« ForrigeFortsett »
bequeathing his own property ; of family, with his country. I think such educating his own children ; of exer- a system must at all times have been as cising any of the rights I will not mischievous in politics as detestable in say of a freeman, but of a manumitted morality, however effectually it may sláve? Would he thus undo the work have tranquillized the population of beneficence which has so honoura- which it proscribed. bly distinguished the present reign? “ But excuses, though not justifi. For during the present reign it is, and cations, might perhaps exist in a former during the latter half of it, that the state of things, which do not exist catholic has been raised from so abject now. The system itself might be dea situation to his present comparative- fended by arguments, which do not ly improved, but imperfect enjoyment apply to the fragments of that system, of civil privileges. Or does my right broken down and scattered as it has honourable and learned friend only been in these latter times by the silent think that these wise and salutary re- progrese of events, and by the growgulations, though abolished, ought ing liberality of the legislature. The not to be forgotten that though we onus lies, says my right honourable have partially, perhaps improvidently, and learned friend, on those who call removed the weight of the chain from for innovation, to show that there is the limbs of the catholic, we ought to ground for innovating, and that we leave a link or two behind, to remind can innovate with safety. The onus him that he was once in fetters ? lies, it may be answered, on those who
“But without defending, in all their recommend the preserving, with such disgusting detail, those numerous pe- perverse partiality, the disjointed frame nalties and disabilities under which the of a machine, according to their own catholics formerly laboured, my right confession no longer efficient for the honourable and learned friend contents purposes of coercion and consequent himself with asking, whether what was tranquillity. Would they preserve once so essentially necessary to the se- what they admit and regret to be mu. curity of the state, and so conducive tilated, and inoperative, as matter of to its tranquillity, can now be safely example, or of warning, to future cancelled as useless ? For my own ages ? or as matter of pride and credit. part, I answer that I cannot see, even to the legislative contrivance of our in the circumstances of the past times, ancestors ? Are they anxious that posa sufficient apology for the past sys. terity may be enabled to conjecture, tem. I cannot conceive any state of from its remains, how formidable the society in which such restrictions could force of the whole complicated instrube absolutely justified. I could not, ment must have been when it existed in any state of things which my ima. in all its terrible perfection, and was gination can suggest, in a civilized worked with an unsparing hand? country, among citizens of the same “My right honourable and learned soil, approve of such means of produ- friend and I differ in nothing so much cing tranquillity. I could not give as in this, that he views and has argued my voice for the policy of propping this question as if it were solely a reup the state by dissociating half its ligious question, whereas I feel it my subjects from the charities of human duty to argue it in this House upon life ; from the ties of kindred; from political grounds alone. My right the confidence of familiarity and friend- honourable and learned friend has inship; from all that endears society to deed declared (and seemed to take man, and connects him, through his credit for the candour of the declara
of the way
tion) that he would not go into the military subjugation. I do not think doctrine of transubstantiation, or the it necessary to go so far back either adoration of saints, or other myste- to recount the wrongs
of Ireland, or rious points of the popish faith. But to suggest the remedy for them. As why did he not go into them? Be- reasonable would it be to refer to the cause he in effect took them for grant- Norman conquest for grievances applied; and argued from them without cable to this country, and to complain submitting to the inconvenience of at this time of the day of the tyranny proving them. I am sure I cannot of the curfew. But part undertake to follow my right honour. I must go back, to find the origin and able and learned friend, for the pur- object of the restrictions now under pose of either confuting or confirming consideration. I must go
back as far his construction of the objectionable as the Reformation. tenets of the Romish church; nor “ Blessed as that great event was does it appear to me mecessary or use- in its general consequences to manful to enter into that disquisition. It kind, and eminently so to this country, would be better suited to a convoca. by purifying religion of the gross cortion of divines, than to an assembly of ruptions and abuses which had been legislators. When the legislature se- engrafted upon it, and introducing lected those points-transubstantia. among us that enlightened and rationtion and the like-as tests, and as the al system of religious worship which foundations of their provisions against we now happily enjoy ; yet, like all the admission of papists into the state, great and violent changes in the state it was surely not in the spirit of reli- of human affairs, it was not productive gious controversy,---not as intending of unmixed good, but brought with it to dispute with priests and bishops a portion of inevitable evil. It strength.
the mysteries of their faith. It ened the religious principle, but it was not intended by those who origi- weakened throughout Europe, for a nated the catholic disqualifications, to time, the principle of patriotism; in decide on abstract points of theology. some cases superseding it, in others They took these articles of religious coming in conflict with it. The sects creed as the sigos of political opinion; into which the nations of Europe were as the distinguishing characteristics of divided by this event, were influenced a faction in the state, acting under a by the zeal of religious controversy, foreign influence, connected with a more than by the love of country. banished dynasty, and hostile to the The attachment of catholics and pro. government and the constitution of testants to their respective persuasions, their country. They were the marks was often too strong for those ties of by which the criminal was designated, duty and affection which bind men to not the crime for which he was pu- their native clime. In Germany, the nished.
reformed religion had to struggle a. “ In tracing the history of the penal gainst catholic supremacy. In this laws, and of the long sufferings of Ire country, where the doctrines of the land, some gentlemen are fond of going - Reformation early prevailed, the Caback to remote and almost forgotten tholics continued to feel a community periods; to periods when Ireland was of interest with the catholics of other treated as a conquered country, and nations, outweighing that which congroaned under all those injuries and nected them with their protestant fel. oppressions which grew, not out of re. low-subjects, the children of the same ligious schion, but out of political and soil. Under these circumstances, it
might perhaps be necessary for the interruption lasted, however, only for safety of the state, that the dominant a period of six months,) and from sect should place the others under re- thence to the time when their inde. strictions and disqualifications which pendence was swallowed up in the allshould exclude them from all share in devouring gulf of the French Revolu. the government, and from all influence tion, did the cantons of Switzerland as well as power. But it would surely continue to maintain, with this perfect be idle to contend that a transitory religious independence, a perfect and dissension required, or could justify, a cordial political connexion. permanent and irremovable
of “ It may be objected, that however coercion. And it would be false in this might have been the case with point of history, as well as in reason- states of such trifling magnitude as the ing, to affirm that the religious strug- Swiss cantons, there would be a diffigles, which naturally grew out of such culty in making the application of the an event as the Reformation, must be same principle to greater states. But considered as common to all times, and what if the same might be shown of as arising out of causes inseparable another and a larger country? What from our nature.
if it had existed in France itself ? Let “ It is true that in this country, not my right honourable and learned and still more in Ireland, from circum- friend suppose that I am speaking of stances peculiar to these kingdoms, revolutionary France ; or that I, at religious dissensions raged unabated least, am one of those whom he has for a longer period than in many other described as borrowing their opinions parts of the world. But are there no
upon this subject from the new philo. instances in which difference of faith sophy which gave birth to that trehas been found compatible with strict mendous and desolating revolution.political union ? Within a few years, I Aatter myself that I am known too I believe within thirty years, after the well to my right honourable and first dawn of the Reformation, and learned friend, as I would fain
presume while the rest of Europe was yet con- that I may be to this House, to be vulsed with the divisions arising out of under the necessity of defending myit, the cantons of Switzerland took self against such an imputation. "I the sage
and generous resolution to speak of France in her ancient, in her bury all religious animosities, and to most glorious times ; not only when live together as Christians, without re. she was a monarchy, but when reigned gard to difference of sect. In four of over by the monarch whose name is these cantons the reformed religion the most splendid in her history, and was adopted ; in six the Roman ca. the most cherished in the affections of tholic continued to prevail; in the re- mankind. I speak of the edict of mainder, protestants and catholics were Nantes issued by Henry IV. After mixed in equal proportions ; and in the sixty years of almost uninterrupted diets, in which the general affairs of struggle between the two conflicting the union were discussed, the two re- religions ; a struggle of open and a ligions amicably concurred in the set- vowed war, stained with transactions tlement of their common political in- the most disgraceful to human nature ;
From about the middle of transactions, the memory of which was the 16th to the beginning of the 18th calculated to keep alive in the breasts century, when there was a slight in. of the protestants a jealous suspicion terruption to their harmony, (which of treachery, and an ardent desire of revenge ; and in those of the catholics subjects. It is our intention likewise, an apprehension of merited and merci. that those of the reformed religion less retaliation. In this state of men's may be admitted into all councils, deminds in France, differing happily liberations, meetings, and functions, from
any thing that exists in Ireland, which belong to the situations above did Henry IV. think that he did not mentioned, without the possibility of better provide for the general tranquil- their being, on account of their said lity and safety of the state than by ex. religion, rejected or prevented from tending equal political privileges to all enjoying the same." religious descriptions of his subjects. « Such, then, was the opinion of Our squabble and difficulty here is one of the greatest monarchs that ever about the admission to a few political reigned over that or any other nation, offices. Hear, sir, what was the en- in times when he had not barely to actment of Henry IV. of France upon calculate upon possible disturbance that subject.
and discontent, but to encounter open “ The better to unite the affections opposition. His opinion is thus pracof all our subjects, as it is our intent tically shewn to have been, that even to do, and to prevent all complaints in in such circumstances, the best course time to come,
of proceeding was by conciliation. “ We declare all those who profess This was his notion of tranquillising a or may hereafter profess the pretend- country. Such an authority is surely ed reformed religion, capable of hold- not to be despised. And, however ing and exercising all situations, dig. difficult it may have been found, in nities, offices, and public trusts what times of so much turbulence, to act soever, royal and seignorial, or belong: fully up to the spirit of this benevoing to the cities or towns of our said lent edict, and to hold the balance of kingdom, or to the countries, lands, impartial toleration with a steady hand, and lordships in allegiance to us, not- yet no man who compares the period withstanding any oaths to the con- during which the edict of Nantes was trary, and to be indifferently admitted in force, with that which succeeded and received into such places; and our its revocation by Louis XIV., will courts of parliament and other judges venture to state that the system of toshall content themselves with enquiring leration tended to cramp the energies, into the lives, morals, religion, and ho- and blight the prosperity of that kingnest conversation of those who are or dom. If the reign of Louis XIV. is
be invested with offices, as well of always cited as the epoch during which one religion as another, without exact. the glory of the French monarchy was ing any other oath from them than matured, if his court was at once the that in the exercise of their charge, model and the terror of Europe --it they will well and faithfully serve the is from that period of his reign, when, king, and keep the ordinances, such as under the influence of a mistress and a they have been observed heretofore. confessor, he repealed the edict of And as to such of the said situations, Nantes, and became the persecutor of trusts, and offices, as are in our own his subjects, that we are to date the gift, any vacancy arising therein shall decline of that glory. be filled up, indifferently and without “ It is a singular fact, however, that, distinction, by any person capable of independently of the edict of Nantes, executing
the same; as being a thing and even after its revocation, France which tends to the uniting of all our was allowed to benefit by services,
such as we consider as incompatible government naturally entertained a with the safety of the dominant reli- strong and just jealousy of its own cagion. Sully was placed at the head tholic subjects, and accordingly we of her councils ; Turenne, Schomberg, find every attack upon the crown of and Saxe, were entrusted with the
England, whether by the arms of a command of her armies.
foreign catholic power, or by the spi“ What is it is there any thing 'ritual head of the catholic church, fol. which makes intolerance more natural, lowed by new and more rigorous reor more necessary to this country? Is strictions upon the catholics of these it that a free state must necessarily be kingdoms. In Ireland especially, more rigorous in withholding political where the Reformation did not make privileges on account of religious opi- its way, where it must be confessed nions, than a government purely mo- that little pains were taken to propanarchical ? I have referred to the his.
gate it, in Ireland, which both from tory of other countries to show the the predominance of the catholic reliunsoundness of the proposition, that gion, and from its being the most vuldifference of religious opinions is in- nerable point of the British empire, compatible with political equality was chiefly the scene of foreign in Our own history will show, that, so trigue, and the point of foreign attack, far from a contrary system being ab- these restrictions were multiplied and solutely natural and necessary to this enforced with peculiar severity. country, so far from its either being “ From the reign of Elizabeth downindigenous to the soil, or growing out wards even to the present reign, the of the freedom of our constitution, statute-book exhibits a series of penal our restrictions upon the Roman ca- provisions, rendered necessary, or astholic religion have generally origina- sumed to be so, for the purpose of ted in causes external to this country. keeping down catholic disaffection ; a I infer, that in proportion as those disaffection of which the dread apcauses cease to operate, the necessity pears uniformly to have increased in of those restrictions, and consequently proportion to external danger. The their justification, has become less war of Philip against Elizabeth, and strong.
that which followed the Revolution in “ From the period of the Reforma- 1688, were alike the era and the oction, during the remainder of the 16th, casion of new penal restrictions upon and part of the following century, a
Ireland. But is it not equally true, considerable portion of the continent that the abatement of external danger was agitated by wars and quarrels of has allowed a proportionate relaxation religion. From the time when this in the system of internal jealousy and country finally adopted the reformed restraint? Was it not reasonable that religion, the British government lost it should do so! And has not the fact no opportunity of expressing its sym- been conformable to the reason of the pathy with those professing the same thing creed in foreign states, sometimes in- “ In 1685, the period of the revoterfering in their favour by negocia- cation of the edict of Nantes, the tions, and sometimes assisting them by shores of this country were covered, arms; and it was in its turn exposed with a multitude of fugitives from to the machinations of foreign powers France, imploring asylum and protec- . of the catholic persuasion, and to the tion : Fugitives of what description ? vengeance and intrigue of the catholic Protestant clergy. Flying from what? church. In this state of things the. A popish persecution. When the