The Marquis of Lansdowne
having moved the order of the day, the clerk read the following Resolution—
That it is expedient to consider the state of the laws affecting his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects in Great Britain and Ireland, with a view to such a final and conciliatory adjustment, as may be conducive to the peace and strength of the United Kingdom; to the stability of the Protestant establishment; and to the general satisfaction and concord of all classes of his Majesty's subjects.
The Marquis of Lansdowne
said, he rose, pursuant to notice, for the purpose of inviting their lordships to concur in the Resolution which had just been read; not less in deference to the extreme importance of the subject than to the custom which had been usually, if not invariably, followed in their lordships House, when any communication of the importance of the one now before their lordships came from the other House, of founding some proceeding upon it. He was ready to confess that was his chief apology, as it was one of his principal inducements for putting himself forward on the present occasion; for, though he had twice before been in- 1134 trusted with the petitions of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, he had stated confidently to their lordships, that as far as his duty with respect to that most numerous and respectable body was confined to them, he considered that duty to be discharged, when he presented their petitions to their lordships, stating the grounds upon which they were entitled to their lordships' consideration; and, in now proposing to their lordships to found some proceeding upon those petitions, he was not induced to do so by a consideration of any benefits which were to attach to the Roman Catholics of Ireland, or the Roman Catholics of this empire exclusively, but to the whole community, Protestant as well as Catholic. He was not now addressing their lordships on behalf of a part, but of the whole community, and he should not feel justified in making any proposition to their lordships, were he not satisfied, that the proposition he was about to make was one which, would be conducive to the Protestant interest, to the Protestant establishment, and to the Protestant prosperity in the empire. With that feeling he called upon their lordships to consider the present proposition, and he did so upon the broad ground of expediency. He did not know what duty their lordships had to discharge in that House, if they were not to act from a consideration of public expediency. He did not know why they sat there to legislate, if not for the purpose of adopting laws such as the exigency of the times required. With respect to the present question, he hoped he should never hear asserted any thing like a principle of sacred obligation, which required the exclusion from the benefits of the constitution of any part of his majesty's subjects on account of their religious opinions. He confidently asserted, that neither that gospel, in which we all believed, nor that morality, which we had all learned, nor the form of the constitution, commencing from the time of Magna Charta, under which we had the happiness to live, required or even permitted the exclusion of any class of his majesty's subjects from a participation in all civil rights, on any other ground than that of the highest expediency. It was therefore incumbent on those who thought that the time was come for the admission of those persons who had been excluded from the enjoyment of the constitution, to show that that expediency under which they had originally been ex- 1135 cluded did not continue; and, if it did not continue, the whole point was gained, and the Roman Catholics must be admitted, according to every principle of the constitution, to the benefits which they claimed. But he was relieved from this consideration; for their lordships would recollect the manner in which that principle had been laid down in a former debate. A right reverend prelate had recently, in a manner not to be forgotten, laid down most ably and clearly the principle upon which exclusion originated; namely, from expedience alone; nay, going further, and saying that it was the duty of the legislature, if there should exist a necessity for imposing restraints, to take care that it should be the minimum, the smallest amount possible, which should be imposed on any class, consistently with the safety of the constitution. That was the ground upon which he was prepared to call upon their lordships to take this subject into their consideration.
The present question was, and it was not, a new question. It was not a new question, inasmuch as it had repeatedly engaged the attention of the legislature,—inasmuch as it had, at various times, engaged the attention, and excited the efforts, of almost every distinguished statesman in this country, all of whom had come to the conclusion in which their lordships were now invited to join. Of almost all those distinguished persons, this question had been the subject of their most brilliant efforts in that and the other House of Parliament. It had also been the subject of their dying apprehensions, when withdrawn from the active scene of life, and casting a look to the future; at a time when every thing like party considerations was removed from their minds. He therefore stated, that, so far, the present was not a new question; but there were points of view in which it was to be considered as a new question. It was new, from the very circumstance alone, that it came now for the third time, or more than the third time, recommended to their lordships by the House of Commons. It was a new question, inasmuch as it came recommended to their lordships consideration by the concurrent views of policy, now adopted in different civilized countries throughout the world,—inasmuch as it came recommended by a consideration of the state of Ireland itself.
In this way he proposed to discuss the 1136 question, leaving out of his view several considerations which had formerly been connected with it. He should follow that course, because he deemed many of those considerations to be exhausted—because he thought many of them to be irrelevant—and because he knew many of them to be abandoned by those who formerly thought them tenable grounds of opposition to the claims of the Catholics. He should not detain their lordships by entering into any historical details, knowing as he did that such details were generally mixed up with events of a debateable nature. It would be sufficient for his argument to assume, that which he expected would be readily conceded to him—that the whole course of the history of Ireland had been of a description well calculated to keep alive the expectations of its inhabitants, as to the arrival of a period at which they would be admitted to a participation in the enjoyments of the rights and privileges of the constitution, in common with their Protestant countrymen—expectations, which, by their existence, had kept alive those sentiments of justice and of patriotism, which ought never to slumber in the minds of the governed, and which ought always to be present before the minds of their governors. He should dispense in a few words with an argument which on former occasions had been formerly much dwelt upon. He alluded to the argument, that Ireland, being a country where a large portion of the landed property was held by the tenure of confiscation, required to be governed on principles essentially different from those upon which England was governed. He was not surprised that such an apprehension should have been entertained upon former occasions as to the state of Ireland, though he well knew that it had never been indulged in by those who, from their property and connexion with Ireland, were likely to feel the deepest interest in its tranquillity and prosperity. He was not surprised that it should not have been adverted to during the late discussion: for it so happened, that since the former discussion, their lordships, as well as the other branch of the legislature, had both appointed committees to examine into the state of Ireland, and from the evidence given before those committees, it appeared, that with respect to all the confiscated property, regarding which so much alarm had been represented to exist, there had 1137 been the strongest disposition, on the part both of Catholics and Protestants, to become possessed of it, notwithstanding the dangers to which it was exposed. That evidence proved, not only that capitalists, lawyers, and merchants, were eager to purchase it, but that Catholic capitalists, lawyers, and merchants, pressed forward to become proprietors of it. Nay, that so gross was their understanding, and so blinded their judgment, that because the title to such property was the most unquestionable that could be found in Ireland, they held the terrors of the Court of Chancery more formidable than those of the Vatican, and took counsel from their solicitors rather than from their confessors. He supposed, that when Pastorini's prophecies were fulfilled, these worthy sons of the church would be prepared to resign the property which they had so purchased to the descendants of the ancient princes of Connaught and of Ulster, when they came from their forts and their mountains, to demand it; but he thought he might add, that it would not be till then.
He would leave that topic, and proceed to contrast the laws affecting the Roman Catholic subjects of Protestant states in other parts of the world, with the laws affecting them in this country. He would say, that he knew of no theory of government which had emanated from the mind either of law-projector or of political enthusiast so absurd, as that which was supposed to be the best mode of governing Ireland, under the laws as they now were. He conjured their lordships not to suppose, because those laws had existed for one or two hundred years, fairly engrossed on their Statute-book, that on that account they formed the less a now theory, when applied to the new circumstances which had sprung up, since their enactment. Let not those who are adverse to change, and who are wedded to one solitary spot in legislation, flatter themselves with the idea, that the foundation on which they stand was not weak. He would tell them, that, whilst they fondly supposed that they were standing on the same ground with their predecessors, that, ground was washed from under their feet. He would tell them, that they had neither the same rock to rest on, nor the same support to buoy them up. He would tell them, that they had to deal with a state of things which was without example in the present condition of the world. Such a consideration 1138 would suggest the only proper mode of looking at the arguments by which this important question ought to be settled. For his own part, he could not bring himself to go along with those who, in opposing further relief to the Catholics, went into musty records and moth-eaten muniments, in search of Catholic enormities, that they might sec what Catholics would do in a state of things which was not, and yet refused to open their eyes to passing events, in order that they might see what Catholics were actually doing in other countries, where they were in the enjoyment of those privileges, to which they were claiming to be admitted in this. To those noble lords who could not acquiesce in the noble declaration of queen Elizabeth, and who held that there ought to be windows to every man's breast, to enable them to look into their hearts, to those noble lords he would recommend to look a little more to things as they were, and to trust a little less to the speculations of their own wisdom, as to things as they might be. To those noble lords he would recommend a sentiment, which he had found inculcated in a very remarkable work, "The History of the Church," by Dr. Milner. That able, and acute controversial divine, giving an account of the different controversies which had agitated the Church of England, and pointing out the dangerous consequences which had arisen in the course of the quarrels between the Arminians and the Calvinists, from each party attributing to its antagonist doctrines which it did not hold, summed up with these words—" In all religious differences, neither party ought to rebuke the other for those doctrines which they come publickly forward to disclaim and disavow." Those words contained an admirable rule of moral conduct; and, if the learned divine had not himself attended to them, he would have been unable to fulfil the duty of an honest and an impartial historian. If this was a most essential rule in all matters of controversy between Protestants, it was not the less an essential rule, in all matters of controversy between Protestants and Catholics; namely, not to impute to individuals, as their doctrine, that which they explicitly disavowed. He would therefore leave all aspersions which had been cast upon Catholics for their conduct in past ages, entirely without an answer, and would invite their lordships to look at the conduct pur- 1139 sued by individuals of their religious persuasion throughout the world, as the best test whereby to judge of their doctrines and principles; and he would, therefore, to facilitate their lordships' view, shortly state the condition of the Roman Catholics in other parts of the world, where the predominant church, if there was any, professed another form of religion.
He would go first to the United States of America. He said to the United States, for he had advisedly selected them as the first people whom he would visit, not forgetting that their government was in this condition; it was a republican institution, and it was without any religious national establishment. It happened, however, that on both those accounts, it was more conclusive than any other government, for the argument which he was anxious to establish. He thought that, even the noble lords on the other side would admit that the Roman Catholics could have no interest in overturning one establishment, except they wished to set up another; and he believed that the republican character of the American government made it precisely that form of government in which, to judge from the reasons assigned for their apprehensions, by those who had condescended to assign reasons for their apprehensions of danger from the admissibility of the Roman Catholics to office, the danger of the admission of persons of their religious creed was most formidable. He rested his assertion in that respect, upon an argument urged by one of the opponents of Catholic emancipation, whom he deemed most worthy of attention. He alluded to the evidence given by the archbishop of Dublin before the committee of Inquiry into the state of Ireland. He considered it peculiarly fortunate for those who took the same view of this question as he did, when they could induce any of their antagonists to specify the precise nature of the danger which they apprehended; and therefore it had always been a subject of great congratulation to himself, and to the noble individuals with whom he had acted in the committee appointed to inquire into the state of Ireland, that the archbishop of Dublin had been induced, or rather led, by questions which he did not answer without some reluctance, to state in what shape he conceived that the admission of Roman Catholics into parliament would tend to disturb the tranquil- 1140 lity of the country. His grace had founded it upon the very nature of a representative government. He said, that Roman Catholics admitted into the state could not, by themselves, produce any effect; but, added he," in all representative governments, there are parties and factions of greater and of less violence—there are some which always mean less well to the state than others, if there are not even some who positively mean it mischief: it will be by allying themselves to one or other of such parties, and by making the ascendancy of the Catholic church a condition of their alliance, that they will be able to effect those objects which the proselyting spirit of the Romish Church will not allow its adherents to rest until they have accomplished." On hearing this argument, he had been induced to inquire into the condition and conduct of the Roman Catholics of the United States; for there was the instance of a republic—a form of government which afforded a state of things much less settled than a monarchy, and in which the contests of factions were more frequent, if not more violent. "If in such a state of things," he said, "the Roman Catholics are admissible, without distinction, into all the offices of the State, there will be found an example of the mischief existing out of their admission." He therefore wished to ascertain how many Roman Catholics found their way into the Congress, and how they acted after they got there. He had had opportunities of making inquiries upon that particular point among the most eminent and enlightened men of America, and his question as to how many persons of the Roman Catholic persuasion held high offices, or were members of Congress, was invariably met with this answer— "I really do not know." He was repeatedly told that their religious creed never appeared either from their language, their opinions, or their votes. And let it not be supposed, that this took place in a country where men were indifferent to religion; for there was no country, in which religion was less a matter of form and more a matter of substance, than in the United States—no country, in which the clergy were maintained upon a more respectable footing than that country, in which eight thousand clergymen of eight thousand different congregations were maintained by the voluntary subscriptions of those who attended them. The information which he invariably received was, 1141 that Roman Catholics, as Roman Catholics, formed no distinct party. Some said that there might be four or five—some that there might be eight or ten—sonic that there might be twenty; and some went so far as to say that there might be thirty Roman Catholics, members of Congress; but all said that their feelings as Roman Catholics, could not be collected, either from their speeches or from their votes. He had asked whether, in the different elections for Presidents, the Roman Catholics had ever supported in a body either Mr. Jefferson, or Mr. Adams, or general Jackson, or any other candidate? and the reply he had always received was, "No." He had then inquired, whether there was any mark of Catholic feelings observed in the members for Maryland— a colony which was founded by Catholics, and in which, to the honour of Catholicism the most free and comprehensive law, as to the toleration of other sects, was adopted at a very early period of its history. He was informed, that there was no greater appearance of Catholic feeling visible in the conduct of members from that state, than there was in the conduct of members from any other state of the Union. Could there be a stronger proof of the manner in which Catholic feeling merged into the general feeling of society; wherever members of that religion were not kept banded together by laws of intolerance and exclusion?
He had cited America as an example of the mode in which an equality of civil rights made men of different religious creeds cleave together and incorporate themselves with the prosperity of their common country; but if any of their lordships took a different view of the facts which he had just laid before them—if there should be any of them inclined to say that the difference between a republic and a monarchy.—between a country with a national church establishment and a country with none—was so great, that he should like to see the result of a similar system under some government which was not republican, he would invite that individual to pass with him to Russia, where the established religion was that of the Greek Church. He did not expect he should be told that it was the affinity which existed between the Greek Church and the Church of Rome that attached them to each other. On the contrary, the nearer they were to each other, 1142 the easier was an advantage to be taken, and the greater the temptation to take it. In Russia, however, all Roman Catholics were admissible, without distinction, to all the offices of the State. In Poland, the Roman Catholics, who there formed the majority, as in Russia they formed the minority, were equally admissible; and, notwithstanding, the Greek Church of Russia sustained no harm. In Russia, he repeated, the members of the Greek Church, the Armenian Catholics, and the members of the United Greek Church, were all equally admissible to all civil and military offices. The United Greek Church consisted of persons who held the same rites and ceremonies with the Greek Church, but with this singular belief, that it was for the good of their Church and their religion, that they should be governed by the pope. They were therefore papists in discipline, whilst in doctrine they belonged to the Greek Church. They were, therefore, peculiarly liable to any temptation which might be held out to them by the pope; and it was a knowledge of this circumstance that led some of his counsellors to propose to the emperor Alexander, to make a distinction between this and the other classes of his subjects. It was proposed to him to place some restrictions upon them to which the others were not to be liable. The emperor Alexander refused, however, to do any such thing. He said, that he would maintain the same religious equality among his subjects, which had hitherto been so conducive to the prosperity of the State, without being at all conducive to the injury of the Established Church; and the consequence of his resolution was, that, up to the present day, the members of the Greek Church, the Roman Catholics, the Armenian Catholics, and the members of the United Greek Church were all alike admissible to every office of emolument and trust in the wide circle of the Russian empire.
He was happy to say, for the honour of the human race, that, under every form of government, had the same good effects been produced by the same wise, liberal, and beneficent policy. In Prussia—a country much more exposed to danger than our own from any difference of opinion among its subjects on matters of religion,—the Roman Catholic was equally admissible to high military and civil office with the Protestant. Was there a man 1143 at all acquainted with the internal condition of Prussia, who apprehended the slightest danger to the government of that country from the liberality with which it treated its subjects, of every religious persuasion. In Saxony, where there was a Protestant population, and a Catholic sovereign, which he admitted to be a case of justifiable apprehension; and in Holland, where there was a Protestant sovereign, with a mixed population of Catholics and Protestants, every individual, no matter of what religion he was a professor, was equally safe from civil disabilities; and, if there were two countries in the world, in which it might be justifiable in the members of the predominant religion to feel disgust at the past conduct of the Catholics, it was in those two countries which had been the cradle of the Reformation — in which the earliest contests had been carried on for its establishment —in which the memory of injuries received and cruelties inflicted was not easily eradicated, but in which it had been buried in forgiveness, if not entirely eradicated. He could not close the list of religious toleration, without mentioning the kingdom of Hanover, in which all sects were equally admissible to the highest offices of the state, equally to the honour of the Sovereign and to the benefit of the nation.
He trusted it would not be supposed by their lordships, that in Catholic countries the same extent of civil liberty could not be found. It existed in Austria, in Bavaria, and in France; in those countries the same privileges were granted to Protestants which the Catholics were then demanding at the hands of their loixlships— not less for their own individual relief, than for the general benefit of the whole community. Some of their lordships might, perhaps, still be frightened by that antiquated bugbear the pope. He would therefore tell them, that if they were desirous to look for the best barriers which could be devised against the interference of the pope with the subjects of a foreign State, they would find them in the regulations which had been devised for their own safety and protection, by the Catholic sovereigns of Bavaria and Austria. He particularly wished their lordships to reflect, that, from the moment they admitted to a participation of the privileges of the constitution the lay nobility and gentry of the Roman Catholic body, they would find in them the most active and diligent allies, in de- 1144 vising that which would be more advantageous to Catholic than to Protestant interests—he meant a barrier against the interference of the pope with the domestic concerns of the Catholics of this empire.
He hoped he should not be told, that there was any peculiarity in the establishment of the Church of England, as compared with that of all other Protestant churches, which rendered it unsafe for her to see all descriptions of persons, without regard to their religious opinions, admitted within the pale of the constitution, when they could be admitted with safety to all other interests. He was sure that none of their lordships would contend, that the superior purity of the doctrines of the Church of England constituted a ground of infirmity, which rendered her more liable to danger than any other Protestant establishment in the world; and, as such was the conviction on his mind, he would drop that part of the subject.—Another branch of this great question was that which was connected with the terms and conditions on which emancipation ought to be granted. He had stated what had been the policy, and the result of the policy, of other states, not Catholic, to their Roman Catholic subjects. But whilst he contended, on the one hand, that what he had stated afforded an example under which their lordships could provide safely for the admission of the Roman Catholics into the constitution, he was prepared to contend on the other, that even if it had not afforded that example, the state of Ireland demanded imperiously that we should pursue such a course. That state was without a precedent in the history of any civilized country: it consisted of a democracy gifted with vigour and venom, by your own unjust and exclusive laws; of an aristocracy robbed by those same laws of all its natural influence to control and govern the dangerous spirit of the democracy; and of a priesthood so circumstanced, that it was as unwilling as the aristocracy was unable, to employ its influence in opposition to the general feeling of the democracy. Such a state of things was monstrous; it ought never to have existed at all; and it ought to exist no longer. Sooner or later it must demand the interference of others to modify, to check, to control it. It was not in that House that he expected to be called on to vindicate the utility of an aristocracy; it was not in that House that he expected to 1145 be told, that a people, without that intervening power, which could be exercised almost imperceptibly over the lower orders of it, was in a safe state, when it was governed only by the bare and naked hand of power; as contradistinguished from that milder influence, which one class of the community exercised over another, by acting, as was the great boast of the British constitution, as the conductors of public opinion to the highest offices of the state. In such an absence of all legitimate rule and influence over the democracy of a country, what was the most natural result? Exactly that which had taken place.
Their lordships had seen the sudden manner in which a most extraordinary society had risen up in Ireland, and they had likewise seen the manner in which it had attracted to itself all those attributes which ought only to belong to legitimate power: he alluded to the Roman Catholic Association. Lamenting, as he did lament, the existence of that body, he was still bound to say, that the charter of its existence was exclusive law. That was the spell by which it bound to itself the affections of the population of Ireland; that was the warrant by which alone it governed their inclinations; that was the evil of which their lordships must get rid, if they wished for peace; and of which he defied them to get rid, except by measures of kindness and conciliation. If you put it down in one place, the perturbed spirit which occasioned it would rise elsewhere; if you stop the channel of discontent in one direction, it would burst forth in another, with equal, if not with greater, violence. In such a picture there was a feature of danger, which their lordships, if they were wise, would not treat with indifference or neglect. Before he closed his observations on this part of the subject, he would observe, that there were two questions which had been repeatedly put elsewhere, and which he expected would be put that night by such noble lords as thought that the present state of things could not exist much longer in Ireland. They might ask him, for instance,—" are you certain that, by removing these disabilities, you will restore tranquillity? and if we consent to remove these disabilities, what security have you to offer?" To both these questions he would give an intelligible answer. With respect to the certainty of restoring tranquillity by removing 1146 the disabilities, he never had contended, and never would contend, that the concession of their claims to the Catholics would convert Ireland, all at once, into a flourishing country; but he thought that there was no course connected with the tranquillity of Ireland, on which their lordships could advance with complete success, without repealing the disqualifying laws which pressed on its Catholic inhabitants.—It was easy to say that one of the causes of the evils which desolated Ireland was the abstraction of capital from its shores; that another was absenteeship; that a third was the imperfect administration of justice; but it was still easier to perceive, that all these causes had originated from the civil disabilities which the law had created, and which had produced in their turn a civil disunion in the country, and an angry collision between contending sects; and if, for the misfortune of this country, four fifths of its population were to be suddenly deprived of the benefits of the constitution, we should find all the evils which flowed from an absence of capital, absenteeship, and dissatisfaction with the administration of justice, soon falling like a curse upon the people of England, and acting as a comment on the existing state of the people of Ireland. All those evils could not suddenly flow back to the source from which they proceeded, on the first dawn of a brighter state of things; slowly and quietly, and deliberately would they retire from the scene, and give way to happier prospects; and those hopes could only be accomplished, and those prospects realized, by restoring to the land its wealthiest proprietors, by attracting to it the presence of capital, by promoting peace and good will amongst all ranks, sects, and classes of individuals, and by creating in it that demand for labour, which could not exist in a country, where hostile religious feelings absorbed every interest and action of life, as at that moment they did absorb them in Ireland.
So much for the first question; he would next proceed to consider the other; namely, what additional security the Catholics could give, incase we should grant them the emancipation they required? On this point he would say frankly, that he was not prepared to propose any additional securities, until he knew more precisely the nature of the apprehensions which they entertained. It belonged more particularly to those who entertained 1147 alarm, and who knew better than he did the nature of the danger apprehended from the Roman Catholics of Ireland, to point out the description of security which they wanted; and he would say this in behalf of the Catholics, that he could not conceive for a moment, that any security could be pointed out, consistently with the principles and doctrines of the Romish church, which would not be willingly granted by the Roman Catholics. It was not for him to suggest to the Roman Catholic body, what security they ought to offer; especially as the Roman Catholics could not tell what danger their opponents apprehended, and could not help recollecting the unfortunate reception of the former securities which they offered. What he should advise the Roman Catholics to do was, to wait in respectful silence until they were told what security would satisfy their antagonists; and then, when they were informed upon that point, to meet it with that frankness and sincerity in which all proposals should be met, which did not impugn the integrity of their religious faith.
But when he said he was convinced, that the Roman Catholics would be ready to meet with frankness and candour any demand of securities which might be fairly asked of them, let it not be supposed that he thought any security which could be devised would be equal to that of attaching the hearts of the Roman Catholics to the constitution. Security in the way of oaths, their lordships had in abundance; but, if further security could be devised in that way, let the experiment be made and communicated to the Roman Catholics. If on the other hand, their lordships should be of opinion that the security should be made by creating a connexion between the government and their church, let the nature of it be stated to the Roman Catholics, by those who had the power of carrying it into effect. Let us then be called upon to examine and decide upon it. If those who devised it should frame it in such a manner as would not render it necessary to infringe on the integrity of the doctrines of the English church, let it be accepted. The best security, however, of all would be, to teach the Roman Catholics of Ireland, that between their temporal interests and the prosperity of the state there was no necessary disconnexion, —that nothing had occurred in the course of the last debate that could justify them 1148 in supposing, that the existence of the Church of England was the solitary obstacle to their emancipation; or in other words, to teach and inculcate upon six or seven millions of people, that in all their aspirations after wealth, honour and distinction (which could not fail to produce their effect in all countries, and which were sure to produce their greatest effect in a free country) there was an obstacle which they could not surmount, without passing over the ruins of that church which their lordships were bound, both by affection and principle, to cherish and protect.
Thus much on the subject of securities. Before he concluded this part of his subject he would implore their lordships, when they were led by zeal and affection to protect the Establishment Church, to define to themselves with the utmost precision, what the meaning of a church establishment was; for he believed that a very different meaning was now attached to it, from that which was formerly attached to it by some of the most able members of the church. The other day he found, in the writings of a celebrated author, a most remarkable opinion, which he would quote to their lordships, as a proof how the opinions of men varied at different times in the same country. Dean Swift, in one of his pamphlets, gave this opinion, with respect to the establishment of the church to which he belonged:— "If once we repeal the sacramental test, or grant toleration to the dissenters, or suspend the execution of the penal laws, I do not see how we can say afterwards, that any establishment of the Church of England remains." Such was the opinion of Dr. Swift a century ago: but he did not expect it was an opinion in which any divine of the present day, belonging to the Church of England, would acquiesce for a moment. He believed they would all agree with him, that the establishment of that church was the best, which, being the simplest and purest in its own doctrines, left the widest field open for those who had the misfortune to differ from it.—And such was the definition which he would give of the establishment of the Church of England. She enjoyed a proud preeminence over all her rivals, for the excellence of her tenets; and he would therefore call upon her to justify the proud character which she had acquired, by throwing open to her competitors the 1149 door to temporal honours and emoluments.
There are, (continued the noble marquis) three modes of dealing with Ireland. The first is that which, with great frankness and manliness has been suggested by the Orangemen of that country, in their examination before a committee of your lordships' House. They said openly, "We cannot stay where we are, but we think the legislature ought to go back." Now, this is open and candid, and, if it be the opinion of the legislature, as well as of the party of whom I have made mention, let it be also openly avowed. But let the difficulties that must attend the adoption of this course be also taken into account. I say, let the danger of adopting a course towards six or seven millions, which completely failed, when applied to a million and a half, be well considered. Others say, "let us stay as we are;" but the misfortune is, we cannot comply with the advice. The laws continue, and may for a while continue to exist, but other institutions and establishments have been called into existence, and raised up a power destructive of the best interests of the country. Then, my lords, what step remains for us to take, but to adopt a course of temperate, careful, and moderate conciliation? In that system, and that system alone, do I see hopes of placing on a solid foundation the civil and religious peace and prosperity of the country. By such judicious and temperate measures only, can we eradicate the dangers with which we are threatened by the new principles and institutions that have sprung up. If you wish to extinguish evil passions in that unhappy country, if you wish it no longer to be assailed by every artifice of the designing; to be disturbed by every motion of the turbulent; if you desire to put an end to national discontent, you will concede what is now required. The Catholic population of Ireland has power now in its hands, and that power will increase. A population of seven millions will possess power in the state in spite of us. An informed population, (and the Catholics grow daily more informed) will have power— a wealthy population, (and the Catholics, relatively speaking, grow more wealthy), will have power—a reading population will have power—a writing population will have power. But the power which they will have, and which they must have, whether we will or not, may be an unsettled, undefined, unregulated power—a power for evil 1150 as well as good—a power in its operation like those torrents which are hurled from Alpine heights, disdainful of limits and control, uncertain in their effects, irregular in their course, carrying with them not a principle of fertility, but a cause of devastation, until at length, having escaped from their rocky and precipitous descent, they settle down in a more peaceful channel, into a steady, uniform, and fertilizing current. My lords, the power possessed by Catholic Ireland, resembles but too much the former part of the description; and it is for the purpose of assimilating it to the latter, that I call upon you in the name of the Commons of Great Britain, to agree to the resolution, which it has become my duty to conclude by proposing for your lordships' adoption; namely," That it is expedient to consider the state of the laws affecting his majesty's Roman Catholic subjects in Great Britain and Ireland, with a view to such a final and conciliatory adjustment, as may be conducive to the peace and strength of the united kingdom, to the stability of the Protestant Establishment, and to the general satisfaction and concord of all classes of his majesty's subjects."
The Archbishop of Canterbury
, in a tone of voice scarcely audible at the bar, said, that from the high situation he held in the Church, he felt himself called upon to offer a few observations on the important question before the House. The noble marquis had brought forward a resolution for their lordships' concurrence, which had been passed by the other House, the object of which was, that they should give a pledge to attempt to discover such means as might be calculated to bring about conciliation with the Roman Catholics, in order to effect a final adjustment, calculated to increase the peace and strength of the united kingdom, to promote the stability of the Protestant Church, and the concord and satisfaction of all classes of the community. This was the effect of the resolution proposed by the noble marquis; and if it were as easy to execute as it was to propose those objects, no man in that House could be more anxious than he was to enter into the spirit of the pledge. But there was, as far as he could see, little or no prospect of accomplishing those desirable purposes; and the pledge, or the attempt, would only lead to fresh impatience and fresh disappointment, on the part of those who were the objects of it. The question 1151 had been suspended between the two Houses of Parliament for many years, and the balance had been so nicely poised, that it was difficult to say to which side it inclined. This state of uncertainty was not calculated to produce tranquillity. He admitted that the question was one of vast importance to the best interests of the empire. By the unhappy state of Ireland, the wisdom and firmness of parliament were brought to a severe test. Parliament would not withhold from the Roman Catholics that to which they appeared properly entitled, at the same time that it would not concede to them, under the influence of fear, what was believed inconsistent with the constitution. Every government possessed the right of self-defence—the right to exclude from office, legislative and executive, those who were dangerous to it. If that right were exercised rashly or unnecessarily, it was improper; but, if for the purpose of security to the state, it was justifiable. In his view of the subject, it was upon this point that the question depended. At the period of the reformation that took place in the reign of queen Elizabeth, no restrictions were placed on the Roman Catholics, until the necessity of the case called for them. In the time of Charles 2nd a declaration was provided, which affected the Roman Catholics, and in that state things remained until the reign of William 3rd. Into the subject of the Penal-laws against the Roman Catholics, then enacted, and subsequently, in the reign of Anne, he should not enter; suffice it to say, they were removed from our Statute-books in the time of George 3rd, and their repeal gave him the greatest satisfaction. The Roman Catholics were now free from those disgraceful shackles, and at full liberty to entertain their own views of religious doctrine, and perform their religious exercises without molestation. But further than this he was not prepared to go; because he thought that it was not possible to go further, with safety to our established constitution in Church and State.
The Archbishop of Tuam
said, he was not satisfied to give a silent vote on this important question. Were the subject to be determined solely on the ground of political expediency, he should not have intruded himself upon their lordships' time. Impressed as he was with the essential difference between what was 1152 seemingly expedient and positively right, and at the same time aware that what might appear to our finite comprehensions politic, and for the country's good, might still be at variance with true wisdom and the revealed will of God, he wished to be indulged with a share of their lordships' attention, until he briefly stated the grounds of his opposition to the present measure. Expediency might be far removed from what was right, but what was right must ultimately prove expedient. Before their lordships ventured to place political power in the hands of a large body of the community, whose opinions on the great subject of religion were so opposed to their lordships, they ought coolly to ascertain, whether such a measure deserved to be designated as right and proper. It was not his intention to detail all the various dangerous decrees and dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church, which, however they had been denied and called obsolete, were still extant, and in force in the bulls of popes and the declarations of councils, and which he maintained were still ready to be exercised, when their exercise might appear expedient for popish aggrandisement.—The petitioners who now came before their lordships, did not ask humbly for a boon at the hands of the legislature, but claimed as a right the removal of all restrictions and disabilities imposed upon them by the laws enacted for the protection of a Protestant State. We never, however, heard one word of concession from them; but they demanded an unqualified surrender of all the safeguards and securities left us by the constitution as it now existed, the necessity of which safeguards time had by no means lessened or removed. The Roman Catholics never proposed, in the hope of conciliating the Protestants, the removal of any of those wicked and unchristian decrees, which, notwithstanding the perfidious denial of them, were still in existence. Did it appear safe, wise or expedient, even to entertain the question of concession while these abominable documents remained in full force? In what he further said, he should confine himself to the acknowledged doctrines and practices of the Church of Rome, and endeavour to prove how much at variance those doctrines were with the religion of the Bible and the Church of England; and, having done so, he should ask their lordships, whether they were ready to promote 1153 a system that went to pull down that of the Church of England? He would begin with that doctrine of the Church of Rome, so opposed to God's Holy Word and so degrading to his disciples, which denied the latter the privilege of reading and interpreting for themselves the Scriptures. This doctrine even sealed up the eyes of the people, and prohibited a free examination of Holy Writ, which had been written for our improvement and edification. In the 14th article of a decree of Pope Pius 4th—an authentic document acknowledged by the heads of the Roman Catholic Church — the following words occurred:—" I admit the Holy Scriptures in the sense attributed to it by Holy Mother Church, whose privilege and business it is, to judge of the true sense and interpretation of Scripture, and I will interpret it according to the unanimous consent of Holy Mother Church." Now, according to this dogma, the Holy Scriptures were to be received in the sense put on them by Holy Mother Church. This was in direct opposition to the language of the Holy Apostles, and even the words of our blessed Lord and Saviour himself. What said John in his first General Epistle—"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world." If those to whom the inspired writer addressed himself were not to exercise the right of private judgment, why were they commanded to try by any particular test the doctrines to be laid before them. How could any man reconcile the yielding of implicit obedience with such an injunction as this? Even less could it be reconciled with the language of St. Paul. What construction, consistently with the tenets of Roman Catholics, could be put upon the words of that Holy Apostle, when he says, "Prove all things, and hold fast that which is good." He put it, to their lordships to say how far it was possible to justify the tenets of the Roman Catholic faith in the face of such express declarations as these. St. Peter, who was a favourite Apostle of that Church, says— "Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." But, in what they termed their Holy Mother Church, cither the meaning of those words was not understood, or being understood, was not respect- 1154 ed. The authority of our blessed Lord and Saviour was itself most distinct upon this point—nothing could be clearer than the command given to "search the Scriptures." Again, St. Paul, in speaking of Bereans—" These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Those were not the tenets of the Church of Rome. Cardinal Bellarmine plainly disavows them, when he says, that the Bible is not for the people. Now it was in vain to deny, that the Roman Catholic Church, in every age and country, held the same opinions. It was, however, quite enough for his purpose, if that church in Ireland held them; and he could refer to a thousand instances, from which he could establish that position. The opinion of Dr. Doyle would set that question at rest. Dr. Doyle, before a committee of that House, stated, that" the greatest stumbling-block to the establishment of schools for the education of the poor of Ireland would be found in any proposition for rendering the use of the Bible indispensable." He further stated, that he and the rest of the Irish Catholic clergy would feel themselves bound to resist to the utmost any proposition of that nature, and would remonstrate with the parents of such children as might attend such schools; and, if they persevered in permitting their children to continue their attendance, they would refuse them the Sacramental rites. Not only did they object to the use of the authorised version of Scriptures, but to their own translations of the Douay Bible. Now, the reading of the Scriptures had been always made a principal feature of the London Hibernian School Society: and in proportion to the extent and value of the labours of that Association, that resistance was offered to its proceedings. Innumerable instances could be adduced, where efforts were made by the Catholic clergy in Ireland to prevent the perusal of the sacred volume. The celebrated J, K. L. gloried in the zeal of a peasant, with whose conduct, in reference to the Bible, he became acquainted. The zeal which J. K. L. applauded, was manifested in the abhorrence which his protégé displayed for the Bible; he feared to touch it lest the mere contact should defile his hands; he took it in a pair of tongs and consigned it to a grave in his garden. Amongst the Roman Catholics 1155 of the diocese of Clonfert, several copies were destroyed of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; and there was one instance in which the person possessing a copy, took it and sunk it in an adjoining river. In the north of Ireland hundreds of instances had occurred in which the New Testament was treated as a volume totally unfit to meet the public eye. He might be told, that the objection of the Catholics lay against the version of the Established Church. But surely they could not forget that it was still the Bible — that they themselves had admitted the existence of an authorised version, that of the Douay. The fact was, that their objection was not to the version, but to the book itself. It was a matter of perfect notoriety that such Roman Catholic parents as ventured to send their children to schools in which the Bible was read were denounced by the priests, refused the rites of their religion, and pointed out as unworthy to continue in the Communion of the Romish Church. Dr. Doyle, on every occasion, had advocated the refusal of that rite, deemed so essentially necessary to salvation by the Roman Catholics. This, he could himself prove. It was not versions to which they in reality objected; it was against the perusal of the Sacred Volume itself, that all the hostility of the Roman Catholic hierarchy was directed.—Soon after he was translated to the diocese of Tuam, three gentlemen waited on him for the purpose of soliciting subscriptions for clothing the Roman Catholic children attending a school which was conducted under the direction of Dr. Kelly. The reply to this application, which he felt bound to make, was, that if the Douay version without note or comment would be used in the school, and the children would be allowed to take it home for perusal, he would not only contribute to a. considerable amount, but would, for the future, become a large subscriber to the establishment. That was his reply to the application: but he was never afterwards solicited for his subscription. He had stated the conditions on which he was willing to contribute. He only stipulated, that the Word of God should be rend in those schools, and that, it would appear, formed a sufficient reason for his assistance being rejected; for, without a single exception, did he always find, that in every school under the direction of the Roman Catholic clergy, the prohibition ran as 1156 powerfully against their own version, as against the authorized version of the Church of England. But what said the Holy Scriptures on this point? In the 6th chapter of Deuteronomy Moses says, "And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates." Why that express command, unless it was intended that all men should read the word of God? In the 17th verse of the same chapter he commands kings, that they shall search the Scriptures, to read and understand the commands of God, so that they might hope to prosper. The Prophet Isaiah, in his 34th chapter says—"Come near ye nations, to hear, and hearken ye people; let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it." In the book of Joshua, a solemn injunction is conveyed respecting the perusal of the Scriptures: it commands the servants of God to read them as they would hope to prosper. After these authorities, it would be in vain that any rational man, exercising the right of private judgment, to which every Christian is inalienably entitled, would attempt to say, that men are not bound to search the Scriptures and make them subjects of habitual perusal. Compare these scriptural authorities with the doctrines of the Church of Rome. In the 14th article of the creed of pope Pius 4th, there was the plainest acknowledgment —that "Holy Mother Church" was, in her interpretation of Scripture, to be decisive and without appeal. From that it was apparent, that not only was the Roman Catholic faith opposed to Scripture, but in direct hostility to the national I church of this country. How did the Church of Rome comply with the command, not to add to the Holy Scriptures? Was not the sacrifice of the Mass another Gospel? Was not the doctrine of Purgatory another Gospel? Was not the invocation of Saints another Gospel? Was not the adoration of Images another still? In Deuteronomy would be found these words —" Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that you may keep 1157 the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." Again, in Revelations, were those awful words:—" For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the Holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." Their lordships could scarcely forget the additions made to the Scriptures in the doctrines and practice of the Church of Home. Was there not an addition to it in the single life of the Ecclesiastics? Were not indulgences an addition to it? Were not monastic vows an addition to it? Were not dispensations an addition to it? Were not works of supererogation additions to it? Was not taking- away the second commandment a subtraction from it, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image;" "Thou shalt not bow down to them nor serve them?" In the New Testament we have again and again the authority of our blessed Lord and Saviour, for the necessity of reading and investigating the Scriptures. The doctrine of purgatory, as inculcated by the Church of Rome, struck at the root of all sound and scriptural religion — of every thing like vital Christianity. By the Prophet Ezekiel we are told that—"When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed he shall surely live, he shall not die." How did that accord with the doctrine of purgatory? How did the language held by the Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah accord with the doctrine of purgatory? Still less the words of Revelations—" Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, yea saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labours and their works do follow them." Was that consistent with the doctrine of purgatory and the expiation of sins by means of human sacrifices on earth, and human sufferings in our intermediate state of existence? Least of all was the doctrine of purgatory consistent with the language of the divine Author of the Christian Dispensation, whose language is "Whose believeth in him that sent me 1158 hath everlasting life and shall not come into temptation."—He could go on for hours demonstrating the discrepancy between the principles of Christianity and the doctrines of the Popish Church. He would, however, confine himself to a few observations on the practice of public prayer in an unknown language. Cardinal Bellarmine had said, that public prayers might be offered in a language not understood; and in conformity with that opinion was the practice of the Romish Church. When he called to his recollection the notable miracle by which the necessity for such a practice had been superseded—that miracle by which the Feast of Pentecost had been distinguished —when he called to mind that, to the holy apostles the gift of tongues was communicated, that they might go forth and preach the word of life to all nations under heaven; he was unable to comprehend how any rational man could attempt to reconcile the doctrines of Scripture with the tenets of the Church of Rome. One word more he would say respecting the invocation of saints and the veneration of relics. The twentieth and twenty-first articles of the Creed of pope Pius 4th, stated, in the plainest language, that the adoration of images, the worship of the Virgin, formed an essential part of Christian doctrine. Now, he fearlessly asserted, that the worship of any other than our Lord Jesus Christ, as the only mediator between God and man, was idolatrous; for the words of the Decalogue were—" Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image; thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them." Again, in Deuteronomy,—"Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman." With respect to the worship of saints, in the tenth chapter of the Acts they would find that "As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, stand up; I myself also am a man." And again we find St. Paul, on worship being offered to him, saying, "Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men, of like passions with you." He might be told, that what he had been describing was not the Roman Catholic religion, but the faith of a semi-civilized and unenlightened people. That he conceived to be no answer to his arguments, even supposing 1159 it founded in fact; and, for this obvious reason, that they were legislating, not as respected the Roman Catholic religion in the abstract, but as respected its operation on the minds of the people of Ireland. Though opposed to the motion of the noble marquis, and to those who called themselves the advocates of emancipation, he was a sincere friend to emancipation in its true sense. He would emancipate the Irish from the bondage of ignorance, by a liberal and Scriptural education; not such an education as certain commissioners had recently recommended to the adoption of the legislature—not such an education as would adapt the Scriptures to the passions and prejudices of men—not such an education as depended on a corruption of the text, or upon subtractions from it: he was no advocate for such an education as that, but he was an advocate for an education founded upon God's holy word—an education which took that word for its standard—an education which would tend to correct the superstitions of Ireland, and to improve her moral condition.
The Earl of Winchilsea
said, it had often been matter of surprise to him, that men who stood forward on most occasions as the supporters of civil rights and liberties, should be found amongst the advocates of a spiritual despotism, which was decidedly hostile to the doctrines which at other times they strenuously maintained. He could only account for it by supposing that the persons to whom he alluded persuaded themselves, that the sentiments which were justly entertained respecting the Roman Catholic church of the seventeenth century, were not applicable to what they considered the modified and enlightened Catholic religion of the present time. In his opinion, however, it was in vain for the supporters of the Roman Catholics to allege, that their religion was altered, and was not what it had been, unless they were prepared to show at what period the beneficial change was effected. When had the intolerant and overbearing principles of the Roman Catholic church been publicly renounced? He challenged any person to bring forward proofs of that fact. Proofs to the contrary were abundant. He would only refer to one, and he requested their lordships' attention to it. It was a passage contained in a letter published a few years ago by one of the most exalted members of the Roman Catholic church; namely, Dr. Troy, the 1160 titular archbishop of Dublin. The passage declared, that the religious opinions of the Roman Catholic were unchanged and unchangeable, and applicable to all societies; and that the decisions of the councils were incontrovertible and binding on all Roman Catholics: and he particularly quoted the fourth Lateran Council, which declared, that all engagements made by Catholics, under the sanction of an oath, with heretic sovereigns might be nullified. If further proof of the unchangeable nature of that religion were wanted, they would be found in the report of the commissioners of education sent over to Ireland. The increase of Jesuitism was another feature in their character; and the college of Maynooth was nothing less than a seminary for the diffusion of the principles of that aspiring and intolerant sect. With reference to what had been said, as to the privileges enjoyed by Catholics in the different countries of Europe, he would assert, that the example of emancipation had been set by no country circumstanced as England was, nor by any country which had, for so long a period, been distinguished for the wisdom and durability of her political arrangements. In several states of Germany, the concessions to the Catholics could be traced no further than 1815. In the Netherlands, the Catholics had enjoyed their privileges only since the year 1827. He would not allude to the United States of America, because there was no parity between them and England, as they had no national church supported by tithes, and upheld by immunities and privileges, as in this country. Let the House not deceive itself by supposing, that the concessions now asked would satisfy the encroaching spirit of the Roman Catholic church. The close connection between Rome and the Catholic Association of Ireland had been fully traced. Mr. O'Connell, on the 15th of last month, had declared, at the meeting at Dublin, that the Catholics had already trampled down all barriers, except the Established Church of England, and that it would not be long before they would be able to trample that down also. He trusted that the House would never consent to a measure, the effect of which would be to undermine that constitution under which England had enjoyed, and had been able to impart to Ireland, so many substantial blessings. Let not concessions be made to the Roman Catholics before they gave sufficient 1161 security to the established Protestant Church. The moment proof could be furnished, that the Catholic religion was not what it had been, he would be the first to grant the claims which he had hitherto conscientiously opposed. But, until that proof was furnished, he would never consent to remove the barriers which he believed necessary to the existence of the constitution under which we enjoyed so many blessings.
The Marquis of Salisbury
said, that, if the question before the House had been to agree to a bill for the relief of the Catholics, he would not have troubled their lordships. In such a case it would have been sufficient for him to express his assent to, or dissent from, the proposition by a silent vote. But, as the question was, whether or not their lordships would take into consideration the claims of the Catholics, with a view of finally adjusting them, unless he was prepared to say that, under no circumstances would he grant them! emancipation, he could not consent silently to give a vote against the proposition. If he wanted any further excuse for rising, he should find it in the challenge which the noble marquis opposite had thrown out for those to declare their opinions, who thought that securities might be found. Now he thought that securities might be found, which would enable him to vote in favour of the Catholics; and he thought he was taking the fairest course, by stating what the securities were which he would demand. The securities which he would require contained nothing that ought either to alarm the Catholics, or afford ground of dissatisfaction to the Protestants. At the same time, he could not, considering the violent language which was held in other places, on both; sides, and in the petitions to that House, entertain a sanguine hope, that any such, amicable arrangement as that he proposed would take place. If, however, those Protestants, who thought securities could 'be found, would come forward and declare what the nature of those securities was, the question would stand a fairer chance of being set at rest than it did at present. Oaths and declarations move than sufficient had been proffered by the Catholics. He attached but little importance to them; but he thought it would be an ample security, if the nomination of Catholic bishops were placed in the hands of the sovereign. He was inclined to think that 1162 such a measure would not be contrary to the Catholic religion. Why might not such arrangements be made here as were brought about in Belgium, Prussia, Hanover, and other Protestant states, where concordats with the pope had been agreed upon? As the law stood at present, intercourse with the see of Rome was interdicted; but that law might be suspended by the authority of parliament. He did not think there could be any difficulty in commencing a negotiation for the purpose, nor in repealing a law which was once looked on as a safeguard of the country: but he was told that, even after that, the Catholics would not accept of the boon; therefore he for one would never consent to place the parliament in such a dilemma. He would neither compromise the dignity of the legislature, nor would he begin to give effect to the measure he proposed by a species of persecution. The tranquillity of the country should induce parliament to settle the question, without any allusion to the subserviency in which the people were held by that the which bound them to a foreign potentate. There was no knowing what changes might take place in the foreign potentates to whom he alluded. In other times they might not be so respectable as the present holder of that power was. But it must also be considered, that the power he alluded to must always be great, while the people looked to it not only as a depository of temporal rank, but of spiritual happiness. If the noble marquis would submit such a proposition, he would be most happy to support him; but as the question at present stood, he should certainly oppose the motion.
§ Earl Bathurst
said, that the motion which had been submitted to their lordships called upon them to concur in a resolution which had been agreed to by the Commons. Before their lordships concurred in that resolution, which it must be admitted was sufficiently general, it was necessary to come to some understanding as to its meaning and object. The resolution called upon them to consider the laws affecting the Roman Catholics. What, he would ask, had that and the other House of parliament been doing for six and twenty years, but taking those laws into consideration? That and the other House of parliament, too, had taken those laws into consideration, for the purpose of effecting an object which had always been avowed. The resolution which 1163 the Commons had sent up to them he considered to be a pledge to effect that object, so far as their own legislative power enabled them. When, therefore, the Commons asked them to concur in that resolution, he understood that they called on them to make the same pledge as they had themselves entered into. He hoped, therefore, that the eloquence of the noble marquis would not induce the House to concur in the motion, by which it would pledge itself to what it might never be able to perform.—Of course, nothing could be; done without securities; and the noble; marquis had given no intimation, that he was in possession of any plan with that object, or that he was prepared to follow up the resolution by any ulterior measure. Looking at what had been the course adopted by the other House of parliament, and at the measures which, on this subject, had emanated from it, he must despair, at present, that their lordships would be able, if they uncautiously gave the pledge, satisfactorily to redeem it.— Without going back to the different schemes from time to time in agitation, he would only refer to the last—the bill of 1825. He was anxious that their lordships should recollect its provisions, and then ask themselves—Whether, if previous to its introduction, the House of Commons had passed the resolution he had before rend, and the noble marquis had persuaded their lordships to concur in it, and thereby to give a pledge, they would not consider that that pledge was redeemed by the measure of 1825, when brought up from the oilier House, and submitted to their deliberation? A noble friend had adverted to the jealous eyes with which the proceedings of the court of Home and of the Catholics at home must be watched, if concession were made, even with securities. He had also spoken of the strict inspection that was necessary of the Pope's Bulls, and other instruments, as well as of his nominations of the Roman Catholic bishops. According to the bill of 1825 a commission was to be established, and that commission was to be appointed by the Crown, and when any bulls, dispensations, or other instruments of any kind were transmitted from the See of Rome, it was to be submitted to that commission; which was to ascertain whether there was any thing in it subversive of the Protestant establishment. If it were found unobjectionable, 1164 then the receipt of such a document was to be notified to the lord lieutenant of Ireland; but the commissioners were not required to inform him of the contents of the instrument, but simply to notify to him that such an instrument had been transmitted, with their opinion that it was not dangerous to the peace of the empire. Then the instrument was to be sent back, and afterwards it was to be published and carried into execution. If that bill had passed, those instruments must have been carried into immediate execution, even although the Crown should have been of opinion that they were of a highly dangerous tendency. Then who were to be the commissioners? It would be expected that the Crown would have the nomination of them, or at least take care that the majority were Protestants. But what was the fact? The Crown was actually prohibited from appointing a single Protestant as a member of the commission. The mere fact of his being a Protestant was a disqualification for holding this office; so that in a bill professedly to remove Catholic disqualifications from holding civil offices, a new civil office was created, to fill which a Protestant was disqualified. Who, then, were these inspecting commissioners? The Crown I was prohibited from naming any Protestant, and it was also prohibited from naming any Catholic, even though a peer. No layman of the Catholic persuasion could sit upon this commission. Bishops only were to be the members of it; so that Roman Catholic bishops were to be the guardians of the Protestant church. He would appeal, then, to their lordships, whether the enactment of such a law would have tended, in the terms of the Resolution, to give "stability to the Protestant Establishment?" Then we came to the question, as to the appointment of Roman Catholic bishops. If the commissioners were to be Roman Catholic bishops, it seemed reasonable that the Crown should have at least some control in the nomination of those bishops. What was the fact, under the law of 1825? After a priest had been elected, and afterwards appointed, by the see of Rome, to be a Roman Catholic bishop, the name of the party was to be transmitted to the commissioners, and they were to certify to the king, that he was a loyal subject; and then he was authorised by the bill to exercise all the functions of a 1165 Roman Catholic bishop, however the Crown might disapprove of his appointment.—He was well aware he should be told that all these objections proceeded from antiquated and exploded notions, and that there was, in truth, no danger to be apprehended. The noble marquis had advised the House to look to other countries, and to observe how well the machinery worked, and how easily the object might be accomplished. There, he said, Protestants and Roman Catholics lived together in the utmost confidence and harmony. Undoubtedly, in Holland, Roman Catholics were admitted to all civil offices—no man was disqualified, and all might sit in the legislative assembly; and the peace and harmony were attributed merely to the circumstance of this community of privileges. Looking at Holland, what was the fact? The kingdom of the Netherlands was divided into two parts—the one Protestant, the other Roman Catholic. In that part where the Protestants were most numerous, the Protestant religion was dominant; but where the Roman Catholics were most numerous, the Roman Catholic religion was dominant. Were not this the case, did the noble marquis suppose that the boasted harmony would prevail? Would the Roman Catholics have been satisfied even with seats in the legislative assembly, if their religion had not been dominant in that part of the Netherlands where they outnumbered their opponents? The same remark would apply to Prussia; for in Silesia, where the Roman Catholics were most numerous, their religion was the established religion of the country. Passing over the Atlantic, the noble marquis had directed the attention of the House to the United States of America, as if he wished this country to imitate her example. True it was, that there was no establishment in the United States; but was the House prepared to say that there should be no establishment in Ireland? Why did there exist such an enmity to the Church of England, and such a wish, on the part of the Roman Catholics, that it should not continue the established religion in Ireland? There was something in the Roman Catholic religion which prevented its combination with any other faith; and it was well known, that if the Church of England were not to continue the Established Church of Ireland, the Protestant interest of the empire would 1166 be shaken to its centre. It was interwoven with the constitution of the country, and the Protestant Church and the State must stand or fall together. He was most anxious that the question should be brought to some final determination; for, at present, as soon as the claim was defeated it was renewed. There were unquestionably many who saw no difficulties in the way of concession, and who imagined that all who adverted to them were under a delusion. For his part he should rejoice if the time should come when it might be safe and wise to accomplish the object of the noble marquis; but, as he at present saw no chance that the pledge of the House of Commons would be redeemed, he was unwilling that their lordships should also enter into an engagement which they would he unable to fulfil.
The Earl of Darnley
said, he was anxious to call their lordships' attention to the real state of the question before them. They were not called upon to make any pledge with respect to any particular measure; but they were invited to take into consideration certain obnoxious laws, which affected a large portion of his majesty's subjects, to see if they could reconcile themselves to some means of extending relief to that body. The speech of the right rev. prelate, and that of the noble earl who succeeded him, went entirely upon objections to the creed of the Catholics, whilst the opposition of the noble earl who had spoken last was directed against the bill of 1825. Now, let their lordships' minds be recalled to the real state of the case. The Commons of Great Britain having several times sent up bills for the relief of the Roman Catholics, to their lordships' House, all of which had been deemed unworthy of their lordships' concurrence, the same House now, with, as he thought, great good sense, agreed to a resolution, which they transmitted to their lordships' House, entreating them in the name of the people of England, and of Ireland, to take the case of the Catholics into their consideration. That was the state of the question. To those who were of opinion that never, under any circumstances, ought concession to be made, he would apply no argument. Upon the present question he would say, as he had already said upon that of the repeal of the Test, and Corporation acts, that the best security which they could have was to be found in the unconditional concession of 1167 equal rights and privileges. But, though that was his opinion, still he was ready to go half-way to meet those who thought that securities were necessary. But he was clearly of opinion, that the burthen of pointing out what those securities were to be, lay with those who called for securities. He hoped, nevertheless, that better times would ere long arrive, and he augured well, more especially from the liberal spirit recently displayed by the right reverend bench, and particularly by the right rev. prelate, who on a recent occasion had declared, that, in his judgment, there was no reason why any set of Christians should be deprived of the civil benefits of the constitution, if they could give sufficient security to the establishment. He was sure their lordships would find the difficulties which now beset them, as to Ireland, press on them more and more; and a time might come when the claims of the Catholics would be enforced, when their lordships had no power to deliberate, and no means of giving that boon which was now asked at their hands.—There was one subject to which the Catholics frequently referred with strong feelings: he meant the violation of the Treaty of Limerick. He, for one, thought that treaty had been violated; but the question did not rest on what had happened a century ago, or on what was then the state of the country; it was to be decided by the rule of sound policy, and by the circumstances of the present moment. If the claims of the Catholics were not bottomed in justice, sound policy, and the dictates of the Christian religion, he should not argue for the expediency only. Setting aside the Treaty of Limerick, there had been another point which he could not pass over. It had been said that, at the time of the Union there had been—he would not say a guarantee, but an understanding with Mr. Pitt and lord Cornwallis, that the emancipation of the Irish Catholics was to form a part of the measure. It was proved very distinctly by Mr. Pitt's votes and actions; and above all, by his giving up more power than ever a minister of this country possessed, because he could not carry that measure. Notwithstanding this, it would hardly be believed that, at this time of day, there were persons who annually celebrated the birth-day of that distinguished individual, in order to promulgate principles, the very reverse of those which he maintained. It was unne- 1168 cessary to refer to this subject more particularly, as it was a matter of notoriety. He should view it with indifference, but from one circumstance, namely, that the ministers of the Crown had condescended to appear among these dinners. Call it the "No Popery Club," call it the "Eldon Club," but to call it the Pitt Club was a libel on the memory of that distinguished individual. In justice to the memory of Mr. Pitt, and in defence of the cause which he had honestly advocated, he must protest against his name being-used as an authority. There was another part of the subject, which had been frequently adverted to. It appeared to him extraordinary, that any person could suppose that the Coronation Oath could preclude the king from removing civil disabilities, or granting civil privileges, to any class of his subjects. There were several authorities on this subject; he would begin with Mr. Burke. Mr. Burke said, that in the Coronation engagements of the king he did not find one word which precluded his majesty from consenting to any arrangement parliament might think fit, with regard to civil privileges. There was also the authority of lord Liverpool. The last time this subject was discussed, lord Liverpool had stated, that he could not consider the Coronation Oath as any obstacle to the removal of civil and religious disabilities. There was another authority, which, perhaps, might have still more weight with noble lords. This was a publication of Dr. Philpot's, which, he thought, if the Roman Catholics were to publish in a cheap form, would much advance their cause. This gentleman appeared to be the very advanced guard of the Church militant; but his arguments from beginning to end made against himself. [His lordship then read the opinion given by the late lord Kenyon, and the letter of Mr. Pitt, as published in Dr. Philpot's pamphlet.] In these opinions he saw not one word to prove that the Coronation Oath prevented the king from acceding to the claims of his Catholic subjects. His noble friend near him had eloquently advocated the cause of the Catholics of Ireland, but the claims of the English Catholics were even stronger than those of Ireland; and yet they were more severely treated. They were denied the elective franchise, and several other privileges which the Irish Catholics enjoyed.—He had often felt ashamed when he had seen 1169 the duke of Norfolk, whose seat was in the very highest place among their lordships, take his station below the bar; and this exclusion was without any reason whatever. In the reign of Elizabeth, at a time when popery was really formidable, and the very existence of England was threatened,—the name of Howard was amongst the foremost on the list of her defenders. During those times of danger the Roman Catholic peers were the defenders of their country. It was at a subsequent period, that they were excluded from their seats in parliament, and on very insufficient grounds. The evils of the present situation of things arose chiefly from the restraints exciting in the bosoms of the Catholics a feeling of hostility, which arrayed them under leaders more hostile than themselves. It was not possible that men, treated as they had always been, should not feel hostility. He called on their lordships not to shut their eyes against the danger. He wished them to look the danger in the face, and to consider what might be the consequences of having a large body of discontented subjects at home, under some peculiarities of our foreign policy. The Catholics were already organised under leaders, and their combination could not be put down. He had been surprised to hear the language of the right rev. prelate in speaking of the Catholic religion; and it was impossible that the Catholics should not feel insulted when such language was used towards them. The Catholic was not a Protestant, but he was not an infidel. He had heard with astonishment, of the efforts now making in Ireland, to force the Holy Scriptures on the Catholics. That attempt was made with a Bible in one hand, and a sword in the other. He was sure that all these attempts to increase the number of Protestants, would only increase the mischief. Such attempts provoked those feelings of hostility which had been the great curse of that country. There was, in consequence, much litigation, and no security. By withholding their rights from the Catholics, the Catholics and Protestants were made enemies of each other. No man could live in Ireland with safety, and all those who could improve Ireland necessarily remained abroad. All those improvements which had been talked of for Ireland, could never be effected, so long as discord was kept up between the two 1170 classes. The greatest improvement which could be made for Ireland, because it would be followed by every other improvement, would be removing Catholic disabilities and making Catholics and Protestants equal before the law. He concluded by hoping, that the present illustrious individual at the head of the government, would not put his veto on the project of concession to the Catholics of Ireland. It was a splendid opportunity afforded him to improve at once his own popularity and consolidate the interests of the empire.
§ Lord Manners
, who spoke from the cross bench, in a situation which rendered it extremely difficult to hear him, commenced by complaining of the temper of the Irish Catholic Association, and of the tendency of their speeches to inflame and exasperate the public mind. He deprecated the spirit which had prevailed in all the proceedings of that ill-regulated and angry political association. It was impossible, he said, to grant the Catholics the concessions they sought, and afford any protection to the established reformed Church of Ireland, in the present temper of the Irish nation. The Catholic Association, which might be considered as displaying the spirit and disposition of their brethren, had hitherto done their utmost— in many instances but too successfully—to separate the tenant from his landlord, to produce discoid and anarchy throughout the country, and to estrange the loyalty and allegiance of all their fellow-subjects, over whom they could exercise any influence. It had been said, that concessions to the Catholics were demanded by policy and justice; but he could not perceive the applicability of either. With every disposition to grant emancipation, if such a measure could be conceded consistently with safety to the establishment, he could rot consent, under existing circumstances, to acknowledge claims which were essentially pernicious to the Protestant religion and the civil interests of the state.
§ The Earl of Guilford
said—It would be a waste of your lordships' time, were I to tread the ground so often and so ably occupied, in proof that the tenets of the Roman Catholic church, essentially intolerant, are ad verse to the existence of Protestant establishments, which they have incessantly condemned, as the receptacles of heresy and impiety. Not only have we the decretals of popes and councils in evidence of this fact, but we have also the 1171 exemplification of it, throughout Europe, in the most afflicting histories of civil war and persecution, and in the most important revolutions of states. I do not wish to dwell offensively and uncharitably upon this gloomy picture of human misery and destruction, scarcely illumined by a ray of religious liberty emanating from the Roman faith; but I would recur to it merely to claim from your lordships' candour an admission of the existence of that spirit of hostility which sleeps only in weakness, and would awake upon the restoration of its powers. The question, then, is, whether those who have no conscientious attachment to our interests should be admitted to parliament as guardians of those interests. I have, upon a former occasion, delivered my opinion to your lordships, that delegated power is neither founded in absolute nor relative right. But I also maintain, that in expediency, reason, and moral justice, it should be committed only to those who have qualifications to use it for the public advantage. This was the principle, this was the cause, of the Revolution, that called the prince of Orange to the throne; that governed the act of Settlement; was acknowledged in the bill of Rights; and dictated the resolution of the Convention Parliament, "that it hath been found by experience to be inconsistent with the safety and welfare of a Protestant kingdom to be governed by a Popish prince." And surely the same principle will apply to each branch of the legislature ! To say that no guards should be interposed between religious creeds and political institutions, is not only to abandon the doctrines of our Revolution, but also the soundest maxims of government, and especially of our own constitution, which refuses trust to all who have no pledge to give of their attachment to the state. For this reason, the elective franchise has never been universal, or unrestricted as to the choice of a representative. The laws do not restrain opinions, but cautiously refuse trust. They limit, for the public good, the privileges of age, sex, station, property, and also of religious sects when they are found to be inconsistent with the safety of the state. In short, they acknowledge no maxim of civil policy that leaves the general welfare out of its consideration.—Now, my lords, I cannot see that the danger of this concession is altered by change of circumstances or by lapse of time. I cannot see that our 1172 apprehension of it should be diminished by the absence of disputed pretensions to the Crown, which never were an originating cause of it. I cannot see that it should be diminished, by the estimation in which the honour and integrity of individuals, displayed in the service of their country, is justly held. That honour cannot be accepted as our security, which is pledged in opposition to our interests. Similar services had also preceded the Revolution, and might have been pleaded at that period. But the aid particularly alluded to, as given by Romanists in defeat of a foreign enemy, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, was found practically to consist with continual conspiracy and revolt, both in England and Ireland, for the overthrow of the government of that illustrious queen during the whole of her reign. The cause of distrust is deep-seated, and grounded in the Reformation—it is, simply, difference in religion. And how, my lords, can the liberty to sit in parliament produce tranquillity and concord, which was withdrawn by the very act peculiarly under your lordships' consideration, because it produced precisely the contrary effect, and was held to be a dangerous instrument of disaffection, to threaten the disunion of the two countries? When it was possessed, did it create peace? or wherefore was it removed? Did it propagate industry, domestic comfort, and contentment, over Ireland? Did it obviate the fatal cause of civil discord—religious dissension? No; it fomented the evil it is now thought competent to cure. In the act of 3rd William and Mary, it is recited that great disquiet, and many dangerous attempts have been made to deprive their majesties, and their royal predecessors—a fact of historical notoriety — when there was no pretender to the throne, except, indeed, in the reign of queen Elizabeth—of the said realm of Ireland, by popish recusants having there had and taken the liberty to sit and vote in parliament. The 10th of the resolutions passed in the English House of Commons in 1698, upon the disputed dependence of the Irish upon the English parliament, refers to the causes of this disaffection. After mentioning differences of manners and customs, past contentions, confiscation of property—it affirms that this aversion is chiefly to be ascribed to difference in religion, they conceiving us to be obstinate and incorrigible heretics. The same unhappy, and, 1173 I fear, irremovable cause now exists, that has ever alienated the minds of Romanists from a reformed church. Now, my lords, suppose that they were inclined to grant to your lordships any security for this concession, which they are not—for they are determined, if we may judge from the language held at public meetings, to storm the constitution, and break open the doors of parliament—I ask what securities, what veto upon bishops, what securities of any kind, can be had against this aversion of the heart from a church, in which it is believed the souls of men cannot be saved; and which it is, therefore, their sacred duty to use their lawful influence to subvert? It is this religious aversion—not the traitorous, not the dishonourable, but the conscientious, the legitimate exercise of it, when introduced into the great councils of the nation, we may justly apprehend —against which there can be no security, unless Roman Catholic bishops, legislators, and privy councillors could be found, who would earnestly contend for the ascendancy of a faith which they believe to be destructive of the eternal welfare of men. Recent, as well as remote, events warn us of the dangerous, the tyrannical, domination of the priesthood over the temporal affairs of kingdoms. We see it operating in France, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland. In Portugal, it has produced open convulsion, and threatens the overthrow of a constitution. In Ireland, it has obtained an unconstitutional triumph over property, and established a popish convention in defiance of the law.—My lords, I consider this a question vitally affecting our Established Church. I know that, in offering my feeble support to that establishment, I shall subject myself to be designated a bigoted churchman; one, contending for the temporal emoluments of his profession. But, as I trust I shall never be guilty of the undignified, the unprofessional error, of imputing sordid motives to those who differ from me in opinion upon a speculative point, so I shall ever rebut such imputations with contemptuous disregard. I have ever considered the question to be this—Is the church beneficial to the people? Is it, therefore, to be upheld as one of our civil establishments, or are its doctrines to be left to the arbitration of reason, unassisted by the secular arm? My lords, when we see the minds of men every where distracted and depressed by the doubts and fears of su- 1174 perstition, or hardened in infidelity; when we see a false liberality (the same that has clouded the fairest prospects of Great Britain both at home and abroad) refusing even to childhood religious instruction, educating subjects and philosophers more fit to dwell in the cynic tub of Diogenes than under the roof of Christian charity; when we see the pride of intellect outstripping, with hasty and false steps, every thing that is sacred and valuable to society, and leaving far behind it the stationary rock of truth; when we see the country demoralized, and the edge of the law blunted by the frequency of crime; it is not too much to say that a legislature should uphold some beacon for those who would look up to it with respect; that thus far, a church and a government have a common object and a common duty. And when it is advanced, that reason should uphold her own doctrines, and erect her own beacon—I say that she would do so, if she had reason only for an antagonist; and her enemies would not bring into the field against her, their passions, their prejudices, their ambition, and their political objects. There must be some limit to this argument. Reason will only operate in proportion to human perfection. It is desired to instruct the ignorant, to conduct them by some prepossession to that which they could not otherwise discover, the best source of instruction. Without this prepossession, the learning of universities would appeal in vain from the wildest fanaticism to the reason of savages newly imported from the heart of Africa. My lords, when universal justice may suffice for the protection of property, and men leave their doors open at night without fear; then may universal reason suffice for the protection of truth. Upon these grounds, it is my intention to vote against the proposed resolution.
The Bishop of Durham
said:—My lords, when the question of the Catholic claims was last discussed in this House, I took occasion to state to your lordships my sentiments upon the general subject; and perhaps I should not now trouble your lordships again, were there not some points connected with the view I then took of the question, which have, since that period, been frequently adverted to, both in and out of parliament, and which appear to admit of further elucidation.
The point I then chiefly pressed upon your lordships' attention was, an objection, 1175 grounded upon the implicit obedience which every Roman Catholic acknowledges to be due to the spiritual authority and supremacy of the see of Rome, and to be even of paramount obligation to all other duties. I have seen no reason to change my sentiments upon this subject, notwithstanding the offence that the charge of divided allegiance seems to have given in some instances, and the contempt and derision it has met with in others. I do not wonder, my lords, that high-minded and honourable men, of the Roman Catholic persuasion, should feel indignant at the imputation of anything that may seem to carry with it a charge of disloyalty to their king, and disaffection to the government of the country. But the Roman Catholics do themselves injustice in putting this construction upon it. Their conduct is founded upon a religious and conscientious; persuasion, which, however erroneous we may deem it, cannot but be regarded with respect. It relates to a point which Catholics themselves appear to consider as distinguishing them from other Christians, and placing them upon higher grounds than others; and, therefore, instead of regarding this as a reproach, we might rather expect them to boast of it as their peculiar privilege. It is one thing to say to a person, you are disloyal and disaffected, and another to say, you hold such or such I tenets, which we conceive to have a direct tendency to that effect. But, say the Catholics, you charge our opinions with consequences which we deny, which we disclaim and abhor. We declare, nay, we are ready to swear, that our allegiance is undivided; that we pay to the sovereign all the obedience that is due to him. And will you not believe us on our oaths? Is it not monstrous, is it not intolerable, that our most solemn asseverations should not be relied upon? My lords, that a Roman I Catholic may conscientiously take an oath to that effect, I am not disposed to deny; and that he may take it without any mental reservation, inasmuch as, according to his notion of the allegiance that is due, he gives all that he conceives to be requisite; and it being well known that, in spiritual; matters, he acknowledges obedience to be due to the Pope, he is guilty of no prevarication or dissimulation in this respect. But allegiance is a relative term, capable of a larger or more restricted signification according to the claims of the parties to whom it is to be given. And here is the 1176 real point of difference between us. We differ from the Catholics as to the quantum of allegiance that is due to the sovereign of the state. They hold that none is due to him but in temporals only; we insist that, by the laws and constitution of this realm, he is entitled to it in spiritual and ecclesiastical matters also. Therefore, though the view which the Catholic takes of the subject may be sufficient to exonerate his conscience in this respect, yet it does not remove the great stumbling-block to his being admitted to the same extent of privileges with ourselves. If he gives a less portion of submission and allegiance, he may, without injustice, be allowed a less portion of favour and indulgence.
A very extraordinary argument has, however, been put forth, with reference to this point. It has been said, that if there be any force in the objection of divided allegiance, it must be of greater weight when the entire population is Catholic, as in Catholic states, than in Protestant states, where the number of Catholics is comparatively small. A more palpable fallacy can hardly be imagined. For, the fact is, that in a Catholic state this divided allegiance cannot take place. Under such a government, no diminution of the allegiance due to the sovereign can arise from the acknowledgment of the pope's spiritual jurisdiction and supremacy, because the sovereign does not claim this as his due. He himself, being a Catholic, at the head of his subjects, makes his own acknowledgment and submission to the Pope, as head of the Church; and in so doing virtually disclaims any right to it himself. But in a Protestant country (in our own, at least), the sovereign actually claims, and by the laws and constitution of the realm is entitled to, that specific obedience which the papist withholds from him; and therefore from his rightful authority so much is evidently subtracted.
But here, again, we are beset with much sophistical reasoning on the nature of temporal and spiritual power: which are frequently represented as separated by so strong and clear a line of demarcation, that the one can never be confounded with the other, nor even so united together as to make the one dependent on the other. Dr. Doyle, in his "Essay on the Catholic Claims," has devoted the first section of his work to this question. He adopts Dr. Johnson's definition, who says, 1177 " Allegiance is the duty which subjects owe to their government." He then observes," If by the government we are to understand the king, in whom the executive power of the state is lodged, Catholics do not withhold from him any duty to which by the laws of the realm he is entitled. They admit, like other subjects, even that prerogative of his majesty, by which he is recognised as the supreme head on earth of the church of the United Kingdom, as the same is established by law; and, though they themselves do not belong to that church, they as freely and as willingly, as the members of the Kirk of Scotland, or as any other body of Protestant Dissenters, pay to his majesty whatever duties the law requires they should pay to him in capacity of head of that church. The law which sanctions their dissent from the doctrines of the Established Church, permits them not to believe that the king has spiritual jurisdiction; and if their dissent be thus sanctioned by the law, there is no division of allegiance or breach of duty in the withholding of it.… Were we members of the Church of England or Ireland, as by law established, we might have new and other duties to perform to the supreme head of that Church: but as we are not, we may be allowed to think, that the non-performance of such duties is not a proof of our allegiance being divided." Again, he says, "This allegiance of ours may not be so extensive in its objects, as the allegiance of those who profess to obey the sovereign in spiritual as well as temporal things; but it seems to me to be as full as perfect as that of any class of Dissenters." And, again, "Though it may be admitted, that Dissenters of any kind do not pay so comprehensive an allegiance to the king as is paid by the members of the Church of England and Ireland, it by no means follows, that the former do not pay to his majesty all the duties which by law are required of him." How far the law will bear out Dr. Doyle in the assertion, that, by tolerating dissent, a sanction is given to the tenets of the parties dissenting, I leave it to the learned in the law to decide. But, I think it appears, even from Dr. Doyle's own showing, that Papists and Protestants are not precisely on the same footing, with respect to the point in hand, the real extent of their allegiance. The same distinction, and the same kind of reasoning, will be found in the "Declarations of the Roman 1178 Catholic bishops;" and also in another writer of great distinction among them, Dr. Poynter, in his remarks on the spiritual supremacy of the Pope: "The authority," he says, "which the Pope now exercises over the Catholics in England, is purely ecclesiastical and spiritual; it has not the least mixture of any portion of civil and temporal authority annexed to it. It is chiefly exercised here in appointing bishops, and in giving them powers for the spiritual government of the Catholics, in their respective dioceses or districts; in superintending the religious conduct of the Catholics; and in granting dispensations from the ecclesiastical impediments of matrimony, when necessity requires. But this ecclesiastical and spiritual authority of the Pope in England, as well as that of the Catholic bishops here, is not invested with any civil formality, nor has it any civil effect. In its object, and in its means, it stands in a very distinct order from the civil power of the state." I could extract much more to the same purpose from these high Catholic authorities, were I not unwilling to trespass unreasonably on your lordships' attention.
To these authorities, however, my lords, I will take leave to oppose two of the greatest weight on this subject—Lord Clarendon and Dr. Barrow. Lord Clarendon, in his masterly Treatise on Religion and Policy, a work with which every statesman in this country ought to be conversant, largely discusses this question of spiritual and temporal authority, with reference to the papal pretensions. His first chapter lays down, briefly and clearly, the general principles of the question; and after stating it to be the duty of the sovereign to provide for the peace of church and state, he observes, that "princes and kings, to whom this necessary supreme trust is committed, cannot transfer it to another over whom themselves have no authority." He adds, "That power which the Pope pretends to have in the dominion of other princes, with regard to religion itself, and that supremacy which he usurps in some places, and is denied to him in others, is far from ever having been looked upon, in Catholic times, as a part of the Catholic religion; and whatever concessions of power may have been made to him by any kings to be exercised in their dominions, or whatever he may have usurped upon others without their consent, can signify nothing, nor be ap- 1179 plied to the prejudice of those who refuse to admit him to any kind of authority in their territories, where they have the sovereign power." In the concluding chapter, which applies the preceding historical view of the subject to this country, he observes:—" It is no excuse, to say, that they do not acknowledge any temporal authority in the Pope. Spiritual authority hath done too much mischief to be undervalued. No man yet knows what themselves mean by that spiritual authority which they own to be in the Pope; and which they would, before this time, have explained, if they thought no harm could be apprehended from it. The attributing any power to him, of how spiritual a nature soever it is thought to be, shall be enough to give law to the temporal, when a spiritual end shall so direct it."— Again; "the Catholics say, they are willing to take any oaths, that they will be always faithful to the king, and continue so, notwithstanding any dispensation or injunction, that the Pope shall publish or grant; but that they dare not take upon them to define or limit the Pope's power or jurisdiction, and so determine what he can or cannot do; as if they can warrantably declare, that they will not obey him, if they once believe that he hath a just and warrantable power to command them."—"If the Pope be allowed to exercise any authority in another prince's dominions (how limited soever it may seem to be), under the style of spiritual or any other restraint, it may, by the artifices and comments of his emissaries, the priests, be extended to such a magnitude in the hearts and affections of the subjects, as shall be strong enough to shake all the temporality, when it shall be applied to that purpose." Dr. Barrow, in his learned work on the Pope's supremacy, still more copiously illustrates the connexion between spiritual and temporal power, showing that it is impossible, by any certain bounds, to distinguish their jurisdiction. But I will not weary your lordships with further citations from writers of this early date. We have been told, indeed, of late, that it is vulgar prejudice to look back to past times; that it is ungentlemanly to cast reflections upon the tenets of the Roman Catholics; and that only book-read blockheads trouble themselves with researches of this kind. Yet it may be hard to show why book-read persons may not form an opinion on these 1180 subjects, as well as they who read no books. But this by the way. Let us come to more recent authorities.
Great stress has been laid on the opinion of the six foreign Universities, in answer to the queries proposed to them relative to the pope's authority. I have carefully considered these documents; and I confess, my lords, to me it appears, that neither the queries nor the answers touch the main point. They go no further—and probably the ingenious jurist who drew them intended they should go no further —than to obtain a disclaimer of the right of the papal see to exercise merely civil or temporal authority in the concerns of other states. If this were all the information that was wanted, the necessity does not very clearly appear of going so far to seek for it. For who ever assumed that the pope had a right to interfere in things purely civil and temporal, without any spiritual or ecclesiastical purpose? What, then, ought the question to have been? Not whether he had authority in temporals as such; but whether his spiritual authority can be fully exercised without interfering in temporals; how far it extends; where it begins, and where it ends; what are its limits, its purposes, and objects? These were the points necessary to be ascertained; and had the queries been somewhat to this effect, it may be difficult to conjecture what answers would have been elicited, but it is not difficult to conceive that they would have been very different from those which have been actually returned.
Much has also been said respecting the present condition of the Catholics in other countries, as contrasted with our own. On this point, my lords, my information has been chiefly derived from the massy report of the committee of the House of Commons in 1816, and from Mr. Gaily Knight's recent pamphlet. From these it appears, that even in Catholic countries, great restrictions are laid upon their communication with the see of Rome, and many regulations enforced to which the Catholics in this country are by no means disposed to submit. In Austria, especially, so complete is the power of the government in this respect, that it might be almost said of the sovereign there, as it is of our own, that he is "in all causes, and over all persons, as well ecclesiastical as civil, supreme." In the Protestant continental states it is nearly the same. But, I con- 1181 tend, my lords, that, in point of fact, there is, perhaps, no case to be found, in any of these states, entirely parallel with our own. Where the Roman Catholic religion is the established religion, there is, as I have already observed, a most striking; difference. And where the government, whether Catholic or Protestant, is of a more despotic form than ours, it is not a case in point, and cannot fairly be brought into comparison. There can, indeed, be no strictly parallel case, where there is not a representative body forming a part of the legislature. This it is, which gives a peculiar character to our form of government, and creates peculiar difficulty. For, my lords, I contend, that of all the powers and privileges that can be conferred, the legislative function is decidedly the greatest. The highest executive office in the state is inferior to it, because the highest, even that of the sovereign himself, is controlled by law. An admission to the right of making and unmaking laws is therefore one of incalculable importance, and requires to be most carefully guarded.
On the question of securities, however, I do not mean to enter, no specific plan being brought under our consideration. But it is pretty evident, that none will be acceded to by the Catholics, which can be deemed satisfactory. We know that even the proposed veto upon the nomination of their bishops was resolutely opposed; and that one of the highest ecclesiastical authorities among them, Dr. Milner, declared that he would sooner shed every drop of his blood, than consent to it. Their advocates, also, frequently intimate that no securities ought to be insisted upon, which can in any degree interfere with their known principles. These are circumstances which seem to present insuperable difficulties.
But, it will be asked, is then this state of things to continue for ever? It is not easy to answer this question. For my own part, I can hardly conceive that any thing short of an entire renunciation of the authority of the see of Rome, can give effectual security. Lord Clarendon, in his work on religion and policy, suggested a distinction to be made between those Roman Catholics who would renounce the jurisdiction of the pope, and those who would not. Bishop Lloyd, also a staunch defender of the Protestant cause, and one of the seven bishops sent by king James to the Tower, wrote an excellent tract to 1182 the same purpose. With reference to the penal statutes, then operating with great rigour upon Catholics, he intimated a wish that, as a motive to induce them to withdraw from their connexion with the pope, the laws might be mitigated in favour of those who will dissolve that connexion, and left in force only against those who adhered to it; by which distinction he conceived it not improbable that, in course of time, many would relinquish their dependence upon it altogether. Until some such change be effected, I see not how the concessions sought for can, with any degree of safety, be made. My lords, it is painful to make these observations; but where such great interests are at stake, I cannot conscientiously do otherwise, nor hesitate in saying, on the present question, "Not content."
§ Viscount Goderich
said, I would not now have troubled your lordships if I had had any previous opportunity of expressing my sentiments upon this question in this House, and which sentiments I will endeavour to compress into as narrow a compass as possible. In this view, my lords, I shall not advert to that part of the subject which most directly arises out of what we all admit to be the errors of the Church of Rome. The question before your lordships does not really depend upon the consideration of whether the Roman Catholics are right or wrong in the religious opinions they hold; but whether there be any such the or connexion between these erroneous principles and their political relations to the state, as can justify parliament in maintaining restrictions, which all of us admit to be justifiable only on a clear and admitted 'ground of necessity. It is impossible for any man not to feel that this is a question of unspeakable importance; and, when I say it is one of unspeakable importance, strong as the expression maybe, I feel that I greatly underrate the character which really attaches to it. I think it is a question not merely important, but absolutely vital,—vital,notonly in the estimation of those who support it, but also of those who oppose it. If we, my lords, who are friendly to its concession, think that without it you can have no peace or tranquillity in one half of the kingdom, that without it, you never can possess that entire confidence in your own strength which is necessary to your own safety, because it is essential to teach other nations that it is a I dangerous thing to meddle with a united 1183 kingdom, I say, that if we who advocate; the question, are actuated by these considerations, no less urgent, no less vital, must they appear to those who are strenuously opposed to such concession. If it be admitted that this state of things as regards Ireland is, beyond description, unsatisfactory, if this be admitted by the opponents of the question, if they at the same time do not attempt to conceal from themselves the danger to which the country at large is thereby exposed, it is not a little extraordinary, that they should look upon the danger of continuing such a state of things to be so infinitely exceeded by the danger that would result to the constitution from its removal by the concession which is claimed of them, that they cannot make up their minds to it. If it were true that this is a question, the principle of which is one not simply of expediency, but so mixed up with the very essence of the constitution, that you could not depart from the practice of permanent political exclusion of Roman Catholics from all participation in the legislature, or the capacity of holding civil office, without thereby subverting the constitution, there would be an end of the question. Such a consequence at once sets aside all question of justice, all question of expediency, and renders it unfit almost to discuss even the grounds which can be assigned for the measure. But I cannot bring myself so to view this question. I cannot bring myself to think that it is a principle of the constitution to exclude any man from a fair participation in civil I office, unless you can clearly establish the fact, that during the whole time for which you do so exclude him, you cannot safely admit him to civil rights. But such a system of exclusion is so foreign from the genius of the constitution, that you ought carefully to look at the grounds upon which, in particular cases, such an exception from our general practice has been established; and, unless you can demonstrate that, in the particular case, it has been founded injustice or reasonable precaution, it is possible to maintain that it is a defensible principle. Now, my lords, I should be glad to know upon what argument, it is to be contended, that the exclusion of the Catholic peers from seats in this House is a principle of our constitution, if it be necessary to prove it a principle of our constitution, that the exclusion itself should be recognised as just? 1184 What led to their exclusion? Was it any crime they had committed: was it the proof of any wrong which they had done; any thing which was the result of deliberation on their part, of some well-concerted act? Why, it was struck out at a heat, as it were, and, in consequence of one of the most infamous acts that ever disgraced the legislature of this country. And what is it, my lords, that you would do now? You deprive of an undoubted right those Catholic peers. They had an hereditary right to seats in this House, as strong and as indefeasible as any of us who are now here. On what, principle do you justify their continued exclusion from, that right, unless you can assign some ground of adequate necessity for it? If you say that their exclusion is justified by that course of illegal proceedings which was, about a century and a half ago, wound up by the judicial murder of one of those unfortunate peers, who had been thus unjustly excluded, I reply that it is no part of that constitution, which I was about to call blessed; but while this statute remains to disgrace it, I will not use such an epithet towards a constitution which, otherwise, would be blessed indeed. But, my lords, we have been told to-night that this exclusion is no degradation to any one; and I do not know that the mere fact of exclusion, is, in itself, a degradation; and a thousand reasons may be alleged why a man may occasionally labour under a political disability, without any thing of a discreditable nature having happened on his part. But what is the case here. You exclude persons because, as you admit, you cannot trust them; you have, in effect, declared, that you cannot believe them; for that they owe a divided allegiance. Now, to suppose that men, with the feelings of gentlemen, can experience any other but a sense of degradation and mortification, at finding that we cannot trust them, but think that they will conspire to effect the ruin of their country, appears to me quite idle. It is impossible that there can be any thing more mortifying to men who can look back to a long line of ancestors, and to the glorious acts they have performed, only to sigh over their own melancholy fate, which has put them out of a condition to confer similar benefits upon a country, to which, in spite of its injustice to them, they still retain the most loyal attachment. But, my lords, you should observe, that if this 1185 exclusion from civil office be inherent in our constitution, we are at this moment infringing the principles of the constitution. In 1793, you gave to the peasantry of Ireland, by the passing of the Forty-shilling Freeholders' act, the power of returning members to parliament; and yet you will not give a similar power to those who are capable of discharging such duties, in a way not liable to the same objections. The power which you permit, in its full exercise, to forty-shilling freeholders, to whom you extend the privilege of returning almost all the representatives of Ireland, you will not concede to the Catholic peers of the United Kingdom. Can any thing be more inconsistent than such a mode of proceeding? You have taken another singular step, my lords; for, by a very recent act, though, you will not hear of Catholics coming into civil office, you give them the power of the sword, by admitting them into the army and navy; and surely in these services, if they were disposed to prejudice the state, they might do so, at least, as effectually as in civil offices. You recently thought it desirable to alter the law, as far as it relates to commissions in the army and navy, and I must say, that though I think it a wise and just measure, and one that reflects the highest credit on the parliament which carried it into effect, yet, that even that leaves the Roman Catholic in a state of great inequality. Catholic officers, under this act, may obtain every degree of rank, even to the very highest—they may distinguish themselves in every possible way —they may receive the thanks of parliament for their service—they may have the Order of the Bath conferred upon them— they may have pensions granted them; but they can never enter the doors of this House. If I look round this House, I shall see many individuals whose peerages are owing to the services they have rendered their country, in the profession of which I have been speaking; and what can be more painful to those noble peers than to see those individuals with whom they have shared the same perils and the same glories in the field of battle, not allowed to share the same honours in this House, nor to transmit to their posterity the full reward of their gallant deeds.— Great stress has been laid by some noble lords on the connexion between Roman Catholics and the See of Rome; and it it has been argued by the right rev, pre- 1186 late, who has just sat down, and by the learned lord behind me, that that species of respect which is due from the Catholics to the pope, renders those Catholics unfit to hold civil office in this country. I must confess, that I have never been able to understand what this divided allegiance means, unless it be that which applies equally to a Catholic as to a Protestant country. The right rev. prelate has said, that there can be no question of divided allegiance, as far as regards a Catholic country; because the only allegiance that they owe to the pope is a deference in spiritual matters, and, as in a Catholic country, the sovereign owes exactly the same allegiance, the right rev. prelate contends, that no danger is incurred there from the circumstance. But, in reply to this, I would say, that, after all, the allegiance which a Catholic owes to the pope is spiritual only; and, however important this may be to him in a religious point of view, it is of very small consequence as far as regards the temporal acts of the state and the temporal power of the sovereign. And it by no means follows that a Catholic prince, though he may owe a spiritual allegiance to the pope, shall be disposed on all occasions to submit to that authority in those particulars in which it would be unjust for him to interfere; and in support of this opinion I may call your lordships' attention to what occurred at no very distant period. Joseph 2nd, the Emperor of Germany, who, in a certain sense, was a great reformer, did not scruple to take somewhat violent measures against the Catholic Church; but, at the very time that he was employed in putting an end to monasteries, and other religious establishments, in the hereditary dominions of Austria, he was paying the greatest possible external respect to the pope. He invited his holiness to Vienna, bowed down before him as the head of the Church, and was delighted to be called the Holy Son of the Church, though, at the same time, he was doing the very thing that he must have known to be most disagreeable to the pope. His holiness, likewise, must have known, that though he might make representations and protestations, it was entirely out of his power to prevent the proceedings of the Emperor, I therefore, my lords, have a right to say, that those dangers which really had an existence in former times are no longer in being; not that the Catholic religion, 1187 quasi a religion, is changed, but, because that is changed, which is more powerful than all of us—the times are changed —a different feeling has spread itself throughout Europe; and though some noble lords may consider the pope is as formidable now as he was in the earlier periods of the Christian Church, the real fact is, that the Church of Rome, as it was in former times, no longer exists. True, the pope sits on the same throne that he used to do—the ceremonies of the Vatican surrounds him as of old—he still holds his sway at carnivals, and presides at councils de propaganda fide; but the history of Europe for the last century, presents the undeniable fact, that the Church of Rome is undergoing a gradual decadence from her former power, until at length she has become nothing but a bugbear. For the last hundred and thirty years—even from the time of king William 3rd., if your lordships will look at what were the real causes of all the political agitations, you will find that they have had nothing to do with them. I, therefore, say, that the pope of these days is not the pope of former days: and I will further say (though I may be twitted for the phrase), that this is owing to the march of intellect; and whatever sneers may be thrown out against this advance, you may as well try to stop the inundation of the Nile with the palm of your hand, as to check the increase of intellect, and improvement. I do not think the objection which has been urged by my noble friend (lord Bathurst) is altogether fair towards those who support a question of this kind. The objection that my noble friend has taken is, that the motion embodies no specific proposition. This might have been a good objection, if this question had never been discussed by your lordships before; but it unfortunately happens, that the question has been here already, in those very forms which my noble friend seems to wish on the present occasion. Mark the success with which it has been attended. One of the propositions that have already been before this House, was one which I should have thought the most timid might have consented to,—that of placing the Catholics of England upon an equality with their Protestant fellow-subjects. This surely was a practical measure enough, and one against which I can see no possible objection; but an objection was found to it—" We cannot grant 1188 this; because if we do, more will be asked," So, that, because we have once been unjust, we must continue to be so. The next proposition was that of the introduction of Catholic peers into this House; but here again the same argument sprung up, and it was contended, that this could not be granted, without more being' required, and that, therefore, it was necessary to deny this first step.—With respect to the general question, it has already been twice before your lordships—once in 1821, and once in 1825;—and on both these occasions, the measures proposed were rejected. Without pausing to remark upon the preposterous inconsistency of requiring those to name the securities who really think that no securities at all are necessary, I may say that this has been peculiarly the case with the two last bills. It would seem, therefore, that unless we are able at once, to provide some infallible security against all the evils which the enemies of emancipation may be apprehensive of, we are, therefore, to be debarred from ever bringing the question before the legislature. I do think, however, that one favourable omen for the Catholic cause is to be drawn from the acknowledgment of the noble earl (Bathurst), that sooner or later, the Catholics must be admitted to a participation of the political rights of their fellow-subjects. That opinion no man who mingles with society can deny to be just. No man can enter into society in this country without becoming convinced that the question of giving relief to the Catholics is daily and hourly gaining ground; and though the resolution proposed this night may not be carried, I cannot avoid feeling that this is the last defeat which its advocates are doomed to sustain. I cannot avoid anticipating, at a period any thing but distant, the triumph of those principles of reason and justice by which this motion is sustained; a triumph which, while it must add to the strength, the security and the happiness of the country, will at the same time enable us to exhibit to foreign nations the spectacle of a free, a united, and, therefore, an invincible people.
Earl St. Vincent
said, he thought that the measure could not be any longer withheld. The privileges which were now demanded must sooner or later be granted. The exclusion from the enjoyment of those privileges was not congenial to the 1189 spirit of the British constitution, but had been superinduced upon it, at a time in which, if necessity demanded such a restriction, that necessity had long ceased to exist. The allegiance which the Catholics bore to their sovereign was quite distinct from that spiritual allegiance which the tenets of their religion enjoined towards the pope, as head of their church. In tin's consideration he was borne out by the fact, that the Catholics who had held high military rank had not laid aside the feelings of Englishmen, and made the military power they possessed subservient to the views of the pope. The Catholic was found, in whatever situation employed, ready to maintain the constitution of the country, with as much alacrity as any other description of his majesty's subjects. With this statement, he concurred most heartily in the proposition submitted to their lordships by the noble marquis.
The Duke of Gloucester
.—As I have never, my lords, taken any part before in any of the debates upon this question, I rise to say a few words, in explanation of the vote which it is my intention to give, in support of the proposition of my noble friend. That proposition has been introduced by the noble marquis in a speech of so much eloquence and argument, and has been so ably seconded by the noble viscount, and others who have since addressed your lordships, that I feel it unnecessary to trouble your lordships at any length upon the subject; but I think, as I have hitherto abstained from making any observation, that it is my duty, on the present occasion, to explain the reasons of the vote I am about to give. After affording the subject the utmost consideration, I feel, indeed, that I should not do my duty if I refrained from supporting the measure which my noble friend proposes in the resolution he has submitted to the House. If, in the anxious consideration I have given to this subject, I could have perceived any danger likely to accrue either to the Established Church or to the constitution my family were brought to this country to maintain, from making concessions to the Roman Catholics, I may say, without hesitation, that nothing on earth could have induced me to lend those claims my support. After the most attentive consideration, I cannot, however, admit that any danger could accrue to any class of his majesty's subjects, from granting to the Roman Catholics the 1190 rights and privileges to which they are entitled; and I really think that the security, as well as the prosperity of the empire, depends in a great measure upon the conceding to them those rights and privileges of which they have been so long debarred. When, however, a bill for that purpose is brought into this House, and I hope before long, that it may be brought in, I am anxious that there should be such an arrangement with the See of Rome, as may enable his majesty to possess the same authority over the Catholic Church, as that which is possessed by the sovereign of the kingdom -of Hanover, and of the other Protestant states of the continent. Such an arrangement as that, coupled with a provision for the Catholic priesthood, would, I am confident, remove all causes of dissatisfaction, and add to the security as well as to the prosperity of the country.
The Bishop of Lincoln said
—If more than one noble lord, in addressing your lordships on the present occasion, has thought it necessary to begin with declaring, that his ingenuity does not enable him to suggest any thing new on a subject which has been so frequently under discussion, it is far more incumbent upon me to make a similar declaration. But I am anxious to explain very briefly my view of the concessions to which this House will be pledged, not expressly, indeed, but virtually, by adopting the proposition of the noble marquis; and, at the same time, to meet his demand, that we should state explicitly the danger which we apprehend from making those concessions. My lords, the danger which I apprehend is the same which has been stated by a noble and learned lord, who lately filled the highest legal office in the sister country— danger to the Protestant Establishment; and the authority to which I shall appeal, in proof of the reality of that danger, is the same to which that noble and learned lord appealed—the authority of Dr. Doyle. Your lordships may remember that, a few years since, it was suggested in another place, that the only effectual remedy for the ills of Ireland was an union of the two churches; and that Dr. Doyle addressed a letter to the author of that suggestion, highly applauding the sentiment, and stating, that to accomplish such an union would prove a less difficult task than might at first be supposed. In the latter part of this assertion I cannot believe Dr. Doyle to have been serious. He 1191 could not surely mean to give up the claim of his church to infallibility; and who, my lords, can be ignorant, that when an infallible church professes to unite itself with another church, the union must be such as Rome in ancient, and France in modern, times made with the nations which they conquered; an union in which one party has only to exact, and the other to make, concessions? But I believe Dr. Doyle to be perfectly serious when he states his conviction to be, that the permanent pacification of Ireland can only be accomplished by an union of the two churches; in other words, that Ireland, in order to be tranquil, must become Roman Catholic.
The noble marquis has said, that the friends of emancipation never contended that it would operate like a charm; that it would immediately restore tranquillity to Ireland. But, surely, my lords, it was contended that it would of itself be sufficient, if not immediately, yet ultimately, to produce the desired effect; that when the star of emancipation should arise, the angry billows would cease to lash the shore, the winds would be hushed, and every cloud would gradually disappear from the face of heaven. But what, my lords, is the language held by Dr. Doyle? He says that emancipation, of itself, will not pacify Ireland; that it will, indeed, effect much, but its principal value, in his estimation, manifestly is, that it will open a passage to ulterior measures. With respect to the nature of those ulterior measures, Dr. Doyle, in the letter to which I have alluded, is not very explicit. But, in a letter subsequently addressed to a noble lord, one of the representative peers of Ireland, he expresses himself more clearly. The language in which he states his opinion is not less deserving of the attention of your lordships than the opinion itself. It appears that the noble lord (lord Farnham) had said at a public meeting- that the Church Establishment must fall if Catholic Emancipation was granted. On this Dr. Doyle, observes, "I think the Church Establishment must fall sooner or later; its merits in Ireland are too well known —it has been brought to the light, and its works being such as do not bear the light, it will, it must, suffer loss, as soon as an impartial judgment can be passed upon it. Clamour, bigotry, enthusiasm, and a spirit of selfishness, constitute its present chief support. It derives no aid from reason, 1192 justice, or public utility." He then goes on to say, that the concession of the Catholic claims would hasten the fall of the establishment, and ends with the following remarkable words:—" The English people are, as yet, but imperfectly acquainted with the nature or the viciousness of this establishment. We, in Ireland, have been accustomed to view, it from our infancy, and when men gaze for a considerable time at the most hideous monster, they can view it with diminished horror; but a man of reflection, living in Ireland, and coolly observing the workings of the Church Establishment, would seek for some likeness to it only amongst the priests of Juggernaut, who sacrifice the poor naked human victims to their impure and detestable idols." Such is the language which Dr. Doyle thinks himself warranted in applying to an establishment, which contains within its bosom, at the present moment, as shining examples of learning and piety as ever adorned a church. Such is the language which he uses, while his countrymen are approaching the legislature in the character of petitioners. What, then, will it be, when the object of their petition is attained? When I look at these opinions, and consider the quarter from which they proceed, do I draw an unwarrantable inference, when I conclude, that no sooner will the struggle for emancipation cease, than the struggle for establishment will commence; and that the effect of concession will be, not to produce peace, but only to change the subject of contention? My lords, I see no mode of avoiding this conclusion. It cannot be said that Dr. Doyle is ignorant, either of the opinions or of the dispositions of the Roman Catholic priesthood; but it may be said, that I ascribe undue weight to his opinions, and overrate the influence of the priesthood over the minds of the lay population. My lords, the evidence of facts convinces me that it is scarcely possible to overrate that influence. Look at the proceedings of that body, of which we have lately heard so much — the Roman Catholic Association. Is it not manifest that the leaders in that assembly are merely the organs of the priesthood? Look at what took place at the last general election. What was the influence then exerted by the Roman Catholic clergy? Was it not found sufficient to destroy the legitimate influence of property? to break asunder the connexion between landlord and 1193 tenant—the dissolution of which, in this country, I should regard as one of the greatest evils which could befal it? And are we not told that, whatever might be the influence then exerted by the priesthood, it will, in the event of another general election, be found to have received a fearful increase? I am now speaking of the extent, not of the character, of that influence. On that point I wish to be silent. The sentiments which I have quoted are not peculiar to Dr. Doyle. They are expressed with less force, perhaps, and ability, but not less plainly and explicitly, by other members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. I am, therefore, compelled, however reluctantly, to agree with Dr. Doyle, that emancipation will not tranquillize Ireland—that it will be only the prelude to a demand of the establishment; nor is it difficult, my lords, to foresee the nature of the arguments which will then be used, in order to induce your lordships to comply with that ulterior measure. You will be told that, whatever might be the casein England, the transfer of the ecclesiastical properly from the Roman Catholic to the Protestant clergy, was in Ireland an act of gross injustice; that no change had taken place in the religious belief of the community, which warranted such a transfer; that, in consequence of that act of injustice, Ireland has, since the Reformation, presented the strange anomaly of an establishment, the creed of which is professed only by a small minority of the population, and you will be called upon to undo the wrong committed by former legislatures, and to restore the ecclesiastical revenues to the ministers of that religion, which is, in fact, the religion of the country. These are the arguments which will then be urged upon you, and lest they should fail to convince your understandings, you will be told as you are now told, to beware how you trifle with the just demands of six millions of people.
I am aware, my lords, that many persons ridicule the idea, that any danger can arise to the Protestant establishment from the repeal of the disqualifying laws. According to them, the establishment will be endangered, not by the repeal, but by the continuance, of those laws, which bind the laity to the clergy by giving them a common interest. But once remove the civil disabilities, once open to the Roman Catholic laymen the avenues to advance- 1194 ment; and we are told, that his ideas will expand in proportion as the sphere of his active exertion is enlarged, and that the narrow spirit of the religionist will give place to the generous feelings of ambition, the liberal and enlightened views of the competitor for the power and honours of the state. We are even told, my lords, that, if the disqualifying laws were once repealed, the larger portion of the Roman Catholic population, far from wishing to substitute their own, in the place of the Protestant Church now established, would strongly deprecate such an event. I am alluding particularly to the opinions expressed in a very able pamphlet, entitled, "A Letter to a Protestant," which was written for the purpose of showing that no danger could arise to the Protestant establishment from the repeal of the disqualifying laws. But much as I admire the talent and eloquence of the writer, I cannot receive his opinions as the opinions of the great mass of the lay population of Ireland. Do they feel no anxiety for the restoration of their church to its ancient splendour and preeminence? Have they not a direct interest in endeavouring to effect that restoration? It appears from the evidence given before the committee, which sat upon the state of Ireland in 1825, that a large proportion of the incomes of the Roman Catholic clergy is derived from fees paid for the performance of religious rites, and that the fees are high, when considered with reference to the condition of the payers. Is it credible, my lords, that the laity should not be anxious to be relieved from the burthen of paying, and the clergy from the irksome task of demanding these fees? So obvious is the inference from this fact, that many of the warmest advocates of emancipation have always insisted upon the necessity of connecting with it a measure, by which a maintenance for the Roman Catholic clergy was to be provided. Such a measure was connected with the Bill of Relief in 1825. But, if it had passed into a law, there is reasonable ground for doubting whether it would have produced the desired effect. The question with the Roman Catholic clergy is not one of pecuniary compensation, but of feeling; they regard themselves as the rightful owners of property, of which they have been unjustly deprived, and will not be well content to receive as a boon that which they conceive themselves entitled to claim as a right. I 1195 have read very recently in one of the public prints, a letter written by a Roman Catholic clergyman, deploring the degraded state of the Roman Catholic clergy in France, who are mere pensioners of the state, deprecating, in the strongest terms, the extension of a similar system to the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland, and calling upon the legislature to restore to them a portion, if not the whole, of the possessions, of which they have been deprived.
But suppose, my lords, that the effect anticipated from the repeal of the disqualifying laws, is produced, and that the higher classes of the Roman Catholic laity—which will be immediately benefited by the repeal—are thereby separated from the priesthood; will their separation be followed by that of the great mass of the lay population? If any reliance can be placed on the authority of Dr. Doyle, it will not. He says—" The Catholic aristocracy, as they are called, since the Penal laws were relaxed, have gradually withdrawn themselves from the people; they have shewn, on some occasions, an overweening anxiety for emancipation, at the expense of what the priesthood, and the other classes, deemed the interests, if not the principles, of their religion. Hence they are looked on with suspicion, and can no longer wield the public mind." The fact here stated by Dr. Doyle—that the Roman Catholic aristocracy have lost their influence—presents, in my opinion, one of the principal obstacles to the final adjustment of this long-agitated question. If the Roman Catholic aristocracy and clergy in Ireland stood to each other, and to the people, in the relation in which, for the good of society, they ought to stand, I confess that my apprehension of danger from the repeal of the disqualifying laws would be greatly diminished. But so long as the public mind is wielded exclusively by the priesthood, so long will it be made the instrument of promoting, exclusively, the views of the priesthood; and, looking at the common principles of human nature—at the peculiar situation in which the Roman Catholic clergy are placed, and at the peculiar feelings by which they must be actuated, I. cannot but conclude that the object nearest their hearts is the substitution of their own church for that which has usurped its place; or, in Dr. Doyle's gentler language —an union of the two churches—an union 1196 which will allay all religious animosity, by causing the Protestant to merge in the Roman Catholic church. It happened to me, my lords, to become an observer of political events at a time when the church of Rome had fallen from its high and palmy state, when its sovereign pontiff, instead of launching the thunder of the Vatican, and causing kings to tremble on their thrones, had himself been deprived not only of temporal dominion, but of personal liberty; and when in two countries in which it had once flourished in wealth and splendor, its altars had been overthrown; its temples desecrated; and its ministers driven from their homes to seek a precarious subsistence from the bounty of strangers. It was impossible, my lords, to behold, without the liveliest feelings of commiseration, this striking instance of the instability of all human greatness; not to sympathise with men who were suffering for conscience sake; and, while we admired the constancy and cheerfulness with which they bore their sufferings, not to become more favourably disposed towards the church of which they were members: not to forget its past history in the contemplation of its present fortunes; not to cherish the hope that, in case it ever again should raise its head, and regain any portion of its former power and greatness, it would be found to have profited by the lessons of the great teacher of moderation I and wisdom—adversity; that, though its doctrines would remain unchanged, its spirit would be ameliorated; that it would no longer attempt to impose fetters on the understandings or consciences of men; no longer advance those extravagant pretensions, which had rendered it the object of distrust and dread to the members of every other religious community. My lords, I since the time to which I allude, events have taken place which then appeared to be scarcely within the range of probability, and the Roman Catholic church has been re-established in the countries from which its ministers had been expelled. But where do I find the symptoms of that ameliorated spirit which I had anticipated? Compare the temper of the French clergy in the time of Louis 14th, and at the present moment:—then they maintained with zeal the liberties of the Gallican church; now they appear zealous only to surrender them. Look at the whole course of their proceedings since the restoration of the Bourbons, and then, 1197 let me ask, has it not been such as to afford reasonable ground of alarm to all the friends of religious liberty; reasonable ground for concluding that, if they have not yet gone the utmost lengths to which the Roman Catholic priesthood ever went, they are restrained, less by the want of will, than of power.
I make these observations with feelings, not of exultation, but of sorrow. I deplore the spirit manifested by the French clergy; for, as extremes beget extremes, I fear that it will give rise to a spirit of irreligion, and thus sow the seeds of future disturbance to the peace of France; and, consequently, of Europe. It would be more agreeable to me to say, as I said when the repeal of the Sacramental Test was under discussion, that I apprehended n o danger from concession; but when I look to the spirit which prevails among the Roman Catholic clergy in foreign countries, and am told, with respect to Ireland, upon authority which I cannot controvert, that emancipation will not be the limit of concession;—that it is valuable because it opens a passage to ulterior measures; and I am further told, in no unintelligible language, that these ulterior measures are the concession of the Protestant establishment, or rather of Protestant belief (for that is the true meaning of the union, between the churches of which Dr. Doyle speaks), I am obliged, however reluctantly, to say, that I do apprehend danger from concession.
The Duke of Cumberland
said, that he took a different view of this question from some of the noble lords who had addressed the House. It was asserted, that the concession they were required to make to the Roman Catholics would have the effect of tranquillizing Ireland. He must say, however, that if it would tranquillize Ireland, which he was not prepared to admit, it would, on the contrary, produce a very great disturbance here. Whatever ferment might exist in Ireland from withholding the boon of Catholic emancipation, it was a very doubtful matter to him, whether the granting it would not produce a much greater ferment in this country. For this reason, among others, he opposed the motion; and though some persons might be disposed to call him a bigot, he acted according to his real and conscientious belief, when he entered his strongest protest against the resolution recommended by the noble marquis.
The Marquis of Londonderry
said, he would not detain their lordships with any detail of his opinions upon this question. He could not, however, avoid observing, that the question was rapidly gaining ground, and that those who were opposed to any concession to the Catholics in one session, expressed their cordial assent to their emancipation in the next. His opinions upon the subject were unchanged: he had full and unlimited confidence in his majesty's government; but, notwithstanding the allegiance he owed the noble duke at the head of that government, it was not possible for him to depart from the opinions he had already expressed in favour of the Catholics. He was quite sure that the time would arrive, when the legislature must adopt the noble marquis's resolution, or some other measure which would have the effect of giving tranquillity to the Irish people. When the noble marquis was on the ministerial side of the House, he ought to have stepped forward and proposed some measure for the relief of the Roman Catholics. If he had done so, and made the same exertions in its support then, which he used now, he must have accomplished the object he had in view. As the noble marquis had proposed the resolution in a speech of singular ability, and as he cordially concurred in all the arguments he had used, he would content himself, on the present occasion, by declaring, that his humble exertions should, never be wanting to the support of the cause of the Catholics, and that he gave his vote most cordially in support of the present resolution.
The Bishop of Landaff
said, he was aware there was a progress of opinion in this country, which might, at some future period, admit of the entertainment of this question. But the present time and the present disposition of the people of this country wore not favourable to it. As he apprehended that the proposition now before the House, as a preliminary measure, would not be followed in the sequel by a legislative measure of relief, he was adverse to the adoption of it. It would only lead to the excitement of hopes which would not be realized. The doctrine of divided allegiance was one which he could not reconcile with the allegiance due by good subjects to their sovereign. Even Catholics themselves had recourse to sophistry in their endeavours to explain it, but he owned that it was one that had never been 1199 sufficiently explained to himself. He did not say that the time would never arrive when concession to Catholics would be absolutely necessary, but merely stated a supposition, that such a time might come when securities would be proposed and accepted, and the measure made agreeable and safe to both parties. In the hope that such a measure would be devised hereafter, but in the conviction that there was no likelihood of such a measure being propounded under our present circumstances, he should oppose the motion.
§ The Earl of Dartmouth
said, he was desirous of seeing the path of honourable ambition opened to Catholic peers and to Catholic gentlemen; but, looking to the proceedings of the Catholic Association, and to the writings of Catholic priests, he could not bring- himself to believe, that the carrying the question would have the effect of tranquillizing Ireland. On the contrary, he believed that the people of Ireland would consider emancipation only as a triumph, and as a step to the establishment of the Romish Church. At the same time, he should not be reluctant to consent to the experiment being made, if sufficient securities could be given; and he thought, if the Catholics were sincere in their professions, there could be little difficulty in finding such securities.
The Earl of Carnarvon
said, he wondered, since the noble earl was of opinion that none of the measures hitherto adopted had had the effect of tranquillizing Ireland, that he had never thought of trying what might be done by means of conciliation. The House of Commons had come to a resolution, that they would take this matter into consideration. His noble friend was accused of not having brought the subject before the House during- the last session, but the reason why he had not done so was obvious. In the last session the House of Commons had conic to an opinion directly the reverse of their present vote; and that was, in his opinion, reason enough why his noble friend had not brought it forward last year, and had done so in the present. Now, it would be remembered, that they had come to this decision, not at the call of the administration, nor at the suggestion of the Court, but under the influence of that which, in spite of sarcasm, he would pronounce the march of intellect—that which was not a new spirit, but as old as the Reformation —that which no policy of church or state 1200 could check; which might be perverted to bad purposes, but which was calculated to lead to the very best results. He asked their lordships to look at the measures of conciliation which had been passed in latter times, and see whether their consequences had so disappointed the hopes with which they had been adopted, that there was any one of them that they wished revoked. Similar apprehensions had been entertained when they were proposed; but had any danger arisen from them? Was the church less firm? Was the throne less secure? One of those measures, which had the least been given in a conciliating spirit, was that in which the power of the sword was put within the reach of the Catholics. The same fears had then been expressed; the learned lord (Eldon) who then sat on the woolsack looked grave; but he should like to ask him, whether the Catholics had so abused the power then given them, that he would deprive them of it. He had heard from a noble prince, that the repeal of the Test and Corporation acts had created a great sensation. If he had not heard it, he should not have known it: he should have forgotten it, but for an invitation he had received that day to a dinner in commemoration of it. He was glad to see that the opinions of the opposers of the measure had been gradually undergoing a change; some of the most strenuous of them were beginning- to slide out of their opinions; and he hoped soon to be able to say, that the Church of England, which was endowed with every liberal principle, would disdain to resort to a system of exclusion, which was fitted only for the total ignorance i that prevailed in the court of Spain; and: soon he hoped there would be only a few old lawyers and old women who would; venture to avow such notions. Some of these opposers were very much in the habit of appealing to the wisdom of our ancestors; he was more disposed to appeal to the wisdom of posterity. The "march of intellect" was the "order of the day;" two phrases which he resorted to, because he thought them admirably adapted to the military tone of the present government. It was true that we might govern Ireland almost as we chose: but we could not compel the people to renounce popery, and give up their religion. The military establishment there rode triumphantly over the country, and over our finances; but, although we could govern Ireland, she 1201 could never be conquered. And what would be the state of affairs if we should be again plunged in the calamities of war —if the gallant spirits who had given the noble duke at the head of the government the brilliant victories he had won should remain in moody silence when he might have occasion to call for their aid? Ireland felt that she was something separate and apart from England: there was in all she did a sort of centrifugal force, which we could only correct by drawing her interests closer to us, by measures of conciliation. The smallest boon granted now would do more good, and be received with more good will, than the most important concession which should be made when circumstances might seem to extort it. We must, at some time or other, capitulate; and he asked the noble duke whether any good general—and he was a good and great general—would put himself into such a position, when he might not only avoid it, but convert all his enemies into allies? He was induced to make these observations, in the hope of hearing from the learned lord (Redesdale), what principle established at the Revolution would be deviated from, by agreeing to this resolution? He would not seek to support his view of the subject, by the authority of Fox, Pitt, Burke, and Wyndham, nor to revive painful feelings by alluding to the loss which the cause had more recently sustained. The spirit was the same, and would ever remain so. As to the pertinacity with which the Catholics insisted upon retaining certain names, he regarded that as a mere trifle. It was natural that they should cling to their nominal distinctions; and he was not quite sure, that, in laying traps for Catholics, we might not be caught ourselves. He could not sit down without expressing his opinion that his noble friend's manner of introducing this subject had been most judicious, calculated to excite no jarring opinion, but to bring fairly before the House one of the weightiest questions it was ever called upon to discuss.
§ The debate was then adjourned till tomorrow.