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Moira, had acted most honourable, frank, and candid parts, and had shown the utmost disinterestedness.
With regard to a noble lord (Sidmouth) who, he understood, would fill an important office in the state, he believed him to be a very honest and conscientious man; but he must also remember, that that nobleman professed himself a decided enemy to the claims of His Majesy's Roman Catholic subjects, and therefore he was not a character very likely to conciliate the people, or long retain the confidence of the sovereign.
He was happy now, therefore, that the noble lord would not in future oppose those claims in his capacity of minister, as he did before he was compelled to relinquish his situation; but considering that the noble lord still stood pledged to oppose the emancipation of the Catholics in his individual capacity, and that he was now coming into a great office, it was for the House to consider, after the vote to which it had agreed, how far the noble lord was likely to conciliate the minds of all classes of people in the united kingdom.
From perusing the correspondence said to have lately passed upon the subject of forming an efficient administration, he felt perfectly satisfied with the sentiments avowed by Lords Grenville and Grey, while they declined accepting a part of a government, in which they must act with some of the present ministers; and he felt persuaded that the public opinion went along with him.
Had those noble lords acted otherwise, and accepted the offers which were made them, he should deem them as public men who had deserted the political principles which they professed through their former lives, and deserving the most severe reprehension of that House, and of the whole country.
Lord Folkstone's amendment was negatived without a division.
The House divided on Lord Milton's amendment, Ayes 164; Noes 289; Majority against the motion so amended, 125. Tellers for the Ayes, Lord Milton and Mr. Freemantle.
Noes, Mr. Wharton and Mr. Wallace. Mr. Stuart Wortley's motion was consequently lost.
MR. CANNING's MOTION RESPECTING THE ROMAN CATHOLICS.
June 22. 1812. ON this day Mr. Canning made his motion respecting the Roman
Catholics. He entered at length into the question, and delivered an able and eloquent speech in their favour, which he concluded by moving, “ That the House will, early in the next session of Parliament, take into its most serious consideration the state of the laws affecting His Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects in Great Britain and Ireland ; with a view to such a final and conciliatory adjustment as may be conducive to the peace and strength of the United Kingdom; to the stability of the Protestant establishment; and to the general satisfaction and concord of all classes of His Majesty's subjects.”
The motion was supported by the knight of Kerry (Mr. Maurice Fitzgerald), Sir John Newport, Mr. Parnell, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Vansittart), Mr. Bankes, Lord Castlereagh, Lord Palmerstown, Mr. Ponsonby, Mr. Tierney, Sir J. Cox Hippesley, Mr. William Fitzgerald, Mr. Whitbread, Mr. Wellesley Pole, and Mr. W. Smith.
General Matthew moved an amendment, that the House should go into a committee on Thursday next.
Mr. GRATTAN declared, that he had to express his entire concurrence in what had been said of the present ministers, respecting their disposition to conciliate the Catholics. He would not say that they were inconsistent, because, as had been observed by the honourable gentleman who preceded him, time did much in the working of great political changes, and was indeed always to be considered a principal ingredient in the contest of opinions. He well knew how completely what at one time might appear most chimerical, might, at another, be considered as not only possible but politic; and he had seen instances where the most honourable and conscientious men, and men too of the best understandings, had changed their opinions on important state questions, changed them of course from a more full consideration of the circumstances attending such questions, of the temper of the people to whom they applied, and of the general exigencies of the times. If the ministers of thy Crown upon the present occasion had changed their opinions, he was not disposed to call it a victory obtained over them by their antagonists, but a triumph of ministers over themselves. As to the amendment of an honourable gentleman, he hoped, that upon it, the House would not be driven to divide. He certainly wished extremely for an immediate committee, if the House were willing to go into it; but the House was not. willing, and, therefore, though he did not differ from the spirit of the amendment, he hoped it would not be pressed. With regard to the original motion, one sentence would characterise it; it was a motion of concord.
It was a motion for a determination to consider the claims of the Catholics with a view to conciliatory adjustment; it was a motion to adopt the consideration of what was to be done for the Catholics, while, at the same time, it professed to conciliate without danger. On what ground could such a motion be objected to ? Could its opposers say that they objected on account of the petitions that had been presented ? Petitions so numerously signed, and in language so respectful; could they object to a conciliatory adjustment? Could they oppose going into a consideration which promised to put their church out of danger? To him it appeared, that, as the resolution was pre-eminently one of concord, the adopting it would be voting themselves one people. Aye; voting themselves one people; and the Catholics also would receive the resolution in the same spirit; they would receive it as a declaration of love, of cordiality, of affection: such a resolution must work a material change in the minds of the Irish. It would hold out their question to them in colours of probable suocess, arising from a number of circumstances, all of which had not taken place when it was last under consideration. But now that they had taken place, the best way to consider their effect was, as the decree of common sense, which time would undoubtedly sanctify and establish. One of the circumstances alluded to, was the repeated discussion of the question in Parliament; another, a recent melancholy event*; a third, the decision in a most illustrious quarter on the subject; a fourth, the great numbers, though a minority, on a former occasion, when those claims were discussed. There were other circumstances which he need not enumerate, but all tended to indicate a wish on the part of the people of England, to shake hands honestly and warmly with the people of Ireland, and all tended also to justify the change of opinion in those who might have thought concession hitherto impracticable. He was the more convinced that men could vote without inconsistency for this resolution, when he remembered that he, in the Irish Parliament, divided with twentyfive in one session on the Catholic question, and that, in the very next, he made one of the whole House voting in the
* The death of Mr. Percival, late Chancellor of the Exchequer..
affirmative for that question. Would any one have upbraided the Irish Parliament for inconsistency on that occasion? Would it not rather be said, that what might have been temerity in one session, became wisdom in the other? The advanced guard explores the ground, and makes an unsuccessful experiment in arms. It retires, and the rear-guard saves it. But when it succeeds, then the rear-guard advances and gains the victory. He would now suppose the resolution carried, and then certainly Parliament would have the responsibility of the introduction of this question, and would also, should it fail, have the responsibility of its failure.
He would therefore advise the government, if they should have any communication with the Catholics, not to demand any securities but what were necessary and just. He would advise the government rather to take the part of aiding than of thwarting; rather to go on, than to look back to past disputes ; rather to go half way, than to stand upon high points, with an unaccommodating and unconciliatory demeanor.
On the other hand, he would advise the Catholics, not to oppose any frivolous objections to the just arrangements that might be deemed necessary. It had been his intention, in the beginning of next session, to move for leave to bring in a bill for the repeal of the penal laws. He was, however, so convinced that it would come better from the executive, that he would much rather give it up to ministers. If any of His Majesty's ministers should take it up, he would be happy to second the proposition, and give it every support.
The motion was opposed by Mr. Ryder, Mr. Bathurst, Sir John Nicholl, Sir Charles Burrell, and Mr. Matthew Montague. The arguments of the latter persons were chiefly, that no prospect of adjustment was likely to arise, and that it was wrong to encourage false hopes. Mr. Ryder stated, that while the Pope exerted his influence over the bishops, the bishops over the priesthood, and the priesthood over the people, he did not think it safe to grant the required immunities. Sir John Nicholl was of opinion, that the concession of political power to the Roman Catholics, was not consistent with the safety of the constitution, or the security of the establishment. Lord Castlereagh, in supporting the motion, expressed his own individual sentiments, as other members of the cabinet had done, and though, from the circumstances of the times, he had been obliged to resist the measure, he was now friendly to it. Mr. Tierney asked, why the Catholic claims were not made a government question? He hoped the noble lord (Castlereagh), would induce his colleagues to adopt some one opinion, and not stray about as their fancies would dictate. Mr. Ponsonby thought that nothing could be more absurd, than that the cabinet should profess to have no opinion on such an important subject, and he
believed that the ministers would not act at all, and the task of forming a measure for carrying into effect the resolution of Parliament would again devolve on his honourable friend (Mr. Grattan), who had devoted his life to the welfare and interests of so large a portion of his fellow-citizens. Mr. Whitbread said, that the insincerity, as well as the imbecility of ministers had been fully exposed, since the death of Mr. Percival; they yielded every point of their former policy; they were beaten by the people, and by Parliament, but too high a compliment had been paid them by his honourable friend (Mr. Grattan), when he imagined they had gained a victory over themselves; and rejoiced at the triumph of this day. On the head of his right honourable friend (Mr. Grattan), must rest and accumulate all the glory and honours of the victory. Sir John Newport reprobated the circulation of pamphlets against the Catholics ; they were fatal to the peace of the empire. If the cry of “ No Popery!" is raised in England, it will be answered from Ireland by a cry of, “ No Union !” by a cry of “ separation.". The amendment proposed by General Matthew, and seconded by Colonel Hutchinson, 6. That the House should take the Catholic claims into their early and immediate consideration, and go into a committee upon them on Thursday next," was negatived without a division.
The House divided on the original resolution, Ayes 235, Noes 106; Majority in favour of the resolution 129. Tellers for the Ayes, Mr. Bankes, and Lord Binning.
Noes, Mr. Yorke, and Sir John Nicholl.
CORPORATION OF DUBLIN.
February 23. 1813. ON this day, the Speaker acquainted the House that he had
received a letter from the Lord Mayor of Dublin, the contents of which he communicated to the House, as follows:
“ Dover-street, 23d Feb. 1813. “ The corporation of the city of Dublin, in common-council assembled, having prepared petitions to be presented to Parliament, on the subject of the claims about to be preferred on behalf of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, I beg leave to state that I have been deputed, as Lord Mayor of the city of Dublin, to deliver their petitions at the bar of both Houses of Parliament; and I have now the honour to solicit, through you, Sir, that the honourable the House of Commons may be pleased to indulge the eorporation of the city of Dublin, by permitting me, as chief magistrate of that city, to deliver at their bar the petition addressed to their honourable House, an indulgence which, it is humbly hoped, that the House of Commons will be pleased to concede to the citizens of Dublin, in analogy to the usage so long established, of receiving petitions at their bar from the corporation of the