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and respectable curate, Mr. Milestones, alarmed at the effect of the Pope upon the East Riding, has come here to oppose me, and there he stands, breathing war and vengeance on the Vatican. We had some previous conversation on this subject, and, in imitation of our superiors, we agreed not to make it a Cabinet question. — Mr. Milestones, indeed, with that delicacy and propriety which belongs to his character, expressed some scruples upon the propriety of voting against his rector, but I insisted he should come and vote against me. I assured him nothing would give me more pain than to think I had prevented, in any man, the free assertion of honest opinions. That such conduct, on his part, instead of causing jealousy and animosity between us, could not, and would not, fail to increase my regard and respect for him. I beg leave, Sir, before I proceed on this subject, to state what I mean by Catholic emancipation. I mean eligibility of Catholics to all civil offices, with the usual exceptions introduced into all bills —jealous safeguards for the preservation of the Protestant Church, and for the regulation of the intercourse with Rome — and, lastly, provision for the Catholic clergy. I object, Sir, to the law as it stands at present, because it is impolitic, and because it is unjust. It is impolitic, because it exposes this country to the greatest danger in time of war. Can you believe, Sir, can any man of the most ordinary turn for observation believe, that the monarchs of Europe mean to leave this country in the quiet possession of the high station which it at present holds 2 Is it not obvious that a war is coming on between the governments of law and the governments of despotism – that the weak and tottering race of the Bourbons will (whatever our wishes may be) be compelled to gratify the wounded vanity of the French, by plunging them into a war with England. Already they are pitying the Irish people, as you pity the West Indian slaves — already they are opening colleges for the reception of Irish priests. Will they wait for your tardy wisdom and reluctant liberality ? Is not the VOL. III. O
present state of Ireland a premium upon early invasion? Does it not hold out the most alluring invitation to your enemies to begin 7 And if the flag of any hostile power in Europe is unfurled in that unhappy country, is there one Irish peasant who will not hasten to join it? —and not only the peasantry, Sir; the peasantry begin these things, but the peasantry do not end them — they are soon joined by an order a little above them — and then, after a trifling success, a still superior class think it worth while to try the risk: men are hurried into a rebellion, as the oxen were pulled into the cave of Cacus, tail foremost. The mob first, who have nothing to lose but their lives, of which every Irishman has nine — then comes the shopkeeper — then the parish priest—then the vicar-general — then Dr. Doyle, and, lastly, Daniel O'Connell. But if the French were to make the same blunders respecting Ireland as Napoleon committed, if wind and weather preserved Ireland for you a second time, still all your resources would be crippled by watching Ireland. The force employed for this might liberate Spain and Portugal, protect India, or accomplish any great purpose of offence or defence. War, Sir, seems to be almost as natural a state to mankind as peace; but if you could hope to escape war, is there a more powerful receipt for destroying the prosperity of any country, than these eternal jealousies and distinctions between the two religions? What man will carry his industry and his capital into a country where his yard measure is a sword, his pounce-box a powder-flask, and his ledger a return of killed and wounded? Where a cat will get, there I know a cottonspinner will penetrate; but let these gentlemen wait till a few of their factories have been burnt down, till one or two respectable merchants of Manchester have been carded, and till they have seen the Cravatists hanging the Shanavists in cotton twist. In the present fervour for spinning, ourang-outangs, Sir, would be employed to spin, if they could be found in sufficient quantities; but miserably will those reasoners be disappointed who repose upon cotton—not upon justice—and who imagine this great question can be put aside, because a few hundred Irish spinners are gaining a morsel of bread by the overflowing industry of the English market. But what right have you to continue these rules, Sir, these laws of exclusion? What necessity can you show for it? Is the reigning monarch a concealed Catholic 2 — Is his successor an open one 2–Is there a disputed succession ?–Is there a Catholic pretender 2 If some of these circumstances are said to have justified the introduction, and others the continuation, of these measures, why does not the disappearance of all these circumstances justify the repeal of the restrictions 2 If you must be unjust —if it is a luxury you cannot live without—reserve your injustice for the weak, and not for the strong — persecute the Unitarians, muzzle the Ranters, be unjust to a few thousand sectaries, not to six millions — galvanise a frog, don’t galvanise a tiger. If you go into a parsonage-house in the country, Mr. Archdeacon, you see sometimes a style and fashion of furniture which does very well for us, but which has had its day in London. It is seen in London no more; it is banished to the provinces; from the gentleman's houses of the provinces these pieces of furniture, as soon as they are discovered to be unfashionable, descend to the farm-houses, then to cottages, then to the faggotheap, then to the dunghill. As it is with furniture so it is with arguments. I hear at country meetings many arguments against the Catholics which are never heard in London; their London existence is over — they are only to be met with in the provinces, and there they are fast hastening down, with clumsy chairs and illfashioned sofas, to another order of men. But, Sir, as they are not yet gone where I am sure they are going, I shall endeavour to point out their defects, and to accelerate their descent. Many gentlemen now assembled at the Tiger Inn, at Beverley, believe that the Catholics do not keep faith with heretics; these gentlemen ought to know that Mr. Pitt put this very question to six of the leading Catholic Universities in Europe. He inquired of them whether this tenet did or did not constitute any part of the Catholic faith. The question received from these Universities the most decided negative; they denied that such doctrine formed any part of the creed of Catholics. Such doctrine, Sir, is denied upon oath, in the bill now pending in Parliament, a copy of which I hold in my hand. The denial of such a doctrine upon oath is the only means by which a Catholic can relieve himself from his present incapacities. If a Catholic, therefore, Sir, will not take the oath, he is not relieved, and remains where you wish him to remain; if he do take the oath, you are safe from this peril; if he have no scruple about oaths, of what consequence is it whether this bill passes, the very object of which is to relieve him from oaths 2 Look at the fact, Sir. Do the Protestant Cantons of Switzerland, living under the same state with the Catholic Cantons, complain that no faith is kept with heretics 2 Do not the Catholics and Protestants in the kingdom of the Netherlands meet in one common Parliament Could they pursue a common purpose, have common friends, and common enemies, if there were a shadow of truth in this doctrine imputed to the Catholics? The religious affairs of this last kingdom are managed with the strictest impartiality to both sects; ten Catholics and ten Protestants (gentlemen need not look so much surprised to hear it) positively meet together, Sir, in the same room. They constitute what is called the religious committee for the kingdom of the Netherlands, and so extremely desirous are they of preserving the strictest impartiality, that they have chosen a Jew for their secretary. Their conduct has been unimpeachable and unimpeached; the two sects are at peace with each other; and the doctrine, that no faith is kept with heretics, would, I assure you, be very little credited at Amsterdam or the Hague, cities as essentially Protestant as the town of Beverley. Wretched is our condition, and still more wretched the condition of Ireland, if the Catholic does not respect his oath. He serves on grand and petty juries in both countries; we trust our lives, our liberties, and our properties, to his conscientious reverence of an oath, and yet, when it suits the purposes of party to bring forth this argument, we say he has no respect for oaths. The right to a landed estate of 3000l. per annum was decided last week, in York, by a jury, the foreman of which was a Catholic; does any human being harbour a thought, that this gentleman, whom we all know and respect, would, under any circumstances, have thought more lightly of the obligation of an oath than his Protestant brethren of the box 2 We all disbelieve these arguments of Mr. A. the Catholic, and of Mr. B. the Catholic; but we believe them of Catholics in general, of the abstract Catholics, of the Catholic of the Tiger Inn, at Beverley, the formidable unknown Catholic, that is so apt to haunt our clerical meetings.
I observe that some gentlemen who argue this question are very bold about other offices, but very jealous lest Catholic gentlemen should become justices of the peace. . If this jealousy be justifiable any where, it is justifiable in Ireland, where some of the best and most respectable magistrates are Catholics.
It is not true that the Roman Catholic religion is what it was. I meet that assertion with a plump denial. The Pope does not dethrone kings, nor give away kingdoms, does not extort money, has given up, in some instances, the nomination of bishops to Catholic Princes, in some I believe to Protestant Princes: Protestant worship is now carried on at Rome. In the Low Countries, the seat of the Duke of Alva's cruelties, the Catholic tolerates the Protestant, and sits with him in the same Parliament – the same in Hungary — the same in France. The first use which even the Spanish people made of their ephemeral liberty was to destroy the Inquisition. It was destroyed also by the mob of Portugal. I am so far from thinking the Catholic not to be more tolerant than he was, that I am much afraid the English, who gave the first lesson of toleration to mankind, will very soon have a great deal to learn from their pupils.