HL Deb 23 May 1843 vol 69 cc752-4
Lord Camoys

begged leave to say a few words, which he thought were due to the character of a reverend and amiable prelate, who had been animadverted upon in severe terms on a recent evening by a noble Lord on that (the Opposition) side of the House. He did not think that the reverend prelate had used the language attributed to him. But, if he had, it was calculated very much to widen the breach between two classes of her Majesty's subjects. With respect to the present agitation which disturbed the peace of Ireland he was a sincere friend of the union between the two countries, but if he should be required to give his vote in favour of any measure of harshness or coercion to that country, he should do so with great reluctance.

Lord Beaumont

said, he had not believed, that in their Lordships' House, there could have been found a Member to palliate the conduct of the reverend prelate to whom allusion had been made. But he was glad that the noble Lord who had just sat down had not attempted to defend the reverend prelate for the gross abuse of the privilege which attached to the sacerdotal character of which the reverend prelate had been guilty at the meeting at Mullingar. He had spoken to several of his co-religionists, and upon their authority he could assert that the reverend prelate on this occasion had not spoken the sentiments of the general body of the Roman Catholics of Ireland. Since he had addressed their Lordships' House on this subject, he had received letters from several influential Roman Catholics, who all approved of what he he had said; and he now said more, that if any case of difficulty or danger arose he would be quite prepared to trust to her Majesty's Government, who might be supposed to have more information on the subject than himself, to take the steps necessary for the suppression of any attempt to dissever the empire. He distinctly pledged himself to support any such measure, if it became necessary, even though it bore the appearance of being what the noble Lord described, a measure of coercion. In consequence of the conduct of the clergy at the repeal meetings, it became the duty of all the friends of the empire to open the eyes of the people to the impropriety of their conduct, and to tell them that the duties of the clergy were to attend the beds of the sick, to instil hopes into the bosom of the desponding, to lighten the afflictions of the distressed, and promote peace and good-will to all, but not to attend meetings for the purpose of preaching revolutionary opinions,

The Duke of Wellington

only rose to remark upon the irregularity which was going on in alluding to a speech delivered on a former evening—a speech which was also irregular, in having been delivered when there was no question before the House.

Lord Brougham

said, that the aristocracy could not so much complain of the reflections that were made elsewhere upon their order, when they must acknowledge themselves to be so disorderly. Perhaps he, too might be a little out of order, but he hoped he should be excused, as he only troubled the House in justice to Dr. Higgins himself. He held in his hand an important document, signed by Dr. Higgins himself, the sentiments of which were quite incompatible with the language which the reverend gentleman was said to have used at Mullingar. The noble Lord read from the pastoral address of twenty-six Roman Catholic prelates of Ireland (of whom Dr. Higgins was one), calling on the Catholics to show their respect and gratitude to a wise and enlightened Parliament, and to their wise and parental King and his council, for having restored religious freedom to Ireland by passing the Emancipation Act. The document was signed the 9th of February 1830, and he (Lord Brougham) did not think that in ten years the opinions of Dr. Higgins could be so altered, that he should now denounce the Parliament and aristocracy, whom he then held up to the reverence and love of the Irish Catholics.

The Earl of Wicklow

knew that several right reverend prelates in Ireland were opposed to repeal. He knew himself, of two, Dr. Curteis and Dr. Murray, both of whom were men well acquainted with the country, and the circumstances in which it was placed. Had Dr. Murray been favourable to the principles of repeal he would have avowed it himself, and not have allowed it to have appeared through such an obscure medium as that of Dr. Higgins, at a bacchanalian meeting.

Lord Brougham:

he knew from a meeting of the Catholic clergy, headed by the primate, that the Catholic clergy were not, as a body, opposed to the union.

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