Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

affecting his majesty's Roman Ca- of the Roman Catholic religion, tholic subjects. Mr. Croker seconded which then was the established the motion, and was followed on religion of the state, but extend the same side by Mr. Canning, ing also the right of disposing of Mr. S. Wortley, Mr. Plunkett, benefices, of naming the clergy, of and Mr. Brougham. They argued deposing the monarch, and of abthe question

entirely on' general solving the people from their alleprinciples. The claim of the Ro- giance. The legislature accordman Catholics, said Mr. Plunkett, ingly provided for the absolute inwas a claim to be admitted mem- tegrity and inviolability of the bers of a free representative govern- church, and for the spiritual prement, and to the benefit of in- rogative of the crown, forbidding stitutions, the advantages of which at the same time the exercise of any belonged equally to every subject other than the established religion. of that government. He did not It was now long since any man say that the right would admit of had heard of any claim of the no exception, or control : for there pope, or any other foreign power, was nothing in the social fabric to interfere with the church, or to concerning which he would ven- exercise a right of deposing kings, ture to make that assertion. or absolving their subjects from Even the enjoyment of natural their allegiance ?

Those enactrights must be qualified, in a statements were, therefore, gradually of society, with conditions: still done away. In the reign of more must this be the case with Charles the 2nd, our ancestors obthe artificial rights given by the served a new danger-a monarch mere existence of society. But careless about religion, or secretly these conditions ought to be im- affected to an unconstitutional one, posed only in the degree which who was to be followed by a popish would be the most likely to pro- successor. Here their providence tect and preserve the rights and was as remarkable as before. They privileges of all. Whether the provided a remedy, not adapted enrights enjoyed by individuals were tirely to meet the evil, but the of the character of natural or of only one they could obtain ; which chartered rights, they were liable was, to require certain oaths to be to be withheld on the ground of taken by those who were to sit in general expediency. But, then, parliament. That was found inthe expediency must be clearly and sufficient on the accession of James unquestionably made out. At the end, who openly maintained the Reformation, the main object was Roman Catholic religion against to protect the rights of the throne the constitution and the rights of against the claims of a foreign his people. The legislature then power, and against the disaffection drove the monarch from the throne, of those subjects who might reserve and resolved that the sovereign their allegiance for that foreign power should be held inviolable power, to the detriment of the and unalterable in Protestant throne, and of the state in general. hands. Did he deny that the This being the object, how did our throne must be Protestant ? Was ancestors proceed? There were he doing any thing to weaken its the claims of the pope, not Protestant supremacy? No such simply interfering with the interest thing. Was there any mode or

He was

device to make that supremacy of beneficence was introduced, surer, which the genius of any which, having been now in pracman could suggest ?

tice for the space of forty years, ready to incorporate it with the had raised the Roman Catholics proposed bill, or to have it intro- of Ireland to a state of affluence, duced as a separate, yet concomitant comfort, and respectability; had measure. What were the dangers, given them a perfect equality of which afterwards threatened the civil rights; and had caused them establishment ? The claims of an to participate in the advantages of exiled family, and the plots and the constitution. What was the agitations of a disaffected party re- danger which we had now to tained in its interests. He ad dread ? Not the pope, not the mitted, freely, that the Roman claims of foreign potentates, not Catholics of that period were sus- the assumption of a power to dispected justly. What was the solve the allegiance of the people, course taken by parliament? All not the interests of an exiled fathe measures against the papists mily. The Roman Catholics had were continued. They were held perfected the proofs of their obeto be not good subjects, and unfit dience, and had been admitted to to be trusted either with honour their civil rights, as good subjects or power in the state. They were who were entitled to every thing coerced in their persons and pro- which they could reasonably claim. perty, deprived of their civil The danger now to be apprehended rights, sunk and degraded into was perfectly new, though not inthat wretched state from which ferior to that of a dispute concerning they were relieved by the benignity the supremacy or the succession to of the last reign.

This was a the crown. What was now to be natural course of reasoning, though feared was, to see four millionshe did not conceive it to be a very taking them at the lowest-of subwise one : but it showed, that our jects, having wealth, power, and ancestors adapted their remedies to respectability on their side, and the evils then existing, and press- awakened to a full sense of their ing upon their apprehensions. In condition, coming up, year after 1791, a new danger, and an en- year, to claim the rights and pritirely new difficulty, presented vileges enjoyed by their fellow subthemselves. The Roman Catholics jects, and retiring dejected and had proved themselves truly sub- disappointed. It was in vain to missive; they had been uniform tell us not to look at the dangers in their peaceable conduct : and of our own times, but to go

back to though rebellion had twice raged the Reformation, to the reign of in Scotland, no movement was James 2nd, and to the Revolution. made in Ireland in favour of the The present danger was the greatest, exiled family. But the Catholics, and was the only one for the so sunk and degraded, added no- House to consider.

While man thing to the strength of the state. would sleep or stop in his career, The landlord found that the lands the course of time was rapidly could not be sufficiently cultivated. changing the aspect of all human The valuable energies of labour affairs ; and all that a wise governwere every where paralyzed; a new ment could do, was to keep as close plan was adopted ; and a system as possible to the wings of time, to

watch his progress, and accommo- worth while for the Catholics to date their motions to his flight. contend: Were not these the very Arrest his course they could not; nothings for which Englishmen but they might vary the forms would cheerfully lay down their and aspects of their institutions, so lives ? as to reflect his varying aspects The motion was opposed by Mr. and forms. If this were not the Leslie Foster, the Solicitor Genespirit which animated them, phi- ral, Mr. Bankes, and Mr. Peel. losophy would be impertinent, and The latter, after commenting on history no better than an old al- the arguments of sir Francis Burmanack. The riches of knowledge dett and Mr. Plunkett, and conwould serve them no better than tending that the Catholics could the false money of a swindler, put not assert any claim of right to upon them at a value which once the concessions for which they now circulated, but had long since called, stated with great force and ceased. Prudence and experience clearness the leading principle, on would be no better for protection which he would oppose the meathan dotage and error.

sure in every stage. The hon. But, it was said that the Ro- baronet tells us, said Mr. Peel, man Catholics, though they might that he has never heard what the have civil rights, were not to ex- danger is; and he calls upon the pect political power. Was there opponents of his motion to point then nothing of political power in it out. Before I answer this call, what they possessed? They had I wish to inquire of the hon. barothe right of electing members to net what is the object of his preserve in parliament: they acted sent proposition ? "I as magistrates: they served as the object is, to communicate power jurors : was not that exercising to those who are at present expolitical power? This country cluded from it to devolve upon had liberally imparted education them a fair share in the framing, to them. Did not that put the administering, and executing of means of political power within the laws. Does the hon. baronet their reach? Once admit men to mean to give a mere barren capaenjoy property, personal rights, city, never hereafter to be availand their usual consequences, and able ? If the two Houses of Paron what pretence could they be liament mean to pass a measure of excluded from the institutions by this kind, surely there can be nowhich the whole of those posses- thing more unfair than to throw sions must be guarded ?

the odium of refusal of office else. It was asked, what have the where, and to create an unjust Roman Catholics to complain of? impression against the highest perthey are only excluded from the sonage in the realm. Parliament parliament, the bench, and the ought not to give the claimants a high offices of state ; which meant ticket of admission, and when it that they were only excluded from is presented at the door of the conthe making and administering of stitution, trust to the Crown to the laws, from all posts of honour shut that door in the face of the and dignity in the state. These party claiming a right to be alwere bagatelles, for which, accord- lowed to enter. ing to the argument, it was not If I were perfectly satisfied that VOL. LXVII,

[E]

presume that

concession would lead to the re- the concession now claimed put storation of peace and harmony, them on an entire equality? What and put an end to animosities, the is claimed is a mere capacity or existence of which all lament, I eligibility to office ; and after you for one, would not oppose the have granted that, will you be measure on a mere theory of the able to concede what the Roman constitution, when consent would Catholics would consider a just secure such immense practical ad- distribution of office? Would not vantages. But, because I doubt the distinction thus necessarily whether the removal of disabilities drawn, be infinitely more galling on the conditions proposed, will add mortifying, since it would be promote tranquillity in Ireland, or reduced to a mere personal exclulessen religious animosities; and sion? When vacancies occurred, because I think you cannot safely if a Protestant were preferred to a remove the disabilities, I am dis- Catholic, would it not constantly posed to continue the exclusion. expose the government to jealousy Are these disabilities the cause of and reproach ? The respective the disorders which have so long numbers of the Catholies and the prevailed in Ireland ?

As far as
Protestants in Ireland

may

be actual commotion is concerned, the 4,200,000 to 1,800,000 ; but, notdisorders have no such origin. In withstanding this disproportion, the province of Ulster, where the the property in the hands of the numbers of Catholics and Protes- Protestants is at least as twenty tants are nearly balanced, the Ina to one. Now, after equal capacity surrection act has not been in a of office shall have been given to single instance enforced. In 1792, all, the religion of the great mithe Roman Catholics came for- nority is to remain the religion of ward, and asked to be rendered the state. Is it then perfectly capable of holding the office of safe in Ireland to admit the promagistrates, and of enjoying the fessors of all religions to the enelective franchise. They wanted, joyment of the same privileges ? they said, nothing more, and those and after this has been accomplishpersons calumniated them grossly, ed, the Protestant church is still who said that their wishes went to be retained. I know several further. The elective franchise hon. members, and among them was conceded even more fully than the member for Montrose (Mr. they requested it; and Roman Hume), who contend, that it is Catholies were permitted to serve impossible. On this point he as well on grand as on petty juries. agrees with me: for, over and Since these concessions, has there over again, he has argued, that it been any diminution of party feel- is a mere mockery to suppose that ing and factious animosities ? I the Roman Catholics will be satisthink not. But the answer of the fied with a Protestant church essupporters of this proposition will tablishment. They will constantly be “While you retain any thing, endeavour to recover the power while you refuse to put both par- they have lost, by overturning a ties upon an entire equality--the system which they view with other evil will continue; but, as soon eyes than ours. The Catholic is as they are equal, it will cease.” to be admitted without restriction Admitting this for a moment, will into parliament, and into office,

provided the king approves of him. 2. That such parts of the said He is to be as perfectly free as we oaths as require a declaration to be are ourselves, unfettered by any made against the belief of tranrestrictions ; and at liberty to pure substantiation, or that the invocasue what he conceives to be the tion or adoration of the Virgin interests of his country, and the Mary, or any other saint, and the justice of his cause, with perfect sacrifice of the mass as used in the freedom. He comes into this church of Rome, are superstitious House sincerely attached to the and idolatrous, appear to this comreligion in which he has been edu- mittee to relate to opinions merely cated; he has all the influence speculative and dogmatical, not which his personal character gives affecting the allegiance or civil duty him; he is placed at the head of of the subject, and that the same a party. Is the Crown to say, may therefore safely be repealed. " although you are a man of pow 3. That it appears to this comerful abilities, yet I must shut you mittee, that in several acts passed out?” After you have capacitated in the parliaments of Great Britain him to become secretary of state, and Ireland respectively, a certain or first lord of the treasury, is the oath, commonly called the oath of Crown to turn round and say, “1 supremacy, is required to be taken cannot admit you ?" Is that the as a qualification for the enjoyment way to conciliate such a man as of certain offices, franchises, and this? But, suppose the Crown civil rights, therein mentioned. employs him in its service-in 4. That in the said oath and what a situation do you place declaration is contained, that no him? Can he exercise a sound foreign prince, person, prelate, discretion, in regard to those mea state, or potentate, ought to have sures which relate to the safety of any jurisdiction, power, pre-emithe church of England ? It'ap- nence, or authority, ecclesiastical pears to me, he cannot give a safe or spiritual, within these realms. judgment; and therefore I am for 5. That it appears to this comexcluding him; and not trusting mittee, that scruples are entertained to the Crown to refuse the ticket by his majesty's Roman Catholic of admission you have given him.” subjects, with respect to taking the

Sir Francis Burdett's motion said oath, merely on account of was carried by a majority of 247 the word “spiritual” being insertto 234.

ed therein ; and that for the The House then resolved itself purpose of removing such scruples, into a committee; when sir Fran it would be expedient to declare cis Burdett moved the following the sense in which the said word resolutions :

is used, according to the injunction 1. That it appears to this com- issued by queen Elizabeth, in the mittee, that by certain acts passed first year of her reign, and recogin the parliaments of Great Britain nized in the act of the fifth of her and Ireland respectively, certain reign, and which, as explained by declarations and affirmations are the 37th of the articles of the required to be made, as qualifica- church of England, imports merely tions for the enjoyment of certain that the kings of this realm should offices, franchises and civil rights govern all estates and degrees comtherein mentioned.

mitted to their charge by God,

« AnteriorContinuar »