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proposition, that the remaining disabilities can be maintained for ever. I am contending that the principles of the question are principles of expediency and of time; not fixed, not immutable, not eternal. I am contending that the condition of the catholics, after what has been done for them, must be necessarily progressive: unless indeed you are prepared to go back instead of forward. And I ask, Can you go back 2 “All this may be very much to be lamented. It may be unlucky that we are brought into a situation in which we cannot stand still, and in which we can neither go on nor recede with safety. I am not of that opinion : but that opinion I am not now arguing; nor am I bound to argue it. I am only arguing that such is the state of things, however it may have become so; whether by negligence, or by impolicy, or by a just and provident design. A practical statesman will take things as he finds them ; and will adapt his measures to what he finds, instead of lamenting over irretrievable errors, if errors they be, and wishing their consequences reversed and undone. “Look next at your army. War is not now, as it has been in former times, an occasional and transitory evil. It must be considered, in the present state of Europe, as a permament habit, as the very element in which this country must breathe and have its being. You have admitted catholic officers into your army; but you exclude them from the higher ranks of it. Your army swarms with catholic soldiers, To the Irish militia you do not scruple to entrust a part of the defence of Great Britain itself. Protestant generals, in other countries, have commanded catholic armies. Foreigners of whose religion we take little note, may command protestant British soldiers here. But no native WOL. V. PART I.
catholic is to be permitted to hold a command over his fellow-subjects, of whatever religion they may be. Can this state of things, in such a state of the world, be permanent 2 “I have heard, indeed, one answer to all these arguments, which, as I observed, was hailed with acclamation by some gentlemen opposite to me. It is this ; that the great objects of ambition, whether civil, political, or military, from which the catholics are now excluded, could fall to the lot only of a few of the higher classes among them ; and that it is mere pretence to suppose that the influence of their disappointment and discontent can affect the body of the people. O ! profound ignorance of human nature : As if the objects of honourable ambition operated as incitements only to those who may have been proved by a calculation of chances to have a reasonable hope of attaining them : As if the aspiration after things too high to be within the reach of probable achievement, were not the surest pledge of excellence, even in the discharge of inferior duties . As if the single lord chancellorship, which it is so many thousand to one that any given individual does not reach, were not yet that which fills your bar, and throngs your inns of court with multitudes of men, capable of discharging its functions ! As if the removal of this single #: though you might show by irrefragable arithmetic that it did not in fact affect the prospects of one man out of ten thousand, would not yet be felt as touching and degrading the whole : As if, when some climbing spirit having nearly reached the topmost round of the ladder of ambition, was there met by a sentence of perpetual exclusion, the crowd of his fellowcitizens, who had watched and cheered his ascent, would not sympathize in his final ill success. As if they would not feel, however little pretension they Q
might have themselves to rise to a similar eminence and to experience similar disappointment, that it was somewhat hard upon their children, and their children’s children, that they too should continue to bear about with them in their native land, a brand of natural inferiority, an inheritable and indelible stain like that of cast or of colour, not incapacitating them, indeed, for the toil of honourable exertion, but precluding them for ever from distinction and reward | “But am I therefore prepared to concede every thing that is required, to concede it without delay, to concede it without condition or limitation ? No such thing. The time when the brand of disqualification shall be removed; the period or the generation in which the stain of incapacity shall be considered as worn out or washed away, I am not now pretending to define. I do not say that this is the moment; but I do say that it is utterly inconceivable to me, that any man should talk of the present as a state of things which can endure for ever; that any man should think that we are now arrived at the point at which legislative wisdom can stop, and expect contented acquiescence; that any man should recommend a vote, which is to confirm this state of things, and to extinguish the hope of any future change, as the best mode of tranquillizing Ireland. “But then the dangers of any fresh concession the dangers of a catholic chancellor, or a catholic general, influenced by the pope, and the pope in the power of Buonaparte! What could we look for in such a case, but the subversion of the constitution, and the conquest of the kingdom * “I confess I think that those who are appalled by these terrors, do give a rein to their imagination, rather than consult their sober judgment. I think
too, that under the influence of an
imaginary fear, . overlook nearer and more substantial dangers. “There have been times, no doubt, when (as I have already had occasion to state) the tie of community of religion was stronger than that of a common country; when the geographer might have distinguished the divisions of the map of Europe by two colours, one denoting the catholic, and the other the reformed religion; and when the same distinction that described dif. ferences of faith would have implied, at the same time, the respective policy, connections, and alliances of the several states of Europe. But thanks to Buonaparte for this incidental good arising from his various acts of usurpation and atrocity; he has exalted and called into action the feelings of patriotism, and taught them to supersede that fellowship which grew heretofore out of similarity .# religious profession. The different nations of the civilized world may now, as heretofore, be characterized by only two descriptions—but these descriptions are no longer catholic or protestant, but French or not French. “If leagues have been formed in
other times of catholic powers, against
the advancement of the protestant cause and interests, while states which had embraced the tenets of the reformed religion have combined on the other hand to reduce the pretensions of the ancient and corrupted ecclesiastical establishment, let us see how far the distinctions, founded upon religious differences, would apply to the existing state of the world. What is, in this respect, the conduct of Buonaparte, the sovereign of France, the successor of Charlemagne, the eldest son of the church 2 Is his a catholic league 2 Is it only with catholic sovereigns and catholic states that he forms his connections, or to them alone that he extends the benefit of what he calls his protection ? Look, I say, at the
map of Europe: see Lutheran Saxony,
knit to him in alliance; see Germany,
whether reformed or catholic, portioned out at his will; see protestant Denmark waiting on his nod, and protestant Sweden shrinking at his frown; See Calvinistic Holland swallowed up into his empire; Calvinistic Prussia trembling at his footstool; and uncatholic Russia struggling in his toils : Yet there are those who seem to think, that the power of the pope is, after all, the formidable part of the great confederacy which Buonaparte has thus arrayed against us;–who, amidst a combination thus extensive, thus violent, and held together by principles with which religion (it might be thought) has very little to do, can see no real dangers, against which we have to guard, but in the debates respecting the concordat and the liberties of the Gallican church ;-there are those who apprehend that, weary of ordinary warfare, Buonaparte is about to substitute the thunders of the Vatican, for these of the mere mortal artillery, by which he has shaken and subjugated continental Europe;—that . exe hausting all terrestrial means of attack, he waits only for our consent to the catholic petition, to resort to a spiritual assault; to call in the aid of bulls and indulgences, and the other machinery of ecclesiastical hostilities;–
“Quicquid habent telorum armamentaria coeli"
“There is, however, one remarkable circumstance in the present state of Europe, which might suggest to the most timid and awe-stricken observer of superstitious indications, a doubt at least, whether the principle of religious antipathy be indeed so busy in the world at this moment as he imagines; whether this league of almost all the protestant states of Europe, with France, be indeed directed to the express object of subverting the pro
testant religion in this country, and imposing upon us a catholic hierarchy, and a catholic sovereign. In one corner of Europe, and in one alone, there exists a spirit of resistance to France; and this—singularly enough, and as if for the express purpose of banishing all notion of religious difference from the quarrel—exists among nations the most bigoted to the Roman catholic faith of all the nations of Europe, namely, among the inhabitants of the peninsula. They are preeisely the people who most steadily, sincerely, and bravely, have opposed themselves to Buonaparte's schemes of conquest and dominion ; an opposition quite unintelligible, if this, be really a religious war. What!, shall it be in the kingdoms the most abjectly submitted to the papal authority,+ in the strong-holds of the inquisition itself shall it be, that the standard of rebellion to the pope, acting (as we are taught to apprehend) through the instrumentality of Buonaparte, shall be raised, and raised with impunity ?— And yet shall we be gravely told, that, in the name and authority of the pope, Buonaparte will wrest Ireland from Great Britain –If the pope can conquer for Buonaparte, why does he not conquer the peninsula for him : Why is Spain yet upheld by protestant alliance, and Portugal yet sheltered by heretical arms ? A breath of the church, a nod of the tiara, should surely dissipate this unnatural, this anti-catholic, combination. “ Fortunately, sir, in this instance we act more wisely than we reason. We do not distrust the disposition of the nations of the peninsula to oppose. a stout resistance to the French power, because that power is predominant over the pope, who is in his turn undeniably predominant over the spiritual concerns of those nations. Not but we know very well that the times have been, when that circumstanco would have been of great importance and effect in the success of the war; but we know that those times are past—past for every country upon earth, it seems, except Ireland;—and, in the name of common sense, why not for Ireland too : “Well and wisely have we done, in uniting ourselves to the cause of those gallant and oppressed nations; wisely for our own interest as well as for our glory. The page which records our efforts in the peninsular war will be among the brightest in our history. But strange indeed, and perplexing will be the duty of the historian, who shall have to blend with those annals of courage and renown, a faithful relation of the fears which prevent us from entertaining the petitions of the Irish catholics; who shall contrast the jealousy and suspicion with which we regard the population of catholic Ireland, with the fearlessness with which we pour forth that population in the just cause of catholic Spain. “It would really seem as if the mighty perils with which we are surrounded, had confused our sense of the real nature of our danger. Our danger is from a mighty deluge which threatens to overwhelm us :—but we are crying “Fire P as two centuries ago. The convulsions of the earth have diverted into a new channel that stream which formed the line of demarcation between the different denominations of mankind:—but we stand hesitating on the brink of the ancient channel, which is left dry, and fancy it still impassable. “But any farther concessions to the catholics of Ireland, it is contended, will lead to the overthrow of the established church, and therewith to that of the civil constitution. In this part of the argument, it must at least be admitted that the onus probandi lies with those who make the assertion. By what means, through what pro
cess, is this extensive mischief to be effected —Surely those who have so clear an apprehension of the danger, can in some degree define the mode in which it is to be brought upcn us. “The bulk of the catholics are ignorant and unenlightened, says my right honourable and learned friend, and are under the influence of a priesthood, who are subservient to the pope. —Well ; but the power of an unenlightened and ignorant multitude consists in physical force. How will that be increased by the admission of some of those who would naturally be looked up to by the multitude as their leaders, into the advantages of the civil constitution, into the offices of the state, into magistracies of the law, into seats in parliament, into commands in the army —But the danger is said to be in these very admissions. Well: then, it must be a danger of a different sort—a danger not of force, but of reason—a danger that the catholic minister will win over his colleagues, that the catholic colonel will seduce his regiment, that the catholic member will persuade this House to countenance and bring about this fundamental change in the constitution. Is it in this way that the mischief is to be effected 2 “My right honourable and learned friend professes not to enter into the particular doctrines of the Roman catholic church, nor even to impute, in thrse days, to persons of that persuasion, the wicked and pestilent tenets which our oath of abiuration disclaims. On what principle then are the fears of my right honourable and learned friend founded ? for surely it was in reference to those tenets that the precautions against the admission of catholics into the state were framed. “It is most true that the catholic religion, where predominant, is itself of an intolerant character; but although that be so, it does not follow in theory, nor is it true in fact, that in states not catholic, that under protestant establishments—the catholics have been found intractable and turbulent subjects. But if such attempts should be made as my right honourable and learned friend apprehends, how are they to be met : By reason; and if that should prove insufficient, by force. It would be presumptuous in me to recal the attention of my right honourable and learned friend (skilled as he necessarily is in that branch of history far beyond any knowledge of it that it can have fallen to my lot to acquire)
to the history of the primitive chris
tian church, before it became civilly and politically established, before it attracted the protection, and mounted the throne of the Caesars. Yet in looking at this question as a question of reason, it is not immaterial to observe, that the pretension to exercise, or to share the sovereign authority, is not one which the history of the Roman catholic church would authorise it to put forward as essential to its existence —Reason, to be sure, avails little against force; but here force and reason would be on the same side. And, should the catholics be wicked enough as well as mad enough to at
tempt the establishment of their re
ligion as the religion of the state, the attempt must be met and defeated by the same means which would be used to suppress any other mode of rebellion. Let it not be forgotten, however, all this time, that the question is not whether we shall now begin to give to the catholics any rights, influence, and power; we have given them the means of acquiring a great moral force in society; and the question now is, whether we can annihilate the force that we have bestowed and if not, whether we should not do wisely to reconcile them to the legitimate use of that force by assimilating it to the civil constitution ?
“I confess, sir, that though I despise not any fears which good men and wise men, like my right honourable and learned friend, profess to feel, I cannot contemplate the church of England with all her piety and learning, with all her just influence, her honours and endowments, and yet apprehend that she wants strength to defend herself! This is not the time nor the place to enquire what are the real dangers to which the church of England is exposed; but I think, that whatever they may be, they exist in very different causes, and in very different quarters, from those against which we are now so loudly called upon to guard. Not but if any danger be apprehended to the church of England, from whatever quarter, 1 for one,—and this House—and this country, will be ready to come forward with the most strenuous exertions in her support; a support due to her from the love and veneration of all to whom she administers consolation and hope—due even from sectaries themselves, to a church which, nursed in persecution, herself learned mercy; a church which, purified and consecrated by the blood of martyrs, has learned to extend toleration to all conscientious dissent; a church riveted in the affections of so large a portion of the community, and inseparably allied with the state, which she sanctifies and guarantees | Such a church may surely bid defiance to any dangers with which the change of the civil state of the Roman catholics, from what they now are to what they aim at being,can possibly be supposed to threaten her.
“But I repeat, the onus proband: lies on those who affirm the church to be in danger.—One point, and (so far as I recollect,) one only, has been distinctly specified by my right honourable and learned friend. The catholics would seek to avoid the payment