§ Mr. Grattan, previous to submitting his motion to the House on the subject of the Roman Catholic claims, moved, "That the petition of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, presented on the 26th of April, 1816,* be read." The petition was read by the clerk accordingly. Mr. W. Elliot next moved, that the Petition of the Roman Catholics of England, presented on the 21st of May, 1816,* be read; which was also done.
§ Mr. Grattan
then rose, and said:—Having been applied to by the Roman Catholics of Ireland to bring their case under the consideration of the House, I shall now proceed to discharge the duty I have undertaken. But, Sir, it is not my intention at present to go into this important question. I shall entreat the indulgence of the House to hear my sentiments fully by way of reply. Upon a question of this sort, which has been debated in this House so often, it would be monstrous presumption in me to expect to be heard twice in the course of one night; I shall, therefore, request the indulgence of the House for my reply, and shall now trouble gentlemen but for a very few minutes. The resolution intend to move is, for a committee to take the laws affecting the Roman Catholics into consideration. It is the same motion which was carried in 1813, and does nothing more than pledge the House to examine the penal laws, with a view to relieve the Catholics—to give every se-* See Vol. 31, pp. 11, 655.302 curity to the protestant establishment—and ultimately, to impart satisfaction to all ranks and orders of men in the empire I say, ultimate satisfaction; because, In such a question as this, the hope of giving immediate satisfaction to every order of men is a matter of utter impossibility, and, therefore, the House must legislate to the best of its judgment, with a view to the ultimate satisfaction of one party, and the immediate relief of another. I have read the report, which my hon. and most useful friend (sir J. C. Hippisley), has presented to the House, which has clearly shown you, that, in all the great countries of Europe, there are a civil, and military toleration, incorporation, and qualification, for all religious sects—that there is, in nearly every state of Europe, a certain connexion between the clergy and the government, so as to preclude the danger of foreign influence; and that England is almost the only country where such an arrangement has not yet been made. I beg to observe, that there is now every reason to hope—that there is no reason to doubt—but that securities may be had, and such securities as the House will perhaps think desirable. There may be domestic nomination—there may be a veto—there may be both! Now you may command your own securities; and, therefore, let not gentlemen say, "we cannot accede to Catholic emancipation, because we have no securities." The question is, will you endanger the safety of your own church, in order to exclude the Catholics from the constitution? You now have securities, both for church and state, at your command. If you exclude the Catholics—if you keep from them civil and military rights—will you not say, that you will exclude the Protestant church and the Protestant settlement from security? That is to declare, that you will prefer to the securities which your fellow-subjects offer, and which have so often been represented as necessary to the safety of the church and state, a monopoly—the monopoly of power—the monopoly of seats in parliament—the monopoly of civil and military offices. Is it not to say, that you will prefer this power, not to the freedom of your Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, but to the security of the Protestant church? So that it will appear, that, having called for securities, in order to justify you in granting liberty, you now refuse them, when offered, and exclude the Catholics, in order to prevent 303 them from participating in that power which they were expected to share. I beg leave to say, that the present question is not about the means by which securities may be effected. I will not debate that point. The question is, whether any securities whatever will be received? Let me tell you why. There is a communication between the pope and the Catholic clergy, which must end either in incorporation with the see of Rome, or connection with the government of England—and, if the latter be refused, it will be dangerous to the safety of England. You will have the Catholic clergy incorporated with the see of Rome—and the catholic laity disincorporated from the people of England. I shall move to go into a committee to move the repeal of the laws that disqualify the Catholics from civil, military, and naval power, subject to such arrangements as may be judged necessary for the safety of the Protestant religion, the act of settlement, and the government of great Britain—that is to say, subject to such provisions as you will feel necessary for the security of your church and state.—That, if you choose to adopt the resolution, you may show to the world, that you have ceased to be the only great country in Europe that withheld those rights—but that you are ready to give franchises—that you are willing to grant a participation in the benefits of your constitution, to your Catholic fellow-subjects. This will acquit you with regard to your having a just idea of the principles of liberty—whilst the securities you will receive, will effectually protect your civil and religious privileges. Give to the Catholics all they require, taking care that your church is properly protected. This is the principle on which the question will stand, and the point which you must ultimately concede. With respect to safeguards, I think it is clear, that there is no man, when he procures rights, which he considers inestimable, that ought not to give you those securities which, while they do not trench on the Catholic church, afford strength and safety to the Protestant religion. I shall now move—
"That this House will resolve itself into a committee of the whole House, to take into its most serious consideration the state of the laws affecting his majesty's Roman Catholic subjects in Great Britain and Ireland; with a view to such a final and conciliatory adjustment as may be conducive to the peace and strength of 304 the United Kingdom, to the stability of the Protestant establishment, and to the general satisfaction and concord of all classes of his majesty's subjects."
I beg, just to say this—that my idea is not, in any degree whatever, to put it out of the power of this House, to insist on full satisfaction relative to the proffered securities, before they proceed to legislate; so that nothing that shall occur in the House, either now, or at any future period, shall be considered operative, unless the House be perfectly satisfied that the securities offered will insure the safety of the protestant church and state.
§ The motion having been seconded by Mr. William Elliot, and put from the chair,
Mr. Leslie Foster
rose and said:
Sir; It has been the lot of the right hon. gentleman to present this question to the House in successive sessions, under various forms. This variety, it appears, is not yet exhausted, and the claims of the Roman Catholics have assumed upon the present occasion, an aspect different, in some important particulars, from any that they have hitherto exhibited. In the last year, the Catholics of Ireland were divided into two parties; the one, principally consisting of their lay aristocracy, and those under their immediate influence, presented a list of a few hundred names; the other included their clergy, and the persons present at the various county and aggregate meetings which were held, and, it may be asserted, in truth embraced the great mass of the Roman Catholic population. The first class, in return for emancipation, were ready to acquiesce in any arrangements or regulations that should be found not inconsistent with their religion. The second, and more numerous, would hear nothing of regulations. The different securities which had been suggested, were by them considered as so many forms of insult, and unqualified emancipation alone was, in their opinion, worthy of acceptance: the smaller party were by them denounced as betrayers of the cause; their petition was denominated a scandalous document, and, as I am informed, was condemned in Dublin by a Roman Catholic archbishop from his pulpit. The proposed security which excited all this indignation, was the concession of a veto to the Crown in the nomination of their bishops.
To-day we hear nothing of the smaller party. They observe a prudent, and perhaps, a necessary silence; but we are dis- 305 tinctly told that the great body of the Catholics, rather than agree to the detested measure of the veto under any form, prefer to continue without emancipation. I appeal to the right hon. gentleman, whether he does not know this from the letters which have been addressed to him; I appeal to an hon. baronet whom I see near him, whether he does not know it from the instructions and commands which have been imposed upon him; and I appeal to both, whether they do not know from the result of all the public meetings which have been held, that such is at present the feeling almost universally, of the Catholics upon the subject. They come forward, however, with a new offer, and propose the domestic nomination of their bishops, as an all sufficient security to satisfy every Protestant apprehension. On a former night, when the petition was presented, we were informed that the Catholics are at this time in a peculiar disposition for arrangements; but it was afterwards distinctly acknowledged, and will not now be denied, that all their readiness is confined within the narrow limits of this offer:—they are ready to appoint their own bishops, and the pope is ready to give up his claim to their nomination. And this is their proposal.
I should proceed, Sir, to submit my view of the total inefficacy and inadequacy of such a measure to confer the security which any reasonable Protestant requires, but I must first perform the preliminary task of endeavouring to explain the delusive nature of the offer. It proposes no new thing,—it proposes merely that the bishops should be appointed for the future in the same manner as they have been in fact appointed hitherto. The nomination of the Roman Catholic bishops has been for a longtime as practically domestic as any possible arrangement can now render it. When a see is vacant, a recommendation is forwarded to Home, from Ireland, of the individual who is to be appointed, and I understand that, within the time of memory, there have not occurred more than two or three instances of any difficulty in confirming the choice of this domestic nomination. The persons who thus nominate to Rome are, as I understand, a certain number of the Roman Catholic bishops; how they are selected I do not pretend to know,—latterly it is said that by mutual courtesy they recommend, as of course, the coadjutor of the deceased bishop. This coadjutor is selected by 306 the bishop in his life-time. The transmission of the episcopal rank in the Irish Roman Catholic church is therefore in practice a mere matter of testamentary bequest, every bishop taking his office under the will of his immediate predecessor in the see. Some persons I know propose that the election shall hereafter be made by their deans and chapters: the bishops I should think, would hardly consent to such an alteration; but if they should, the new mode will neither be more domestic, nor more conducive than the present, towards giving satisfaction to a Protestant; nay, it may even be supposed that the nature of the canvas, to which such elections must give rise, would be peculiarly unfavourable to the habits which the clerical character requires; and that, in some instances, the candidate might be indebted for his success rather to his talents for political agitation, than to a reputation for a tranquil, a charitable, and a religious demeanor.
A more complete system of domestic nomination, however, cannot be proposed than that which exists at present. You can vary its form, but more domestic you cannot render it. The proposition, then, of domestic nomination is distinctly this,—that the Protestants and Catholics having each much to require and much to give up, the Protestants are to cede every thing that remains, and the Catholics are to make the single concession of remaining exactly as they are; or, in other words, that, in consideration of our former repeal of the whole penal code, and of their admission to all civil privileges, for which no one concession was obtained; and, in further consideration of their being now admitted to a complete participation of political power, they are ready to acquiesce in this single but important regulation of their ecclesiastical discipline, that for the time to come their bishops shall be appointed in the same manner as they have been for time past.—Is such a proposal delusive, or is it not.
Let me suppose us to act on such an arrangement, and let us discover if we can, in what way we should be secured. But first, it is necessary to examine the nature of the danger which it is to meet. The Protestant sees with apprehension four millions of our people still mainly dependent for their habits and opinions, and more particularly for their impressions of the religion and government of England, on a great body of ecclesiastics, whom the 307 fatal and mistaken policy of our ancestors had treated in such a manner, that it was not in human nature to expect that those ecclesiastics should make their flocks very much attached to the government from which that treatment proceeded. The Protestant sees that body of ecclesiactics, who, till lately were under absolute proscription, still an insulated and an unacknowledged, but most formidable power within the country, totally unconnected with the state, studiously independent of it, unattached to it by any of the ordinary motives of human conduct, but acting all the while on the education, the moral?, the habits, the opinions, and conduct of the greater part of our population, more extensively than the legislature and executive powers united;—it is their own boast that they can do so, and I am forced to acknowledge the melancholy truth. The Protestant sees further this great ecclesiastical community, so powerful in command, itself submitted with unlimited devotion to the orders of a comparatively small portion of their own body,—I mean their bishops; and these again acting with an unanimity and steadiness in asserting their authority, and extending the common interest of their order, not inferior to any thing in the example of Papal Rome itself.—I am fur from blaming them for so doing;—in their place, I should act, no doubt, in the same manner.—It is the nature of every great corporation to infuse a strong zeal into its individual members for the advancement of its interest and power; and certainly of no other corporation that the world has ever seen, may this so truly be observed, as of the great ecclesiastical body of the church of Rome.—In Ireland the Protestant sees a number of the Roman Catholic bishops meeting annually at Maynooth, primarily for the regulation of the seminary; but he we understands that they do not separate without accomplishing the second, but more important object of taking common order for the concerns of their church; due deference being paid to the recommendations of a committee so conveniently assembled.—Upon more urgent occasions he sees the whole body of their bishops meeting in synods convoked by their own authority, and promulgating whatever decrees upon whatever subject they think proper, whether it be a deck ration of their own resolution to submit to martyrdom rather than comply with the enactments of a law at the time in pro- 308 gress through the British senate; or whether they take a wider range, and discuss the merits of the gallican concordat, censuring its principles, but justifying their adoption as a necessary compliance with the dreadful necessity of the times.
Sir, the Protestant sees in this imperium in imperio, an anomaly which I shall presently endeavour to demonstrate is not permitted to exist in any other country, Protestant or Catholic. And when he looks around amongst our population for that extended charity and peace, that respect for British law, that attachment to British connexion, which forty years of conciliation and concession, the repeal of the penal code, the communication of civil privilege, and the grant of pecuniary endowment for education might naturally be expected, ere this time, to have produced; he looks in vain, and sees nothing but what tends to increase his dissatisfaction and his fears. He sees our people in too many districts acting in avowed defiance of the law, subverting the very foundations of society; and he sees them, when finally overtaken by justice, heroically; ready to meet their fate, firmly convinced that they are dying in a good cause; while their associates, instead of regarding their punishment as a sacrifice to the offended laws, view it rather in the light of the ordinary operations of a campaign; and while their superiors are hoping that the examples of so many executions may strike a salutary terror into the guilty, they are no less congratulating themselves that the cause has lost only so few of its supporters.
Let me not be misunderstood as imputing to their clergy the origin of these r evils. They are the fruits of a sad course of events in Irish history, with which, through the faults of our ancestors, the Roman Catholic religion has been inseparably interwoven. I wish to be understood to speak of the errors of the present race of our peasantry, as rather being a continuation of the habits of their fathers generated by the misgovernment and calamities of the times, and tremendously enhanced by the bad qualities of the education which they receive;—a supply of moral poison, for the particulars of which I need only refer to the reports of the commissioners of education. A new system, both of books and of instruction, it has at length been introduced, and let us hope that the Roman Catholic clergy will he amongst the foremost to assist its opera- 309 tion. Upon the spirit which they manifest, its success must greatly depend. The Protestant sees further in too many districts, an increasing proscription of himself and of his creed;—he sees the Protestant tradesman systematically and simultaneously deserted by his Catholic customers;—he sees the Protestant farmer menaced in his habitation, and way-laid in his journies, until he seeks his peace in emigration, or buys it by his conversion. He sees a wide spreading system of intermarriage of Protestants and Catholics above all things encouraged by their priesthood, ending very generally in the conversion of the husband or wife, and securing almost universally the Catholicism of the children. He sees, every where, from these concurrent causes, the diminution of Protestant numbers, the increasing insecurity of Protestant property, the steady career, the unbending intolerance of Catholic aggrandizement. He looks for some practical safeguard and protection for himself, when it shall be endowed (if it shall be endowed), with the new strength and powers which it seeks; and he is told, to be of good cheer—that this all-saving security is now provided, that the influencing and directing spirit, which he considers as propelling forward all that he apprehends, is to continue exactly as it stands, as uncontrolled, as unattached, as insulated, and as alienated as ever.
Such, Sir, is domestic nomination:—a mere continuation of this moral and religious imperium in imperio, exactly as it stands. No, not exactly; we are to make this alteration in its relations to the state; we are to add energy and power to the mass upon which it acts, and to sharpen and strengthen the weapons which it wields. Sir, such an arrangement is not our security, but our danger.
But the Roman Catholics declare that this is the only basis upon which they will treat, and we are told, even by Protestants, that because we have hitherto given up one half of what was sought for, and obtained no concession in return, that, albeit, we now reap the bitter fruits of our mistake; still we must, in consistency, give up all the remainder just as gratuitously, and add it to what we have already thrown away.
I know there are many gentlemen who wish to go into the committee on the avowed basis of domestic nomination, but hoping, when they get into it, to be able to manufacture something more effectual 310 out of the principle of the Veto. I suspect that they have conceived an exaggerated opinion of the efficacy of that measure, and have formed a most inadequate idea of the hostility with which the Catholics of Ireland at present regard every possible modification of that principle. The Veto is a term well-chosen for allaying what are called the prejudices of Englishmen, and persuading them that it would confer some practical influence on the government, or afford some protection against some danger; but this is, in my mind, the whole service that this Veto ever could perform, and perhaps, all that it was ever seriously expected to accomplish by those who first introduced it to the public I scarcely ever met with an Irish Protestant who saw in it any security whatever, and for this reason, that the attachment of the great mass of the Irish Roman Catholic population, to the English laws, and their desire to maintain the political connexion of the British islands, is, in his view, the only real security against an increase of Catholic power. Towards the production of these sentiments the Veto would never advance a single step; it merely proposes to vest a power in the Crown, harsh and ungracious even to possess, and perfectly nugatory for any practical operation.
The government could have no previous knowledge of the individual named from amongst the ranks of a priesthood with which it has no contact, intercourse, or communication. But waving even this objection, and supposing the government possessed of every means of information, it is the bishop, and not the priest, whose conduct, or whose power, or whose influence is of any real moment; for him the Veto would be a dead letter?—once a bishop, he might well disregard it,—he has done with it for ever. The moment his power of good or ill begins, any power conferred by the Veto is to end. Observe also the ingenuity of the expedient which prepares the ordeal of the Veto, just before, and not after, the manifestation of the conduct of the individual who is to be its object. Of the conduct of the priest the government can know nothing;—of the bishop, if they should know any thing to his prejudice, it will be too late.
But, Sir, it is unnecessary to pursue further the discussion of the Veto, because, in the eyes of the Catholics it is just as objectionable, as to those of the Protestants, it appears inefficacious. The Catho- 311 lies meet you upon this point in limine. Their clergy have, within this few years, in solemn synod, declared they cannot assent to it without incurring the guilt of schism; they have, at the same time, declared their readiness to lay down their lives rather than obey any act of parliament that may attempt to enforce it; and they have subsequently resolved, that in the event of the pope being induced to assent, their own superior concern for the interests of their church would prevent their submitting to it. Even after the principles of the Veto had been recognised, and the terms of it, as contained in the relief bill of 1813, had been specifically approved of by the rescript of the pope's vicegerent, monseigneur Quarantotti, the resistance of the Irish clergy was in no degree diminished. The Roman Catholic bishop of Cloyne informs his clergy, in a published letter, "that he has read the rescript, that very mischievous document, with feelings of disgust and indignation." Another bishop declares in like manner, "that he protests against it; and that while he has breath in his body he will continue to do so." The clergy of the diocese of Dublin proclaim "their unqualified dissent from the principles which it inculcates, and which as Catholics and Irishmen they view with disgust and abhorrence." The clergy of Cork declare "that it has excited the most unprecedented alarm among their flocks; and that it tends, in their judgment, to produce incalculable mischief, if not utter ruin, to their religion in Ireland." But it is unnecessary to multiply examples in order to illustrate what no informed person will deny, the abomination in which the Veto is held by the Irish Catholic ecclesiastics. The extent to which it is detested by the great mass of the laity, a very few of their aristocracy alone excepted, is equally undisputed. The public meeting at Kilkenny declared Mr. Grattan's relief bill to be "a penal law,—a law of persecution, which, if persevered in, would shake the empire to its foundation;" and the experience of all the county meetings and all the aggregate meetings, which have since been held, proves this sentiment to be rather strengthened than diminished.
The right hon. gentleman has, indeed, admitted the extreme indisposition of these petitioners to any arrangement that rests upon this basis; but he suggests that it is for this House to legislate, and for the 312 Catholics to obey; that it is for us to do, not what we suppose to be popular, but what we feel to be right; not what is agreeable to them, but what is good for the empire—secure of giving ultimate satisfaction, whatever feelings of present discontent may be excited. Upon ordinary occasions, there is no one, Sir, more disposed than I am, to admit that such a course is best suited, both to the dignity and duty of this House, but when you come to apply this rule to the enactment of a Veto, I am afraid you will find the case to be rather an exception, and it appears to me, that this point well deserves our most serious consideration. We must ever recollect, that almost every form of security that has been proposed, and peculiarly the Veto, applies to the clergy, and not to the laity. It is, indeed, the character of every arrangement that has been suggested for Catholic emancipation, that the concessions and privileges are exclusively for the laity;—the conditions, restrictions, and regulations for their clergy. It must, therefore, be first ascertained, that before the concessions are made to the laity, who are to receive the benefit, the clergy will afterwards fairly bear their part in performing the conditions, in consideration of which those concessions are to be granted.
This must be understood as an indispensable preliminary, before we can stir a step; otherwise we might find ourselves in the distressing situation, of having given up every thing for nothing, and incurred every danger which was apprehended, without obtaining any one safeguard which, had been held forth, because, when the performance of the conditions should be looked for, the clergy would plead their conscience and their religion in bar of the fulfilment. We should then have no alternative between acquiescence in their resistance, or an attempt to enforce the law by compulsion, which would instantly and inevitably assume the complexion of a religious persecution of the worst species. And this it is which distinguishes the enactment of securities, by the mere authority of parliament, from the provisions of any ordinary statute. In common cases, the feelings of the individuals who are to be affected, may well be obliged to give way for the general good, and the common penalties of the law sufficiently provide for obedience; but, in a matter of religion, the case is different, and I can conceive no situation more embarrassing, 313 than that of the legislature, if, after having enacted ecclesiastical securities for the satisfaction of the Protestants, and procured their acquiescence in the measure of emancipation on the faith of Catholic performance, it should afterwards be found that the necessity of refusing compliance with the law, was become a point of religious conviction, upon the part of the clergy.
Sir, it is no imaginary case that I am putting: the Irish Roman Catholic clergy never spoke out upon this subject, until a vote had actually passed this House, for going into a committee on the bill for their relief; and it is a curious fact, that the decretum of the Irish synod was promulgated in Dublin a day or two before the result of the first vote of the committee had arrived there. The synod must, therefore, have come to its resolution under the impression, at that time universal, that the large majority which had voted for the committee, would carry through the measure of emancipation, upon the terms and conditions which were proposed, and the determination of the bishops, convened in full synod, under these circumstances, was, that they could not obey such a law without incurring the guilt of schism, and that, with the blessing of God, they were ready to lay down their lives, if necessary, rather than comply with its provisions.
Suppose that law had actually passed: the laity would have had every thing conceded to them, and upon the appointment of the next Roman Catholic bishop, when you should come to apply the boasted securities, you would have had the tender of a candidate for martyrdom, in lieu of the performance of the condition, on which alone emancipation had been granted. And now, Sir, that we have the renewed assurance of the feeling of the clergy being unchanged, are we to repeat the former erroneous course, with this single variation, that formerly the legislature had the excuse of being under a mistake, but that, in the second instance, we should act with our eyes open; that formerly we should, at least, have thought it practicable to obtain the performance of the compact, but that now we should know it to be impossible, except at the expense of a religious persecution.
And would any one recommend the experiment of tranquillizing Ireland, by even the semblance of a religious persecution? but here, in truth, you would not have the 314 semblance but the reality. If the clergy should be refractory for conscience sake, I ask you, what course would you adopt. What course could you adopt, but either to acquiesce in their refusal, or to attempt, by force of some kind or other, to carry the law into execution?—Permit me, however, to do the clergy justice for their candour; they have now told us fairly the course they mean to pursue. It is for us, Sir, to say, whether we shall be so mad as to give them the opportunity.
I hope I have made out the proposition, that if the Veto is to afford the general principle, which, in the committee, it is hoped to mould into a security, we must not rely merely on the determinations of the legislature, but that the dispositions of the Catholic clergy must be a very principal subject of attention.
Much stress, I know, is laid upon the assertion, that the Pope is favourable to the measure. How the fact is I know not. Certainly in his letter from Genoa, of the 26th April, 1815, his impression of the nature of concession upon the Veto seems to fall very short of the measure contemplated by this House; the following are is words:—"In quibus mos est candidates sanctæ sedi commendandos designare, eorum notulam exhibeant regiis ministeriis, ut gubernium si quis invisus aut suspectus sit eum statim indicet ut expungatur, ita, tamen ut sufficiens numerus supersit ex quo sanctitas sua eligere potest." I see here no real power even of Veto:—the government are to suggest,—it is the pope who is still to judge of the weight of the objections, and these are not to be pushed too far, lest there should not be a sufficient number of individuals left for the objects of his choice. If this were to be acted on, it would be an increase rather than a diminution of the papal authority. We should confer on him a positive privilege of choice, in lieu of the present habit of acquiescence in the customary domestic nomination. But, whatever may be the feelings of the Roman pontiff upon the subject, one thing is certain, that when it was believed that he was in favour of arrangements, the universal voice of all those who assembled at public meetings in Ireland declared, that they would show they were Catholics, not Papists, and therefore not bound by his authority. When it was thought the pope was of their opinion, the arrangements were treated as involving spiritual matters of high moment:—When he was, on the 315 contrary, supposed to be inclined to yield, he was represented as compromising the interests of Irish Catholicity, which he had no right to surrender; nay, the clergy have publicly resolved that, in the event of his being deceived upon this head, their superior knowledge of their interests in Ireland will not permit them to acquiesce.
But, granting for a moment that the pope and the parliament, by a rare alliance, should overpower these difficulties, and carry the emancipation upon the basis of a Veto, let me ask, if another pope were to arise a few years afterwards, who should perchance discover that his predecessor lad been in mistake, and should inform the Catholics of Ireland that they had been perfectly right in considering the arrangements as matters of religion, is it possible to doubt, after the feelings their clergy have exhibited, that they would yield to his suggestion, and leave us to the alternative of abandoning the law, or resorting to violence, in order to enforce it? I am compelled to see in these late proceedings an additional proof that political objects, and those founded upon feelings not friendly to this country, are at the bottom with the efficient leaders of the Roman Catholics; and this inference is only strengthened by seeing that even the authority of the see of Rome has failed, (perhaps the only point on which it could encounter failure) when it has attempted to draw closer the bonds of amity between Ireland and Great Britain.
When it is proposed, Sir, to go into a committee to inquire upon what terms we may safely accomplish what all admit to be a serious change in the constitution, is it too much to require that it should previously be shown to us, that some such terms are, in fact, within the means of attainment?—We are not in a committee to search for a principle, but to modify the details of some principle previously suggested in the House. I have endeavoured to show that none such can be found either in domestic nomination, or in the Veto:—and no other has been suggested. On a former occasion we were induced to go into a committee under abundant promises, that principles of security, satisfactory to all parties, would be proposed in it. The experiment was tried; we went into the committee to see what could be had, and we found nothing but a Veto. The mountains brought forth their mouse,—an object of Protestant ridicule, and of Catholic abhorrence.
316 It is clear to me that so long as the Catholics of Ireland continue in the feeling which has prevailed, it will be in vain to propose such terms as would make the proposition of investing them with political power, consistent with the views (I will put it on this practical ground) which have been entertained of their religion, in every part of Europe.—And this leads me to an important part of the question hitherto not discussed amongst us,—I mean the nature of the securities actually resorted to in other states. It is the more important that this should be fully understood, in order, that if the time should ever come when the Catholics of Ireland shall desire to obtain their objects upon the pirnciple of conforming to those arrangements to which the Catholics have contentedly submitted in other parts of the world, the Protestants may, on their side, be apprized of the full extent of the terms on which they may reasonably insist. It is scarcely necessary to add, that for the materials of this inquiry I am indebted to the very valuable report of that committee of which an hon. baronet opposite to me was the chairman.
Amongst the Protestant states of Europe I find but two in which Roman Catholic bishops are permitted to exist—Prussia and Great Britain.—The example of the former becomes, therefore, the more important. In Prussia the power of appointing the Catholic bishops is generally vested directly in the crown;—where the crown does not directly appoint, they are nominated by their chapters, but the election is subject to the approbation of the sovereign.—Even in these cases, however, the patronage is substantially in the crown; for we are informed, that "upon a see becoming vacant, a commissary is sent to the chapter, bearer to it of a letter from his Prussian majesty, by which it is directed to proceed canonically to the election of a new bishop, and the name of a person is stated to them; and they are informed that if it is made in his favour, it will be agreeable to his majesty; that this recommendation is uniformly conformed to; the chapter is aware, that as his majesty's approbation of their choice is indispensable the surest mode of obtaining it will be to make the election recommended; otherwise the persons successively chosen by them would be exposed to endless objections."—But this is not the extent of Catholic patronage exercised by the Protestant king of Prussia; the House will per- 317 haps be surprised to learn, that the minister of state names the priests to vacant churches, the bishops having previously approved of their admission as candidates for holy orders. Nor does the system of Prussian securities end here.—"No bull of the pope can be published without being submitted to the examination of the minister of the interior, by whom it is modified so as to be conformable to the regulations of the state."—And further, "All synods within the realm, must, as well as their decrees, be sanctioned by the cognizance and approbation of the state."
Sir, I am far from thinking it necessary or even desirable, that the king of England should possess precisely the same powers; but if the Protestants should desire that he should have some of them, or all of them, as conditions of emancipation, I would ask what spiritual objections could make those regulations incompatible with the Catholic religion in the Protestant kingdom of England, which are not incompatible with it in the Protestant kingdom of Prussia, and throughout the whole of its dependencies in Catholic Silesia? If there were any thing essentially incompatible with their religion in such arrangements, neither the Catholics of those countries nor the see of Rome could ever have acquiesced in them. The political inexpediency of the measure is another question, and one upon which, I suppose that neither the authority of the supreme pontiff, nor of the petitioners would govern the decision of this House; but the absolute incompatibility of such arrangements with the tenets of their faith is a proposition which, after this example, no dictum of pope or propaganda can ever impose upon the mind of any being endowed with reason.
Let it not be said that a sufficient excuse exists for their acquiescence in Prussia,—that a temporal stipend is in that kingdom connected with the spiritual preferment. To this I give two answers:—first, I should propose to annex a stipend as an indispensable part of any Irish arrangement:—secondly, it is clear that the mere temporal profit of the clergy in Prussia never could have induced the see of Rome to give up the power of nomination, if that nomination were a purely spiritual right. It is the very definition of simony, "dare aliquod spirituale pro aliquo temporale;" a proceeding which I should be the last to charge upon the Roman pontiff:—it is I,§318 on the contrary, who defend him from this imputation, which gentlemen must necessarily cast on him, if they suppose him to have given up for a temporal advantage any thing that is indeed of a spiritual nature. It is plain that what he has surrendered is a mere temporal right, in consideration (if you will) of the temporal benefits conferred upon the Prussian clergy. In the same manner he might, if he pleased, agree in giving up the same powers to the Protestant king of this country, either as an inducement to the legislature to confer political power on the Catholic laity, or in consideration of a stipend for their clergy, if that should appear to others as it does to me, and indispensable condition. In case this House, Sir, should ever enter into the consideration of securities, and think such arrangements expedient, I trust we never shall endure that any thing conceded to the Protestant king of another nation shall be refused to the monarch of these realms.
I have said, that I should not desire to see our king in possession of all the powers exercised by the sovereign to whom I have alluded; I beg to be permitted to explain my meaning. I should object to it as an undesirable increase of the influence of the Crown. In that feeling I should be satisfied to give up so much of the authority of the Prussian precedent as relates to the lower classes of the clergy; and instead of their being appointed by the minister of state, I should better pleased to see that power exercised by their own prelates. As to the selection of the latter, if it should be thought a reasonable sacrifice to any Catholic jealousy, which might possibly be entertained if the original choice of a bishop were to rest with the government, I, for one, should not object to entrust it in all cases to their four archbishops, to choose the new bishop from amongst their own priesthood; but it must be on the express condition of the Crown having the power of translating to the sees of the, greatest rank, value, and importance such of the bishops as it should prefer. This share of patronage, this ground of assurance that the general direction of the Roman Catholic church in Ireland should be in the hands of individuals who had proved themselves exempt from any ground of Protestant objection, I should insist upon as absolutely necessary for the state to possess; and in such an arrangement, coupled with a stipend proceeding from 319 the exchequer, I should see far stronger grounds of hope for safety and stability, than in any securities hitherto discussed. I should also insist on the adoption of the Prussian regulations, in all their latitude, respecting communications with Rome, and respecting domestic synods.
If I am asked why then will I not go into the committee to discuss such arrangements:—my answer is,—because it is impossible. Every objection which the Catholics of Ireland now feel to the Veto, they would apply with tenfold exasperation to a project which they would consider as a mere purchase of the liberties of their church: besides, it would, in my mind, be indispensably necessary that the consent, both of their clergy and of the Roman see, should be secured previous to any such discussion; and no person, I believe, will suppose that any of these parties are at present in a state of mind that would tolerate such a proposition.
Permit me now to continue the view which I had commenced of the regulations adopted by the other Protestant states of Europe. In Denmark it does not appear that there is any Roman Catholic ecclesiastic of the episcopal order. The missionary priests are appointed by the bishop of Hildesheim, who exercises the delegated authority of a vicar apostolic, in relation to several states, in which he is not resident:—in all instances, their appointments within Denmark and its dependencies are certified to the civil authorities for confirmation. In Sweden there is not any Roman Catholic bishop, but there is one vicar apostolic, authorized by the diploma of the Protestant king, and exercising his functions subject to the provisions in the edict of toleration. In Holland, I should collect from the report, that there is not any Roman Catholic prelate; but it is required by the law of that country, that no priest of that persuasion shall be permitted to exercise any of his functions, without being previously authorized thereto by a written act of consent and toleration; which act shall be granted in the towns by the burgomasters, and in the country by the supreme authority of each district." It is observable that all regular priests, and particularly the Jesuits, are absolutely excluded from this admission. What regulations are to be adopted with respect to the provinces lately annexed to the kingdom of the Netherlands, do not appear to have been as yet settled. In the state of Hamburgh, 320 there is not any Roman Catholic bishop: the priests, like those in Denmark, are appointed by the bishop of Hildesheim, but subject to the confirmation of the senate. The government exercises the fullest authority over all publications of an ecclesiastical character, and the laws expressly prohibit all such without its previous sanction. In Saxony, the parent of the reformation, there is not any Catholic prelate, but there is one vicar apostolic; his functions seem nearly confined to acting as the confessor of the king. On a late occasion, when it was desired by his majesty to obtain the episcopal rank for the person who officiated in that capacity, it was necessary to resort to Argos in partibus infidelium in order to gratify his wishes. In Wurtemburg there is not any Roman Catholic bishop, but there is one vicar apostolic; how he is appointed does not appear. Of Hanover the report does not enable me to speak.
Let us now turn to Russia, the only great state in the communion of the Greek church;—a church more estranged from the religion of Rome than any of the western establishments founded by the reformation.—The pope has, indeed, quite as much reason to be jealous of the hostility of the Greek Christian, as of any Lutheran or Calvinist, sharing as he does with the latter in almost every point of their difference from the doctrine of the Roman see, and having one or two others peculiar to himself.—In his view, the Latin bishop is a modern schismatic from the authority and doctrines of the primitive Eastern Apostolic Church, and I have heard more than one Greek prelate pronounce him to be nearly as great a deceiver of mankind as Mahomet himself.—And yet, Sir, we see this Latin bishop, though still under the actual excommunication of that Church from which he has dissented, acquiescing in the sovereign of Russia's appointing directly to the only Roman Catholic see within his dominions.—I ask, are we to tolerate that a power thus recognized in the Russian emperor, should be refused to an English king?—Again let me ask, what spiritual objection can be urged?—for if it is indeed avowed that the indisposition proceeds from political motives, the pope is the last person to whom I should attend I upon the subject.
I now pass to the Catholic nations, that we may inquire what regulations they have found it necessary to adopt against the 321 authority of Rome; and here, instead of increased deference, we shall find nothing but augmented precaution. So that it may be affirmed that, with scarcely an exception, there is not amongst them any state so small or so great, so near or so remote, so enlightened or so superstitious, but that it has set itself against the pretensions of the papal see with a jealousy at least equal to that of Protestants themselves. In Austria we find the Catholic prelates appointed by the emperor;—in Hungary by the king, and in the latter country they act without waiting for any Roman confirmation:—in Austria and Hungary the coadjutors even are appointed by the Crown. As to the communications with Rome, all ecclesiastical statutes, ordinances, bulls, and rescripts, are submitted to the provincial government in the first instance, and afterwards, along with an attorney-general's opinion, laid before the supreme tribunal, by which "their promulgation is prohibited, when they are found to relate to objects not essential to the legitimate ends of government, or obnoxious to the interests of the state." In France the king has appointed all archbishops and bishops for at least three hundred years; indeed, there is reason to suppose that the right is as ancient 88 the French monarchy itself:—"No State maxim," says Pithou, "can induce the king of France to tolerate that a foreign power, ignorant of the true interests of the country, or whose interest may be opposite to theirs, should appoint to the prelatures. The patent of the appointed prelates and their consecration are left to the pope, but the choice of those who are to be consecrated are left to kings. This right is inherent in the Crown, it is unalienable." As to the communications with Rome, a peculiar jealousy has existed in France. So late as 1768, we find the king's advocate pressing upon the Parliament, "the pernicious principles which the encroaching disposition of the see of Rome would cause to be disseminated, if the parliament should not carefully examine every act derived from that source, before the publication should be recommended to the Crown."
Perhaps we should have expected to discover in Spain more compliance in these matters; far from it. All bishops in Spain are appointed by the king, who requires that the necessary bulls should be immediately transmitted by the pope to the newly appointed prelate. The pa- 322 tronage of all ecclesiastical benefices appears also, to have been in the Crown, until by a concordat in the middle of the last century, reciting the dissentions that had existed between his majesty and the pope, fifty-two benefices were declared to be in the gift of the latter. On the subject of communication with Rome, we find the kingdom of Spain as cautious as any of its neighbours. Every brief, bull, rescript, or pontifical letter, must be, in the first instance, transmitted to the government for examination. Ecclesiastical persons offending against this provision lose all their temporal rights; nay, even the attornies employed are sentenced to expiate, by a ten years imprisonment in Africa, the crime of having been concerned in such transactions.
In Portugal the powers of the Roman see, both with respect to patronage and the intromission of its bulls, seem to have been matter of strenuous dispute. The Portuguese government, however, have never ceded to its pretensions; and so lately as 1811, we find a writer handed over to public prosecution for daring to defend them. The condemnation of this work by the royal censor of Portugal, contains language which we should not, perhaps, have expected from a Roman Catholic of that country: he speaks of "the iniquitous pretensions of the popes to undermine the sacred authority of kings and bishops; and the despotism of the Roman court, of which Portugal, France, Germany, and unhappy England more than the other powers, have complained." The king of the Two Sicilies would not be found upon inquiry to be much more inclined to acquiesce; but I should not feel excusable, if I were to trespass on the attention of the House, by a minute examination of the regulations which prevail amongst all the smaller states of the Catholic persuasion. I have already sufficiently adverted to those which are of the greatest consequence, and I shall content myself by referring to the report itself such gentleman as may desire further information on the subject.
We have thus, Sir, looked round Europe, and seen Calvinists, and Lutherans, and Roman Catholics, and christians of the Greek communion, agreeing in two propositions:—first, that the patronage of the higher stations of the Catholic clergy must be vested in the state;—and, secondly,—that the most vigorous superintendance must be exercised over all their 323 communications with the see of Rome. And, therefore, when the right hon. gentleman asks, whether this nation will continue to be the only great nation that shall persist in intolerance, I say, that his question rather ought to be, whether this nation will determine to be the only one in Europe which shall consent to place the Roman Catholic religion in a situation so free from ail practical control, as to form a complete imperium in imperio within its bosom.
And why, Sir, have all the European powers, and more particularly the Roman Catholic powers, felt it so necessary to guard against the introduction of the papal bulls, purporting to expound, from the highest authority, the faith which they themselves profess? Because there are doctrines, peculiar to papal Rome, insisted on in her early power, and never abandoned in her extremest weakness, inconsistent with the legitimate and necessary authority of governments within their respective dominions, and therefore thus guarded against by all,—or rather by all but England.—These tenets of the Roman see have long been designated by the name of the Transalpine doctrine. That doctrine, on all sides, has endeavoured, with unwearied perseverance, to establish its dominion, but on all sides it has been so vigorously repelled, that at this hour there are but two spots in Europe on which it can rest its foot; and one of these spots is the Vatican, and the other is Maynooth.—Whence, Sir, this singular result, that only in the centre of the British empire has Rome been thus successful? Because all other nations have contented themselves with regulating the Roman Catholic religion, which was practicable, but we insisted on abolishing it, which was impossible. We despised regulation, and persecution produced the effects which persecution never fails to produce upon any creed of man; the more it was assailed, the more it grew and the more it flourished. That fatal policy has long ceased to exist. Let us not, however, in embracing the wiser system of toleration, neglect those precautions of which the whole world has set us the example.
We have heard much of the tenets of the Catholic church, its councils, its dogmas, and decrees. I have never been disposed, Sir, to lay so much stress on this part of the question as appears necessary to some gentlemen. I was willing to sup-‡324 pose that education and the superior reason of the age in which we live, must have had their tacit influence on the Roman see; and that although a decent sense of consistency might withhold its pontiffs from formerly retracting those principles which the pride, or the power, or the ignorance of an Innocent and a Gregory had imposed upon the world, we might well compound for their becoming matters of silent omission upon their part, and of generous oblivion upon ours; but when I advert to some recent events, I am almost forced to doubt whether I have not been rather too liberal in giving them this credit. I see the order of the Jesuits restored; after all the experience of their incompatibility with the various governments of Europe—after having been expelled even from Russia—and after having been convicted by the antipathy of the human race (if I may use the expression) I see the present pope of opinion that the circumstances of Europe call for the revival of their order. I see them accordingly sent forth, and journeying after the Transalpine doctrine so congenial to their spirit, I see them following its conducting light, and departing to visit Ireland, the house over which its star has stood.
There was one circumstance more than any other which had induced me to give to the Catholic religion a credit for increased moderation. I mean its late-born toleration for the diffusion of the sacred scriptures.—I thanked it, if not for its cooperation, at least for its endurance of the efforts of that noble association, which, amidst all the glories of our country, will stand forth, I am convinced, in after ages, the brightest ornament of our times,—I speak of the Bible Society of Britain, whose spirit, like the angel described in the Apocalypse, is now flying through the midst of heaven,—having the everlasting Gospel to preach to them that dwell upon the earth,—to every nation—and kindred,—and tongue,—and people. Alas, Sir! I gave to that religion a credit which it has not deserved.—The candour and moderation which had disarmed even Portuguese and Sicilian superstition, have served but to sharpen the keen hostility of Rome. In a pontifical letter, addressed on the 29th of June last to the primate of Poland, I find the following denunciation of the Bible Society:—
"We have been truly shocked at this most crafty device, by which the very foundations of religion are undermined, and 325 having, because of the great importance of the subject, conferred in council with our venerable brethren, the cardinals of the holy Roman Church, we have, with the utmost care and attention, deliberated upon the measures proper to be adopted by our pontifical authority, in order to remedy and abolish this pestilence as far as possible. In the mean time we heartily congratulate you, venerable brother, and we commend you again and again in the Lord, as it is fit we should, upon the singular zeal which you have shown under the circumstances so dangerous to Christianity, in having denounced to the apostolic see this defilement of the faith so imminently dangerous to souls.—And although we perceive that it is not necessary to excite him to activity who is making haste, since of your own accord you have already shown an ardent desire to detect and overthrow the impious machinations of these innovators; yet, in conformity with our office, we again and again intreat you, that whatever you can achieve by power, provide for by counsel, or effect by authority, you will daily execute with the utmost earnestness, placing yourselves as a wall for the house of Israel."
The Polish bishop, it seems, had deserved commendation, but the conduct of the archbishop of Malines demanded a reproof.—The following are extracts from another bull, addressed to the latter prelate on the 3rd of September last.—"We are worn down with poignant and bitter grief at hearing of the pernicious designs not very long ago entered upon, by which the most holy books of the Bible are every where dispersed in the several vernacular tongues, and published, contrary to the most wholesome rules of the church, with new translations, which are craftily perverted into bad meanings.—But we were still more deeply grieved when we read certain letters signed with the name of you, our brother, wherein you authorized and exhorted the people committed to your care to procure for themselves modern versions of the Bible, or willingly to accept them, and carefully and attentively to peruse them.—Nothing certainly could more aggravate our grief than to behold you, who were placed to point out the ways of righteousness become a stone of stumbling; for you ought carefully to have kept in view what our predecessors have always prescribed; namely, that if the Holy Bible in the vulgar tongue were permitted every where without discrimination, more injury 326 than benefit would arise."—The whole of this document is much too long for repetition here:—it finally enjoins the archbishop "to emulate the example of illustrious men which procured for them such honour, and consider how he might reprobate these his deeds by a solemn and formal retractation." Such, Sir, are the sentiments of the see of Rome at this time; and I know not in what they differ from those which it entertained in the first moments of the Reformation.
An elaborate work, in four volumes, has lately issued from the press of this country, to which I shall now beg leave to direct your attention,—"A Defence of the Ancient Faith," by Dr. Gandolphy. In general, I feel as strongly as any one the injustice of endeavouring to affix upon a large party the sentiments of an individual; but this "Defence of the Ancient Faith" comes attended by some circumstances which entitle it to peculiar credit. The publication appears to have been disapproved of, and its circulation prohibited, by Dr. Poynter, the ecclesiastical superior of the author. Dr. Gandolphy* tells us that "to this he submitted, expecting justice at Rome." To Rome he accordingly went, "where his character carried him through every difficulty, and he returned with the approbation of his works by the proper authority, that authority without whose approbation the Pope himself cannot publish." This authority it appears, was the master of Sacred Theology, and the professor of the sacred Scriptures at Rome. The former states, "that the author has undertaken to explain and illustrate every point of doctrine which has given rise to controversy between Catholics and Protestants: and, as far as it is possible to succeed, has rendered the articles of Catholic faith clearer than the light:" he adds, "that after rigidly examining the whole composition, he is far from discovering any thing in it contrary to the pure faith and doctrine of the Catholic church.
The approbation of the other censor is still more decisive: he states, "that the author has carried the war of controversy into the fortresses of the enemy; and in that land, once the fruitful parent of saints; has triumphantly raised the Catholic standard of victory over his discomfited and confuted opponents; and declares that* Gandolphy's Address to the Public, London, October 5, 1816.327 multiplied editions of this work, so worthy to be cased in cedar and gold, will be highly advantageous to the Catholic church."
This work so sanctioned, exhibits such sentiments towards Rome, such feelings towards our established church, and such hopes and predictions of its downfal, such views of the British constitution,—as might well induce a Protestant to pause before he could admit that principles like these can safely be admitted into the guidance of our councils, and the enactment of our laws. In order fully to appreciate these principles, it would be necessary to read the whole work; but the following few extracts may, at present serve, as specimens of its spirit:—"A Catholic finds not more difficulty in assenting to any truth the church proposes to him as an article of faith, than he would in assenting to the oral testimony of God himself."—Vol. i. p. 429. The reformation was "the sinful deed of lust, avarice, and pride."—Vol. ii. p. 130. "An impious withdrawal from their mother church."—Vol. iv. p. 19. "Its sole object was to render religion less adverse to the corrupt inclinations of men."—Vol. iv. p. 23. "With the exception of what the laws of decency and society require, the reformed religion has done away every species of restraint, and the human soul is left by her more completely at large in the moral than in the physical world. She is not more controlled by precept than the actions of the savage, her own will becomes the only binding law."—Vol. ii. p. 220. The errors of the church of England are elsewhere represented "as the severest curse with which the Almighty visits the sins of the people. More mercifully does he pursue them with pestilence, fire, and sword; and yet on how many millions of our fellow subjects does the divine justice thus secretly revenge itself."—Vol. i. p. 221. In the same place the Protestant bishop of London is not very indirectly represented as "an emissary of the spirit of darkness—a disciple of the father of lies." Ibid. p. 222—The Protestant teachers are charged with "treason against God and religion, misprision of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."—Vol. iv. p. 21. The English clergy are designated as "Pharisaical doctors of the reformed religion."—Vol. iv. p. 311. "Ye whited walls (indignation boils within me, says the author, as in the breast of saint Paul) God shall strike you."—Vol. iv. ibid.
The temporal success of the church of England is considered naturally enough as 328 a grievous aggravation of its spiritual offence. "The ecclesiastical spoil has been already carried off. The reformer is elevated to those same dignities from whence he expelled the Catholic."—Vol. ii. p. 168. "Protestantism is observed occupied in enjoying the spoils, and in insulting the memory of those from whom she derived them."—Vol. iv. p. 395.
Some consolation, however, may be derived from the approaching downfall of the establishment. "The church of England and the kirk of Scotland have not yet sunk into total oblivion beneath the weight of time, like the reformed churches of more early date; but if we reflect upon that general cry, that the church is in danger, which has so often been raised, and the alarm excited for their fate, we may conclude that perpetuity is not a property that belongs to them."—Vol. ii. p. 201. Our Saviour is described as viewing the English church, after "having been once severed by the destructive hand of schism, with a hateful eye; as viewing the sickly sprouts which issue from its fallen, crushed, and broken branches: as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abide in the vine, so this shall wither, and they shall gather it up, and cast it into the fire, and it shall burn."—Vol. i. p. 369. "The French Revolution was the child of the Reformation, and the perfect copy in politics of what the other had been in religion. Similar character, similar means, similar pretexts, similar ends are discoverable in both, and both, like a raging tempest, shall convulse the world, and pass."—Vol. iv. p. 266. The establishment is elsewhere represented as being now "threatened to be razed from its foundation."—Vol. iv. p. 444. And we are then told that "the principles of Protestantism render her unequal to the contest, and she must either yield to the violence of these attacks, or again shelter herself under the immovable rock of Catholicity:—She must either resign her hierarchy, or see it again united in communion with the Catholic church."
In another part of the work we find a long and curious parallel between the authority of the Pope, and that of the king of these countries, showing that as the principle of the king's government is strength, so that of the Pope is truth.—Vol. i. p. 410. The author's views of the British constitution are thus expressed:—"In two points the British constitution is absolutely defective as a government: first, inasmuch as it leaves the head of it without the power 329 of acting for the general good without the consent of a third party. Secondly, by leaving the monarch occasionally dependent on the passions of the multitude. I have herein hinted that the monarch is likely to be the fountain of all that is good and wise, whilst the popular part of the government promotes all that is favourable to the passions. Now one good and virtuous monarch is capable of reforming a whole kingdom, if he have the means in his power. Every nation, therefore, would have this chance some time or other, under a regular monarchy. But a popular or representative government will infallibly pull in the opposite direction, because it will always be influenced by the baser passions."—Vol. iv. p. 230. Such, Sir, are amongst the tenets of a doctor of the nineteenth century, promulgated in the capital of the British empire, and,—in the opinion of Roman censors, "worthy of being cased in cedar, and in gold,"—But I have dwelt too long upon this topic.
I know that many wish to see political power in the hands of the Catholics, from a conviction that it would naturally devolve into the hands of their aristocracy, and that they would become safer leaders of the party than those by whom it has hitherto been directed. I agree, Sir, in the opinion, that the Catholic members of this House would, in general, be selected from the ranks of their aristocracy, and no one is more thoroughly satisfied than I am of their loyalty, moderation, and good sense; but, I totally disbelieve that they would become the efficient directors of the great Roman Catholic party—they would, I have no doubt, be permitted to lead, and be hailed even by shouts of applause exactly so long as they would pursue the direction in which they should be driven; but if they should desire to lay aside their separate character—if they should be content to forget their distinctness as Catholics—if they should hesitate to move forward in the path of Irish Roman Catholic aggrandizement, I am persuaded that they would be denounced by their followers as worse than Orangemen themselves—and if their clergy should happen to lend themselves to the cry, I see not how these leaders could refuse to follow the impulse they would receive. Nor is this, Sir, a mere picture of imagination:—We have seen within these few years, lord Fingal, and others of his friends, the applauded leaders of the body; but afterwards, when they ventured to express a dissent from its 330 proceedings, we have seen them assailed by imputation, and branded as seceders and apostates—and here their leadership expired. Equally founded in reality is the possibility which I have suggested of their clergy associating themselves with the laity in the condemnation of their aristocracy under such circumstances. In the last year, when the principal persons of their laity addressed the House of Commons in a manner which in our opinions was so honourable to their moderation—their petition was as I have said before, condemned by one Roman Catholic archbishop from his pulpit, while the very absolution which was given to it by another, indicates still more strongly the authority which their church assumed in the matter. The following is the acquittal of the petitioners, as published by Dr. Troy, the titular archbishop of Dublin:—"that inasmuch as the petitioners in stating their readiness to admit and conform to regulations, confine such readiness to arrangements not incompatible with the principles of their religion, as they respect its faith and discipline, he does not feel that they who have signed the petition, have merited his displeasure by so doing." Now, it was known to all mankind, that the arrangement to which the petitioners referred was really the Veto which the Roman Catholic bishops had declared could not be submitted to without incurring the guilt of schism—it is evident, therefore, that the saving generality of their expressions in a petition to this House alone preserved them from the "displeasure" of their ecclesiastical superior,—while the plainer declaration of what he and they equally knew to be its meaning, would have drawn down the weight of that displeasure upon their heads.
The history of Ireland presents a very remarkable instance of the lay aristocracy placing themselves at the head of the Catholic party; of their strong desire to cultivate the relations of amity with England;—of their incurring the displeasure of their ecclesiastical authorities;—of their consequent expulsion from power, and of the final desolation of Ireland, resulting from the measures that were pursued.—In the year 1642, when the Irish had succeeded in possessing themselves of the greater part of the country, a general assembly of Catholic deputies, out of all the provinces of the kingdom, was summoned to Kilkenny. The plan of its formation, and the outset of their proceed- 331 ings, are so similar to those of the modem Catholic committee, that we must suppose the framers of the latter had the council of Kilkenny in their view. Like that committee, it consisted of their temporal peers, their bishops, and lay deputies, from the counties and towns of Ireland; and, like it, they openly protested, "that they did not mean that assembly to be a parliament, but only a general meeting, to consult of an order for their own affairs, until his majesty's wisdom had settled the present troubles." The leaders of this council were the lords Gormanstown, Taaffe, Castlehaven, Muskerry, and others, men of cultivated education, moderate talents, and a sincere disposition to make peace with England on reasonable terms, and terminate the existing disorders. When this council had concluded with the lord lieutenant, a cessation of hostilities for a year, in the view of accomplishing within that period, a lasting pacification, on the basis of concessions to the Catholics, their clergy endeavoured to prevent this reconciliation:—overborne in the general assembly, they retired into a separate synod, and from thence declared, "that they were bound in conscience absolutely, expressly, and clearly to set down in the treaty of peace, a special article for keeping in their hands such churches, abbies, and monasteries, as they were then in possession of;" that is, of the Protestant churches, which, in the rebellion of the preceding year, they had taken care universally to occupy. In vain did the assembly depute their speaker to reason with the synod, upon the consequence of clogging the treaty with a condition so impossible to be complied with. The lay assembly now came to issue with their church, and concluded peace with England upon terms, to them sufficienly satisfactory. The progress of ecclesiastical pretension becomes not a little singular. In a new synod, the clergy proceeded to declare, that all persons who adhered to the peace, had violated their oath of association, and were guilty of perjury; they then excommunicated the Catholic commissioners, who had signed the treaty, and; all who were instrumental in it; and a farther excommunication was fulminated against all who should receive or pay money under the orders of the Catholic council, and against all soldiers who should act under their orders.
Nor was this an empty demonstration; the terror of the magistrates and the su- 332 perstition of the soldiers reduced the council to sue to this assuming priesthood; but they sued in vain,—the synod seized the persons of the Catholic lords and other members of the council, and threw them into prison;—they then proceeded of their mere spiritual authority to appoint a new council of ecclesiastics and laymen, upon whom they could rely, and commanded that the army should be subject to their control. No description of the extent of their success can be more complete than that which is given by an eyewitness, the Nuncio Rinuccini, in his letter to the Pope:—"The clergy of Ireland," says he, "so much despised by the Ormondists, were, in the twinkling of an eye, masters of the kingdom; soldiers, officers, and generals, strove who should fight for the clergy, drawn partly by a custom of following the strongest side, and at last, the supreme council being deprived of all authority, and confounded with amazement to see obedience denied to them, all the powers of the confederates devolved upon the clergy."
Shortly afterwards, when the murder of the king and the usurpation of Cromwell had thrown the duke of Ormond into the hands of the Catholics, and when, for their mutual defence, he himself, aided by all the nobility of their persuasion, was heading the Irish armies against the English usurper,—in this critical juncture, the laity again besought their clergy to support the lord lieutenant, or that the whole nation would unavoidably be ruined. For this purpose, a formal letter was addressed to them, their answer to which was a solemn excommunication, whereby as they express it, "they deliver unto Satan all that should feed, help, or adhere to the lord lieutenant, by giving him any subsidy, contribution, or intelligence, or by obeying and of his commands." The immediate effect of this their reply, was to paralyze all resistance to Cromwell's invading armies, and to let in that full tide of desolation which overwhelmed them and their flocks in one common ruin.
Sir, it is impossible to deny, that, from the period of the Reformation until the middle of the last century, the melancholy history of Ireland exhibits two great parties: every thing British, and every thing Protestant, constituting the one;—every thing Irish, and every thing Catholic, included in the other;—and the possession of the land the price of combat between both. Hence arose the policy of Eng- 333 land, to support what was called the Protestant ascendancy as being, in fact, her tenure of the country. Hence also the penal code,—hence (what ought not to be confounded with it),—the exclusion of Catholics from political power. During the last forty years a new system has been adopted, more suited to the spirit of our times, and to the better feelings of mankind. In abandoning the former policy, a very fatal error would, however, be committed, if this country should be led so far into the opposite extreme as to neglect the security, the maintenance, and, I will say, the encouragement of the Protestants of Ireland. I fear, Sir, that it is the more necessary to press this topic upon your attention, because I think I perceive a feeling in the minds of some persons in this country, that, as the Protestants have hitherto been too much favoured, so that, for the future, they should be positively repressed. I perceive also appearances in Ireland, too plainly indicating that equality is not the final term of attainment, but that ascendancy is an object not altogether out of Catholic contemplation. Hence the disposition to magnify their strength; hence, in the formal statement of their grievances we are told of "that in numbers they have prodigiously increased, and are continually increasing, beyond example in any other country. Already they compose the far greater part of the trading and manufacturing interests. The agricultural class, so powerful and influential throughout Ireland, is almost universally Catholic. They occupy the most valuable positions, whether for commercial or for military purposes; the boldest coasts, most navigable rivers, and most tenable passes, the most fertile districts, the richest supplies of forage, the readiest means of attack or defence." They go on to tell you that "numerically the Catholics constitute full five-sixth parts of the Irish population; that compared with the members of the established church they are in proportion of at least ten to one,—a proportion, be it observed, rapidly advancing of late years. In every city, town, and village, their numbers more or less preponderate. The open country is in their almost exclusive occupation. The gross population of Ireland at this day, is moderately estimated by the most competent judges at five millions of inhabitants.* Of this number we may, with-
§ * The total population of Ireland is334
§ out exaggeration, state the Catholics as amounting to four millions two hundred thousand; that is, equal to one-half of the united population of England and Wales. In fine, the Catholics are emphatically the PEOPLE OF IRELAND."
§ Such, Sir, is the Catholic declaration. I quote from their statement of the penal laws. In the same manner the numbers of the Protestants are depreciated in every publication and at every meeting.—What is of yet more importance, it is sought to give them a bad name,—it is sought by every effort to impress upon this country that they are the oppressors of their peaceable and suffering countrymen. Feeling it as I do, of the utmost moment that the House should be enabled rightly to estimate the Protestant character in Ireland, may I beg your attention to the history of our origin, as well as to our actual situation?
§ When gentlemen are told that one-fourth of our population is Protestant, it may possibly occur to them, that the reformation proceeded in Ireland in the same manner as amongst other nations,—that it made a certain progress amongst the people, and then was arrested. Nothing can be more different from the fact—The reformation never made any progress amongst the native inhabitants of Ireland. If you were to look merely to the Irish statute book in the reigns of Henry 8th and Elizabeth, you might indeed suppose that the separation of Ireland from the church of Rome proceeded pari passu with that of England. But during the reign of Henry, the reality of the English sway extended but a few miles from Dublin. "His highness's rebels, as they are emphatically called in the parliamentary language of the day, were in the undisturbed possession of almost the whole island, and it was to them a matter of the utmost indifference what laws a parliament in Dublin might think proper
§ probably not over-rated in this estimate; but it will hardly be denied by any one acquainted with the country, that the Protestants in Leinster, Munster, and Connaught, are at least as numerous as the Catholics in Ulster. Upon such a supposition, the total number of Protestants in Ireland would be commensurate with the actual population of Ulster—a province surely containing rather more than a fourth of the whole population of the island.335
§ to enact. The generals of Elizabeth cared but little for conversion, and the campaigns, by which they effected the final subjugation of the people were not of a character to soften their feelings of hatred for the English invaders. Their conquest was completed without the Reformation having advanced a single step; no ray of that illumination, which in this country prepared the minds of men for its reception, had penetrated the thick darkness in which Ireland was buried, and it still remains for us to inquire who and from whence are the Protestants of Ireland.
§ Elizabeth had frequently inflicted the forfeiture of land as the punishment of broken faith: but she changed only the proprietors, not the people,—the condition of the country was nothing altered, It was James who conceived the project of changing the population of a great part of the island, and of introducing a new race of men, who, from religion and their race, and the continual necessity of self-preservation, should for ever be attached to the interests of England. The rebellion of Tyrone had furnished an excuse for considering the province of Ulster as forfeited to the Crown, and James proceeded to fill it with English and Scotch undertakers. It was an age of foreign adventure,—the establishment of colonies was peculiarly the fashion of the day, and thousands who would otherwise have emigrated to the rising settlements of America, preferred the less remote plantation which was thus offered. In a little time the northern province assumed a new aspect—the settlers imported with them the habits of previous civilization. The Irish tenures of tenancy at will, aggravated by being also a tenancy in common, containing in themselves a perfect antidote to improvement, were laid aside. Freehold leases, farm-houses, law and industry, were every where introduced, and Ulster speedily presented a picture of the results of human labour. James was pleased with his success, and he was proceeding in the same manner in Longford, Westmeath, the King's and Queen's Counties, parts of Wicklow, Wexford, and Sligo, when death terminated his designs. These are the districts which, notwithstanding the wars and massacres that succeeded, have from thenceforth continued the seats of Protestantism in Ireland.
§ James did not intend to drive out the ancient inhabitants altogether. On the contrary, he allowed them a certain portion 336 of the land for their future habitation. It must, however, be acknowledged, that the measurers were the conquerors themselves—that the sword was thrown into the scale, and that the colonists took for themselves whatever was arable, plain, or fertile, and allotted to the Irish their share almost exclusively in the mountains.—The diminished numbers of the natives, reduced by their unparalleled losses during the campaigns of lord Mountjoy, and by the dreadful famine which succeeded, opposed no further resistance to these unwelcome intruders. They accordingly retired to the mountains, which were assigned to them; but they regarded the heretical robbers with abhorrence, and held themselves in readiness for exacting a bloody retribution. In 1641 they did exact it.
§ The population of the Protestants in their fertile plains naturally increased with rapidity, whilst that of the Catholics in the mountains as necessarily diminished,—hence are we to account for the great majority of the former at this day in the northern province; a proportion in several places so great, that I could name extensive tracts in which there is scarcely a Catholic to be found. The line between the two nations has, in later times, become less defined—many Roman Catholics have descended into the plains, principally to become labourers to the Protestants and a few Protestants have ascended into the mountains on agricultural or commercial speculations; but it is nevertheless true, speaking generally, that in the province of Ulster, and more or less in the other countries which I have specified, the Protestant holds the plains—the mountains are inhabited by Catholics,—and the two parties are, in all the essentials which constitute the character of a people, still distinct. The character of this Protestant yeomanry is peculiar and striking; with very little resemblance to that of their Catholic neighbours,—and yet not very like the nation from which they are derived;—if I might venture to express an opinion, perhaps too partial on this subject, I should say they had improved by transplantation, and that no part of these islands can produce a more industrious, or a more generous,—a more intelligent and loyal population. The casual observer can easily distinguish these districts from those of the West and South by their superior improvement.—Let not this, however, be too hastily assumed as a circumstance of disparagement to the latter;— 337 the northern districts have had all the advantage of the skill and knowledge of the early settlers, and what is of more consequence were afterwards, by the religion of their cultivators, exempted from the barbarizing operation of the penal code.
§ It is a part of the system to endeavour to bring these people into discredit, to represent them as an Orange faction, as men leagued for unconstitutional purposes, and thirsting for the blood of their Catholic fellow-subjects. I deeply regret that we should have any distinctions of this nature;—I wish we had neither Orangemen nor Ribbandmen: but after expressing my regrets at their existence, and my hopes that their own good sense will finally extinguish them, I cannot therefore acquiesce in the unbounded misrepresentation that daily takes place upon this subject. The spirit of the northern Protestants, for a great number of years, has appeared to me almost entirely defensive. I can speak on this point from some opportunities of observation, from along knowledge of the districts to which such feelings are principally attributed; and I can declare that among the very numerous trials which the unfortunate feuds of Protestants and Catholics have brought under my view, I can recollect but a single instance in which the Protestants were the aggressors.
Such infinite misrepresentation has prevailed upon this point, that I hope I shall be permitted to describe the true nature of these unfortunate dissensions. Ever since the battle of the Boyne, this Protestant population has been in the habit of its annual commemoration.* Their forefathers, who were contemporaries with that event, saw in it the confirmation of the titles to two-thirds of the property of Ireland, which the Catholic parliament had confiscated;—they saw in it the reversal of the attainder of two thousand five hundred Protestants, which that parliament had inflicted;—and they saw in it their own preservation from a renewal of the scenes of 1641, of which their province had been the theatre, and which many of them were old enough then to recollect as eye-witnesses. It was, in their opinion, a day much to be remembered; and on that day in each succeeding year almost the whole Protestant po-
* Upon the 12th of July,—the people adhering, in this particular, to the old style.
pulation assemblies in solemn processions—unarmed, in every instance that I have known:—We must all be aware how easily a pageant of this nature is continued, and with what difficulty laid aside. Of late years these exhibitions are considered as studied insults by the Catholics. The Protestants, repairing unarmed to the places of assemblage, are attacked by superior numbers,—they take refuge in a house,—they find arms there; the house is attacked and shots are fired from within. On some occasions the Protestants rescued by their friends, have sallied forth and retaliated severely on the assailants. Lives have thus been lost—and houses burnt.—This is a shocking state of society—it is right, however, that the blame should duly be apportioned.—At the next assizes the Catholics are indicted for the riot, and necessarily found guilty of the misdemeanor; the Protestants are prosecuted capitally, and it is in vain to expect that any juries will condemn them to death, when it appears they were previously attacked.
§ I am sure, Sir, that it is the common feeling of every one whom I address to wish that the good sense of the Protestants should voluntarily discontinue processions and distinctions, which, however harmless in their intention, produce so much practical offence; but I trust, that on the other hand, no misrepresentation of their consequences will lead this house into the dangerous mistake of considering the Protestants of Ireland in any other light than as the surest stay of British power,—the firmest bond of the connexion of the British islands in all time—past—present,—and to come.
§ To preserve this connexion through the medium of Catholic sentiment, rather than of Protestant preponderance, has been the generous aim of British policy now for nearly forty years. Within that time the penal code has been abolished, and the enjoyment of every civil privilege has been communicated:—if there are any Protestants who regret it, never will I share in their feelings.—To this, however, has been added the elective franchise—a great practical participation in political power,—and it is now proposed to complete the experiment, and effect a vast change in the constitution. An intimate union between the established church and the civil administration has since the revolution been considered as one of its essential principles. We are now desired to 339 abandon that mistaken doctrine, and to view an accordance with our religious establishment as no longer a necessary qualification for administering the government; we are henceforward rather to consider our ecclesiastical establishment as a list of pensions;—to reduce the United Church of England and Ireland to the mere rank of a more favoured priesthood. All this may accord with the practical indifference to matters of religion, which prevails in some other nations, but it has not hitherto been the British constitution. We are invited, Sir, to make this trial in the hope that ambition will be disarmed in proportion as power is brought within its reach—that desire will be repressed by the nearer prospect of enjoyment—and that peace and good-will will be established in Ireland by undaunted preseverance in a course, which so far as it has been hitherto pursued has produced the contrary results.—We are invited to put our trust in the abstract gratitude of great multitudes, but to neglect the conciliation of the interests of the ecclesiastical community from which their impulse is derived.—We are told that to bind that community in any manner to the maintenance of the new order of things, by any of the motives of human conduct, would be a most unstatesmanlike proceeding;—but that for our safety we may adopt the happier expedients of insulting its members by the tender of degrading oaths,—or irritating them by a peevish opposition to their appointments;—or we may look oh at the domestic process of their assigning to each other their several ranks and stations. These, Sir, are the securities which are offered. For me they are not sufficient, and I enter my protest against them.
said, that it would not be necessary for him to trouble the House at much length; for the question at present, in his view, lay within a narrow compass. It appeared to him to be now arrived at such a point, that it was fit to decide it in one way or the other; and it had been so frequently and so fully discussed, and the general bearings of it were so well understood (in the House at least), that every gentleman must be prepared to give his final opinion upon it, and to pronounce his verdict;—that he, for one, was prepared to pronounce his own; but as it must be a sort of special verdict, he was afraid that it would not be in his power to satisfy either party. Some*340 might think that he was prepared to go too far, while others might perhaps blame him for hot going far enough. He would, however deliver his opinion, such as it was; it might possibly be a mistaken one, but he was sure that it was honest and sincere.
The great difficulty he had always found in the way of bringing this question to a satisfactory result, was the foreign influence; and no consideration could possibly induce him to yield in any material degree to the petitions of the Roman Catholics, but the prospect of security to the Protestant establishment from such an influence. When this subject was before the House in 1813, and when he before had occasion to deliver his sentiments upon it, we were engaged in war with almost the whole of Europe. Almost the whole of Europe was then under the control of our most dangerous and inveterate enemy, to whom the pope himself was not only a subject and vasssal, but personally a close prisoner. It was therefore in his judgment, a period in which the subject could not be discussed with any practical advantage whatever; it was impossible at that time to open any negociation, or to come to any understanding with the pope, on the arrangements it might be proper to make with the Roman Catholics of this kingdom; and it might be recollected that he had uniformly been of opinion, that the question never could be finally or satisfactorily decided without the intervention of the pope in some way or other.—When he spoke of the intervention of the pope, was it because he considered the judgment of the holy see of any importance whatever in the arrangement of any legislative measure, within this empire; where it was the province of parliament to make the law, and the duty of the Roman Catholics (as of every other body of subjects) to bow in obedience to it? God forbid! No; he did not appeal to papal authority (which, in his conscience, he believed was neither founded in history, or in religion, or in reason), to justify his own sentiments, or give validity to the determination of the legislature; but the persons with whom we had to deal were unfortunately of a very different opinion; they had delivered up their consciences to the pope; and the House would find that they could not treat successfully with the Roman Catholics, unless they took the pope along with them. For it might happen (as it had done before), 341 that if the Catholics here were willing to acquiesce in any measure of security proposed for the Protestant establishment,—for instance, in the form of the oath or of the royal Veto,—the pope might ultimately reject it; and declare that no good Catholic could properly submit to such an arrangement; and in this case, the business would go backwards, and we should have to begin it over again. It was therefore highly important that this personage should be placed in such circumstances, as to render it possible to enter into some negotiation with him, with a view to a favourable and practicable result; and fortunately there was at present an opening for this, which did not exist when the question was agitated before. At this moment our great enemy was overthrown, he trusted, never to rise again; a most glorious and salutary peace had been concluded for all Europe, and the pope was now sui juris; his holiness was now residing quietly at the Vatican, perfectly master of his own actions, and there was now every reasonable facility of opening such a negociation with him as might be advisable, in the same manner as with any other independent potentate. In formerly giving his opinion upon this subject he had always said, that he thought it could only be usefully taken up when the pope was master of himself. This was now the case; and no person could therefore justly accuse him of any inconsistency in his sentiments.
The question, then, appeared to stand on more favourable ground, with respect to any communications that might be necessary with the holy see; it also appeared to stand more favourably with respect to the petitioners themselves. First, they stated that they were now willing to acquiesce in the form (at least in the substance) of the oath proposed in the bill of 1813. If, then, they were ready to abide by that oath, and if the pope would authentically declare that it was such an oath as a Roman Catholic might conscientiously take, so far as the security of an oath went, he would be satisfied with it.
The second point was the nomination of the bishops. As to this, it was certainly essential, in his opinion, to take away from the pope the virtual nomination of the Roman Catholic bishops in this kingdom; whether this was done by (what was commonly called) the Veto, or otherwise, did not seem to him so material, provided the arrangement was likely to give full satis- 342 faction on the subject of security. The material point was, that the appointment to bishopricks should be national, substantial, and independent of the see of Rome; and he was surprised that the Irish bishops, in particular, had not sooner recourse to the principle of domestic nomination. If he understood the petitioners correctly, they offered that their clergy should swear, that they would not elect any person to be a bishop but one of the king's natural born subjects, of pure morals and approved loyalty, and in all respects proper to fill the office; and he, for one, should expect that the election, whether capitular or otherwise, should be fair, not too numerous, and under due regulations; above all, it was essential, in his view of the subject, that the pope should bind himself unequivocally to consecrate or institute the person so elected and presented to him, as a matter of course; and it would be still better if his holiness could be brought to agree finally to delegate his supposed power of institution in Ireland, to the four titular archbishops of that country. If this plan of domestic nomination should be adopted, he would feel inclined not to object to it; for he never was one of those who considered the adoption of the Veto (as it was called) as a sine quà non, as he could conceive that in some respects it might not unfairly be deemed objectionable. If the foreign influence and foreign interposition, in this instance, was taken away or rendered merely ministerial, and the nomination of Roman Catholic bishops in Ireland was rendered purely national, he was not inclined to forbode more danger to the church establishment from it, than from the mode long since authorized and pursued in Scotland, where the ministers of the kirk were, as he understood, elected or appointed from among themselves, without any interference whatever on the part of the government.
There was a third point, which was also material, in his opinion, with reference to security, but which was not taken notice of in the Roman Catholic petitions; he meant that of the regium exequatur, or regium placitum; that is to say, an admission of the right of the Protestant government to inspect all bulls, rescripts, and other documents coming from Rome, previous to publication, and of authorizing it (except in such cases as might relate merely to points of conscience), in the same manner as in all the other states 343 of Europe, Catholic or non-Catholic; as was proved by the report of the committee in the last session. He did not imagine, however, that any rational Roman Catholic could object to such a provision of security; to which he, for one, at least, looked forward as an essential part of any arrangement that was to be entered into upon this most important subject.
It was now material to consider what security there was that such a negociation, if entered into with the see of Rome, would produce such results as he deemed to be indispensable; and what chance there was, that such a negociation would be attended with any success whatever. As to this he would say, that whether it was thought best by those who conducted this measure to proceed by way of bringing in a bill, or by resolutions in the committee, he was roost decidedly of opinion, that no measure ought to be suffered to take effect, without the most authentic information from Rome on the three points mentioned, viz. the oath, the nomination of bishops, and the regium placitum; namely, that the pope had agreed to sanction the arrangement in these respects substantially and satisfactorily, if not in hœc verba. Without this, he would not proceed one step in final legislation on this subject. He understood the Roman Catholic bishops had offered, themselves to apply to the court of Home, and to endeavour to obtain its sanction; but for his part, he did not approve of this; and he did not choose that the Roman Catholic bishops should approach their lord and master, the pope, on this occasion, with cap in hand, and waiting attendance at the door of the papal antichamber, in the form of supplicants; he would have the negociations fairly and Openly carried on in a regular manner, by those who administered his majesty's government, and if necessary, a clause might be introduced to authorize such an intercourse, as being expedient towards producing a final and satisfactory adjustment. But in any case, whether the House chose to proceed by bill or by resolutions, it ought to be a sine quà non, to provide that the measure should have no effect whatever, until a satisfactory and authentic declaration had been obtained from Rome; and on this, the final adjustment should be made absolutely and unequivocally to depend. As to the probable success of such a negociation, he thought the pope was, at this moment, so situated, with respect to this country, and owed it so much in 344 point of gratitude and proper feeling, that sanguine hopes might reasonably be entertained of a favourable result; and in any case, the onus would be thrown upon the see of Rome itself; and it would be seen, whether, when the British parliament had done all that it was in its power consistent with the security of the Protestant establishment, to bring this matter to a happy conclusion, and in a manner on the whole likely to be satisfactory to the Roman Catholics themselves; the pope himself would interfere to prevent it; and by his own act to deprive his faithful flock in these realms of the benefits and advantages, which they had so long earnestly sought for, and would seem to be on the point of obtaining for themselves and their descendants.
Upon these grounds and on these principles, Mr. Yorke said, that he would be ready to go into a full consideration of this important subject; and thus by some might be accused of going too far; but if the measure was to be proceeded in, he was apprehensive that by others he should not be found ready to go far enough. He would, however, be ready to go as far as he could; and would not stand upon trifles but there never had been a chance of the Roman Catholic claims being acceded to, without some exceptions; some exceptions had been originally proposed; and some exceptions he would undoubtedly require. He would be ready to admit Roman Catholics to a participation of privileges, and into almost all offices both civil and military; but he would fairly own, at once, that he should find great difficulty in satisfying himself as to the propriety of admitting them into the efficient offices of the state, but most particularly into seats in parliament. The constitution of this country was essentially Protestant; which implied, undoubtedly, not only a Protestant king, but a Protestant parliament, and a Protestant administration. He would freely admit, however, that this principle in its full extent, had a direct reference to the real dangers which might threaten the Protestant establishment; and that if there were no longer any real dangers, the principle could no longer be carried to the same extent. But great as was his difficulty with respect to admitting Roman Catholics to the high efficient offices under the Crown, it was much greater with respect to seats in parliament; and particularly to seats in the House of Commons. Yet even on this 345 point, he would frankly declare, that if the Roman Catholics of Ireland were like those of the same persuasion in almost every other part of Europe, he should have much less hesitation in admitting them to a full and unrestricted participation of all privileges; but with all possible regard and affection for his Roman Catholic countrymen, he was compelled to say, that he unaffectedly thought the Roman Catholics of Ireland at this day, some of the most bigotted Roman Catholics existing in the world. They were in this respect, at least two centuries behind those in France and Germany; he did not mean in scholastic literature,—for in that, he thought they might equal, perhaps exceed, their continental brethren. He would even go farther, and say that if they were like the generality of the Roman Catholics of England, he should not feel so much objection to their unrestricted admission.—He, for one, had never felt any serious repugnance to seethe Howards and Talbots, the Cliffords and Arundels; or the Plunkets and Barnewalls from the other side of the water, sitting in the House of Peers; but he was sorry to say a great proportion of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, appeared to be of a different description; and he could not help dreading to open the doors of the House of Commons to them; for if such were the case, he could not divest himself of the apprehension, that in no very long space of time, nearly the whole of the representation of Ireland would become Roman Catholic; and that the consequence would be the formation of a formidable Roman Catholic party in parliament, directed to views and purposes which he did not like to contemplate, and to which he would not now allude. He was not however disposed to insist on this objection with perfect confidence, because he would wish to be guided by the opinions of the gentlemen who sat in the House for Ireland; who must know the real state of that country, and the probable effects upon it much better than he could do; and he could by no means imagine that those gentlemen, many of whom were descended from those who had established the Protestant ascendancy in Ireland, would agree to any measure which they thought likely to be ultimately injurious to those interests, and to that establishment, to which they were bound by so many ties.—But whatever might prove to be the ultimate difference of sentiments respecting the final arrangement (which 346 was not at present under consideration), it seemed to be allowed on all hands, that it was almost impossible that the present state of things could continue much longer; in which it was obvious that so many and such great anomalies existed,—for instance, the Roman Catholics of England, were not now on the same footing as the Roman Catholics of Ireland. There were many situations, both civil and military, to which Irish Catholics were admitted, from which the English were excluded. This surely ought not to continue to be the case. He could not but consider that the present was the proper time to examine, and deliberate upon, this most important subject, when we were in a state of profound peace. It was impossible to say how long such a favourable state of affairs might last; and if the present opportunity were lost, it might not be easy to find such another.
Mr. Yorke concluded by expressing his wish, that the deliberations of the House on this important occasion, might prove fortunate and prosperous to the commonwealth. It was his earnest wish and prayer, that they might tend to the healing of our unhappy divisions, and to the reconciling one to another in the bonds of brotherly love and charity, all the inhabitants of this magnificent and flourishing empire; who would be too happy, if they were capable of knowing and valuing as they ought, their own inestimable advantages and blessings. But alas! this is far from being the case; and it would seem as if we had been disengaged by Providence from our terrible and long protracted foreign wars, only that we might have leisure, not perhaps to turn our arms (though there have been lately pretty strong symptoms of this too), but our hatred and animosities against ourselves. To a certain extent indeed this has ever been the fate of all free states; but more particularly of Britain; and it is to Britain that the sentiment which Livy has put into the mouth of Hannibal, appears to be more particularly applicable than to any; other country whatsoever. "Nulla magna civitas diu quiescere potest; si hostem foris non habet, domi invenit; ut prævalida corpora ab externis causis tuta videntur, suis ipsa viribus onerantur." It would seem indeed, as if this self-tormenting disposition was annexed by Providence to this nation, as a counterbalance to its otherwise intolerable prosperity; and to reduce it within the common terms and 347 limits of the felicity, perhaps of the duration, of other states. Be that as it may (though one may be allowed to hope, that general conciliation and good will, may be the effect of this measure), yet, the greater part of the House has lived too long, and has had too much experience in affairs to entertain very sanguine expectations of so desirable a result; but still the House ought to use its best endeavours to produce it. If all cannot be satisfied, if all opinions cannot be reconciled, let that at least be accomplished which may appear the best calculated to bring about a conclusion so salutary and propitious. Let this House do that which upon the whole may appear to be, most right, and most wise, and most just, and then let satisfaction and contentment follow after as they may.
§ Sir J. C. Hippisley
, after some preliminary observations on the general question, adverted to the proposed measure of domestic nomination, by which the pope was to assent to a choice limited to native prelates. Whether such choice originated in the chapters of the second order of clergy, or proceeded from the Roman Catholic prelates exclusively, as had been the general usage, was a question with which he thought government should not interfere; but he maintained, that in conformity to the established principles and practice of what might be said to comprehend nearly all the nations of Europe, the Crown ought to have a decided negative in cither case, upon all such nominations. He was not himself apprehensive at the present day, of the undue exercise of the assumed prerogative of the see of Rome, in maintaining her own negative upon the postulations of the national Roman Catholic clergy. During the last and present pontificates, that prerogative had been invariably exercised with the most favourable disposition towards the British government. The apostolic vicar of the middle district (Dr. Milner), in his own person afforded a notable example of these dispositions: he had been postulated thrice to Rome by the clergy of the district, and as often negatived by Rome; but it was in the persuasion that the choice was not conformable to the inclinations of the king's government:—as soon, however, as an intimation was given, that no prejudices obtained against him on the side of government, he received his institution from Rome: but we must nevertheless look back to other times, and guard against the recurrence of similar evils. 348 An honourable member who spoke of the calamities incident to the great rebellion in Ireland, in the time of the Stuarts, had not stated that the great impelling mover of the chief part of them, was the papal nuncio Rinuccini, who presided in the great council of Roman Catholics, who commanded their armies, and resisted all attempts towards pacification. His excommunication followed, and the result was the defection of the greater part of the priesthood, and of the army, from the cause of the Catholics best affected to peace. The condemnation of the oath of allegiance by the nuncio Ghilini in later times, might have produced as great evils, if Ireland had not been better protected than in the preceding century. It was against such assumptions of the delegates of the Roman court, rather than against the abstract doctrines of the see of Rome, that every nation had, at some time or another, attempted to fix their barriers, and none more sedulously than those who professed the religion of Rome herself. Sir J. H. here adverted, at some length, to the report of the select committee on the regulations of Catholics in foreign states, in which he had presided, which some ill-advised Catholics attempted to calumniate, and to impose a belief that it was a garbled compilation, selected wholly at the will or caprice of Sir J. H. himself. To this end Dr. Milner had circulated a remonstrance, addressed to the members of parliament, in the name of the Roman Catholic bishops of Ireland; and Mr. Lingard, a clergyman of the Roman communion, had also made an effort to weaken the authority of the same report, by representing that the interests of the Catholics of the united kingdom, were not to be governed by the inapplicable authority of other states. Sir J. H. asserted, that the documents were, chiefly, the faithful transcripts of the several dispatches of his majesty's diplomatic ministers, transmitted by the orders of government; and their external evidence would best speak for themselves. He would only add on this head, that Mr. Lingard, as well as Dr. Milner, had been an advocate for that interference of the Crown, which he now so strenuously deprecates, having drawn up a plan, differing, as he himself avows, in a very small degree, from that of sir J. H. Such glaring vacillations could little serve the cause of the claimants, or tranquillize the nation at large. An hon. member (Mr. Foster) has insisted much on the works of Mr. 349 Gandolphy, as presenting a most revolting statement of the doctrine and discipline of the church of Rome,—and that they had been approved by the licensing tribunal of the see of Rome. The fact, however, was, that Mr. Gandolphy's Exposition of Doctrine and Discipline, stood reprobated by his episcopal superior in London, before it was laid before the Roman tribunal; and though it was equally certain he had attained an approbation of his work, from the Roman licensor of the press, it was almost immediately discovered, that no adequate examination of it had taken place, and the officer of the see of Rome was censured for the incautious manner by which he had permitted such a work to go forth under his nominal authority. The work also stands censured here; and the writer suspended from his spiritual functions, till he makes an adequate retractation of his errors. Adverting again to the several documents of the report of the select committee, which, sir J. H. observed, had procured much reputation at the several courts of the continent, and was considered as a most useful text book in their pending negociations with the court of Rome; he added, that whenever parliament seriously lent itself to a task of sweeping away those glaring anomalies, which, in reference to this subject, were spread through our statute books, this report would be found the surest and safest guide to adequate legislation. As the law stood at present, anomalies of the most conflictory nature, met us on every side. In Ireland, where the Catholic in proportion to the Protestant population, was at least three to one, the elective franchise, which was certainly an instrument of much political power, was conceded to the Catholic, together with the capacity of holding the greater proportion of civil and military offices. In England, where the Catholics are not a twenty-fourth part of the general population, those franchises were withheld from them under an apprehension of the danger of concession; and in Scotland, the Catholics by taking the same oath as in England, were capacitated to hold every office in common with the members of the establishment. Such inconsistencies was very little creditable to our municipal code, and loudly called for revision. On this question he should unite with those who called for inquiry, and inquiry alone was now asked. Without the strongest guards and securities for the establishment, he should 350 never concede farther. It was unnecessary for him to trouble the House with a repetition of his opinions on this subject; he had long stood committed upon them with the House and the public, and should, conformably with all his former votes, now give his voice for going into a committee.
§ Sir Henry Parnell
had to thank the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Yorke), who had spoken on the other side of the House, for his very valuable, cordial, and conciliating speech. He hoped to be able to satisfy him, that the Catholics were perfectly willing to do all those things which the right hon. gentleman required should be done, as the conditions on which he would give them his support. In doing so, he should at the same time be able to refute the assertion of an hon. member who spoke from the second bench (Mr. Foster), that there was nothing new in the proposed plan of domestic nomination. But before he proceeded to do so, he wished to say that the statement of the hon. member concerning the number of coadjutor bishops in Ireland, was altogether incorrect. There were at present only three in Ireland, all of whom had been appointed, as the practice was, because the bishops were themselves unable, from infirmities or age, to discharge their duties. In order to understand exactly the proposed plan of domestic nomination of all future bishops, it was necessary that the House should know the proceedings which now took place for filling a bishop's see when vacant. The bishops of the province in which he was situated, assembled together, and having consulted with the priests of the vacant diocese, named those persons as fit to be chosen by the pope for the new bishop. It had been nearly the constant practice for the pope to choose the person, whose name stood first upon the list, but there was no law to compel him to do so; he had, in fact, in some few instances, appointed a person not recommended by the bishops of the province, and he possessed the power, if he chose to exercise it, of appointing even a foreigner to be an Irish bishop. It was to exclude the possibility of any such proceeding, and to render all future appointments entirely the appointments of the Catholic Irish priests and bishops, that it was now proposed that the pope should issue a concordat, by which he should bind himself to appoint no person to be a bishop in Ireland, except such a person as should be in the first place elected by the Irish clergy themselves. It 351 was proposed by the Catholic bishops themselves, to have the following provisions inserted in every bill:—
"Provided, and be it hereby enacted, that no Roman Catholic clergyman or other person, shall be permitted to exercise any office or function of a Roman Catholic bishop in any church or congregation, who is not a native of his majesty's dominions, and who is not elected to that office by liege and sworn subjects of his majesty, resident in this united kingdom; and who shall not, in addition to the oath of allegiance, have taken the following oath:—
"I, A. B., do swear, that I will not elect or concur to the election of any person to the office and functions of a Roman Catholic bishop, whom I do not conscientiously believe to be a loyal and faithful subject of his majesty, and of a peaceable demeanour and disposition: and I swear, moreover, that I will not attempt, either by open force or secret fraud, to subvert or injure the constitution or the establishment, either in church or state; or to alter the settlement of property in this kingdom, as it has been fixed by law; and that, if, by any conversation, correspondence, or other means, I should discover or justly suspect that any other person is attempting or contriving to do the same, I will, without delay, make it known to his majesty's government."
As the pope had communicated his readiness to give his consent to this plan of electing the bishops by a larger number of clergy than had hitherto been concerned in the nomination, and also to grant the necessary concordatum to bind himself to give institution to the person so elected, all possibility of foreign influence in the appointment would be completely excluded, and the selection of a proper person would be secured by the oath just mentioned. Every thing therefore which the right hon. gentleman had said he wished to see adopted by the Catholics, they were ready do, and even still more, if in the regulations of the details for electing the bishops, any thing should be proposed to render them more satisfactory. Under these circumstances it was not at all correct for the hon. member on the second bench to say that there was nothing new in this plan of domestic nomination,—because at present the power of the pope certainly enabled him to appoint any person he pleased to a vacant see in Ireland, and because the election of a bishop has 352 hitherto been confined to the bishops of the province, to the exclusion of the second order of the clergy. The difference in fact between the present system and the proposed one was this, that now foreign influence might by possibility prevail in the appointment of bishops, whereas by the plan of domestic nomination it was completely shut out. As to the Veto, whether or not this was preferable to domestic nomination was a fitter subject for discussion in a committee of the House, where all the details of both plans could be minutely examined. All that the Catholics now asked of the House was, to grant a committee to make this inquiry, to have their case considered by the House, and to let it be thoroughly investigated, whether there existed any reason for longer continuing the penal laws in operation against them. The hon. baronet concluded by he sincerely hoped the House suffer this opportunity to be essential to the best interests of the empire.
§ Mr. Webber
said, that he felt it his most painful but most bounden duty to give to the motion of the right hon. gentleman his most decided opposition. No qualifications, no system of arrangements that have been or could be devised, could, in his view of the question, in the least remove or mitigate the enormous mischiefs which in his conscience he believed must necessarily attend the success of the proposed measure. He therefore had little to say on the subject of those arrangements, which, strangely to him, had been thought worthy of so much consideration. He objected to them as utterly vain and illusory, and therefore as aggravating the dangers which they held out, a delusive appearance and promise of guarding against. Of those proposed, namely, the Veto and Domestic Nomination, which had been so gravely argued on by the gentleman who had preceded him in the debate, they had each of them their distinct grounds for reprobation, in addition to the general objections which lay against them. The Veto would be the deliberate and express admission of the exercise of papal power within this great and hitherto independent empire. It would be the admission of that power in the very instance in which it had been resisted, even when the Roman Catholic was the established religion; and in direct contravention to the statutes of provisors and præmunire, which still remain the forgotten or insult- 353 ed laws of the land. Domestic nomination is as objectionable in principle, and more objectionable and dangerous in practice. It would establish a numerous corporation spread over the country, possessing extensive powers, still more extensive influence, independent of and unconnected with the constituted powers of the state, necessarily dissatisfied, unless the church establishment is to be conceded, and therefore under a permanent principle of sympathy with the discontented and disaffected. To accede to that project would be to concede that patronage to faction, whic his denied to your Crown. Of those arrangements, therefore, so insidiously proposed as securities, I shall trouble you no more; but of the circumstances under which, in reference to them, this question is now brought forward, there is something to observe and much to reflect on. From the folio volume which the House has published on this subject, it appears, that every state, whether of Protestant or Popish communion, whether of a free, or absolute, or mixed form of government, have found it necessary and indispensable to guard their independence against the encroaching spirit of papal power, and the dangers which ensue from it. Those dangers are of two natures, religious and political.
From the first, states that are of Popish communion, are in a great measure freed. With that system, they are in some measure identified, and when the temporal encroachments of papal ambition have not been directed against them, the religious system was capable of being a powerful support and aid to their thrones, but still against the political dangers even they were forced to guard. But states not in communion with the see of Rome, in addition to the political dangers common to all, have also to guard against the dangers growing out of the religious system of popery; and it is manifest, that in a free state in which popular privileges are to be possessed and exercised, and which when once conferred, cannot, except in an extreme case, be recalled, guards and precautions are much more necessary, than in absolute monarchies, in which all subordinate power is under the immediate direction and control of the sovereign. Under these circumstances, therefore, though so different to each, Protestant states have to guard against the two dangers, Roman Catholic states have only one to guard against. Both, 354 however, have required and insisted on two points, which, though reluctantly, have been conceded to them, namely, the unqualified selection and appointment of bishops, and the inspection of papal bulls and rescripts. But those conditions, which in all Roman Catholic states are required, and to all Protestant states are conceded, even where an absolute form of government renders such precautions less necessary, even those to this free Protestant state are denied, and at the moment too, when high and important privileges are prayed for from your hands.
That denial I should not advert to, but to show what is the spirit of conciliation with which the unceasing demands for conciliation are accompanied. Submission to this course of conduct, as to menacing petition before, I have heard recommended as dignified procedure. I confess I do not understand such dignity. To legislate without consideration of the giddy desires or angry passions of any particular description of people, does belong to legislative dignity, because it belongs to wisdom to do so. But that is applicable only to subjects of general legislation, affecting the whole community, not to the extension of privilege to a particular portion of it. When such is sought, until very late times it has been considered that it should be sought with respect, at least, to the legislature from which it was expected, and with good reason, for the manner in which privilege is applied for, may often indicate the spirit in which it will be used. Shall we apply that criterion to the present case?
That it has been sought with eagerness, with an unremitting importunity, which never before attended the constitutional pursuit of any other public object, I am willing to overlook or excuse. If intemperance or clamour have proceeded to menacing and insulting demand, I must say that it was not with the Roman Catholics that the disposition of so treating the question originated. It has been suggested by the wild declamations of unprincipled or inconsiderate partisans, and the misrepresentations of what persons of deserved weight and authority had said in their behalf.—Hence the fallacious misapplication of terms, which, in violation of every degree of truth and candour, have now got into established use in speaking of this question. Toleration, religious liberty, are said to be violated by withholding political power—as if those terms 355 were not applicable only to the freedom of religious faith, and the exercise of religious worship. But these abuses of terms are trifling and venial, compared with that by which this measure has been artfully and delusively designated. The term emancipation, in the outset, suggests a prejudice, and summons our best feelings to its support;—it assumes a fact, and suggests and animates arguments against it—it assumes the fact of a pre-existent state of slavery, from which to be emancipated. This term, familiarly adopted by their Protestant advocates, has encouraged them to believe that such really is their unmerited condition;—and they go about clanking their imaginary chains, and naturally seeking to break them on the heads of those who are represented to them as their oppressors. My right hon. and learned friend, the representative of the university of Dublin, was actually reported as having so spoken of their condition in debate—as representing them as standing in chains behind the backs of their Protestant fellow-subjects. I will state the words of that most able and zealous advocate of their claims, as acknowledged by himself. "They are not slaves, as some of their absurd advocates call them, but free men, possessing substantially the same political rights with their Protestant brethren, and with all the other subjects of the empire—that is, possessed of all the advantages derived from the best laws administered in the best manner of the most free and most highly civilized country in the world." This, Sir, is the condition of Roman Catholics under this Protestant government, with the addition of not only the most perfect toleration of their religion, but having an exclusive seminary for the education of their clergy, supported at a great public expense. Do Roman Catholics in Catholic states so treat or so tolerate Protestants? Some degree of toleration, but none of maintenance, has been admitted in revolutionized France, and in part of the Austrian dominions. It has been made a basis in the new constitution of the lately established kingdom of the Netherlands. But wherever it has been in any degree admitted, papal censure has followed, and condemned and remonstrated, asserting and denouncing that fundamental principle of intolerance from which all their Persecutions have arisen—"that out of the pale of their church, salvation cannot be found." See the late papal rescript, res- 356 pecting permission of the use of the holy scriptures in Poland, and the inveterate opposition which in these kingdoms—even in this metropolis—they give to all schools where, under any modification, it is permitted. Such is their notion, and such their principle of toleration!—Such their construction of the toleration they claims I and of the toleration they admit. That which they claim, includes political power in its fullest extent:—that which they admit, excludes even the use of the holy scriptures.—Candour, therefore, I am bold to say, must allow that this is not a question of toleration or religious liberty, or a case of emancipation. When the penal code existed there might have been some pretence for the constructive application of that term. But that code has now no existence. It was enacted mostly in the 2d and 8th of Ann, and was finally repealed in 1793. Its name and the memory of its severities only have remained. The former for misapplication to the disqualifying statutes which were completed and made fundamental of our constitution at the time of the revolution. The latter to excite a false feeling, and to preserve and transmit hostility and vindictive resentment against the descendants of those who enacted them; who found them—as far as their agency was required, did not execute them, and finally repealed them with acclamation. No person who hears me, has felt more objection to their principle, or more regrets that under any provocation or excuse they were adopted.—But I can do so without falling into the unjust and vulgar error of unqualified condemnation of our forefathers, without taking into consideration the provocations under which they acted respecting themselves, and the motives which actuated them for the security of us their descendants.
Those laws were certainly severe and oppressive, and were meant to break down the strength of the Catholics as a party, and to compel conformity—they had nearly effected both objects, when they were repealed. It was for those purposes that they were severe. No sufficient excuse—neither is it one that they were only faintly retaliatory of tenfold cruelty, not merely enacted, but unrelentingly inflicted en the Protestants in Ireland, during the whole reign of James 2nd—or that they bore only a faint comparison to the cruelties practised by Lewis the 14th on the Hugonots for nine years previous 357 to the revocation of the edict of Nantes—or that all was in the spirit, but far short indeed of the pains and penalties enjoined against heretics by the council of Lateran, from which no doubt they were originally taken.
It is truly painful to revive the recollection of these facts; but it would be ingratitude as well as injustice to the memory of those great men, to record and inveigh against their acts, without connecting with them their excuse—and to forget altogether, that it was for our security, not their own, that they were thus solicitous to guard and to provide. Their defence calls for this digression, and I trust will excuse it. May cause and effect on both sides be forgotten!
What the laws are which remain to affect the Roman Catholics, with the circumstances under which they were enacted—what will be the immediate effect and farther consequences which in my conviction will attend their repeal—under the, indulgence of the House, I will proceed to lay before you.—For this purpose I should wish to call attention to what has been the relation of popery to this country in times past, and what have been the effects which in its successive vicissitudes it has produced. It was shortly after our great historical era of the conquest, that the system and domination of popery began. Gregory 7th. (Hildebrand) was the author of it. Before his time the popes were the spiritual heads of the Roman church only, but they took their investitures from the emperors as he did his from the emperor Henry 4th, whom he afterwards humbled in the dust. It was not until after his time that those disputed doctrines were formally recognised by the church of Rome, which have since been the ground of all the schism and animosity which have since disturbed and disgraced the Christian church. From that period until the 25th of our Edward 1st, a continued system of encroachment and struggle, ineffectually resisted, embittered the lives of the successive monarchs that sat on the English throne, and degraded the nation through the degradation of their sovereigns.
The reception and maintenance of legates with the powers which they assumed—nominally ecclesiastical and spiritual, but in their exercise (as always) having a temporal effect.—The drawing appeals to Rome, which was in fact a subjection but is still persisted in.—The donation of 358 ecclesiastical benefices (which you are again called on to concede);—at last the monstrous claim of exemption from secular power (and which claim they have lately renewed in the Netherlands), These oppressive and tyrannical abuses, no longer to be endured, roused the resistance of a magnanimous prince (Edward 1st), and from the 25th of his reign to the 16th of Richard 2nd, there was a continued legislative struggle to oppose them. The statutes of provisors and premunire, and mortmain, followed in as quick succession as the abuses to which they were opposed, but not with equal effect. The wars of the houses of York and Lancaster, suspended ecclesiastical polemics, and Henry 8th revolted from papal dominion.
It is beside my purpose to state what were the circumstances or merits of the Reformation. Whatever they were, it is certain that the gross and increasing corruptions of the church of Rome, led the way and prepared that event, which has since so much influenced the fortunes and fate of the European world.—It has been reviled as originating in impious and adulterous motives. In the inscrutable workings of Providence, corruption and crime have sometimes appeared to have been his instruments—out of evil to produce good, and to make the works of Satan effect his own discomfiture, may serve more to exhibit his omnipotence.
They who revile the Reformation for the impurity they connect with it, at best only look at half the picture, and they entirely forget that the awful work of our redemption itself, was conducted through the instrumentality of treachery and crime; and that the apostle, whom they claim as the founder of popery, falsified and denied his lord.
This closed the first great era of popery in England.—During that long period of nearly five hundred years, the religion of the church of Rome was implicitly received, the indirect power which belongs to its construction of spirituals submitted to, and its farther encroachment of direct temporal power, ineffectually struggled against. The second era embraced from the Reformation to the Revolution. To this period I would particularly call attention, for it was that in which those laws were first enacted which you are now called upon to repeal. The wise administration of the protector Somerset gave root to the reformed religion, 359 which the subsequent reign of Mary attacked with such sanguinary violence.—Of the horrors, which profaning the name, because, under a perversion of the principles of religion, she practised, I will spare the House and myself the pain of a recital. But I will state the short observation of Mr. Hume upon them:—"Instantly the rage of religious prosecution was let loose, and England was then filled with scenes of horror, which has ever since rendered the Roman Catholic religion the object of general detestation, and which prove that no human depravity can equal revenge and cruelty when covered with the mantle of religion." Her furious and sanguinary efforts did not destroy its infant growth. But why do I thus express myself? It did much to give it root and strength. It showed the corruptions of Christianity in their natural deformity. It exhibited the milkwhite hind, not in the spots of the panther, but blotched with corruptions and stained with the blood of martyrs. Her death, and the succession of that great and glorious princess, Elizabeth, were made the instruments and means of establishing the reformed religion of Christ, and of saving what remained of the Protestants, from utter extirpation.—She did so in all the mild firmness that suited the great purpose to which she was called. I will again use Mr. Hume's words. "The queen established no inquisition in men's bosoms; she enjoined no oaths of supremacy, excepting from those who received places of trust and emolument from the public." In the 1st and 5th of her reign, were enacted the first popish exclusion. A new oath of supremacy was enjoined, which included all public functionaries, except peers. Five successive bulls of different popes, excommunicating and deposing her, kept her entire reign a continued succession of plots, conspiracies, and assassinations. As the very contrary of this has been asserted in debate by a person of great eminence and talent, and as in the appendix to a report of a late committee, it is roundly denied that such ever was the doctrine or conduct of the see of Rome, and professes also a horror at the practice, I have come prepared to state those bulls, their dates, by what popes issued and the effects which ensued from them. These machinations, conspiracies, and plots, strange to tell, she survived—and, notwithstanding the recollections of the cruelties of the former reign, the ashes 360 of its martyrs still floating in the wind, the massacre of St. Bartholomew acted almost before her eyes, and the papal crusade of invasion approaching her shores, she carried exclusion no farther, and she retaliated not at all. In the length of time which Providence for its ends gave to her reign, she completely confirmed the establishment of that purest and mildest system of the reformed religion—the church of England. She closed her glorious reign and life, having raised her country to a pinnacle of glory, character, and security, to which it never before had reached.
In the next two reigns, no law which bears upon this question was enacted. But in the commencement of that of James another papal bull was fulminated by Clement 8th and shortly after the Gunpowder Plot was attempted and almost executed, by which the king, the nobles, and the Commons, were to be involved in one instant destruction. Of this, I shall only mention the short and emphatic observation of Mr. Hume. He says, "it was one of the most memorable that history has conveyed to posterity, containing at once a singular proof of the strength and weakness of the human mind, its widest departure from morals and most steady attachment to religious prejudices." Looking abstractedtly at the horrid purpose, Mr. Hume was right. But in this instance, as well as in his observation on the atrocities of Mary, he was in error; in the gross error that we are in at this day—that all will delusively fall into, and injuriously and unjustly to the characters of Roman Catholics, who judge them on acts which relate to their religion, on the common principles of morality or policy. It is remarkable of this most extraordinary plot, that it is the only one in this kingdom which stands uncontroverted. Why? Because the conspirators were taken almost in the fact. Do you draw from that the conclusion that none of the others had real existence?
In Ireland the accession of James under the bull I have mentioned was resisted. He colonized the province of Ulster, and it is at this moment the great bulwark of the Protestant or English settlement of Ireland, call it which you will. In this reign an event occurred there which deserves great attention. In 1613 the first parliament was called, in which Protestants or Papists were indiscriminately eligible—and what was the result? Sir Arthur Chichester, 361 then lord deputy, writes to the secretary of state of the time, that from the interference of the Roman Catholic clergy by the threats of excommunication and of denial of the rights of the church, they influenced all the elections against candidates of the king's religion.—In the following reign nothing in this kingdom occurred to be observed on. The civil wars again suspended religious contention, and the superior energy of fanaticism bore down and dissipated for a while, the spirit of popery.
In Ireland, however, it broke out in unrestrained and unmitigated fury. In 1639 lord Strafford, then lord lieutenant, called a parliament, and in his letters it appears that the same influence exercised by the priests, again produced the same effects as in 1613. What was the consequence? After forty years of uninterrupted peace and tranquillity which ensued, O'Neill's rebellion, a sudden and general insurrection took place, commencing with a general massacre of the Protestants or English settlers, in which, as appears by the Commons Journals, forty-one of the members of that parliament were found to be personally engaged. This was a marked era in Ireland, for it was then that the Roman Catholic became completely a Popish system. The pope sent over his nuncio Rinuccini to approve and sanctify what had been done, and to direct their future operations. Under his direction the kingdom was placed, and accordingly lord Ormond and his adherents, and as many of the English settlers as could, escaped and fled. The confederated Irish then offered the sovereignty of the kingdom to the king of Spain, and on his refusal, to the House of Lorraine.
On the Restoration, hopes, and fears agitated both of these religious parties; the Protestants felt alarmed, but by the prudent conduct of the king, and the wise administration of Clarendon, they were dissipated. They were again excited, however, by the open conformity of the duke of York to popery and by the declaration of indulgence, and further confirmed by the dismissal of Clarendon. On this occasion occurred one of the most curious facts which history records, and which suggests the most of matter for reflection on the present question. The administration, of which the cabal was a junta of conspirators, succeeded to the downfall of Clarendon. The object of their conspiracy was the destruction of the United 362 States, and the establishment of absolute power. But within this little band of conspirators, was another conspiracy, to which the other was only meant to be subservient, and to which, two only of its members, who were Roman Catholics, were privy. Its object, the extirpation of the reformed religion in this country and throughout Europe. This certainly is the most striking instance of what never yet has appeared to the contrary, that there can be no cordial concurrence or co-operation in administering political power from public men professing this religion, with those who do not belong to it, wherever the interests of their church can coma in question. It may be asked why is this? Is it that they are men of less truth, less honour—more devoid of a moral sense of duty? No, by no means; I am far from attributing to them any defect in those qualities. But the principal of ecclesiastical subjection, which is the established discipline of their religion, and which if they do not admit, they neither are or can be Roman Catholics, necessarily gives to their church, and the principles of it, an influence over their conduct, which they cannot resist, and cannot well avow, whilst the belief in the doctrine of exclusive salvation (so leading and fundamental, an article of their faith) not only causes a principle of alienation, but a most powerful motive to use any power they may possess, for the destruction of a system which they conscientiously believe as necessarily productive of everlasting perdition to its adherents. In proportion as they are virtuous, as they are religious, nay, as they are humane, must be the sincerity and ardour of that motive.
This was well, and happily, for the present occasion, exemplified in a debate in the House of Lords in the time of Charles 2nd when lord Bristol, an eminent and conscientious man, stated the opposite and conflicting principles under which he was placed. He admitted that his sense of duty as a peer of parliament called on him to vote for the measure, but that his sense of religious obligation called on him to oppose it. And what did he do? he abided by his religious obligation, as under the irresistible compulsion of the principles of this wonderful system, must always be the case with those who sincerely believe in it—and let it never be forgotten, that those who do not, deserve no consideration,—with such, conscientious scruple is pretence. They adhere 363 to the religion for the sake of the party, not to the party under motives of religion. Looking, therefore, to the character of the other members of the cabal, I have little doubt, that horrid as we must feel their design, treacherous as we must feel their conduct, they were, however, the honestest men of the five—they acted under a more general, though perverted application of the principles of religion, virtue, and humanity; and so did the cardinal of Lorraine, when he led the massacre of St. Bartholomew, and the perpetrators of other and more recent barbarities, which I forbear from mentioning. Had Mr. Hume been less philosophical in matters of religion, he would not have overlooked the compulsory power of those tenets, which under such irresistible motives and sanctions, disarm or pervert all common principles of morals or policy.
Alas! are not we forgetting and overlooking it now, when we even entertain the discussion of this question? The test and corporation acts, the 13th and 25th of this reign, operated against the Roman Catholics, but were adopted as a general defensive measure against all dissenters from the established church. The 30th Charles 2nd was the act of this reign, which principally affected and continues to affect them. The origin and cause of enacting it deserve observation; notwithstanding the oath of supremacy enjoined to be taken by the 5th Elizabeth, it was found, that under some salvo of conscience, which the uninitiated do not comprehend, Roman Catholics are qualified both for offices in state and parliament; in short it became inoperative, and this, with the conformity of the duke of York to popery, suggested this act. This statute was the deliberate measure of wise and patriotic men, and was afterwards as deliberately adopted into the fundamental basis of our constitution.
The exclusion effected by this act, they endeavoured to extend to the throne, and failed. The attempt was the cause of the subsequent fate of the great lord Russell. He died a martyr to the civil and religious liberties of his country, but his blood was restored, and he has left heirs to his honours, and certainly to half of his principles. The whole of the remainder of this reign, was a wretched scene of conspiracy and intrigue, and public disasters; and Charles closed a profligate life and inglorious reign, not without suspicion that the event was hastened.
364 The reign of James which was destined to close this second period, commenced under more favourable auspices than might be expected. In his first council, he declared his resolution to maintain the constitution in church and state as by law established. He particularly and deservedly praised the loyalty and moderate principles of the church of England, and again professed his resolution to maintain it. James was known to be a man of truth and honour, and had always evinced a scrupulous regard to his engagements;—rhis assurances, therefore, were received with confidence and exultation, and in the confidence of their hearts his deluded people exclaimed, "that they now had the word of a king for their pledged security, and a word that never was broken." Alas! they knew not how faint was that reliance against the compulsory motives, to which their king was a slave. His profession and promises availed not; under the dominion of his Jesuit confessors, he belied them all. He opened his reign by going to mass, with all the insignia of royalty: he next dispensed with tests—he erected an ecclesiastical commission, which controlled the ministers of the established church in their functions—he filled the vacant sees with Popish priests, and forced them into the precedencies of colleges—he made a Popish army: in short as Hume says, his whole reign was a continued violation of the laws and liberties of his country, civil and religious. The resistance it excited, with the powerful aid of the great deliverer of Europe as well as of this country, saved the church of England and its adherents from this second attempt at their extirpation—and this wretched, bigotted, perverted monarch, abandoned by his nobles, deserted by his army, forsaken even by his family, sneaked out of the kingdom with a meanness equal to the tyranny with which he reigned in it.
In Ireland his delinquencies were greater, supported as he was by numbers, and principles similar to his own. Urged by the passionate prejudices of his Popish partizans, he gave a free scope to his bigotted and tyrannical nature. He, displaced lord Clarendon from the government, to which he appointed Tyrconnel, an infuriated and merciless bigot: he gave the seals to Fitton, at that time in prison for debt, and who had been convicted of perjury. He filled the benches with Popish judges; the army with Popish officers; appointed Popish sheriffs and magis- 365 trates; shut up the churches, and sequestered the property of the Protestant clergy. He called a parliament—this was in the year 1689: it was the third which had been elected on the plan now proposed to be restored, of indiscriminate eligibility of Protestants and Papists. The same result succeeded the experiment—the same influence of the clergy was used, and with the same effect: out of three hundred members six only were Protestant. See now what were their acts. They first repealed the acts of settlement and explanation, on which were founded the titles of all the estates of the English settlers: they next passed the act of attainder, by which near three thousand gentlemen were made subject to all the pains and penalties of high treason. Finally, they repealed the statute of Henry 8th, uniting the crowns of the two kingdoms. The miseries and persecutions which attended this state of things were still worse, and five years of the reign of this infatuated monarch, visited on the unfortunate Protestants of Ireland all the persecutions which laws could inflict, and all the persecutions which laws could not accomplish. The ruin of the Protestants, or English settlers, call them which you will, was nearly complete, when the glorious deliverer, whose memory they are accused for holding dear, rescued them from certain extermination. Shall I be charged or suspected of wishing to raise prejudice, or visit the memory of these sufferings on the Catholics of the present day? God forbid! They are as innocent of them as we are of the penal laws to which they gave rise. I wish both to be forgotten, and lament the renewed recollection of them, which these repeated discussions necessarily cause.
With this calamitous and disgraceful reign closed the second period of our relation to papal power. In the first as has been seen, the doctrines and discipline were received and submitted to, and the whole of that period was a continued scene of struggle for temporal power: first, indirectly extended under the necessary effects of its doctrines in spirituals; next, directly claimed. At length the thraldom of the religious system was thrown off. This second era (the circumstances of which I have just been stating) exhibits that state which it is now sought to make you restore; that, in which the religious and civil characters were separated—religious establishment taken away; but political power suffered to remain. As the first was seen 366 to be attended with contention, national impoverishment, and degradation of the Crown; so the second was one of still more continued agitation, discord, and conspiracy, and consequent degradation to the national character. The third (which, thank God! we have not yet closed) took for its principle the absolute rejection of religious faith, and the most entire exclusion from political power.
The Revolution that ensued was literally founded on this principle. It was, and is, the vital spirit of it, the motive and the end. It has been argued, and very much at length on both sides, as if the whole of this great constitutional settlement was embodied in the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement, and much erroneous argument has been built on this strange error. The Bill of Rights, indeed, is the head at principle of the different acts which, between the first of William and Mary, and the Act of Settlement of the Crown, the twelfth and thirteenth of William, formed together the system and body of this great fundamental settlement; and Mr. Burke, speaking of that act as the representative of the whole, calls it "the corner-stone of our constitution, as at that time declared, explained, and in its fundamental principles for ever settled." You are now called on to take down this corner-stone, to unsettle that which he has declared to have been for ever settled. But, Sir, it has been delusively, and strongly and triumphantly argued, that because the Bill of Rights only provides for one part of the exclusion which the whole of these statutes embrace, that therefore no more was intended at that time than providing for the Crown being Protestant; and that the other exclusions, represented as resting solely on the statutes existing before the revolution, were little adverted to, and manifestly left for revision to future legislatures. So persons of high authority in both Houses are represented to have distinctly asserted and argued. Why, Sir, is it not monstrous, that such persons should so hoodwink themselves, and should so shut their eyes against what appears so open before them, lying together within a few pages of the statute-book!
I will state those statutes in their order, which, I will venture to say, will exhibit beyond possible question, by any candid mind, that the establishment and permanency of the Protestant character of our constitution was as much the object 367 of the great men who framed these laws, as the declaration and security of our civil rights.
The statute of the 1st of William and Mary, cap. 1. &c. which recognizes the convention as a parliament, repeals the statute of 30th of Charles 2nd as far as relates to members of either House taking the oath of supremacy and allegiance, and substitutes other oaths in their place; and the fourth section of that act directs them to be taken, and the declaration against popery, as set forth in the 30th Charles 2nd to be made with like formalities by the members of both Houses of parliament. So that were the exclusionary statutes antecedent to the Revolution all repealed, the exclusion from the legislature would remain in full force under this first statute of that great era. First William, cap. 5, sets forth and directs the coronation oath, and enjoins the declaration against popery to be made at the same time. Cap. 8th again recognizes the declaration, and directs it to be made by all persons in office, ecclesiastical persons, and naval and military officers. So far, therefore, it is provided that the legislature, the Crown, and the government, and all its subordinate instrumentality shall be exclusively protestant. But, to show how decided was this intention and determination, they proceed, and endeavour not only to exclude popery from office and trust, but even to expel it from the land; for cap. 15 empowers justices to tender the oaths and declaration to all papists. All this, independent of the Bill of Rights, or the key-stone of them all which, commencing with the recital,—"That whereas the late king James 2nd, by the assistance of divers evil counsellors, &c. did endeavour to subvert and extirpate the Protestant religion and the laws and liberties of the kingdom,"—afterwards makes a strict limitation of the Crown, debarring all papists, or persons marrying papists, from succession to it, and provides that every king and queen shall take the declaration against popery as contained in the 30th of Charles 2nd.
Thus you see this great exclusionary statute of 30th Charles 2nd, which it has suited the purpose of those eminent persons to treat so lightly, and to represent as so considered by the framers of the Bill of Rights, is deliberately adopted, and incorporated by them into every one of those five enactments, which, clustering round the Bill of Rights, with the act of 368 settlement, form the code of your great constitutional charter—and altogether, with decisive and emphatic solemnity, pronounce, that the government shall be Protestant, the legislature shall be Protestant, and the King shall be Protestant.
That was the constitution which Mr. Burke said "was declared, explained, improved, and in its fundamental principles for ever settled." Little did he, or any person, at the commencement of this reign contemplate, that before it should come to its close, the total subversion of this Protestant constitution would be urged year after year upon a British parliament. I say total subversion of the constitution. And, viewing the measure in this light, I cannot but lament, most deeply, that it should receive support from persons so justly exalted in station and character; in opposition to the declared judgment and conscience of their sovereign, in whose name they act, and to the known opinions, and I should hope and trust to the sense of duty of the illustrious person who rules this empire in his royal father's name. Will that illustrious person do, in his royal father's name, what his royal father has declared would be a violation of his coronation oath? the agitating thought of which, formerly urged on him, quite overcame his care-worn mind? Should that royal mind be restored to your daily prayers, shall he wake to reign under a new constitution, and over (well I may say) a different people? Will his son, his royal representative, restore his sceptre to him, and say, this, sire, I have done in your name? In your name, I have repealed the principle which placed our family on the throne. It will no longer continue there by an hereditary right qualified by Protestantism, but on the proud democratic principle of election. All this I have done in your name, by doing an act which the last words which reason permitted you to utter, declared would be a violation of your coronation oath.
Sir, this is a grave and awful part of this momentous question. I cannot doubt that the scruples of our beloved sovereign were founded on a sound and imperative sense of the just construction of that oath, so cautiously and precisely expressed in the statute which I have stated. By that oath, the person taking possession of the throne, swears, "to the utmost of his power, to uphold and maintain the Protestant reformed religion, as by law established." If by a voluntary act under his 369 prerogative, he admits a danger or risk to approach that Protestant reformed religion, which, under the same prerogative, he has it in his power to shut out—when, without that act, the danger could not approach it, and that he is free and unfettered to do so or not—if there be any possible danger or risk in the act to be done by him, I conceive it impossible, without violation of his oath, that he can do that act. Can it be said, that there is no possible danger in admitting persons to legislate for that Protestant reformed religion, which he thus swears to uphold and maintain, who profess a religion in its tenets hostile to it, and to which it is professedly opposed? Why, in the accurate and precise use of terms, which belonged to the eminent lawyers who drew those acts, is the religion to be maintained and upheld, termed the Protestant reformed religion, rather than the more obvious appellation of the religion of the church of England? Why but to mark a contradistinction, and to point out the particular quarter where the danger lay, from and against which it was to be upheld and maintained? If there be any possible danger, can the person who takes that oath, under a due sense of its obligation, give voluntary admission to it? Will it be said, there is none? Why do all the advocates of the measure call for guards and securities? Is not the demand an admission of the danger?
One ground only remains for sophistical evasion to make a stand on. I have heard it asserted, that the oath does not apply to legislative function—wretched casuistry! Is not that peculiarly within the voluntary acts of prerogative? Executive acts belong to the responsibility of ministers; but assent or dissent being an act of the mind, must be determined within itself—does not belong to the responsibility of ministers, but belongs to the responsibility of the mind that exercises it, and is to be exercised under the solemn obligation of an oath; I see no possible loop-hole for common conscience and common sense to get out of. The oath is an insurmountable barrier to the royal assent, if a king or regent conceives that there may be possible danger in the measure—and who will say there is none?—will gentlemen then go into a committee to frame a bill which, when presented, will be a direct proposal to do what, under any construction, or by any person, can be considered as the violation of an oath? 370 And of what oath? One, the violation of which, would dissolve the compact between Crown and people.
As the first era of our relation to popery has been seen to have been one of misery, poverty, and degradation of the Crown; as the second was one of discord, misery, and degradation of the national character; see what has been this last era which you are thus unceasingly urged to change and to tread back your steps from. I may say, without fear of contradiction from any person on the face of the earth, that it has been one of external glory and internal happiness, beyond whatever has hitherto been experienced or has been conceived attainable by human imperfection, commencing and progressive with that constitution which your great ancestors extracted from the scattered principles which the rubbish of centuries had obscured and disfigured, and moulded into system with such unparalleled ability and wisdom. For, as Mr. Hume justly says, it is absurd to look for the British constitution antecedent to the Revolution.
The laws enacted at that glorious epoch of your history which form that system, I have stated to you. They compose the disabling code, as contra-distinguished from that which justly was termed penal, and which (as has been shown) have been repealed. The disabling code is of a two-fold nature—one, constitutional and fundamental; the other, defensive of that constitution of which it forms so essential a part. Mr. Burke distinguishes between these two parts—the one as constituting the rule of that state, the other, the instrumentality of that rule. The latter, he conceived, might be safely and eligibly opened to the Roman Catholics—as a settlement to be taken as final and satisfactory, and secured against all possible recurrence of future attacks on that part which concerns the rule of the state. I should be truly happy in concurring with him. But to unsettle the Protestant qualification of what constitutes the rule of the state, he speaks of such a project as what fanatics only contend for. There I must concur with him also. I quite agree with the opinions he then expressed—that the question was closed at the Revolution, and was then for ever settled.
This character of perpetuity, which has been so anxiously stamped on their last great constitutional settlement, and of which the history of the times bears such decisive evidence, was given to it by those 371 great men on a conviction drawn from long experience, of the dangerous and unchangeable nature of that system against which they meant to defend their posterity. To justify this exclusion, which they have sought to perpetuate, this system must be inherently dangerous to a Protestant state, and it must be of an unchangeable nature; it must be what they make their proud boast, semper eadem. To give those great men and your own safety a fair trial, you roust therefore examine the system. I perceive the delicate and dangerous ground which I am constrained to tread, and therefore shall only venture to state the leading principles which constitute that inherent danger; with a few, but unquestionable proofs of its existence then, its existence now, and of its unchangeable nature.
The leading principles from which flow all the mischiefs and dangers which make the Roman Catholic system formidable to those who are without its pale—are, the infallibility of the church, the supremacy of the pope, and above all, the doctrine of exclusive salvation. From the two first arise the despotic dominion which is exercised, and the passive obedience in which its votaries submit; from the latter, the enthusiastic ardour, which by the strangest anomaly, connects itself with subjection, makes the dominion of the church paramount to all worldly dominion, and raises an ardour for proselytism, or hostility against opponents, which excites to the most zealous endeavours, and the most relentless exercise of power, by the contemplation of the extensive and sublime scheme of benevolence, which is its object, the reclaiming or subduing from eternal perdition, those who roust otherwise be doomed to it: and, if their obstinacy shall be inveterate and hopeless, by preventing the transmission to successive generations, of the same pestilent heresy, and the eternal doom which awaits it.
Such, I have no doubt, were the motives which influenced the bigotted and gloomy mind of Mary; which animated the cardinal of Lorraine in leading the massacre of St. Bartholomew; and influenced the conspirators of the gunpowder plot; which stifled the most powerful feelings of nature in Philip 2nd, when he commanded and presided at the torturing execution of his own son; which made Louis 14th (a man not only of humane but tender feelings, and of chivalrous honour) revoke the edict of Nantes, and cause not to be 372 enacted, but to be exercised, every cruelty that imagination could devise, to compel conformity, and to extirpate heresy. What else caused James 2nd of a most established character for truth and honour, to violate both by almost every act of his reign, and permit, if not direct, such relentless persecutions in Ireland against his Protestant subjects? What but the compulsory dominion of his church? and what caused such cruel interference of the clergy of a Christian church? were they unfeeling in their natures, or insensible of the feelings and duties of Christian charity? On the contrary, I have little or no doubt that they possessed both, and perhaps in a great degree; but, that it was the perversion of those very feelings and principles, which excited the violation of them; they looked to these acts, at which their natures shuddered, and lamented, whilst they adopted them, as the only means left of substituting salvation for perdition to all future generations. It was the consideration that such acts were the necessary consequences of such tenets, that caused that mild Christian philosopher, Locke, even in his Essay on Toleration, to assert, that they should be excluded from toleration in a Protestant state. Shall I be suspected of adopting his opinion in insinuating the adoption of it to others? No, I trust I am incapable of the thought: I would tolerate even intolerance, but I would not arm it with political power; to do so, would be to connive at and be its accomplice.
I have spoken only of their system as relates to its faith. On that subject a most dangerous delusion has gone abroad and influenced the opinions, or at least entered into the arguments of persons of great weight. It has been argued as if the principle of religious faith in the Roman Catholic system, related to concerns merely spiritual, and therefore should not be allowed to have influence in those of a temporal nature. There is a double fallacy in this; in the first place, there is necessarily an indirect connexion between spiritual and temporal concerns—you cannot separate religion from morals or morals from laws—and this is the fundamental principle of the connexion between church and state, which it is now sought to shake. But in the Roman Catholic system, the connexion is direct and powerful. It becomes so through the medium of their numerous sacraments, and the discipline built upon them. For instance—that of 373 marriage—it is the foundation of legitimacy, and legitimacy of all derivative rights to property. They contract or dissolve, it at pleasure, and as being a sacrament, do not allow validity to it, unless under their own celebration. In their estimation you are all illegitimate. I will give you an instance within my own knowledge of the power their church exercises over this most consequential of human institutions. It happened between the years 1810 and 1812—their consistorial court without being moved by either party, took cognizance of a marriage celebrated by their own church and dissolved, that is declared it void ab initio, because, without dispensation, it had been contracted between persons related in the seventh degree of affinity. This couple were living happily together, and had three children. The man has been married again, and the woman has been turned out on the world—herself a virtuous wife without a husband—her children, though born in wedlock, bastards, and without a father. You may suppose this case a solitary one, and the arbitrary act of an unfeeling and tyrannical churchman; on the contrary, I knew him and his parochial conduct before he was a bishop—and I know not of any church a better or more humane man, or a more pious and zealous clergyman. Another sacrament (extreme unction) puts in the hands of their church an irresistible power. It is the last awful ceremony of their religion, without which (in their belief) the doors of solvation cannot be opened to them. This their clergy may administer or refuse to them, the threat of which carries with it a compulsory power which no sincere Roman Catholic can oppose resistance to. These powers, drawn from tenets which they assert to be purely spiritual, can in a moment be brought to bear upon all subjects, civil or political, by the single assertion which, from their clergy, comes with authority not to be questioned or to be resisted, that the interest of their church demands it. So far for the irresistible power which belongs to their principles of faith, with the awful sanctions which support its application.—Shall it be said, then, that their faith is not a matter of civil or political concern? But their discipline, which is also founded on a sacrament, commands a direct and most tremendous temporal power, through confession, penance, and excommunication their church has possession of the entire man, his most hidden thoughts, and most 374 cherished feelings—shame, privation, pain it can inflict on him, and make him his own executioner.—The greater excommunication cuts off from all social aid or comforts, which under no circumstances of excuse or compassion, any of the faithful can dare to extend to the wretched object of this horrid sentence.—I have known three instances of its being inflicted, many in which it was threatened, two were made the subjects of actions, and verdicts were had. But if I am rightly informed, the plaintiffs did not dare to proceed to execution.
This stupendous and formidable power is under the direction of any instrumentality curiously organized to give it effect, and to establish by its means a paramount power over the minds of its votaries. It is under an absolute monarch (the pope), having a counsel selected for their talents and influence (his cardinals)—generals and governors (his bishops) diffused over the world, each having under his orders subordinate officers (their parochial clergy) in contact with the people, who, if they believe the tenets of their religion, must be subdued to the most devoted submission. This dominion, not circumscribed by space, but operating on the minds of its votaries, through so great a proportion of the world, exercising a temporal power of pains and penalties, beyond what human laws can inflict, and wielding the sanction of eternal punishment and rewards also—each rank bound to its superior by the strongest oaths—cut off from all worldly ties and sympathies by lives of celibacy—their interest and passions concentered in the prevalence and grandeur of the church, and motives of jealousy and insubordination removed, by the individuals of each rank being eligible into that above the one in which he is placed, and animated by a belief, which doubt not to be sincere, that the whole is a system of vicegerency to Christ upon earth, the adherence to which is eternal salvation, and the opposition to which is rebellion against God, and to be visited by eternal perdition.
Is it possible that persons under the influence of such convictions and motives, and with such energies and means, should abstain from using political power, if placed in their hands, for the re-establishment of what they conscientiously think a system of eternal salvation? That they should abstain from using that power for the subversion of what they believe to be 375 the certain cause of eternal perdition? Is it possible that they can see you relinquish a control, and put it as an instrument into their hands, without believing it to be a miraculous working to make such infatuation the means of your chastisement, or your regeneration, and that they are called to use it as such?
Of their disputed doctrines—the answers of their universities, the answer of the congregation of cardinals, as stated in p. 426 of the Report on your table, and the oath and protestation of the Roman Catholic noblemen and gentlemen in 1789, I will say little, though having much to observe upon all, what, if considered by any fair mind, judicially exercised, I am convinced could not fail to remove all the confidence which most delusively has been excited by them, and to substitute a deeper sense of danger in its place—one remark is to be made on all. They not only deny such doctrines, but roundly assert, that they never were maintained or acted on by their church.
Of the answers of the universities (the history of which would be curious), I shall only say that I am prepared to show, not only proofs to the contrary from the most recognized authorities of their church, but also answers of three of the same universities, diametrically opposite to those which, for the present purpose, they have given—of the answer of the congregation of cardinals (by direction of his holiness), p. 426 of the Report. I am also prepared under like authority, to exhibit innumerable instances to the direct contrary; and of the oath and protestation of the lay lords and gentlemen in 1789. I must say, that construing both under the explanation, which, to satisfy the objections of their bishops, they afterwards made of them, they will be found to confirm and aggravate the sense of danger they were meant to remove.
The doctrines objected to them are not only stated but insisted on in their councils, canons, and decrees of popes. Not only recognized as being theirs, but asserted to be of infallible and divine authority, by prelates of the highest dignity, and doctors of the most acknowledged learning in their church, down to the present day. By cardinal Bellarmine and cardinal Allen; by Dr. Troy, titular archbishop of Dublin, in his Pastoral Letter of 1793; by Dr. Milner, vicar apostolic, in his Ecclesiastical Democracy: by Dr. Walmesly, vicar apostolic; Dr. Delahogue 376 a high authority, as being professor of divinity in Maynooth College, and therefore the medium through which the stock of clergy of the present day derives its theological principles; and though last not least, by Dr. Gandolphy, a divine of great learning and ability, who so lately as the last year published in this town a work entitled "A Defence of the ancient Faith, or a full Exposition of the Christian Religion," in a series of controversial sermons. You observe, that in this work the Roman Catholic religion is not only designated as the ancient faith, but exclusively the Christian Religion. This work contains a full and most animated assertion of all the intolerant and exclusive doctrines of the Roman Catholic church, and, with all their other writers, sets up the authority of the general councils in their fullest extent. The history of its publication is curious. Dr. Gandolphy was ordered by the Roman Catholic bishop of the London district to suppress it. He demanded if any and what objections were made to its doctrines, as he would pay an attention to them which he was not disposed to give to any of a temporizing nature. None such was assigned, but he was ordered not to publish. He repaired to Rome, submitted his work to the highest theological authority of the Vatican, and comes off with the most triumphant testimony of its orthodoxy and merit, as certified by the two divines to whom it was referred for its imprimatur by the legitimate authority. These two divines, one a master of sacred theology, the other a professor of sacred Scriptures, gave this work the highest praise, and pronounced it deserving to be cased in cedar and gold. It was printed in four volumes in this city; but it has been bought up or suppressed for the exigency of a late occasion; and further, to defeat the effects of the discovery it had made, the bishop of the district, a few days before the late debate, published a a hand-bill, stating that it contained errors, which, however, he did not specify, and denying that it had the authority of that particular council which has the superintendance of the ecclesiastical affairs of these kingdoms, but not observing that it had the very highest authority on those subjects which the church of Rome knows. Of that work, and the exposure it makes, I shall trouble you with a few extracts.
It speaks of the Reformation as the sinful deed of lust, avarice, and pride.—Vol. 1. p.429. As an impious withdrawal from the 377 mother church.—Vol. 2. p. 130. That the errors of the church of England is the severest curse with which the Almighty visits the sins of the people.—Vol. 2. p. 220. Potestant teachers are charged with treason against God and religion—misprision of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.—Vol. 2. p. 222. He apostrophises the English clergy, "Ye whited walls—God shall strike you."—Vol. 4. p. 311. This is the work which the highest authority of the Romish church, for examination of theological writings, pronounces as of genuine orthodoxy, and deserving to be bound in cedar and gold—this, published and sanctioned only within the last year. We are told by the Roman Catholic advocates in parliament, that the tenets of their religion are become obsolete, and its hostile spirit passed away; but Mr. Plowden says, it is semper eadem. Pray which is right?
I have only stated the ecclesiastical authorities, however high. As to the dangerous tenets of the church of Rome, it may be said that churchmen of all religions are intolerant, and that it is not fair to make their opinions a criterion to judge by.—To that I reply, that they are the surest repository of those doctrines as they really exist, and that those who profess that faith, and do not admit the authority of their clergy, are latitudinarians whose attachment is to the spirit of party, not to conscientious scruples of religion. But the recognition of most of their doctrines stands full as much on lay authority as ecclesiastical. Mr. Plowden, an eminent lawyer, and their historian, boasts of the unchangeableness of their doctrines, and emphatically and proudly applies the motto of semper eadem to their system. The author of the statement of the penal laws (their adopted case) relies on the council of Lateran as unquestionable authority. Dr. Drumgoole, a physician of learning, talents, and considerable eloquence, denounces the church of England as a novelty which had lasted its time—would fall before the solid columns of Catholicity, and leave no recollection of its existence except by the miseries it had caused. The sentiment was censured as injudicious, but was applauded for the justice of the observation, and re-echoed from two county meetings. The doctrine of exclusive salvation, insisted on by ail those authorities—by the present pope repeatedly, and by Quarantotti in the rescript, which for its liberality was reviled—is inculcated in all their catechisms, and 378 repeatedly laid down in professor Dela-hogue's tract, De Ecclesia Christi, a class-book at Maynooth college. This doctrine as has been shown, is the root and foundation of all intolerance and persecution, which justifies both, and almost makes them virtues. It was the contemplation of this stupendous soul-subduing system, and the experience of its destructive powers, and of the evils attendant on the struggles of religious party, that determined your ancestors to guard you from its mischief, and shut it out altogether from the state. It is now proposed to you to undo what they have done—to discard the system which they have reared—with which your glory and happiness have been commensurate—which is that on which the title of your king to his throne is founded—and without any motive but to gratify those lords and gentlemen who require your constitution to descend to them, as they refuse to rise to it.
If, on these motives, you are disposed deliberately to encounter this comprehensive revolution, and to lay on yourselves the awful responsibilty of its consequences, it is right that you should contemplate distinctly the acts you will have to do, the immediate effects which must ensue from them, and those more remote which they are likely to cause. The disqualifications sought to be removed, are, as to admissibility into the legislature, and certain offices which it is not necessary to enumerate. In Ireland they are all enumerated in the 33d of the king. In England Roman Catholics lie under other disabilities, imposed by different statutes. The mode of their exclusion is accompli shed by requiring, as a qualification for any of these situations, the taking, under certain formalities, the oaths of abjuration and supremacy, and making and subscribing the declaration against popery, as set forth in the 30th Charles 2d. The mode of removing these disqualifications, according to the prayer of their petitions, must necessarily be the same as to both countries—that is, by repealing all the statutes which impose that obligation, the excepting clause in the statute of the 33d of the king as to Ireland, and the several disabling statutes as to England. It will be necessary to repeal entirely, or new model, all the several acts enacted between the 1st of William and Mary, and the 12th and 13th of William. Having thus effected a counter-revolution, and unsettled that which Mr. Burke considered as settled 379 for ever, you must then proceed further; you must repeal the 30th Charles 2d and the 13th and 25th, being the test and corporation acts. You must then proceed to repeal the 5th and 1st of Elizabeth, and the 28th Henry 8th and the 25th of Edward 1st, and then, in consistency, and to sanction some of the arrangements which in the last attempt at revolution was made, and which has this night been gravely proposed, for getting the holy assent previous to the royal assent to the bill, it will be adviseable to repeal the statutes of provisors and premunire. So extensive a legislative revolution, I will venture to say, never yet was accomplished or I believe contemplated.
If that mode be not adopted, you must enact a law, dispensing with Roman Catholics taking the oaths of supremacy and abjuration, and making and subscribing the declaration annexed—that is, you must do, and for the same object, what cost James 2d his crown—and then every Protestant will be forced to swear, what none of them attempt to deny, that the king is the head of the church as well as state. But the Roman Catholics will be legalized in the denial, which would subject Protestants to the pains and penalties of premunire—will not that at least be superiority? But more Roman Catholics will then be competent to make laws, affecting not only the interests of your religion, but the Protestant religion itself whilst they reject, with the most determined indignation, any the slightest interference, not merely in the regulations of their religion, but even in the appointment, or control over the appointment, of any of their clergy; and this on the avowed principle of distrust; and this distrust they adopt or affect, notwithstanding above fifty years of experience, that such power, to an extent beyond what you presumed to suggest, has been possessed and exercised in Canada, without the slightest interference with their doctrines or discipline; and notwithstanding the same power has been admitted in all other Protestant states, and even required for safety in those that are Catholic. If this be adopted, their church in these kingdoms will then be, not an empire within an empire, but an empire, from the nature of its influence over the human mind, paramount to all worldly dominion, wielding the sanctions of eternity against the petty pains and penalties of human tribunals;—am I not justified, therefore, in saying, 380 that this will be ascendancy? that it will be revolution? absolute revolution, in efficacy and reach of time, extending far beyond the revolution which it is meant to subvert?
But if this will be superiority and ascendancy in England, what will it be in Ireland, where the Roman Catholics boast that they already have a physical superiority of four-fifths of the population, but which I really believe, on good grounds of estimation, to be from two-thirds to three-fourths? If equal political power shall be added to their superiority of physical force, that of itself would create ascendancy. It will be to transfer what was counterpoise and control in the hands of the weaker, to be increase of strength to the stronger. But equality of political rights will be to them superiority of political power. With the exception of the four northern counties, a great proportion probably nine-tenths of the forty-shilling free-holders of Ireland, are Roman Catholics. When political disqualification shall be removed, it will be in their power to return Roman Catholic representatives for all the counties and open boroughs, excepting those I have mentioned. These representatives will be entitled to that influence with the government, and that patronage under it, which belong to their stations. Will not the possession of them create a Roman Catholic ascendancy?—Will it not be a transfer of what power is left within the kingdom, from the Protestants, who in sentiment, in interests, under a political necessity, are identified with this country, to a body who (speaking of them collectively) are more than estranged from it—who are so from national prejudices, and exaggerated and deeply cherished recollections—who are contradistinguished as ranged under a religious distinction, not merely opposed, but hostile to the established religion, which as yet constitutes an integral part of this constitution—who are under the irresistible influence of an organized ecclesiastical corporation of great antiquity and greater pretensions—pretensions which claim, by ancient title, a right to the establishments of your church? Which you profess never to intend to give them, and which must therefore always leave them, and those they influence, in a state of dissatisfaction. Will not this be an ascendancy to a body who are opposed—who must be dissatisfied, and who therefore will at least have temptations to be factious?‡381 I know it is said, that if they are dissatisfied and alienated, it is because disqualifications are suffered to remain that derive their consequence principally from being withheld. I hope, after the statement I have made, it will no longer be denied, that the removal of popish disabilities would draw after it great and important political changes. But if doing so would with certainty dissolve party, and conciliate (as is the most abused term), the temptation to venture on a revolution and its awful consequences would indeed be strong, but still to be resisted. But alas! I cannot flatter myself with such a hope; for whether I look to the immediate consequences that are to ensue, and to their natural workings on the human mind—or, above all, if I turn back to the gloomy view of past experience, and to the dark and portentous clouds it rolls after us, I can discern nothing in the proposed project, but increase of confusion, and interminable discord. The question and complaint of disqualification, which has only a general and remote reference to individual interest, will then be converted into the question and claim of possession. In the first, discontent and complaint are against the laws, which present no object to vindictive passions to fasten on—but make it a question of possession, the interest is then immediate and direct, and disappointment and discontent get personal objects to level their splenetic rage against—and what objects?—The sovereign and his ministers; every office or place to be given away will then be the subject of a calculation and a claim.
The political power of Ireland unquestionably they will then possess; but that will not, cannot satisfy them—nothing short of possession of the church establishment will or can do so. Their clergy, who wield the instrumentality by which they work, cannot be satisfied without the acquisition of it. This, I fear, is the great spring, to make which, in due time, they have latterly so drawn back. No:—"Until that shall be obtained nothing will be considered as accomplished. Pride and party rancour will seek this great object for triumph—their clergy will demand it as a debt no longer to be withheld. Their adopted case (the statement of the penal laws) has suggested its claim, their orators nave announced it."
I cannot be supposed indifferent to the preservation of our church establishment, but I confess I lose sight of the object, 382 however interesting, in contemplation of the woeful progress of the means which must lead to it—which few of them, I am convinced, at present meditate, but which will present themselves in due course—every step of which will be confusion, discord, and the excitement of inveterate hostility to Protestants or English settlers. I cannot bring myself to detail the piteous scenes which, in my conscience, I believe will ensue. The first step will be the acquisition of the representation in order to acquire the patronage of what constitutes the instrumentality of government. What is likely to intervene between their accomplishment of this object and their claim of the church establishment, on the ground of the whole communion being popish, I leave to imagination, aided by historical recollections, to fill up—every step will be contest, and acrimonious contest, in which superiority of numbers having equal political rights, and animated by the energy of promising enterprise, must prevail. Vœ victis!—The weakest must fly, or merge in the strongest party, and seek to conciliate, by adopting and aiding its future views. The only refuge of those who shall remain, will be by a speedy submission to disarm the hostility of a people naturally as generous as violent. I shall close this most painful topic.
To restore what of late years has been claimed as a matter of right, is the object professed by some—to tranquillize Ireland by what is termed conciliation, the delusive motive with others. I will briefly examine both. If it be a right, let right be done, though your empire crumble into ruin. But is it so? This claim has arisen from confounding natural with social rights, and applying to the latter the visionary theories of the former. In a state of nature no man has a right to exercise sovereignty over another. In the social state he has no right to govern, except the laws of the particular society of which he is a member confer that right on him. His right, in a state of society, is not to govern, but to be well governed. To contend the contrary, is the very essence of Jacobinism, the fundamental principle of which is, the application of the theories drawn from the visionary state of nature, to the institutions of civil society. You will find these to be the very principles which originated and supported the French revolution, let loose argument on the same principles, against the system of the British constitution, or almost any of its 383 parts, and would it or could it stand the assault? In the legislature, if a representative body should be admitted, universal suffrage (as now called for) must be adopted, an hereditary legislation would be an outrage and mockery of common sense, as well as of first principles—if regal power should be tolerated, under this pure theoretical system, it must be elective. Such is the necessary progress of the admission of this theory of right. But examine it a little more. The rights of men in a state of society are to have equal protection extended to their persons, properties, and reputations.—But what shall be the qualifications required for administering the sovereignty of the state, or what shall disqualify, is altogether a subject of social regulation which when once settled, and established, should be preserved firm and immoveable, should be kept sacred from question and scrutiny. But to explore fundamentals in search of theoretic anomalies, and thereby to endanger the stupendous superstructure which in despight and mockery as it were, of this theory has been raised in such magnificence and grandeur upon them, would certainly be in direct opposition to all that statesmen have hitherto thought wise, and contrary to the most established principles of political law. Vattel (a writer of the first authority on that subject) lays it down "that when a government is once settled and established, no alteration should be made, however apparently slight, in the form of it, but from urgent and absolute necessity," and he explains what he means by such necessity that "no change or alteration should be made, but when the government without such change, absolutely fails to answer the ends and purposes for which civil governments are instituted."
Is, then, the British constitution so degenerated and debased? what is the motive, what the object for which you listen to the proposal to discard all established maxims of wisdom and policy, to run counter to all experience of the past, and voluntarily risk again the evils under which this nation suffered misery and degradation for above one hundred and fifty years? to gratify (as only is professed at present) a few noblemen and gentlemen who are ambitious to share in the administration of the government, but are unwilling to submit to the qualifications which are required of you. To bring down the constitution to them, because they refuse 384 to come up to the constitution, alleging conscientious scruples. Mr. Burke says "that dissent seeking for more than toleration is not conscience, but ambition." To gratify this conscientious ambition, or ambitious conscience, you propose to new model your constitution, in order to-tranquillize and conciliate. To conciliate might possibly tranquillize. But what will effect durable conciliation? I should not expect it from what will bring the objects of pursuit nearer to their grasp, and at the same moment (as is professed) will raise an apparent bar to the acquisition of them. For we are given to understand, that something to be called security, is to be discovered for the permanency of the established church; but while that is to be withheld from them, in a state of dissatisfaction and agitation they will certainly remain. To conceive that any thing short of that sacrifice, has any chance of causing permanent conciliation, is an infatuation which nothing but a total ignorance of the characters and views of that party in Ireland can excuse.
But reasoning on the probable effects on minds under the complicated influences of party feelings, religious and national; actuated by cherished prejudices and resentment; and objects direct and indirect; some of which may be avowed, whilst others of them must be suppressed, is necessarily inconclusive and perplexing. Experience of the past is the best guide for conjecture of the future! From the expulsion of James to the year 1793, Ireland enjoyed a degree of tranquillity and consequent improvement in civilization, which cannot be found in any other period of her history. In 1778, the repeal of the penal code began in Ireland. I need not repeat the feelings with which, abstractedly considered, I must always view it. It was certainly meant to break the strength of the Roman Catholic party, or to compel conformity which in a great degree it effected. The progress of repeal continued there till 1792, and had every conciliatory effect which could be expected or desired. In 1792, lord Redesdale, then Mr. Mitford, stirred the question from its quiet state, and introduced his bill for removing the disability which excluded from the bar. That opened the question again in Ireland, and a bill for a similar effect and to legalize intermarriages was introduced by sir H. Langrishe into the Irish parliament. Then for the first time conciliation bad a long, and I fear, a last- 385 ing adieu to concession. It was immediately on the heels of this concession, that Catholic agitation began and appeared an Open organized system, having its directing council (its committee), its ambassadors (its delegates), its presiding chief (the venerable and venerated John Keogh), who, as he himself states, went on one mission with his dear and lamented friend, Thomas Braughall, and on another with his dear and lamented friend, Theobald Wolfe Tone, to excite their clergy, and to set their influence against that of the aristocracy of their body for the purpose of convening a representative assembly. In this year their committee published its first manifesto, it declared what it sought, and what it did not seek.*—The elective franchise considerably qualified, and capacity to serve as magistrates and jurors. The wise and provident suggested, that the prayer for the elective franchise would assuredly be followed by a claim for the representation. They treated the assertion as a cruel calumny, and justified themselves theoretically on the ground of Mr. Burke's distinction between office and franchise, and on practical grounds they stated, that their object in seeking the elective franchise was not political, but was merely for the purpose of equality in competition for tenancies of land. The prayer of their petition was modified in this respect; and to obviate the objection, that by an equal communication of the elective franchise, the power of representation would be thrown into their hands, they limited their prayer for it to twenty pounds value of freehold.
These they professed to be the full extent of their objects, and sought them as a final settlement of their demands. On the faith of its being a final settlement, and on an understood compact that it was so to be, the legislature enacted the statute of the 33d of the king. The enactment went beyond the prayer of the petition, on the principle of the settlement being conclusive of the question, and with the hope, which then appeared well founded, that it would be as conciliatory as final. The elective franchise was conceded at forty shillings, being the same standard under which, by the statute of Henry 6th it was*The first was arrested and confined under a charge of a treasonable nature, but liberated by lord Cornwallis; the other, tried and convicted of treason, prevented his execution by suicide.386 possessed by Protestants. This was done not merely for conciliatory effect, but as a compact of accord and satisfaction—on one side these privileges were given, that is, disqualification to that extent was removed—on the other, certain doctrines, of which past experience had exhibited the dangers and horrid consequences, were abjured, and the oath which did so abjure them was embodied in the act. That oath also imposes on those who qualify under it, the obligation, "That they will never use any of these privileges to destroy or weaken the established church, or the Protestant government of the country." That was the compact. It was considered to be a final and conclusive settlement, and was accepted by them with professions of gratitude as well as satisfaction. They expressly resolved to dissolve their committee, "being," as they said, "raised to the rank of freemen, and competent to manifest their sentiments as such, with their other fellow-subjects." They further voted a sum of 2,000l. to raise a statue to his present majesty, in whose reign, and on whose recommendations such penalties and disqualifications had been removed, and such privileges conferred. Where are we to look for the statue? We know that the committee never was dissolved, though professing to be so, but was intended to compose an integral part of the convention which the prompt firmness of the duke of Richmond suppressed in its first formation. This burst of gratitude for the enactment of 1793, was succeeded in a few weeks by insurrections in different parts of Ireland of the most dangerous nature, professing religious grievances and animosity, which in some parts so affected, were never before suspected to exist; and from that time Ireland has never known peace, and party spirit and animosity have been daily increasing.
From looking back to this train of events and their effects, we may learn, if we will, what chance we may have of securing conciliation by concession. Twenty-seven years we have passed in vain pursuit of this phantom, that, like our horizon, flies from our approach—we advance to the alluring brightness, we find an abyss under our feet—again it invites with distant view. Will you plunge in, and renew the vain attempt to secure it? No. Let us not deceive ourselves with the flattering illusion. You may make a new constitution, as you are called on to do—you may open in it a breach through 387 which revolution may pour in—you may shake your church, that main pillar of your state; but, unless you surrender the establishment of it in Ireland, you will be farther from conciliation than ever. To tranquillize Ireland, by introducing a few (as you suppose) of peers and commoners into your legislature, and making them competent to offices which you do not mean to give them, and to leave their clergy, who possess the secret influence of the body, and the people who compose it, and the agitators who direct both, with qualifications that are to lead to nothing, is so strange and childish a conception, that I cannot, by any stretch of faith in the sincerity of public men, bring myself to believe, that it can have entered seriously into the minds that profess it. But if, in the sublime conceptions of great statesmen, a project is adopted to make Ireland a secure and quiet possession, by establishing popery there, and transferring the powers of the state to those who profess it, there may be some sense in that—but, in common humanity, let them abridge the sufferings of those, whose race, through so many vicissitudes, and dangers, and sufferings, have preserved the country to British dominion. Let them know what they are to expect in time, and enable them to prepare for the new order of things they are to endure, or to yield to their fate and depart. Their best refuge will be the generosity of their countrymen when glutted with concession. If religious and national prejudices can be silenced, it will not be a light reliance. There may be state policy in such a course. State policy is said to soar sometimes above all the vulgar feelings of justice, humanity, and gratitude. There may be sense in this—but to think of tranquillising, by the mere removal of disabilities, and by inviting continual competition between two descriptions of your people, now unfortunately divided by the most baleful of all distinctions, religious party—to give to that profane spirit an immediate and direct entrance and interest into every subject, institution, and establishment, in which unity of council and action are most requisite, does appear to my plain mind an insanity so strange as to be quite portentous. See how this would operate on that leading object of claim, introduction into the legislature. Can you doubt that the spirit of religious party would be used and kept alive for the purpose of its powerful instrumentality?—What so pro- 388 ductive of irritation and discord, as election contest is at present? But our modern theorists, in their sublime conceptions, professing public peace too as their object, propose this lenitive for the feuds of religious party—to pour on the heart burnings of religious animosity the healing balm of election contest. If this measure shall take place, such contests must ensue, unless a timely submission to the ascendant power shall prevent it. For my own part, if I am to continue to reside in Ireland, I had infinitely rather change places, and give the Roman Catholics, in their turn, the exclusive possession of the legislature, than live in a state of society causing continual contest—that contest, from its nature, calling forth every malignant passion of the human heart, and suppressing every benevolent and virtuous feeling. I really think, that the most inventive genius of the most malignant fiend could contrive nothing so effectual to promote confusion, discord, and misery.
The Roman Catholic religion is fundamentally a system of exclusion. It excludes those who dissent, from the pale of Christianity—it excludes from possible salvation. It admits no compromise on its part, therefore, you cannot compromise with it;—you may submit to it—you may adopt it—but in the administration of political power (I speak not of petty municipalities) it never yet was found to suffer equality where it could acquire ascendancy, to possess ascendancy without seeking domination, or is the exercise of domination to be tolerant. And all this arises not from the want of virtues or the feelings from which they arise, but is the natural consequence, as I have shown, of the sincere belief in the doctrine of exclusive salvation.
I have hitherto only spoken of the immediate and remote effects likely to ensue through this measure in Ireland. It has been a great error to consider this question in reference to that country only. But even in that very contracted and un-statesmanlike view, its consequences must be allowed, more or less, to effect this, the seat of empire. Its agitations must disquiet and perplex—but its direct and internal operation here, is a matter of serious consideration. The energy and zeal for proselytism, will, as they have done, increase the numbers, whilst the admission to political power will withdraw control. Religious party, sooner or later 389 will arise, and when they are strong in numbers, will assume the baleful characteristics of it. Look to what was the state of this country in reference to religious party, in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I.
Accustomed to look favourably on the operations of party within the legislature, we overlook, I fear, the distinction of this new principle of party spirit, which it is proposed to introduce into that, and into the government. In the party spirit that at present exists and operates (perhaps beneficially) in the legislature, there is no principle that is not common to both sides, whose interests fundamentally are the same. Contention is on means, or principles, common to both. No subject is more sacred from discussion at one side than the other. No contrariety of public motive—the state is the same to both, or all parties; and all parties are identified with the state.—But the spirit of religious party is founded on a distinct and irreconcilable principle, and religious party, in the mind of a sincere Roman Catholic, separates from a Protestant state. It not only establishes a divided allegiance, but on a hostile principle, and the extirpation of heresy is at once a religious duty and a conscientious motive—which, if sincere in their faith, they will not or cannot resist giving effect to, when opportunity shall arise. If they are not sincere, their religious principle is only party pretence, and the conscientious scruples on which they claim indulgence do not exist.
The state of things which you are about now to introduce, is exactly that which in fact existed in this country from the Reformation to the 30th of Charles 2nd—what was that state and what were its effects, I have given a sketch of. Sir, I am sensible that the anxious suggestions of this most extensive, deep, and complicated, and most momentous subject, are leading me farther than is adviseable. I am sensible I have been prolix, and that I have been diffuse; but greater prolixity would still be far short of the various and complicated considerations that belong to the subject, whilst the misrepresentations and delusions that beset every part of it, call for such continual explanations, that you must either leave them to their fatal effects, or digress to expose them. If feeling some times intruded, could it be avoided when such consequences pressed on the mind.
I feel confident that I have proved be- 390 yond question, that when your constitution was settled at the Revolution, its most fixed and fundamental principle was, that the legislature and government of the state should be Protestant in all its parts. That it was meant to be so far ever settled. That this character of perpetuity was stamped on it as emphatically as words could effect, without appearing to violate the legislative competency of future parliaments. That this character of perpetuity was given to exclusion, in contemplation of the immutable nature of the system to be excluded, and of the dangers to a Protestant state that was inherent in the principles of that system. I think I have shown that those principles are in their nature necessarily opposed and hostile to a Protestant state. That when popery was the religion of the state the nation was oppressed, degraded, and impoverished. That when that religion was abandoned—but political power (as now is sought) was suffered to remain,—confusion, discord, misery, and national degradation were the consequence. That since exclusion has been complete, both of religion and political power, internal happiness and external glory have blessed this country in a degree never before experienced in the annals of the world.
I have stated the injurious and dangerous consequences, immediate and remote, which necessarily or probably would ensue from this measure, and how utterly hopeless it is, as a plan of conciliation. These consequences are such, that in my firm belief, they would be to this country, incipient revolution of certain progress, but uncertain extent—whilst, in Ireland, they must immediately produce Roman Catholic ascendancy, subversion of the church establishment, and of the English settlement of the country, on the security and strength of which, the connexion between the two countries will be found ultimately to depend; and that the progress to their lamentable effects, will be almost a continued scene of confusion, discord, and misery;—and, consequently, of increased embarrassment to this country. When I contemplate this impending ruin, I am lost in wonder that such a project could ever have been entertained in a British parliament. I trust, however, that too much of the character of their forefathers remains to suffer the possibility of its adoption. If they shall, however, they will certainly give proof that it was not without reason that par- 391 liamentary reform has been called for; for, on a subject the most important that ever was agitated in this House, they would then decide against the sense and opinions of the most sound and reflecting part of their constituents. But if it were possible that revolutionary mania should so possess this House, the constitution, in its admirable structure, has made provision against such a danger.
The hereditary council of the nation will not forget that the peculiar duty of its station is to stand between the Crown and the democratic mania of the people or their representatives. The constitution of their country is peculiarly their trust. Its Protestant principle is the sacred palladium of which they are the sworn guardians. They will be mindful of their duty—they will save their sovereign from the insulting demand to violate his coronation oath or trifle with the spirit of it; and if this House should ever depart so far from the maxims and character of their ancestors, as to present a bill for a counterrevolution at their bar, that there at least, hereditary feelings and principles will remain—and that their stern and dignified reply will be, as was that of their great ancestors to the Papal encroachments of their day—nolumus leges Angliœ mutari.
But if the revolutionary spirit should find reception there also, my last hope will rest on the magnanimity and firmness of that illustrious prince which saved this great empire, and saved Europe—that crushes the hydra of despotism with its monsters, but who, I fear, is also doomed to find that malignant envy is only to be conquered by death. He will again interpose to save his country from the greater danger that menaces it within—He will recollect that the sacrifice of religious principle, or the adoption of a temporizing spirit respecting it, never prospered yet—He will recollect that Henry 4th had his Sully too—wise, provident, and attached, that under his advice (and he was at least as sincere a Protestant as any minister of later times) he compromised with Popery, and submitted to it, and that the consequence was, the loss of his life and the extermination of the numerous Protestants of France. He will feel that the mysterious and sublimed union of church and state, is a sacred subject that soars above the ken of worldly policy. It is an ethereal essence that sanctifies and gives a character of perpetuity to your state, while it draws from that sup- 392 port which repays to it worldly stability and effect. He will therefore not admit its giant rival into its sanctuary—with sure and certain hope I rely that he will abide by the coronation oath—He will abide by the principle which placed his family on the throne, and which repealed, would only leave a naked possession of it. Repeal the Protestant principle of the state, and the title will no longer be "hereditary descent qualified by Protestantism,"—repeal the qualification of Protestantism as a constitutional principle, and it is only a form as attached solely to the Crown, and a form which arguments unanswerable will be found to remove; the principle of hereditary descent will first be deprived of the spirit and reason of the qualification of Protestantism, and afterwards of the form. It can no longer make part of the title of the present family to the throne, but will stand, as an adverse title in the house of Sardinia, and the possession of it will then be reduced to a mere right from possession, or from constructive election. But I am unintentionally led again into argument. I do entertain an humble but earnest reliance, that the same magnanimity and firmness that saved the empire and Europe will interpose to save the constitution of his country. It is triumphantly asked, what then is to be done? would you re-enact the penal laws? far be the thought from me. The penal laws were intended to compel conformity—the project was impious. On the other hand, to confer political power on dissent, is to give a bounty on party spirit, and to perpetuate it. The course that is wise and honest and conformable to christian spirit lies between both: it is to preserve the rule of the state, connected with the religion of the state, and by so doing, not seek to compel conformity, but to incline those who are so unfortunate as to be ambitious, to examine more impartially the grounds of that dissent that exlcudes them.—To continue, as now, to extend the most equal protection to all, and the most equal encouragement also, in those objects that belong to the instrumentality of the state.
This course with a firm and stern repression of faction, and the crimes that arise from it, might allay the agitations of this question, and would do so, if it were once known, that under no circumstances would the Protestant character of the state be changed—that its fundamental and immoveable principle is, that the 393 king shall be Protestant, the Government shall be Protestant, and the Legislature Protestant.
The question should be closed—"The isle is frighted from her propriety." I have stated the principles on which it should be closed; let those who encourage the agitation of it, reflect in time on the evils it has already produced, and the horrors that may ensue from it.—Ibelievethem to be more imminent than they imagine.
§ Mr. W. Elliot
observed, that he hoped the little he had to offer would plead his excuse for the trespass he was about to make on the attention of the House. During the speech of an hon. member, he had observed the considerable effect produced by the extracts read from a pamphlet published by doctor Gandolphy, for the tenets contained in which it would be found the author had been suspended. With this work he proceeded to Rome, and laid it before an accredited officer of the papal court, whose sanction he obtained. This officer, styled the Master of the Apostolic Palace, it had since been discovered, had, through the misrepresentation of doctor Gandolphy, and his total ignorance of the English language, been induced to give an imprimatur, or approval of its contents. Upon the discovery of its contents at Rome, cardinal Litta immediately acquainted doctor Poynter here with the circumstance, and begged it to be understood, that the approval of the Master at Rome had been surreptitiously obtained, upon which doctor Gandolphy was immediately, and still continued suspended. [Hear, hear!]—The whole fabric, therefore, erected by the hon. member upon the contents and tendency of this work, fell to the ground. It was in no degree authenticated or sanctioned by the court of Rome. What had subsequently fallen from that hon. member only went to prove, that the minds of the Catholic population had been so completely alienated in Ireland, that it would be better they should remain for ever in the state in which they were. What! was it to be endured that parliament should be told, at a period like the present, that no securities could be devised sufficiently satisfactory? The controversy had been heightened, if not altogether occasioned, by the delay of parliament; the longer that delay continued, the warmer and greater would be that controversy. The interposition of parliament was now called 394 for on both sides, to adjust at once, by legislative means, all the differences which subsisted between the different parties, and which had originated in the culpable delay of that House. Upon the subject of securities he should give it as his old opinion, whatever weight that might have, that the best security was to be found in the repeal of all the remaining penal laws and disabilities. In the year 1813, he had acquiesced in the conditions then proposed, and should feel himself war-ranted in doing the same again under similar circumstances. This he had done then, and should do again, with a view to obtain the measure of emancipation. The great hope of the country at this moment, lay in the prospect of conciliation, and consequent cordiality and unanimity. This was only to be effected by doing away with all civil distinctions and disabilities. This was the true mode to restore confidence, concord, and harmony, in both the Catholic and Protestant bodies. The Catholic would thus become a convert to the principles of toleration professed and acted upon by the Protestant. This was the part of the question to which he had felt it his duty, in the first instance, to draw the attention of the House. The dangers apprehended, proceeded from various causes. For his part, he had never considered the question upon the ground of abstract right. The petitioners were different parts of the same body, yet their general interests were the same, whatever might be the shades of difference in their sentiments as to the extent of concession, or modification of their religious sentiments, in order to obtain political rights and privileges. The Protestant and Catholic, too, were alike different parts of the same body; yet even they were not without a common interest. The Crown, it was justly said, was Protestant; the state was also Protestant; yet the encroachment made on the penal statutes existing at the commencement of this century, stood high amongst the most splendid and beneficent acts of the present reign.—[Hear, hear!]. For his part, he had never been considered insensible to the dangers of the community; some had thought him the very reverse; yet in this instance he saw—he rejoiced to avow it—it little cause to alarm the most timid. In times succeeding the Reformation, during a disputed succession to the throne, or during the reign of childless sovereigns, apprehension might very fairly be enter 395 tained with respect to the security of a Protestant succession; yet it was the true policy of this country generally, and the true object of the first care of parliament to provide, by all possible means, that the population of the country, from one end to the other, should be without cause of complaint, moving forward in the common path of duty, in terms of cordial amity and affectionate brotherhood. When within those walls they talked of Catholic concession, what did it mean? It only meant that they had, by means of certain legislative provisions, the power to create a moral effect on the Catholic mind most beneficial and consonant to the interests pf both Catholic and Protestant. Two centuries of experience had shown that the expectation was unfounded upon which the penal laws had been grounded, namely, that the Catholic would abjure a persecuted faith. The legislature might, by heaping restrictions on them, shake the foundation of their morals, but they would only render them worse Catholics, and worse subjects. In their anxiety to support the Protestant ascendancy they would, in effect, create an aristocracy, and property destitute of all authority,—a people destitute of even morality or true religion. This would, indeed, be the consummation of all our calamities. Instead of the hon. member, who had replied to the right hon. mover, branding those who advocated the cause of concession with a disposition to effect a revolution in the order of things, he would do well to consider if he were not, by such insinuation, poisoning the sources of public happiness, and troubling the very elements of society. The various other tonics of danger alluded to in the course of the debate, he considered comparatively unimportant. It was absurd to think that in the present state of this country the continuance of the penal laws could afford any security adequate to the danger likely to arise from their continuance. Much was to be apprehended from their operation on the anxious and already irritated state of the public mind. It was contended, that various offices, in Ireland particularly were open alike to the application of their talents, and those of their fellow countrymen. But would it be requisite to prove that there must result an indisposition to embrace the opportunity thus offered, under the natural feeling of discontent at the wide range of disqualification which still continued to dishearten and oppress their exertions and energy? 396 This was the natural feeling under such circumstances. A particular limitation, especially when founded on liberal distinctions, soon amounted to a general inhibition; and it must be the more sorely felt when the parties had to complain that the tenets of their religion had alone disqualified then to fill those offices to which they were peculiarly eligible, from their being the decendants of the most ancient and honourable stock of a country, for whose welfare they and their ancestors had, with the noblest self-devotion, shed their best blood, The right hon. gentleman concluded with expressing an anxious wish that the House would consent to go into the committee.
spoke against the motion. No good ground had yet been stated for it; but strong arguments had been urged against it, and of these none had yet been contradicted by any sound reasoning. The House was called upon to go into a committee, there to discuss that which had been already discussed, and against which the House had already so often pronounced its opinion. In point of fact, to accede to the motion would be to give up the whole question; and the House might be as well openly and fairly called upon to concede the claims, without any security; for if they went into the committee, the only choice would be between the veto and the domestic nomination. One of the most extraordinary assumptions in the arguments on this occasion was, that things were now came to such a state that some change must be made in the laws respecting the Roman Catholics. For his own part he denied this in toto; and maintained that unless the House was prepared to overturn the fundamental principles of the constitution, to accede to the concession called for was impossible.
regretted, that he should be placed in the painful situation of differing from many of those for whose judgment he entertained the highest respect, and he should therefore offer what he had to submit to the House with the utmost diffidence. One of the difficulties attending this discussion was, that it was scarcely possible to adduce one new argument or one topic that was not already exhausted on either side of the question; but it was not the less necessary, in his opinion, that parliament should, with all convenient speed, deliver itself from the agitation of this painful subject and the 397 feelings which its renewal necessarily created. No point, no topic whatever in the course of the present debate had struck him, and he was sure had impressed the House more forcibly, than the wish of a right hon. gentleman that this question was for ever set at rest. Never, he was sure, could a more important favour be conferred on the country than by this being done. No person attached to the constitution, he was confident, but would rejoice at it, and it was the duty of every friend of his country to do every thing to preserve the public harmony. He by no means wished to be understood as inclined to advocate any principle containing a particle of danger to the constitution. Whenever that appeared, it was the duty of parliament to face it in the most decided manner; but, if it appeared, upon a deliberate view of all the circumstances connected with the body, whose claims were considered, that no danger could arise from concession, there could, in his opinion, be no argument capable of proving that the question should not be set at rest for ever.
The question now came before them in a most interesting point of view, and it would, he was persuaded, meet that attention which it so justly deserved. It was by no means new, as he had already observed, for it had been already introduced into the House by a bill which was read a second time, and lost by a very small majority in the committee. There were so many considerations in favour of the proposition, that unless a strong ease of danger were exhibited, he could not consent by opposing it to give the opportunity for the annual recurrence of a discussion so prejudicial to the general tranquillity. Any great question hanging, year after year, about parliament periodically to agitate the empire, was an evil, but when religious were mixed up with political considerations, the evil became much more serious in its nature. It was, above all, to be recollected that there was no probability that this question could be laid asleep by persisting in a system of permanent exclusion. In the present state of the world, that was not practical in any country, and certainly not in this. He was not one of those who would contend that in constitutional questions we ought to take the tone of other countries. He would not therefore refer to what had taken place in other states, as an example for Great Britain to follow. Still, however, it was important to look to the general feelings 398 of the world on this subject, as affording a pregnant mode of estimating the advantageous change of sentiment that had taken place with respect to it. It was impossible to contemplate the temper recently manifested in Europe, without feeling that the former dangers connected with the question were considerably diminished, if not wholly removed. There was a period when the alliance of the Pope was courted by all. If the see of Rome had the power it formerly possessed of convulsing the European powers, and was capable of making an inroad upon the security of the surrounding states, there might be some principle on which objections could be raised to the consideration of the question. Latterly, however, Rome had not interfered in political questions. Let the House carry its attention back to the treaty of Westphalia, in which the question of religion formed so leading a feature; in which Catholic votes were balanced against Protestant votes, and in which the principle of exclusion was carried into effect. What was the case at present? When the great political questions of Europe were discussed at Vienna, he had never heard the subject of religion mentioned in any of those discussions as a ground for precaution. Indeed, he could state, that there prevailed a disposition not only not to interfere in such questions, but, to place all religions on the footing of political equality. In the diversified states of Germany, in some of which the Protestant religion, and in others the Catholic religion predominated, the whole body chose equality of religion as the basis of their mutual arrangements; and though there had occurred instances of disputes between the governments and the Pope, there had not been any contests between the different religions within the state, nor any other evil consequence from the system adopted. He did not mention this as affording an example to this country, but he mentioned it to show that in the days in which we lived there was no reason to suppose that the exclusive principle, opposed as it was by so large a class of the community, could be long maintained, It had been said that a change had taken place in the Protestant mind on this question, and that the disposition to persevere in restraints was greater than it lately was; but he would put it to those who were most adverse to concession, whether the question would remain to be discussed at the present moment, were it not for the rash†399 and intemperate conduct which the Catholics themselves had pursued. The fact was, that the denial of the Catholic claims which had hitherto been persisted in, was attributable not so much to a wish on the part of the Protestants to monopolize the privileges of the state, or to an apprehension that the removal of the restrictions was a measure incapable of being reconciled with the safety of the church and state, as to the indiscretion of the Catholics, in the way in which they had claimed those privileges.
Although he differed in opinion from his hon. friend, who had spoken second in the present debate he had listened to him with great pleasure in consequence of the information with which his speech abounded and the clearness with which he had made his statements. It might, however, appear to the House a paradox; but the fact was, that most of the circumstances adduced by his hon. friend, as objections to granting any concession to the Catholics, were with him (lord C.) motives for granting that concession. The ultramontane doctrine attributed by his hon. friend to Rome, formerly threatening evil, but now innoxious;—the restoration of the order of Jesuits, received with gratitude in the countries in which it had taken place, on the same principle, unintelligible to us, on which the inquisition was popular in Spain,—these circumstances, diminished as the danger was, in other respects, appeared to him only to furnish arguments for doing at present what our ancestors were wrong in abstaining from doing—destroying the exclusive system. That religious animosity, that melancholy want of charity between man and man in Ireland, to which his hon. friend had alluded formed of itself an additional and powerful reason for acceding to the present proposition. It was not to please the Catholics that he recommended this course, but to place the state in a situation of safety. He wished to do what would destroy the exclusive system with respect to the Catholics. It would be an additional pleasure to him, if that could be done in the way that would be acceptable to them. But whether or not it pleased the Catholics, he wished it to be accomplished, because it would put things on a footing which he believed in his conscience the good of the empire required. He believed, that a sound temper would never exist in Ireland while religious considerations continued in that country on their 400 present narrow basis; and until measures of conciliation were frankly and unequivocally adopted. Never would he believe that any existing danger could be aggravated by the introduction into parliament of a few noble Catholic peers, or of a few generous Catholic commoners. On the contrary, he was persuaded that they would be the foremost to repress any deluded people of their own religious persuasion, who might be attempted to disturb the public tranquillity; and the concession of the Catholic claims would afford them most powerful means of achieving an object so desirable.
It was the unhappiness of Ireland, under its present circumstances, that the state had not sufficient talents to maintain itself, and carry it through adverse circumstances. A connexion with the higher ranks of the Catholic body would afford an aid in that respect which would be invaluable. He therefore denied that this proposition specially stood on the ground of indulgence to the Catholics. Were it even repugnant to them, he would press its adoption, because whatever might be the present pain, the ultimate benefit, to which parliament ought invariably to look in their legislative enactments, would be decisive. He would not allow himself therefore to be discouraged by any remaining intolerance which the Catholics might exhibit, or by any other unpleasing feature in the state of Ireland. He allowed that change, not calculated to produce advantage, was to be cautiously avoided; but in the present case, he contended, that the prosperity of the empire hinged on an alteration in our system. It was, he repeated it, a most desirable thing to set aside, and lay asleep a great question which afflicted the legislature every session, and during its existence left Ireland a prey to agitators.
Having said thus much with respect to the general question of concession, he came now to consider that of security. And here, he was satisfied that little difference of opinion existed between his hon. friend and himself, except that he regarded the difficulty of obtaining the necessary security as much less than his hon. friend appeared to think it. He went along with his hon. friend in declaring, that unless all the security which oaths could give was afforded by the Catholics, the proposed measure ought not to be acceded to. But this appeared to him to be of no difficult accomplishment. He perfectly agreed with his hon. friend, 401 that unless every security which oaths could afford were given, the relief asked ought not to be granted: but the pope had already sanctioned oaths on the part of Catholics, and he believed was not likely to object to any Other that might be proposed on the same principle. He also completely agreed with his hon. friend in adopting it as an indispensable security, that with the exception of the confessional communication, no intercourse should be permitted with the see of Rome which did not pass through the state. Were there no other reason than that a similar pre caution was resorted to in all other states, it would be sufficient. It was a security which the country owed to itself; and he understood that there was no reason to suppose that the Catholics would object to it. With respect to the authority of the state in the nomination of the Catholic clergy, it had been truly observed by his hon. friend, that in Prussia, the only Protestant continental state in which Catholic bishops were permitted, these bishops were nominated by the government; and that in the other Protestant states, the inferior clergy were also so nominated. No rational Catholic could therefore suggest conscience as an objection to the adoption of similar regulations in Ireland. They might certainly say that they would rather be without those regulations; they might express their apprehension, that they might be placed by them too much under the influence of government: but they could not object to them on the ground of conscience. Home had renounced on that subject. M. Quarantotti's rescript (however indecently it had been ridiculed in Ireland) was certainly made in full communication with all the authorities of the Romish church. It was an important circumstance (though not generally known) with respect to that document, as throwing a light on the disposition of the see of Rome, to facilitate all such arrangements as were calculated to establish a more liberal policy that that rescript was issued by M. Quarantotti, ex cathedra, on the impression that the bill to which it referred had positively passed the British parliament. But, if any doubt could have existed on the subject, it was put an end to by the head of the church of Rome. The pope had himself decided the question, having shown, through the medium of cardinal Litta, that the rescript contained no direction contrary to the conscience of any good Catholic. It 402 was certainly painful to him to see that great body of Irish Catholic bishops, whom, in times of disturbance, he had always found disposed to exert themselves to tranquillize the public mind, so far bend to popular clamour as to repress their own feelings, and oppose that which was not hostile to their religion, and which in the document of 1799 they had allowed. Had the measure been against their consciences, ten of that respectable body would not have given him to understand that they were ready to agree to it. They had, it was true, since stated objections: and some of them, he was willing to acknowledge, appeared not unfair: but though they had declared a preference for domestic nomination, he still did not believe that there existed any sentiment in their minds which would create a serious repugnance to what parliament might decide, and the see of Rome sanction, as not inconsistent with Catholic doctrine. Notwithstanding all that had passed, there was therefore no reason for parliament refraining from giving as a boon that which might appear fit to be granted. But if they should not be sensible of the benefit, he would act in this case as he had acted at the Union—he would adopt a measure, the advantage of which time would demonstrate.
He wished to say a word on what had fallen from his right hon. friend near him (Mr. Yorke). He (lord C.) attached great importance to such a regulation of the arrangement, as would give the Crown a distinct knowledge of the individual to be made a Catholic bishop, before that individual assumed the sacred function. There would be many instances in which government would have a more ample knowledge of such an individual's character even than the ecclesiastics by whom he might be chosen. As to the consent of the Catholics to this, he conceived that there were the strongest reasons to expect that the Catholics of Ireland would manifest as decided a disposition to place confidence in the liberality of their Crown and state, as the Catholics of other countries did in theirs. If not, it would, in his opinion, be a pretty strong intimation that the time for concession had not yet arrived. But he had no difficulty in expressing his conviction, that were the proposition made to the Catholic bishops to-morrow, they would acquiesce, and gratefully acquiesce. As to an election of the bishop within the chapter, he deprecated that as tending td great practical abuse. He was confident 403 that such a system would introduce a spirit of democratic contest, mischievous in I all countries, but particularly in such a country as Ireland. His right hon. friend had dwelt much on the repugnance exhibited by the Catholics to the Veto. He (lord C.) regretted that the word had ever been used. Every body knew how much there was in a name, especially in the country of which he had the honour to be a native. Let a repulsive name be given to any thing in that country, and there was an end to it; and Veto was a forbidding word.
But whatever might be the nature of the security eventually required, he certainly thought that it would be most advisable that a period should intervene between that in which both Houses of Parliament might declare their general sentiments on the question, and the ultimate enactment of any bill that might be founded on those sentiments. An opportunity would by that means be afforded of ascertaining with more precision the opinion of Rome, so that when the act came into operation in Ireland, it should have the united force of a temporal and a spiritual measure. All doubt of the opinion of Rome being removed, no cavil could be advanced on the subject, and he was convinced that such an act would be carried into effect in Ireland with as much ease and tranquillity as a turnpike bill. Not, however, that he felt any difficulties with respect to the opinion of Rome: for that opinion had been so distinctly pronounced, that they would not be legislating in the dark, whatever measure they might think proper to adopt. It had been said, that the number of the Catholics as compared with that of the Protestants, was as ten to one: he never before had heard it stated at more than four to one. But, he believed the property, as it now stood, of the Catholics compared with that of the Protestants, was as fifty to one. On the principle of giving security to property, he had supported the Union; because it tended to take Ireland out of the situation of a garrison.
On all these grounds he felt himself, as on former occasions, bound in duty to support his right hon. friend's motion. He was persuaded that the question could not otherwise be got rid of: and this ought to operate as a strong practical motive to induce those who were not altogether favourable to concession to withdraw their 404 opposition to it. He saw no danger in the measure. He did not believe that the quantum of power which it would give the Catholics would enable them to do mischief, if they were disposed to do any. He did not believe that the introduction of a few Catholic gentlemen in parliament would be productive of any danger to the state. On the contrary, he was convinced that it would diminish the existing danger, by softening the religious animosities which existed in Ireland—that most valuable and most interesting portion of the empire. He was persuaded that the indirect influence of the Catholics in that House was much more injurious than the direct influence could be; because the latter would be accompanied by responsibility. If the Catholic gentlemen came into parliament they would come to make a character, and to dispel those gloomy conceptions which too many Protestants were disposed to entertain of them. He thought that a Protestant brought into parliament under the operation of Catholic influence manifesting itself in the exercise of the elective franchise, was more likely to play the false Protestant, and to pander to Catholic prejudices, than the son of lord Kenmare or of any other Irish Catholic nobleman. So far was he from apprehending danger from the introduction of such individuals, that all he should dread was, that for some time not enough would be sent to soften down those asperities which every true friend to the country must wish to remove. Until they had got the Catholics among them in that House, fighting by their side the battles of the constitution, as in our wars they had so bravely fought by their side the battles of the country, he should never be satisfied. Feeling this strongly, he should be guilty of great baseness were he not to declare it. During a part of his life he had considered it his duty, under existing circumstances, to oppose the claims of the Catholics. But those circumstances no longer existing, he was bound to make an earnest and a solemn appeal to the House in their support. Until the subject should be disposed of, the legislative would never enjoy repose; nor should we appear in the eyes of Europe and the world as we ought to do—an empire, consolidating its varied population into one great mass, actuated by the same interests, and directing its energies to the same objects.
rose and said:—
Sir; It is not without great reluctance 405 that I rise to address the House. I cannot but perceive an indisposition to listen to those who concur in my view of this question; I may subject myself to the imputation of presumption by endeavouring to reply to my noble friend; and, above all, I have the painful task imposed on me of avowing my total dissent from the opinions which he has delivered. But, Sir, I have a public duty to perform, and cannot be deterred by any considerations from performing it. It would tend to impede the freedom of discussion, and prevent the discovery of truth, if the arguments advanced by men of superior abilities were exempted, through the deference or apprehensions of others, from being fully and minutely canvassed.
I must in the first place, call the attention of the House to the course of proceeding which has been adopted by the advocates of the Roman Catholic claims. Towards the close of the last session, on the 21st of May, we were called upon to give a pledge, that early (observe) in the present we would take into our serious consideration the laws affecting the Roman Catholics; and it is not until the 9th of May that we are invited to enter upon the discussion. We have at length entered upon it, and we are arrived at this stage of the debate without having heard, from the proposer or from the supporters of the resolution which has been moved, one single word with respect to the distinct nature of the proposal which is to be made in the committee, should the committee be granted.
The resolution proposed by the right hon. gentleman is that which was moved previous to the introduction of the bill of 1813. It proposes "that we shall take into our most serious consideration the state of the laws affecting his majesty's Roman Catholic subjects in Great Britain and Ireland, with a view to such a final and conciliatory adjustment as may be conducive to the peace and strength of the United Kingdom, to the stability of the Protestant establishment, and to the general satisfaction and concord of all classes of his majesty's subjects; and I leave the House to judge from the speeches that they have heard from the supporters of this motion—above all, from the speech of my noble friend—what prospect there is that, from the adoption of this resolution, any satisfactory proceeding can result.
The House will bear in mind that it 406 was in pursuance of this resolution that the bill of 1813 was introduced; that bill which gave satisfaction to no class, of his majesty's subjects, but was most reprobated and rejected by that very class for whose benefit it was intended. By that bill every political privilege and capacity was conferred upon the Roman Catholics, with two exceptions; and certain restraints and conditions were imposed, with a view of securing the state and the Protestant establishment from any danger which might result either from the appointment of improper persons to be Roman Catholic bishops, or from an unfettered communication between the Roman Catholic church and the see of Rome. Sir, the Roman Catholic body of Ireland declared they could not accede to the terms on which it was thus proposed to grant them political privilege.—The Roman Catholic prelates resolved that they could not be parties to the ecclesiastical arrangements without incurring the guilt of schism, and the Roman Catholic laity declared that they would prefer their present state of exclusion, to the removal of that ex elusion on the conditions proposed.
Now, I distinctly understand from my noble friend, that he thinks the same securities which were required by the bill of 1813 must be now demanded. My noble friend has shown that greater securities are taken by every state of Europe, and has proved, on the authority of the see of Rome, that it is not incompatible with the doctrines of the Roman Catholic church to admit an interference on the part of the Crown in the nomination of Catholic bishops and to allow an examination of the correspondence between the see of Rome and the Roman Catholic church. But will the Roman Catholics of Ireland admit of either one or the other? Will they consider that to be a final and satisfactory arrangement, of which securities which they reject with abhorrence form an essential and indispensable part? They cannot do it with any regard to truth or consistency—nor will they.
To the authority of my noble friend, who thinks they will, I oppose the authority of the Roman Catholic prelates, and the Roman Catholic body at large, who have spoken in terms as unequivocal as language can supply. You may enact these securities if you will—you may even compel obedience—but will this be in conformity with the resolution you have moved? and will this be the satisfactory 407 and tranquillizing arrangement which you are desirous to conclude? My noble friend says, that it is absolutely indispensable, in his mind, that the security against improper communication with the see of Rome,—which is called technically the Regium Exequatur,—should be taken. He thinks too, that the authority of the see of Rome should be procured before it can be taken satisfactorily. Now I will prove to him, from a document which he admits to be authentic, that this security, by this authority, he cannot have. I hold in my hand the letter from cardinal Litta, the official organ of the see of Rome, to doctor Poynter, of the 26th of April, 1815, from which I will read the following extract:—"As for the examination of rescripts to which I have alluded above, or what is called the Regium Exequatur, it cannot be even made a subject of negociation; for your lordship well knows, that as such a practice must essentially affect the free exercise of that supremacy of the church, which has been given in trust by God, it would assuredly be criminal to permit or transfer it to any lay power; and indeed such a permission has never anywhere been granted." I ask, then, my noble friend, whether, with his views upon the subject of securities, he sees the prospect of an arrangement which will give satisfaction even to himself.
It is true that, in place of the securities required by the bill of 1813, we have a substitute proposed,—a new security, as we are told,—called domestic nomination. This professes to be an arrangement which will exclude foreign influence in the appointment of the Roman Catholic prelates. Now I must observe, in the first place, that, in the bill of 1813, is was not against foreign influence merely that you attempted to guard. In that bill you declared that it was "fit and expedient" not merely that the Roman Catholic prelates should be exempt from foreign influence, but that "their loyalty and peaceable conduct should be ascertained to the satisfaction of his Majesty." This new security, therefore, which you proffer, not only falls far short of the security, which in 1813, you declared to be "fit and expedient," but it is not even of the same character.
But is it not extraordinary that this offer should be called the offer of something new, and, above all, should be so called by the hon. baronet (sir H. Parnell) who proposed it? The hon. baronet has 408 scarcely ever made a speech on this subject without informing us that there is not at present any foreign interference whatever in the selection of the Roman Catholic prelates,—that their confirmation at Rome is a mere matter of form. He has told us, if I am not mistaken, that the pope has interfered only once in the direct nomination of a Roman Catholic prelate since the Revolution (1688),—and that we did not much benefit by the selection which his holiness on that solitary occasion was pleased to make. Now, I can understand the hon. baronet, if he will argue that, as there is no foreign influence, there is no necessity to guard against it; but I am utterly at a loss to comprehend him, when he, who denies that there exists any foreign interference, dwells with such satisfaction upon the value of an arrangement, which professes to exclude it, and thus obviate a danger which he does not believe to exist.
Now, Sir, I wish to know by what authority even this security is offered,—and I entreat the attention of the House to this point. This offer professes to be made by the Roman Catholic prelates. Not one word has yet been uttered from which we can infer that the see of Rome has sanctioned the offer; yet without the consent of the see of Rome, it cannot, I presume, be accomplished. I infer this from the resolutions of the Roman Catholic bishops on two occasions. In 1812 they resolved, "that as we are at present precluded from any intercourse with our supreme pastor, we feel ourselves utterly incompetent to propose or agree to any change in the long-established mode of appointing Irish Roman Catholic bishops."—And in 1813, when referring to the ecclesiastical arrangements contained in the bill of that year, they resolved that "it would be impossible for us to assent to them, without incurring the guilt of schism—inasmuch as they might, if carried into effect, invade the spiritual jurisdiction of our supreme pastor, and alter an important point of our discipline; for which alteration his concurrence would, upon Catholic principles, be indispensably necessary." Now does domestic nomination, if it effects any thing, invade the spiritual jurisdiction of the see of Rome? and if the concurrence of the see of Rome is, on Catholic principles, indispensably necessary, why are we not informed whether that concurrence has been obtained or not?
409 After what passed on the subject of the Veto, it is right that there should be no misunderstanding on this point.—Remember that, in 1799, the Roman Catholic prelates resolved, that "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." Remember that, in 1808, a right hon. gentleman (Mr. Ponsonby) thought himself authorized by Dr. Milner to accede to the Veto on the part of the Roman Catholic prelates of Ireland;—and now, notwithstanding the resolution of 1799 and the supposed authority of 1808, the Veto is denounced as utterly incompatible with the tenets of the Catholic church, and subversive of the religion itself. I ask not with whom this mistake originated—I stop not to criminate—I only notice the fact, to show that a serious misunderstanding has more than once arisen, and that we ought to guard against its recurrence—I ask, then, whether the pope has sanctioned this offer of domestic nomination? I ask it with more earnestness, because I have seen a document published, apparently by authority, from which it does not seem clear that this sanction had been given. A correspondence has been published between Mr. Hayes, a Roman Catholic priest, deputed to Rome, and Cardinal Litta, in which Mr. Hayes puts to the cardinal the following question: "Whether that mode which (in order to remove every groundless fear of any possible abuse, by which the pontifical authority might interfere, which never will happen, in the civil concerns of the kingdom) is proposed to government by the Catholics, namely, that the clergy or bishops, or rather both jointly, should nominate the candidates, and which is therefore called domestic nomination, seems subject to meet with any difficulty on the part of the holy see?" To this the cardinal replies—"Finally, as to what is now annexed in your letter, touching what is called domestic nomination, I do not perfectly understand what this term is meant to signify. An explanation therefore seems requisite before any definite reply can be given." This correspondence took place so late as October, 1816. Whether the explanation has been given, and the definite reply received, I know not—but it is fit that some information upon the point should be afforded to the House, before it is called upon to accept of this domestic nomination as a 410 full security for the present Protestant constitution.
I must now advert to the extraordinary speech of my right hon. friend (Mr. York). I listened to him with the firmest conviction of his sincerity, with the highest respect for his character, and with no small admiration at the singular project which it is his intention to launch forth upon that boundless sea, on which we are invited to embark. Let us see what prospect there is for him also of a satisfactory arrangement. If I understand him, he will, in the committee, propose a bill, containing provisions, regulating the election of Roman Catholic bishops, not merely providing for domestic nomination, but enacting the precise mode in which that nomination shall be effected. In order that foreign influence may be altogether excluded, he will place the popedom, so far as Ireland is concerned, in commission as it were, and a board composed of the four Roman Catholic archbishops is to possess, that spiritual jurisdiction in Ireland which is at present exercised by the pope.—And this bill, when it shall have received the assent of the legislature, is to have its operation suspended until the acquiescence of the pope shall have been obtained. Of all the propositions that have ever been made, objectionable in principle or dangerous as precedents, this is the most objectionable and dangerous. What, Sir, will you make the operation of a solemn act of the King, Lords, and Commons, of this kingdom, contingent on the acquiescence of the pope? Will you, in the very act which professes to exclude for ever the influence of the pope, recognize and establish that influence so far as to erect it into a fourth estate? Will you deal so harshly and unjustly by the Catholic as to admit by so solemn an act, the policy and justice of concession, and then withhold it from him for ever; not for any fault of his, but because an aspiring and unreasonable pope shall refuse the terms which parliament proposes, and which the Irish Roman Catholics may be willing to accept?
I have, Sir, hitherto been addressing myself to those who are of opinion that it is practicable to accompany the proposed concessions with such securities as shall effectually guard the constitution of this country from danger. I must confess, however, that in their numbers I am not included. I have heard of no se- 411 curities, nor can I devise any, which will allay the apprehensions I entertain. I will now state my own view of this question; and, as my noble friend has particularly applied his reasoning to the state of Ireland, and to the manner in which that country will be affected by the success of this motion, I will now follow his example, and confine myself within the limits which he has chosen.
The question which we have to determine, is this; whether it be advisable to continue the present system of laws affecting the Roman Catholics, under which Ireland has been governed since the year 1793, or whether we shall substitute some new system in its place? It is not, whether we shall remove certain in-consistencies and anomalies which are pointed out in the existing laws; but whether we shall substitute, in the place of the present, almost a new form of government. The gentlemen opposite dwell upon these inconsistencies,—they tauntingly ask why a Roman Catholic may hold the commission of the peace in Ireland, and is not qualified to hold it in England?—why he may hold a certain rank in the army in Ireland, and yet must forfeit that rank on his arrival in England? But the remedy they propose is not to remove the inconsistencies they complain of—not to put the Roman Catholics of the two countries on an equal footing in these respects, but to confer on all the right of sitting in parliament, and every capacity for office and political power. When the clause of the bill of 1813, which admitted the Roman Catholics to parliament, was negatived in the committee, the bill was withdrawn altogether, and we were told that divested of this clause, it was a measure of relief neither befitting the Protestant parliament to grant, nor the Catholic community to receive. I am warranted, therefore, in arguing, that we are now discussing the respective merits of two systems for the government of a great country.
Now I say, that it is impossible to decide on the merits of any such systems, without reference to the history, the state of society, and all the political and moral relations of the country, for which they are intended. When I hear that an equality of political privileges has existed in Hungary, or that the Roman Catholics in Canada have the same capacities with Protestants, I must first inquire whether the situation of Hungary, or the situation 412 of a distant North American colony, corresponds with the situation of Ireland. My right hon. friend (Mr. Canning*) informed us, that in a department of France, the department of the Gironde, the professors of the two religions were on the same footing, as to political privileges, that they lived in harmony together; and thence he draws this inference, that a similar participation of power in Ireland will produce the same harmony. But can I infer, that because, in a province of France, where the vast majority of the population are Roman Catholics—where the established religion is Roman Catholic, it has been there found practicable to admit all classes to equal privileges, that, therefore as a matter of course, the same measures are advisable when applied to a great kingdom wherein the vast majority are Roman Catholics, and where the religion of that majority is not, and must not be the religion of the state. I repeat, then, that I must consider the internal state and political relations of the country, for which I am about to legislate, before I can determine what is likely to be the result of legislation.
Let us, Sir, then consider the state of Ireland—let us recollect that Ireland is a country separated by nature from that to which she is united by law; a country having once had an independent existence—having within twenty years had an independent legislature,—having still her separate courts of justice, and distinct departments of executive government.
In that country there exist two religious establishments, two co-extensive hierarchies, the one sedulously affecting, the other legally possessing, the same dignities, titles, and spiritual authorities; the latter superintending the religious concerns of the great majority of the people, not endowed, indeed, nor encouraged, by the state, but exercising over the minds of its adherents, from the very nature of its doctrines and the solemnity of its ceremonies, an almost unbounded influence; the other, the church of the minority, splendidly endowed no doubt, but endowed with the temporalities which once belonged to its excluded, but aspiring rival. Recollect under what circumstances the transfer of these temporalities took place,—recollect that in Ireland there was, in fact, no reformation; there was no conversion of the mass of the people fromSee Vol. 34, p. 1257.413 one religious creed to another; no conviction brought home to their minds of the errors or abuses of their ancient church; attempts were made to effect that conversion by other means, and they failed, and have left the natural consequences of such attempts, irritation and hostility. You assert that we have misruled Ireland, and you argue that we must adopt the policy you recommend because we have misruled her. Without discussing the truth of that assertion, I deny the force of that argument. We may regret this misrule, and its consequences, but what we have to determine is this, circumstanced as Ireland now is, by what course of policy shall we best promote the interests of the empire at large?
We find Ireland, then, circumstanced as I have described, united by an inviolable compact to Great Britain; and we find it an essential article of that compact, that the Protestant religion—the religion of the small minority (in point of number) shall be the established and favoured religion of the state. We cannot make a constitution de novo; it is needless to resolve what would be the best system of law under another state of circumstances. We must modify and adapt our theories to the conditions of that national compact which we cannot infringe; and to that state of national establishments, which no one proposes to alter.
Sir, with respect to Ireland, we might originally have pursued one or other of four lines of policy.
We might have proscribed the religion of the Roman Catholics, and reduced them, by the severity of penal statutes, to a state of degradation. This policy we have pursued, and, be the consequences what they may, I never can regret that it has been abandoned. To revert to this policy is impossible.
We might have pursued a totally different course, have established the Roman Catholic religion as the religion of the state in Ireland, and have given every political privilege to its adherents. The adoption of this course is precluded, not merely by that solemn settlement, the Act of Union, but by the unanimous sentiments of every member of every side of the House, which are pledged to preserve the Protestant as the established religion of the state, and to maintain an inseparable union of the church of England and of Ireland.
414 There remain two other systems possible to be adopted in Ireland, and between these we must make our choice. The one is that on which we are acting at present, the other that which we are called on to substitute in its place.
By the first we give every toleration to the faith of the majority, but maintain that of the minority as the religion of the state. We exclude the Roman Catholics from those offices which are immediately connected with the administration of, and may be said to constitute, the government of the country—admitting them, generally, to all other offices, privileges and distinctions.
It is proposed to replace this system by another, which shall equally profess to maintain the religion of the minority, as the established religion, but shall open to the Roman Catholics both Houses of parliament, and every office in Ireland, save the first executive office of the state—that of lord lieutenant.
Now, Sir, it will be my purpose to prove that the code of laws on which we are now acting is preferable to that which it is proposed to substitute in its room,—more likely to preserve, inviolate, the union between the two countries—more likely to provide for the stability of the Protestant church establishment in Ireland—and to ensure harmony between the Roman Catholic and Protestant inhabitants of the country.
In attempting to prove this, I will avoid, as far as possible, every topic which can tend to inflame or even to give offence. I will not revive the memory of ancient struggles for ascendancy, and if any advantage to my argument might be derived from dwelling on instances wherein power has been abused, or revengeful feelings have been indulged, that advantage I cheerfully resign. I will not impute to the Roman Catholic church any doctrines which are not avowed, and I will give to the professors of that faith the full advantage of every disclaimer they have made. If the privileges required are to be conceded, I have no wish to lessen the grace of concession;—if the hopes of the Roman Catholics shall be disappointed that disappointment I will not aggravate.
I will suppose the Roman Catholics of Ireland to have the same feelings—to be influenced by the same motives—to act on the same principles with other men, and I affirm that almost every objection which applies to that code of laws which you 415 seek to abrogate, will apply, with equal force, to that code by which you propose to replace it;—that there will be greater anomalies and inconsistencies in the latter—and a moral certainty that the arrangement you seek to make will be less conclusive and satisfactory than that which you have made.
Let us examine the objections to the present laws. Do not suppose that I think they constitute—in the abstract, and without relation to the state of society for which they are intended—a perfect system, or that I rejoice in the exclusions and disabilities which they induce. I regret that they are necessary, but I firmly believe you cannot alter them, in any essential point, for the better.
It is objected, in the first place, that, as We have admitted the Roman Catholics to the elective franchise, and as we have thus placed substantial power in the hands of the democracy, it is absurd to withhold the higher privileges—office, and seats in parliament from the aristocracy. Now I must observe that objections of this kind show how cautious we should be in making further concessions. When the elective franchise was sought for, it was not then foreseen, at least it was not argued, that the capacity for political office must necessarily follow. [Mr. Ponsonby dissented.] Sir. Mr. Burke—that most anxious advocate of the Roman Catholic claims—did not so argue,—after observing that the constitution is not made for general proscription, he states that there is a clear distinction between a franchise and an office, and the capacity for one and the capacity for the other. He says that franchises belong to the subject, as a subject, and not as a member of the governing part of the state; and that the Test Acts, while they left the privilege of sitting and voting, excluded the Protestant dissenters from civil and military offices. He adds, that he does not mention this as approving the distinction, but as establishing the fact that such a distinction has been made by the legislature.
But, Sir, I see no inconsistency in admitting the Catholics to an influence in the state, which the possession of property usually confers—and in requiring at the same time that this influence should be exercised through a medium not hostile to the religion of the state. I see no inconsistency in permitting the Roman Catholics to choose the representatives and advocates of their interests,—but in 416 taking at the same time, a security that those representatives, warmly as they may espouse their cause, shall have no religious bias in their own minds against a Protestant government in church and state.
Again, Sir, we are told that we cannot stop where we are: I answer that we are more likely to stop where we are, than we shall be if we advance to the point to which we are invited. We are told that the present system proceeds upon no principle: I answer, that the system which is proposed as a substitute contradicts the principle on which it professes to be founded.
You propose to open to the Catholics parliament, and to invest them with political power;—to make them capable of acting in the highest offices of the state, and of being the responsible advisers of the Crown. You tell us that the Roman Catholics of Ireland are advancing in wealth and education, and that, as you remove the disabilities under which they labour, their advance will be the more rapid, and they will become more influential in the state. Do you then mean, bona fide, to give them in Ireland the practical advantages of the eligibility you propose to confer upon them? Do you mean to give them that fair proportion of political power, to which their numbers, wealth, talents, and education, will entitle them?
If you do, can you believe that they will, or can, remain contented with the limits which you assign to them I Do you think that when they constitute, as they must do,—not this year, or the next, but in the natural, and therefore certain order of things,—by far the most powerful body in Ireland;—the body, most controlling, and directing the government of it;—do you think, I say, that they will view with satisfaction the state of your church, or of their own? Do you think that, if they are constituted like other men, if they have organs, senses, affections, passions, like yourselves—if they are, as no doubt they are, sincere and zealous professors of that religious faith to which they belong—if they believe your "intrusive church" to have usurped the temporalities which it possesses;—do you think that they will not aspire to the re-establishment of their own church, in all its ancient splendour?—Is it natural that they should?—If I argue even from my own feelings, if I place myself in their situation, I answer that it is not! May I not then without throwing any calumnious imputation upon any Roman Catholic—without proclaiming (and 417 grossly should I injure them if I did) such men as lord Fingal, or lord Gormanstown, to be disaffected and disloyal—may I not,—arguing from the motives by which man is actuated, from the feelings which nature inspires—may I not question the policy of admitting those who must have views hostile to the religious establishments of the state, to the capacity of legislating for the interests of those establishments, and the power of directing the government of which these establishments form so essential a part?
Sir, the history of Scotland is referred to as proving the policy of granting those privileges which we are now called on to grant, and though I reject it as affording any precedent at all analogous to the present case of Ireland, I cannot help feeling that it may be, at some future time, with great force, appealed to in favour of the establishment of the Roman Catholic religion in Ireland. What was the policy towards Scotland? After vain attempts to impose on the people a form of religious worship against which they revolted, you abandoned these attempts, and established, permanently and inviolably, the Presbyterian church, its doctrine, discipline, and government.—Scotland with her Presbyterian church, has been united to England with her Episcopal church: all jealousies are buried in oblivion, and the political union is complete. And shall we not hear, at no distant period, appeals to the case of Scotland not to prove the policy of conferring mere civil privileges, but to show that the union of countries with different religious establishments may lead to the happiest results. "Carry then," we should be told, "a principle sanctioned by reason and experience to its full accomplishment; establish every where the religion of the majority as the religion of the state, and unite in one consistent frame of government—Protestant England, Presbyterian Scotland, and Catholic Ireland!" But not being yet prepared to go so far we are for the present assured that the numbers of Roman Catholics who will be returned to parliament will be very limited. "True, there may be danger, but then it will not be very great!—You will not have more than ten Roman Catholics in the House of Commons—and ten Roman Catholics cannot overturn your establishment!"—And are these the clumsy securities which are offered to us? These—so little in unison with the spirit of that 418 constitution which we profess to maintain, but which in truth we are about to abandon? If the Roman Catholics entertain no principles and no views hostile to the establishments of the state, admit them to privilege without reference to the number to be admitted: if they entertain such, exclude them, not because their numbers will be limited, but fairly and openly, because you cannot confide in them.
We are told again that the Roman Catholics will only be qualified for office,—that they will only have eligibility,—and that the Crown may still, if it think fit, continue the exclusion.—Sir, if the parliament confers eligibility on the Roman Catholics, the Crown ought not to exclude them from a just proportion of power:—the exclusion will he ten times more mortifying than their present disqualification;—it will be so, because it will be attributed to caprice—to unjust preference—to unfair suspicion. If it be unsafe to admit the Roman Catholics to a share in the government proportionate to their numbers and influence in the state, all the branches of the legislature ought to share in the odium of disqualifying them; it ought not to be transferred to one branch exclusively—to that branch too which is to continue unchangeably Protestant; to that branch which will be the more liable on that very account to the suspicion of prejudice and partiality, instead of being, as the constitution intends it to be, the fountain of all grace and favour.
But we are told that these concessions are to tranquillize Ireland: we are told that the mass of the people are in a state of irritation, and that nothing but Catholic emancipation can allay it: but we are not told what this emancipation is to effect with respect to the mass of the people? Do you confer any direct and immediate benefit upon the lower orders? You argue, indeed, that the ultimate effects of emancipation will be to ameliorate their condition, to raise up new classes in society, and to unite the lower and upper orders by gradations which are now wanting. Will the peasant understand this? Will he feel any immediate benefit? Will he receive any practical proof that his condition is improved? Will he be less subject to the influence of that most powerful body, the Roman Catholic clergy? And reflect how that body is affected by what you call Catholic emancipation. You confer certain privileges—substantial benefits perhaps—on the aris- 419 tocracy and the bar; but you confer none on the clergy; you do not even leave them as you find them; you concede to the laity, but you accompany these concessions with regulations and restrictions, bearing exclusively on the clergy: on that body whose influence is all powerful, and who, of all classes, must naturally view your establishments with the greatest jealousy and hostility. And then, the connexion between the mass of the people and the clergy remaining the same,—the people receiving no immediate advantage, nor prospective advantage which they can comprehend, and the clergy being subjected to restrictions against which they vehemently protest,—can we flatter ourselves that the predictions of tranquillity and concord are likely to be verified?
I am aware that in my argument, I have been assuming that the measure which is to be proposed, in the event of our going into the committee, will resemble the measure which was proposed in the year 1813. I am at liberty to assume it, at least from the speech of my noble friend, if not from the silence, with respect to any different measure, of those who preceded him: I cannot forget, too, that very able men were employed in framing the bill of 1813, and that it was the subject of the gravest deliberation; I cannot therefore presume that any better or more palatable measure will be now offered for our adoption. As new securities however, are talked of, let us put aside all the provisions of the bill of 1813, which regard securities, and refer to those only by which privilege and capacity were conferred. With all due respect for the authors of this bill, I must declare that it appears to me more replete with absurdities and inconsistencies than the laws which are now in force; and I consider it a most useful and instructive document, to prove how difficult it is for the ablest men to improve the constitution, and how cautious we should be in attempting to innovate on so sacred a subject.
Let us examine a little into the manner in which this bill was framed. The preamble of it recites that the Protestant episcopal church of England and Ireland is established permanently and inviolably: it then admits that that Protestant episcopal church forms an essential part of our free constitution, and prays that certain provisions may be made with a view to put an end to all religious jealousies between his majesty's subjects, and to bind 420 them in all times to come by the same privileges and (observe) by the same interests in defence of their common government. The same interests!—you confirm the Protestant establishment as an essential part of the government, and then assume that the Protestant and the Roman Catholic will have the same interests in maintaining that government! You may declaim as you will, and make what preambles you please, but the force of nature and the spirit of religion are opposed to you, they contradict your preambles, and confute your declamation.
The bill then proceeds to admit the Roman Catholic to parliament, and how does it provide for his admission? It leaves the oaths which are to be taken by the Protestant member the same as it found them. He is still to advance to the table, and to take oaths, disclaiming, as pernicious and damnable, doctrines which are imputed by implication to his Roman Catholic colleague; and he is not merely to disavow these political doctrines, but he is to abjure certain spiritual tenets of the Catholic faith as superstitious and idolatrous. Having heard the insulting disclaimer of the Protestant, the Roman Catholic member will then advance, and an oath is to be administered to him, which (as has been well said) looks more like a bill of indictment against him than an oath which is to qualify him for the exercise of the highest privileges and most sacred duties. He is required to renounce as unchristian and impious the worst principles and doctrines that his most bigotted enemies in any age have imputed to him. Why do you call upon him to renounce such doctrines? Do you suspect that he entertains them? If you do, you should disqualify him, not from being a member of parliament, but from being a member of society: if you do not, why do you humiliate him by requiring a disclaimer? Oh, but he must disclaim them, however unjustly imputed to him, to satisfy the scruples and the prejudices of Protestants.—And is this your final and satisfactory arrangement?—Is this your plan for burying in oblivion religious animosities, and binding the Protestant and the Catholic by an identity of privileges and interests?
Then comes the clause admitting the Roman Catholic to office, quickly followed by the proviso, that from the first political office in Ireland—from the first legal office in England—the Catholic must 421 still remain excluded; you differ then only with us in degree. You tell us that we have conferred substantial power on the Catholic, but subject him to mere mortifying exclusions, that serve but to irritate and annoy him;—that we have broken the chain which bound him, but still reserve some useless links of that chain to remind him of his former servitude. But you yourselves retain some of these links, fewer indeed in number, but just as offensive as a memento of degradation, and as a proof that the equality of privilege and the identity of interest is not established. And when you dwell, and with justice, upon the rank, and the station, and the character, of lord Fingal, let me ask you how, consistently with your principle, can you close against him for ever the first executive office of his native land, the only one, perhaps, to which he could aspire? He may represent his sovereign in Jamaica or in Canada,—he may exercise in distant colonies all the functions of sovereignty in church and state,—but in Ireland he cannot represent him,—in Ireland, the source from which grace, and mercy, and favour flow, is still to continue Protestant, exclusively and for ever?
But, though you must have a Protestant lord-lieutenant, you may have a Roman Catholic secretary: his friend, his adviser, his representative in parliament, may be a Roman Catholic. Sir, those who know any thing of the relation in which these two offices stand, must know how desirable it is, even on public grounds, that something more than mere cold official confidence, something partaking of personal esteem and mutual attachment should subsist between those who fill them:—and if you will look through this bill you will discover, that, if this faithful servant and friend of the lord-lieutenant shall presume, in some hour of careless confidence, to advise him in the appointment of any ecclesiastical, nay even any lay office or preferment in the Protestant church of Ireland, the secretary shall—(observe the cautious provisions against danger)—he shall, being convicted by due course of law, be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and disqualified for ever from public service! And this is the bill which is to remove anomalies, to establish some perfect system of government, some final and satisfactory arrangement, to bury in oblivion, in all time to come, religious animosities!
422 Then, again, the Crown is to remain Protestant, but the adviser of the Crown may be Roman Catholic. You confirm in the bill the exclusion of the Roman Catholic from the Crown,—from that branch of the legislature from which he was most recently excluded by law,—from that high office from which he is excluded, not by the indirect operation of an oath, as is the case in other offices, but distinctly because he is a Roman Catholic. The irresponsible head of the executive government must be Protestant, but his responsible minister, his secretary of state, may be a Roman Catholic. You expose the successor to the Crown to be educated under the guidance of Roman Catholic ministers; and if he, from sincere conviction, shall conform to the religion of those whom you have given to him as confidential and responsible advisers, you subject him for ever to the forfeiture of his inheritance. In all this I can see nothing that can lead to harmony,—nothing that can constitute a final and satisfactory settlement—nothing but a wild and irreconcileable contradiction of principles.
Sir, I will now conclude. I am grateful to the House for the attention with which they have heard me. Let me entreat them to pause before they take the first step towards a radical alteration in the constitution of their country, and to reflect how difficult it is to predict the consequences of much less important alterations.
It is observed, Sir, by Mr. Hume, when speaking of the reigns of James the first and his successor, that religious spirit, when it mingles with the spirit of faction, contains in it something supernatural; and that, in its operations upon society, effects correspond less to their known causes than in any other circumstance of government. And this, says he, while it constitutes some apology for those who, having interfered in religious matters, are disappointed of the expected event, imposes at the same time a grievous responsibility on all who lightly innovate in so delicate an article.
This reflection, says he, is confirmed by all history:—and may it be a warning to us how we proceed to unsettle that which we find established. Let us recollect, that, under the constitution which we have derived from our ancestors, we have enjoyed more liberty, we have acquired more glory, we possess more character and power, than has hitherto fallen to the 423 lot of any other country on the globe; and if there be any man yet undecided on this question, I entreat him that he will give the benefit of his doubt to the existing order of things,—and, that, before he gives his vote to a measure, of the consequences of which he is at least uncertain, he will weigh the substantial blessings which he knows to have been derived from the government that is, against all the speculative advantages which he is promised from the government that is to be.
§ General Mathew
said, he felt himself particularly called upon to present himself to the House in consequence of the cheers which had followed the question of the right hon. gentleman, whether any person there was authorized by the pope to say, that his holiness would consent to domestic nomination? He did not mean to state, that he was directly authorized by the pope to say this [a laugh], but he had every reason to believe that there was a document in this country to that effect.
said, it was not his intention to detain the House for many minutes from that vote which was so loudly and generally called for. He had so often and so fully explained his opinions upon this important and most interesting question, that he felt nothing more to be necessary on his part, on the present occasion, than to declare that those views remained the same,—that they were in no degree altered by any thing that he had heard in this debate, not even by the speech of consummate ability which had been last delivered by his right hon friend (Mr. Peel), and of which it was but justice to say, that it comprised every argument on that side of the question, and exhibited them all in the most luminous point of view. What, however, was, after all, the result of all his right hon. friend's reasonings? Why this—that we were in a situation of extreme delicacy and difficulty. That we could neither recede, nor go forward without hazard and inconvenience. Nor had his right hon. friend ventured to add, that we could safely and satisfactorily remain as we were. Could his right hon. friend have established this point, he (Mr. C.) admitted, that he would have gone far to dispose of the present motion, and of all questions of a similar kind. But he (Mr. C.) had watched in vain for any attempt at such an argument: and till this point was established, the arguments drawn from the inconvenience of going forward were, even 424 if true in themselves, altogether imperfect and inconclusive as to the general question. To go back, no man had plainly proposed—to retract concessions already made, to restore disabilities already abolished:—yet that was the plain and logical inference from the arguments against going forward, coupled with the admission direct or implied that we could not stand still in our present posture.
"For my own part," said Mr. Canning, "if I thought that we could not move one step in concession, without danger to our civil and ecclesiastical Establishment, my part is taken—I would stand, at all hazards, and all inconveniences, where we are. I would not risk the security of these establishments for any theoretical—for any hope of practical improvement. But as in my conscience I believe that there is no such risk likely to be incurred—that the amplest securities may be taken, not only against real, but even against imaginary dangers, I am not deterred from examining patiently the practical remedies to be applied to a state of things allowed on all hands to be inconsistent and anomalous, and capable (as I believe) of being amended, not only without risk, but with advantage, and increased security to the Establishment."
He would not be led into a retrospective and particular examination of the provisions of the bill of 1813, because that measure was not before the House, and he was far from being at liberty to assume (however he might himself be partial to that measure, from the share which he had had in the formation of it), that precisely the same bill would, if the motion of tonight were carried, again result from the investigation of a committee.
It must be remembered, however, that to the bill of 1813, incongruous and undigested as it is now represented to have been—to that bill in almost all its parts—a pretty general concurrence was given, not only by those who supported, in different degrees, and with different modifications and reservations, the general proposition in favour of a final settlement of this perplexing and uncomfortable question, but even by those who, in general principle, were hostile to any concession to the Catholics. Many of the latter class of persons, the most vehement and the most leading of them, were prepared on that occasion, and so declared themselves in the memorable debate in which the bill was defeated,—to have gone the full length of the greater 425 part of its provisions. The single point on which the bill was rejected was, that of the admission of Catholics into the two Houses of parliament.
On that point, Mr. C. did not hesitate to say, that he still retained the opinion which he had declared in 1813. He could not comprehend the policy, which allowing the Catholics to be admissible at all to a participation of any of the rights and functions of the state, would exclude them precisely from that right and that function, to which only the most enlightened among them could be eligible;—which, while it consented to fill the army, and the navy, and the bar, indiscriminately with Catholics and Protestants from the lower and middling walks of life, would I still set a mark of exclusion upon the most eminent possessors of Catholic property, and upon the highest rank of Catholic talents. It was obvious that such would be the description of by far the greater part of those Catholics who could find their way into the two Houses of parliament. What danger was to be apprehended from their admission?—what designs against the state, but such as, if cherished by them at all, must be cherished with tenfold eagerness in their present state of hopeless exclusion?—what ability to carry such designs into execution, confounded, intermixed, and overwhelmed as they must be by the intermixture, with the multitude of their protestant colleagues?
But it was said, that though property would generally constitute the character and qualification of a Catholic member of the House of Commons—(for as to the other House of parliament, there could he no great apprehension:—the English Roman Catholic peers were capable of being numbered on the fingers; and the privilege conveyed to the Irish Roman Catholic peers, would be not that of sitting in the House of Lords, but merely of being eligible by their fellow peers to sit there); it was said, that though the Roman Catholic members of the House of Commons might be generally men of property, and consequently interested in the preservation of order and good government,—yet that there would be no absolute security that some of the demagogues of the day—some of those fire-brands who inflame the people of Ireland, might not find their way into the Irish representation. God grant it! Never did he (Mr. C.) hear or read of a boisterous demagogue, misleading, agitating, and inflaming the people 426 out of doors, that he did not wish—as the best cure,—to see him brought into this House, and exhibited on these benches; and never had he seen the experiment made, without seeing cause to rejoice at the result of it. Nine times out of ten, the giant of the hustings or the scaffold shrunk, in the House of Commons, into his natural and not very appalling dimensions; the firebrands of mob-meetings, when exposed to the atmosphere of this House, only hissed and expired. There was no discontent, no alienation from the present state of things, of which he would not rather that the complaints should be uttered, and the grievances explained within the walls of the House of Commons: where, by the conflict of wholesome discussion, exaggerations were sure to be reduced to their just size, and the blessings of the constitution to be exhibited and maintained in contrast with its alleged imperfections.
But independently of this main concession (for such he allowed it to be)—the right of setting in parliament—there were, as he had stated, many, very many others in respect to which there had appeared to be a pretty general concurrence of opinion; many anomalies to be removed; many monstrous incongruities to be reconciled; many harmless but beneficial capacities to be imparted to our Catholic fellow subjects. He was not deterred by the apprehension that we could not do all that might be desireable: we must do what we could, not with a view to theoretical perfection, but to practical improvement. He was quite as little daunted by the apprehension that whatever might be granted to the Catholics short of the full extent of their wishes would be unsatisfactory to them. He knew not how we were before-hand to obtain the assurance that what we might do would be satisfactorily received. Tell not him what the Catholics would accept;—parliament would grant the boon upon its own conditions, and it was not for the persons who were the objects of it to mete out the measure of that boon.—In removing the remaining disabilities of the Catholics (so far as it might be right to remove them) and in annexing to this grace whatever conditions and limitations it might be thought necessary to annex to it, he looked not to the satisfaction of a part of the people, but to the good of the whole.—At the same time he confessed he felt no great apprehension on the subject of Catholic ingratitude,— 427 nor did he consider it as a point of honour to obtain by previous negotiation the assurance that what was conceded would be well taken and thankfully acknowledged. Let but the great work of conciliation be accomplished, he cared not on which side the advance began; whether the humble and contented submission of the Catholics to the will of parliament, whatever it should be, were] declared in the first instance, or the gratuitous benevolence of parliament excited the gratitude of the Catholics: he cared not from what point the circle of gold which was to bind together the whole community began to be drawn.—True it was that the bill of 1813 had been viewed with very different feelings by different portions of the Catholic world. By some no doubt with disparagement and discontent. But if this bill had produced discontent, it had also been received with approbation. And where was it received with discontent, and where with approbation?—With approbation at Home, and discontent in Ireland.—But at Rome it was believed to have passed; in Ireland it was known to have failed. And what was the fair inference from this diversity of reception? Why that let parliament pass what measure it thinks fit upon the subject, and it will be thankfully acknowledged and cheerfully obeyed: but that repeated discussion, and repeated; failure, in the present temper of the Catholics, furnish arms to the ill-disposed, and put to hazard the peace of the community.
For these reasons it was that he was anxious to go into the committee, and for these reasons also, when in that committee differences of opinion might arise (as was naturally to be expected) as to le extent to which concession should go, he confessed for himself that rather than, as in 1813, risk all, to obtain all, and throw away much because all could not be obtained, he should be well contented to acquiesce in such a degree of concession as might be sanctioned by a tolerably general concurrence of opinions.
His objects were reconcilement and tranquillization,—and the setting at rest, if not for ever, for years to come, a question which divided distracted and agitated Ireland; which afforded encouragement to faction and food to discontent: which was the cause of much mischief, but the pretext of more.—With these views to practical benefit, and not to theoretical perfection,—with these views, not to a hostile triumph of one party over another, but to a general pacification among 428 all parties, he was anxious for the first step of going into a committee:—and out of that committee he should hope not to come without having gained something,—though not every thing which he in his own judgment might think desirable—but something, be it what it might, towards the mutual harmony of both classes of religious belief,—towards the contentment and peace of Ireland,—and towards the defeat of the designs of those incendiaries who would inflame discontent into disaffection.
§ Mr. Grattan
replied to the following effect:—
Sir; I now beg leave to avail myself, late as the hour is, of the right which, at the commencement of this debate I reserved to myself of replying to the principal arguments that might be urged against the appointment of a committee. And first, Sir, with respect to the difficulty that is supposed to arise from going unprepared into the committee, I shall only observe that you may command your own securities. You may command the security of domestic nomination; you may command a check on the papal power. I positively deny that there is a general disposition in the Catholics to object to any security—what is for the good of the whole, is for the good of the Catholic. As to the expectation of giving complete satisfaction to every person on this or any other subject it is vain. You are to legislate on the principle of serving the country, without accommodating any particular set of men. If your idea is to serve, depend upon it that you will ultimately satisfy. A right hon. gentleman (who I regret was not more attended to by the House) observed in the course of his speech, that this was a Protestant constitution. That right hon. gentleman may baptize the constitution as he will; but originally it was Catholic. It was founded by Catholics. All the great laws to which the people owe their rights and liberties were the work of Catholics. The Bill of Rights in itself was merely a declaratory law of the privileges which had been obtained by our Catholic ancestors; and therefore we cannot contend that our constitution was not originally a Catholic constitution. The Commons form the third estate in the realm; but they are not all Protestants; they are composed of both Protestant and Catholic electors, who depute representatives to sit in this House. Those who deny that the Catholics have a right to demand emancipation, found their argument on 429 inference. But you cannot take away prerogative by inference,—you cannot take away privilege by inference. And there is this great error in their argument, that they found their inference on a mistatement of facts. First they Bay that the Catholics are liable by the constitution to certain pains and penalties to which the Catholics are not liable; and from this they draw their inference. An honourable member on the second bench was pleased to tell us that at the time of the Revolution the exclusion of the Catholics from civil and military offices was a fundamental principle of the constitution. At that time danger threatened the established religion; but still you will observe, that the disabilities of which the Catholics complain, did not take place until after the Revolution. Some of them were enacted in the latter part of king William's reign, and other at the end of that of queen Anne. So that the constitution, as settled at the Revolution was, it seems, to be open to penalties against the Catholics, but shut to benefits towards them. Now, what sort of an experiment is this? It is an experiment to uphold one religion by inflicting pains and penalties on the professors of another. A great deal has been said about the prescribed oath by which, at the period to which I have alluded, the Catholics were excluded from civil and military offices. But if we examine into the nature of that oath, we shall find that it was not a penal oath against the religion of the Catholics, but an oath imposed on such persons as were then supposed to be ready to obey the temporal power of the pope; which the Catholics are now willing to abjure. And, in order to show that I do not mistate the fact, I will read to you the preamble of the act of parliament in which this principle is laid down.
The right hon. gentleman here read the preamble of an act of Queen Anne, which, after reciting an act of William 3d, set forth, that the aforesaid act was too severe against persons professing the Catholic religion; and then went on to state that, to admit the temporal superiority or power of the pope, or see of Rome, in Great Britain, Scotland, and Ireland, was contrary to the law of the land, and that it should therefore be enacted, that a certain oath should be taken by persons of the Catholic persuasion, abjuring that temporal power. Parliament subsequently gave its opinion on the nature of this oath. They said, that this oath was not directed against the 430 Catholic religion, but against the temporal power of the pope. They declared that it was an abstract act; and they substituted for it the oath of allegiance. Here is the opinion of your own parliament in 1793, on the nature of the oath, and their express declaration, that it was not intended as a fundamental oath, but was only meant to operate against those who paid obedience to the temporal power of the pope—that it was in fact a dogma, and that the oath of allegiance was inserted in its place. This is the opinion of your own parliament, against the fundamentally of that oath, which honourable gentlemen call an unalterable law, and an essential part of the Revolution. I have thus the authority of the parliament of England, and I have the authority of the parliament of Ireland, to re-affirm the verity of what I have said. The fourth article of the union with England, recognizes the same principle. It says, "And that every one of the lords of parliament of the united kingdom, and that every member of the House of Commons, in succeeding parliaments of the united kingdom, shall use and take, and make and subscribe the said oath, unless parliament shall otherwise provide." Here was an express provision for the alteration of this "fundamental" statute. There is, first, a declaration of the fundamentally of the oath, and then there is a provision made by the parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland for doing it away. What then do those persons do, who contend for the fundamentality of this oath? "Here" say they, to the Irish parliament, "is an opening for you to come to the imperial parliament, to provide for an alteration of the exclusive oath." But now having annulled the Irish parliament, they declare "that the exclusion still remains, that it must not be interpreted according to the law of the land; and that exclusion is the final law of the land." These persons told the Irish Catholics "give up your parliament, and your religion shall be tolerated;" and now that the Catholics have given up their parliament, they tell them, "It is a fundamental law that your religion shall not be tolerated." This cannot have been the intention of the legislature. Parliament is incapable of committing so great a breach of faith. There is a motion to be found on the Journals of the House of Lords, which proves the truth of my position. It was moved in the House of Lords, that the House should go into a committee, for the purpose of declaring a 431 certain oath fundamental, which disqualified for the acceptance of any office, persons who might refuse to take the sacrament, according to the church of England. On this motion the question was put, and it was rejected by a great majority. Here you have the opinion of the House of Lords, as you before had the declaration of your own House of parliament, that these are fundamental laws, but that they are subject to revision. From all that has been urged, I must infer and conclude, that the Protestants have no exclusive right laid down,—that they have no exclusive title to the constitution. Then comes the other question, what right have the Protestants to exclude the Catholics from the enjoyment of the constitution? The Catholics certainly cannot claim any positive and particular right,—they cannot claim this or that office,—but they can claim an equality of laws. If those laws are limited in their application to Catholics, they must be limited for definite reasons. It is the duty of the legislature to ascertain what those reasons are, and if they should appear to be vicious or arbitrary, the legislature is guilty of an act of injustice if it proceeds on them. Because, let us remember, that it is not parliament that gives capacity. It is the common law that gives capacity, and it is the province of parliament to limit that capacity, when it appears necessary to do so. That necessity can be founded only on a good reason. Now, I say that religion is not a good reason for limiting capacity. Religion is a moral right. As far as it is a sentiment of the mind,—as far as it is the feeling of the individual,—parliament cannot interfere with it. It is a human legislation, interfering between God and his creatures! Religion therefore has nothing to do with political right, although it may be connected with some considerations of a political nature. Religion may be so connected with other subjects as to afford some ground for exclusion from offices of state, as where it may be the means of filling those offices with persons in subjection to a foreign power. If we look to the Catholic religion as connected with the pope, it will at once be acknowledged that that connexion will not justify the obedience of a subject to the pope. The Veto therefore was devised to meet that evil; and there therefore the danger ceased. Again we proffer you domestic nomination; so that the argument founded on the necessity of checking foreign influ- 432 ence is put an end to. For if you have not that check now, it is your own fault. You will reject an ample security for your establishment in church and state, in order to continue the Protestant monopoly of civil privileges. The charge of moral atrocity in the Catholic religion has been completely met by the unanswered and unanswerable declaration of the Catholic prelates, which tells you that it is no part of the Catholic doctrine that the pope has temporal power in Great Britain,—that it is no part of the Catholic doctrine, that no faith ought to be kept with heretics,—that it is no part of the Catholic doctrine, that the pope can absolve subjects from their allegiance. Besides, there is another argument against it; which is founded on the divinity of the Christian religion. Monstrous crimes are incompatible with the Christian religion which the Catholics profess. The argument of moral atrocity makes not against the Catholic religion alone, but against Christianity in general. The reasoning goes to this,—that the Christian religion is an abomination, and that God has given up Europe to impiety. You must abandon either your argument, or your religion; or you must say that the Christian religion exists only in England, Scotland, Sweden, and part of the north of Ireland, viz. in the counties of Armagh, Down, and two or three others.
From this question of moral atrocity I shall proceed to the assertion, that the emancipation of the Catholics is incompatible with the safety of England. Can any thing be more absurd, than to suppose that a belief in transubstantiation must necessarily produce disaffection to the House of Brunswick! Then comes the influence of the pope on the loyalty of the Catholics. It is said, that the Catholics cannot be faithful subjects. The Irish parliament has declared, that the Irish Catholics are faithful subjects. In 1791, the Irish parliament stated, that it was necessary for the security of the country, to give the Catholics a share of political power; and accordingly that parliament gave the Catholics the privilege of holding landed property, and put arms into their hands. It is said that it is consistent with the principles of the constitution that the Catholics should hold civil and military offices. The Irish parliament has declared that the Irish Catholics shall hold them. I will read an extract from the act passed in 1791, in confirmation of my assertion. That act says "be it enacted that it shall and may be lawful§433 for Papists or persons professing the Popish or Roman Catholic religion to hold, exercise, and enjoy all civil and military offices, or places of trust and profit under his majesty." The resolution passed in this House four years ago was in the same words. These are parliamentary acquittals of the Catholics. I say parliament acquitted the Catholics of disaffection when it gave them the right of holding landed property—it acquitted the Catholics of disaffection when it put arms into their hands—it acquitted the Catholics of disaffection when it imparted to them the elective franchise, and thus made them a part of the Commons of the United Empire. Now then, Sir, I wish to know how it is contrary to the principles of the constitution to admit persons of the Catholic persuasion to the enjoyment of civil or military offices? What becomes of those arguments which say that to suffer the Catholics to participate in political power is contrary to the fundamental principles of the constitution—that it is against the law, or the principles of the law? Let us consider the subject fairly, and we shall see with what remarkable inaccuracy the hon. gentlemen who oppose this motion have endeavoured to argue four millions of their fellow subjects into perpetual bondage. The letters of cardinal Litta and M. Quarantotti are decided parliamentary evidence of the allegiance of the Catholics. They both show that the allegiance of the Catholics is not against the feelings or wishes of the pope, but that, on the contrary, he encourages and commands it. What right then has parliament to disqualify the Catholics? I allow that parliament has the power of limiting the political capacity of the subject; but I say that parliament has not the right to do so without, a powerful reason, and I maintain that the religion of the Catholics is not a proper reason for limiting their political capacity. Belief in the seven sacraments is no reason for political disqualification. Belief in transubstantiation is no reason for political disqualification. And therefore, Sir, I contend that the existing acts of disqualification are acts of power, are acts of injustice, are acts that ought to be repealed. Sir, how have the Catholics made use of the power which from time to time they have acquired? I will appeal to your generals and your admirals. I will not speak of this battle or of that battle—I will not particularize this victory, or that achievement 434 —but I will ask how gentlemen can impeach the loyalty of the Catholics who have seen them shed their blood in defence of that which it is said they mean to undermine? An hon. gentleman opposite says that if there were any commotion in this country, the Catholics would follow their priests. What right have we to assert they would do so? What right have we to say that those who filled our fleets and armies when we were engaged in wars abroad, would act unworthily when confidence was placed in them at home?—What, if an individual has restored the order of Jesuits? Would it not be hard to say "whereas the pope has renewed the society of Jesuits, and has suffered the revival of the inquisition, therefore be it enacted that lord Fingal be attainted?" You would exclaim "No, this is a monstrous proposition, which we cannot listen to for a moment." And yet, if you listen to the opponents of the motion, you would attaint, not one man, but the whole Catholic population! you erect a human tribunal, and for the offence of an individual, you swell the character of your law into the omnipotence of the Deity, and utter a denunciation against a whole community. The history of Ireland, a century ago, has been appealed to as furnishing strong arguments in opposition to my motion. What is that history? Why, generally it is the tale of an unhappy province, ill-governed, and cruelly mismanaged? The historian is in the case of Ireland, generally speaking, peculiarly bad authority. He wrote to gratify power, and to gratify power he flattered it. His own private advantage absorbed all his thoughts, and his contemplation only dwelt on that which might be turned to his own account or that of his patrons. But if you wish to state the case of Ireland fairly, do not fly back to barbarous times and long exploded principles—state her conduct since she became a nation—take it for instance during the last forty years, do not go back to senseless acts, when the oppressions of England made Ireland retaliate—do not say on this spot such a crime was committed, here such a town was burnt, here so many Englishmen were murdered, here such a chieftain reared his despotic and merciless sway—but come closer to our own times, and say—here did Englishmen and Irishmen fight in one cause—here such a Catholic regiment gallantly maintained its ground, and nobly fought in defence of that constitution from the bene- 435 fits of which its brethren are excluded—here it undauntedly stood the shock, and shared the dangers of that battle in the laurels of which it was not allowed to participate.—How great has been the self-devotion of the Irish Catholics to Great Britain through the whole of the arduous struggle in which you have been engaged! Repay then that people for the injury you have done them. Make your concord your force. Let them continue to fight your battles, but let them feel as they fight that they are as free as they are brave:Without a sign his sword the brave man draws,And asks no omen but his country's cause.Gentlemen should be consistent. They affect to think it part of their religion to love their enemies; but they find it too bitter a task to love their friends. They are asked not to look upon their enemies as friends, but only not to look upon their friends as enemies. Again, and again I say—the principle of your law is bad. It attaints the child for the crime of the father, and makes discord and division the foundations of your policy. In vain will you ground your argument on the occurrences of the time when you oppressed Ireland and she retaliated. Rather take her character from the moment when you relaxed your impolitic code, and when in return loved you and identified herself with you.—When, for the act of a part you disqualify the whole, you are yourselves guilty of a crime; you are guilty of injustice; for what else is it to shut out so large a portion of your fellow-subjects from the benefits of the law? The constitution then will not support you in your denunciation, see whether religion—the Protestant religion—will afford a better reason for your proceeding. I have already said that nothing short of showing the Catholic religion to be an abomination will countenance what you do. If you can say the Catholic religion is an abomination, then you say the religion of a great portion of the civilized world is of that character. But this would be a direct attack on the Protestant church itself: for it would be a universal outrage towards the Christian religion generally, of which that church is a part. It is besides an outrage towards the Deity; for what less can it be called when man arrogates to himself the right of judgment in points of conscience, and, appropriating the Deity to his own exclusive use, trans- 436 fers to himself the powers of omnipotence, and brings the godhead, to his own bosom—and all this for monopoly? This selfish passion springs not from religious feeling, but from a love of monopoly. It is of a gross and rank nature It has no celestial attribute about it. O, no! "it smells of earth." It wants every thing that is true, generous, and noble. Some hon. gentlemen opposite speak of the constitution, the state, and religion, as opposed to the motion. They talk of the act of settlement, and of the dangers to be apprehended from concession. Let them state in what the dangers consist. Until they do so, their arguments are of no avail. Without the foundation of facts, they fall to prophesy consequences, for the purpose of perpetuating disqualifications on their fellow-subjects.—Sir, I know I have tired the House. I can easily imagine that were I in the place of some of the gentlemen present I should be quite as impatient as they are. But I am entitled to say that, not having trespassed on the House in an opening speech, I have some little claim on their indulgence in my reply.—Sir, I contend that the arguments against the Catholics are those, not of a statesman, but of a sectary, who, not content with his own intrinsic merit, would raise it by the depreciation of others. It was once admirably said by Mr. Fox that there was no mathematical demonstration, however clearly demonstrable, which would not be denied if any one had an interest in denying it. So it is in the arithmetical consideration of this question.—Can the admission to parliament of a few Catholic members endanger the constitution? The government of Ireland is in the hands of Protestants. The principal property of the country is with them. Is it likely that by the concession of the Catholic claims the possession of that property can be shaken? Suppose, however, that the Catholics were to get the whole of the landed property of Ireland into their own hands, and suppose—oh ! improbable supposition!—that the whole of the 100 members returned by Ireland to the imperial parliament were to be Catholics, does it then follow, or is it likely that they could influence the general legislative bodies of this country? Can one hundred control five hundred? If they were to succeed in influencing the Commons House of Parliament, is it likely that they would have similar success in the House of Lords? And 437 if they had, is it likely that they could depose the king? Yet all this the Catholics must do before they can overturn the constitution. And yet on the probability of their doing all this is this House called upon to disqualify four millions of people! Sir, the Catholic claims have now been agitating for nine and thirty years. They have gone through every kind of consideration; and their interest doubles at every discussion. In these discussions, no doubt individual irritation has occasionally appeared, and poison has occasionally been infused into the minds of a part of the Irish population. Is this state of things to be allowed to exist any longer? Are we to continue that sort of English connexion in Ireland which is called "a settlement;" and which must be defended by an army paid by the people over whom it is placed? Would you not rather wish that the English in Ireland, now a sept, should be incorporated with the nation? To our rulers I would say—"If you cannot accomplish this—if after having for so many years possession of the parliament, of the power of making laws, of the power of government, the Protestants in Ireland must still be a "settlement" and still be defended by a powerful army, what have you been about? Have you, during this lapse of time, been spinning round on your axis, and fancying that in your evolutions the people of Ireland followed in your train? Have you been merely giving the toast of the glorious and immortal memory and drinking, success to his majesty's arms by sea and land? Is that what you propose to continue? Is that the return which you make for the dominion so long confided to you? Do you turn round upon us, and call for military establishments to enable you to prop up your system? Do not endeavour to delude us by your folly and absurdity. Do not lead us to identify the constitution of England with your political malversation. Do not say, after your long possession and many opportunities that you cannot appease trouble, and discontents; and when you have taken away liberties and privileges ineffectually, do not adopt disqualification as an appeaser. Do not imagine that you are obeying the laws of man, or the sacred laws of God, which you admire so much when they command you to love your enemies, but which you neglect by not loving your friends." The Protestants have taken the lands of the Catholics,—they would therefore take their liberties. The Protestants have taken the 438 tithes of the Catholics, they would therefore take their privileges. This is a system which cannot last. Depend upon it that it cannot. If you exclude the people from connexion with their own state, they will in the natural course of things attach themselves elsewhere. The Catholics will fly to the church of Rome to renew their ancient relations; that is, they will draw more closely the very connexion respecting which you are so much alarmed. The Catholic body has now no communication with the state. It does not ramify into the state. One part of the Irish population is morbid and excluded, another is unnaturally vivacious: this is a bad state of physics. Let a new order of things mark the times in which we live; and let an immediate and an effectual termination be put to any clandestine intercourse between the Catholics and the see of Rome. Incorporate the Catholic church with the state. Pay that church, and thus give the state an influence among the clergy. Do not seek for temporary popularity; or dream that any measure must at once be attended with beneficial results. Act wisely, liberally, and rationally, and the means which you adopted must ultimately be crowned with complete success. On some sides a popular clamour may be raised; but no clamour can long continue which is directed against the privileges of the people, and the true interests of the state. When I see Britain, grown up into a mighty empire, when I behold her at the head of the nations of the earth, when I contemplate her power and majesty; I own that I am deeply astonished to find her descending from her elevation to mix in the disputes of schoolmen and the wrangling of theologians, who, while they seek for their own purposes to torture their countrymen, endanger the security of their common country.
§ The question being loudly called for, the House divided:
|For the motion||221|
|List of the Majority and Minority.|
|Abdy, sir W.||Archdall, M.|
|Addington, rt. hon. H.||Arkwright, R.|
|Alexander, J.||Ashurst, W. H.|
|Allan, Alexander||Astell, Wm.|
|Allan, George||Atkins, J.|
|Apsley, lord||Bankes, Geo.|
|Barclay, C.||Elliot, hon. W.|
|Barne, M.||Ellison, R.|
|Barry, J. M.||Estcourt, T. G.|
|Bastard, John||Farquhar, J.|
|Bastard, E. P.||Fitzharris, lord|
|Beach, M. H.||Fane, J.|
|Bathurst, rt. hon. B.||Fane, Thos.|
|Bentinck, lord F.||Fellowes, W. H.|
|Beresford, lord G.||Fetherstone, sir T.|
|Beresford, sir J.||Finch, hon. E.|
|Bernard, lord||Foley, hon. A.|
|Blackburne, J. J.||Folkes, sir M. B.|
|Bloomfield, sir B.||Forester, C. W.|
|Bolland, John||Foster, J. L.|
|Boswell, A.||Frank, Frank|
|Boughey, sir J. E.||Fynes, H.|
|Bradshaw, R. H.||Gell, P.|
|Bridport, lord||Gilbert, D. G.|
|Brogden, James||Gipps, G.|
|Brydges, sir S. E.||Golding, E.|
|Buller, James||Gooch, T. S.|
|Buller, sir E.||Goulburn, H.|
|Burrell, sir C.||Grant, C.|
|Burrell, Walter||Grant, F. W.|
|Butterworth, Jos.||Grant, A. C.|
|Benson, R.||Greville, sir C.|
|Calley, Thos.||Hall, B.|
|Calvert, John||Harvey, Charles|
|Campbell, Alex.||Heathcote, T. F.|
|Cartwright, W. R.||Henniker, lord|
|Casbard, R. M.||Hill, rt. hon. sir G.|
|Chetwode, sir J.||Holdsworth, A. H.|
|Chichester, A.||Holford, G. P.|
|Chute, W.||Holmes, W.|
|Clements, H. J.||Honyman, R. B. J.|
|Clerk, sir G.||Hope, sir G.|
|Clinton, sir W.||Houblon, J. A.|
|Clive, visc.||Hume, sir A.|
|Clive, H.||Jackson, sir J.|
|Clive, W.||Jenkinson, hon. C.|
|Collett, E. J.||Jervoise, J. P.|
|Collins, H. P.||Innes, Hugh|
|Cooper, E. S.||Jocelyn, visc.|
|Corry, T. C.||Irving, J.|
|Cotter, J. L.||Keck, G. A. L.|
|Cranborne, visc.||Kerrison, sir E.|
|Crickett, R. A.||Kirkwall, visc.|
|Curtis, sir W.||Knatchbull, sir E.|
|Curzon, hon. R.||Knox, Thos.|
|Cust, hon. W.||Lacon, E. K.|
|Dashwood, G.||Lascelles, visc.|
|Davenport, Davies||Lefevre, C. S.|
|Davis, R. H.||Leigh, C.|
|Dawson, G. R.||Leigh, J. H.|
|Denys, sir G. W.||Leigh, sir R. H.|
|Disbrowe, E.||Leigh, Thos.|
|Dowdeswell, J. E.||Lemon, sir Wm.|
|Deerburst, visc.||Leslie, C. P.|
|Dalrymple, ad.||Lockhart, J. Ingram|
|Drake, T.||Loftus, General|
|Drake, W. T.||Long, rt. hon. C.|
|Drummond, G. H.||Longfield, M.|
|Duckworth, sir J.||Lowndes, Wm.|
|Dugdale, Dugdale||Lowther, lord|
|Duncombe, C.||Lowther, hon. J.|
|Edmonstone, sir C.||Lowther, J. junr.|
|Egerton, W.||Lowther, hon. H. C.|
|Lowther, James||Stirling, sir W.|
|Lushington, S. R.||Strahan, A.|
|Luttrell, H. F.||Strutt, J. H.|
|Luttrell, J, F.||Sturt, H.|
|Lyster, R.||Sullivan, rt. hon. J.|
|Lygon, hon. col.||Sumner, G. H.|
|M'Naghten, E. A.||Suttie, sir Jas.|
|Magennis, R.||Sutton, rt. hon. C. M.|
|Maitland, E. F.||Swann, H.|
|Manners, lord C.||Taylor, J.|
|Manners, lord R.||Taylor, Watson|
|Manners, gen.||Thynne, lord J.|
|Mellish, W.||Tomline, W. E.|
|Michel, gen.||Townshend, hon. H.|
|Mills, Charles||Tremayne, J. H.|
|Milne, P.||Ure, M.|
|Mitford, W.||Valletort, vis.|
|Moore, lord H.||Vansittart, rt. hon. N.|
|Moorsom, adm.||Vaughan, sir R. W.|
|Morgan, sir C.||Vereker, right hon. C.|
|Morgan, C.||Vyse, R. W. H.|
|Neville, R.||Wallace, rt. hon. T.|
|Newman, R. W.||Walpole, lord|
|Nicholl, sir J.||Webber, D. W.|
|Noel, sir G.||Webster, sir G.|
|Northey, Wm.||Wellesley, W. L.|
|G'Neil, hon. J.||Wetherell, C.|
|Osborne, J.||White, M.|
|Paget, hon. B.||Wigram, R.|
|Pakenham, sir H.||Wilbraham, E. B.|
|Pechell, Sir T.||Williams, R.|
|Pennant, G. H. D.||Willoughby, H.|
|Perring, sir J.||Wilson, C. E.|
|Pitt, J.||Wood, T.|
|Pitt, W. M.||Worcester, marquis|
|Pole, sir C.||Wright, J. A.|
|Porter, G.||Wyatt, C.|
|Powell, W. E.||Yarmouth, earl of|
|Price, R.||Yorke, sir Jos.|
|Robinson, gen.||Bankes, H.|
|Rochfort, G.||Peel, right hon. R.|
|Round, J.||PAIRED OFF.|
|Ryder, right hon. R.||Rose, rt. hon. G.|
|St. Paul, sir H.||Gascoyne, gen. I.|
|St. Paul, col.||Seymour, lord Robert|
|Scott, rt. hon. sir W.||Brodrick, hon. W.|
|Shaw, sir J.||Gunning, sir George|
|Shelley, sir J.||Blackburne, John|
|Shelley, sir T.||Foulkes, Evan|
|Shiffner, G.||Simcon, sir John|
|Smith, ald. C.||Ward, Robert|
|Smith, T. A.||Farmer, Samuel|
|Smith, S.||Singleton, Mark|
|Sneyd, Nat.||Egerton, sir J.|
|Somerset, lord E.||Graham, sir J.|
|Somerset, lord G.||Davis, Hart|
|Staniforth, J.||Bruen, H.|
|Stewart, sir J.|
|Abercrombie, hon. J.||Bentinck, lord W.|
|Acland, sir Thos.||Babington, Thos.|
|Althorp, viscount||Bagwell, right hon. W.|
|Arbuthnot, rt. hon. C.||Baillie, J. E.|
|Atherley, Arthur||Barnard, visc.|
|Abercromby, hon. A.||Barnett, James|
|Bective, lord||Gaskell, Benj.|
|Bennel, hon. H. G.||Gordon, Robt.|
|Bernard, Thos.||Grant, C. jun.|
|Binning, viscount||Grant, J. P.|
|Birch, Jos.||Grant, G. M.|
|Blake, V.||Gurney, Hudson|
|Blair, H.||Grattan, right hon. H.|
|Bourne, S.||Grenfell, Pascoe|
|Brand, hon. T.||Guise, sir Wm.|
|Brooke, C.||Hamilton, lord A.|
|Brougham, Henry||Hamilton, Hans.|
|Burrows, sir Wm.||Hanbury, Wm.|
|Browne, A.||Hammersley, H.|
|Browne, D.||Hill, lord A.|
|Browne, right hon. T.||Heron, sir R.|
|Burdett, Sir F.||Hippisley, sir J. C.|
|Butler, hon. J.||Hornby, E.|
|Butler, hon. C.||Horne, W.|
|Byng, George||Howard, hon. W.|
|Calcraft, John||Howard, hon. F. G.|
|Calvert, Charles||Hughes, W. L.|
|Campbell, lord T.||Hulse, sir C.|
|Campbell, hon. J.||Hurst, Robt.|
|Canning, rt. hon. G.||Jones, John|
|Carew, R. T.||Joliffe, J. H.|
|Caulfield, hon. H.||Kensington, lord|
|Carter, John||Lamb, hon. W.|
|Castlereagh, visc.||Lambton, J. C.|
|Cavendish, lord G.||Latouche, Robt.|
|Cavendish, hon. H.||Latouche, R. jun.|
|Cavendish, hon. C.||Law, hon. E.|
|Cocks, hon. J. S.||Leader, Wm.|
|Cocks, J.||Lewis, T. F.|
|Colthurst, sir N.||Littleton, Ed.|
|Courtenay, Wm.||Lloyd, J. M.|
|Courtenay, T. P.||Lloyd, H.|
|Croker, J. W.||Lubbock, sir J.|
|Crosby, J.||Lyttelton, hon. W. H.|
|Chichester, A.||Mordaunt, sir C.|
|Daly, J.||Macdonald, R.|
|Deroos, hon. H.||Macdonald, Jas.|
|Doveton, G.||Mackintosh, sir J.|
|Douglas, hon. F. S.||Madocks, Wm. A.|
|Douglas, W. K.||Mahon, hon. G.|
|Duffering, visc.||Maitland, hon. A.|
|Duncannon, visc.||Markham, adm.|
|Dundas, hon. L.||Marryatt, Jos.|
|Dundas, Charles||Martin, Henry|
|Ebrington, visc.||Martin, John|
|Elliot, right hon. W.||Mathews, hon. gen.|
|Ellison, Cuthbert||Meyler, R.|
|Evelyn, Lynden||Milton, visc.|
|Fazakerly, H.||Monck, sir C.|
|Fellowes, hon. N.||Moore, Peter|
|Fergusson, sir R. C.||Morland, S. B.|
|Fitzgerald, lord W.||Moseley, sir O.|
|Fitzgerald, rt. hon. M.||Molyneux, H. H.|
|Fitzgerald, rt. hon. V.||Money, W. T.|
|Fitzgerald, A. G.||Morritt, J. S.|
|Finlay, Kirkman||Manning, W.|
|Flood, sir F.||Neville, hon. R.|
|Forbes, visc.||Newport, sir John|
|Foster, F. T. H.||North, D.|
|Fremantle, Wm.||Nugent, Lord|
|French, A.||Needham, gen.|
|Folkestone, visc.||O'Brien, sir E.|
|Glerawley, lord||Odell, Wm.|
|Ogle, H. M.||Smith, John|
|Onslow, hon. T. C.||Smith, Robt.|
|Ord, Wm.||Smyth, J. H.|
|Osborne, lord F.||Somerville, sir M.|
|Ossulston, lord||Spiers, Arch.|
|Palmerston, visc.||Stanley, lord|
|Paget, sir E.||Stewart, hon. J.|
|Palmer, C.||Spencer, lord R.|
|Pierse, Henry||Talbot, R. W.|
|Pelham, hon. C. A.||Tavistock, Marquis|
|Phillimore, D.||Taylor, C. W.|
|Philips, George||Taylor, M. A.|
|Phipps, hon. gen.||Thornton, gen. W.|
|Piggott, sir A.||Thornton, Saml.|
|Pole, rt. hon. W. W.||Tierney, rt. hon. G.|
|Ponsonby, rt. hon. G.||Waldegrave, hon. W.|
|Ponsonby, hon. F. C.||Walpole, hon. G.|
|Plunkett, rt. hon. W.||Ward, hon. J. W.|
|Power, Richard||Warre, J. A.|
|Powlett, hon. W.||Wharton, John|
|Pringle, sir W.||Wilberforce, Wm.|
|Prittie, hon. F. A.||Wilkins, Walter|
|Proby, hon. capt.||Wood, Thos.|
|Pym, F.||Worttesley, J. Stuart|
|Pocock, George||Wrottesley, hon.|
|Quin, hon. W.||Wynn, sir W. W.|
|Ramsbottom, John||Wynn, C. W. W.|
|Ramsden, J. C.||TELLERS.|
|Rancliffe, lord||Parnell, sir H.|
|Rashleigh, Wm.||Smith, Wm.|
|Ridley, sir M. W.||PAIRED OFF.|
|Riddell, sir J. B.||Curwen, J. C.|
|Robinson, rt. hon. F.||Grenville, rt. hon.|
|Robinson, G. A.||Morpeth, visc.|
|Romilly, sir S.||Barham, J. F.|
|Rowley, sir Wm.||Western, C. C.|
|Russell, lord Wm.||Huskisson, rt. hon. W.|
|Russell, lord G. W.||Langton, W. Gore|
|Russell, R. G.||Hobhouse, sir Benj.|
|Scudamore, R.||Forbes, C.|
|Sebright, sir J. S.||Howorth, Humphrey|
|Sefton, earl of||Williams, Owen|
|Sharp, Richard||Fitzroy, lord J.|
|Shaw, Benj.||Calvert, Nicholson|
|Shaw, Robt.||Desart, earl of|
|Sheldon, R.||Daly, right hon. D. B.|