§ A Petition of the archdeacons and clergy of the diocese of Bath and Wells, was presented; setting forth,
§ "That the petitioners have witnessed with considerable apprehension the recent attempts made to extend the concessions already yielded to Papists, by 440 granting to them privileges from which they have hitherto been legally debarred; and that they humbly beg leave to state, that they do not entertain personal prejudices against any individuals, or against any community', on account of dissent from the established religion, nor are they desirous of abridging the liberty of conscience enjoyed by all persons dissenting from the doctrines and discipline of the established Church, but they cannot contemplate without additional alarm the preparations openly made to promote the revival of Popery, and the arguments advanced in support of what are called the Catholic Claims, claims openly avowed, by the Popish prelates and their clergy, to consist in a perfect equality with Protestants in every political privilege; and they humbly beg leave farther to state, that, if the indulgencies sought by persons of the Romish communion were questions of mere political expediency, they should rejoice in any boon safely conferred on them by the State; but, as faithful ministers of the Church of England, they cannot consider the predominance of Popery over Protestantism, in an integral part of his Majesty's dominions, as a mere question of political expediency; and they should deem such an event nothing less than the harbinger of the downfall of the Church of England; and that they presume not to insinuate that the wisdom of parliament cannot grant such indulgences as may gratify the reasonable Petitions of our Roman Catholic brethren, but they confidently hope that those indulgences will be thoroughly consistent with the constitution, as settled in 1688, with the Protestant succession, and with the Act of Settlement on which the right of the august House of Brunswick to the crown is founded, and also with the perfect security and integrity of that pure and apostolical Church by Divine Providence established in these realms."
§ A Petition of the mayor, aldermen, recorder, burgesses, clergy, and principal inhabitants, of the borough of St. Alban, was also presented; setting forth,
§ "That the petitioners observe with the utmost solicitude and alarm the assiduous efforts of the Roman Catholics to obtain admission to all places of political power and trust, both civil and military, and to the unlimited exercise of legislative functions; and that it is with feelings of unfeigned satisfaction they contemplate the 441 blessings of religious toleration, as ex tended to their fellow-subjects of the Roman Catholic Church, and the removal of all the disabilities affecting their property and personal rights, but they feel it an imperious duty, not only to themselves but to posterity, now to resist their persevering endeavours, notwithstanding the large and important privileges already conceded to them, to acquire possession of political influence and power, in direct violation of all the principles of the Revolution, and all the subsequent laws, which have secured such privileges only to those of the Protestant establishment; and that, confiding in the wisdom of the legislature, they have hitherto refrained from petitioning the House against the Claims of the Roman Catholics, so repeatedly and incessantly urged; but such silence having been misconstrued into a tacit approbation of the measure, the petitioners feel anxious to record their fullest conviction of the danger of such concessions, which, as they conceive, can only be granted by an abandonment of that constitutional principle on which the security of the Protestant establishment and the right of the throne is founded; and the petitioners therefore humbly implore the House, the guardians and protectors of their liberties, both civil and religious, to become the opponents of every measure that may give political ability to the Roman Catholics to undermine the basis of the British constitution, and that it may be still transmitted, with all its blessings and privileges, unimpaired to their posterity."
§ A Petition of the archdeacon and clergy of the archdeaconry of Saint Alban, was also presented; setting forth,
§ "That the petitioners contemplate with the liveliest satisfaction that full and equal toleration extended by the British government to all its subjects in matters of religion, by which provision the private privilege of conscience is exempt, as it ought to be, from human limitation or controul, and the public acts and professions of men in those respects are liable to no restraints but such as are deemed necessary for the safety, peace, and welfare, of the whole community; and that the petitioners entertain the most earnest wish that every subject in the British empire should be free to share in civil benefits, and be affected by no incapacity for place or power, except where the security 442 and welfare of the State may require the continuance of such restraints as have been deemed necessary by the judgment of the legislature, on which ground it is that they humbly conceive the present claims of the Roman Catholics of this realm to be inadmissible; and that the petitioners, in this last expression of their sentiments, do not regret the several acts of indulgence which have been successively conceded to this body of their countrymen and fellow Christians, so well calculated, as such favours have been, to conciliate and satisfy the minds of those who stand unhappily divided from us, in communion; and that if the members of the Church of Rome in this land, by any overt acts of an hostile nature to the State have forfeited at any time the right to full and perfect toleration, the petitioners see with pleasure the restitution of such right, judging that the government in its wisdom has found it safe to remove those restraints which were only warranted by the necessary care and preservation of the public weal; they likewise hope and trust that every further favour and indulgence may be granted, so far as can be consistent with the safety of the State, and of course with the security of the Protestant establishment, with which the dearest interests of the State are interwoven, but they are persuaded that an equal participation of the legislative power cannot safely be thrown open to a body of Christians, whose avowed and unalterable principles, founded on the decisions of a Church which calls itself infallible, are hostile to the civil supremacy in this realm, as extended over all persons and all causes; such a privilege, enlarged to men whose consciences are subject to an arbitrary power without the realm, and operating as it must do very frequently in mixed cases, tends directly to subvert the British constitution bequeathed to us by our ancestors, and settled in its fundamental laws and public declarations; and that the petitioners humbly apprehend that no just claim to civil rights against existing laws so framed, can be competent to any body of men, much less to a manifest minority; and that the petitioners, with reference to this branch of the question which relates to numbers, feel sensibly for that part of the British empire where the numbers of those whose claims are now put forward, preponderate in a great degree; the petitioners are therefore led to wish most earnestly for any improve- 443 ment of their circumstances which the case admits, but they cannot but observe that the British laws and constitution are planned for the safety of the whole, and more especially in these two following respects—that no foreign head shall have authority or jurisdiction of what kind so-ever in this realm;—and that the. Protestant establishment and Protestant ascendancy, the main bulwark of our integrity in matters of religion and of our liberties and well-being as a people, shall be preserved inviolable; and that the petitioners should view, with equal apprehension and anxiety, any disposition to separate the civil and religious interests of the realm, the consequence of which would not only be the ruin of the present ecclesiastical establishment of the Church of England, but the overthrow of all peace and concord among Christians, as subsisting in one land or nation; upon this account the petitioners view with astonishment the attempts of those who would represent this whole question as exclusively political, and humbly crave leave to express their sense, at this juncture, of the danger of yielding to those claims which admit not of the common pledges which, arc now required from all those who share in the legislative branches of authority."
§ A Petition of the archdeacon of Suffolk, and of the clergy, was also presented; setting forth,
§ "That the petitioners view, with increasing concern and alarm, the repeated and persevering efforts of the Roman Catholics of the United Kingdom, to obtain from the legislature an elevation to a degree of political power which, in the humble opinion of the petitioners, cannot be granted them without the most imminent danger to the constitution both in Church and State; and that the petitioners feel they would be guilty of a dereliction of duty, were they longer to defer expressing, in the most unequivocal but respectful manner, not only that firm and zealous attachment to the Church, of which they are ministers, springing from the belief that its doctrines are scriptural, and its ordinances apostolical, for which they claim credit from the House and their country, but also their full persuasion that, with the preservation of the Church, the best interests of true religion, as well as the stability of the monarchy, and consequent happiness and prosperity of the people, are most intimately and indeed inseparably connected; 444 but great as is their confidence in the purity of the Church, as by law established, the petitioners contemplate, with unfeigned satisfaction, the complete and unrestrained exercise of their religion, granted to all who unhappily separate from her communion, and they humbly conceive that Roman Catholics, in common with all Protestant dissenters, enjoy this toleration in the most ample manner; and that the petitioners, therefore, most earnestly implore the House, not to relax those salutary regulations in the instance of persons professing the Roman Catholic religion, to which ail Protestants are at this time compelled to submit, nor to remove those guards and fences which have been so wisely planted round the venerable fabric of the united Church of England and Ireland, cemented in the blood of its martyrs, unless parliament shall, in its wisdom, provide other means of security, which the petitioners have never yet seen detailed, that may prove a support and defence equally permanent and solid."
§ A Petition of the archdeacon and clergy of the archdeaconry of Sudbury, in the county of Suffolk, was also presented; setting forth,
§ "That the petitioners, impressed with a just regard for the Church of which they are ministers, and duly grateful for the peace and tranquillity it has so long enjoyed, feel increasing alarm and apprehension at the claims and persevering efforts of the Roman Catholics of the United Kingdom to obtain from the legislature an elevation to political power, which, in the humble opinion of the petitioners, appears incompatible with the maintenance of the reformed religion and the security of the Protestant succession in these realms; and that the petitioners feel themselves compelled by their duty, on a comparison of the extent and object of these claims with the principles and policy of those who make them, to express strongly, but with all respect and deference, their sense of such dangerous demands, conceiving that in reason and prudence power cannot be confided to persons who are under the dominion of an influence hostile to the establishment, the petitioners, at the same time, confiding in the scriptural and apostolical excellence of that Church of which they are members, contemplate, with unfeigned satisfaction, the complete and unrestrained exercise of their religion, granted to all who dissent 445 and separate from her communion, and they humbly conceive that Roman Catholics enjoy this toleration in common with them in the most ample manner; and that, fully persuaded the best interests of religion, as well as the stability of the monarchy, and the prosperity of the people, are intimately and inseparably connected with the preservation of the reformed Protestant Church, and having experienced the efficacy of the laws so wisely enacted by our ancestors as a guard and protection, the petitioners humbly and most earnestly implore the House not to relax those salutary regulations, nor to remove those fences planted round the venerable fabric of the united Church of England and Ireland, and cemented in the blood of its martyrs; and that, influenced by these considerations, the petitioners, with all humility and respect, offer this expression of their sentiments to the House, confidently trusting that on an occasion in which the interests of the reformed religion are so vitally concerned, the voice of its ministers will not be disregarded, and that, in the wisdom of the House, they will adopt such measures as will best maintain the Protestant ascendancy in Church and State, and give stability and permanence to the civil and ecclesiastical constitution of the country."
§ Three Petitions—of the clergy of the archdeaconries of Carmarthen, Cardigan, and Brecon, in the diocese of Saint David—were also presented; setting forth,
§ "That the petitioners having heard with great anxiety of the renewed exertions which our Roman Catholic fellow subjects are making for the abolition of all those tests which our forefathers judged to be necessary for the security of the Protestant establishment in Church and State, and being impressed with a deep conviction of the inestimable value of the Protestant religion, as professed by the Church of England; which they esteem to be not less valuable to us than to our forefathers, who established it, and being, moreover, fully persuaded that the corruptions of Popery, which our pious and venerable reformers laboured to eradicate, and resisted unto death, have not changed their character, but are equally inimical to national liberty and to the Protestant faith, do humbly pray that the House will not remove any restrictions which are essential to the security of the Established Church and Protestant succession, nor 446 grant any concessions which may in any way endanger the blessings of the Reformation."
§ A Petition of the archdeacon and clergy of the archdeaconry of Winchester, was also presented; setting forth,
§ "That the petitioners, while they in all humility submit to the House their serious apprehensions of the dangerous consequences of conceding to the Roman Catholics of the United Kingdom their claims of a total repeal of those statutes which preclude them from offices of trust and power, at the same time anxiously disavow every degree of intolerance, or any uncharitable wish to controul or abridge, either with regard to our Roman Catholic fellow subjects, or to Christians of any other persuasion dissenting from our Church, the freest profession of those opinions, or the most unrestricted exercise of that worship which their conscience approves; and that they however conceive that at no period in the annals of Christianity was this liberty more fully and perfectly enjoyed by those of every Christian persuasion within the United Kingdom than at the present moment in which we live; and these inestimable advantages the petitioners humbly think themselves warranted in attributing, in great measure, to the ascendency of a mild and tolerant establishment, protected by those enactments of which an entire and unqualified repeal is now required; and praying, that those safeguards which our Protestant ancestors, men eminently distinguished by their legislative prudence, and their zealous attachment to the true principles of civil and religious liberty, delivered down to us, and which appear to be still necessary to the protection of our constitution in Church and State, to the security of the Protestant succession in the illustrious House of Hanover, and to the interests of the Protestant religion in the United Kingdom, may, by the wisdom of the House, be preserved, so that all the blessings experimentally resulting from them for more than a century past may be, under the favour of Divine Providence, transmitted unimpaired to the latest posterity."
§ A Petition of the bailiffs, burgesses, and commonalty, of Ipswich, in great court assembled, was also presented; setting forth,
§ "That the petitioners, actuated by no 447 sentiments of hostility towards their Roman Catholic fellow subjects, and uninfluenced by any wish to restrain the free exercise of religious opinions, yet view with the most serious alarm, the efforts now making to extend the indulgences already granted to Papists, by conferring upon them political privileges from which they have hitherto been legally debarred; and that the petitioners, with a deference befitting an appeal to the deliberative wisdom of parliament, beg permission respectfully to state their conscientious persuasion, that the repeal of those laws, on which the remaining Catholic disabilities are founded, is inconsistent with the spirit and safety of the British constitution, inasmuch, as in the honest judgment of the petitioners, the restrictions now sought to be abolished have essentially contributed to the preservation of those civil and religious institutions under which this nation has attained to an envied elevation of political prosperity; and they therefore earnestly implore the House, not to relax in the maintenance of those ancient and tried securities, which long experience has proved to be the surest bulwarks of this Protestant Church and State, and for the continuance of which it is their firm belief, that as valid reasons now exist as when they were first devised by the provident wisdom of our ancestors."
§ A Petition of the gentlemen clergy and other inhabitants of the county of Anglesey, was also presented; setting forth,
§ "That the petitioners, deeply as they are impressed with a just abhorrence of all persecution for difference of opinion in faith or practice, and justly as they exult in being members of a national church which has ever shown tenderness to scrupulous consciences in the exercise of religion, do nevertheless humbly conceive the preservation of that Church, as by law established, to be their primary and bounden duty; and that the petitioners rejoiced in the relief granted by the Act of the 31st of his present Majesty to the Roman Catholics of Ireland, but lament that, instead of the gratitude and contentment which that measure was calculated to produce, it has encouraged them to advance claims manifestly subversive of the Protestant establishment; it therefore becomes the duty of the petitioners, and they do most humbly pray, that the House, in any measures which in its wisdom it may adopt for the farther relief of the Roman Catho- 448 lics of Ireland, will take especial care that those measures be so framed as to preserve that constitution, civil and religious, which the petitioners have received from their ancestors, and which it is their anxious wish to transmit unimpaired to their posterity."
§ A Petition of the archdeacon, clergy, and laity of the archdeaconry of Colchester, was also presented; setting forth,
§ "That the petitioners have viewed, with a great degree of anxiety and interest, the discussions which have from time to time engaged the attention of the House upon certain claims preferred by his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects of this United Kingdom, and have seen with increased solicitude these claims urged upon the House with additional confidence on the part of the claimants; and that the petitioners, sincere friends to religious toleration, and faithfully united in the bonds of Christian charity to all their fellow subjects, however differing from them in religious opinion, have, among the many preferences which they have conscientiously given to the established Church of these realms, not admired it the least for its mild ascendancy over those who dissent from it, for its Christian temper on all occasions towards them, and for its uniform moderation; and that, influenced by these sentiments, and relying with a confidence, which they trust will never be disappointed, on the wisdom of the House, the petitioners have hitherto forborn to express their apprehensions on this very important subject, but conceiving from the measures they have observed, and from the exertions which have been adopted, that the same claims may soon be pressed with new energy upon the House, they feet it their bounden duty humbly to submit to the House, that, in their sincere and conscientious opinion, these claims cannot be conceded in the unlimited and unrestricted application in which the petitioners understand they have been made, without danger in their immediate effects, and still mote in what the petitioners conceive would be their unavoidable consequences to that constitution in Church and State for which our forefathers in their wisdom so strenuously, and happily for us, so successfully contended, and by which, under the mercy and protection of Divine Providence, this country has been raised to a state of strength and prosperity en- 449 vied by other nations, and enjoyed by none; and that, were the disabilities and disqualifications of the petitioners' fellow subjects professing the Roman Catholic religion such as would affect their liberty of conscience, their free exercise of religious worship, or any of those privileges which are essential to the happiness of social or domestic life, the petitioners would be the first to promote their removal, but being, as they are, mere restraints against political power, legislative authority, and that influence in the state, from which, for the security of our reformed and established Church, it has been deemed necessary by the Act of Settlement, and by other acts of the legislature, which are esteemed the very basis of our valued constitution, to exclude those who refuse her communion, the petitioners feel every ground for confidence that the House will pause before it compromises or infringes in the first instance, those fundamental laws of the state by which our religious and civil liberties have by the wisest of our statesmen been hitherto considered as best secured, and by which our revered monarch and his august family became entitled to and seated on the throne; and that the petitioners are aware that some men of enlightened understandings and sincere professions, who are advocates for the concession of these claims, have been forward in expressing a desire that other securities of the state should be substituted in the place of the disabilities and restrictions which now exist; but, as far as the petitioners have been able to learn, none have hitherto been publicly proposed, or sufficiently explained, to reconcile contrarieties of opinion, or calculated to give equal stability to the Protestant establishment, or to conduce, however desirable, to the general satisfaction and concord of all his Majesty's subjects; and that the petitioners are unwilling to bring before the consideration of the House those religious tenets which, however revered by their Roman Catholic fellow subjects, are in their tendency and nature inconsistent with a Protestant ascendancy, and a Protestant creed; they therefore merely presume to submit to the House, that while the spiritual influence of the Pope continues undiminished, his temporal power has become subject to the unrestrained controul of the most inveterate and unrelenting enemy his Majesty and his dominions have ever known; the petitioners, therefore, feel a new danger, 450 which adds to their solicitude and apprehension, in the firm belief that this power would be exercised in every degree of influence which can be acquired in this United Kingdom by the Catholic See, to the immediate prejudice and final subversion of its religious and civil establishment; and for these considerations, and for others which the petitioners confidently entrust to the accustomed vigilance and discernment of the House, the petitioners are disposed firmly to believe that they shall still have the happiness of seeing those securities which were provided in the wisdom of our ancestors at the enlightened æra of the Revolution, for the protection of our reformed Church and the preservation of our civil liberties, faithfully maintained, and in a grateful sense of the blessings which, under Providence, they have conferred on us, transmitted inviolate to posterity, and remaining the stability of our revered constitution to a distant futurity."
§ A Petition of the archdeacons and clergy of the archdeaconries of Lincoln and Stow, was also presented; setting forth,
§ "That most sincerely attached to that reformed Protestant Church, of which they are ministers, and duly grateful for the peace and tranquillity which this their Church has so long enjoyed, the petitioners feel in their minds the most serious apprehension and alarm at the claims recently laid before parliament by the Roman Catholics; and that, on a careful comparison of the object and extent of these claims, with the principles and policy of those who make them, the petitioners find themselves imperiously called upon to offer the strong, but respectful, expression of their sentiments, in opposition to such dangerous demands, conceiving that it would be utterly contrary to all reason and prudence to put power in the hands of those who, in spiritual matters, openly maintain the supremacy of the Papal authority within this realm, and who, in other respects, are well known to hold opinions incompatible with the safety of the constitution; and that having amply experienced the efficacy of the laws, which the wisdom of our ancestors enacted for the protection of the Protestant establishment, and being thoroughly convinced that they contain in them nothing inconsistent with religious toleration, (which it is matter of the highest satisfac- 451 tion to the petitioners to see the Roman Catholics in full and complete possession of,) they earnestly pray that these laws may not be repealed, and that if, notwithstanding, for reasons which the petitioners are not aware of, there should appear to the House a paramount necessity for the repeal of those laws, their next prayer is, that the House would substitute such others in their place as, though indifferent form, may seem equally calculated to produce the same effect, seeing in any thing less strong than the existing securities much hazard to the Protestant interest, whilst, from an unqualified compliance with the demands of the Roman Catholics, they could look for little else than its subversion; and that, under the influence of these impressions, the petitioners beg leave, with all humility and respect, to tender this their Petition to the House, confidently trusting, that on an occasion in which the interests of the reformed religion are so vitally concerned, the voice of its ministers will not be disregarded; and that in the wisdom of the House they will adopt such measures as will best maintain the Protestant ascendancy in Church and State, and give stability and permanence to the civil and ecclesiastical constitution of the country."
§ A Petition of the dean and chapter, archdeacon, and clergy of Worcester, was also presented; setting forth,
§ "That they are justly alarmed at the high tone assumed by the Papists in Ireland in their late petitions to parliament; and that the petitioners have no wish whatever to abridge the religious toleration they enjoy, but they dread an increase of their political power, and do therefore most earnestly intreat the House in their wisdom to consider whether such power, if conceded, would not tend to endanger the Protestant establishment, interwoven with the constitution of these realms; by the statements of the Roman Catholics themselves, the character of their Church is known to be inconsistent with our civil and religious liberties, and to be subversive of the king's ecclesiastical supremacy; and that dear to the petitioners is the liberty they enjoy, and revered the constitutional power of the monarch, but dearer Still are the tenets of our holy faith, and the pure doctrines of our apostolical Church, which by the most sacred ties they are bound to continue and uphold."452
§ A Petition of the Protestant gentry, clergy, and householders, within the district of Hang West, in the North Riding of York, was also presented; setting forth,
§ "That, with earnest wishes to live on terms of amity and conciliation with their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, they feel with concern, and observe with alarm, their strenuous and persevering exertions to obtain the unqualified repeal of those laws on which the remaining Roman Catholic disabilities depend, and which, if conceded, the petitioners humbly conceive, would tend to subvert the Protestant settlement and the principles of the British constitution as established at the Revolution; and that, whenever the Roman Catholic Claims shall become the subject of discussion in the House, the petitioners humbly implore, if the House in its wisdom should resolve that any further privileges (consistent with the spirit and principles of the constitution) may be safely granted to the Roman Catholics, that the same may be so guarded as to afford full and perfect security to the Protestant establishment in Church and State, and to shield it from future encroachments."
§ A Petition of the mayor, aldermen, and capital burgesses of Harwich, and the clergy and other inhabitants of the same borough, was also presented; setting forth,
§ "That the petitioners, considering religious toleration as one of the most striking features in the constitution of the united church of Great Britain and Ireland, have viewed, with the greatest satisfaction, the gradual amelioration of the condition of their Roman Catholic brethren, and rejoice in seeing them possessed of the most unbounded liberty of conscience, and the full, free, and public exercise of their religious worship, together with the most perfect freedom of both person and property; warned, however, by the recording page of history, the petitioners look back with horror to that period, when armed with political power, the Catholic religion deluged this happy country with blood, and now, notwithstanding the great respectability of numerous individuals attached to that communion, the petitioners feel the strongest apprehensions that similar causes may, at some future period, give rise to similar events; and that these apprehensions are very much increased by the manner in which (as the petitioners understand), 453 their Romish fellow subjects are endeavouring to obtain political power and authority; and they think it a bad presage of the use hereafter to be made of those acquisitions, when, instead of approaching the House in the language of humility, many of their accredited and most popular leaders demand them as their indisputable rights, at the same time refusing to give any adequate security in return for the preservation of the civil and religious rights of their Protestant brethren; and that another weighty cause of apprehension to the petitioners arises from the situation in which the spiritual head of the Roman Catholics is at present placed, he being completely in the power, and entirely at the command, of the most artful and inveterate enemy this country ever had to contend with; how the unbounded influence he possesses over the minds of his too faithful adherents would be exercised when under such controul, the petitioners consider so apparent, that they should not have submitted it to the House but from the strong conviction that that influence which, from the present state of political power in this country is innocuous, would then be employed to arm our Catholic fellow subjects against us, and might ultimately be productive of the destruction of our most glorious constitution; and that, confiding however as the petitioners do in the unshaken fortitude and wisdom that has hitherto always been displayed by the House, in the most trying emergencies, they humbly trust that, should it be found expedient to alter any of the existing laws in favour of the Roman Catholics, it will be on such terms as shall secure inviolate to the latest posterity that happy constitution in Church and State which has been purchased by the dearest blood of our ancestors, and which has so long made us the envy and admiration of surrounding nations."
§ When the Petition from Anglesea was presented,
§ Sir Henry Parnell
rose for the purpose of stating some extraordinary circumstances that had come to his knowledge respecting the Petition now offered. At the meeting which was convened for the purpose of suggesting it to the county, the gentleman who proposed it, made a speech of an hour and three quarters long, in order to prevail upon his hearers to adopt it. This address, instead of detailing facts, or urging arguments against the 454 claims of the Roman Catholics, was filled from beginning to end with quotations made from the Anti-Jacobin Review, of the Third Part of "A Statement of the Penal Laws affecting the Roman Catholic." It was well known to every individual at all acquainted with the subject, that this third part was a malicious and contemptible, fabrication, published for the purpose of defeating the just objects of a much injured portion of the king's subjects, and it betrayed the grossest ignorance on the part of the person who cited it, as any authority to justify a Petition in opposition to their claims. This forgery, had, however, been successfully employed on this and on many other occasions; it had been circulated throughout England with an industry that would have well become a better cause. Not only was the work itself transmitted to every country town, to mislead the ignorant, but pamphlets were written, and arguments employed, founded upon the false data supplied by this gross, malignant, and mischievous imposition upon public credulity. The House and the country, from such statements, might judge of the weight due to petitions, most frequently obtained by working upon the feelings, and deceiving the ignorance of the people of England.
thought that the worthy baronet was needlessly alarmed, since, even supposing that the pamphlet were such as he had described it, it could not make that deep impression upon the minds of the sensible people of England which he had imagined: it was unfounded to assert, that the petitions against the Catholic demands were founded upon statements and arguments derived from the Third Part of the Statement of the Penal Laws. The resistance offered throughout the country, and in the House when the debate should take place, would be grounded upon the first and second parts of the Statement of the Penal Laws, written under the direction of the Catholic committee, and containing their exposition of the grievances under which they labour. He recommended the worthy baronet to read them, that he might be prepared against the discussion of the Catholic question, if he had not already perused them; and if he was acquainted with them, he defied him to maintain that they were not authorised by the Catholic body of Ireland.
§ Sir H. Parnell
replied, that although he 455 did not know what right the right hon. doctor had to catechise him, he had no objection to answer, that the two first parts of the Statement of the Penal Laws were authentic: he believed them to be the production of a gentleman who was employed by the general body of Catholics, to lay an exposition of the laws before the public. He feared that the learned doctor had not himself perused them, or he would never have persisted in his opposition to the just rights of four millions of the King's subjects. That the two first parts of the Statement were accurate he had no doubt, since he had found all the references made to the statute book to be correctly given.
begged to ask if the hon. baronet did not know that those two first parts were the work of the whole body of Catholics?
§ Mr. Whitbread
wished to make one or two observations on what had fallen from the right hon. doctor, who now appeared in the hey-day of his triumph. Time had been when the learned doctor had taken a most active part against the Catholics; time had been, when for a whole session, he had maintained a most unaccountable silence: the House was now threatened that a time would come when another speech would be heard from the same quarter; and the learned doctor took upon himself to say, not only that his own, but that the arguments of all gentlemen on that side of the question, would be drawn from the two first parts of the Statement of the Penal Laws: they had concerted together as to the line of their proceedings, and they were to fasten themselves on what the learned doctor called the work of the whole Catholic body. It appeared that the Petition now offered was founded upon a fabrication; it originated in a disgraceful forgery, and the House was called upon to listen to the language of those who had been cheated into a resistance to those claims, which, but for the gross imposition, they might have supported. The third part of the Statement purported, like the two former, to be the work of a Catholic, but it was in truth the production of some venal Protestant, who had attributed to the Catholics sentiments that they abhorred. The learned doctor had thought it right to volunteer a declaration of the mode in which his colleagues would resist the reasonable claims of some most injured individuals, and this Petition would afford a specimen of the mode in 456 which their arguments would be seconded by the country. Their arguments were founded in falshood, and their support was obtained by forgery.
§ Mr. Tighe
observed, that the Roman Catholics would concur in any fact adduced in the two first parts of the Statement: upon them they would willingly rest their cause. Who was the author of this scandalous fabrication he did not know, but he trusted that the criminal would soon be dragged from his lurking place into public view. Although it must be known to be a malicious calumny, it had been industriously circulated free of postage, to every part of the kingdom, and it had actually issued from one of the government presses of Ireland. Whether it were intended for wit or for malice he knew not—the author had failed in the former; in the latter he had been too successful; it was the dull work of some dull underscribe of the Irish government; its dullness was only exceeded by the stupidity of those who could for a moment give credit to it.
§ Mr. B. Paget
adverted to the number of respectable signatures affixed to the Petition; it had been in Beaumaris only two days, and yet 800 names were subscribed.
§ Mr. Grattan
remarked, that the Third Part of the Statement of the Penal Laws had been expressly denied by the Catholics of Ireland to have originated with them, and he read to the House the following Resolution the body had come to upon the subject, on the 6th instant, at Dublin:—" Resolved, that a pamphlet entitled 'The Third Part of a Statement of the Penal Laws which aggrieve the Catholics,' having been industriously circulated throughout England, for the manifest purpose of misleading our fellow subjects, and counteracting the growing liberality of sentiment, is now disclaimed by the Catholic Board, who cannot suppress their astonishment at the success of the imposition: that the said pamphlet is a gross and defamatory mis-statement—a malignant and malicious forgery, slandering our views and principles—misrepresenting our just and reasonable complaints—falsely purporting to be the authorised publication of the Catholic Board, and really originating in a venal branch of the Dublin press, and which, however received and credited in the sister country, has not imposed upon a single individual in this."—The right hon. gentleman 457 submitted, that petitions resting upon such a basis, could be entitled to no respect in that House or the nation.
rose in consequence of what fell from the hon. member who had accused the Irish government of being the author of the work in question. To-night he had heard, for the first time, from what press it had issued, and he only was made acquainted with the fact of the publication, by receiving a copy of it, accompanied by a letter from the anonymous author. How far it was necessary for the Catholics to attempt to counteract its effect, he would not determine. It was said that no assertion or quotation made in the two former parts were incorrect; it might not be amiss to apprize the House, that the printer of them, a few days since, was convicted of a libel, charging the Lord Lieutenant with deliberate murder.
§ Mr. Whitbread.
This is the first time I ever heard it said, that because a man had been found guilty of a libel, he could not correctly quote an act of parliament.
, from his own personal experience could declare, that this fabrication, in more than one instance, had produced an improper impression: it had induced persons before friendly to conciliation to become hostile to it, upon the perusal of the work. Of this fact he was apprized by letters he had obtained from several persons of respectability, who assured him, that up to the moment before they read this forgery, they were in favour of the Catholics; and that their change of sentiment was entirely to be attributed to it. He had never himself read it; but if it were what it was stated to be, he was happy that so public a disavowal had been given.
§ The Petitions were ordered to lie on the table.