HL Deb 10 June 1819 vol 40 cc1034-67
Earl Grey

said, he had hoped that the bill, the second reading of which he now rose to move, would have met with the general concurrence of their lordships. That hope was founded on the reasonableness, as it appeared to him, of the bill itself, and the admission, that doc- trines, of faith, considered with regard to religion only, were not a ground for the exclusion of Roman Catholics from the enjoyment of the advantages of the British constitution; and that no reason remained for maintaining that exclusion, except their acknowledgment of foreign spiritual supremacy, which it was contended rendered it impossible for them to give to a Protestant government a sufficient security for their allegiance. After these admissions, he had thought there could be no objection to a bill which merely proposed to repeal declarations required of a religious and dogmatical nature, relating entirely to questions of faith and doctrine, and which had no reference whatever to the supremacy of any foreign power. He had therefore expected, that a proposition for the repeal of these declarations would not have been resisted; but he was told, from an authority which he could not doubt, that the bill he had introduced was to be met with a most determined opposition. It became, therefore, incumbent on him to state the grounds on which he thought their lordships ought to pass it. The bill proposed to abrogate two declarations enacted by the 25th and the 30th of Charles 2nd. The former was required on admission to office, and the latter to a seat in parliament.

Before he proceeded to inquire on what grounds it could be thought reasonable to maintain these declarations, he would briefly call their lordships attention to the state of the times in which the laws he wished to remove from the statute book had been passed. The 25th of Charles 2nd was commonly called the Test act, and it could scarcely be necessary to remind their lordships of the state of agitation which prevailed in the country when that law was enacted. It passed in the year 1673, when parliament met, after repeated prorogations, with the country in a state of great irritation and alarm. The king was suspected of being a Catholic; the queen was known to be one; the duke of York, also a Catholic, the next heir to the crown; and all the principal offices of the court were filled by Catholics. The act of Non-Conformity had been suspended by proclamation, for the purpose of favouring Catholics. There was a camp at Blackheath commanded by the duke of Schomberg, a foreigner, and most of the officers were Roman Catholics. These troops had been assembled for the very purpose of overawing parlia- ment. A war, too, had recently commenced against Holland, the only protestant power in Europe in which civil and religious liberty then found protection. If such were the circumstances under which the act of the 25th of Charles 2nd had passed, those which existed at the time of passing that of the 30th were still more remarkable. In addition to all the circumstances he had already stated, with a court and government so hostile to civil liberty, the mind of the country was irritated by the disclosure of the popish plot, and the evidence of Titus Oates, and others. The circumstances of dismay under which these acts were passed, accounted for their intolerant nature. Every Roman Catholic was then regarded as a conspirator, and an enemy of public liberty. It was therefore against crimes attributed to Catholics, and not against their religion, that these laws were enacted. They were considered necessary safeguards, while the monarch was suspected of being a Catholic, and his successor avowedly of that religion. That it was in this spirit these measures had been adopted was abundantly proved by the other severe statutes, which not only excluded Catholics from office, but even deprived them of civil existence. It was only on a principle of great jealousy and apprehended danger that the passing or such laws in a free state could be accounted for.

Happily, these cruel laws had been repealed in more temperate times. Still, however, some intolerant acts were retained, and there were none which, in Christian charity and justice, their lordships were more bound to remove than those which it was the object of the present bill to abrogate. The Roman Catholics were now regarded in a very different point of view from that in which they were contemplated when these acts passed. The imputations on the moral principles of the Roman Catholics had been disclaimed; on that disclaimer parliament had acted; and never had the humanity of the legislature been more completely justified than by the conduct of the Catholics since the severe disabilities under which they laboured had been removed. The oaths which had at different times been formed in order to be administered to persons taking office or entering into parliament, had all one object, namely, to separate spiritual from political supremacy. The noble earl op- posite (Liverpool) had admitted that there is nothing immoral in the Roman Catholic religion. Every imputation of that kind he acknowledged to have been satisfactorily disclaimed and disproved. He stated almost in the words of the declaration, that it is not because they believe in transubstantiation, in the invocation of the Virgin Mary, or of Saints, or in this sacrifice of the Mass, that they are excluded from the benefits of the British constitution; but that before they can be admitted to the full enjoyment of their political rights, it is necessary that the legislature should be satisfied that the spiritual authority they acknowledge is so separated from temporal authority, as to enable them to give a perfect allegiance. That the doctrine of transubstantiation, the invocation of saints, and the other doctrines he had alluded to, did hot, in the opinion of the legislature, carry with them any moral or civil disqualification, was proved by acts which had already been passed for the relief of the Roman Catholics. He would appeal, in support of this opinion, to the acts of 1778 and 1791, passed for the relief of Roman Catholics in Scotland. The preamble of the act of 1778 contained a declaration of this principle. It referred to an act of the Scots parliament passed in the reign of king William, requiring Roman Catholics to make a renunciation, according to formula, of transubstantiation and other articles of their faith; and declares that the act, ought to be repealed, as the formula contained only speculative opinions and religious doctrines. A clear distinction was made between temporal and spiritual authority: and the same principle governed the act of 1791. Thus he had not only the admission of the noble earl opposite, but the authority of an act of the legislature itself, for saying, that the speculative opinions or religious dogmas of the Roman Catholics ought not of themselves to form the ground of exclusion from office, or a reason for political disqualification. Why, then continue these declarations against transubstantiation and the invocation, which related merely to speculative opinions? Was not the oath of supremacy, by which the temporal and spiritual power of the pope was renounced, sufficient to secure the legislature add the higher offices of the state from the admission of Roman Catholics? He hoped it would not now be necessary to prove, that no political or civil disqualification ought to exist, on account of any doctrine that did not affect the character of the person who maintained it, as a good member of society or a loyal subject. That the declarations which the present bill was introduced to repeal was no rest of obedience or loyalty, would appear from their nature. The first declaration which was imposed by the act of the 25th of Charles 2nd was directed against those who believed in the doctrine of transubstantiation. The second, or that of the 30th of Charles 2nd, went further, and declared the doctrine of transubstantiation, and the invocation of the Virgin Mary and of the saints, Idolatrous and superstitious. Now, he would ask, if it was necessary to exclude the Roman Catholics from office and power, was it likewise necessary to denounce their belief and revile their worship? Must it not be galling to that body, not only to be denied the privileges to which their fellow subjects were admitted, but to hear themselves branded as the votaries of a blind superstition, and the partisans of an idolatrous worship? But how could the Protestants in most cases take these declarations, or subscribe these oaths, without some feelings of doubt and some scruples of conscience? It had been a general complaint against most governments, that they had imposed useless oaths, and thereby weakened the solemn obligation which an oath implied; and from this charge we were not wholly exempt. Previous to any noble lord taking his seat, he was obliged to come to the table of the House, and to take those declarations against transubstantiation and the invocation of saints—doctrines and practices which they had never examined; thus converting into a mere ceremonial and matter of course the most solemn act that could bind the conscience. Had all their lordships examined the tenets alluded to with such attention, as to be able, on conviction to declare them idolatrous and superstitious? Did they understand distinctly what the Roman Catholics mean by transubstantiation or the invocation of the Virgin Mary? Did they know sufficiently what was meant by the sacrifice of the Mass; and could they declare, that in the sense in which it was understood by the Catholic body, the ceremony was idolatrous and superstitious?

He was sure that many of their lordships would admit, that they had never seriously considered these questions, and that they would find it difficult, with a safe conscience, to make any declaration on the subject. On this account he thought that their lordships could not resist a revision of that part of the statute-book by which such a test was imposed. The doctrine of transubstantiation, which was declared to be idolatrous, did not differ so widely from the doctrine of Protestants on the same subject, as to authorize them to declare so strongly against it; nor, in the sense in which it was understood by the Catholics, could it be called idolatrous. The Catholic maintained, that in the sacrament the elements were changed, and that he enjoyed the real presence of that Deity to whom all worship and adoration were due. How could this be called idolatry, in the sense in which the Catholic understood the doctrine of transubstantiation? But was this doctrine so different from the doctrine of the Protestants of the Church of England, or so inconsistent with the text of scripture, on which the belief of both was founded, as to warrant the epithet applied to it in the case of the Roman Catholic? Their lordships, as members of the Church of England, must of course believe, that the interpretation of the Catholic was wrong; but it was their duty not to revile the conscientious belief of others who differed from them, but to attribute their difference of opinion to a fallibility of judgment, and to consider that only one omniscient being could unanswerably decide between them. It ought to be recollected, that no two churches agreed in the interpretation of the text of scripture, which the Roman Catholic appealed to, as supporting the doctrine of the real presence; while the church of England, and other Protestant churches, drew from it doctrines that differed only by such slight shades, as the generality of those who took the oaths might not always sufficiently examine so as to be able to come to the decision required. The Roman Catholic believed, that in the sacrament of the eucharist there was a real transubstantiation of the elements into the body of Christ; the church of England believed in what was called consubstantiation; and the Calvinist in a mysterious union of the soul of the worshipper with the saviour, through the sacred symbols: in one way or other the doctrine of the real presence was adopted by them all. Was not something very similar to the doctrine of the real presence believed in by the most early reformers? Was it not the belief of queen Elizabeth? Was it not that of archbishop Laud? The real interpretation of that part of the sacred scripture could only be given by the Divine Author of the scripture; and no difference of opinion upon it could authorize us to renounce that charity which was the common and undoubted duty of all, or to use those reviling terms that we applied in a solemn oath to the worship of the Roman Catholics. In confirmation of this opinion, he begged leave to call the attention of their lordships to a letter of a very eminent divine of the Church of England—he meant archbishop Wake. That reverend divine had engaged in a controversy with the doctors of Sorbonne, but had candidly admitted, that in many things the church of England and the church of Rome maintained the same doctrines and practised similar rites. [Here the noble lord read a quotation from a Latin letter of the archbishop, in which he allowed the similarity between the doctrine and discipline of the two churches.] The attachment of this divine to his country, his loyalty to his sovereign, and his conscientious adherence to the tenets of the church at the head of which he was, could not be doubted; and yet he admitted, that in a comparison between the church of England and the church of Rome their articles of faith differed very little, their discipline still less, and that in fundamentals they were nearly the same. Adverting again to the doctrine of transubstantiation, the noble earl observed, that it had not been considered as idolatrous by many eminent Protestants. In confirmation of this position, he quoted the opinion of Mr. Waller, of sir William Temple, and others. Bishop Burnet had mentioned, that at the framing of the declaration the bishop of Ely objected to it, and contended that the practice of the church of Rome, in the administration of the eucharist, could not be called idolatrous. The noble earl produced other authorities in support of this opinion, and called upon their lordships, on these grounds, to agree with his bill in abolishing a test which unnecessarily declared against the dogmas of another church, and reviled a religion which on the point in question, was so little different from their own.

On the impropriety of such epithets as idolatrous and superstitious, as applied to the Roman Catholic tenets, he would not further enlarge; but as he understood there were objections to the repeal of the act in question, he would endeavour to answer them as well as he could. He would have found it difficult to know what these objections were, had he not met with a statement of them—a paper, which contained the resolutions of a certain body of men against the present bill, on which a petition was to be founded, which, as far as he knew, had not yet been presented to the House. This paper evinced the same spirit as had been manifested against the bill which he (lord Grey) had introduced to another House in 1807, which excited at that time such clamour, and produced such consequences; and it was some consolation to him to reflect, that as the hostility to that measure had subsided when its objects were better understood; and as it had received the sanction of parliament without creating any alarm, without leading to any discussion, or meeting with any opposition; showing, that what was resisted at one period, and in the hands of one man, as dangerous and disastrous, was adopted at another, and from a different quarter, as wise and salutary: so it might happen with the present measure, which he might have expected to have been received with indulgence, if not with favour. It was, however, to be opposed, and the resolutions which he had alluded to stated the grounds. He could not say that the noble lord on the woolsack had had any hand in drawing up that paper; but from the technical terms in which it was expressed, from the particular phrases which were used, the style of thinking that it evinced, and the precision of the ideas that it contained, he did not doubt that it had come under his revision, and expressed his sentiments. The noble and learned lord had said, that our constitution was fundamentally Protestant, and the first resolution stated nearly the same thing: he said, "that the British constitution and government are essentially and fundamentally Protestant, and the Protestant religion forms the great security of the public happiness and welfare of this country, as established and secured by a solemn national compact at the period of the Revolution, and by the acts of the legislature which happily settled the crown of these realms upon his majesty's august family." The second resolution stated, "that, being sensible of the religious and political blessings enjoyed under the sway of the royal house of Brunswick, and convinced that upon the maintenance of that compact and of those acts of settlement, the safety of his majesty's person and government—the continuance of the monarchy of England—the preservation of the Protestant religion in all its integrity — the maintenance of the church of England, as by law established—the security of the ancient and undoubted rights and liberties—and the future peace and tranquillity of this kingdom, do (under God) entirely depend, this meeting is filled with alarm when the least attempt is made to abrogate any of the laws, or subvert any of the securities, by which those inestimable privileges are held." He was ready to give praise to those who supported the Protestant constitution, and were ready to guard the church from any danger with which it was threatened; but he should wish that they would show the same resolution to support the constitution, the rights and liberties of the people, on other occasions when they were assailed. In the third resolution they profess, "that, by the wise policy of our ancestors, Roman Catholics were excluded from bearing certain offices, and from the legislature and councils of the nation; and by stat. 39, Car. 2, it was enacted, "that no peer of the realm, or member of the House of Commons, should vote or sit in parliament, until he should take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and make, subscribe, and audibly repeat the declaration, against transubstantiation and popery." The fourth resolution stated, "that the meeting has been informed that a bill has been brought into parliament, and is now in progress, in which it is proposed, that the declaration against transubstantiation, required by the statute 25th Charles 2nd, and the declaration against transubstantiation and popery, required by the statute 30th Charles 2nd, shall no longer be required to be taken as a qualification for holding any office or place of trust from his majesty, or under his authority, or for sitting or voting in either House of parliament; provided that nothing therein should dispense any person from taking the oaths of allegiance or supremacy." The fifth resolution was as follows:—"That although the said declarations against transubstantiation and popery contain only a renunciation of certain opinions entertained by Roman Catholics, yet they form, in the opinion of this meeting, the principal test by which Roman Catholics are to be ascer- tained, and without which the oaths of allegiance and supremacy are not sufficient to exclude Roman Catholics from parliament, and from situations of political power."

Now, he apprehended that the petitioners were wrong in what they said about the necessity of taking these declarations as precedent to becoming members of the privy council, or being invested with political power; and he would maintain, that there would be the some securities against the admission of Catholics after the passing of this bill as before. The oath of supremacy, was a sufficient guard against admission into parliament. With respect to the great offices of state, neither the oath of supremacy nor the declarations were required to be taken before entering on their duties; and a bill of indemnity passed every year, to secure from penal consequences those that had neglected so to qualify themselves. When the House heard of the other securities besides those declarations, it would naturally inquire what they were. They were three—the oath of allegiance, which a Roman Catholic could take; the oath of abjuration, which, after the exiled family of the Stuarts had become extinct, it was a solemn mockery to take and the oath of supremacy, which the Catholic could not take. This last oath must therefore, in the judgment of this meeting, have appeared unavailing without the declarations in question. They say that they were in a state of great alarm, therefore, about the repeal proposed by the present bill; and as alarm was not usually a reasoning state of mind, they had accordingly stated no arguments to justify their apprehension of danger. How could they suppose that the oath of allegiance would be unavailing, as a barrier against the admission of Catholics to offices from which they were now excluded? He saw no reason for a suspicion that this oath would not as effectually exclude the Catholic from any office to the taking of which it was a qualification, as it and other tests put together. It had always been effectual for that object. Many Catholics had been in the army and navy, and even in parliament, after the passing of the act by which this oath was imposed; but it was by special dispensation from it by the Crown. If they were admitted to office, it was therefore not by taking the oath for the purpose of breaking it, but by the special favour of the Crown reliev- ing them from the necessity of submitting to it, and suspending in their behalf the existing laws. The declarations against transubstantiation had not been introduced because the oath was ineffectual for its object, but because the Crown had dispensed with it. This had happened with regard to the admission of Catholics into offices of power and emolument. Their lordships knew, that, though the declarations were enacted to prevent any Roman Catholic members from being admitted into the House of Commons, no member who had a seat at that time was excluded; while the case was different with the House of Peers, because Ro-man Catholic peers before that time sat by dispensation from the Crown. It would appear, that from the 5th of Elizabeth, when the oath of supremacy was made to the restoration, no Roman Catholic had obtained a seat in the Commons' House of parliament. Writers mention no exclusion. He had searched the Journals, and did not find an instance of a member deprived of his seat on account of his Catholicism. Such a circumstance would have been mentioned had it occurred. In 1640 a commission had been appointed to inquire whether any improper persons had got into the House, and not one Roman Catholic was found. At the time when the acts of the 25th and 30th of Charles 2nd were passed, their declared object was, to prevent Catholics from getting into parliament, not to drive out any who were already members. Now, was it possible that no trace should be found in Burnet, or other cotemporary historians, of an expulsion of a member on account of his haying taken the oath of supremacy, while a Catholic, if any such instance had occurred? He was therefore entitled to conclude, that the act of Supremacy was sufficient, from the 5th of Eliz. to the 30th of Charles 2nd, to guard the door of the House of Commons against the admission of Catholics. If, then, in point of fact, this oath had been effective when these declarations did pot exist, what reason was there for believing that if the declarations were repealed it would not be equally efficient? Why was the oath altered for Ireland in 1792, unless because it could not be taken then as it stood? The oath of supremacy excluded before that time gentlemen from the bar, and accordingly no Roman Catholic was a barrister. It also excludes the English Catholic from voting at elections; and, he believed, none voted. They might, indeed, vote where the oath was not administered, or in the tumult and confusion of the election there might be instances of their taking it; but that no more proved that the Catholic was regardless of an oath, than the taking of a Custom-house oath, or a bribery oath, by a Protestant, which he broke, proved that all Protestants would perjure themselves. He was therefore entitled to infer, that it operated an absolute exclusion. He had heard, indeed, of one instance of an elector, in Devonshire, to whom the oath was tendered, which he refused to take. If the oaths themselves were scarcely an adequate security, declarations must be still more ineffectual.

In the seventh of those resolutions to which he had alluded, it was asserted that the Romish church granted no toleration to those who did not participate in its communion, and that therefore there could be no peace or security for those who professed a different creed, and lived under its authority. It was true that a principle of persecution might be found amongst its ancient canons; but it was not just or candid to infer, that the practice of the Romish church corresponded with their spirit. He would put it to the right rev. prelates whether the true character of our own Protestant church could be ascertained from the tenets and doctrines promulgated in the homilies of many celebrated divines; he would appeal to them whether the 18th article, or that part of the liturgy which it had been the well-known wish of our pious sovereign to see withdrawn; were congenial to the pure spirit of Christianity. In their relation to political subjects, they would form an equally wrong test of the principles on which our ecolesiatical establishment was founded. Their lordships must recollect that a decree had been passed at one time by the University of Oxford, inconsistent with the justness of those means by which the Revolution was accomplished—a decree which; if itself right, would render it impossible for the reigning family to hold any legitimate power in this country. He entreated them, however, to consider what the actual policy of the Romish church was in those states where it formed the established religion. In every country, save one, toleration was extended to alt modes of religious worship. We had ourselves been the means of restoring that one country to a situation which enabled it at the present moment to seek the degradation and oppression of its own colonies. In France the legislature, as well as all civil and military offices were accessible to persons holding opposite opinions on questions of faith. The same policy had been adopted in the Netherlands, in Austria, in Hungary, in Saxony. The converse of the proposition was therefore strictly true, and it appeared that the Roman Catholics did allow to those belonging to a separate communion from themselves a liberal toleration. The practice in Rome itself was equally mild and tolerant; the venerable prelate who filled the papal chair, and the cardinal who acted under him, had not objected to the celebration of divine worship in that capital according to the ritual of the church of England. There were noble lords now present who had attended on such occasions, whose carriages had waited at the doors, and who could testify that it took place with the utmost freedom and facility.

There was one other resolution of considerable length, with regard to which he felt it his duty likewise to offer a few observations. It represented, that the Catholics regarded certain oaths as null and void; and that the Pope had himself, a few years ago published a proclamation to his subjects, wherein he authorized them to take a distinction between active and passive oaths. It had cost him some time to discover the exact meaning or allusion intended to be conveyed in this proposition, and he might now venture to state that there never had been a grosser perversion or misrepresentation. It was true, that the Romish church held that oaths, in themselves unlawful, were not binding; but was the same principle maintained by all the great authorities on public law? If an oath were taken repugnant to the allegiance which a subject owed to the allegiance, it would be an offence, and the execution of it would be a second. The same rule applied in the case of an established religion; and it was an unfounded calumny on the church of Home to assert, that the doctrine was peculiar to her. If a Roman Catholic should take the oath of supremacy, he separated himself from his church, and that separation would be followed by a denial of its sacraments. Such was the doctrine of every church in modern Europe. He had hoped that after the repeated discus- sions which the subject had undergone in that place, and the ample information derived from so many quarters, an exploded calumny, ascribing to the Romish church so unsocial, so detestable, and damnable a doctrine as that of not preserving faith with those of a different religious persuasion, would not at this moment have been, revived. But, if oaths were inadequate to bind the Roman Catholics, how could a declaration, which had not the same solemnity, be expected to secure that object? As to the distinction between active and passive oaths, it was with considerable, difficulty that he had been able to trace its origin. In a work, however, of some value and interest, containing a relation of the French occupation, of the Papal territories, he had found an explanation. A requisition had been made by the French emperor to the Pope, and the king of Naples, in 1808, to join in the war against this country. The Pope refused, his dominions were invaded, and he himself was conveyed a prisoner into France. It was then he instructed his subjects in the difference between an active and passive oath, by allowing them to show a passive obedience to a power which they could not resist, and restraining them only from any active service in its support. What was there in this which every other government would not have felt itself authorized, and even bound to adopt, in a similar emergency? Had Buonaparté ever succeeded in occupying any portion of the British territory, had he landed in Ireland, would the noble lord have hesitated to recommend a like proceeding? He would ask the prelates on that reverend bench, whether, because subjects submitted to an usurping invader, it was their duty likewise to join his forces against their lawful sovereign, in virtue of the oath of temporary obedience which had been exacted from them? He had been at some pains in his inquiries upon this point, because he understood that considerable stress would be laid upon it. The proposition, however, was too plain to admit of argument; and he could not witness an attempt made to revive unfounded prejudices against a large body of deserving men, without feeling it to be his duty to refute and repel those prejudices. The noble and learned lord had admitted that the oath of supremacy ought not to be dated from the reign of Henry 8th, but that it formed part of the common law, and had, therefore, been established; by our Catholic ancestors. If the Roman Catholic could take it with a safe conscience, there was no reason why he should not be put on the same footing as other dissenters. But it was unjust to require declarations to be made, which could be attended with no useful effect, and which cast opprobrium on the religious principles conscientiously entertained by others. He had but one more, observation to make. If he were asked, why he, who had so much at heart the success of the Roman Catholics in their claims to a full enjoyment of every constitutional privilege, was thus anxious for a measure which would not advance that object, he answered, that although this bill did not open either House of parliament to them, or qualify them to hold office, it relieved them from a stigma and an opprobrium, and. our own church from, the painful necessity of thus condemning doctrines with which it did not agree. Whether all further concession was to be refused, or parliament was to go on in the beneficent work, the completion of which would so materially strengthen our security, no Catholic could hear without soreness, and no Protestant pronounce without regret, sentiments opposite to every feeling of good-will and calculated to produce only jealousies and divisions. If they were determined to concede no further privileges, at least they should abstain from adding insult to injury, and reflect that it was their own interest to occupy a safe and tenable position. On the other hand, should a conciliatory policy be, adopted with a view to the final adjustment, of this great question, it would have the more beneficial effect by being preceded by a measure that would evince a sympathy for the honest and conscientious scruples of those in whose favour it was passed. Upon these grounds he now proposed to their lordships the second reading of the bill.

The Bishop of Norwich

said:—Unaccustomed, and in general, very unwilling, to address your lordships; upon the present occasion, I rise, with great satisfaction, to second a motion, which, as it strikes me, those only can consistently oppose, who are prepared to maintain, that religious opinions, merely speculative, and having no influence whatever on practice, may notwithstanding, be justly made a ground, for excluding respectable individuals from situations of honour and emolument in a state; or rather, from the capacity of holding such situations; a capacity, which has been considered, by some of the ablest men, whom this country ever produced, as ranking among the common rights of subjects, unless it can be clearly shown, that the principles in question, are obviously injurious to the welfare of the government, or incompatible with the due discharge of our social, moral, or political duties. I say, clearly shown, for five millions of loyal subjects are not to be proscribed because certain persons, in defiance of reason and of experience, and of plain common sense, unreasonably suppose, that they understand the tenets of the Roman Catholics better than they do themselves; a supposition, the reverse of which is, certainly, far more likely to be true: at all events, a benevolent and unprejudiced man, sincerely anxious to obtain accurate information upon the subject of that apparently unwise policy, which forbids us to grant an extension of civil privileges to a numerous class of individuals who are said to entertain religious opinions; which render them unfit for the enjoyment of such privileges, would take some pains to learn, from the best sources, what those opinions really are; and with a view to this end, he would surely prefer the testimony of credible witnesses now living; he would prefer their avowed sentiments in various publications; above all, he would prefer their declarations upon oath, to any account, given by persons of the same religious persuasion, who lived many ages since; ages of comparative darkness, and superstition; still less, would he pay regard to the representation of an angry controversial opponent. This, however, is not the course which we pursue: on the contrary, we persist obstinately, in disbelieving all that the Roman Catholics say, and in disregarding all that they write; and not only so, but in opposition to every canon of legitimate controversy, we object to them doctrines, which, in the imputed sense, they unequivocally deny; and we charge them with consequences, following, in our judgment, from the doctrines which they do admit; but which consequences they do not acknowledge: and to fill up the measure of insult and injustice, we affect to be surprised when they complain, and say that they are never to be satisfied; "as if," says Mr. Burke, "there were no other mode of curing this disposition of mind, but by continuing to give them cause for dissatisfaction."—The glaring impolicy of this conduct, has been so often pointed out, that it would be presumptuous in a man of my profession to dwell upon a topic, which has been so repeatedly discussed; but I will offer a few of the many religious considerations which induce me to support most cordially this motion. I am perfectly aware, that I tread upon very tender ground, but "he that walketh uprightly, walketh surely." I shall therefore with unreserved frankness, mention two or three of the principal objections which I have to the declarations in question. To begin with the declaration against transubstantiation:—your lordships well know, that this declaration was the ill-omened off spring of the fictitious plot of an infamous informer: a plot, which, in addition to the many other evils it occasioned, was the cause of the legal murder of an amiable peer (viscount Stafford), and the consequent illegal attainder of his family. Let others speak as they feel: to me, there is something very incongruous, at least, in the idea of any religious test as a qualification for civil offices; and of all tests, a sacramental test, or any thing in the smallest degree approaching to it, when applied as an instrument for the exclusion of some, and the admission of others, into these offices, is, by far, the most exceptionable; not to mention, that a test of this description, though it will certainly exclude men of honour and piety, is no bar whatever, to Infidels, to Deists, or to Atheists; who are not apt to be troubled with scruples upon such occasions: this observation applies equally of course to the declarations now under the consideration of your lordships, against transubstantiation and the invocation of saints; but setting aside this argument, I wish to ask any serious man, whether it be not a gross impropriety, and in some measure a profanation, to make our sentiments respecting the nature and design of the most solemn rite of our religion, a rite, ordained by our Divine Master, for the commemoration of his death, and of the benefits which we derive from it, benefits which assuredly have a reference to another world; to make, I say, this solemn rite, a mere scaffold, by which we climb to high situations in this world; whether it be not in effect, To make the symbol of atoning grace, An office key, a picklock to a place, as one of the most interesting of our mo- dern poets beautifully illustrates the idea.—I shall probably be told, that an oath is a religious test; but the parallel between an oath and a sacramental test, will not hold, as has been almost demonstrated by one of the most learned and pious prelates, who ever had a seat in this House, in his celebrated discourse in "Vindication of the Common Rights of Subjects," against a much more ingenious, and touch more formidable opponent in all respects, than has ever since appeared as an advocate for disabilities and restrictions on the score of religion merely.—To return, however to the formula more immediately under our consideration, I wish to state another very Weighty objection; it is this: In the course of a protracted life, I never made the declaration in question, without experiencing the most unpleasant of all sensations, the sensation of self-reproach; when I recollected, that I had pronounced four parts out of five, of the Christian world, to be superstitious and idolatrous; including in the number; a Fenelon, a Pascal, a Bossuet, and "Marseilles good bishop"—besides many most valuable men, now living, who are allowed, on all hands, to adorn by their lives and conduct, the religion which they profess; and I am firmly persuaded, that if it were not for the ambiguous meaning of the words made use of in this declaration, and the glorious uncertainty of the law, arising from this ambiguity, there are very many who hear me, who would experience the same un-pleasant misgivings, when they take their seat in either House of parliament.—Such, my lords, are the natural consequences of a declaration, which reviles, in the most revolting terms, one party, and lays a snare for the other. Let an heathen moralist palliate the conduct of philosophers, when they paid an external homage to the ceremonies of an unhallowed religion, which they inwardly despised, by saying that they deemed such matters to be "tanquam legibus jussa, non tanquam Deo grata"—the excuse is but a sorry one in the mouth of a Pagan, and is still less allowable in the mouth of a Christian. I do not mean to say, that with some ingenuity, a satisfactory mode of making this declaration may not be devised; I have satisfied my own mind; but I am still of opinion, that, upon so solemn an occasion, no ingenuity, no skill in the interpretation of language, should ever be called for. It will perhaps be said, that I arraign the wisdom, and the justice of the legislature, in requiring such a test, and that I rashly attempt to introduce an important innovation. What, my lords, were those benevolent and enlightened men, who voted for the repeal of the writ "de Heretico comburendo" accused of arraigning the wisdom, and the justice of the parliament? or, were those who afterwards, to their honour, voted for the repeal of the laws against witches, accused of this; presumption? Was that honest and patriotic senator, and very able lawyer, who so lately pointed out, with all the force of argument, and all the charms of eloquence, the severity of the criminal code, was he, I say, accused of arraigning the wisdom and the justice of the legislature? Haud timeo, si jam nequeo, defendere crimen, Cum unto commune viro To the charge of attempting to innovate, I shall shortly reply, that the question is, or at least ought to be, whether a law be just, and reasonable, not how old it is, for time can never sanctify injustice.—With respect to the doctrine of the invocation of saints, the doctrine has, in past ages, been abused, and that it may sometimes be abused now, I am ready to admit; but it should always be remembered that intelligent Catholics do every thing in their power to correct this abuse; and censure it, whenever it occurs, as strongly as any Protestant caw do. He who will accurately and impartially compare, what is said in "The First Catechism of the Catholics," in "The Catholic Manual," in a well known work, the title of which is, "The Papist Misrepresented and Represented," and in an excellent work, "The Principles of Roman Catholics with Reference to God and the King;"—he, I say, who will without prejudice, compare what is stated in these publications upon the tenet in question with what is said by Nelson, in his explanation of the Collect in our Liturgy, appointed for All Saints'-day, will find a Very striking coincidence both of thought and of expression. Those who wish for farther information upon the subject of the religious principles of Roman Catholics, will do well to peruse attentively, letters lately written by an amiable and learned Catholic prelate, who is, at this moment; going out under the immediate sanction of government, to the Mauritius [Right Rev. Edward Slater, bishop of Ruspa].— Upon the whole, my lords, I do most earnestly implore your lordships, to repeal declarations which contain an unjust and vilifying censure upon the doctrines of millions of our conscientious fellow Christians, and loyal fellow subjects; and are also a stumbling block in the way of many a serious member of the church of England, when he takes his seat in either House of parliament.—I say not this upon my own judgment merely, for that would be saying very little; but upon the authority of several of our most eminent divines, not to mention, our great moral writer, doctor Samuel Johnson: but I will detain the House no longer; admitting, for the sake of argument, that these declarations were expedient in the reign of Charles the 2nd, when, as the noble earl truly observed, a papist (for such was then the opprobrious appellation in constant use), was regarded as of course a dangerous enemy to the state;—will it necessarily follow, that they are expedient now? The Test act has been long termed the main pillar of our ecclesiastical establishment, and is still so called by some; but others (and I think more justly), deem it as nothing better than a time worn buttress, which deforms and disgraces the building it was intended to support. Is there a single individual of education in the united kingdom, who now contemplates, in the character of a Roman Catholic, a being so much to be dreaded; a being, against whose, wicked designs to undermine both church and state, it is wise and prudent to insist upon such an apparatus of precaution? No, there is not one. The precautions, then, being in the opinion of the public unnecessary, to say nothing more they ought to be repealed.—"The gospel no where demands from us such precautions; the church, which judgeth not those that are without, wants them not; the commonwealth, which should embrace indifferently all men, who are loyal, peaceable, honest and industrious, requires them not."* These, my lords, are the words of that wise, and good, and great man, whose authority has so often been appealed to, in the course of the various discussions which have taken place in this House upon the Catholic question. May his sentiments make the same impression upon the minds of your lordships, which they have long made, and still continue to make, upon my own; you will then, with- * Locke on Toleration. out hesitation, accede to the motion of the noble earl.*

The Archbishop of Canterbury

observed, that by some persons he had been described as so surrounded with prejudices and so influenced by interest, as to be capable of taking only a limited view of this subject He might be liable to the charge of prejudice, but he could assure their lordships that he had no interest *Note.—"Norwich June 18, 1819. My opinion upon the subject of the Catholic question (the most important which has engaged the attention of the public during the times we live in) is, not the casual offer of prejudice or precipitation; but of much reading, much consideration, and much converse with men of different religious persuasions; with men of all parties, and of all professions: if, therefore, I err, it is not for want of an honest, impartial, and sedulous enquiry after truth. Under such circumstances, I should be ashamed of myself, if I felt the least reluctance to a row publicly, sentiments, which I have maintained in private, for nearly half a century; and which I shall never cease to, think, are much more consistent, not only with Christian charity, but with the real interest of our civil and ecclesiastical establishment, than the exclusive spirit which prompts some of his majesty's ministers, to pursue a line of conduct, which bids fair (and at no distant period) to endanger the peace and welfare of that very Protestant ascendancy, for the security of which they express so serious an alarm, if seven respectable noblemen, and perhaps twice as many independent commoners, be allowed to have a seat in parliament? That, in the nineteenth century, such an idea should induce a great majority, of the most enlightened assembly in Europe, to oppose a motion, enforced with argument so conclusive, and with eloquence so persuasive, as were displayed in the late debate, by earl Grey, and lord Grenville, both of whom are as decided friends to this ascendancy when rightly understood, as any two men in the united kingdom, is a melancholy proof, that to the bulk of mankind, whether in the higher or the lower ranks of society, the remark of Seneca, is equally applicable: 'Greditur, non judicatur; sequimur antecedentium gregem, euntes belluarum ritu, non qua euodum est, sed qua itur'. HENRY NORWICH. in it, except a common interest with all of them, in the security of the Protestant government in church and state. He regarded the present measure as having in view the same end with a more general proposition which had recently been decided, with this difference—that if carried, it would arrive at that end, not by the circuitous means of a committee, charged to consider deliberately in what manner and to what extent further indulgences might be safely granted, but a single effort, and by blotting with a single stroke from the Statute book what was now the only insurmountable obstacle to the admission of Roman Catholics to parliament. It was said, that the 30th of Charles 2nd was only a renunciation of a dogmatical tenet, but the effect of it was, to point out distinctly who was a Roman Catholic. He as a Protestant, would not quarrel with a Roman Catholic on the ground of his religious principles; he might lament his errors, but he was at the same time disposed to reverence his integrity. The declaration against transubstantiation, as he had before said, he considered as the great obstacle to his admission to the two houses of parliament. There was, also, the oath of supremacy: but the noble lord had himself argued, that until the 30th of Charles 2nd, Catholics sat in both Houses of Parliament.

Earl Grey

said, across the table, that he had alluded only to the upper House.

The Archbishop of Canterbury

observed, that he had a distinct recollection of this argument having been urged by more than one noble lord on a former occasion. If, then, the oath of supremacy was not of sufficient force to exclude the Roman Catholics from parliament and from the great offices of state, the proposition now made would arrive instanter at that point which many noble lords conceived to be most dangerous to the country both in church and stale. He sincerely believed that the noble earl who had introduced the bill was as firmly attached to the constitution as any man, but he requested their lordships to look at the character in which Roman Catholics sat in parliament at the periods to which the noble earl had alluded. They sat there under the danger of a prœmunire. If we brought them hack now, we should bring them back absolved from all those penalties. They would be brought back very different creatures from what they were under the reign of Charles 2nd. This was a very perilous experiment, and he knew nothing equal to it, except in the reign of James 2nd, when the government was administered by a Catholic king, assisted by a Protestant House of Lords and a Protestant House of Commons. It was now proposed, that a Protestant king should reign, and that the laws should be framed by a Roman Catholic House of Lords, and a Roman Catholic House of Commons. In this dangerous age of experiments, when so many innovations had been made—when, in a neighbouring country, morality, social order, and good government, had been overthrown, and even Christianity itself annihilated, should this nation, in the pursuit of a political experiment, throw away the blessings of a constitution which had saved us from so many perils? He was aware that individuals, and sometimes states, did not avail themselves of the advantages which belong to experience; but he hoped that their lordships would not lose sight of the dangers we had passed, and that they would hesitate before they exposed this country to new and hazardous experiments. For all these reasons, he felt it his duty to oppose the motion.

The Earl of Liverpool

said, that he did not feel himself called upon to go at any length into the question proposed by the noble earl, because, on some of the points he was not aware that he had any great difference of opinion. In every period of his life, he (lord Liverpool) had supported the continuance of the Test acts; and he still thought them necessary for the preservation of our religious and civil liberties. From what had been stated by the right reverend prelate who spoke first, it appeared that this motion was founded on the necessity of abrogating the Test and Corporation acts altogether; and if he looked at the present measure as impolitic and dangerous, it was not so much on its own account as that it was an attempt to remove all those barriers at once. He was old enough to recollect when the repeal of the Test laws was the subject of controversy during a whole session. What was the principle on which it was resisted both by the legislature and by the country? It was that they were a weapon in our hands to protect and secure our civil and religious liberties; and that, while they existed, they were a most essential barrier against any attempt on the church and constitution. The noble earl had said, that he conceived there might be many individuals who had great scruples of conscience in making these declarations. He had objected to the words "superstitious" and "idolatrous;" These words were applied to the invocation of saints, the adoration of the Virgin Mary, and the sacrifice of the mass; and being so applied, he (lord Liverpool) had never felt any difficulty in making those declarations. What was to be the effect of this measure if it passed? Was it or was it not to have the effect of admitting Roman Catholics into offices of state, and into parliament? He fully agreed that no respectable Roman Catholic could be admitted into parliament as long as the oath of supremacy remained; but when it was admitted, that Roman Catholics, after the framing of that oath, sat in the House of Lords, he could not trace any period when they were members of the House of Commons. But if the oath of supremacy operated as an exclusion, what benefit could the advocates of this measure promise to the Roman Catholics from the repeal of the oaths in question? He thought that the repeal of these oaths might be beneficial in one sense; and if he were satisfied that, by conceding this point as a point of feeling, their lordships were putting an end to the agitation of this question, he should have no objection to accede to the proposition of the noble earl. But had the noble earl stated, that if this bill were carried, those who advocated the claims of the Roman Catholics in that House would abstain from bringing them forward again, year after year? Not a word had been said on that subject. What possible benefit, then, was to be derived from this measure, if it was merely to leave the question in all other respects just where it was. The right reverend prelate had told their lordships, that it was a step to more important measures: he had frankly stated, that he considered it as a step to get rid of all religious tests whatever. He (lord Liverpool) would cheerfully admit, that it was right and proper to consider the feelings of Roman Catholics; but then he would say, that it was the duty of their lordships to consider also what might be the feelings of the Protestants. He did say, that when a proposition was brought to that House to repeal some of the most ancient tests in this country, he could not see what benefit could arise from adopting a measure which might do some harm, but which could do no good whatever.

Lord Grenville

said, he had a totally different view of the subject from the noble lord who had just done, and had also a different idea of its policy and wisdom; After, the very able and eloquent speech of his noble friend who had made the motion, it would be unnecessary for him to add any thing to the statement so luminously laid down, and he should therefore confine himself to a few of the arguments against the motion. The noble lord then recited some of the provisions of the act of Elizabeth, and contended that persons who were entitled by their birth to a seat in that House, ought not to be deprived of it on mere presumption and false accusation, but only when imperious necessity called for such being the case. He would ask their lordships then, why the descendants of those brave men who had shed their blood in several cases for their country, and had laid the first foundation of its liberties, should be now debarred from their rights? True, that had taken place in the profligate and disgraceful reign of Charles 2nd, but why should it be continued now? Certainly their lordships ought to pause before they any longer debarred from their rights those who were entitled to those rights by their birth, and the merits and valuable services of their ancestors. With astonishment he had heard it said that the Catholic tenets were friendly to a divided allegiance. He had conversed with many of that body on this subject, and never yet did he meet a reasonable Catholic who could bear the idea of this divided allegiance. The allegiance they gave was undivided, and what the law required. Let their lordships look at the oath upon their table. They had there distinguished between allegiance and supremacy, because oaths of allegiance were taken in this country long before any oaths of supremacy were framed. Every man was bound to swear true allegiance to the country. What was allegiance? Obedience to the king in his courts of justice, obedience to him in his legislature, and in the executive ministers of his government. This was the allegiance which, he trusted, every man in this country bore to his sovereign, and this was the oath which the Roman Catholics took in the same sense in which it was taken by their lordships. There was no law in this country to enable the king to impose religious penalties on any man. If a man submitted himself to that obedience which the laws have given to temporal subjects, that was the obedience which the Roman Catholics professed. If that infatuated sovereign who attempted to re-establish the Roman Catholic religion in this country had required of his subjects that they should join in the doctrine of the mass, how would their allegiance have bound them to conform to that? How, then, did the repeal of these oaths release the Roman Catholics from their allegiance? If it were asked of him, what he thought of the invocation of saints, of the adoration of the Virgin Mary, and of the sacrifice of the Mass, he could have no hesitation in declaring that he thought it would be idolatrous in him to join in such worship. But, would their lordships venture to say, that this oath was pot repeated by many, not as relating to their own worship, but in the calumnious sense of reviling the worship of their fellow subjects? "Begin," said his lordship "by silencing these atrocious libels against your fellow subjects: instead of magnifying grounds of disunion, show that it is the constant endeavour of the legislature to conciliate, not to exasperate and to reconcile and hold together, if not in one common bond of religious belief, at least in one bond of political union, all those who boast the same origin, who obey the same laws, whose veins glow with the same blood, which has been shed in the same cause, though not by all with equal chance of honourable remuneration." But if the interests of the Catholics were entirely out of the question, and if no other reasons existed but what regarded the personal feelings of their lordships, he would implore them, for their own sakes, to blot from the Statute-book, the necessity for using any longer those disgraceful, unjust, degrading calumnies, which must be as disgusting to those who were compelled to utter them, as to those against whom they were ordered to be pronounced. He called them disgraceful calumnies, because he was convinced that with all the prejudice which might still exist against the Catholic faith, with all the exertions that had been made to inflame the ignorant and unthinking, no reasonable man out of doors, not one he was sure of their lordships, would undertake to say, that the religion of Fenelon was idolatry, that Fenelon (he mentioned him merely as a familiar instance out of many), worshipping according to the sincere dictates of his conscience, was a man to be shunned and degraded as a profane worshipper of idols. The real state of the case was this: the Catholics believe (erroneously, according to our principles of belief), that what is possible to Almighty Power is done by Almighty power; and this, in the instance of transubstantiation, they believe on a sincere interpretation of that same sacred authority on which we Protestants believe the other miracles thereby recorded. In all this there might be error, perhaps the grossest error, but there was no idolatry: on the contrary, there was a pure feeling of devotion, addressed, according to the measure of belief, to the common God of Catholics and Protestants. In us, indeed, who were Protestants, and whose opinions were of a different cast, such a profession of faith would be gross idolatry; and in that sense only could conscientious Protestants take the oath against the doctrine of transubstantiation. But the declaration oath further said, that the sacrifice of the mass was idolatrous. Now, of the eight hundred in both Houses who lately took that oath, he would confidently ask how many had read the mass book? how many could give any intelligible account of what that was which they solemnly swore to be idolatry? He remembered a bold expression of one of our poets: it was "one eternal now." Now, this "one eternal now" seemed to be the language of the declaration oath; it was applied to the sacrifice of the mass as practised in the time of Charles 2nd, it had been applied ever since, and was applied now, though the ceremony so denounced might have been repeatedly varied, perhaps entirely altered, in the interval. Was it not, then, a solemn mockery in the legislature, to persist in taking an oath, on a subject on which they knew little, and perhaps had not reflected at all; and if this applied to their lordships, how much more must it apply to churchwardens, to constables, to custom house officers, to all those who took it in shoals at every quarter and petty sessions? was it not better at once to remove this habitual disregard to the most sacred of all obligations—this constant appeal to the Creator, by men not even professing to understand what was the nature of the appeal? But there was still another objection that struck him. He could imagine a conscientious Protestant, who might believe that the sacrifice of the mass was erroneous, but not idolatrous: ought such a man to be excluded from parliament? He remembered that bishop Burnet, and Mr. Evelyn, in that most valuable book which threw more light on his cotemporary history than any publication that had come down to us, had both referred to a most excellent churchman (Herring) who held the opinion that the sacrifice of the mass, though erroneous, was not idolatrous. If that man had been excluded from parliament for such belief, the legislature would have lost one of its brightest ornaments—one of the few men who, in times of violent persecution, at the greatest personal risk, had maintained an asylum where the members of the church of England might resort to hear the pure doctrines which they loved—who had kept the light of his church burning, when all around was the darkness of bigotry. Another great ornament of the church, the famous archbishop Sheldon, had maintained a similar opinion, and he also must have been excluded by this oath. He therefore called upon their lordships, first, to relieve themselves from the opprobrium of uttering a calumny against their fellow subjects; next, to relieve all Protestants from an oath so disgusting to their sense and feeling; thirdly, to put an end to that habitual reproach and invective against a class of fellow Christians which, abhorrent as it must be to their lordships feelings, could only be looked at with complacency by certain ignorant or designing persons, who referred to this legislative abuse as the best argument of continuing the Catholic exclusions. In saying this, he meant no allusion to any of their lordships, but only to means that had been employed out of doors; for he was happy to say, that in doors a total change had taken place, and he hailed it as an omen of still better times, and as a proof of the certain progress of truth, benevolence, and kind feeling. He wished their lordships to be consistent and honest. They all professed that it was improper to exclude Catholics for religious belief, but thought that there was some civil difference of opinion which threatened danger and ruin to the state, if even one hereditary peer should sit among their lordships with the title earned by the virtues of his ancestor, should he happen to believe in purgatory, or if one member should be added to the House of Commons incumbered with the belief of transubstantiation. Thus, professing to have nothing to do with religious, but only with political opinions, their lordships, with strange inconsistency, put two tests—one merely political, the other merely religious. Now, how could the Catholics believe their lordships' professions to be sincere? Their lordships said to the Catholic—"We exclude you, not for reasons of faith, but for reasons of state." The Catholic came forward and said, "Well I take you at your word; I cannot change my religion, but I am ready to pay the same dutiful allegiance which is required from every Protestant subject. Now give me your tests." Your lordships then take care to give him a test which binds him to reject every article of his faith. [Cheers.] "Do, you," exclaimed his lordship "speak truth? Are you just, are you honest, when you profess abhorrence at excluding any man for his religious opinions, and yet offer him, as the only condition of coming among you, the disclaimer of his religious belief? What is it you mean? Is it you, or is it he, that must palter with the most sacred of all things—an oath? If indeed your lordships believe that persons holding such religious tenets are unfit to sit among you, in God's name say so fairly and directly; but if you believe such a doctrine on your part will be a breach of your duty to God and man, why keep this test? I conjure you for your own honour, for the honour of your government, in the name of truth, of conscience, and of common honesty, expunge from your Statute book an oath which has made England a by-word of reproach among the nations of Europe. Be just to yourselves as well others: let your professions and your actions accord; and cease to do in fact, what you are ashamed to avow in, principle." [Continued cheering.] For himself, he should be dealing most unfaithfully with their lordships if he did not avow his hope and belief that if this test were abolished, things would not stop there. When the exclusion rested on the oath of supremacy alone, Catholics and Protestants might examine more carefully and calmly what was the amount of the civil difference of opinion between them; and he had little doubt that the result would be to wipe away the foul reproach cast upon us by the enlightened of all nations. That absurd sophism about divided allegiance would be heard no more. Protestants and Catholics would feel assured of a complete security in the conscious enjoyment of equal rights. At present the Catholic was insulted and calumniated for his religious belief, and when he asked for political advantages, he was not allowed even the means of explaining on what ground he asked them. But let him once be treated as he ought to be treated; let the insulting calumny against his doctrines cease to exasperate his mind, and then see if he cannot as well as the Protestant discharge all the duties of "true allegiance" which a subject owes to his lawful sovereign. A right reverend prelate had objected to the motion as isolated, and had asked, why was not the House called upon for a general inquiry? About a month ago, when a general inquiry was moved for, the objection was, Why do you not bring forward some specific measure? "We have (said his lordship) accepted the challenge; we have brought forward a specific measure, and now you say, we have no objection to this measure; but come with us into a committee, and then we will show you another measure to which we have a strong objection, and for the sake of that, we will reject both."

The Lord Chancellor

began by paying some high compliments to lords Grey and Grenville, for their ability and eloquence, and then proceeded to exculpate himself from any share in the resolutions alluded to by the former. He disavowed any knowledge of them till he had seen them that morning. Addressing himself to the question before the House, he contended, that the law of the land, as expounded by its ablest writers, had defined "true allegiance" to be allegiance to the constitution in church and state, and he maintained, that the oath required by the statutes of Henry 8th and Elizabeth was merely declaratory of the common law. It was somewhat miraculous that the Whigs of the present day should denounce the Declaration act, as if it had proceeded from that most wicked king, Charles 2nd. What! had they forgotten that it was re-enacted after deliberate discussion in the first parliament of William, the founder of our civil and religious liberties? Some persons with a profusion of something which seemed meant to be law and logic, but which in his mind was neither, had held up the act of Indemnity as if it protected the Catholics as well as Protestants. Now, the act of Indemnity was no more than this; it saw that the establishments of the country were sufficiently guarded by proper enactments, and it then said, that it would not rigidly punish every non observance, but would be content with keeping in its hands the power of exacting obedience when it thought proper; and to make all sure, this indulgence was only annual. What, then, was meant by the extravagant proposition, that a judge might act on the bench without taking the proper oaths, and then claim the indemnity. The real fact was, that every judge took the oath upon entering office; but, supposing it to be otherwise, was it not monstrous to think that a judge would disgrace himself by breaking the laws which he was called to maintain? The noble lord then argued at great length, that, from the time of Charles 2nd to the time of William, who had sanctioned the act of Charles 2nd, it had been thought necessary, for the preservation of our civil and religious liberties, that Papists should not be allowed to sit in parliament; and the consequence was, that some test was absolutely necessary by which it might be ascertained whether a man was a Catholic or a Protestant. Now, it was obvious, that this could only be done by some oath declaratory of religious opinions. It was, as Dr. Paley had observed, perfectly just to have a religious test of a political opinion; nor was there any more breach of charity or violation of justice in excluding a Catholic, by requiring from him the fulfilment of certain conditions, than there was in disqualifying a Protestant who had not 300l. a-year. He therefore called upon the House, as it had any regard to the constitution in church and state, as settled by the glorious Revolution, and mainly preserved by this very oath, not to commit the unpardonable crime against posterity of transmitting to them their civil and religious liberties impaired or endangered.

The Earl of Harrowby

said, he would support the motion, though he doubted the expediency of reviving the subject so soon. What he had heard from his noble and learned friend who had just sat down was not calculated to remove his regret at this renewed discussion; for his noble and learned friend had advanced doctrines, in opposition to the motion, which he had trusted were for ever abandoned. His noble friend, indeed, professed his unwillingness to exclude men on account of their religious belief, but the inference from his speech was directly contrary to its declaration; for if his ap- probation of the Test act arose from its demanding of every man whether he was a Catholic or Protestant, what was this but approving the principle of exclusion for religion? And as to the other ground that it was no more than a religious test of a political opinion, what need of this additional one when one existed already? The only purpose which the Declaration act answered was, to exasperate the feelings of the Catholics, and disgust those of all reasonable Protestants. For himself, he did indeed believe, that many of the practices of the lower orders of the laity and priesthood in Catholic countries were idolatrous; but he saw no idolatry in the recommendation of the council of Trent, the great authority of the Catholic church. It was remarkable, too, that the venerable men who had deliberately framed the articles of the church of England had not called transubstantiation and the adoration of saints by such hard and violent and abusive names as were used by the framers of the declaration-oath, in the midst of the senseless panic arising out of a pretended plot. The articles called these doctrines merely by the term of "a fond thing." Why, therefore, should their lordships be compelled to adopt abusive and insulting language, which the church itself had not thought it necessary to use? His learned and noble friend had laid great stress on the circumstance that the Declaration act, though originally passed by Charles 2nd had been sanctioned and confirmed by William, and had called it a free and deliberate act of his first parliament; Surely it was not necessary to tell their lordships, that there never was a period when calm deliberation was less likely to be exercised in any matter relating to the Catholics than in the first parliament of William. The whole nation was exasperated against the Catholics, the Catholic king just banished was in arms to regain the throne and reestablish Popery, if he could. Surely this was not a time for any alleviation of the laws against Popery. The time of the Popish plot itself was hardly less suitable for a favourable consideration of the subject. No such reasons existed now for galling and insulting the feelings of our Catholic brethren; and the more pure our own religion was, the less fitting was it that we should make it an instrument of abusing the religion of others. He was not so proud of the character of a "good hater," as a celebrated man had professed himself to be; he thought it very possible to be a good Protestant without calumniating the doctrines of the Catholic; and he was desirous, for one, to be relieved from the necessity of using expressions abhorrent to Christian charity, and shocking without object the feelings of our fellow-men.

Earl Bathurst

said, that the question was, whether the oath of supremacy was sufficient to exclude Catholics from parliament? He thought not; and this he gathered from the preamble of the 30th of Charles 2nd; for if the oath of supremacy had been reckoned sufficient, all that would have been necessary in framing the act of Charles would have been to require their lordships to take the same oath heretofore taken by the Commons. Both Houses were therefore included in the new act, and the declaration was added, on the conviction that some further security was necessary to keep Catholics out of parliament. The noble earl proceeded next to show that the reference in the preamble of the bill before them to the 31st of the king indicated this to be only the first step to take away the oath of supremacy, and declared that upon this ground he must oppose it.

Earl Grey

replied with great animation. After repelling the imputation of attempting to effect ulterior objects by any insidious means, he contended that the act of Charles 2nd had been occasioned by the blind fury which agitated the minds of men of all ranks, and not by the presence of any Catholics in parliament. He now stated, after accurate inquiry, that Catholics did not then sit in parliament. The application by certain Protestants to the learned lord on the woolsack, he could not, when he considered the character of that noble lord, and his uniform disposition on this subject, ascribe to very pure and perfect zeal. It was not the intention, and it would not be the effect of this bill, to introduce Catholics into parliament: its object was conciliation. If they would apply this test, let them do it at least in decent terms. Upon what pretence could the learned lord apply the charge of superstition and idolatry to the Catholics? The invocation of saints and the sacrifice of the mass, as understood by intelligent Catholics were neither superstition nor idolatry. While no two sects agreed as to speculative opinions, and scarcely any two individuals of one sect agreed, what ground had we to pronounce this anathema against the Catholics? While the whole Christian world, up to the time of Henry 8th, and four-fifths of the believers of the blessed Gospel at this day, received those doctrines as sacred, with what modesty or sense could we pronounce them superstition and idolatry?

The House then divided: Contents, 49, Proxies, 33; 82. Not Contents, 72, Proxies, 69; 141. Majority against the bill,59.