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treacherous omission of one act, state, if the Catholics should ever might ruin all,--they were con- acquire political power. If they tented that that one man should be a should ever acquire political power? Catholic; they were willing to Why, if those who swayed the trust to the honour, to the integrity willsof fiveor six millions of disconand to the faith of a Catholic. But tented men,—who restrained in a when the question was, whether a leash the angry and troubled pasCatholic should be allowed a seat sions of such a multitude, who in that House, where little de- held in the folds of their garment pended on what was said or done the dread alternatives of peace or by a few,—where every thing a war,--if such persons were not man said or did was made as public possessed of political power, then as the art of man could make it, there was no meaning in words and borne with the dawn of day no danger in names. A power of on the wings of the winds to the this description could be exercised extremities of the empire,—there, for no good end; it might destroy, in such a place, and under such but it could not save a state.
He circumstances, people were filled called upon the House to turn with alarm at his approach; they these materials of discord into began to find out that his allegiance strength, and to imitate the skilful was divided, and they saw the ruin and benevolent physician, who of the country completed by per- from deadly herbs extracted healmitting a Catholic to vote in a ing balms, and made that the means committee of supply. In truth, to of health, which others, less able or refuse emancipation because politi- less good, used for the purposes of cal power, in the hands of the destruction. Catholics, would be dangerous, Sir Charles Wetherell, the Attormeant this, that it would be dan- ney general, had, it was well gerous to regulate for our own known, differed from ministers as benefit, power which they already to the policy they were now purpossessed. What was it that con- suing. He had even refused to ferred political power? Numbers, draw the bill; and still he remained 'wealth, and intelligence. Whether Attorney general, under a minister in the republics of the west, or in who was understood to have made the despotisms of the east, the unthinking submission to his word persons possessed of these were of command on this question the they who swayed the deliberations tenure by which alone those, * of the people, and who controlled dependent on the government, the will of the monarch. Look, would be allowed to retain their then, to the Catholics. They were offices. The only explanation that numerous enough-wealth they offered itself was, that, in the possessed to our hearts' content- event of the Attorney general's for intelligence, we were day by office becoming vacant, ministers, day forcing that upon them with in looking out for a successor could all the zeal and activity in our power; and thus, while they were • Lord Lowther, sir John Beckett, every day becoming more numerous,
and other inembers dependent on Jord more wealthy, and more enlighten- their opposition was without voice or
Lonsdale, voted against the bill; but ed, we were descanting upon the heart: and they had too much borough dangers which must accrue to the influence, to be punished for such conduct.
not decorously have passed over cally, the servant. It had been sir N. Tindal, the Solicitor general. said, that he had been the obstaBut, Tindal's clevation would cle which prevented the University have occasioned a vacancy in the re- of Cambridge from having another presentation of the University of member. He had been the tool Cambridge ; and ministers still of no government in the acquisisinarted too keenly under the recent tion of office, and he would be no defeat of Mr. Peel at Oxford, to tool in the retention of office. If wish to provoke a new combat with those who supported the question of the church of England. Sir Charles Catholicemancipation thought that, Wetherell, therefore, continued to by going to Cambridge, they would be Attorney-general, though he gain an acquisition to their cause, resisted emancipation; and proba- they might have an opportunity of bly would have continued so, if doing so.
If the Protestant party he had condescended to be less thought that he was an obstacle to during and spirited in his resist- the expression of the public opinion ance than his sense of duty re- in favour of their cause, he could quired him to be. But he now tell them that he had never, for the delivered, with an ardour and vehe- last three weeks, occasioned any mence of manner seldom equalled, obstruction to the expression of a speech of deliance to his changel- the public voice. He had declined ing superiors in office, which pro- to draw the bill now on the table duced a very vivid impression in of the House, because, looking to the House, and throughout the the oath which he had taken as country, by its honesty and intre- Attorney-general, he thought he pidity. He did not know, he should, by drawing that bill, be said, in the singular situation in abjuring his duty, and be drawing which he stood, whether he ought the death-warrant of the Proto address the House as Attorney- testant church. That conclusion general, or simply as the member he came to after much anxious for Plympton. When he thought reflection on the question, and he that he could remain in office with believed that, if he drew what he honour, he had not quitted; but conceived to be the death-warrant when he thought he could not of the church of England, he accept office with honour, he had should be betraying his duty as not taken it. Differing in opinion Attorney-general, as much as Noy from gentlemen on the opposite betrayed his duty, when he drew side of the House, he was now out the order for the raising of called upon, as the Attorney-gene- ship-money, or lord chancellor ral of a Protestant king, to deliver Jeffries when he drew out the his sentiments on the question warrant of commitment of the Prounder the consideration of the testant bishops to the Tower. House ; and he must throw him- The learned gentleman then enself on the good feeling and indul- tered into a detailed legalargument, gence of the House, in endeavours supported by statutes and historiing to perform the duty which he cal documents, from which he arowed to himself personally, to the rived at the conclusion, that the exBritish parliament, to the people, clusion of Catholics was a principle, and to that sovereign to whom he before the Revolution, at the Revowas nominally, but not practis lution, and after the Revolution, in
sisted on as part of the consti- cal in language, and more powtutional settlement. Now, heerful in delivery, then Master proceeded, when he, the Attorney- of the Rolls, but now lord Changeneral of the king, was called on cellor, quarrelled with the late to frame an act of parliament, it Mr. Canning on this very subwas not unnatural that he should ject. Am I then to blame for look, as a lawyer, to a higher author- refusing to do that, in the subority than himself, namely the lord dinate office of Attorney-general, Chancellor. How could the Attor- which a more eminent adviser of ney-general prepare a bill, which the Crown, only two years ago, the lord Chancellor had declared declared, he would not consent would subvert the Protestant to do? Am I, then, to be twit. church of England? and he ted, taunted, and attacked? I thought he was placing himself dare them to attack me. I have under a strong shield, when he no speech to eat up.
I have no took his position behind the buck- apostacy disgracefully to explain. ler of lord chancellor Lyndhurst. I have no paltry subterfuge to " When my attention was drawn resort to. I have not to say to the framing of this bill, I felt it that a thing is black one day, my duty to look over the oath and white another. I have not taken by the lord Chancellor, as been in one year a Protestant well as that taken by the Attorney- Master of the Rolls, and in the general ; and it was my judg- next a Catholic lord Chancellor. ment, right or wrong, that, when I would rather remain as I am, desired to frame this bill, I was the humble member for Plympcalled to draw a bill subversive ton, than be guilty of such of the Protestaut church, which apostacy such contradiction his Majesty was bound by his such unexplainable conversion-coronation oath to
miserable, contemptible, If his Majesty chose to dispense apostacy. with the obligations of the coro- The Attorney-general then ennation oath, he might do so, buttered into an examination of the I would do no act to put him in bill itself, which, he said, he was jeopardy. These are the grounds doubtful whether members underon which I refused, and would stood. It contained an oath to be refuse a hundred times over, to taken, instead of the present oaths put one line to paper of what of abjuration and supremacy which constitutes the atrocious bill now had excluded the Catholics. But before the House. Hundreds of there was no provision in the bill those who now listen to me which confined this oath to Cathomust remember the able, valu- lics. It was an oath which any able, and impressive speech deli- man might take, whether Catholic vered two years ago by the
who was not a present lord Chancellor, then Catholic, mnight, by taking it, Master of the Rolls, and a mem- enjoy the privileges of a Catholic. ber of this House. It will also The oath ought to have stated, be in the recollection of hun- “ I am a Catholic, and swear so dreds that that eminent indivi- and so.” But the bill did not redual, than whom none is more quire any such declaration. He acute in reasoning, more classi- supposed that this was an imita
tion of James the Second's scheme they select Protestants who would, of liberty of conscience. Peel or those who would not, apostatand Co. were supported upon the ize. According to the bill, any principles of James II. For Catholic, who took ecclesiastical the effect of the oath was, that preferment, was guilty of a misany man might gain admission to demeanour, and could hold his office,or to the House of Commons; office no longer ; and again, any whereas he understood the object Catholic, who advised his Majesty of the alteration to be, that only respecting the appointment to an those, who swore they were Catho- ecclesiastical office, was subject to lics, were to be permitted to take the same penalty. Might he be the oath. Another clause supposed permitted to ask who drew that that a man, who was a Catholic, clause? The very clause, which might be prime minister; it gave created the offence, contained an a general capacity to office. All absolute prevention of a conviction offices, said the bill, are open to for that offence. The church of Catholics, with one or two excep- Ireland was protected by a flimsy tions; ecclesiastical appointments, sort of security in the bill
. None however, were to be separated of the dignitaries of the Romish from the patronage, and vested in church were to be permitted, eo commissions. Now, Catholics had nomine, to hold English titles, as never manifested an unambitious nominees of the pope ; but these temper, and a Catholic prime titles might be held by virtue of a minister would never be satisfied money medium ; a 501, bank note with this retrenchment of his pri- would enable Dr. Doyle, or Dr. vileges. And who was to appoint Curtis, or any other, to sport the commissioners ? Why, a Pro- Catholic titles. The bill forbade testant lord Chancellor, lord Lynd- this, except upon the payment of hurst. The lord Chancellor would 501., which was all the penalty inhave the appointment to ecclesias- flicted. There was no penalty in tical places; but was this sufficient the act higher than 2001.
, so that, security ? Lord Shaftesbury was a in fact, the whole protection of the Protestant chancellor, and so was British constitution consisted in lord Jeffries. Was the conduct of penalties of 501., 1001. and 2007. Jeffries to the bishops forgotten?- No control over the see of Rome; a man who, though a Protestant,
the nomination of was as great an enemy to Pro- bishops ; nothing after the passing testants, and as adverse to admit- of this bill in the way of security ting them to power, as Father for the Protestant establishmentPeter himself. The protection of but those penalties of 50l., 1001., the Great Seal was as little to be and 2001. This was the declared relied as in the reign of value of the Protestant constituCharles II., when lord Shaftesbury tion of the empire in current coin. was chancellor, or in that of When this bill dissected James II., when Jeffries filled and anatomized, it destroyed itself. that office. There might come a It admitted the danger, and yet time, when no security would be provided no security for Profound in the character of a lord testants. He would not have conChancellor. And who would descended to stultify himself by these commissioners select ? Would the composition of such a bill. He
refused to draw it up. The folly ment and condition of that re. and the contradictions be upon the strictive act. heads of those who drew it. They Mr. Peel then reverted to the might have turned him out of grounds on which he had first office; but he would not be made proposed the bill ; urging again the such a dirty tool as to draw that state of Ireland, and the absolute bill. Let who would, he would necessity of doing something-the not defile pen, or waste paper, by inability of his opponents to sugsuch an act of folly, and forfeit his gest any thing better, though they character for common sense and vehemently opposed the measure honesty. He had, therefore, de- that was proffered to them--the clined to have any thing to do impossibility of any government with it.
standing which should set itself, The vituperation of the Attor- on avowed principle, against all ney-general
up Mr. Secretary concession—and the folly of treatPeel to close the debate, by com- ing the question as one which had plaining that the learned gentle- any connection with religion. The man's speech had partaken much Catholics were never excluded, at more of personal hostility than of any time, because of their religious attachment to the Protestant con- creed; they were excluded for a stitution. The time had not yet supposed deficiency of civil worth ; arrived, when it could be revealed and the religious test was applied how many difficulties the noble duke to them, not to detect the worship at the head of government had had to of saints, or any other tenet of encounter. As for himself, he had their religion, but as a test to at first been willing to resign office discover whether they were Roman rather than present any obstacle to Catholics. It was a test to discover the settlement of the question; the bad, intriguing subject, not the and he determined to cast in his religionist; and therefore, when fortunes with those of his noble he parted with the declaration friend, only when the difficulties against transubstantiation, it was of the question seemed to increase, not from any doubt which he enand when the highest authorities tertained as to the doctrines of the in the church had declared they Roman Catholics, but from lookcould not give their support to the ing at it as a test of exclusion, and proposed measure. The Attorney- from thinking that, when the general had stated that no person exclusion was deemed unnecessary, out of the cabinet knew the inten- the test, of exclusion might be tions of ministers, till only seven dispensed with. Mr. Peel comdays before the meeting of parlia- plained grievously, too, that an met. It was true that he, Mr. unfair application had been made Peel, had then informed the Attor- of his unhappy phrase, that the ney-general of the whole contem- proposed measure was a “breaking plated plan of ministers. The in upon the constitution of 1688" latter had then stated no objection, -by which, he said, he had meant and had voted for one part of the no more than this, that there plan, that for suppressing the would be an alteration in the Association, although he knew that words of the Bill of Rights;-and, emancipation was intended by if an alteration of its words were a government to be the accompani. breaking in upon the constitution,