Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

institution to the person so elected, all possibility of foreign influence in the appointment would be completely excluded, and the selection of a proper person would be secured by the oath above mentioned.

Mr. Webber in a long speech gave a detailed view of all that had occurred respecting the Roman Catholics of Ireland, from which he drew the inference, that the measure now proposed is utterly hopeless as a plan of conciliation.

Mr. Bathurst, in speaking against the motion, said, that one of the most extraordinary assumptions in the arguments on this occasion was, that things were now brought to such a state, that some change must be effected in the laws respecting the Roman Catholics. This he denied in toto; and maintained, that unless the House was prepared to overturn the fundamental principles of the constitution, it was impossible to accede to the concession called for.

Lord Castlereagh said, that one of the difficulties which attended this discussion was, that it was scarcely possible to adduce one new argument or new topic which was not already exhausted on each side of the question. At the same time it was not the less necessary that Parliament should, with all convenient speed, deliver itself from the agitation of this painful subject. It was, however, to be recollected, that there was no probability that this question could be laid asleep, by persisting in a system of permanent exclusion. After the noble lord had delivered his opinion with respect to the subjects of concession and se

curity, he declared that he found himself, as on former occasions, bound in duty to support his right honourable friend's motion. He was persuaded that the question could not be otherwise got rid of. He saw no danger in the measure ; and he did not believe that the quantum of power which it would give the Catholics would enable them to do mischief, even if they were so disposed.

Mr. Peel, after some preliminary observations, said, that there are two systems possible to be adopted in Ireland, between which we must make our choice: the one is that on which we are acting at present, the other that which we are called upon to substitute in its place. By the first we give every toleration to the faith of the majority, but maintain that of the minority as the religion of the state. We exclude them from offices which are immediately connected with the government of the country, admitting them generally to all other offices and distinctions. This system it is proposed to replace by another, which shall equally profess to maintain the religion of the minority, as the established religion, but shall open to the Roman Catholics both Houses of Parlia ment, and every office in Ireland, exclusive of that lord lieutenant. It will be my purpose to prove that the law we are now acting upon is preferable to that which it is proposed to substitute in its room. Do not suppose (said Mr. P.) that I think that they constitute in the abstract a perfect system, or that I rejoice in the exclusions and disabilities which they induce. I regret that they

are

are necessary, but I firmly believe that you cannot alter them in any essential point for the better. Mr. P. then entered into an examination of the existing laws, with those meant to be proposed to supply their places, and in every instance he attempted to show, that remaining just where we are is the only safe and solid ground of defence.

Mr. Grattan made a concluding speech with much force and animation. He began with positively denying that there was any general disposition in the Catholics to object to any security; for what is for the good of the whole is for the good of the Catholic. After pursuing this idea to a considerable length, he said, some honourable gentlemen speak of the constitution, the state, and religion, as opposite to the motion. Let them state in what the dangers consist. Until they do so, their arguments are of no avail. Without the foundation of facts they prophesy consequences, for the purpose of perpetuating disqualifications on their fellow subjects. The Catholic claims have now been agitating for nine-andthirty years. They have gone through every kind of consideration, and their interest doubles at every discussion. In these discussions no doubt individual irritation has occasionally appeared, and poison has occasionally been infused into the minds of the Irish population. Is this state of things to be allowed to exist any longer? Are we to continue that sort of English connexion in Ireland, which is called a settlement, and which must be defended by an army paid by the people over

whom it is placed? This is a system which cannot last: depend upon it that it cannot. If you exclude the people from connexion with their own state, they will in the natural course of things attach themselves elsewhere. One part of the Irish population is morbid and excluded; another is unnaturally vivacious. Let a new order of things mark the times in which we live; and let an immediate and effectual termination be put to any clandestine intercourse between the Catholics and the see of Rome.

The right hon. gentleman's peroration was to the following effect: "When I see Britain grown up into a mighty empire; when I behold her at the head of the nations of the earth; when I contemplate her power and majesty; I own that I am deeply astonished to find her descending from her elevation to mix in the disputes of schoolmen and the wrangling of theologians, who, while they seek for their own purposes to torture their countrymen, endanger the security of their common country."

The question being at length loudly called for, there appeared For the motion Against it.

Majority

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

221

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

245

24

On May 16, the Earl of Donoughmore rose in the House of Lords to move for a committee to consider the petitions of his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects. He said, that he had caused to be placed upon their lordships table two petitions which he had the honour of presenting to the House during the last session, on

the

the same subject. One of these the present practice, yet a great

was that of the Roman Catholic nobility and other respectable persons of the laity; the other that of the prelates and clergy of the Roman Catholic church. Both of these parties were equally desirous of again offering their petitions to the view of their lordships; it is necessary, therefore (said the Earl) that the House should be perfectly aware that they have now before them the whole Catholic people of Ireland, represented by these, their humble petitioners.

His lordship proceeded to say, that thinking it his duty to abstain as much as possible from all generalities, he should prefer laying the case of the petitioners before the House in the shape of a refutation of those calumnies with which they have been so industriously loaded. In the course which he had chalked out for himself, the first objection which occurred might seem rather to suit the period when their lordships had gone into a committee. The Catholics might previously be asked, "What is your object? We will not go into a committee to grope our way in the dark, and seek out principles for you." But it appears from the public press that securities of a threefold nature have been devised; namely, domestic nomination; the security called the veto; and the payment by government of the Catholic church. With respect to domestic nomination, the enemies of the Catholics say that this is no new security at all, for such has been the ancient mode of electing Catholic bishops almost without an exception. But though this is giving nothing new, looking to

deal is given in confirming for ever the principle of domestic nomination. As to the veto, his lordship acknowledged he cannot offer that, since he certainly disapproves of it as a member of Parliament, being convinced that it would commit the Catholic prelacy and priesthood most effectually to the Irish provincial government. He objected also to the payment of the Catholic church by the state, as a mode which would destroy the just reward which they receive for their religious labours. My measure, said his lordship, is a direct and absolute nomination, which is what I mean to propose if you shall be pleased to go into a committee.

The Earl then answered those arguments which he found scattered here and there in different publications relative to the subject. In general they seemed to require little attention; but one, which bears hard on the Pope for his anathemas against sending forth the Scriptures among Catholics without a commentary, received a retort which, as respecting the Pope, appears unanswerable. If it can be shown (says his lordship) that reverend divines of high rank in this country have held a similar principle, then this act cannot be alleged against the head of the Catholic church as an intolerant one.

There are, my

Lords, two members of that reverend bench who are most strongly opposed to the system of disseminating the Bible without a suitable comment. I wish to avoid any possible misrepresentation, and to pay every mark of respect to the right reverend pre

late

with moving, "That this House do resolve itself into a committee of the whole House, to consider the petitions of his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects."

The speeches on each side were upon the whole so similar to those delivered in the House of Commons, that little addition by way of argument can be expected from. them. It may, however, be desirable to give a view of what the Earl of Liverpool, regarded as the prime-minister of this country, considered as the leading point.

late opposite me, and have therefore copied from the pamphlet, published by him on the subject of Bible societies, his own words. The words made use of by the right rev. prelate, (the Bishop of Landaff) are these." But it is urged, if you still require that the Bible, however extensively you may wish to distribute it, should be accompanied by the liturgy, you must certainly suspect that there is danger to the established church from the distribution of the Bible alone. Here let me ask whether the Bible itself is not capable of perversion? Whether the best of books may not be misapplied to the worst of purposes. Have we not inspired authority for answering this question in the affirmative?-But if we neglect to provide the poor of the establishment with the book of Common Prayer as well as with the Bible, we certainly neglect the means of preventing their seduction from the established church. The dissenters remain dissenters, because they use not the liturgy; and churchmen will become dissenters if they likewise neglect to use it with the people. Have the persons to whom Bibles are gratuitously distributed either the leisure, or the inclination, or the ability, to weigh the arguments for religious opinions? Do they possess the knowledge or the judgment which are necessary to direct men in the choice of their religion? Must they not learn it, therefore, from their instructors? And can there be a better instructor, in the opinion of churchmen, than the book of Common Prayer?" The Earl concluded his speech rest: to that I will adhere. The

I now come (said his lordship) to the main question: Are the Catholics entitled to enjoy privileges equal to those enjoyed by the members of the established religion? It has been well observed, that in point of abstract principle, no description of persons can complain of unequal privileges who voluntarily place themselves in a situation by which they forfeit their right to equal privileges. I ask, not only as it affects the Catholics, but as it affects every other body of dissenters from the establishment; do they, when they require equal privileges, offer equal conditions? If they do not, can it be contended that there is any injustice in distinguishing between them? I have always considered that the civil establishment was necessarily interwoven with the church establishment. This will be found a leading and unalienable principle in the earlier periods of our history. It was the leading principle at the period of the Revolution, when the connexion between the state and the church was solemnly recognized. On that I

moment

moment you throw open the door the first time that I have heard

to equal and general concession, and say that the only difference between the churches of the dissenters and the churches of the establishment is the ecclesiastical establishment of the latter, that moment you will cease to possess the means of maintaining what is essential to the security of your establishment. Parliament will immediately cease to be a Protestant parliament.

To this strain of reasoning, Earl Grey made the following reply. The noble Earl opposite has stated one danger, but it is of a nature somewhat unsubstantial, although he earnestly calls your Lordships attention to it. It is, that if the Catholics shall be admitted into full participation of the privileges of the British constitution, the Parliament of this country can no longer be called exclusively a Protestant Parliament. Really, my Lords, this is

the name of a thing prized beyond the substance. The noble Earl argues in this manner. He thinks that though the Parliament would be substantially the same, great danger is to be apprehended if two or three Catholic representatives should be admitted into the other House, and two or three Catholic peers restored to their hereditary seats in this House. Surely never did the wit of man devise a danger more futile and imaginary than this!

The House being at length divided upon Lord Donoughmore's motion, the numbers stood as follows:

Contents, present
Proxies

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

54

36

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »