« PreviousContinue »
in compliment to the feelings of a noble nisterial power. A Petition, notwithearl, (Camden) long supposed not to be a standing all this, from a representative fixture in the government, might have body of the Catholics, elected by all the wished to have afforded him an opportu- Catholics of Ireland, sitting in the metronity of escaping from the head of the polis for many days, found its way to the council board, before the day of retribu. foot of the throne, although the two noble tive justice.
earls, who then administered the Irish goAgainst the question which I now offer vernment, would not suffer it to pass to your lordships' notice, no noble lord is through the regular official channel. The pledged, by either of these his former memorable session of 1793, opened with votes, nor by any feeling such as I have a speech from the throne, delivered by the described. From my present proposition, noble earl in the blue ribband, strongly no one need with hold his assent, who is recommending to the parliament the Canot a devoted and pledged friend to into. tholic Claims, and the elective franchise, lerance and exclusion, on their own in- unlimited and entire, and all the valuable trinsic merits. Simple and uncompli- concessions of the act of 1793, restored to cated, in all its native digoity and impor- the Catholics, by a Bill, introduced into tance, the cause of your Catholic fellow parliament by the other noble earl, and subjects now approaches your lordships. backed by all the influence of his MaAnd the known removal of that obstacle, jesty's.government. which has so long stood in the way of its The obsequious Commons of Ireland, accomplishment, leaves every man at li- among whom, in the preceding year, berty to take up the question now, on its forty-five were only found, who did not own peculiar grounds. And though there pledge themselves against the grant of any should be some little deviation from former further concessions to their Catholic coun. opinions and former votes, no one need be trymen, now and for ever, inspired on the ashamed of such a change of sentiment, or sudden with extraordinary sentiments of of turning, however late, out of the road, kindness and liberality; the intolerance of in which he has been travelling too long, the petty corporations abashed and put into that path, which leads to national con down, and by the timely and discreet reciliation, and national strength.
cantation of ihe Irish parliament, and the But, from the experience of some of wisdom and firmness of a noble viscount your lordships, and the history of the pro- (Melville) now no more, then the Secregress of this question in the sister country, tary of State for the Home Department, this House cannot be unprepared, for and to whose memory, for this just and changes of opinions somewhat sudden, in merciful act of his administration, I shall those who are now at the head of the Re- always look as to that of a great public gent's councils. Let me remind a noble benefactor, the important conciliation of earl, (the earl of Buckinghamshire) who has 1793, accomplished, without a struggle. been lately added to the confidential ser- So much for pledges, so much for convants of the government, and the noble sistency, so much for that infuriate reliearl (the earl of Westmoreland) in the blue gious phrenzy, which outstrips and insults ribband, of whose administration in Ireland reason; which is not the child of our unhe had made a part, of the proceedings in derstanding, but the offspring of our worst that kingdom in 1792, and 1793, compassions; which is not real, but affected; pared or rather contrasted with each other. which is provoked, and excited, but not
The rejection of the petition of the Ca- natural; which hypocrisy assumes, and tholics, in the House of Commons of Ire- interest deposes; which a tender heart land, in 1792, for only a limited elective could not feel, and an honest one would franchise, by the noble carl, at the head of not practise. a triumphant majority, pledges of lives But every former relaxation of the and fortunes
, for the perpetual exclusion penal code, in favour of the Irish Cathoof the Catholics, by every corporation lics, from 1778, when their situation first throughout the kingdom, great and small, engaged the attention of parliament, to the in which the ever obsequious corporation period of the great concessions of 1793, of the city of Dublin took the lead, but, was in every instance, the measure of the unfortunately for the public, did not stand ministers of the crown, recommended on then, as it does now, the solitary example the last memorable occasion, by the king's of intolerance, the miserable object of mi- representative, in his speech from the throne. And it was particularly fit and of Wales, and before he had assumed the becoming, that so signal an instance of exercise of the executive functions justice and mercy to his suffering subjects, Lord Kenyon called the noble lord to should proceed from the gracious and im- order. He thought it highly disorderly mediate interposition of the common father to allude to the opinions of any person of all his people. For in what other cha- exercising the royal functions of the realm, racter could the sovereign power exhibit or to conjecture what they were ; as it was itself, with such appropriate grace and quite unparliamentary, to attempt to indignity? And so deeply is that feeling fluence the deliberations of that House, impressed upon my mind, that I should by stating the opinions of the Prince Reaccept, with some mixture, almost of re- gent. gret, as the mere triumph of the political The Earl of Donoughmore. If the noble struggle of contending parties, the impor- lord's patience in hearing me had not been tant object for which I am now contend- overcome, by his excessive zeal to preing for my Catholic countrymen; if the serve order, he might have learned, by this unhappy circumstances of the present time, that I had no intention of saying moment, did not lead me now nearly to what he has supposed me to have said. despair of its accomplishment at any time, Had the noble lord heard me out, he would as the measure of unenforced liberality. have found, that I was speaking merely to
But, why was not this question already a point of history, to what history records, put at rest, and the good work of concilia- to have been, at a certain period, the poli. ting Ireland at least begun, by the gracious tical sentiments of the then Prince of reccommendation from the throne, of the Wales; to that, as such, I contend I have Catholic Claims, as an early act of the Re. a right to speak; and I must beg leave of gent's unlimited government? For the the noble lord to add, that such unseasonlast twelve years, the accomplishment of able interruptions are not the best means to that healing measure had been rendered, preserve order, and that all similar attempts perhaps, impossible, by those conscientious to obstruct my humble efforts in this good scruples, which were known to bave exist- cause, shall prove as impotent as the preed in the mind of a certain illustrious indi- sent. My Catholic countrymen have not vidual ; though the moment, at which placed their interests in such hands, as will the existence of such an obstacle was an- permit them to be thwarted and put down, nounced to the public for the first time, by interruptions so unseasonable, improwas assuredly not the most appropriate per, and disorderly. and satisfactory ; under all the circum- Lord Kenyon appealed to the House, stances of the case. It was not, till after whether, in his view of the noble earl's the ministers in both countries, and argument, he was not justified in calling amongst the rest a noble viscount, who sits him to order. If, under that impression, in the other House, had given to the Ca- he had unseasonably interrupted the noble tholics the strongest grounds of being as- lord, he regretted it.
He had merely sured, at least of the early and favourable acted from a sense of his parliamentary consideration of their claims, in the impe- duty, without intending any thing personal rial legislature, and that they had accom- to the noble earl. plished the measure of union by such ef- The Earl of Donoughmore. I admit that fectual aid, that they discovered, or at the interruption of the noble lord would least communicated to those whose ser. have been perfectly just and seasonable, vices they no longer needed, that they if I could have so entirely forgotten mycould not perform their part of this so self, as to have introduced the name of the strongly implied contract. 'It is, however, Prince Regent, to influence the proceedmatter of public notoriety, that such an ings of this House. But what was the obstruction has now entirely ceased to true statement of my argument? I had exist. To whatever I or any other per been reminding your lordships, that every son may conceive to be the actual opi- former concession to the Catholics, had nions of the Prince Regent, at the present been the professed measure of the minister, moment, on this or on any other public and in the instance of 1793, recommended question, I know it would not be parlia- to parliament in the speech from the mentary for me to allude in this place, throne. I had been explaining to your But, if I may be permitted to argue, from lordships, why, in deference to the scruples what the opinions of the same illustrious entertained in a certain quarter, such a person were known to bave been, as prince recommendation could not have been reaa (VOL. XXII.)
sonably expected, during the last ten your lordships, whether it was not absurd years, and I was naturally proceeding to to charge those with whom he acted, with enquire, why, since such obstructions were refusing to discuss the subject matter of now entirely removed, no message had the Catholic Petitions? Was not the House, yet come down to this House, from the argued the noble and learned lord, then Prince Regent, respecting the Catholic engaged in that very discussion, into which Claims. Was this to be characterized, as we complain that we have not been peran attempt to influence your lordships' mitted to enter ? But the noble lord must deliberations, by the use of the name of have been perfectly aware, that it was imthe Prince Regent? My argument had an possible to give to any measure a due
paraspect directly the reverse. The object liamentary consideration, excepting in a of my complaint was, and I thought it committee only. For what arguments matter of serious regret, that the Regent can it require, to convince any reasoning had not, in this instance, exercised the le- mind that no great measure can be disgitimate authority of the third estate, by cussed with a view to any practicable rerecommending a measure of such pressing sult
, except in a committee. And above importance to the consideration of par- all others, the case of his Majesty's Caliament, and with which the former sen- tholic subjects; split, as it is, into so many timents of his royal highness the Prince subdivisions, by the various heads of proof Wales, were known to have been so scription, to which they are still exposed; completely in unison. Must I then be and branching out, as it does, into so many compelled to lament, the voluntary sa- complicated relations, of individual incrifice of these acknowledged and avowed terests and public security. To refuse feelings, to the assumed scruples, and po- to a subject, so extensively complicated
10 litical religion of his Royal Highness's in its several relations, so deeply interestministers? And is the public to be insulted ing to the public weal in its important still with the same ridiculous mummery results, a grave discussion in a Committee The convenient consciences of the minis- of the whole House, is to say, in effect, ters, and of their sovereign, continually that you will not discuss the subject at all changing places, and alternately giving for any practical result ; it is to shut your way to each other, with the greatest mu- ears against the Catholic grievances altotual politeness, between the principal gether and for ever; it is to turn from the actors in this disgusting scene, and nothing bar of this House unheard, four-fitths of appearing to be forgotten, but the interests the population of the sister country, who of the people.
claim at your lordships' hands the restitu. On behalf of the Petitioners, I do not call tion of their own constitutional rights; upon your lordships to come at once to the and the other Protestant million of the immediate grant of any further concession, constituency of the same state, who de. to the immediate repeal of any of the still mand a free and complete admission, for existing disabilities. The object of the their Catholic fellow subjects, into the conmotion, with which I shall conclude, is for stitution of their country. enquiry only. Can any man be prepared Having at all times, whenever it has to say, that in the long list of exclusions fallen to my lot to address your lordships by which the Catholics still continue to be upon this subject, put the question on the kept, in a state of marked and degraded strong ground of constitutional right, I will contradistinction to the rest of their fellow not now degrade its magnitude and imsubjects, there is not one, from which they portance, by condescending to enter into may with perfect safety to the state, from a detailed consideration of the particular which they ought to be relieved ? Is it pos- impolicy and mischief of each existing sible, that there can be any one noble disability; nor now be driven to argue lord in this House, who is now prepared, every separate head of exclusion as a disat once and without the decency of some tinct grievance in itself, on its own peculittle previous consideration, to pass sen- liar constitutional demerits. tence of perpetual exclusion against them; It is the principle of exclusion against from every constitutional privilege, to the which I raise my voice that principle enjoyment of which they have not been which would draw a line of perpetual deadmitted already.
marcation between the citizens of the But the noble lord on the woolsack, in same common-wealth, the subjects of the resisting, on a former occasion, a motion same King-which would brand upon somewhat similar to the present, asked the foreheads of our Catholic countrymen the foul imputation of unassured fidelity to state from the enjoyment of advantages the parent state-would claim for the Pro- possessed by the community, is in iiseli a testant part of the community the British positive evil. constitution as their exclusive inheritance Having thus shown the existence of the —and cut up by the roots every prospect mischief, and established the title of the of uniting those conflicting interests, by Petitioners to the enjoyment of these their that complete and useful adjustment, which common rights, from the intrinsic .evican be expected to stand on no foundation dence of the statute of exclusion itself, I less assured than this ; the enjoyment of have fairly thrown it upon his Majesty's the same constitutional privileges; the ac- ministers to come forward, and exbibit 10 knowledgment of the same constitutional this House their apprehended dangers ; rights.
and to shew to your lord: hips, if they can, Placing my argument on such high that the removal of these exclusions would ground, I will not fritter its consequence be attended with some great constitutional away by endeavouring to shew, by'a re- evil; that the continuance of them, at the gular train of proofs, why the same man, present day, is rendered indispensable by to whom, as colonel, the command of a some over-powering state necessity. regiment is now confided, may not be But here the advocates for perpetual exsafely trusted, as a general officer, with the clusion interpose their never-failing objeccon mand of a brigade; why those, who tion, and ask us, with astonishment and are already spread over the face of the dismay, whether we are really prepared whole country, as justices of the peace, and to entrust the Catholics wiih political who, at the quarter sessions, in every one power? Surely, my lords, this argument of the thirty-two counties, administer the has long since gone by; the question has functions of civil and criminal jurisdiction, been decided against iheir own objection, so extensively, may not preside in the by the act of his Majesty's ministers of superior courts, as judges of the land; and 1793. why those who are already admitted into For will any man affect to doubt, that the elective franchise, should not them- the Catholics are in possession already of selves be eligible to the trust of represent. great political power? Is it noi obvious ing others ?
that they are the electors of a great proOn the act of 1793 I take my stand, portion, perhaps of the majority, of the containing, as it does, a long catalogue of Irish representatives? They are already grievous disabilities: I produce it to your admitted into the state, by the possession of lordships as sufficient evidence, to prove the elective franchise; against the grant of the case of my Catholic countrymen, in which lord Clare, their great opponent, the existence of those exclusions from con had argued, as the certain and necessary stitutional privileges; the removal of forerunner of seats in parliament. They which is the ground of their present ap- have therefore thus acquired already, an irpeal to the wisdom and justice of this resistible claim to the restoration of that, House.
the most important of all their present ex. I produce the same statute to your lord-clusions, from the evidence of the act of ships, as a most important document, in 1793, and the argument of as able, and favour of the Petitioners' claims, in an- as persevering an opponent, as the Cathoother point of view : inasmuch as, by the lic claims had ever to encounter, in any great importance of the privileges which place, or at any time. it restores, it enacts the most authentic With respect then to those dangers proof of the conviction of the legislature, which were still said to exist, as obstacles ibat that class of persons, on whom it bad to the removal of the still existing disabiconferred already so great a portion of lities, with respect to the additional secupolitical power, were worthy of perfect rities which some still called for as indisand complete confidence, as assured mem- pensable, for the safety of the state, before bers of the Protestant state.
ihat consummation of the justice of parOn that foundation, so ably and so liament, so devoutly to be wished for, broadly laid, in the statesman-like and could take place, it is only necessary for weighty argument of a noble marquis me, to desire your lordships to read the (Wellesley) on a late occasion, I lay ihe statute of bis Majesty's ministers of 1793, corner-stone of my argument.
with as the title of the Catholics to ihe great him, that every restraint, excluding a para constitutional privileges, to which they ticular description of the subjects of any were then restored, as the firm foundation
on which they built their future hopes, as of that population has been represented by establishing the principle of legitimate a noble viscount, (lord Castlereagh) a claim on the one hand, and just conces. member of the same House, and another sion on the other. For what did that sta of the ministers, as more influenced by tute say, in terms the most explicit their priests than by the law, or any other These are the tests of your fidelity to the authority or consideration whatsoever. constitution, this is the touchstone, by Permit me now to ask your lordships unwhich your religion is to be tried, as it af. der what circumstances it is, as relating to fects the Protestant state ; take certain the disposal of the public money, that the oaths, and disavow certain feelings im- ministers dole it out for the education of puted to your church, and we will heap the Catholic priesthood, with so reluctant upon you important advantages now, with and so grudging a hand, in times of an an intention hereafter, of admitting you to unexampled waste and profusion, when a full participation of all those rights and the sum of 13,0001. is granted at the same privileges, of which you will thus have time, in the shape of stipends, to the memproved yourselves to be worthy.
bers of the Irish Protestant Dissenters ; But what is the language, and the con certainly an excellent and much deservduct, and the conciliation of the ministers ing body of men, but whose congregations of the present day ? - For these, I will first scarcely comprize one-tenth of the popu. direct your lordships' attention to the pro-lation of that part of the United Kingdom; ceedings of the other House of Parliament. and when, in the pure spirit of proselytism, The funds of the establishment at May. which we are not disposed 10 pardon in nooth, the only and exclusive source, as any sect of Christians, with the exception your lordships know, of education for the only of our national church, for the educaministers of the Irish Catholic church, | lion in the Protestant charter schools, and having been found inadequate to effectuate in the principles of that religion, of a mere this, the avowed object of its institution, an handful of the children of Catholic parents, application was made, and repeatedly is apportioned the enormous annual sum pressed upon the Chancellor of the Ex- of 41,0001. chequer, year after year, for such small So much for the spirit of conciliation addition to the annual grant, as should towards the Catholic part of the commu make it commensurate to the original pur- nity, which has su strongly marked the poses for which it was intended. What proceedings of the other House of Parliawas the mighty sum required ? An addi.ment. Now we will look a little nearer tion only of 4,000l. to the usual yearly home, and see what the spirit of conciliagrant! and that for affording the benefit tion has been in your lordships' House. of moral and religious education to the In the printed report of a late debate, on whole Catholic priesthood. But in what the motion of a noble baron for the remanner did the ininisters receive, and an- moval of the Regent's ministers, one of swer this just and reasonable suggestion ? them, another noble baron, (lord MulWith a blank, unqualified negative ; and, grave) is made to ask, whether the Caas if to sharpen the edge of this disappoint. tholics did not say, that they would be sament, in itself sufficiently marked and tisfied with the concessions of 1793, and goading, the scruples of the conscientious yet they come again, continues the noble Secretary of State for the Home Depari- baron, like the beggar in Gil Blas, asking ment, are called into activity ; and the alms, with a pistol pointed to your breast. Catholic insulted by the lamentations of As this is put interrogatively, and not the right hon, gentleman, that the col- in the shape of an assertion, I have a lege of Maynooth had ever existed at all, right, without offence to the noble speaker,
an establishment supported by the to whom it is attributed, as my own know. state ! Indeed, so much in hostility were ledge of the fact sufficiently enables mę the feelings of ministers here declared to to do, to meet his lordship’s question, with be to ali bis Majesty's Catholic subjects, a direct and unqualified negative; neither that it was matter of deep regret to this did the Catholics themselves, nor any pure and upright servant of the crown, friend of theirs, condescend to enter into ihat the benefits of the education were so unworthy a compromise on their beever, even in part, afforded to the members half. On the contrary, during the pro, of that religion; the professors of which gress of the noble eari's Bill in 1793, he compose four.fifths of the whole popula- will remember that further concessions tion of the state, and where the conduct were moved to be added to it by way of