HC Deb 24 May 1814 vol 27 cc1016-9

Mr. Grattan presented a petition of the Roman Catholics of Ireland; setting forth, "that the petitioners again approach the legislature with a statement of the grievances under which they, labour, and of which they under which they labour, and of which they most respectfully, but at the same time most respectfully, but at the same time most firmly, solicit effectual redress; their, wrongs are so notorious and so numerous, that their minute detail is quite unnecessary, and would indeed be impossible were it deemed expedient; ages of persecution on the one hand, and of patience on the other, sufficiently attest their sufferings and their submission; privations have been answered only by petition, indignities by remonstrance, injuries by forgiveness: if has been a misfortune to have a misfortune to have suffered for the sake of their religion; but it has also been a pride to have borne the best testimony to the purity of their doctrine by the meekness of their endurance; and that the petitioners have sustained the power which spurned them, they have nerved the arm which smote them, they have lavished their strength, their talent and their treasures, and buoyed up on the prodigal effusion of their young blood the triumphant ark of British liberty; the petitioners approach then with confidence an enlightened legislature: in the name of nature they ask their rights as men; in the name of the constitution, they ask their privileges as subjects; in the name of God, they ask the sacred protection of unpersecuted piety as Christians: are securities required of them? They offer them, the best securities a throne can have, the affections of a people; they offer faith that was never violated, hearts that were never corrupted, valour that never crouched; every hour of peril has proved their allegiance, and every field of Europe exhibits its example; and that the petitioners abjure all temporal authority, except that of our sovereign; they acknowledge no civil pre-eminence, save that of our constitution; and for their lavish and voluntary expenditure, they only ask a reciprocity of benefits; separating, as they do, their civil rights from their spiritual duties, they humbly desire that they may not be confounded; they render unto Cæsar the things that are Caesar's, but they must also render unto God the things that are God's; their church could not descend to claim a state authority, nor do they ask for it a state aggrandizement; its hopes, its powers, and its pretensions, are of another world; and when the petitioners raise their hands most humbly to the state their prayer is not that the fetters may be transferred to the hands which are raised for them to heaven; they would not erect a splendid shrine even to liberty on the ruins of the temple: in behalf then of five millions of a brave and loyal people, the petitioners call upon the legislature to annihilate the odious bondage which bows down the mental, physical, and moral energies of Ireland, and (in the name of that Gospel which breathes charity towards all) they seek freedom of conscience for all the inhabitants of the British empire; may it therefore please the House to abolish all penal and disabling laws, which in any manner infringe religious liberty, or restrict the free enjoyment of the sacred rights of conscience, within these realms."

Mr. Grattan

said, that it was not his intention to move for any further discussion on the subject of the claims of the Catholics, under the present circumstances. In this, he begged to be understood as expressing his own opinion, which he found coincided with that of many other members of the House. He could by no means say that it was the wish of the Catholics that the discussion should not come on now. Many of them, he believed, wished that the discussion should now come on. But under the present circumstances, it was his opinion, that it would be desirable not to have any discussion on the subject at present; nor to have any ulterior measure proposed. In the mean time, he moved, that the petition do lie on the table.

The petition was then ordered to lie on the table.

Sir John Cox Hippisley

moved for the production and printing of two papers; which, he lamented to observe, were the last of the class, properly official, that he could obtain from the offices of government, or from the records of parliament. He lamented this much, as he had once flattered himself with being the means of producing, through the report of a select committee, many other important documents; the House, However, had unfortunately shut themselves out from that information; and however he might himself regret it, it was not for him to censure their decision. In moving for these papers, he thought it his duty to correct a mis-statement connected with his former motion, which had found place in several of the public prints. He had been represented as having asserted, that a large sum of money had been sent to Ireland from Rome, for the purpose of founding a Jesuits' college. He had in fact made no such assertion; but had re-stated, as he had before stated in parliament more than twelve months since, that such a remittance had been made from hence to Ireland, for the purpose of being appropriated to a seminary of ecclesiastical education. He also stated, that nearly 16,000l. of that sum had been paid for the purchase of Castle Browne in Ireland, and that a professed Jesuit had been placed at the head of the institution. In stating also the circumstance of the construction of an oath, as avowed by Mr. Francis Plowden (not Browne, as also erroneously stated), in his History of Ireland, sir J. C. Hippisley had been also equally misrepresented. In Mr. Plowden's construction, oaths were to be considered as obligatory—"secundum intentionem jurantis," and not "secundum intentionem imponentis." This sir J. C. H. was represented also, in many of the public prints, to have applied generally, as a Catholic principle; whereas he expressly stated, that it was opposed to the recorded opinions of the soundest Roman Catholic theologians, and their most accredited jurists, particularly naming St. Isidore and Justinian, as well as Dr. Paley, and other writers of the establishment. Sir J. C. H. then moved, "That the report made to lord Wm. Bentinck of the state of the Roman Catholics in India; and also the report of the proceedings in council relating to the estates of the Jesuits in Canada, be printed."—Ordered.