§ Sir Henry Parnell observed, that he held in his hand a Petition, signed by 6,000 persons from his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects in York, Birmingham, Norwich, &c. praying for an unqualified emancipation from all civil and military disqualifications which at present oppress them. He thought it unnecessary to speak to the general principle of the Petition, as it would necessarily be involved in the motion he would subsequently submit to the House. He then moved that the Petition be laid on the table, which was ordered.
§ The hon. baronet then moved, "That the several entries in the Journals of this House, of the 22d day of June 1812, and of the 25th day of February, and the 2d day of March 1813, of the proceedings of the House in relation to his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects in Great Britain and Ireland, might be read;" and the same being read,
§ Sir Henry Parnell
rose and addressed the House as follows:—Mr. Speaker; I have requested that the clerk might read from the Journals, the Resolutions we have just heard, in order to bring under the view of the House the progress that has been made towards the entire repeal of the penal laws which aggrieve his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects. The last Parliament declared the expediency of taking these laws into consideration; and the present one has expressed, on three 475 several divisions, that it is advisable to remove the civil and military disqualifications under which the Catholics labour. I may, therefore, say the principle of a legislative measure for effecting this removal is absolutely carried; and that all that remains for us now to discuss and consider is, the plan and regulations by which this principle may be called forth into active operation. This being the case, it is not necessary for me, in order to induce the House to accede to the motion I shall propose to it, to resolve itself into a committee, to occupy any of its time in referring to those great principles of constitutional right and political expepediency which have been so frequently, so eloquently, and so successfully enforced on many former occasions, by my right hon. friend (Mr. Grattan). He has, in fact, virtually carried this question; to him is due all the merit of having been the first in the Irish House of Commons, and the first in this, to obtain a vote for the repeal of the whole Catholic penal code; to him every Catholic will yet have to look up as their great deliverer from the most intense system of persecution that ever disgraced a government or aggrieved a people; whatever may remain to be done to raise the various parts of the building or which he has laid the foundation, must, in the common course of events, soon be completed, though impediments may check their progress, and less skilful hands may be employed to construct them.
The same reason which renders it unnecessary for me to refer to the great principles of right and expediency, renders it also unnecessary for me to notice, in the smallest degree, that maze of argument which has so often been so largely doled out from the inexhaustible source of bulls and canons; or to stop to consider that other description of ad verse argument, which has been founded on the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement; for both these classes of objections have been fully and filially answered by the vote of the House, declaring it to be advisable to remove all civil and military disqualifications. The question that we have to discuss and decide upon, is reduced, in fact, to a very narrow compass. The obstacle to its success is readily to be learnt from the fate of the Bill of my right hon. friend (Mr. Grattan) in the session of 1813. For although, correctly speaking, that Bill was lost by a majority voting against the 476 clause enabling Catholics to sit in parliament, every one will admit, the circumstance which gave success to the opposition to that clause, was the hostility the Catholics had previously manifested against those regulations of the Bill, which related to the future appointments of Catholic bishops. Every one who takes a dispassionate view of the present state of the question, will agree with me in saying, that the only obstacle which now exists in the way of the emancipation of the Catholics, is the claim to give the Crown a control over the future appointment of the bishops, as the condition of conceding this measure, which has been set up on one side, and is objected to on the other. If either party were to give way, no one, I think, can deny the whole contest would be at an end, and the emancipation would be the immediate result. The true question, then, at issue is, is there any just cause or real necessity for this control? if there is, the Catholics are wrong in refusing to consent to it; but if there is not, then the fault rests on them who persevere in requiring it. This, Sir, I beg the House will observe, is the first opportunity it has yet had of fairly and folly examining this question. It has certainly often come before it incidentally; but never without being embarrassed by the whole mass of conflicting argument which belongs to the general question of emancipation. Let me also beg the House will observe, that no member has yet explained in what way the removal of ail civil and military disqualifications will contribute to endanger the Protestant establishments. This task it is the duty of those members to perform, who say, they will not vote for the removal of them, without giving the Crown a control over the appointment of the bishops; it is their business to point out in clear and distinct terms, so that every ordinary understanding may comprehend them, how the danger is to arise, whence it is to come, how to operate to weaken the Protestant settlement in Church and State; for all policy is extremely suspicious, that sacrifices any part of the people to the ideal good of the whole community. So far as the Catholic bishops are concerned, no guile is imputed to them; their conduct in the rebellions of 1715, 1745, and 1798, and their established character for prudence, place them beyond all suspicion. In regard to the Catholic laity, what danger can be expected from them can be judged of by the 477 probable effect of complete emancipation. What can be its certain and practical effect on the Catholic body at large, but universal content and unqualified gratitude to the Legislature that grants it? This must be, according to every principle of human nature, and according to what experience teaches us, the immediate effect of the repeal of the penal code. How, then, I ask, is the supposed consequence to arise from it, of danger to the establishments? If this cannot be made out, then there exists no foundation for the claim of control over the Catholic bishops—and certainly till it is fully proved, there is no just ground for finding fault with the Catholics for repugnance on their part to concede it.
In regard to the influence now enjoyed by the Pope over the church of Ireland, if this were fully examined into and accurately understood, it would, I think, appear that no great degree of danger can justly be apprehended from that quarter. The House is not aware that the Catholic church of Ireland is a very independent church of the see of Rome; that it possesses almost every power within itself that is necessary for its administration and perpetuation. In what degree the interference of the Pope is admitted may be explained very shortly: First, in respect to marriage, he has the power of dispensing with the prohibited degrees of marriage:—Secondly, in cases of disputes amongst the clergy, upon points of duty, precedence, &c. he decides on appeals in case the domestic courts of appeal cannot settle them:—Thirdly, he confers canonical institution on bishops. In regard to the two first cases, I shall make no observations upon them, because they have fallen into disuse, but proceed at once to explain the nature of the last. In fact and practice the Irish bishops and clergy fill up every vacancy of a see. The clergy of the diocese recommend a fit person to the bishops of the province: the bishops install and consecrate him. The elected bishop writes a letter of communion to the Pope, signifying that he is in Communion with the other bishops of the Catholic church, and the Pope, upon this, sends him the pall, being the sign and form of canonical institution to the see. But the elected bishop is a good bishop, and acts as such for every ecclesiastical purpose, except that of giving holy orders, even before he receives the pall. If the Pope refuses to give the pall to the elected bishop, ano- 478 ther and another is elected till the Pope thinks proper to give it; but, in point of fact, he uniformly gives it to the first that is elected.
According to this statement it will appear, that all essential power of appointing bishops is in the hands of the Irish Clergy—that the Pope only confirms the acts of others; and that if he wished to interfere to carry any appointment merely his own, he would have to contend with all the prejudices and all the interests of the Irish Catholic Church. But little as this influence of the Pope's always has been, it has daily become less and less, while we have been occupied in forming apprehensions of the danger of it, by the successful efforts of the Irish Priests, to restore the right of the Dean and Chapter to elect to vacant sees. On this head considerable, progress has been made, and thus the measure of domestic nomination, one proposed plan of security, has been silently and rapidly advanced. This influence must also appear to many much less formidable than it did some years ago, when in the celebrated letter of lord Grenville on the Veto, the whole danger was made to exist, upon the person of the Pope being in the power of Buonaparté. All these several circumstances, when minutely looked into and duly considered, must contribute, at least, to allay much of the apprehension that has prevailed in regard to the Pope, if not to remove it altogether. So will also the inquiring into the probable effects of emancipation on the Catholic laity, and into the past conduct of the Catholic bishops and clergy.
I think, Sir, on the whole, I may safely say, the more this question of a control over the Catholic bishops is examined, the more evident it will appear, that it is somewhat unreasonable to keep the whole Catholic body excluded from the full enjoyment of equal laws, because they think that no such control is necessary. I think, also, that I may safely say, that it is even still more unreasonable, not only to continue this exclusion, but to be angry with the Catholics for asking it without conditions, because the necessity of this control should be certainly proved before any offence can justly be taken with them—and I think I may further say, that as the question at present stands, between those who claim the control, and those who are unwilling to agree to it, both justice and expediency require the claim 479 should be abandoned altogether. Feeling, Sir, the great and only obstacle in the way of the success of my motion to be the very prevalent opinion that arrangements for giving this control to the Crown should be required as an indisputable condition for giving the constitution to the Catholics, I have endeavoured to obtain a re-consideration, by what I have said, of the grounds on which that opinion is formed, with the confident hope, that, if even I may fail in bringing others to think as I do on the subject, I may contribute to induce them to require no such plan of arrangements as shall arouse the jealousy and alarm the religious scruples of the Catholics; my great and only object being, in all I have advanced, to do every thing that lies in my power to produce an approximation of feeling, and to lead to the mutual conciliation of those who now so ardently press arrangements, and those who are so equally warm in refusing to grant them.
If, Sir, the House shall think proper to adopt my motion for going into a committee, I shall move in it those resolutions which I communicated to the House on a recent occasion. I feel great pleasure in being able to say, that I have received very strong testimony of the utility of making those resolutions public. I learn from Ireland, that some very learned Protestants say, they are simple, temperate and practicable—and that others more violent admit they remove much objection to the measure of Emancipation, by showing that the Catholics do not seek any provision for endowing the Catholic clergy with tythes, giving them a permanent establishment for building chapels. I am told by Catholics of this country, that the publication of them has been of the greatest service to their cause; and they certainly are the best opinion, as being the best judges of their own interests. I trust also, that some members of this House, who have called for a distinct and final statement of what it is the Catholics solicit, will acknowledge that I have acted right in complying with their wishes. The model on which these resolutions have been framed, is the Irish Act of 1793. There is nothing in them either of claim or of expression, which may not be supported on that precedent.
The House having already voted the principle of the expediency of removing all disqualifications, it is unnecessary to call upon it to vote that principle again, and 480 therefore the resolutions have been framed, so as to bring under the consideration of the House the several matters of detail which are wanting to give that principle full effect. Of the eight Resolutions, three are calculated for reinstating the Catholics in the rights justly and naturally appertaining to free subjects; and five are framed for removing specified hardships respecting the Catholic clergy—schools, education, marriages, and worship. The first provides that Catholics may hold, acquire, and dispose of property, landed and personal, as freely as Protestants. The law now prescribes as a precedent condition, that they shall publicly, in open court, take and read aloud, and solemnly subscribe the oaths and declarations of 1774 and 1793, and obtain a certificate of their qualification, and be obliged at all times to preserve and produce such certificate as their protection. If a Catholic shall happen to neglect (through ignorance, inadvertence, or infirmity) to perform this condition, all his landed property, beyond farms of thirty-one years, and held at rents not less than two-thirds of the full yearly value, is liable to be confiscated at the suit of what is called a Protestant Discoverer, under the Act of Anne. A suit of this sort took place not many years ago, by which an attempt was made to set aside a will of a surgeon M'Evoy, by one of his brothers, who conformed for that purpose. The second Resolution places Catholics upon an equal footing with their fellow-subjects, respecting the elective franchise. By the present law, English Catholics cannot vote for members of Parliament; but Irish Catholics may do so upon condition of taking the oaths of 1774 and 1793. Now, the elective franchise, being a right appendant to the enjoyment of freehold property, ought to pass freely with the property. The eighth Resolution gives admission to Catholics to Parliament and to all offices of trust, honour, or profit, in the service of their country. Its effect, if passed into a law, will be that of restoring religious freedom in principle and practice to the Catholic people of the British empire. The rights sought by these three Resolutions stand upon the broad principle of equal benefits, equal duties, and equal protection for all subjects, the true principle of the British constitution; and this principle must be infringed if any office under the Crown be accessible to one class, and inaccessible to the other, 481 or if any condition of a civil nature be imposed upon the one, which is not imposed upon the other—or if any religious test, incompatible with private conscience, is imposed upon either. The remaining five resolutions relate wholly to freedom and security of worship, protection of the clergy, forms of marriage, facilities of education, and the like objects, to which even the most fierce opponents of the civil rights of the Catholics may safely accede. In respect to the Resolution for securing to soldiers their own worship, I have received a paper this morning that will serve to show how necessary it is to make some legal provision on this head. It was posted upon a Catholic chapel in Cork last Sunday se'nnight. It mentions a case of a soldier of the city of Cork militia having been forced to go to the Established Church, and goes directly to stop all recruiting. This document proves the General Order of the Duke of York to be, as I have before in this place said it would prove, wholly insufficient—and that, if you mean to recruit your army in Ireland, you must pass a law on the subject.
I think I have a right to say that my motion ought to be acceded to for going into a committee, if it was only in order to pass such a law. I also feel that I have a right to expect the votes of many distinguished members; of you, Sir, even if you should become capable of voting, from the admissions that were made in the debates of the session of 1813; for of all that is asked in the Resolutions I have to propose, the whole has been conceded as fit to be given, except seats in Parliament, and a few of the very highest offices in the state. It will, I know, be objected to these Resolutions, that they contain no provision for what is called Protestant securities. This is very true; but although they contain no such provision, if they are adopted and passed into a law, it will be a law confirming the very best possible security to the Protestant establishments; the British connexion and the British constitution: because it will give the most complete satisfaction to the Catholics, draw forth the most enthusiastic gratitude, and rivet their affections for ever to the prosperity and preservation of the British empire. This will be the certain consequence of unqualified emancipation; why, then, risk the immeasurable value of such an acquisition, by bartering about ecclesiastical arrange- 482 ments? If in proportion that you gain control over the appointment of the bishops, you diminish the value of the boon of emancipation, you do the state no good by granting it—and, if you hazard the whole value of the boon by seeking this contest, you may actually do it harm; when a sound policy would secure the greatest prize this empire could now receive, the real union of its whole people. I shall now conclude by moving,
"That this House will resolve itself into a committee of the whole House, to take into its consideration the state of the laws affecting his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects."
§ Sir J. C. Hippisley
said, that he could not reconcile himself to a silent vote on the present occasion, having long exercised all the best faculties of his mind in the consideration of the general subject with which the motion of the hon. baronet was so intimately connected. He regretted he had not been in his place when the Petition, stated to be that of the English Catholics, was presented, as he should certainly have called the attention of the House to it; and, indeed, he was satisfied, that there were scarcely two names of English Catholics of weight and consideration in the country to be found among the signatures. As to unqualified concession, such as was contended for in all the petitions which had been presented on the same subject during the present session, his views of the question had ever been opposed to it. Restrictions operating against the encroachment of a foreign jurisdiction, such for instance, as the Roman curia, were consistent with the soundest and most equitable policy. We had only to look to the pages of history—to the municipal regulations of every state where they could be found judiciously interwoven with their civil and ecclesiastical jurisprudence. In the important document under the signature of a great ecclesiastical functionary of the See of Home, and which had been laid on the table of the House—the Letter of Monsignor Quarantotti*—this principle* Translation of a Letter from Monsignor Quarantotti, to the Right Reverend Dr. Poynter, V. A.Most Illustrious and Right Reverend Lord;With great pleasure we have learned, that a Bill, for the emancipation of the483 was admitted as a rational object to be contended for;—at that period, namely, in the absence of the present Pope, that pre-Catholics of your flourishing kingdom from penal laws, which was proposed in the last year, and lost by a small minority, may probably be again presented in this session of Parliament. It is our ardent wish, that this Act, so much desired, may at length be passed; and that the Catholics, who have ever given such distinguished proofs of their obedience and fidelity, may at length be delivered from the heavy yoke by which they have so long been oppressed; and that, without any detriment to their honours or estates, they may give full scope to those exertions, which both religion and the good of their country require of them. And this may be surely expected from your most beneficent Sovereign, and from that illustrious nation, which, on former occasions, and especially in these latter times, has acquired so much glory in the estimation of the whole world for its equity, prudence, and other virtues. And, since it has been represented, that among the bishops certain questions and differences have arisen, relative to the conditions on which the Catholics are to be placed on an equality with their fellow-subjects—We who, in the absence of the Supreme Pastor, are placed over the concerns of the sacred missions; and, for that purpose, are invested with full pontifical powers; have thought it incumbent on us to remove every ambiguity and obstacle which might impede so desirable a conciliation; and, by the authority and consent of the Holy See, to supply such faculties as do not come within the ordinary limits of episcopal jurisdiction. Having, therefore, taken the advice of the most learned prelates and divines; having examined the letters which have been transmitted to us both by your lordship and the archbishop of Dublin; and the matter having been maturely discussed in a special congregation; it is decreed, that the Catholics may, with satisfaction and gratitude, accept and embrace the Bill which was last year presented for their emancipation, in the form in which your lordship has laid it before us. One point only requires some explanation; and that is, the second part of the Oath, by which the clergy is so restrained, as not to be permitted to hold any correspondence with the Sovereign Pontiff and484 late was invested with all the authority of the Ecclesiastical Government, and before issuing that rescript he had called tohis ministers, which may, directly or indirectly, subvert, or in any way disturb, the Protestant Government or Church. It is evidently by divine authority, the special duty of the ministers of the Church, every where, to propagate the Catholic faith (the only faith which can lead to eternal felicity), and to refute erroneous doctrines. This is taught by the precepts of the gospel, and by the example of the apostles and their successors. Now, should a Catholic convert any Protestant to the orthodox religion, he might be deemed guilty of perjury; as, by such conversion, he might seem, in some sort, to disturb the Protestant Church. Understood in this sense, the oath cannot lawfully be taken, as being repugnant to the Catholic Faith. If, on the other hand, this be the meaning of the legislators—that the ministers of the Catholic Church are not forbidden to preach, instruct, and give counsel, but are only prohibited from-disturbing the Protestant Church or Government by violence and arms, or evil artifices of whatever kind; this is just, and entirely consonant to our principles.To you, therefore, it belongs, with all humility and earnestness, to supplicate the high court of Parliament, that in order to quiet and secure the consciences of the Catholic Clergy, it will affix some modification or declaration to this clause in the oath, which, removing every ambiguity, may leave them the liberty peacefully to preach and to persuade. In case the Bill be already passed, containing the same words, or that nothing in it is allowed to be altered, let the Clergy acquiesce; and it will be sufficient for them publicly to declare, that this, and this only, is the sense in which they have sworn to it, so that nothing in the oath may be adverse to orthodox doctrine; and, that this protest may be generally known, and be for an example to posterity, this construction of it shall be publicly recorded. It were to be wished, likewise, if it can be obtained, that a declaration should be made by some of the members of Parliament, that Government requires the oath from the Catholic Clergy in this sense, and no other. Other clauses, which you mention as contained in the same Bill, may be submitted to by the indulgence of the Apostolic See.485 his aid four or five prelates of the greatest eminence then at Rome, who had also been engaged in considerable depart-That the King should desire to be certified of the loyalty of such as are promoted to a bishoprick or deanery, and should be assured that they are endowed with such qualities as become a good subject; that, to investigate these particulars, he should likewise appoint a committee to inquire into their moral conduct, and make a report to his Majesty, as your lordship has given us to understand is the case: that for the very same reason, the King should require that foreigners, and those likewise who have not resided five years in the kingdom, should be excluded from such dignities—all this, as it regards only what is within the competence of civil authority, may be deserving of every toleration. It is highly proper that our prelates should be agreeable and acceptable to the King; that they should exercise their ministry with his full consent; in fine, that their probity should be evident even to those who are not in the bosom of the Church. For a bishop (as the Apostle teaches, 1st Epistle to Timothy, iii. 7.) must have a good testimony from them who are without. On these accounts, by the authority vested in us, we allow that those who are designed for a bishoprick or deanery, and are proposed by the clergy, be admitted or rejected by the King, according to the proposed Bill. Therefore, after the clergy have, in the usual manner, chosen those whom they shall have judged in the Lord to be worthy to be exalted to those dignities, in Ireland the metropolitan of the province, in England and Scotland the senior apostolical vicar, shall announce them to the committee for the Royal approbation or dissent. If the candidates be rejected, others shall be proposed, who may be pleasing to his Majesty; but, if approved, the metropolitan or apostolical vicar, as above, shall send the act of their election to this sacred Congregation, which, having weighed with care the merits of each individual, shall apply to the Sovereign Pontiff for canonical institution. We observe, likewise, that it is the office of the said committee to examine any letters which are sent to any of the clergy of Great Britain from the Ecclesiastical Powers, and diligently to inquire whether any thing be contained therein which may be obnoxious to the Government, or in486 ments of the old Ecclesiastical Government, and who concurred in the recognition of the principles of restriction which haveany way disturb the public tranquillity. Since communication with the head of the Church in spiritual and ecclesiastical concerns is not prohibited, but the inspection of the committee regards only matters of civil policy, this likewise ought to be acquiesced in. It is good that the Government should not entertain any suspicion concerning our communications.What we write can be laid open to all; for in no way do we interfere with, civil concerns: our attention is directed to those things only which appear to be required by the divine and ecclesiastical law, and by the salutary regulations of church discipline. Those matters only shall be kept secret, which affect the internal tribunal of conscience; but for this we see it is sufficiently provided by the clauses inserted in the said Bill: and we are well persuaded that your wise Government, while it is intent on preserving public security, will, by no means, exact that the Catholics should depart from their religion: nay, is rather pleased that they faithfully adhere to it; for this holy and divine religion is friendly to public authority, gives stability to thrones, and makes subjects obedient, faithful, and emulous of their country's welfare. Nothing, therefore, can be more gratifying and delightful to the Apostolic See, than that between the Government and its Catholic subjects there should exist an entire concord and a mutual confidence; that the ministers of the state should never be able to doubt their loyalty, obedience, and attachment; and that the Catholics themselves should be devoted to their country with every effort of zeal, candour, and alacrity. We therefore exhort all, in the name of the Lord, and especially the bishops, to lay aside contention; and, for the edification of others, unanimously to adopt the same sentiments, that there may be no room for schism, nor any injury be done to the Catholic cause: but that, if the Bill shall be passed, by which, the Catholics shall be freed from the penal restrictions by which they are now held, they not only embrace it with entire satisfaction, as has already been said, but express the strongest sentiments of gratitude to his Majesty and his most august council, for so great a benefit; and, by their conduct, prove themselves worthy of487 been so pertinaciously resisted by the Irish Catholic Board. The hon. baronet then adverted to the Resolutions of the Irish Catholic Bishops in 1799, * whichit. In conclusion, we request of your lordship, that you will cause this letter to be communicated to all the bishops and apostolical vicars in the kingdom: and, trusting that they will promptly and entirely conform themselves to these things, which from the power vested in us have been decreed, we beseech the Lord God Omnipotent to preserve your lordship for length of years; and, at the same time, I profess myself bound to you by every consideration, and amYour most devoted Servant,J. B. QUARANTOTTI, Vice-President.MICHAEL ADEODATUS GALEASSI,Substitute.Given at Rome from the Chambers of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, 16th February, 1814.* Copy of the Resolutions of the Roman Catholic Prelates, assembled at Dublin on the 17th, 18th and 19th of January, 1799;—transmitted to the Chief Secretary of Ireland.At a meeting of the Roman Catholic Prelates, held in Dublin the 17th, 18th and 19th of January 1799, to deliberate on a proposal, from Government, of an independent provision for the Roman Catholic Clergy of Ireland, under certain regulations not incompatible with their doctrines, discipline, or just influence—It was admitted, That a provision through Government for the Roman Catholic Clergy of this kingdom, competent and secured, ought to be thankfully accepted.That in the appointment of the prelates of the Roman Catholic religion to vacant sees within the kingdom, such interference of Government as may enable it to be satisfied of the loyalty of the person appointed, is just, and ought to be agreed to.That to give this principle its full operation, without infringing the discipline of the Roman Catholic Church, or diminishing the religious influence which prelates of that church ought justly to possess over their respective flocks, the following Regulations seem necessary:1. In the vacancy of a see, the, clergy of the diocese to recommend, as488 also bad been presented and laid on the table of the House, signed by the four metropolitans and six senior bishops; in which they agreed to the measuresusual, a candidate to the prelates of the ecclesiastical province, who elect him or any other they may think more worthy, by a majority of suffrages; in the case of equality of suffrages, the metropolitan or senior prelate to have the casting vote.2. In the election of a metropolitan, if the provincial prelates do not agree within two months after the vacancy, the senior prelate shall forthwith invite the surviving metropolitans to the election, in which each will then have a vote; in the equality of suffrages, the presiding metropolitan to have a casting vote.3. In these elections, the majority of suffrages must be ultra medietatem, as the canons require, or must consist of the suffrages of more than half the electors.4. The candidates so selected, to be presented by the president of the election to Government, which, within one month, after such presentation, will transmit the name of the said candidate, if no objection be made against him, for appointment to the Holy See, or return the said name to the president of the election, for such, transmission, as may be agreed on.5. If Government have any proper objection against such candidate, the president of the election will be informed thereof within one month after presentation, who in that case will convene the electors to the election of another candidate.Agreeably to the discipline of the Roman Catholic Church, these regulations can have no effect without the sanction of the Holy See; which sanction the Roman Catholics of this kingdom shall, as soon as may be, use their endeavours to procure.The Prelates are satisfied that the nomination of parish priests, with a certificate of their having taken the oath of allegiance, be certified to Government.(Signed) RICHARD O'REILLY.489 reprobated by the Catholics of the present day. When he had first alluded, in the House, to the subject of the restoration of the Jesuits, an attempt was made to turn his apprehensions into ridicule; it was now in evidence that those apprehensions were but too well founded. The example of Russia, which had been quoted as authority, was not applicable to this country; for when Catharine, for her own purposes, gave an asylum to the Jesuits in her dominions, she took care that the Greek priests of the National Church, should have the charge of the religious education of all who were not Catholics, in the colleges of the Jesuits: and he had been assured from the best authority, that there was not a single instance of any convert having been made in their colleges from the Greek to that of the Roman Communion. The hon. baronet then referred to the Bill, which had appeared in most of the Dublin newspapers, which was intended to be brought in by his hon. friend (sir H. Parnell) if successful in the previous measure. The preamble of that Bill stated, that it was just and expedient that his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects should be restored to their just rights, and to all the privileges of the British Constitution. He contended against the principle of right; and that to whatever new privileges they were admitted, they were to be considered as concessions of civil policy, not as rights to be demanded. It had been said, that this measure would have the effect of conciliating four or five millions of Catholics. It might be so—but the hon. baronet had not told them what description of persons were likely, thereby, not to be conciliated. Were there not from twelve to fourteen millions of subjects who would consider such concessions to the Catholics with a very jealous eye? And did not the hon. baronet know that even his own conduct was reprobated by the Catholics themselves, and that he was reproached in every newspaper? Was he not called the tool of ministers, of lukewarm friends, or of decided enemies? so little was his own measure to the taste of those for whom he stood forward as the advocate. With respect to the oath, in the resolutions proposed by the hon. baronet, it was in a great measure abrogated as a security, for it was to be taken only by those who held places and offices of trust. He remarked, that if the Catholics would be at the trouble to turn to the pages of their history, 490 they would find that their Catholic ancestors had most zealously contended for securities against the Pope's authority in England; and even the bigoted Mary left on our Statute Book all those securities enacted prior to the 20th of Henry 8.—With respect to a select committee, although he almost despaired of inducing the House to agree to its appointment, still, he could assure them, he felt a strong conviction in his mind, that no other course of proceeding could possibly have any adequate effect in settling this important question; nor could he see any sound objection to the adoption of that mode of investigation, which indeed preceded their decision on almost every great measure. When an alteration in the Corn Laws was contemplated (among the innumerable instances), the subject was referred to a select committee: indeed there was scarcely any material question that came under the consideration of the House, on which they had not resorted to the report of a select committee for their instruction. But on this multitudinous subject, when they were called on to make so wide a departure from the principles established by their ancestors—when they were told by some, that the measure would bring five or six millions of our population within the pale of the constitution—when so large a mass of the people regarded these claims as matter of right, and others considered them merely as concessions of policy—they were ready to proceed without information, except what was derived from the loose debates to which, at different times, it had given rise. Let the House look to the proceedings of 1813. Was there, at that time, a paper relative to this subject on the table, with the exception of those documents which, on his own motions, had been placed there? And he conceived it to be his duty to apprise the House, that he would follow up the course he had commenced, by moving for papers of a similar description, till the want of information was so far removed: yet all this would fall far short of the report of a well-constituted committee. He called therefore for adequate inquiry, and he could not support any measure which fell short of attaining that great object. Viewing this subject in all its different lights and bearings, he did not mean to oppose going into the committee; at the same time that he could not actively support the motion for that purpose. He should act thus, because, although he did 491 not think the motion could answer any useful purpose, he knew, if he opposed it, that he would be considered as having resisted inquiry. Many of the resolutions which the hon. baronet informed them he meant to propose in the committee, were, in his opinion, so much at issue with many of those great principles which were connected with the very vitality of the constitution, that the introduction of such resolutions as the basis of enactment, without adequate inquiry, could never be consistently countenanced. He was averse from opposing any discussion that might lead to useful information; but, when he saw those Petitions on the table, copied one from another, praying for unqualified emancipation—when he knew the feelings and opinions of the most respectable and sober-minded Roman Catholics were averse from the tone of those Petitions, as he had it in his power to prove—those individuals being ready to agree to certain restrictions with respect to the nomination of bishops, as constituting that barrier, which was one that might be advantageously raised against the encroachments of the see of Rome—knowing and weighing these circumstances, he could see no adequate good likely to accrue from the motion: yet, for the reasons he had assigned, he would not oppose going into the committee.
- J. S. TROY.
- EDWARD DILLON.
- THOMAS BRAY.
- P. J. PLUNKETT.
- J. MOYLAN.
- DANIEL DELANY.
- EDMUND FRENCH.
- JAMES CAULFIELD.
- JOHN CRUISE."
said, it was not his intention to detain the House for any great length of time, and he certainly meant to avoid going into a general detail of the principles connected with this subject, which did not appear to him to be necessary for the decision of the present question. He could not help expressing some surprise at the conclusion of the hon. baronet's speech. He had, in a very clear and distinct manner, stated his objections to the resolutions; and having pointed out, in terms which he would not attempt to describe, the danger to be apprehended from unqualified emancipation, he concluded his speech in a way which undoubtedly excited his astonishment, by declaring that he did not mean to oppose going into the committee. On this he would not dictate—he would leave it to the hon. baronet to reconcile the inconsistency which was observable between the general tenour of his speech, and his resolution to abstain from opposing the motion: but this he would say, that if every gentleman acted as the hon. baronet meant to do, the very dangers which he 492 apprehended were likely to be visited on them, against the conviction of their better judgment. Now, he would ask, what part of the House were likely to support the present motion? None of those who opposed the committee in 1813 were now likely to change their opinion. With respect to those (and he believed they were not very numerous) who, at all hazards, were ready to give the Catholics what they required, they, of course, would raise their voices in defence of the present motion. But those who voted for the resolution of 1813, and supported the Bill brought in subsequently, because it comprised a number of restrictive provisions, could not, consistently, vote for the motion of the hon. baronet. What was the measure which received their support? It was a measure, strictly speaking, of restriction. The Bill was full of restrictions, and was drawn in the most cautious way, with respect to the securities which were deemed necessary. Many gentlemen, indeed he might say nearly all who supported it, voted for the Bill on this principle—that it was a measure fortified by restrictions; and his noble friend (lord Castlereagh) did, in his forcible speech on that occasion, most pointedly refer to the necessity of restrictions. His noble friend at that time stated, that "minor points of concession, which appeared necessary, he would immediately grant if he thought they would produce satisfaction; but, where matters of high importance to the empire were demanded, he would look for securities—such securities as would afford better safety to the Church and the State, than those which were then in existence." On that principle he understood his noble friend to have supported the Bill. It was not merely, then, a measure of security, and artificially drawn for that purpose, but it was conceded, with a general view to the conciliating of all classes of his Majesty's subjects. If the proposition formerly made to them embraced two objects, security and conciliation, what was the nature of that which was then before them? If the question were taken up under existing circumstances, was there any hope of conciliating all the Protestants of England and Ireland? Was there even a hope that the Catholics themselves would be conciliated, when it was known that great differences of opinion existed between the English Catholics and those of Ireland, with respect to the safeguards to be given 493 against the power of the See of Rome? The petitions on the table all proceeded on the same principle—they called for full and unrestricted emancipation—but they did not speak the sentiments of all the Roman Catholics. Many of the petitions were couched in the very same words as that presented by the hon. baronet from Sheffield. One of them concluded by praying, that 'Freedom may be granted, unaccompanied by securities, and unfettered by restrictions:' and another, though it did not go to that length, yet gave not the slightest hope of any interference being permitted in the nomination of Roman Catholic bishops. Now, he could not go over these petitions, without making a few remarks on some of their expressions. The petitioners frequently talked of the 'constitution having been matured by our Catholic ancestors;' an observation very common also in the speeches of those who supported unrestricted emancipation. They exclaim, 'Why should you not grant their claims? The ancestors of the Petitioners matured the constitution, and they themselves have fought the battle of our common country with great valour and with great success?' Now, as to a claim founded on their ancestors having matured the British constitution, Parliament might, with equal justice, be petitioned to extend the benefits of that constitution to Pagans as to Roman Catholics; for he would maintain, that the constitution was derived from their Teutonic and German ancestors, and not from those who claimed that merit in the petitions on the table. 'The Constitution,' say they, 'was matured by the patriots and kings of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.' If this were so, it must have been by the last of, them, and these were Henry 8 and queen Mary. He supposed it was intended to be argued that the constitution was improved by those patriotic sovereigns Henry 8 and queen Mary. When they asked for the full enjoyment of the blessings of the constitution; and, at the same time gave to their Roman Catholic progenitors the merit of having, as the phrase was, matured it, they appeared to him not to know precisely what they were requesting.—He should now advert to the Resolutions which, according to every statement of the hon. baronet, formed, essentially, a part of the petition of the Roman Catholics. He begged gentlemen to compare those Resolutions with the Bill which they had 494 supported last year. There were some of those Resolutions of a very inoffensive nature. He had no hesitation in saying, if the Roman Catholics of Great Britain and Ireland suffered any grievances from the circumstances alluded to in the first Resolution, either with respect to their estates, or with reference to their marriages, he would, if the hon. baronet brought in a bill connected with these subjects, not only not oppose it, but give it his support. He had no objection to give to the Roman Catholics, in the shape of concession, every thing necessary for the full and complete possession of their estates; and he would equally concede to them whatever was wanting for the perfect exercise of their ordinary rights. These Resolutions, however, seemed to be put forth in the front of the battle, to conceal the material Resolution which appeared near the end—and which went to give the Roman Catholics every thing, while nothing was allowed by them, in return, but an oath. The Bill of 1813 was originally drawn with some restrictions, as to offices—in its progress, several others were added—and nothing was to be given to the Roman Catholics, except with a view to three great leading points, on which the hon. baronet had touched. These points his noble friend (lord Castlereagh) and others had insisted on. The points were: 1st, That the Crown should have a power of interfering with the transmission of Bulls, Rescripts, &c. from Rome to these countries, as was admitted in all other states: 2d, That, except private confessions between Roman Catholics in the United Empire and the See of Rome, no transaction should take place, to come at a knowledge of which, by the Government, some means did not exist: and 3d, That an effectual control of the Crown, in the nomination of bishops, should be provided for; in order that the Crown might know, before the appointment of any bishop, whether he was fit to be invested with so extensive a power. In the Bill now handed about, and, as stated by the hon. baronet who spoke last, founded on the Resolutions which had been recently read to the House, there was not a single word on these subjects. How, then, was it possible to entertain the present motion? Was there any probability whatever of getting through the business satisfactorily, in the existing state of things? The hon. baronet stated, that when he had thrown the Resolutions on the table, those Resolutions 495 forming the heads of the Bill which had been drawn up by the petitioners, the House might, forsooth, do what it pleased with them. But then came the question, How are you to please the petitioners? Surely they must have heard of the conduct pursued by them in their public meetings. He would not repeat the language which they used on those occasions, but it certainly seemed to breathe an inveterate hostility to British connexion. One of them, Mr. O'Connel, was a gentleman doubtless of high respectability; but when he pushed his pretensions so far as to claim a descent from the ancient monarchs of Ireland, it became ludicrous. They might as well go bark to the kings of the Heptarchy, or to the monarchs of Scotland or of Wales, and seek a spurious dignity, by claiming them as ancestors. If gentlemen consented to eat their own words, which they would do, by passing these Resolutions, after what they had before agreed to, so far from conciliating that class of persons to whom he had alluded, they would, in fact, only treat the boon with contempt. He knew not how his noble friend (lord Castlereagh) could agree to the proposition now made. He never would go so far as his noble friend was probably inclined to go—he never would entertain this question, with regard to concessions of great moment, till he was perfectly aware of what the See of Home meant to do. Till they knew that, they were proceeding in the dark. In the present state of the Catholic mind, he could not conceive how they could give any security for the concessions the House might be induced to grant, until they were apprised of what the See of Rome would suffer to be done, with reference to ecclesiastical points. He should be glad to learn of his noble friend what had been effected with reference to these points: he should be glad to know whether any understanding had been come to on them; and, if so, how far the Roman Catholics would be allowed to concede matters, connected with their religion, which at present formed the great obstacles to the securities which he conceived necessary. He believed, not only that nothing additional had been recently done, but that that which had been formerly effected by the College de propaganda fide, if not revoked by the Pope, was at all events sent back for consideration ad referendum. He did expect that his holiness would, before this, sui juris, have made some disclosure, ex cathedrâ, on 496 these subjects, to his flock in Great Britain and Ireland. Up to that moment, however, he was convinced nothing had been done; and such were the differences between the Catholics of England and Ireland, that intrigues, he believed, were carrying on at Rome, by the missionaries of the respective bodies, with, a view to prevent the present Pope from coming to any opinion on the disputed points. Till those points were definitively-settled, he would not consent to stir a step.—The right hon. gentleman then made a few observations on the oath attached to the Resolutions, which he objected to, because the most material parts of the oath inserted in the Bill of 1813 were omitted—and concluded by observing, that they could not, by entertaining the present motion, do any practical good; the utmost effect of the proceeding would be, to keep the business afloat, and to create a strong irritation throughout the country, as had been the case in the session before the last.
§ Mr. Knox
said, that as it was his intention to oppose the motion of the hon. baronet, be felt it necessary shortly to state to the House the reasons which induced him to do so. No measure would do more to strengthen the connexion between Great Britain and Ireland, than that of giving to the Roman Catholics the full extent of the privileges of the constitution: but he was sure that Parliament would never agree to any measure of that kind, without ample provision was made, to prevent any foreign or papal influence. Though it had not been, nor could it be expected, that there should be a universal approval, by the great body of the Catholics, of the measures adopted to ameliorate their situation, yet it was necessary that there should be a pretty general assent, otherwise any plan agreed upon by Parliament would be attended with no effect. In 1813, he entertained a hope, that this business would have been finally adjusted. He thought there appeared, amongst the several parties in Ireland, a willingness to come to proper arrangements. All the objections, it was then hoped, might have been removed by the concurrence of the Pope in certain propositions. As he had shown considerable liberality, he thought his holiness would not refuse to do something for that important part of his flock, the Catholics of Ireland. With this hope, he agreed lo the Bill of 1813. But, however flattering the prospect then was, it 497 had since altogether vanished. The Roman Catholics seemed now more deter mined than ever in their resistance to the just demands of the Protestants for security. They had refused, on a late occasion, to concede the Veto, even when it was proved that the Pope agreed to it. An hon. baronet had alluded to the Rescript of Monseigneur Quarantotti. How was that Rescript received? Not with pleasure and gratitude, as the removal of the only bar against what the Roman Catholics demanded. No; it was rejected with disdain: the person who brought it was held up to detestation, and even the character of the Pope was not spared. He was accused of having acted from sinister motives. When, however, objections drawn from the nature of their religion failed, those who did not wish the matter to be set at rest, had recourse to points of a civil description. Much stress was laid on the danger of increasing the influence of the Crown, if in its hands were placed any control over the election of bishops. This was an objection which might as well have been advanced by a Protestant as by a Roman Catholic. While the objection to the Veto could answer the purposes of the Catholic leaders, they made use of it; but when the Pope seemed to agree to that measure, they turned round to seek for other sources of discontent; and, he believed, they succeeded in finding them. Those leaders had no view whatever, either in what they had done, or in what they were doing, but to keep alive a question that irritated the public mind, and created sedition and disaffection. Without being afraid of any charge of inconsistency, he would vote against the motion; and he would do so under the thorough conviction, that it was impossible, at the present time, to produce any measure on this subject, to which Parliament ought to consent, and which would conciliate all the parties who would be affected by it. He would ask any gentleman, whether the least hope existed of producing a measure, that would satisfy the Roman Catholics, during their present most degrading and disgraceful subserviency to those men who exercised such a decided domination over them? Was there any hope of procuring those securities from the Catholics, which Parliament would always insist on? What object, then, could they attain by going into the committee? Would they grant a bill, founded on the Resolutions read by 498 the hon. baronet? If they would not, the House well knew that the Roman Catholics would accept of no measure which fell short of that. The warmest friend and advocate of the Catholic cause could not possibly gain any thing by this proceeding. On the contrary, if they acceded to the motion, it would have the effect of injuring the cause; because it would render their leaders more violent and unruly. They would say, "As Parliament have not refused, to entertain your claims, persevere with the same spirit you have lately manifested, and you will be sure to succeed." But if the House refused to go into the committee, the Roman Catholics would soon abandon those designing men, who were blighting their hopes, and the hopes of their posterity, and they would be glad to come to Parliament, and ask for that as a boon, which they now claimed as a right—that the ancient establishments of this country should be altered for their benefit.
Mr. Maurice Fitzgerald
observed, that the right hon. gentleman who spoke last from the other side of the House (Mr. Yorke), had very properly abstained from discussing the principle of this question. He should follow his example, though not for the reason stated by the right hon. gentleman, who seemed to think that a majority of the House was not capable of changing their opinion. He could not agree to such a proposition as this, when he recollected, in the early discussions on this question, the immense majorities which were arrayed against it. Those majorities gradually diminished; and, on the last discussion, a great majority appeared in favour of emancipation. He was sure, therefore, that, there was no set of men in that House, so insensible to reason, to justice, to the principles of the British constitution itself, as to withhold from a great body of their fellow-subjects, those rights to which they were intitled, merely because they had been long deprived of them. He contended that the right hon. gentleman had entirely misunderstood the preamble of the Bill, which he had read to the House. The words of the preamble were, "It is just and expedient that the Catholic inhabitants of these realms be restored to the free enjoyment of the rights and benefits of the constitution." They did not say that they had a right to those immunities; but they claimed, from the wisdom of Parliament, that they should be allowed those privileges which the 499 constitution held to be the right of loyal subjects. This was a fair explanation of the preamble; on a misconstruction of which the right hon. gentleman called on them to reject the motion. He hoped the House would view the matter in a different light; and he trusted, notwithstanding what had fallen from the hon. gentleman who spoke last, they would see, that, if they rejected the present motion, they would act inconsistently with their former vote. The right hon. gentleman argued, that, at this late period of the session, they could not entertain the measure, so as to give effect to any object connected with the question. But he had himself answered this assertion; for he admitted, that, on some points, he was ready to grant relief immediately. When this measure was examined in a committee of the whole House, in all its bearings, a bill might perhaps be the result, in the provisions of which the right hon. gentleman himself might concur. But, even if no specific measure arose from the consideration of the question, it would afford an opportunity of embodying the views of gentlemen on the subject, and it could be allowed to stand over till the next session. None of the arguments of the gentlemen who had opposed the motion, went to prove that great benefit would not be derived from granting the committee. They spoke of the language of the petitioners out of doors; but surely it was not on such a foundation that Parliament would proceed to legislate! There was a petition from a very large body of persons before the House, calling for a participation in the rights of the constitution; and it was no answer to the petitioners to say, "You have misconducted yourselves elsewhere!" The question was, "Is there any thing offensive in that petition?" The parties, it was said, called for unrestricted, unqualified emancipation. But, by doing so, did they interfere with the decision of Parliament? They set forth the extent of their own hopes—they gave the most enlarged range to their application—they told the House what they expected—but they did not do it in the way of dictation. When his hon. friend laid the resolutions before the House, it was not to control their judgment. No; it was for the purpose of putting Parliament and the country in possession of the fullest extent to which the strongest advocates for emancipation wished to go. It was necessary that every thing should be understood— 500 that nothing should remain behind for future discussion. Indeed, it was a complaint frequently made, on former discussions, that the whole subject was not fairly brought forward, but that much business of importance remained for after-consideration, since no person could tell how far the Roman Catholics were willing to go. It was undoubtedly necessary to know what securities would be given for the safety of the establishments of the country; but it was essential, before they went into the committee, that the whole extent of the demand should be clearly explained. He regretted to find that an hon. baronet (sir J. C. Hippisley) seemed within a short time to have changed his sentiments. At first he had appeared a warm friend of the Catholics; but, from some unaccountable circumstance, he had altered his opinion, and now opposed all concessions under all circumstances. The two hon. gentlemen who had preceded him, spoke of the manner in which the Veto had been received by the Roman Catholics, as a good reason for not considering the question at all. On this point he must observe, that he understood a person was now coming from Rome, who was the bearer of a document, which he thought would prove extremely gratifying when known to the British Government. The person to whom he alluded, was one of those who wished for conciliation; and, perhaps, such a communication might arrive as would do away many of those ecclesiastical difficulties, that at present surrounded the question. With respect to a Veto, his opinion remained totally unchanged. With respect to the feelings of the Catholics on this point, which was so nearly connected with their church, he should say nothing. It was a pure matter of conscience. But, as a Protestant, he disliked a Veto; which, if effectual, would give to a Protestant government a most dangerous and mischievous power. It would be the means of lending the patronage of the Catholic Church to the purpose of Protestant politicians; and this, he conceived, would be exceedingly dangerous. It would also have the effect of introducing sectaries amongst the Catholic clergy, who would endeavour to entice the people over to them, in the same way as similar causes had operated in the Protestant Church. Neither a difference of opinion on the subject of the Veto, nor on any other point, could be fairly advanced as an argument against going into the com- 501 mittee. It was futile to say, that no investigation should take place until every disputed point was disposed of.—The right hon. gentleman then strongly enforced the propriety of going immediately into the committee, as the first step towards forming such an arrangement, as would put an end to that irritation out of doors, of which gentlemen had complained so much. Whilst they left the claims of the Catholics open to discussion, a weapon was placed in the hands of those who were ardent in their cause, which they felt themselves obliged to use; but, if their claims were conceded, that weapon, which now did so much mischief, would fall harmless to the ground. It was the higher classes of Roman Catholics in England and Ireland—the nobility and gentry, whose conduct was allowed to be most meritorious—who were particularly anxious for relief; and would the House refuse to go into a committee, preparatory to granting them what they requested, because the lower orders, influenced by men of strong feelings, had over-leaped the bounds of moderation?—The right hon. gentleman then adverted to the circumstance of the petition having been transferred from the hands of Mr. Grattan; a circumstance which he deeply deplored. He knew, however, that it would not damp the vigour of his right hon. friend in supporting the cause of his Roman Catholic brethren, which he had so long and so ably advocated; and which, he hoped, he would yet see triumphant. He concluded by enforcing, in very pointed terms, the necessity of immediately entertaining the question, for the purpose of preventing farther irritation; and that the feelings, the wishes, and the views of all the subjects of this great empire might be incorporated into one.
§ Mr. Serjeant Best
said, he would not, for one, vote for the proposed committee, because he could not agree to concede to the Catholics of Ireland all they asked; and without such a concession, from the declaration of that body, it appeared they would accept of nothing. When this subject was formerly under the consideration of the House, the terms upon which concessions were to be made, as well as the extent of those concessions, were fully discussed, and he, for one, had stated his willingness to grant the Catholics the right of sitting in that House, however averse he might be to their holding the higher offices of state. This partial com- 502 pliance with their wishes was however rejected with contempt, and they now came to demand a full and unlimited acquiescence in all their views. That such a demand would be complied with on the part of the House, was not very likely; and he was satisfied, if the right hon. member for Liverpool Mr. Canning) was present, he would not give it his sanction any more than would another right hon. gentleman (Mr. Plunkett), who was also absent, and who had distinguished himself in advocating the Catholic cause. Was it to be expected, he would ask, that gentlemen who had voted for giving to the Catholics of Ireland certain concessions with securities, would now vote the same concessions without securities? If the laws were unjust towards the Catholics, he conceived that injustice might be obviated by a short bill, without going into a committee to consider the whole claims of that body. It was not necessary to agitate the general question for the sake of obtaining a partial remedy. If the hon. baronet would bring in a bill for amending the defects in the existing laws respecting the Roman Catholics, he would most willingly give him his feeble support; but it was not because he agreed that the laws ought to be amended, that he therefore thought it was fit or necessary the House should agree to the proposed Resolutions. The question for consideration was one of expediency, and not of right; and because the petitioners had thought proper to claim as a right, that which depended upon the wisdom and policy of Parliament to grant, was a cogent reason for not complying with the hon. baronet's motion. Independent of this, however, the conduct of the whole Catholic body in Ireland had been such as to call forth the strongest reprobation, and indeed to lead to a conclusion, that their sole object in bringing forward the question in the shape in which it had been submitted to the House, was that their claims, should be rejected. There was now no qualified prayer for concession, but an absolute dictation of the terms which were to be granted, and which of itself afforded abundant reason why the House should refuse to deliberate, upon their petition. Before he could agree to such a deliberation, he must have an assurance of their willingness to give ample securities for whatever they might receive. He was far from believing, that the sentiments uttered by the hon. baronet who moved the resolutions that night, 503 were in unison with the principles of the Catholics of Ireland, or that their feelings were such as were cherished by good subjects of a Protestant state; and, for one, before he would grant them anything; he should require a clear explanation of many of the doctrines which they had promulgated. Foremost among these, he should require from Dr. Milner, one of the heads of their Church, an exposition of a passage in a pamphlet attributed to him, in which he laid it down as a maxim, that the arm of power might be legally raised against a heretic king. He should like to hear this doctrine disavowed. He did not mean to assert positively that such had been the language of Dr. Milner, but it had been published to the world as such; and before he entered into a general consideration of the Catholic claims, he should like to hear it confirmed or denied. He should also like to have some further intimation as to the power which his holiness the Pope was to hold over the Catholics of these countries; as, from a letter published, and alleged to be from the Court of Rome, it was stated, that oaths taken against the Church were null and void. It would be desirable to know what his holiness's sentiments were upon that point now. The hon. and learned serjeant concluded by observing, that as the Catholics had declared their intention to accept nothing but an unlimited concession of all they asked, it would be useless to go into the committee; he should therefore give his vote against it.
rose and said:—I have so frequently delivered my sentiments upon the Catholic claims, in former debates, that I do not think it necessary to enter at any length upon the subject this night, conceiving, as I do, that a repetition of my arguments would be as disgusting to the House, as irksome to myself. I shall therefore only offer a few reasons for the vote which I shall give for going into the committee. At the, same time I am ready to acknowledge, that the time and mode of introducing this subject is not the most judicious. In voting for going into the committee, in order to afford the House an opportunity of considering the question in all its bearings, however, I do not consider myself as bound, in the smallest degree, to any one of the Resolutions proposed by the hon. baronet. It would be a strange perversion of the ordinary course of parliamentary proceedings, if because in agreeing to a committee, it was known 504 that certain specific propositions were to be submitted in that committee, that those who had voted for the committee were of consequence to be bound to adopt those specific propositions. I apprehend the very reverse to be the case, for the essence and object of every committee is to examine, in detail, the subject which shall be submitted to their consideration; and without such examination they cannot, of course, be considered as giving those details their assent. The hon. and learned serjeant who spoke last has admitted, that relief to a certain extent is due to the Catholics of Ireland, and has expressed his readiness to give his aid towards introducing a bill for attaining this end—be, at the same time, however, utterly disapproves of any committee being formed. Now, if the hon. and learned serjeant had been at all acquainted with the usage of Parliament, he would have found that to introduce such a bill, without a committee, would be utterly impracticable, as the invariable rule is, to submit such questions to the consideration of a committee, before the House is moved for leave to bring in the bill. Insomuch, therefore, the hon. and learned gentleman's observations are favourable to the Resolutions before us. In voting for the committee, I hold myself as free to decide on the merits of the specific propositions to be discussed, as he who is determined to vote against them; but it is not because I disapprove of the conduct of the petitioners, that I am therefore to oppose the committee. The hon. and learned gentleman says, the Catholics, on this occasion, have come forward with positive demands, less than which will not satisfy them. I protest against being supposed in any degree pledged to what are called the demands of the Catholics. The question for consideration now, however, involves not merely the interests of the Catholics or the Protestants, but the freedom and the happiness and the welfare of the whole community. I cannot, because any particular individuals have been guilty of indiscretion, deny that which is due to the prosperity of the community at large. The Catholics may demand what they please; but no member is bound to concede more than he may think proper. It is natural, where a great deal is due, that a great deal should be demanded; but because there is a universality of demand, it does not, therefore follow there shall be a universality of concession. My opinion 505 now, however, as it has always been, is, that the measure itself is the greatest security which this country can have. I think that the Catholics would have acted wisely, prudently, and with judgment, if, in seeking the accomplishment of their desires, they had acted consistently with the wishes, or the pleasure, or the prejudices of the Protestants; and this I have declared upon more occasions than one. Were a consideration of the conduct of the Catholics to bias my vote upon this occasion, when I consider the course which they have pursued towards my right hon. and highly respected friend (Mi. Grattan), it would place me in the list of their enemies. To him they owed more than to any other man alive, and yet how did they pay their debt of gratitude? I am, nevertheless, persuaded, whatever may have been the motives by which they were actuated, or however ill-counselled they may have been, that the. feelings of his great mind have not been altered, and that their conduct has made as little impression upon him as it has upon me. In considering the question itself, the proceedings of the Catholics will not induce him or me to vote against the consideration of a subject in which I conceive the highest interests of the united kingdom are involved. Upon these grounds, I shall vote for going into the committee; but I repeat, in acceding to the motion for this purpose, I pledge myself to no distinct opinion as to the propositions which my hon. friend may think proper to propose.
said, that to the honour and dignity of the House it was due that the motion for going into a committee should be resisted. If an attempt at arrangement could only be productive of dissatisfaction and disunion, there was no reason why the House should proceed to legislate on the subject; and on this ground it was material to inquire into the state of feeling among the Catholics of Ireland, as that feeling was to be collected from the declarations of persons who possessed the confidence of that body. The hon. baronet who moved the Resolutions had said, that by repealing the laws obnoxious to them, the House would obtain the gratitude of the Irish Catholics. The hon. baronet should have been the last person to talk of the gratitude of the Irish Catholics, when he reflected on the circumstances under which he himself had been induced to present their petition to the House. Mr. Peel said, he should beg the attention 506 of the House to some facts, which he should state principally from printed documents, illustrative of the conduct of that body of men by whom the petition to the House had been drawn up, and of the temper in which it was probable that any concession would be received by them, and by the Catholics in general. It had been said by the bon. baronet, that the object was so great that they should not 'squabble,' to use his own words, about securities; but they might see, from the facts which he would state, what was the security which was to be looked for from the feelings of the Catholics themselves. The newspapers most in the confidence of the Catholic body, had given, under the title of "The Catholic Association," an account of a meeting of that body in Capel-street, in which Mr. O'Connel reported that he had waited with the rest of a sub-committee on sir H. Parnell, who with promptness and cheerfulness had undertaken to present their petition. [Sir H. Parnell observed, that the House was not to trust the correctness of these reports.] Mr. Peel continued, that as a doubt was thrown upon the correct ness of that account, he should immediately cast it aside, as he did not attach much importance to it, and should merely assume, which he believed no one would deny, that the hon. baronet had been induced by that body to present the petition, and to propose the Resolutions which he had circulated. He should proceed to mention the circumstances under which this body originated. In 1811 it was determined by the Catholics of Ireland that a body should be formed, consisting of the Catholic peers, sons of peers, and baronets, and the remaining members of the committee of 1793, together with representatives from each parish and town, which body was entrusted with the Catholic affairs, as far as regarded petitions to Parliament, and the forwarding the object of those petitions. Two members of this body were arrested, for having been present at the elections, which was illegal by the Convention Law, were prosecuted, and found guilty. The body was then in appearance dissolved; but an aggregate meeting was called, at which it was resolved, that the members of the Catholic Convention had the confidence of the Catholics of Ireland, and a petition was agreed on to the Prince Regent, complaining of infractions of the law on the part of the Duke of Richmond and his 507 right hon. friend (Mr. Wellesley Pole.) An Address was prepared, and read to all the members of the former body, who accordingly met and continued to meet, till in the last year it was dissolved by the Lord-lieutenant in Council, who by a proclamation declared it illegal. The Catholic Committee was thus, as the Convention had been, in appearance dissolved. An aggregate meeting, however, was again held, and a resolution was adopted, recommending to the members of the Catholic Board to form a voluntary association. A body was formed of the members of two bodies, one of which had been declared to be illegal by a judicial sentence, and the other by a proclamation; and by this association was the present Petition to Parliament, and the Resolutions drawn up on the part of the Catholics of Ireland. Every one acquainted with the internal state of Ireland must have known the effect which the existence of these bodies had produced, or whether they could augur any thing of peace or concord from the members who formed part of the voluntary association. They would recollect their interference in the right of election by which those Catholics who had not voted at the last general election in favour of the advocates of the Catholic claims had lost the confidence of their Catholic fellow-subjects:—they would recollect the project of parochial subscriptions, by which power was given to call on every househoulder for 10d. or a larger sum, to defray the expense of the petitions to Parliament, and by which it was ordered that those who had "refused to pay," should have those words written against their names:—they would remember that a circular was sent to every member of the body to invite them to meet on the first and third Saturday of every month, because they were apprehensive that a religious persecution was about to recommence in Ireland. It was that body also which took on itself to inquire into alleged injuries to some Catholic soldiers; and it was in that body that it was proposed to appoint ambassadors to the Spanish Cortes, to beg their interference in the government of this country. It was that body that appointed a committee to inquire into the means by which the suffering Catholics of Monaghan could best be supported by legal means. The present association, to the honour of the former bodies, was not composed of all the members of those bodies, but of their 508 leading and most violent members. How far, then, was the peace and honour of the united kingdom likely to be supported by such a body? That question might be answered by every member of the grand juries, who had almost unanimously attributed to that body the disturbed state of their counties. Was the House, then, to accept Resolutions dictated by this body? But it was said by some, that the House might grant a part of the claims of the Catholics, under the restrictions which might be thought necessary; but to this the Catholics replied, "We will not thank you—we will resist a partial repeal, or a repeal which gives you any security." The Bill which the hon. baronet intended to introduce, would have the effect of separating Ireland from Great Britain; but if a different bill was to be brought in, they should first hear the terms in which the Bill of 1813 was spoken of by Mr. O'Connel, in a meeting of the Catholic Board, which was held for the purpose of passing thanks on the Catholic prelates for their opposition to that Bill. [Sir H. Parnell here again wished to observe on the inaccuracy of the accounts which had been given of his interview with the sub-committee.] Mr. Peel observed, that the passage which he was about to read did not refer to any part of the conduct of the hon. baronet, but of a gentleman (Mr. O'Connel) who possessed the confidence of the Irish Catholics in a greater degree than any other person, and who had the votes of every individual of the association for his appointment to the sub-committee of which he was a member. At every meeting of the Catholics of Ireland the thanks of the body to Mr. O'Connel were among their resolutions. The opinion of a person who seemed thus to represent the opinions of the Catholic body was of some importance; and the more so, because he had drawn up the present Resolutions and the Bill, which, to save the Parliament the trouble of legislation, had been drawn up and previously circulated, and which the Catholics presented as the only measure they would have. [Hear! from some members on the Opposition side of the House.]—If the hon. members thought a different bill might be brought in, they might hear in what terms the Bill of 1813 was described by Mr. O'Connel—"It is impossible," he says, "that you should bear the name and form of Irishmen, and not abhor that absurd and mischievous 509 Bill. You need not be warned that you should not confide in your members, &c." Then, alluding to the cheer with which the report of the contested clause in the Bill of 1813 being lost was received, he says, "That ruffian shout of English insolence may be the last outrage on poor fallen degraded Ireland. The day-star of her liberty will arise" (in the shape of the Bill which the hon. baronet would propose.) This last insult is indelibly fixed in the mind of every Irish Catholic, and, though it may be forgiven, it cannot be forgotten." Such language augured the impossibility of any conciliatory arrangement. The Bill, however, which was brought in was described as a bill to bury all animosities, and unite all the subjects of his Majesty in defence of the empire.—If the justice of the proposition submitted to the House were indisputable, he would admit that the conduct of the parties upon whose petition this proposition was grounded, would be a matter of no account. But when the conciliation of these parties was the avowed object, that conduct was a material subject of consideration. From the celebrated speech of that celebrated orator, Dr. Dromgoole, in 1813, at the meeting of the Catholics, from whom this petition emanated, it appeared that no such securities as had been submitted to that House in the course of that year, could be at all acceded to, consistently with a due regard to the discipline of the Catholic Church. And how did this orator describe the Protestant religion, in an authorized publication of his speech? why, that the Protestant religion, if supported by Heaven, required no human aid; but that, if not so supported, no laws could sustain it; for it must have been built upon a sandy foundation, and had lasted as long as any other novelty. This speech prefaced the Resolutions of the Catholic meeting, by which the Bill brought before the House in 1813 was marked with the most decided disapprobation, especially as to the proposition brought forward for the security of the Protestant Establishment. With those Resolutions, too, the declaration of the Irish prelates in 1813 entirely concurred. Nay, this ecclesiastical assembly voted thanks to Dr. Milner, whom they called the unwearied, incorruptible, and able agent of the Catholic cause. With these proceedings in the recollection of the House, he asked, whether any candid man could calculate that any measure the 510 House was likely to adopt, would give satisfaction to, or excite the gratitude of the Catholic body of Ireland? Such a calculation would indeed be quite idle, as must be evident from the instances which he had cited. Upon the minds of those gentlemen who had, in 1813, declared, their expectation that the discussion, on that occasion would be final, as explanatory of the views of the House, he trusted that this consideration would have its due effect. On the whole, seeing that no arrangement was likely to take place that could promise the conciliation of the petitioners, if their wishes were to be judged of from their own language, he could not accede to the proposed committee.
§ Sir J. Newport
thought, that looking to the tranquillity of Ireland, and the consolidation of the Union, it would be most unwise to dismiss the petitioners before the House without any examination of their case. Such a proceeding would indeed serve, in his judgment, to aggravate that soreness, upon the expression of which the last speaker had so long dwelt, while it must operate to paralyze a great portion of the strength of the empire, at a period when the effective union of all its resources was so essential to its common safety. He lamented that so much bitterness had been manifested upon both sides of this question, and especially that such bitterness had appeared in that House. But he could not persuade himself to believe, that the House would repel the case of the petitioners unheard, merely because some of those aggrieved individuals had given expression to their honest minds in rather an intemperate manner. For it might be, that if any set of gentlemen in that House were equally aggrieved, they would vent their dissatisfaction in terms even more intemperate. As to securities, he could not help thinking that the best security that could be devised for the present establishments of the country would consist in a community of privileges; because every man, of every religious persuasion, would then have an interest in supporting the system to which he owed the enjoyment of his privileges. According to the last speaker, the House should decline to concede to, or even abstain from, the consideration of the Catholic claims, until the Catholics should altogether suppress the declaration of any angry feeling: but in his (sir J. N.'s) view, it would be the better policy at once to remove the cause of such angry 511 feeling. Such a course, indeed, would be more wise towards the state, and more just towards the parties aggrieved. It mattered not, according to his judgment on this occasion, what was the conduct of the petitioners or their connexions;—for, whether any petition was before the House or not, it was due to justice and the public interest, to take this question into consideration. Therefore the conduct of no set of men belonging to the Catholic body should withdraw the House from a proper sense of its duty. He lamented as much as any man, that any portion of the Catholics should have injured their cause by the indiscretion of their language or conduct; but he maintained, that such indiscretion should not influence the judgment of the House upon the present occasion. For the question for the consideration of the House was, not what might be the gratitude of any of those who were to receive, but what it was due to justice to give. Therefore the intemperate language of individuals should have no weight upon the decision of the House on this motion. The arguments and the statements of the last speaker, who was so decidedly hostile to the Catholic cause—who was so wedded to things as they existed—might be very impressive upon those who thought with him; but in his mind they had no bearing upon the real merits of the present question. According to that right hon. gentleman it would be derogatory to the dignity of Parliament, while it would not tend to satisfy the feelings of the Catholic body, to accede to this motion; but he decidedly differed from that right hon. gentleman. For if, even upon his own statement, the Catholic people were under the influence of agitators, the best mode of taking them out of the hands of those agitators would be to prove, on the part of Parliament, a disposition to consider the claims and to redress the grievances of that body, especially as the object of the petitioners was to remove complaints in which the Catholic people could have no other interest than that which they felt towards the higher orders, whose gratitude could not be questioned if reasonable concessions were granted. On these grounds he trusted that the House would decide in this case rather from judgment than feeling, without reference to the irritation on either side; and that the Catholic body, evincing an inclination to sacrifice whatever was not essential to 512 their doctrines, in order to conciliate their Protestant brethren, an arrangement would take place satisfactory to all parties. It would be recollected, that in going into the proposed committee the House would not stand pledged to the Resolutions brought forward by his hon. friend, or to any other course of proceeding, it being competent to any member to propose any measure he might think proper; and under such circumstances he hoped that the proposed committee would be acceded to. If not, he could not help thinking that the House would be betrayed into the abdication of a great and important public duty.
§ Mr. Bathurst
defended the line of conduct adopted by his right hon. friend (Mr. Peel), from the animadversions of the last speaker, and strongly objected to the mode pursued by the hon. baronet who had introduced the question. It was the first time he recollected the introduction of a proposition of this kind, by producing to the House a series of resolutions, not for their consideration, but for their unqualified approval. To add to this inconsistency, they were called upon to go into the proposed committee, not to acquiesce in the sine quâ non of the petitioners, but to see how far they could deviate from it. He was quite hostile to such a course of proceeding; for instead of tending to conciliate those in whose behalf the proposition was urged, it would only lead to their further irritation. Nor would he ever concur in any measure of this description, until the respectable class of the Roman Catholics stepped forward to rescue themselves from the thraldom of those who were meeting with an avowal of ingratitude, the interposition of the Legislature in the adjustment of their claims. With respect to the argument of securities, an extraordinary position had been taken by the supporters of the motion—that securities were best obtained by requiring none. As to the reasons for going into a committee, which were adduced by those who professed to disapprove of the Resolutions of the hon. baronet, he could not comprehend the ground of such reasons; for if it were proposed to substitute any other Resolutions, why not bring them forward at once, and make them the subject of a distinct motion? which would be a more parliamentary mode of proceeding, than to resolve into a committee merely for the purpose of negativing the objects upon 513 which the proposition before the House was submitted. The opinions which had been publicly expressed by the Catholics, he was of opinion proved to demonstration, that the course now recommenced, would not be the means of conciliating them, and of terminating the existing differences. The minor grievances of the Catholics ought not to be made a pretext for going into the committee. To go into a committee on the Catholic claims at present, would be to waste the time of the House; for as the former Bill had not proved satisfactory, there was no reason to suppose that the one which the hon. baronet wished to bring in would be more successful.
said, he would not enter on the general question of the claims of the Catholics, but should vote for going into the committee, though he might there rote against every one of the Resolutions. If he were to narrow his view of the subject to the consideration of the conduct of individuals of the Catholic body, instead of looking to the general merits of the question, it was probable that he should come to the same decision that his right hon. friend (Mr. Peel) had come to on the historical statement which he had submitted to the House. He much regretted the course taken by his right hon. friend in deciding against the prayer of the Catholics, on the grounds upon which he had acknowledged that decision to rest. For himself, he did not feel that he had any thing to do with what any factious speeches which Mr. O'Connel or Dr. Dromgoole might have made. Whatever their conduct had been, it ought not to affect the general question. If ever a question had gained by discussion, this had. He thought the destiny of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, had been left in their own hands. Had they felt grateful to that House and to their firm and venerable friend (Mr. Grattan), they might now have been in a different situation. He regretted (the hon. baronet would forgive him,) that the petition of the Catholics had hot been entrusted to the same hands which had been so long charged with it, and he lamented to find it wanted a number of respectable names which had been always attached to it before. He objected to the Resolutions, as descending to minor objects, with which it was not before thought advisable to encumber the great measure of Catholic emancipation; and he also objected to them because they 514 contained not one word which went to give security to the Protestant establishment. There was nothing in the oath now proposed to that effect, as there was in that brought forward two years ago; and he, for one, was of opinion, that the Catholic who would not take an oath to support the existing establishment, ought not to be entrusted with political power. He was not very sanguine as to the result of this day's debate, but he should sit down satisfied that the day was not far distant when the decision of Parliament would unite all classes of his Majesty's subjects, and bury past differences in oblivion.
§ Mr. Bankes
commented with some severity on the Resolutions of the hon. baronet, which in Ireland had been published in the form of a bill, and which it appeared the hon. baronet had not brought forward of himself, but had received them from a body of men whom he believed to represent a large portion of the Roman Catholics of Ireland. He saw no prospect of conciliatory measures being successfully pursued, seeing that the Roman Catholics required the surrender of all they wished to obtain without offering any security in return. Till the Church of Rome adopted a different mode of treating those who might be considered as heretical from that which had been hitherto pursued, he was of opinion that the Catholics could not be entrusted with political power, without an apprehension that they would attempt to use it for ulterior purposes. He thought nothing farther ought to be done with respect to the Catholic claims, till they came forward with those securities which might satisfy the Protestants. Till this was done, it was not too much for the House to say, that it would not proceed one step farther in the business. Until that; time should arrive, Parliament could not consent to invest that body with political power. Those who professed the established religion had a right to say, We cannot give you an extension of privileges, unless you are willing to give us securities. Some of the most intelligent men in the country had endeavoured to form something tending towards satisfactory security; but that which we looked upon as a panacea had been treated by the Catholics as an abomination. Under all the circumstances, seeing no prospect of a final and conciliatory arrangement with the Catholics, seeing that the Reso- 515 lutions were not the work of the hon. baronet, but had been put into his hands by certain individuals in Ireland—seeing that they had not the concurrence of those respectable persons who had usually been the advocates of the Catholics on former occasions—and not seeing that any beneficial result could be expected from the course now recommended to the House, he hoped the motion would be thrown out by a large majority.
said, that it was not his intention to occupy the time of the House at any length; but be could not consent to suffer the present question to go to a vote, without stating the precise view which he entertained of it. It was his solemn conviction, that in bringing it forward in the manner it was now produced, the ultimate success of the measure would be rather retarded than advanced. His opinions upon the subject were in no degree varied from those which he had pronounced on former occasions; and he was thoroughly convinced, that any measure of concession, unless founded upon the general and comprehensive principle heretofore discussed and admitted, would fail in all those conciliating qualities which it was so essential to regard. With respect to the manner in which the intentions of the Legislature, during the last session, were met by the Catholics of Ireland, he had no hesitation in saying, that if the ultimate decision of the question depended upon his individual judgment, he should not discourage the giving effect to that measure, even though it were met on the part of the people of Ireland, by the most extensive dissatisfaction. He did not conceive that on any great measure of state, the people were generally qualified to estimate its fitness or propriety at the moment of adopting it, when their passions and interests were strongly excited or alarmed. When, therefore, he looked to the speeches of the individuals in Ireland, who now managed the affairs of the Catholics, and when he looked to their conduct, he might regard them as obstacles to the immediate accomplishment of measures of general relief, but certainly not as containing in them any thing dangerous. He had always been of opinion, that the question of concession, if granted with those securities which were essential to it, would never confer upon the Catholics that quantum of power which could render it dangerous to admit them into the constitution. As to the present moment, however, in which 516 their claims were brought forward, it was impossible to observe the studied pains that had been taken to withdraw their petition from the hands of one who bad conducted their cause through all the conflicts and enmities of party, with a judgment, a temper, and a moderation that had won the homage of all sides, however opposed in their views, without feeling that the measure now introduced, was distinctly meant as a measure of contrast, to that which Parliament had sanctioned in principle during the preceding session. They now solicited unqualified admission into the Constitution, and claimed it as a matter of justice at the hands of the Legislature; and regarding that as the only object of their petition, he certainly was anxious that the committee should be granted, if it were only that an opportunity might thus be afforded of pronouncing distinctly the sense of Parliament on that subject; and, that the Catholics themselves might be taught, if they again applied to Parliament, that tone of moderation which could alone insure to them the ultimate object of their wishes. He did not consider himself, therefore, as acting with any inconsistency in voting for the committee, though he should feel it his duty in the committee to mark his most decided opposition to unqualified concession. Nor should he feel himself called upon either to modify the propositions of the hon. baronet, or to submit any others of a different description; for, unless the Catholics greatly altered their conduct, he was persuaded that, instead of this country becoming more inclined to conciliate them, the question would lose ground by repeated discussion. He had thus briefly stated his present opinions upon the subject, and should abstain from going into any general view of its merits.
§ Mr. Whitbread
said, he concurred with the noble lord in his opinion that a committee would be desirable, though there were many of the propositions against which he (Mr. W.) should vote; but he must think that if the committee were granted, it ought to do something else than merely to negative the wishes of the Catholics for unqualified concession. The hope of qualified concession, of concession with such securities as were thought necessary, had been strongly nourished, in his mind, after the proceedings of the session of 1813, when that bill emanated from the committee, and when the first clause of it was lost only by a majority of four: 517 from that moment he considered the principle as carried; but he now observed, with the deepest regret, that the day of emancipation, instead of approaching nearer, was receding from their view. Why did the noble lord now speak with despondency upon the subject? because things had occurred in Ireland which took away from the friends of the Catholics, and from the Catholics themselves, that sanguine expectation of success which they before entertained. For himself, he could set at naught all the violent and idle speeches made against members of that House; but when he found that they have defeated themselves by their conduct, he could not overlook or fail to lament such conduct. At the same time it might be observed, that the conduct of Mr. O'Connel in Ireland had been exactly the same as that of the right hon. Secretary (Mr. Peel), who, by all kinds of exaggeration, endeavoured to aggravate the Protestants, as Mr. O'Connel, by exaggeration, thought to inflame the Catholics; and if the noble lord could sit patiently and hear such language from the right hon. Secretary, he must say, that there appeared as little hope of conciliation on one side as an the other. But there was a gentleman who, in all former discussions, had occupied a very prominent part in the debate, whose name had not even been mentioned that night, to his (Mr. Whitbread's) very great surprise; not a word had been said about the Pope, the terrible Pope, Buonaparté's Pope, the Pope who was to have been met by an Irish Pope at Bailyshannon. [A laugh]. And why was that gentleman totally forgotten? Because he had not been found what was expected; because he was the mere tool of Buonaparté. The course of the Catholics since 1813 had certainly been a bad one; and if any one part of their conduct was more marked by want of judgment than another (he spoke without the slightest disparagement of his hon. friend), it was removing their Petition from the hands in which their cause had been so long sanctified. [Hear, hear!] Still, however, in determining upon the simple question, whether they should go into a committee, he would say aye, not because the hon. baronet had a string of propositions to submit, but because there were concessions which might be made in that committee, that would do much towards conciliation. The army, the navy, and the bar, in the opinion of those who were 518 decidedly hostile to unqualified concession, might be thrown open to them. It had been said, also, that they might be allowed protection both in the army and navy in their religious worship. And were those things nothing? Did they not constitute a boon which the Catholics might be happy to receive, and which the Legislature ought to be desirous to grant? Were they to vote for the committee, like the noble lord, expressly for the purpose of negativing that which all agreed might be conceded, because Mr. O'Connel made violent speeches, which were in truth quite unimportant, or because Dr. Dromgoole made speeches not only violent, but absurd? He hoped he should live to see the day when the present conductor's of the Catholics would be removed, or, if not removed, that they themselves would change, return to a sound discretion, and choose their former leader. [Hear, hear!]. He should most heartily vote for the motion, as being the only course, under present circumstances, which afforded any prospect of success; but had he been asked whether this year or the next, or what period would have been best for bringing the subject forward, his answer would have been—ask Mr. Grattan.
§ Mr. Wellesley Pole
said, it was not his intention to trespass long upon the attention of the House; but under all the circumstances of the case, be felt it impossible to give a silent vote upon the question. In explaining the grounds upon which he should vote that night, it was necessary to define accurately what the question was upon which they were then called upon to decide. The House was not then called upon to concede the claims of the Catholics, or to determine to what extent concessions ought to be granted, but merely to refer the Petition to the consideration of the committee; The hon. gentleman who had just sat down, had, in his opinion, put the question upon its proper footing, and he should follow that example, and confine himself strictly to the question, Whether this Petition ought or ought not to be referred to a committee? Retaining, as he did, the opinion he had formerly expressed with respect to the claims of the Catholics, he was decidedly of opinion that the motion of his hon. friend (sir H. Parnell) ought to be agreed to; but, on the other hand, he desired to be distinctly understood, that, in giving that vote, he by no means pledged himself to support the propositions of his 519 hon. friend. If he thought that such an inference could be fairly drawn from his vote, he should undoubtedly oppose the committee. After the fullest and most mature consideration he could give on the subject, he was convinced that the Bill brought in in a former session by his right hon. friend (Mr. Grattan) contained all the concessions that could be fairly claimed by, or safely granted to the Catholics and to the extent of the concessions contained in that Bill he was always ready to go. He could not help expressing, however, his regret at the manner in which the subject had now been brought forward. It was not necessary for him to say, that by that expression he meant no disrespect to his hon. friend (Sir H. Parnell), for whom he entertained the highest esteem and affection; but still he could not but lament that he had undertaken to bring forward the Petition under such circumstances. Indeed, he should always consider it as a misfortune to all parties, to have the subject taken out of the hands of his right hon. friend (Mr. Grattan), who had hitherto supported it with so much eloquence, moderation, and wisdom, and under whose auspices it had the greatest chance of success.—Though he did not think this the proper time to enter into a discussion upon the general subject, yet he could not help observing, that his right hon. friend near him (Mr. Peel) had not been very fairly or candidly treated in the observations which had been made upon his statements respecting the Catholic Committee. His right hon. friend had merely repeated their own language, and if the repetition of their own words had the effect of a severe censure upon that body, the fault undoubtedly rested with those who originally used them; knowing, as he did, the nature and construction of that committee, he certainly did not think his right hon. friend liable to any animadversion for what he had said; on the contrary, he might, he was convinced, have gone a great deal farther, without being liable to the charge of exaggeration. He had, upon former occasions, been under the necessity so fully to express his opinion to the House respecting that body, that it was unnecessary, for him now to enlarge upon the subject. He had always considered it as a dangerous assembly; it consisted of several hundred persons selected from all the different ratios of the Catholics; they met once a week, or oftener they aped all the forms, 520 and tried to assume the powers of a convention representing all the estates of the Catholics; it became, therefore, absolutely necessary for the public tranquillity, that they should be suppressed. As for the body which now met under the name of a Board, he did not consider it as being important or dangerous; the most respectable of the Catholics had withdrawn from it, and the board now consisted only of a few factious individuals meeting in obscure places, and forming an object rather of contempt than of apprehension. But it had always appeared to him the greatest possible injustice to the Catholic body at large, to suppose that their sentiments were spoken by the Catholic Board. Front every inquiry which he could make, (and his means of information were pretty extensive), he was convinced that a large majority of the Catholics of Ireland highly disapproved of the violent and intemperate proceedings of that board. He lamented most sincerely that the Bill brought forward by his right hon. friend (Mr. Grattan) had not passed; because he was convinced that, notwithstanding the declamations of the Catholic Board, and opinions expressed by the Catholic prelates, it would have given satisfaction to the great mass of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, who would, at this moment, if his right hon. friend had succeeded, have been gratefully and tranquilly enjoying; the been granted to them by the Legislature. The failure of that Bill had again enabled the Board to raise its voice; but no intemperate language which it might use, no threats which it might throw out, would have the slightest effect in inducing that House to withdraw its attention from the claims of the Catholics. He trusted that the House would let the Petition go to a committee, not pledging itself to agree to the whole or any part of the Resolutions, but for the purpose of giving the question that mature consideration which its importance deserved.
§ Sir N. Colthurst
supported the motion for going into a committee, and argued against those who maintained, that unless the House went the whole length of the Catholic demands, they would effect nothing.
Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald
said, he should detain the House very shortly, but that on a question affecting so deeply that country to which he was bound by every tie of private affection, by every public obligation also, he could hardly give a 521 silent vote. He felt not now that pleasure which the hon. gentleman (Mr. Whit-bread) had described himself to feel—on the contrary, he came to the consideration of the motion of to-night, not only with painful reflections on much of what had passed, but without any of those animating anticipations of success, by which, two years since, the advocates of the Catholic claims had been cheered and sustained. He, too, should vote for the committee, and with sentiments similar to many of those who, in preceding him, had explained the grounds on which they gave that vote; but as he did not expect to arrive at that point which his noble friend (lord Castlereagh) did, as he hardly hoped from the manifested disposition of the House, and the course which the debate had taken, that they should get into that committee, or that he should have an opportunity of protesting against the intended Resolutions of the hon. baronet, he wished to guard his vote against the suspicion that he ever could be the advocate of unqualified emancipation. Who was there, even amongst its advocates, who could hope to obtain it? He would go into the committee pledged to the principle only—whatever might there be offered most resembling the Bill of 1813, was that which he should approve the most. No man was now desired to do more than to accede to the principle, and it was idle perhaps to protest against being understood to be pledged to more. Above all, he must deprecate, however, the decision to which the House was about perhaps to come, as being deemed in any respect to be formed on the main principle of emancipation, or on the merits of this great question—the House could not separate, in its consideration, the question itself, from the circumstances under which it was submitted. He lamented those circumstances as much as any man—he lamented that the splendid services of years had been forgotten, and he feared that the Catholic cause would long have to lament also, that it had been placed in other hands than those of the right hon. gentleman who had for so many years fought the battles of his country. If, Sir, (concluded Mr. Fitzgerald) that distinguished person could find consolation in any circumstances which had diminished the favour with which the claims of the Catholics had been entertained by Parliament, he might find it in the grateful and unanimous tribute which has been paid to 522 his judgment, his moderation, and his unquestioned patriotism. I give my vote, then, for going to-night into this committee. I give it in consistency with my former opinion, and in the hope of better times—of those times, when the question may again come forward under the auspices of him, who has before carried it so near to its consummation, and for whom its accomplishment is yet reserved; for I do feel within me, Sir, that it is reserved for him, ere long too, to achieve a measure which will conciliate the Irish people, which will give to the empire the best confirmation of her strength, and to its illustrious author an imperishable fame.
§ Mr. Huskisson
lamented, in common with all who had spoken on the subject, the conduct and the language of the Catholics of Ireland—conduct and language much more calculated to retard the attainment of their object, than the arguments of those who conscientiously opposed their claims. He should certainly, however, vote for the committee; because when any considerable portion of his Majesty's subjects came to Parliament, complaining of privations and disabilities, he, for one, would never oppose the consideration of their grievances. At the same time he wished it to be distinctly understood, with reference to the Resolutions which had been proposed, that neither on this nor on any other subject, he hoped the House of Commons would allow itself to be dictated to.
§ Mr. Grattan
rose and said:—Sir; Exhausted as the subject is, I trust that the House will allow me to trouble them with a few sentences. I do not wish to give a silent vote upon the question, particularly circumstanced as I am with respect to it. I shall certainly vote for going into the committee, on the principle which has been so generally stated this evening; that the only thing we have at present to determine is, whether or not the Catholic question shall be taken into consideration. But in giving this vote, Sir, I by no means pledge myself to the support of the Resolutions which my hon. friend has exhibited. Further, I must say, that for some of those Resolutions I cannot vote. I beg leave to observe, in considering the Catholic question, that it is not sufficient to dwell merely on what may be strictly and absolutely necessary—some regard ought to be paid to the feelings of those by whom that question is to be deter- 523 mined. I have no hesitation in saying that I condemn (I am sorry if I give offence to persons who are of a different opinion,) but I condemn the application for unqualified concession. The knowledge I have of the sentiments of this House convinces me that such a proposition will not pass. When the petitioners desire emancipation without any conditions, they desire two things—they desire emancipation and then they desire that it may not be granted, because the annexation of no conditions must render the grant in this House impossible. I should therefore have flattered the Catholics had I told them they were entitled to expect a decision in their favour, because I know that under those circumstances that cannot be. I wish to support, and I mean to support the Catholic question with a desperate fidelity—if I may so express myself. I use the word 'desperate', not with reference to any disposition on my part to sacrifice a single principle of good government, or a single necessary security on that question, but because to my fidelity I cannot promise success. Sir, unless the Catholic body pursue a conciliatory line of conduct—unless they come to this House, not with a silent and implied, but with a declared attachment to the vital principles of the constitution, they will not succeed. I have told them before, and I now repeat it, that unless they adopt a spirit of conciliation, they will never succeed. I will say further, that conciliation is not only necessary to their interest, but essential to their duty, both to the state and to one another. If Catholic emancipation should not finally be carried, it will be owing, not to the want of candour and consideration on the part of the Legislature, but to the want of prudence and discretion on the part of some Catholics, who do not assist the Protestant friends of their cause by expressing their ready concurrence in the adoption by Parliament of such securities, as to their feelings may appear necessary, and which at the same time may not be inconsistent with the Catholic religion. Unless they do this, they will fail in their efforts, and their failure will be solely attributable to their want of discretion. Sir, I have an ardent love for the Catholic body. I do not ascribe the errors of some individuals to the body at large. But I once more say, that unless they adopt a spirit of conciliation, they have not the smallest chance of success. 524 I will trouble the House no further. In voting for the committee, I do not pledge myself to support all my hon. friend's Resolutions, but only some of them. Should the House go into the committee, I shall again express those sentiments on this important question, which have been already registered, and which remain unchanged.
§ Sir Henry Parnell
made a short reply, in which he contended, that the discussion of the subject must be serviceable, and that, as a member of parliament, it was his bounden duty to lay the case of the Catholics before the House. He urged the House to consent to the committee, and expressed his conviction that he should be able in that committee to explain his Resolutions in a way that would be thoroughly satisfactory.
§ The House divided:
|For going into a Committee||147|
|List of the Minority.|
|Abercrombie, hon. J.||Dundas, hon. L.|
|Acland, sir Thos.||Dufferin, lord|
|Althorpe, viscount||Douglas, hon. F. S.|
|Anson, G.||Elliot, rt. hon. W.|
|Baillie, James E.||Ellison, Cuthbert|
|Bagwell, rt. hon. W.||Evelyn, L.|
|Buller, James||French, Arthur|
|Buller, sir E.||Fazakerley, J. N.|
|Buller, Anthony||Fergusson, sir R. C.|
|Barham, J. F.||Fitzgerald, rt. hon. V.|
|Barnard, viscount||Fitzroy, lord C.|
|Bective, earl of||Fitzroy, lord J.|
|Bennet, hon. H. G.||Flood, sir Fred.|
|Brand, hon. T.||Forbes, Charles|
|Browne, rt. hon. D.||Forbes, lord|
|Browne, Dominick||Frankland, Wm.|
|Butler, hon. J. W.||Folkes, sir M.|
|Butler, hon. C.||Finlay, R.|
|Byng, George||Glerawley, viscount|
|Binning, lord||Grattan, rt. hon. H.|
|Bewicke, C.||Greenhill, R. R. M,|
|Blake, Valentine||Grenfell, Pascoe|
|Calvert, Charles||Gordon, Robert|
|Carew, R. S.||Guise, sir Wm.|
|Castlereagh, lord||Grant, C. junr.|
|Crosbie, James||Grant, J. P.|
|Cavendish, lord G.||Graham, Sandford|
|Chaloner, Robert||Halsey, Joseph|
|Colthurst, sir N.||Hanbury, Wm.|
|Calcraft, John||Hammersley, Hugh|
|Cocks, James S.||Heron, sir R.|
|Canning, George||Hornby, Edmund|
|Courtenay, Thos.||Horner, Francis|
|Courtenay, Wm.||Hurst, Robt.|
|Duncannon, visc.||Huskisson, rt. hon. W.|
|Don, Alex.||Horne, W.|
|Doveton, gen.||Latouche, R.|
|Law, hon. E.||Prittie, hon. F. A.|
|Leader, W.||Pym, F.|
|Lewis, Frankland||Quin, hon. W.|
|Littleton, E. John||Ridley, sir M. W.|
|Lyttelton, hon. W. H.||Rowley, sir W.|
|Lloyd, M.||Russell, lord W.|
|Madocks, Wm.||Romilly, sir S.|
|Manning, Wm.||Rashleigh, Wm.|
|Marryat, J.||Scudamore, R. P.|
|Martin, J.||Sebright, sir John|
|May, sir Stephen||Sheldon, R.|
|Meade, hon. J.||Smith, S.|
|Milton, viscount||Smith, John|
|Monck, sir C.||Shaw, Benj.|
|Montgomery, sir H.||Smith, R.|
|Moore, Peter||Smith, Wm.|
|Morland, S. B,||Smyth, J. H.|
|Mahon, hon. S.||Somerville, sir M.|
|Napier, Jas.||Stanley, lord|
|Newman, R. W.||Stewart, hon. Jas.|
|Newport, sir J.||Stewart, sir J.|
|North, D.||Talbot, R. W.|
|Nugent, lord||Tierney, rt. hon. G.|
|Odell, Wm.||Tighe, Wm.|
|Ogle, Henry M.||Tavistock, marquis|
|Owen, sir John||Vernon, Gran.|
|Osborne, lord F.||Walpole, hon. G.|
|Palmerston, visc.||Wellesley, Richard|
|Pierse, H.||Wharton, J.|
|Pelham, hon. C.||Whitbread, Sam.|
|Pelham, hon. G.||Wilkins, W.|
|Philips, G.||Wood, Thos.|
|Pringle, sir W.||Wynn, Charles|
|Piggott, sir A.||Wrottesley, Henry|
|Pole, rt. hon. W. W.||Wise, A.|
|Ponsonby, rt. hon. G.||TELLERS.|
|Poulett, hon. W. V.||Parnell, sir H.|
|Power, R.||Fitzgerald, rt. hon. M.|