§ After numerous Petitions had been presented, both for and against the Claims of the Roman Catholics,
Sir Francis Burdett
rose, to bring forward the motion of which he had given notice. In bringing this great question before the House, he felt, he trusted, a 826 proper sense of the difficulties that were personal to him on the occasion. He was fortunate, however, in one respect; namely, which was the period of time at which this duty had devolved upon him. The subject had been brought forward at different times, and certainly under far more unfavourable circumstances than at present existed. When he recollected, that the cause of the Catholics had received the sanction of the most eminent men of the country; when he recollected that it had been supported by Burke, by Fox, by Pitt, by Sheridan, and "last, not least," by Grattan; when he recollected that almost every individual distinguished for his intellect had added his authority to the great mass of opinion in its favour—it appeared to him, that that man must be possessed of singular confidence who, without the most mature deliberation, and the most profound reflection, and also without the means and the ability to account for and justify his conviction, could make up his mind against such a weight of authority, to resist the motion with which he should have the honour to conclude. It should, too, be recollected, that however these great men differed upon almost all other subjects—however they might have been at variance respecting other points of policy,—they were all unanimous upon this. Many of them were in situations in which ambition, be it good or be it bad, operated as a powerful incitement on their minds; but, on this subject, where there was no alloy of ambition in the motive by which they were actuated, where the course they were pursuing was the reverse of popular, where they had to stem the tide of long-established prejudices, they risked every other consideration, and advocated a cause, from advocating which they could hope for no advantage, except the gratification of their own feeling of the importance, the justice, and the policy of the concession. Their authority was there fore doubled. It was not merely the authority of their intellect; it was also the authority of their conviction of what was due to a sense of right, the public good, and the best interests of the country at large. It must be, moreover, considered, that the great men to whom he had alluded had removed the principal difficulties by which the question had been environed. They had dispelled the clouds of ignorance; they had turned the current of misrepresentation; they had left the legislature to 827 follow the dictates of pine reason, unencumbered by that learned lore which it had required the efforts of their extraordinary powers to remove. Such had been their labours; so that, at the present day, the question was reduced to due of a plain, simple, common-sense, practical nature. At the same time, and while he described the authority by which the cause of the Catholics had been sustained, it must not be forgotten, that their claims rested on the strong and solid foundation—if good faith was a strong and solid foundation—of a treaty; as well as on considerations of reason, justice, policy, and expediency. He hoped he should be able to describe the true grounds on which the question stood. But, before he entered into any examination of them, he implored the House to come to the discussion with minds free from all those feelings of irritation and prejudice, which, he was sorry to observe, on a late occasion, seemed to be but too prevalent. He intreated them to lay aside all personal feeling,—to forget all inferior and angry topics—and not to substitute the conduct of individuals for argument, in considering the wisdom of the great and important measure upon which they were now called upon to determine. Every candid man must be disposed to admit that—where the passions, had been long and strongly excited—where expectations had been long and painfully delayed—where interests of the greatest magnitude were at stake, occurrences might and must occasionally take place, that all must lament. Much had been done, and still more had been said, which no man could go the length of justifying; and, although, perhaps, less had been done and said, than, under such circumstances, might have been expected, yet there was no doubt much which was deeply to be deplored. All these considerations, however, would, he trusted, be allowed to merge in the merits of the great and important question, on which the House had now to pronounce; and, from a deliberate examination of which, he trusted they would not be turned by the influence of interests comparatively unimportant, and unbecoming topics of discussion. The hon. member for the county of Derry had, the other evening, told the House, that he would this night open the first page of a new history of Ireland. He trusted in God, that the new history of Ireland would not be like the old one; he hoped that it 828 would not be "atrox prœliis, discors seditionibus;" but that it would be a history of peace, and conciliation, and safety, and happiness, to all parties [hear, hear!].
It had frequently been objected to the Catholics, that their religion was inconsistent with civil liberty; and many men, otherwise of liberal minds, possessed with that opinion, opposed any further concession to them. But, who that called to mind the conduct of our Catholic forefathers—of those men of great renown to whom we were indebted for the civil liberty which we enjoyed—but must concur in lamenting, that names which rendered illustrious every page of our history—names without spot or stain of any kind—should, at the present day, stand as the appellations of a proscribed race? While we boasted of the institutions for which we were indebted to their glorious efforts—institutions which no true Englishman would surrender but with life—institutions which, while they constituted our own security and happiness, were the admiration of the world—we withheld justice from the descendants of their immortal founders. When the House recollected, that even under all the disadvantages and disabilities under which the Catholics of the present day laboured, they never failed us in the hour of peril and of combat; when they recollected that many of the names of the heroes of Cressy and Agincourt, were also the names of the heroes of Waterloo—the name of Howard came at once strongly on his memory—when they also recollected, that the Catholics disclaimed the imputations of subservience to a foreign power which had been cast upon them; when they recollected the conduct of our Catholic forefathers towards that power to which the Catholics of the present day were supposed to be slavishly submissive—he thought they would feel ashamed of any longer withholding from them a full participation in the civil rights of their countrymen. Let the House only look at the reign of Edward 1st, when the pope endeavoured to interfere with the temporal concerns of England; and when that monarch replied, that he would not admit of any interference in his kingdom, on the part of the See of Rome. On that occasion, the barons of England wrote a letter to the pope, of which he had brought a copy with him to the House, although he would not trouble them by reading more than one or two sentences; 829 which, however, could leave no doubt on the mind of any impartial man, that the Catholics of that period were not so submissive to the papal authority as they were represented to be. Here was then, direct authority to show that the subserviency of Catholics to the pope was unfounded; that, this necessary state of slavery did not in fact exist. The following was the extract from the annals to which he alluded:—"And that the said king Edward had suppressed all the Scotch bishops, and held them under subjection to him, against the constitution of the Catholic church in general, and the See of Rome in particular." The king, by the advice of his parliament, returned this answer to that part of the letter wherein the pope commanded Edward to send his proctors and messengers to the court of Home, to show what right he had to claim the realm of Scotland—"That he did not think fit to say any thing to it himself, but that the whole barony of England would write to his holiness, that their king could not act in that manner, nor refer a right which was so clear and open to the doubtful judgment of another court." However, the king himself thought proper to dissemble his anger against the holy father; and accordingly answered the pope's letter in a very submissive manner. "Neither have the kings of England, in their said kingdom, ever submitted their rights, in temporals, to any ecclesiastical or secular court; have never answered to them, nor ought to answer, but have inviolably observed to keep up the free pre-eminence, state, and dignity of the said kingdom at all times. Whence, upon a due deliberation, and treating upon the contents of your memorable letter, the common and unanimous consent of all and singular was, is, and will be, God willing, for ever—that our aforesaid lord the king ought not to answer judicially before you, nor submit his rights over the realm of Scotland, nor any other of his temporal rights whatever, to your doubtful judgment. Neither has he any reason to send his messengers or proctors to plead for him in your presence; particularly when the premises will most manifestly tend to the disinheriting the right of the English crown, and its royal dignity, and the utter subversion of the state of the said kingdom; and be a prejudice to our liberties, customs, and paternal laws, the observation and defence of which we stand obliged by our oaths to 830 defend; and which, by the help of God, we will with all our power and strength maintain; neither shall we in anywise permit, as we can and ought to hinder, such unaccustomed doings; nor shall we suffer our aforesaid lord the king in any manner to attempt to do, if he would, such undue, prejudicial, and heretofore unheard of actions. Therefore, we humbly and reverently beseech your holiness, that you would kindly permit our sovereign lord the king, (who amongst other princes of the earth, shows himself a true Catholic, and devoted to the See of Rome), to possess quietly all his rights, liberties, customs, and laws, without diminution or disturbance. In testimony of which we have put our seals to these presents, as well for ourselves as for the whole community of the aforesaid realm of England." This quotation was, he thought, conclusive, that no such servitude necessarily attached to the connexion between the British Catholics and the See of Rome.
With respect to the disqualifications under which the Roman Catholics at present laboured, it was right to call to mind the times and circumstances in which these disqualifications originated. It was obvious to every man conversant in the history of the country, that the real or pretended cause of such disqualifications had long ceased to exist. There was no pretence, therefore, founded upon their past infliction, for their prolonged continuance. The original causes, preposterous as some of them were, had yet a feasible motive, as well as prospective purpose. It would be recollected, that these penal laws had their origin in the heat, the animosity, and contention, which sprung out of what was called the Popish Plot. Of that plot, at this time of day, little would be attempted to be said. Abandoned as was the recollection of that story now, he yet did not pretend to say, that the patriots of the time had no reason to be suspicious, even very and justly apprehensive, of the king then on the throne; who was known to them to be a traitor to his crown and people, and the mean and subservient pensioner of the king of France. In those times also, the religion and liberty of the country were, from a variety of then existing causes, inseparably united: the meditated attack upon the one was intended to be used as the means of subverting the other. In such a state of things, one could not be surprised that the best men 831 should hurry each other into excesses, which, looked at in cooler and different times, were of a questionable aspect, and fraught with consequences carrying with them the elements and the measures of very doubtful justice. When it was recollected, that the party spirit of that period brought so good, so just, and so virtuous a man as lord Russell to the block; when it was recollected that the disqualifications of the Catholics were attributable to the same description of feelings to which the shedding of that noble blood was to be ascribed; when it was recollected that within a short period from the present moment, parliament had reviewed and reversed the attainder of that innocent and unfortunate nobleman, lord Stafford; and when it was recollected that by that act the legislature deliberately acknowledged the injustice of the times in which the Catholic disqualifications originated; he trusted that it would not be too much to ask the House, especially after the decisions of three preceding Houses of Commons, to think of some little reparation, some attempt at recompense, to the descendants of those who were so unjustly used; some effort to rescue the country from the stigma which that usage had impressed upon it.
With respect to the present claims of the Catholics of Ireland, he begged leave to say, that he thought the House was bound by considerations of good faith to grant them. He alluded to the treaty of Limerick. When he had formerly asserted that, in his opinion, the Catholics of Ireland were entitled by the treaty of Limerick to the enjoyment of a full participation in all the civil rights of the community, the right hon. the Secretary of State for the Home Department had said, that he put a different interpretation upon the stipulations of that treaty, which appeared to him not to extend to public rights, but to be confined merely to private property; and had also intimated, that if it did extend to public rights, he would certainly give the Catholics the benefit of the treaty. Now, he entreated the right hon. gentleman's attention to the words of the treaty itself; and if words had any meaning, if he admitted the binding nature of a treaty, he must clearly have the right hon. gentleman's vote. These were the words of the first article of that treaty—"The Roman Catholics of this kingdom shall enjoy such privileges in the exercise of their religion 832 as are consistent with the laws of Ireland, or as they did enjoy in the reign of king Charles 2nd; and their majesties, as soon as their affairs will permit them to summon a parliament in this kingdom, will endeavour to procure the said Roman Catholics such further security, in that particular, as may preserve them from any disturbance upon the account of their said religion." The second article, after securing their property, says, "And their own and every of their heirs, shall hold, possess, and enjoy, all and every their estates of freehold and inheritance; and all the rights, titles, and interests, privileges and immunities, which they and every, or any of them, hold, enjoy or were rightfully and lawfully entitled in the reign of king Charles 2nd or any time since, by the laws and statutes that were in force in the said reign." Now, he apprehended, that in the reign of Charles 2nd Catholic peers sat in the Irish parliament. Here was an expressed stipulation for the benefit of the Catholics generally.
Mr. Secretary Peel
observed, across the table, that the stipulations of the treaty did not refer to the Catholics generally; but only to those who were resident in Limerick, or any other garrison then in the possession of the Irish.
Sir Francis Burdett
continued. He said, he entertained a very different opinion of the interpretation of that treaty. Odd, indeed, would it be, if those who held out longest in arms, and therefore, did the greatest extent of mischief to the ruling powers, should yet be considered to be the most entitled to peculiar grace and favour. It was, however, quite impossible upon any fair principle, indeed it was monstrous, to suppose that this treaty solely related to the garrison of Limerick; for what said the ninth article of that treaty?—"The oath to be administered to such Roman Catholics as submit to their majesties' government shall be the oath aforesaid, and no other." The oath referred to was the oath of allegiance, "and no other;" and the article comprehended all submitting Catholics generally. But how had faith been kept with them, when it was by the agency of new oaths, and nothing else, that they had been kept ever since from the enjoyment of their proper privileges. As far as the articles of Limerick went, the case was, he thought, conclusive: faith was pledged, and faith had been broken. But even in the right 833 hon. gentleman's interpretation, that the men in arms were only included, then their descendants—and they must have some—were, though Catholics, invested with these privileges; and there ought to be some Catholics necessarily in the kingdom who were entitled to the conditions made with their primogenitors among the rest of their brethren. Where were they? But really such a construction was trifling. It was so contrary to all the rules of logic, all the fair modes of reasoning, that he felt quite persuaded, that the right hon. gentleman was more candid than to commit himself in that sort of argument. It would be most monstrous and preposterous, that those who were not in arms—those who had given the least offence—should be divested of the advantages which were conceded to their more hostile countrymen.
He felt himself, therefore, perfectly justified in contending, that in pursuance of the treaty of Limerick, no other oath ought ever to have been imposed upon the Catholics of Ireland but the oath of allegiance. With respect to the Catholics of England, they were among the best and most irreproachable members of the community. Their conduct as a public body, and their character as private individuals, were such as to render their exclusion from civil rights utterly unjustifiable. If the House would look at the leading names of the English Catholics they would at once recognize some of the most illustrious in our annals. No class of his majesty's subjects could stand the test of a scrutiny into their public and private lives more triumphantly than the Catholics of England. And yet these very persons, who were "omni exceptione majores," were the worst off. They had not even the privileges such as they were, of their Irish brethren. Could any man contend, with the least particle of decency, that such a distinction ought to exist? It was bad enough with the Catholics of Ireland; but still worse with the gentlemen of that persuasion in England. Were they to be cast back, because, forsooth, their brethren in Ireland did not put forth their claims in quite as palatable a form as some of their opponents affected to desire? Was their irritation to be made the pretence of continuing a grievance upon others, against whom no similar accusation could, be made? Were the English Catholics to be compelled to wait until the Irish Ca- 834 tholics were taught, as it was said, to become more prudent? Was not that to proclaim to the Catholics of England, that they ought to take a different course; for that so long as they chose to lie down and be trampled upon, trampled upon they would be. When he recollected how tenacious this country had always professed to be of its good faith, he felt ashamed to reflect that the only persons with whom it had not kept faith were so large a portion of its own population. It was but a few days ago that it was declared in that House, that the good faith of England was pledged to maintain the family of Braganza on the Throne of Portugal. No one, whatever he might think of the policy of adhering to the treaty, denied that good faith required us to do so. By that treaty we had formed an alliance with the people of Portugal. But was not an alliance with the people of Ireland of infinitely more importance to us than an alliance with the people of Portugal? Simply by doing an act of justice, we might cement a most valuable alliance with six millions of faithful and attached Catholics in Ireland—an event that would be incalculably more beneficial to this country, than an alliance formed in any other part of the civilized world.
Coming down to a later period, he was sorry to say with Mr. Burke, that "he had never known any of the successive governments, in his time, influenced by any other passion relative to Ireland than the wish that they should hear of it, and of its concerns, as little as possible;" that the government "had abandoned Ireland to a junta of jobbers, who endeavoured to secure to themselves lucrative repose against the factions who might oppose them there, or the rivals who might want to succeed them from England;" and that "nothing could equal the provocation the Catholics had received, particularly from that race of conquerors, the corporation of Dublin." As to the wish of the government of this country not to have their repose disturbed by the affairs of Ireland, it was in vain. Ireland had risen into too great importance not to trouble us, if we did not take just and proper means to prevent her from doing so. The days had passed away when Ireland could be neglected with impunity. The interests of Ireland were now among the most vital interests of the empire. Until within a few years, indeed, the condition of Ireland 835 was most abject; the laws were dreadfully oppressive, and were efficiently administered. Then it was that Mr. Pitt saw the advantage of introducing a system of conciliation; and of endeavouring to raise the people of Ireland in the scale of humanity. The government of England had thought proper to pursue a system of gradual concession to the Irish Catholics, which had rendered them fit to receive a full participation in all the benefits of the constitution; it had elevated their minds to the highest pitch of refinement; it had made them susceptible of the keenest impressions of their injuries: it had given them the sense of knowing their wrongs; and, if the House refused to do them that justice which he now demanded in their behalf, nothing could be more unwise than the conduct that had been pursued towards them. Those who, by their measures, had brought the Catholics to the high degree of improvement which qualified them to enjoy every civil right, and honourable distinction, must have had in view that goal at which the House had now arrived: they must have meant to complete and crown their work by that great, that just, that wise, measure, now under the consideration of Parliament. Nothing could be more wise, nothing could be more humane, than by degrees to raise up a fallen people; nothing could be more just and politic than to loosen the fetters that bound them to the earth; to strike off their shackles one by one; to free them until they were at length fit for complete and full action. He believed that Mr. Pitt had the merit of having had that object in view, and that he had only been prevented from accomplishing it, by the occurrence of events over which he had no control. He had probably begun his work at the wrong end; as many of his political opponents told him at the time. Indeed, it appeared to him (sir F. Burdett) that it would have been safer to have begun his work with the higher, and to have ended it with the lower classes. Surely there would have been less danger in admitting four or five Catholic peers to their indefeasible right—for such he considered it—of sitting and voting in the House of Lords, and a scanty number of Catholic gentlemen to seats in the House of Commons, than in giving to the bulk of the people great political power, for which they were not so well qualified, and in denying their just and reasonable rights to 836 those who, from their education, their rank in life, and their stake in the country, might be fairly considered to deserve them. Be that, however, as it might, it was a most preposterous thing, after having freed the Catholics of Ireland from that oppressive code which prevented them from holding landed property from entering into the liberal professions, and from enjoying many other advantages to which their station in society entitled them to aspire—after having abrogated those penal clauses which destroyed all elasticity of mind in those who were subjected to them, which extinguished in their bosoms all hope of amelioration, and by so doing, reconciled them to that melancholy state of degradation and slavery in which it was their destiny to drag on a wearisome existence,—it was, he repeated, a most preposterous thing, a most unheard of act of folly, to suppose that the intellect of Ireland now, when it had at last got free from many of the impediments which had so long embarrassed it, and had taken a start which it was impossible to control, would be content to remain any longer in that state of enthralment to which it was even yet partially consigned. That intellect would inevitably employ its noblest faculties, in accomplishing the destruction of those trammels which still encumbered its career; it would naturally seek to acquire that political power which had already been conferred on the lower classes of the country, and which undoubtedly it ought to enjoy, since, even in the judgment of those who made a bugbear of the enjoyment of such power by the educated portion of society, neither mischief nor danger had arisen to the community from the enjoyment of it by its most uneducated members. When the elective franchise was given to the common people, almost to the extent of universal suffrage, surely it was most foolish and impolitic to continue the restriction which prevented the Catholic elector from sending a Catholic representative to the House of Commons, and the Catholic nobleman from taking the seat in the House of Lords which he had acquired by descent from his ancestors. If it were not the intention of Mr. Pitt to arrive, at some time or other, at the proposition which he intended that night to submit to the House, then was Mr. Pitt, as well as all the great and commanding intellects who supported him in his legis- 837 lative measures with regard to the Catholics of Ireland, the most unwise and thoughtless of statesmen; for he had inflicted, by his measures of relief, an injury on the country which must terminate in a calamity to which he had some hesitation further to allude.
But he contended that, as to Mr. Pitt's intentions on this point, there could not be the slightest doubt. And here he would observe, that to him it was most surprising that those who called themselves the friends of Mr. Pitt, and the admirers of his principles, should, upon the greatest of all that minister's measures—ay, and upon that very measure which he adopted to accomplish the union with Ireland—lose all respect for his authority, and cast it off as unworthy of adoption, when the adoption of it was calculated to confer no less glory on his memory than benefit on his country. He had asserted, that Mr. Pitt had promised emancipation to the Catholics of Ireland, to induce them to consent to the union of their country with Great Britain. If any gentleman doubted the correctness of that assertion, he had authority to quote, which would convince even the most incredulous. All those who knew any thing of the political condition of the two countries just before the Union, knew well that in Ireland party animosity had risen to the most alarming pitch—that the whole page of its history had been traced in characters of blood—that the dissatisfaction of its different parties with each other had reached an acme at which it was improbable that it could long remain without producing the most lamentable results—and that the Union could never have been effected, had not the people of Ireland relied on the promises of Mr. Pitt, that they should be relieved by the Imperial parliament of the two countries, from the religious disabilities under which they had so long groaned, and from which they were aware that they never could be relieved by an Irish parliament. Thinking that their claims would be advocated in future by the commanding eloquence of Mr. Pitt, and that the measure of a legislative union would be the precursor of emancipation, the people of Ireland, with a generous confidence, delivered over the destinies of their country to his disposal; and it would now be the acme of ingratitude to turn round upon them, and say that their hopes should never be realized. That Mr. Pitt had 838 held out such hopes to the Catholics—that he had given to them pledges on that subject, binding both in honour and morality—was evident from the assurance which he repeated to them in his place in parliament on his resignation of office in 1801. Mr. Pitt's words were these:—"The measure of Catholic relief appeared to me and some of my colleagues to be indispensable. Finding we could not propose it from government, we thought it inconsistent with our duty and our honour to continue in office." Again, on another occasion, he said, "As to the merits of the question which led to my resignation, I am willing to submit them to the House. I and some of my colleagues in office did feel it an incumbent duty upon us to propose a measure on the part of government which, under the circumstances of the Union so happily effected between the two countries, we thought of great public importance, and necessary to complete the benefits likely to result from that measure; we felt this opinion so strongly, that when we met with circumstances which rendered it impossible for us to propose it as a measure of government, we felt it equally inconsistent with our duty and our honour any longer to remain a part of that government. What may be the opinion of others, I know not; but I beg to have it understood to be a measure which, if I had remained in government, I must have proposed." There was also a paper written, as he understood, by the late lord Castlereagh, under the immediate dictation of Mr. Pitt, and delivered by him as an explanation of his conduct to some of the leading Irish Catholics. It commenced as follows:—"The leading part of his majesty's ministry, finding insurmountable obstacles to the bringing forward measures of concession to the Catholic body while in office, have felt it impossible to continue in administration under the inability to propose it with the circumstances necessary to carrying the measure with all its advantages, and they have retired from his majesty's service, considering this line of conduct as most likely to contribute to its ultimate success. They (the Catholics) may with confidence rely on the zealous support of all those who retire, and on many who remain in office, when it can be given with a prospect of success; they may be assured that Mr. Pitt will do his utmost to establish their cause in the public favour, and pre- 839 pare the way for their finally attaining their, object."
He was of opinion, that the passage which he had just read to the House left not the slightest shadow of doubt as to the intentions which Mr. Pitt entertained upon this great and important subject. He was of opinion that it disclosed not only the policy which Mr. Pitt intended to pursue upon it, but also the promises which he had made to the Catholics, and the confidence which they had placed in those promises. If, then, the Union was effected in consequence of the promises which Mr. Pitt made to the Catholics, no real union could take place, unless those promises, which were part of the conditions on which it was to take place, were realized, A mere act of parliament never had, and never could, unite two countries. A union of hearts and of affections,—a union of wishes and of interests,—a union which should produce such results as Mr. Pitt anticipated from it,—a union which should at once give prosperity to Ireland, and confidence to England,—a union which should let English capital flow into Ireland, and give to the capitalist some hope of having that capital returned to him with profit,—a union which should identify the welfare of the two countries, and make them not only cleave together, but incorporate,—such a union never could take place, unless the disqualifications of the Catholics were removed, and complete emancipation was established in their stead. Until that measure was conceded, Ireland would be a perpetual source of embarrassment to England, and instead of increasing its finances, would—to our shame be it spoken—be an inexhaustible drain upon them. He said to our shame—for that Ireland—with a people industrious, active and intelligent, as any people upon the face of the earth,—with habits of hardihood and bravery which have seldom been equalled, and never surpassed—with resources, in its soil and on its shores, which, by the combined efforts of the government and the people, might be rendered an endless source of wealth to both,—that Ireland, with such a people and such resources, should subtract from, instead of adding to the available finances of the country was a disgrace, a reproach, to an Englishman wherever he showed himself.
As a measure of economy, emancipation ought to be granted to the Catholics, 840 inasmuch as it would not only render unnecessary the military establishments which it was at present requisite to maintain at a heavy expense in various parts of Ireland, but would also save to the country those large sums which were at present drawn from it by a "junta of jobbers," to use the expression of Mr. Burke, and expended in the support of their own exorbitant and oppressive power. There were many reasons—so obvious that they required no mention—why that junta should oppose Catholic emancipation at present as strenuously as it opposed, in former days, a legislative union. It was only natural that they should oppose any measure which was likely to tear from their talons the prey which they had clutched so long; it was only natural that they should unite heart and hand to crush any plan which tended to prevent Ireland from being parcelled out in future for jobs, as it had been parcelled out in times past, from the days of Chesterfield down to those of Cornwallis. Their interest, undoubtedly, was, to fan into flame those embers of discord which parliament sought to extinguish; and parliament might be assured, that so long as they had any power, they would exercise it in thwarting its plans for the pacification of Ireland. From such a contest England might reap shame, but they must reap emolument. In such a conflict to England the burthen must belong, and to them the benefit, if benefit it could be called. It was his firm belief that, if the Union had been carried into effect in the manner in which Mr. Pitt contemplated, and if those calamitous circumstances had not occurred which frustrated all his designs, the public jobbers to whom he had alluded, would have sunk into their native insignificance. Ireland would have been released from the vampires which had so long drained its blood and its treasures, and, restored to a healthy and vigorous condition, would have been making ample returns to England, for the benefits she had received, by adding wealth to her coffers, and strength to her resources. Yes, Ireland, instead of weakening England, would have been a never-failing support to her; and instead of forming the point from which she was the most vulnerable, would have proved to her the most impregnable bulwark against all attack
What he wished to effect by his measure 841 was, to make Ireland a shield of defence to England; and he must say, that he could not imagine any reasoning which could make any plain, sensible and considerate man agree to protract the present; system of things. So far from its being thought practicable to continue the present system, the House had heard men of all opinions, actuated by the most opposite motives, with feelings not only adverse, but absolutely hostile to each other, all concurring in stating, that the present system could not, by any possibility, be suffered to last much longer. Taking that for granted, he would now say to all those who opposed his views—"If you cannot agree with my propositions, I have a right to call upon you for your measure, and to ask you what alternative you have to propose." They had now come to a period when things could no longer remain as they were. They had arrived at the point, long since conceived by those who had advocated a gradual course of conciliatory measures towards the Catholics of Ireland, at which it became necessary to complete the system of policy which was calculated to unite two great nations in one constitutional bond, and to cease to persecute individuals collectively, whom they respected individually, for holding opinions in religion different from their own. Of all animosities which existed either between individuals or nations, those which were excited by religious feelings were the least justifiable in their origin, and the most lamentable in their results. He could not see any reason why one man should think himself justified in hating and persecuting his fellow, because they differed in their mode of expressing their gratitude to their common Creator; nor could he think it any thing less than impiety for any frail or fallible mortal to set up his ideas of religion, as those from which it was impossible to deviate without being guilty of crime. And yet, such was the conduct of those who rendered men liable to civil disqualifications on account of their religious principles! In every country on the continent of Europe, with the exception of that country which was involved in more than Cimmerian darkness—he meant Spain—men of all religions were freely admissible to offices of rank and power. In England, however, which once occupied the very first rank as a liberal country, and which, with every allowance for national vanity, he still con- 842 sidered to be as enlightened, as instructed, and as informed a country as any under Heaven—in England, whose liberal institutions formerly served as a model of imitation for less-favoured nations, a system of intolerance towards those who dissented from the doctrines of the Established Church was still adhered to, with a rigour and an obstinacy that was not unworthy of the dark ages. He repeated, that in every country in the world, save only England and Spain, Catholics and Protestants live together on the most friendly terms, and without asking one another to which sect they belonged. They contributed equally to the burthens of the state, and as was fitting, were equally entitled to its emoluments and honours. In Eng-and—he said it with shame—the case was different. Her government stood forward as an exception to the tolerant spirit of the age, and by so doing, exposed a defenceless side not only to the taunts, but also to the weapons of her enemies. He had some consolation, however, in reflecting, that the spirit of the government was not that which actuated either the people or the assembly which he was then addressing. He looked back with pride to the resolutions of former Houses of Commons in favour of emancipation. He trusted that the present House would not desert the course which its predecessors had pursued—that its career would be progressive,—and that by adding the sanction of its vote to the votes of its predecessors, it would relieve the people of England of the expense to which the present mode of dividing and governing Ireland subjected them, and would put an end to the only source of danger which, in his humble opinion, the country had to apprehend
He should not think that he was performing his duty to the House and to the country, if he did not call its attention to the nature of the dangers which it was supposed would emanate from granting to the Catholics the boon which they now asked. It had been said, that the measure which he recommended would give them additional power. He replied to that assertion, that it would give them no power which they had not at present; it would only remove from them a stigma by which they were unjustly, in his opinion, disgraced. It would restore to the sovereign his ancient perogative of employing in his service all his subjects, without regard to their religious sentiments—a prerogative 843 which it was for the interest of the nation that he should exercise, and of which his predecessors had only been deprived, because they had exercised it in subverting those fundamental laws on which its liberty depended. As, however, there was no danger at present of the prerogative being so misapplied—as the constitution had provided ample means of punishing any ministers who should permit such an improper exercise of the prerogative—and as the fears of mischief from the Catholics were about as absurd as those of mischief from ghosts and witches, all the grounds on which the disqualifications were imposed on the Catholics had ceased to exist; and such being the case, the disqualifications should cease to exist with them. Surely the phantom of fear should be banished from our bosoms, as the reality was no more; and the nursery recollections of the Pope and the Pretender should not be the only recollections which survived our childhood. Besides, if any danger were to be apprehended from the power of the Pope—which he altogether denied—the party who now opposed Catholic emancipation were the very persons who ought to be blamed for it. It was they who raised the Pope, when he lay grovelling in the dust, actually furnished him with a guard of soldiers, and restored him to that power with which they now attempted to "fright the isle from its propriety." If any danger was to be apprehended from the power of the Pope, ministers, knowing that it had six millions of discontented subjects to act upon in Ireland, ought to be impeached for allowing its restoration. He did not believe that any danger could arise to the country from the power of the Pope; and it was absurd to raise up that bugbear to frighten old women and children, at a time when the thunders of the Vatican had ceased to produce the smallest effect, even upon the most sensitive of rational beings. He could wish that those who took the trouble to read, would reflect a little upon what they did read, for, in that case, those who read about the terrible effects of the papal power in the twelfth century, without referring to the accidents which had befallen it in their own times, would see that they were frightened by images of their own creation, and not by any thing which had a substantive existence.
But, to return to the point from which he had digressed—the consideration of the 844 dangers likely to arise from the adoption of the measure which he was presuming to recommend to the House. He had said first of all, that it would give no political power to the Catholics which they had not already; and secondly, that it would restore to the king a power to employ Catholics, of which events had rendered it necessary to strip his predecessors. He admitted that it would enable four or five noblemen, of the oldest and most illustrious families in the kingdom, to take in the House of Lords that station, of which their ancestors had been deprived. He admitted that it would enable some respectable noblemen in Ireland to exercise the privileges belonging to the peerage of that country. He admitted, also, that it would enable the freeholders of Ireland to elect Catholics to represent them in parliament. He would put out of view at present all speculative dangers arising from the power of the Pope, and similar causes, and would ask the House, whether the danger arising from the admission of four Catholic peers into the House of Lords, and twenty or thirty members into the House of Commons, was any thing that could be put into the balance against the well-grounded discontent of six millions of intelligent and active subjects, indignant at the injury they received from the withholding of their rights. Let the House recollect the caution of the satirist—Curandum in primis, ne magna injuria fiatFortibus ac miseris—The inhabitants of Ireland might be classed under both adjectives. They were "fortes ac miseri," and ought, on that very account, not to puss unregarded. He did not mean to say that if parliament persisted in the same career of injustice which had marked its steps for many years, the Catholics of Ireland would be so provoked beyond endurance, as to think the connexion with England unworthy of preservation at the expense of their civil rights. By no means. He trusted that they would see that finally—ay, and even shortly—the justice of their cause, if strengthened by discretion and moderation, would bring their long-continued efforts to a happy and a glorious termination. He admitted that, of late, many expressions of discontent had been used by those who acted as the Catholic leaders, which he could by no means pretend to justify; but he was sure that when the House recollected how 845 great was the number of Catholics, and how insignificant the number of those who had indulged in such expressions, it would deem it the height of injustice to attribute to the whole body, the blame due to the hasty words spoken by a few individuals in a state of excitement, and would view with satisfaction, the forbearance and discretion displayed by the great majority of these ill-used, but still patient and loyal, subjects of his majesty.
The great practical point for the consideration of parliament was this—" Since we cannot stay where we are, what are we to do?" Supposing that parliament should determine to stay where it was—then he would say, that the leaders of the Catholics of Ireland would act more wisely in teaching their followers to look, not so much at the wrongs they had suffered, and the injustice they had endured, as at the humane relaxation made of late years in the severity of the penal code, by the liberality of English legislation—at the gradual lightening of the chains under which their forefathers had groaned—and at the immense and rapid progress which their cause had made, in all parts of the empire, during the last thirty years. They should call the attention of their followers to what they had already received, and to what was still left them to receive; they should contrast their condition at the commencement of their exertions with their condition at present; and they should show them, what was most important—that their cause had been never retrograde, always progressive, and that it was proceeding with a rapid and steady pace, which should satisfy them that the period of complete success was not very far distant.
The hon. baronet then proceeded to recapitulate his former arguments. Either this measure ought to pass, or it ought not. If it ought to pass, then the sooner it did pass, the better. If it had passed before the present discussion, it would have been still better than passing it now; since much valuable time would have been saved, and many beneficial effects, which he now only anticipated, would have been realized to the country. Still he should be happy to see it adopted even at this the eleventh hour; and, when he considered every thing that had passed upon the subject—when he recollected that it had frequently mot with the concurrence of that House, and had been honoured by the support of almost every man of great 846 and commanding talent who had enjoyed a seat in it during the last thirty years—and, when he reflected, last of all, that the most ardent hopes had been excited in the minds of the Catholics of Ireland by the conduct of the king himself in visiting that country, he was not without some expectation that this session of parliament would not pass away without some further concessions being made to the Catholics [hear]. He said, that when the king of England paid a visit to his dominions in Ireland, he went there to assure his Catholic subjects of the completion of their just and laudable wishes. If such were not his majesty's intention, he could not divine the reasons which induced ministers to advise his majesty to make a visit with all the pomp and circumstance of royalty to that unfortunate country. To be allowed to come within the presence of the king, had always been considered as equivalent to a pardon of the criminal. The ferocity of James 2nd, in refusing the unfortunate duke of Monmouth admission to his presence, had been vindicated on the ground, that if he had granted him such admission, he could not have permitted the penalties of the law to be executed against him. He said that, when the king received the Catholics of Ireland into his presence, it was giving the nation an assurance, that their disabilities should be done away. They construed his majesty's conduct in that light; and the letter which lord Sidmouth had written to the lord-lieutenant, by his majesty's desire, in which he advised the people of Ireland to conciliation and concord among themselves, justified them in that construction of it. For what hope could they extract from it, except that of complete emancipation? The language of lord Sidmouth might, as the treaty of Limerick did, admit of a double interpretation, with statesmen and diplomatists; but it could admit of no such interpretation with men of ardent spirits and generous minds; for it was of that description which went at once to the heart. Let the House recollect the sensation created in Ireland by the visit of his majesty in that country. He was the first English sovereign that ever went there as the harbinger of peace: he was received as if he had been the Messiah bringing healing on his wings; he was delighted by the cordial welcome with which he was hailed by every party in the island; and the peculiar kindness which he displayed 847 to his Catholic subjects, led them to expect the completion of the expectations which they had so long and so dearly cherished. At that moment, when the feeling of Ireland appeared to the colder feeling of England to transgress the proper limit, lord Sidmouth sent a letter to the lord-lieutenant, in which were the following paragraphs:—I am further commanded to state, that the testimonies of dutiful and affectionate attachment which his Majesty has received from all classes and descriptions of his Irish subjects, have made the deepest impression on his mind, and that he looks forward to the period when he shall revisit them with the strongest feelings of satisfaction. His Majesty trusts that, in the mean time, not only the spirit of loyal union, which now so generally exists, will remain unabated, and unimpaired, but that every cause of irritation will be avoided and discountenanced, mutual forbearance and goodwill observed and encouraged, and a security be thus afforded for the continuance of that concord amongst themselves, which is not less essential to his Majesty's happiness than to their own, and which it has been the chief object of his Majesty, during his residence in this country, to cherish and promote. His Majesty well knows the generosity and warmth of heart which distinguish the character of his faithful people in Ireland; and he leaves them with a heart full of affection towards them, and with a confident and gratifying persuasion, that this parting admonition and injunction of their Sovereign will not be given in vain.He said, that such language must be considered as the statement of his Majesty's sentiments upon the subject; and it would be in the highest degree unbecoming, to suppose, that his Majesty had elevated with one hand the hopes of the people of Ireland, in order to enjoy the miserable pleasure of dashing them to the earth with the other. From all that he had said, it was perfectly manifest—it must be manifest—to the mind of every unprejudiced man, that the Roman Catholics were not considered unworthy, even by the highest individual in the realm, of whatever advantage they or their children might derive from a full participation in the English constitution. They were, it was evident, considered as fit subjects from their attachment to the state, from their support of the govern- 848 ment, from their affection to the person of the king, to share equally with their Protestant brethren (and they asked no more) the rights and privileges of the constitution under which they lived, and which they had defended with their best blood. If nothing were meant by such indications except the mere delusions of the moment—if it were intended merely to soothe and to deceive for a temporary purpose—then he must say, that such a course was at once the most disgraceful and the most mischievous that could be imagined. Could any thing be more decidedly calculated to cherish and call forth that faction and sedition on which gentlemen opposite were so fond of remarking, than by thus raising in the anxious minds of men, proverbial for their warm feelings, expectations which were never intended to be realized? That they were intended to be realized—that they would be realized—that the boon would be most gratefully received—that it would effect a firm, an indissoluble, union between these two nations, an union productive of mutual strength, happiness, and prosperity—he could not suffer himself to doubt even for a moment. He confessed he was ashamed to look at the course which they must pursue, if they determined on the only alternative which was left to them, if they turned away from the prayers of their Catholic fellow-subjects. Unless they were prepared to remove from their table all the petitions which had been presented as unworthy of notice—unless they were prepared to root out of the minds of the people of this country (if they could), not the new page of distraction which was open in Ireland, but the old page of 1798—a history which he thought it painful to allude to—which, in his opinion, and for the purpose of his argument, it was quite sufficient distinctly to point at—they must concede that which was now firmly, but justly and respectfully demanded. Unless they had made up their minds to this point—unless they wished to perpetuate discord—they must yield these long-withheld claims. They had no choice left. They had arrived at a point where all animosity, all little jealousy, all suspicion, should cease; and they ought not to leave that path which would lead to so desirable a consummation. There were two paths before them. They had arrived at that critical point where the roads separated. It was for them to choose whether 849 they would select that which was environed by difficulties, and which conducted to danger, or that which led to peace and security.Hic locust est, partes ubi se via findit in ambas:Dextera, quæ Ditis magni sub mœnia tendit;Hâc iter Elysium nobis; et læva malorumExercet pœnas, et ad impia Tartara mittit.This was the only choice remaining; and he trusted that the House would take the right path. If they refused to listen to the prayers of the petitioners—if they shut the door against conciliation—if they took the left hand path—he apprehended that consequences the most awful would follow. Let them well consider that the circumstances of the year 1695 and 1826 were wholly and entirely different, and called for a different course of policy. In coming to the consideration of this question, he hoped that its opponents would look on it, without reference to party feeling; that they would have their motives purified—their ideas enlightened and expanded—and, above all, that they would approach it with charity in their minds—so that they might arrive at such a decision, as the present state of the country, its prosperity, and its security rendered necessary. He had nothing further to offer on this important subject. He should, therefore, propose as a resolution,
"That this House is deeply impressed with the necessity of taking into immediate consideration the laws imposing Civil Disabilities on his Majesty's Roman Catholic Subjects, with a view to their relief."
§ Lord Morpeth
said, that, in rising to second this resolution, he was extremely happy to observe, that much of the difficulty which he must necessarily feel on such an occasion was removed by the able and excellent address which had been delivered by the hon. mover. He had, in anticipation, made use of every argument which the supporters of the Catholic claims could adduce, to show that emancipation was a measure equally demanded by policy and by justice. The hon. baronet had supported his view of the question with such powerful reasoning, with such forcible and eloquent illustration, that it would be worse than useless for him to dwell on topics which had been so ably handled, or to dilate on conclusions which had been rendered clear and obvious to all. The measure which it was the object of the hon. baronet's motion to 850 effect, was not only founded on principles of justice, but came recommended to the notice of the House most impressively, as one which was strictly in unison with sound policy. He knew not how parliament could, at the present day, deny civil privileges to men against whom no fault could be alleged; whilst, on the other hand, no correspondent merit could be found amongst those who confined such privileges to themselves, that could sanction any such exclusive advantage. That sentiments of respect for, and attachment to, the consitution, did exist amongst the Roman Catholics, was sufficiently clear; and that feelings of exasperation, occasioned by their exclusion from the privileges of that constitution, also existed, he would be a bold man who should venture to deny. The hon. baronet had presented to the House a most striking and feeling picture of the present situation of Ireland, a picture so true, so well wrought Tip, that he would not venture to touch it, lest he might lessen its effect. He thought, however, that the concurring testimony of all which they had read, and of all which they had heard, would enable them to arrive at this conclusion, that, at the present moment, the Roman Catholic population of Ireland was roused, to a man, on this vital question. He admitted, as all must admit, that much had been done, of late years, for the Roman Catholics, for which they were exceedingly thankful. But he felt in this case, as was the case in all human affairs, that a benefit conferred was not received with perfect satisfaction, unless it was perfect and complete; and he thought that the feeling of gratitude must be weakened, when, although a benefit was conferred, a real grievance, a grievance of a positive nature, was suffered to remain in existence. This it was which filled the Roman Catholics with a bitter feeling: this it was which prevented them from viewing the rights they had acquired with unalloyed satisfaction; nor would they ever truly relish the privileges which they had recovered, until they procured all those which they had a right to claim. He would say nothing with respect to actual resistance on the part of Ireland, if those claims were refused; because he well knew how much it excited the spirit, and exasperated the feelings, of those who took a view of this question different from that which he maintained; but he could not avoid observing the ap- 851 prehension and the fear (he would not throw the word aside) which filled the minds of those gentlemen, when they contemplated the possible consequences of refusing the claims of the Roman Catholics, when the happiness and welfare of millions were at stake. When the fate of the empire was at issue, when they were menaced with foreign war, such a question as this demanded a dignified, a manly, a liberal, or, in other words, a wise policy. While discontent prevailed in Ireland—while the state of affairs was so alarming in that country—what prospect met their eyes on the continent of Europe? They were lately on the brink of war with a foreign power. Had that war taken place, and had the Catholics of Ireland, disgusted with the treatment they had received, refused to join our armies, how much would such an event have distracted the attention and paralyzed the efforts of this country! But, on the other hand, if the Roman Catholics forgot every thing (as he was sure they would do) but the safety of the country; if they came forward and defended the constitution; with what feelings of self-reproach must, their exertions be viewed by those who now prevented them from participating in its benefits? Situated as the Roman Catholics were at present, with what grace could the state ask of them to fight its battles? The Roman Catholic might be again required to appear on the plains of Salamanca, or under the walls of Badajos. He might be again called on to risk his life, to shed his blood, in defence of a state, which exacted his energies as a soldier in the field, but would not requite his services as a citizen in the senate—which rewarded his glories and his triumphs with degrading suspicions, with dishonourable jealousies, and with galling disabilities. In the uncontrollable course of events, a period might arrive, when the firm and heartfelt union of the Roman Catholics of Ireland with their Protestant fellow-subjects would be of paramount importance to the public welfare; and he would ask those gentlemen who were prepared to oppose the resolution of this night, whether they were contented with the present state of things in Ireland? If they were not, then he demanded, what system they meant to substitute in its stead? Until this question was answered—until gentlemen declared what remedy they meant to propose to allay the irritation which had 852 so long prevailed in Ireland—it was in vain to attack Catholic doctrines, Catholic priests, or Catholic lawyers. The fate of an empire—the fate of their descendants—would be influenced by the measures which might be adopted towards the Roman Catholics. Having the honour of a scat in that House, he might possibly hear more potent arguments within the doors of parliament against granting further concessions to the Roman Catholics, than he had hitherto heard out of them. He alluded to the stale declamation about Papal supremacy and divided allegiance, on account of which it was argued, that Roman Catholics ought to be deprived of political privileges. These would be very amusing subjects of speculation, if his majesty happened to have no Roman Catholic subjects. But having Roman Catholic subjects, it was not beneficial for his majesty's dominions to deprive them, on account of these disputed points, of their civil privileges, to reject their claims, to thrust them out of the pale of the constitution, instead of soothing their feelings by conciliation and kindness. Was it not monstrous to proclaim that a numerous and wealthy body of men—that a body of peers, illustrious for their high descent, for their honour, and unblemished conduct—the descendants of men, who, as the hon. baronet truly observed, had fought the battles and settled the liberties of England—was it not monstrous to proclaim them as the followers and supporters of a church, the doctrines of which were incompatible with the principles of civil freedom? Were they to be deprived of rights which their fellow-subjects enjoyed, because they were unwilling to give up the religion which they professed; and the abjuration of which would justly draw down on them contempt and scorn? It was argued, that if Catholic emancipation was granted, such a measure would in effect, remove the bulwarks of the Protestant church. Now, he had always considered it as one of the great distinctions of the Protestant church, as one of its proudest principles, as one of its most glorious attributes, that it did not stand in need of such temporal props and bulwarks. Let bulwarks be allowed to those religions which wanted them most. False religions which, from their weakness, were liable to be overturned, were those alone which demanded support of this description. Let the Jesuit, who wished to instil 853 into the ear of the monarch his insidious doctrines—let the Apostolical, who was desirous of promulgating, all over the globe, his pernicious opinions—let them have their props, let them have their bulwarks; but while they felt that the foundation of the Protestant church was perfectly firm, while they felt that it could not be shaken nor undermined, let the means by which they would prove that they entertained such a feeling be the most extensive toleration. By taking an opposite course, they denied the origin of their religion, which was founded on toleration, and they degraded the doctrines which they affected to support. Many persons, he knew, believed, that if this measure were carried, it would not be productive of any good in Ireland. They said, "We sympathize with the distress of our fellow-subjects in Ireland; but how much of it would be removed by Catholic emancipation?" This was viewing the question through a most contracted medium. He would not attach more importance to this measure than it was worth; but, because it would not create capital—because it would not provide food for the hungry and clothing for the naked—because it would not at once rain down manna on the impoverished land—was it, therefore, to be rejected as useless? Was it nothing to dispel the many angry feelings which now prevailed? was it nothing to see irritation soothed? was it nothing to have confidence restored? Were they to reject these benefits—were they to condemn this measure—because it did not start forth as an actual miracle? The Roman Catholics were accused of intolerance of spirit; they were accused of being too obedient to the Catholic priesthood; and their leaders were represented as factious and seditious. Let their grievances be redressed, and these complaints would soon cease. The sting would be taken out of their minds: there would be no longer any grounds for inflammatory harangues: that would then cease to exist which, in the minds of their hearers, rendered their exaggerations praiseworthy, and their violence excusable. This exasperation of feeling, this warmth of expression, arose from hope continually deferred. Would no reward attend the fulfilment of that long-cherished hope? Was there nothing pleasing—was there nothing worthy of note—in the awakened gratitude of a generous people? 854 Parliament had resolved to assist their Catholic allies in Portugal. Why, then, did they not take the most effectual means to cultivate peace and good-will with the Catholics of Ireland? They might again be at war with Catholic Spain, and therefore he called on the legislature to unite the Catholic subjects of Ireland in the cause of Protestant England,—He had but very few words more to address to the House. If he had used language more confident and assured than became his experience in parliament, he hoped he should be excused by those who heard him. But the warm interest which he felt in this cause—a cause which enlisted on its side every prudential calculation, as well as every generous principle—impelled him to speak thus boldly. It was a cause, the foundation of which was truth and justice: it was a cause which was supported by expediency: it was a cause which, in the end, would triumph on a principle much stronger—the glorious principle of Protestant liberality, and the brotherly principle of Christian charity. It seemed to him most surprising that in a House which boasted, and justly boasted, of its Christian feelings, there should yet be found so many individuals who denied to themselves the satisfaction—he would call it the luxury—of solemnly espousing so excellent a cause. He thought, and he hoped, that the resolution of that night would secure the tranquillity of Ireland; and be could not view without apprehension the dangers to which its refusal might lead. He firmly believed, however, that no fear need be entertained of such an event; and he indulged in the pleasing anticipation, that those counsels which had hitherto been pursued for the purpose of making England great, would henceforth be directed towards making Ireland happy [hear, hear].
§ Mr. George Dawson
said, that, while he differed entirely from the sentiments expressed by the noble lord who had just sat down, he could not avoid congratulating the House upon the acquisition of eloquence and talent which it had obtained in the person of that noble member. He rejoiced that the subject of Catholic disability was now before the House; and, whether the result of that question should be favourable or unfavourable, he hoped the effect would be, to tranquillize the country. If favourable, he trusted the Roman Catholics would learn moderation, and, if unfavour- 855 able, he hoped they would perceive the folly and mischief of resistance. Whatever might be the result of the present question on this occasion, he was convinced the House and the country ought to take into consideration the state of Ireland, with the view of coming to some decision on the subject. He was as ready as the noble lord to admit that the present state of Ireland could not continue. No man, with a heart in his breast, could behold the aristocracy of the land bewildered and terrified by the extinction of all respect—the gentry wholly supplanted—the merchants and professional men converted into the abettors of political violence—the peasantry ready to rush into any excesses: no man could see such a state of things without feelings of sorrow and regret. It was on these accounts he rejoiced at the question being brought under the consideration of the House; and trusted, when set at rest, that the result would be favourable to the future tranquillity of the country. Whatever decision the House might come to on the motion of the hon. baronet, their decision should be followed up by some act of the legislature, calculated to ameliorate the condition of Ireland. No man, acquainted with the Irish character, but would admit, that the people of that country were the most susceptible in the world; but, although they delighted to exercise their ingenuity and intellect in change, yet were they easily subdued by firmness and decision. He, therefore, hoped that a system of firmness and decision would be adopted in relation to Ireland. He should not labour to prove that the admission of the Roman Catholics to the privileges of the state was contrary to the whole spirit, of the constitution; and he would not attempt to reply to the eloquent argument that had been founded on the supposed natural rights to a participation in the advantages of the state. The hon. baronet had urged the violation of the treaty of Limerick, committed by England, in the exclusion of Roman Catholics from power: and that was a subject which would require more than a passing observation. The treaty of Limerick had no reference to political privileges: it related partly to the possession of property, and partly to the exercise of the Catholic religion. By if, the Roman Catholic was relieved from the necessity of taking an oath of allegiance which would have rendered it impossible for him to enjoy the 856 exercise of his religion. In the stead of this, another and a milder oath was substituted, which did not interfere with the Roman Catholic's enjoyment of his religion. This was one of the advantages derived from the treaty of Limerick. From the arguments of the promoters of this measure, one would imagine the Catholics to be in a state of bondage; but such was not the case; for, in almost every instance, they were on a footing with their Protestant fellow-subjects. Their property was under the protection of the law—they enjoyed the right of the elective franchise—were eligible to sit on grand juries, and expend the county money—and they possessed full liberty of speech and action. From that House they were certainly excluded; but, to say that the great body of the Roman Catholics at all cared for this parliamentary exclusion, was false; and it was equally a mistake to say, that their bond of union was occasioned by the existence of the disqualifying laws against them. The bond of union between the Roman Catholic aristocracy and the peasantry was, in fact, the Roman Catholic priesthood. It was not founded on a communion of interests; it was not built on a conviction, that such an union was necessary, but was entered into on the mere authority of the priest. It was not effected by an exhortation, calling on those parties to join in a struggle for civil rights. It was not brought about by painting the glory which would attend the success of such a struggle. No; the priest advised them to unite as the followers of the holy Catholic church: they alluded to its former greatness, and to its present distressed state: they predicted the overthrow of the established religion: they called on every Roman Catholic to be true to his faith: and they required of him to use his best efforts to procure for the Roman Catholics of Ireland the restoration of Catholic power and of Catholic supremacy. Such was the manner in which that bond of union was cemented. This was not an idle statement: it was not an exaggerated picture. It was a corrollary, which flowed naturally from irrefragable facts, well known to all who had studied the history of the Roman Catholics of Ireland. What, he would ask, was the cause of the many wars which had, from time to time, desolated that country? He thought it might be answered, that they originated in the 857 machinations of the Roman Catholic priesthood, and the unceasing desire which they cherished to over turn the Protestant religion. Religion and religion only, was the foundation of those wars. During the reign of Elizabeth thousands of English lives were sacrificed to this principle; and the entire reign of William 3rd was an unceasing struggle to break down the power of the Irish chiefs. What had been the character of the dreadful events which occurred in 1641, and were only paralleled by the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. The authority of Dr. Leland might be referred to, in order to show the great influence possessed by the Roman Catholic priests over their flock: and it should be remembered that those priests had been themselves educated in foreign seminaries, and brought up in a belief of the necessity of unlimited submission to the Pope. They were also instructed in the power possessed by the sovereign Pontiff to absolve subjects from the oath of allegiance pledged to their legitimate rulers. The hon. member having referred to, and quoted a passage from, Dr. Lingard's book, in proof of the existence of these "pestilent doctrines," proceeded to advert to the wars carried on in the time of Cromwell, in Ireland, which, though apparently conducted under the pretence of attachment to the cause of royalty, were really caused by an attempt to drive Protestantism out of the country. In the reign of James 2nd the Catholic supremacy, and an attempt to establish it, was openly avowed; Protestant ministers were rejected from church preferments; Protestant lawyers were expelled the courts of Justice; Protestant property was confiscated; and Protestants were included in lists of attainder, by name. Was the recollection of those transactions lost upon the people of Ireland?—a people notorious for the accuracy of their historical recollections; for, if deprived of the means of reference to history for facts, and of the power to acquire such knowledge, if furnished with an opportunity, that defect was amply supplied by the minute traditions handed down to them from father to son, and which described the glories of their ancient church—that deficiency was further supplied in the inflammatory harangues of seditious demagogues. If there was any man who could doubt the causes of the civil wars which had occurred in Ireland, let him bear in 858 mind the circumstances connected with them. If he doubted that their object was, at the present moment, to establish the supremacy of their church—if he doubted that their intention was to restore the church property, and to re-establish the ancient power and glory of the Catholic church—let him attend to what was now passing in Ireland—let him attend to what was daily occurring in the Catholic Association—and, if he did attend to those proceedings, could he doubt the hostility of the Catholics to the religion of the Church of England? In what manner did those persons speak of this country? They designated England as a haughty mistress: they exulted in her sufferings, gloried in her distress, and triumphed in the possibility of seeing her naval power set at nought by the steam boats of America and France, by which they calculated on supplies of men, ammunition, and arms, in any future revolt; and, to bring about such revolt, they were using every possible effort. They affected respect for the laws, while they set them at defiance. They described the Established Church as a curse to Ireland. It was impossible to animadvert, in terms sufficiently strong, upon the Catholic Association, and the priests, for their gross and scurrilous attacks upon the Protestant Church. Having disseminated their poison in every cabin in Ireland, they sought, under its influence, to effect their own purposes. To such an extent had they proceeded, that the clergy, and other members of the Protestant Church, could not meet each other in public, with the intention of promoting morality and religion, by the establishing of Bible Societies, without being subjected to attack from the Catholic priests, Catholic demagogues, and their adherents; because they were anxious for the dissemination of the Bible, they were accused of intending to attack the principles of the Catholic faith, and were, in consequence, disturbed in their proceedings, menaced, and insulted, by some arrogant priest. The Church was thus attacked; the laws were thus contemned; the cause of justice impeded. Protestant magistrates, witnesses, jurors, and judges, were reviled, intimidated, and persecuted; and would continue to be so persecuted, unless the legislature should interfere for their protection. They were held up to reprobation by orators, at public meetings, by priests at their altars, and in the 859 columns of the Catholic press—simply because they were Protestants. By attending to those proceedings, hon. gentlemen would perceive that a new race of men had sprung up in Ireland—men who arrogated to themselves the right of directing the whole energies of the country, and who, if not stopped in their career, would soon establish a power which even the legislature of the united kingdom would feel it difficult to suppress. The Roman Catholic priesthood, who exercised over their flocks such unbounded sway, had only lately re-entered the political arena, where their proceedings were marked with all the ancient characteristics of their class. They were a body of men unknown to the constitution—irresponsible to any power, spiritual or temporal, acknowledged by the law of the land, as now established—a body of men assuming and wielding political power greater than the legislature itself, and against the acts of which the law furnished no remedy. And it was to add to, and consolidate, that power, that the hon. baronet had just called upon that House. At first sight it did not strike him, that the concessions sought for would be attended with danger to the country. But when, on more mature consideration, he took into his view the conduct of the Catholic leaders and Catholic priests, he was induced to change his opinion. What had been their conduct of late? Every connexion between landlord and tenant had been severed: all the respect, attachment, and affection, previously borne by the tenantry to their landlords, had given way before the influence of the priests. In lieu of gratitude for the kindness of his landlord, the priest taught the Irish tenant to look upon him as a tyrant who oppressed and withheld from him his rights. What hon. gentleman, after such treatment; could blame the landlord for having recourse to the utmost rigour of the law in securing his just rights? They had caused every landlord to act the part of a Shylock towards his tenants, and to insist upon his bond; for it could not be supposed that a man of large possessions, which had descended to him from his ancestors, would tamely see himself robbed of his proper influence, and set at defiance by his tenantry. It could not be denied that the elective franchise in Ireland was conferred on the tenantry by the landlords for their own benefit. The elective franchise in Ireland did not, as in England, arise from 860 the possession of property; but was a right conferred by the landlords in granting leases, and it could not be contemplated in any other point of view than as a property vested in the hands of the tenant for the benefit of his landlord. That system might be foul and unconstitutional; but, was its character changed, and the danger to be feared from it lessened, by transfering the use of it to the hands of the priests? Whether good or bad, it would, for the sake of humanity, have been much better to have left it in the hands of the original owner, than to have it alienated and exercised under the influence of the Catholic priests.—Dismissing political considerations, what was the effect to the tenant produced by his opposition to his landlord's interests? He was expelled from his home—deprived of employment—consequently, of all means of support—and, with his wretched family, sent to wander upon the high roads. It was said by the priests, and their party, whatever the mischief arising to these unfortunate people from the system, that the landlord had, in thus punishing his tenant, acted as a tyrant. The tenant was uniformly described as the victim of oppression, through his zeal for religion; and was extolled by the Catholic demagogues as a martyr for the good of his country, because he had burst through all the ties of gratitude. It was impossible that any thing could be more untrue than such inferences. It was true, that the priests had, in almost every instance, succeeded in detaching the tenants from their landlords; but in none of them had the tenants followed the conviction of their own minds. They had been made the victims of the most unfair and reprehensible practices, and menaced with temporal injury and eternal punishment—the priests threatening them with all the vengeance of the Holy Church, denying to them religious consolation and absolution, even refusing the sacrament, and, in some instances, extreme unction, to the poor creatures who had not voted at the late elections as those priests had desired. The priests thus abused the power invested in them by the practice and the rules of their; church, not to excite to acts of patriotism, but to deeds of ingratitude. Let their apologists exculpate them if they could, but let them not profane the sacred name of justice, by saying, that it was in a just cause that those exertions had been used 861 —that it was in promoting a patriotic object that, the Roman Catholic priests had thus exercised the power with which they had become clothed, holding up their wretched followers to enmity in this world, and menacing them, with eternal punishment in the next. This was no idle declamation, nor any picture of the imagination. Happily, he possessed numerous and most uncontrovertible proofs of the truth of his statements. With the leave of the House, he would proceed to read those documents, and lay before the House transactions such as had never before been unfolded in a British House of Commons. Those documents referred to the proceedings that had taken place at the late Waterford election. The reading of them had excited in his own mind so much surprise and horror, that he had been at no little pains to ascertain their truth, fearful that, otherwise, they might be considered incredible. On the documents which he was about to read, he rested that part of his case, and felt that he should not be doing his duty, if he did not make known to that House, and to the people of England, the proceedings of the parties implicated, before the legislature blindly conferred power on people, of the real nature of whose designs they would otherwise be ignorant. The documents he was about to read were intended to be submitted to a committee of that House, in support of a petition of one of the present representatives of the county of Waterford; for unfortunately the petition had not been in time; but, even if it had been in time, the only result would have been the displacing of the member in question, and the ordering of a new election, at which the same arts might have been put in practice which had already prevailed; for that reason he, for one, would have been adverse to the prosecution of the petition, as he wished to save the country from a repetition of such scenes and such practices. In order to show the real disposition of the tenantry, he should now beg leave to read the documents he held in his hand. The first was, an address to the marquis of Waterford by his tenantry, which was their own spontaneous and voluntary act, not got up by agents or other interested persons, and of which his lordship had no knowledge, until it was presented. It was as follows:—
§ "We, your lordship's tenantry of the barony of Gaultier, in the county of 862 Waterford, professing the Roman Catholic religion, humbly beg leave to address you at this momentous crisis. We have heard with the strongest feelings of indignation and regret the calumnies industriously circulated, tending to represent your lordship as the advocate of intolerance, and the professed enemy of our holy religion; but, my lord, it is with the most heartfelt satisfaction we come forward to refute these calumnies. For generations have our forefathers been tenants on the farms which we now hold—from father to son have these farms descended—at the expiration of one lease has a new one been granted to the same family; and we have never known, nor ever heard, of a preference given by your lordship, or your agent, to a Protestant over a Roman Catholic tenant. If promoting the comforts of your Roman Catholic tenantry—if contributing largely to the building and improvement of their places of worship, are instances of bigotry and intolerance, then, my lord, we must confess that these charges are well founded; but it is with pride and with pleasure we come forward to proclaim to the country in general, and to the county of Waterford in particular, that in acts like these, and these alone, your intolerance is to be found. Happy as we are, ourselves, in living under the protection of a kind and benevolent landlord, we cannot but behold with pain the insidious arts daily practising, to rend asunder the ties which bind the tenant to his legitimate protector. Humble as are our own situations in life, we are aware of the purposes for which these arts are practised; with us they can never prevail: we feel too sensibly the comforts we enjoy—we feel what we owe to the nobleman to whom we are indebted for these comforts, and when the day of trial comes, we pledge ourselves to prove by our exertions to forward your lordship's interest by every means in our power, the sentiments we justly entertain of your lordship's kindness and liberality."
§ This address, which was signed by five hundred and ten individuals, was not got up by any agent of lord Waterford: it was the spontaneous effusion of his tenantry, and he himself did not even know of it until the deputation waited upon him with it. Could it be believed, that in a few short months after the presentation of this address, the greater part of those who signed it should have voted against lord 863 George Beresford? Was it likely that this was the free act of the tenants themselves? But, to show that it was not so, the tenants themselves after the election, had without scruple detailed the struggles of their minds, and with tears in their eyes had implored their landlord to forgive their desertion, and confessed that the priests, by their threats, had induced them to be guilty of it. In order to show how these unfortunate men had been influenced by the arts of the priests, he would read the affidavits of some of the men themselves, which were as follows:—
§ "John Corcoran, of Newtown, maketh oath, and saith, that on Sunday, the 4th day of December, as he was attending divine worship at the chapel of Grange, he then and there heard the rev. Michael Tobin, parish priest, preach from the altar in the following words:—'That there were people in the parish leading the congregation to the devil, and to their own damnation, by inducing them to vote against their religion. That they were following Orangemen, and that he would not hesitate to name lord George Beresford as the Orangeman, and the strongest pillar supporting hell; that, for his part, he, the said rev. Michael Tobin, would neither now or ever give them confession, or extreme unction, or any sacrament of the church, but they might die like dogs, and go to hell, and there look to Curraghmore for assistance.'
§ "Patrick Magrath maketh oath, and saith, that in the month of December, 1825, a station of confession was held at Deny, in the parish of Modeligo, and that he the said Patrick Magrath was refused confession by the rev. Father Whelon, parish priest of the said parish, in consequence of his being one of the avowed supporters of lord George Beresford, whom he called a devil and an Orangeman; Patrick Magrath further swears, that in the month of April, 1826, he was dangerously ill, and having sent for a priest to Dungarvon, on his inquiring who the person was, for whom his attendance was required, a message was sent to him by the priest, informing him that if he turned to God, and to Mr. Stuart, and themselves, and leave lord George Beresford, he would get the benefit of the priest, but on no other conditions.
§ "William Moore maketh oath, and saith, that on the 22d of January, 1826, 864 he was attending divine worship at the chapel of Grange, when he heard the rev. Pierce Sexton, the officiating priest on that day, make use of the following words from the altar:—'That he wished to say a few words to the congregation about this election business; that there were a great number of Catholics who sold their souls to the devil, and that the gates of hell, which were the gates of Curraghmore, were open for them; that lord George Beresford was the highest devil! and that he, the rev. Pierce Sexton, would not give any of those people confession, nor absolution, nor communion, but let them die like dogs, without the benefit of their clergy. He then exhorted the congregation to support Mr. Stuart.'
§ "Maurice Owens maketh oath, and saith, that on Sunday, the 4th day of December, 1825, he was present at the chapel of Grange, and that he heard the rev. Michael Tobin make use of the following words from the altar:—' That the parishioners were led to the devil in hell by an old pirate, that they ought to take better care of their souls than to join any Orangemen, that lord George Beresford was at the head of the Orangemen, and the enemy of their religion, and that he, the said Michael Tobin, would see them die like dogs without confession, or the rites of the church and going to hell, unless they voted for Mr. Stuart, and support their religion.'
§ "Patrick Owens maketh oath, and saith, that on Sunday, the 29th of January, 1826, at the chapel of Grange, he heard the rev. Pierce Sexton declare, that he would not give confession, nor extreme unction, nor any sacrament of the church, to any persons that would go against their religion, by voting for lord George Beresford, that this was the time to make resistance, and that all who did not, should be allowed to die like dogs, that they may go to Curraghmore to look for help, and get them out of hell. He, deponent, further saith, that he heard the same language on several other Sundays from the rev. Michael Tobin.
§ "Michael Nugent maketh oath, and saith, that on Sunday, the 5th day of March, he attended divine service at the chapel of Knockbray, and that he there heard a priest, whose name he believes to be O'Mara, publicly declare from the altar, in the face of a numerous congregation, that if any man there would vote 865 at the next election for the man who opposed Catholic Emancipation, he would not admit that man to communion, nor would he give him absolution; and that no man who would so vote for the enemy of emancipation need think of the benefits of the jubilee.
§ "John Fitzpatrick maketh oath, and saith, that on Sunday 12th of March, he attended mass at the chapel of Modeligo, and that he heard the rev. Patrick Whelon express himself from the altar in the following words:—'That any of the parishioners who would vote for lord George Beresford, should never get confession, nor any rite of the church from him, that he never would attend any of them on their death-bed, and that if there was a second devil it was lord George Beresford.'
§ "Patrick Shea maketh oath, and saith, that on Sunday, March 12th, he heard the rev. Thomas Kearney, in the chapel of Aglish say:—'That there was a respectable farmer in the parish, who was drawing the whole parish to hell, by supporting lord George Beresford, who was the head of the Orangemen, and the enemy of their religion.' He further saith, that the whole sermon was upon the election, and that the rev. Thomas Kearney said, he would expose them from the altar before the whole parish, and would not give any one of them the rites of the church.
§ "James Kiely maketh oath, and saith, that on Sunday, the 11th of June, in the chapel of Ordmore, where he went to hear mass, that father Michael Tobin addressed the congregation in Irish after mass, and charged them not to vote for lord George Beresford, because he was an Orangeman and would cut their throats. He declared that no person voting for lord George Beresford should get confession, nor extreme unction when dying, and that no person should either buy from or sell to him that should so vote. James Kiely further states, that since his return home from the election, he had occasion to purchase potatoes for the use of his family, and that having applied to Edmund Hannigan, in the parish of Ardmore, he, the said Hannigan, refused to sell them to him, stating that his reason for not selling them was, that he had received express directions from the priest not to do so, because he, James Kiely, had voted for lord George Beresford.
§ "Maurice Morrissy deposes on oath, 866 that when he was attending divine service on Sunday, June 18th, at the chapel of Abbeyside, he heard the rev. James O'Brien declare from the altar, that he would curse any man who voted for lord George Beresford, that if on sea, he (the priest) would pray to God to sink them in the deep, and if on shore, that he would pray to God to afflict them with fever and sickness, from which they would never recover. And the deponent verily believes, that in consequence of such dreadful threats from the altar, all the tenants and friends of the marquis of Waterford, of whom a great number attended on that day, were afraid to give their votes to lord George Beresford at the approaching election.
§ "Cornelius O'Daly states, on oath, that on Sunday, the 9th day of April, he heard the rev. Mr. Welsh address the congregation in the chapel of Aglish, in Irish, from the altar, in the following manner: 'That the agents of lord George Beresford wanted to send them to the devil, but that if he could prevent them, he would. He said, that if any of them who were there assembled should vote for lord George Beresford, he would punish them as a priest; that they must all know that he, and every priest in the county, had orders from the bishop to caution the people against voting for lord George Beresford, and that, for his part, he would expel every one from the church who would vote for the enemy of their religion; that if they did, they would go to the devil, and that he would stick to them as a priest until he got them clear to the devil.'
§ "Thomas Welsh deposeth, on oath, that he heard the rev. Mr. Buck say, that he had laid a curse on all those freeholders who had gone down in the morning to Waterford, on the 21st of June, to vote for lord George Beresford, that he had laid a curse on them, and their cattle, and corn, and every thing belonging to them, and to their generation after them; and that he forbid any one to speak or have dealings with such persons.
§ "John Toole deposeth on oath, and saith, that about the middle of the month of March, having been appointed to a situation in the Excise, which required the production of a certificate of his baptism, he applied to the rev. Father Marum, parish priest of the place where he was baptized, for such certificate, that the rev. 867 Father Marum abused him, saying that he was a renegade rascal, that he was going to vote against the religion, and that he was not obliged to keep books for rascals like him, and refused him the certificate. He applied again and again for it, and every time received the same language. At last he got the certificate, and that Father Marum insisted upon the payment of 5s., which deponent gave to him. John Toole further states, that on Wednesday, March 22, Father Larkin held a station at the house of Felix Toole, deponent's father, at which several persons attended to receive the holy sacrament. He deposed that he applied to Father Larkin to administer the sacrament to him; that Father Larkin refused to do so, saying that he was not allowed to administer the sacrament to such persons as intended to vote for lord George Beresford against their religion and country. Deponent states further, that his father, Felix Toole, was refused the sacrament by Father Larkin for the same reasons."
§ It was useless to fatigue the House with further affidavits of this kind, having as he trusted, read quite sufficient, to acquaint them with facts of such a revolting nature. One of those which he held in his hand, stated circumstances of the most horrible kind, in reference to sixteen priests of the diocese of Waterford, with their bishop at their head. It was by such means that they had succeeded, as they would continue to succeed, in every similar effort. He had read the affidavits referring to their conduct, because he was sure the House was not prepared for a thorough investigation of the question, without a knowledge of the conduct of the Roman Catholic priests, and of the manner in which they used their influence and their power. He had also been induced to refer to the conduct of those persons, because of a horrible calumny pronounced, the other night, against the Protestant clergy of this country; namely, that the Roman Catholic clergy had only done that which the Protestant clergy of this country did, and that the latter were not more justified in interfering in elections than the former. The law might give the Catholic priests the right to vote and to interfere; but the law did not give them the power to delude, to menace, and to harass the minds of such of their flocks as did not vote in the way directed. The hon. gentleman concluded by expressing his opinion, that the Roman 868 Catholics did not so much look for political power, as for spiritual supremacy. The Catholic religion remained unchanged, and so long as it should continue unchanged, so long would it be necessary to oppose the claims of the Catholics.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
said, he would not trouble the House long, still there were some points of his hon. friend's speech to which be felt it necessary to offer a short reply. On previous discussions of this question, he had refrained from more than shortly pointing out the reasonableness of the Catholic claims, and giving his vote; but the line of argument followed by his hon. friend, induced him to depart from the course which he had hitherto followed. The hon. baronet and the noble lord near him, had called on the opponents of the measure which they recommended, to suggest some other measure calculated to give peace to the country. With that call his hon. friend had not complied. His hon. friend agreed with the hon. baronet, that the state of Ireland was one not only of suffering, but of danger; but, according to the arguments of his hon. friend, they were not only not to relieve, but to suppress and subdue. But, if the opponents of the Catholics should have the will to adopt this latter alternative, had they the means of executing it; or did they think that the Irish nation would submit to it? From some expression which fell from his hon. friend opposite, one would have thought that he had formerly been friendly to the Catholic claims, but had altered his views, in consequence of the practices of the Roman Catholic clergy, which he had stated to the House. Against the return of Mr. Stuart, not one but two or three petitions had been presented; and if the facts stated in those petitions were true, there could be no doubt that the return for Waterford must be set aside. But the petitioners had shrunk from examination, [hear, hear]—no; they had not shrunk from examination, but they had shrunk from the cross-examination, of the committee, and had put those affidavits into the hands of the hon. member for Derry; who, forgetting all his kind feelings towards the Roman Catholics and the Roman Catholic priests particularly, had come to the conclusion, that the Roman Catholic priests had done every thing laid to their charge in those affidavits; and the hon. member, acting upon that conclusion, had come down to the House, and called upon 869 hon. members to give unqualified belief to statements coming before them under such circumstances. And whose affidavits were those? The affidavits of Roman Catholics: the affidavits of men who, according to the favourite hypothesis of the hon. member, were not to be believed upon their oaths. Now, either the affidavits were good for nothing, or the hon. member had, by calling Roman Catholics as his witnesses, admitted that they were men not unworthy of credit on their oaths. After the use made by the hon. member of the testimony of Roman Catholics, he ought to be the last man who, upon any future occasion, should venture to say, that the oath of a Roman Catholic, in support of his professions of attachment to his king and to the constitution, was not worthy of credit. If the Roman Catholic, assailed by the landlord, on the one hand, with a threat of withholding from him the ordinary comforts of life, and appealed to on the other hand, by a sense of duty, or by higher, or by spiritual considerations, had acted contrary to the wishes of his landlord—had disregarded the privations of this life, and had attended to the appeal of his priest—so far from blaming the Roman Catholic who had thus acted, he would say, that he had given up the lesser consideration, and had acted from a higher impulse.—But even admitting that all the evils arising from the interference of the Roman Catholic clergy had been greater than the hon. member had that night endeavoured to depict, what, in God's name, had produced those evils? That religious and political conflict, which existed only where the feelings of Protestants and Catholics were exerted against each other by an unjust and mischievous penal code. That was the cause of the mischief; and those who, in that House, complained of the mischief, were bound to remove the cause of it. Before he called the attention of the House to the state of the forty-shilling freeholders, he must beg the attention of the House whilst he traced the origin of that dissociation between the landlord and tenant which had been made the subject of so much complaint. The hon. member for Derry seemed to think, and would wish the House to believe, that it was originated by the Roman Catholic priests in the county of Waterford. Such was not, however, the origin of that association. He held in his hand a document, which 870 contained an address to the freeholders of Ireland, on the eve of a general election. The hon. member here read the address, which called upon, the electors to forsake their landlords, and to attend to themselves. It adjured them, in the name of their God and of their country, to act as principle should dictate; to regard not the threats of landlords or agents, who required them to fail in their duty to God, to their country, and to themselves—to avail themselves of their privilege—to look to posterity, and not, by their votes at the then ensuing election, entail slavery upon their country. This appeal, which was as forcible as any that could be made, did not originate in the year 1827, nor with the Roman Catholic priests of Waterford. It was the address of men who had done honour to themselves, and had redeemed Ireland—it was an address to which were affixed the signatures of the predecessors of the hon. member for Derry—it was the address of the Protestant delegates at Dungannon to the Protestant voters of Ireland—it bore the names of individuals whose successors were most loud in their complaints against those who had acted upon that recommendation: and, by a singular coincidence, it bore the name of one hon. member who had fallen a victim in that struggle, which was the consequence of the abandonment of landlords by their tenants.—The Roman Catholic clergy and laity, from one end of the country to the other, felt that the time had arrived when they, regardless of home, of private feeling, of happiness, of every thing but character, ought to come forward and do their duty towards their country; and they did come forward, and sacrifice every thing to their duty to their country; and he, for one, respected and highly prized such a manifestation of public spirit. If lord George Bisresford—of whom he did not wish to speak with asperity, but rather with feelings of regard for his private character—if lord George Beresford, whose political opinions were well known, had been returned in opposition to his hon. friend (Mr. Stuart), whose political opinions were also well known, the Roman Catholics knew that it would be urged as an argument, by the opponents of their claims, in support of the assertion, which had frequently been made, and as frequently denied, that the majority of the Catholics were indifferent upon the question of emancipation; and 871 they were, therefore, determined to show to the world, that the question of emancipation was one to the success of which the bulk of the people were not indifferent. If the Roman Catholics of Waterford had returned a foe instead of a friend, he would have been the first man to admit, that they were indifferent about political rights, and that being indifferent, they were unworthy of having those rights conferred upon them. Although it might be true that the Catholic peasant did not feel exclusion press personally upon him, yet it was equally true, that he felt it by that sympathy which bound all classes of Irish Roman Catholics together. The poorer classes might not expect a direct benefit from emancipation. Its advantages might not reach them directly; but its spirit, like the air, would influence them; and if a constitutional stigma and reproach were fixed upon the nobility, it descended, in its degree, to the lowest grade. He was ready to put the whole question upon this point—had any man ever met a Catholic peasant of mature years who did not know that there was a distinction in the law between Catholics and Protestants, and that that distinction was injustice? Even though the theory of the laws were perfect wisdom, and their application regulated by the strictest justice, so long as the mass of the people in Ireland believed them to be unjust, so long would life and property be without security; and so long would that unhappy country be the scene of discord and tumult. In England the constable's staff was respected, by virtue of public opinion; but in Ireland the people had no confidence in the laws, and, therefore, the usual and ordinary symbols of law excited other feelings than those of respect. In Ireland, attempts had been made to govern by opinion, and attempts had been made to govern by force; but neither had succeeded, and neither would succeed, until justice should have been done to the great bulk of the people.—He did not mean to stop for the purpose of entering into a defence of all the acts of the leading members of the Catholic Association; but, when he heard the hon. member for Derry urge as an argument against the Catholics the violence of the proceedings of that association, he could not help saying to the hon. member, "Will you put your sincerity to the test in that respect, if the Catholics be tranquil? If Mr. O'Connell and Mr. Sheil 872 confine themselves to their profession, and give up political discussions, will you withdraw your opposition to emancipation?" Any hon. member who was ready to answer that question in the affirmative, might, perhaps, be justified in complaining of the violence of the Catholic Association; but, if the hon. member for Derry was not ready to do so, he must say, that the hon. member, when he spoke of violence, merely used it as a make-weight in the scale, and a delusion, because he was afraid to come forward and pledge himself, that, under no circumstances, would he grant any concessions to the Catholics.—He implored the House, even then, at the eleventh hour, to do the only act which could tranquillize Ireland. He thought that, upon such a subject, the testimony of Irish members was worthy of the greatest attention by many hon. members of that House, some of whom had never been in Ireland, and most of whom knew little or nothing of the state of society in that country. He trusted that those hon. members would not, upon slight grounds, reject the appeal of the majority of the members for that country, to grant the only measure which could tranquillize her, and preserve the connexion between it and England. When the question of the Union was discussed in Ireland, the opponents of that measure said—" What can a few Irish members do among so many English members?" The supporters of the measure replied—"Trust your lives, your honour, your property, and your hopes, in the hands of a British House of Commons, and it will feel for your sufferings, when they are brought under its notice by your members.—Depend upon it, the generosity of the English people will not suffer you to be overpowered by numbers." He trusted that, upon the present occasion, the prediction made at that period would be verified, and that hon. members who knew nothing of the country, of their own knowledge, would attend to the statements of those hon. members who had the deepest interest in the tranquillity of that country. This was not a question about a sugar island, more or less—it was a question affecting a large body of men on the other side of the Channel—it was a question of national prosperity; it was, in short, a question of British connexion. To those who used the phrase "Protestant Ascendancy," he would merely say, that 873 it was a phrase unknown to the British constitution, whose foundation was civil and religious liberty. To those English members who might support this motion, he would say, that they could justify themselves to their constituents by saying, "If we have saved the influence of the Pope, we have also saved the Income tax; if we have let sixteen Jesuits into Stoneyhurst, we have been enabled to reduce sixteen regiments of soldiers in Ireland." The hon. member, having thanked the House for the indulgence which had been extended to him, sat down amidst considerable applause.
§ Mr. Villiers Stuart
said, it was not his intention to detain the House by going at length into the discussion of the general merits of the Catholic question. He was aware that it had been already so often and so ably treated by men far more competent than he could pretend to be, that it would be a waste of time for him to go over the various grounds on which it rested. But to-night there were features—features of a modern character—to which he felt himself entitled to allude, and to request the consideration of the House—features which had been pointed out and criticised by the enemies of Catholic emancipation, as affording grave reasons for opposition, but on which he, on the contrary, would rely as grounds for concession. He referred to the conduct of the freeholders, and to the interference of the Catholic clergy, at the late general election in Ireland. He would first speak of the body of men which he had mentioned last in order—men, whose unostentatious piety, and zealous discharge of their professional duties, were unsurpassed by the clergy of any other persuasion, but who unhappily, had been the objects of as much groundless aspersion and unmerited obloquy as, he would venture to say, party spirit, even in Ireland, had ever bespattered the victims of its malice. God forbid that his motives, in defending the Catholic clergy should for a moment be misunderstood; God forbid it should be supposed that he was about to vindicate the interference of churchmen in temporal affairs: So much the contrary, that he protested he knew no language strong enough to express his condemnation of such a practice; but owing its origin to the crabbed and crooked policy of the very men who were foremost to cry out against it, it excited in him no surprise, but some regret, that the 874 Catholic clergy, from the peculiar hardship of the situation in which they were placed, were forced, in self defence, to follow the example set them by many of their Protestant brethren, without any of their excuses and palliations [cheers.] He repeated, that, after all, they had but followed the example set them by others; for he should be glad to know the occasion when the clergy of England had been slack in exerting themselves politically. It should be remembered by those who spoke harshly of the conduct of the Roman Catholic clergy, at the late elections in Ireland, that they stood in a disadvantageous situation in comparison with the clergy of the Established Church, who were freeholders in every county, and who were represented by the bench of bishops in the House of Lords. The hon. member should have also stated the cause of interference of the clergy. The cause was Catholic oppression and, as long as that oppression continued, so long would the interference which it provoked prevail. The measure proposed by the hon. baronet was the cure for the evil of which the hon. member complained—the union between the clergy and laity. It would have the effect of breaking the link that united the laity and clergy of Ireland in one common bond of indignation. It was impossible to expect to have the distemper healed unless its symptoms were got rid of; and the people of Ireland must be discontented until those laws were repealed which they believed to be the originators and perpetuators of their oppression. The hon. member for Deny had made exaggerated statements, however, as to the extent and manner in which the priests exercised their influence. Indeed, that man knew but little of the Irish people who thought that it required the exercise of any influence to induce them to act as men sensible of their wrongs, and desirous of having them redressed. They were alive—deeply and sensitively alive—to the injuries under which they suffered. In reference to the conduct of the priesthood at the county of Waterford election, he would state to the House what occurred. For some months previous to the election, instructions were given by the clergy to the freeholders, as to the manner in which they were to discharge their duties at the election. They were told that they were to be guided in giving their votes by the dictates of their conscience; that they 875 were to vote for the person best qualified to represent their feelings and their interests; and that, in short, they were to vote consistently with a faithful observance of the oaths prescribed for them to be taken. This was the whole of the conduct observed by the Catholic clergy—this "the head and front of their offending." As to the charges adduced by the hon. member against individual clergymen, he could only say, that he totally disbelieved them. There was a remedy open to the hon. member against the offending parties; if charges of improper conduct could be proved against them, they might be called to the bar of that House, and, if found guilty, punished for a breach of the privileges of the House. He, for one, would not complain of any award the House might come to upon that subject; and he would take the liberty of stating, that in a conversation which he had with the bishop of Waterford, that prelate expressed himself anxious that an opportunity should be afforded him and his clergy of clearing themselves of the aspersions which, through the press and various other channels, had been wantonly circulated of them. With respect to the conduct of the forty-shilling freeholders, he was himself favourable to the fair influence of the landlords over their tenantry, though he was not an advocate for an absolute control. It was because he was an advocate for such a legitimate influence, that he supported the present measure, which would establish that congeniality of feeling between them that was created by an identity of interests. He wished to see a tenantry grateful for the kindnesses of a protecting landlord; but there were limits to gratitude, as to generosity, and other virtues. A nation could not be generous with her honour, a woman with her virtue, or a freeholder with his franchise. He would ask, would not a freeholder be unworthy of the exercise of that franchise which the constitution gave him, who would vote for a candidate who, even by his own avowal, was ready to brand him as a traitor to his king, a perjurer to his country, and an idolator to his God.Was ever voter in such humour wood?Was ever voter in such humour won?If a candidate was to canvass a manufacturing town, who declared himself favourable to a high price of corn; or a candidate for an agricultural district who declared himself for a cheap price—could 876 either expect to meet with support? Or was it reasonable for an Anti-Catholic member to expect support on becoming the representative of a county, when he was opposed to the religion of a majority of its freeholders? He was adverse to the interference of the clergy of any religious per-suasion in political concerns; but the interference which was now complained of, was the natural and necessary consequence of the law; for that interference there was but one cause—Catholic oppression; and but one cure—Catholic emancipation.
§ Mr. George Bankes
rose and said:—
Sir; the remarks of the hon. member who has last spoken, though eloquent undoubtedly in no common degree, cannot, as I think, remove from our minds the impressions which he desires we should dismiss.—My hon. friend, the member for Derry, had already anticipated many of the observations which we have just now heard and proved by reference to the address of lord Waterford's tenantry, that those tenants gave their votes adversely to their landlord's interest, not because he had shewn himself high and haughty towards them, not because he entertained sentiments opposed to their wishes or obnoxious to their feelings, but because, worked upon by the power and influence of those who govern their minds with absolute sway, they were compelled to act in opposition to every feeling of affectionate obligation, and to withhold their gratitude from one whose benefits they acknowledged as those of a friend and a father.
With respect to the affidavits which we have heard discussed, I concede that so long as their authenticity or veracity is impeached on grounds which may appear plausible, we are not justified in receiving them as proofs; but the general history of the late memorable election for the county of Waterford is denied by none; and the active, deep, daring interference of the priesthood on that occasion, is admitted as well by those who think such interference justifiable, as by those who hold the very opposite opinion.
But, Sir, I am aware how many there are in this House more competent to discuss this question with reference to the present internal state of Ireland than I can pretend to be; and I pass, therefore, to a more general view of this question.
It is not without an unfeigned sense of diffidence that I venture to express sentiments adverse to the recorded opinions 877 of those, whose mighty names and exalted characters have formed the brilliant constellation adverted to by the hon. baronet, a constellation capable of shedding light and splendor on any cause; a combination of intellectual power, such, it has been truly said, as never was before combined for effecting any one purpose.
I may, perhaps, endeavour to palliate in some degree the effect of these great authorities, by remembering that it is ever the nature of persons endowed with commanding talent, to overlook difficulties, and to undervalue danger, for they are politically bold and adventurous, in proportion as they are politically powerful; and yet, Sir, if it were agreeable to the ordinary course of human nature, that we should always have such men amongst us, sincere members of our Protestant faith, I might then, perhaps, feel in some degree justified if I were to surrender my own opinions on the faith of guarantees so powerful. On such guarantees I might venture to rely, that, if they should fail in preserving for me the scheme of protection which they had promised, their power should reinstate me in that tried security which I had been persuaded to forego; but, Sir, we are called upon to legislate for all times, and for all circumstances, taking into account the ordinary course of human nature, and the probable current of events.
There is an observation of a French writer, commenting on that part of the history of his own country which relates to the celebrated Edict of Nantz, who, when adverting to the state of security and confidence in which the Hugonots of that day indulged, with reference to their then present condition, and with reference to their then prospects for the future, expresses himself to this effect: "they had no right," he says, "to indulge in that security, they had no reason to entertain those hopes, nor to repose in that confidence, for it was contrary to the probable current of events, that France never should have a Cardinal Richelieu, or that she should always have a Henry 4th;" and it is, Sir, us I fear, contrary to the ordinary course of human nature, that we should always and amongst the members of our Protestant faith, an uninterrupted succession of men gifted with endowments in that eminent degree which is justly termed rare and extraordinary; whilst, on the other hand, it is highly 878 consistent with probability, that, whenever the doors of this House shall be open to members professing the Roman Catholic belief, if there shall be found, within the limits of the three kingdoms, an individual of that persuasion, who, with splendid talent and enterprising genius, shall combine the fascinating command of eloquence, such a man will no sooner be discovered, than we shall, in this place, have an opportunity of appreciating his influence; and can we doubt of the course which he will pursue? At the head of a powerful party, powerful whether numerically strong or not, because powerful in the peculiar and sacred character of its compact, is it not probable that he who shall direct such a party will at once aspire to procure for it an equality with every other in the stats? and, when equal, will he rest satisfied with equality? or, if he will, can such equality be obtained otherwise than by pulling down much which it is as yet pretended we are to retain? Can it, otherwise than by invading rights and overturning securities, of which no man has as yet been so hardy as to confess, that he will either sanction or suffer the destruction?
Sir, I can desire to see no such party; I can desire to see no such leader as members of our legislature; for I deprecate every attempt and enterprise which their interests, their feelings, and their religion, must inevitably lead them to promote. I can guess where that spirit of enterprise would commence, though I may not guess where it would end. It would commence by an attack in that quarter of our constitution where stands our established church; and, although I may not allow myself, under any circumstances, to apprehend her downfall; and, although I do believe, that her foundations are sound, and rooted in the hearts of the people, yet, Sir, it is my desire to sec that church substantially and effectually secured from insult as well as from aggression. It has been sometimes said, that, so long as the interests of our church are essentially secured, it matters little, whether those who may be admitted to have seats in the House of Commons, shall love, reverence, and prefer that church, or whether they shall have interests and attachments binding them by the ties of affection, to its establishment; but, to this line of argument, I for one, am no subscriber; for I hold that it is material, and greatly material, that those who have seats in this 879 House, shall love, reverence, and prefer, all and every part of our constitution: and when I consider that we have tests and qualifications imposed, which require assurances of interest and affection to every other part, I am at a loss to discover by what rule of right or of reason the church alone can be deprived of this just and necessary protection. Thus, with respect to that part of our constitution which relates to the Crown, we have a test and qualification requiring, that all who have seats in this House shall be natural-born subjects of the Crown; born, consequently, with interests and feelings favourable to the splendor, dignity, and legitimate power of that Crown, which it is their pride to preserve unsullied and unassailed. So with respect to that part of our constitution which relates to the present disposition of property, and to the laws by which this arrangement is preserved, we have a test and qualification which requires, that every one having a seat in this House shall be possessed of a certain portion of such property, sufficient to insure in him an interest and a prejudice favourable to this present arrangement, and to incite him to a vigilant guardianship of those laws by which his own possessions are assured to him. And is it too much to ask for our church, that we should have at least so much of a test and qualification in her favour, as tends to prevent those from having seats here, who profess to be incited by a double interest for her destruction; that is to say, the desire to destroy a system they condemn, and the yet more powerful desire of setting up something which they love better in its place?
We are told, and it has been often and warmly urged upon us as a reason for hasty concession, that already many advantages have been lost, by delay, and that we at this day may still have it in our power to secure some, which, at a later period, it will be impossible to obtain.
Thus we are told that, twenty years since, our predecessors in this House might have obtained from the warm, open-hearted people with which they had to treat, the important concession of the Veto; and when, at a subsequent period, that boon was stigmatized by the party who would have conceded it, as no better than a pain and penalty, and as forming a part of the system of persecution and insult to which they were exposed, yet even then, it is said, might have been ob- 880 tained the valuable security of domestic nomination; and when this proposition was in its turn retracted and denounced by the high authorities of the Roman faith in Ireland, as utterly incompatible with the dignity and integrity of their church, even yet it is said, and up to a very late period, might have been obtained, the privilege of subsidising their priests. Sir, I can participate in no regret that is founded on the loss of any one of these supposed opportunities; I cannot lament that all treaties of compromise, founded on the basis of such imaginary securities, have failed of success; nor can I ever desire that we should attempt to purchase our own tranquillity by means of a schism amongst our Roman Catholic fellow subjects.
I should find it difficult to persuade myself that the Veto would have been less stigmatized, or that domestic nomination would have proved more palatable to the Roman Catholics, had they been in fact conceded, and vested in Protestant hands, than they have, now that the event is different, and that Roman Catholics are still free from the supposed degrading tendency of those propositions. Sir, if it had happened that the concessions required had been granted twenty years ago, on the security of the Veto, it is my firm belief that we should at this day have been employed in discussing the propriety of retaining that security; that we should have been to-day engaged in a discussion of the same nature as the present, but in its circumstances more painful and perplexing; we should have been engaged in this discussion, in an assembly divided into two parties, both equally dissatisfied, both dissatisfied with what they had given, and both dissatisfied with what they had got; we should have been engaged in this discussion, having amongst us a certain number of Roman Catholic members, chosen for their pre-eminence of zeal and energy, who would have entered the House unfettered by any personal concern in the arrangements of twenty years ago; and, if we had talked to such men of securities and settlements, would they not have asked, how we could presume to exact reverence for securities and settlements, who had shewn so little respect to the settlements and securities of our forefathers? Might they not have asked, how it happened that we presumed to attach a more sacred and inviolable character to the laws of the reign of George the 3rd, 881 than we allowed to the laws of the reign of the 3rd William?
To arguments of this description I should, for my own part, have found it difficult to offer a reply; but I pretend to no deep powers of reasoning, and I shall, I know, in the minds of many, diminish yet further the trifling value of my opinion, by confessing, that I have ever found my understanding incapable of surmounting the first and palpable difficulty of this question which relates to the succession to the crown.
If, Sir, I am told that our king is the head of our Protestant church, so have I been told that our Houses of Parliament are the pillars of that church, and I look to the soundness of the foundation as being no less material than that of the superstructure; and, if I am told that the Crown of England is and ought to be essentially Protestant, so am I obliged, by parity of reasoning, to infer, that all power emanating from that Crown, is and ought to be Protestant also; to distinguish between that power and that Crown, is to distinguish between the sunshine and the sun; it is a distinction which I am not capable of making, nor of rightly comprehending.
We have been often told, that we, who maintain a line of argument opposed to what is asked, are reduced to this dilemma, namely, that we are called upon to vindicate certain tests and securities which are adequate, it is admitted, to their purpose of excluding persons whose doctrines of faith are in some degree objectionable; but, whilst they succeed to this extent, they wholly fail, it is said, in excluding those whose doctrines of faith are infinitely more obnoxious, or in excluding those who have no doctrines of faith at all; thus, it is argued, the Jew and the Atheist may walk into the House of Commons, but the Roman Catholic must stop at the door:—and, Sir, if this were, practically and legally speaking, true (which it is not), we have authorities, and amongst others that of my lord Bacon, for considering that an unbeliever may be less dangerous to a state than he who carries professions of faith to a wild and extravagant excess. "Atheism," says lord Bacon, "leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to laws, to reputation, all which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, though religion were not; but Superstition dismounts all these, and erecteth in the minds of men an unlimited uncontrollable monarchy." Sir, 882 it is this monarchy which I fear; it is this monarchy which has in the county of Waterford dismounted and expelled every sentiment of gratitude and attachment from the hearts of a people by nature kind and affectionate [cheers]. Sir, it becomes me to disclaim, in the most unequivocal manner, any intention of offering an invidious or offensive comparison between Atheists and members of the Roman Catholic faith: it has been my desire to avoid all topics of irritation and offence; I have endeavoured to abstain from the use even of such arguments as have been stigmatized as obsolete. But here, I must be permitted to remark, that so long as those who argue on the other side of the question dwell upon pains and penalties which no longer exist, as proofs of the persecuting spirit of that law, of which they form no longer a part, so long will it be just to recur to these events and causes which gave rise to those pains and penalties.
Sir, it is undoubtedly true, and possibly the observation may be applicable to either side of this question, that, in the lapse of time, and under change of circumstances, many arguments used heretofore with much force and effect are now abandoned as useless and untenable. I have for my own part had sufficient experience in this House to remember the time when the humiliation of the Roman See, afforded ample scope and materials for those who ridiculed all fear of the interposition of foreign influence, or of papal dominion. I shall not easily forget the impression produced by one of the energetic appeals of the late Mr. Grattan, when pointed in this direction. "Where," he inquired, "are the splendors of the Vatican? Where the terrors of the Inquisition? are they not prostrate in the dust? and this Pope! this tremendous potentate! have we not seen him, a slave and bondsman strapped to the war-horse of a great captain?" Sir, we had seen all this—and the force of the appeal was felt in proportion as the truths on which it rested were recognized—but we, to whom life up to this period has been spared, we have seen yet more than this; we have seen the restoration of that Vatican; and have, as the hon. baronet observed, ourselves assisted to restore it; we have seen too, though without our assistance, the restoration of that Inquisition, and we see the successor of that slave and bondsman, sitting on the throne of his predecessors, not unmindful of his tem- 883 poral rights, nor of his ecclesiastical dominion. We see him in his capacity of legislator, looking back to the dark ages for a code of laws suitable to the ideas of government, which his religion teaches him to prefer—he fixes on the feudal system as the most approved model, and completes its perfection, by incorporating with it the rights of sanctuary and of ecclesiastical immunity from crime. In his executive capacity, if the journals of the day speak truth, he is no less faithfully engaged, by following implicitly the examples of his early predecessors; he commences the work of persecution with those who have no king to protect, no government to claim, and no country to receive them; these are, indeed, heretics with whom we, perhaps, have not much either of feeling or of interest in common, and for us, whilst our persons are in those territories respected, and our religion partially connived at, it may appear hardly worthy of notice that, should we happen there to end our lives, our dust will not be permitted to desecrate that holy soil: long may it be, before we shall have any higher complaint to urge, or any more serious proof of ingratitude to encounter, in return for the heavy load of obligations which we have conferred. But, ingratitude, Sir, is the weed of every soil and of every clime; and painful indeed it is to experience it, in that favoured clime and soil, where of all others we had the least reason to apprehend it; in that new world which we have just called up into life and liberty, and new political existence—painful indeed—to find it there in its freshest and most virulent rankness! But of this truth we are assured by the united testimonies of the latest travellers in South America; I may refer in particular to the testimony of captain Head, whose observations and researches, in that continent, whilst affording much instruction and amusement, are, I believe, no less justly esteemed for a character of unimpeached veracity. This writer mentions as an occurrence of the other day, that when the inhabitants of St. Juan, one of the principal cities in the southern part of the American continent, were informed of a charter of religious toleration granted by their government in favour of the English, they rose in a body, the priests seized the governor in his bed, and committed him to gaol, whilst the charier was burned in the market-place by the hands of the 884 common hangman, amidst the shouts and acclamations of the populace. We are often told that Roman Catholics are not necessarily papists; thus the poet Pope said of himself, that he was a Roman Catholic but not a papist; and the same distinction was taken by the earl of Bristol in the reign of Charles 2nd, who styled himself a member of the church of Rome, though not a member of the court of Rome; the same earl of Bristol, by the way, who spoke in favour of the Test Act, because his conscience, as an honest Englishman, he said, enjoined him so to do, and then voted against it, because the interest of his church imperatively obliged him to oppose it. Now, if every distinction between Roman Catholics and papists could fairly be taken—if there ever was a people which, whilst it acknowledged and claimed a title to the first of those denominations, could fairly reject and repudiate the other, that people we find in the people of South America: for, by the ancient and fundamental charters and constitutions of colonization for those territories under the auspices of the kings of Spain, it was expressly granted and conceded by the popes of those days, and ratified by all their successors, that, on that continent of the New World, no bull of the pope should have effect, no nuncio of the pope should set his foot, no interference of the pope either direct or indirect should be attempted or acknowledged; the Roman Catholics then of St. Juan are not papists, nor have I any right to charge to the account of the pope the unkindness shown to us in that quarter. Nor yet was this act of ingratitude committed under the dynasty of a Ferdinand, of a bigotted despot, but in a regenerated government, a republic; not under an absolute monarchy—no—but under the monarchy of Superstition [cheers].
The hon. baronet invited our attention to the present condition of foreign countries, as illustrative of this great subject of discussion; and, as he did not think it expedient to make any reference to the transactions of the New World, I am content to confine all further observations to our own quarter of the globe. Is it, then, in Italy, or is it in Spain, that we find any thing to contradict the accusing voice of history? With respect to Spain, indeed, the hon. baronet has admitted, in unqualified terms, the baneful properties of Superstition. And are we so sure of the issue 885 of the struggle now carrying on in Portugal, that we can venture to predicate of our allies, that they are ready to adopt our principles of religious toleration, as well as our free form of government? or that they have found either the one or the other compatible with the interests of their church? Is it not the fact, that accounts are this very day received of an intercepted correspondence between some of those who pretend to uphold the free constitution, and those who, with arms in their hands, denounce it openly in the name of their religion? But the hon. baronet points our attention more particularly to France; and is there in that quarter no just occasion for alarm? Has not France retrograded in liberty, in proportion as her priests have regained their influence? Have not the Jesuits re-appeared, and re-established their reign of Superstition? And the press of France, that root and fountain of liberty, is it not at this hour threatened by the open attacks of Roman Catholic Bigotry [loud cheers]? And even if these warnings did not already exist in France, how could we have ventured to set up the authority of twenty years against the warnings of a history of centuries? Is it possible to think of France, and not remember, that France was the country of the League? of that league, which preached and practised in its full extent, the principles of divided allegiance; of that league, which commanded its king to turn his arms against his Protestant subjects; which compelled one monarch of France to resign his power, and another to renounce his religion? But France was, it is true, the country of Henry 4th, and of his faithful minister Sully; and there is, indeed, a pleasing subject of contemplation in the tried friendship of those great men, little disturbed by the opposite doctrines of faith which they adopted. There are, however, other memorials of this king and of his minister, besides those which the bare outlines of history present to us; and, if their practical example may seem to justify one line of inference, the record of their deliberate opinions must inevitably lead us to a very opposite conclusion. Sully, in his memoirs, speaks thus, when adverting with matured reflection to this subject:—"If to reconcile the two religions is morally impossible, it may with equal certainty be said to be politically impossible; since it cannot be done without the 886 concurrence of the pope, and this can never be expected, since it was not obtained of Clement 8th, who of all popes who have sat in the See of Rome, was most free from prejudices, and had more of that gentleness which the gospel preaches to its followers." And we have the opinion of the great and tolerant Henry yet more strongly recorded to the same effect, in the sketch of that grand political scheme which he employed so much of the later period of his life in organizing. His plan for the settlement of religious opinions and persuasions throughout Europe was thus laid out: "The three religions," he said, "which principally prevail in Europe, namely, the Roman, the Reformed, and the Protestant, are so established, that there is not the least appearance that any of them can be destroyed, all, therefore, that remains is, to strengthen those nations who have made choice of one of these religions in the principles they profess; Italy, therefore, should preserve the Roman religion in all its purity, the same with respect to Spain. In such states as that of France, where there is a governing religion, whoever should think the regulations too severe, by which Calvinism would be always subordinate to the religion of the prince, might be permitted to depart the country." Such, Sir, were the opinions of these persons, whose example is so often cited to us as the best practical illustration which history affords of the principle of religious toleration, extended to an equality of rights and privileges.
When the hon. baronet spoke of France, he spoke in general terms only; had he descended to particular inferences, as grounded on particular facts, I would from the hon. baronet's lips have received such facts as unquestioned truths, and should have listened with every becoming respect to the deductions of a mind so able, inquisitive, and enlightened. But, Sir, it is not from every quarter that I am disposed (with reference to this subject) to receive assertions for truths, there is a degree of warmth, zeal, and enthusiasm attending the discussion of this particular question, which has led many to the use of bold and convenient arguments, without waiting to examine very scrupulously the foundations on which they rest; nor has this happened in late years only; during every period of the agitation of these discussions, we find the same pro- 887 pensity, of which history hands down to us a remarkable instance; in the reign of James 2nd, a correspondence was carried on by a private secretary of that king, with the grand pensioner of Holland, for the purpose of ascertaining the opinion of king William, then prince of Orange, relative to a proposed repeal of the Test Act. The secretary of king James boldly assumed, that the laws of Holland admitted of an unqualified toleration, and addressed arguments to the minister of that country, which were mainly founded on that assumption. The reply of the pensioner Fagel is extant, and in these terms:—"You write," he says, "that the Roman Catholics within these provinces are not shut out from employments and places of trust, but in this you are much mistaken, for our laws are express, excluding them by name from all share in the government, and from all employments, either of the policy or justice of the country." There is in this letter another passage which I will not deny myself the satisfaction of adverting to, as being no less applicable to the present time than to that in which it was written. "I would gladly see one single good reason to move a Protestant that is concerned for his religion, to consent to the repealing of those laws that have been enacted by the authority of king and parliament, which have no other tendency but the security of the reformed religion, and to the restraining of the Roman Catholic from a capacity of overturning it: these laws inflict neither fine nor punishment, and do only exclude the Roman Catholic from a share in the government, who, by being in employment, must needs study to increase; their party, and to gain for it more credit and power."
Sir, I find in those few sentences so much plain and convincing reason, that, until I hear it impugned by arguments more sound in principle, and more capable of bearing the test of scrutiny than any which I am yet acquainted with, I am content here to conclude the observations which I offer on this subject, and to meet the particular attention which has been shown to me on this occasion, by a due consideration for the wishes of others, who must be anxious to express their sentiments.
If by the opinions which I have expressed, or if by the vote which I shall give, I acquire the name of an enemy to my 888 Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, deeply as I may regret the imputation, I shall rest justified in the consciousness that it is one which I do not deserve. I have formed, it is true, a strong opinion upon this subject, but not until after a frequent, and, as I think, a candid consideration of it; the vote which I give, therefore, is the result of a conscientious feeling, and of a mind impressed with a sincere and unqualified conviction [cheers].
§ Mr. Brownlow
said, he felt that it was perfectly idle, on his part, to attempt to add any thing to the unanswerable arguments that had been adduced by the hon. baronet, the member for Westminster, in support of the claims of the Catholics. But he could not avoid joining his prayers and entreaties to those of the hon. baronet, for the success of this great question. The hon. gentleman who had preceded him, had travelled over every land on the face of the globe, in search of materials for his speech. There was no country, he believed, the hon. gentleman had not mentioned, except unfortunate Ireland, which was the subject of the present discussion. This was a case of such absorbing interest and all-engrossing importance, that he hoped hon. members had come in a serious mood, with a patient temper, and with minds stripped of preconceived opinions, prepared to listen attentively to the evidence given by the Irish members, and finally, go to the division with all that awful sense of responsibility which it became men to feel, who were about to bring in a verdict which would be to Ireland that of national life or death. He had heard that unseemly language had been used on this subject out of doors. He would not say that it had found its way into their debates. But he had heard, that some of the opponents of the Catholic question had declared their determination "to die in the last ditch, to show a good fight in defence of their cause, and if necessary, to nail the colours to the mast, and go down with the ship." Now, he asked, had any man of common sense on the other side of the question, who was disposed to speak the truth, whether, if they succeeded by a few miserable majorities, in defeating the Catholics, they could believe the system they were upholding would be safe or permanent? Any man who would answer that question in the affirmative, must be very little versed in the history 889 of the state of Ireland. Dean Swift, in writing to a friend on the subject of the sacramental test, observed, that the Catholics at that time were without talent, without leaders, without organization, and entirely without power. But that objection could not hold now; for the Catholics were united by hopes and feelings that bound together every man of them in Ireland. In 1790, the greatest difficulty in the way of the Roman Catholic petition, arose from the indifference of the Catholics themselves. What a striking contrast; did the present state of Catholic feeling on the subject present to their supineness in the year 1790? Then there was no organization amongst them: the gentry had separated themselves from the people, and amongst the people there was no principle of union, and no source of moral power. Let the House contrast this state of things with the description which applied to modern Catholics. When he had first stated the opinions which he had been led to embrace on this subject, he had declared it to be his conviction, that regard being had to the testimony of all those who were experienced in the state of Ireland, the condition of that country was such as to call for an immediate settlement of this question, and, in fact, as to admit of no postponement of that settlement. He had said then, and he repeated it now, that the state of Ireland was like that of a man on the edge of a hill, where he could not stand, but must move either backward or forward. What, then, was to be done? Was parliament to go back and re-enact the penal code? If that was the meaning of the hon. member for Derry, he wished that hon. gentleman had said so openly. Certainly, he did understand that hon. gentleman to mean, by "firmness and decision," that he was disposed to have recourse to force and violence against the Catholics of Ireland. But the hon. gentleman, however strongly disposed he might be, would not avow that such was his intention. Indeed, the project of re-enacting the penal code was altogether impossible. No man in Ireland would hear of it for a moment. Since, then, the question could not continue as it was, nor be carried back—for nobody had ventured to make any such proposition, though the hon. member for Derry had darkly and mysteriously hinted at it—what other course remained but that of carrying it forward? Justice, better 890 late than never, would enforce a total repeal of that penal code which was partially relaxed in 1793. The hon. baronet had stated this part of his case with admirable truth and decision. Nothing could be more ridiculous and untenable than the present state of the law in Ireland. When it was proposed to extend the elective franchise to the Catholics, the Irish parliament was asked whether it would bring ignorance, bigotry, and numbers within the pale of the constitution. But did that objection exist now? Were not the Catholics now possessed of wealth, of consideration, of rank, and of influence? What was to be done, then, under such circumstances? He agreed with the hon. baronet, that it would be wise to try Catholic emancipation as a cure for the evils of the country. The hon. member for Deny objected, that the priests had interfered with the elections. He (Mr. Brownlow) had seen a good deal of this kind of support; and he had felt the full efficacy of it himself. Nor was their right to take part in such matters forbidden, or even discouraged by the spirit of the constitution. But it was not true that their influence was all-powerful. He had seen them succeed, but he had seen them also, in as many instances, fail. But whether succeed or fail, he could say this, that he had witnessed more examples of the sacred ties of landlord and tenant being broken through between Protestant and Protestant, than he had done of the abuse of the influence of a priest over his flock. But the part which the priests had acted in the elections had been much exaggerated. The priest said this to the freeholders—"here is one," pointing to a candidate, "who thinks that your religion makes you a traitor and a perjurer; and here is another candidate who says that religion is an affair that belongs to the cognizance of God alone, who thinks, of course, that his own religion is best, but that he is a fallible creature, that it is possible he may be wrong; and, at all events, he considers it a question which concerns only yourself. He therefore is willing to extend to you the same political rights as he enjoys himself. That man, I think, ought to have your votes." This was the language uniformly held by the priest.—He would beseech the House to take into its most serious consideration the present state of Ireland. There was no law—no subordination, in that country, 891 The constitution was tumbling to pieces; society was in a state of dissolution, and all the moral relations between man and man threatened with extinction. Such was the true picture of the present state of Ireland. He would put it to the House, then, what were the inducements for them to remain where they were as to this question? It was said, that the Catholics, to a man, were discontented. Yes! nothing was more true shan such a statement. The Catholics were, one and all, deeply discontented. The spirit of liberty, like an electric flame, ran through every link, from the highest to the meanest of the social chain. The Catholics were determined to be emancipated, or never to cease urging and agitating their claims. This was the fearful state of things which the legislature had now to contemplate, and which they were called on to redress. With respect to the Catholic Association, let them be called agitators, or what they would, still it could not be denied, that they had the heart and affections of the Catholics of Ireland. The people were alienated from the government, and the Catholic Association possessed the confidence, and wielded the opinions, and the moral and physical force of the country. If he had any share of the responsibility attached to the government of Ireland, he would not deem cafe to slumber until he had thrown the shield of justice over the people of Ireland, and by removing all disabilities, had combined all classes in one harmonious feeling of reverence and affection for the laws and government of their country. What would they propose to do with a people so circumstanced as the Catholics of Ireland? What was the condition of the Protestants under the present system? The hon. member for Derry had described them as, of all men, the most forlorn and oppressed; and as being held up to hatred from the pulpits of the Catholics, as a band of persecutors. He greatly regretted it, but so it was that the titles of Protestant and persecutor were in Ireland identical. The hon. member for Derry had represented that those who remained there would be murdered, such was the exasperation of the Catholics against them; and that even now systematized attempts were making to rob them of their estates. This statement might be somewhat exaggerated; but he believed it to be true in effect. Indeed, how could it 892 be expected, that one million of persons could depress and exclude from power six millions of their fellow-subjects on their own native soil, and yet remain themselves in a situation of comfort and happiness? For the sake, therefore, of free and liberal Protestantism, and for the sake of all those Protestants who professed an attachment to liberal and enlightened principles, he implored the House to repeal these laws, and leave both Catholics and Protestants to exert their energies for the protection of common rights and common privileges. Let them give up their time and energies for the improvement of their own interests, and the interests of the country at large. The distinction which now existed between the Protestant and the Catholic was an odious, an unjust, an impolitic distinction: it was a distinction which exposed us to much envy, hatred, and danger: it was a distinction which was calculated to throw us down from that high station which we occupied among the nations of the world. He implored the House, therefore, to adopt a measure which would conciliate Ireland, and place the empire in a state of security.
said, that the present was the seventh or eighth Session in which he had given his opinion on this important subject, and that opinion, he must say, remained unaltered by any thing which he had seen or heard since he voted on its first discussion. One of the great grounds on which the question had been brought forward was, that it would bring about a change for the better in the condition of Ireland. No man was more anxious for such a change than he was. A change was necessary; for in fact it was almost impossible that Ireland could remain as she was; but then emancipation was not the means by which so desirable a change could be effected. The only hope for Ireland was the success of the reformation in that country. It was asked, could they control six millions of people? He did not mean to say that they could; but he thought the argument founded on numbers was not conclusive. Those who rested the expediency of conceding emancipation on numbers, reminded him of the general who, being surrounded by enemies, collected round him a quantity of combustible materials, and threatened that, if hard pressed, he would set fire to the train, and he and his opponents should all go to the devil together. He was of 893 opinion, that the constitution was involved in this question; and in that view he would persevere in refusing concession at the risk of the separation of the two countries. He would admit that the union of Ireland with England was a necessary measure. He would not then go into its merits; but he would prefer the separation of Ireland to that state of things which he believed would result from the concession of emancipation. It had been asked, could that system be justified by which the duke of Norfolk was excluded from a seat in the House of Peers, to which he had a claim by birth? He admitted that this was exclusion; but then it was not more severe in his case, than the principle of exclusion was in that of many Protestants. The whole system of qualification was a system of exclusion. What was the duke of Norfolk more than the more humble man who might wish to represent his native town; but who was excluded, because he did not possess 300l. a-year in landed property? But there were other principles recognized by, and making part of, our laws and customs, which were, virtually, principles of exclusion. Let the House look at the younger brothers of the nobility. They were of the same blood, nursed in the same luxuries, educated at the same schools, trained up in nearly the same habits, as the elder brothers; but, thus equal in all other respects, in came the law of primogeniture, and prevented their inheritance of the title and estate, and they had to make their fortunes as they could. Was not this a principle of exclusion? There was, besides, the whole body of the clergy. They were excluded from a seat in that House, or from having any share in levying the taxes which they were called upon to pay. This principle was in its origin, he would admit, founded in good sense; but then at the present moment the exclusion was a hardship, as it was now founded on a gross fallacy; namely, that they had a seat in the Convocation, an assembly which practically did not exist. It was said, that this measure would pacify Ireland. He did not believe it would have any such effect. Even if it were carried, it was impossible to suppose that the Catholics would be satisfied, unless it were followed up by other measures; and certain parties in that country were at no pains to conceal that the Protestant church establishment of Ireland was the object aimed at. Would 894 the House consent to lend its aid to such a design? If this measure did not pacify Ireland, which he was sure it would not, on what other ground was it that they were called on to make so violent an inroad on the constitution? He begged of hon. members to bring to their recollection the dangers from which the country had heretofore escaped from the practices of that sect, and to act upon the homely proverb, that "a burnt child dreads the fire."
§ Mr. George Moore
, member for Dublin, said, it was impossible that a new member of that House should not feel great difficulty in rising to oppose claims, which had been advanced and supported with so much ability and eloquence. It was impossible that such a member, when he was called upon to redress a nation's wrongs, to vindicate a nation's honour, and restore a nation's rights, should not have great difficulty to encounter in opposing such an appeal, from the enthusiasm which such topics were naturally calculated to excite. He was satisfied, however, that the view which he took of this question, and which those who concurred with him in opinion took of it, was not only consistent with civil and religious liberty, but indispensably necessary, with a view to the integrity and stability of the constitution. This was not a question of national injury or oppression, but a question of relative constitutional rights. It was a question to be considered not with reference to the feelings of any particular class of his majesty's subjects, but with reference to the security of the whole kingdom. The question was now brought forward under circumstances materially different from those under which it had been submitted to the House on all former occasions. In all former discussions, the most moderate and the most zealous advocates of the claims of the Catholics had concurred in accompanying their propositions with some security or other, which they deemed sufficient to guard the Protestant church and the Protestant establishments. From the total silence of the hon. baronet, and of the noble lord who seconded the motion, he was induced to think that the idea of security was altogether abandoned; and he was confirmed in that opinion, when he referred to the language of the petition which the hon. baronet had himself introduced to the House. In that petition, the Roman Catholic petitioners emphati- 895 cally claimed admission to political power—admission unqualified, unconditional, and unrestrained. He would ask the House whether they were prepared thus precipitately to throw away those safeguards which the wisdom and firmness of their ancestors had raised for the protection of the Protestant establishment? He did not blame the petitioners for taking no notice of any scheme of security; for he declared that he had never seen, heard of, or read of, any thing which, in his mind, amounted to a rational or effectual scheme of security. It was objected, to those who opposed this measure, that they opposed the rights of the people; but there was no foundation for this objection. He, for one, did not resist the concession of political power to the Roman Catholics on account of their faith alone, or on account of their adherence to that faith, with reference merely to religious considerations, but because they held tenets which went to the recognition of a system of ecclesiastical domination—which went to the recognition of the supremacy of a foreign power, exercising a jurisdiction theoretically ecclesiastical, but directed practically to political objects, and too often executed by political means. This was the reason why Roman Catholics were excluded from political power; and, unless they disengaged themselves from that thraldom, they could never be safely admitted to a participation in it. It had also been objected to those who opposed concession, that they opposed natural and indefeasible rights; but, as this argument had not been insisted on that night, it was not his intention to dwell upon it. The notion of abstract right had been abandoned in argument, both by Mr. O'Connell and Dr. Doyle. Dr. Doyle had admitted, that restrictions upon British Catholics during the time of the Pretender were not only justifiable, but necessary. After the admissions which had been made by both these authorities, the arguments derived from abstract right, independent of political expediency, might be considered as abandoned. By the way, these admissions were an answer to the arguments founded on the treaty of Limerick; for if parliament were at liberty to enact penal statutes against the Roman Catholics, what became of that treaty of which so much was said?—Let the question, then, be considered on the ground of expediency. The advocates of it, on that ground, did not, in his opinion, 896 fairly state the question. They were not then called upon to discuss the elements of a new constitution, to state what share the Roman Catholics should take in it. They were not called upon to model a new one, but to change that which, in part, had been established for three centuries, and which had existed, in its present state, for nearly a century and a half. But he would not confine himself to three centuries, he would go to Cressy and Agincourt; he would go to Runnymede, and beyond that to the Norman conquest, and would contend, that the principle of our government was a principle of independence of foreign power. He maintained, that, before and up to the time of the Norman conquest, independence of the See of Rome was a governing principle in the constitution of this country. The guards which had been established by our ancestors for the safety of the Protestant establishment had been wisely, deliberately and cautiously, adopted; they had been adopted by men who had experience of the fatal effects resulting from Papal domination. Such were the men by whom the constitution was settled. And by whom was concession sought to be obtained? It was sought to be obtained by those who had no experience of the evils against which our ancestors erected these constitutional safeguards, and who had every experience of the blessings which had resulted from these salutary restrictions. It was the constitution which had secured the Protestant religion—a religion which was the source of that independence of character, that spirit of enterprise, that moral force, which had raised the British empire to the height of prosperity, and carried British resources into every quarter of the globe. This was the constitution which they were called upon to change; this was the constitution upon which they were called upon to achieve an experiment which, if once made, could never be recalled. Some advocates of this measure were disposed to rest its expediency on what they termed the present unhappy state of Ireland; and they argued as if this were the only measure by which Ireland could be relieved. He took a very different view of the state of Ireland from that which seemed to impress hon. members opposite. For his part, he did not consider the present state of Ireland as melancholy or desponding. He saw, it was true, the surface of society in that country a good deal agitated: but he thought that 897 it might be calmed by prudent and temperate means, wholly distinct from emancipation. In his opinion, the agitation was exaggerated and misrepresented, by those who had raised it for their own purposes [hear]. He did not mean to impute any blame to hon. members opposite for the view which they took of it; but, in giving his own view, he wished to correct what seemed to him to be an error on their side, and to remove the impression which was sought to be made on the public mind in this country, that the state of Ireland was one bordering on despair. He could not desire better testimony in support of the view which he took of this part of the question, than that of some of the leaders of the Catholics, who endeavoured to justify the use of seditious language, because, as they alleged, it was necessary to scatter firebrands, not for the purpose of exciting the peasantry to sedition, but to rouse them from that torpid indifference in which they existed, with respect to the constitutional exercise of their rights. In this attempt they were no doubt successful; but, though they did produce that state of society in which no man felt comfortable, it was by no means that state in which no man felt safe. He could refer to numerous other pieces of evidence, on the table of the House, to show that Ireland was not in the state in which she was described, and to prove that, whatever her state might be, the measure now proposed was the last which could tend to her pacification. He alluded particularly to the petitions from all parts and from all classes in Ireland; from peers, wealthy landed proprietors, clergy, merchants, yeoman, and mechanics, men who were interested, to a large extent, in the pacification and prosperity of Ireland, and who must be presumed to understand what would have that tendency. They were all deeply interested to the extent of their whole properties in any measure which could tend to benefit Ireland; and yet to a man, they all concurred in the inexpediency of any further concession to the Roman Catholics, and of course, in thinking that such concession would not have the effect of restoring tranquillity to that country.—The hon. member, after some other remarks, proceeded to advert to the state of the Catholic church in Ireland. The Catholic church in Ireland, it was well known, assumed a power and pre-eminence equal if not superior to the established religion. The members of 898 that church boasted of their unbroken succession. The hold which they had on the minds of the people of that country was as extensive in its sway, as it was dangerous in its consequences. Would there be no danger, then, in admitting into that House, men who would be influenced by the control of such a body? The friends of emancipation answered this objection by saying, that Catholic members of parliament would be bound by an oath to uphold the constitution in church and state; but he denied that such a pledge would be a sufficient security against the machinations and intrigues of designing men. He would not, at that late hour, enter more fully into the details which the question of Catholic emancipation presented, for he knew that there were many gentlemen who wished for an opportunity of entering their protest against the measure, and who were much more capable than he was of urging their objections. He implored the House, however, before they adopted any measures favourable to the important question which was now before them, to pause and weigh well the consequences which their decision might involve. In what a situation, he would ask, would an illustrious character be placed, if called upon to violate his coronation oath—an oath, the spirit and terms of which went directly to the maintenance of Protestant ascendancy?
§ Mr. R. Martin
rose amidst loud and repeated cries to adjourn. He denied that the Catholic priesthood had exerted their influence improperly in the late elections in Ireland. It was true that the Catholic clergy and the Catholic leaders used their influence to secure the return of those who were friendly to their cause; but such influence, he contended, was perfectly natural. He confessed, for his own part, that he was indebted for his return to the influence of the Catholic clergy, and to Mr. O'Connell's assistance he was also deeply indebted [a laugh.] He would repeat that he was proud of such aid, and to his dying day he should raise his grateful voice in defence of that gentleman and the Catholic clergy; for it was to them he was indebted for the privilege which he now enjoyed, of raising his voice in their behalf. Aye, the Catholic interest sent him to parliament in opposition to the influence of that government in whose service he had grown grey, and to whom he had given his vote for forty years. 899 The hon. member then proceeded to describe the circumstances connected with his own election, and in the course of his observations he accused his late opponent, of compromising the Catholic interest, for the purpose of securing his return in opposition to him. He recommended to the consideration of the House a bill which he introduced into parliament at the close of the last session, to make every voter at Irish elections produce a certificate that he paid his rent, before his vote should be registered. If this plan were pursued, he was of opinion, that the great measure of Catholic emancipation would be fully answered, and that the cause of excitation and alarm in Ireland would be thereby allayed. He contended that Catholic emancipation was a debt due from the government to the people of Ireland. Lord Cornwallis, when lord lieutenant of Ireland, had assured him, that emancipation should immediately follow the union of the two countries. Without that assurance to the Catholics, they would not have supported government in the passing of that measure.
§ Sir J. Newport
moved the adjournment of the debate owing to the lateness of the hour, and the improbability of the question being decided without, at least, another night's discussion.
§ The debate was thereupon adjourned till to morrow.