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of tithes to the established church, or even to obtain them for themselves. Now I venture to flatter myself, that I can set my right honourable and learned friend’s mind somewhat more at ease upon this point. Presuming his alarm to be—not that the catholics will try to get tithes or any other species of property by force; (in that case, as I have said, force must be met by force; and that case might arise just as well to-morrow as after the repeal of all the remaining disabilities) presuming my right honourable and learned friend’s alarm to be, that after admitting them into civil office, after taking off the bar and brand of religious incapacity, it will be difficult, in point of argument, to insist upon their continuing to pay tithes to the protestant clergy—if this be (as I imagine) the nature of my right honourable and learned friend’s difficulty, I really flatter myself that I can in a great measure relieve him from it. I turn once more to that splendid instrument of catholic toleration to which I have before referred, the edict of Nantes; and close to the article which I before read, (admitting those of the reformed religion to all offices civil and political,) I find the following enactment with respect to the payment of tithes:
“ ARTICLE XXV.
“We will and command, that all who profess the pretended reformed religion, and others who have adhered to their party; of what estate, quality, or condition soever, be held and constrained by all due and reasonable means, and under the penalties contained in the edicts already in force on this subject, to pay and discharge the usual tithes to the curates and other ecclesiastics, and to all such to whom they may properly belong, accordin to the usages and customs of the dif. ferent provinces.”
“I think the catholics will have no reason to complain, if the edict of Nantes be taken as the measure and mode of protestant concession to them; and my right honourable and learned friend sees that, after that model, he has nothing to fear for the tithes of the established church. “Another point upon which my right honourable and learned friend has much insisted is, the want of the security to the crown, arising from the refusal of the catholics of the proposed veto on the nomination of their bishops. Certainly, it may be matter of consideration, whether this would not be a reasonable and proper security; and if so, whether it might not yet be obtained. In Russia, much more than a negative on the nomination of the catholic bishops, by agreement (as I believe) with the court of Rome, is exercised by the emperor, the nomination is actually made by him. The emperor appoints the bishop, and recommends him to the pope for consecration and ecclesiastical institution, which are never refused. I know not what could be the pretext for withholding the same thing, if thought necessary and desirable here. “But I own it seems to me a great error to look at this question as if it were to be settled by a tedious and intricate negociation between parliament and the catholics, as between two hostile powers. That is, in my view, not the just notion of what ought to be an act of legislature. The executive government must necessarily arrange the details of the measure before it is recommended to the deliberation of parliament. It is, therefore, that I do not think it necessary or useful to enter here into any discussion, as to what might or might not be the proper securities under which any farther concession might be made. Such discussion could only tend to embarrass and render more difficult the task of the executive government, just as the previous suggestion and examination of the terms of a treaty of peace in this House, would embarrass the subsequent arrangement of the articles of that treaty out of doors. “I hardly know whether it be necessary to say a word upon the claim of right, as set up, or supposed to be set up, by some vehement and wrongheaded friends of the catholics, a claim utterly untenable, and one which, like the question of the repeal of the Union, hardly admits of being made matter of argument. It is not at this time of day to be made matter of dispute, whether there exists a paramount right and duty in the supreme power of a state to provide for its own conservation. The question is not whether it be competent to parliament to defend the constitution by excluding from political office any class or description of persons who could not be admitted without danger; the point in doubt is not whether parliament has the right to continue the disabilities, but whether or no, the causes in which they originated having ceased to operate, it might not be expedient to strengthen the constitution, by admitting four millions of men to a participation of its benefits, and to an interest in its security, rather than to continue an unnecessary guard against the shadows of past dangers. As to the mode and conditions of their admission, parliament is to judge. Let those conditions be as carefully contrived as the wisdom of man, as the jealousy of establishment can desire. Whatever they shall be, let parliament annex them to the boon, and then let those to whom the boon is offered, be left to accept or reject it, accompanied by these conditions. “But I do not think that it is in a committee of this House, such as is proposed to-night, that such a measure can most beneficially originate.
The catholics themselves do not api. to be of that opinion, for they ave announced their intention of waiting till the expiration of the restrictions upon the Regent, and of then framing and carrying up a petition to the throne. In this they appear to me to act judiciously. It is by a recommendation from the throne that they have received nearly all the benefits that have been conferred on them during the course of his majesty's reign. In the delicate and complicated circumstances of a case involving so many interests and so many prejudices, and so much detail of consideration and arrangement, the executive government is alone adequate to prepare and introduce a measure calculated to answer the great object in view. A measure so prepared would be brought in the most convenient and expedient manner before this House ; where it is obvious that questions requiring so much delicacy of management cannot be advantageously discussed in all their detail. The retraction of the offered veto is a sufficient proof of this proposition. The intention is avowed of petitioning the throne: how that petition may be received, no man is authorised to conjecture : yet there are not wanting grounds of hope to the catholics, that it may be received favourably ; in such circumstances the warmest friend of the measure might have allowed time for making the experiment, and have refrained from bringing the matter before parliament, either to intercept the coming grace of the throne, or to anticipate a disappointment, which I know not what right we have to presume. * No man can be ignorant of the prejudices existing in many classes of the community in this country against the concession of the catholic claims. I can entertain no doubt that these prejudices will be gradually overcome
by reflection and reasoning ; because I have the strongest conviction that reason is on the side of the concession; and with time in this country reason always makes its way. “But nothing could tend more ef. fectually to soften these prejudices than to see the question in the hands of the executive government; and as it is one which, in the present state of the world, cannot be put altogether aside, I do most earnestly hope that those to whom the conduct of the executive government may be committed, be their individual bias what it may, will feel it a duty to look at this question in all its detail and in all its bearings, but to look at it in all its magnitude also, and forthwith to set about the digesting such a plan as may bring it into a practical shape for equitable and final consideration. “ The obstacle which existed to such a consideration on the part of the government, and which I am not ashamed to say I respected, and would have continued to respect, so long as it existed in full force, and which I think the catholics themselves ought to have respected, in gratitude for for. mer benefits, in consideration of the age, the sufferings, and the virtues of the venerable and illustrious personage to whom I allude, and in deference to those conscientious scruples, which the catholics, claiming for themselves full liberty of conscience, are the more eminently bound to respect in others, —that obstacle, I say, being now unhappily no longer in the way, the government (in whatever hands it may be settled) has, in my opinion, no longer any ground or any execuse for leaving this great question loose, to be agitated at the suggestion of whoever may think fit to make a motion upon it. They ought to take it into their own hands. It is, if ever there was one, a question of vital interest to the safety of the empire.
“That this opportunity may be afforded to the executive government, I would say to the catholics, “Do not press your claims at the present moment ;” and with the same view, I should have most earnestly wished that my noble friend's motion had not been this night brought forward. I know how little I am courting popularity by these declarations. I make no professions of exclusive partiality. I wish well to the catholics, as a part of the population of the empire. I wish the question at rest, not in the way of victory, but of conciliation ; not by a forcible constraint upon the honest prejudices of protestants, but by the removal of them ; and to that removal I confidently look, if the subject be brought fairly before the country, and if the conduct of the catholics themselves be temperate, prudent, and conciliatory.
“I not only do not concur in, but I really do not understand the doctrine which my right honourable and learned friend laid down at the conclusion of his speech, that the admission of the catholics into the offices and situations from which they are now excluded, is absolutely forbidden by the constitution. How is this more true now, than it was true in the year 1793, that the constitution then forbade their admission into the privileges that were then conceded to them :
“The constitution of this country is not, so far as I have been taught to understand it, a code written out fairly
in one book, and struck out at one
heat like the revolutionary constitutions of modern France. The constitution, as established at our revolution, is what the constitution was, in principle, before that revolution, with such additional safeguards, and securities for the laws and liberties of the country, as the attacks which made that revolution necessary, and the dangers which followed it, suggested and prescribed. Our revolution was not the erection of a new frame and theory of government, but the vindication and renovation of ancient laws; the assertion of ancient franchises; the confirmation of ancient and undoubted privileges and liberties; established long ago, and established, many of them (be it remembered,) by the wisdom and patriotism of our catholic ancestorS. “Nor is it at all more true, that many of the most disgraceful exclusions, and most goading and penal provisions against the catholics, were in fact, the work of the revolution, or even contemporary with it. Reign after reign, from the revolution to the accession of his present majesty, teemed with more and more severe enactments for keeping down the catholics in Ireland. Of these enactments, many have been in the course of his majesty’s beneficent reign repealed. How is it then, that what remains of them is fundamental to the constitution ? Is it on account of the date of their enactment 2 Show that they are all of the date of the revolution. Or it is on account of the date at which their repeal is proposed ? “This then is an objection which applies universally to the whole catholic code, as it stood before the relaxation began, if it applies at all. And who is the man bold enough to say, that the catholic code, as it stood fifty years ago, was an essential and fundamental part of the British constitution ? “I cannot think, sir, that the British constitution is of this close, narrow, and exclusive character. Much rather would I describe it as of a capacity to admit and embrace all those who, born in the British islands, prove themselves sensible and worthy of its blessings; as inviting all the sons of the soil, whether of Great Britain or
Ireland, into the shelter of its protect1ng arms :
“Pandentemque sinus, et tota veste vocantern Ceruleum in gremium.”
“ This is the result to which I fondly look. Were the present motion calculated to hasten that result, it should have my hearty concurrence. But thinking it, for the reasons which I have stated, much rather calculated to defer any such result, by mixing the great question to which it in part refers, with circumstances of temporary and I hope transient irritation, I must give my vote against it.”
The motion of Lord Donoughmore drew from the Marquis Wellesley the following reflections on this great question. He declared, “That he approached the interesting cause of the Roman catholics with a solicitude for its success which could not be surpassed, even by the ardour of the noble earl. From the first dawn of his reason to the present hour, his anxiety for the effectual relief of the Roman catholics of Ireland had been the warm sentiment of his heart, confirmed and animated by successive experience and reflection, and by the deliberate exercise of his judgment, not unaccustomed to the practical consideration of great affairs of state ; , he was born, bred, and educated in those principles of rational liberality, equally remote from intolerant bigotry, and from licentious disregard of established order. He had always supported every former proposal for the relief of the Roman catholics; if for a moment, in a period of peculiar and extraordinary embarrassment, he had suspended the active exertion of his opinions on this subject, the suspense had been to him most painful and irksome ; it had been oecasioned merely by a conviction, that more danger was to be apprehended to the Roman catholics, and to the state, from a premature attempt to urge their just claim, than from a prudent delay of that claim, in submission to the character and circumstances of the times. “It was necessary, however, to explain distinctly the }. and limits of his opinions on the claim of the Roman catholics, because he apprehended, that he did not agree with any of the declared champions in this conflict. * “The heat of the contention had exaggerated and distorted the true and natural character of this question on both sides of the argument. “On the part of the Roman cathoHics, the claim had been armed with all the violence and terror of indisputable right, spurning all accompanying condition, all previous consideration, all provident, amicable delay. “The demand issued forth in the array of war, and no alternative appeared, but submission or battle. “On the other side, every delay of a peremptory sentence of eternal exclusion was represented, as perilous to our civil, and nearly sacrilegious towards our religious establishments; all conditions were ridiculed, as nugatory or impossible ; all previous consideration was deprecated, as an artful plot formed to inflame the expectations and demands of the catholics, and to damp the zeal of the defenders of our establishments in church and State. “The restraint imposed by statute on the Roman catholics was asserted to be in itself a positive good; a venerable and sacred institution; it was consecrated as an essential article of our faith; not a safeguard to be respected and preserved, merely for the temporary security of the altar, but the very altar and ark of our religion. “These excesses were violent and
irrational. The argument must be disarrayed, and brought down from the pomp and ostentation of right on one side, and from the intemperate fury of bigotted passion on the other; and the path of discretion must be sought between the extremes of zeal. “ His noble friend (the Earl of Aberdeen) for whom, from grateful remembrance of revered friendship and of indelible affection, he entertained a sincere regard, and whose excellent speech would have delighted the kind heart of the illustrious statesman, (Mr Pitt, under whose tutelary care he had been educated) had most justly said, that the question upon the claim of the Roman catholics, was a mere question of state expediency. “This was a correct view of that reat and important question, and Lord Wellesley expressed his entire concurrence in that part of his noble friend's sentinents. “ Toleration is the intermediate point between persecution and encouragement. The precise limits of the principles of persecution, of toleration, and of encouragement, cannot, however, be accurately drawn by any abstract definition. These boundaries cannot otherwise be ascertained, than by reference to the relative situations of the parties, and to the circumstances of the times, and to the condition of the state “ One maxim is clear and undeniable; that every state possesses a right to restrain whatever is dangerous to its security; no sect, no individual, can assert as a claim of right against the state, the relaxation of any restraint, of which the continuance is required for the safety of the community. “ On the other hand, every restraint, excluding any description of the subjects of any state from the enjoyment of advantages generally pos.