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may say, without fear of contradiction, that this petition is generally from the Catholics of Ireland; that it is substantially true; and toat it conveys the wishes of the whole body. The motion which I mean to make is, that the House will resolve itself into a committee, in pursuance of the resolution which, at the desire of my right honourable friend, has been read by the clerk at the table. Sir, I know very well that a resolution of a former parliament cannot bind its successor. At the same time, I do not conceive that I am guilty of any impropriety in referring to the resolution of a former parliament. I have to lament, and it would be miserable affectation not to acknowledge it, that the petitions against the claims of the Catholics are very numerously and very respectably signed. I have to lament that there are still in my native country many individuals, enlightened in other respects, but fallible on the subject of religious distinctions. 1 have also to lament and condemn the venomous manner in which some of these petitions denounce the Catholics. I will avoid the example; and, in the allusions which I may find it necessary to make to the Protestant petitions, I will speak of those from whom ney have proceeded with the highest respect. I respect and love many of them. I dissent partially from their opinions; but I respect and love them personally. Nay, more; I will consider them not as present enemies, but as future friends to the Catholics. They live in the same country, they are embarked in the same cause, they nave the same battles to fight against the common enemy for the common interest. Never can it be my wish to widen the breach between great bodies of men. The particular object of the Catholic petition is general concord. Never can I think that any difference in religion must necessarily lead to civil discord. Never can I believe that revelation came down to us a firebrand, to justify parliament in withholding from a part of the subjects of the realm their just rights.
Sir, I am the more induced to hope that the cause which I have undertaken humbly to advocate, will ultimately be successful, because I recollect that in the Irish Parliament of 1792, some general and strong resolutions were adopted against the claims then made by the Catholics, and that, in the next session, more was actually granted to the Catholics than they had claimed. The understanding of the Irish parliament enlarged with the exigency of the state. 1 trust that this will be the case with us. With this view to the ultimate success of Catholic emancipation, I beg leave to make a few observations on the anti-Catholic petitions on your table, using that liberty with the arguments they contain, that my cause may require, but
maintaining the greatest respect for the persons who have signed them, and whom, I am persuaded, are sincere in that which I, nevertheless, consider to be a very mistaken view of this most important subject.
In the first place, I object to the manner in which, in many instances in this country, and more particularly in Ireland, these petitions have been obtained. In Ireland, they have been the consequence of a requisition to the sheriffs of the respective counties, to call a meeting of the Protestant inhabitants. Now, it appears to me to be exceedingly objectionable for a public officer to call the people together in sects, and to give to a private and party meeting the authority of a public assembly. Again, it appears to me exceedingly objectionable, thus to separate religious sects, and to give the semblance of public authority to religious animosities. I object again to calling one part of his Majesty's subjects to petition against another; and still more do I object to their petitioning another country against the liberties of their own.
Sir, I beg not to be understood as casting any reflections on the Irish Protestant petitioners; but their object has evidently been neither more nor less than this-to entreat the parliament of this country not to grant civil liberty to the great body of the people of Ireland. They petition us to inflict on their countrymen a sentence of perpetual incapacity: they petition us to announce to Ireland the destination of being for ever a divided colony, and to impress on the general sense an acquiescence in the necessity of this being a divided empire. Sitting for a moment, they have given judgment for eternity. Let us consider a little their reasons for this judgment. One of the first observations which these petitions contain is, that the tone which the Catholics have assumed, renders it unwise to grant their claims. But that is not the question. We are not in the parliament of the United Empire entering into an examination of the arguments that may have been urged in this or that body. We are not inquiring whether Mr. A or Mr. B may or may not have spoken too freely. What has the conduct of any particular assembly to do with the great body of the Catholics? The question is, Shall the great body of the Catholics of Ireland be emancipated? The opponents of the Catholic clains say, that they ought not to be emancipated, because Mr. Fitzpatrick published a libel. But this is not a question dependent on such circumstances. I do not say that there may not have been much warmth exhibited in discussions in Ireland; but I say that the question is, Can you in any of their proceedings, charge the Catholics with want of allegiance? It is a
question of allegiance. If it can be proved that the Catholics of Ireland have shown a disposition adverse to royalty, then my motion ought to be rejected. But if, on the contrary, there does not appear any disaffection in their proceedings, in their specehes, or in their general conduct, then the resolution of thanks to the Irish Catholics, which was involved in the resolution of thanks to the army who gained the victory of Salamanca, should be followed up in its full and genuine spirit, and the Catholics of Ireland should be considered as entitled to the same civil liberties as the other loyal subjects of his Majesty's empire bave a natural and legal right to possess.
Having thus stated the question to be one of allegiance, let us proceed, sir, to examine how the anti-Catholics have made out their case. They say that the Catholics desire political power. Why should they not? Why should they be sentenced to utter and hopeless exclusion from all political power? But, sir, the Catholics have not applied for political power. They have applied for political protection, and no farther for political power than as political power is inseparable from political protection. The Catholics, having given pledges of their allegiance, desire not to be bound in fetters from which their fellow-subjects are free; they desire not to be taxed without their own consent; they desire not to be tried by persons who are exclusively partizans-not only partizans, but who are actually covenanted against them. To the inquiry, "What is your wish?" they reply, "We wish for our liberties. We do not demand this or that office, but we desire to possess our just civil qualifications". Do you understand them? Is this ambition? If it is ambition, then was Magna Charta ambition—then was the Declara- tion of Rights ambition. Protection, not power, is the request of the Catholics. The Catholic petitioners ask for protection; it is the Protestants who ask for power. The Protestants ask for the ascendency of their sect; the Catholics ask for the ascendency of the law. Let me repeat, that I wish to treat the Protestants with all possible respect. It is natural that they should be tenacious of their peculiar privileges. But, unquestionably, they desire, by their petitions, to keep all the patronage of Ireland in their hands; to maintain a continued ascendency: to govern the other sects in the country. While the Catholics only desire in their petitions that the whole should be governed by an equal law, the Protestant petitioners assert, that the Catholics want power in order to make laws for the Protestant church. No; they only desire, as I have before stated, not to be taxed without their own consent-not to be tried by partizans, or juries called by partizans. Their prayer is, that the Pro
testant church should be governed, not by Catholics, but by Protestants; for the Catholics know, and the Protestants know, that under any circumstances, and after any concessions, the majority in this House must be Protestants, and that by that majority the laws for the Protestant church must be made. But the members of the Protestant church who have petitioned us, desire us to make laws exclusively for the Catholic church. They wish to control the conscience of the Catholic, as well as to bind him in other respects. They are willing to receive the tithes of Catholic labour, but they lesire to exclude the Catholic from a participation in the blessings of the constitution. Their argument is this: The persons who regulate the Protestant church should be of that church". Why, then, all the Scotch members of this House ought to be sent away. All who do not profess to hold the doctrines of the Church of England ought to be sent away. The tendency of the argument of these gentlemen is, that we ought to have a church government. Bnt. ours is not a church government, it is a representative government; it includes all classes, all religions, all descriptions of persons, except the Catholic and the churchman. The principle on which these gentlemen insist will prove fatal. If you confine the enjoyments of the constitution to the limits of the Church of England, you will endanger the empire; if you extend it to all religious persuasions, you will place the empire in a state of security.
The parliament is justly called imperial. It is not a partizan. The Catholics of Ireland make a part of the third estate. Is it not so? Is not the great body of electors in Ireland Catholic? Does it not follow, that a part, and that no inconsiderable portion, of the third estate is already Catholic? And can we for a moment suppose, that this is incompatible with the genuine principles of the British constitution? But the fact is, sir, that the Protestants will and must have the ascendency in the state. The great population of the empire is Protestant; the great property of the empire is Protestant. This ascendency the Protestants have a right to possess ; but they ought to possess it, not by the exclusion of their fellow subjects from a participation of civil liberty, but in virtue of their superior numbers and property. Sir, in the provision for the royal authority being exclusively Protestant, the Protestant interest has another great and wise security for the maintenance of its ascendency. The admission of the Catholics to their civil rights will be entirely coëxistent with the maintenance of the Protestant ascendency; and, by granting that admission, you will strengthen and fortify the whole empire. To grant the Catholics their privileges will be to identity
the people, for it is by granting them their rights that you mast expect to identify them, and not by keeping them in chains. To grant the Catholics their privileges, maintaining the just ascendency of the Protestants, will be much more effectually to support the state, and much more effectually to support the church, than either can be supported by a monopoly of power, and without that identificatior of the people of the two countries, which such a measure alone can insure. Superficial, indeed, are the arguments of the opposers of emancipation; they think, that the admission of five or six individuals (such men as Lord Fingall and other enlightened members of the Catholic body) into parliament will be productive of injurious consequences; but to the alienation of four or five millions of persons out of parliament, they attach no importance! A right honourable gentleman has talked of the pains and penalties which, as he thinks, were justly inflicted on the Catholics at the time of the Revolution. They were not, however, the effects of the Revolution, but took place long after the reign of Queen Anne. As to the exclusion of the Catholics from political power at the period of the Revolution, that was not an original idea at that period, but arose out of, and was founded on, the fabricated plot of Titus Oates, the severities occasioned by which were even mitigated at the Revolution. And will parliament make the madness of that time the rule by which the liberty of their fellow-subjects is to be regulated at all times?
"But", say the anti-Catholics, "toleration in England is greater than in any other country". Sir, I know very well, that the principles of every established church are in some degree hostile to toleration; there is scarcely any church which will tolerate so extensively and liberally as a wise parliament ought to do. But when it is maintained that toleration in England exceeds that of any other country, and that it is perfect, I must declare my opinion to be the
Abroad, in Catholic countries, persons professing a difference of religious sentiments, enjoy not only toleration, but qualification. At bome, in a Protestant country, persons professing a difference o religious sentiments, are not only disqualified, but hardly tolerated. Abroad, sectaries enjoy toleration, united with qualification Here, they have a santy toleration, united with pains and penalties. In France, for instance, no man is disqualified on account of his religious opinions. In Hungary, toleration and qualification are completed. I will read an edict issued by the Hungarian Diet in 1791. It clares, "that all persons shall have free exercise of their respec