§ On the order of the day being read for resuming the Adjourned Debate on the motion made yesterday, by Sir Francis Burdett,
§ "That this House is deeply impressed with the necessity of taking into immediate consideration the Laws imposing Civil Disabilities on His Majesty's Roman Catholic Subjects, with a view to their relief,"
§ Sir John Newport
said, that after he had so frequently received that indulgence of the House which was now extended to him, he was quite sensible that he should not be justified in abusing that indulgence, for too long a period. He now rose for the purpose of expressing those opinions which he had entertained for years before he had entered parliament, and during the whole time that he had been a member of that House, now nearly 900 half a century. Those opinions, far from being shaken, had been strengthened and confirmed by daily experience; and he was at that moment more than ever convinced, that no measure could restore peace and tranquillity to Ireland, or provide for the security of the country, which was founded upon any other basis than Catholic emancipation. He certainly was not prepared to admit the justice of the remark of the hon. member for Clitheroe (Mr. P. Cust), who appeared to think the union of the two countries nothing, if it was only to be preserved by granting Catholic emancipation; nor was he prepared to plunge into the other extreme, and insist upon the converse of that proposition; but he was perfectly convinced, that that union would be more firmly cemented, and the benefits resulting from it rendered doubly valuable to both countries, by emancipating the Catholics. Another hon. member, the member for Dublin (Mr. G. Moore), had endeavoured to convince the House, that Ireland was not in that deplorable state in which it was represented to be by gentlemen on his side of the House; but, if hon. members who had not an opportunity of judging for themselves on this matter, entertained any doubt upon the subject, he would refer them to the speech of the hon. member for the county of Derry (Mr. G. Dawson), and beg them to recollect the view which he had taken of the state of Ireland. That hon. member, admitting that the present state of things in Ireland could not and ought not to remain, had proposed no remedy for the evil, unless, indeed, his proposition of having recourse to "force and violence" could be viewed as one. For his own part, he was quite sure, that a recurrence to that system, which had reflected so much disgrace on England, and which had entailed so much misery on Ireland—to a system, the effect of which was the setting up one faction to fight with another—which was, in point of fact, nothing more nor less than putting a garrison into a conquered country, would be found to be any thing but a remedy for the distresses of Ireland; and he would ask, if there was any impartial man in that House, who, knowing what the consequences of that system had been, could lay his hand upon his breast and say, that he thought the recurrence to such a system would be either wise in the one party, or salutary to the other? He would con- 901 tend, that the gentlemen who were opposed to him on this question, came forward with no scheme of government at all—not to say with no scheme of government which would relieve Ireland from the evils under which she now laboured. The scheme which had been proposed from his side of the House was peace and conciliation; by which England would be relieved from considerable and unnecessary expense, while the condition of Ireland would be, at the same time, materially bettered; and he did conceive, that all those who had the welfare of either or of both countries at heart, had a right to ask gentlemen who repudiated this system, what system they had to put in competition with it? The hon. member for Clitheroe had said, that those who rested the expediency of conceding emancipation on the numbers who claimed it, reminded him of the man who collected a quantity of combustibles around him, and threatened, if hard pressed, to fire the train, and "blow himself and his opponents to the devil together." He was at a loss to understand the application of this, or what the hon. member intended by the expression; but he would remind the House of what lord Bacon had long since said, with that judgment and accuracy of discernment, which always characterized him. In one of his works he spoke thus:—"Concerning the materials of seditions, it is a thing well to be considered: for the surest way to prevent seditions (if the times do bear it), is to take away the matter of them: for, if there be fuel prepared, it is hard to tell whence the spark shall come that shall set it on fire." The manner in which the h6stile feelings of the people of Ireland on this question had been prolonged and inflamed, were the materials of seditions. It would be well to consider them. They were the fuel which had been prepared, and the wisest and the surest way to prevent the fatal consequences which might result was, to remove the cause. As things now were, it was wholly impossible that they should remain. Let not gentlemen lay the flattering unction to their souls, that in another year they might consider the question as well as they could now. Every successive year augmented the evil, and the task that remained for the House to perform, grew in proportion to the growth of that evil. He had heard numerous complaints of the proceedings of the Catholic Association; 902 of the violence of its leaders, and of the agitation which was produced throughout the country, in consequence of its existence. Did the House remember the assurances that were made, when they were asked to pass the bill for putting down that Association? They were then told, that once abolished, all associations would, be at an end with it. How did the fact agree with this statement? The full powers which had been asked for were granted; and, was the Catholic Association extinct? was it not in as full vigour as ever? and were not its proceedings even carried on with greater rancour than ever? It could not be doubted that the legislature possessed power sufficient to put it down; but if it remained much longer, with the causes of excitement which now operated upon it, the strong man, when he should be put down, would pull down with him the pillars of the House, and bury himself in the ruins he had made. He asked pardon of the House for having occupied so much of its time. At his time of life he could have no personal object to gratify in carrying this measure. He was of an age when repose was more to be sought for, than any thing else. It was his anxiety to obtain that repose, to see established the security of the empire, and the peace of its inhabitants, that he stated to the House this his solemn and earnest conviction. Whether they adopted the proposition which had been made to them or not, rested with themselves; he had done his duty, and he hoped they would do theirs.
§ Mr. Hart Davis
said, he thought that the Roman Catholics of Great Britain enjoyed at that moment as much toleration as was consistent with the civil liberties of the country. He felt that, representing a large population, he should not do his duty to his constituents, if he did not express his own opinion and theirs on this important subject. It appeared that the House had now been for more than twenty years discussing, in various shapes, the proposition before them. It had formerly been introduced as a bill; and now it was placed in the form of a proposition, that the House should go into a committee, or something like a committee, for the purpose of inquiring what could be done for the Roman Catholics. This might be a mode well enough calculated to catch a stray vote, but he thought it was not the proper one in which to discuss this ques- 903 tion. He felt it was arguing in the dark, when they were told that they must grant the Catholic claims, but it was not distinctly explained what those claims were. He apprehended it would not be denied that the king of this country ought always to be a Protestant; that the ministers should be Protestants; that the commander-in-chief should be Protestant; and that the Judges of the land should be Protestants. He believed that, so far from any concessions having the effect of restoring peace to Ireland, they would be, as they had hitherto been, only the cause of producing new claims. If that which was now asked for should be granted, the next thing they would want would be equality of power. And, if they obtained that, they would next ask for an equal share in the temporalities of the church. Of this he had no doubt; for the experience of the past convinced him, that this had been the certain consequence of all concessions to the Catholics. He recollected it had in that House formerly been said, "Grant them the army and navy, which are points that touch their feelings, and you will hear nothing of them hereafter." So far, however, was this from being the case, that their claims seemed, in consequence, to have become stronger than they were before. There were boundaries which, with a proper regard to the preservation of the constitution, the House could not transgress. If it should be stated distinctly what it was the Catholics wanted, the proposition might, perhaps, be acceded to; but he would never agree to a motion like that before the House, which pledged them to inquire and find out what it was the Catholics wanted. He had read lately a production of one of the titular bishops of the Catholic Church (Dr. Doyle), in which he told the people, that if the Catholic claims should be granted, that would hasten the downfall of the English hierarchy; and, in the same letter, this right rev. prelate had the audacity and folly to compare the Protestant religion to the idolatrous worship of Juggernaut. He would not at that moment go at any length into the details of the subject, but should content himself with giving a decided negative to the proposition.
§ Lord Eliot
said, that when this question had been last before the House, his opinion had been, that to make any further concessions to the Roman Catholics would 904 be incompatible with the law as it now stood, and opposed to the principles of the constitution. Since that period, he had given the subject the fullest consideration he was capable of bestowing, and the result of that consideration was, that he had changed the opinion he formerly held [cheers]. In the course of the mature deliberation which he had given to the question, he had found it necessary to combat his own pre-conceived notions; and he now felt convinced, that the tranquillity of Ireland depended on the passing the measure submitted to the House, and that the sooner it was done the more beneficial would its results prove. Whatever the danger might be—if danger there was—in granting the concessions claimed by the Catholics, he was satisfied that a much greater and more momentous danger would result from their being withheld. He was not sanguine enough to imagine that granting those concessions would restore immediate tranquillity. There were other causes which had grown out of the state of this subject; and time would be required before those causes could be altogether extinguished; but he was satisfied, that, when that which the great mass of the people of Ireland considered the most oppressive grievance with which they were burthened, should be removed, the House would have gone a great way in appeasing the animosity and rancour which almost desolated the country, and would have obtained an infallible test for distinguishing the factious demagogue from the man who sincerely and earnestly sought for that case to his conscience, and that civil freedom, which was the birthright of every man in a free country. Great stress had been laid upon the conduct of the Roman Catholics at some recent elections in Ireland. That they had exercised an undue influence over the minds of the people, and manifested an open hostility to the government, he was disposed to believe; but he doubted much whether that hostility could be disarmed, or that influence diminished, by continuing the present restrictions upon the liberty of the people. It was by removing the cause of that excitement which broke out in a form so fatal to the peace and welfare of the country, that these disorders could alone be extinguished. It had been said, that projects of spoliation were meditated by the Catholic priesthood. If that accusation were founded in 905 truth, and if the day should ever come in which we should have that battle to fight, it was by passing the present measure now that we should be able, in time of need, to fight it upon good grounds, and for the protection of just and lawful rights, without the imputation of having oppressed and tyrannized over the people against whom we should be opposed. He ought to apologize to the House for having trespassed so long upon their attention; but, as he had felt great difficulty on the former debate in this House on the exclusion of Catholic peers from a seat in the other House of parliament, he was glad to have an opportunity of stating his intention to vote, whenever an opportunity should offer, for the restoration of that respectable body to those places which their rank and station, not less than their ancient honour, and their acknowledged merit, entitled them. He was sensible that the change which he now avowed might, if it remained unexplained, have exposed him to the imputation of fickleness of mind. He had, therefore, thought it more manly to state it thus openly, than either to incur that imputation, or to adopt the only alternative which would have been left to him, of persevering in a course which his judgment condemned.
The Master of the Rolls
then rose. He said, that he gave the noble lord, who had just sat down, the fullest credit for the manliness of conduct which he had displayed on this occasion. Connected as this question was with the vital interests of the empire, it was worthy of the most serious and mature consideration. If, after having given it that consideration, any gentleman felt that he ought to change the opinions he had previously held, nothing could be more manly or more honourable, than to make an avowal of that change fairly and openly in the face of the country. In the present instance, he thought the manner in which it had been made was as creditable to the noble lord, as the avowal itself. For himself, as the representative of a highly distinguished and numerous body of constituents, who had considered maturely and felt deeply, even intensely, on this subject, he trusted that he might be permitted to state to the House his opinions respecting the proposition now before it.
The question of Catholic emancipation had been so often and so eloquently canvassed and discussed, that he could not 906 hope to add much that was new on the present occasion; but he felt that he should be considered as shrinking from his duty, and as deserting the post in which his constituents had done him the honour to place him, if he did not stale the grounds on which he felt compelled to oppose the present motion. He congratulated the House most sincerely on the tone of moderation in which the discussion on this subject had been hitherto carried on. He referred this, in a great measure, to the admirable example which had been set by the hon. baronet who opened the debate. Nothing could be more proper, nothing could be more judicious, than the temper and tone in which the hon. baronet introduced the question to the House; and he looked upon it as the strongest evidence possible of the honest conviction in the mind of the hon. baronet, that the subject was one of deep importance to the tranquillity of the state, however he was compelled to differ from the hon. baronet in the views which he had taken, and the opinions he had expressed. He trusted that, in every stage of the discussion, from the present time to its termination, the same temper would prevail. We were standing in a great crisis. The eyes of the country were fixed upon the present deliberations. The great mass of the Protestant population of the empire were looking with deep anxiety to the result of those deliberations. The great mass of the Catholic population of Ireland was looking with a still more intense feeling of anxiety to the result of those deliberations. Whatever that result might be—whether for good or for evil—if it was arrived at by means of calm consideration and candid debate—if by means of fair statement and cool examination—it would be entitled to the acquiescence of the country, and he trusted it would receive that acquiescence.
With respect to the shape in which the hon. baronet had brought forward his proposition, he would not trouble the House with any observations. It was unquestionably his intention that the whole of the subject should be fully discussed, and that the question which agitated the empire should be regarded in all its bearings. The House knew well what it was that the Roman Catholics demanded on the one side, and what they proposed to concede on the other. They asked to participate in the legislature of the nation, and to be admissible to all the offices of the state, with a 907 very few exceptions. That was the basis on which the whole matter rested: that was the question, the propriety of which they were now assembled to discuss. In one respect, our position was a little extraordinary. It was one more evidence, that not on this debate alone the House was to limit its view of the matter. The Protestants of England were, in fact, put upon their defence. They were the parties accused. They were charged with intolerance, with religious bigotry, with oppression; and those charges were preferred by the Roman Catholic portion of the community, and by those who advocated their cause. When their accusers told of laws passed to oppress, as they said, the persons professing the Roman Catholic religion; and while they inveighed against the severity of those laws, they carefully kept out of sight the causes by which they had been produced; or if any of their opponents, touched upon those points, they touched upon them lightly. The advocates of the Catholics talked of deceptions which had been practised on their forefathers, of mistakes which had been made, and supposed that those laws which had for many ages formed the bulwark of the liberties of the country, were passed without any adequate cause, and upon mistakes and misconceptions. Until within the last twenty years, the men by whom those laws had been passed, had been considered as the enlightened and sincere defenders of their country, and as zealous advocates for freedom; now, they were talked of as persecutors, and intolerant and bigotted oppressors. Let the House consider, when those laws were adverted to—and he suggested this without wishing to excite any bad or angry feelings on the subject—what were thy circumstances of the country under which they were enacted? They commenced with the reign of Elizabeth. Was it upon mere speculation—upon conjectural fears—or upon remote apprehensions of danger, that the laws of that day for keeping in subjection the Roman Catholics were enacted? The men by whom they were proposed and passed, had been observers of all that had taken place in the short but eventful reign of Mary, which had just preceded. Most of them had been actors, and some of them sufferers, under the persecutions of those times; and it was to guard against the greatest evils by which society could be afflicted, that those laws had been enacted. 908 They were spectators, too, of what was then passing in France—of the sanguinary persecutions in the Netherlands—and they felt that the Roman Catholics of that period—and he meant by this to cast no reflection on the Catholics of the present day—were endeavouring, day by day, to undermine and overturn the constitution of the country and, in concert with the most bigotted and tyrannical government, that ever existed—he meant that of Spain—to introduce again a system which, happily for the liberties of this country, our ancestors had been able to resist and to overthrow.
He passed from that period to the reign of James, in which other laws of a similar tendency had passed, and among them that of the oath of allegiance. That oath was imposed, not from a wish to insult the Catholics, but in consequence of an attempt, which it was not necessary for him to describe, but which was in its character so atrocious, that but for the clear and distinct evidence of history, it would be altogether incredible. Again, when the Protestant legislators of former times were charged with bigotry and intolerance, he would pass to the reign of Charles 1st., and request any man who was conversant with the history of his country, to recollect the circumstances which occurred in Ireland, in 1641; when the country was plunged in bloodshed by that insurrection and massacre, which for savage cruelty remained without a parallel. Was it wonderful, then, he asked, that persons seeing these atrocities perpetrated before them—feeling a proper attachment to the laws and liberties of their country and being imbued with the principles of statesmen—should feel themselves called upon to enact such laws as, in those times, and for ever after, should guard against a repetition of similar outrages?
He passed on now to the Revolution, when, in consequence of the intrigues which were begun in the latter part of the reign of Charles 2nd, for the purpose of introducing the Roman Catholic religion again into this country, and when the scheme had become more ripe in the reign of his successor, it was vigorously and successfully opposed, and the British constitution was established upon principles of liberty as large, as beneficial, and as noble, as ever characterized any human institution. Why had he adverted to these facts? God forbid that he should be sup- 909 posed to attribute to the Roman Catholics of the present day the same horrible spirit as that which had influenced the professors of the same religion at the periods to which he had adverted. From the reign of James down to the present period, the laws respecting Catholics, as far as they related to political power, with occasional exceptions and relaxations, had remained in force. The Catholics were for some time prohibited from the exercise of their religion, under severe penalties. Those laws had been abrogated—late, he admitted, but still they were now abrogated, and the only question that remained—which was one of pure policy or expediency—was, whether they should take that further step which the proposition of the hon. baronet called for, of admitting persons professing the Roman Catholic religion to the exercise of political power. Or if the hon. baronet should object to this Diode of stating the question, and say that the Catholics were already in possession of political power, then that they should take a part in the legislature of the country, and be eligible to hold the great offices of the state.
This question, he repeated, was one entirely of expediency. If the concessions which were asked for could be granted with perfect security to the civil liberties and to the Protestant religion of the empire, then, he admitted, the Catholics were entitled to have them granted. He would discuss this question on no narrow grounds; he disclaimed all bigotted principles. Let him be satisfied that the concessions could be made safely, and no one would go greater lengths in obtaining them, than he who now felt it his duty to oppose them. The House was told plausibly enough, and with much seeming truth, that a constellation of genius, knowledge, and statesman-like ability, was opposed to that side of the question which he advocated. He confessed that this did appear at first sight to be so; but, when he considered the history of this opposition, it had by no means the effect of confounding him. He had satisfied himself, and he hoped he should satisfy the House, that the distinguished persons who had been alluded to, had ranged themselves on that side of the question which he had adopted, and that their view had been the same as that which he now took. The name of Mr. Pitt had been frequently introduced: and they were told that Mr. Pitt's opinion 910 was decidedly adverse to that which he now expressed. He remembered perfectly well, that in Mr. Pitt's speech on the Union, which he had read many years ago, that statesman had said, that the great question of emancipation would be more easily carried, if the union should be effected; because the proportion of Catholics in the United British parliament must of necessity, be so much less than it would be in the parliament of Ireland. But Mr. Pitt stated also, in terms far too clear to be misunderstood, that he would consent to emancipation only on a firm conviction, that sufficient and adequate security should be given; and that upon no other terms he would concede to the wishes of the Catholics. That great statesman's opinion was confirmed by lord Grenville, who said that we must have security for the safety of the Protestant religion, and, owing to the peculiar tenets and the peculiar situation of the Roman Catholics, against any foreign influence. What, then, presented itself to the noble lord's mind in the shape of this security, and without which he thought it impossible to accede to the prayer of the Catholics' petition, was a veto, which should invest the Crown with a power of controlling the election of Roman Catholic bishops. He would not now give any opinion as to whether this would or would not be an adequate security; but when it was said, that the opinion of Mr. Pitt was an authority in favour of the claims of the Catholics, he begged to say, that it was no authority for the side by which it was urged; because that opinion was given upon the understanding that the principle of a sufficient security was to be admitted.
He would go a little further still, and show, that even the advocates of Catholic emancipation, those high and gifted individuals, who had identified themselves with the success of that measure, had been the foremost to require securities. He called the attention of the House to the words of a great and gifted individual, whose zeal in the cause which he espoused was a remarkable feature in his long political life, and who, to the last moment of his existence, cherished the same feeling, and discharged the same duties, with regard to this question that distinguished his earlier years. He alluded to Mr. Grattan. Did that distinguished man—that warm, enthusiastic advocate—ever profess to say that Catholic emancipation should be 911 granted without securities, without restrictions? No: the sentiments of Mr. Grattan on this identical point were on record, and would be found by a reference to the paper now before him. The words of Mr. Grattan were these. He said—"When the Catholics demand to be admitted to political power, the government of the country has a right to expect and to require securities, and, unless those securities were granted, they have no claim whatever to the boon which they demand." Those were the words of that distinguished man; and he could refer the House to other no less distinguished names who supported the same views, and advocated the cause. Reference might also be had to a noble lord, now no more, who was once a member of that House—he alluded to lord Londonderry—than whom there never was a man more warmly attached to the cause of Catholic emancipation; no one of the numerous advocates who supported that question felt a greater desire for its ultimate success. Yet, what was his opinion with regard to the securities which the Catholics ought to give, in return for the benefits they sought? "We must have securities," were the words of that lamented individual, "not securities merely in name, but strong, adequate, and substantial securities against foreign interference, and also as a guard against the peculiar tenets of the Roman Catholic religion."
Leaving, for a time, the opinions of those distinguished men who now lived only in the memory of their successors, he would revert to the present time, and refer to individuals now living, who were no less gifted than those whom he had named, and no less zealous in the cause of Catholic emancipation. He might refer to the opinion of his right hon. friend, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whom he was gratified to see in his place after his late indisposition. He had before him, if it were necessary to refer to them, the exact words of his right hon. friend on the subject of Catholic securities. In substance they were to this effect—that emancipation could not be granted, unless adequate securities were given against the danger of foreign interference. He had another right hon. gentleman in his eye, whose extraordinary powers were lately called forth on this peculiar subject, and the splendor of whose eloquence was never more powerfully displayed, than when this very question was the subject of 912 debate. He alluded to his right hon. friend, the Attorney-general for Ireland, who held the very same language, and laid down the same principles, as those distinguished persons whom he had already named had used before.
Were these authorities of no weight? Had he quoted names of no importance, as connected with the question of Catholic emancipation? Had not all the distinguished individuals whom he had named, agreed to this point—that the Roman Catholics should give securities, and that, unless they did so, they were not entitled to emancipation? If he satisfied the House that those securities were necessary,—and he hoped to be able to do so before he sat down,—there was nothing more clear than that his right hon. friends, and those who agreed with them that securities were necessary if emancipation were granted, could not vote for the motion of the hon. baronet, without stipulating also for those pledges which were requisite for the security and welfare of the kingdom.
And now, with respect to securities. Were the Catholics of Ireland, he would ask, ready to meet the wishes of their best friends, and did they profess a disposition to give the required pledge? Let the House for a moment refer back to the history of the year 1808; and after a due consideration of the events of that year, let those who felt as he did lay their hands upon their hearts and say, "Are we who opposed the Catholics not justified in so doing, when we reflect on their own acts?" We all know, that in 1808, a proposition of security was offered to the government by the Roman Catholics; and this proposition laid the foundation for a bill, which was introduced to the House of Commons by Mr. Grattan. In moving for the introduction of the measure, Mr. Grattan took occasion to observe, that it was suggested by the heads of the Catholic religion, and Unit it was founded upon the principle of security. In a very short time, however, after its introduction, Mr. Grattan came down to the House, and stated, "that those with whom the measure had originated had withdrawn their pledge." Mr. Grattan observed, that "when last he had the honour of addressing the House on this subject, he stated, by the direction of the Catholics themselves, that they were willing to grant the veto and whatever security in reason the legislature might further demand. In consequence, how- 913 ever, of a communication from the Catholic bishops, he was under the necessity of withdrawing the bill; and he was sorry to be obliged to say, that he could not now offer, on behalf of the Catholics, those securities which were mentioned in the bill."
This was the first attempt to propose securities to the government to bind the fidelity of the Catholics; and thus was it defeated by the Catholics themselves, from whom the proposition came. The Catholic bishops wished afterwards to retrace their steps, and appeared to regret that they had retracted.—Accordingly, in the year 1813, Mr. Grattan in conjunction with his right hon. friend, the present secretary of State for the Foreign Department, brought in another bill, which was also warmly approved of by the heads of the Catholic church, by which a control was given to the Crown for the appointment of Catholic bishops. Mr. Grattan again stated to the House, that he had the authority and concurrence of the Catholic bishops. He agreed in the security which they offered, and begged that the House would set the long-pending question at rest for ever by acceding to the proposed arrangement. The bill was accordingly introduced; but, before it had got through its different stages, the Catholic bishops Lad a meeting, at which they condemned, in no very measured terms, the proposed concessions; observing, that, if the bill were passed into a law, the Catholics would be in a worse condition than even if the penal laws were revived. In consequence of this declaration on the part of the Catholic bishops, the measure which was then proposed was obliged to be withdrawn, and the Roman Catholics of Ireland were left in the same situation as they stood in before it was introduced to parliament.
Having thus traced the history of Catholic security, he would now bring it down to the year 1825, for the purpose of showing that the Catholics of the present day were just as little disposed to give security for their allegiance to the state, as the Catholics of former years. Let it not, therefore, be said, that the Protestants were bigotted and intolerant. Let them not be accused any longer of withholding the just rights of their Catholic brethren; for the Protestants say they are willing to concede those rights, provided a sufficient security is offered in return: and all parties were agreed in the necessity of demanding 914 that security. If, therefore, the House was satisfied as to the necessity of requiring some pledge from the Roman Catholics in return for the benefits they sought; and if the Roman Catholics themselves professed no inclination to give that pledge, what right, he would ask, had they to come forward, and claim to be relieved from the grievances under which they suffered? Had not the Catholics themselves been the means of retarding their own cause, of defeating their own projects; receding from their promises, and stepping out of pledges one after another, in order that they might possess that power which they sought by force or artifice, rather than by measures of a just and amicable nature? Every one knew the secrets of the bill of 1825—That bill, which was so fully arranged and discussed by the Catholics themselves. It was natural to suppose, therefore, that it was so shaped as to include every thing that the supporters of Catholic emancipation could desire. Without adverting, however, to other omissions, there was one not a little remarkable. It was the total omission in the oath proposed in 1793, of its most vital and essential part. By the oath of 1793, the Catholic binds himself to do nothing that shall alter or weaken the state of property in the country, and this very part of the oath was omitted. The oath contained also these remarkable words—"I do swear that I will maintain the church and state established in this kingdom according to law." Would not this House feel alarmed that, in the bill of 1825, the whole of that part of the oath was omitted? If that omission took place intentionally—if it was done through design.—could any man say that there was any wish on the part of the Catholics to offer securities in return for those benefits which it was admitted on all hands they were entitled to receive, on certain conditions? In the bill of 1825, an attempt was made to quibble with the words of the oath of 1793, only a part of which was introduced into that bill. The word "weaken," for instance, was entirely omitted. When called upon to give securities, it was most remarkable that the framers of that bill should have left out of it a part so essential and important.
Having called the attention of the House to those omissions, he should pass over others less important, though not less remarkable, and proceed to show what 915 additional security was proposed by the Roman Catholic bishops. They proposed that before a person could be translated into a Roman Catholic See, a certificate of his loyalty should first be obtained. But, was there any thing in this provision to remove the danger arising from foreign interference? None whatever; for the Catholic bishops had still the nomination of those who were raised to that rank amongst them, and a certificate of loyalty was no security in the end. He did not make use of these observations with reference to that particular bill; but, when he looked upon that bill as the ultimatum of the Catholics, he felt that he was authorized in saying, that they were not disposed to give adequate securities. It would not be necessary, he thought, to enter into any laboured detail, for he thought he had proved enough to show this—that the Catholics were not disposed to accept of conditional emancipation, but that nothing short of an unqualified repeal of all the laws which affected them would suit their purpose. First they made offers, and then in the fulness of their strength they turned round to tell us that they were not satisfied. Did not this prove, he would ask, that the Irish Catholics were not in earnest when they spoke of securities? Did it not prove that they sought for unlimited, unconditional power, without any pledge whatever?
An hon. gentleman, the member for Dublin (Mr. G. Moore), who spoke for the first time, he believed, last night, so well and so much to the point, in alluding to the language of the general petition of the Roman Catholics, in which they demanded unqualified emancipation, remarked, that the petition had all the benefit of the host of talent that distinguished the Catholic Association. After all, however, that petition resolved itself into this—"We on our side demand full, free, and equal privileges, and we will concede nothing in return." Could the great and splendid authorities to whom he had already referred be made use of against those who wished to maintain the Protestant ascendancy in church and state? He was just as ready as any one of those distinguished individuals to remove every civil and religious disability under which the Catholics were labouring; but the removal of those disabilities should be met by the Catholics with securities adequate to the importance of the benefits they received. Catholic 916 concession should be made upon the principle of advantage on one side and security on the other; but the Catholics seemed to consider that they were the only party to be satisfied. A favourite argument, which was generally urged when this question was debated, and which would most likely be seized upon in the course Of the present discussion was this—"You ask the Catholics to do that which is contrary to the tenets of their religion; they cannot take the oaths you propose, or give the security you ask, without violating their religion." It was a most extraordinary and a marvellous circumstance, however, that in the year 1814, the person who then exercised the functions of the See of Rome, said, with reference to the Catholic bill of the year preceding, that there was nothing in that bill, or in the granting of the veto, that any Catholic might not conscientiously agree to. The Roman Catholics, however, protested, that the pope being in confinement, the individual by whom he was represented at Rome had outstepped his authority, in giving that opinion against which they protested, asserting that the cardinal had no right to take upon himself the power of the pope. The cardinal, however, said nothing inconsistent with the station which he filled. It was well known that the pope of Rome was willing to meet any offer of security which the British government might demand from the Catholics of Ireland. He had now before him a letter from the pope himself, in confirmation of that assertion, to which he would refer the House, if the fact was not sufficiently well known already.
But, let the House go one step further, and inquire how the heads of the Catholic church were appointed in the Protestant states of the continent. Who appointed the Catholic bishop of Silesia—who but the Protestant king of Prussia? Yet they were told by the Irish Catholics, that it would be violating the principles of their religion to give such a power to the king of England. In Russia also the only bishop in the empire was appointed by the sovereign. In Prussia the Catholic bishops were appointed by Protestant functionaries. Was it, therefore, so very inconsistent to ask the Catholics of Ireland to subscribe to rules that were observed in the different states of Europe? But, they were under the influence of a sway the most marvellous and extraordinary—a sway which, had been much more eloquently and powerfully 917 described by his right hon. friend, the member for Dublin University, than he could pretend to.
The right hon. and learned gentleman, after some further observations, asked the House, if there was nothing in the state of Europe, contrasting the present time with the years 1810 and 1813, that gave cause for suspicion and alarm? At the time he alluded to, the influence of the Papal See was dead; or, at all events, it was totally harmless and helpless. Yet, in those years the Catholics proposed terms which now they had not named. Securities might at those periods have perhaps been dispensed with; but now, in consequence of the increasing power of the Catholics, both at home and throughout Europe, securities became doubly requisite. Since the year 1814, it would be found that the Catholic religion and the Papal See were stirring with increased activity. He begged the House to refer to the state of France in 1815. In the year 1814, the power of the Jesuits, that had long ruled in Europe with unbounded sway, was crushed, and the memory of their power and their mischief was all that was left of that once-powerful body. Little did he think, when he read the history of those superstitious times in which the Jesuits once played so conspicuous a part, that he should have lived to witness the revival in Europe of that once formidable body. Yet so it was; and they were spreading through every corner of Europe, accountable to no power, and acknowledging no control. His argument therefore was, that if securities were necessary in 1813, before the order of Jesuits was revived, they were much more necessary now, when that all-powerful and insidious body were extending their influence and increasing their power? At that moment they were dispersed over Europe, and in France their power was great. In 1798, the Inquisition was abolished in Spain, in consequence of the French revolution; but now that cursed, that hated engine of misery and tortures, that instrument of cruelty and revenge, was again established in all its original power and deformity in Spain and in Italy. He did not mean to say, that the Inquisition would be established in Ireland: no, but he knew that the Catholic religion was still unchanged, and that the same power to effect mischief was still in existence. Was there, he repeated, less occasion now to demand securities from the Catholics 918 than at the periods he had referred to? In the years 1810 and 1813, Ireland was comparatively tranquil; now she was in a state the reverse of tranquil. Those who kept alive the dissensions in that unhappy country were but too well provided with the means to effect their object. This question of Catholic Emancipation was generally used as an ingredient to keep alive the flame. Those who came forward to seek the boon did not condescend to ask it as a favour; they demanded it as a right. To use the figurative language of one of their orators, "Ireland, gigantic Suppliant, thunders at the gates of the Constitution."
The right hon. and learned gentleman then read an extract from a letter of the Catholic bishop (Dr. Doyle), addressed to lord Farnham, in which the reverend gentleman urged the necessity of granting emancipation in strong and forcible terms. He had adverted to this to show the feelings which prevailed in Ireland, and which the language used by persons possessing immense influence among the Catholic population of that country was calculated to excite. He would not inquire what was the cause which had produced this kind of language. He took it as he found it; and he would ask, when Ireland was labouring under the excitement it had produced, would hon. members contend, that the concessions now sought for ought to be given without ample security? Would they maintain that the principles on which our happy constitution was established should be wholly changed, without any security by which to guard against the dangers which such a change was calculated to produce? He would advert for a moment to the individual from whose writings he had quoted, as a further proof of the necessity of some security, before any concessions should be made to the Roman Catholics. [Here the right hon. gentleman described the great talent displayed by Dr. Doyle in his examination before the committees of the Houses of Lords and Commons; but, in consequence of some slight confusion, we were not able to collect more than the general import of his remarks.] When the House, continued the right hon. gentleman, saw such men with such abilities, and possessing such unbounded influence over the Roman Catholics of Ireland, holding the language of intemperance and rancour, was it not reasonable that they should pause before they 919 proceeded to make concessions which would throw additional power into their hands? But it might be asked, whether it was fair to judge of all the Catholic hierarchy by the acts of an individual. He would admit that, in general, such a judgment would not be fair in argument; and, if he saw the rest of the Roman Catholic hierarchy renouncing the doctrines of their colleague in the ministry—if he saw them express their dissent from them in any manner, he would be extremely unwilling to press the argument; but when, instead of this, he knew that the influence of this reverend doctor was great among his brethren—when he found that they approved of his acts and opinions—he had a fair right to assume that his sentiments might be taken as a specimen of those which pervaded the body to which he belonged. He was anxious not to be misunderstood on this occasion—not on his own account, but on that of that most respectable body which he had the honour to represent [cheers from the Opposition side]. He would assert, that a body of men, more distinguished for erudition, for sound and liberal principles, did not exist in the empire [the cheers continued, in which Mr. Scarlett joined]; and he felt it the proudest distinction of his life to be placed in the high situation in which that honourable body had placed him. He understood the cheers of the hon. and learned gentleman, and the sarcasm which he meant to convey, not in language but by signs. The hon. and learned gentleman had himself been a candidate for the high honour which he (the Master of the Rolls) had obtained; and, because he had been distanced in the race, he now turned round with a sarcasm upon that honourable body which it had been his ardent desire to represent.
Here the right hon. gentleman made a short pause, and appeared to labour under some sudden indisposition. During this pause he was loudly cheered by the House. He begged pardon for this delay, and thanked the House for their indulgence. The conclusion which he drew from the argument he had used was, that as the illustrious individuals whose names he had quoted as the advocates of concession, had never offered it but on condition of the most ample security, it would be only consistent in those who supported it on their principles, to join him in opposing the present motion, in which no se- 920 curity was mentioned or contemplated. He had endeavoured—he trusted not unsuccessfully—to show that such securities were absolutely necessary; and on this ground he called on those who had heretofore supported the question on the same ground, to join him in opposing the motion before the House, unless the Catholics were prepared with some securities which could be deemed sufficient.
Here, again, the right hon. gentleman paused for several minutes, evidently from the effect of exhaustion. He was again loudly cheered by the House. He begged pardon, he had been strongly and unfortunately excited by what had just occurred, and he feared he should not be able to resume the argument in the order in which he had intended. After another short pause, the right hon. gentleman resumed his address. What, he asked, was it which the Roman Catholics demanded? Let the House consider the nature of the concessions asked. One was, the privilege of eligibility to seats in parliament: a most important privilege; the nature of which, as it affected the present discussion, it behoved the House seriously to consider. They were there assembled by the king's writ, which commanded them to meet for the consideration, among other important matters, of subjects deeply affecting the interests of the state and of the Protestant church; and thus assembled, they were called upon to admit as members of a Protestant legislature, deliberating on matters connected with the security of the Church of England, a body of Roman Catholics, hostile to that Church, and hostile to it from their principles as Roman Catholics. Let the House for a moment consider by whom the Roman Catholics who might be sent to that House were likely to be elected. The power of the forty-shilling freeholders in Ireland was well known; and the influence of those by whom that power was directed was also now well understood. It should be recollected, that when the bill allowing forty-shilling freeholders to vote was passed, it was published through Ireland, that the elections were, virtually, thrown into the hands of the Roman Catholic clergy; and, in very recent instances, it had been shown how far that assertion was borne out by the fact. Abundant proofs of the manner in which that power was exercised had been laid on the table of the House. It would also 921 be remembered, that when, in the year 1825, it was proposed to disfranchise the Irish forty-shilling freeholders, the bill was most strenuously opposed by the Roman Catholic hierarchy of that country; and for a very natural reason; namely, that it would have the effect of depriving them of that authority which they possessed in influencing the return of members to serve in parliament. When they thus found that the Roman Catholics who might be returned to that House were to be returned by the influence of the hierarchy and clergy of the Roman Catholic communion, he thought it behoved hon. members to consider well what were the feelings of that body towards the Protestant church, for which the Catholic members would thus be called to legislate. To give the House an idea of those feelings, he could not do better than to refer them lo the language of a member of that hierarchy, to whom he had already alluded. In the Letters of I. K. L., the author of which, it was known, was the Irish Roman Catholic bishop, Dr. Doyle: He thus described the Established Church in Ireland—"All the retainers of the great paid obeisance to her, and she was always looked on, not as the spouse of the Redeemer, but as the handmaid of the Ascendancy. The latter, whenever she became insolent, or forgot her rank (if rank it could be called), rebuked her into a deportment becoming her situation. They extend their protection to her for their own advantage only; and she, working alternately on their hopes and fears, continues to hold her place as a necessary appendage to the family to which she owes her existence. When indulged, she is indolent; when rebuked, she becomes attentive; she draws tight, or relaxes her discipline, as it may please, or be permitted by her masters; her eye is ever fixed upon her own interests, and she deems nothing forbidden or unhallowed which can serve to promote them. As those who do an injury never can forgive, she is implacable in her hostility to the church which she supplanted; and at this day she appears indifferent to all things else but to the concealment of her riches, and the persecution of Popery. She occasionally revolts against her fellow-servants, who lay bare her spoils, who tell of her frauds and oppressions, who remind her of her origin, and upbraid her with the profligacy of her mis-spent life; 922 but she is much more frequently employed in forming offensive and defensive leagues with her fellows in the corporations, showing the advantages of injustice and oppression, in confounding the charter of her servitude with the title-deeds of her employers, in asserting her claim to a tithe of the land and labour of the kingdom, and proving, to the satisfaction of a Christian community, that though she receives the patrimony of the poor, she is not bound to exercise towards them a single act of mercy."
Such was the opinion, continued the right hon. and learned gentleman, of a Roman Catholic bishop of Ireland, when speaking of that establishment for which Catholics, elected probably by his influence, might be called to legislate. Such was the opinion of a man, whose influence over the Catholics of Ireland was uncontrollable. And would the House consent, that men returned by such influence should have the power of legislating for a Church thus described by one of their own communion, without asking any security by which danger to that Church might be averted? But the language he had quoted was not confined to one individual. The same sentiments were avowed by some of the most leading men amongst the Catholic body. The same sentiments were avowed in the Catholic Association; and no pains were taken to conceal them in public or private meetings.
But it was said—and the thing had been repeated over and over again—suppose sixty or seventy Roman Catholics were returned to parliament, could they, by possibility, have the means of injuring the Established Church, while forming part of an assembly in which were several hundred Protestant members? To this he would answer, that there were those in that House, he regretted to say, who were lukewarm and indifferent towards the interests of the Established Church; and, he was sorry to add, experience had shown that there were some in that House who possessed a hostile feeling towards that Church, though (and it was a satisfaction to know it) their numbers, compared with those who cordially supported it, was but small. But small as it might be, was it, he would ask, prudent to add to the number—to throw into the scale sixty or seventy members so influenced as he had shown the Catholic members would be, and thereby to increase the danger to 923 which the Protestant establishment would be exposed? If, then, they consulted the true interests, of the established Church of England, honourable members would, he contended, be bound to reject the motion before them, or any motion for concessions, unless accompanied with such securities as would guard against all chance of danger.
In alluding to this part of the subject, it had been well observed, in last night's discussion, by the hon. member for Corfe Castle, that though the House might have the power of repressing direct attacks, yet was it nothing to have the Church constantly exposed to repeated attacks, by men who were hostile to its interests? Let them suppose for a moment that a Roman Catholic should be returned as a member to that House, with a disposition to overturn the Established Church of Ireland; and let them suppose such a man, gifted with talents as great, and acquirements as splendid, as those which distinguished his right hon. and learned friend, the Attorney-general for Ireland—let them suppose him possessing an unbounded influence among his Roman Catholic countrymen—and he would ask, would it not be the duty of the House to take care, and, by ample securities, to reserve to themselves the means of guarding against his attacks?
He feared he had already trespassed too long on the attention of the House, [hear, hear]; but so many topics connected with this interesting subject came across his mind since he had risen, that he had occupied the time of the House for a much longer time than he thought he should have done when he began. Honourable members had asked those who took the same view of the question that he did, what was it which they would propose? And then they dwelt with some earnestness on the course which had been pursued in other states; and talked of the liberality which prevailed, on the subject of religious distinctions, in countries where the principles of liberty were by no means so well understood as they were in England. In Austria, it was said, there was no difference made between persons, on account of the religion they professed—that the utmost liberality prevailed there, in that respect. It might be true to the extent stated; but even admitting the fact, no fair parallel could be drawn between the circumstances of Austria and this country. 924 In Austria, the whole of the hierarchy were appointed by government. It was the same in Hungary, in France, and in other countries of Europe; and therefore there was no fair analogy between what was done in those states, and what was proposed to be done here; namely, the granting of political power to a set of men who were notoriously under the influence of a hierarchy, itself independent of the government; under no spiritual obedience to that government; but, on the contrary, deriving its authority from, and yielding obedience to, a foreign ecclesiastical head. This hierarchy, it was known, possessed an almost unlimited influence over the members of its own communion. It carried on a continual correspondence with the foreign power in which it acknowledged the supreme spiritual authority to reside; and in this correspondence it admitted of no responsibility to its own temporal government.
Looking at these circumstances, he would contend, that there was no resemblance between the condition of foreign states, and that of this country, in respect of privileges granted to persons of different religions. There was no similitude between the privileges granted in other states, and the concessions which the present motion demanded at the hands of the legislature.
It was said, that they ought to adopt some measure for establishing the tranquillity of Ireland; that it was impossible for things to remain as they were; and that, having already gone so far, they! must go further. He was as anxious for any measure which would have the effect of restoring tranquillity to that country, as the most zealous advocate of the question before the House; but when a particular measure was proposed, with a view to the restoration of tranquillity in that country, he might be allowed to inquire whether it was calculated to produce that effect, before he gave it his assent. If the restoration of the tranquillity of Ireland were pressed as an argument in support of this measure, he must inquire how far it had that tendency. He repeated, that he lamented the want of tranquillity in that country; but it did not by any means follow, that, because it was necessary that Ireland should be tranquillized, the precise measure now proposed was the one which would set it at rest. In his opinion, it would have no such effect. 925 If this measure were carried, it would produce a great ebullition in that country. The Catholics would triumph in their victory; and the Protestants, or the great majority of them, would repine in the consciousness that they were subdued. There would be a great and momentous explosion, followed by a momentary calm. But, no man, who was acquainted with the Roman Catholics of that country, or with the state of feeling which existed there, would gravely assert, that this measure would allay the excitation which prevailed, so far as to restore tranquillity. No man, he thought, who had seriously considered the subject, would bring his mind to this conclusion. The Roman Catholic religion was a religion of encroachment; and there were circumstances connected with its existence in Ireland, which increased the disposition to encroach. The Roman Catholics of Ireland believed that they had been supplanted by the Protestants, and that it was not less their duty than their interest to supplant them in turn; and from the immense influence exercised over them by their hierarchy, it was not to be supposed that they would desist from making claim after claim until Catholic ascendancy was finally established. That man took but a slight and cursory view of the present state of Ireland, and of the events of which that country had been the theatre for many years, who could maintain the opinion, that the Catholics would be satisfied, or that Ireland would be tranquillized, by the mere concession of the privileges which they now sought to obtain. He reasoned on this point from facts which were notorious to every man who was at all conversant with the state of Ireland. The Roman Catholic bishop of Kildare (Dr. Doyle) had stated, that "emancipation would do much, but that much more remained to be accomplished;" and in another place it was said by him, that "Protestantism was tottering to its fall." The question was not now as to the prevalence of the Roman Catholic religion; but it was this—and he believed it was one on which many even in that House would be disposed to join issue—whether Protestantism was to be continued in Ireland? and that person took a very narrow view of the subject who could entertain a doubt on this point. The language used by the Catholic Association, and received with cheers in that assembly, was not less hostile to the Established 926 Church than that which he had already quoted.
He entreated that hon. members would take these circumstances into their consideration, and not allow themselves to be led away by the assertion, that the measure now proposed to them would have the effect of tranquillizing Ireland. I exhort them (continued the right hon. and learned gentleman) not to be led away by such an erroneous hope. I call upon them rather to consider, whether the destruction of the Protestant establishment is not the object, and will not be the consequence, of these measures, and to pause before they lend their assistance to a proposition that may be attended with such a result. The Protestant Establishment is now a part of the state. I ask hon. gentlemen whether they are ready to relinquish it? I believe that there are in this House many members who would willingly take issue upon this question; but the great majority of those whom he had the honour of addressing, are opposed to that feeling; and to these latter gentlemen I appeal; and I say, do not fancy, that, by adopting these measures you will put an end to the evils that have so long distracted Ireland. I am convinced that such a vote will produce no such effect, but, on the contrary, wilt lead to new demands, that will be attended with as much excitement of feeling as that which we are now discussing. I am certain that, if we admit sixty or seventy Roman Catholic members into this House, the next measure that will be demanded will be, the upsetting of the Protestant Establishment in Ireland [hear, hear!]. In what a situation shall we then be? If we object to the new proposals, we shall be again told that, as we have gone so far, we must go farther; and we shall be reminded of what we are now doing, and shall be told that we ought to have taken our stand before. Let us, Sir, prevent such a consequence. It is, in the most sober earnestness, that I press these subjects upon the consideration of the House. How am I met in doing so? I am asked, if I object to the measures now proposed, what are those which I would substitute for them? I do not know that I ought to be required to answer such a question. My answer, therefore, is, that I am not a member of his majesty's government [hear, hear!] I am not one of the ministers of the Crown; I have no connexion with the government; I am not united to them, 927 otherwise than by the respect I owe to the individuals of which it is composed. It would consequently be idle, and indeed mischievous, for me to pretend to say what is my opinion as to the measures that ought to be adopted [hear, hear!]. When, therefore, I am asked what I propose, I answer that question by another, and I ask what are the securities which the Catholics propose to give us in return for the concessions they require us to make? If they ask for concessions, which are to be purchased at the price of security, I ask what are the securities proposed? If they satisfy me that the securities are adequate to the purpose required, I will agree to grant their demands. If their securities are sufficient, I say fairly and at once, I will concede the question; but I must first know what those securities are—I must have time to deliberate on their sufficiency—I must satisfy myself with regard to them—and, until I am fully satisfied, I must, do that which will preserve the peace of the church. If I am satisfied upon these points, I am ready to make the largest concessions to the Catholics; but until that time I must oppose any concessions whatever. It is not in a House like this, that diversity of opinion as to principles is to be expected upon this question. The only difference among us, is as to the circumstances in which those principles are to be called into operation. There is but one proposition which will meet with the concurrence of all men; and that is a proposition for concessions granted upon full securities. If securities are proposed to which the Catholics will accede, and with which the Protestants will be satisfied, I, for one, shall be ready to make concessions. I beg pardon for having trespassed so long on the attention of the House; but I was anxious that the manner in which I viewed this question should not be misunderstood, and that, anxiety must stand as my excuse. It is not improbable that I may be followed by my right hon. friend, the Attorney-general for Ireland. There is not any man who possesses greater powers, or who can use them more forcibly for the advantage of the cause which he espouses. I admire the earnestness with which he has entered into this question; and while I pay this deserved tribute to his talent and his zeal, I trust that he will give me equal credit for the sincerity with which I entertain the opinions I have expressed.
Sir William Plunkett
rose, and was received by the House with much cheering. He began by observing, that it might be considered presumptuous in him to offer himself to the attention of the House, immediately after the very able address of his right hon. and learned friend; but the subject was one in which he felt so deep an interest, that he trusted he should be excused if he ventured to offer his humble suggestions, in answer to the statements of his right hon. and learned friend. Before he offered a word in reply to what had fallen from him, he begged to assure his right hon. friend, that no man had a higher respect than he had for his great talents and acquirements, and he hoped he would give him credit for an anxious wish to avoid, in the remarks he was about to offer to the House, any thing which might have even the appearance of giving a false or exaggerated colouring to any of the arguments which he had used. It was his desire, and his intention, to meet his right hon. friend fairly in argument, and in what he should state he hoped his right hon. friend would give him credit for that intention.
Having said thus much, he felt himself bound to state—and he did it with great respect—that he had listened to his right hon. and learned friend with the most profound attention from the beginning, and yet, during the whole of his eloquent speech, he had sought in vain for what he could term a fair objection to the motion now before the House, on a subject which all would allow was most important in the present urgent state of the kingdom. When his right hon. friend began his address, he felt not a little surprise, and some alarm, at the course which his right hon. friend adopted. He began by going into a detail of events which occurred at the Reformation, and anterior to that period; he then went into a history of popery in those days—into a history of the Jesuits, and their machinations at the same period. In this he certainly took a view somewhat new in the discussion, since the last twenty years. He had quoted odious passages which ought to be razed from the page of history, or at least ought to be suffered to lie in oblivion. He certainly had not, that he was aware of, absolutely mentioned Guy Fawkes, or illumined them with his lantern; but his right hon. friend had quoted a variety of passages from history, 929 which he expected to hear applied to the Roman Catholics of the present day. But no such thing; his right hon. friend had thought fit to amuse the House with those passages, but at the same time he distinctly and candidly avowed, that they had no application whatever to the Roman Catholics of the present time. His right hon. and learned friend had told them, that he went on the general principle of expediency, which expediency was to be measured by security; and he added, that if sufficient security were given he would concede all that was demanded. Now, he did not blame any man for his anxiety to see the church and state secure from all risk of danger. A man, zealous in support of the state, would naturally be desirous, in any change, that it should be protected from all risks: but then, if security were so desirable, it was surely worth seeking for, and he was, therefore, somewhat surprised that, with that view, his right hon. and learned friend had not given his support to the present motion. The motion was merely "That this House is deeply impressed with the expediency of taking into immediate consideration the laws imposing Civil Disabilities on his Majesty's Roman Catholic Subjects, with the view to their relief." All the motion required was, that inquiry should be made into the penal laws with the view of seeing how they might be removed. Here, then, was inquiry; and in that inquiry it might not be impossible for his right hon. and learned friend to find the security he desired. He had at first supposed that his right hon. and learned friend was ready to adopt the resolution then before the House, provided the Catholics would consent to find adequate securities. He was not, however, left long in the enjoyment of that fool's paradise—if he might use such an expression with respect to himself, and not with respect to his right hon. and learned friend—for, at the conclusion of his right hon. and learned friend's argument, he abandoned altogether his doctrine of securities. He had thought that his right hon. and learned friend would have been satisfied either with the bill of 1813 or with that of 1821, if it had been now proposed: but no, the claims of the Catholics of Ireland, according to his right hon. and learned friend's position, would, if conceded upon any terms, lead only to further demands, and would never terminate 930 until they had caused the subversion of the Protestant church. Would his right hon. and learned friend expose the Protestant church to the dire disaster of subversion, if the bill of 1813 were again proposed? Were there, indeed, any terms—if the imputations which his right hon. friend had made against the Catholics were just and well-founded, and their admission to civil rights would be subversive of the present church establishment—on which he could be induced not to exclude them for ever? If there were not, then his right hon. friend, after leading the Catholics by one part of his speech to believe that he would emancipate them, provided they would concede to him the securities he demanded, had concluded by pronouncing upon them an immutable and interminable interdict, excluding them for ever from participation in the constitutional privileges of their fellow-countrymen. Such was the painful necessity to which he had driven his right hon. friend; and giving him the utmost credit for liberality of feeling and for sincerity of purpose in the declaration which he had made, that he did not impute to the Catholics of the present day the crimes of the Catholics when the penal laws were first enacted, he must still say, that his right hon. friend must, in future, be placed in the first ranks of those who had doomed the Catholics to perpetual exclusion from the pale of the constitution.
In the course which his right hon. friend had that night pursued, he had armed himself, as far as he could, with authority on every point. He had heard, however, with great surprise, one position of his right hon. friend; namely, that Mr. Pitt was to be placed at the head of that class of statesmen, who were to be considered as decidedly inimical to the claims of the Catholics. Now, if there was any point in Mr. Pitt's political conduct on which no doubt could, by any possibility, be entertained, it was his conduct with regard to the claims of the Catholics. It had been a fashion of late to suppose that Mr. Pitt was not at heart a friend to the Catholics-There was at that present moment a club in existence, under the name of the "Pitt Club," which met at stated periods to celebrate the principles of exclusion and illiberality, and which he would take upon himself the liberty to designate the most audacious forgery of modern times. It was an impudent attempt to rob that great 931 man of the reputation of being a friend to the rights and privileges of the Catholics. It had been said by one hon. gentleman, that Mr. Pitt had demanded securities from the Catholics; and his right hon. friend had declared it to be Mr. Pitt's opinion, that all securities would be found unavailing. Now, did his right hon. friend mean to represent Mr. Pitt as a mere idle declaimer, who, on a subject which the whole line of his public conduct demonstrated that he conceived to be of paramount importance to the national welfare and security, had held out to the Catholics certain concessions as attainable upon their giving adequate securities, when, at the same time, he knew, that it was not possible for them to devise any securities which could be considered adequate? When Mr. Pitt held out to the country, that the Catholics could be admitted within the pale of the constitution, he must have turned in his mind the means by which they were to be reconciled to its great institutions, of which the church was one, and by which they were to be induced to repose in quiet, under the protection of his seven-fold shield. He was convinced that there never had been either a firmer or a sincerer friend to the Catholics, than Mr. Pitt; and that if he had not thought that the Catholics could grant securities, he would never have condescended to ask for their being given. He had, indeed, heard it stated by a noble lord who was much in the confidence of Mr. Pitt, that Mr. Pitt had never mentioned to him what his notion of those securities was. Now, he would say, that Mr. Pitt would have been one of the greatest dolts and drivellers that ever existed, if he had communicated to that noble lord what he considered those securities ought to be. What would have been the consequence of Mr. Pitt's making such a communication to the noble lord? That the noble lord, who was a firm friend to the constitution as established in church and state, would have thrown every difficulty in the way of those securities, which his acute and ingenious mind could have suggested.
Before he quitted the subject of Mr. Pitt's conduct, there was one observation more which he wished to make upon it. When Mr. Pitt had proposed the great measure of a legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland, he had, as his right hon. friend had stated, told the House, 932 and also the people of Ireland, that it would afford facilities for Catholic emancipation, which could not be attained in an Irish parliament. He did not pretend to say that Mr. Pitt had given to the Catholics any direct and positive pledge that the Catholic question should be carried, if they supported the Union; but he did mean to say, that Mr. Pitt, by his public declarations, had induced them to suppose that it would add facilities and not difficulties to the successful decision of that great question. He would, then, ask the House how the case stood at that moment? The House was at present arguing a question as to the admission of Catholics within its walls; and if that question were to be decided by the voice of the representatives of the Irish people alone, it would be decided in favour of the Catholics by a majority of two to one. And, what was the obstacle to that admission, on which the hon. gentlemen, who took a different view of this subject from himself, principally relied? The clamour raised against it by the people of England, who would not have had a right to open their lips on the point, if it had not been for that very measure of the Union. When he spoke of the clamour of the people of England, he felt bound—whatever opinion he might entertain of others—to say, that his right hon. friend near him (Mr. Peel) was utterly incapable of lending himself to raise it. His right hon. friend had declared, on a former occasion, that he would never condescend to any such unworthy means of opposition; and it was only an act of justice to him to say, that he had fairly and manfully kept his word. In his opposition to the claims of the Catholics, he had been a sincere, and candid, and liberal adversary; and he was proud to say, that, except upon this point, there was no question relating to the government of Ireland in which he had not the cordial support and co-operation of his right hon. friend. His right hon. friend had never suffered any feeling of religious partiality to mix itself up with his political conduct; and his conduct in that respect could not be too highly appreciated and applauded [hear]. Such was his opinion of his right hon. friend; but, if there was any person who had assisted Mr. Pitt in bringing about the union of the two countries, and had suffered Mr. Pitt, without rebuke, to hold out hopes of emancipation to the Catholics, in order to gain their consent 933 to it, in that man it would be the basest treachery now to turn round and raise a cry against the Catholics. He did not impute to any particular individual such conduct; but it did appear to him—supposing it were right and proper to hold out such hopes to the Catholics as he had described—to be most unfair, most unjust, most unwarrantable in any man, who joined Mr. Pitt in bringing about the Union, now to oppose the consummation of those hopes by hounding on the people of England to raise a cry against the Catholics [hear, hear]. He did not believe that such a cry was at all general at that moment in England. He believed that the advocates of the Catholic cause had, of late years, gained much ground in this country, by the fair and legitimate means of argument and persuasion; and that, if the people of England had not been rudely dealt with, and riotously and savagely assailed by the demagogues, who affected to rule, and who, unfortunately, had obtained too much ascendancy, over their Catholic countrymen, they would have been found reasonable enough on the subject. Indeed, the result of the late general election sufficiently proved, that in all the large places, where public opinion had room to express itself, the cry of "No Popery" had entirely and utterly failed.
He had, however, been led away from the topic to which he had intended to turn his own attention, and with it the attention of the House. His hon. and learned friend had included other names, besides Mr. Pitt, in his list of individuals who were hostile to the claims of the Catholics. He had mentioned the name of Mr. Grattan, the name of lord Grenville, and the name of lord Londonderry. Did his right hon. and learned friend recollect what had been the conduct of Mr. Grattan, of lord Grenville, and of lord Londonderry, with respect to the various bills which had passed the House of Commons respecting the Catholics? Did he recollect that, in 1821, when a bill was proposed which was carried through that House, it received the entire concurrence of lord Londonderry, and that, though it was lost elsewhere, it received the support of lord Grenville? True it was, that that bill demanded securities from the Catholics: but on what ground, or on what authority, did his right hon. and learned friend pretend to assert, that the notion of securities was abandoned at present? Let 934 the House observe the conduct pursued on this subject by the opponents of the Catholics; and then judge of the embarrassing situation in which they endeavoured to place those who supported their claims. When, in 1825, that measure passed the House of Commons which was lost in the House of Lords, how was it encountered by that distinguished and illustrious statesman, whose temporary absence from the councils of his sovereign he lamented, in common with every man in the country, and on what ground was it ultimately defeated? Not on the ground of the securities being insufficient; for that noble lord, the earl of Liverpool, had distinctly stated that, if he could get rid of the objections which he had to the measure on account of its principle, he would not care a straw about the securities: nay, that he would, in half an hour, frame a clause, which should leave them free from all objection [hear, hear!]. His right hon. and learned friend, however, objected to the measure on different grounds. He said that, as far as the principle of the bill was concerned, he would give the Catholics every thing—but that he could not consent to get rid of the securities, which the noble lord thought so unimportant that he undertook to settle every question regarding them in half an hour [hear, hear!].
His right hon. and learned friend had talked very much about these securities. He must own that he had sat for some time in anxious expectation of hearing from his right hon. and learned friend something of the dangers against which these securities were to be provided; for securities were in general measured by the magnitude of the dangers which rendered them requisite. His right hon. and learned friend could not fairly ask him for his security, until his right hon. and learned friend had told him what was his danger. Had his right hon. and learned friend said one word by way of description of the dangers of which he appeared to have such monstrous apprehension? Did those dangers, in his right hon. friend's opinion, affect the state or the establishment of the Protestant Church? He believed that his right hon. friend's opinion was, that they affected the latter. Now, would his right hon. friend allow him to ask, what were the dangers to the Protestant establishment which he apprehended from the concurrence of the House in 935 the hon. baronet's resolution, or in a bill founded upon it; supposing that it should be like the bill which went through the House in 1825? He took it for granted, that when his right hon. friend spoke of the insecurity of the Protestant establishment, he merely meant the Protestant establishment in Ireland. Now, he would tell his right hon. friend, that the real insecurity of the Protestant establishment of Ireland consisted in this—that the religion to which it belonged was only the religion of a small portion of the inhabitants of the country; that by far the larger portion were of a different religion; and that it might be supposed that by a discontented people and an ambitious clergy—supposing the Catholic clergy to be ambitious—an attempt might be made to overthrow the Protestant hierarchy and the Protestant establishment. Would his right hon. and learned friend permit him to ask, whether the bills which passed the House of Commons in 1813 and 1825, reduced by their securities either the numbers of the population which differed in religion from the establishment, or increased the numbers of those who belonged to it? If there were any dangers to be apprehended from acceding to the present motion, they existed already, and arose from moral causes of long duration, over which the present measure would have no control; except, indeed, it were in lessening them. His right hon. and learned friend was the distinguished representative of a Protestant university, which had conferred no less honour upon itself than upon his right hon. friend, by selecting him to represent it. He himself had also the honour of representing another Protestant university, of which he was justly and deservedly proud. He believed that his right hon. and learned friend and himself were in the same situation with respect to this question; for no petition against the claims of the Catholics had come from the constituents of either [hear!]. Now, as the representative of a Protestant university, he would not yield a whit to his right hon. and learned friend, in zeal or attachment for a Protestant establishment. He was one of those who conceived that a religious establishment was essential to the existence of religion itself. He believed that if there were not a great hierarchy, endowed with honour and emoluments, in times like the present, religion itself would 936 sink into contempt, and its moral influence be greatly depreciated. He thought that all religion derived advantage from having an establishment to support and purify it and that it was impossible for it to repose in tranquil dignity without one; and therefore it was that he said that for the proper security of the Protestant religion itself, the security of the Protestant establishment could not be too vigilantly guarded. He looked upon the Protestant establishment in Ireland as a great bond of connexion between that country and England; and was convinced, that, if it were overturned, the connexion between the two countries would be seriously endangered. He said, besides, that it had now existed for more than three hundred years—that it was interwoven with every species of tenure on which landed property was held in Ireland—that if it were shaken, the tenure of property must be shaken with it, and consequently, that the state would be in the very jaws of dissolution and ruin [hear, hear!].
But how was it proposed to defend the Protestant establishment from the dangers which seemed to surround it? His right hon. and learned friend had not proposed any thing, though his friends were as loud as himself in declaring, that if the question of emancipation was carried in the affirmative, the Protestant establishment must necessarily fall to the ground. Would his right hon. and learned friend for one moment consider, what was the converse of the proposition which he had just maintained? Was it not this—that so long as the Protestant establishment existed, the great bulk of the people of Ireland could not be admitted to an equal participation in civil rights? Was that a proposition which any prudent man would undertake openly and undisguisedly to maintain? If it were absolutely necessary to maintain such a position—if the country were unfortunately reduced to such a state of things, that the great body of the Catholics of Ireland must be debarred from the enjoyment of political rights and privileges, or the church establishment must fall—then he must say, as Mr. Burke had said before him, that it would be an "ugly alternative" to which he should be sorry to see parliament reduced [hear, hear!]. But if such a necessity were gratuitously assumed, and had no existence, would it be either safe, judicious, or expedient, nay, would it be any 937 thing, except the rankest fanaticism, for any supporter of the Protestant establishment to say to his Catholic brethren, "You shall at no time, and upon no terms, be admitted to your rights, whilst our establishment remains in vigour?" He would ask the House to consider, supposing it yielded to the proposition of his hon. friend on the other side of the House, whether it would not be adding to the security of the Established Church? At present, there was a large population in Ireland discontented with having to provide for the clergymen of two distinct and separate establishments. One of the objects of the present measure was to relieve that discontented population from the payment of both of them, by consigning to the government the means of providing for the Roman Catholic hierarchy. He would give the House an instance of the excellent results which had been derived from a similar experiment which was made nearly a century ago. At that time the members of the Protestant church establishment in Ireland were greatly alarmed by the proceedings of the Presbyterians, whom, for some cause or other, they considered as their deadly enemies. The laws imposing tests upon the Presbyterians, were repealed, and the ministers of that religion were paid by the stale. What had been the consequence of that measure? That the clergy of the established church had no warmer friends, no steadier supporters, than the Presbyterians. There were no quarrels, no contentions between them. In the north of Ireland, where the Presbyterians were most numerous, the people did not care to which church they went. In general they went where there was the best preacher; and thus the greatest harmony was kept up between those two sects, which had once been so hostilely affected towards each other [hear, hear]. There was another circumstance connected with that measure, which he wished to bring before the notice of the House. It had been predicted, that it would be the certain overthrow of the Protestant Established Church. Dean Swift, who had in general a clear insight into the probable results of political measures, declared such to be his opinion; and his declaration was loudly re-echoed by the inferior clergy. Hence he inferred, that there might often be a great cry of danger to the church, among the ministers of the church, when 938 measures were proposed which tended no to endanger but to protect the establishment [hear, hear]. He would mention another fact of more recent occurrence, from which a similar inference might fairly be deduced. Did any man, at all acquainted with the domestic affairs of Ireland, entertain the slightest doubt, that the tithe measure had been of the greatest use in protecting the church—that it had alleviated much of the discontent which prevailed in that country—and that it had reconciled many to the establishment who were before dissatisfied with it? Aloud outcry had been raised against that bill, on the part of the national church, and several clergymen had exclaimed as loudly against its passing as they now did against the passing of this measure. He did not mean to say that the outcry was not raised from an honest and sincere belief of danger in the minds of those who made it; but he appealed to the existence of it on that occasion, as an argument to prove, that the clergy often raised a great tumult against measures which were intended to promote the interests, not to endanger the safety, of the church [hear].
He would now come to another topic of his right hon. and learned friend, which, in imitation of the example of his right hon. and learned friend, he had left to the last part of his speech—he meant the present condition of Ireland, a subject replete with the deepest and most awful interest. Before, however, he applied himself to that subject which formed the very soul and essence of their consultation of that night, he would apply himself to one or two observations which his right hon. and learned friend had made, upon the times when those laws were enacted which his right hon. friend now objected to repeal. He would not advert to any fact connected with those times, except it involved a principle. He knew the subject was a dry one, and he would be as brief as possible in the review he felt it necessary to make; but, if he should be longer than he wished, he trusted that the House would excuse his prolixity, on account of the importance of the subject. He would here take the liberty of observing, that at all times, even before the Reformation, danger had been apprehended in this country, from the spiritual interference of the pope, and from the difficulty of separating his spiritual from his temporal authority; yet, the danger had never been considered of such 939 a nature as to be destructive of the allegiance of the subject, and to render it necessary to punish, on that account, every zealous Catholic with the deprivation of his civil rights. Of the first bill to which his right hon. and learned friend had alluded, he should dispose in a word—it had been passed before the Reformation. At that time the power of the popes to interfere in the affairs of the church was on all hands undisputed; but his power to interfere in the temporal affairs of the state was denied. How was that done? By the most spirited resistance, whenever circumstances rendered it necessary. Such resistance was exercised in the time of the Richards, the Edwards, and the Henries, by popish kings, and by popish parliaments, providing against the temporal interference of the pope, and protecting the independence of the country. So matters continued without interruption to the period of the Reformation. Then, for the first time, was the oath of Supremacy introduced into the system of our law; and it was introduced for the purpose of distinguishing those who denied the authority of the pope to interfere in the affairs of the Established Church, from those who maintained it, and thus of ascertaining the loyalty of every person whom the Crown employed in its service. To prove that he was stating that matter truly, he would read to the House the provisions of 5 Elizabeth, cap. 1, sec. 17. It was the statute which made the oath of supremacy a test, to which every man must submit before he could take his seat in the House of Commons. What was the recital of it? He would tell them. Here the right hon. member read the following part of the preamble:—Forasmuch as the Queen's Majesty is otherwise assured of the faith and loyalty of the temporal Lords of her high Court of Parliament, therefore this act shall not extend to compel any temporal peer of or above the degree of baron of this realm, to take or pronounce the oath aforesaid, or to incur any penalty limited in this act, for not taking or refusing the same.He contended from that act, that the refusal of the oath of supremacy was not considered, in the time of queen Elizabeth, as a proof of a want of allegiance to the sovereign, but only as a test by which it was tried upon certain occasions; and he showed, by historical reference, that the temporal peers continued to exercise their 940 functions as lords of parliament without taking it till the 30th Charles 2nd. The 18th of Geo. 3rd, cap. 60, merely required Roman Catholics to swear that they would be faithful, and bear true allegiance to his majesty, and said nothing about the oath of supremacy. The 31st Geo. 3rd was the next act passed on the subject; and if there was any force in the doctrine, that Catholics were not to be credited on their oaths, the legislature was guilty of subornation of perjury in passing it; for it first called upon the Catholic to swear that he was one, and then called upon him to take the oath of allegiance mentioned in the former act. The right hon. gentleman then read the preamble of the 31st Geo. 3rd, cap. 32, as follows:—Whereas certain penalties and disabilities have been imposed on persons in communion with the See of Rome and their children, and certain principles have been imputed to them which they are willing to disclaim;" and then proceeds to provide for them the following oath and declaration:—'1st, I solemnly declare that I do profess the Roman Catholic religion.' 2nd, 'I promise and swear that I will be faithful, and bear true allegiance to his Majesty.'Were the provisions of this act mere impositions made to gull the unlearned, or were they not pregnant proofs that the oath of supremacy was not intended as a necessary test of allegiance?
He had now to lead the attention of the House to another and a brighter state of things—to a signal act of justice performed by the British legislature. W hen we first took possession of the French province of Quebec, a large majority of its inhabitants were Roman Catholic; and the terms on which it was ceded to us were,; that their rights should be secured to them, so far as they were consistent with the laws of England. A proclamation was issued in the year 1763, by which they were called upon to take the oaths of supremacy and allegiance. This was clearly an act of injustice itself, and also a violation of the treaty by which the province became ours. Was any measure taken, and of what nature was it, to redress the injury thus inflicted on the settlers of Quebec? Yes; an act was passed in the year 1774, to which he called the attention of every gentleman who contended, that a Catholic establishment, in any part of his majesty's dominions, was a vio- 941 lation of the coronation oath. The oath recited—That the proclamation of 1763 had been found, upon experience, to be inapplicable to the state and circumstances of the said province, the inhabitants whereof amounted to above sixty-five thousand persons, professing the religion of the church of Rome, and enjoying an established form of constitution and system of laws, by which their persons and properties had been protected, governed, and ordered, for a long series of years, from the first settlement of the said province." It therefore withdraws the proclamation, and enacts, "that for the more perfect security and case of the minds of the inhabitants of the said province, his majesty's subjects professing the religion of the church of Rome, in the said province of Quebec, may have, hold, and enjoy, the free exercise of the religion of the church of Rome, subject to the king's supremacy, declared by the act of the 1st of Elizabeth, and that the clergy of the said religion may hold, receive, and enjoy, their accustomed dues and rights, with respect to such persons only as shall profess the Roman Catholic religion;" and for this purpose it enacts, "that no person professing the religion of the church of Rome, within the said province, shall be required to take the oath required by the 1st of Elizabeth, but shall take the oath thereby provided:" namely, the oath of allegiance as taken by the Roman Catholics here, "and thereupon shall enjoy all their customs, usages, and civil rights, consistently with their allegiance to his Majesty, and their subjection to the Crown and Parliament of Great Britain.Now, what had been the consequences of this act of liberality and justice? That when the Protestant provinces of North America revolted and dissolved their connexion with the mother country, the Popish province of Canada continued firm to its allegiance to the imperial crown of Great Britain [hear, hear]. The House would, perhaps, excuse him if, while upon this subject, he read to them the opinion which Mr. Burke had expressed upon it, in his Letter to sir H. Langrishe:—I voted last session, if a particular vote could be distinguished, in unanimity, for an establishment of the church of England conjointly with the establishment which was made some years before by act of parliament, of the Roman Catholic, in the French conquered country of Canada. 942 At the time of making this English ecclesiastical establishment, we did not think it necessary for its safety to destroy the former Gallican church settlement. In our first act we settled a government altogether monarchical, or nearly so. In that system, the Canadian Catholics were far from being deprived of the advantages or distinctions, of any kind, which they enjoyed under their former monarchy. It is true, that some people, and amongst them one eminent divine, predicted at that time, that by that step we should lose our dominions in America. He foretold that the pope would send his indulgences thither; that the Canadians would fall in with France; would declare independence, and draw or force our colonies into the same design. The independence happened according to his prediction; but in exactly the reverse order. All our English Protestant countries revolted. They joined themselves to France: and it so happened, that popish Canada was the only place which preserved its fidelity; the only place in which France got no footing; the only peopled colony which now remains to Great Britain. Vain are all the prognostics taken from ideas and passions, which survive the state of things which gave rise to them. When, last year, we gave a popular representation to the same Canada, by the choice of the landholders, and an aristocratic representation, at the choice of the Crown; neither was the choice of the Crown, nor the election of the landholders, limited by a consideration of religion. We had no dread for the Protestant church which we settled there, because we permitted the French Catholics, in the utmost latitude of the description, to be free subjects. They are good subjects, I have no doubt; but I will not allow, that any French Canadian Catholics are better men or better citizens than the Irish of the same communion. Passing from the extremity of the west to the extremity almost of the east, I have been many years (now entering into the twelfth) employed in supporting the rights, privileges, laws, and immunities, of a very remote people. I have not as yet been able to finish my task. I have struggled through much discouragement and much opposition, much obloquy, much calumny, for a people with whom I have no tie but the common bond of mankind. In this I have not been left alone. We did not fly from, our undertaking because the people are 943 Mahometans or Pagans, and that a great majority of the Christians amongst them are Papists. Some gentlemen in Ireland, I dare say, have good reasons for what they may do, which do not occur to me. I do not presume to condemn them; but thinking and acting as I have done towards these remote nations, I should not know how to show my face here or in Ireland, if I should say that all Pagans, all the Musselmen, and even all the Papists (since they must form the highest stage in the climax of evil), are worthy of a liberal and honourable condition, except those of one of the descriptions which forms the majority of the inhabitants of the country in which you and I were born. If such are the Catholics of Ireland—ill-natured and unjust people, from our own data, may be inclined hot to think better of the Protestants of a soil which is supposed to infuse into its sects a kind of venom un-known in other places" [hear, hear].After such a statement, coming as it did from such a quarter, and supported as it was by the legal records to which he had referred, it would be impossible any longer to contend, either that the oath of supremacy was necessary as a test of allegiance, or that any danger could accrue to the Protestant church establishment, from the complete admission of the Catholics to civil rights. He would not, on this legal part of the question, trouble the House with any further observations, as he trusted that those into which he had already entered were sufficient to produce conviction in the mind of any impartial and considerate man. On this point he had only to refer to Irish history, and to the history of the statutes, to prove the justness of his conclusion. The act of the 5th of Elizabeth, which directed the oath of supremacy to be taken, as a necessary form, previous to admission into parliament, never was enacted in Ireland; and the 30th of Charles 2nd, which extended that statute, never was introduced into the sister country. From the period of the Reformation, down to the Revolution, things remained in this state. [Here the Master of the Rolls alluded to the 1st of Elizabeth.] He knew that the 1st of Elizabeth had been enacted in Ireland; but the 5th of Elizabeth never was; and it should be observed, that the5thof Elizabeth was that enactment by which the Roman Catholics were kept out of parliament. To that point alone—the admission of Roman Catholics to sit 944 in parliament—his argument was now directed. From the Reformation to the Revolution, Roman Catholics were, by law, admissible to sit in the parliament of Ireland. They were not called on to take the oath of supremacy; and, in the time of James 1st, no less than one hundred and one Roman Catholics had seats in the Irish House of Commons, and voted on the choice of a Speaker [hear]. No man who was acquainted with the state of the law in Ireland, at the time to which he referred, could fairly argue that the Roman Catholics of Ireland were then excluded from parliament. In 1691, when the articles of Limerick were signed, the Roman Catholics were, by the law of Ireland, admissible to seats in parliament; and they were also eligible to different public offices, save and except those mentioned in the 14th of Charles 2nd.
What then, he would ask, were the stipulations contained in the articles of Limerick, and to what extent did they go, in protecting the civil and religious rights of the Roman Catholics of Ireland? The first article of the treaty set forth that, "The Roman Catholics of this kingdom shall enjoy such privileges in the exercise of their religion, as are consistent with the laws of Ireland; or as they did enjoy in the reign of king Charles the 2nd; and their majesties, as soon as their affairs will permit them to summon a parliament in this kingdom, will endeavour to procure the said Roman Catholics such further security in that particular, as may preserve them from any disturbance upon the account of their said religion." Now, it certainly appeared to him, that, as, at the time of signing those articles, the Roman Catholics of Ireland did possess certain important political privileges, and amongst others, the right of admission into parliament, the clause which he had quoted fully recognized those privileges. It did not refer merely to the exercise of religious rites, but also to the enjoyment of such political privileges as they had exercised in the reign of Charles the 2nd, one of which was eligibility to sit in the Irish parliament.
It was, however, argued that this provision, extended only to persons who were in garrison. But the words of the article, which mentioned generally, and without reservation, "the Roman Catholics of this kingdom," sufficiently proved, that it was meant to include the whole body of Irish 945 Roman Catholics. King James was then king de facto; he was attempting to maintain a particular religion (erroneous they might call it if they pleased), by the aid of his Irish subjects; but being king de facto, the king of England had no more right to take away the privileges then enjoyed by those subjects, than he had to deprive any other class of men of their political immunities. The stipulation which he had read was not entered into merely for the benefit of those by whom it was signed, or of those who, in consequence of it, were induced to capitulate. No; if there was any meaning in words, it was evidently intended for the protection of the Roman Catholics of Ireland at large. His right hon. friend had said, "if this point can be established, why then there is an end to the question." He (sir W. Plunkett) would not, however, go so far; because, though the breaking of that compact was, in the first instance, highly reprehensible, he did not mean to say, that circumstances might not have occurred in the course of a hundred and fifty years, which would render it necessary to argue the question on other grounds. If gentlemen would take the trouble of examining, they would perceive the miserable state to which England had reduced herself by this breach of compact, for it was neither more nor less. They determined, in the first instance, to shut out the great body of the people of Ireland from any participation in the business of the state; they determined to exclude them from parliament; they determined effectually to repress amongst them every feeling of honest ambition. The persons who did this were not fools—although he could not say that there was much wisdom, and certainly there was no justice, in their general proceedings. But, in one point, they acted wisely. When they came to the resolution of excluding the Roman Catholics from power, they took care that they should also be prevented from acquiring wealth. The reason was obvious: for it was a problem in morals, as demonstrable as any in mathematics, that if the means of acquiring wealth and information were granted, whilst political power was withheld, the overthrow of the state was almost certain to be the consequence. From the time, therefore, when the Roman Catholics were shut out from political privileges, those who had effected that object were constantly employed in the odious and disgusting task 946 of preventing them from realizing property, or acquiring knowledge. Their great aim was, to reduce the Roman Catholics to the most abject and humiliating state of poverty and ignorance. This state of things continued for seventy or eighty years; and they then found it impossible to let the system go on any longer. They were then obliged to commence undoing that which they had been so long and so mischievously employed in doing. The Roman Catholics were thankful for every benefit which was conferred on them. They were happy to be relieved from that state of degradation under which they had so long suffered. They rejoiced when substantial authority and power was placed in their hands. They rejoiced when they found that they began to be considered as a body of importance in the state. Those, however, who had thus far relieved them, had left the task incomplete. They felt that complete justice was not rendered to them, so long as they laboured under any disabilities. Their opponents said, "We have done much for you, but rest contented; political power in the state we never will allow you to enjoy." It was very easy to talk of demagogues, of violence of speech, of vituperation; and to introduce these topics, as reasons for withholding from the Roman Catholics that which they claimed. But let gentlemen consider what it was that these people were demanding. They were demanding no fanciful right; theirs was no visionary object; they were calling for their just share in the British constitution. They were demanding that which the people of Ireland, during seven hundred years, while that country was under the English government, had constantly demanded—to be full participators and sharers in the blessings of English law. He would take leave to ask the Protestant gentlemen of England—and every one knew that he respected them as much as any individual in that House could do—he would ask them, if an attempt, even the most remote, were made to deprive them of those privileges, for a participation in which the Roman Catholics prayed, what would be their feelings, what would be their conduct, under such circumstances? There was not a man amongst them, who would not lay down his life—who would not, if possible, make a still greater sacrifice—sooner than part with one of them—sooner than give up the glorious privilege of sharing in 947 the right to make and dispense the laws under which he lived, and by which he was governed [cheers]. If such an attempt were made, it would not be met by idle murmurings and vain complainings. It would call forth the energies of the whole; nation; and the attempt would sink before the indignant voice of the people.Hine exaudiri gemitus, iræque leonumVincla recusantum.Now, he would contend, that the right of the Roman Catholics to those privileges was as just as that possessed by any of those who now enjoyed them. It originally rested on the foundation of the constitution—it was afterwards recognized by treaty—and it could not, in either case, be touched without manifest injustice [hear, hear].
He had, in speaking on this point, expressed himself warmly; but in nothing that he had said did he mean his observations to apply to any individual, either in or out of that House. On the contrary, he wished to speak in terms of the utmost respect of all those who took a view of the question different from that which he entertained. Those individuals might be in error: he also might be in error: and the House would in the end judge between them. Before he sat down he wished to advert to a subject on which his right hon. friend had touched, towards the conclusion of his observations. He alluded to the state of the country to which this question most particularly related, The time had been when they were told in that House, that the great body of the people of Ireland would know nothing of those rights and privileges, if they were not urged upon their attention by designing men. That, in fact, they were not aware of any such rights—that they would never think of sharing in the formation of the laws, in their interpretation, or dispensation, if their minds had not been excited, and their passions inflamed, by factious orators. This doctrine had been laid down by grave authority within the walls of parliament. He, however, need not spend a great deal of time in convincing the House that this was not the case. Every person who would allow himself the fair use of his senses must know, that in Ireland there was, at the present moment, a universal sympathy amongst all classes of Roman Catholics, on the subject of the disabilities which affected that body. Clergy and laity, nobility and gentry, old and young, 948 rich and poor, were all pressing forward, with ardent desire, towards the one great object—the recovery of certain specific, determinate rights. That there never was, in any period of their history, except when the people were in a state of actual rebellion, such an unanimous call for civil rights as at the present moment, no man in his senses could doubt. That call was not confined, as he had said, to the higher ranks and classes of the people. The same feeling pervaded the middling ranks and classes throughout the whole of Ireland. But one sentiment prevailed in every part of the island. Any person who was at all observant of what was daily occurring most be convinced of this fact. If he looked to the newspapers—if he attended to the proceedings of the Catholic Association—if he marked the resolutions passed at aggregate meetings—if he noticed the language held at the meetings of parishes and villages—he would find amongst the people not only that eloquence and energy which were ordinarily ascribed to them, but he would also discover, that their conduct was marked by shrewdness, intelligence, and knowledge. He would perceive from those proceedings, that the Roman Catholics understood their grievances, and the value of that for which they contended, as well as any individual whom he then had the honour of addressing. Knowledge, no less than wealth, had been rapidly spreading amongst those persons; and there was not, he would venture to say, a Roman Catholic in Ireland, possessed of 100l. a-year, who had not all the energies of his mind directed towards this one object. Traders, shopkeepers, every person who filled a rank that at all approached to the middle class of society, well knew the great value of the rights which the Roman Catholics were anxious to obtain. This circumstance was, he thought, in a certain degree, a safeguard and security. Those individuals were sensible of the blessings which they now enjoyed, in consequence of the wise system that had been pursued towards them for the last forty years. They had learned to prize those blessings as they ought; and they were perfectly convinced that they could not be gainers by rebellion or invasion. They knew and felt that disturbance, whether effected by rebellion or invasion, must defeat and destroy their best hopes. He would fearlessly assert, that the king had not in his dominions 949 more faithful or more loyal subjects than the people of Ireland. There was the material for good or for ill, as it might be wrought [hear, hear]—for battle or for contribution—for peace or for war—for amity or for hatred. The rejection of their claims, it could not be doubted, had produced in the minds of that population, well-disposed as he believed it to be, an universal feeling of discontent; and he was bound to say, so far as his observation went, that that discontent was increased, in proportion as the Roman Catholics acquired wealth and knowledge. Still, however, the possession of wealth would not suffer that body to lend their ears to the suggestions of disaffected persons—they would not, from that very circumstance, lend themselves to any project which could operate against the interests of the country. The wisdom of the laws which allowed this acquisition of property, at the same time afforded that security to the state; for every man who acquired property might be considered as a hostage to the state: but, on the other hand, the feelings and impulses which were naturally created by the same cause, might, under particular circumstances, bring with them a certain degree of danger. One would suppose, that, in proportion as men advanced in wealth, they would find the causes of discontent removed; and, as a general principle, this was true. What, then, he asked, occasioned the difference with respect to Ireland? Were the laws ill-administered? No. Was it because there was a deficiency in the administration of justice between man and man? No. Was it on account of a want of attention on the part of the government to the comfort and happiness of the people? Certainly not. Whatever could be effected for their benefit was constantly attended to by the present illustrious chief-governor of Ireland. From what, then, did the discontent which prevailed in that country arise—from what cause did it spring—out of what circumstances did it grow? It grew out of the vice of the system, which had so altered and perverted the rules of Providence, that the wholesome juices which ought to support and invigorate the state, were converted into noxious poisons, destructive of the constitution, and pernicious to the public security.
What, then, was the remedy? The true remedy was, to destroy the vice in the system, by placing those who were now dis- 950 contented, in that situation which they felt they were entitled to fill, on every plea of justice and equity. Hitherto, he had been speaking of the middle class in Ireland; but, below that, there was another class of population. In noticing the feelings of that population, an hon. and learned friend of his had miserably duped himself—as, if it were necessary, he could prove to demonstration. If his hon. and learned friend proceeded on such data, he would, in the end, find himself completely deceived. The fact was, that the great and overwhelming mass of the labouring population of Ireland were at that moment as anxious as any other portion of the people on this great question. Some individuals asserted that those persons did not feel any interest in it. But no man could go into the cabin of an Irish peasant—no man could touch upon the subject, even to the most illiterate labourer—without perceiving that his feelings were, in an overwhelming degree, excited by it. The great body of the population felt that they were degraded: they considered themselves as an oppressed caste: they viewed themselves as an oppressed race, marked out for insult, on account of their religious tenets. The House had been told, and truly, that there were in Ireland a set of restless demagogues and agitators, whose proceedings had a powerful effect on the public mind. This he allowed was, to a certain extent, correct. All sides of the House admitted the fact. He could not, for his own part, say what their design was. Was it to raise rebellion? In candour, he must say, that he did not believe it was. It was not, he thought, their intention to excite the people to acts of outrage or rebellion—but to rouse them to a state bordering on fury, and to procure for themselves the character of being the uncontrolled masters of the Roman Catholic population, whom they might excite to act either right or wrong, just as they might think fit [hear, hear].
It would naturally be asked, "Is this a state in which Ireland ought to be left?" Unquestionably not. There were the combustibles—and there were the men, match in hand, who might, in a moment, set the whole in a flame. He would here repeat what he had stated as his deliberate opinion on a former night—that the only real security for the peace and tranquillity of that country was the Roman Catholic priesthood. The exemplary character of 951 those laborious men, who constituted the Roman Catholic hierarchy, afforded the best security for the preservation of quietness in Ireland. Those praiseworthy individuals exhorted those who were placed under their care not to listen to the advice of factious and designing persons. They restrained them from evil; not merely by the fear of temporal punishment, but by those higher sanctions which belonged to their sacred character [hear, hear]. When on a former occasion he had expressed himself in a similar way, he did not think the statement would have been denied. It was, however, encountered by the hon. member for Derry (Mr. Dawson); and it greatly surprised him to find that hon. member led away himself, and endeavouring to lead away the House, by such weak and futile arguments on so serious a subject. He was astonished to see that hon. member lend himself to a contrary statement, founded, as it was, upon such weak evidence. It was not said that the Roman Catholic priesthood had encouraged the people to any act of outrage or to any act of violence against the law. All that had been asserted was, that they had interfered in the business of elections, and that one of them had used expressions unbecoming, and most reprehensible. He would not, in noticing this point, take up the time of the House with the politics of the county of Waterford or the county of Cavan. The hon. member for Derry had read a number of affidavits the other night, in support of the opinion which he entertained of the conduct of the Roman Catholic clergy. Now, if the hon. member for Deny asked him, whether, in sincerity, he believed the matters contained in those affidavits, he would, on his oath, say that he did not. The hon. member for Derry had himself furnished sufficient evidence to raise serious doubts with respect to the statements which the affidavits presented, or at least to consider them as most grossly exaggerated. He thought better of the landlords of Ireland, than to suppose that they could be guilty, as had been set forth, of depriving their tenantry of the means of existence, of wresting from them their little comforts, because they had dared to exercise the sacred right of opinion. There might be instances—where peculiar exasperation prevailed, where strong passions operated—in which such a line of conduct had been pursued; but he believed that with respect to the 952 landlords of Ireland in general, no such practice had prevailed. He must, however, say, that he could not condemn the priesthood of Ireland, when the law had mixed up politics and religion together, in directing the attention of their flocks to the principles of those who were likely to represent the country in parliament. Had they not a right to say to their parishioners, "Here is a man wishing to go into parliament, who will there vituperate you—who will describe you as an idolator—who will oppose your attainment of those rights which you justly claim. If you like him vote for him; but he is not a man who will do you the justice you require." Was there any thing in this against the law? Was there any thing contrary to moral feeling in such a warning? Was not patriotism a moral duty? Was it not inculcated, in all countries, as a noble virtue? Why, then, when intelligence and light were rapidly spreading over Ireland, should it not be inculcated there? When, in 1795, the system, of forming a great body of forty-shilling freeholders was adopted, he foretold—though he pretended to no great prophetic skill—what the result would be. Those who, at that time, slighted the warning, were now reaping the bitter fruit of their own policy. Those who co-operated in that measure, now presented themselves to the House as objects of commiseration, because they suffered from what they had themselves done. Those yeomen, as they were called, who were created at the period to which he referred, those forty-shilling freeholders, were described as the safeguards of the constitution, so long as they were the property of the landlords [hear, hear]. That they were considered as mere property was perfectly evident. So clear was the hon. member for Deny on that point, that his only doubt resolved itself into this—whether they were legal or equitable property? Now he could not coincide either in the legal view, the religious view, the moral view, or the constitutional view, which the hon. member entertained on this point [hear].
The hon. member for Cavan (Mr. H. Maxwell) would excuse him, if, for a moment, he called die attention of the House to the charge which he had brought against the great body of the Roman Catholic clergy. The hon. member had, as an illustration of his argument stated, that he would select what had been written by 953 Dr. Doyle, under the signature of I. K. L. Now, the House, he hoped, would do him the justice to believe, that he condemned, as much as any man could condemn, some of the sentiments and expressions of I. K. L., as derogatory to the Established Church; and he was sorry that an individual, possessing so much learning and talent, as Dr. Doyle was admitted to be master of, should have used such language, and adopted such expressions, as he had done, in speaking of the establishment. The House would; recollect the electrical effect which was produced, when the hon. member for Cavan stated, that Dr. Doyle had compared the Protestant religion to the superstition of the idolators who worshipped the idol of Juggernaut. Dr. Doyle, however, had not the merit of supplying either the language or the sentiment, whether it was good or censurable. The fact was I. K. L. found that memorable passage in a speech which appeared in a public newspaper. That speech was delivered by lord Farnham (as we understood) at a reformation meeting—a meeting, the object of which was to convert the great body of Roman Catholics by mild and gentle argument, without the least tincture of acrimony or violence. He was quite unable to do justice to this celebrated speech; but he would call the attention of the House to one passage of it, to show from whence I. K. L. borrowed the idea that had excited so much surprise. The speaker, after declaring "that Popery and Slavery were twin sisters," and introducing some other expressions equally applicable to both, went on to say,—"It is because I wish to behold my fellow-countrymen alike enjoying all the blessings of freedom, that I desired to see them liberated from a system, far more galling than that which would bow them down to worship before the idol of Juggernaut" [hear, hear]. Not only the sentiment, but the metaphor of I. K. L. was here embodied; and in a few words, an attack was made against the whole body of the Roman Catholic priests. It did not appear that any particular marks of approbation were bestowed upon the letter of I. K. L. by the Roman Catholics; but when the passage which he had just read was delivered, "it was received with loud cheers by the whole body assembled at the meeting" [hear, hear]. Ladies and gentlemen, clerics and laics, all burst forth into loud plaudits, which, of course, 954 were received with much satisfaction by the noble lord, who was the "Peter the Hermit" of this crusade [a laugh]. Such was the manner in which it was attempted to disseminate the mild doctrines of Christianity; not by calm and sober reasoning, but by a sweeping attack on the alleged idolatry of the Roman Catholics. These were the means adopted for conciliating and converting the Roman Catholics, so that the question of Catholic emancipation should be lost, as the favourers of this new reformation stated, in the great and glorious triumph of general Protestantism. Was it, he demanded, in human nature—did it comport with the feelings of any body of men, who sincerely believed in the religious doctrines which they professed—patiently to bear such charges—tamely to sit down under such language as this? When they were thus vituperated—when their religion was thus reviled—were they to remain silent. Were they not justified in repelling the attack? When, that unhandsome, that unseemly metaphor, was directed against their religion had they not a right to use it in their turn? The letter of "I. K. L." was in fact, ad dressed to lord Farnham; and naturally enough, he recurred to that favourite expression, which, it appeared, was received with cheers by the whole assembly to which it was addressed [hear].
The hon. member for Derry had, the other night, made some observations, in which he seemed to hint, that he (Mr. Plunkett) was an enemy to the clergy, to the extension of education, and to the diffusion of mental light. There was no foundation for such an opinion. He was as great a friend to the progress of education and to the diffusion of light, as the hon. gentleman; but he did not think that this had any thing to do with that system of proselytism which had lately been introduced into Ireland. If it had not, then he would ask, how did the hon. member's argument affect him? He had said nothing against education—nothing against the promulgation of the Bible—but he certainly had spoken against a system of proselytism, which he conceived to be most mischievous. Therefore it was, that the hon. member had attacked him. He believed it had been most unjustly charged on the Roman Catholic priests, that they were unfriendly to the extension of knowledge. He, however, did not think that they were enemies to education, 955 nor to the use of the Bible. He believed that, in the course of the year, the whole of the Scripture was read in their places of worship; and he was informed that they had now in progress a book entirely composed of extracts from the New Testament, which they were willing to have used in those schools at which Roman Catholic and Protestant children were educated. He did not know whether the Protestant clergy would agree to this; but he sincerely hoped that they would. If, therefore, scriptural knowledge was not disseminated in those mixed schools, the fault could not be attributed to the Roman Catholic priesthood. He conceived that the hon. member for Derry had not treated him with the courtesy to which he was entitled, when, on the preceding evening, he accused him of having calumniated the Protestant clergy of Ireland. That he had, on many occasions, borne testimony to the excellent character of those gentlemen, the House must well know. He believed there was not a better set of men in existence. They discharged their duty with zeal and attention; and they need not, he was convinced, be ashamed to stand up in competition with the ministers of any church in Europe. The hon. member for Derry had asserted, that he accused the Protestant clergy with acting in the same manner as the Roman Catholic priests were asserted to have done, in the affidavits which the hon. member had read. He should be ashamed if he had made any such observation. On a former night, when the hon. member stated that the Roman Catholic, priests took a part in politics, he had merely asked, whether the Protestant clergy did not sometimes do the same thing? And it should be observed, that at the time to which he referred, the affidavits in question had not been read. How, then, could he have asserted that the Protestant clergy did that which he believed the Roman Catholic priests did not do themselves?
He was now drawing to a conclusion. He had described to the House the state of the whole body of Roman Catholics, in the highers the middle, and the lower ranks of society; and the feelings by which they were actuated. This, however, was not the whole of the picture. It was only one half of it. What, he demanded, was the general feeling of the higher order of Protestants in Ireland? It was that of violent, he would not say altogether un- 956 justifiable, indignation. That they bore a great degree of animosity against the Roman Catholics the House had proof sufficient before them. Indeed, he might justly say, that great fury and violence existed on both sides; and surely it was their duty to soothe that fury and to soften down that violence. Here were the Roman Catholics of Ireland, a great and respectable body, anxious to obtain civil rights, by quiet, orderly, and legal means. He deeply deplored that the conduct of agitators should, for a moment, throw any suspicion on their cause. And how stood the Protestants affected to their claims? A great body of them were desirous that the Roman Catholics should obtain the rights which they claimed. Some wished it from a feeling of justice; and many were anxious that those privileges should be conceded, as the only method by which security, tranquillity, and prosperity could be established on a permanent footing in Ireland. There was, he knew, a great body of Protestants who were willing to accede and to submit to such a measure, if the wisdom of that House would agree to it. He would pledge himself to the fact, that if the salutary measures which were within their reach, in 1825, had been carried into effect, there would not, at this day, have been a murmur heard amongst the Protestants, nor would there have existed amongst the Roman Catholics, a particle of discontent or bad feeling. He could, without going far from the place in which he stood, point out men who were now the opponents of emancipation, but who, at that time, would have been ready to give their support to that measure, had the government suffered it to proceed.
It was, he contended, neither good taste nor good argument to call this a mere Catholic question. It was a Protestant question. It was a national question. It was emphatically, an imperial question, in which the public safety, and the public prosperity, were essentially concerned. He knew it not as a question of party. He knew of no party but his country; and he would act under no colours but those of truth, freedom, and justice. He was not surprised at gentlemen being disgusted with the conduct of certain agitators in Ireland; but that should be considered as one of the afflictions produced by the system which had been adopted in that country; and the true way to cure the evil, was by 957 an alteration of that system. The proper way to disarm them of their power was to take away from their standard every honest man in the country; to inflict on them perpetual peace; and to annihilate their influence by disseminating universal satisfaction. He implored the House to reflect again and again on what the situation of Ireland now was, and to remember that that situation had grown out of the present question. The advocates for emancipation had pointed out a remedy for these grievances; and they called on their opponents, if they refused it, to state their alternative. No such alternative had been distinctly proposed, though several had been obscurely hinted at. One was the effecting a reformation; but, if the great truths of Christianity were to be daily brought into question; if the differences between the two religions were to be discussed before assemblies of ladies and gentlemen, he thought that the cause of the Established Church would not be much advanced by such a course of proceeding. Besides, if it should be resolved to allay the dissensions in Ireland by a reformation, it might be as well, for fear of accidents, that the parties who should be employed in bringing it about, should be backed by English troopers. This would be following the example of Henry 8th, who occasionally condescended to reason with his subjects; but if any were so hardy as not to be convinced by his arguments, he took a speedy way of silencing their opposition, by hanging them up without ceremony; and certainly this plan had one advantage, which was this—that those whom he had once refuted in this manner, never stood up again in argument against him. In conclusion, it ought to be the policy of England to render the people of Ireland friendly and well disposed towards her, in order that she might be able to avail herself of their assistance in the hour of need. The British constitution was declared to be the envy of surrounding nations. Let it not then be said of the people, that they were a disunited people, but on the contrary, that they were bound together by one common tie of affection and interest [loud cheers].
Mr. Secretary Peel
rose. If he were, he said, to consult merely his own personal convenience, it would incline him to assent to the proposition of the hon. baronet, for what prospect of personal ad- 958 vantage could he have in maintaining the opinions which he had hitherto maintained, whereas it was quite painful and nauseating to have to tax one's memory and ingenuity in the devising of novel arguments on a subject which had been already so often discussed and exhausted. Had he, like his noble friend (lord Elliot) who had spoken that evening, seen reason to retract the vote he had heretofore given on this question, he would not have hesitated to do so; indeed, he respected that noble lord for the candour of his conduct; but, as his own opinion still remained unchanged, he would not shrink from his duty, or refrain from expressing his sentiments, whether they met with the concurrence of the House or not. He had hoped to have been relieved from every thing of a personal nature: but he thought it necessary to state that, he would not shrink from what he had said when this question was discussed in 1825, and which was as follows—that if he could be satisfied that any of the political privileges which were withheld from the Roman Catholics of Ireland were withheld in violation of the treaty of Limerick, it would very materially influence his judgment in deciding on the present question; but, after having examined into this matter with the greatest attention, he felt a more perfect conviction that that treaty afforded the Catholics no claims for having the disabilities removed. After the pledge he had given, he did not see how he could avoid stating to the House the reasons which induced him to maintain his opinion. There were various articles in the treaty of Limerick. He was ready to admit that the first of these articles related to the Roman Catholics of Ireland; and he was desirous of premising this much in the beginning, lest he should be suspected of a wish to keep it from the view of the House, in calling, as he now did, its attention to the second article of that treaty. This article was as follows:—All the inhabitants or residents of Limerick, or any other garrison now in the possession of the Irish, and all officers and soldiers now in arms under any commission of king James, or those authorised by him to grant the same, in the several counties of Limerick, Clare, Kerry, Cork, and Mayo, or any of them; and all the commissioned officers in their majesties' quarters that belong to the Irish regiments now in being, that are treated with, and who are not prisoners of war, or have 959 taken protection, and who shall return and submit to their majesties' obedience, and their own and every of their heirs, shall hold, possess, and enjoy all and every of their estates of freehold inheritance; and all the rights, titles, and interests, privileges, and immunities which they and every or any of them hold, enjoy, or were rightfully and lawfully intitled to in the reign of king Charles 2nd, or any time since, by the laws and statutes that were in force in the said reign of king Charles 2nd, and shall be put in possession, by order of the government, of such of them as are in the king's hands, or the hands of his tenants, without being put to any suit or trouble therein, and all such estates shall be freed and discharged from all arrears of crown-rent, quit-rent, and other public charges incurred, and become due since Michaelmas, sixteen hundred and eighty eight, to the day of the date hereof. And all persons comprehended in this article shall have, hold, and enjoy, all their goods and chattels, real and personal, to them or any of them belonging and remaining, either in their own hands, or the hands of any persons whatever, in trust for, or for the use of them, or any of them. And all and every the said persons, of what profession, trade, or calling, so ever they be, shall and may use, exercise, and practise their several and respective profession, trade, or callings as freely as they did use, exercise, and enjoy the same in the reign of king Charles the 2nd; provided that nothing in this article contained be construed to extend to or restore any forfeited person now out of the kingdom, except what are hereafter comprised.—Provided also, that no person whatsoever shall have or enjoy the benefit of this article that shall neglect or refuse to take the oaths of allegiance, made by act of parliament in England, in the first year of the reign of their present majesties, when thereunto required.Now, what he contended for was this, that throughout the treaty, political privileges were never in the contemplation of either party; that it was intended that the Catholics should enjoy the exercise of their religion "free from disturbance," and that that "freedom from disturbance" by no means imported such disturbance or detriment as might follow from exclusion from parliament and from offices of power and trust. The treaty solely guaranteed the free exercise of their religion to Catholics, such as they enjoyed it in the time 960 of Charles 2nd. Now, let the House advert to the construction of the terms of the treaty. What did the words "freedom from disturbance in the exercise of their religion" by the Roman Catholics mean? The House would find those terms constantly employed by contemporary writers—by Clarendon, and even by the Catholics themselves—as amounting to nothing more than a toleration of their religion, and a security in the free exercise of it. Let him take, first of all, the interpretation of king William himself. In the letter of his majesty respecting his Irish subjects he said, that he merely granted them the undisturbed exercise of their religion, but no political privileges. More than this ought not, he said, to be asked by the Catholics, since they would be free from all disturbance. He said that he would not admit them to parliament or to office: all that he would do would be to preserve to them the exercise of their religion. "With this," his majesty continued, "the Catholics ought to be satisfied; they ought not to ask more, and he never," he said, "could comprehend how it was that men calling themselves Christians could think of disturbing the quiet of the state." Such was the language employed by king William—a language, at least, that afforded a clue to what the understanding of one party was with respect to the meaning of the treaty. "You shall have," said king William, "the exercise of your religion without disturbance." This was the amount of the article in favour of the Catholics. The interpretation of it depended on the way in which it was understood and received at the time it was promulgated. Let the House recollect, that the treaty was signed on the 3rd of October, 1691. The parliament of England sat on the 22nd of the same month; and then it was contended, that Catholics had the right of being admitted to political privileges. But, what did the parliament do? They passed an act applying the oath of Supremacy to all those who should sit in the Irish parliament. He knew it had been a question raised, in after times, that England had no right to make an act binding Ireland. But, however that might be, the fact of the oath having been appointed by act of parliament fully proved that such an act was not inconsistent with what was generally understood to be the true intent of the treaty of Limerick. The act having 961 passed was received in Ireland, and acted upon there for one hundred years afterwards. He would now take the liberty of defending the Whigs of 1691. Sir John Somers was, he believed, the solicitor-general, Treby the Attorney-general, and lord Godolphin the lord high Treasurer. Was it credible that king William, after he had given his general in Ireland permission to stipulate with the Catholics for political privileges, that lord Godolphin and sir John Somers would have ventured to propose or sanction a measure which was in direct violation of the terms of a solemn treaty? Was it to be believed that an act so gross could have been perpetrated by such men? The House would recollect, that king William did not ratify the treaty of Limerick until the year following, 1692. The ratification bore date the 24th of February of that year—one month after the passing of the act requiring the oath of Supremacy to be taken by every member of parliament. Now, if the act of parliament and the treaty were inconsistent with each other, was it possible that king William, after sanctioning the one could have had the baseness, in the face of the country, to sanction the other? The notion was incredible. So much, then, for Whig authority. But what did the Whig historian say relative to this treaty? What was bishop Burnet's testimony as to the meaning of the articles? That historian was acquainted with the circumstances of Ireland—with the capitulation and the treaty of Limerick. His statement was to this effect. "And thus ended the war of Ireland; and with that our civil war came to a final end. The articles of capitulation were punctually executed, and some doubts that arose out of some ambiguous words were explained in favour of the Irish." Thus, then, he had referred to the explanations of the articles as they were understood by king William himself; as they had been understood next by the legislature; and, lastly, as they had been understood by the Whig historian of the time; and he thought he had shown good reason for withholding his assent to the proposition of the hon. baronet, which was founded on the allegation, that the Catholics were entitled to political privileges under the meaning of the treaty of Limerick.
He begged pardon of the House for having detained them so long on this part of the 962 subject, but having been, in some measure, compelled to enter upon it, he was not willing to let it pass without an endeavour to convince the House, that his opinions and inferences, with respect to the meaning of the treaty, were not formed without deliberation. He confessed that the proposition now before the House, and the circumstances under which his assent was required to it, were such as very considerably to increase his indisposition to receive it, and to excite his apprehensions if it should succeed. When he heard the hon. baronet state, that there was little or no difference between placing a man on the faggot, and imposing political disabilities on him; and when his right hon. and learned friend the Attorney-general for Ireland, stated that they durst not subject Englishmen to these disqualifications, for that Englishmen would rise up against the attempt—that they would be justified in doing so—and that they would, not be worthy of the name of Englishmen, if they did not; and when he heard, moreover, the names of Pitt and Burke invoked to give a stamp to such monstrous, such abominable doctrines, what could he think of the hon. gentleman who said this, when he recollected, that Englishmen, who were Catholics, had borne with these disabilities? Had the hon. baronet read the speeches of Mr. Pitt and of Mr. Burke, in the year 1790, upon the proposed repeal of the Test and Corporation acts? Mr. Burke said, that twice before, his assent had been asked to this repeal, and that he grounded his refusal principally upon a reference to the doctrines upheld by Dr. Priestley, and others of his persuasion. Mr. Pitt also repudiated their doctrines in still stronger terms, and opposed the bill by all the means in his power. When, at a later period, Mr. Pitt had supported the Catholic claims, he supported them on very different grounds to those now stated by the hon. baronet, and the right hon. the Attorney-general for Ireland. What was the language used by Mr. Pitt in 1805?—After he had come to that conclusion in favour of the Roman Catholics on which so much stress was now laid—a conclusion, he must think, come to unfortunately, but founded on very different grounds from those on which it was now proposed to admit the Catholics to political power. In 1805, Mr. Pitt, after declaring, "that he would not, under any circumstances, or under any possible situation of 963 affairs, consent that it should be discussed or entertained as a question of right," went on to say, "I, Sir, have never been one of those who have ever held that the term Emancipation is in the smallest degree applicable to the repeal of the few remaining penal statutes to which the Catholics are liable." So that he not only took a very different view of the grounds on which he would proceed, but he disclaimed the very name adopted by those who now quoted him as an authority. "With regard," Mr. Pitt added, "to the admission of the Catholics to the elective franchise, or to any of those posts and offices which have been alluded to, I view all those points as distinctions to be given, not for the sake of the person and the individual who is to possess them, but for the sake of the public, for whose benefit they were created, and for whose advantage they are to be exercised. We are bound to consider not merely what is desired by a part, but what is advantageous for the whole. Nor can shut my eyes to the fact, that the Catholic must feel anxious to advance his religion: it was natural that he should do so." These were Mr. Pitt's principles; and it was on these grounds, that he (Mr. Peel) had always opposed what was termed Catholic emancipation. He did not do this out of any hostile feeling towards the Catholics: he wished from his heart that he could conscientiously vote for the removal of the disabilities, and come to the same conclusion to which that most honoured and respected man had come; but, for the reasons which had been stated by that great man, he could not do so, and he was compelled to say, that he preferred a system of exclusion to one of security.—He would now state the grounds on which he did not resist this resolution. His right hon. friend had done him no more than justice in representing that he had never resisted it on account of any clamour that might be raised against it out of doors. If he thought that clamour unfounded, he would be the last man to pay the least attention to it. He had no notion of the prejudices of the people overruling the deliberation of the legislature. The parliament was better able to form a just opinion upon questions of this nature, than the uninformed; and, whatever might be the opposition which parliament might experience, it was still bound to set an example of justice and wisdom; and that being done, he was 964 sure the people would soon coincide in their decision. He could safely say, that he had never, directly or indirectly, encouraged the presentation of a single petition connected with this subject. He approached the discussion of this question without reference to petitions on either side; for he thought it the duty of parliament to look at it as one of general policy, to be determined on its proper grounds, without reference to feelings or opinions. His right hon. friend, the Master of the Rolls, had, he thought, not been fairly dealt with by the Attorney-general for Ireland. His right hon. friend, as he understood him, had referred to past history for this purpose alone—that as the Protestants had been charged with bigotry in enacting the measures of safety against the Catholics, it became necessary to refer to history, in order to show under what circumstances those measures were taken—what were the justifications—and how far they were, in effect, measures of retaliation on the Catholics. He would own, fairly and candidly, that he entertained a distrust of the Roman Catholic religion. He objected not to the faith of the Catholics; he had the highest respect for them: in private life he had never made any distinction between persons on account of their religion: it was a matter of utter indifference to him whether or not a party professed the doctrine of transubstantiation; but if there were superadded to that doctrine a scheme of worldly policy of a marked character, he had a right to inquire into its nature, and observe its effects on mankind. Could any man acquainted with the state of the world doubt for a moment that there was engrafted on the Catholic religion something more than a scheme for promoting mere religion? that there was in view the furtherance of a means by which man could acquire authority over man? Could he know what the doctrine of absolution, of confession, of indulgences was, without a suspicion that those doctrines were maintained for the purpose of establishing the power of man over the minds and hearts of men? What was it to him what the source of the power was called, if practically it operated as such? And, as to religion being a matter that ought to be exalted above human confidence, he could only say, that the very circumstance of its authority being so high, was a reason why we should dread its application, or rather 965 abuse, to purposes that should be unconnected with it. When he looked to the Bull which he held in his hand, of Pope Pius the Seventh—[Here the right hon. gentleman observed some hon. member laugh].—The hon. gentleman might laugh, but he miscalculated very much if he supposed that a document like this would have no effect on three or four millions of superstitious people. Yes! it would influence them; and he had a lurking suspicion in his mind, that the document was intended to uphold the authority of the Church. He found that, in 1807, this—he would not call it a Bull, lest he should offend the hon. gentleman, but a proclamation—this proclamation, then, which he held in his hand, addressed by Pope Pius 7th, in 1807, to the Catholics of Ireland, granted an indulgence of three hundred clays from the pains of purgatory, to those who should devoutly recite, at stated times, three short ejaculations, of which the following is the first:—"Jesus, Maria, Joseph, I offer to you my ardent soul." The other two ejaculations began with the same sort of invocation. When he saw such a mockery of all religion as this was resorted to in order to prop up the authority of man over man—when he saw such absurdity as this addressed to rational Catholics, and received by rational Catholics, and published amongst an illiterate and superstitious populace—it was in vain to tell him, that such things could be ineffective. His right hon. friend, the Attorney-general for Ireland, might, if he pleased, decry the reformation now going on in Ireland, and turn into ridicule those who encouraged it. But, whilst the privilege of free discussion was allowed by the law, nothing, he might depend upon it—no ridicule, would prevent really pious persons from doing all in their power to counteract and undermine such influence as was attempted to be exercised over the minds of the multitude by the means to which he had alluded. He was not one of those who would defend any attempt to overthrow, or even to turn into ridicule, those persons who were appointed pastors of the people, let them be Roman Catholics or of any other persuasion. He would disdain any participation in acts of that kind; but to a fair and honest endeavour to bring others to embrace what was conceived to be a purer system of faith, he thought no reasonable objection could be entertained. His right hon. friend had 966 affected to treat lightly the indications of reformation in Cavan; but, in the words of lord Bacon, "a straw thrown up sufficed! to show which way the wind blows." A spirit of inquiry had gone forth on the subject of the Catholic religion. His right hon. friend might depend upon it, that the political discussions in the Catholic Association had re-acted on the population of Ireland. A system of fair and temperate discussion on religious matters had arisen, and was producing a beneficial effect; and he much doubted whether Dr. Doyle would carry into execution the threat which he had held out, of entering into polemical discussion with the Protestants. As he had before said, he disdained all connexion with persons who would attempt to bring into discredit individuals in the exercise of spiritual functions. He wished to give offence to no man; and would, in order to avoid augmenting the irritation which already existed, purposely avoid any particular allusion to the speeches or proceedings of the Catholic Association. He had no objection to the individuals professing the Catholic religion as individuals. He quarrelled not with their religious tenets as a system of faith; but he was jealous of the political system which was ingrafted on those tenets; and he thought he had a perfect right, on the present occasion, to consider what had been the influence of that political system in different countries. He did not desire to consider this point as he found it illustrated in ancient councils, or in times when bigotry and superstition were prevalent throughout the world; but he would view the effect of the Catholic religion as it existed in the present day in various countries;—in some, where it luxuriated in undisputed growth; in some, where it was only struggling for supremacy; and in others where it was subordinate to another and a purer system. Under these different aspects he had contemplated the Catholic religion, and the result of his observation and investigation was, that it was expedient to maintain in this kingdom the mild, mitigated, and temperate, predominance of the Protestant church. He recollected that, some years ago, it was usual to talk of the influence of the Catholic religion on the political condition of mankind as a thing impossible to take place in the present day. The intolerant spirit of that religion was described as a volcano which had 967 burnt out, and the ravages of which were to be looked for in past ages. He well remembered a speech of the late Mr. Whitbread, in which that gentleman ridiculed the apprehensions which were entertained, of religious feelings influencing political measures. To illustrate his position Mr. Whitbread took the case of France. "Look," said he, "at Buonaparte: do you think that he is inclined to promote religion?—do you fear the Pope whilst he is under his influence?—are you afraid of the establishment of the Jesuits in France? You have more occasion to feel alarm at the spread of atheism and infidelity in that country." If any body had told Mr. Whitbread, that fifteen years from the time at which he uttered those words, religion would exercise an important influence on the political affairs of France, he would have treated the assertion as a wild chimera—a rhapsody even more absurd than the much-ridiculed reformation in Cavanshire. He contended, then, that in the discussion of this question, the consideration of the influence which the Catholic religion exercised on political affairs ought not to be lost sight of. It was the natural desire of every man to promote the religious faith to which he was sincerely attached. If Roman Catholics were admitted to parliament, what could be more natural or just on their parts, than to attempt—and who could restrain them?—to improve the condition of their religious system—to extend its influence in this country—and to bring it into closer connexion with the government?
When his right hon. friend spoke of the removal of the present disabilities as being the consummation of the hopes and wishes of the Catholics, he thought he was saying more than he could answer for. In his opinion, the consequence of the admission of Catholics to parliament would be, to bring the Catholic and Protestant religions into collision, in such a way as might lead to the destruction of the latter; and he confessed that he considered the disorders and confusion which must prevail for ages during the conflict, before that event could take place, as a greater evil than even that event itself. His right, hon. friend had stated, that the Roman Catholics were perfectly satisfied with the measure which he had proposed in a former year. Now, he had read a declaration, published since that measure 968 was discussed, from several of the most esteemed and respected members of the Catholic body, and in that document he could not find the evidence of that entire satisfaction which his right hon. friend had spoken of. The declaration to which he alluded was published in 1826, and was an address from the British Roman Catholics to their Protestant fellow-subjects. The address was drawn up in a very temperate and proper manner, and calculated in every respect to conciliate; but, at the same time, it excited an apprehension in his mind, that the removal of the disabilities now complained of was not the final consummation—the end—of the wishes of the Catholics. The address contained the following passage:—"We entreat you to endeavour to divest your minds of preconceived impressions to our disadvantage, and calmly to examine the situation in which we stand. In a country boasting of peculiar liberality, we suffer severe privations because we differ from you in religious belief. The remaining penalties—neither few nor trivial—of a penal code of unparalleled severity, still press upon us: a Catholic Peer cannot sit and vote in the House of Peers, and is thus deprived of his most valuable birthright; a Catholic Commoner cannot sit and vote in the House of Commons; a Catholic Freeholder may be prevented from voting at elections for members; a Catholic cannot sit in the Privy Council, or be a Minister of the Crown; he cannot be a judge, or hold any Crown office in any of the spiritual, equity, or common law courts; he may practice at the bar, but he cannot become a King's counsel; he cannot hold any office in any of the corporations; he cannot graduate at either of the two universities, much less enjoy any of the numerous beneficial offices connected with them, although both of those scats of learning were founded by Catholics; he cannot marry either a Protestant or a Catholic, unless the ceremony be performed by a Protestant clergyman; he cannot settle real or personal property for the use of his church, or of Catholic schools, or for any other purposes of the Catholic religion; he cannot vote at vestries, or present to a living in the church, though both of those rights seem to appertain to the enjoyment of property, and may be actually exercised by infidels.
Now, many of the disabilities here complained of were proposed to be continued 969 by the bill which his right hon. friend said the Catholics were perfectly satisfied with. He recollected that, in that measure, a special exception was made with regard to the right of holding the offices alluded to in the extract which he had read, and that of presentation to livings. Those were just objects of reasonable ambition to Catholics; and if Catholics had seats in parliament, there could be no doubt that they would confederate to attain them. He had no doubt that Roman Catholics would occasionally be found voting with opposition or with government, alternately; but when any question occurred which related to their church, he had also no doubt that they would be found united together as the East Indians and West Indians did, on any discussion on the subject of the removal or imposition of a tax on sugar, and would, by nice balancing between parties, be able to exercise considerable power, although their numbers as compared with Protestant members, should be exceedingly limited. He firmly believed that it was intended to guard against any such influence at the period of the Revolution. He firmly believed that king William, and the great men who advised him, had it in view to prevent the exercise of the Catholic religion in the way to which he had just adverted. It was not for their attachment to the House of Stuart that disabilities were imposed on the Catholics. The grounds of that proceeding were clearly stated in king William's letter, to which he had previously directed the attention of the House, where that monarch said, that he was willing to afford the Catholics every advantage for the free exercise of their religion, but he could not consent to admit them into parliament, or into the offices which constituted the executive government; because he believed that they would exercise an influence to promote their own purposes. It was then determined, that the Crown should be Protestant; but that object was not deemed completely secured, until the great offices of state were also rendered Protestant. It was on that side that danger was apprehended. It was thought that the Protestant ascendancy might be endangered by the influence of personal character in the case of an adviser of the Crown. That influence which assumed the garb of conscience was of all others the most dangerous. Prevailed upon by 970 his ministers, the monarch might say that "he was convinced by the arguments which he had heard on the subject, that there was no longer any reason for maintaining a distinction between the Protestant and the Catholic church."
He now approached the most important and the most painful part of the subject: he meant its bearing on the state of Ireland. Believing, as he did, that the admission of Catholics to parliament and to of Vices of state, would endanger the constitution, yet he did not hesitate to say, that if he were satisfied that such a measure would have the effect which was anticipated from it by some persons—that it would restore peace and tranquillity to Ireland—he would sacrifice his apprehensions of the ultimate result to the attainment of the immense present benefit. If he could be convinced that that one thing would, as an hon. member had said, conduct Ireland to the Elysian fields, or that it was, according to another hon. member, the only road to salvation for that country, he would not scruple, if he could not subdue his apprehensions, at least to make them subordinate to so happy a result. He could not, however, make up his mind to believe, that the removal of the disabilities which pressed upon the Catholics of Ireland would produce any such consummation. The hon. member for Armagh, speaking on this subject, had said, that "we were now on the ridge of a hill," and asked "whether we should not ascend to the top?" For his part, if he were sure that what the hon. member pointed out as the top was really the top, and that when they had attained that point they would not behold another horizon, he would accompany him in his ascent. The example of other countries, and of Scotland among the rest, had been referred to, and it was said, that the same effects which had taken place in Scotland would result in Ireland, if the same measures were adopted. His answer to that was, that the advocates of the Catholics did not intend to pursue the same measures. Scotland was not a case in point. If the friends of the Catholics should propose to make the religion of the great majority the religion of the state, to transfer the emoluments of the Protestant church to the Catholics, and to open to them all the great offices of the state, he could understand that; but if they proposed to 971 maintain the Protestant church establishment as the religion of the state, then he would say, that there would still exist a barrier between the Roman Catholic and the attainment of his wishes, and that he would not have arrived at the top of the hill [hear, hear!]. Did the advocates of the Catholics, when they had succeeded in placing the Catholics and Protestants on an equality in point of law, intend to admit them to an equality of power; and if they did, could they imagine that Catholics would be found as efficient servants, to administer the affairs of a Protestant state as Protestants were? If it was intended merely to remove from the Catholic the exclusion by law, and to give him a nominal eligibility to enjoy political privileges, which in practice he would be debarred from, the exclusion would then be the more galling, inasmuch as it would seem to be the result of personal considerations, and not of legal disqualification; and under such a state of things, he was convinced that the agitation which would prevail in Ireland on the occasion of elections and other opportunities for the display of public feeling, would be quite as great as that which was at present experienced. How many were the objects which would still remain to be attained by the Catholics! How would it be possible hereafter to deny the propriety of Catholic priests exercising their spiritual authority for temporal purposes? His right hon. friend had vindicated the Catholic priests for exciting what, he called the patriotism of the Irish freeholders. Would not the priests hereafter be the judges of what constituted patriotism? Might, not the priests, after the proposed measure of relief was granted, claim to be the best judges of what was patriotic and for the best interests of their church? If the exercise of their spiritual authority in political matters was vindicated now, how could it be denied in future? Could any comparison be drawn between the exercise of spiritual power by the Catholic priests in Ireland during the late elections, and that by Protestant clergymen? Instances might be found, he did not mean to vindicate, them, of Protestant clergymen busying themselves too much in election affairs. He would never, directly or indirectly, encourage such proceedings. But he would ask, if any Protestant clergyman had been found, in any county of England, for any object 972 which he might deem of importance, to attempt to dissolve the bond which subsisted between landlord and tenant—a bond, he maintained, not of subserviency, but of generous attachment for kind ofiices—by saying, "you must fly in the face of your landlord, and vote as we direct, you, for the sake of the Protestant establishment in church and state"—when would there have been an end of the just indignation which would be excited in that House at such indecent conduct? He knew not precisely the extent to which the interference of the Catholic priests had been carried during the late elections in Ireland; but he believed that it had prevailed to a degree which was utterly unjustifiable, and which it would be dangerous to vindicate; because that vindication could not at present be advanced on any ground which would not apply to the future.
Having touched upon this point, he would now proceed to examine whether the Catholic prelates merited all the eulogiums which had been bestowed on them by his right hon. friend, the Attorney-general for Ireland. He entertained great respect for the office, of those reverend persons: and he could assure the House, that he had no wish to inquire minutely into their conduct; but, when his right hon. friend had, on a former night, thought proper to have their petition read at length, to pass the highest encomiums upon them, and to require the House to place implicit confidence in their declarations, he might be excused for inquiring whether their acts were consistent with their professions. His right hon. friend not only said, that the Roman Catholic prelates had exerted themselves for the maintenance of the public peace, but he positively declared that the public tranquillity of Ireland at that moment depended on them. Now, before he could join in giving those persons such extravagant praise, or concur in attributing to them such extraordinary results, he would ask his right hon. friend one question. His right hon. friend had denounced in the severest terms, the conduct of certain agitators and demagogues. He did not, he said, know exactly what the object of those persons was: he doubted whether they intended to drive the people into actual rebellion, but he was certain, that at least they intended to infuriate and exasperate them, in order to intimidate this country into a concession. 973 If that was the case—if such was the conduct of those demagogues—he would ask his right hon. friend, whether the Roman Catholic prelates, to whom the tranquillity of Ireland was said to be owing, had published any declaration against them? Had the Catholic prelates, when they found that the Association was continued, contrary to the predictions of the advocates of the Catholics, who said there would be nothing but submission to the laws—had they, he asked, discouraged the proceedings of that body? He took the character of the Catholic Association from his right hon. friend, and from other Irish members; and if that character was correct, he could not join in the praises which were lavished upon the Catholic prelates. Were any of the prelates who subscribed to the petition members of the Association? He was forced to enter upon this examination, because his right hon. friend required him to place confidence in the declarations of the prelates, and besides attributed to them the tranquillity of Ireland. It was not to be endured that an appeal should at once be made to the generosity and to the fears of the English people. On the one hand they were told, that the Catholic prelates had done every thing in their power to promote peace in Ireland—and of course discouraged the Association which had flown in the face of parliament—and on the other, that the whole Irish nation, from the peer and the priest to the lowest peasant, were banded together and determined to obtain emancipation. Now, he found that, out of the number of prelates who had signed the petition, eleven were at that moment members of the Catholic Association. He would not have mentioned this circumstance, had it not been forced on his attention, in the course of his inquiries into the justice of the exclusive pretensions put forward in behalf of the Catholic prelates. It would, in future, be as well that those eminent persons should, whilst they were signing petitions which expressed their entire respect for the legislature, and above all for the church establishment, abstain from making themselves parties, at the same time, to declarations which were utterly inconsistent with those professions. Rome papers couched in terms of extraordinary asperity had been put forth by Dr. Doyle. It was said, in excuse for him, that those papers were controversial. It mattered not. If he did 974 not avow the statements contained in his letters, it was unworthy of a bishop to utter them; and if he did avow them, then they were utterly inconsistent with the declarations of the petition. On this point he was perfectly satisfied that nothing would have such an effect on the people of England, as fair dealing on the part of the Catholics. They expected from them an open declaration of what their sentiments were, either on political matters, or on religion. He was at a loss to know what to say with respect to the opposite declarations of the Roman Catholic prelates; but there was something in them extremely painful to his feelings.
His right hon. friend had blamed the hon. member for Derry, for not taking the declaration of the Roman Catholics themselves, as to what their tenets were; and had told him that he had no right to ransack the history of past ages to discover them. But when the Catholics were so inconsistent in their declarations, was it surprising that some distrust should be entertained on the subject? He admitted that the acts and declarations of individuals were not to be charged or visited upon a whole body like that of the Catholics; but there were circumstances under which the acts of individuals could not be passed over. It was in vain to say that gentlemen need not refer to the conduct of Dr. Doyle, or Dr. Curtis, or to that of any other person, standing in the position in which these parties stood with respect to the Catholics of Ireland: their declarations were not only fit matter to be referred to, but became of some importance. The hon. member for Drogheda (Mr. Van Homrigh) had borne testimony to the general character of Dr. Curtis, and to the severity with which that gentleman had expressed himself against the proceedings and temper of the Catholic Association. The reverend gentleman had declared, that he disapproved of the Catholic Association; that he entertained the highest respect for his late royal highness the duke of York, with other assurances to a similar effect; and thereupon he had proceeded to utter to the hon. member for Drogheda two long Latin quotations. These profoundly couched speeches were of about the length of half a page each; and he would not trouble the House by repeating them: but if Dr. Curtis really intended to vindicate his countrymen from having assented generally, or taken part in the abominable 975 reflections which from one quarter in Ireland had been cast upon that exalted and lamented individual, would it not have been easier, and readier, and more intelligible, if he was sincere in this object, to have declared his meaning plainly and simply in the vulgar tongue, than to have whispered his dissent to the hon. member in the shape of a Latin quotation?
But he could not leave the subject of the acts of individuals here. He did think that their conduct at least, went for something, in judging; of the feelings and dispositions of the persons whom they represented; and he would, therefore, very shortly notice a document upon which great stress had recently been laid. He alluded to the petition which had been presented to the House from the Roman Catholic bishops generally of Ireland. The very first objection which he would always take to the conduct of any individual or any party was, where it evinced any want of manly candour or sincerity. Now, the petition of the Roman Catholic bishops of Ireland referred the House to a document published a few months since by the same body, under the title of "The Declaration of the Catholic bishops of Ireland," and which they now stated to the House, they had framed in the simplicity of their hearts, in order to enlighten the public as to the truth of some of those ordinances of their church which, as they believed, were most generally misunderstood and misconstrued. This Declaration had been published only as lately as in the last year. This was the very paper of all others to which men would be inclined to look for a sound and complete exposition of the doctrines of the Catholic faith. And when he (Mr. Peel) had taken up that Declaration, and found it set out—"That the Catholics, in common with all Christians, received and respected the entire of the Ten Commandments, as they were found in Exodus and Deuteronomy, and that the discordance between the Catholic and Protestant ritual upon this subject arose merely from a different manner of arranging, &c."—when he read this, he had really been of opinion that he had lived in error. He believed, almost of course, that which he saw before him. He had heard, undoubtedly, that the Catholics rejected the second commandment, and excluded it from their catechism; but he could not question that, which competent persons now declared, in the simplicity of 976 their hearts, to be the truth; and, for a moment, he had believed that the report was an error. Now, how did the thing turn out upon examination? On taking into his hand the catechism of the Catholics—this it was that he did complain of—it was better for all parties—better for the Catholics themselves—he said this in no hostility to them, and he was sure that it was what the right hon. gentleman near him would say too—it was better that they should come forward fairly and honestly and state what was the fact, let it be which way it might:—he took up a Catholic catechism; it was a catechism authorized by Dr. Milner, and approved by the four Catholic archbishops of Ireland: it was the twenty-fifth edition, "carefully corrected and published by Mr. R. Coyne," the publisher of the Maynooth College and of the Catholic Association—so that it was an authority beyond all cavil; and, when he turned to the page that contained the commandments in this catechism—merely to be convinced of the error under which he had laboured so long—he found the first commandment given—"I am the Lord, thy God,"—and the second commandment was—"Thou shalt not take the name of the lord thy God in vain" [hear, hear]. It was true, however, that there were ten commandments in all; for one was divided into two, to make up for the second, which was omitted: the ninth was—"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours wife;" and the tenth was—"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods, &c. nor any thing that is his." Now, it was better to say nothing at all than to say this. He made it no matter of accusation against the Roman Catholic clergy that they chose to exclude any part of the catechism from their ritual. He said nothing at all about their belief or disbelief of the second commandment: let them reject it if they would; but do not let them come down, and state in the "simplicity of their hearts," that to the House and to the public of England, which it was difficult not to perceive was not borne out by fact.
He could not bind himself to take the question of emancipation as it was attempted to be put by some of the leaders of the Catholic party in Ireland. "This is our remedy to put an end to discord and dissention; if you will not accept it, tell us what else we shall do?" He did not feel himself called upon to tike that demand in the 977 way in which it was offered. He would do every thing that lay in his power—attempt every course that promised any thing like success—to put a stop to the dissentions which distracted Ireland; but in his conscience he believed, that the course which was called Emancipation would be attended by the very contrary of any such result. He believed that, if the House of Commons once consented to admit Catholics within its walls, the only effect would be that of increased discord and dissention; it would lead to fresh interference in every case of election between the Protestant landlord and his Catholic tenant; and to an invariable struggle, upon such occasions, in every county of Ireland in which a contest could be raised. The system upon which he had been contented to act, and on which he was still content to act, with reference to Ireland, was this—he had been ready—desirous—he did not say too much if he said anxious—to enter, at all times, into any alleged abuse; and to be satisfied that amongst the Irish laity, without respect to creed or condition, justice and law were impartially administered. Whatever might be his zeal, or imputed zeal, for the Established Church, that feeling, he trusted, had never biassed him, when the interests of Ireland were at stake. His reverence for the Established Church in Ireland, and its institutions, had not prevented him from devoting night after night, to give effect to the late bill for the regulation of Irish tithes, when he thought that measure really calculated to benefit the people. Whenever an actual wrong or evil existed, no man could agree more readily than he did, that it ought at once to be removed. If it could be shown even, that by any one of the existing disabilities, real injustice or injury was inflicted upon the Catholics, he should be inclined to look at the removal of that disability with a very different eye from that with which he now contemplated the removal of the whole. Of this he was at least sensible—that, whatever his measures had been with reference to Ireland and Irish interests, they had been conceived in the desire, and executed with the intention, of fairness. He knew that there were persons who denied him even this meed of justice. It was part of his painful duty to read the discussions sometimes of that body which called itself the Catholic Association; and he there saw 978 himself attacked with bitter and personal abuse; perhaps occasionally by some individuals from whom he might have looked for a different treatment. He made no complaint of these attacks—he begged not to be suspected of making any complaint; and he only referred to them for the purpose of contradicting those assertions in which he was accused of having adopted a conduct towards Ireland calculated to trouble and to inflame. These charges he denied, let them emanate from whence they would. Whenever petitions had been presented from the country against the Catholic claims, he had opposed those claims, and would oppose them; but he had confined his opposition to the walls of the House of Commons. In the course which he had pursued, his determination was taken to persevere; but he appealed to his right hon. and learned friend, the Attorney-general for Ireland, whether, so far from endeavouring to excite animosity, or raise up opposition to the Roman Catholics—whether he had not concurred with his right hon. friend in every course, in every measure, the object of which was to produce good understanding and pacification. He said to the Protestants of Ireland, "You are the favoured body; and it behoves you, therefore, to be the most cautious, and the most forbearing." He had called upon them to lay aside their ancient feuds and prejudices, to omit their celebrations of those triumphs, which, however justifiable in feeling, could not fail to be offensive and painful to those who were their fellow subjects, and with whom it was their duty to live in amity; and he had exhorted them not to be deterred from doing this even by that cause which was the most likely to deter them from it—by the taunts and insults of those who misadvised and misdirected their antagonists. Whatever opposition he might have given to the Catholics of Ireland, he repeated, that he had never offered any but that which he had given from his place in that House. As far as he knew himself, he might say, that he had never ceased to labour in the cause of Ireland, as a country generally. By his correspondence with the noble individual who presided over the government of that country, and to whose conduct in the performance of his high duties it was impossible for him to bear too honourable a testimony—by his correspondence with 979 that noble lord, he believed it would be shown that he had concurred with him in securing to the Catholics every privilege and every indulgence to which, by law, they were entitled. That was the system upon which he had at least attempted, and on which he was still disposed, to act towards Ireland; but further than that he must frankly avow, consistently with his conscience, and with a conviction formed upon long and careful deliberation, he was not prepared to go. This might not be—would not be—the length to which some desired that England should proceed; but still he had hoped for a more fair and candid construction than England had received: he had hoped that, to the decision of this country, obedience, if not assent, would have been given by the people of Ireland. This had not been the case. It was the more to be deplored, because, deceived indeed were those persons who supposed that by violence and menaces, any change could be produced in the sentiments and feelings of the people of this country. Those who entertained any such delusion would find themselves miserably deceived. They should find, as far as regarded himself; that their arguments failed of the very first effect which might, perhaps, be expected from them—that his indignation at their conduct should not prevent him from giving to the Catholics in general every iota of advantage and immunity which he believed he ought to give them. The Roman Catholics were wrong—they would find that they had been wrong—that they were misguided in supposing that they could intimidate the British House of Commons; but still the conduct of a few designing individuals should not urge him into denying them a single point of that which he could safely give them, or to which already they were entitled.
He might be told that what he looked for was impossible: that the deference which he expected to the decision of the legislature, the people of Ireland would not and could not pay. He might be Told—he had been told—that he was wrong; that his system was a system of error; and that, such was the prevalence of better and newer opinions, even in the House of Commons, that it could not be sanctioned any longer. He did not believe that this was the fact; but, if it turned out to be so, all he could do was to regret it. If the House and the country were against him, 980 he had no answer to such an argument, he should bow with reverence to the opinion of a majority of the assembly which he saw before him; he should pray with all his heart that they might be in the right, and that he might be wrong; but he should remain unconvinced. He should still retain his opinions, as to what was the system which the country and the legislature ought—he did not mean to speak harshly, if he used a decided term—to enforce. He thought it right to retain all the existing disabilities, as far as related to admitting Catholics to the legislature, and to offices of state. He thought it right to do this, in the first place, with reference to the plan arranged for the succession to the Crown at the time of the Revolution; and, though he might, perhaps, be induced to overlook that consideration, if he could believe that any efforts like those anticipated by some gentlemen would arise from the remission of the disabilities, he did not think that, in reality, any such advantages—or any advantages whatever—were likely to accrue from that course. In this belief, however painful it was to him to differ from those for whom he personally entertained the most cordial respect, and with whom he believed almost upon all other subjects he was agreed, he had now discharged that which to him was a most painful duty—the opposing the resolution before the House. He had felt, that he had no choice but to state with firmness, but, he trusted, without asperity, the principles which his reason dictated, and which his honour and conscience compelled him to maintain. The influence of some great names had lately been lost to the cause which he supported; but he had never adopted his opinions upon it, cither from deference to high station, or that which might more fairly be expected to impress him—high ability. Keen as the feelings of regret must be, with which the loss of those associates in feeling was recollected, it was still a matter of consolation to him, that he had now an opportunity of showing his adherence to those tenets which he had formerly espoused,—of showing that, if his opinions were unpopular, he stood by them still, when the influence and authority that might have given them currency was gone; and when it was impossible, he believed, that in the mind of any human being, he could stand suspected of pursuing his principles with any view to favour or personal aggrandizement [cheers].
, on his rising, was unable to proceed for a few moments, owing to the passage of several members through the crowded House after the speech of Mr. Peel. The hon. and learned gentleman observed, as the Speaker called to order, that the time of the night, and the state of the atmosphere, were certainly unfavourable for a speech. There were cooler spots in the neighbourhood, and without going far, to which gentlemen might retire. He could assure hon. members that he was only giving that advice which he should be glad to follow himself, under similar circumstances. The hon. and learned member then proceeded:—At so late an hour of the night, and after the able arguments which had been used, both on that and on the preceding evening, by so many noble and hon. gentlemen about him, he could expect only to weaken, rather than strengthen, the impression which those arguments had made, if he were to go deeply, or at any length, into the question; and more especially, after the address which had just been heard from his right hon. and learned friend, the Attorney-general for Ireland; and in which that right hon. and learned gentleman had appeared almost to exceed himself—an address in which wit and eloquence had seemed for a while to strive for the mastery, until conciliatory wisdom stepped in to bear the palm away from both;—after such an address as this, and rising, as he did, at the latter end of a long and anxious controversy, he felt that, he could add little, very little, to that which had already been slated; and that he should best discharge his duty to The House, and to the cause which he desired to serve, by confining that which he had to offer within the narrowest, possible limits.
Without adding, by farther preface, then, to that which he had to impose upon the House, he should begin by throwing himself loose, with a very few observations indeed, from that discussion, which he could not help regarding as rather a by discussion; notwithstanding the stress which had been laid upon it by the right hon. Secretary opposite—he meant the discussion as to the interpretation of the Treaty of Limerick. He had tried the construction given by the right hon. Secretary to that Treaty; but he could not at all enter into it. In the first place, so far from perceiving that the Treaty was confined to a covenant between the general 982 besieging, and the people of the town which was besieged, he found that there were circumstances mentioned in the instrument, which made it impossible that, such should be the case. The governor of the country, for instance, for one party, was named in the Treaty; and, moreover, it was not described as made on the part, of the city of Limerick only, but five other counties of Ireland were mentioned as contracting parties to it. And then came the words of the document; which words were perfectly general in their meaning, and certainly referred, not to the persons shut up in the town besieged merely, but to the whole inhabitants of the kingdom. The right hon. Secretary for the Home Department insisted, that these words applied peculiarly to the religious privileges of the Catholics of Ireland—that they said merely, that they, the Catholics, should be free from disturbance in the exercise of the ceremonies of their faith; but the words were plain and distinct, and such as admitted but of one explanation: they were "That the Catholics should enjoy all such privileges as they had enjoyed in the time of king Charles 2nd, and that moreover, their majesties, as soon as they should be able to summon a parliament, would try to procure for them such further securities in those particulars, as would effectually preserve them from any molestation or disturbance on account of their religion;" and he contended that such words could not be taken to mean anything short of the most unrestrained exercise of their religion, and consequent, freedom from all civil disabilities on the account of it. Then, in the next section, came the words "That they (the Catholics) should have all their rights, titles, privileges, and immunities." Those expressions were sufficiently large. Then came the description of the oath which was to be administered to each Catholic on his submitting to the new government: and certainly that provision was not meant to apply to the people of Limerick only, but to the inhabitants of the country at large. And then came the declaration, that the oath so to be administered should be the above-mentioned oath, and no other—which oath turned out, upon examination, to be merely the oath of allegiance. Now, upon this the right hon. Secretary had brought the interpretation of king William—a sovereign, whose, services to this country, as well as to the cause of liberty 983 throughout the world, he would be the last man to deny; but whose interpretation of that Treaty certainly the House might fairly object to be bound by; especially delivered, as it had been, at the very time when he was violating the Treaty entirely.
But he would put aside this consideration of the effect of the Treaty of Limerick, which he held to be entirely beside the present question, and to which he merely adverted in order to characterize king William's treatment of it as a departure from the general fair and open policy of that monarch; because he had no occasion to go back to the seventeenth century for a treaty of king William to serve his purpose, when he had a better authority so much nearer at hand, in a treaty made in the nineteenth century, and no further back than in the reign of George 3rd. He went not to the authority of lord Somers, but to that of Mr. Pitt; not to the records preserved by bishop Burnet, but to that which appeared upon the Journals of the House of Commons. The right hon. gentleman opposite had ventured to impute indiscretion to Mr. Pitt in that arrangement—to suggest, that he had committed himself to terms with the Catholics without sufficient consideration. Why! did the right hon. gentleman really believe—he would put the point personally to him—that Mr. Pitt himself, or the eminent men with whom at that time he acted, or the eminent persons who were at that time connected with the Irish government, among whom, and at the head, was the marquis Cornwallis—did he believe it possible that, upon an occasion of such vital importance, with so many hopes and so many interests at stake, those eminent persons, or any of them, could have ventured to throw out any promise which it was not fully and amply intended to perform? Was it to be credited, that the very inducement, perhaps, which led Ireland to agree to the measure of the Union, had been rashly and lightly thrown out, and almost as lightly listened to, as a promise half given in a hasty moment, and which might be retracted without dishonour, in case it should be found politic or convenient to back out of the fulfilling of it? That promise, in reality, had been of a very different character indeed; it had been deliberately weighed and poised before utterance was given to it. It had been 984 deeply considered in this country before it was even transmitted to Ireland. After due consideration there, according to his instructions, by the lord lieutenant, it had been privately communicated to a select circle of individuals, whose name and character was supposed to be likely to influence the country at large in its general decision. The more privately, the less ostentatiously, all this arrangement was managed, the more certainty would be entertained that weight and confidence were attached to it; and, therefore, he dissented from the gloss which the right hon. Secretary attempted to put upon this promise of Mr. Pitt, as much as he did to that which he had attempted to put upon the Treaty of Limerick. He considered this promise of Mr. Pitt as a solemn and sacred pledge given to the people of Ireland; and that view of the subject was confirmed by the notice which was taken of it at the prorogation of the first session of parliament, after the passing of the Union. He believed that, at the time Mr. Pitt made that promise, he meant to keep it; and he believed that he must still have retained that intention, when he advised the king his master to use the words which would be found in the royal Speech on the prorogation of the House of Commons, at the end of the first session of the united parliament:—"This great measure, on which my wishes have been long earnestly bent, I shall ever consider as the happiest event of my reign, being persuaded, that nothing could so effectually contribute to extend to my Irish subjects the full participation of the blessings derived from the British Constitution, and to establish, on the most solid foundation, the strength, prosperity, and power of the whole empire." If any man could read these words without perceiving that a recognition of Mr. Pitt's promise was intended by them, he must have a mode of construing the vulgar tongue with which he (Mr. Brougham) was entirely unacquainted. To what did Mr. Pitt allude in that speech? Let those who said that he did not allude to Catholic emancipation say what it was that he did allude to. The words spoke of the full blessing of the British constitution being given to Ireland—what blessing but Catholic emancipation was there to give to Ireland? It was not the gagging bills he presumed; it was not a communion of trades in hardware, or silks, or cottons, or 985 satins. What, participation, he asked again, could Mr. Pitt refer to in that address, but his promise of including all the subjects of Ireland within that civil and religious pale, and giving to them all those civil and religious privileges which already belonged to the other subjects of the empire?
The right hon. Secretary had gone largely into the question, tempted by the nature of the arguments which had been used on the present occasion, and which derived additional weight from the authority of his right hon. and learned friend, the Master of the Rolls. The right hon. gentleman said, that if Catholics were admitted into that House, there would be at least seventy or eighty members who would not take part with the Opposition or with the Ministry, but would vote, as Catholics, against the Protestants. But how was it now? They had the same power at present. They elected whomsoever they pleased; and those whom they elected showed their thankfulness, as in other cases, towards those who sent them. The House had been favoured with the secret history of the county of Galway [a laugh]. He referred to the hon. member who represented this matter, he would not say with a want of his usual discretion. That hon. member had avowed, that he owed his scat to Catholic electors; that he derived all his support, and was indebted for all his influence, to the Catholics [hear, hear, from the hon. member for Galway]; and the hon. member was proud to acknowledge the obligation [a laugh]. There was very little doubt there were other members who owed their scats to Catholic voters, and who followed the same line of conduct. There being, then, no question that the Catholics sent members to the House, and possessed influence in it, ought they not to be permitted to choose the man they were most desirous should represent them? They were told that they might choose whom they pleased, provided he was not a member of their own religion: they might pick out a man most likely to be a tool in their hands—a restless clamourer against bigotry, actuated by a madness for change, and deranged in his hostility to church and state. They might choose a man, whom he might describe in the words of the right hon. gentleman—a man who should be "not the depository of their judgment, but the organ of their volition." 986 As Protestants, these men would be more dangerous than as Catholics; and, by Catholic emancipation, a stop would be given to their power of doing mischief.
He would now pass to the long historical disquisition of his hon. and learned friend, the Master of the Rolls, and to the only passage in his speech which really touched upon the subject. The House had been favoured with the Gunpowder-plot and Bloody Queen Mary: the only thing of this kind omitted (he presumed his right hon. and learned friend had an imperfect copy of Hume), was the Popish-plot. Yet, this might be a true story "dashed with lies;" it might contain just as much truth as other tales of conspiracies. But the story of Bloody Mary was stale, tiresome, inapplicable, and, if he might use the term, puerile; and he little expected to hear a repetition of it from so grave an authority. There was an anecdote of Mr. Fox, who is said to have answered, when somebody complained of his not having visited a friend of his, "That really he could not go, for he was always talking of 'Bloody Mary'" [A laugh]. In like manner, he should be ready to hear his right hon. and learned friend, whenever he was prepared to discuss the subject again, if he would only abstain from referring to "Bloody Mary," merely to excite a languid cheer, which was always ready when the terms "blood" and "Papist" were attached to each other. His right, hon. and learned friend had been compelled himself to admit, after he had luxuriated in the relation, that these, horrible subjects did not apply to the Catholics of the present day. Then why were they introduced at all? The House was not now legislating for the Catholics of "Bloody Mary," but for those of Gorge 4th. The history of "Bloody Mary" had no more to do with the case before the House, than Timbuctoo, or the South Sea Islands. This was his excuse for not following his right hon. and learned friend. The objection he had already made applied equally to the Irish massacre.
With respect to the speech of the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department, it was surely little worth his while, for the sake of exciting a few cheers in the House, to bring forward the allusions he had made to the Papal Bull, and the subject of indulgences. Did any one doubt that a Catholic believed in many matters which Protestants held to be absurd? Else why 987 were we Protestants? It did so happen (without meaning to refer to the historic lore of his right hon. friend, the Master of the Rolls), that it was just about, this chapter of indulgences, that the dispute arose whereby we became Protestants. But, because there might be something ridiculous, something revolting to sound judgment, in the Catholic religion, did it follow, therefore, that those who professed it should be stigmatized? Respecting, as he did, as a member of the Church of England, its ordinances and observances, and believing it to be of all church establishments, the nearest advanced to perfection; still, with all his unwillingness to venture a word of disrespect towards that establishment, as to its doctrines and discipline, he, as a Protestant, confessed, that if he had had an angry dispute with a Catholic on the subject of his religion, and had been rating, as the right hon. gentleman had done, amidst the cheers of the House, the Bull of Pope Pins the Seventh, he should have expected that the Catholic would pluck cut of the Athanasian creed some few passages in which he (Mr. Brougham) would be sorely gravelled; some few doctrines, not quite in the spirit of common sense, or of a Christian church. These, however, were subjects which should be suppressed in this place. To them it belonged to respect all men, of whatever religion, which they conscientiously believed, and conscientiously acted up to. Be their tenets revolting to us or not, they were their opinions. They were conscientiously entertained. Give them up they could not, with honour; and would not, if they were laughed at and insulted. If we were in the peculiar situation, that, in the nineteenth century, there were some of our fellow-subjects upon whom we "looked down upon as they wandered to find the way of eternal life;" did not this afford the most cogent, argument, the most irrefragable reason, for regarding their errors, deplorable though innocent, with compassion? The more right we were, the more ridiculous their notions, the safer was our church.
He now came to the bearing of the subject on the state of Ireland. The interference of the priests at elections had been touched upon. Now, he maintained the right of the priests to interfere. He might regret that they did so; but if he denied the right of interference to the Catholic priests of Ireland, he must apply the same 988 rule to the Protestants. If one had no right to interfere at elections, he must say that the Protestant either had no light, or having it, ought not to exercise it. Was there any place in England in which there was not a Protestant, clergyman who made himself a political partisan, or busybody, on one side or the other? On one side or the other it was, perhaps, wrong to say; they were generally on one side. Did these clergymen confine themselves to the hustings or the canvass? No; the dirty work (to use a term' for brevity's sake) at elections was, perhaps, more frequently performed by churchmen than laymen. It was full as often, if not oftener, in the hands of the clergy than in those of the laity. It was alleged, that they did it in a secular capacity, not as priests. But, was it a secular function for a clergyman (as he had known it to be the case) to visit a man who was sick, and either tender him a bribe (which was the most honest course) or threaten him with his personal resentment, if he did not vote for a certain individual? He believed this was the case in Ireland, and he believed it was equally the case in England. The hon. member for Derry had produced last night a string of affidavits to the House; but not one of the persons who made those affidavits had been examined. It would have been desirable to examine all the makers of these affidavits, when they might have stated the whole truth, upon being cross-examined. The conduct alleged in those affidavits was not peculiar to the Catholic clergy. He had been told that an hon. member's personal safety had been put into jeopardy from the pulpit. Another hon. member had been preached at, not by the name of Beelzebub, but by that of Judas; which he took to be not much more agreeable than the other [a laugh]. The hon. member referred to succeeded in getting away, but the allusion to him was so obvious, that there was scarcely any need to specify his name. Now, he called this direct interference; and it was not by Catholic priests, but by Protestant clergymen. Two other persons had been preached at, out of a text from the Revelations, and the people were told to avoid them, as they had been forewarned.
It was remarkable that his right hon. and learned friend, the Master of the Rolls, had abstained from answering the question, as he ought to have done, pro- 989 pounded by the hon. baronet who originated the present motion: what was the alternative? It was very well to say that orators went too far; that sedition prevailed amongst Catholic bishops and priests: this would be mighty well, if an excuse were wanted for doing nothing. But, what if we could not stay where we were? What if we were shown, that nothing could divert the impending danger? Me would not refer the House to the statements of the hon. member for Waterford (Mr. V. Stuart) last night, in a speech, which was one of the ablest delivered for some time within the walls of the House; but he would appeal to an authority beyond aft exception, that of the hon. member for Deny himself; and he would ask, whether more could be desired to complete the frightful picture which he had drawn of the state of Ireland from personal observation and official knowledge? Was there a single element or feature of public wretchedness or calamity, which had not been given by the hon. member for Deny? According to his statement, the landlord was against his tenant, the priest against his flock; demagogues were raising disaffection, and were attempted in vain to be put down by a vigour beyond the law. These demagogues were obstinately persevering, and defied the law and the government of the realm. Were these things without a cause? It was mighty easy to cry out against factious men—to blame the Catholic clergy and the people. It was easy to laugh at the Bull of Pius 7th, and at the follies of that religion which, for its follies, we had ourselves abjured. But, after we had done this, and after all the invective and ridicule launched against these follies, the fact continued as it was, and the question remained to be asked, which practical wisdom dictated. He would not attempt to escape from it with the dexterity of his right hon. and learned friend, the Master of the Rolls, who had displayed a nimbleness almost inconsistent with judicial gravity. Three times had he thrown a somerset to get rid of that question. His right hon. and learned friend had admitted, that the question was important—that it was the root of the debate—that it was a problem necessary to be solved; but, said the Master of the Rolls, "I am not a Cabinet minister. Let the ministers decide the question, to whom it properly belongs; it is not in my department. I came here 990 to oppose this question on the part of my constituents; all of them are to a man against the Catholics; they have sent me here to oppose Catholic emancipation—and, by parity of reasoning, they have sent my noble colleague to support it." [laughter]. As if the University of Cambridge had given the House opposite data to enable it to find out what the problem of its opinion was. The University, (as anxious as her representative, the Master of the Rolls, to keep up the recollection of Bloody Mary), in order to assist in solving a problem incapable of solution, sends up no petition—which, however, did guide him (Mr. Brougham) to a solution; for there being one member against the question, and another in favour of it, the fact of no petition being sent up, inclined the scale towards liberality, and showed that Cambridge was more with the emancipation party than against them.
His right hon. and learned friend left the question to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and the Under Secretary; who, possessing less nimbleness of feet than his learned friend, left it just as it was. Thus was this great question left, which agitated not Ireland merely, but England and even Europe; but, if some expedient was not thought of to meet the danger under the present aspect of affairs, the remedy must be adopted which had not been proposed the first or twentieth time. It was for the other side to say what remedy they had—what relief they could propose. It was easy to cast imputations upon the Catholics, as an excuse for refusing them their requests. The injured were always in the wrong; the oppressed were always in error. He never knew an instance in which men began by hurting, that they did not end by hating. He never knew an instance in which a man did not wreak upon his victim what was due to his own crime. He regarded the errors of the Catholic Association with pity and regret. But these men were injured; and their wrongs demanded some excuse. He was not pleased with their oratory; nor at the vast influence they had acquired with their countrymen. But these men were trebly armed if their cause was just. They represented six millions of their fellow citizens, whom we still persisted in treating like enemies, although they were faithful subjects. Last year they were anxious to try once more if they had any, the most remote, hope 991 of receiving from this country that justice which had so long been denied to them, and they were once more told to wait another year. The general election came on; and an attempt was made to raise the hackneyed cry of "No Popery;" but whenever that attempt was made, it only had the effect of making those persons against whom it was directed the more popular. They were now come again. He did not wish to use strong language, and much less was he inclined to indulge in expressions which might be misconstrued elsewhere; but to say less than this would be to fail in the duty which he owed to himself, namely, that if their request was refused them now, they would never again ask it as they had hitherto done, [hear, hear]. They had now arrived, unhappily, at a crisis when no man living could increase the discontent which prevailed. The right hon. gentleman opposite had found fault with the Attorney-general for Ireland, because he had said, that if the laws were obeyed in that country, and if any peace or tranquillity reigned in it, it was wholly attributable to the influence of the Roman Catholic clergy. He had also taken umbrage, because the right hon. gentleman had said, that if the people of England were treated like the people of Ireland, they would rise to a man. Now, suppose that in any nation, there was a minority, and that minority too a small one, which possessed all power, both civil and ecclesiastical, and that they persevered in oppressing the majority, notwithstanding the most urgent and temperate remonstrances; suppose, to make the picture more distressing, but at the same time to increase the resemblance, they had been promised a speedy recognition of their rights: if such a state of things existed, and he were one of such a body, and who had been thus treated; if he, moreover, heard his religion every day treated with contempt, and did not rebel, it would only be because he thought that no oppression in the world could justify rebellion [loud cries of "hear"]. If, however, any condition would justify rebellion, it was a condition like this; but, whether rebellion could or could not be justified, he was quite sure that in a country like England rebellion would inevitably ensue under such circumstances.
He had now performed the duty which devolved upon him, and would only add a word or two in conclusion. He trusted 992 that this act of conciliation would at length be done. He entreated the House to reflect that no man on the other side had ventured to say that Ireland could remain in its present condition; that no man had thrown out an alternative, or suggested a remedy, for evils which were not only allowed on every hand to exist, but which were also admitted to have risen to a height altogether insupportable; that, on the one side, the prospect of peace and tranquillity and happiness was held out, and that it was proposed to meet it on the other hand by nothing, absolutely nothing, but a flat, dry, and barren negative [loud cheers].
§ Mr. Goulburn
said, that his opinion upon this great question remained unchanged. When the hon. and learned gentleman opposite had stated, that the Catholics had been promised a recognition of their rights, his attention was roused; but, what was his surprise when the hon. and learned gentleman read, from the journal of that House, an extract of a Speech of his late majesty's, in which he pretended to have found that promise? Now, not only could he not see any such promise in the extract which had been read, but he was perfectly at a loss to conceive by what means the hon. and learned gentleman had elicited any such meaning from the passage, and arrived at any such interpretation of it. When he considered the phrase, that "they should be admitted to the blessings of the British constitution," he was still more at a loss. The hon. and learned gentleman had told the House that it meant "sitting in parliament." But, could he find no other blessings? If hon. gentlemen would consider for a moment the time at which that Speech was made, the real meaning of it could not be mistaken. In the preceding year martial law had been in force in Ireland; and then, after the Union, the king came down, and said, that the people of that country should be admitted to the blessings of the British constitution. When this fact was recollected, it was easy to see that it was to the repeal of this law, and the restoration of the ordinary tribunals of this country, that the expression, holding out a promise of the extension of the blessings of the constitution was applicable. He had never attempted to conceal from himself the state of Ireland; but he differed totally from those hon. gentlemen who fondly imagine that Catholic emancipation 993 would be productive of results so beneficial as of remove its distresses. He would not go into any general argument upon this point, or rest upon any general principles. To rely upon the experience of past times would be a much surer mode of treating the question. The hon. member then went through the various bills which had been contemplated for the relief of Ireland, and contended, that they had all been met by expressions of discontent. [During this enumeration the hon. member was repeatedly interrupted by cries of "question."] He should have been happy to have entered fully into the subject, if he could have addressed the House at an earlier opportunity; but, in consequence of the feeling which had been so generally expressed, he would intrude no longer upon the time of the House, but sit down after he had made one more observation. He felt no hostility whatever to the Roman Catholics, and in the station which he had filled he had been induced to act towards them in a more indulgent manner than he should otherwise have acted, from the simple reflection that he was politically opposed to them. If he could bring himself to believe that to grant emancipation to the Catholics was consistent with the safety of the country, he should never object to it; but, believing as he did, that the dangers of Catholic emancipation would be greater than its benefits, he felt himself called upon to give his decided negative to the proposition before the House.
Mr. Secretary Canning
rose, and said:—After, Sir, the length to which this debate has been protracted, the House has a sufficient security, both in my discretion and in my weariness, that I shall not trespass at any length upon its patience; although I should have felt it both disrespectful to the House, and unbecoming in myself, if I went to a division upon this question, without stating the grounds on which I give my vote. In doing so, I hope it will not be considered inexpedient, if I recall the attention of the House, to what seems very frequently to have been unattended to in the course of this debute—I mean the real nature of the question which is before us. The hon. baronet, who has brought this question forward, has introduced it with a prodigality of argument, in which he was most fully justified. He has treated the resolution, as if the whole question was to be argued before the 994 House, which, in point of substance, it really was; but of that proceeding, I must say, a most unfair advantage has been taken. I say so, because the hon. baronet having omitted to state, that his bare object now was to ask, whether the present House of Commons entertained the same opinion as their predecessors; and because he was contented to argue the resolution, as if it were the main question, yet is he now found fault with, because, in a preliminary resolution, merely embracing the declaration of a principle, he has not included all the details of a legislative measure.
I could not, Sir, have expected this misconstruction of argument from any member, even from one who was here only for the first time; but still less could I have looked for it from a quarter in which I should have been certain of finding judicial accuracy. Still less even than this, did I expect from that right hon. and learned gentleman, the Master of the Rolls, the speech which he has made, divided as it was into two parts, the historical and the, critical; and, as the historical part of it was, upon his own shewing, inapplicable to the present question, so shall I presently show to the House, that the critical portion is even more so. The right hon. and learned gentleman began, continued, and ended, his speech, by complaining that there was not one word mentioned in the hon. baronet's resolution about securities; while that resolution is barely intended to ask the present House of Commons, "Do you inherit, or do you abjure, the opinions of your predecessors?" When the House, shall say—as I hope they will, by their vote this night—that they do inherit those opinions, and when any measure shall be grounded upon that vote, then will be the time for the expression of surprise, that no securities are included in it. In fact, Sir, I think that the hon. baronet would not only have perplexed, the House, but would have dealt unfairly by his resolution, if he had entered into those details, until the period when the House should have declared themselves to be of the same mind with their predecessors. Then would come the period, when the right hon. gentleman might bring forward every topic which he might choose, and every thing that had a bearing upon the subject, from the deluge to the revolution [a laugh].
The question proposed by the hon. baronet, is, that the House will consider it 995 incumbent upon them to take into consideration the laws which impose disabilities upon the Roman Catholics, with a view to their relief. This is the simple proposition with which we have to deal. And then it is asked, what is the necessity for putting such a question? as if it proceeded merely from a species of idle, otiose curiosity, put without any propriety, either of design or of meaning. No, Sir, it is from no such reason that the proposition has been made; but it is submitted, because, since the last time the subject has been agitated, the representatives of the people have been returned to their constituents; and, because a new House of Commons has been returned by the people; and, it is said, returned changed in their sentiments on this great question. That it is so changed, I totally disbelieve: but no man in his senses would venture to bring in a bill upon the subject, before he had ascertained the fact, by such a motion as would prove, both generally and specifically, whether any such change had taken place. If there were such a change, it would be impolitic and unbecoming to bring forward any measure of the kind, at an inauspicious moment; or to occupy the time of the House by a discussion which could only excite angry feelings, without the hope of a fortunate result, if, however, the vote of this night shall prove that it is otherwise—and I have no doubt that it will—then will the hon. baronet be justified in bringing forward the subject in all its details. We have, however, been told this night, that not only our scheme did not detail any securities, but that all of us, who have, on other occasions advocated them, are now accused of having abandoned our principles. I, Sir, have abandoned no principle, but hold by those principles which I have ever been guided by; but having his reasons for thinking so, they should have been correctly stated by the right hon. gentleman, before he had made such an assertion, he says, that I no longer think any securities necessary; but I ask, how does he know that I think so. Perhaps he was not a member of this House at the time that the question of securities was discussed. [Here it was intimated to Mr. Canning that the right hon. and learned gentleman was not then in parliament.] However, a very small continuation of the History of England, the least abridgment, would have given him the information he stands in need of. But, 996 as the case stands, I find I must become the historian of those events. In the year 1812, I took the liberty of moving a resolution, which was nearly the same as that now proposed by the hon. baronet; with this difference, that, as it was at the period near the conclusion of the session, the House would pledge themselves to an examination of the Catholic claims early in the next session. It so happened, that the termination of the session was but the eve of a dissolution; but the parliament of 1813, adopted the pledge of their predecessor. A bill was brought in by Mr. Grattan, to whom, from his justly-earned character and weight, I surrendered, and with pleasure, the fruits of my expected victory—a victory which I will call unparalleled, as the motion was carried by a majority of one hundred and fifty-nine. However, in pursuance of certain principles which I made the guide of my conduct, I undertook to form a scheme of securities to be required, which were approved of by the House, and incorporated in the bill.
With respect to those securities, I must say, that there lies a great fallacy in the word security, as it is made use of by some honourable gentlemen. To hoar the right hon. gentleman, any one would suppose that those securities were great political enactments, extending to the whole system of church and state. They were, however, only two; one of them went to give the Crown a certain authority in the nomination of Catholic bishops; the other was, to submit to the inspection of government the private correspondence which was carried on between the court of Rome and persons professing the Catholic religion in these countries. But this correspondence was not created by the bill: it did then, and does now, exist. And, supposing it even had been, is not that question now greatly changed by the restitution of the pope, who is at present in the full exercise of his authority at Home? But then he had none, and was in captivity.
From the speech of the right hon. gentleman, any one would have supposed that the bill of 1813 was refused by the Roman Catholics, on the ground of the securities contained in it. No such thing. It was refused—it was rejected—by the Roman Catholics, not in consequence of its containing any securities, but solely in consequence of the success which attended a speech and motion made, Sir, by your 997 predecessor, who took part in the debate in the committee, and who succeeded in throwing out the clause, admitting Roman Catholics to seats in parliament. It was that speech, and the exclusion of that clause, which produced the failure of the measure, and entailed upon us the precious legacy, which now engages our attention [cheers]. In reference to the bill of 1813, it may be true that the Roman Catholics, seeing the failure of that measure, instantly drew back. It may be true that the Romish ecclesiastics in Ireland, in despair of ever experiencing its benefits, thought fit instantly to decry, and treat with disdain, what they had lost all hope of possessing. It might be imagined, that any body of men, when they began to discover that all hope of success was at an end, saw very good reason for retracting any concession that they might previously have made, and instantly standing upon their rights. If any man bought a horse, and the seller suddenly repented, and refused to make good the bargain, would not the person he was dealing with express himself infinitely delighted? So it was with the ecclesiastics of the Romish church in Ireland. They were deprived of what they earnestly desired; and then they suddenly turned round and declared, that they never would have accepted that which, in truth and reality, never was offered to them. Amidst the historical confusion of this historical night, it was doubly provoking to have it said that the bill of 1813 was rejected by persons, to whom, from the stage in which it was stifled, it could never have been offered. So much for the bill of 1813. Any body, from the representation of the right hon. gentleman, would have supposed, that I had been bargaining with the Roman Catholics, what I would give, and what I would take. To the whole course of my parliamentary life I would refer in refutation of this. If there was one principle, above all others, which I never ceased endeavouring to impress upon the House oven unto weariness, usque ad nauseam, it was that the concessions to be made to persons, circumstanced as the Catholics were, should never be made the subject of bargain and sale, should never be subjected to negotiation of any kind. In the year 1812, I adopted a determination which no courtesies, no kindnesses, no reproaches, no invectives, have ever since induced me to swerve from; namely, that 998 I would never exchange a word, verbal or written, with any of the parties concerned, on the subject of the Catholic claims, From this rule there has been one exception; it was when I gave instructions to a gentleman respecting the technical language of certain clauses, which I purposed introducing into the bill of 1813. With that solitary exception, I never exchanged a word on the subject with laymen or ecclesiastic. In stating thus much, I mean not the slightest offence to any individual. The abstinence I observed was entirely with the view of keeping myself clear of the cabals and squabbles which were every day arising out of the discussion of their claims. I make it a subject of bargain and sale! Nothing like it! No! my full and settled conviction—a conviction which I never let pass an opportunity of labouring to impress upon the House—was, that parliament should inquire, deliberate, and determine, as to the course which it was wise, and right, and expedient to pursue; and, having done that, it should not invite the Catholics to accept or reject, but call upon them to obey [cheers]. Whether it be for good—whether it be for evil—whether it be in kindness or with penalty—that is all that parliament can do consistently with what it owes to the country. When once parliament descends to any thing like bargain, rate, or negotiation, it abandons its duty, and degrades its character.
I trust, Sir, I have now set myself right with the House, as to the bill of 1813, and the principles by which, on that occasion, my conduct was governed. But misrepresentation does not end here. It has been insinuated, that the friends of emancipation have cooled on the subject of securities, and that I, among the rest, I have manifested indifference on this point. No reading man, Sir, is unacquainted with what passes here, and elsewhere, on political subjects. However a man may allow his attention to be engrossed by the quarto, he generally contrives to peruse the diurnal sheet of reports. And must not every man who reads know what passes? Nay, I myself have listened in another place, hisce auribus, to what was meant to be most taunting language, as applied to the Roman Catholics. It was said, "if you give them relief, do it largely, do it effectively, do it with an open heart and liberal hand; do not come to them 999 with a boon in one hand, and securities in the other, adding insult to degradation." I wish the House just to observe, what a clever scheme this is in the opponents of those claims, thus to say that it would be better not to produce any securities at all. In the House of Lords it is said, that securities are of no value, or ought not to be exacted; and in this House, those in correspondence with the noble lords tell us that securities are the only thing needful. By no physical possibility, then, can any bill escape. Since the year 1813, I certainly have not meddled in the workmanship of securities; but, at the same time, I assure my right hon. friend, that I am perfectly ready to vote for securities, but I am not to be set down as a security finder. As to the House of Lords, they never had any opportunity of being made acquainted with the securities which I originated and proposed. The lords tell us there is no danger, and those in correspondence with them in this House call upon us to fit it with a security without providing the danger. I must find, it would seem, not only the securities, but the dangers too; like the prophet, who was not only to interpret the dream, but to discover what the dream was. It was a little too much to expect that I should guess the danger and find the security. In order finally to set the question at rest, it was deemed, and justly, that the Crown should have the power of interference in the appointment of bishops. The government of Prussia has that power, and is defended by that security. It is also perfectly true, that the king of the Netherlands is at this moment negociating on the same subject; that Austria, Saxony, and other powers, are in actual possession of it. And why was it in their power to make arrangements of that nature? Simply because they were in communication with the pope of Rome. I have seen it stated in some popular work, that it was high treason for any subject of this realm to be in correspondence with the pope. Sir; very soon after I came into the office which I at present fill, a letter was addressed to our most gracious Sovereign from the pope, announcing his accession to the pontificate; that letter was accompanied by another of a very complimentary character addressed to myself by the pope's secretary. I thought my better course, under all the circumstances of the case, would be, to obtain 1000 the opinion of the law officers of the Crown on the subject of the correspondence; and, in answer to an application which I directed to be made, I received a letter, which, as I have referred to it, I shall take the liberty of reading to the House. The letter is to the following effect:—Sir, we have had the honour of receiving from Mr. Planta, a letter directed to his Majesty's law officers, stating that his holiness the Pope had forwarded a communication to his Majesty, announcing his elevation to the Papal Throne, and that this communication has been accompanied by a complimentary letter from Cardinal Gonsalvi to his Majesty's principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs; and, further, a question having arisen in that right hon. gentleman's mind, whether, in the event of his noticing or replying to these communications, he would be, in the opinion of his Majesty's law officers, according to the existing law of the land, liable to a premunire; we are of opinion, that under the act of 5th Elizabeth, chap. i. sec. 12, any one allowing or admitting the jurisdiction of the See of Rome in this realm, is subject, for the first offence, to a premunire; and as, in the present case, the Pope claims to exercise authority over the Roman Catholic church in these countries, we are of opinion that an answer to the letters referred to might be interpreted as a sanction of these claims to authority, and, consequently, that the party so communicating might render himself liable to the penalty of premunire.(Signed) "R. GIFFORD.J. S. COPLEY.Now, Sir, I began to consider with myself the penalties consequent upon premunire; and, unlearned as I was, I found upon inquiry, that a man attainted with premuniie, might be slain by any one. Further, Sir, that he was considered to be out of the king's protection, and beyond that of the law for all beneficial purposes. He was unable to bring his action at law, and no one was to succour a person so guilty. According to Hawkins, Sir, I believe there are further penalties, connected with suretyship.
Mr. Secretary Canning
.—No; it is not the right hon. gentleman, but Burns' Justice, which is my present authority, [a laugh]. Such were some of the penal- 1001 ties incident to a premunire, which I, an ignorant and unlettered person, naturally anxious to obtain information on the subject, discovered. It was natural, Sir, I should look to the penalties; and, looking to them, I resolved not to correspond with his holiness the pope. Accordingly, I did not write a single line in reply to the communication, neither did I advise his majesty to return any answer. And, although, Sir, from that day to this, I have been precluded from the possibility of offering to his holiness, any explanation of my apparent want of proper attention and politeness, I may now be permitted to hope, that in a more legitimate way, my motive may reach his hoi mess's ears—and without the fear of a premunire. And with such a view it is, I take this opportunity to assure that venerable person, that the omission on that occasion was dictated by no intentional want of respect. Having ascertained, Sir, that to correspond with the pope was to put myself in jeopardy, it was not likely that that fact could induce me, with all my admiration for the laws which yet remained unrepealed, to attempt to convey any communication to the pope of Rome. No doubt a similar feeling pervades the bosom of my right hon. and learned friend on the subject; and yet, Sir, to the pope of Home it is that my right hon. friend must come at last, if he really desires to effect that security which might be expected to arise out of the nomination of the Roman Catholic bishops.
The Master of the Rolls
.—I consider that the opinion referred to was contained in a private letter—[Cries of "order, order; chair, chair!"]—and I doubt whether the right hon. Secretary has more than a copy, the original being in my possession.
Mr. Secretary Canning
.—Sir, I do not exactly understand this interruption. It is, in my opinion, most extraordinary. I assert, that this is a public document, on the production of which depends the judgment to be pronounced, as to whether or not I have properly executed my public duty as a minister of the Crown. With this view I called for the opinion of his majesty's law officers, and received it, not in a non-official, but in an official way; and that being the case, I have a right to refer to it [cheers]. Perhaps, Sir, I might not have referred to the matter, had it not been for the extraordinary language made 1002 use of, not in this House, but elsewhere' and on a different occasion. I confess, Sir, I did not expect such language would be repeated here, much less that, any man would attempt to impeach my honour and honesty. Though, Sir, I vow to God, if before I came into this House, I were called upon to judge from what quarter the attack would come, that quarter from which it has proceeded, would have been the very last from which I could have expected it [hear]. Well, then, quitting this, to me, most painful subject, I come to the other branch of the securities. Sir, it seems that securities are required against the private correspondence carried on between the Catholics of this country and the Sec of Rome. Be it remembered, this correspondence is wholly of a spiritual nature, touching the granting of indulgences, and transactions, having reference to private life, and coming properly and strictly under ecclesiastical cognizance. True, the securities which I proposed failed along with the bill, of which they were to have formed a part; and when they failed, my labours on the subject were at an end. But if there are those who really think, that danger would result to the state from keeping up a communication with the See of Rome—such a communication, for instance, as one about the marriage of second cousins twice removed—it was for them to bring in a bill to regulate the intercourse. Do not let them suppose that such communications are not every day going on. The same learned authority which informed me on the subject of premunire, will apprize these gentlemen, that by the 13th Elizabeth, cap. 2, any one publishing a Papal bull, is guilty of high treason. Now, Sir, this also is done every day, and, consequently, not a day passes in the course of which some of his majesty's subjects are not guilty of high treason. Yet, will any one get up and gravely say, that there is no safety for the state, if these bulls of Rome are not taken by the horns [a laugh]. Sir, I cannot think any person sincere, I who slumbers over an evil which has existed for ages without an attempt at a remedy, and who only thinks of it when the Catholic question is about to be discussed; and now, Sir, I am to believe that these bulls of Rome are running about wild and unchecked, in consequence of my rashness and apostacy [a laugh]. Is it possible for me, Sir, consistently with 1003 a due regard to decency, to find words to express the contempt which I feel for such an accusation? It is the duty of every man to defend his own consistency, and I, therefore, may be excused, I trust, for some anxiety on the subject of mine. I think, Sir, we have a right to know the opinion from the lords, whether they ascribe any importance to the required securities or not. If they do, they are sincerely welcome to them; if they do not, it is too much to treat those securities with contempt themselves, while they hold out to the country that they are necessary. If it be true, that the securities are essential, why is the country suffered to remain in danger for the want of them; and, if it be true that they are worthless, what claims to candour have those individuals who lay such stress on their adoption? [hear, hear].
Sir, an hon. member, who, I think, must be very new to this House, has talked of the coronation oath as a barrier against emancipation. Sir, I thought the day for that bug-bear had gone by, therefore I go to high places for high arguments on the subject; and quote an opinion which cannot fail to be respected; namely, that of the earl of Liverpool. [The right hon. gentleman then proceeded to quote from the speech of the earl of Liverpool, made in the House of Lords, in 1825, in which the noble lord expressed his opinion, that the coronation oath afforded no obstacle to the removal of the civil and religious disabilities under which the Roman Catholics laboured]. This, at least, was one bug-bear fairly disposed of; and no more, he hoped, would be said of the coronation oath. What are the other dangers which exist at this eleventh hour, I have yet to learn; but a singular fate has attended this question. The question is—"Will you do as we propose? or will you do nothing? or what will you do?" And secondly, "What danger's do you apprehend?" Now, to the question—"Will you do as we propose, or will you do nothing, or will you do something else?" the answer is clear enough: "We will not do as you propose." But to the two remaining branches of the question, no answer is given. And when we ask, "what dangers do you apprehend from the passing of a bill, similar to that of 1813," we are also unable to get any answer.—I remember once to have heard, that great danger was supposed to arise from the admission 1004 of a large and untold proportion of a dissipated population into the military force of the kingdom: but, somehow or other, in the year 1818, an act was passed, by which every man in the army became capable of Tilling any situation which that army presented. Some hon. members last night assured us, that it had been quite settled, that no Roman Catholic could hold the office of commander-in-chief. I do not agree with that hon. member. Nay, I am quite sure—whether it would be prudent or not, I am not called upon to give an opinion—there is nothing in the law of this kingdom, as it at present stands, that can prevent him. And, what is whimsical enough, when this great change was making; that is, when Roman Catholics were rendered capable of being commanders-in-chief, and allowed the entire government of the army, and entitled to lead the fleets of this country, we heard nothing about those securities, of which we have this night heard so much. No member of this House was then arraigned and stigmatized for abandoning them: no security was then provided, or sought to be provided, against the dangers that might arise from the exercise of the highest privileges over sea and land, although now, some hon. members think it necessary to protect this country, by reserving a power to open all letters, which give permission to a Roman Catholic lo eat meat on a Friday! No letters, according to their system, granting permission to abstain from fish, can be perused, without first meeting the watchful eye of the right hon. Secretary near inc. But the armies may be led to victory—and the fleets may be steered to distant countries—without a single security being asked or expected. Why, then, all of a sudden, has this necessity sprung up. In the year 1793, when the elective franchise was granted to the Roman Catholics, and granted, too, when the government had the entire option to impose what conditions it thought proper—all the security that it required was an oath—nothing more. Well, then, by the act of 1793, the Roman Catholic was admitted to the bar; and no distinction was made between him and his Protestant brethren. They availed themselves of this permission, still they cannot have the silk gown without the required security; so that the moment a man acquired the first business at the bar, he must obtain 1005 that security, and then all the secrets of his private life must be opened and exhibited. In the year 1818, an officer might rise to the highest situation upon the staff, and in the end become commander in chief of the forces of the kingdom; and yet no security be required. Well, then, if those who voted with me in 1813, think it now necessary to charge me with having abandoned the securities, I retort the charge upon them, for having given those important offices, and those powerful advantages, without asking for the slightest security from those who received them. Sir, we all know, and those who adopt this course of argument well know, that those securities are not necessary, although the old story of securities has now been trumped up, to cast an odium upon those who may have been expected to take a part in this debate—to raise the cry of the country against them, and to weaken the influence, and injure their reputation.
I have now, Sir, to refer to a topic which has been already handled by more than one hon. member, and if I touch on it at all, I will at least do it briefly. I agree with the right hon. and learned gentleman, that nothing was, at any time, said or done by Mr. Pitt, tantamount to a pledge, that, when the Union of Ireland and England was effected, the concessions to the Catholics would be yielded. But, I am also ready to admit, that various transactions connected with that period, and with that subject, being put together, calculated to excite, in the minds of the Roman Catholics a hope, which has been deferred until the heart is sickened. In addition to this, Sir, I cannot help thinking, that, at the time of the Union, Mr. Pitt was careful to make no promises that could, in any way, be confounded with positive engagements: but to this I cannot shut my eyes—that a powerful inducement to the Catholics to lend their aid to effect the Union of Ireland with England, was the impression that, in the united parliament, the question which so nearly concerned them would be more favourably received. I remember, Sir—as well as if it happened yesterday—Mr. Pitt's showing me a letter from earl Cornwallis, in which that noble lord said, he had sounded the ground, and could any the Union, but not the Catholic question; and I also recollect my saying, "If I were you, I would reject the one measure, if 1006 distinct from the other." Mr. Pitt rebuked me, as perhaps, my rashness deserved. He carried the Union, but I will depose, and I am ready to depose before any tribunal, as to his intentions on that other measure. I do not know that he said it. I never heard him say it: but any one who had any knowledge of Mr. Pitt, will believe that his opinion merely was, that the question ought not to be stirred during the life of the late king. This I firmly believe; but further I cannot go. In this opinion I am confirmed by a reference to the opinion of a person who knew Mr. Pitt well—I mean the late marquis of Londonderry, who once, in contradiction to Mr. Rose, gave the same testimony that I now give; namely, that Mr. Pitt's mind upon this subject, was unaltered to his dying day. Let any one read the speech which he delivered in 1805, about five months before his death, and he must be convinced that it was a rapid change indeed, if any change had taken place. I protest, therefore, Sir, against making use in any way of the authority of Mr. Pitt in order to disparage the cause which I profess to inherit from that great man.
But, Sir, I have been drawn aside by the name of Mr. Pitt from the line of argument which I had purposed to myself. Briefly, then, my impression is, that no promise was ever given by that illustrious individual; but that indirect intentions were held out to the Catholics to induce them to hope, that Catholic emancipation would be granted, if the Union were agreed to; and I do firmly believe, that many of the Roman Catholics of Ireland pledged themselves to procure that Union, in the anticipation that that measure would be favourable to the great object. Now, then, that two-thirds of the representatives of Ireland are advocates for it, what is the result? What, but that this very Union is the great bar to its attainment? For this one thing is clear—and no man in his senses can doubt it—that, if Ireland had continued separate from this kingdom, instead of the Roman Catholics coming here for the twentieth time, in the hope and expectation that their claims will be granted, the question would have been settled many years ago, and they would now be placed on a similar footing with all other British subjects. This is a consideration, which, although it does not amount to a contract or treaty, should 1007 have some weight in the scale, when the judgment of the House is with them.
And now, Sir, to another branch of the subject. The picture which has been drawn of the state of Ireland, by gentlemen espousing both sides of the question, is of a nature so appalling, that I think it becomes the duty of the English part of the House of Commons, judging from the statements that have been made by the members of the sister country, to consider well before they throw away any chance of improving her condition. My right hon. friend (Mr. Peel) has stated, that these troubles and these difficulties, should be met by firmness and decision. Firmness and decision, Sir, are admirable qualities; but they are virtues or vices according as they are used. I will not take them in the unfavourable sense in which they have been taken generally, by the ears which have heard them this night; for if I did, I should not envy the hand on which would devolve the task of carrying such a system into effect. But, Sir, let us hope, that the opposition to the motion of the hon. baronet, is merely an opposition rather than the desire to substitute, in place of the measures which he proposes, measures of a far different nature. Let us hope it is so; God grant, us time to consider this question; for I will not conceal my belief, that the distaste in this country to this measure is stronger than it formerly was. I avow this impression honestly and fairly; but I have no doubt that to argument and to discussion, that distaste will give way, and that that which is in itself right, and just, and equitable, and humane, will not be long ere it find an echo in the bosom of the British legislature.
Sir, it is, I think, impossible to hear the speeches of hon. members from Ireland, and conceive the practicability of that country going on in the way in which it has lately done. As many affidavits and documents of every description have been read in support of various opinions, I will beg leave to detain the House, by reading one of these affidavits, as a specimen of the absurdities that have been put forward on the subject. The affidavit to which I refer, runs as follows:—"And this deponent saith, that the said (A. B.) swore that he would kick the damned soul of the said deponent so that it should fly round Hell like a blue bottle round a treacle barrel; and which the said deponent 1008 verily believes the said A. B. would have clone, had he not been prevented [a laugh]." Sir, the system pursued by this country towards the Roman Catholics may be sustained a little longer, and a little longer—from year to year—but speaking of the age of a country, the time of the duration of that system must be short indeed, f should despise the character of the Catholic priesthood as much as my right hon. friend (Mr. Peel) if I thought them guilty of all that has been imputed to them, but I have learnt, even from the debates upon the subject in this House, not to trust to extravagant accusations. The Roman Catholic priests have been accused by any right hon. friend, of garbling the Catechism of the Church of England, on a point which went to convict them of idolatry; but I hold in my hand a work of great circulation in the Roman Catholic schools of Ireland, in which the second commandment is fully set forth.
Sir, I conjure the House to reflect, that the motion of the hon. baronet is merely a declaration on the part of the House, that the state of Ireland and of the Roman Catholic population, is such as to demand the consideration of the House. To this proposition, it is intended to oppose a direct negative, importing that, the House dons not think the state of Ireland, or the laws affecting the Roman Catholics, deserves consideration. That is the issue upon which the House is now going to divide. The resolution goes no further than that the House should adopt the opinion of its predecessors, who sent three bills up to the House of Lords, of relief to the Roman Catholics. By voting with the hon. baronet, I do no more than sanction this proposition; reserving to myself the power of acting, or of not acting, upon it. On the other hand, if this resolution should be negatived—the House of Commons should decide, that the consideration of the slate of Ireland is not worthy to be entered upon—then is the House of Commons changed indeed; and it would be more easy to imagine, than it would be safe for me to express, the consequence that may ensue from such a change [loud cheers].
§ Sir Charles Forbes
rose amidst loud cries of "question." After several minutes had elapsed the hon. baronet said, his object in rising was to explain the reason why he had voted against the Catholic question two years ago. He had then 1009 thought that the time was not a fit one. He now, however, intended to support the motion: but he wished the word "necessity" to be changed to "expediency."
Sir Francis Burdett
said, he would not add one word to what had been so ably and eloquently urged, by the right hon. Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He was quite willing to adopt the alteration just suggested by the hon. baronet.
The question being accordingly put, "That this House is deeply impressed with the expediency of taking into consideration the Laws imposing Civil Disabilities on his Majesty's Roman Catholic Subjects, with a view to their relief," the House divided: Ayes 272: Noes 276: majority against the motion four. The House adjourned at five in the morning.
|List of the Majority, and Minority.|
|A'Court, E. H.||Calvert, John|
|Alcock, T.||Campbell, John|
|Alexander, H.||Campbell, A.|
|Antrobus, G.||Carmarthen, marq. of|
|Arbuthnot, hon. H.||Capel, John|
|Archdall, M.||Cartwright, W.|
|Ashburnham, hon. P.||Chandos, marquis of|
|Astley, sir J.||Chaplin, T.|
|Ashurst, W. H.||Clinton, C. F.|
|Astell, W.||Clive, visct.|
|Ashley, lord||Clive, hon. R.|
|Attwood, M.||Clive, H.|
|Baker, E.||Cooke, sir H.|
|Bankes, G.||Cotterell, sir J.|
|Bankes, H.||Cole, sir C.|
|Barclay, C.||Collett, E. J.|
|Barne, M.||Cooper, E. S.|
|Bastard, E. P.||Cooper, T.|
|Bastard, T.||Cooper, R. B.|
|Batley, C.||Cooper, hon. W. A.|
|Beckett, sir J.||Copley, sir J. S.|
|Bell, M.||Corry, visct.|
|Benson, R.||Corbett, Panton|
|Beresford, sir J. P.||Cuffe, James|
|Beresford, M.||Curtis, E. J.|
|Blackburne, J.||Curzon, hon. R.|
|Blair, J.||Cust, hon. P.|
|Blandford, marquis of||Cust, hon. Wm.|
|Bonham, H.||Duff, hon. A.|
|Borradaile, R.||Dalrymple, A. J.|
|Bond, John||Davidson, D.|
|Bright, H.||Davis, Hart|
|Brogden, J.||Dawkins, H.|
|Brudenell, lord||Dawson, G. R.|
|Brydges, sir J.||Domville, sir C.|
|Buck, L. W.||Dottin, A.|
|Burrell, sir C.||Dowdeswell, J. E.|
|Buxton, John||Dugdale, D. S.|
|Byron, Thos.||Duncombe, hon. W.|
|Belfast, earl of||Dundas, hon. H.|
|Bradshaw, James||Dundas, John|
|Chaplin, C.||Downes, lord|
|Dick, Quintin||Lascelles, hon. W.|
|Eden, hon. R.||Legge, hon. E.|
|Ennismore, lord||Macnaghten, E. A.|
|Estcourt, T.||Macqucen, T.|
|Evans, H.||Magennis, R.|
|Egerton, W.||Maitland, E. F.|
|Fane, J. T.||Malcolm, N.|
|Fane, hon. H. S.||Mandeville, visct.|
|Fane, John||Manners, lord C.|
|Farquhar, J.||Manners, lord R.|
|Fellowes, W. H.||Martin, sir T.|
|Fetherstone, sir G.||Maxwell, Waring|
|Fleming, John||Maxwell, H.|
|Foley, E. T.||Meynell, H.|
|Foley, John||Moore, G.|
|Forrester, hon. G.||Morgan, sir C.|
|Foster, J. L.||Morgan, J. G.|
|Fyler, T.||Mundy, F.|
|Gascoyne, J.||Mundy, G.|
|Gooch, sir T.||Musgrave, sir P.|
|Gordon, hon. W.||Maxwell, sir W.|
|Gordon, John||Newborough, lord|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Nicholl, rt. hon. sir J.|
|Graham, marquis of||Nightingal, sir M.|
|Grant, sir A. C.||Northcote, H.|
|Greville, hon. sir C.||Norton, G.|
|Gilbert, D.||O'Neil, hon. A.|
|Graham, G. E.||Onslow, A.|
|Graves, lord||Owen, sir E.|
|Gye, F.||Owen, sir J.|
|Halse, J.||Owen, Hugh|
|Hancock, R.||Pallmer, C. N.|
|Hart, G. B.||Palmer, Rt.|
|Hastings, sir C.||Paget, lord W.|
|Heathcote, sir W.||Palk, sir L.|
|Herries, J. C.||Peachey, W.|
|Hill, sir G.||Pearse, John|
|Hill, sir R.||Peel, rt. hon. R.|
|Hodgson, F.||Peel, J.|
|Hodson, J. A.||Peel, W.|
|Holmes, W.||Peel, L.|
|Hotham, lord||Pellew, hon. P.|
|Houldsworth, T.||Pennant, G.|
|Jones, J.||Pitt, J.|
|Irving, J.||Pollen, sir J.|
|Jenkinson, hon. C.||Powell, W.|
|Kekewich, S. T.||Powell, Alex.|
|Kemp, T.||Price, Richard|
|King, hon. R.||Prendergast, M.|
|King, hon. H.||Pelham, J. C.|
|Knatchbull, sir E.||Phillips, Rd.|
|King, sir J.||Raine, J.|
|Langston, James||Rice, G. T.|
|Legh, T.||Rickford, W.|
|Legh Keck, G. A.||Roberts, W.|
|Lenox, lord G.||Rochford, G.|
|Lethbridge, sir T.||Rogers, E.|
|Lindsay, C.||Rose, sir G.|
|Lott, H.||Rose, G.|
|Lowther, visct.||Ross, C.|
|Lowther, hon. H.||Ryder, rt. hon. Rd.|
|Lowther, sir J.||Sanderson, A.|
|Lowther, J. H.||St. Paul, sir H.|
|Lucy, G.||Scott, hon. W.|
|Lushington, S. R.||Scott, H.|
|Lushington, col.||Shadwell, L.|
|Luttrell, J. F.||Shelley, sir J.|
|Lygon, hon. H.||Sibthorpe, C.|
|Smith, A.||Walker, Josh.|
|Smith, C.||Wallace, rt. hon. T.|
|Smith, S.||Walpole, hon. J.|
|Smith, T. A.||Walrond, B.|
|Smythe, sir G.||Ward, W.|
|Somerset, lord G.||Webbe, Ed.|
|Somerset, lord E.||Wells, J.|
|Somerset, lord F.||Wetherell, sir C.|
|Sotheron, F.||Whitmore, T.|
|Spence, G.||Wigram, W.|
|Spottiswoode, A.||Wilbraham, Bootle|
|Stafford, lord||Williams, R.|
|Strathaven, lord||Willoughby, Henry|
|Strutt, J.||Wilson, J.|
|Stuart, Wm.||Wilson, Rd.|
|Stephenson, R.||Winn, hon. G.|
|Seymour, Henry||Worcester, marq. of|
|Starkie, Le Gendre||Wyndham, W.|
|Thynne, lord J.||Wynne, Owen|
|Tallemache, hon. F.||Wilks, J.|
|Taylor, G. W.||Wemyss, James.|
|Thompson, G. L.||PAIRED OFF.|
|Thomson, alderman||Burrell, Walter|
|Tindal, N.||Bradshaw, J. H.|
|Tomline, W.||Campbell, A.|
|Townshend, hon. J. R.||Davenport, D.|
|Townshend, lord Jas.||Dundas, rt. hon. W.|
|Trench, F.||Harvey, sir E.|
|Tullamore, lord||Hope, hon. sir A.|
|Tyrwhitt, Tho.||Hope, sir W.|
|Tyrwhitt, Wm.||Leake, W.|
|Tudway, J. P.||Manning, W.|
|Ure, M.||Noel, sir G.|
|Uxbridge, earl of||O'Neill, col.|
|Vaughan, sir R.||Seymour, H.|
|Vivyan, lord Rd.||Vivian, sir H.|
|Abercromby, hon. J.||Burdett, sir F.|
|Acland, sir T.||Butler-Clarke, hon. C.|
|Alexander, J.||Buxton, T. F.|
|Althorp, visc.||Byng, G.|
|Anson, sir G.||Boyd, Walter|
|Anson, hon. G.||Bruce, lord|
|Arbuthnot, rt. hon. C.||Buller, J.|
|Archdeckne, A.||Brown, James|
|Baillie, John||Calcraft, John|
|Balfour, J.||Calthorpe, hon. F.|
|Baring, A.||Calthorpe, hon. A.|
|Baring, F.||Calvert, N.|
|Baring, sir T.||Calvert, C.|
|Baring, W. B.||Campbell, Walter|
|Barclay, D.||Canning, right. hon. G.|
|Barnard, visc.||Carew, R. S.|
|Beaumont, T.||Carrington, sir E.|
|Bective, earl of||Carter, John|
|Bentinck, lord W.||Castlereagh, visc.|
|Bernard, T.||Caulfield, hon. H.|
|Bingham, lord||Cavendish, lord G.|
|Binning, lord||Cavendish, Henry|
|Birch, J.||Cavendish, C.|
|Bourne, rt. hon. W. S.||Cholmondeley, lord H.|
|Brecknock, earl of||Chichester, Arthur|
|Brougham, Henry||Clements, visc.|
|Brougham, J.||Clarke, sir G.|
|Brownlow, C.||Clifton, visc.|
|Bruen, W.||Clive, Henry|
|Colbourne, N. R.||Hill, lord A.|
|Coke, T. W.||Hobhouse, J. C.|
|Cocks, James||Honywood, W. P.|
|Colthurst, sir N.||Howard, hon. F. G.|
|Coote, sir C.||Howard, Henry|
|Courtenay, T. P.||Howick, visct.|
|Cradock, S.||Hume, J.|
|Croker, J. W.||Hurst, R.|
|Crompton, S.||Hutchinson, J. H.|
|Davenport, E.||Hutchinson, John|
|Dawson, A.||Hay, lord John|
|Dawson, J. H. M.||Hughes, W. L.|
|Denison, W. J.||Ingleby, sir W.|
|Denison, J. E.||Innes, sir H.|
|Doherty, John||Jephson, C. O.|
|Douglas, W. R. K.||Jermyn, earl of|
|Du Cane, Peter||Jolliffe, Hilton|
|Duncombe, T. S.||Knight, R.|
|Dundas, hon. G.||Kennedy, T. F.|
|Dundas, hon. sir R.||King, hon. R. (Cork)|
|Dundas, hon. T.||Knox, hon. Thomas|
|Dundas, C.||Labouchere, H.|
|Drummond, Home||Lamb, hon. G.|
|Easthope, John||Lascelles, hon. W.|
|East, sir E.||Latouche, R.|
|Ebrington, visc.||Lawley, F.|
|Ellis, hon. G. A.||Lennard, T. B.|
|Ellison, Cuthbert||Lester, B. L.|
|Ennismere, visc.||Lewis, T. F.|
|Eliot, lord||Leycester, R.|
|Fazakerley, N.||Liddell, hon. H.|
|Fergusson, sir R. C.||Littleton, E.|
|Ferguson, R. C.||Lloyd, T.|
|Fitzgerald, rt. hon. M.||Lockhart, W. E.|
|Fitzgerald, rt. hon. V.||Lombe, E.|
|Fitzgerald, lord W.||Lumley, J. S.|
|Fitzgerald, John||Lushington, Dr.|
|Fitzgibbon, hon. R.||Maberly, John|
|Fitzroy, lord C.||Maberly, W. L.|
|Folkestone, visc.||Macdonald, sir J.|
|Forbes, lord||Mackenzie, sir J. W.|
|Forbes, sir C.||Mackintosh, sir J.|
|Fortescue, hon. G.||Maitland, visc.|
|Frankland, R.||Maitland, hon. A.|
|Fremantle, rt. hon. W.||Marjoribanks, S.|
|Ffrench, Arthur||Marshall, John|
|Farquhar, sir R.||Marshall, W.|
|Forbes, John||Martin, J.|
|Garties, lord||Martin, R.|
|Gordon, R.||Maule, hon. W.|
|Gower, lord F. L.||Marryatt, J.|
|Graham, G. E.||Milbank, M.|
|Grant, right hon. C.||Mildmay, P. St. John|
|Grant, R.||Milton, visc.|
|Grattan, H.||Monck, J. B.|
|Grattan, J.||Morland, S. B.|
|Grosvenor, hon. R.||Morpeth, visc.|
|Grosvenor, T.||Mount Charles, earl of|
|Gurney, Hudson||Newport, rt. hon. sir J.|
|Guest, Josiah||Normanby, visc.|
|Guise, sir W.||Nugent, lord|
|Hare, hon. W.||Nugent, sir G.|
|Hardinge, sir H.||O'Hara, J.|
|Hawkins, sir C.||O'Brien, Lucius|
|Heathcote, G. J.||Ord, W.|
|Heneage, G. F.||Oxmantown, lord|
|Heron, sir R.||Palmerston, visc.|
|Parnell, sir H.||Thompson, P. Beilly|
|Pendarvis, E.||Tierney, right hon. G.|
|Phillimore, J.||Tomes, John|
|Philips, G.||Tufton, hon. H.|
|Philips, G. R.||Tunno, E.|
|Phipps, hon. E.||Twiss, Horace|
|Plunkett, right hon. sir W. C.||Tollemache, F.|
|Ponsonby, hon. W. S.||Vernon, hon. G.|
|Ponsonby, hon. G.||Villiers, T. Hyde|
|Ponsonby, hon. F.||Van Homrigh, P.|
|Portman, E.||Waithman, ald.|
|Power, R.||Wall, C. Baring|
|Powlett, hon. W.||Warburton, Henry|
|Poyntz, W. S.||Warrender, sir G.|
|Price, R.||Westenra, hon. H.|
|Pringle, sir W.||Whitbread, S. C.|
|Prittie, hon. F.||Whitbread, W. H.|
|Proby, hon. G.||White, H.|
|Protheroe, E.||White, J.|
|Ramsden, J. C.||Whitmore, T.|
|Rancliffe, lord||Wilmot-Horton, R.|
|Robarts, A. W.||Wilson, sir R.|
|Robinson, right hon. F.||Winnington, sir T.|
|Robinson, sir G.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Robinson, G. R.||Wood, M.|
|Rowley, sir W.||Wood, J.|
|Rumbold, C.||Wood, C.|
|Russell, lord G. W.||Wynne, sir W. W.|
|Russell, lord John||Wynne, C. W. W.|
|Russell, lord W.||Wyvill, M.|
|Russell, G. R.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Scarlett, James||Dancannon, visc.|
|Sebright, sir John||Rice, T. S.|
|Sefton, earl of||PAIRED OFF.|
|Smith, J.||Cockburn, sir G.|
|Smith, W.||Curwen, J. C.|
|Smith, hon. R.||Gladstone, J.|
|Somerville, sir M.||Hamilton, lord A.|
|Stanley, lord||Heathcote, sir G.|
|Stanley, hon. E.||Heathcote, R. E.|
|Stuart, H. Villiers||Huskisson, rt. hon. W.|
|Stuart, lord J.||Lindsay, hon. Hugh|
|Stewart, J. (Beverley)||Maxwell, John|
|Stuart-Wortley, hon. J.||Montgomery, sir J.|
|Sykes, D.||Prendergast, M. G.|
|Sinclair, hon. J.||Phipps, general|
|Tavistock, marquis of||Smith, G.|
|Taylor, M. A.||Western, C.|
|Tennyson, C.||Wrottesley, sir John|
|Thompson, C.||Wilkins, Walter|