HC Deb 14 February 1825 vol 12 cc352-422

The order of the day being read, for resuming the adjourned debate on Mr. Goulburn's motion, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend certain Acts relating to Unlawful Societies in Ireland,"

The Hon. George Lamb

said, that the proposed measure, notwithstanding all the details connected with its provisions, which they had heard from time to time, still appeared to him to be exceedingly obscure and mysterious. It was, it seemed, intended to be an alteration of the Convention act which was passed in 1793. Whether that act deserved all the censure that was cast upon it by the hon. and learned member for Nottingham, he would not stop to inquire; but certainly the person who framed it appeared to have a proper feeling of veneration for the constitution of his country. He found that act concluded with a careful proviso, "that nothing therein contained should apply to persons meeting for the redress of grievances." That salutary provision was now, he understood, for the first time, to be violated—this protection was to be wrested from the subject. This was matter of deep and serious concern; for, whatever intemperance of language the Roman Catholics might have been led into—whatever violence might have been manifested by the Catholic Association— still it should never be lost sight of, that the redress of grievances was the foundation of that society. It was founded in that spirit; and therefore be lamented that the government did not follow up, rather than abandon, the feelings which actuated the framer of the Convention act, when he introduced the constitutional provision to which he had referred. Ireland, it was said, was perfectly tranquil; but they were called on to prevent future and contingent dangers. He did not like this prophetic spirit of evil, which often created the mischief against which its warnings were directed. They were admonished, that this Association was contrary to the spirit of the constitution; and that it would be the means of creating animosities and heart-burnings, in different parts of the country, amongst those who followed different creeds of faith. What did the Attorney-general for Ireland tell them in that splendid speech which no one had heard with greater admiration than he had done? The right hon. and learned gentleman had said, "If this Association goes on, will not some disturber, some desperate adventurer, get among them, who, in the end, will force them over that precipice which they have prepared for themselves?" Such was the prospective reason given for the measure now contemplated. He did not mean to say that that Association did not deserve the vigilant attention of government, but he regretted the way in which that vigilance was manifested. The attorney-general ought to have observed their proceedings; and, the moment he found them over-stepping the bounds of law, he ought to have stood forward, and, armed with the strong power of the law, have forced them to acknowledge its authority. This was the proper way to put down any dangerous spirit. There certainly was no want of vigilance on the part of the right hon. and learned gentleman. He was vigilant too early: he indicted that which was not indictable; and, as in the rattle-and-bottle-assassination plot, he was defeated. Therefore the power of parliament was appealed to, when, in his (Mr. L.'s) opinion, such an application was wholly unnecessary. It had been urged, as the most excellent feature of this measure, that it was perfectly impartial—that it included both parties, the Orange societies as well as the Catholic Association. This point had been pressed, indeed, by the attorney-general for Ireland; but it was clear that the Secretary for Ireland considered it merely the fringe of the case—a matter hardly worth notice, and he would probably have taken his seat when he introduced the measure, had not his right hon. and learned friend called his attention to it. He (Mr. Lamb) would not pause to inquire whether a bill could be called impartial, which put on the same footing an Association unquestionably lawful and societies decidedly illegal, and denounced as such two sessions since, although subsequently perseveringly supported; but, referring to the debate on the motion of the hon. member for Calne, he could not help contrasting the language of ministers then as applied to the Orange lodges, and the terms they now used with reference to the Catholic Association. What had the Secretary for Ireland stated two years ago?—"He joined" said the report of his speech, "with the hon. member in thinking, that every thing that could be done in the way of advice to the Orange lodges ought to be done. That was the proper method of attacking such institutions, that might eventually tend to excite alarm and apprehension; in fact, that was the only fit way to counteract the principles which led to their institution." Yet these societies, which, according to the right hon. Secretary," might eventually tend to excite alarm and apprehension, "had been denounced by the chief law officer of Ireland as" a gang, bearding the king's government, as setting constituted authorities at defiance, and insulting and outraging the very person of the king's representative in Ireland. "Such were the societies that were met with" all that could be done in the way of advice. "He (Mr. L.) did not mean to complain that the same course had not been pursued in the present case, and that" all that could be done in the way of advice "had not been tried with the Catholic Association. Perhaps advice from the right hon. Secretary, an avowed enemy to the Catholic claims—would not have been most graciously received; but from the Attorney-general for Ireland, who had so justly boasted that he had long possessed, and still enjoyed, the confidence of the Catholics, it might have been accepted. Why he had not tried the experiment, or rather, why he had pursued a directly opposite course, and commenced legal process against one of the leaders of the Association, remained yet to be explained. Where, then, was the supposed impartiality of treatment, and where the impartiality of the bill recommended for adoption? When a bill had been formerly proposed, to declare Orange societies, and their secret oaths, illegal, the members of them were protected at the bar of the House. The witnesses shielded themselves under this illegal obligation, and refused to avow the truth, though commanded by the House; and, what was the result? They were allowed to retire from the bar, and were dismissed even without censure. It was quite impossible for him to guess at the feelings of the Orangemen, at the present moment; but he really thought that they had as much right to complain of this bill as the Catholic Association. They might fairly enough turn round upon the ministers, and say, "You gave us your countenance for many years, and though you gave us a sort of legislative hint two years ago, yet, since that time, you have supported and complimented us. Why, then, do you now, on the sudden, attempt to put us down? Is it for any thing we have done? No: it is merely because our proceedings have raised a party adverse to us, and in the balance between them we are to be thrown in as a makeweight. He hoped that this make-weight would not prove like the sword of Brennus, which, thrown into the scale, proved the revival of discord, and the renewal of bloodshed. But, if they were so ill-used, why did not the Orange lodges complain? Because they knew that though the measure professed to be impartial, it would not be impartially executed. Besides, however powerful the new law might be to put down open Associations with clear and determined objects, it would be wholly ineffectual for the suppression of secret, unlawful Associations, bound together by mysterious oaths, and assembled for no avowed and definite purposes—He would now touch shortly upon some of the reasons for the bill offered by the Attorney-general for Ireland. First of all, he talked of the irresponsibility of the Catholic Association, asking, to whom were they responsible? In reply, he (Mr. L.) would inquire, to whom was every man responsible that walked the streets? He was responsible to the law of the land; and so was the Catholic Association, either individually or collectively, as boards, committees, associations, or mobs. Next, the right hon. and learned gentleman had objected to their permanency; and certainly this might be a valid objection, if they had power as well as permanency. As it was, it was just as applicable to any weekly debating society. But the great gravamen—the most important charge of the whole, and that on which ministers mainly rested the defence of their measure—was, the collection of rent. For this purpose, a subscription, raised for legal purposes, had been sedulously characterised, on the other side, as a levying of taxes. He could not see the difference between this pretended levy of a tax and the contributions of any Bible Society for purposes as laudable, but not more dear to them than the objects which the Catholics had in view. Great stress had been laid upon the fact, that the priests had made collections in their chapels. He (Mr. L.) did not know whether he was addressing gentlemen in the habit of going to church; or, perhaps, if they were sometimes deterred from doing so, it might be because they learnt that a Protestant clergyman was about to make a collection in a Protestant church. Was it more improper in the one case than in the other; or, if it were, in what did the greater impropriety consist? Such gentlemen as were in the regular habit of visiting the established church, had doubtless often come out of it with their pockets lighter than when they entered, in consequence of subscriptions for purposes recommended by the clergyman from the pulpit as laudable, but not more laudable than the purposes enforced from the pulpit by a Roman Catholic priest. Then, as to the mode in which this rent was collected, or, to use the ministerial term, this tax was levied. Would to God the taxes, levied by the chancellor of the Exchequer, gave as little trouble, either in the collection or in the payment! The right hon. gentleman might take a useful lesson upon finance from the proceedings of the Catholics. If the right hon. gentleman would but levy a penny from each individual, only to be paid by the parties who liked to contribute, the name of tax would be stripped of all its odium. It was singular, and spoke much for the general temper of the Catholic Association, that only one violent or offensive expression had been relied upon by their enemies—"Be tranquil by the hate you bear the Orangemen." A great deal too much importance, as it seemed to him, had been attached to this phrase. What was the object the Catholics wished to obtain? The restoration of their rights. And how did they propose to obtain them? By preserving tranquillity. The Association, therefore, adjured their countrymen to be tranquil, and in so doing they used an expression which they thought would be most effectual for their purpose: they wished to give the strongest motive for preserving the public peace; and would to God, instead of calling upon them to be tranquil by the hate they bear the Orangemen, they could have adjured them by the gratitude and affection they felt for them. How were they to indulge their hatred? Not by violence and blood-shed, but by remaining unmoved amid a thousand provocations. They were to be tranquil, because it gave the Catholics the best chance of being admitted to a participation in the blessings of the Constitution at present monopolised in Ireland by a faction; that they should be put upon an equal footing would be the sweetest revenge to the Catholics, and the bitterest pill that Orangemen could swallow. The Catholic Association did not use the phrase in the sense of Shylock—"Hates any man the thing he would not kill?" but rather in the sense in which Squire Western spoke, when he said "every true-born Englishman is bound to hate all the French like the Devil in hell" [a laugh]. It would ill become him to charge the right hon. and learned gentleman with political inconsistency upon this great subject; he ought rather to rejoice, that the Catholics yet possessed an advocate so persevering and so powerful; who had hitherto maintained, in the strongest terms, the imperious necessity of conceding their claims. Before the session was over, he hoped some part, if not the whole, of what they claimed, would be granted to the Catholic population of Ireland.

Mr. Dawson

said, that no man acquainted with the Irish character—no man who had watched the progress of events for the last thirty years—could conscientiously support Associations of any kind. From the earliest period, Associations had been the curse of Ireland; party had followed party, and faction faction. The whole history of the country represented a series of bloodshed, massacre, and misery, the fruit of the prevalence of hostile parties. He had, therefore, great satisfaction in reflecting, that the bill now proposed would put down all Associations. All the popular assemblies in Ireland, with one exception only, had been productive of evil consequences. That exception was the Convention of 17S2. Yet even then the national restlessness would have broken forth, but for the prudence and discretion of lord Charlemont. What had been the result of the Catholic Committee of 1793 —of the United Irishmen in 1796 and 7? A rebellion that raged from north to south, in which much blood was shed and many valuable lives were lost— amongst others who fell on that occasion was lord O'Neill. What was the result of the Catholic Board in 1812 and 1813? A continued interruption of the public tranquillity almost from that date to the present moment. He was happy, therefore, to contribute his support to a measure which would put an end to all such disasters, by removing their causes. It had been often said, in discussions of this kind, that in looking at associations, it was impossible to consider the bonds by which they were united. The principles of Orangemen and of Catholics were essentially different, but a law of this kind, to be just, must be applicable to both. He could not, but admire the consistency of hon. gentlemen on the other side, who had supported a bill against Orange Associations, against whom nothing improper could be proved, yet opposed a measure against the Catholic Association, which its warmest friends could not justify. After adverting to the various objections to which he conceived the Catholic Association washable, and which we could not distinctly catch from the low tone, in which the hon. gentleman spoke, he denied the charge that the city of Londonderry was the focus of Orangeism, observing, that there was not a single Orange lodge in it. He then went on to contend, that the Catholic Association was unconstitutional, and that the speeches of its members, and the agency of the priests, united to make it the most dangerous engine that had ever been set to work against the happiness of Ireland. It commanded a paid press to disseminate its poison, and their orators stuck at no falsehood to exasperate the people. They were assisted most importantly by the priesthood, who answered every expectation by unceasing hostility to the establishments of the country, and by endeavouring to distil evil principles into the minds of the ignorant. Some gentlemen had said they saw no harm in the acts which "were done, and in the sentiments which were expressed, by the Catholic Association. Although he entertained a very different opinion, it was not on account of the character of the speakers, but on account of the influence which their speeches must necessarily have on the minds of the ignorant peasantry to whom they were addressed. To prove the mischievous intention of those speeches it was only necessary to refer to the reports of the meetings of the Association, published in those papers which were known to be in its interest. The hon. member then proceeded to read some extracts from the Dublin newspapers respecting the proceedings of the Association. In the finance report, when the collections of the Catholic rent had not been very successful, the people of Ireland were exhorted to awake from the sullen silence which they had so long kept, and to prove to Britain and to the whole world that they were men, and deserved to be treated like men. This he thought was sufficiently plain language. Mr. O'Connell, a few weeks afterwards, when the rent had been more successful, said, he would not press the introduction of arming the Catholics, lest their enemies should think they were going to make war upon them at once. Ridiculous as this did and must sound in the House, he asked, what must be its impression on the mind of the Catholic peasantry? In another of Mr. O'Connell's speeches he used the quotation— Hereditary bondsmen! know ye not Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow? These things done, and these speeches made, were quite enough to convince him, that the society was dangerous and wholly unconstitutional. The manner in which its members canvassed all persons who presumed to speak their free opinions of the Association was another proof of the mischief which it would execute if its power were equal to its will. Mr. Sheil, another of the orators, said, that the object of the British legislature was to degrade the whole Catholic population of Ireland, and to preclude them from the enjoyment of those advantages to which they were justly entitled; and this character of the legislature was disseminated throughout Ireland. When lord Redesdale, in the House of Lords, gave his opinion on the Catholic question, and said, that he would do so, although his destruction had been publicly preached in a Catholic chapel in Ireland, the Catholic Association immediately decreed, that he was more of an assassin than the priest he had denounced, and that his speech was an assassin-like speech. The duke of York, too, because he had opposed the same question, had been assailed by the Catholic Association, and described in broad terms as the enemy of Ireland. One prudent person at the meeting in which this took place, wished to have the resolution altered; but this was opposed by Mr. O'Connell, who said, that "the heir apparent to the Crown ought not to forget, that there was once a duke of York who lost both his Crown and his kingdom." Another gentleman said, that the duke of York might be induced to alter his opinion; but that his life was of no service to the country. It was in vain that benefits were conferred upon the people, when in the utmost need; they were either forgotten or misrepresented by the Catholic Association. In 1822, the archbishop of Tuam had exerted himself with the most charitable assiduity to alleviate the sufferings of the people in his diocess. The Catholic clergy, actuated by a sense of the obligation which they, in common with every other inhabitant of the diocess, were under to this benevolent prelate, expressed by a resolution in a public meeting, the gratitude they felt for the services he had rendered to them and to their flocks. No Catholic Association existed then, and therefore, the clergy followed the dictates of their own feelings, in making this public acknowledgment of the succour they had received. As soon, however, as the Association was established, its baleful influence was felt. The same Catholic clergy who had not, and could not have, any real cause for bitterness of feeling against the archbishop, passed, in November last, a resolution, in which they accused him of having introduced a party of soldiers into a church in which they were holding a public meeting, for the purpose of intimidating, or murdering, all the Roman Catholic priests present. Mr. O'Connell had, however, gone still further than making an injurious accusation, and had given, at the last meeting of the Association, a friendly hint to his adherents, for getting rid of the Protestants by wholesale. He had alluded to the proceedings of the covenanters of Scotland, who, he said, did not patiently bear the attempts which were made to oppress them, and to impose upon them a form of religion to which their consciences were averse, but hewed down with the sword of the Lord the archbishops and bishops who tyrannized over them. When, at length, they were overcome by the British force which was sent against them, they retired to the mountains, and having recruited their forces, they came down again, and carried desolation to the dwellings of their assailants. This language he (Mr. Dawson) knew had the effect of impressing itself very powerfully on the minds of the peasantry of Ireland, whose ignorance aided their credulity, and who, he was sorry to say, were too ready to commit bloodshed upon slight provocation. The same course of vituperation was pursued by the organs of the Association towards the judges, and all who were engaged in the administration of the law. Sometimes, and with a sparing hand, compliments were conferred upon some of I those persons; but, upon all those who had ventured to express their opinions with respect to the Catholics and their claims—no matter how pure their public and private lives might be—the epithets of tyrant and despot were unhesitatingly conferred by these orators. Mr. O'Connell, in speaking of the bench of Ireland, had said "the chancellorship of lord Manners and the Attorney-generalship of Mr. Saurin had sullied the dignity, and degraded the independence of the bar, which before that time had given a tone to the public opinion." He (Mr. D.) believed that those persons who were more ceremoniously treated—the judges Moore and Burton, and Jebb, and others —would feel much greater pride in being assimilated to lord Manners and to Mr. Saurin, than in receiving the hypocritical praises of Mr. O'Connell. To say that the object of the Catholic Association was the redress of grievances, real or supposed, was wholly untrue; its object, as was evident from the conduct of its members, was, to scatter calumnies abroad, to weaken the confidence of the people in the laws, and to prepare their minds for the measures which were in contemplation. It was not only from the speeches of the orators, but from the proceedings of the society, that this conclusion was to be drawn. Upon a recent occasion, a Mr. Devereux and Mr. Hamilton Rowan, had been admitted members of the Association, when the name of the latter was received with thunders of applause. Mr. Hamilton Rowan, it would be remembered, was one of the body called United Irishmen. He had been implicated in seditious practices in the year 1796, for which he was imprisoned. Previous to his trial he contrived to escape, and remained for many years in exile. He was attainted of high treason; but being afterwards, by the lenity of the government, allowed to return to Ireland, the best return he could make for the mercy which had been shown him was by enlisting himself as a member of an Association quite as danger- ous as that of his own United Irishmen. The name of this convicted traitor was received with thunders of applause—and why? In order that this recollection of the disastrous period with which that name was connected might be revived in the minds of the deluded peasantry, and help the designs of this abominable Association. Much as he objected to the practices of the Association, they would, he believed, be comparatively harmless, but for the sanction which they received from the Catholic priesthood. Most of the evils under which Ireland suffered were, in his opinion, to be attributed to the influence of that priesthood [hear, hear]! He regretted that he was obliged to make this avowal; but he felt himself bound, by every principle of justice to himself and to his country, to declare, fearlessly and without hesitation, what appeared to him to be the truth. It was his misfortune to differ in this respect from his right hon. friend the Attorney-general for Ireland; but he repeated, that in his opinion the conduct of the Roman Catholic priesthood was highly injurious to the tranquillity and to the best interests of Ireland, and that the whole tenour of that conduct, for the last six or seven years, convinced him that it was their object to overthrow the Protestant church, and establish that of Rome in its stead. [Cheers] He would proceed to give instances in support of what he had advanced. Dr. Curtis, the titular primate of Ireland, had told the archbishop of Dublin openly that he was an usurper— that he held his see only by suffrance, and that he had no more real title to it than he had to the dukedom of Leeds. Dr. Doyle, another Catholic priest, in a letter to Mr. Roberts, said, that if rebellion raged in Ireland from Carrickfergus to Cape Clear, no excommunication would be fulminated by a Catholic priest. Another priest admitted, that during the disturbed periods, there had been no plot in his parish with which he was not acquainted, but he had never disclosed any of the particulars relating to them. One O'Sullivan, also a priest, saw a man murdered before his face, and refused to give evidence to the facts, alleging that if he did, his influence with his parishioners would be lessened. Mr. Duggan, the priest of Kilrush, informed the Association, that in his parish many of the farmers had promised to devote the whole amount of the corn crop to the Catholic rent, no matter whether their creditors went unpaid or the very wants of nature unsatisfied. What man but one whose mind was wholly perverted—what man possessing any thing like a sense of morality—could countenance in this manner a fraud and robbery which was committed only for the purpose of encouraging sedition? The priest of Mallow, Mr. Kelly, told his parishioners, that money was the sinews of war, and exhorted them, therefore, to contribute as much as they were able to the Catholic rent, that the Association might have the sinews necessary to carry their purposes into execution, as soon as they should be ripe. Was not this plain language? Did such language require any comment? The good which the Roman Catholic priesthood might do if they were disposed, was apparent from the influence which they were proved to possess over their parishioners. The evil use which they were inclined to make of that influence might be gathered from their own avowed sentiments. Who was it that industriously sowed sedition throughout Ireland? The Roman Catholic priesthood. Who was it that at elections added to the natural excitement of political feeling the fuel of religious animosity? The Roman Catholic priesthood. They opposed every undertaking but such as had for its object the extension of their own power, and the erection of their church on the ruins of the Protestant establishment. This was their dream by night—their work by day; and this it was that made them so earnestly and indefatigably the allies of the Catholic Association. In such a state of things, it was wholly impossible that the government of Ireland could go on. The Association must be put down without hesitation or delay, or the Association would put down the government of Ireland.

Mr. Carew

was happy to have an opportunity of expressing his sentiments on a subject of such importance, more particularly as he should not wish that his opposition to the measures proposed by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, should be construed into an approval of all that had passed in the Catholic Association during the last six months. There had been many speeches made by its members which, as a friend to the Catholics and to the country, he could have wished unuttered. All societies which had their origin in religious politics were, more or less, injurious; but he had a perfect conviction of the utter inutility of attempting to coerce public opinion by legislative enactments. As long as the Catholic question remained in its present state, so long would religious feuds and societies exist. They might put them down in one shape, but they would rise up in other, and, perhaps, more objectionable, forms. The fate of the bill respecting Orange societies, should have taught the House a better lesson. Those societies were falling into disrepute in Ireland, and were abandoned by almost all persons of rank or character, when the circumstances of the moment, and particularly the attempt to put them down by act of parliament, raised their spirit, and there were now more Orangemen than at any former period. The same fate would attend this bill. They had put down the Catholic Board in 1814, and had now an Association, which comprehended all the rank, talent, and wealth of the Catholics of Ireland. Why, then, should they have recourse to useless and unconstitutional encroachments on the liberty of the subject, when they had a plain and strait forward remedy? Do justice to the Catholics and to the constitution. This was the only way in which they could—the only way in which they ought to succeed. The Irish Catholics were now in a very different situation to what they were formerly. The Association contained all classes, from the peer to the peasant. The Catholics had been disunited—they were now united. They knew their strength and felt their grievances. Could they see unconcerned the king of Hanover grant those privileges to foreign subjects, which the king of England was not allowed to extend to his Irish and English subjects? Could they see this and not feel aggrieved.

Mr. Spring Rice

said, he could not conceive any two speeches more truly indicative of the real state of Ireland than the last but one which the House had just heard, and that of his right hon. and learned friend, the Attorney-general for that country. He would ask, with what reason could it be expected that the violence of party feeling could be put down, when in the cabinet itself the same violent difference was exhibited by those who personified the conflicting opinions? Was it not obvious, that the violence of the Catholics would look for its justification from that part of the cabinet in which a similar feeling was displayed? Was it not equally obvious, that the violence of the Orange party would rely for its excuse upon the expressed sentiments of another part of that cabinet? At all events, it was better that as few references as possible should be made to what had taken place at other times. It would be better for the fair discussion of the question—it would be better for the country—that little should be said of the past, and that more should be thought of the duty which was at present to be discharged. But, if his hon. friend (Mr. Dawson) would open the page of Rebellion, did he think that some entries were not to be found on the other side of it? Did he believe that the murder of lord O'Neil — horrible, most horrible, as it was—could not be paralleled, or at least was not imitated by some of the Orange and Protestant enormities? He had said Orange and Protestant; but he begged to separate those two words. He would not yield to any man in respect and veneration for the Protestant reformed religion; but, because he was a firm member of that church, he was not the less sensible of the injury and injustice which must be done to others by the violent support of intolerant opinions, and the danger which might result therefrom even to that establishment itself. He lamented sincerely and deeply the existence of all Associations, whether Orange or Catholic. Let the fact only be proved, that they were unconstitutional and dangerous, and that the remedy proposed was an efficient one, and no man would go greater lengths in its adoption than he would. But he must first have that proof; and where was there any evidence before the House which it could safely or properly act upon? His hon. friend had referred to the influence of the priesthood as one cause of the evils which existed in Ireland, and which tainted the administration of justice in that country; but where was the proof by which he substantiated that statement? The papers he produced by way of proof were extracts from newspapers; and this was the first time in the history of that House, that it had been called upon to legislate on so important a topic, where the only grounds for the measure it was proposed to adopt were drawn from the Dublin newspapers [hear, hear]. He should like to know on what authority his hon. friend had asserted, that there were no Orange lodges at present in Ireland. If there were none, then there was an end of the pretence on which this bill was brought in. In his majesty's Speech an intention was announced to treat all parties with impartial justice. The bill then would have to cope with a phantom on the one hand—with a thing which did not exist—while, on the other, it would act against the whole population of Ireland. His hon. friend had quoted some of the speeches which had been made at the meetings of the Catholic Association. He (Mr. R.) could not justify those speeches; but because he could not do so, he was not therefore prepared to condemn the Association. He knew of no assembly, not even that in which he had the honour of standing, of which the whole proceedings and the whole debates could be justified. Even on the Journals of that House, had there never been resolutions entered which no man of common sense would at that day attempt to justify? If a resolution had been come to, that two and two made five instead of four, would it be rational therefore to conclude, that all the other resolutions of the House were of a similar character? He only claimed, then, for the Association so much indulgence as it was entitled to, and so much as ought to be granted to every public assembly like it. In discussing the violence, however, it should be remembered, that the two parties were not upon equal grounds. If that party which was in the possession of all the power, of nearly all the wealth, and in the enjoyment of all the advantages of the constitution, should adopt violent measures, or use violent language, it could not be too much blamed: but, if the excluded party, smarting under a sense of wrongs, loaded with burthens, and pained by a sense of undeserved inferiority, should utter its complaints in language which partook rather of the wildness and violence of its grief than of cool remonstrance, could this not be excused?—might it not be justified? But, had his hon. friend acted fairly in the course he had adopted? Had he not, in the extracts which he had made from the files of the Dublin papers, shown only one side of the picture? Were there not many speeches of a directly contrary tendency, and which would show that the violence which was complained of was not the tone adopted by all the speakers? He would read an extract from a newspaper —(he begged pardon for doing so, but newspapers were the only state papers of which the House was in possession, and his hon. friend could not object to his adducing that evidence, unless he also invalidated his own)—for the purpose of showing that the language of moderation and conciliation was sometimes used. Lord Killeen, who was well known to be of moderate principles, and whose character and high station were no inconsiderable proofs of the worth of any cause to which he attached himself, presided at one of those meetings. He had said on that occasion, in his address to the meeting "In the affairs of the Catholics of Ireland, there was never any time so important as the present. The Catholics have gone forward to petition in a manner worthy of themselves and their cause, for their admission to those privileges to which they are entitled. They have made this appeal not as Catholics, but as the members of a free government, and they protest against laws which have the effect of restraining their right to petition." His lordship then went on to say "The Catholics of Ireland cannot obtain their emancipation by their own efforts, nor without the co-operation of their Protestant countrymen." He recommended them, therefore, to be temperate and patient. He reminded them, that their enemies were on the watch, and that any intemperance on their part would cause them to fall into the meshes of those enemies. He added, "Let me adjure you, not by the hatred you bear to Orangemen, or to any class of men, for I hope you entertain no such feeling"[this part of the speech was received with tears], "but by your regard for your own rights —by the love you bear to your children —by your hopes of the future well-being of your country—by the memory of your forefathers, whom neither promises nor threats could induce to forego that faith which they prized more than their lives or happiness—by your love of liberty, and by your veneration for the constitution—by all these, I adjure you to abstain from ah threats and from all violent and indiscreet measures. I recommend you to meet the acts of the legislature, whatever they may be, with the firmness of men, but with the submission which becomes subjects. "This, then, was at least one proof, that violence" and intemperance were not always the characteristics of the language in which the Catholics of Ireland were addressed at the Association; and this justified him in calling upon the House not to pass the bill at that moment of irritation, and upon no better authority than the statements of newspapers. When the Insurrection act was under discussion last session, a complaint was made, that it was a practice among the magistracy of Ireland, to take improper fees. The complaint was at the time positively and indignantly contradicted; but, it had been proved in the committee above stairs, that practices of the most unjust and iniquitous description had occurred under the authority of the magistracy. He remembered that, when it was in contemplation to establish petty sessions, it was said, that that measure would remove all ground of complaint on the subject of the magistracy, because one magistrate would be brought to act as a watch upon another, and it would be impossible for any of the body to take illegal fees, or to pursue other improper practices. The evidence given before the committee up stairs had, however, shown, that the measure had failed to produce that effect. He therefore was entitled to call upon the House not to put forth in the declaration, that there was nothing wrong in the conduct of the magistracy; for the fact had been denied before, and the denial had been found to be unfounded. It had been made apparent, in the same committee to which he had before alluded, that there was a general indisposition, on the part of the people of Ireland, to obey the laws. That was not at all surprising, considering the manner in which those laws were administered. He would give the House an illustration upon this point. By a return which had been laid upon the table, it appeared that, in the course of six years, 6,000 persons had been committed for offences under the distillery laws. Those persons were of the poorer classes, upon whom those laws pressed with peculiar severity. In the examination before the commission of inquiry, a witness was asked, "Did it ever occur to you, that it would be desirable to distil fine spirit in order to supply the tables of those who have been accustomed to use poteen?"— that was, the illicit whisky: the witness answered, that he did not think it would be a good speculation," for except from the dignitaries of the church, the officers of the army, and the magistrates, there is no demand for illicit spirits" [a laugh]. Those were the persons who countenanced the violation of the law, and were instrumental to the commitment of the 6,000 poor people. It was impossible that the population of Ireland should contemplate such an administration of the law with feelings of respect. He did not wish to be understood to censure in every particular the administration of the law in Ireland. He paid a willing tribute of admiration to the unrivalled combination of learning, integrity, dignity, and every thing that could recommend a judge, which was to be found in the present chief justice of the court of King's-bench in Ireland [hear!]. He would not go further—he would not travel into a neighbouring court, where, perhaps, he might find buffoonery supplying the place of learning, and the pun of the day superseding the gravity of the law. In the observations which the hon. under secretary had made respecting the archbishop of Tuam, he had not explained the cause which had operated the change of feeling in the Catholics towards that reverend individual. The Catholics did once, as the hon. gentleman had stated, entertain a most affectionate regard for him, which they displayed on one occasion by assembling of their own accord, and getting in his harvest for him; and, it was not until the archbishop, acting, doubtless, under the impulse of what he conceived to be his duty, went forth on a crusade of proselytism, that an alteration in the feeling of the Catholics took place towards him. The charge of ingratitude was one of the last which could be established against the people of Ireland. If they had not any devoted attachment to the laws, it must be attributed to some other cause than a want of gratitude. His hon. friend who spoke on a former evening, attributed the restoration of tranquillity in Ireland to the penal Jaw which was passed last session, and he therefore consistently enough gave his support to the present measure. He (Mr. Rice), however, did not connect the tranquillity of Ireland with the enactment of penal laws; but thought, on the contrary, that laws of a different description would be much more effectual in promoting peace in that country. It was lamentable to contrast the present reign with that which had preceded it. The last reign was, with respect to the Catholics, a reign of concession. He could refer to many documents of the Association, to show that the Catholics entertained a strong feeling of gratitude towards the late monarch for the benefits which he had conferred upon them, when it was known that his personal feeling was opposed to any concession to the Catholics. But in the present reign, and under different circumstances as regarded the feeling of the Crown, parliament was called upon to pass penal laws against the Catholics; for he could not consider the present bill in any other light than a penal law. The bill, he was satisfied, would be inoperative. The right hon. Secretary for Ireland, when he introduced the measure to the House, had said, that he would be prepared to run a race of ingenuity with the Association. But the right hon. gentleman should recollect, that the race would be one of a peculiar description. The Association would always have the start. When the right hon. Secretary should set out from his office, the Association would be at Hounslow; and they would maintain the same relative distance on all occasions. If the right hon. Secretary should succeed in putting down the present mode of discussion, the Catholics would seek for other modes, and they would be justified in so doing. Although, however, the bill would be inoperative for good, it would be deeply and extensively operative for evil. The present bill was the first measure which would bring the legislature in contact with the peasant. There was not a man who had subscribed his penny to the funds of the Association who would not feel, if the bill should pass, that the arm of parliament was raised against him. He had not the same weight of character as his right hon. friend below him (sir J. Newport), but, echoing the sentiments which he had addressed to the House, he implored them to pause before they took a step which would weaken in the people of Ireland that feeling of respect for parliament and the constituted authorities of the country, which it ought to be the wish of every man to strengthen. At the same time, if a proper course should be taken to put down associations in Ireland, no one would more readily assist in such a work than himself—for no one more detested a government of associations, and no one more admired a government of law. On the grounds that the measure would be inoperative, and that it was proposed to pass it without any evidence, he would vote against it.

Mr. Brownlow

said, that he rose to give as much aid as he was able to the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, who had with so much wisdom and manliness introduced the present measure; and who had supported it with so powerful and unanswerable a statement. He knew not whether it was to the right hon. Secretary that the hon. member for Queen's County alluded on a former night, when he said that the marquis Wellesley was thwarted in all his wise measures. It was too much the fashion to put forth such statements; they were easily made and could be met in no other way than by a simple denial. With respect to the right hon. Secretary, he would say, that he knew of no man who had laboured more diligently in his vocation, or better succeeded in undertaking and bringing to a successful termination, measures difficult in principle, and almost impossible in practice. He did not, however, wish to separate the right hon. Secretary from the rest of the Irish administration, however other persons might be disposed to do so. It was constantly represented by hon. members opposite, and as constantly repeated, that at length it began to be believed as a fact, that the whole of the Protestant population of Ireland were drawn up in hostile array against the marquis of Wellesley and his administration. That he denied. Under the administration of the noble marquis, the greatest good had been accomplished for Ireland; under his administration Ireland had become a subject of peculiar attraction; under his administration a ready ear had been lent to the representation of grievances, and a willing and speedy hand to the redress of them; under his administration the country had passed from a state of rebellion to a state of tranquillity. For all those blessings the gratitude of the people of Ireland was due to the marquis Wellesley, and thanks were returned for them by no part of the community with more sincerity or unaffected pleasure than by the Protestants of Ireland. Such being the case, what had induced the government to enter upon their present course? It was said, that government had embarked in a crusade against the liberties of the Irish people. The last idea which had been broached on the subject was, that the marquis Wellesley was jealous of the efforts which the Catholic Association was making to restore tranquillity to Ireland. In his opinion, the bill had originated in nothing but a desire on the part of the government of Ireland to restore something like legal authority where it had almost been beaten down by the usurpation of the Association. How much did he wish, that the sentiments which his majesty had been pleased to pronounce on the opening of the present session had been promulgated at the opening of the session of 1824. How much did he wish, that the petition which he had the honour to present to the House towards the close of last session, and which he supported, with such remonstrances as he thought the subject merited, had not entirely fallen short of its object. For if that had been the case, the situation of Ireland, and of parliament, would have been very different, and much more agreeable than it at present was. At the period to which he referred, the right hon. Secretary for foreign affairs spoke of the Roman Catholic Association as a kind of safety-valve through which much bad feeling escaped—as a mere exuberance on the surface of the political body, which was an indication of the healthfulness of the system, and which, if left to itself, would in proper time disappear. But now the tone was changed; for, immediately on the opening of parliament, a measure was proposed for putting down unlawful associations. And what associations? Why, the Catholic Association, and the Catholic Association alone [cheers from the opposition]. If the measure was restrictive of the rights of the people, the blame of it ought to rest where alone it was due —on the Catholic Association. For what, he would ask, had occurred during the parliamentary recess on the part of the Protestants of Ireland, to call for any coercive measure? He would refer to the north of Ireland, where the greatest number of Protestants were to be found. Those persons who were connected with that part of the kingdom had it in their power to state, that since the meetings of the Association, the Protestant population had surpassed all former example of forbearance and moderation, as the Association had in the insults and threats which they directed against them exceeded all former instances of violence. He had heard the Protestant gentlemen of Ireland designated as a body of interested hypocrites, who had possessed themselves of the good things of the country, and were determined not to part with them. He could tell those who employed such language, that the Protestant gentlemen of Ireland, in the relations of parents, landlords, and magistrates, followed the precepts of their religion by studying the good of all committed to their charge, in a manner not to be surpassed by any body of men in Ireland or any other country. He contended, therefore, that the measure under discussion had been called for solely by the conduct of the Catholic Association, and not by the Protestants. As children not sick were sometimes obliged to take physic to encourage others to whom the dose was really necessary; so must the whole of Ireland be subjected to the proposed law; the innocent suffer for the guilty—the just for the unjust—those whose object was to support order for those whose only object, he believed, was to involve the country in confusion. An hon. baronet had attributed the disturbances which had prevailed in Ireland to the exertions of Messrs. Gordon and Noel, and to the introduction of that wicked book the Bible. He was sorry to hear such an effect attributed to that book which had been ushered into the world with the glorious strains of peace on earth, and good-will to men. He denied that the respectable gentlemen to whom he had alluded had gone to Ireland on an expedition of proselytism. They had proceeded to Ireland on the part of the London Hibernian Society, which he had never heard accused of endeavouring to make proselytes. Was it proselytizing to distribute the Bible, and in the Irish language too? Was it proselytizing to pay Roman Catholic schoolmasters—to send round Catholic inspectors to all the schools which they had established? The fact was, that it was not against proselytizing that the Catholics had opposed themselves, but against education of any kind: for the Roman Catholic faith was founded on ignorance, and they were afraid that education would dissipate it [hear, hear]. The hon. and learned member for Winchelsea had stated, that he had observed most diligently all the proceedings, speeches, and writings, of the Catholic Association, and had not been able to find a single circumstance deserving of censure. Now, if he might indulge in the same style, he would say, that with the exception of the single document read by his hon. friend, the member for Limerick, he could find nothing in all that had been said, written, or done by the Association, but what proceeded from the most dangerous motives. But, he apprehended that the discussion on the present subject should be independent of whatever had been said or done by the Association. The Convention act was passed to prevent illegal assemblies; but its prohibitory provisions did not extend merely to assemblages committing any thing illegal, but to assemblages which had never done any thing improper. The assembling alone was a contravention of the act, and a peace officer was authorized immediately to disperse any assembly which he might find existing. A good deal of ridicule had been directed against the act by the learned member for Nottingham, on account of the exception which it contained with respect to the House of Commons and the House of Convocation. In 1814, a court of justice, in speaking of the act, declared that the exceptions which had been made in favour of the House of Commons and the Houses of Convocation, proved the extreme length to which the legislature intended to push the principle of the act, and that they were obliged to make those specific exceptions in consequence of the largeness of its wording. Those who ought to support the measure before the House, were those who had the interest of the Catholic question most at heart. The sentiments developed in the Association had done much to retard the progress of that question. The Association had not met to advance their claims, but to mingle vengeance with argument, and to intimidate the government. To show the bad effect which must result to their cause from their putting themselves in such an attitude, he would quote an opinion which must carry with it additional weight, as being that of the noble lord at the head of the government in Ireland. That noble lord, in speaking of the menacing position which the Catholics had assumed on a former occasion, had said "To claims so advanced, it would be impossible for parliament to yield, without compromising its dignity." Such had been the bad effect produced by the Association, that Protestants who some time ago would willingly have signed petitions in favour of the Catholics, could not now be induced to do so. One of the arguments which had been advanced in favour of the Association, was that which most proved its dangerous tendency, namely, that it had brought about tranquillity in Ireland. Now, if that were the case, the Association was also responsible for the disturbances which had so long existed. He admitted that the Association was now a most powerful body. In the beginning it was insignificant, in as far as regarded the talents, rank, numbers, and influence of those who belonged to it. But now it contained amongst its members, peers, the sons of peers, and the Catholic hierarchy; and every man who had contributed one penny towards the rent felt himself identified with its interests and concerned for its existence. Did he state these facts for the purpose of deterring parliament from pursuing the course which ministers had proposed? No; but to show the urgency of the case, and to induce parliament immediately to exert itself to put down the Association. How did the case stand? The Association came forward, and said, "Grant us Catholic emancipation; admit us into parliament, and into all the great offices of the state which constitute the government of the country." He would suppose all these demands granted; but would a Catholic body, possessing the entire command and leadership of the people, stop there? No; they would go on to say, "Give us the church property; we are the people of Ireland; we are the original grantees to whom that property was given." No man, who possessed any knowledge of history, could suppose for a moment that the Catholic population of Ireland would be content with certain privileges and concessions, if the church, which was the God of their idolatry, obtained nothing in the grant. Parliament, therefore, if they made one concession to the Catholic Association, must be prepared to bear such language as this—"We are the people of Ireland; we constitute a population of six millions; one mind animates us; we can levy taxes; we possess the sinews of war; give us the church property, or we will take it, and shake all property to its very foundation!" That such would be the result of the continuance of the Catholic Association, he entertained not the slightest doubt. All such societies uniformly ended in mischief. Upon this point, he might with advantage quote the words which were used, in 1811, by the present chief-justice of Ireland, whom so many had joined in commending on the occasion of the trial of the Catholic committee. They were as follows:—"What man can answer for himself in going into a well-constituted political society? His first steps are deliberate, his first motives are good. His passions warm as he proceeds; the applause, never given to moderation, intoxicates him; the vehemence of de- bate elates, and the success of eloquence inflames him. He begins a patriot, he ends a revolutionist. Is this fancy or history. I well remember—who can forget?—the first national assembly of France, composed of every thing the most honourable, gallant, venerable, and patriotic in the kingdom, called together for the noblest and the purest purposes. What was the result? The wise, and good, and virtuous were put down by the factious and the demagogue. They were no longer masters of their will; they knew not the lengths to which they were going; they were drawn on by an increasing attraction, step after step, and day after day, to that vortex in which have been buried even the ruins of every establishment, religious and political, and from whose womb sprung that colossal despotism which now frowns upon mankind."* He thought the warning contained in that excellent passage was as applicable to the Catholic Association of the present day, as to the Catholic committee of 1811. He would now conclude by expressing an earnest hope, that parliament would adopt the measure before them.

Sir James Mackintosh

said, that he listened on all occasions with pleasure and respect to the hon. gentleman who had just spoken, as well as to the hon. member for Derry (Mr. Dawson), considering them as the avowed and able advocates of a party which he lamented was, unfortunately, too powerful in Ireland. He did not chiefly rise on the present occasion to observe on what had fallen from them—not from any want of respect, but because much of what they had said was necessarily, on account of their situation, somewhat more tainted by the acrimony of Irish party, and somewhat more influenced by the anger of Irish factions, than a member for Great Britain could bring his mind to consider as worthy of much importance, when he came to discuss a question of such great interest to the whole empire as that at present under consideration. But he would not entirely pass over the observations of the last speaker, one of which he considered to be the most important that had fallen from any member of that House during the three nights' discussion which had taken place. He had seized the first opportunity of returning strength and of *See Howell's State Trials, Vol. xxxi. p. 742. hardly re-established health, to perform a great duty, which he felt to be incumbent on him, on a question which had created the deepest interest in his breast. He rose to protest against the new stigma thrown on the Catholic cause, on account of the alleged misconduct of the Catholic body. He rose to protest against the attempt to silence the complaints of the people of Ireland, without redressing their wrongs. He rose to protest against this new discouragement, added to the discouragement of centuries, which had been given to the people of Ireland. He rose to protest against a bill which, he thought, had been justly characterised as a bill to relieve the government from the necessity of doing justice to Ireland, and to protect the present administration in the continuance of their system of tampering with the miseries of that unfortunate country. It was against a bill possessing in his eye, all these alarming features, that he rose to enter his feeble, but earnest, conscientious, and solemn protest. The zeal with which he was actuated in behalf of the Catholics was not—as his right hon. friend (Mr. Tierney) had said of himself in that memorable speech exhibiting such an union of sense and wit, which closed the debate on a former night—connected with a love of their principles. He venerated the Reformation, and gloried in the name of Protestant. But, his glory in the Reformation was his glory in the principles upon which that great work had proceeded—the right of freedom as to opinion, and security from persecution. These principles it was, that formed the basis—the only real basis—of civil and religious liberty; and those who did not uphold them—no matter what their professed tenets—were no true reformers. Protestants they might call themselves, but they mistook their character; they were only Papists in Protestants clothing; setting up a small popery, a little exclusive one, within the Protestant church, in lieu of that greater system of popery which had once covered all Europe with its shadow. So long as the Catholics had remained, by nature, the natural ally of civil and religious tyranny, so long, it he had then lived, he (sir J. M.) would have remained their mortal enemy. The same principles, precisely, which were to influence his vote that evening in favour of the Catholics, would have impelled him to draw his sword against them at the battle of the Boyne. The principles of civil and religious liberty, established by the glorious Revolution—revealed first to the world, at the Reformation, by men who neither understood nor sought to practise them; but since, appreciated, acted upon, and fought for, by men whose hearts were purer, or their intellects more enlightened —those principles formed his creed; in them he had lived, and in them he hoped he should die; and in support of those principles it was—never on any occasion pressing upon his mind more strongly— that he now rose before the House in defence of the Catholic cause [cheers].

He rose now to defend the cause of the Catholics from an attack which was new— for as an attack, whatever its intention, he must consider the present measure—from an attack on the Catholics, which was new, and which had this further circumstance of peculiarity about it, that it came from the hands of persons who had, many of them, been among their oldest, ablest, and, he believed, most sincere supporters. He was bound, standing where he did, to look, not at the private wishes or hopes of gentlemen, but at their public measures—not at what had been said, but at what had been done for the cause of Ireland. It was now thirty years since two distinct systems had uniformly prevailed with regard to the consideration of Irish affairs. One set of gentlemen constantly ascribed all the evils which prevailed to the conduct of the Catholics, both the priesthood and the laity; traced every outrage to conventions, and committees, and Catholic Associations; and looked at those as symptoms of disaffections and discontents, which were but signs of weakness and distress in the community. The remedies proposed by this class of politicians had been force and fear, restriction and coercion. Another party, he must take the liberty to say, of higher bearing in the world—composed of persons more thought of in the present age, and likely to be better known and higher rated by posterity— this body had adopted a more liberal theory with regard to the question: they believed, that the miseries which preyed upon Ireland arose from the rooted hatred which burned between the two great factions, the conquerors and the conquered; and that the successful operation for restoring that country to health would be, to negociate a reconciliation between the parties, on the basis of equal rights and equal constitutional privileges. These gentlemen did not think that Ireland was to be saved by coercion bills, and convention bills, and association bills. They did not think it wisest to attack the outward symptoms always, instead of the disease itself. Their remedy was a simple and a short one—satisfy the people, instead of coercing them. It was not proposed as a nostrum, or a quack medicine—not as any thing which would effect a sudden or immediate cure—but as something which was absolutely necessary to apply in the beginning, in order to restore the body politic to such a state of health and strength as would render it capable of profiting by all those circumstances which, in the ordinary course of time, contributed to the advantage of communities [hear, hear]. Now, to effect this desirable object—or, in other words, to effect Catholic emancipation— that object for the attainment of which, peculiarly, the Irish Union had been brought about, if there was truth in what the author of that Union [Mr. Pitt], had uttered) during his life, or in what his friends had declared for him after his death. In truth, as regarded this particular fact, Catholic emancipation had been the only real ground ever pretended to be offered for that Union. The Union with Scotland had proceeded upon a distinct and different principle—the preservation of the Protestant succession in the line of the house of Hanover. The Scottish Union had removed those parties among whom discontent chiefly lay from a parliament in Scotland, where their power was considerable, to a parliament in England, where it became neutralized, or comparatively slight. Here was a decided purpose answered. But, in Ireland, the discontent and dissatisfaction prevailed among an entirely different class of people; the Union—except in the way of Catholic emancipation—could not remove them—could not touch them—could neither weaken nor satisfy them a jot [hear, hear]. Let the House look at the view which had been entertained on this subject. Let them look at the words used by lord Grenville in presenting a Catholic petition to the House of Lords in the year 1805:—"We are now called upon to perform the duty," these were his lordship's words, "imposed upon us by the Union." He (sir J. M.) meant to speak disparagingly of no man on account of his political opinions; he trusted he was not given, either in that House or out of it, to speak hastily in disparagement of any one. But, he might say truly, and he would say, in favour, as far as the fact went, of Catholic emancipation, that it was a measure as to the importance of which, ever since the Union, all the talent and all the genius of the British nation had been aroused; and still more, as to which, with one distinguished exception, all the talents since brought forward had ranged itself on the liberal, and, as he thought, the reasonable side of the question. Let it be remembered that the House of Commons had passed a bill for this purpose—that the House of Lords, in the year 1812, had rejected, by a majority only of one, a resolution proposed by the marquis Wellesley, pledging itself to entertain, at a subsequent period, the question of Catholic claims. And, what was the feeling of the country now—what was the opinion of the people? Why, not only within the walls of parliament, but throughout the kingdom—not merely among the informed and educated, but among those who were most likely to be swayed by habit and prejudice—there was not a class of men in all England, among whom it would be impossible to raise up the savage, senseless, and unnatural yell of "No Popery." Powerful as its brutal influence had been at one period, it would not have force now to excite a mob to the most vulgar outrage [hear, hear]. He dwelt upon this fact, because he had heard it asserted, though he did not believe a word of the statement, that there was a feeling of hostility, on the part of the people of this country towards the claims of the Catholics. He did not believe the fact; he believed that those did ill, believe it or not, who lightly gave it currency. It must be distressing to any man of sound mind to fancy that England felt unkindly towards Ireland. Nothing could be so prejudicial, so fatal, as to teach six millions of people in Ireland to believe, that twelve millions of people in England were their enemies— inclined to hate, or to despise, or to bar them of those liberties which were their own proudest boast among all the nations of the globe. He was bound to confess that, putting himself in the place of a Catholic, he should feel such disappointment, such dissatisfaction as he wanted words to express, at his present situation. In the twenty-fifth year of a Union, formed expressly for the sake of effecting Catholic emancipation, under an Irish minister whose praises he had perhaps too often and too presumptuously repeated before the House—under an Irish lord lieutenant on whom all parties had agreed in bestowing commendation—an under Irish Attorney-general whose talents it would be gross injustice to compare with those of his predecessors—to find, under all these circumstances of seeming advantage, the wise part of the government coming over to the tricks and devices of that very party which it had so long resisted, and acquiescing in the very principles which led to coercive laws in the present, and to a vista, be it understood, of similar laws still more alarming in the future; for what did the right hon. Secretary mean by his hint as to "the wisdom of parliament keeping pace with any projects of evasion," but to involve the House in a series of inglorious squabbles, with petty conventions, and committees, and associations— quarrels in which no honour, heaven knew, was to be gained by victory, and the greatest danger might be apprehended from defeat [cheers].

Having touched thus far, then, upon the general policy with respect to the Catholics, in the few remarks which he meant to apply to the present immediate question, he would adopt that course which had already suggested itself to the logical mind of the Attorney-general for Ireland. The right hon. and learned gentleman had divided the question into three heads; first, whether the intended law would, or would not, be an infraction of popular privileges; secondly, whether its operation would not be injurious to the Catholic cause; and, thirdly, whether, through that operation injurious to the Catholic cause, it would not be pregnant with danger to the well-being of the whole British empire. The right hon. and learned gentleman had taken another argument, which rode over and swept away all the others; namely, that necessity, the "salus populi, suprema lex," might be justly pleaded. If necessity could be truly and justly pleaded in support of the bill, all the other arguments of the right hon. and learned gentleman were unnecessary. No man was more disposed to hold necessity "the plea of tyrants, and the creed of slaves," than he was; still necessity, if it could be shown, although it was commonly the pretext of tyranny, might sometimes form the justification of vigour—where it did clearly exist, it was, truly enough, not only the suprema but the sola lex, superseding, for the time, all other powers, and exacting from all an absolute obedience. And, therefore, to begin first with this plea of necessity, he would beg the attention of the House to a short inquiry into the grounds of that necessity. In the first place, it was of great importance that he should distinguish between convenience and necessity; because he by no means intended to allow the same force to the first of those pleas as to the latter; and—for the rest—he never meant to deny, nor had it been denied by any one, that all Associations, or conventions, or leagues, whether holy or unholy, or by whatever title they called themselves, which bound great bodies of men together, separating them from, and often making them hostile to, their fellow-citizens—no one meant to deny, that all such alliances as these were both inconvenient and undesirable. But, the allegation here was not of convenience, it was an allegation of necessity; and he would entreat of any gentleman intending to address the House, to look only back at the history of all such Associations, and see whether they had ever existed in a sound and healthy state of any community. If then it appeared that these very Associations were symptoms of a distempered state, the hon. member for Derry when he told the House, that the history of Ireland was the history of Associations, admitted in fact, that the laws in that country had been feeble, and the government tyrannical [hear, hear]. For did he not say, in effect, that individuals had been able to find no safety but in private league, because the government had wanted either the power or the will to do them justice? If hon. gentlemen looked to the most remarkable examples of associations like those complained of, would they find one—only one—where such had been destroyed by coercive laws? Would they not find that laws, prosecutions, arms, had all been employed against them in vain?—and that they had never died unless of a natural death, brought on by exhaustion of the zeal which first produced them, or in consequence of concession and the removal of those grievances, the existence of which only had cemented them together? But, the question was, how far a necessity existed in this case— not how far any measure was convenient or desirable; for that plea he protested against. Nothing could be more easy in any debate than to use the argument of convenience; the difference might only be of degree; but it was a difference of the very last importance, not withstanding. What were the grounds, then, stated, to induce parliament to believe this great necessity existed? They consisted in mischief intended; such mischief absolutely done; dangerous language uttered, and so forth. Now, with respect to the mischief intended, he appealed, upon this point, directly to the right hon. and learned Attorney-general for Ireland, and called upon that learned gentleman in person to contradict every thing that had been said, as to the evil intentions of the Catholic Association. That right hon. and learned gentleman could not hesitate as to the fact; because he had already pronounced his judgment upon it. He had first said distinctly, that he acquitted the Catholic Association of any such intentions; and, next, that he would not charge such intentions against any individual connected with it. The right hon. and learned gentleman had done more than this; for he had gone on to assign the reasons why he found it impossible to suspect any but good intentions on the part of that learned, eloquent, and celebrated person Mr. O'Connell, now likely to be even more celebrated by the proceedings of the legislature; admitting it to be impossible, looking at that gentleman's personal qualities, talents, fortune, and situation, to imagine, for a moment, that he could have the mind of a conspirator. The right hon. and learned gentleman took the view taken by Cicero—"Magnis et multis pignoribus M. Lepidum respublica illigatum tenet. Summa nobilitas est hominis, summihonores, amplissimum sacerdotrum, plurima urbis ornamenta, ipsius, fratris, majorumque monumenta, probatissima uxor, optatissimi liberi, res familiaris cum ampla, turn casta a cruore civili." The virtues of domestic life, and the rewards which naturally attend them, the Roman considered as the best pledges the state could hold for the intentions of an individual.

The evil intention, then, being disposed of, are come next to the mischief actually done. The case for mischief done consisted in certain circumstances which had occurred in two particular trials at law. The facts, such as they were, had been selected from among an immense body, no doubt, by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, who possessed every means of collecting information, and whose duty it was, to furnish all there was of most importance. And, upon the whole, it turned out that these prosecutions, as to which the Catholic Association was charged, not merely had ended in acquittals but that in one, so far from finding any hindrance given to justice, the judge upon the bench had thanked the counsel for the Catholic Association, who conducted the prosecution; and that in the other, the same Compliment from the same quarter had been paid to the Association itself. These were the "mischiefs done," in virtue of which it was proposed to suspend the constitutional rights and privileges of six millions of persons in Ireland. Now the right hon. Secretary for the home department (Mr. Peel) went beyond mischief done or even intended, and looked to inconvenience, which independent of any ill-will of the Association, would arise. That right hon. gentleman said that, coupled with a case lately decided in England, if the Catholic Association continued to exist, and especially if counter-Associations among the Orangemen were formed, an end must soon be put to the administration of justice altogether; for there would be no juries left capable of trying causes. What the right hon. Secretary here alluded to was, that it so happened, that the present respectable Lord Mayor of London had once lent his name (he had since withdrawn it) to a mischievous society, calling itself the "Constitutional Society." This worthy Association had been more commonly, as well as more properly known by the title of "the Bridge-street Gang" than of the "Constitutional Society:" but so it happened, that the Lord Mayor, being then sheriff, had returned a jury upon an indictment promoted by this very Association; an objection had been taking to this as a partial return, and that objection had, most properly, been sustained. "Now, then," said the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department, "we stand in this predicament—every Catholic who subscribes to the Catholic rent will be interested in any trial in which the Catholic Association may be concerned; consequently, pro defectu juratorum, we shall have no prosecutions—there will be no jurymen competent to serve. This was the law upon the case of the King v. Dolby." He (sir J. M.) admitted it, and desired to give the hon. Secretary full credit for it; for, by its assistance, he had completely argued this bill out of the House. He had thrown the bill over the table, and rendered it impossible, if his argument was good for any thing, to pass it.

The next point to which he should apply himself, was the charge of warm and indiscreet language used by the members of this Association at their meetings. This statement he should not follow at length. That had happened in the Catholic Association which must necessarily happen to all bodies of men placed in a similar situation. They had met to discuss a question upon which their feelings were peculiarly alive: and every man who spoke in public used expressions oftener than he could wish which savoured of exaggeration. But, the point that followed was one to which he entreated the attention of the House, its candour, and its justice; he bespoke its closest attention, while he presented the case, upon which a body of men were to be brought to the bar as criminals; and for which the whole population of Ireland were to have their rights invaded, and their liberties cut down. The charge in question was a heavy one. It was comprised in two whole sentences of an address to the people of Ireland, published by the Catholic Association on the 2nd of December 1824. Before the present bill was read a second time, if, unhappily, it should go so far as to be read a first, he did entreat, that hon. members would read the address through from the beginning to the end; and then let any gentleman put his hand upon his heart and declare whether (those two passages excepted) the whole mass breathed any thing but a spirit of conciliation, and a desire to restore peace and harmony in Ireland. Was this, or was it not, the clear object of the address? He protested that he should consider it as the strongest proof he had ever met with of the blindness of party, if any person alive could read it and entertain a different opinion. He would trouble the House with one or two of the points contained in this document. First, among other topics of dissuasion from acts of outrage and violence, was urged the loss of life and general misery which ensued from such a system. Upon this point it was necessary to remind any hon. member, how many innocent persons had suffered tranportation, and even death, out of the system of Whiteboy crimes. Again, some might blame the administration of the law for this, but good sense must convince every man, that it arose necessarily out of that general conduct which led to heavy rewards, &c. given to informers. Now, what was this? He would not trouble the House with the document in words at length; but, what was this, if it were not a vindication of the laws? Was it not saying distinctly to every peasant—"You see your neighbours, whom you believed innocent, suffering by the law. This seems criminal to you; but we, who know better than you do, tell you, that individuals in authority are not to be blamed for occasional events of this nature, they are the natural results of that very state of society which turbulence, while it exists, will still go on producing." Let the House observe with what caution the address avoided the least approach to any topic which might inflame the minds of those to whom it was directed. The peasantry, to whom the Association spoke, were ignorant, and easily inflamed. Was there one word in the address even naming the Insurrection act? a subject upon which, to such men, one word would have been sufficient. The Catholic Association used every pains to avoid producing danger, or giving offence. They cared not what topic they gave up—what grievance they left untouched — rather than run the hazard of exciting dissatisfaction. And their reward for this conduct was a bill brought into the House to put them down for ever; and a charge of libelling those very laws, which it had been their greatest anxiety to vindicate. Was a further proof of this necessary, let the House look at the very next paragraph of the address—the statement of the danger to be apprehended from informers. Was there a topic more popular to be imagined than an attack upon the employment of these informers? And yet they were left unnoticed and untouched. Surely it was not an attack upon the law, to point out to men the consequences of crime. He did protest that, looking at this address, he could not conceive a greater distortion of plain English than was to be found in the meaning which the right hon. Secretary for Ireland had put upon it. Whatever gentlemen might think as to the subject in general, let them only read that address, and deny, if they could, that its obvious intent was, to pacify and to conciliate.

He next came to the word "hate," upon which so much stress had been laid by the hon. gentleman opposite; and of which he would only say, that he had never before heard the object of a word so much exaggerated, even by those who were apt to employ terms freely in their own case, which they blamed as freely in the mouths of other people. If he was not mistaken, it was Dryden who mentioned a description of critics gifted in that peculiar way, who illustrated the value of the doctrines which they preached, by the constant violation of them in their own practice. This great point—the word hate"—which the Attorney-general for Ireland, with a dignity worthy of his commanding eloquence, had disdained to notice—really, he himself could hardly make up his mind to treat it seriously. Dr. Johnson had said of some friend of his, that he was a "good hater"—he hated a Whig, and he hated a Scotchman. Now, he (sir J. M.) had the honour to appear in both those characters; and was, moreover, a member of an institution which the doctor himself had founded. But he had very little doubt that, if the learned professor of hatred to Whigs and Scotchmen could rise again, he should himself be able to conquer that hatred, except that the doctor might hold him very silly if he went so far even as to notice it." For did any body ever suppose, "continued the hon. and learned member," that hatred to a party implied any thing like hatred to the individuals who composed that party? Suppose, for instance, that I were to say I hate Tories, I should only use a very natural language—because I dislike their opinions, and, politically, their ways of thinking. But, if these words were taken in their strictest acceptation, I should receive very great injustice, inasmuch as there are among those Tories many individuals for whom I have the highest respect and love, although they have chosen to take a name which, prior to the accession of the house of Hanover, was regarded as the name of an enemy, and which never was, certainly, thought of as likely to belong to a party in the state." Could it be doubted for a moment what was meant by the name of that party, by their hatred of which the Catholics were adjured to abstain from those very excesses which furnished the members for Derry and Armagh with arguments against them? What was there in the term "hatred?" Was it not used everywhere? Was it not used in that House? Would any member be blamed for saying in parliament, that the evils of Ireland proceeded from the hatred of the two rival factions which divided her? And besides —take the words in their broadest sense —how long had it been immoral or indefensible to excite even one vice in a man's mind against, and in competition with, another? If it were not that, providentially, there existed an animosity, a tendency to counteraction, in men's vices, few of them, perhaps, would boast of very material virtue. He who by rousing, say one ill disposition in a man's mind, found means to extinguish, or silence, another which bid fair to lead to present and to dangerous crime, deserved to be applauded and to be thanked, rather than condemned, for his conduct. The adjuration of the Catholics was little more, if any thing, than an enlisting the passions on the side of peace. It was only saying in rather poetical terms, "By all you hold most ill, and by that vice which most naturally besets you; by your religious principles and your political privations; we adjure you to practise peace and goodwill towards all men:" that is "We adjure you to practise peace and forbearance, by those very principles which would induce you to a contrary course of conduct."

He now came to a passage in the speech of the hon. gentleman who had last addressed the House, upon which he was peculiarly desirous of commenting. That hon. gentleman had said plainly, that the present measure was not pointed against associations in Ireland in general; Orange societies might have gone on forming for ever, and no one would have interfered with them; it was the Catholic Association only which made this general restriction necessary. The bill affected to be pointed against both parties; but, in reality, its "thunder" was levelled at the heads of the Catholics alone. The fact, on the part of the hon. member for Armagh, was avowed, the Orange people were not deceived; they knew that the Catholics only were the real subjects of attack. Now, the hon. member had said —speaking of the form of the proposed measure, and complaining of even its show of general application—that there were some fathers who, if it was necessary to give one child in the family a dose of physic, would make all the rest, though a dozen, take it for company. Now he (sir J. M.) was a father and a grandfather, and he would tell the hon. member what his policy would be on such an occasion. He would give the sick child the dose of physic, and the others a glass of lemonade: as gentlemen were actually proposing to do, by the measure before the House, to the people of Ireland. But, then, he would tell the children who had the lemonade to make very wry faces and take it as physic, which the hon. gentleman did not do. The hon. gentleman would not give into the deception: he would not make the wry faces, but said openly that he knew it was lemonade that his friends were taking. And, after all, did the House believe that equality, in a case like the present, was possible? His hon. friend, the member for Dungarvon, who opened the debate that evening, had very properly observed, that the bill might act upon the Catholic Association, but never could apply against the Orange societies. And the cause was clear—the proceedings of the Catholics were open, and therefore could be come at; but the Orange lodges would evade the law, as they did already evade it, by that secrecy which formed the very essence of their proceedings. And, even independent of this broad distinction of secrecy and publicity, there were two other causes which must render this law wholly unequal in its operation. The first cause was this—that the Orangemen needed not the formality of an association to keep them together. The Orange party was made a party by the law; its members were brought and banded together on all occasions. On grand juries, in corporations, in other situations out of number, their exclusive duties brought them into contact; and an association with them was a mere engine which might be dispensed with; or used, as long as they found it convenient. Then another cause, and a still stronger one, why this measure must bear unequally, was this—inactivity was no evil to that body which was in possession of the monopoly. Those could well afford to let things remain as they were, who had the whole sweep of the kingdom in their power. There was no pretence to equality about a measure so unjust and partial.

The argument of the learned Attorney-general for Ireland was, however, of a nature still more specious and ingenious, than any which thus far had been noticed. That learned gentleman, unable to rely upon mischief done, and not prepared even to allege any thing like mischief intended, had placed his reliance upon the danger which in future might possibly result from the ascendancy of the Catholic Association over the minds of the people of Ireland. To this it was, then, that we came at last; the learned gentleman spoke not of what had been done—his case rested on a may! The present was the first occasion he believed on which the ministers of the Crown had proposed to suspend the liberties of six millions of people on a possibility of abuse. However, as little or no cause could be shown to justify the measure, the next course was, to show that it required no justification. Accordingly, the learned Attorney-general declared that it amounted to no encroachment upon popular privileges. This was, plainly speaking, to maintain a proposition in argument which contradicted itself in terms; for, to say that a new limitation of an ancient right was not an encroachment, was to assert that a whole was not equal to its parts. He had always understood, that whatever a man might do by law, was a right that he enjoyed. Whether it was just or necessary to limit that right might be a question; but to say that such a proceeding would not be an innovation was impossible. A right hon. gentleman opposite, in speaking of innovations, had said that so many had come from his (sir J. M's.) side of the House, that it was impossible for the other side not sometimes to fall into them. Those innovations at all events, were not like the present. Suspensions of the Habeas Corpus act—checks to the right of petition —restrictions upon the liberty of the press —all these, at least, formed legitimately the "thunder" of the right hon. gentleman himself; and he was welcome to the application of it. That the measure proposed was an encroachment on popular rights in Ireland was quite clear. He (sir J. M.) should say, that even to reduce the prerogative of the Crown would be unconstitutional. The same he would say of the rights of the House of Peers. The same of the rights of the House of Commons. But most of all of the rights of the people, for whom alone kings and princes rule and govern. To attack their power of meeting to discuss their grievances—to speak out their wrongs or their fancied wrongs, was a course so unconstitutional, that, even as applied to Ireland, he was surprised to hear it advocated.

He would now advert to another point, on which some stress had been laid on a former evening. It had been said that the proceedings of the Association were injurious to the interest of the Catholic body in general. He denied the fact. The acts of the Association had, he would contend, been of great advantage to the Catholics of Ireland. But it was curious to observe the parties from whom this objection came—from those who were themselves the openly avowed, the constant, and, he would admit, the conscientious opponents of the claims of those Catholics. The very source from which the objection came, proved that the Association was considered beneficial to the Catholic cause. Was not the fact of the opposition given to this Association by the enemies of Catholic emancipation sufficient to prove to the Catholics themselves that that body was acting a part serviceable to their interests Would it be wise in them to withdraw their confidence from that body because they were so recommended by their avowed opponents? It was not unnatural to be taught by the acts of an enemy; but it would be the height of absurdity to be advised by an enemy on that point on which he had avowed his greatest hostility. Such a course could not be expected from any man who was sincere in the cause in which he was engaged. Why should it be required at the hands of the Catholic people of Ireland, anxious as they naturally were in the prosecution of their just claims—But it was said that this Association interfered with the administration of justice. That was a point on which all who valued the constitution should feel extremely jealous. The tampering in any manner with the even course of justice should, he most freely admitted, be looked upon with great alarm by every true friend of his country. This was the general principle: but let the House consider its application in some instances. The House were engaged in the year 1823, in an inquiry into the conduct of the sheriff of Dublin. Few members he believed would ever forget the proceedings on that occasion. They had there abundant proofs of the interference with the course of justice on one side. They had seen how attempts had been made and not without success, to tamper with and give a bias to the regular course of the law. Remembering those facts, he would ask the right hon. and learned gentleman (Mr. Plunkett)—he would ask the House, were there not some grounds for interference on the other side? Was the necessity, he would call it, of such counteracting interference on the other side not proved by the evidence elicited on that occasion? Was it not clear, that the tampering on one 6ide would beget a meddling on the other? Was this not proved by the result, that the heads of one party, on that occasion, marched away from their bar after triumphing over the privileges of the House? Was it not proved that an evil of such magnitude on one side must give rise, however objectionable both might be, to its corrective on the other? He was opposed to any tampering or interference either way; but could it be possible that it should always be allowed to exist on one side alone, or that existing at all on one side, attempts should not be made to countervail it on the other? He bore in his recollection what had been said the other night by the hon. and learned member for New Ross (Mr. Dogherty), about the purity of the administration of justice in Ireland. He believed the hon. and learned member mistook the argument on that occasion. The purity of the administration of justice was not complained of, as far as the learned persons appointed to preside over the several courts were concerned; but what was complained of was, that attempts were made to prejudice the administration of justice by a party supposed to be hostile to the interests of the great body of the people—that the means of doing so were exclusively in the hands of a conquering faction, and that they were disposed to use them against a conquered, a hated, and an oppressed party. This was the kind of interference which was complained of. That this state of things should give rise to attempts on the part of those who were exposed to the effects of such undue influence was natural; the motives for it were to be found in the construction of human society, in the history of ages, in the general practice of mankind. In the present state of things in Ireland, it would be idle to suppose, that as long as a disposition hostile to the interests of the great body of the people was known to exist with those who, in so many instances, had the means of carrying their prejudices into operation, there should not be an apprehension, that the disposition would be manifested by hostile acts. Without imputing any peculiarly bad feelings to the Irish gentry, he would say, that the failings of our common nature being the same in all states of society, it would be a miracle greater than any of Hohenlohe's to find that some partiality did not sway the minds of men who professed hatred to a large portion of their fellow subjects. It was impossible to expect that one portion of men, acting on principles hostile to the feelings, wishes, and hopes of another, could be decidedly impartial towards that other, where the power lay so entirely in their hands. The hon. and learned gentleman, who argued for the purity of the administration of justice in Ireland, and the total absence of any feelings of prejudice in that part of the Protestant gentry professed himself a friend to the Catholics; but the argument he used upon this point would cut away the ground on which he went upon another.

The hon. and learned gentleman, after a eulogy on the firmness, intrepidity, and impartiality which distinguished the conduct of chief justice Bushe, in Ireland, in resisting all attempts to tamper with the even course of justice between all parties in that country, proceeded to say, that the success of the present measure would be looked upon as a victory over the Catholics by the Orange Associations. Let the House but consider how this question was viewed by the two parties in Ireland; and from the different views which each party took, let them judge of what might be its probable, nay, its certain effects. It was a maxim with him, as it was with all who had any knowledge of the world, that most men knew who best contributed to their own interests. The Catholics, it was to be presumed, knew what forwarded their claims—the Orangemen knew what tended to retard those claims. The present measure was unanimously called for by the Orangemen. It was deprecated with equal unanimity by the Catholics. Both parties saw how their separate objects might be promoted or retarded by this bill; and he could not pretend to be wiser than either in what concerned them respectively. The Catholics would and did look upon this measure as a defeat of their hopes. The Orangemen would hail it as a triumph of their principles. Would any man say that this was a state of things which should be allowed to exist in the present situation of Ireland?

Another objection which he had to the measure was, that it was beginning a system of coercion which would be injurious as a precedent; and, the more so, as it would be found ineffectual. He was certain that this measure, as one for checking the progress of the Catholics in asserting their claims, would not answer. Suppose the Catholics were to continue their present union with their leaders— suppose that, after the passing of this bill, they should still retain the same confidence in the men who now directed their operations—what would happen? Did the House think that legislation must rest here? The present bill, it was said, was in the spirit of the Convention act, and it went upon the assumption, that the Catholic Association, if not the actual and chosen, were the adopted representatives of the Catholic body in Ireland. This construction was adopted by the hon. and learned gentleman. Now, what was meant by this phrase of "adopted representatives," but that the Catholic leaders had still the confidence of the people, as acting against their opponents? And what, he would ask, would happen if they should still find the way to keep up that confidence? Would not another bill become necessary in the spirit of this, as this was thought expedient in the spirit of the Convention act? Would it not be thought right to put down leadership on this, the one side, and confidence on the other? Would not some measure be required to prevent any communication between the leaders, and those whose opinions at least they would represent? What would this be but to say, that if the Catholics submitted to this bill (as submit he was sure they would), they would still adopt some new form of expressing their confidence and reliance on their leaders, and those leaders some new mode of giving effect, to the feelings so expressed; and that there should be some new bill to check the one and suppress the other? Was it to be expected that such a system could be continued? If it did, the consequence would be, that anger would be succeeded by anger, and irritation by irritation, and the results would be similar to those which had been seen on another very important occasion. It had been well observed on a former evening, by his hon. and learned friend (Mr. Williams), that in the case of our early disputes with America, rules and regulations, highly coercive, were introduced, and, as was expected by the most eminent politicians of that day, led to excesses greater than those which they were intended to repress. Mr. Burke had, early in the discussions of that day, predicted what would be the effect of those coercive measures. In his speeches in that House, in his address to the people of Bristol, he pointed out the consequences which would ensue, from attempts to coerce a feeling which could not be controlled, while the evil which gave rise to it was suffered to remain. Human nature was not altered since then. The same system, though it might not lead in the case of Ireland to the same results, would nevertheless be productive of consequences highly injurious to the interests of the empire. The causes which produced the irritation of public feeling in Ireland were not the same as those which existed in America, but they arose from circumstances which were much more difficult to deal with. It was well known that when religious feelings entered into any dispute, they rendered the question more difficult of amicable adjustment. The passions which they excited were more powerful in their effects, and in proportion as they were dangerous, they became more difficult of management. It could not be denied that a question of religion was mixed up with the present struggles of the Catholics to free themselves from the penal code. That question was always a delicate one to touch. He remembered that the hon. member for Bramber (Mr. Wilberforce), whose absence on the present occasion he sincerely deplored, when speaking of the remnant of the penal code as affecting the Catholics, described the Popery laws as the felon's dress continued on prisoners who were enlarged—that though nominally at liberty, they still bore about them the marks of their disgrace—that those marks were looked upon as insults, which were repeated by the English parliament every day that those Jaws were suffered to continue unrepealed. Those insults the House might be assured were not unfelt by the people of Ireland. To insult a man for his religion, was to insult him for that which he held most sacred— for that which was between himself and his God; and was ever considered as the most tyrannical and oppressing species of indignity which the wickedness of man could exercise towards his fellow-creature. What was it which caused the general union of all classes of Roman Catholics which now existed in Ireland? A general feeling, that all classes were equally the objects of those penal laws, because all were Roman Catholics, pre- vailed throughout that body. It was true, that, in effect, they operated on the few of the higher ranks, but they were not the less bitterly felt by the many, for the high were excluded for the same cause as the low. The insult was common to them all. It would be absurd to use the hacknied observation, that the question of the penal code was only whether Mr. O'Connell was to be eligible as a king's counsel, or a lord chancellor, or whether a few other individuals might be eligible to some other offices. The pressure of that code was equally felt by the priest and the peasant. Though all might not be equally affected by its removal, all were equally indignant at the disgrace of its continuance.

An hon. member had alluded to the Bible society in Ireland, and to the reception which some of its missionaries had met with there. He honoured the intentions of that society; but he did not at all wonder at the opposition which they had met from the priests and the laity. The Catholic priest believed and inculcated, that the sacred word contained in the Scriptures was not to be interpreted by every man, but that its interpretation should come from learned members of the church. Should we be surprised at this? If we were, we must be surprised at finding six millions of people Catholics. For as Catholics had ever been, this was the doctrine which they received. That doctrine was not a new one, at either side of the water; nor was it confined to the professors of one religion. He would state what had been said on this subject, not by a rev. Mr. Swiney, nor a rev. Mr. O'Shaughnessy, nor any member of the Carlow meeting, but by a writer who differed widely from them on theological matters. That writer had said, that the word of God, as found in the sacred Scriptures, was not to be interpreted otherwise than as it was explained in the Book of Common-prayer. Now this Book of Common-prayer was as much a human authority as the written or verbal explanation of any priest or prelate, or of the pope. The mode of giving the explanation might be different, but the application of the principle was still the same. The opinion he had quoted was that of Chillingworth, and it was the opinion of the writer of the book from which he quoted it—the reverend Dr. Marsh. Was it, then, to be wondered at, that the Catholic priests held a similar belief with respect to the interpretation of the Scriptures? If the missionaries of the Bible societies found difficulties in Ireland, let them not blame the feeling of the priests or people for it, but let them blame the causes from which that feeling arose. It was not caused by a hostility to the Bible, but to those from whom the missionaries were supposed to come. It was believed, and not unreasonably, that they who endeavoured to continue the Catholic in exclusion from his civil rights, could not come with any very friendly disposition to interfere with religious belief. He would advise those missionaries to come to parliament to implore to be relieved from some of the great obstacles offered to their progress. Let them say, "Send us to these people as from those who are their benefactors; repeal the penal code, and then when we approach those kind-hearted people, we shall do so with the hope of being received as the messengers of those who have proved themselves interested in their welfare." If such were the language of the missionaries, and of those who sent them; and if the legislature listened to the prayer, then many objections which they may have to the Bible societies would be removed. He would say, who were, in effect, the greatest enemies to such societies—they who opposed themselves to the remission of the Catholic penal code, and who helped to continue the opposition to every system of improvement in Ireland; which must exist as long as those laws were suffered to remain. He would not delay the House much longer; but there was one point on which he could not remain silent. He would not say what might yet be done by the ancient friends of the Catholics of Ireland. It was well known, that Dr. Franklin, when leaving this country, on one occasion shed tears, and he believed they were from his heart, at the prospect of the disruption of America from England; but, when he found the Massachusetts bill and other such measures passed, he altered his opinion, and helped a measure which he saw was forced upon the people of that country. Whether the paradoxical cabinet opposite would pursue the same course, or had the same disposition, he would not say; but most certainly they did not act as if they wished for a continuance of the union between the two kingdoms. They said to the Irish people, "We exhort you to be loyal and peaceable and transcend- antly virtuous as a nation, and yet we shall continue to act towards you as if you were every way unworthy of protection or regard." What effect did the right hon. gentleman think such language, for in effect it was used, likely to produce in Ireland? Was it calculated to cement the tie between the two countries? He thought it was not; but his hopes rested on the good sense of the people on whom those indignities were heaped. If he were considered worthy of advising the Catholics of Ireland, he would tell them, that to sever themselves from this country would be the beginning of a worse system than any they had yet experienced? that though the condition of England might not be improved by the separation, theirs would be rendered infinitely worse—that though they might be made the instruments of annoyance to a greater power, they would suffer most as being the weaker. However, he did not dread that any feeling of the kind would be entertained by the people of Ireland, though he must admit that such measures as the one now before the House, were calculated to excite them. The proposed bill was a most cruel addition to the penal code, already intolerably severe. It was a part of the "prison-dress"—a remnant of the fetters which were still suffered to gall that unhappy country. He would ask the House if they dreaded the influence of the Catholic leaders in Ireland, from which cause did they think the greater danger could arise—from continuing to refuse the repeated prayer of the Catholics, or from the existence of the Association? It was admitted that the latter arose out of the former: and it would not be contended that it would be done away until its cause was removed. He would ask them how government could think of providing for the lesser danger, and neglect to take any steps to obviate the greater? How could any man in his senses imagine that an effectual remedy could be applied to the evil, while the cause was allowed to continue in full operation? It was absurd to think of restoring tranquillity to Ireland by such a patched legislation. The effects of it, he much feared, would be felt when it might be too late to apply a remedy. For his own part, he was too far advanced in life to be influenced by any fears of witnessing the consequences of these measures; but he could not disguise his apprehension that there were amongst the right hon. gentlemen opposite some who would live to rue their effects. They would, he believed, repent of what they were now doing. According to ministers, the Catholic question was but a secondary one to the present. They advised those who were known to be favourable to the question of emancipation to support this in the first instance. Some of those friends, would, he knew, support it; but he firmly believed they would have occasion to repent such support. They were called upon to take this first step, as absolutely necessary before the consideration of the great question could be gone into: but, did they recollect who they were who were loudest in that call? The enemies of the Catholics—those who were hostile to any concession being ever made to them. The cabinet, divided as they were on the Catholic question, were all unanimous in their support of this bill. One of them, the right hon. Secretary opposite, had arrived at the height of power; he was favourable to the Catholic claims; but how was his power applied? What effect had it produced, when the other night he had alluded to the necessity of putting down the Association—how was he cheered by those who were hostile to the measure of which he was the avowed advocate. In the same manner the right hon. and learned gentleman (Mr. Plunkett) was loudly applauded by the same opponents of emancipation. Did he not feel, when he heard those cheers, that he had got into the enemy's camp, and that the measure which he was then supporting, was hailed as a triumph over those whose cause, he, on other occasions, so eloquently maintained? He did not object to the appeal which the right hon. and learned gentleman then made, or to the defence which he thought it necessary to enter into, of his conduct; though he must say, he regretted that the right hon. and learned gentleman had ever descended from the high station which he held at the head of his country's cause, to join any administration not pledged to a redress of her grievances. The right hon. and learned gentleman, in putting himself on his trial, had made an appeal to the House as his jury. He (sir J. M.) might challenge that jury, and say they were not all impartial. Very many of them were interested in withdrawing, if possible, the full support of the right hon. and learned gentleman from the Catholics. Now, if he withdrew from those who approved of the statement which the right hon. and learn- ed gentleman made, all those who were hostile to him on the question of emancipation, he believed it would appear, that the approbation of his measure, would be by no means so decisive. The hon. and learned gentleman thanked the House for the attention with which they had heard him, and sat down amidst loud cheers.

Mr. North

began by observing, that as a friend to the Catholics of Ireland, he rose to give his support to the proposed measure, which would have the effect of freeing them from the odium which they might incur by the violence and folly of the Catholic Association. He was surprised that the hon. and learned gentleman who had just sat down, had not confined himself to the question immediately before the House. Instead of that, he had entrenched himself in the strong bulwark of the Catholic question, from which he had scarcely deigned to look down on the actual subject in debate. Instead of following the hon. and learned gentleman through the course of his extended arguments on other points, he would go at once to that with which he had set out. The hon. and learned gentleman had stated, that he would contend for the principles of liberty and free inquiry established at the Revolution in 1688. Those principles he would not deny; but he thought it only fair to examine how far they were consistent with the proceedings of the Catholic Association. According to the principles of the Constitution then established, the Commons House of Parliament were to be the sole representatives of the people. If this were so, it followed as a necessary consequence, that any other assembly chosen, or elected, or adopted, or in any other manner constituted, affecting to represent the people, must be illegal. He wished the hon. and learned gentleman had examined and compared the acts of the Association with the spirit of the constitution; and he was satisfied he would have found them wholly at variance. The Convention act was passed for restraining the abuse of that principle, and it was most wisely enacted. An hon. and learned gentleman (Mr. Denroan) had said, that the House of Commons and Peers were excepted from the operation of that act. Now, he apprehended that no such exception was to be found in that act. The Houses of parliament were mentioned only as showing the necessity of the law, and pointing out the offence. The question, then, was, did the Association violate that law or did it not? He would contend that it did. He cared not whether it was appointed by election before, or by adoption and confirmation after, its assembling. He cared not how the mischief was created; it was enough for him that it was in existence. The principle was illustrated in this way:—a stranger was in your house, controlling your servants, and otherwise acting as if he had the right to be there and not you. Was a man to be told under such circumstances, that he was not to consider why the stranger came, but whether he had entered through the door or by the window? [hear, hear]. He apprehended that it was immaterial how he came, whether he occupied this room or the other—if he were there and acting improperly, the only consideration should be the necessity of ejecting him. He would say the same of the Association, It was of no consequence how it was appointed, it was found to exist, was acting mischievously, and the only question was, ought it to be repressed? But, he would ask any man, could he doubt that this Association affected to represent the people? The hon. and learned member for Winchelsea, had said, that there was a difference between actual and virtual representation; but this difference was not recognized by the constitution. It was not recognized by the Association. It was not admitted by Mr. O'Connell. If Mr. O'Connell were told, that the Association was not duly elected—that there was no polling—no show of hands in the selection of its members—he would answer, "I care not for those forms or shadows of election. If you doubt that we are really the representatives of the Irish Catholics, ask the priests, who support us; ask the peasantry, who contribute to our treasury; ask the peers who are enrolled amongst our members, and they will answer you that we are, virtually and actually, their representatives." Now, he would ask the House, if this was the case, what was the inference? Was it not that this Association was really and bona fide acting as the representatives of the Irish Catholic people? And, was this to be borne? Was it to be tolerated, that this Association should enact rules, and levy contributions on the country? The amount of the Catholic rent, as far as money was concerned, was nothing; but, considered as an index of the public mind, it was of vast importance. The establishment of such a tax was a positive mischief; for it led the people to look up to other authorities besides the constituted authorities of the land: it loosened their confidence in the established institutions of the country, and, by that very proceeding, taught them to place it in a new source of power, which it at once created and fostered. Nor was that all. Every man who paid this tax was pledged to every object of the Catholic Association; he was with it "for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer;" he was wedded to it for life, and was thus inseparably linked to all its fortunes.

This alone was an intolerable evil; but, a still greater remained untold. He alluded to the meetings at which this Catholic rent was levied. The Catholic Association in Dublin was comparatively harmless; but the Catholic rent meetings, which were minor associations in the country, on the same principle, were pregnant with incalculable mischief. There the people were harangued from their altars and in their chapels by the minor members of the Catholic persuasion —men as devoid of caution as of education, who were not controlled as their leaders in Dublin were, by the censure of the press, nor influenced as they were by the force of public opinion. From the Association at Dublin there flowed a stream of seditious and turbulent matter into the country, from which it returned back to the Association in a thousand currents, full of every thing mean, narrow, and illiberal. Thus there was a perpetual interchange between two streams of bitter waters, which flowing, one from the Association at Dublin, and the other from the rent-meetings in the country, formed a whirlpool of prejudice in which peace and good order were certain to suffer shipwreck. The rent-meetings in the country, he repeated, were far more detrimental than the Catholic Association in Dublin. The leaders in the first had nothing to control them, and sought notoriety by means of seditious violence; in the latter, there was a power, before which even O'Connell, dictator though he was, bent and trembled.—"Divisum imperium cum Jove Cæsar habet." Those who wielded it, were at once his ministers and his masters, and governed him, even at the moment they professed to honour and obey him [hear, hear].

A right hon. member had observed, upon a former evening, that one of the evils of the Catholic Association was, that as all the members of it had the same objects, no discussion was ever produced in it. The observation was a just one, but had not, in his opinion, been pushed to its full extent. For, what was the consequences of all the speakers being thus on one side? Why, that as no man could obtain credit by ingenuity of reply or liveliness of debate, each man was obliged to establish his reputation by going beyond his associates in violence of language, so that the only emulation which was excited was an emulation of violence. This emulation, too, was not confined to mere emulation between the speakers at the Catholic Association, but produced similar emulation between the rent-meetings in various parts of the country. By this system, what was violent yesterday, came to be considered as temperate to-day; and what to-day was considered as the extreme verge of violence, would to-morrow be considered as too vapid for the palate of the public. A call for stimulants would thus be excited, which it required no great sagacity to predict would inevitably be provided [hear]. It was the nature of such associations to generate violence: they could not remain stationary: with them "non progedi est regredi." Their objects were daily varying. No man could say that he knew them; and he must beg leave to tell the hon. member for Queen's county, who had assured the House that he was fully informed of the designs of this Association, that the right reverend prelate who communicated that information to him, had no more power to explain them to him, than he had to explain them to the right reverend prelate. Mr. O'Connell himself, lord of the ascendant as he was in that Association, could not explain them; for the people would not be content tomorrow, with that with which they were contented to-day; and thus the Catholic Association of next year, if it was not suppressed, would be even a greater nuisance than it was at present [cheers].

After pointing out the manner in which the Catholic Association was at present attempting to work out its objects, and condemning, in strong terms, their improper interference with the administration of justice, the learned member referred to the case of the soldier, as a specimen of the mischief which their proceedings were likely to produce. If he were asked how it was, that, under the cir- cumstances of that case, the soldier was acquitted, he would answer, because truth had a buoyancy and ascendancy in its own nature, which, when fair play was allowed, was certain to make it triumphant. He would suppose, however, that the soldier had been convicted instead of acquitted. The language of the hon. gentleman opposite would, in that case, have been loud and exulting: nothing would have been heard from them but declarations of the utility of this institution, and they would have said, "Here is an instance in which guilt would have gone unpunished, had it not been for the exertions of this Association to bring it to justice." He contended, that the argument which the right hon. Secretary had founded upon that case, had not been at all affected by any of the attacks which had been made upon it in the course of the debate, and maintained, that if the soldier had been convicted, the confidence it would have given to the Association would have been subversive of the administration of justice in Ireland [hear, hear]. It was assumed, he knew not why, that there was a mal-administration of justice in Ireland, and that the Catholic Association was of use as a counterpoise to it. Now, he denied that there was any such mal-administration in Ireland. From the year 1811, when he was first called to the bar, down to the ignoring of the bills against Mr. O'Connell, he had always seen justice fairly administered between Catholic and Protestant [hear, hear]]. He stated that fact not as an advocate, but as a witness; and he conceived that his testimony, though it might not receive weight from his rank, was entitled to respect from its sincerity. Cobbett, who within the two last months had become the oracle of the Catholics, had given them very sound advice upon this subject. He had desired them to make out a list of the cases in which justice had been denied to, injured parties who craved it, or in which oppression and violence had received a sanction from the law; and he had told them very sensibly, that the people of England would pay more attention to such a list of cases, with the names attached to it, than they would to all the violent language that they might use ad libitum in their clubs. The Catholics, however, had drawn out no such list; and for this plain reason—because they could not; no such cases of successful injustice having existence any where in the coun- try, except in the heated imagination of those who had fabricated them [hear]. Supposing, however, that a mal-administration of justice did exist in Ireland, how was it to be corrected? Would hon. gentlemen take the balance of justice out of the hands in which it was now placed, and confide it to those of the Catholic Association? Supposing tranquillity were produced by such a measure, still might not the price paid for it be much too dear? Surely it would be so, if we sacrificed the dignity and authority of the government to obtain it. And yet, this was the price now proposed to be paid for it by the other side. They would consent to a divided authority, and a divided allegiance, and would put a sceptre into the hands of Mr. O'Connell, and a broken reed into those of lord Wellcsley. He would rather see the people of Ireland existing, according to the pithy language of the common-law, "in the fear of God, and in the peace of our Lord the King," than in the fear of the Catholic church, and the peace of the Catholic Association. He would not accept tranquillity as a boon, if it were offered to him upon such conditions. He would hail tranquillity with pleasure, if it were produced by law; but he should recoil from it in alarm, if it were produced by an anomalous Association which, whilst it professed peace, carried in its bosom the seeds of disorder and war [hear]. He had heard, with great delight, the hon. and learned member's ingenious defence of the terms "by your hatred to Orangemen;" but, great as was the delight with which he had listened to it, it was an eloquent piece of sophistry too evident to deceive any body. It was a defence against which good sense and reason rose up in arms, "sensus moresque repugnant." The hon. and learned member who had devised it was celebrated as a great moralist and metaphysician. He would ask, in the language of a moralist superior even to that hon. and learned member, "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" Could peace be produced by appealing to the dark and malevolent feelings of human nature? Could men be encouraged to forbearance towards their fellow-citizens by appeals to the hatred which they bore them? However sophistry like this might smooth over the matter with the gentlemen of England, he was sure that it would be unavailing with the Protestants of Ireland. He had lived long enough in that country to know what was meant there by the term "Orange." He had heard an attempt to promote education among the lower classes of Ireland condemned as an Orange system. He had heard an attempt to carry several liberal schemes into execution held up to contempt by a similar designation. He knew that, with many of the Catholics of Ireland, the term "Orange" had a very wide signification. With many of them, it resembled the ancient Irish mantle described by Spencer—"it was a fit bed for a rebel, a neat house for an outlaw, and a cloak for a thief." [cheers]. In the whole proceedings of the Catholic Association, there was nothing which justified suspicion and inquiry so much as the phrase "by your hatred of Orangemen." He would suppose, with the hon. and learned member, that those who had framed this invocation, meant to apply it only to the members of the sworn Orange Associations; still, he would ask, would those to whom that invocation was addressed, so limit its application? Were there not thousands, aye, and tens of thousands, too, who would understand by it all the Protestants of Ireland? Even supposing that this signification was not given to it by the Catholics, was it of no consequence that such a signification should be given to it by the Protestants? He would tell them that that phrase would be thus construed by the Protestants of Ireland—"Be calm, be tranquil for the present, my Catholic brethren; for such is the interest of your resentment; but cherish at your hearths and on your altars, the ashes of an inextinguishable hate against every Protestant; the time has not yet arrived when you can scatter them abroad with safety to yourselves and ruin to your enemies." God forbid that he should say that these were the sentiments of every Catholic in Ireland: he knew that there were men among them who would disavow them with horror and disgust; he knew that there were men among them of as high honour and as fine feeling upon matters of religion as himself; but he regretted that they shrunk from public notice, and could not be persuaded to step forward to rescue their glorious cause from the hands which were now degrading it. The hon. and learned member had also justified the phrase, by attributing the use of it to the feelings generated by the civil war of the vices. Was it not, he would ask, a civil war of the vices which had so long been dividing and desolating Ireland? If the hon. and learned member could promote peace and harmony, it was that which would put an end to this civil war; but it could not be terminated whilst phrases were used which must naturally create agitation in the mind of the Protestant population. That was a consideration which ought not to be overlooked. There was not a prouder or a more high-spirited people in existence than the Protestant population of Ireland; and the Catholics might depend upon it that they would never gain the concessions they desired, if, instead of holding out the right hand of fellowship to their Protestant fellow-countrymen, they sought to create in their minds any feeling of alienation and alarm [cheers].

It had been said, in the course of the debate, that the Catholic Association was a counter Association. He denied it. If the Catholic Association had been instituted when the Orange societies were in their pride and strength, he might, though he questioned the policy, have admired the courage of those who entered into it; but it was instituted at a time when a command had gone forth from government to discountenance them, and when even the arm of government was uplifted to crush them; and, if those societies were again rallying, which, God forbid, it was in consequence of the reaction produced by the violence of the Catholic Association [cheers]. One hon. member had admitted the existence of such re-action, but had attributed it to the many Bible meetings which had recently taken place in Ireland. Could any man of understanding seriously believe that such a cause could have produced such an effect? He had himself witnessed some of these meetings, and until they were broken in upon by the spirit of faction, a more gratifying spectacle could not be exhibited, as the people in every quarter displayed the greatest anxiety to obtain information about them. Surely the agitation which now distracted Ireland could not be attributed to the circumstances which took place at these meetings, by any man who recollected the assertion of the hon. and learned member for Knaresborough, that free and unfettered discussion on religious subjects was a right of every man, established at the Reformation [hear, hear].

But, it was said that this agitation ought to be controlled, not by the enactment of a new penal law, but by the concession of their claims to the Catholics. He was as anxious as man could be, that those claims should be conceded: but if he could regulate the course of events, it would not be by Catholic emancipation that he would put down the Catholic Association. He would put it down by law first, and would then leave Catholic emancipation to come after [hear, hear]. He had been told, that if this law were passed, it would be evaded, in spite of all the care of the legislature, by the subtility of the Catholics of Ireland. He was of a very different opinion. He thought better of the loyalty, better of the good sense, better, he would say, of the policy, which distinguished the majority of them. For if there was one way more than another, by which they could heap coals of fire on the heads of their opponents, it would be by exhibiting coolness, forbearance, and moderation under their law. By so doing they would win the hearts and affections of the people of England to their side, and would thus merit, and ultimately obtain, that success, which no man wished them more cordially than he did.

He had thought it necessary to trouble the House thus in detail in explanation of the vote he intended to give, because he was upon the point of returning to Ireland, where that vote might deprive him of the esteem of many individuals for whom, whatever might be their future conduct towards him, he must continue to retain his esteem until the last moment of his existence. He hoped, however, that though they might not concur with him in opinion, they would still give him credit for sincerity; but if not, if he should be reserved for that severe trial— the loss of early and respected friends—he had in his bosom the strongest consolation which a man could have under such circumstances; namely, the necessity of the case, and the urgent call for it which had been made by the Irish government. He supported this measure, therefore, because it was in accordance with the spirit of the constitution—because it was congenial to that part of the constitution which made that House the sole representative of the people—and because it was calculated to uphold the authority of the law, the dignity of the government, and, above all, and beyond all, the peace and prosperity of Ireland [great cheering].

Dr. Lushington

rose amid cries of "adjourn." After they had subsided in some degree, he proceeded to observe, that the declaration which had just fallen from the lips of the hon. and learned member opposite—that his vote of that night might lose him the esteem of many valued friends in Ireland—was calculated to produce a suspicion in the mind of every man who heard it, that this hill, if passed into a law, would be productive of great mischief in that country; for if the animosity which it kindled was so great as to lead gentlemen of the same rank in life with the hon. and learned gentleman, to renounce long-established friendships, what must be its effects upon those of a lower rank, whose passions had not received any mitigation from education? He had heard the speech of the hon. member for the county of Londonderry (Mr. Dawson), not only with feelings of regret, but with feelings of apprehension. In the sweeping condemnation which he had passed upon all the Catholics of Ireland, he had uttered a libel upon the Catholic religion, and had given publicity to sentiments which, if generally prevalent, would annihilate all respect to the Catholic priesthood, even among those whom they daily laboured to comfort and instruct. He would ask the House to consider what the consequences would be, when the under-secretary of the Home-department, who from his situation was in possession of peculiar intelligence, indulged in violent invectives, not against individuals, but against a whole class and order of men like the Catholic priesthood? Fortunately, the bane had been neutralised by its antidote, and the attack of the hon. member had fallen harmless to the ground, in consequence of the vindication of the Catholics which had been so ably made by a gallant officer who had shortly followed him. He denied the justice of trying the Catholic Association by one or two of its isolated measures. That House, if tried by the same test, would necessarily fall under the censure of the public; for he could himself select several of its acts, which no member would be found hardy enough at that time of day to defend. "If I can succeed," continued the learned doctor, "in obtaining the attention of the House, I will endeavour to illustrate this proposition by a more familiar instance. I will take a society which is, to some extent, under the patronage of the right hon. Secretary for the home department. The associa- tion has also the honour, Mr. Speaker, of enrolling your name among its members. In the books of that Association—and I do not see any reason why I should mince its name—it is the University Club—in the books of that Association. I say, are regular entries kept of its payments and receipts. For any thing I know, it may have its committee of finance, as well as the Catholic Association. Now, I am credibly informed, that in the records of this club are two entries of this nature, following closely the one after the other:—'Proposed—The Memoirs of Harriet Wilson—Ordered,' and then comes 'Proposed—a plain Bible—rejected' [laughter, amid cries of 'hear!']. What the Memoirs of Harriet Wilson may be, I cannot say, as I have not perused them; but I have heard that many noble lords— aye, and some hon. members of this House, feel a very extraordinary interest in this work [hear, hear, and a cry of 'question']. I am afraid I affect some of their nerves, and will therefore abstain from saying any thing more regarding this work, except that I am informed that it is the memoirs of a lady of pleasure. Now, Sir, if the character of the University Club, consisting, as it does, of sages of the law and dignitaries of the church, were to be tried by this isolated fact which appears on its own records, might it not be said, and said justly, that it was a society which read loose books, and rejected the Bible? The learned doctor then proceeded to declare his sentiments with regard to Catholic emancipation, and to argue, that as long as it was denied to the Catholics, so long would similar Associations to the present rise up among them. There were two Associations like that now attempted to be put down, which had existed for some time, without either their legality or propriety being questioned. One of them was the Society for the Protection of Religious Liberty, which had not only a regular committee of finance, but a well-supported fund, to institute prosecutions in all cases where they thought religious liberty invaded. The other was the Society of Friends, who contributed to a fund for the protection of their members from insult and injury. After showing that it was often absolutely necessary that the weaker should associate in this manner against the superior party, and observing, that those to whom, privileges were, denied were, generally as anxious to obtain, as those who possessed were to withhold them, the learned doctor proceeded to contend, that the consequences of the Catholic disabilities still affecting the population of Ireland were its greatest afflictions, and would be its destruction. There seemed, however, on the part of the government, an indisposition to remove those disabilities, because it would be in the nature of a reform to do so. But, he would ask hon. gentlemen on the other side, whether they recollected, that, on a recent occasion, that House had, and mainly upon suggestions proceeding from his (Dr. L.'s) side of the House, effected a reformation of the Irish magistracy? That reformation had been effected, he presumed, because those magistrates had been found inadequate to the performance of their duties. And yet the hon. and learned gentleman, in the face of this fact, and of others equally striking, had ventured to maintain, that the administration of justice in Ireland, from 1811 down to the present time, had been fair, and pure, and unsullied, and equal to all classes.—After all that had been said on the subject of the Catholic Association, by, way of vindicating the necessity for this bill—after all that had been published, or spoken, by honourable gentlemen on the other side, who were so anxious to decry this Association, and to exaggerate its offences—it appeared, that the solitary tangible accusation that they had succeeded in bringing against that body, was, that part of the address to the Catholics, which was comprised in these words—"By the hatred you bear to Orangemen." But even the malevolence and bad spirit attributed to these words would vanish, if the words could be shown to imply—as he thought it very likely their true meaning was—not, "by the hostility you bear to the Protestants themselves generally," but "by the hostility you bear to those who are called Orangemen, for their principles." It was impossible for any unprejudiced man to visit Ireland, who would not hold in abhorrence the principles of Orangemen. It was impossible to have heard the speech that had been delivered by the hon. member for Londonderry, and not to feel an equal detestation of Orange principles. Among the other causes that had been sought for, as likely to have created considerable inflammation, according to some hon. gentlemen, in the minds of the Roman Catholic community, was the Bible Society which had recently made its debut in Ireland. But, really, he could not believe that the feeling of the Roman Catholics had been so inflamed in consequence of the sudden invasion that had been made upon their religious prejudices under the auspices of captain Gordon and Mr. Noel.—After some further observations that were inaudible, the hon. and learned gentleman conjured the House to recollect, that they were now about to pass a penal enactment to prevent the Catholic Association from existing as a body any longer. It was said by hon. gentlemen that the principal support which that Association derived for the purposes of Catholic emancipation was due to the efforts of the Irish priesthood. Was that meant to be assigned as a reason for passing this bill? If it was, he begged to ask the right hon. gentlemen opposite, whether they really meant that this bill should go the whole length of suppressing all the efforts of that priesthood for the attainment of the Roman Catholic claims? He should only say, that if they persevered, they would, he was convinced, adopt a policy, which would be productive of the most disastrous effects.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that exhausted as he thought the House must be with the protracted discussion that had taken place on this subject, and hopeless as he must feel that it would be in his power to add any thing to those full and powerful arguments which had already been adduced; he yet felt some anxiety to express his own sentiments on the question. And that anxiety he felt, not merely in consequence of the peculiar importance that must, in the opinion of every member, attach to the subject, but also upon some grounds applying personally to himself. He had observed —and with no ordinary satisfaction, that in what had fallen, even from those hon. gentlemen who had warmly opposed the measure in question, very little attempt—he might almost say no attempt—had been made to vindicate either the existence, or the acts, of the Catholic Association. Honourable gentlemen had said, indeed, that the existence and the acts of the Catholic Association were perfectly natural; and that they arose inevitably from the situation in which the Catholics of Ireland were placed: but no one that he had heard, had attempted decidedly to defend either the Association or its pro- ceedings. On the contrary, almost every individual who had addressed the House, had studiously endeavoured to disclaim, on his own part, any approbation of the mode in which this body had conducted itself: and the whole gist of the objections upon which they had endeavoured to persuade the House that this bill ought not to be brought in, had been simply this—that there was another remedy to be applied to the evils that afflicted Ireland; that the whole of those evils, and all her miseries, arose from the misconduct of a government, composed in part of persons who, being of opinion that the Catholic question ought to pass, nevertheless formed part of an administration that did not think proper, at present, to bring forward that remedial measure. Now, as he felt himself to be in this precise situation—in the situation of those who were charged with being the occasion of all the miseries of Ireland, and therefore under the burthen of a very heavy responsibility; and as he should be indeed deeply afflicted if he felt a conscientious conviction that any part of the miseries of Ireland could be justly considered as owing to any actions of his, he felt most anxious to advert to this part of the question.

Honourable gentlemen should do the government the justice to recollect the circumstances under which it was formed. During the time of the late Mr. Perceval, the Catholic question was opposed by the government, "as" a government. There might be differences of opinion among those who constituted that government, as to the grounds of their opposition to it; some opposing it on principle—others on the presumed inexpediency of bringing it forward at that moment; but the fact was, that "as" the government, they opposed the measure. On the death of that minister, the government found itself placed in rather a singular situation; for it so happened, that the House of Commons, not feeling disposed to support a government that should be founded on the principle of systematically opposing the Catholic question, carried up an address to his majesty, then prince regent, praying him to intrust the government of the country into such hands as this House might think more deserving of the public confidence. Various arrangements and negotiations, it might be remembered, were entered into for the attainment of that object; and he confessed that those negotiations failed, as he thought, through an inexplicable blunder on the part of those who supported the measure of Catholic emancipation; for, after two attempts to form a government by which the Catholic question was to have been carried, they did at last organize one in which it was agreed that the question should not be carried [hear, hear]. He did not mean to deny the fact that this was an evil: he did not mean to shrink from the avowal. But in making this declaration, he only meant to say, that they could not form an Utopian government; they could not form one out of principles that did not exist; they were compelled to have recourse to such elements as they could best avail themselves of. And therefore, he contended, in justice to himself, and to many of his honourable colleagues, that they, by uniting together to form a government, were not answerable for the evil complained of, in respect to their treatment of the Catholic question—if evil it was, which he did not mean to deny [hear]. It might be permitted to him to say, that this government, when so formed, did not find that the confidence, either of the House or of the people, was withheld from it. He was at a loss to see, consequently, how it could be made matter of reproach to them to have formed a portion of such an administration; or that, being in it, they had agreed to remain there. But, then honourable gentlemen argued, that though this was all a proper principle enough to act upon, when the present members of the government came into office, yet now they ought to act upon a new principle. They said, that the measure of emancipation was a safe as well as a remedial course; and that government need not be afraid to adopt it. But when it was replied, that the adoption of such a course as they recommended would, of necessity, break up the government, they said, "No, that was the last thing in the world they wished for" [a laugh]. Really, gentlemen used the most ingenious sarcasms [hear, hear]—the most ingenious, and— looking to the particular quarter from, whence they came—the most unworthy sarcasms, he must say, in commenting upon the conduct of his majesty's government. They assumed throughout the whole of the arguments which they bad addressed to the House, that there were members of that government who would sacrifice their own principles, their own conviction, and the duties of their offices, in short, for the single purpose and object of remaining in them, with a view to their emoluments. Now, this he called an unworthy sarcasm; and it was one that he was conscious applied to none of those colleagues with whom he acted. He believed it never would apply to that learned and noble person in another House who held the seals; nor to his noble friend, the first lord of the Treasury; nor to his right hon. friend, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who sat near him. He knew, indeed, that with regard to his right hon. friend near him, nobody had ever ventured to say that he could ever be guilty of such a sacrifice of principle to considerations so unworthy. Now, it was admitted by hon. gentlemen, he believed, that the present administration was doing very well; and he thought he might add, without vanity, that the country was satisfied with it. But it was agreed, apparently upon all hands, that to attempt to carry the Catholic question would be to break up the government. "Why, then, under such circumstances," continued the right hon. gentleman, "could we who support the measure drive out our colleagues who oppose it, and take the helm of government ourselves? Could we justify such a step to the parliament or to the country? Or would the other side of the House, if we had proceeded to such an extremity, have lent us any assistance under such circumstances of difficulty?" No; he thought not. To be sure, the hon. and learned member for Knaresborough had said, that ministers had rejected assistance from the opposition. But members of the government had positively lent the other side their assistance in respect of the Catholic question. And he did not think that their opponents could persuade themselves to give them assistance towards carrying a measure, for which government could offer no honest or sufficient justification at this period, to the conscientious feeling of the House. The argument, therefore, between the honourable gentlemen on the other side and the government resolved itself into this—they said to government, "For all these evils that have happened you have a remedy;" and government, admitting they had the remedy, declared, "We shall not attempt to use it," for they thought it impossible, with any prospect of success, to attempt to carry the measure which was recom- mended. He doubted exceedingly whether, at present, it could be carried. An hon. friend of his near him had been very much misrepresented. He had been misrepresented, as saying, that the difficulty of carrying this question was absolutely and at all times an insuperable one; that it was absolutely impossible, under any circumstances, so far to remove all the prejudices and impressions that at present opposed it. This was entirely overstating the remarks of the honourable friend to whom he was alluding. But this he would say—that, as far as his own observation went, there did exist a very strong feeling in the country against this measure [Cries of "No, no"]. And this, too, he must believe—that such feeling, in a very great degree, arose from the acts of the Catholic Association. It was perfectly true, that the measure might pass, as it had already passed, that House by a large majority. But, in the other House, there was a strong feeling against it; and in that large and most important class of the community to whom allusion had been already made in the course of the debate—the middling class—there was a feeling of perhaps a still stronger nature. A very powerful feeling existed against it, also, in another and very influential body; namely, the clergy. Now, this circumstance had been spoken of as matter of great reproach to the clergy; but surely it was a very unfair imputation on them. It was by no means impossible that this body might be influenced by a love for the church as a mere establishment; but, supposing they looked upon it with higher and nobler views, it was not at all an unnatural thing, that they should contemplate with some alarm the admission to political power, of those who had been for ages so hostile to their existence, not only as an establishment, but as a faith. Every body knew how great was the influence which the Catholic clergy had over their flocks; every body knew of the changes that had taken place, and in constant course of taking place, in the prejudices and habits both of the one and the other; nor did he see any reason to despair of a great, ultimate, and beneficial change. He knew that such a change had been effected to a very great extent. Pie had carefully watched the progress of opinion in these matters; and such was the result of his observations. He, of all persons in the world, ought to be the last to say, that no such changes of opinion could take place. All his own early impressions—all his hereditary prejudices, he might almost say, had been against Catholic emancipation. He had been taught to believe that the papal faith was always connected with arbitrary power; and he was as strongly disposed against any measure of concession as to the claims of the Catholics, as any of his honourable friends near him. He certainly had entirely changed his opinions in this respect; he avowed that he had done so; and he hoped he never should be ashamed of changing them, when he saw good grounds and sufficient reason for doing so. He did believe, that time would produce a very different feeling on this important subject, from that which at present prevailed in this country; but he must contend, that at this moment it prevailed to a very considerable extent indeed; for he in his conscience believed, that there was that prejudice and that hostility in the country to this question, that no administration which could be formed, however powerful, could attempt to pass it; and he thought the most fatal thing which could happen to the question itself, would be the formation of an administration that should lay it down as the basis of its proceedings to carry the measure, and discover, after all, that it could not be carried; for that would throw it back half a century at least, and, perhaps, destroy the cause altogether. With these views, he could not think that he was justly exposed to their reproaches, who thought that he had deserted his duty in forming part of an administration in which the Catholic question — unfortunate he would admit— had been left upon its present footing.

Having now explained his own situation, and that of his colleagues, and endeavoured to vindicate them and himself from the aspersions cast upon them, he wished to advert to that part of the question before the House which related to the Association. Honourable gentlemen had said, that it was not enough to show convenience—they must also show necessity as a ground for this bill. He perfectly agreed with them. Had his majesty's ministers thought proper to rely upon showing a ground of convenience merely, they might have done so long ago: but they did not think that they would be justified in calling upon parliament to interfere in this matter, until interference became matter of neces- sity. At that former period, the constitution of this society had not assumed the face it had since put on. Many of those acts from which the danger of the Association was inferred, had not then taken place: for instance, those which related to the society's interference with the administration of justice. The hon. and learned member for Nottingham (Mr. Denman), the other night, thought he had successfully encountered the arguments of the right hon. and learned gentleman who had attacked the defensive argument of the other side in favour of that Association, by drawing a distinction between a society like the Constitutional Association prosecuting for libel, and another society, not interfering in a court of justice on "political" principles. This might all be very true; though he must say he thought it the most miserable defence he had ever heard from the hon. and learned member for Nottingham, who had got out of it, moreover, with less ability than he had ever known him to do before. But, according to that learned member, the Catholic Association interfered, because "the Catholics could not otherwise get justice." Why, therefore, he (the chancellor of the Exchequer) contended, that their interference was political. But, in fact, every act of this sort constituted a political act, and the interference of the Catholic Association became exposed to every one of those theoretical objections which the learned gentleman had, on former occasions, urged with such force against the Constitutional Association. These objections he (the chancellor of the Exchequer) admitted must apply to every society that intermeddled with the administration of public justice. He entirely concurred with his hon. friend on this subject, having never subscribed to the Constitutional Association nor to any other society that so interfered with the administration of public justice. He had never been any party to it. And precisely the same reasons would determine him to be against any other body of the same kind, or exercising in some sort similar functions. But (continued the right hon. gentleman), the hon. and learned member for Knares-borough says, that the prosecutions which had been carried on by the Catholic Association have been of little importance, and dwells much on the acquittals that have taken place. The hon. and learned gentleman forgets, surely, all the antecedent proceedings. He forgets that the Catholic Association assumed the fact, that murder had been committed. He forgets that they sent an agent to conduct the prosecution of the man so prematurely declared guilty. He forgets the extreme unfairness of a trial under such circumstances; circumstances entirely at variance with the sentiments of that address which the hon. and learned gentleman commented on in terms of unlimited commendation. Did that address stand as the sole act of the Catholic Association, it might deserve his eulogium. But when we find persons laying down principles of that kind at one moment, and conducting themselves in direct opposition to those principles at another, it is difficult to speak of such inconsistency in any other language but that of disapprobation. With regard to the expression contained in that address of "hatred to Orangemen," I have been quite surprised to hear the attempts that have been made by hon. gentlemen to explain it away. The meaning of the phrase was perfectly intelligible to the persons to whom it was addressed; and to say, that to hate Orangemen was merely to declare that they were not partial to their oppressors, is a warping of the expression, which, I repeat, surprised me exceedingly. It is said, that the address to which I am now alluding, is peaceable in its character. But recollect how recent it is. We all know what was the language antecedently held by the Association. That language was not very peaceable; nor were the acts by which it was accompanied very peaceable. I do not wish to remark harshly on the conduct of individual members of the Association; nor do I for a moment contend, that the violent language of Mr. O'Connell, or Dr. Dromgoole, or any other person, is any reason why we should not do what is just and right. That violence would never prevent me from voting for the Catholic question. But when we find violence, not only in words but in acts, manifested by a body possessing so much power over the whole Catholic population of Ireland, I cannot then help attributing great importance to the circumstance. I cannot avoid seeing its inevitable danger; its tendency to excite great animosities and fears on the part of those against whom the feeling is shown, and to produce counter-associations, the manifold evils of which I am sure I need not point out.

But then, Sir, we are told "Do but pass the Catholic question; there's the remedy; you will hear no more of the Association." In the first place, Sir, I do not believe that, to pass the Catholic question would produce general satisfaction in Ireland. Although I am a friend to that question, I do not believe that its triumph would create universal content. It would certainly remove a grievance; and, as far as that goes, would do good; but we must never forget, that while we are removing discontent in one part, by passing the Catholic question, we may be carrying fear, and, for aught I know, discontent, into another part. By such a step, the situation of the Protestants of Ireland would in fact, be reversed. They are now possessed of the ascendancy. That would be at an end. The very circumstance of their inferiority in numbers would by no means tranquillize their minds; and if they found that the Catholics, not content with the acquisition of political, wished for religious power, and were anxious (which it is not impossible they might be) to overthrow the existing church establishment in Ireland such a discovery would naturally create just uneasiness and alarm. I really, therefore, do not know any thing more likely than that, if the Catholic question were carried, that system of associations, which seems so congenial to the country, and at all times so much to its taste and fancy, would be carried to a very great extent. Perhaps that extension would originate with the Protestants; but, no doubt, it would be followed by counter-associations on the part of the Catholics. The different parties would thus become exasperated; and the same violent prejudices, the same bitter animosities would exist that at present exist. It would, therefore, be of all absurd policy the most absurd, to leave the associations in Ireland as they now are. Were we to pass the Catholic question to-morrow, I think the peace and tranquillity, and safety of Ireland, would require that parliament should pass an act, putting down associations in Ireland; which, under whatever pretence they may be formed, are always an evil. So far am I, therefore, from conceiving that the proposed bill will be injurious to the Catholics, that, as their friend, I think the House would act most unwisely and injuriously towards them were it to reject it. Sir, we have been told that the administration of justice in Ireland is so bad, that the Catholics had no means of obtaining justice but by the course which they have adopted. Instances have been mentioned of discovered abuses; but how were those abuses discovered? In this House. By committees of this House were they discovered, and by this House were they remedied. One of those evils was the choice of sheriffs. That has been remedied. The magistracy required revision. That has been revised. Other public bodies have been corrected. But all this has been done without the aid of a Catholic Association or parliament sitting in Dublin. It was done by the old fashioned English parliament here. That parliament has remedied many evils which existed in Ireland, and it will remedy others. I do not despair of the arrival of the day when even the grievance of the inequality of the Catholic condition will be remedied by parliament. But those persons are greatly mistaken who think that desirable event can be facilitated by suffering the existence of so formidable a body as the Catholic Association, agitating a people peculiarly apt to be urged by any sudden impulse; of a people whom they at one time tell to be quiet, and at another assert to be ready, at a word, to make all their swords fly from their scabbards [hear, hear!]. Sir, the parliament of England have endeavoured, by every means which could be devised, to consult the real good of Ireland. They have removed restriction after restriction, all but that particular one which is connected with the subject under consideration. For several years have parliament been so occupied. Much has been done. All admit that the present prosperity of Ireland is the result of the policy that has been pursued towards her. Therefore, Sir, although we may not have done every thing, we have done a great deal. We certainly do not want a Catholic Association to assist us. If they attempt to excite our fears, they will fail; for they will enlist our pride, at least as strong as any other feeling, against them. We shall betray our duty; we shall do mischief to Ireland; we shall render her incapable of enjoying the benefits which she has lately acquired, or which she may hereafter acquire, unless we make up our minds steadily and firmly to put an end to this Association, which I sincerely believe to be the bane and curse of the country.

Mr. Hume

observed, that so much had been elicited by that day's debate, that he did not think the subject was half exhausted. He should therefore move an adjournment.

Mr. Secretary Canning

said, that although he was perfectly satisfied with the state of the question, and would have no objection to go instantly to a division, yet, as he should be sorry to preclude any hon. member from delivering his sentiments, he would not object to an adjournment, on the distinct understanding that the debate was to be resumed tomorrow, and was to take precedence of all other business.

The debate was further adjourned till to-morrow.