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law of exclusion, sacrificing the pretension crown, but immediately dependant upon the of the few, who might feel differently from pope; that there exists in Ireland at this the mass of their own sect, to public tran- day a most numerous body of Roman cathoquillity and security. He has admitted that lic clergy devoted to the doctrinal opinions the Roman catholics were in general so of the church of Rome, and maintaining tlfe strongly attached to the house of Stuart, as spiritual and ecclesiastical jurisdiction of to have justified the legislature in enforcing that court. In fact, the papistry is in many the oath of supremacy, and other tests, to points of view more formidable in the prethe exclusion of Roman catholics from po- sent state of Ireland, from the objects on litical power. He has debated much upon which it attaches, and the persons it influthat subject, and has justified our ancestors ences, and produces a more uncontrolable for their precaution. And I ask no other power over their people, than even before grounds of reason than those upon which the reformation. The objects of the first that hon. gent, has relied, to justify parlia- reformers were two-fold : the remedying ment in the rejection of the present catholic the avarice, voluptuousness, and power of claims. If attachment to the house of the clergy; the abolition of their separate Stuart has justified suspicion, and restric- courts of jurisdiction, and all those privi-, tions from power, how much more strongly leges, exemptions, and distinctions, they does the general aversion of the lower order claimed or proposed, and which enabled the of catholics and of their priests, to Britain clergy to cope with princes, and to oppress and British connexion, justify all our pre- and insult the people. Princes and people caution! I do not hesitate to assert, that had feelings in common, that led them rawith the middling and lower orders of Ro- pidly to concur in those points with the reman catholics, and the generality of their formers ; and countries the most catholic, clergy, under every change of governors or and the most devoted to the see of Rome, government, proposed or attempted, sepa- limited and curtailed its power and possesration from England has been the object in- sions, and wrested from it the supremacy in variably aimed at. Every passion, religious temporal matters. But matters of doctrine and temporal, all their traditions, all their being blended with matters of faith, and prejudices, unite to excite such feelings, and being admitted to be above the compreto render this sentiment predominant in hension of the lower and middling classes of their minds; and this house is deceived the people, not being equally apparent upon most fatally, if it suffer itself to be persua- the qualities of the mind, and the ostensible ded that they have changed those sentiments. conduct of those who governed or were go. The best historians agree that the Irish ca- verned by them, were not an object of jeatholics of King James's day used him but as lousy to princes, or of painful and degrading an instrument of separation ; they rendered contrast to the people. The catholic clergy, him desperate with England to ensure suc- unequal, therefore, to combat the feelings cess to their design—a separation—by forc- excited by their luxury and power, seldom ing him to confiscate all the protestant and attempted to punish, or indeed to bring into British property in Ireland. The hon. gent. question, offences against their temporal inhas disclaimed, with great levity, all know- terests, but accused their antagonists of ofledge of councils, and of the former opi- fences against the fundamental articles of nions of the catholics, and has entered into faith, and, with consent of prince and peo-abstract discussions of rights, and first prin- ple, inflicted punishments to any extent to ciples, for his purposes in my mind with which their passions and vengeance led great judgment; but an application of men's them. The Roman Catholic church, now, minds to the situation of the day, and to in Ireland, has all those sources of doctrinal existing circumstances, would prove fatal to influence over the faith of a bigoted people; his arguments, and to his object. Without their clergy frequentiy (as I admit), in the a knowledge of the catholic doctrines, and transactions between man and man, exercise of the influence of those doctrines, the ques- them for good purposes ; but they also have tion cannot be fairly understood, and that the power of giving a direction to the popu. wilful or assumed ignorance of their opinions lar mind, with an effect which is inconsistis unjustifiable in a gentleman agitating such ent with the general safety; and, in corroa question. I repeat, that the influence of boration of my opinion, I appeal to their the Roman catholic.clergy in Ireland is now conduct in the late and in former rebellions. most formidably great ; that in that country, In Ireland the British government seems, an hierarchy exists unconnected with the hitherto, to feel no apparent interest in opVOL. IV.
posing the power and encroachments of the stitution like that of this mighty empire, Roman catholic clergy; the people are left bend so far, as to sacrifice its bulwarks in totally in their hands; and from that inat- exchange for the strength expected to be tention, their great, and, in this debate, derived from the gratification of the feelings much-boasted influence has arisen : the Ro- of a few individuals ; those new doctrines man catholic clergy are now interwoven which teach a man to forget all he owes to with the people in all their common trans- the laws, the constitution, and the king'; actions of life ; true it is, they cannot punish all that he owes to his family, his property, criminals ; but criminals bear no proportion and his honour, if checked or controled in to the number in any state. But I call upon the pursuit of objects which he may be gentlemen to consider, what is the effect of taught to over-value ; and I lament that excommunication among the lower orders such loyalty is represented as only to be of Irish papists ?-It excludes a man from retained and secured by the sacrifice of our his family, and renders him hateful to it; constitution ! The numbers of the Irish drives him from his little tenement, nay, catholics have been stated with a double precludes him from earning his livelihood, object, to describe them as a source of if dependent upon his labour ; a power pos- strength, if conciliated, and of terror, if sibly greater than any possessed by the state, not gratified in their demands. If the higher from its general diffusion, unsuspected in- classes of the catholics have influence, and fuence, and extensive consequences : add have not hitherto exerted it, they can have to these considerations, the recollection of con- no claims upon the confidence or gratitude fiscated property, the long series of injuries of the legislature; but if (as I believe the alleged to have been committed by the Eng- case to be) they possess no power when oplish against the Irish, the remembrance of posed to the passions of the inferior people which has been constantly kept alive by tra- and the interested exertions of their clergy, dition, and by recent exaggerated state- I consider the yielding to their claims, a ments; and the well-known historical fact, sacrifice of the constitution for a most that claims to property cannot fail for want trivial consideration. On more general of hereditary succession, as, by the Brehon grounds, the introduction into parliament law, it exists not in individuals, but in the and the cabinet of a certain number of the name and Sept ; and the house will see the catholics, heading and acting as the organ reasons and motives for that dislike to of the catholic people, might be productive British connexion, which ever has, and still of the most fatal consequences ; divisions continues to influence the lower and more might arise among the protestants, and a numerous part of the catholics of Ireland, a misguided monarch might attempt to obtain peasantry directed by a clergy generally ig- powers incompatible with the safety of our norant in every point but their school-divi- church and state, by the aid and support of nity, all influenced by common motives of that catholic party or interest. Such views action, irreconcileable to British connexion were imputed to Charles the First; such at present ; under such circumstances, conduct was certainly adopted by James the though we cannot anticipate what growing Second; and of that misguided effort we wealth and more diffused intercourse may only escaped the fatal consequences, by hereafter effect, we must still be on our placing the present royal family on the guard. For these reasons I consider a know- throne. The concessions now sought might ledge of the doctrines of the see of Rome, also prove fatal to the catholics themselves, and their actu:) influence upon the Irish and tempt them (as it has hitherto done) clergy and the Irish catholics, as a most into struggles for ascendancy, which might serious subject of consideration upon this prove fatal to the privileges they now enjoy. occasion. As long as these prejudices and Their advocates boast much of their wealth, habits continue to influence their people, I fairly and honourably acquired under our am convinced no good effect can result from mild and equal laws'; honours have been concessions. I am equally convinced that conferred by the crown, or restored to their the better informed, the nobility and gentry, most distinguished families; the absence of feel too many advantages resulting from their jealousy, and the consciousness of our present situation, not to act with the ut- superior constitutional strength, justified most loyalty, and many, I admit, have al- our monarch in conferring these favours, ready distinguished theinselves by their con- and 'the protestant people in rejoicing at duct. But it would be reasoning like no- their attainment. But great states are disvelists, and not like statesmen, to make tinguished by the wisdom of their prethe great fundamental principles of a con- I cautionary measures; the wisdom of Bri
tish policy has led its councils to protect and loyalty of the protestants of Ireland; the crown from temptation, and to guard let her be convinced, they feel their
prothe conduct of the monarch against the perties, their honours, and their lives, deeffects of his passions and his wishes, by pendent upon British connexion : but if with-holding the instruments by which our England unfortunately forgets what is due constitution in church and state might be to, as brave and as zealous allies as any naassailed and subverted. Should a British tion ever possessed, her protestant subjects monarch entertain such views, the manu- of Ireland, she will have the most fatal facturing and preparing instruments would reasons to lament her acquiescence in their alarm the jealousy, and enable the wealth and her own destruction. Let England be and independence of the empire to rise in firm in her adherence to her laws and condefence of its civil and religious liberties. stitution. No catholic can be oppressed by As far as the feelings of the crown itself the laws in Ireland ; his property and his may be concerned, we must consider how person are protected by the same code and cruel it would be to render the exclusion of juries that protect the protestant. If, notsuch a description of subjects from his withstanding these advantages, any of them councils and the higher offices of state a should appeal to numbers, and be rashly matter of personal objection, and conse- tempted into rebellion, arms and the law quently of personal odium against the mo- must punish" the rebels ! With such imnarch himself.—The catholics surely expect pressions upon my mind, I should have felt that the capability which they now wish to myself unworthy of being the representaobtain should be productive of its effects. tive of my protestant countrymen, had I At present no individual can feel, in his not borne testimony to their zeal and their exclusion from power, a personal degrada- loyalty, but had shrunk from the weight
he must attribute it to existing laws, and talents of the hon. gent. I trust in and to the existing constitution. Give them God, and in the courage of the nation, capability, and then do not confer upon a that we are able to defend our law's, regreat proportion that share in the cabinet ligion, and property ; to maintain our faith, and the councils of the crown which they and to uphold the throne. fancy their boasted numbers and wealth Mr. William Smith proposed that the deentitle them to, and will you conciliate a bate be adjourned. He was perfectly presingle individual ? Will not discontent be pared to deliver his sentiments at the momore formidable than it is at present ? On ment, if the house were willing to hear the other hand, what would be the senti-him, and other gentlemen who might wish ments and the sensation of the people of to speak on the important question before this empire, were they to see a protestant them. It would, however, be unbecoming monarch, whose tenure to his throne de- the character of the house, and the impends upon his fidelity to his religion, sur- portance of the subject, if they came to rounded by catholic counsellors? Could any hasty decision.—The question of adany circumstances reconcile them to such a journment being loudly called for, choice in the monarch himself? And should The Chancellor of the Exchequer expressthe strength of parties (as it is sometimes ed a wish that the discussion could have supposed to have done) force such ministers, been terminated at that sitting, As, howe and such counsellors upon the throne, ever, it seemed to be the wish of other how miserable, how degraded must be the gentlemen to deliver their sentiments, he situation of our monarch, and how pre- thought it would be better to adjourn than carious the state of our religion and of our to state thein at a more advanced hour.civil liberties ! Such appear to me to be The debate was accordingly adjourned till the inevitable evils of concession to the pre- the following day.—The other orders of the sent claims ; and if we are to be reduced to day were also postponed, and, at 3 o'clock a choice of evils, and must consider catholic on Tuesday morning, the house aujcurned. numbers (as the hon. meinbers have held out) a source of intimidation, our ancestors have held Ireland in times infinitely more unfavourable, and against numbers infinitely
Tuesday, May 14. more disproportioned ; and I entertain no [MINUTES.)-On the motion of Sir John doubt that we should do sọ again. Let Anderson the house went into a committee England but understand her true interest ; on the report of the vintners' penition. let her justly appreciate the spirit, zeal, The report was ordered to be received to
morrow--On the motion of Dr. Duigenan / every one must have admired, and whose the Irish first fruits bill was read a third presence in this house is at least one advantime and passed. — Mr. Alexander moved tage conferred by the union on this country. the further consideration of the report of I know not, however, sir, whether the the committee on the Irish land partition event to which I have alluded ought not bill. The amendments were agreed to, rather to stimulate the friends of this meaand the bill ordered to be read a third time sure to greater exertion. I confess I should to-morrow.—Mr. Johnson, from the office think it much to be regretted if the unof chief secretary of Treland, presented favourable decision of another assembly copies of the proceedings in the Irish par- should lead the catholics of Ireland to apliament relative to the attainder of Corne- prehend that a sentiment adverse to their lius Grogan, esq. Ordered to be printed. wishes generally prevails. That decision, -Mr. Alexander brought up the report of indeed, diminishes their prospect of imthe committee on the slate bill; which was mediate success ;-but this house is an inagreed to, and the bill ordered to be read a dependent branch of the legislature ; we third time to-morrow. - Mr. Huskisson are bound to think and determine for ourgare notice of a motion on Thursday next, selves, and should we resolve to go into the for appointing a committee to enquire into committee, let us hope that, from the inthe expediency of allowing coals to be brought vestigation which may there take place, arto London by the Paddington Canal.—Sir guments may arise, by which the other W. Curtis moved, that the petition of the house of parliament may be led to agree in 3d of March, relative to improvements in the result to which we may finally come. the Port of London, be referred to a com- Sorry, however, sir, as I shall be if this mittee. Ordered. Accounts of the dif- motion should be negatived, I should be ferent sums presented to be raised by grand yet more deeply concerned if that determijuries of the several counties in Ireland, nation should be formed on such principles from 1st January 1775, to 1st January 1805, as were last night maintained. Must we were ordered to be laid before the house.
reject this petition ? at least let it be disMr. Western obtained leave to bring in a missed with temper and moderation, not in bill for rendering more effectual the protec- that spirit of harshness, almost of bigotry, tion of parishes against the losses sustained which pervaded the declamation of an hon. by them from the defalcations of taxes.- and learned gent. (Dr. Duigenan) which, Sir J. Stewart moved, “ that it be an instruc- with some others on the same side, I hope tion to the coinmittee to whom the papers. the chancellor of the exchequer will think it relative to the repairs of the Romney and his duty to answer and expose.—The speech Sensible had been referred, to examine delivered on the former part of this debate into the.purchase and expenditure of stores by the three hon. gentlemen adverse to the for the said ships, and also to enquire into measure, may, I think, be thus generally the loss of certain vouchers,” &c.
characterised the first learned gentleman, [ROMAN CATHOLIC PETITION.] The though entering largely into every part of order of the day being read for re- the subject, dwelt most on the nature of the suming the debate on the motion for refer- Roman catholic religion ; the second gentlering the Irish Catholic Petition to the con- man (Mr. Alexander) chiefly animadverted sideration of a committee of the whole on the evils to be feared from the influence house,
of their clergy; and the hon. attorneyMr. William Smith rose and spoke as general drew his principal objection from follows : Sir; as an opinion may prevail the supposition, that if all were granted that we now resume this debate in circum- which the petitioners now ask, they would stances less, favourable to the question than not even then be satisfied. To these gentlethose in which it stood last night, I beg men I would reply, in common, that they shortly to clear myself from all imputation assume the authorities and facts to be almost on that account, by declaring that, for every exclusively on their side of the question; personal reason, it would have been far but that, to their authorities, we claim to more agreeable to me to have proceeded oppose many of at least equal weight; and even at that late hour, except, indeed, from that facts, nakedly taken, divested of all the consciousness of a greater disadvantage concomitant circumstances, are not only in proportion as the comparison was more insufficient grounds of argument, but often near and immediate between myself and an lead to the most erroneous conclusions ; hon. gent, (Mr. Grattan), whose cloquence they are like those productions of art, which,
to be justly estimated, must be seen in their to those which vainly attempt to contravene true point of view, and in proper lights; the laws of nature. Nothing sublunary is and many of these supposed facts, if brought permanent but those impressions stamped into clear day, and shewn, unshadowed by by the Creator on the human heart, which the mists which passion and prejudice have teach us to expect gratitude and love as the thrown around them, would, I strongly general consequences of benefits conferred, suspect, appear under aspects very different and discontent as the equally certain result from those in which they are now presented of oppression: to our view.
66 If this fail,
The pillar'd firmament is rottenness,
And earth's base built on stubble :"
but cannot fail ; nor can those reasonings It was a fact, that Cassio was in possession be just, which assume that theoretical dogof Desdemona's handkerchief ; and though mas will, in the mind of man, for ever prethe inference which passion drew was false, dominate over just and generous sentiments, yet the consequence was fatal. Such a state over every feeling of integrity and truth. of things as has existed in Ireland may be And this, sir, naturally leads me to that seen too near, as well as from too great a point in which the catholics appear to have distance. Men, whose persons and families met with treatment peculiarly uncandid and have been exposed to all the miseries of civil ' severe. Objections on the subject of oaths discord and insurrection, though of the best are taken against them, if not contradictory, abilities, and with the best intentions, pos- at least inconsistent. If, from a regard to sessing, too, every advantage of local in-conscience, they refuse to renounce opiformation, and so far qualified to form the nions which appear to them purely religious, most accurate' opinions, can scarcely claim they are instantly loaded with the imputathat other indispensable qualification of a tion of disloyalty ; from which, on the judge, impartiality : their having been in- other hand, no protestations are allowed to terested spectators of the scene, perhaps ac- relieve them, because they are affirmed to tors in it, incapacitates them in a great de- be men whom “ oaths cannot bind.” If gree for determining as correctly as we may this be the case, sir, let the legislature be not unreasonably hope to do, with fewer consistent ; if catholics be thus incapable of opportunities of observation.-But to apply being bound by moral obligations, if they myself more directly to the argument of the be unsusceptible of any other restraints but first gentleman I have alluded to, I would those imposed by violence, let the penal remark that it puts an eternal veto on the statutes be re-enacted, or at least, let us proposition before us. While catholics re- consider whether it be worth while to keep main such, they must, according to him, in forced subjection such an irreclaimable necessarily be kept in this state of suspicion race. But is this character justly ascribed and degradation ! and why? - because to them ? on the contrary, do they not pro" the religion is unsafe, and its principles test against these imputations, and has not are immutable.” It is unsafe, because it their conduct justified their denial ? Have does not permit complete allegiance to a not thousands since the revolution endured protestant sovereign, and destroys all the heavy restraints and severe penalties, rather validity of those tests by which confidence than take oaths which their principles foris secured, and truth ascertained among bad? Why, in our own days, have such
These allegations, however, the multitudes of priests relinquished their procatholics deny ; they deny that they hold perty and their homes to avoid oaths which, all the antiquated and absurd notions, which if it were innocent to have evaded by a disfrom the musty records of ages long since pensation, it must have been even meripast, and councils almost forgotten, the hon. torious to have done so, when the interests gentleman would fix upon them, for no of their church had probably been essentially better reason than the pretension of the served by their remaining at their posts Romish church to be not only universal, Do not such facts under our own eyes speak but immutable. I know, sir, as well as louder than a thousand arguments drawn that gentleman, that she has preferred this from theory and hypothesis? But this is claim; I, too, have histories of councils not all : our government has shewn that it and collections of decrees ; but I also know entertains far different ideas. The majority that to be unchangeable belongs not to man, of the inhabitants of Canada being, like por to his best modelled institutions, far less those of Ireland, of the catholic persuasion,