H́nh ảnh trang

the absurdity of the fears that the repeal would tend to the overthrow of the established church; and said the future times must be astonished at the infatuation which permitted a question of this sort to be matter of debate in a British house of


The Chancellor of the Exchequer treated the claim to political power as a palpable absurdity, especially as coming from the men who perpetually spoke of all power as only a trust for the people. If there was an apprehension that any body of men would use their power improperly, it ought not to be put into their hands. He said that Mr. Grattan's language in speaking of tythes as an oppression, shewed the spirit of the motion and of the catholics. Would not this be preliminary to the abolition of tythes, and of the establishment? He loved christian toleration, not the toleration of philosophy; and thought, that the inore great sects were brought to an equality of honours, the nearer they were to a struggle. It was not to be supposed that the catholic petition was now more agreea ble to the nation, because the public voice was less loud against it than formerly. The feeling would be roused again the moment that the danger seemed probable.

night would not be attended to by the people, and that no other infernal cry could be raised in this country with any hope of success.

The call for the question at length becoming very general, Mr. Grattan rose again to make a few observations on what had fallen from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. After having replied to him in a strain of animated asperity, he concluded, "I have thought proper to say thus much, because I see the right honourable gentleman has assumed a higher tone in bigotry than he has even done in politics; and I must further tell this intolerant minister, that it is not in the declamatory tone of any earthly power to defraud my country of her civil rights, or prevent her from obtaining her religious liberty."

On the division, there were for the motion 83, against it 146.

On June 18th, the catholic pe tition was introduced to the house of lords by the Earl of Donoughmore. In his speech on the occa sion, his lordship chiefly dwelt upon the folly and injustice of im→ puting to the catholics, who composed the greatest part of the christian world, principles subversive of all civil society; on the different state of things relative to the succession to the crown since the penal laws were imposed; and on the objection drawn from the supremacy of the pope in the catholic church. He concluded with moving that the petition be referred to a committee of the whole house.

Mr. Whitbread reprobated the speech of the minister as one of the most inflammatory things he bad ever heard; and made an eloquent appeal to the house respecting the principles of toleration, and the public merits of the Irish. He said in conclusion, that he Lord Longford opposed the mohoped the trumpet sounded by the tion on the ground of its inexperight honourable gentleman that diency at a period when the con

[ocr errors]


stitution was incomplete through the incompetency of one of its branches.

Lord Redesdale was persuaded that the majority of the catholics were not anxious that the question should be agitated, because they were persuaded that the purpose could never be accomplished. He denied that any pledge had been or could be given to the catholics at the time of the union; and with respect to Mr. Pitt, he affirmed that in a conversation with himself he had said that he had not been able to devise any plan for effectually securing the protestant if the catholic claims were granted. It was of the essence of the constitution as established at the revolution, that the King should be a protestant, and it must consequently be essential that the ministers and officers employed in conducting the affairs of government should not be catholics.

The Marquis of Lansdowne could not content himself with giving a silent vote in favour of the motion. He would contend, in answer to the supposed danger to the constitution from the relief sought, that the disabilities of the catholics formed no part of the British constitution. In forming a judgment of the catholics of Ireland, their lordships were only to look at the principles they professed and the conduct they pursued, and it was unfair to go back to the doctrines of councils now exploded. Not a single instance bad.been produced in which the interference of the pope had produced any effect in the management of the affairs of any country in Europe. The catholics had

proved their loyalty by their gios rious actions in the peninsula ; but if there was any apprehension of the influence of a foreign power; that might be provided against when their lordships went into a committee. He considered grant. ing the claims of the catholics as necessary to the completion of the union.

The Bishop of Norwich was of opinion that it was expedient to gratify the just expectations of the Irish catholics. Various examples shewed the advantages arising from the employment of talents in the public service, without regard to difference in religion. It was with regret that he differed from his brethren on the bench, and other wise and good men, on this subject, but his arguments were derived from authorities to whom all parties were accustomed to look with respect from Locke, Hoadley, Stillingfleet, and Wake. And when he quoted the opinions of such men as Burke, Fox, Pitt, and Windham, he felt that he referred to an authority greater than that of the two universities, or of all the divines in the country. No one was more ready than himself to prove his attachment to the es tablished church, which he be lieved to be the purest form of christian worship established upon earth; but he must decline giving such a proof of his sincerity as to declare the catholics idolaters, and that they ought not to be admitted to the highest offices of the state.

The Earl of Buckinghamshire thought that the policy of foreign countries relative to different religions was no ground for our con duct; and he mentioned, with dis


approbation, some of the proceed ings of the Irish catholics on the present occasion.

¡The Earl of Aberdeen said, that of all the applications on this subject, the present was the most unseasonable in time and circumstances; yet he was convinced that the question must finally be carried, and that, at no distant period. He wished that the Irish catholics had followed the exam ple of their brethren in England, and forborne to press their petition at this time.

Earl Spencer rose chiefly to advert to an assertion made by Lord Redesdale in speaking on this question that there were other grounds for Mr. Pitt's resignation in 1801, than his not being able to carry into effect his intentions respecting the catholics. He said that this was the reason given publicly, and what had operated on himself, and that he had never heard of any other. He admitted that no positive and distinct pledge had been given to the catholics, but he knew that the measure of an union was undertaken in the contemplation of such a plan.

Lord Redesdale, in explanation, affirmed that Mr. Pitt in conversa tion on this subject, admitted the difficulties to be so numerous, that he did not see how to provide the means of accomplishing this object.

Lord Grenville felt himself called upon as one of the friends of Mr. Pitt; and appealed to all who were connected with or attached to him, and even to those who differed with him in political sentiments, whether he had left that character behind him which could give credit to an imputation that

in those awful moments of our public affairs he had deserted his duty to his king, his country, and the whole civilized world, on motives different from those which he had publicly avowed? For his part, he could not entertain the least suspicion that the grounds of his retirement were any other than those agreed on by Mr. Pitt and himself to be stated to parliament on that occasion; and he lamented that a great opportunity was then lost, which would never recur with equal advantage, through the misguided councils, and by the wicked misconceptions, imposed on the mind of the Sovereign.

The Lord Chancellor said, that he had always entertained so sincere and rooted an opinion on the subject, that he could not suffer the motion to be discussed without declaring his sentiments, though he might be called a bigot for them. With respect to Mr. Pitt, he averred upon his ho nour, that in many conversations with him, he could never learn what securities or safeguards he had to propose for the protestant establishment in case of granting the catholic claims. He had never heard of any but the veto, in which the catholics refused to concur. The revolution was founded on a belief that certain tenets existed which precluded persons holding them from power; and the existence of these tenets was now denied.

We bad therefore been guarding the constitution by various laws, which we were now told meant nothing. Was he too rash in standing on the principles which united and knitted together a protestant state and constitution, and a protestant church


establishment, for the express purpose of handing them down together to the remotest posterity? To any charge of bigotry he should only answer, give me your distinct propositions, explain to me your safeguards and securities, and I will seriously examine them on their own grounds; but I will not consent to go into a committee on any general statement of a petition. Lord Holland spoke with much force in refutation of the arguments advanced by the Chancellor. He contended that in cases like the present, the onus probandi lay not upon those who claimed, but upon those who refused, the rights questioned. Though it might be often unfafe to discuss abstract rights, yet no one could properly understand questions of this nature whose mind was not imbued with the grounds on which civil and religious liberty rest. The noble and Tearned lord had calumniated the revolution by the way in which he had spoken of it, as if it had nothing further in view than providing that the King should be a protestant. It embraced much higher interests; it was a great question between the power of the crown and the rights of the people. The proposal for making the test act a fundamental law was rejected both then, and at the union with Scotland; and it was in vain to say that such laws were

inherent in the constitution of England, since they did not subsist from Magna Charta to the Reformation, nor from that period till Charles II. As to the matter of the supremacy, was not Scotland a part of the kingdom? yet the Scotch church totally rejected such a doctrine. If, in the decrees of councils and other Romish documents, there were uncancelled doctrines which were repugnant to the principles of the British government, there were doctrines in the homilies of the church of England decidedly in opposition to the Bill of Rights. With respect to the objection of unfitness of the present time for bringing on such a subject, he thought, on the contrary, that of all periods it was the fittest, as the concession would come with the best grace now that the successes in Portugal had removed all immediate danger of an invasion of Ireland, so that any favour shewn to the catholics could not be attributed to fear.

After some other lords had spoken on each side, and the noble mover had made a brief concluding speech, the House divided; when there appeared, Contents 36 Non Contents 74 Proxies 26 Proxies




Majority against the motion, 59.


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Finance. The Budget. Cotton-Wool Duty opposed, and given up. Vote of Credit, and Debate.


N May 20th, the House of Commons having resolved itself into a commmittee of ways and means, the Chancellor of the Exchequer opened the budget for the year. He said, that having entered into a contract that morning for a loan for the service of the present year, it became his duty to submit for the approbation of the committee the terms upon which he had negociated it, and which he trusted would appear to the committee highly advantageous for the public. But before he should bring under For the navy, exclusive of ordnance

the consideration of the committee the terms upon which the loan had been obtained, he felt it necessary, according to the ordinary practice upon such occasions, to state clearly and distinctly the various sums which had already been voted in the shape of supply, and the various ways and means by which, according to his judgment, the charges for such supplies ought to be met and provided for. He should begin, therefore, by stating the supply voted

For the army, including barracks and commis

Extraordinaries, England


£14,209,421 3,233,421











Ditto, Ireland

[blocks in formation]

Miscellaneous already voted, and to be voted, including

Irish permanent grants

Vote of credit

Ditto for Ireland

Sicilian subsidy

Total joint charge

But before he should proceed farther with the enumeration of the items of supply, he felt it necessary to make one or two observations upon the subject of the Sicilian



subsidy, and to throw himself upon the indulgence of the committee for an inadvertent omission of which he had been guilty respecting that vote. The committee


« TrướcTiếp tục »