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It appears also from the Maynooth report, that the sentiments of the Roman Catholic church in France, even before the Revolution, are considered in Ireland as much too liberal. In the kingdom of the Netherlands, the analogy with our government completely fails. Ours is a Protestant government, formed by the union of two Protestant kingdoms, having an established Protestant church in Ireland as well as in Great Britain, but containing a great number of Roman Catholics and Dissenters. The kingdom of the Netherlands, on the contrary, is an union of two parts; in one of which the Protestant, and in the other the Roman Catholic, is the established religion. It was, therefore, impossible that they should unite on any other terms than those of religious equality, and a concordat was with much difficulty obtained from the pope, regulating the religious condition of the Roman Catholics. By this concordat, the nomination of the Roman Catholic bishops was virtually placed in the hands of the king, though they were to receive investiture from the pope. The king accordingly proceeded to nominate seven bishops to the vacant sees; but of the seven, the pope confirmed only the Bishop of Namur, and the other sees still remain vacant. We may judge from this example of the probability of a concordat for Ireland producing general union and tranquillity, even if it could be obtained on satisfactory terms; but we know that the Irish prelates in 1825 declared, before the Committees of both Houses of Parliament, their resolution to submit to any persecution rather than admit the interference of the government in their ecclesiastical appointments. I cannot, therefore, augur favorably of the continuance of religious concord either in France or the Netherlands, though Isincerely desire it may prevail; not only because as a man and a Christian it is my duty to wish for the peace of other nations, but because any serious convulsion taking place in either of those countries could not fail to endanger our own. At any rate, these examples are much too recent, and the experience we can yet have of the settlement of those governments too short, to afford any safe precedent for an alteration of our own. Another assertion often made, and most assiduously insisted on of late, is, that the people of England are become favorable, or at least not hostile, to the Roman Catholic claims, and that it is now only a contemptible remnant of bigots who oppose them. These bigots, however, comprise a considerable majority of the House of Peers, about an equality in the House of Commons, and a vast majority of the loyal, honest, intelligent, and independent commonalty and yeomanry of England. Of this, the meeting on Penenden Heath was a striking illustration; but as I wish to prove every thing from Roman Catholic authorities, or those of their advocates, I shall cite one of the ablest and most constant of those advocates—the very mouthpiece and manifesto of liberalism—namely, the Edinburgh Review. “The friends of the Catholics have, indeed, too long kept out of sight the real difficulty which impedes the progress of all measures for their relief. There has been a nervous reluctance, perhaps a natural unwillingness, to approach this subject: yet it is of the utmost importance that it should at least be fully understood. The difficulty, we believe, is neither with the King nor with the Cabinet—neither with the Commons nor with the Lords. It is with the people of England; and not with the corrupt, nor with the servile—not with the rude and uneducated—not with the dissolute and turbulent, but with the great body of the middling orders;–of those who live in comfort, and have received some instruction. Of the higher classes, the decided majority is, beyond all dispute, with the Catholics. The lower classes care nothing at all about the question. It is among those whose influence is generally exerted for the most salutary purposes—among those from whom liberal statesmen have, in general, received the strongest support—among those who feel the deepest detestation of oppression and corruption, that erroneous opinions on this subject are most frequent.” It then proceeds to instruct the friends of the Catholics how to convert the people of England, and concludes with thus addressing them. “But of this they may be fully assured, that, while the general feeling of the nation remains unchanged, a ministry which should stake its existence on the success of their claims, would ruin itself without benefiting them.” o I should only advert to one more statement of the advocates for emancipation. We are told that the bigots who oppose them are growing old and fast wearing out, and that the rising generation are universally favorable to the cause; and Mr. O'Connell has amused himself and his hearers by calculating in how many years no opponents of Catholic emancipation would be left. If it be so, why not let us die in peace Surely it is worth while to wait a few years to obtain, with the general concurrence and approbation of the people of England, a change which could not now be effected without exciting the greatest disgust and apprehension in the minds of a vast proportion of them.
But if it be otherwise, and if, as I hope and trust, our sons shall continue to be, as “their’ fathers and “our’ fathers have been, the staunch supporters and assertors of Protestant ascendancy, depend on it all efforts to shake that glorious cause will fail; and Penenden Heath will be again in future times, what it has so lately been, the scene of the triumph of the Protestant cause. I beg leave to conclude by reminding you of the excellent advice of our noble lord-lieutenant, that whatever degree of irritation may have been excited by circumstances preceding or accompanying the meeting of yesterday, might be forgotten as soon as we left the Heath, and that the men of Kent would only remember each other as neighbors and friends. I sincerely trust it will be my happiness to meet every one of my brother freeholders, of whatever party, with whom society or business may bring me into intercourse, on those terms only, and I have the honor to be, Gentlemen, With the sincerest respect, Your faithful and obedient servant, BEXLEY.
S P E E CH THE MARQUIS OF WESTMEATH,
DELIVERED AT MULLINGAR, -
On an occasion like the present, which is no common one, I think it is incumbent on me, in as few words as I am able, to express my sentiments. I should prefer being silent, being unused to public speaking; as indeed I should have preferred not to have attended, retirement being more suited to my disposition, if I were permitted to indulge in it, than to obtrude o into public affairs—and especially in times like the present, when the best intentions may be misinterpreted. But when one's country is rent to the heart by dissension, and when that dissension may arrive at something worse, perhaps even a person who is unused to mixing himself in popular discussion ought to recollect he is a citizen, and that he should in such an extremity set forth to avow his opinions, while yet the voice of reason may not be wholly extinguished. The Union has left me no choice as to the manner in which this sort of call should be answered. The only opportunity which I have of meeting it in a befitting manner is, to appear here in the county of which I am a native, and to give my opinion as a Christian, a Protestant—and an Irishman, that the present state of disqualification in which the Roman Catholics are held, owing to their religious profession, produces a state of society which is perfectly intolerable, and if protracted, the miseries of it can only be appeased by a sort of crisis which no one who has an atom of consideration would not prefer, rather to make any experiment, than attempt to precipitate.—This is the result of every man's experience who lives in Ireland, and who is not either blinded by ignorance or bloated by selfishness. To none of these then should parliament be so misled as to attend. If this meeting, or meetings like it, can influence the legislature, the voice of truth will not be wanting to warn and inform it. I am certain there are multitudes of the Protestant persuasion, like myself, in Ireland, who think the world is capacious enough for us all, and who are not desirous of seeing that system continued, which has only served for centuries past to keep our common country in a state of suppressed civil war; and, for the little that is known of us on the continent, as a people, to render us insignificant and contemptible. I speak of course respecting the Irish nation as such ; for, of individuals, even among the persecuted Catholics, who have been driven into the service of foreign countries, the splendor of the Irish character has always been conspicuous. It is perfectly unaccountable to me that any favorite theory can mislead any resident of this country, so far as to persuade him of the bare possibility of the penal laws on the Roman Catholics remaining unrepealed. It seems, to my humble comprehension, that supposing such a system defensible on any Christian principle, it is utterly impossible to continue it. The Roman Catholics have increased immensely in wealth, and, as we well know, in numbers also, since 1793, when the elective franchise was extended to them, and that their wishes and their ambition should be commanded, under those circumstances, to stand still, and that they should, as a body, be content under the existing inconsistent absurdities, is an experiment which has been made, and has got its answer. I am treating the subject in the most phlegmatic manner. I should not know how to arouse the passions of this assembly, if I were to attempt it; and, indeed, I think the only useful way to treat this subject is as a Protestant. To put it to the sober senses of those of our persuasion, whether any country on earth can prosper while a part of its inhabitants assume, no matter for what end or under what pretence, that it is expedient to lord it over their fellow-subjects, who are increasing in every thing which can be said to constitute power in every civilised nation on the face of the earth—population and wealth. This brings me very much to the pith of the contest. We have recently seen set on foot, in the sister kingdom, a self-constituted society, called a Brunswick club, and great pains taken to promote a similar one in this kingdom. The state of the Catholic claims, or the means taken to advance them, is the excuse on which these societies were originated, and the question taken for granted of an existing necessity to justify them. That the protracted discussion, for years, in parliament on the Catholic claims, and the repeated refusals to concede them, should have produced irritation, when it is not penal to complain, is natural. It is not difficult to see that any degree of boldness used by the Roman Catholics, in speaking of their disqualification, would have been displeasing to the Brunswickers; because with a boldness which I should designate bravery, if its authors had experienced themselves what they seem so anxious to precipitate amongst us, they refer, in stubborn language, to 1688, as the golden period by VOL. XXIX. Pam. NO, LVIII.