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pressing the claims of the catholics of Ireland governed to be the prominent rights. I conto the consideration of this house, I am not sider, that those who compose the society pressing them as adverse or hostile to the of a state have a complete and unquestionpower or pre-eminence, much less the li- able right to equality of law; but I do at berty, or privileges, of the subjects of any the same time admit, that this principle is other part of the country. If I could per- not to be taken generally. I admit the force suade the house to do justice to the catholics, of the other general maxim, that salus poI should persuade them to render a most puli suprema est lex, and ought with proimportant service indeed, perhaps the most priety to be considered as an exception. essential that remains to be done, or that Not only very able men, but men of pracever was done, for the security, the great-tical knowledge, have in their closets conness, and general weal of the empire, whe- sidered it in that light. A most respectable ther with regard to its internal policy, or modern writer of our own country, now external relations.-It may be somewhat living, (Dr. Paley) has stated, that the gedifficult for me to choose on what part of neral right of government is to do whatever the subject it is most proper to begin. The may be necessary for the advantage of the plain and simple statement of the question, people: but he, and every man of sense, and the first argument in support of it, will tell you, that although this is undoubtwould naturally be drawn from matter of edly the general right, yet whenever it is fact, concerning which no controversy or exercised by restrictions with regard to one difference of opinion ever did or can exist ; class of the people, such exercise becomes an I mean the nuniber of persons who are af- abuse; or, in other words, the people have fected by the question. If I had not heard a right not to be restricted in any thing that that different opinions were entertained with is not adverse to the safety of the country. respect to the policy and expediency of The people have a right to be exempted gegranting the prayer of this petition, I should nerally from unequal restriction, but when hardly think it could be a question, whether the safety of the country demands it, and a portion of his majesty's subjects, so con- history shows us that such instances are siderable as nearly one-fourth, should be on numerous, they are exceptions to the rule, a footing with the remainder, or should and have always been so considered.—In have the enjoyment of equal laws, privileges, the way in which different persons consider or advantages, and the full participation and this subject, a difference of opinion has bertefit of the constitution and government been produced, but the conclusion is the of the country? Against the principle so Some say they would give the cagenerally stated, cause may be shown, sup- tholics what they require, as a matter of positions may be urged, and facts may be favour, and a matter of policy; but not as referred to, with a view to show that this, a matter of right. Now, I say, I'would give as well as any other general principle, may it to them as a matter of right: but we, be liable to error. I will not detain the however, shall not differ, if the practical house long upon this point; but it is neces- consequence of our reasoning come to the sary I should call its attention to a topic, same thing. I would give it as a right, bewhich may be considered more an object of cause it is the general right of the people
, theory than any thing else. I shall trouble and because there is no exception which the house but shortly, and only explain my ought to operate against the catholics of opinion, that, whatever difference of senti- Ireland. Though government has a right ient and feeling may exist, that difference to impose restrictions ; yet, if there be 110 is purely theoretical--the question, in point necessity for them, then comes the right of of practical application, is precisely the the people to enjoy the benefit of every law,
What some call rights, and what provided such enjoyment is not mischievous others call indulgences, are precisely and in its consequences to the country. It was exactly the same. the differences are rather therefore, sir, I wished to say these few differences between words than things.- words, because it is so important a part of There are two modes of considering this the subject, and one which, from the na· question ; ist, as it regards the rights of the ture of it, cannot be à question to-day, but subject ; and 2dly, as it affects the rights of may recur and become a question for futhe crown. That which was most in fashion ture consideration. I should wish that all at different periods of the last century, was should understand each other, and partithe latter mode of viewing it. For my own cularly that it should not be supposed there part, I do consider the rights of the people is any essential difference, when, in fact, it
is a difference of words rather than of prin- that, where the circumstances on which a ciples. Whatever differences exist with re- law is founded have ceased, the justice of spect to the two theories, it is evident they continuing that law can be a matter for fair lead to the same practical consequences. reasoning. It may so happen, though I To apply this to the Roman catholics of think it has not so happened in this case, Ireland, I do not lay down a. principle too but it has nearly happened, that the fact of large, when I state that it is the general long restrictions may make it difficult afterright of the catholics, as well as of the pro- wards to restore the objects of them to that testants, to be on an equal footing, to have situation in which they would have been if equal laws, privileges, and immunities, in the restrictions had never been imposed. I all cases where they are not prejudicial to think one may generally state, that all the the welfare of the state. The only differences restrictions of the catholics were laid, not that could arise would be with regard to the on their religious but their political opinions. degree in which they should enjoy those At the time they were made, I have doubts rights. Cases might be put where persons whether many of those who concurred in might say nothing could justify a departure them did not disapprove of the principle; from the rule of right, but expediency. and I have doubts also, whether others did Some might say, political advantages, con- not mix sentiments of persecution and rannected with external relations, would justify cour with those restrictions. I would not it; others would require such a degree of wish to go to antient times; but in the expediency as would amount to a necessity. early period of the reigns of Queen ElizaThey would require that not only the great- beth and James I. no one can suppose it was ness of the country, but the security of the any particular religious bigotry that led to country, should be concerned. I flatter the restrictions with regard to the catholics. myself we shall not go on such near shades. As far as one can learn of the character of The Roman catholics of Ireland have un- Queen Elizabeth, her faith was not so redoubtedly a right to equal laws; but the pugnant to the catholic religion as that of government has thought fit to curtail that many protestant ministers, who were prinright, and to put them on a footing disad- cipally concerned in the restrictions. She vantageous to them.-To enter into the managed the question with a degree of question, whether the laws for restraining prudence which proved her one of the most the catholics were originally politic, or, ra- consummate princes of the age. She seemed ther, whether they were just; that is to to be engaged in a general war with several say, whether the policy which dictated them great catholic powers, and particularly with was of such a nature as to render that just the King of Spain. From the connexion which was not within the general rule of which the King of Spain had with the cajustice, would be a discussion exceedingly tholics by the league with France, she was unnecessary at this moment. At the same necessarily involved in disputes with France, time, it will be necessary to attend to the as well as other powers of the continent; particular period of history in which these therefore they were political circumstances restrictions were principally imposed. I which occasioned those harsh and severe think I need not state what will be the ar- laws against the catholics which passed in gument in reply. No man's mind, I hope, her reign. Whatever other pretences might is so framed as to imagine that the restric- have been resorted to, it is plain the cations can be justified on account of the tholics were not considered as the loyal sublength of time they have been allowed to jects of Queen Elizabeth. But I am speakcontinue. Such an opinion would be a so- ing of old times, and the circumstances of licism in political reasoning; it would do them do not relate to the present. Even in away the original principle on which such the reigns that followed, very few restriclaws were founded, to contend, that though tions by penal law were enacted, very few they might be unnecessary at the time they restrictions of disabilities took place till a were adopted, yet that, by a long lapse of much later period. This may be accounted time, they have acquired a prescriptive light. for from the circumstance that there was If a restrictive law is made on account of no suspicion of the catholics; but afterwards, peculiar circumstances of a political nature, in the time of the Stuarts, and Charles I. the moment those circumstances cease, the and II., suspicions had taken possession of restriction ceases to be politic, and conse- the minds of the people of this country, quently ceases to be just. I cannot conceive which made those restrictions necessary, how any man can be justified in supposing many of which have been done away, and.
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some are now under consideration. When thought that more Jepjent measures were we come to the revolution, it is impossible likely to be more successful. The effect not to see that all the laws of the catholics proved that the measures adopted not only were political laws. It was not a catholic, failed, but they were of a nature which but a jacobite, you wished to restrain. When rendered their success absolutely impossible
. 41 King James was driven fiom the country; They were laws which, though nominally when his enei mous tyrauny became so against the catholics were substantially against the mixed with bigotry, that many persons pro- the jacobites. In the two next reigns the 4 fessed to be able to unravel his conduct, and same laws continued, because the saine spitell what to attribute to religion, what to rit was supposed to exist, and the same bigotry, and what to tyranny, it was easy danger to be apprehended from it. In the to suppose that the catholics si ould be ac- rebellions which followed, the conduct of tuated by an attachment for a king who had the catholics in remaining Guiet, gave thựra lost his throne in consequence of his par-'a just claim to the indulgence of the house ; 44 tiality for their faith. Ireland at this time yet no man who considers the grounds of was the seat of civil war. Undoubtedly it those rebellions, will think that any degree was natural, after that war was settled by of trust could have been reposed in the #1 conquest, to prevent the conquered from catholics.—We come now to the period of ti enjoying the privileges of the conquerors. his present majesty's reign : a period atau It was not against the religious faith of those which all danger of a pretender, and the who adored the Virgin Mary, or believed in return of the Stuart family to the throne, the doctrine of transubstantiation.--King was extinguished. I should certainly say, William was unquestionably a great man ; that all danger of that nature had vanished I may say the greatest that ever filled the in the latter end of the reign of George II., throne of this or any other country; but and that there was no longer any dispute as whoever would wish to raise his character, i to the succession to his majesty's crown, by representing him as a persecutor of he- From that period no further danger existed. resy and idolatry, niaterially mistake the During the lord-lieutenancy of the duke of character of that prince. I am persuaded, Bedford, at the time of his majesty's acthat he most reluctantly consented to harsh cession, the system of relaxation towards measures against the catholics of Ireland, the body of the catholics was adopted. There and only did so, because it was represented was a remarkable circumstance at the period to him by his ministers, that they were ab- to which I am referring, that proves to me solutely necessary.
That King William more clearly than anything else, that the would have acied wiser, if he had made causes of these restrictions were at an end. those restrictions less harsh, it is not now So far was the lord-lieutenant of Ireland, our business to consider. King William, in daring the American war, and the war with conceding his own to the opinion of others, France, from pretending that there was acquiescel, on the ground of the difference any danger to be apprehended, that upon of opinion among the Roman catholics as to an alarm on the coast of Cork, arms, though the right of succession to the crown, and in contrary to law, were put into the hands conformity to that advice which his ministers of those against whom the restrictions regave him. The years that followed the re- mained, on account of the unjust suspi, volution were mósi of them years of war ; cions that they were not worthy of being and those that were not years of war, were, trusted. Then undoubtedly there was a good with reference to the catholics, years of a deal of difference of opinion ; for although suspicious nature. Endeayours were made there was not much doubt in this house, to bring about a religious war, in which it yet gentlemen must know that the cathowas impossible for the enemy nat to have lics of Ireland were the subject of much looked with confidence to the assistance of consideration. I need only refer to the Ireland, and therefore the catholics were letters published by the late Mr. Burke rea disarmed.
It might have been wise so to lative to the conversations in those days. do. That there were bigoted motives ac- I remember, in 1776 or 1777, the matter țuating some I will not attempt to deny being mentioned in a conversation in this there were many persons in this, as well as house. It became a topic of discussion duthat country, who were of opinion, that by ring the period of the American war, when these persecutions they should convert to party politics ran high, and when persons the protestants the property of the whole felt warm, as undoubtedly they ought to kingdom of Ireland ; others there were, who feel upon occasions of such public ima
portance. The opinion then was, that it I tholics of Ireland, but also of the landed was a desirable thing to liberate the ca. property. This has been attended with the tholics froin the disqualifications which happiest effect. It has produced the effect attached to them; and I rather believe of soitening and correcting those distinctions that the real grounds of the motion, and between the catholics and the protestants, of the bill, moved and seconded by two which were found so oppressive.
The cacelebrated names, sir George Saville and tholics are now possessed of a great deal of Mr. Dunning, were not so much to relieve that property which was taken from their the catholics of Ireland. I did conceive, ancestors. I mention this, because one of that to bar a man of his right on account of the apprehensions with respect to the cathohis religious opinions, was tyranny, that lies was, that they had preserved memoirs of the maxim of salus populi never could ap- the ancient state of property, and that, on a ply, because the safety of the people could favourable opportunity, they were to claim not operate as a ground for preventing a of the protestants all the property that beman from enjoying his religious opinion. louged to their ancestors. This objection A great disposition was shown to follow up has been completely done away; for at this the system of relaxation. It was thought moment, if you were to reverse the act of that what had been done might lead to a settlement, and restore the properiy of those relaxation or all the laws against the cathy- who possessed before Cromwell's time, I bee lics. All tit scattered men's minds at the lieve the catholics would be as great sutiertime was this,-an apprehension of the pope ! ers as the protestants. And wlvat catholics? or pretender. There might have been in Why, the catholics who are now rich and some persons sentiments of respect and com- powerful, viz. the only catholics to whom passion, and in others an inclination to taunt we would give an addition of power. From or in-ult; but there was not one person the time of the acquisition of property by who h21 any digree of fear or terror, as the catholics, I have never been able to conone single ingredient in forming his opinion. ceive on what principle their demands were It was said, that the restrictions in Ireland, not conceded to them; least of all, wly the ferocious manners of those who were particular restrictions should have been kept protestants, and ihe insults sustained by the up, when others were abandoned. What cath »lics, laad produced, as Mr. Burke says, are the restrictions now existing ? The gea degree of desperation in that unhappy neral restrictions may be comprised under people, which made it doubtful how far these two heads : one, the incapacity under they were to be trusted. The effect of the which the catholics lie with regard to the ensystem had been that of changing, by de- joyment of certain offices, civil and military ; grees, the whole property of Ireland, and the other, the incapacity of sitting in either that country was brought into a state highly house of parliament. Gentlemen who have to be lamented. I do not mean to make attended to all this history of the restrictions any comparison between the treatment of of the catholics (sorry I am to say, a large the black slaves on the coast of Africa, and chapter in the history of Great Britain,) that of the people of Ireland; I mean only need not be told, that it has been useless to state, that it was a circumstance likely to with reference to the ends proposed, and cere produce the general disaffection of the tainly odious to those who have been affecta people, that the whole of the property was ed by it. I believe it is not considered by in the hands of the protestart ascendancy, foreigners as that part of our constitution while the mass of the population was catholic. which is most deserving of admiration. The Even among those whose forms of govern- two heads of restrictions are quite distinct, men are less free than ours, the property and Suppose I proceed to consider, first, that power should go hand-in-hand, and there with respect to offices; the restrictions should be no other distinction except that of under this head go either to limit the prex the proprietor and the servant. We began rogative of the crown or the choice of the by enabling the catholics to acquire property people. We restrain the prerogative of the What has been the consequence? The power crown in appointing the catholics to certain connected with the free trade and constitu- offices : let us, examine on what ground. tion we gave ta Ireland in 1782, has pro- Originally the test act was for the purpose duced an increase of property beyond all of excluding the catholics from the service proportion greater than that enjoyed by the of Charles II., to prevent catholics being protestants. There has been not only an in-appointed by Charles II. to executive officrease of mercantile property among the ca- ces: and here a very whimsical but strong
observation occurs. One of the most po- up the restraint. You have given it up with pular arguments in favour of the test, with a regard to all subordinate offices in the army view to the restraint on the prerogative, and navy, and in the profession of the law, and I have heard it frequently used, was, but you refuse it with respect to the higher that it was necessary to make the constitu- offices. Then you say to the catholics, tion agreeable to analogy; and that when have kept nothing from you as a body; it was insisted that the king should be of you do not all expect to be chancellors, gethe church of England, it was necessary nerals, staff officers, admirals, or other all his officers should be of the same persua- great officers; therefore, as you do not all sion. What beautiful uniformity there is expect to arrive at these distinctions, there in this, I own I cannot see. I apprehend can be no harm in forbidding any of you to that our ancestors reasoned in a very dif- obtain them !" Do you wish the Roman ferent manner. I apprehend it was not be- catholics to be actuated by a sense that they cause we forced the king to be a protestant, are trusted by the executive government, or that we found it necessary to have his offi- not ? If not, and you should, in giving cers of the same religion, but because we them offices, appear to entertain diffidence doubted whether the king was in reality a and mistrust of them, they will be executed protestant or not, and because we suspect with that remissness and disregard of the ed him of a design to overturn the consti- public service which such mistrust is calcutution of the country, as in the case of lated to inspire. Suppose I send to a genJames II. If we suspected him of being a tleman of the law, and I say to him, it is catholic, it was right we should not suffer true you may possess talents, but do you any officers to be near him who might assist think there is any probability of your being him in an infraction of the constitution. I lord chancellor ? He might probably anBut it is the most strange reasoning I ever swer, that there was not; but is there not a heard, that because the king being a protes- very material difference in having an impostant, and therefore not liable to suspicion, sibility and bar put to the advancement of a you are to prevent him from having the as- man to the honours of his profession? sistance of his catholic subjects. This test Suppose a person is engaged in trade, and passed in the reign of Charles II., and with he can gain a bare living, or perhaps save the approbation of a very great man (Mr. about twenty pounds a year. I say to him, Locke), who observed, that it might have “ you may go on, and be as industrious as þeen a necessary measure. The next reign you please, but you shall never make more was that of James II., who was a professed than 1,000,0001.” He says, he is contentcatholic. If there was any virtue in other ed. Well, but does any one think that this days-„God knows there was little enough in country could have arrived at the height it his : if he had repealed the test act, it would has, if there had been such a restriction on have been for the purpose of obtaining the the exertions of industry? It is not bemeans of acting against the liberty of the cause a man's quality is low, that he is subject. Then how came the laws to be prevented by the exercise of his faculties continued? The continuation of the test from becoming wealthy ; but if you limit laws after the revolution, was because the his endeavours, you destroy the spirit of dissenters being included in the test act, it enterprise and exertion which impels him, was the object of the high church party to and, by such a system finally prevent his hold the dissenters to a law which they had success. Do you not think it would be the favoured. It was a kind of compromise, on most destructive blow to the enterprise, inenacting it against the Roman catholics, to dustry, and energy of the country, and say, we will retain it against you. In this undermine the principal source of our riches, control of the parliament, it ought to be to put a restraint on the exercise of a man's observed how the question stands. The test genius and industry? Do we not often hear does not prevent the king from appointing of a person, not of consequence either from a catholic to any office, civil or military ; birth or fortune, say, I live, thank God, it only makes it necessary, after a certain in a country, were, by industry and talents, time, for the person appointed to do a I may arrive at the fortune of the greatest certain act. With respect to the catholic duke in the land.” Is not this cheering? dissenters, you have given it up in a great Is not the unlimited power of gain the great number of points, and you have maintained principle on which industry, enterprise, and it in others. We come now to the distinc-commerce exist? What should wesay ifmen of tion of those cases in which you have given particular descriptions were to be restricted ia