§ Mr. Whitbread
presented a Petition of the portmen of the borough of Ipswich, in special assembly convened; setting forth,That the petitioners beg leave to approach the House with sentiments very different from those which they understand to have elsewhere prevailed in the body corporate of which they form a constituent and essential member; and that, impressed with the deep and firm conviction that all civil restrictions on account of religious opinions are in themselves evils, and, except when indispensable for the prevention of greater evils, as unwise in point of policy as they are unjust in principle, and repugnant to the comprehensive spirit of Christian charity; fully satisfied too, on the maturest reflection, that, by the gradual change which has insensibly taken place in the temper and feelings of those who profess the Roman Catholic faith, the prostrate condition of the Papal power, the extinction of all adverse pretensions to the crown of these realms in every adherent to that power, and the incorporation of the Irish with the British parliament, all reasonable grounds for 426 continuing such restrictions on our Roman Catholic brethren are effectually removed; restrictions which, if suffered to remain in the present condition of things, can have no other effect than to generate that very discontent and disaffection against which, if such dispositions really existed, they would form a most ineffectual guard; and that the petitioners do most humbly, but earnestly, beseech the House to take the claims of this very numerous class of our fellow citizens into their immediate consideration, and, by the the entire abolition of such disqualifications, to begin the great work of uniting all classes of his Majesty's subjects, of whatever religious denomination, in one common and indissoluble bond of interest and sympathy, an object eminently desirable even in the most peaceable and prosperous times, but which in the present awful crisis cannot, the petitioners humbly conceive, be purchased by too large a sacrifice of prejudice and error.
§ Mr. Whitbread
said, that the Petition was signed by six names, courtmen of Ipswich. The whole number of these courtmen was twelve, two of whom were disqualified from taking a part on the subject. Of the remaining ten, six had signed this Petition, which, from the liberality of the sentiments expressed in it, he was proud to present.