HL Deb 28 November 1837 vol 39 cc338-54
The Duke of Newcastle

said, he rose with great satisfaction to present the petition, of which he had given notice, from the Protestant Association. That association had been established in London for the purpose of supporting those Protestant interests which those who composed it conceived to be in danger at this moment. In his opinion their object was praiseworthy, and he cordially agreed in the prayer of their petition. In that petition they slated their reasons for wishing that Roman Catholics should be excluded from seats in Parliament. When the Relief Bill was passed, it was required that Roman Catholics should take an oath that they would not support any measure the effect of which would be to weaken the Protestant institutions of this country; and it was also provided, that the titular bishops should not assume the title of their respective sees. Now they were all aware that this latter condition was not at all complied with, and in his opinion, and the opinion of the petitioners, the oath was disregarded in a most extraordinary manner. He knew perfectly well, and it gave him the highest degree of satisfaction, that there were some individuals of the Catholic faith, Members of that House, who acted differently. There was one noble Lord in particular who, on every occasion, when matters connected with the Established Church were brought under consideration, had uniformly declined voting on such occasions. This he conceived to be most highly creditable and praiseworthy on the part of that noble Lord, and he sincerely wished that his example had been generally followed. That, however, was not the case. Roman Catholics had supported measures the effect of which, he was convinced, if carried, would be most detrimental to the Protestant Establishment. Under these circumstances, it was advisable that some steps should be adopted for preventing individuals professing that faith from doing anything that had a tendency to injure the Protestant Church. He thought it was high time that the question should be seriously taken up. It was not for him to recommend any proposition on the subject. So far as their Lordships' House was concerned, he believed that the Roman Catholic Members which it contained were most honourable persons; but he thought it most desirable, so far as regarded Ireland, that Roman Catholics should be excluded from the Irish repre- sentation. The noble Duke concluded by moving that the Petition be read at length.

It was as follows. To the Lords spiritual and temporal of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled The Petition of the undersigned Protestants of the United Kingdom, Humbly showed),—That your petitioners regarded the admission of Roman Catholics to legislative power as equally at variance with Christian duty, and with the Protestant principles and character of the British constitution. That peril to the Protestant religion, and more immediately to the Established Churches of the United Kingdom, having been apprehended from the admission of Roman Catholics to legislative power, in order to obviate this danger, and as an adequate security for our Protestant Establishments, it was, by the Act of the year 1829, for the relief of his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects, enacted, that all Members of that communion should, previously to entering on their legislative functions, swear that they will 'defend, to the utmost of their power, the settlement of property within this realm, as established by the laws'; and also that they do 'disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure any intention to subvert the present Church Establishment, as settled by law within this realm;' and further, that they 'never will exercise any privilege to which they are or may become entitled, to disturb or weaken the Protestant religion or Protestant Government in the United Kingdom.' That notwithstanding the security which this solemn oath was intended to provide, Roman Catholic Members of the legislature have used their utmost exertions in, as well as out of Parliament, for the destruction of the Church Establishment, especially of that part of it existing in Ireland; that they have voted for the alienation of its property, a measure characterised by his late Majesty's Prime Minister, its advocate in the House of Peers, as a heavy blow to Protestantism in Ireland;' and that they have also voted for the subtraction of church rates from the revenues of the Church of England, not scrupling to avow, as their ulterior object, that the State should withdraw its support altogether from any particular denomination of Christians, leaving all alike to the precarious maintenance of the voluntary system, but with the ultimate design, as your petitioners are convinced, of finally establishing the domination of the Popish superstition. Your petitioners humbly submit to your right hon. House that the foregoing brief statement establishes, beyond all controversy, the two following facts:— 1. That upon the admission of Roman Catholics to Parliament, a certain security was intended to be provided by the legislature for the Church Establishment. 2. That the security has proved wholly inefficacious. Under those circumstances, your petitioners humbly submit to your right hon. House, that it is absolutely necessary to devise some more effectual safeguard for our national establishments. That scriptural authority, and the principles of the British constitution, as well as experience, call for the total exclusion of Roman Catholics from the Legislature; and your petitioners humbly implore your right honourable House to take such steps as may be deemed advisable for the accomplishment of this essential object. And your petitioners will ever pray, &c.

Viscount Lorton.

—My Lords, having been called upon to support the prayer of the petition the noble Duke has just presented to your Lordships, I must decidedly say, that no feelings of party spirit induce me to address your Lordships upon the present occasion. No, my Lords; the truly awful state of Ireland should preclude such paltry sentiments from entering into the mind of any man who is anxious to preserve British connection and the integrity of the empire. The grand and vital mistakes that have arisen in carrying on the affairs of Ireland have been occasioned by a total ignorance of its actual state on the part of our Legislators, and thus a system of concession, under the vain hope of conciliating, has thrown an immense political power into the hands of a body of men closely connected with a foreign state, which is most decidedly hostile to the civil and religious liberty and institutions of this great empire. My Lords, from having been almost a constant resident since I became a landed proprietor in Ireland, and having previously most unhappily witnessed the rebellion of 1798, by serving in Wexford, and subsequently as a general officer in the western district, I may be supposed to have acquired some experience, and can consequently give an accurate opinion as to the true condition of Ireland; and such being the case, I do not hesitate to say, that things are in a tenfold worse condition in that wretched portion of our country than at the lamentable period I have alluded to. My Lords, I may be fairly called upon to account for such opinions, and I shall find no difficulty in doing so. The great political power granted to the Roman Catholics in 1829 has been, and still is, altogether and entirely wielded and overruled by the clergy of the Church of Rome who are, with very few exceptions, and none openly, most inveterate against every thing Protestant and English, and I firmly believe that persecution was never carried to a greater extent than at present. It has been a most mistaken notion to suppose that certain Legislators (and more particularly one) have occasioned all the troubles in Ireland. No, my Lords, such is not the case. They are merely a secondary cause, and must obey the orders of their church, which they certainly have done with ardour and with extraordinary effect. My Lords, if tranquillity and prosperity are to be established in Ireland, that power, most unfortunately granted, must be withdrawn, and the poor miserable people, Protestant as well as Roman Catholic, must be emancipated, in the true sense of the word, from the most tyrannical oppression that perhaps ever was inflicted upon any population; they must also be relieved from the most miserable poverty by some mode of regular employment, which at present the great mass of the people are entirely without. I have now, my Lords, in a very cursory manner, laid before your Lordships my opinion as to the true condition of Ireland, and I shall at present abstain from making any observations upon her Majesty's Government, or on the conduct of the noble Earl at the head of it, who I trust will in future be more tender of the character of Irish landlords. I shall also refrain from any narrative of outrages, as my noble Friend last night in so able and feeling a manner laid many before your Lordships, as did the noble Earl connected with Tipperary so very clearly; but when, my Lords, the election petitions are under investigation, many most dreadful acts will be brought to light, and such as your Lordships will hardly conceive could have been perpetrated in any civilised and Christian country, and more particularly in one so closely connected with this, I still trust, great Protestant empire. My Lords, I shall trespass no further upon your Lordships' time, but in conclusion, will only say that I trust this petition will be followed up by others of a similar nature from all parts of the empire.

Viscount Melbourne

was unwilling to trouble their Lordships on this occasion, as he believed that there were few noble Lords within the walls of the House who would be inclined to give their support to the prayer of the petition presented by the noble Duke; but he could not hear statements made of the Members of either of the Houses of Parliament having violated the oaths they had taken in the votes which they had given on some questions, without offering some observations in answer. He felt for them, and he felt for himself. The assertion which had been made was founded on- the idea that the measures for which the Members had voted were founded on grounds injurious to the Established Church of England, as their oaths bound them not to support measures having such a tendency. He could not, however, admit that proposition.—He had not, it was true, taken the oath as a Member of Parliament which was required to be subscribed by the Roman Catholic Members; but if the measures which had been adopted, and for the support of which they were reproached, were injurious to the Established Church, he had violated what was a high moral obligation which he had imposed on himself. When he admitted this, however, he must express his opinion that the Members had not violated their oaths in the support which they had given to the Government. He confessed that he was rather surprised to see an individual like the noble Duke, a man of his property and of his character, stir in such a matter as this, and meddle with a measure so recently settled as the Catholic Relief Bill. Did the noble Duke recollect how it was carried through the House? With what difficulty it was finally settled? What deliberation it required? Did he remember the great political shock which followed it? And did he not imagine, in considering all these things, that now to meddle with it again—to disturb and unsettle it, after it had been so recently determined—would be again to produce as great difficulties, as great a convulsion, and as serious political consequences? The noble Duke was an advocate of what was denominated Conservative principles, and they were doubtless founded on a determination to maintain the great institutions of the country, subject to such reforms as might appear to be just and wholesome. But he could do nothing more at variance with those principles than now to attempt to disturb a measure of such importance, which had so recently been determined upon. If there were anything of a dangerous tendency at this time, or if there were any vice which ought to be guarded against more than another, it was that disposition which existed for further changes in measures which had already been adopted after great consideration, and carried with great difficulty. In a year or two after some enactment had passed it was perhaps found not to answer exactly its proposer's views, and to be attended with some inconveniences which were not expected. Then it was directly said, "We must change and alter, we have not changed enough;" but he would say that that was not in the spirit of wise legislation, and he called on the noble Duke not to give his counsel or his support to any such proposition. A measure like that of the admission of Roman Catholics into the Legislature, or placing them on an equality with all other of their fellow-citizens, was one which was not to be tried by its immediate effects, or by a few years' experience, it required a longer trial to show its real character, and the manner in which it would work; it must be tried in the time of prosperity, it must be tried in the time of adversity, in times of peril, in times of security, in times of peace, and in times of war; and it was not on the experience of a few years, or of any short period of time, that an opinion was to be formed on its actual working and tendency. He would ask the noble Duke whether he were acting on that principle which he professed, in so lightly lending his authority to disturb a great matter so recently settled by the authority of that House, and of the other branches of the Legislature.

The Earl of Winchilsea

was anxious to address a few words to their Lordships on this occasion, because he looked on the petition now before them as of the greatest importance. It contained a clear and distinct intimation, that a strong feeling was gaining ground among the Protestants of this part of the empire, that those securities which were promised for the protection of the Protestant institutions of the state, had proved wholly inefficient, and that danger did exist, if not throughout the whole empire, at least in Ireland, to all that was dear to the Protestant religion. During the time the Emancipation Bill was under discussion, he had endeavoured to impress upon their Lordships the necessity of withholding their consent to those concessions, firmly believing that, instead of giving tranquillity to Ireland, the very power they were conceding would be used for still further innovation on everything connected with Protestantism in that part of the country. The event had justified his apprehensions; for every day fresh aggressions were made on the Protestant institutions of Ireland. It could not be doubted, that a Protestant Parliament had been established for the security and protection of our Protestant institutions in Church and State. With that feeling he had adopted the course which he deemed the clear and proper one in dealing with this question. Many noble Lords, he believed, were induced to give their support and assistance to the Catholic Relief Bill, upon the firm and honest conviction that the declarations then made by so many leading members of the Roman Catholic Church, would be fairly and fully acted upon, and that the power which their Lordships were then, as he thought unwisely, conceding, would not in any way be employed for the purpose of endangering the Protestant Church of this country, or injuring our Protestant institutions. If their Lordships would refer to the evidence, to the distinct evidence of that powerful man who now wielded the whole strength of the Roman Catholic interest in Ireland, they would see it plainly stated by that individual that he never would propose to their Lordships, or recommend to their Lordships, that any measure of concession should be granted, unless complete security was given to the Protestant Church. Looking back at the evidence in 1825, he found that evidence delivered in these words—and here he must say, that it was painful to him ever to speak on this subject, for he was afraid of offending the feelings of those who differed from him conscientiously in their religious opinions, and he could most honestly state, that there was not a man living who would feel more unfeigned pain than he should feel if he gave any cause of offence to any individual Member of that House. Before he proceeded with the evidence, he would remind their Lordships, that during the time that great measure was going through the House, he repeatedly declared his firm and honest conviction, that the members of the church of Rome would use the political power their Lordships were about to concede to them in a very different way from that which was then professed. He would ask of any impartial man, whether he was not right in his anticipation? But to return to Mr. O'Connell. In answer to a question put to him before the Committee in 1825, he said, "I would require that the doors of both Houses of Parliament should be open to the Catholics; that they should be eligible to act as judges, and to fill places of trust and emolument, from which we are now excluded. That is what I require, and what I think would satisfy them. Besides that, I should call for the actual abolition of the 40s. freeholders." It was demanded of Mr. O'Connell, why he should ask for the extinction of that body? and his answer was, "For the purpose of securing the established religion in Ireland; and I would further recommend, that no concession whatsoever should be made to the Catholics, unless the Established Church in Ireland is secured inviolate." It was then observed, "this is a very different doctrine from what yon have used in the Catholic Association;" and the answer was, "I do not feel myself bound by what I say in that association." He did not charge the Members of the Roman Catholic Church, who were admitted into the other House of Parliament, as a body, with acting with similar views and designs as those which he believed the great body of their priesthood were pursuing, for the total destruction, not only of the Protestant Church, but of the Protestant connection with the country; but if anybody looked to the opinions of the individual whose evidence he had just referred to, it would be found that he had repeatedly stated to the public, that he would not be satisfied until that Establishment was overthrown, which he looked upon as an incubus upon the land. The sentiments which he had now the boldness to declare, so much at variance with the evidence which he had formerly given, had justly caused an apprehension in the minds of the Protestants of this country, that that power would not only be employed in the destruction of Protestant institutions, but would end in a violent internal civil commotion. He hoped that such a melancholy event would be averted; but to avert it, there was but one course to be taken, and that was by the great body of the members of the Protestant Church in this country, declaring that they did not coincide in such sentiments, and that they would resist, to the utmost of their power, any inroad on our Protestant constitution. On former occasions, he had done justice to noble Lords of the Roman Catholic faith in that House, who had most honestly and fairly upheld, respected, and observed the sanctity of their oaths; but he could not conceal from their Lordships that a general feeling was spreading through the country, that the principles which the individual to whom he had before referred was diffusing, were most dangerous to the safety of the Protestant Church; and, therefore, anxious as he was to extend the enjoyment of political privileges to all persons, however they might differ from him in religious opinions, yet, feeling as he did, that if he belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, he should use his power as many were now doing, he must say, that if a measure were brought forward for the exclusion of members of that Church from a seat in Parliament, it should have his most decided support.

Lord Brougham

had seldom listened to any speech with more deep regret than to that of the noble Earl who had just sat down, not on account of the force of the observations which had been made by his Lordship, not on account of the cogency of any arguments which he had employed in support of the prayer of the petition, but because of the high character of the noble Earl, for he believed that the really conscientious and honest manner in which he discharged what he felt to be his duties as a legislator on all occasions being known out of the House, the observations which he had made would tell with double force with the country upon a question which was fearfully calculated to put in hazard the general peace of the community. Therefore it was that he rose to say, that he would fain hope the noble Earl had given his judgment the same scope which he was apt to give his honest warmth of feeling, and that he would be disposed on further reflection, and on the exercise of that calm judgment which he possessed, to adopt different conclusions, both as a Member of that House, in recommending to their Lordships the measures which had been suggested, and also when in his private position he judged the conduct and motives of others. What, was it that men now, in the nineteenth century, asked of the House? What was it that they now recommended? Was it not extraordinary that, having reached this, the thirty-seventh year of the nineteenth century, a petition like that presented by the noble Duke should be brought to that House?—from a respectable body of men he was willing to admit, but he was happy to say from a small one. Was it the object of the petitioners that the Legislature should take new measures of precaution to guard against evils which existed, because those which had already passed had failed? Was it that they were to take precautions against an avowed enemy? No; but they were called upon to do what was called retracing their steps. Those were smooth and easy words; they were vague and general, and" they did not at first strike the mind; but they went in reality much further than they at first appeared to go; they meant, in fact, that they should repeal the Catholic Relief Bill of 1829; and to this was added, by way of qualification, to make the proposition the more palatable and more practicable, that the repeal should be confined to Ireland—that Catholics might sit in Parliament to represent this country, where their number did not exceed 400,000 or 500,000, but that in a country where their proportion to the whole people was six millions out of eight, they should be bound to speak their opinions through the medium of persons of a different religion from themselves; that they should be stigmatised as Catholics, and simply because they conscientiously differed in their religious opinion from other persons, that they should be refused the right of selecting for themselves persons of their own religious persuasion to represent them in Parliament. But besides this, to make the measure more practicable, the uninvidious, fair, equitable, statesman-like distinction between Lords and Commons was to be drawn, that Catholic Peers and their descendants should be permitted to sit and vote in this House, while the Catholic commoner should not be represented by a person of his own church. But it did not stop there. He thought this alone would be sufficient to make the noble Earl take the same view with himself (Lord Brougham) on the subject. But could the Legislature stop there? Could they stop at the Relief Bill of 1829? Must they not go still further back when they once began to retrace their steps? It was not at the Bill of 1829 that they must pause; they must go to the Bill of l793, and even that would not do; they must even, to take security against all risks, go as far back as 1778, when the foundations of emancipation were laid, and the first blow given to the penal code. But, "Oh," said they, "there is no fear from Catholics voting as electors; the Constitution is safe if they are excluded from being elected by persons of the same religion, to represent them in the House of Commons." What! having flung open the doors of the Constitution, would they complain of the Catholics forcing their way in? The power which enabled the Catholics to become Members of Parliament would enable them to prevent the repeal. But so would the power of choosing Protestants to represent them; for it was by Protestant representatives that they had obtained their full emancipation. But disappointment had arisen as to the operation of the Emancipation Act, and political agitation and agrarian disturbance were referred to in aid. He was at issue with the noble Lord upon these questions: they were tried last night, and he thought that no one would feel disposed to move for a new trial. But, for the sake of argument, he would admit what he had denied last night, and would, if the noble Lord thought it better, allow that there was more disturbance at the present time than before 1829. But might not the same be said of the measures passed in 1778 and 1793? After the year 1778 there was almost a military revolution; yet no one thought of repealing the laws of that year. Again, after the Act of 1793, came the great rebellion, and yet it was never proposed to repeal that great statute. If they went back to repeal the measure of 1829, which proceeded from the enlightened and statesman-like wisdom of the noble Duke, for whose great capacity then displayed in the conduct of the affairs of this country he (Lord Brougham) had never expressed other than the highest admiration—talents which gave him an almost greater title to permanent fame than even his military exploits —a measure passed by the noble Duke in defiance of clamour and regardless of odium, with the hope only of adding to the prosperity and of improving the condition of Ireland—if they went back to repeal the measure of 1829, which he firmly believed was a measure of peace, they must go back also to repeal the measures of 1793; they must go still further back, and repeal the Acts of 1778, and, in fact, they must re-enact the whole of the penal code, of which it had been long said, that though cruel, it was at least consistent. The House had good reasons to urge the noble Duke and the noble Earl to pause before they tried to work on the feelings—the too-excitable feelings—of their fellow-citizens by broaching such doctrines as he had heard that night; and, for the like reasons, they should pause ere they made any representations, founded, perhaps, in conscientious zeal, but not dictated by sound judgment, or chose to pronounce their fellow-citizens and fellow-Christians unfitted for self-government—before they declared all incompetent, who acted conscientiously in the furtherance of the measures which their duty to their country compelled them to support, although they might happen to entertain different opinions from the noble Earl, from the noble Duke, or any petitioners, as to the probable tendency of the measures which they were minded to support. If they thought that those measures were safe and advantageous for the constitution both in Church and State, and were conducive to the benefit of their fellow-subjects, provided only that they differed in opinion from those noble Lords or the petitioners, were they to be denounced by a sentence which was little better than that they had forsworn themselves—that they had broken their solemn oaths? He (Lord Brougham) never read the Catholic oath according to the gloss of the petitioners. He had never considered that oath as militating against the honest and the free discharge of a Member's Parliamentary duties. He never believed it possible for Parliament to prescribe an oath which should tie the hands and fetter the judgments of its Members; or which, with the shadow of consistency, could be held to interfere with the unlimited and conscientious discharge of Parliamentary duties. If he were to admit, which he utterly denied, that in point of law the construction of the oath was such as the petitioners assumed, yet the votes which had been given by the Members of Parliament could not come within the scope of even that strict construction which they had heard of in this petition. A reference had been made upon the present occasion to an expression of his noble Friend (Lord Melbourne) relating to a heavy blow and a great discouragement to the Protestant Church in Ireland, but his noble Friend had last night most satisfactorily explained those words, by taking them in connexion with the context; and the omitted parts of the passage that his noble Friend had only said that the Irish Church Bill might for the present be felt as a heavy blow, and be considered as a great discouragement to the Protestant church, but that this would only be its temporary tendency, for he was certain that the benefits which the church establishment must derive from it would more than counterbalance any present injury. He thought at the time when his noble Friend was making this statement that it was a most unprofitable act, for he was quite certain that the mis-statement would survive, whilst the explanation would perish; and so it had already turned out. His noble Friend only last night made this satisfactory explanation, and to-night, before twenty-four hours had elapsed, the mis-representation was repeated and the explanation forgotten. It was indeed possible that the petition had been drawn up before the explanation was given, but even before the explanation the place was open to all,—to noble Earl, to noble Duke, and to petitioners—for reference, and the exact statement might have been easily discovered. But it was more convenient for their argument to remain uninformed or rather mis-informed; they chose to take that part which was more consonant with the drift of their argument, that part which made for them, and to omit with some dexterity the remainder. The imputed expression, however, of his noble Friend would not be forgotten; he would hear again and again of a heavy blow and a great discouragement to the Protestant church, whenever any question relating to church affairs was brought forward either here or elsewhere. He himself well knew, from experience, the uselessness and insignificance of all explanation and of all contradiction. Three years ago he had given some explanation or rather a peremptory contradiction relative to expressions attributed to himself. It was said that he had made the assertion, that "if little had been done in the last Session, less would be done in the next;" and it ran through the country like wildfire. He took the earliest opportunity of giving this statement a most positive contradiction. It was, he believed, the only time he had ever taken the trouble of making any such explanation, for he had always been well aware how unavailing were all such contradictions: he made a statement; it was printed and published; it was signed by him; and was circulated as widely as the circumstances would permit early in December 1834; in which statement he declared, that he had said no such thing; and that what he did say was, that during the two last Sessions, 1833 and 1834, the Sessions succeeding the passing of the Reform Bill, ten or twelve most important measures had been passed, and that those who thought that too little had been done in those Sessions, the whole question being as to the fruits produced from the Reform, could scarcely expect that more should be done in the next, because all that had been done in the last Session could not be again accomplished, and, that those several great questions which he enumerated distinctly, having been settled less remained to be done; and it was clear from the context, that in no other sense could his observations be taken. This explanation was received; it was pronounced satisfactory; but it was immediately forgotten alike by friend and enemy. The enemy continued to cherish and revive the original mis-statement; and the friend, instead of denying that he had ever uttered it, entered upon cavillings as to the expressions, and argued in extenuation of them, urging that they were possibly used in the heat of the moment, when in fact they were never used at all. No one knew better the utter falsehood of the charge than his noble Friend at the head of his Majesty's Government and his colleagues. Nobody knew better than the Ministers of the Crown, his former colleagues, that he could not have uttered the imputed statement, because they knew the measures in preparation, and which were to be brought forward at the meeting of Parliament had not the Government been displaced; but they seemed to think that it was better to allow those charges to be made and remain unanswered. He did not charge them with being agents in this matter, but they thought it better to sit by in silence, and to let persons circulate those reports, and leave them to run like wildfire through the country, whilst they remained passive and permitted attacks which indeed injured them as well as himself. He only mentioned this to point out to his noble Friend how futile were all such attempts at explanation; it was in the nature of things and of men's minds that it should be so; the slander was more highly seasoned than the antidote; it remained on the palate; the taste of the contradiction quickly passed off, whilst the scandal endured; the oil was less pungent than the vinegar, and the sooner escaped the sense; the one glided smoothly away, whilst the other left its impression, till time, conduct, and action enabled a man to over live and live down the absurd and ridiculous misrepresentation; and he hoped that his noble Friend would live through and live down the mis-statement which had been raised against him, as well as the more humble and insignificant indivi- dual who was then addressing them would outlive those affecting himself. He would say no more than earnestly to request the noble Lords opposite, and those whom they represented, to apply their minds to the real state of the country, and to cease exciting it in favour of one of the most visionary, one of the wildest and most monstrous propositions which was ever submitted to the Legislature, not only that Parliament ought to retrace its steps, but for the still more extravagant reason that the hopes founded on the passing of the Bill had not been realised, and that the failure had been occasioned by the perjury of men who had only acted conscientiously in the discharge of their duty, under the oath which they had taken.

The Earl of Mulgrave

rose to correct a misapprehension under which the noble Viscount (Lorton) laboured, and which he had stated in vindication of his support to the introduction of this petition, and it related to the offences committed in the sister country. The noble Viscount had stated his conviction that the outbreaks which were casually occurring in different parts of that country were connected with the members of one religious persuasion. Now he (the Earl of Mulgrave) would not be dealing candidly with the House did he withhold from them the fact that the noble Viscount had formed a most erroneous conclusion. He had received a report of an outrage lately committed in the county of Monaghan, communicated in a letter from a stipendiary magistrate of that county, in which it was stated that an armed body of fifty men had the night before gone about the place and broken into several houses; that all the houses assailed were those of Catholics; and that all the persons implicated in the transaction and who had been apprehended were Protestants. He would be the last person to found a general charge on an individual instance, or to bring an accusation against any religious body, least of all against the members of the persuasion to which he himself belonged, and he would ask the noble Viscount whether he was justified in placing those outrages to the credit of the religious feelings of one persuasion? He would adduce another instance of the impropriety of such a course. A sermon was preached on the 5th of November in Manor-Hamilton, against the system pursued in the national schools, and on the 8th of November the schools were burnt down. Now this showed the impropriety of enlarging on topics which were of such a nature as to lead to the possibility of their being taken in a wrong point of view. Since that period, the Rev. Mr. Douglas a clergyman living in the neighbourhood of the schools, had received a threatening letter, stating that if he did not restore the money which he had collected for building the schools he would meet with the same fate—destruction. He besought noble Lords, therefore, not to mix up any attempt to violate the law with any religious feeling.

Petition laid on the table.