Sayfadaki görseller

and if provisional, of course, not fundamental. The Irish act of union enacts, that the qualifying oath and declaration shall be taken until altered by Parliament, and it had in view this very question, namely, the admission of the Catholics into Parliament. Here, then, are these gentlemen declaring the oath to be fundamental, and here are two statutes declaring the contrary; which then will you believe. . Gentlemen say, the Catholics are excluded by the fundamental laws of the land from all political situations. The act of Parliament says exactly the contrary, “ Be it enacted, that persons professing the Catholic religion, may enjoy all places civil and military.”. Having failed to make out this exclusive title by law, on the contrary, being convicted in the attempt, by act of Parliament, they endeavour to make out a title by inference; they say the King must be Protestant, the Lords must be Protestant, and the Commons must be Protestant; they are mistaken; the Lords are not exclusively Protestant, writs are now sent to Catholic peers; the Commons are not exclusively Protestant, the Commons are in part Catholic; the constituency of Ireland, and they form no small part of the electors, are in no small proportion, Catholic. Gentlemen make a comparison between the body and the House wherein it acts; the House are not the Commons, the Commons are those who elect and act by representation; accordingly the King thanks the Commons, and impeachments are made in the name of the Commons, and survive prorogation or dissolution. I have two objections to their argument; it raises disabilities on inference, which is against a principle of law, and it founds inference upon what is not fact. You cannot take away the prerogative of the Crown by inference; you cannot take away the privilege of the people by inference.

They have failed to make out an exclusive title to this constitution, they have produced nothing in the letter of the Revolution, and the spirit is all against them. The Revolution, properly understood, was not a victory of Protestantism over Popery, but of civil and religious liberty over oppression ; and the Catholics were excluded from its benefits, because they were ranged in the cause of that oppression. They were excluded then, because they were in a state of war; and they are admissible row, because they are in a state of allegiance. Gentlemen have said, that the Revolution was a final settlement of religion; no such thing; the penal laws took place a considerable

time after, and then their argument is, that this final settlement was open to penalties and shut to benefits. Gentlemen having failed to show that the Protestants have an exclusive title to the benefits of the constitution, or to say

[blocks in formation]

mcre properly, that the constitution is hermetically sealed against Catholics, are reduced to prove that they have a right to exclude the Catholics from political power.

I do not enter into the question of natural right to political power; but I do say that the Catholics have a right to the auributes of law, universality, and equality; and I do further say, that the Catholics have a common law-right to eligibility. The Parliament does not give that right, but the Parliament takes it away. The common law gives the Catholic the right of eligibility, and the Parliament deprives him of it. The Parliament may do so; the Parliament must, and does regulate that right; so with regard to qualification; so with regard to persons concerned in the collection of the revenue; so with regard to placemen and pensioners. Parliament may take away that right, but it must be for a good reason, and religion is none — religion is no just excuse for disqualification. Every man has a right to communicate with his God without the interference of the state. The moral atrocity which has been charged upon the Catholic religion, and which is no part of religion, namely, violation of faith and contempt of allegiance, are imputations now too long exploded to be dwelt upon. They are incompatible with any society, and they are inconsistent with the truth of the Christian religion. Such charges are no ground for disqualification; the incompatibility of the seven Romish sacraments with allegiance to the House of Hanover, part of which is recited in the oath, as little can it form a ground of disability; imputed disallegiance can form no ground of disability, and their allegiance declared in four acts of parliament, 14th, 18th, 22d, and 43d of the King; the right of property granted in 1778, the rights of religion in 1782, the right of franchise and of arms granted in 1793, preclude any question regarding disability, on account of disaffection. The inability of the Pope to shake the British empire, and his disposition signified by the letters of Quarantotti and Litta, go still farther to take away any pretence of disability on account of disaffection. But they say the Pope has revived the Jesuits, and this is an argument for attainting the Catholics; they say the Inquisition is revived, and this is a good argument for disqualifying the Duke of Norfolk, and Lord Fingall; they say that the Catholic draft of 1813 was a bad bill, and therefore the act of William, imposing the oath, is a good law; but the question is not whether a particular committee be capable of drawing an act of parliament, * but whether the Roman Catholic be incapable of allegiance ?

An honourable gentleman (Mr. Webber) dissents, and says, if there was an opportunity, the Catholics would rise. You will observe that this is evidence, not argument, and evidence

of an opinion, the ground of which he has not thought proper to establish. If the Catholics be so disposed, which I deny, it must arise from their particular situation by his own account, and not from the Catholic religion ; that is, it must arise from nativity, and from the laws; if from nativity, his argument is this, that God has made men in Ireland for rebellion; if from the laws, then why does he defend a system which he acknow. ledges must produce disaffection? The member refers to hisa tory: the history of Ireland is a history of oppression, of a people ill governed, and a government ill obeyed. The historians were, for the most part, partisans, and afraid to speak truth; but do not go back to those periods of your common disgrace; rather go to those periods where you fought together, to those battles where you have conquered. Here a battalion, here a troop stood for the empire, and then learn this practical knowledge, that,

“ Without a priest his sword the brave man draws,

And asks no omen but his country's cause.” I beg to observe, that the gentlemen on the other side have established no ground for disqualification ; none in religion abstractedly considered ; none in the charges of atrocity which they have made against it; none in the supposed incompatibility of the seven Catholic sacraments with the House of Hanover; none in the connection with the Pope which now ceases, except they please to continue it; none in the charges made against Irish Catholics, and they are refuted by the declaration of Parliament, and their acts of allegiance. The disqualification then becomes an act of power, and the arguments that support it, not only irrational, but criminal.

It is a crime to say, you should punish the children for the offence of the father. It is a crime to say, you should punish the many for the offences of the few.

It is a crime to say, you would deprive of the benefit of the law a great portion of your countrymen, without a reason. Such reason is not only contrary to justice, but contrary to religion; they do not tell in Christianity. If the arguments be true, the religion cannot be so; they amount to a position, not that the court of Rome but that the religion of Christendom is an abomination. They are not the arguments of statesmen defending a country, but the argument of sectaries defending a monopoly. A sectary is not content with saying, that his own religion is the best, but that all other religions are bad; he takes from the Deity his attributes, and gives him his own, his pride, his passion, his love of plunder, and his love of power. When the sectary says, exclude him from the constitution, he means, “ give

me the monopoly of power.” When the divine says, exclude him from the constitution, he means, “ give me the monopoly of wealth." In both, it is the rank sweat of earth, and a spiritual call in neither. I wish well to the established church, and would give it every thing but the liberties of the people.

An honourable gentleman (Mr. Leslie Foster), has said, that this is a case of defence, that we are only protecting our constitution and religion, that the proposed measure would only produce a revolution in both countries; a gentleman says this, endowed with much information and ability. The Protestant establishment, the Protestant church, are great names certainly, but in order to make them any thing more than a mere outcry on the present occasion, it is necessary to show they are in danger. Seven or eight noblemen would come into the House of Peers, and perhaps ten or twenty members into the House of Commons; is this a revolution ? or would this justify you in disqualifying a great portion of your fellowsubjects? 'It is then necessary to prophesy, and gentlemen say this would become a majority in Ireland, then a majority in England, and bear down the House of Peers, and finally depose the King. I say no; and for the reason they give; because the majority they say will draw the power; and the majority in the British empire is Protestant. But I gravely ask you, will you on the strength of prophecy, and such a prophecy, disqualify your people. Mr. Fox had observed, that if men had an interest in it, they would deny a mathematical as well as a moral truth; here it has happened; minority is majority, and nothing is, but what is not. Such has been the danger which gentlemen apprehend to the constitution. Now let us see the safety which they administer; and, first, they reject the security, and, instead of security, they suffer an unrestrained intercourse between the church of Rome, and the Irish clergy; so that there may be a complete incorporation with the See of Rome, accompanied with a complete disincorporation of the people from the constitution of England, to be accompanied with a tax on both countries, and chiefly on England, in order to guard the penal system in Ireland against the people.

Penal system! do Isay? What ! are you not yet a people? Have you been for so many centuries with the powers of revenue, of government, of legislation, and are you not yet a people? And have you incurred a debt of 25,000,0001., as it existed before the Union, telling nothing in empire, and only spinning on your own axis, and do you now seek to continue a system, which has thus kept you divided, and support it with barracks and forces, and inflict pains and penalties on your people ? “ It is true we have prayed for you, much; we have drank for you, much; and now all we want is every thing you have to give, at the expence of the strength of the empire.

This is not the state of Ireland, but it is their idea of her safety ; fortunately for the empire, she has acted upon a very different principle. She has acted as a nation, not as a settlement; she has contributed to restore the empire, by rejecting a system those mistaken men would impose upon her; a system impolitic, immoral, and unchristian; no state can be formed on it, no morality can be reconciled to it, Christianity protests with all her charities against it; it stabs the dearest interests of men, and aggravates the crime by assuming to act in the name of the Almighty.

A division then took place. For the motion 221; against it 245; Majority against a Committee 24. Tellers for the Ayes, Sir H. Parnell, and Mr. Wm. Smith. for the Noes, Mr. Bankes, and Right Honourable R.






[ocr errors][merged small]

On this day, Mr. Shaw, in pursuance of notice, brought forward

his motion, respecting the window tax in Ireland. He stated that it was originally a war tax, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the time of the Union (Mr. Corry,) had declared, that it was to last only during the war; it affected particularly the poorer

classes in Dublin. He instanced one case where a householder paid 28l. yearly rent, and for window and hearth tax 24l. : a sum nearly amounting to the yearly value of the tenement; he complained of the severe powers entrusted to the collector, having a right to enter into any part of the house he pleased, and this under 201. penalty if refused. He moved, that the different petitions from the parishes of the city of Dublin be referred to a select committee.

Mr. GRATTAN said: I agree in every thing which my colleague has stated.

He has

gone in so satisfactory a manner into the detail of the question, that I find it unnecessary for me to speak at large.

« ÖncekiDevam »