HC Deb 17 May 1814 vol 27 cc931-9
Sir John Cox Hippisley

rose, in pursuance of a notice he had formerly given, to move for certain papers which tended to elucidate particular points of discipline in the Catholic church. He should be sorry to bring any thing under the consideration of the House, that could lead to a discussion on the Catholic claims; if certain circumstances, which had recently occurred in the sister kingdom, had not, in some measure, rendered such a course necessary. The observations, however, which he intended to make, should only be with reference to the papers for which he was about to move. Gentlemen would recollect, that, in the course of the last session, he moved for a variety of documents, all of which were not printed. They contained information with respect to the discipline of the Catholic church on the continent, as well as in Canada, Malta, and other places connected with his Majesty's dominions. One of the papers he moved for at that time was not printed; and he should now move that it be printed, because it tended to shew the code of regulations which was necessary on two great points; first, with respect to the interference of the crown in the appointment of Roman Catholic bishops in the united kingdom; and next, as to the supervision of such rescripts as might be received from Rome, by any person in Great Britain or Ireland. There was another part of this paper, which related to matter of a graver nature—and, reflecting on what had occurred in the sister kingdom, he thought it necessary to make a few observations on the subject to which it referred; namely, the society of Jesuits. Gentlemen would call to mind what had fallen from him, on a former occasion, with reference to this very subject. A doubt was, he believed, at that time entertained, as to the existence of the sect of Jesuits; but that doubt no longer existed. Now, it had come to his knowledge, that nearly 30,000l. had been remitted from Rome to Ireland, for the purpose of purchasing lands. Of that money 16,000l. had been laid out in buying a place called Castle Browne; and, on the scite of Castle Browne, a building had been erected, as a seminary, which was under the superintendence of a professed Jesuit. A gentleman of the name of Browne, well known in the literary world, had written very largely, within a short period, in defence of the Jesuits. He eulogised that body very highly—he spoke of their having establishments in Russia and Naples—and stated, that young men were sent from this country to the society at Naples for their education—that they were there ordained—and afterwards returned to the united kingdom. On the subject of an oath, Mr. Browne observed, that he differed from the common construction of that obligation. He held it to be 'secundum intentionem deponentis,' and not 'secundum intentionem juramenti.' This gentleman argued very strenuously, that the order of Jesuits ought, if possible, to be established in every part of Europe. On the subject of the introduction of the order into Ireland, he had received a letter, fully confirming the fact, from which he would read an extract:—"It is," said the writer, "a plain fact, that the society of Jesuits have purchased Castle Browne, and are about to establish themselves among us. What their object is, I know no more than you do; for they are not remarkable for disclosing their designs. There is, however, quite enough to alarm the British world." This letter was very lately received from Ireland, and he thought it his duty to lay it before the House. Knowing the restrictions that were placed on the Catholic clergy in non-Catholic, and even in Catholic countries, it was for the House to mark, with serious attention, the novel spectacle of synods, composed of Catholic bishops and Catholic priests, established, he would say, contrary to law, in Ireland. He knew many gentlemen differed from him in opinion that they were contrary to law, but still he felt himself warranted in making the assertion. Surely he need not point out the danger of such assemblies, sitting from time to time, and propounding measures which were afterwards to be discussed in parliament. Those who had read the Dublin papers lately would perceive that he was not distorting facts. In those papers they were told what the clergy were about to do; from them they understood, that the second order of the church in Ireland were determined to oppose the rescript recently received from Rome. He meant not to make any specific motion on this subject. But he hoped the House, being apprised of these circumstances, would not lose sight of the results that might be expected from the continuance of such a system. He also trusted, that they were alive to the conduct of another assembly; he meant the Catholic board, who had been pleased to appeal to the Spanish Cortes for their interference. For what purpose did they approach the Cortes? To tell them how much the Roman Catholics of Ireland were oppressed by this government, which was acting at the time in conjunction with that of Spain. What effect could this have, but to impress upon the minds of the Spanish people, that the noble duke, who had so often fought their battles, and who had so lately received the thanks of that House, was the enemy of the Catholic religion—of the religion of Spain? This appeal was made to the most intolerant nation under the sun—who looked upon their own as the only true religion—and had made every member of the Cortes swear to preserve that religion. If they looked to the regulations of the Spanish government anterior to the late constitution, they would find that no person was suffered to hold a situation, civil or military, unless he professed the Catholic religion. And yet, the Catholic board thought proper to complain to the Cortes, that they were not admitted to a participation in all situations, civil and military. There was another measure of this board which he could not avoid noticing; and, in doing so, it was but just that he should applaud the conduct of the Catholic clergy, in refusing to lend themselves to the task which the board had endeavoured to impose upon them. He alluded to the collection of what were called donations. A minimum was fixed, below which nothing would be taken—and a mark, it seemed, was to be placed on every Roman Catholic, who either could not, or would not, subscribe ten-pence. This proposition originated with a member of the Catholic board; but he believed that it had not been very productive. The right hon. baronet then adverted to the indignation that had been expressed by some of the Roman Catholic clergy, at the proposition, formerly made, for supporting, them by a state provision; and observed, that one of those persons, who was most loud in reprobating such a system, who had declared that the Catholic clergy ought to give up all worldly advantages for spiritualities, had himself, however, applied for a state provision. He had prevented others receiving a pension from the crown; and yet he afterwards caused a petition to be drawn up, for the purpose of presenting it to his Majesty's ministers, requesting a pension for himself. And he had even applied to him (sir J. C. Hippisley) for his assistance and co-operation, being aware that he had been instrumental in procuring some relief for the suffering ecclesiastics of Scotland. The letter lately received was nothing more than an acknowledgment of those principles which were acted upon in every state—and the papers for which he should move were extremely essential, as proving the existence of what he termed a code; from which it would be seen, that the two regulations he had mentioned in the early part of his speech were allowed to exist in every state of Europe, with the full concurrence of the church of Rome. This he stated upon the fullest authority—having resided on the spot, and been in confidential communication with individuals of great eminence, who never resisted the adoption of the principle. He would not then enter into a comparison of the rescript received from Rome a few days ago, with that transmitted to this country in 1805—but he would call the attention of the House to the extraordinary state in which Dublin, and perhaps Ireland, at that moment was, in consequence of the receipt of that rescript. That situation was sufficiently pointed out by the public prints; and unless government looked very closely to the proceedings in that country (where a board existed, affecting and exercising so great a sway), and adopted those measures which the exigency of the time called for, consequences of a very serious nature must necessarily arise. The hon. baronet then moved, "That the Extract of paragraphs 42 and 43, from sir George Prevost's Instructions as governor and commander in chief in Lower Canada, dated 22d October 1811, which was presented to the House upon the 21st day of July, in the last session of parliament, be printed."

Mr. Bathurst

seconded the motion.

Sir H. Parnell

said, that, the hon. baronet having stated, that a sum of money, amounting to 30,000l. was transmitted from Rome to Ireland, for the purpose, of establishing the Jesuits in that country, he felt it his duty to relate the fact which had given rise to the assertion. The hon. baronet had been for some time harping on the re-establishment of the society of Jesuits—and the person, whose character was in some degree implicated by his observations, begged of him (sir H. Parnell) to state the object and circumstances relating to the seminary alluded to. That individual had put into his (sir Henry's) hands a prospectus of his establishment; and the whole object which it aimed at was neither more nor less than the education of young persons. It did not even exclude those of the Protestant religion. The hon. baronet, in the whole course of his speech, had not stated, to the House any one circumstance which could induce them to believe, that any thing farther was contemplated by the gentleman of whom he had spoken, than merely to establish a school. Every gentleman, be thought, must perceive the absurdity of supposing, at that time of day, that any danger could, be apprehended from the re-establishment of the Jesuits; or that any person could be weak enough to set on foot a measure of that kind. It appeared almost impossible, when they considered how very few of that sect were now in existence, and how much opinions upon religious topics had changed of late years. On that head, therefore, he apprehended no danger and certainly the hon. baronet had not attempted to prove that it was against the law of the land-to set up a seminary such as that contemplated by the gentleman whose motives had been thus distorted. The proceeding was justifiable and legal; and, therefore, there was no necessity to have recourse to any measure for putting down that institution. Why should they go back to the conduct of their forefather, and say, because a gentleman happened to be educated in a college of Jesuits, that therefore he should be prevented from setting up a school in Ireland?

Mr. Peel

said, that though the hon. baronet had given notice of his motion, yet, as it was simply for the production of instructions, to sir George Prevost, the House could be little prepared from such a notice for the discussion of those important topics to which the hon. baronet had adverted, and from, any reference to which at present he should as far as possible abstain. He merely rose, less it should be imagined, if he continued entirely silent, that the Irish government had not paid serious attention to those subjects on which the hon. baronet had particularly dwelt. On one point he thought it necessary to make a few observations, because the hon. baronet had alluded to it in the last session. In consequence of what the hon. baronet had stated respecting the establishment of a college at Castle Browne, supposed to have for its object the renewal of the order of Jesuits in Ireland, and other representations which had reached him, he had solicited a communication with Mr. Kenny, the head of that seminary. He had accordingly seen that gentleman, and had stated to him that reports had gone abroad, much exaggerated, perhaps, as to the nature of the institution over which he presided—observing, that it would be good policy in him (which he admitted) to explain precisely the object of his institution. From him he learned, that it was not a religious, but a lay institution; and Mr. Kenny put into his hands a prospectus of the course of education. Mr. Peel asked him, whether it was confined exclusively to persons professing the Roman Catholic religion; as in that case doubts might be entertained of the legality of the institution. To this Mr. Kenny answered; that the college of Maynooth, which was exclusively Catholic, was recognized as a legal seminary; but observed, that his institution was not confined to Roman Catholics. He would willingly admit the children of Protestants to participate in the general course of education, leaving, to their parents the right of giving them such religious instruction as they might think proper. At the same time, he doubted how far the principle of educating Protestant children at a seminary chiefly Catholic, would be generally approved of.—Mr. Kenny stated that the institution was carried on by him, not as agent for any other persons, but on his own account. To a question respecting the source from which he had derived his funds, that gentleman had given no answer. He (Mr. P.) had then told him, that he was not to infer from the communication which had passed, that the Irish government acquiesced in the existence of the institution, but that they should continue to watch it with jealousy.

Sir John Newport

said, that, in the year 1806 or 7 (he could not exactly state which), a communication was made to him, that the present archbishop of Dublin had refused to licence an individual who was then about to establish a seminary. His grace did not refuse from any personal feeling, for he was perfectly acquainted with the excellent moral character of the man; but be declined signing the licence—he entertained doubts of the propriety of a Protestant bishop licensing a Roman Catholic school. He (sir John) stated the circumstance to the then administration, and the individual was allowed to proceed with his undertaking. Some observations were made on the subject; and, in consequence, he looked into the statute-book; and there he could see nothing whatever to prevent the individual from keeping a school. Now he could not see what objection could be raised against the conduct of Mr. Kenny. He laid open the whole course of education which he taught—he was desirous of no concealment. Why then should he be molested? For his own part, he considered it, as he had always done, a most beneficial thing for the public, that education could be provided at home, for those who must otherwise seek it in foreign countries. It was a matter, in his opinion, of very great importance, to give, both to the clergy and the laity, a domestic education. He knew nothing of the gentleman to whom the remarks of the hon. baronet were applied; but his ready offer to lay every thing connected with his institution open to government, ought to wipe away all suspicion from his character. At all events, he would deprecate, in the strongest terms, the introduction, on a question of an entirely different nature, of any reflections on the character and conduct of a man, who had no opportunity of defending himself. Fortunately, however, when the hon. baronet made his observations, there were gentlemen in the House who were not unacquainted with the circumstances of the case; but, for any thing the hon. baronet knew at the time, this might not have been the case.

Sir H. Parnell

wished to observe, that Mr. Kenny's reason for refusing to state whence he derived the funds for commencing the establishment, was because he conceived that the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Peel) was not altogether well entitled to catechise him on his private affairs. As a British subject, he had a right to set up the institution, and to proceed as he thought proper, provided he did nothing which appeared dangerous to the state. He willingly answered every question which was at all connected with the public interest; but when the right hon. gentleman went so far as to inquire into the means by which he made the purchase, which was penetrating directly into his prime affairs he felt that it was not proper for him to give an answer. He had, however, told him (sir Henry), that the whole had been purchased with his own private property; that he acted from his own individual motives, and wished to conduct himself peaceably and properly.

Mr. Peel

said, he had not asked any question of Mr. Kenny in a tone that evinced a desire to catechize him—nor, was any one of his interrogatories dictated by a spirit of idle curiosity. He had not premised his questions, by stating that his institution was contrary to law; he merely observed, that doubts of its legality had been expressed in parliament. He also informed Mr. Kenny, that the utmost jealousy had been manifested of the society of the Jesuits by the British government; so much so, that their property in Canada had been formerly confiscated. He asked the question relative to the funds of the establishment, and made the observation he had done, lest it might be hereafter inferred, because some communication had passed with a member of the Irish government, that that government had acquiesced in the propriety of the establishment in question.—At the interview he had with Mr. Kenny, he particularly told him, that he must not be surprised if the same feeling which had induced the British government to confiscate the property of the Jesuits in Canada, should induce them at least to watch with the almost vigilance and suspicion an institution established and superintended by one of the order, supported by funds, the origin and nature of which were totally unaccounted for.

Sir J. Newport

denied that the property, of the Jesuits in Canada was confiscated. They were prevented from professing any more persons in that country—but they were allowed to enjoy then property as long as they existed. And it was a remarkable fact, that one of them, who survived all the others, possessed the whole of the property for a considerable time.

Mr. Peel

said, that the order was effectually put down.

Sir J. Newport

said, the property was enjoyed by the individual he alluded to until the very last moment of his life.

Sir J. C. Hippisley

contended, that the property of the Jesuits had been confiscated in Canada by the order of the Canadian government, and that this property had been since granted to lord Amherst. He contended also, that, according to the Bull of Pope Ganganelli which ordered the universal abolition of the Jesuits, who were, in fact, much more devoted to their own general than to the Pope, all Christian countries, whether Catholic or Protestant, must feel it their interest to discountenance such an institution. All Christian states had indeed manifested their sense of this interest; and it behoved the government of England to look with peculiar care to the institution under discussion; especially when it was known that such a considerable sum had been found to support it, and that sum too derived from some source which the principal of the institution refused to reveal. He (sir J.) could not help declaring his regret, that gentlemen of great weight and character in that House had thought proper to decline expressing any objection to the establishment alluded to. Upon the character of the Jesuits he did not think it necessary to state any opinion, nor to call to the recollection of the House the jealousy which all the free and independent states of Europe had manifested against that order. But he must again caution the British government to be on its guard. For the moral character and general good disposition of the present Pope, he professed the highest respect. But the Jesuits had always been found a powerful means of influence, a formidable band of intriguers; and he therefore would wish to protect his country against the fiat of any Pope, for the resurrection and reorganization of such an order.

The motion was agreed to. The hon. baronet then moved, "That the several papers which were presented to this House in the two last sessions of parliament, relating to the Roman Catholics, and which were severally ordered to be printed on the 28th day of May 1812, and on the 4th, 17th, 21st, 24th, and 25th days of May 1813, be re-printed." Agreed to.

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