Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

ley's motion, on account of the dis- course are not sold and bought as in gust and alarm which had been exci. England, subject to a deduction of ted by the conduct of the catholics ; one-tenth of the produce to the and an opportunity for the fair and church : That a great uncertainty thus deliberate discussion of this great sub- arises as to what things are tithable, ject, which may not soon recur, was and what tithe is payable on them ; thus thrown away by a combination that new incumbents frequently alter of insolence and folly, which has sel. the former charges, which is a source dom been paralleled.

of great oppression to the land-holder; Mr Parnell

, towards the close of and that useless litigation thus ensues, the session, brought forward a motion, highly prejudicial not only to the cha“ That the House should early next racter of the church, but to the comsession of parliament take into its most fort of the people : That the lower serious consideration, the state of the orders in Ireland are in general holders laws relating to tithes in Ireland, with of land, which they keep in tillage, a view to a legislative measure conduc and which is of course liable to tithes; cive to the relief of the lower orders that the great farmers have almost all of the people, and the more satisfac- their lands in pasture, and are thus tory provision of the clergy of the exempted ; and that the burden of the established church.” In support of tithes in Ireland of course falls chiefly this motion it was stated, that nine of on the

poorer

classes : That the clergy the largest counties of Ireland had are obliged to employ tithe-proctors presented petitions, or had publicly and tithe-farmers to collect their declared, that some alteration in the tithes, who proceed with the greatest present system was indispensable; that rigour, and occasion the most serious the same opinion prevailed very gene- discontent: That the great evils of rally throughout Ireland, and that which the Irish complain do not arise even the clergy themselves were de. so much either from the absence of sirous of relief. That the state of Ire- their gentry, or the character of the land renders the levying of tithes in middlemen, as from the grievance now that country a much more intolerable stated ; and although the laws protect burden, than the same exactions are in most effectually the tenant in his dealEngland ; that one-tenth only of the ing with his landlord, they place him Irish people belong to the established with respect to tithes wholly at the church; that nine-tenths of them ac- mercy of the clergy. There is no cordingly pay for two establishments; reason to believe that some remedy and that although the catholics had, for this evil may not easily be discofrom a sense of delicacy, declined in- vered, since it is well known that Mr terfering in this question, they were Pitt had prepared a plan for the comundoubtedly the chief sufferers in the mutation of tithes in Ireland, which, if present state of things : That the prac. it had been carried into effect, must tice of enforcing payment of tithes in have been attended with the happiest Ireland is but of modern date, a circum- consequences.-Mr Parnell then sug, stance which very much increases the gested that the evil might be remedied grievance ; that even down to the pre- in various ways. First, by a valuation sent time the clergy had not been able of tithes by commissioners, agreeably to enforce the payment of tithes on to the precedents of former acts of many articles on which they are due by parliament. Secondly, by a certain the ecclesiastical interpretation of the tax on lands now subject to tithes law; and that the lands in Ireland of equivalent to the value of the tithes at present received. Thirdly, by a pro- opposed themselves to the execution visiou to protect the clergy against of any of these plans, and which were changes in the value of money, on pointed out by Mr Wellesley Pole the principle of 18th Elizabeth, chap. and other members, seemed to be 6. for securing to the universities the nearly insurmountable. The clergy value of their lands by making the of Ireland enjoy, in point of fact, beprice of corn the criterion of the rents tween a twentieth and a thirtieth part received.—Mr Parnell, however, sug- of the produce; in many cases not gested that in the first instance a more than a thirtieth. But in a com. certain tax should be imposed on mutation, it would be impossible to each grower in lieu of the tithes, an proceed upon any other principle, than arrangement being made at the same that of allowing the clergy what they time by which lands should be pur- are entitled to by law, viz. a tenth of chased so soon as they could be pro- the produce. If they should not recured, and granted to the church as ceive this they would receive less than the final equivalent for the tithes. He their right, and if they were allowed proposed that the tax should be paid a tenth, the people of Ireland must to government as a return for the pay more than the double of what they sums necessary to be advanced to pur. at present contribute. As no commu. chase the lands ; and maintained that tation, therefore, could be effected this measure would contribute to the without increasing the burdens of the stability of the established church, Irish people, it seemed highly inexpewhich could never be safe, while the dient to urge any plan of this kind, at increase of its income generated so much a moment when the supposed oppresdiscontent; that it would enable Ire- sions existing in this part of the em. land to extend her tillage, and supply pire had attracted so much notice and England with the corn which she does produced so much discontent.-Mr not grow for her own consumption ; Parnell's motion was therefore negaand would promote the internal tran- tived ; and the project of relieving quillity of Ireland, conciliate the peo. Ireland from an evil of acknowledged ple, and extend the resources of the em- magnitude, and of difficult remedy, pire. --The difficulties, however, which was for the present abandoned.

[ocr errors]

CHAP. VIII.

The Catholic Question. Arguments
for and against the Claims of the

Catholics.
Reflections on the subject, and on the

future Prospects of that Body.

T'he question of catholic emancipa- magnitude ; which entirely disregarded tion has of late years occupied a very the new lights struck out in the colliprominent place in the deliberations sion of the most powerful minds, con. of the legislature, and in the domestic tending with ardour in a cause so mopolitics of the country. The interest mentous; and neglected so fair an opnaturally excited by a discussion of portunity of commemorating, in some great intrinsic importance, has been degree at least, the high endowments enhanced by the stormy violence with of those men, who, even in an age 80 which the claims of the catholics have often described as comparatively barbeen pursued, and perpetuated by the ren in great public characters, conti- . bitter divisions in the state, of which nued to shed a lustre round the British the catholic question has become the senate. It must also be recollected, badge. During the year 1812, the that the chief arguments on both sides claims of the catholics were sustained of this great question have already met and opposed in parliament with an ener- the public eye in so many shapes, that gy and enthusiasm, which have seldom a' mere abridgement would disgust as been equalled; many conflicts took an useless repetition ; but there is in place in which the very highest talents the vigour and animation of a speech of the country were drawn into vigo- actually pronounced by a great orator rous operation; and some powerful on an interesting occasion, a virtue and brilliant orations were pronounced, which will give freshness even to stale which would be altogether spoiled by arguments, and the highest possible re. abridgement. Such, besides, is the lish to sentiments which have novelty nature of the subject, that no attempt as well as truth to recommend them. to abridge the pleadings could es. Among those who distinguished themcape the imputation of partiality, selves in the course of the present year a charge which might have a better in support of the claims of the cathofoundation in justice than even the au- lics, the Marquis Wellesley and Mr thor had suspected. Yet how imper. Canning stood pre-eminent, and, by fect would any account of the transac. the acknowledgement even of the old tions of this period be, which preser- advocates of catholic emancipation, ved no vestige of the general state of added new honour to their name. Their public sentiment on a subject of such speeches will be read with interest and

1

delight even by persons (if there be Ireland, surrounded and agitated by any such) who care little about the local passions and prejudices, was in issue of the discussion; while the competent to discuss, impartially and grave and sober argument of some of dispassionately, the subject of the ca. their opponents may teach the vulgar tholic claims,—the imperial parliaadvocates of emancipation, that the ment, after the accomplishment of the question is not so clear of difficulties Union, being removed from the influas they imagine, and that there may ence of those local feelings, and from be greater dangers in a headlong im. the sphere of those prejudices which petuosity, than they have penetration obstructed a temperate discussion in enough to discover.

Ireland, might safely and conveniently When Lord Morpeth brought for entertain the question, and might come ward his motion on the state of Ire- to a rational and enlightened decision land and the claims of the catholics, upon it, Mr Canning rose after Sir John -66 That time arrived. The Union Nichol, and spoke as follows :-- being accomplished, the question was “ In approaching the discussion of open to discussion in the united parthis great .question, I am aware that liament ; when an obstacle arose, to I labour under many disadvantages. the nature of which it would not be The feelings and passions of men fitting to do more than allude ; but of are só warmly interested on the one which I believe it may be said, withside or other, that to engage in the out hazard of contradiction, that, discussion without adopting, in some however it might impede for a time measure, the views and language of the consummation of their wishes, a partizan, is, I am perfectly sensible, there is no virtuous and loyal catholic to incur the risk of disappointing who does not deeply deplore its reboth parties and pleasing neither. But moval. this disadvantage I am not afraid to • Is it at this moment, when the ex.

If I know my own heart, pectations, well or ill founded, under I come to the present question unin- which the Union was brought about, fluenced by any selfish motives, by any might be realized,--when the claims objects either of power or popularity. of the catholics might at length, withI wish merely to do my duty. I seek out impediment, be submitted to par. not the triumph of either party, but I liamentary consideration-is it at this look to the tranquillity, the security, moment that my right honourable and and the happiness of the whole. learned friend (Sir John Nichol) would

“ Much has been said, in the vari. break the word of promise to the hopes ous debates that have taken place on of the catholics, and shut the door this subject, of promises made, or un- against their expectations for ever? I derstandings entered into, at the time of do not say that the claims of the cathothe Union. Promises, I know of none; lics can this day be granted. I do not nor do I believe that any were made.' say with my noble friend (Lord Mor. An understanding there certainly was, peth) that this is the moment for tanot expressed by any act of the legis- king them into consideration. I agree, lature, but fairly to be collected from indeed, with my noble friend as to the the language of almost every man who great and urgent importance of the spoke in favour of the Union in either subject ; but I rather think noble house of parliament ;-that, whereas friend does not agree with me as to the separate resident legislature of the magnitude of the difficulties that

encounter.

my

my

encompass it. But whatever doubt I long contentedly continue. Neither may entertain as to the view which can I think it wise, if it were practi. noble friend has taken of the subject, cable, to determine upon permanently however much I may be disposed to shutting them out from the pale of the question whether he has considered it constitution. in all its details, and in all its bearings, “ It is admitted, that since the peI must own, that my right honourable riod of their humiliation, the catholics and learned friend (Sir J. Nichol) has have disclaimed many of the tenets done so much to simplify the question, which were once imputed to them, that if, of the two, 'I must agree and which formed the justification of with the one or the other, I could not. that system of depression under which refuse my noble friend the preference. they were formerly holden, But my If the only option were, whether we right honourable and learned friend should

go

on at once to the extremeat takes what appears to me rather an limit of concession, or should present. unfair advantage of the good behaly retrace our steps, retract former re- viour of the catholics, and attributes it laxations, and re-enact former disabili- exclusively to the beneficial operation ties, I could have no hesitation as to of the restrictive laws. He does not the alternative for which I should give distinctly avow indeed the intention of my vote.

restoring those laws; but such, as I « But in the view which I take of have already said, is the course and this great question, it is not quite so tendency of his reasoning; and no man simple in its nature. It cannot, I think, who follows the argument to its legibe considered without reference to timate consequences, can doubt that times and circumstances. It is not to this is in fact the implied doctrine of be decided on abstract principles alone. those who think with my right honour. Those principles must be modified in able and learned friend. The more the their application by a view of the ac- catholic was restricted, says my right tual state of Ireland ;-of the relation honourable and learned friend, the in which Ireland now stands to the more quiet he became. This may pose whole of the British empire ;-and of sibly be true ; but it is a truth, which, the situation of that empire, as affect. if we took it as the guide of our polied by the present circumstances of the cy, might lead us a little too far. It world.

seems somewhat a-kin to the old adage, " When I look to the present state that “dead men tell no tales ;" for it of Ireland, with a great and growing must be granted, that the man in population,-a population growing, whom the best powers and faculties of not in numbers only, but in wealth and life, civil freedom, and all the social intelligence, and aspiring, from what passions, were extinguished, was likethey have already tasted of freedom, ly to be quiet enough. to a more cnlarged and equal enjoy- “ But does my right honourable and ment of privileges from which they are learned friend really think that such a still excluded ;-when I consider that system was politic? or that whatever to this situation, they have been gra. it might have been, when justified, or dually raised, from a condition where- supposed to be justified, by necessity, in nó class of people had ever before it would be politic to revive or to perbeen placed by the laws of a Chris- severe in it now? Would he again tian country, I cannot think it proba- place the catholic in a situation in ble, that in this situation they should which he should not have the right of

« ForrigeFortsett »