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council, that, should they be persisted in, some separate provision ought to be made for that country. An American war, however, appeared much more dangerous on other grounds, than any
that could arise out of mere commercial considerations. He called upon the British Parliament to consider the consequences of separating Great Britain and America, and thus dividing and weakening the only force that remained in the world to sustain the character of liberty and hold out hopes to the Continent. He concluded with exhorting the House to reflect, that any loss to America or England, would but add to the accumulated gains of France, and would advance the strength of that power which was equally the enemy of both.
The House then divided on the third reading of the bill : Ayes 168, Noes 68; Majority 100.
ROMAN CATHOLIC PETITIONS.
April 12. 1808.
from a numerous body of men, styling themselves Roman Catholics, and praying relief from that House, in the hope that they might be admitted to the franchises of the constitution. He should not, for the present, enter into the matter of the petitioners' case, but content himself with moving, that the petition should be received, and do lie upon the table. On the 16th of May, however, he should submit a proposition to the House upon the subject. He fixed upon that day as the most convenient to several gentlemen who took a warm interest in the petition, and he trusted it would prove equally convenient to the gentlemen opposite. He had only to add, that this petition was signed by a great proportion of the most respectable members of the Catholic body, many of whom had actually subscribed the petition, whilst others, whose names appeared to it, had their signatures affixed by authority given to the persons who subscribed for them. The petition, however, he should present · as that of the persons only who had actually subscribed their own signatures to it. He moved therefore that the petition be received.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Percival) wished to know what proportion the real bore to the affixed signatures.
Mr. Grattan said, he was not prepared to say what was the proportion, but that the number of affixed signatures amounted to several thousands; that all signatures by the authority of the parties were written in the same hand, whereas the bona fide signatures were written in the various hands of the subscribing persons. He could prove the signatures of some of them himself, and these were men of the highest respectability, some of them, for instance Lord Fingall, being at present in London. He had stated in candour the nature of some of the signatures, and with a view to guard against any imputation that he had presented a petition purporting to express the sentiments of persons who had never subscribed it. Every person whose pame appeared to the petition, was ready to come forward and subscribe it; but he had thought it better to present the petition in its present form, than to send it back to Ireland, and risk the consequences of the various meetings that must necessarily be called in order to obtain signatures.
The Speaker being appealed to, said, that if a petition was offered to the House with signatures avowed not to be in the hand-writing of the parties whose names they purported to be, it was not receivable: there were two ways of proceeding; the signatures that were not real might be erased, and the petition presented with the original signatures; the other was, to detach the signatures that were not original, and present the petition with such signatures as remained annexed to it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, he was not desirous that the petition should be rejected, but that it ought to be withdrawn, in order to have it presented in a more regular form. Mr. Maurice Fitzgerald, Sir John Newport, Sir Henry Parnell, and Mr. Tierney, were anxious that the petition should be received; the delay and difficulty, as well as the inconvenience to the petitioners would be considerable, should the petition not be received.
Mr. Grattan lamented the awkward situation in which the petitioners would be placed if this petition should be rejected. It would be an inhospitable reception that would be given to the claims of the petitioners. If the rule laid down was to be strictly observed, it would be peculiarly severe with respect to petitions from Ireland. No member who might present one from that country, particularly if it was of a popular nature, could possibly prove that all the signatures were real. Under these circumstances, the people of Ireland could have no communication with that House. He had presented petitions from several cities in Ireland, the signatures to which he could not have verified. He left it to the good sense of the House, whether they ought to be too critical in judging of petitions, when they conscientiously knew that the petitions contained the sentiments of those whose signatures were annexed. He protested against the application of the statement of the honourable Baronet (Sir R. Peele) to this case, because he was perfectly convinced, that the petition expressed the real sentiments of all whose names were subscribed to it. If they sent that back which other great bodies received, would not the Catholics of Ireland be discouraged from any communication with the Lower House of Parliament? He remembered having presented a petition at one time to the Irish Parliament, which had 40 or 50,000 signatures, of which only 7000 were original; yet that produced no difficulty. He knew it was discretionary in the House to receive the petition in its present shape, and he must put it to their discretion. If the petition was to be sent back, and meetings should be called for obtaining signatures, it was not his fault. He would not undertake the responsibility of it. He could authenticate many of the signatures himself
, as others could many more; and he therefore again put it to the good sense and discretion of the House to receive the petition.
After a few words from Mr. Yorke, Mr. Whitbread, and Mr. W. Smith, the petition was withdrawn.
April 29. 1808. THE House resolved itself into a committee of supply. Mr.
Foster (Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer,) moved the grant to the Maynooth College. The grant in the last year had been 13,0001. it had in former years been 8000l. for the education of two hundred students; and though he had proposed to reduce the grant of the preceding year, yet he wished to add to this latter sum for the support of the fifty new students; and he accordingly moved that a sum not exceeding 92501. Irish currency, be granted to defray the expenses of the Roman Catholics' seminary in Ireland. Sir John Newport moved to leave out the sum of 92501. and substitute 13,0001. Sir Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington) said, that the lesser sum would be sufficient : 2000 priests were the number he understood to be necessary in Ireland ; 111 students were educated in different parts of the island, and these, with 250 to be educated at Maynooth, made 361, a number he thought sufficient to keep up the necessary establishment. Mr. Croker, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer for England, (Mr. Percival) supported the lesser grant. It was opposed by Mr. W. Elliott, Mr. Ponsonby, Mr. Maurice Fitzgerald, (knight of Kerry,)
and Mr. Grattan. They said, that, prior to the French Revolution, 478 students were educated on the Continent for the Catholic priesthood of Ireland, of which 426 received gratuitous support. If that number was necessary in 1793, a greater number must of course be requisite now ; if they were not to receive instruction at home, they could not receive any instruction at all ; inasmuch as the war cut off all intercourse with the Continent, and that it was much more desirable that they should be educated in Ireland, than to be exposed to imbibe foreign sentiments and hostile feelings. Mr. Maurice Fitzgerald begged to remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Percival,) that the religion of Ireland had formerly been Roman Catholic; it was by the confiscation of their property, that the families of those who supported the right honourable gentleman had been enriched, and from the same source, the Dublin University, and other Protestant seminaries, had been endowed, and if the Union had not taken place, the Irish legislature would have increased the grant; the system pursued by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr. Percival,) had been tried for centuries, and, instead of making converts, had but confirmed the Catholics in their adherance to their faith. Mr. Parnell read extracts from documents in the year 1793, when Defenderism broke out in Ireland, and in 1798, the period of the late insurrection, to show that the loyalty and peaceable demeanour of the Roman Catholic clergy were unquestionable.
Mr. GRATTAN contended, that a provision for the education of 250 students would be insufficient to supply the vacancies that would occur in the Catholic clergy, by deaths or casualties. To make up for this deficiency, the country would be left to two chances, private or foreign charity. One right honourable gentleman had said, that 111 were educated for the priesthood in private seminaries. But the education in these being only preparatory for the college, that was no education for the priesthood. By reducing the grant, the House would secure the ignorance and inveterate prejudices of a great portion of the Catholics. Proselytism was not to be expected under such circumstances. Religious conformity was impracticable, and political conformity, which was in their power, they would destroy by the course proposed. In endeavouring to enforce religious conformity, they would make the mass of that people inveterate Catholics, and political enemies. Give them uneducated and ignorant priests, and you weaken the Protestant religion, and the Protestant government. If provision bę not made at home for the education of their clergy, they must seek it abroad. At present, that could not happen, but we ought to look forward to a time of peace, when they would go abroad and bring back with them foreign connections, and foreign obligations. Why did we fear the Catholic religion ? Was it not from the foreign connection which it involved, and whilst the spirit of Buonaparte pervaded the whole of the continent, was that a time for keeping up the connection? The students who went abroad for education under such circumstances, would acquire the same deistical principles and political antipathies that would spread every where around them. They would therefore return religions deists, and political Catholics, to the great danger of overthrowing the government. It was true, that neither the ministers of the Methodists, nor of the Quakers, were educated at the public expence; but they were few in comparison, and the Catholics formed the great body of the people of Ireland. If the priests had any influence over the Catholics, they should be educated with sentiments of domestic attachment, not with those of our political enemies. He doubted whether the priests had as much absolute influence over the people of Ireland as was supposed, and the cause was, that they were not well educated. If they wished the Catholics of Ireland to be well conducted, they should make their priests objects, not of contempt, but of veneration. The Protestant religion was not to be extended by demoralizing the Catholic clergy. They might civilize the people of Ireland, but could not make them Protestants. The saving proposed was very contemptible. The Catholics would gain by the larger grant, the Protestants would not lose, and the public could sustain no injury by it: on the whole, therefore, he should give his support to the amendment of his right honourable friend.
The committee divided : for the larger grant of 13,0001. 58; for the lesser grant of 9,2501. 93; Majority 35.
GRANT TO MAYNOOTH COLLEGE.
May 5. 1808.
ON this day Mr. Wharton brought up the report of the com
mittee of supply, relative to the grant of 92501. for the Roman Catholic College of Maynooth. On the question that the Resolution be agreed to, Sir John Newport said, that the reduction of the grant of last year was calculated to irritate the Roman Catholics of Ireland.; the question now was, whether the Catholic priests should be educated at all. When he beheld the situation of Europe, and considered that the Catholics were excluded from the Continent, and perceived the recent promotion of individuals who had distinguished themselves by heaping obloquy on the Catholics, (alluding to Dr. Duigenan, who was to be created privy councillor of Ireland), and who were much fitter for other institutions than the councils of His Majesty, he did not think this a fit