The Earl of Shrewsbury
said: My Lords, I am sure your Lordships will allow, that it is not without provocation, nor from any desire to trespass unnecessarily upon you, that I am about to address you on the present occasion. So long as the accusations against us appeared to be unsupported either by argument or by fact, we were willing to trust, for a right understanding of the case, to the common justice, and common sense, of the country; and to the ample historical evidence bearing upon the points in question. But now, that new circumstances have come to light, which throw a semblance of truth around the statements of the right rev. Prelate who has so frequently obtruded the subject of the Roman Catholic oath upon the House and upon the public, I do think that an explanation of those circumstances is imperatively demanded of us. The great accusation against us in the present instance appears to be, that Catholics having pledged their oath as the security for their good conduct towards the Church,—that, that security has not only, for a long period, been most shamefully, nay systematically, violated in many quarters,—but that now it is absolutely null and of no avail in any,—being altogether abrogated by a recent decision of the Court of Rome, which the right rev. Prelate, in his prying and unwearied zeal, has ferretted out from its hiding place, and laid, with great pomp and ceremony, upon your Lordships' table.
The accusation goes on to say,—that Dr. Murray was, all the while, well acquainted with the circumstance, and that at length the secret is divulged of the tremendous demoralisation of Ireland.
Now, my Lords, I pledged myself to show, that the oath taken by Roman Catholics, both in and out of Parliament, remains precisely in the same position in which it stood, previous to the discovery of this wondrous correspondence. But as this is a mere matter of fact, depending solely upon the evidence to bear it out, I trust your Lordships will allow me to read that which I have obtained from those who are alone competent to give it, namely, the vicars apostolic acting for the see of Rome in this country. It will 967 occupy but a very few minutes. I should, however, premise that the oath in question has been matter of history, and subject to cavil and discussion, both at home and abroad, ever since the year 1791,—for the oath of 1829 is virtually the same as that which preceded it.
Without entering upon unnecessary detail, it seems right that I should remind, your Lordships,—since the right rev. Prelate neglected to do so,—that in 1814, an approbation of this oath was forwarded to this country by Mons. Quarantotti, then prefect of the Propaganda; but, that on the return of the Papal Government to Rome in the following year, Pius 7th withdrew this approbation, because the oath was not to be approved.
Now, my Lords, I ask—why these two published and important documents were so carefully overlooked by the right rev. Prelate? Even a visit to Downing-street was not necessary for their production,—no! they lay ready at hand upon the shelves of his own library! But, my Lords, they would have shown, that the non-approval of Rome, was no such wonderful discovery,—the whole sting of the controversy would have been drawn,—and the Catholic oath and Archbishop Murray, might, for the time at least, have reposed in peace!
Why, my Lords! even the very correspondence moved for by the right rev. Prelate, stands forth in testimony against him;—the very paragraph on which he grounds the whole of his accusation, itself points to those very documents;—but such was his haste and his taste for accusation, that even that was not sufficient warning, that he should inquire before he condemned. To what that inquiry would have led, your Lordships will presently see.
Now, my Lords, in the face of this official disapproval of Rome, the four vicars apostolic, and their two coadjutor bishops, on the 24th of November, 1829, came to the following resolution:—We are all of opinion, that the oath in the New Bill may be safely taken by Catholics; and that it does not interfere with any right of Members of Parliament.Now, my Lords, since that period, three, at least, of these vicars apostolic, and several of the Irish prelates, have visited Rome; but not one word of reprimand has ever been uttered for this their sanction to the non-approved oath:—the 968 reasons for which will sufficiently appear in the following documents.
The first is a letter from the right rev. Dr. Baines, V. A. of the Western District of England, dated York, April 28th. As the first part of it relates to the interpretation of the oath, and that not being the immediate question before the House, I see no occasion to trouble your Lordships with it:—Of the letter addressed by the Cardinal Secretary of State to the Bishop of Malta, on the 19th December, 1835, I had no knowledge till it was lately noticed in Parliament, but I had long been aware, that if the authorities of the Holy See were consulted on the oath, and required to give an answer, that answer could be no other than what the Bishop of Malta received, viz., a refusal either to approve or condemn.This is evidently the purport of the letter of the Cardinal Secretary. It does not give, but evades a decision. To assert that the oath is condemned by that letter, because it is declared not approvable at Rome, is an unwarrantable deduction. Your Lordship will readily perceive the wide difference there is between not approving the formula of an oath, and condemning that oath as unlawful to be taken. There may be a hundred reasons for the former which would not justify the latter. That the Pope should approve a formula so loosely and incautiously worded, containing, moreover, insinuations grossly injurious to the Catholic religion, and to the Holy See in particular, was impossible; but that his holiness should condemn as unlawful an oath which, with his full knowledge and connivance, had been taken, for so many years, as a lawful oath, by the whole body of the Catholic clergy and laity of these kingdoms, was, as your Lordship well knows, equally out of the question.I had a long interview with Pius VIII., soon after the passing of the Emancipation Act, viz., on the 4th May, 1829, and the views of his Holiness respecting the oath, were precisely those I have mentioned. It may be proper to state, that I did not seek this interview with the intention of laying the oath before the Pope, or even mentioning it to him, not considering this a case which required a reference to the Holy See, and knowing how averse that high authority is to be troubled with questions which do not exclusively belong to it, particularly such as are not wholly of a religious character.I have the honour to be, my Lord,With the highest respect,Your Lordship's most obedient servant,P. A. BAINES, V. A. W.P. S.—I have conferred with the other Vicars Apostolic on the subject of this letter, and I can take upon myself to say, that it expresses their sentiments also.To the right hon. the Earl of Shrewsbury,969 The next, my Lords, is a letter from the most rev. Dr. Murray, whose name has been so often and so unwarrantably introduced into their discussions;—Dublin, 4th April, 1838.My Lord,—In replying to your Lordship's inquiry, if the Catholic prelates of Ireland had any reason to believe, that the oath proposed to be taken by the Catholics in the Emancipation Bill of 1829, was disapproved of by the Holy See, I beg to say, that I have no reason to believe, that any communication whatever took place between the Irish prelates and Rome, on the subject of that oath. I had, myself, no such communication, and I never heard that any prelate or priest, or other person had, until I learned from the public papers within the last few days, that the subject had been brought to the notice of the Holy See by the Bishop of Malta. The Catholic prelates of Ireland were persuaded, that the lawfulness or unlawfulness of the oath was a point of morality on which they were themselves competent to come to a decision, without a reference to any other quarter. It is, however, fair to add, that I have at all times disapproved of that oath as unnecessary, insulting, and calculated to excite conscientious scruples in timorous minds, when not sufficiently acquainted with the animus of Parliament in proposing it. But whilst I could not, in this sense, approve of it, I have never condemned it as unlawful; and I need hardly assure your Lordship, that, when taken, I would be wholly incapable of asserting, or even hinting, that it does not impose on the consciences of those who take it, a religious obligation of observing it strictly, according to the sense and meaning in which it was proposed.As to the malignant charges respecting this oath, which have been recently circulated under the head of Parliamentary Intelligence, against me, and the Catholic clergy of Ireland, I will not stoop to notice them—they do more harm to the accusers than to the accused. The very writer who penned them could not have believed them to be true.I have the honour to remain, with the highest respect,My Lord,Your Lordship's faithful, humble Servant,D. MURRAY.The right hon.the Earl of Shrewsbury, &c.Now, my Lords, I think it is quite clear, that the oath is, at any rate, just as efficacious now, as it was from the beginning, and that the whole weight and virtue of the right rev. Prelate's argument, being built on the contrary presumption, necessarily falls to the ground.
I will not trust myself to dwell upon how little it seems consistent with the justice, and charity, and good-will to all men, 970 which ought to shine so conspicuously in one of so exalted a station in any Christian community as the right rev. Prelate, to have brought forward such grave and deadly charges, upon such loose and insufficient grounds—grounds which a moment's inquiry would have dissipated—charges, not merely against so respectable and so respected a personage as Archbishop Murray, but against a whole priesthood,—and through that priesthood, against every member of the Church of which they are the pastors. Neither, my Lords, I can assure you, are the other arguments of the right rev. Prelate of any stronger texture; nay, not half so plausible and so strong, which, in conjunction with this, have induced him thus to give vent to his indignation.It was painful to him," says the right rev. Prelate, "to make these remarks upon the bishops and clergy of another communion, but it was a duty from which he would not shrink, for he felt it to be deeply important, that their Lordships should see the real causes of the tremendous demoralization of that country; it was to the directions of the priesthood, and the mandates of the bishops, that they must refer that utter disregard of the sanctity of an oath, and the entire inattention to all that had been deemed sacred in life.After all, my Lords, I suspect it was much more painful to me to hear those denunciations, than it was to the right rev. Prelate to utter them. But be this as it may, I will neither insult the understanding of the House, nor degrade the religion I profess, by any detailed defence against such foul and insulting charges. I will simply defy even the most prying scrutiny of the right rev. Prelate to show, that a severer code of morality, touching the observance of oaths, has been ever taught at any period, or in any country, or by any Church, than is now, and ever has been, by this most deserving, but most calumniated clergy of Ireland.
My Lords, I gave notice that I would not argue the interpretation of this oath; I will merely state it as my ultimate conviction, that there is no intermediate course; you must either disfranchise and disqualify us altogether, or we must be considered equally honest in our intentions, and free in our judgment, as to what is, and what is not injurious to the Church, as any other members of the Legislature. And I cannot but consider the constant introduction of this topic, for matter of debate, 971 as injurious both to the privileges and the dignity of Parliament.
From the manner, too, in which it is ever treated by the right rev. Prelate,—though happily by him alone,—it becomes necessarily offensive to some of his hearers, since he never fails to connect it with questions of polemic controversy, which, I am sure, of all things, ought to be most carefully excluded from these walls. Heaven knows we have contentions enough amongst us, without seeking for any fresh cause of disagreement.
And I think, my Lords, if it were only upon this ground, we cannot too strongly deprecate the course pursued by the right rev. Prelate, who, twice within three weeks, introduces the subject to the House, with speeches of nearly two hours and a half in length—makes detailed comparisons between the two Churches—gives his own exposition of our doctrines—takes up some crude, abstract proposition, and by the most strained and unwarrantable construction, adapts it to his own views—passes off an attack upon the abuses of the Church, as an attack upon the Establishment itself—calls up in judgment before him even the learned Member for Dublin, and convicts him out of his own mouth, but upon fabricated evidence—not content with the calumnies of modern days, goes back nearly 200 years, to quote, (aye, and to misquote too,) what I can call by no other name, than, the lying venom of an excommunicated friar, as good and honest testimony against us,—and then, to crown all, pronounces a solemn denunciation of manifest and wanton perjury against the priesthood of a whole Church, upon some ignorant and hasty surmise of his own!!!
My Lords,—the right rev. Prelate draws largely upon the credulity, and presumes much upon the ignorance of his audience, and not a little, I suspect, upon the want of able advocates for the accused. Secure of a momentary triumph, because he knows full well, that none can answer at the instant, accusations which it has taken weeks of labour and of study to concoct, the right rev. Prelate comes down, ready charged from his great magazine of combustibles, and drives headlong over his unsuspecting victim! From the thinness of your Lordships, benches on occasion of these displays, the victory, 'tis true, seems but little appreciated here; but to compensate for 972 its failure in the House, it is blazoned forth with seven-tongued trumpets out of doors.
Would to heaven, my Lords, this evil were arrested! But if you would do so, you must look deeper than the surface. And here, I trust, I shall not be considered as travelling out of my way, by saying a few words upon what I conceive to be, the true cause of all this trouble and turmoil.
My Lords,—the continued agitation of those questions, the satisfactory adjustment of which, has long been acknowledged upon all hands, to be absolutely necessary for the pacification of Ireland, is, I take it, the sole source of the whole evil. The Church was declared to be in danger, and such was the zeal of her friends, that few stopped to inquire into the justice of the means to be employed in her defence, It was a much easier task to lead the ignorance, and to excite the fanaticism of the people, than to reason them into the approbation of that which was manifestly unjust and untenable. To decry their presumed enemies, therefore, was the policy to be adopted; and all the calumnies that had been invented during three centuries of persecution were raked together for the purpose; while the most "ingenious devices" were resorted to, to render the poison still more palatable to the public taste. What was advanced with so much boldness, and maintained with such unrelenting pertinacity, could not be false;—and too many (like the members of the Protestant Association) soon became impressed with the conviction, that Catholicity was the most deadly curse that ever afflicted the nations of the earth;—too many (like the right rev. Prelate, and chiefly perhaps through his instrumentality,) were just as forcibly persuaded, that we belonged to a Church "whose priesthood," (and I use his own words) "had effectually laboured to remove every sense of the sacredness of an oath, and which was justly loaded with the scandal and the guilt of perjury." Delusive as are these convictions, it is not for me to question their sincerity; for doubtlessly in this great conspiracy against truth and justice, there were some honest men to lead, and many honest individuals to follow.
I have long admired the integrity of character, and the honesty of purpose of the noble Earl opposite, (Earl of Winchilsea) 973 who, if he has not presented, has at least seconded the presentation of petitions to this House, on the subject of this oath, from the Protestant Association. It was, therefore, with much deeper regret,—for his sanction gave them a character they might not otherwise have deserved—that I have noticed that noble Earl to take the lead at meetings convened for no other purpose that I can discover, (for they are not deliberative assemblies,) convened for no other purpose, than to vilify the religion of one third of the population of these islands;—meetings, at which no one is allowed to gainsay, and refute the calumnies and misrepresentations, so ostentatiously brought forward, for the purpose, (for I can see no other) of exciting a popular clamour against the religious principles of those, whose only crime is in seeking for a further mitigation of the evils they have so long endured, and the partial and unjust continuance of which, is now the only bar to the internal peace and prosperity of the whole empire. But, my Lords, this was a consummation, not to be endured, because it was supposed to be—most falsely do I think supposed to be—inimical to the interests of the Church.
My Lords, I accuse no one of intentional misrepresentation. No one, I trust, is more willing than I am, to make the most ample allowances for the prejudices of education, and for the blindness with which misguided zeal seems to overspread the understanding. I state the facts, without impugning the motives;—but the fact is, that from those meetings, the most false, foul, and calumnious statements are sent forth to the world,—to travel uncontradicted from one end of the kingdom to the other,—exciting a spirit of undeserved and unchristian hatred, against the professors of what was once, (and for a long and a brilliant period too) the established Christianity of these countries.
Why, my Lords! if Catholicity were what it is daily, nay, hourly represented to be, by that portion of the public press, opposed to the existing Government of the country—if it were what it is constantly asserted to be, by that multitude of farthing tracts, so widely and so industriously circulated, under the sanction of some of your Lordships—if it were what it has too often been stated to be, (to use the words of the reporters) before "fashionable assemblages of female beauty" at 974 Exeter Hall—if it were this, or any thing like this, or any thing approaching to this,—it would be a system which had long since been crushed under the weight of its own vice and iniquity. No! it never would have needed the exuberant zeal now brought into play against it, for its destruction; if it were this, or any thing like this,—it were a religion, the professors of which, I am sure, ought never to have been admitted upon the same benches with your Lordships! No, it never would have needed a petition to dislodge us, for we never should have been here!
My Lords,—these calumnious aspersions upon our religion, to any calm, reflecting mind, should carry folly and absurdity—at the very least, doubt and hesitation—upon the very face of them. Catholics, my Lords, are not a mere handful of ignorant people scattered throughout a desert;—they are the millions, occupying the most civilized portions of the world,—mingling in all the haunts of men,—attaining to the highest eminence both in literature and in science,—and withal, full as wise in their generation as others;—and are these the men, my Lords, to believe in the follies and abominations imputed to them by their calumniators? The very supposition is absurd, and the thing altogether incredible. I ask you not to take a contradiction to these calumnies from me—I ask you to hold them contradicted by 150 millions of Catholics of the present day—I ask you to hold them contradicted by thousands of millions, by the good and the great of every generation that has preceded us!
My Lords, I have thought fitting, under the circumstances, to trespass upon you with these few observations. I have now to implore your Lordships, when those questions again come before us, which have already been so frequently presented to your consideration by the Crown, though never so auspiciously as at the commencement of a new reign,—I implore you to bring those questions to a happy and successful termination; and thereby also to terminate, or at least to calm, that religious war which is now raging throughout the country—a war, vilifying and degrading to religion itself—a war, which blinds the judgment and perverts the reason of men—a war, which gains in acrimony just in proportion as the agitation of these questions is prolonged, and which, I am satisfied, owes its origin to them, since it exists in no other country in the world.
975 I still hope to see the day when kindlier feelings will prevail,—feelings that the discussions to which the right rev. Prelate has so often treated us of late, seem but little calculated to promote,—and that we may at length enjoy the same religious peace and harmony here, which now so happily subsists, with perhaps one slight, and I hope transient exception, in every other country in Europe, in which there is a mixed population of Protestant and Catholic.
Gladly, my Lords, would I have concluded here, were it not for another point which, in justice to ourselves as well as to the right rev. Prelate, I think it necessary to notice, namely, the quotation from Walsh's History of the Irish Remonstrance, which the right rev. Prelate gave us in his speech of the 1st of March, and to which he again triumphantly alluded on the 27th of the same month.
Your Lordships will recollect, that upon the former of those occasions the right rev. Prelate paraded before us a quotation, certainly a most calumnious quotation, from Walsh, whom he represented as a most learned, pious and honest man.
Now, my Lords, upon inquiry,—and I beg your Lordships' attention to these points, since so much stress has been laid upon the character of this person,—upon inquiry, I find, that this pious man was an excommunicated friar! And where do I find this? Why, under his own hand, in the very next page, in the very next paragraph of the work from which the quotation is taken! And why was he excommunicated? For violating his oath to his superiors! So that I think he is not exactly the man on whom the right rev. Prelate would again bestow the epithet of pious, nor exactly the man on whose testimony he would rely the most implicitly.
Walsh, my Lords, was little better than an apostate; for Burnet says of him, that he was the most honest Catholic he ever knew, because he was almost wholly a Protestant. But Burnet would have been shocked to learn, that Walsh's honesty did not stand true to him to the end, for in his latter days he repaired all the scandal he had given, by every means in his power, and again became wholly a Catholic.
The right rev. Prelate told us, that Walsh had said, that Catholics were taught to dissemble upon the oath of supremacy, because that was not an in- 976 dispensable article of their communion. But surely, my Lords, the right rev. Prelate must have known better than that. Surely he must have known that Sir Thomas More, and Bishop Fisher, two of the most virtuous men of the age in which they lived—men who would have been an ornament to any age or to any country—and numbers of others, had lain down their lives upon the block for this very article alone! Why, my Lords, the oath of supremacy was the very touchstone between the two Churches—between Catholicity and schism; it was framed for the very purposes of separation. And Walsh, my Lords, was too learned a man not to know this, just as well as the right rev. Prelate!
Walsh was a mere cat's-paw of the Duke of Ormond's—and that for the very worst of purposes—to sow dissentions amongst the persecuted members of his own communion, with a view of weakening their influence against the Government, and of creating, what Burnet calls, a revolt of the soberer part of that Church.
With all these, and many other imperfections upon him, I think it required some little art on the part of the right rev. Prelate to introduce Walsh to your Lordships as a pious and an honest witness against the priesthood of Ireland.
But, my Lords, if there was art here, how much more has been displayed in the management of the quotation with which the right rev. Prelate has favoured us!What, (says the right rev. Prelate), was the history of the necessity for enactments which required Catholics to take an oath abjuring the dogma of transubstantiation? It was this—they were found not to have adhered to their other engagements. A remarkably learned and pious ecclesiastic, in the reign of Charles the 2nd, one perfectly conversant with all that had passed in these troubled times, named Father Walsh, who wrote a history of the Irish Remonstrance of 1661, addressed to the Catholics of England, Ireland, and Scotland, in page 15 of that work, gave his reasons for that oath:—'Their missionaries (i. e. their Jesuit Priests).'Now, my Lords, it is rather singular that the word "Jesuit" is not to be found in the original. If it were here inserted by the right rev. Prelate to give a greater zest to the calumny—to make it more greedily devoured by the multitude—just by way of a sauce piquante—it certainly was well imagined; for a Jesuit, of all 977 men in the world, is the easiest to run down upon a bad name. Neither will it avail the right rev. Prelate to allege, that the missionaries must necessarily have been Jesuits. It was no such thing. They were Franciscans, (of whom Walsh was one), Capuchins, Benedictines, Dominicans, Carmelites, Secular Priests, and Jesuits; and if the truth were known, I'll be bound to say, that the Jesuits were not one in twenty!'Their missionaries (i. e. their Jesuit Priests) labour to infuse into all their penitents all their own principles of equivocation and mental reservation in swearing any oath, even of allegiance or supremacy, to the King, and forswearing anything or doctrine whatsoever, except only those articles which by the indispensable condition of their communion, they may not dissemble upon oath. That the tenet of transubstantiation is one of these, therefore, &c.'That was the statement of a great Roman Catholic ecclesiastic, much attached to the service of the Duke of Ormond. And it was in consequence of deceptions which had been practised on the Duke of Ormond that the book, from which he had read the extract, was published by Father Walsh.Now, my Lords, the right rev. Prelate here represents Walsh—one so perfectly conversant with all that has passed—he represents him as speaking in his own person—publishing his own opinions—vouching, good pious man! for the truth of all that he related! But what will your Lordships' astonishment be to learn, that Walsh is not speaking in his own person, is not representing his own opinions, but the opinions of those whom he calls the law-makers—the makers of the laws—of the persecuting laws, against the Catholics!
Walsh's argument is this—that it is not to be supposed, that so many enactments have been passed against Catholics, merely on account of their real religious tenets, which were innocent enough. No! says he, the law-makers first of all persuaded themselves—that is his expression—persuaded themselves, that Catholics in general, believed in the deposing doctrine in its fullest extent, and in the lawfulness of dissembling upon oath; and, having persuaded themselves of that, then, says he, transubstantiation was attacked, harmless as it is, because "of the mischief," (and I use his own words,) "which they conceive to go along with it, through the folly of Roman Catholics in these domin- 978 ions." The law-makers conceive, that the missionaries go about deluding the people. That, my Lords, is what Walsh says. But, so far from declaring that they do so, (as the right rev. Prelate represented him)—he who was so perfectly conversant with all that was passing—he says just the contrary! For, in the very next paragraph, he makes a most lamentable outcry, because these three tests, as he calls them—the Oath of Supremacy, the Oath of Allegiance of James 1st, the Irish Remonstrance—were all three, (and I again use his own words) "with so much rashness and wilfulness, and so much vehemency and obstinacy, declined, opposed, traduced, and rejected, amongst them" (the Roman Catholics in these kingdoms). Instead of asserting, or even insinuating, that Catholics took these oaths under a dissembling interpretation, or that their doctrines taught them so to do, as the right rev. Prelate would lead us to believe, Walsh, (he who was so perfectly conversant in all that was passing)—his accusation and reproach all along is, that they declined and rejected them! So that, my Lords, what the right rev. Prelate intended as a dishonour to us, comes out with but little credit, to the accuser.
The right rev. Prelate goes on to say, that it was in consequence of the deceptions, that had been practised on the Duke of Ormond, that Walsh wrote his book! But where does the right rev. Prelate discover this? I can find nothing of the sort. The deception seems to have been all upon the other side. Take one example out of many,—when the Synod of 1666 renounced the deposing doctrine in the most clear, explicit, and unequivocal terms, the Duke of Ormond refused to receive it, because it was not in his own captious form; for that only could answer his object, which even Carte says, and he says it upon the authority of Ormond himself, "was to work a division of the Romish clergy." That, my Lords, was Ormond's purpose, and it was for that purpose that he employed Walsh as his tool.
The deceptions practised upon Ormond! If the right rev. Prelate had just reversed his proposition, and had said, the deceptions practised by Ormond and Walsh upon the Catholics, he would have been much nearer to the truth, though perhaps much further from his mark!
But, says the right rev. Prelate, they 979 were found not to have adhered to their other engagements, therefore a stronger test was necessary, to bind or to exclude. But, my Lords, what those other engagements were, the right rev. Prelate has yet to tell us, and your Lordships have yet to learn. But it was a point with the right rev. Prelate to pass us off as systematic violators of our engagements—to show us up as old offenders on this count!
The real object of those tests, as your Lordships well know, was not mere exclusion, but extermination—not as a punishment for any violation of former engagements—but because, on the most false and unjustifiable pretences—for purposes of rapine and plunder in one country—and to gratify the bigotry of the times in another, it was determined to pursue a system of the most barbarous and unrelenting persecution.
But they were found not to have adhered to their other engagements! What does the right rev. Prelate mean? If he allude—as perhaps he may—to the Rebellions, which followed, in pretty quick succession, at one period of the history of Ireland, then, my Lords, I say, if after experiencing, for above a hundred years, the most barbarous and cruel treatment that any nation has ever yet been known to endure—and if, at the expiration of that term, instead of a fulfilment of the promises—the solemn and oft-repeated promises—made to them by the Crown and by the Government, each year only brought an increased activity and intensity to their sufferings—and if, as a last hope against extermination, they rebelled—and that rebellion is to be styled a violation of their engagements—then, my Lords, I envy not the man who designates it by such a name!
But they were found not to have adhered to their other engagements! What does the right rev. Prelate mean?—Why, I ask, did he refer to Walsh at all, and to those troubled and calamitous times in which he lived? If it were to warn your Lordships against the continuance, even in the most mitigated form, of that wretched, miserable, and crooked policy, which then prevailed in Ireland, I should applaud his wisdom and respect his motives. But, if to torture the extravagant ravings of some furious partisan, such as Walsh undoubtedly was, (and a more false and extravagant writer I believe never existed,)—if to torture the ravings 980 of this pious man, into a criminal, nay, a slanderous, accusation against millions of his fellow-subjects of the present day, the right rev. Prelate scruples not to stir up the bitter animosities, and to revive within our memories the heart-rending history of that ill-fated period—I neither admire the means nor the end!
Here, my Lords, is an end of my case.—But, I ask, why so many blunders on the part of the right rev. Prelate,—why so many mistakes within so small a compass? Unfortunately they all tell desperately against us! all place Catholics in the most odious light! all tend to the right rev. Prelate's purpose! Has this, then, been purely accidental? or is it one of those ingenious devices so fashionable in the present day? I leave it to the right rev. Prelate to answer!
, in seconding the motion, expressed his regret, that the attacks of the right rev. Prelate had driven the noble Lord to bring this matter before their Lordships, and suggested the propriety of the right rev. Prelate himself proposing a form of oath to be taken by Roman Catholics which could not be misunderstood.
The Bishop of Exeter
would endeavour to compress his observations within a very small compass, but he was afraid, that he should be compelled to occupy their time for a quarter or even half an hour. He would, however, set aside every thing of a personal nature; for he did not suppose that either of the noble Lords had intended to say any thing to hurt his feelings; and knowing that naturally they must be anxious for their brethren of the Catholic Church he was quite ready to take in good part all that had been said as to the disingenuousness of his conduct. But he confessed, that he did feel surprised that the noble Lord who had last addressed the House should have thought fit to talk of his having accused any one, especially of those sitting in that House. He would have defied the noble Baron who had last spoken, and who had not on the former occasion had a seat in the House, to have spoken as he had, if he had known the clear, distinct, and positive terms in which he had expressed his entire confidence in the honour and integrity and careful observation of their oath, not only of the noble Earl, but of every Roman Catholic Member of their Lordships' House. Words could not go further; 981 and, having said so much, he hoped that he might dispense with every thing which had been stated in this and former debates connected with the feelings of those noble Lords. The main question, though it had been overlooked, and a reference made to the histories of James 1st and Charles 1st, to which he would not advert, was the letter of the Bishop of Malta; and he had been a great deal surprised to hear the manner in which the noble Earl had thought fit to characterize the proceedings of the holy father, for he had said that the answer of the Pope to the letter of the Bishop of Malta was clearly intended to be an evasion. He could scarcely conceive a greater degree of disingenuousness than that which the noble Earl, a faithful son of the Church of Rome, imputed to the holy father when he talked of his answer being an evasion. The letter of Cardinal Burnetti to the Bishop of Malta commenced by informing him that the question had been submitted to his Holiness, and it might safely be said that any authority worth consulting upon a point of conscience might, from the commencement of that letter, be supposed to intend to answer the question put, and yet they were assured the answer was all an evasion. It happened that the words in the original were stronger than in the translation; for in fact the Bishop of Malta applied to Rome for its "oracle"—that was the very word used; and at length the Court of Rome gave that oracular response, which amounted at last to this, "that the Bishop of Malta would see the obstacle which existed to his becoming a member of the Council, and a still stronger one in the oath which was required to be taken. The form of that oath having been examined, and the requisite information obtained, he was informed that it was not and never had been approved of by the Holy See." That, it was said, was clearly an evasion. The noble Earl, a faithful son of the Church of Rome, said that the holy Church and father had determined to evade the question, and that was the statement of an individual who had talked of his disingenuousness in not reading the whole of a quotation. He had been charged with wilful suppression, because the passage went against his argument; but it often happened that persons took a false estimate of their opponent's argument, and he would state, that his only reason for 982 not reading the whole of any passage had been, that it would make a long speech longer. But he had now furnished himself with more little documents, which showed that applications had frequently been made by the Bishops in England and Ireland to the Pope of Rome upon the subject of oaths, and he would begin with a little earlier period. He would not, however, go back to so distant a date as that of James or Charles, but he would begin with the commencement of the present state of the laws in this country. In the reign of George 3rd the Roman Catholics had for the first time been admitted to office upon taking the oath prescribed by the statute of the 13th or 14th of George 3rd. Before that oath was taken the Roman Catholic Bishops applied to the Court of Rome to know whether they might take that oath. Upon that occasion they implored the Pope to have some feeling for his poor children in Ireland, and stated that, in consequence of being prevented from taking the oaths of allegiance, they were still exposed to the system of bitter persecution. The Pope was then pleased to say, that he would indulge them with that permission. That oath, however, did not satisfy all the apprehensions of the Protestants of this country. In 1789 a large portion, indeed almost all the considerable Roman Catholics, amongst whom was the predecessor of the noble Earl, were anxious to be thought worthy of admission to the whole of the Constitution, and desired to give a further pledge of their civil principles on the particular points on which the most apprehension was entertained. Accordingly, the English Committee drew up a protestation, in which they declared that they did not hold as essential points of their religion the infallibility of the Pope, his deposing power, or his right to absolve subjects from their allegiance. They protested that they held no such opinions, and upon that protestation an oath had been framed, to be introduced into a bill for further relief, certainly with the concurrence—he believed the assistance—of many of the Roman Catholic priests. Subsequently, when they looked at the form of the oath, the vicars apostolic gave it as their opinion that it had not been sanctioned. Their censure had the concurrence of the bishops in Ireland and Scotland, and finally received the ratification of the Pope. Before this censure 983 was thus ratified by the Pope remonstrances against it were addressed to the vicars apostolic, in a letter from the Lords Stourton and Petre, Sir H. Englefield, Sir John Throckmorton, Messrs. Townley and Homeyold, as well as two clergymen, one of whom, the rev. John Wilkes, persevering in his advocacy of the oath, after the ratification of the censure of it by the Pope, was punished by his bishop, and compelled to recant. For this the bishop received the especial thanks of the Propaganda, in these words:—Most Illustrious and rev. Lord, our Brother,—Your Lordship's despatches of the 18th of October afforded singular satisfaction to their eminences the fathers of the congregation. They were gratified, not only by your report of the present prosperous state of religion in England, but by the zeal with which you had subdued the boldness of the missionary, Joseph Wilkes, who, in conjunction with others, had opposed the encyclical letters of the vicars apostolic against the oath proposed to the Catholics. Your conduct in compelling that person, by ecclesiastical censures, to return to his duty and make the necessary recantation, was so approved by their eminences that they judged it suitable to decree your Lordship their distinguished thanks.I am, your Lordship's brother,L. Cardinal ANTONELLI, President.Rome, March 10, 1792.That very oath had been drawn up almost in the terms of the protestation, and that protestation had been assented to by three of the vicars apostolic. In 1813 it was known that a bill had been brought into the other House of Parliament, and had nearly passed that House, which contained the form of an oath, and that oath, as well as the other provisions, had been submitted by the vicar apostolic of London to the court of Rome, to know whether the Catholics were at liberty to take that oath. It appeared that in Ireland the feeling was exactly opposite to that in England; for in England they were as eager to give security as they were in Ireland to refuse it. On account of the rescript of Cardinal Quarantotti, received on that occasion, it appears that "Doctor Murray went to Rome as delegate of the Irish Popish Bishops, to make their remonstrances; that rescript was revoked by the Pope, as having been issued without due deliberation in his absence, and this matter was referred to a special congregation. The noble Earl forgot to inform their Lordships that a great majority of the Roman 984 Catholics of England had been delighted with the rescript of Quarantotti, and had addressed the Pope on the subject in the following words:—That they had lately with unspeakable joy received from those venerable men to whom his Holiness had in his absence delegated the power of inquiring into, and sanctioning by their approbation, the conduct of the faithful, a rescript, &c.; and expressing their confidence that they should receive the assurance that these venerable depositaries of his authority during his captivity, have spoken the genuine and full sentiments of his Holiness's paternal heart towards the faithful of these countries.As the noble Earl had evinced such anxiety that everything should be brought forward, he was astonished that the noble Earl had not called the attention of the House to an important document, which had been approved of by the Pope, and had been sent by his full authority, as containing the sentiments of the Pope respecting the oath which he would permit the Roman Catholics to take. The noble Earl had not been informed by those individuals who had supplied him with information on other points respecting a letter of Cardinal Litta, which contained an intimation to Dr. Poynter of the opinion of the Pope. The following letter, it was to be observed, had been addressed by Cardinal Litta to Dr. Poynter, the Bishop Apostolic of the London district:—Genoa, April 26, 1815.Most Illustrious and most Reverend Lord—Your Lordship has lately informed me of your speedy return to England, earnestly entreating me, at the same time, to put you in possession of his Holiness's ideas respecting the conditions that would be allowed, with a view of enabling the Catholics to obtain from the Government the wished-for Bill of emancipation. His Holiness has been pleased to communicate to me his sentiments with regard to the only terms which, after rejecting all those that have hitherto been proposed, his dear Catholic children of Great Britain may admit with a safe conscience, should the Bill of their emancipation, as has long been expected, have passed. The subjects which come to be taken into consideration, namely, those which the said Government for the tranquillity and security of themselves and the State, so far as the Catholic subjects are concerned, appear anxious to settle on a firm footing, are, first, the oath of allegiance. In the event of the emancipation, so as it be favourable to the Catholics in general, his Holiness will permit them to adopt for their oath any of the three forms following, &c.985In no one of the three is there a single word respecting the Protestant Establishment, or Protestant succession to the Throne. One of the forms has the following:—I will defend the succession of the Crown in the family of his Majesty.With this letter there were given three forms of oaths of allegiance which the Roman Catholics were permitted to adopt. He would read the three forms if the noble Earl desired it. [The Earl of Shrewsbury: Had no wish upon the subject.] Not one of those three forms which the Roman Catholics were permitted to take as a security to the Church and State of England, contained one single word of the Protestant Establishment or of the Protestant Succession to the Throne. There was a glaringly purposed abstinence from alluding even to the Succession to the Throne; but it only permitted the Catholics to swear that they would preserve the Throne in the family of his Majesty. The Pope told them not to give any such security. The noble Earl said nothing of the Catholics going to Rome with the oath; if they did, they would have to encounter the frowns of Rome, for the Pope did not forget, though the noble Earl might, the letter which had been written by Cardinal Litta in 1815. Now, he had taken it that when Archbishop Murray was in Rome when the discussion was going on about the Bishop of Malta, that he must have known something of the matter. There was, too, at one time, a Bishop Apostolic of the district which the noble Earl honoured with his residence. That Bishop Apostolic, Dr. Milner, the noble Earl, while in his district, was bound to obey in scriptural matters. Dr. Milner was known to be a very violent, but not always a very consistent man, but who still, he believed, was as honest as any other Vicar Apostolic in the country. Dr. Milner's opinion was thus expressed in the form of a syllogism:—On looking back to the passage quoted from the 'Pastoral' (of Dr. R. R. Poynter, V., of the London district), its writer will be found to have expressly asserted that it exclusively belongs to the province of the Legislature to make adequate provision for the maintenance of the religious establishment of this kingdom.' Now, this evidently supposes, and is grounded upon, the false and religious principle of Erastus and Hobbes, that any Government has an inherent right to establish whatever creed and worship it may at any time prefer within its own dominions. To consider the assertion 986 apart, and as it is laid down, it is evidently false and censurable, upon Catholic principles, as appears from the following syllogism:—It does not belong to the province of any man, or body of men, to make provision for the maintenance of a schismatical religious establishment, but the religious establishment of this kingdom is schismatical; therefore, it does not belong to the province of the Legislature of this kingdom to make provision for the establishment of it.Now, he believed, that Dr. Milner knew more of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church than any one of the authorities which had been quoted by the noble Earl. Upon this point he wished to state what had been admitted by Dr. Slevin (the head of the Dunboyne establishment, connected with Maynooth College) before the Commissioners for Education in Ireland. The right rev. Prelate quoted the following:'Examination of the rev. N. Slevin, D. D., Prefect of the Dunboyne Establishment, and, as such, Principal Instructor of the Chief Students in Divinity.Q. "We will now look to the text of the decretal itself: Pro juratione incautâ imponi fecimus Episcopo pœnam congruentem; et primò, quia non juramenta sed perjuria potiùs sunt dicenda, quæ contra utilitatem ecclesiasticum attentantur. Is not the position clearly laid down in that passage, that an oath taken by a bishop against the utility of the Church amounts to a perjury?A. "All will acknowledge that an unlawful oath never binds; an oath taken against the rights or real utility of the Church must, according to the Pope, be an unlawful oath, and, therefore, cannot bind: but anything that is lawful, according to the just laws of God and man, cannot be considered opposed to the real utility of the Church. The Pope's principle is admitted by all. I am not bound to answer for the application.Q. "Who is to judge in that case as to the lawfulness of the oath?A. "In things relating to the jurisdiction of the Pope of course the Pope considers himself authorised to pronounce whether an oath be lawful or not; any superior who considered himself possessed of a right to interfere in the matter in question, would also consider himself authorised to form a judgment on the lawfulness of the oath, and ought to form a judgment. A Judge or magistrate will declare an oath does not bind when he finds it is opposed to the principles of equity or to the law of the land.Dr. M'Hale, who was professor of dogmatical theology, was asked as to the power of the Church dispensing with oaths:—Dr. M'Hale, p. 283, being asked respecting a proposition in Bailly, 'Existet in Ecclesia potestas dispensandi in Votis et Juramentis'— 987 a proposition proved, first, from Matt. xviii., 'Whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall also be loosed in heaven,' admits this in the sense in which it is laid down by the author, but he says there are limits to this power. 'When I say that the Church has the power of dispensing from oaths I understand that the Church is then the interpreter in some measure of the Divine will.' If there was an oath or a vow which was impossible in its performance, or which would clash with other duties of a more imperative nature, as there may be sometimes conflicting duties, then the Church is only expressing the will of the Almighty himself in releasing a person from the inconvenient obligation of an oath or vow, which would trench upon a superior obligation. In casuistry the shades between right and wrong may be sometimes so very indistinct as not to be seen by an ordinary eye; then the Church, being the interpreter of the Divine law, only decides what seems best in the, particular case. The Church is the judge of what is expedient or not in a doubtful case, and like every other tribunal may be deceived in any particular case.We find it laid down in p. 145 of that Class Book (Bailly, 2d vol. on 'Moral Theology,') that the following are just causes of dispensation, viz:—First, the honour of God; second the utility of the Church; third, the common good of the republic; fourth, the common good of the society. Who is to be judge of what the utility of the Church may require?—The superiors of the Church."—Moral Theology, 140.In order to explain more fully our doctrine of dispensation of oaths, I wish to observe that there is nothing in our principles at variance with those of sound jurists and civilians of every creed. If any person should take an oath which may clash with the duty which he owed to another he is absolved from that oath; he is told, 'You are not bound to fulfil it.' The Church, in granting the dispensation, only declares to the individual that he has contracted, or attempted to contract, by that oath, an obligation which is contrary to another duty. Every duty springs from God; and as God cannot contradict himself by requiring incompatible duties, the Church only interprets the Divine will, while she releases him from the obligation of his oath. In extraordinary cases (cases where persons may reason each way), in which ordinary persons are not able to decide, I am always to be directed by the superior.When you say, that the Church has the power of dispensing with oaths, do not you mean the superiors of the Church, and particularly the Pope?—The Pope and the bishops. In some cases the bishops—in all the Pope, that is, in those cases in which they are dispensable.Is there any case in which a dispensation can be granted, in which the Pope cannot do it of himself, or in which it is necessary that 988 there should be superadded to his power the power of a bishop?—No; I know not any.Is not an oath strictly a religious act?—Yes—ye call the Almighty to witness.Does it not therefore fall correctly within the principle of the spiritual jurisdiction of the Pope, as distinguished from discipline?—Yes, it does; but, at the same time, if the dispensation should clash with any defined clear duty which I owe to any authority, I am of course to disregard the dispensation, I, myself, being the judge, if it is a clear case.He thought, then, that he had shown that the Pope was recognised as having the power of declaring what oaths were lawful and what what were not, and of dispensing with the obligation of an oath when it was regarded as contrary to the utility of the Church. The noble Earl had talked at very great length of the quotation which he had made from Father Walsh. He re-affirmed the accuracy of his statement. He thought, that the passage referred to occurred in the dedication. [The Earl of Shrewsbury: No, in the preliminary dissertation.] Then, in the preliminary dissertation, he took it that Father Walsh spoke in his own person, and he thought too, that it was addressed in the first person to Roman Catholics. He still persisted in saying, that he was warranted in all he had declared; but the question was a wearisome one, and it would now take up too much time to enter into it. The noble Earl had spoken harshly of Father Walsh. Bishop Burnet called him "an honest man," and though it was probable that the authority of Bishop Burnet had as little weight with the noble Earl even as his own—yet still he must call Father Walsh an honest man. The noble Earl regarded Father Walsh very nearly as an apostate, and at one time he was very near apostacy; he should have liked the Father the better if he had become a Protestant, but it seems he did not; he "relapsed," or, to use the word of the noble Earl "repented," and he then might be said to be as good a Roman Catholic as any other, and to have died in peace with his Church. There was one remarkable passage in Bishop Burnet's "History of his own Times" which he could not avoid reading for their Lordships. It was expected that the peace of Utrecht would be made a matter of discussion before the House of Lords. For very special reasons the Government of that day did not wish for a discussion. Bishop Burnet afterwards published his 989 speech, and amongst other good things it contained, he told this remarkable anecdote. They all knew that Bishop Burnet enjoyed the confidence of the King, whose name, whatever might be the opinion entertained of him by the noble Earl, would be always mentioned with respect in that House:The late King, meaning William the 3r., who, as the House knew, placed great confidence in Bishop Burnet, told me, that he understood from the German Protestant Princes that they believed the confessors of Popish Princes had faculties from Rome for doing this as effectually, though more secretly. He added, that they knew it went for a maxim among Popish Princes that their word and faith bound them as they were men and members of society; but that their oaths, being acts of religion, were subject to the direction of their confessors; and that they, apprehending this, did, in all their treaties with the Princes of that religion depend upon their honour, but never asked the confirmation of an oath, which had been the practice of former ages. The Protestants of France thought they had gained an additional security for observing the edict of Nantz when the swearing to observe it was made a part of the Coronation oath; but it is probable this very thing undermined and ruined it.It was notorious that many Roman Catholics did not adhere to their engagements. He believed what Dr. Walsh said about supremacy. It was proper to adopt transubstantiation as a test, because it, being an essential matter of religion, could not be denied as other matters were denied. As to the charge made against him of interpolating the word "Jesuit," it was introduced as an explanation of the passage, and he believed, that no one who heard him, received that word as part of the passage he had quoted. As to what were the opinions of the noble Earl in reference to this country, and to another country very near it, he should not enter into those portions of the subject, but he would only say this—that he ventured to hope, that he was as sincerely desirous of the true peace of that country which had been referred to, as much as the noble Earl or any one else; but then he would not cry" Peace, peace," when there was no peace, and until honesty and truth were again permitted to regulate the conduct of men.
was understood to say, that with respect to the oath, concerning which so many comments had been made, that those taking it might have as great an objection to the changing of the leges 990 Angliœ as the Barons, and they would be as unwilling as their ancestors to abandon the Constitution of England, or to expose it to danger. The mode in which Mr. Peel had introduced the Catholic oath showed that it was not his understanding—that it was not intended to fetter men in their legislative functions. He did not think, in connexion with this subject, that a very straightforward course had been pursued by the right rev. Prelate in his comments upon what had been done by the Bishop of Malta. The Bishop of Malta was in a country completely Catholic—it was almost an Italian island, and he might have been placed in a position of particular difficulty, and one in which his religion might have been compromised. In such a case his taking of the oaths might not have been approved of. As to Cardinal Quarantotti, the dispute in which his name was mixed up was not at all connected with the dispensing powers, nor with a question of allegiance, but was a mere question of arrangement respecting the bishops. The Catholics of Ireland in that case feared that the nomination of their bishops might be fettered by cabals at the Castle of Dublin. That they were right in their opposition to such a plan was proved by the testimony of Mr. Burke, who had declared that those who dissented from a particular Church should not have the power of giving bishops to that Church. He complained of the manner in which Roman Catholics were attacked with respect to this oath. They were not tortured in their bodies, but they were in their minds. They were met with it whenever they appeared abroad, it was echoed and repeated upon all sides; and he believed, however ungracious, it was thought too advantageous at elections to be given up. He trusted, however, that the conciliatory system which had been adopted towards Ireland would do much to put an end to that wretched state of things which so many were endeavouring to prolong. He looked for a happy result, notwithstanding Ireland had been most unfortunate; notwithstanding the privations which the people had endured, and notwithstanding that country was marked with misery, branded with degradation, and reduced to a degree of distress which did not belong to any Christian country in Europe. He trusted that much good would be the result of the conciliatory efforts that were now made by the present Government. 991 This was his hope; for he could not but disregard the threats of those who talked of re-conquering Ireland; of having another Cromwell, who, after a ten years' war might leave the country unable to resist oppression, or a recurrence of penal laws. Situated as Ireland was, in reference to America and France, and with the examples of those countries before her, while there was a rapidly increasing intelligence, and in the present day many improvements in government and humanity, it was impossible, he thought, that such attempts should be made; or, if made, that they could be successful. He called upon noble Lords to aid in carrying forward a settled and firm principle of conciliation, not to consider whether the majority of Irishmen were Roman Catholics or Protestants, and that they were not to look upon Irishmen as slaves; but to consider how they were to be governed as free men.
The Earl of Winchilsea
did not, upon entering the House, expect to take part in the present debate; but having been personally alluded to, he felt bound to address a few words to their Lordships. It appeared to him that the Court of Rome claimed the power of interfering with the religious and political rights of Protestant Sovereigns; for he insisted upon it that there was no political question which might not also be regarded as a religious one. He contended, that the oath could be properly interpreted only by the Protestants, by whom it was framed for the maintenance of the Protestant Church and institutions of this country. He believed, that the Roman Catholics would not have taken the oath without the sanction of their Church, and he was equally certain that the Pope, if he had thought it injurious to that Church, would have given them a dispensation so that they might not observe it. He altogether disclaimed that this question was raised, as the noble Earl had imputed, for purposes of political agitation; the object in raising it was the security of Protestantism, which he was ready to prove was the only true foundation of civil and religious liberty. He was no friend to agitation; all who knew him knew he was a man of peace, but he foresaw that there was no power in legislation which could avert a horrible conflict between the two great religious parties of this empire. He was convinced, that the whole force of the 992 Roman Catholic Church was exerted for the recovery of their lost domination and the re-establishment of Catholicism in Ireland, and, if it succeeded there, Protestantism would be subverted in England. England would discover, when it was too late, that she ought to have fought the battles of Protestantism on the Irish shores. Notwithstanding the observations of the noble Earl, he should feel it his duty to attend and preside at the meeting of the Protestant Association to be held to-morrow. The noble Earl called it an exclusive meeting; and certainly it was so far exclusive as that they were associated for the purpose of maintaining those principles on which the Church and State were founded, and which, by the blessing of God, they intended to transmit unimpaired to posterity. If, however, the noble Lord gave him the challenge, he was ready to meet him on either the Protestant or the religious grounds, and a fair controversy should take place. He was ready to contend against the noble Earl, that the Roman Catholic religion denied the right of private judgment, and was inconsistent with every principle of civil and religious liberty. No man could be considered a free subject who was not allowed the unrestrained exercise of the greatest blessing the Almighty had given us—his reasoning powers.
thanked the noble Earl for having brought this question forward; it had enabled the right rev. Prelate to lay before their Lordships much information in connexion with it, which might be exceeding valuable hereafter. The noble Earl was indignant at what had been said of the clergy of the Church of Rome in Ireland. He begged to read to their Lordships a few words which he had extracted from an address delivered by Baron Richards, who was known to be as liberal a man as ever sat upon the judicial bench. At the conclusion of four of the trials in the county of Mayo, his Lordship said:—He could not but grieve over this depraved character of the people who could be guilty of the many crimes of this description (homicide), which had come before him during those trials; and several of those homicides had occurred as the parties were returning from the mass houses. He must here say he could not but think that the minds of the people of this country were as open to instruction as were those of any other, and if proper precepts were instilled into them, they 993 would be induced to abandon the outrages in which they indulged. He was certain they could be humanized, and he did say, that a heavy responsibility rested on those who met these people in the house of God; he meant their spiritual instructors, whose duty it was to keep them from violence and disorder, and he thought this could be done by reasoning and persuasion. Amongst the clergy were many excellent men, for whom he entertained a great respect; but, in the discharge of his duty, he considered himself bound to say, that he thought the people of this country as capable of receiving benefit from the instruction of their pastors as the people of any other country whatever. It was by the efforts of the clergy, more than by the law, that the people could be humanized. In conclusion, his Lordship said, it was awful to think, that a man could not go to a place of worship without being in danger of losing his life. Such a state of things could not be permitted to continue. The law must be enforced, or abandoned altogether.Now, he considered this a very high authority. It had been said, that the clergy of the Church of Rome were misrepresented. He denied it. He would go further, and assert, that if they were firmly allied to this great empire, Ireland would be found to be in a perfect state of tranquillity. She might be made a help and source of great strength to England, which at present she certainly was not? How many years was it since the Emancipation Bill had passed? Surely that measure put an end to the penal laws; not one of them was now existing. Then why had not the country improved? How was it that Ireland was in the degraded state described by the noble Earl? And since those measures had failed, how, he would ask, was she to be tranquillised? Was it by giving her up entirely to the Roman Catholic Church? He regretted, that he should not be able to meet his noble Friend (the Earl of Winchilsea) to-morrow at the association meeting; but he was prevented attending by being obliged to go out of town. He should have been most happy to have sat on his Friend's right or left hand.
§ Viscount Melbourne
begged to say a word or two before the question was put. The noble Earl had moved for the production of certain portions of letters addressed to the noble Earl by certain ecclesiastical personages. They were entirely private documents in the possession of the noble Earl himself, and he begged to observe, that it was not usual to move in this manner for the production of such 994 documents, and he thought there would be a very great objection to producing them. In the first place, if private documents in the possession of the noble Earl might be moved for, other private documents in the possession of the noble Lord might also be moved for. Then, again, to agree to the motion on the ground that the noble Lord who made it, consented to the production of the papers, would be open to objection in this way, it would enable any noble Lord to place any document he pleased on the journals of the House. As he supposed the noble Earl had obtained his object in making the statement he had addressed to the House, he trusted that the noble Earl would have no objection to withdraw his motion.
The Earl of Shrewsbury
—My Lords, I am not going to trouble you at any length, but I cannot altogether allow myself to pass over unnoticed some of the observations which have fallen from the right rev. Prelate. The right rev. Prelate seems to forget the terms of his challenge. He comes down to the House saying,—"Oh! I have found it all out at last; here is the secret of the tremendous demoralization of Ireland!" and then throws his papers on the table as the proof of his discovery. Now it is to that point that I have directed my attention, while the right rev. Prelate has been completely begging the question, by running into matter altogether irrelevant to the purpose. I have shown that the oath is just where it was; that it has not been condemned at Rome; and that so far from suppressing evidence to that effect, as the right rev. Prelate asserts, the document he has now read, namely, the letter of Pius VII., is the very one I accused him of concealing from our view; for it is plain, that the same sentiments and feelings, respecting this oath, have prevailed at Rome at all times.
The right rev. Prelate, though he admits the fact, expresses his surprise, that Dr. Murray should have known nothing of this correspondence, though at Rome so soon after it had taken place. Now, my Lords, I was myself at Rome at the very time—Lord Clifford was there also; and though in all probability this very case came before Cardinal Weld, and though I saw Cardinal Weld and Lord Clifford, frequently, yet I never heard one syllable upon the matter, so little did it excite attention, and of so little importance was it considered. The case is, that, as 995 far as it regards this country, the oath has never been laid before Rome; nor could Rome, with the information she now possesses, judge of the terms of this oath according to the animus imponentis, by which its interpretation must necessarily be regulated: and if Rome has sometimes expressed itself strongly on this matter, it is to be attributed to a want of sufficient knowledge of the circumstances.
The right rev. Prelate maintains the accuracy of his quotation, and says, that he thought himself fully justified in inserting the word "Jesuit," because those were the doctrines which they held. But I can assure the right rev. Prelate that neither the Jesuits, nor any other class of men in the world, ever held such doctrines or opinions at all. As to the quotation in general, I have taken much pains to collate it with the original in the British Museum, and I maintain that Walsh is not representing his own opinions; he could never have imagined any thing of the sort. Here are the two quotations (holding them up), and any noble Lord may examine them who will, and see whether what I have stated be not correct.
As to what has fallen from the noble Earl, I am sure I had no intention of saying any thing offensive to him, far from it. I have by me here the first number of the publications of the Protestant Association, and though I will not trouble your Lordships with reading any extracts from it, I am sure it would convince you, that instead of condemning that association too severely, I have not been half severe enough; and I will just observe in passing, that I have never yet seen any case (when polemic controversy was in question) fairly stated by any one of our opponents.
My Lords, it is desired by the noble Viscount, that I withdraw my motion; and of course I must comply with the wishes of the House. But I cannot but consider it as another of the evils attending these sort of discussions, that the papers laid upon the table of the House, in the form of an accusation—for that was the form in which they were there laid—must so remain, without their explanation.
It is also another proof of the inconvenience, (though I do not know how your Lordships will agree with me in that), of our not having a resident and ostensible minister at Rome. A satisfactory explanation of this correspondence might 996 readily have been had, and your Lordships would have been saved "so much ado about nothing." It is really lamentable to see the time of the House taken up with such matters, which can only irritate and offend, where I am sure it is high time to heal and to conciliate.
§ Motion withdrawn.