« AnteriorContinuar »
those concerned in these sanguinary scenes obined, will necessarily be kept up. Much were catholics, and though the greatest will depend on the manner in which the atrocities were undoubtedly perpetrated by boon is granted. That it will, that it must some catholic priests, it would be very ex- be granted, sooner or later, I am prepared to traordinary if both these circumstances had maintain; for although I am not sanguine not taken place in the country where four- enough to expect a majority in favour of fifths of the inhabitants are catholics, and this inotion, I never can doubt that what I where there was also necessarily a large consider the course of justice, of sound ponumber of ignorant and bigoted priests. licy, what I will even call the cause of the That there were equal faults on the other protestant establishment, must and will fiside, I am persuaded. That the zeal of the nally prevail
. . Remove with a liberal hand, Irish protestants has been productive of con- and with an enlarged system of policy, all sequences as fatal, I cannot doubt ; but on civil disabilities on account of religion, and this subject I forbear to dwell, because I I am persuaded, that in a very few years, know it would sound harsh to some of my all sects of christians will become equally hearers, to whose loyalty and merits I am good subjects; and it will never enter into ready to do ample justice. My lords, it has any man's head to enquire, whether a candibeen said that the catholic body in general date for parliament or for office is of the is not interested in this question, which only established religion or not? But we must regards a few of the higher ranks; but I can not confine our views to the simple adoption never agree, that the whole body is not de- of the measures prayed for in the petition graded and insulted by this mark which is before the house, indispensably necessary
upon them, in excluding any of its mem- as I may think them for the welfare of the bers from the chance of ever being highly British empire in general, and of Ireland in useful to their country. “ But,” say their particular. The abolition of the catholic opposers, we have given everything hierarchy in Ireland has been called for, as
we never will concede to them power. necessary to the tranquillity of that country; They have all the civil advantages under the but I so totally differ from the noble and state ; but they shall not become the state learned lord, that instead of abolishing it, I itself.” Now let us consider to what extent would render it the means of reconciling to this power would go, supposing it granted the state and to the constitution the great to catholics disposed to abuse it. The few mass of catholic population. I see no reason seats they could obtain in this house, could why the bishops should not be placed under never be considered of consequence. In- the protection of government, and why they deed, exclusive of the five or six English should not be both nominated by the king, peers, who would afterwards have an irre- and paid by the public. By such means, sistible claim, as it regarded Ireland only, and not by the absurd proposition of connot one single member, according to the verting the Irish catholics to the established present mode of election, could be admitted, religion, by tranşlating the bible into Irish, unless nominated by the minister. The ar- may we hope to see them good and loyal gunent, with respect to the other. house, subjects, especially if the whole system of deserves more consideration. That some policy by which that unhappy country has catholic members would be elected is un- been governed, should be reversed; and questionable; but I am inclined to think that, instead of keeping the people in igthe number would be very small indeed. norance and barbarism, a liberal and wellSome noble lords who have spoken, have digested system of instruction should be maintained the extravagant supposition of adopted, and encouragement afforded to hathe whole number of one hundred being bits of industry, and respect for the laws. catholics. Others have. maintained, with Lord Auckland.-My lords; having exsome degree of plausibility, that in those pressed a decided opinion respecting the pecounties where the majority of freeholders tition of the Irish Roman catholics on its were catholics, the members would of ne- first introduction into this house, I have cessity be so likewise, grounding the sup- purposely waited to this late period of the position on the assertion that they would all debate, that I might learn the sentiments of be rather guided by their priests than by other noble lords. The discussion is now their landlords. I profess myself of a con- so exhausted, that I can compreas what I trary opinion, even if you suppose that, after have to submit to your lordships within these concessions, the old invidious distinc- narrower limits than I should have thought tions of civil and religious animesity com- right if I had spoken earlier. My noble
friend who presented the petition, has stated, | lieved from various incapacities affecting both that it involves the interests and happiness their properties and persons. The next of four millions of people :—my noble friend material act for their benefit was in 1781 ; might have said, that it involves the interests when I was chief secretary, and a member and happiness of the whole British empire. of the Irish house of commons. It is well In agitating a question of such extent and known that I gave no discouragement to magnitude, I am desirous to use a guarded that act, which, in addition to various inand conciliatory language ; but I must not dulgences contained in it, enables papists to be expected to sacritice truth and fair argu- purchase and to hold estates, with the exment ať the shrine of flattery ; nor will I beception of advowsons. I have greatly coninduced to withhold or extenuate any just tributed to give to the Irish catholics an in- reasonings that may present themselves to terest in the soil, and consequently a more my mind. I see nothing improper or dis- immediate attachment to the welfare of the respectful in the style and temper of the pe- community; but it never entered into my tition ; nor, indeed, was it to be supposed mind to allow them any share of the powers that individuals making a great request, of government and of legislature. The would express themselves in repulsive and jargon of emancipation was then unknown, offensive terms. I have not, however, ad- the æra of modern illumination was not yet verted to the wording of the petition so arrived, -that æra when it could be thought much as to its purport and objects; and it safe and practicable to maintain the limited is well worthy of remark, that the whole monarchy and established church of England bears a strong resemblance to the memorable without test-laws, and without any
restraint declaration of James the Second, in 1687, or incapacities affecting any description of for the liberty of conscience. There are in sectarists. The next and last concessions of both instruments the same plausible profes- any importance, were those which took sions of anxiety to conciliate and unite all place in 1792 and 1793. My noble friend religious persuasions, the same gracious pro- who opened this debate, has been pleased mises to respect the property of the esta- to say, that all the framers and supporters blished church, the same appeals from the of those measures must reflect on them with interests of trade, which always vibrate for- pride and satisfaction. My near relation cibly on a British ear, the same display of a (lord Buckinghamshire) has expressed a sigenerous earnestness to open every avenue milar sentiment this evening; and certainly of legalized ambition,--and all this as a it is an amiable and natural weakness in paprologue to the demand of a full and equal rents to speak with rapture and admiration participation of power, and of the means of even of depraved and very ugly children. acquiring power. Your lordships will re- I have always contemplated the abrupt and collect, that this declaration was soon fol- improvident concessions of 1793 with dissent lowed by another, which notified that papists and regret; I have done so in common with had been appointed to all the principal of two very respectable friends of mine, the fices of the state; and recommended to the late lord Clare, and the present chancellor people to send papist representatives to the of the Irish exchequer. Those concessions new parliament.-- From the epoch of that placed the protestants of Ireland in a relative inauspicious precedent in 1637, to the æra situation, which impressed on every observof French fraternity and Irish rebellion in ing mind the urgent necessity of a legislative 1798, the notions of an equality of political union of the two kingdoms; and yet they power had been suffered to lie dormant. tended to increase the difficulties of a meaDuring the greater part of that long period, sure which thus became essential to the the Irish catholics had been subjected to a peace and safety of the empire. But great system of intolerance and restraints much too as those concessions were, they only served severe to be defended, except on ground of to stimulate the appetite of the Irish cathoa real or mistaken necessity; and even solics for further claims; and, in 1795, the lately as the 12th of his present majesty, an lord lieutenant (earl Fitzwilliam) shewed a act was passed " to enable papists to take strong disposition to gratify them to the full not above fifty acres of unprofitable bog, extent of their wishes. Happily he was with half an acre of arable adjoining, not supported by the government of that for not above sixty-one years."--The first day, though it was composed of the same measure of any extent in favour of the Irish individuals who now urge the same measure catholics was in 1778; they were then em- for which they recalled the noble earl from powered to take long leases, and were re his vice-royalty. The career of concessions to the catholics was soon afterwards inter- / within the pale of our government and lerupted by that rebellion, over the horrors of gislature, a sect which professes a religion which I wish to throw a veil, and afterwards essentially adverse to our own. The tests by the discussions and arrangements which prescribed by the wisdom of our ancestors eventually accomplished the union of the for the exclusion of that sect, have nothing two kingdoms. In the result, a period of to do with toleration ; they were framed on comparative tranquillity has now been at the plain and evident presumption of law, tained ; and the Roman catholics and their that he who receives the sacrament of the advisers have thought it eligible for the pre- church is of the church.-I have been glad sent application.- What then is the purport to hear it avowed by the noble mover of the of that application ? Nothing less than a full question, that the petition cannot rest on participation of all corporate franchises with any assurances given or compact made at in the empire, and of all official, judicial, the time of the union. In truth, it was and legislative powers! In examining the impossible to make such a compact without tendency of this gigantic grant (which, in the concurrence of parliament; and if such truth, is of small moment to the bulk and a consequence of the union had existed in general population of the catholics) we must the mind of any individual employed to presume that it would be efficient; for if its frame the articles, it should have been stated operation were to be as insignificant as some at the time, both in good faith to the Irish... noble lords seem to expect, there would be protestants, and in the honest discharge of either a fallacy in the demand or a dupery duty to the respective parliainents of the in the concession.- Perhaps it would not be two kingdoms. It will ever be a consideradifficult to shew that such a grant would be tion of just pride to me, that I have borne an infringement of a fundamental article of no small share in adjusting all the details of the union with Scotland, and also of the fifth that transaction; and I do not hesitate to article of the Irish union. But I wish to declare, that if the concessions now proposed negative the petition on a broader ground. were in the contemplation of those with My noble friend, whose eloquence and ar- whom I acted at that time, their views were gumentative powers have introduced the industriously concealed from me, and from application with every possible advantage to others of their associates. It is indeed true, it, has admitted, that it could not be stated that, soon after the union, there was, apas a claim of right. Certainly it could not. parently, a sudden change in the opinions Every legislature has the inherent power of of some leading persons respecting the suba qualifying and restricting the possession and ject now in discussion. I do not impute exercise of civil privileges for the benefit of any blame to that change, or doubt its sinthe whole community. It is that power cerity, though I must deplore it. That which regulates the qualifications of the change has given an irreparable shock to electors and of the elected, the rights of suc- the confidence of public men in each other ; cession, minorities, marriages, and all the and to it, perhaps, are owing many of the limitations of property; it pervades the whole distractions and difficulties under which the system of our laws; a denial of it would empire has since laboured. It is admitted, tend to individual representation, to an that the petition is not grounded on any Agrarian distribution, to universal equality, claim of right, of toleration, or any comand to general confusion. --Still less can the pact, expressed or implied, at the time of petition rest itself on the ground of tolera- the union, lwit merely on a question of extion. The petitioners indeed allege, that pediency. In arguing the questicn, I will they are “ entitled to a toleration not mere- not cling with a blind attachment to the acts ly partial, but complete;" and yet they well and systems of former ages, though sancknow that they already possess what they tioned by the settlement in favour of the describe, and that, ex vi termini, those who house of Brunswick, and by the blessings are tolerated cannot share the power of those resulting from it. I am well aware, that who tolerate. In the benevolent temper of the objects and principles of legislation must our toleration we do not restrain the exer- change with the times, interests, and exa cise of any religious persuasion ; but we feel igencies of the day ; but no doubt arises in and know that our reformed religion is most my mind that the exclusion of the Roman congenial to the spirit of our free constitu- catholics from political power, contributed tion; that the protection of the one is the essentially to our free and happy constituprotection of the other; and, above all tion, and ought still to be maintained for things, that it would not be safe to admit its security. Nothing has happened to di
minish my anxieties for the stability of that “ their anxious desire to extinguish all momild and true religion, which, by its precepts tives of disunion, and all means of exciting and influence, is so incorporated with our discontentent." If there be any eventual constitution, that they must stand and fall responsibility in this business, it must fall together. If you admit the catholics to a on the heads of those who first agitate a participation of power, you admit the ene- question, of which they must have foreseen my within your camp. All men have a the result, if they had only duly adverted to natural desire to extend the predominance of the known opinions of the several branches of a religion they believe; nay more, it is the the legislature, of the whole body of the sacred and prescribed duty of the papist, if Irish protestants, and of the general mass of he be sincere in his creed, to undermine the British people. I will be guided, and, our church; for he believes it to be fatal to I trust, a large majority of your lordships the souls of his professors, and must feel also, by a due estimate of the opposite rethat, in demolishing it, he is rendering a sponsibilities.-I cannot mean any disrespect service to his fellow-creatures and to God. towards the supporters of the petition; I It is a fundamental principle of the church know they are as adverse as I can be to the of Rome to exercise spiritual dominion over equalizing doctrines that have taken root in the christian world. The titular bishops, at the minds of many; but I must pause before their ordination, swear to defend, enlarge, I can accede to that levelling liberality which and extend the authority of the Roman would consider the episcopal protestant church, and of their lord the pope.” Their church, that of Scotland, that of Rome, and metropolitans in Ireland avow the same ob- all the sectarists in the empire, as entitled ligation, and proclaim, at this hour, in their in justice and expediency to the same polipublications, that the spiritual power of the tical privileges, powers, and functions.- My pope is the same as ever. These doctrines lords, as we have seen, within a few years, are enforced by the priests. Religion is not many awful warnings of Providence in the similar to the ordinances of human institu- fall of states and kingdoms, and in the vition, and capable of being qualified and re- cissitudes of human affairs; chiefly owing strained in its energies by law. The Roman to innovations in civil government and incatholics love their religion; its principles difference respecting religious establishare irreconcileable to other persuasions, and ments, have we not good cause to adhere to its hierarchy is incessantly and indefatigably a system of which we had a long and beactive, and subject also to the occasional neficial experience? We have more to risk influence of foreign states. If this sect than any nation under heaven. The present should become co-ordinate in power with long and perilous war is directed against the the reformed religion of the British empire; spirit of innovation, to which so large a if we once admit the theoretical solecism of part of Europe has fallen a victim. Did it a protestant monarch and papist councils, not commence for the safety of our civil we shall find ourselves involved in a religious and religious constitution? So long as the anarchy.-The petitioners are pleased to as- ancient barriers of that constitution shall be sure us that they “ do no seek to encroach preserved, I am confident that we have noupon the revenues of our bishops and clergy." thing essential to fear; and yet I am not Nothing is so false, in principle or in prac- blind to the increasing dangers and protice, as the notion of giving much, that no- tracted difficulties which still press upon us. thing more may be asked
-I will not contest prophecies with some • The cruel something unipossessid,
noble friends, who are pleased to say, “ Leavens and poisons all the rest.”
that the day cannot be distant when the deAnd though the dangers thus described are mands of the petitioners will be complied not imminent, still they are not so chimeri- with. I see no such probability, even with cal as to induce us to abandon the bulwarks the assistance (which I will readily transfer we possess. The bars and bolts of a house to them) of a few noble persons who vote may be removed, and yet the house not pil- now against the petition, merely because laged; but every prudent man will keep his they think " the present is not the proper bars and bolts. It would be a breach of our moment.”-On the contrary, I hope and parliamentary trust to destroy or abandon rely that the well-meaning catholics of Irethe great outwork of that constitution under land will see and be convinced, that the which we have so long enjoyed such un- sense of parliament is pronounced against paralleled blessings. The petitioners, by a their application, upon grounds of immutasort of implied inenace, have expressed ble truth and reason, and at the same time
with all that good-will and affection which I next; to rebuke the legislature for its want ought to prevail between subjects of the of implicit reliarce on their invariable atsame sovereign.
tachment. Was it wished by those who Lord King lamented that there should be so urgently argued the necessity of uniting any serious difference at this crisis between those four niillions of catholics cordially in the English protestants and the Roman ca- the national defence, that they should be tholics in Ireland; he wished all differences considered as actuated to such a purpose, at to cease, and supported the motion as a mea- such a crisis, by motives of self-interest only, sure of wisdom.
after all the favours they have received, and Lord Bolton having formerly held an high all the declarations they have made ? Buť official situation in Ireland (chief secretary surely a much more generous and persuasive to the lord lieutenant) felt it his duty to ex- argument would be the manifestation of press the opinion on this subject which he precedent efforts and exertions, from genuinie. ład formed upon much reflexion. He con- patriotism, instead of conditional stipulaceived it extremely dangerous to grant to tions: but nothing could be more clearly the catholics political power, except under a necessary than that every species of menace. control, which was by no means proposed, or alarm, of unsteadiness or' apprehension, and which it would be difficult to devise : should be completely extinguished on both and he thought such an experiment the more sides, before an arrangement so important hazardous, as a language of constructive and delicate in its nature could be formed, menace had been held by many noble lords with a view to its permanence. Quitting of great weight, in course of this discussion, the course of general reasoning, he adverted who had said that, what is asked must be to the period of 1783-4, when the Irish cagranted, to preserve the country from im- pital was in a manner in possession of the minent peril of fatal discord and disunion self-organised Irish volunteers. The volunthat must follow a refusal. This was a lan- tary readiness to take up arms on that occaguage of direct intimidation, which could sion, which was urged particularly by the not be listened to for many reasons; for catholics as a peculiar merit, was followed nothing could tend more to remove all li- by an extreme reluctance to lay them down mits to future demand until the very supe- again, after the restoration of peace. Ocriority of power might be claimed or as-casional votes of thanks to those volunteers sumed. The house too was exhorted and had been moved, and too readily assented warned to concessions, not merely for the to, by the Irish parliament, as, in fact, the sake of interest, but of self-preservation. ocject was to prolong the continuance of an But, on the contrary, he feared much more institution not regularly acknowledged, from the concession than the refusal. Some which, in a different period, might well benoble lords went so far as to insinuate pretty come a subject of great political uneasiness. plainly that the house was encouraged to This was accompanied with serious sympventure on rejecting the petition, from a toms of internal disgust. But by a decisive reliance on the loyalty and patience of the vote of ultimate thanks to the volunteers, depressed and ill-treated catholics. He with a recommendation to disembody and would not hesitate to acknowledge his own return to the occupations of peace, in which reliance on the continued loyalty of these government had the gond fortune to be sufcatholics, who had hitherto maintained it; ported by the manly and powerful eloquence but that reliance would not be increased by of a distinguished character (Mr. Grattan). increasing to the catholics political power. at this moment, perhaps, supporting, with These oppressive restraints no longer exist ; his powerful energies, in another place, the and he would so far accredit their good prayer of this petition, which many fear, if ser.se, as to think that, with all the draw- granted, would be more dangerous to the backs on their privileges so strongly enu- established constitution than were the unmerated, they would yet prefer the station authorised parades of some catholic corps they now hold in the empire to any risk un- volunteers. It was about this time, too, der any change to which they might look that the first bill for an Irish militia was from the interference of any foreign power. brought forward, at the desire of gorernThey could be no friends to the catholics ment, by the late Lord Mountjoy, (who who argued their cause so inconsistently, since gallantly fell in defending his country as at one moment to menace the country against the fury of civil comition); and with the privation of all aid from them who, though the first to bring forward the without submission to their claims; and the catholic petition in parliament, afterwards fell