§ Lord Castlereagh moved, that the order of the day for resuming the Debate on the motion made yesterday, "That this House will resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, to take into its most serious consideration the state of the laws affecting his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects in Great Britain and Ireland, with a view to such a final and conciliatory adjustment as may be conducive to the peace and strength of the united kingdom, to the stability of the Protestant establishment, and to the general satisfaction and concord of all classes of his Majesty's subjects," be now read; and the same being read:850
§ Sir John Cox Hippisley
rose and said:
Mr. Speaker; consistently with those feelings, which I have, at all times, uniformly professed on this important subject, it is impossible for me to give a silent vote. The principles and sentiments which I entertain are so well known to the House, that it will be unnecessary for me to occupy much of your time on the present occasion. I have taken every opportunity of giving currency to my opinions, and to the uncontroverted facts upon which they are founded.
[The hon. baronet then proceeded to take a review of certain publications which had recently appeared in a morning paper, and particularly some passages copied from what were termed, the Blue Books,' which, in a former debate, had been quoted by a hon. member (Mr. Yorke), who, he said, had been led to form a very erroneous opinion in reference to that part of the subject on which they treated.]
The fact is, that the names of 1,400 Catholics have not been withdrawn from the protestation of 1789, as has been averred in the article in the news-paper, nor have the Catholics been urged to withdraw their names by their apostolic vicars. The protestation is lodged in the British Museum, and not more than four or five names have been withdrawn, and only one of the apostolic vicars. It is true an objection was raised by the apostolic vicars against the oath, proposed in the Bill, drawn up subsequent to the original protestation; which oath, indeed, had passed with the Bill, through the House of Commons. The apostolic vicars unquestionably did caution the Catholics to oppose it, not because it was opposed to the renunciation of any of the obnoxious tenets, which were disavowed in the protestation, but because it, constructively, in their opinions trenched upon what theologians call, the power of the Keys;—and in this view, also, it was regarded by the late bishop Horsley, when it came into the House of Lords, the bishop declaring that he could not take such an oath himself, and that he should think very ill of any clergyman of his diocese who had taken such an oath. The result was, that the oath was corrected in the House of Lords, and sent down to the Commons, and the oath, so corrected, now stands in the act of 1791, and was recommended by all the apostolic vicars, to be taken by the Catholics of their districts.
851 From this statement the House will see how erroneous a view the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Yorke) has taken of this proceeding, and consequently, how much misrepresented the whole transaction has been in the public prints, and how likely to create the most injurious impressions.
Among many other striking facts, we cannot but look to the introduction of the Irish militia, consisting of near 10,000 men, who have been brought to this country, and possess so much the confidence of his Majesty's ministers, that they are stationed in the most vital parts of the empire,—at Portsmouth, at Plymouth, at Chatham, Dover, Harwich, &c.—constituting a guard over 30 or 40,000 prisoners of war of their own religion. This fact may enable the country, more adequately, to appreciate the value of our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, as contributing to the safety of the empire. Nor can the resources of Ireland be overlooked in another important view, when it is in proof that her exportations, in provisions alone, amounted, in the year 1811, to a sum falling very little short of eight millions sterling, a great part of which must have administered to the exigences of our army and navy.
These facts should live in our memory, and serve to stimulate our endeavours to secure all their advantages, by measures of conciliation. This great object I have never lost sight of, though the means by which I have endeavoured to promote it, have often been misconstrued. [The hon. baronet here entered into a detail of the proceedings, connected with the subject of the Catholic claims, from the period of the acts of 1791 and 1793. He adverted to the causes of the failure, but, as a proof that Mr. Pitt had never changed his opinions, in favour of the measure, he quoted a passage of considerable length, from Mr. Pitt's speech, in the debate of 1805 on Mr. Fox's motion, and concluded with this sentence, 'Such were my sentiments formerly, such are they now, and if by a wish, I could carry such a measure into effect, I am ready to confess that I see no rational objection' He afterwards went into a detail of the securities, which he had uniformly considered as necessary guards of the church and state, as by law established, and which, he maintained, were not fanciful expedients, but such as every government in Europe had adopted, of whatever religious communion.]
852 I never was an advocate for an actual nomination, exercised by the crown, to the Roman Catholic prelacies, but I have contended that the negative of the crown, upon all such appointments, ought to be enforced. I may instance what occurred upon a former occasion, with respect to Dr. Hussey, the titular bishop of Waterford, whose conduct at Madrid, in 1780, was such as ought to have excluded him from being nominated to a Catholic see in Ireland. I also, on a former occasion, instanced the case of Dr. Bellew, the titular bishop of Killala, merely to shew that cases might arise where no rational objection could be taken to the character of the individual, but where, nevertheless, a combination of circumstances might produce cause of objection, at a particular crisis. I have long known Dr. Bellew, and believe that no man reflects more credit upon his spiritual charge; yet, if his nomination to it had taken place in 1798, instead of many years anterior, he would have found a brother unfortunately engaged in the rebellion, and marching, with a hostile force, against the capital of the very see, to which he had been himself nominated.
Another measure of regulation I have also, repeatedly, pressed upon the consideration of the House—a measure which has, also, been sanctioned by the wisdom and policy of every other state—namely, a regulated controul upon the intermission of all Papal rescripts. In other countries, no such rescripts are allowed to be current, without the previous sanction of the state. We have, indeed, an act of the 13th of Eliz. standing as a barrier against such intromissions; but it is impracticable from its sanguinary provisions, and consequently entirely evaded.
To regulate all these objects, so essential, in my opinion, to the security of the Catholic, as well as the Protestant subject, it is absolutely necessary to go into a select committee. [Sir J. Hippisley then went into further details, of considerable length, concerning the canons of various councils,—particularly the fourth Lateran, and those of Constance and Trent,—and maintained that the regulations of discipline, enacted by those and all other councils, had no practical obligation, unless canonically received and sanctioned by the act of the existing government in each state.]
I shall vote, most cheerfully, for the motion, as a preliminary step to the constitution of such a committee as appears 853 to me, to be alone competent to enter upon an adequat examination of these important points, and which, if not fully understood, no act of legislation can be adequately framed; and, whether or not the House shall grant the prayer of the petition, I contend that it will be equally necessary to constitute such a committee of investigation, for it is impossible that the laws, affecting the Roman Catholics, can be permitted to remain in their present state. The acts of 1791 and 1793, are so replete with anomalies and errors, that a revision of them is now become a measure of necessity, rather than of choice.
said, that he had been misrepresented or misunderstood, by the hon. baronet. He had said, only, that in consequence of the protestation, a difference took place between the vicars apostolic and the Committee, and that the latter were obliged to submit. He had said, also, that three of the vicars apostolic had withdrawn their names from the protestation in consequence of the oath, the form of which had been introduced into it.
§ General Mathew
said, it appeared to him, after the very able speech of his hon. and learned countyman and friend (Mr. Plunket,) yesterday, that there was little for him or any one else to add on the subject. That speech, above all he had ever heard or read, afforded the most satisfactory and undeniable historical information on the subject, which probably had ever been given before in this country. He did not believe that ever a speech had been made in that House which so ably proved the right of the Catholics of Ireland to full emancipation. The hon. general, however, differed from his hon. and learned friend in some things. His hon. and learned friend was an advocate for Catholic emancipation, and in that he agreed with him; but he was an advocate for it, granting full and ample securities to the Protestant religion, and in that the hon. general said he differed from his hon. and learned friend. He would ask his hon. and learned friend if he had ever made out, or been able to make out from others, what those securities should be. He himself had often put the question in Ireland, and in England, and could never yet hear in what those securities were to consist. Who was to draw the bond? Who were to sign it? And on whom were the penalties arising from a failure in performance of the conditions of it to fall? He did not see by whom such securities 854 could be given; and he was certain, they ought not to be asked. Nothing, he thought, should be asked of any set of men beyond their oaths. To a man the Catholics of Ireland were willing to take the Oath of Allegiance. That was a powerful oath, and, if they broke it, they would break any oath the legislature could put to them. His hon. and learned friend then stated what he thought should be the provisions for the Catholic clergy. This subject had been discussed again and again, and the Catholic bishops had determined that their clergy should take no payments but from their own flocks. He was of opinion they ought not to be paid by the public, nor should they if they wished it. Far be it from him to say how bishoprics were acquired; all he knew was, that the influence arising from the right to confer them was great, and, if in addition to the English and Irish bishoprics, the Catholic Were placed at the back of them, government would soon become despotic. If the Catholics were to concede the right of Veto, he hoped the denomination of Veto-men would be applied to them; they would deserve it.
He felt it to be his duty to take his humble share in the present discussion. His duty naturally imposed it on him, feeling as he did, that the welfare of his native country required the removal of all religious disabilities and distinctions; by which every man might be at liberty to make his peace with the Almighty in his own way, and be taught to do to others as he would wish others to do to him. On a system of conciliation, and on a speedy concession of the points in dispute, he had long been convinced depended the peace and happiness, not of Ireland, but of England also, and the security and integrity of the British empire. The hon. member for Corfe Castle (Mr. Bankes) had told the House that concession to the Catholics would endanger the established religion and the established government. Oh, matchless ignorance! oh, matchless intolerance nine tenths of the property, as well as of the numerical force and ability of Ireland were favourable to the Catholic claims. All parties, indeed, were favourable to Catholic emancipation except the government, which was now viewed in Ireland with that contempt which it deserved. Its acts exhibited one continued scene of bigotry and intolerance from one year's end to the other; and the people of Ireland had now begun to see the folly and criminality of 855 excluding from their natural right five millions of their fellow-citizens, for the sake of exalting a few who were already too highly and unduly exalted, at the expence of the equally undue degradation of the great body of the people. The greatest part of the petitions which had been presented against the Catholic claims had been carried through in a clandestine manner, in a manner very different indeed from that in which the petitions in favour of the Catholics had been agreed to; particularly the petition which he himself had presented from Tipperary.
He contended, that if it were only for the late important victories gained by our armies, principally composed of Irish Catholics, they were entitled to the community of rights for which they now applied. Ireland at present furnished a greater proportion towards the defence of the empire than England did, and yet England continued to keep her best defenders in a state of slavery, and ruled over the fertile and beautiful country of Ireland with a rod of iron. In proportion as a government required to use the bayonet to controul the people, in the same proportion must there be something bad in the system. It the Catholics were cordially united to this country, by feeling a community of interest in her welfare, the country would indeed, be rendered powerful, and we should no longer need to have recourse to foreign defenders, contrary to the enactments in that great palladium of our liberties, Magna Charta. Neither should we any longer be forced to continue that disgraceful system of forcing men on board our fleets against their will, never probably to return. He would tell the House how to get rid of the impress service at once. Govern Ireland by conciliation and affection. Begin by forming registers of births, by the foundation of parish schools, and the formation of depots for male children, one of whom would be willingly granted out of each family, and in this way, and by the bestowing of moderate bounties, twice as many men would in a few years be produced, as would be required for our navy, and for our army also, without the assistance of Germans, Prussians, or Hanoverians. Not one man in twenty of those who were formerly procured for the army in Ireland could now be persuaded to enlist, and the reason was obvious. They were now beginning to be more enlightened, and of course felt more heavily their degraded state.
856 A great deal had been said by an hon. gentleman on the floor (Mr. Bankes), as to the intemperance of the Catholic board This, for the sake of argument, he should admit; and also, if the hon. gentleman chose it, that those same persons were likely to become factious demagogues. And supposing that to be so, what, he would ask, was the best remedy to apply? Why, to take from them the tools by which alone they could do mischief make every one of those five millions of persons happy and they would be content: let them continue aggrieved and they would continue discontented. He denied, however, that the hon. gentleman was correct in his statement as to the conduct of the Catholic board. They might have been violent, but they had never been unconstitutional. Of this he could give the best possible proof. The Attorney-General and the minions of the Castle had been constantly watching over them like vultures, ready to pounce on them, had the smallest pretence for so doing presented itself, but they could find none. In his opinion they had not gone far enough. Had they not petitioned that House year after year, in the most respectful terms; constantly asking as a boon what they might have demanded as a right? The hon. gentleman seemed happy in finding that there were gentlemen in that House ready to go the length of asserting the right of the Catholics to what they now claimed. He was one of those who cheered the hon. gentleman on that occasion, and he should now prove the existence of such right; in the first place, stating that he had recommended it to the Catholics of the county of Tipperary to ask what the applied for as a right, but that he could only get them to ask it as a boon.
To prove that the Catholics had a right to what they now asked, he begged to remind gentlemen that king James did not abdicate his Irish throne at the same time that he abdicated his English throne. After the battle of the Boyne, the Irish army retired to Limerick, where the treaty of Limerick was concluded between them and lord Athlone, on the part of king William, in the year 1691, by whom it was afterwards ratified. By this treaty it was stipulated that the Catholics and the people of Ireland should possess every advantage and privilege ever possessed by any of his Majesty's loyal subjects; and, shameful to tell, that sacred treaty was 857 broken through by an act passed by the English parliament in the 4th year of the same king's reign, an act which at this moment remained a record of most disgraceful perjury, to which, till it was removed, the government of this country must continue, to be parties. This was his opinion as to the rights of the Catholics, an opinion which must remain unchanged, as he had now little expectation of ever learning the English language better than he already did.
§ Sir Eyre Coote
said, he would not trespass on the time of the House by dilating on a question in its more general bearings, so much better understood by many persons in the House than he pretended to understand it; but in the capacity of a military man, he could not forbear offering a few observations on it, as it was connected with military affairs. He could not conceive from any thing with which his experience had made him acquainted, that there was any danger in admitting the Catholics to stations of rank and command in the army; their loyalty was known; the proofs of it were innumerable: and from them he would select a few prominent features snfficient in themselves to do away any jealousy that might be felt with respect to their views and wishes. He recollected, when in the year 1793, the expedition sailed from Ireland for the West Indies, which was commanded by that skilful and gallant officer sir Charles Grey, than whom no man ever deserved better of his country—a man, who was equally eminent in the field and the cabinet—that officer had uniformly praised the conduct of the Irish, troops, which formed a considerable part of his force, and had attributed principally to their valour the important conquests he had effected; now two-thirds of these Irish soldiers were Catholics. A number of Irish Catholics also served in Egypt under generals sir Ralph Abercromby and lord Hutchinson, and most materially contributed to the important successes which had been gained there; they had fought in numbers and with their wonted gallantry in Holland, and were now fighting in the peninsula. When he looked, then, at the devoted zeal with which these people were ever ready to shed their blood in defence of their country, or for the augmentation of her glory, he did not feel himself justified in voting against a Committee which was to inquire whether that country could with safety confer on 858 them a reward they had toiled so arduously to obtain. He wished them to obtain every privilege which could with safety be granted them, and nothing more; and he wished the conduct of the legislature and the government towards them to be on all occasions such as would, by liberality on the one part, beget confidence on the other.
§ Sir Nicholas Colthurst,
in a maiden speech, said:—Mr. Speaker, I trust I shall be excused from trespassing upon the patience of the House, in shortly stating the reasons which induce me to give my vote in favour of going into a committee. Every one must, I think, be aware that the question, now offered to be submitted to your consideration, is one most deeply interesting to the welfare, most important to the interests, of Ireland, and consequently to those of the empire. In this point, at least, all parties are agreed; all are aware of its importance, though they differ as to its merits. As such, Sir, it justly challenges every consideration, every attention, which the legislature can bestow upon it; that, whatever may be the ultimate decision, whatever the result, it may be one, which has been matured by deliberation, and corrected by inquiry. It was with this view of the subject, with this impression of its importance, and from a laudable anxiety to fulfil the first duty of legislators, by an ample investigation of the complaints of their petitioners, that the late House of Commons entered into that Resolution which is recorded on their Journals. With this view, they bound themselves by a pledge which, had not their existence been terminated by the election of the present parliament, they would now have been called upon to redeem. That such a pledge is binding upon their successors, certainly cannot be asserted; but I maintain, that, while the circumstances of the case remain the same, while the same importance attaches itself to the question, the present House are equally bound to entertain and deliberate upon, the measure. I trust that they will do so, that they will follow the precedent set before them by their predecessors, and show an anxious disposition at least, to promote that final and conciliatory adjustment, which every well-wisher to his country, every one who regards the unanimity of his fellow subjects as the best safeguard of the constitution, must look forward to, with anxiety and satisfaction. I think it is the bounden duty of parliament to shew 859 that disposition, to bring the question before them in as full and fair a shape as possible; and not, by refusing an inquiry, to prejudge what, strictly speaking, they have not heard. Without this, the true sense of parliament never can be ascertained, its opinion upon each particular point and feature of the question will remain undeclared, and one sweeping vote will involve a variety of questions, all requiring, in my opinion, separate investigation and decision. I do not think that certain resolutions of the Catholics out of doors, ought to have any influence on our deliberations. We are not to treat with the Catholics as with a body of legislators, but to legislate for them; to see what relief can be granted, and to be able to say to them, "We have examined your grievances, so and so we have decided" and the decision will carry with it that authority which it will justly deserve.
It is said, Sir, that by consenting to go into a committee, you are raising hopes, which may not be realized, and that, by considering, you are expected to concede. Even allowing this objection, surely it is of far greater consequence, that no impression should be suffered to remain upon the breasts of any one of your petitioners, that their case was neglected by you, and that no imputation should be cast upon the legislature, of unwillingness to listen even to claims strongly urged, and strongly advocated. But surely the question of deliberation and decision are perfectly distinct, and therefore the objection is altogether invalid. I, for one, totally disconnect them, and beg fully to be understood, as giving my vote solely in favour of the present motion, unconnected with any other, reserving myself, as to what opinion I may entertain, or what part I may feel it my duty to take, upon any measure hereafter to be proposed. By my present vote, I am giving no opinion upon the question, am lending myself to no particular line of conduct; but merely advocate that enquiry which justice, as well as policy, demands; which, if granted, cannot be followed by any ill consequences, but if refused, must produce regret and disatisfaction.
§ Mr. Richard Hart Davis,
(member for Bristol).—Sir; it is with extreme reluctance I rise to address the House at any time, but more especially on a subject which has called forth, so often, the ability of so many gentlemen, infinitely more able than myself to discuss this important 860 question. But feeling that this is a question of vital interest, and the citizens of Bristol having expressed an almost unanimous opinion, by petitioning the House against the measure, I feel that I should be acting an unmanly part, and that I should neither do justice to them nor to myself, were I to content myself with giving a silent vote on this occasion.
Sir; I cannot consent to going into the proposed committee, until adequate safeguards for the security of the constitution and the established religion shah be, not only proposed, but accurately defined; and until there is nearly a moral certainty that they will be accepted by the Roman Catholics: for if the House should come out of this committee, without a final adjustment with the Catholics, instead of softening the existing differences, it will only serve to embitter and aggravate them.
There is another reason, Sir, why I object to the motion. I have perceived an unyielding and hostile, rather than a conciliating spirit both in the speeches and writings of the Roman Catholics, and there is too great reason to apprehend that, if they were to be appeased by concession to their claims, a vast majority of the Protestants, both in England and Ireland, would be rendered dissatisfied if not disaffected. Whatever of good this concession might have, in itself, abstractedly, which is only allowed for the sake of argument, I object to it now, because this is not the fit moment for attempting to carry it into effect, with any rational prospect of success. A spirit of alarm has spread amongst the Protestants in every quarter of the empire, as appears from the numerous petitions on the table of the House, whilst, I lament to add, that the intemperate conduct of the Roman Catholics has not tended to allay those just jealousies and fears.
It has long been evident to me, that the great object of the Roman Catholics is not toleration, but political power. True policy will not allow political power to be conceded to them. Hitherto every fresh concession has engendered a new demand. Toleration, which has been well described not only as the ornament of the Protestant faith, but its security, they already possess; where is it more liberally enjoyed than in this happy and enlightened country? I should sincerely rejoice if the boundaries of toleration could be enlarged with safety to the state; but let us not, in 861 such an attempt, put to the hazard the glorious fabric of our Protestant constitution, such as it has been handed down to us by our forefathers. These being my sentiments, I cannot give my vote for going into the proposed committee.
§ Sir John Stewart,
(member for the county of Tyrone) said:—Mr. Speaker; in taking this great and most interesting subject into our consideration, I trust the House will be divested of all feelings but those, which sound justice and policy hall dictate, and that it will particularly be jealous of all those local and partial sensations, which deep rooted prejudices may have given strength to; or the recollections of former sufferings may call up, to baffle the cool deliberation, now so necessary for us to cultivate and encourage. But, while we endeavour to overcome our own feelings, we must turn our attention to the feelings of those who have petitioned this House; that, by understanding the extent of the danger apprehended on the one side, and the object required on the other, this House, in its sober judgment, may be better able to supply some remedy, which shall cool the heart-burnings of a disturbed and divided people, and, at last, lay the fever, which is weakening and destroying their civil constitution.
To the most able and eloquent speech of my right hon. friend (Mr. Plunket) I most sincerely give its well-earned praise. He is the first who has pointed out to us any certain line of conduct which might, in his sanguine mind, satisfy both parties; most sincerely do I hope that the line suggested by his great and comprehensive mind could have the effect he looks for. I subscribe to his reasoning, and will support his Bill, if he will bring it forward in the shape he proposes, with those sure and safe grounds, which, in my opinion, will satisfy the Protestant feelings, and guard against foreign influence in that church, which has with good cause, excited jealousy in the breast of those who have petitioned this House.
I, Sir, have presented a Petition from a great, a populous, and a wealthy people, inhabiting one of the most respectable counties in Ireland. From the language of that Petition I take my instruction. It shall govern my conduct this night. Much, however, do I fear that my right hon. friend has spoken, rather from his wishes, than from his actual knowledge, if he meant to hold out a hope to us, that 862 the Catholics of Ireland, in their present temper, would agree to any such securities for the preservation of the constitution, and our national religion, as he has suggested. Most happy, indeed, would it be for Ireland and the empire, if they would bend a little on this subject, and meet the growing liberality of their Protestant fellow subjects with equal sincerity, and equal desire to bury, for ever, the differences which have so long distracted their common land. Melancholy it is to reflect that people, so disposed, from the finest feelings of the heart; people, in all other respects, so admirably qualified to be an ornament to human nature, should, in the subject of religion alone, be so divided as to be in reality two distinct families in the same house; jealous of each other, and neither of them disposed to weigh and consider the real causes of that jealousy, with a view to a final adjustment. Now, however, they have appealed to this House, as a common friend, to interfere; and I trust the decision, now to be made, will prove satisfactory and final.
You have, therefore, now before you the Catholics of Ireland, praying an unqualified repeal of all the restrictive statutes yet in force against them. On the other hand, you have the Protestant population of Ireland, expressing their jealous apprehension that such unqualified repeal would be ruinous to their peace and comfort, dangerous to the constitution, and ultimately subversive of that liberty which was, in their hope, secured for us by the Revolution. The difficulty to satisfy both must strike every man who hears me:—but the difficulty increases, when we consider the peculiar circumstances of Ireland as a conquered country; frequently, since its conquest, revisited by insurrections and rebellions, with a view of repossessing, by force, property which, by treason, had been alienated: and extirpating the English settlers, on that property, so confiscated.
After the first conquest of that country, the policy of England was to introduce the blessings of the British constitution, by the force of law; but vain was the effort, their laws were despised and neglected. They lay (to use the words of a highly respected man, formerly an ornament to this House) like lumps of marl on a barren moor, encumbering what they could not fertilize.
Baffled thus in the hope of establishing 863 civil order by law, king James the 1st adopted a surer mode, and planted a colony of English and Scotch settlers in the north of Ireland, then almost exhausted of inhabitants by the frequent wars and rebellions of its chief. This colony occupied the province of Ulster. It carried with it the British constitution in church and state; it introduced your laws; it emigrated under the faith of your charters—charters recognized by many acts of the legislature; and, under such faith and such laws, it has grown to strength, and power, and wealth. They are children of your children: they have the right of blood and the right of law to claim for the continuance of that liberty and the protection of that religion, which your ancestors granted to them, and on the faith of which grants they emigrated from their native land. They are not bigots, as has been weakly insinuated; they are a wise and religious people, frugal and obedient to the law; they are a people who serve God and honour the King.'
The grave and sober language of their petitions will, of course, have its just weight with the House. They tell you they feel alarmed at the unqualified demands of the Catholics. The recollection of former times is fresh in their mind; but if it were not so, or even if they wished to forget former aggressions, surely the speech of an hon. general (Mathew) this night, is sufficient to revive these jealousies, not only in the people who have thus petitioned, but even in those members of this House whom they have sent to protect their interests. For one, I feel indeed greatly depressed in spirit, and in sincere hope of mutual forbearance, when the advocate of the Catholic question laments the issue of the battle of the Boyne in this House, and brands the government of king William with an act of gross violation of the articles of Limerick. Will not such language call up the recollection of the causes, which produced that memorable battle? Will not the Protestants of Ulster recollect the parliament, which king James assembled in Dublin, immediately before that battle, consisting of above two hundred Catholics and only six Protestants, passing a law to repeal the act of settlement under which the Protestants of Ulster had, for half a century, held their lands and property? Will they not recollect that parliament vesting, by one sweeping clause, all they had in the world in that unfortunate monarch, to be by him 864 distributed among his Catholic followers. But they did not stop here; for by a second act they gravely attainted, of high treason, about 2,500 Protestant gentlemen; some on evidence, as they said, and others on common form. Thus stood the Protestant colony at that period, deprived of their property, and attainted of treason, because they were Protestants. Thus acted the Catholic parliament in the zenith of its powers, when the great deliverer of the rights and liberties of the Protestants effected his object by that battle, which the hon. general deplores the issue of; and thus these Protestants, so relieved by the Prince of Orange, are branded, as it were, by the name of Orange-men—a name which they glory in;—gratitude binds them to their deliverer; in their hearts is engraven that gratitude; and to deprive them of that feeling, you must tear the heart from, for while it beats in, their breasts, their gratitude will live; and while wine is to be obtained in their land, they will offer their daily libations to the immortal memory of their glorious deliverer.' Imprudent, therefore, in the extreme, seems to me that language; if it really be the sentiment of the Catholic body, which I trust it is not, difficult indeed will be our task to satisfy their mind; and dangerous will be the experiment.
The Protestants ask securities against the recurrence of such dangers. They know and feel great danger from the restless ambition of the Catholic religion, when ever it is wielded as an engine of political power, or made subservient to political purposes. This religion, differing from all others which ever this earth knew, from its dawn affected political power; and as it grew in strength, divided the allegiance of the subjects of all states, between their legitimate sovereign and the head of the Romish church. It gained great temporal possessions, and at last assumed a title to the whole earth. Kings received their kingdoms from the Pope, and did homage for their lands; even the British hon couched beneath the holy pastor's crook, and, humbled and tamed by the spell of his influence, received from the Pontiff's hands the crown of England and the chains of Rome—chains which the Reformation burst in England, but which the unfortunate people of Ireland suffered with impatience to a later day. The Reformation in England had alarmed the see of Rome; and to defeat, as far as possible, 865 that great effort of the English nation, Ireland was ever since made the theatre for Popish influence to gall and distress the heretical and apostate power of Great Britain. This, and the circumstance of conquest, which I have already mentioned, I take to be the real causes for the feelings of the Roman Catholics of Ireland continuing, to this day, more jealous and more difficult to be altered in that country, than in any other country on earth.
I have thus, Sir, endeavoured to draw your attention to the state of things as they really are, that the dangers on both sides may be fairly estimated. I do not say they may not be remedied—God forbid I should have so gloomy a view of the subject. But I see and feel more difficulty than many honourable members seem to suspect, and most of all I feel, at this moment, the unbending disposition of the Catholic body; so far from yielding in any particulars, that they actually retract former concessions, and now refuse to admit what, to my knowledge, they were willing, three years ago, to accept With gratitude, and did, therefore, actually publish their thanks to some Protestant bodies who took into consideration the Veto, and were, willing to take it as the security they looked for, against foreign influence.
I do not, however, despair, nor do I wish to direct on that body at large the violence, intemperance, and hostile menaces of those who somehow have assumed the conduct of their cause, and in parliamentary parade and state have assumed the political government of the Catholics of Ireland.
I therefore am ready to go directly into the consideration of any defined proposal for their relief; and this mode I would prefer to a committee of the whole House, as proposed by the highly respectable character who introduced the question—a character whom every Irishman regards, and every Englishman must admire—whose zeal and unwearied industry, in the service of his native country, we must all acknowledge with gratitude, But when even he, after twelve years attention to this subject, has been unable to produce any specific plan, any tangible proposition, I feel that our researches will be vain in a committee into which we enter without a direct object, and it will turn out, like the proceedings of the debating societies, I have before alluded to—all declamation en grievances either real or imaginary, in- 866 flaming passions and baffling reasons; raising difficulties and not applying remedies. I therefore, on the whole, prefer the mode pointed out by my learned friend, to introduce a Bill at once stating the points in which it might be prudent to yield, and staling the securities which they offer for the preservation of our ancient and glorious constitution in church and state.
§ Mr. James Daly
—Sir, I beg pardon of the House for offering myself to its notice, at a moment when it is naturally in expectation of the rising of some person, every way more entitled to its attention. I trust however that the extreme importance of the subject will plead my excuse. If I could be induced to believe, with the hon. gentleman on the floor, (Mr. Bankes) that there could be no other intercourse between the Protestant and Catholic, than between God and Belial, I would instantly espouse his side of the question and anxiously oppose the motion of my right hon. friend; but, convinced, by experience, that the contrary is the fact, and knowing that the utmost harmony and cordiality not only can, but actually does exist, between these two descriptions of his Majesty's subjects, I feel myself imperatively called on to support any measure which may procure, for the Catholics, those privileges, which, I must contend, are the natural rights of all subjects, born under the British constitution; rights which may indeed be withheld, but not except on very strong and urgent grounds. And what, Sir, is the motion of my right honourable friend? Does it pledge the House, at once, to say that there are no such strong and weighty objections? No, Sir; it merely asks this House to go into committee to consider whether there be any such objections or not. And he asks this in the name of above three millions of persons of whose courage and loyalty you have almost daily proofs. And what are the reasons urged against going into this committee? The danger apprehended from the Pope, and the disinclination of the Protestants. The danger of the Pope is attempted to be drawn from a series of pamphlets, to discuss which I shall not now trouble the House, but I remember that the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Yorke), who seems so very much afraid of him, told us, in the course of his speech, that we were at this moment under sentence of excommunication by him, 867 which he said he believed few knew. This ignorance of our being under the most serious sentence of the papal power, I cannot but consider as a strong argument that that power is not so very formidable as the opposers of this motion represent it to be. But, Sir, it is intended that, by agreeing to this motion, you may perhaps conciliate the Catholic, but you will thereby alienate the Protestant. I will not take upon myself to say what may be the Protestant feeling, in England, farther than that very few of the counties and populous towns have come forward, if they are really very anxious on this subject. As to Ireland, I will venture to assert that the voice of the Protestant is in favour of the Catholic I assert this from experience and also from the Petitions on your table; for not above three or four request that the Catholics may not get any thing more. The rest demand securities for the Protestant constitution, should the wisdom of parliament concede their wishes to the Catholics; thereby admitting that, with securities, they are entitled to the prayer of their petition.
I, Sir, also expect securities; not however the Veto nor any security of that sort, but those which arise from the increasing wealth of the Catholic, his increasing property, and his increasing attachment to the constitution, arising from the feelings of the increased happiness and comfort he enjoys under it. These, Sir, are the securities I seek for, and conceiving them best attained by agreeing to the motion of my right hon. friend, I shall give it my cordial support.
§ Mr. William Fitzgerald
said, that the House had heard from the right hon. baronet who had addressed them last but one, the character of the petitioners, whose claims they were called on to consider. To the testimony of that right hon. baronet, he was willing to add any weight which his opinion might carry with it. He should not, perhaps, have thought it necessary to have addressed the House; but, entertaining the opinions he did on this subject, and standing, as he did, in a public situation, he conceived himself bound to state the grounds on which he intended to give his vote that evening. In giving that vote, he would be a traitor to his own feelings, a traitor to the cause which he supported, and a traitor to his country, if he gave to the sentiments of any man a greater degree of importance than they intrinsically deserved, abstracted from every 868 personal consideration. He felt in opposition to what had fallen from an hon. gentleman last night, that it was a fortunate circumstance that the question had been left, at the conclusion of the last session of the last parliament, as it had been. By this means it permitted gentlemen, who were favourable to the Catholic Claims; to remain in connection with those to whom they were, by their public duties, as well as by their private feelings, attached.—Such a moderate course of proceeding he hoped would produce, either on that night, or on any future night, when the question should be decided, a fortunate result to the motion of the right hon. gentleman. It was fortunate that they did not come to it as a party question; it was fortunate that they did not come to it as a question, the decision of which would bring triumph to one party or to another; but as a question deeply interesting to the general welfare of the empire. Fortunately it had been treated in this manner—for if it had been introduced in any other, such an introduction must have tended to its defeat. The right hon. baronet (sir John Stewart) had observed, that he coincided in all that fell from the right hon. mover, and had entered into so warm a description of his Catholic countrymen, as he (Mr. Fitzgerald) could not help considering as a prelude to his approbation of the present motion. But, with a degree of inconsistency, which he never before witnessed in parliament, that right hon. baronet had called the House back to the proscription of the Catholic parliament of Ireland. The right hon. baronet had called the House back to those acts which he (Mr. Fitzgerald) did not wish to bring to their remembrance. But, the right hon. baronet should have recollected, that they were not asked to decide on the conduct of the Catholics of that day.—He differed from an hon. general (Mathew) who had spoken of the Roman Catholics as having faithfully and loyally adhered to king James, and being absolved from any blame in so doing. He neither regretted the battle of the Boyne, nor lamented over the Revolution; but still he thought that the claims of the Roman Catholics should not be neglected; when he saw, that a conscientious spirit, however mistaken, bound them to the throne of James, although he might lament the course which they had pursued, still he would never agree in the proposition, that the manes of the acts passed by the Catholic parliament of Ireland, were to be conjur- 869 ed up to deter that House from granting concession at the present time.—The right hon. baronet had stated, that they knew not with whom they were to treat; they were ignorant of any party with whom they were to negociate. He (Mr. Fitzgerald) wanted neither to treat nor to negociate; such a proceeding was not compatible with the duty, the honour, the dignity of parliament. For he perfectly agreed in those sentiments which fell from the right hon. mover last night, that it was for parliament to legislate; and, if concession were called for, it was for parliament to state the terms.—He would not go into the various questions introduced by different members in the course of the debate; it was enough for him distinctly to observe, that, in voting for going into a committee, he did not bind himself to any thing which might afterwards be proposed—but he would enter that committee, anxious to promote such measures as might tend to general harmony; anxious to grant to the Roman Catholics all that they could fairly demand; and no less anxious to preserve the Protestant Church, unimpaired, in all its sanctity and all its splendour. The right hon. baronet said that he appeared on the part of those who "feared God, and honoured the King!" Was the right hon. baronet then to be understood as meaning, that those who were friendly to the Catholic Claims did not fear God, or did not honour the King?—Surely they were equally attached to the constitution as those who formed a different opinion on this subject. The right hon. baronet had designated the Protestants of the north of Ireland, a part of whom he represented, as a loyal and faithful race; the sons of their sons, the descendants of Englishmen. Did the right hon. baronet mean to say, that the Roman Catholics of that part of the country were otherwise? The Protestants of that country might be the sons of their sons, but they ought to recollect that the Roman Catholics were their brothers. The vote which he meant to give, was not forced from him by any particular circumstances, that vote he would give whether in office or out of office; without any reference whatever to political connection. The recent conduct of the Catholics had repeatedly been alluded to, in the course of the debate. Whatever that conduct had been, and part of it, he admitted, was presumptuous and overbearing, the general body had been severely visited for it, 870 since that fact had been made one of the strongest arguments against their claims. But still that was not the cause which they were called on to decide. However improperly individuals might have demeaned themselves, that conduct formed no reason for condemning the whole Catholic body; still less was it an argument for decision against the Catholic Claims,—Should those claims be submitted to a committee, the first thing that committee would have to consider would be what arrangement could be made, without trenching on their religious rights—without impairing the dignity of the Catholic Church—at the same time affording full security to our Protestant establishments. The right hon. gentleman expressed himself particularly favourable to domestic nomination; as preventing foreign intercourse and foreign influence; that intercourse with the See of Rome, which even Catholic monarchs considered a high misdemeanour in their subjects. The greatest security, he conceived, which the Protestant establishment could have, was to be found in attaching the Catholics to the constitution under which they lived—by exciting their interests, their feelings, their pride, and their passions, to its support. Whether to assist in such a work, their clergy should receive regular stipends from the government, or be supported by a grant from parliament, he would not take upon him to say: but, of this he was sure, that means of conciliation might be devised, which would be sufficient to remove every grievance; and, therefore, he would vote for a committee, in which those means might be maturely weighed and considered.
§ Mr. Edward Protheroe,
in a maiden speech, said:
Sir; considering the deservedly high authority, in this House, of the right hon. mover of the Resolution, in the last parliament, with which our compliance is now demanded; considering, too, that this Resolution was adopted by a former House of Commons; I feel that it would ill become the humble individual who has now the honour of addressing you, to question its political wisdom or constitutional propriety; yet I cannot but rejoice that as a member of the new legislature, I approach the discussion of this important question with a judgment unshackled by any pledge whatever. My hon. colleague (Mr. Richard Hart Davis) has truly said, that his sentiments are sanc- 871 tioned by the great body of our constituents; yet, decided as are their instructions, I shall follow them so far only as they are consistent with the dictates of my own conscience.
The right hon. gentleman who now urges to redeem the pledge of the last parliament, has contented himself with giving an eloquent and general detail of the advantages to be derived from the investigation and full discussion of this subject, in a committee of the whole House. Now, Sir, I frankly confess that, in a question of this nature, I see no advantage to be gained by that mode of enquiry, which is peculiarly suited to such cases as the Orders in Council, where the production of evidence might throw additional light on the subject under consideration; but what evidence could assist us in weighing the scruples of conscience, or the feelings of loyalty? In ascertaining constitutional rights, or balancing political expedience? Our present debate may afford a fair specimen of the proceedings of such a committee, and of the dissonance which must prevail there. We hear the right hon. and learned gentleman (Mr. Plunket), whose speech has met with such deserved applause, candidly admit the necessity of providing some safeguard against the danger, which must arise, from the exercise of foreign influence; yet he does not profess to be prepared with any definitive proposition, satisfactory to the Catholics or to himself. The hon. baronet (Sir J. C. Hippisley), who has bestowed so much attention on the subject, has indeed matured his plans, but requires a special committee to take them in to consideration. The hon. general (Mathew), on the other hand, boldly avows that the Catholics will not, ought not to be satisfied, unless their claims are conceded, without any restraint or restriction whatsoever.
Sir, I demand, before we descend, for the sake of conciliation, one step from the high ground of the constitution, that we should not only have, before us, the appearance of a cordial disposition, on the part of the Catholics, to approximation in loyalty and charity, but that the heads of that church should give proof of their sincerity and moderation, by the tender of every concession and every pledge consistent with their faith and conscience. Is this, Sir, the spirit that we witness? On the contrary, have not their most zealous friends, who have been striving to render them popular, by desiring pledges of loy- 872 alty, received in their turn nothing but obloquy and disavowal? May we not still recognize, in the haughty tone which thus rejects all compromise, the spirit of the Servus Servorum, trampling on the neck of kings! With such experience, few senators will hereafter have the hardihood to become sponsors for those who refuse "to ratify and confirm all that has been promised and vowed in their names."
These Protestant advocates of the Catholic cause now take their ground with greater circumspection. Unable to conceal the intolerant spirit and dangerous tenets of the church of Rome, recorded in the page of history, they aver that modern Catholics have renounced these doctrines, and triumphantly produce their proof, in answer to certain queries proposed to foreign universities. Need I reply that every true Catholic acknowledges the authority of a general council, duly held under the sovereign pontiff, to be infallible, and submits his conscience implicitly to its decrees; whereas he knows of no such authority, in his church, as that of an university? I cannot but observe too, that not one of these universities intimates that the belief of the Catholic church is, in the slightest degree, changed or capable of change; and though they disavow certain doctrines to be those of their church, they do not deny that she retains every article of the faith, which she professed, when the horrors of a bigotted persecution presented, to this country, its practical illustration.
I will not now enter on the question, whether any of those tenets, in times of greater peril to the constitution, rendered necessary the exclusion of their professors, from the full benefits of religious toleration, or justified the penal laws which, under happier auspices, have been effaced from our statute books. I rejoice, Sir, that no limits are now placed, nor need be placed, to the enjoyment of religious toleration. If there remain one vestige of a penal statute, infringing the free exercise of religious worship, according to the dictates of every man's conscience, let it be wiped away as a disgrace to our religious charter!
But surely I need not remind the intelligent legislator that religious liberty is one thing, and political privilege another; that a state of political society implies the existence of restraints for the general good; and that it is for the supreme authority, in every state, to judge and deter- 873 mine to what persons power and office can most safely be entrusted. If the legislature deem it prudent to prescribe a test of affection to the government, as a qualification for admission to office, surely this is no infraction of political rights! If there exists a national establishment of religion, united with the civil government, and incorporated in the constitution of the country, is it not natural that this test should be extended to a proof of attachment to the whole constitution? Above all, could it be reasonably expected that any government should admit, to places of the highest trust and authority, those, whose principles are known to be adverse to a part of the constitution, and whose faith must lead them to wish for its subversion? Lord Bolingbroke, whose judgment will be allowed not to have been warped by any religious partialities, expresses a decided opinion, that "no man ought to be trusted with any share of power under a government, who must, to act consistently with himself, endeavour the destruction of that very government." I admit of the inestimable blessings of peace and concord in the country,—but let us beware of sacrificing the solid advantage of union in our councils, for the illusory temptation of a general comprehension. I see nothing to be coveted in that "false peace," which lord Bacon describes, as "pieced up upon a direct admission of contraries in fundamental points, where truth and falshood are like the iron and clay in the toes of Nebuchadnezzar's image; they may cleave, but they will not incorporate." Let me appeal to the sentiments and conduct of a Catholic peer. When the Test Law was introduced into the House of Lords, lord Bristol candidly avowed that, "as a faithful member of a Protestant parliament, his advice prudentially went with the main scope of the bill," though, "as a Catholic of the church of Rome, his conscience obliged him to give his negative to it."* Here we see the conflicting; and irreconcilable principles, and observe that the duty of the statesman yields to that of the churchman. What have we then to expect from less honourable minds, than that of this distinguished nobleman!
I have heard, Sir, and I am sorry to say, within these walls, the most harsh, the most illiberal censures cast on the clergy* See the new Parliamentary History of England, vol. 4, p. 564.874 of the established church, for taking a share in what is called a merely political discussion. What, Sir! after passing an act of political exclusion, not very consistent with the doctrine of universal right to office; after incapacitating every individual of the clerical body from the possibility of addressing you in this House, will you debar them from the privilege of humbly petitioning you in favour of that venerable establishment, to whose interests they are bound by every tie of duty, as well as affection? I deny, Sir, that they have come forward with a spirit, of bigotry or intolerance; very different is the mild character of the church of England. "Learning has a lovely daughter, and her name is Moderation." And the addresses from the clergy, lying on that table, are imbued with that genuine spirit of Christian charity, which improves and adorns society. It is, then, as a lover of toleration, as a warm friend of civil and religious liberty, that I plead for the maintenance of Protestant ascendancy.
The right hon. mover disavows any intention of interfering with the Bill of Rights, or the Act of Settlement. He will recognize and reenact the security of the Protestant succession to the throne; but, let me ask the right hon. gentleman, upon what principle he fixes the limit of Catholic rights, and says, "thus far shall you go, but no farther." With what arguments will he combat the next petition from the Roman Catholics, when he has previously conceded, nay advocated its principle?
I have considered the subject of the Catholic claims, as it affects the general interests of the empire. I shall not presume to touch on the peculiar situation of Ireland, though I think much might be said on the causes of the irritation, which has been excited, in that country; but I leave this subject to those who are acquainted, from personal observation, with her wishes, her wants, and her interests. I shall now conclude, Sir, with reminding the House of one of the queries of her sagacious and patriotic prelate, "Whether those men who move the corner stones of a constitution, may not pull an old house on their own heads?"
§ Mr. Ayshford Wise
addressed the House in a maiden speech, as follows:—
Mr. Speaker; considering the question now before the House, as a question of the greatest importance, I have listened, 875 with proportionate attention, to the different opinions, which have been so eloquently delivered, during the discussion of it; and I shall now trespass upon the House for a few minutes, not because I am presumptuous enough to suppose that I can have any claim to their favour, but because I do sincerely believe that, from that class of society, the country gentlemen, may best be earned the sentiments of those among whom they reside.
The Resolution, Sir, of the last parliament, that the House would, early in the next session, take into its most serious consideration the laws affecting his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects, in Great Britain and Ireland, with a view to such final and conciliatory adjustment as might be conducive to the peace of the United Kingdom, stability to the Protestant establishment, and the general satisfaction and concord of all classes of his Majesty's subjects, naturally created much interest in all classes of society; much interest, Sir, in the minds of those who were accustomed to look up to this House, with that respect, which is, and I trust, ever will be due to the legislative body of a great and independent country—amongst those. Sir, I must include myself; not then, in the proud situation I now hold; and, since returned to parliament through the approbation of honourable men, free from expence and unclogged by promises.
Having, Sir, said thus much, I beg humbly to state to the House, that, from very particular observation, I am inclined to believe that the Protestant population of England is not unfriendly to a due and fair consideration of the claims of their Roman Catholic brethren; and I shall, this night, very sincerely give my vote for the motion of the right hon. mover, because I think that the Catholic communion is now divested of many of those tenets, which have been, hitherto, considered dangerous and unconstitutional; because I think the parliament is pledged to pursue its own resolutions, and because I firmly believe that a Protestant parliament can, now is, and always will be able, so to legislate, that the Protestant establishment may remain pure and strictly secure, both in church and state; and, considering that, by the vote for going into the committee I do not pledge myself to any future act, and that I reserve to myself full and ample power to object to any resolution of that committee, which I may even suspect of a tendency to weaken or cripple 876 the power of that constitution, which has so long protected our laws, our liberty, and our land.
§ Sir Frederick Flood.
—Mr. Speaker; the best apology I can make to this House, for rising at this very late hour, is to assure them shall be very short. But, on a question so deeply important as the present, which, whilst it involves the general interests of the empire, affects, in a peculiar manner, millions of the country to which I have the honour to belong; I owe it to myself, and to my numerous constituents (many thousands of all religious persuasions), to explain my reasons for voting to go into a committee.
I lay it down, Sir, as a maxim that the blessings of our free and glorious constitution ought to be diffused as widely, as is compatible with the safety of the constitution.
Another incontrovertible proposition, very material to the question, is, that there is nothing in the Catholic religion naturally hostile to the constitution under which we live. They ever were friends to monarchy. In the bosom of the Roman Catholic religion, the English constitution received its birth, and Catholics rocked its cradle. They obtained Magna Charta—founded our universities; and let us proceed to Runneymede, and, on that hallowed spot, inquire whether Catholics are hostile to the liberties and chartered rights of England. Let those who say that the Catholic church is inimical to our freedom, refer to the reign of Henry 3, and see all the Catholic bishops and abbots assembled, and after reading the great charter, with solemn ceremonies and tremendous denunciations, passing sentence of excommunication against every person who should violate it. It was Catholics that founded the House of Commons of England, in which we sit this night, discussing the propriety of granting them a participation in the constitution. Common dangers should be repelled by united efforts.
You, Mr. Speaker, have twice read from your chair, solemnly, and, I trust, impressively, the last will and testament of the late parliament, executed by 237 members of it, and attested by 106 witnesses, other members of the same parliament, date 23d June 1812; resolving to take into their serious consideration the state of the laws affecting his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects in Great Britain and Ireland, with a view to 877 final conciliation, and to the strength and peace of the United Kingdom, and I think see, in the hand of the right hon. judge of the Irish prerogative court, (Dr. Duigenan) either a protest granted to the present parliament to carry that will into effect, or a caveat;—but I cannot suppose the latter, after he has formerly declared his decided opinion nearly in these words before the Union:—"That we are one people with the British nation.—The Protestant body in the whole empire would be so great—that all rivalship and animosities between Protestants and Romanists would cease for ever, and it would be unnecessary to curb the Romanists by any restrictive laws whatever."
After this declaration, I trust that the right hon. and learned doctor must vote, at least for committing the Catholic petition, which is all I pledge myself to at present. [He then cited the opinions of Mr. Pitt, Mr. Fox, Mr. Burke, Mr. Windham, Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Grenville, bishop of Norwich, Mr. Locke, judge Blackstone, &c. in favour of Catholic emancipation.] Millions of Catholics have shed their best blood both at sea and on land, in defence of the constitution; and are these the people, about whom it is idle to take any interest, or to trust? The more interest you give the Catholics in the constitution, the more they will exert themselves to maintain what their blessings spring out of; and no country can be blessed and prosperous in which the people are discontented by exclusions from blessings. He quoted the statutes of 1779, 1781, and 1793, passed in Ireland in the administrations of the two noble lords, members of the present cabinet, and stated the very words of these statutes as follows, viz. "Whereas from the uniform good behaviour of the Roman Catholics for more than a century past, they deserve well, and it must tend, not only to the cultivation and improvement of Ireland, but to the prosperity and strength of all his Majesty's dominions, and that all his subjects should be bound together by mutual interests, and mutual affections, and that all his Majesty's subjects, of all denominations and descriptions, should enjoy the blessings of our free constitution, and that all persons of whatever persuasion, as have heretofore taken, or who shall hereafter take the oath, and subscribe the declaration, prescribed by the 13th and 11th of Geo. 3, and the oath of the 33d of Geo. 3, ch. 21, ought to be 878 considered as good and loyal subjects to his Majesty, his crown, and government;" and yet being cajoled, they are now told that they are not to be trusted, unless they abandon their religion altogether, notwithstanding this legislative enactment, and the treaty of Limerick in 1691.
He then adverted to the conduct, of the Irish government when lord Westmoreland was lord lieutenant, and the present earl of Buckinghamshire his secretary, both now members of the cabinet. They set every engine to work at county meetings, grand juries, &c. to resist the Irish Catholic claims for election suffrage, and afterwards they left their friends in the lurch, and in the very next year 1793, the Irish government brought in a Bill to grant the Catholics, not only elective suffrage, but more than they had asked. The hon. baronet concluded with many more appropriate observations, and thanked the House for their indulgence at so late an hour, and after so many luminous speeches.
§ Mr. John Round.
—Sir, impelled by a strong sense of public duty, I would venture to solicit, for a few moments, that indulgence which I trust the House is not disinclined to shew, to one recently admitted within its walls. On a former occasion, when, in the discharge of the duty I owed my constituents, it had fallen to me to present, to the House, a petition from the borough I have the honour to represent, praying that the claims of the Roman Catholics to further political power might not be conceded, I shortly stated that my own sentiments, on this vitally important national question, were strictly in unison with those then expressed by my constituents. Though there is no member of this House more unfeignedly desirous than myself, to see the doors of parliament opened wide to the representations of the subject, and to enter into the serious and dispassionate investigation of grievances complained of by the people, I yet feel myself imperatively called upon to give my decided negative to the motion of the right hon. gentleman last night submitted to the House, recommended, as I admit it to be, by an animation, a fervor, and an eloquence, on the part of the right hon. mover, which, whilst it excited my admiration in art eminent degree, proportionably induced equal regret at the necessity I feel, of giving to it my strenuous opposition. In the view I take of this question, it becomes me manfully to avow my opinion that 879 concession has already reached its utmost limits, and that it would be utterly unsafe to admit, into the councils of the state, those who hold tenets at variance with a Protestant creed, and subversive of a Protestant ascendancy. I cannot consent to go into a committee from which I expect no satisfactory result—I am sure the House cannot come, with any prospect of a final and conciliating adjustment of rival interests. I owe it to the Catholics themselves, not to excite hopes, which I believe, will terminate in the bitterness of disappointment: I owe it to the Protestant community of this country not to turn my back upon the petitions they have presented to this House praying against the concession of the Catholic claims. In every view of the subject, I feel myself compelled to vote against the proposition of the right hon. gentleman for going into a committee.
§ Sir John Newport
rose amidst loud cries of Question! The right hon. baronet observed, that as there were very many members who were anxious to speak on the question, he should move an adjournment of its consideration to Monday.
remarked, that as it would be quite impossible to come to a conclusion on this important question that night, it appeared to him, that the only point of consideration was, whether the House would then adjourn, or at a later hour.—The motion for deferring the further consideration of the question to Monday, was then put and carried.—Adjourned at two o'clock on Saturday morning.