. Brougham
assured the hon. gentle- 448 man that he might retire to, or rather continue his night's rest, without any fears upon that head; for these bulls were not the animals with horns, that were sometimes calculated to scare a man, but quiet and inoffensive bulls upon paper, which were merely received by the Catholics with some pious token of respect.
The clauses of the bill being agreed to,
hoped that this bill would not be pressed to a third reading, until the clergy provision bill was passed; as several members had agreed to the former, on the condition of its being accompanied by the latter.
§ Sir John Newport
said, that though the bill had not yet been brought in, a resolution had been agreed to which ought to be quite sufficient for the noble lord and his friends. The clergy provision bill was to be viewed as an adjunct to the present bill; and it was fitting that the principal measure should be disposed of, before going into the details of the other.
§ Mr. Brougham
said, he would willingly have made a reasonable sacrifice to conciliate the noble lord; but, he entreated the noble lord to consider how completely the condition he proposed would go to nullify some of the most gracious labours in which the House had ever been engaged. It went to make the passing of this bill depend upon the pissing of another bill, which was not yet in existence—which was not even in contemplation at the time this measure was chalked out with the concurrence of a majority of the House. Let the noble lord only consider what it was to make a bill, which had gone through the committee, depend upon the multiplied forms of passing another bill, which might be checked and thrown out in any one of its stages, Surely there was sufficient security for these measures of a provision for the clergy, in the majority which had voted for the resolutions of the noble lord, and the clause in the bill of the hon. member for Stafford, which made the passing of that bill to depend upon the fate of the bill now before the committee.
§ Mr. Sumner
said, that they had heard nothing from his majesty's ministers as to what was likely to be the reception of the measure which was to follow upon the resolution of lord F.L. Gower. He thought it was trifling with the House to keep it in ignorance upon that point.
§ Mr. Brougham
said, that every man of them agreed that the measure for a pro- 449 vision for the Catholic Clergy would be quite out of the question, unless they first gave emancipation. The priests had over and over again informed them, that to accept a provision for the clergy, without emancipation, would be to betray their duty to their flocks. The resolution only pledged the House to make that provision contingently upon passing this bill.
consented to withdraw his proposition.
The House resumed. The report was then ordered to be received, pro forma, and taken into further consideration on Monday.