The Archbishop of Canterbury
presented a petition against these claims from the archdeacon and clergy of the diocese of Canterbury, the language of which, his grace stated to be temperate and guarded. Many observations had been made on the petitions addressed by the clergy to the House; but, as an assertion had gone forth, that the clergy had changed their opinions respecting the danger of granting emancipation to the Catholics, he thought that they were fully justified in coming forward with petitions, as they had done.
The Bishop of Norwich
, in presenting two petitions against these claims, said, that he continued to dissent from the opinions which they expressed, but that their language was proper and temperate.
said, he was sorry, for the sake of the clergy, to see all these petitions, and to see such a spirit of hostility manifested to the Catholics. He was not, however, disposed to make any objections to receiving the petitions. He thought that both Houses of parliament should lend a willing ear to petitions from every class of persons; more particularly their lordships, who, not being dependent on the people for their parliamentary existence, should take care to show that they were not averse to listen to the wishes of the community, to whose opinion even their lordships must be ultimately amenable. The petitions which were presented to their lordships, he would contend, from what he recollected of former occasions, when any great question agitated the public mind, and when petitions poured in from all the great portions of the community, did not speak the general sense of the public. They were, he thought, petitions got up by the influence of the clergy. There had been, since the notice of the measure was given in the other House, an excellent opportunity for petitioning. The assizes had been held; but had their lordships received one petition from a grand jury? Was there a single petition from any one county meeting? Was-there a petition 1362 from any of those great manufacturing or commercial towns, the inhabitants of which were rapidly increasing in wealth, and growing still faster in knowledge and liberality? If there had been one it was an exception; and certainly there were no petitions from those great, wealthy, and intelligent bodies of men to whom the legislature were accustomed to listen. The petitions presented to their lordships did not represent the opinion and feelings of the people; and he was sorry to see the clergy thus isolated from the great body of enlightened people. If the measure introduced into the other House should be rejected by their lordships, he knew it would be rejected by the majority in a conscientious discharge of their duty; but he must still assert, that if so lamentable a decision should be come to, it would be in opposition to public opinion, and in defiance of public feeling. He would say this, from seeing no petition from any of those great, opulent, and enlightened bodies to whose representations the legislature were accustomed to defer. If the bill should be lost —and he thought it should not be called a bill for granting concessions to the Catholics, but for enabling the Protestant church to seat itself in the hearts and feelings of the people of Ireland—he should regret it, as tending to weaken that church, and as perpetuating the spirit of hostility with which the church was now regarded, and which prevented it from being received with that cordiality, particularly in Ireland, which it deserved from its own merits.
The Bishop of Chester
presented several petitions to the same effect. He would take that opportunity of reminding the noble lord, that he had presented a petition a few nights before, which was signed by upwards of 8,000 persons.
remarked, that most of these petitions were got up by the clergy stimulating the people.
The Bishop of Chester
said, that the clergy had abstained from calling any public meetings, and from stimulating the people. He had been asked, whether or not-the clergy should petition? And he had replied, "petition by allmeans, but take no steps to excite the people." He knew that this advice had been acted on in his diocese; for a delegation of Protestant dissenters had applied to the clergy to call a county meeting, and they had refused.
would just trouble their lordships by referring to one petition; or rather to one line of one petition. His lordship then read an extract from a petition stating, "that the Jews had been subjected to severe punishments for seventy years for associating with idolators, and holding this up as a warning to this nation against mingling with or encouraging Catholic idolatry." The petition, containing this remarkable sentiment, was from the archdeacon and clergy of Leicester.
§ Ordered to lie on the table.