Slike strani

terrible disasters that had recently happened. An idea had got into the world, that the number of Papists had very much increased within late years. Now the exact reverse was the fact. When this description of men were enumerated about two generations ago by an eminent divine, Dr. Gastrell, the total amount at that time was 68,000. The amount of those residing only in the particular county of Chester, which is more peculiarly distinguished for Roman Catholic inhabitants than any other, was at that time 37,000. In 1767, a second calculation had been made in that county, and the amount was 25,000. Another calculation had been recently made in the same district, and it was found that there were no more than 16,000 at most. The inference from a comparison of these various computations in this particular district was clearly this; that a general diminution had taken place throughout the kingdom, and that the number of Roman Catholics, upon the whole, was nearly lessened one half within the space alluded to.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said, that great pains had been taken by his orders to enquire into the number of Roman Catholics throughout the kingdom, and he did not find that they were increased, neither could he hear of any new schools, except one for boys at Hammersmith; there had been one for girls many years, a very old establishment; but in neither of them was there one child of Protestant parents.

The motion was agreed to. The House then resolved itself into a Committee, for taking into consideration the various clauses for preventing Roman Catholics from teaching Protestant children, &c. under certain penalties contained in the Bill.

The Bishop of Rochester rose to object to the terms of the following, " and that they be prohibited from the teaching or the government of, &c." The learned prelate moved, that instead of the word government,' the term tuition' should be inserted, as being the term usually received, and used in the last Bill respecting Roman Catholics.


The Lord Chancellor said, the distinction which had been just suggested by the reverend prelate, struck him as an alteration that was not only to be wished for, from the lesser argument of general uniformity, but because, in his idea, it affected even the fundamental tenor and principle

of the Bill itself. He was not a man who had ever attempted to announce himself, or had any ambition to be deemed an active zealot for indiscriminate toleration. Many people carried their ideas upon that subject much farther than he did, and even Mr. Locke had permitted an extent to it in which he was not prepared to concur with him, and which in his humble estimation might, in its possible consequences, prove highly obnoxious to the interior peace, interest, and comfort of the state where it existed. His notions on this contested and complicated subject, were briefly these: if a set of religious tenets are replete with ignorance, bigotry, cruelty, and other such qualities as have a tendency to disturb the domestic repose of that particular kingdom in which these tenets are received, reject them, extirpate them, let them have no quarter nor existence among you. On the contrary, if the nature of this religion be such, as to have no effect upon the civil enjoyments of the general body of the community, then let it subsist in quiet, and in God's name, let its votaries pursue it without interruption or disturbance. the case in the instance before the House? Now what was What did experience say upon the subject? Would they draw conclusions from the abstract character of a religion, which the actual practice of the professors of it did not in any degree warrant? Because the Papists acknowledge in their speculative faith the supremacy of a Pope, could the lords in parliament indulge an idea that they thought him so? Would they at this period of the world suppose, that because a man in his religion talked of corporal presence, that he therefore was totally without any affection for any other person of a contrary persuasion, and that he not only could not place confidence in them, or treat with them, but that he must necessarily abhor them, and delight in seeing them exterminated from the earth? If they were influenced by the abstract nature of the Romish religion, they might fall into such absurdities; but as it must be plain to every lord, that though such tenets as he had alluded to might faith, yet they manifestly could make no possibly constitute a part of the Popish part of his creed. The Roman Catholics were Englishmen, they had conducted themselves like Englishmen and subjects, they therefore had a right to the protection of the country, and its laws. What had they done since last year, when a Bill

think proper, only that they be not suffered to keep boarding schools, or any such seminary as may give them the exclusive government of the children under their direction."

The Bishop of Bath and Wells opposed the amendment in one part of it, he being much against Roman Catholics being permitted to teach day schools. A motion was made at his suggestion, for deferring the further consideration of the Bill. The marquis of Rockingham and the Lord. Chancellor objecting to this, the motion was withdrawn. After some further altercation, and on its being represented that there were still other penalties in existence against Roman Catholics, for their attempting to keep day schools, the Bishop of Bath and Wells withdrew his objections, and the Lord Chancellor's amendment was agreed to unanimously, after which the Bill passed the Committee.

was passed exonerating them from a catalogue of most tyrannical and unchristian grievances? Nothing that had been proved. Would their lordships then proceed, without demonstration of any cause, to make this description of men less an object of their indulgence this year than the last, to deprive them of every blessing they had previously bestowed, and reduce them once more, without fault, or any thing like the shadow of it, to the original state of oppression and hardship in which they had been most inhumanly, as well as impolitically kept? He was far from supposing their lordships so forgetful of their true dignity, as to think any such thing. If they had ever deserved exemption from improper penalties they deserved it now, and let them therefore enjoy it. He had said, that the alteration which had been suggested, struck him as an amendment of the utmost consequence. His reasons were these. As the Bill stood at present, the Roman Catholics were liable to penalties for teaching any thing. If they teach your children music, Italian, &c. which, cannot be learnt so well without them, they are yet obnoxious to punishment. Is this liberal? is this toleration? to take away from them their just means of livelihood? Is it politic to deprive youselves of enjoyments, where the possession of them can be no disadvantage? Certainly not. My idea then, continued his lordship, is this, that they may be permitted to pursue every species of instruction or teaching they think proper, excepting only that which extends to what may be termed the government of the child. Let them not have your children totally under their management, so as that they may influence the morals, or lessen the necessary attach ment of such children to their original and established religion. Every thing short of this can do us no ill, and would do them an infinite injury, and every thing beyond it is to be guarded against, as one of the first of all possible political evils. His lordship now proceeded to give an account of the peculiar situation of things, under which the Act of the 11th and 12th of William took place, and after commenting with the utmost pointedness, penetration, and learning, on the various circumstances attending that original Bill, and the other subsequent ones that had been passed in palliation, he concluded with moving an amendment to this effect, "That Roman Catholics be permitted to teach any thing, in any manner they ‡

July 4. The Archbishop of Canterbury got up and said, that he had been led into an inadvertent acquiescence in yesterday's debate to an amendment to the Bill in question, proposed by the noble and learned lord on the woolsack, which upon maturer consideration he found himself compelled to retract. The amendment went to a permission to Roman Catholics to exercise any species of tuition towards Protestant children, short of a total and exclusive government of such children. As the liberty of keeping day-schools was therefore allowed in this amendment, he should find himself under the necessity of objecting to it. Most of his brethren on the bench concurred with him in the idea of its being extremely improper to extend their indulgence to Roman Catholics to such a degree as this, and though, as he had on a previous occasion declared, he was far from being of an intolerant or persecuting spirit, yet as he deemed it his first duty to exert himself for the protection of the established religion of the country, he should of consequence certainly give his negative to any measure that, in his idea, had a dangerous tendency towards it.

The Bishop of St. David's spoke with great elegance and modesty. This was the first time, he said, he had ever ventured to deliver his sentiments before their lordships, and should have felt himself restrained at present from such an effort of courage, if he had not deemed the subject of consequence enough to make a suppression of sentiments a greater fault than the

[ocr errors]

this reason as well as the other argument which he had just stated, he would give his negative to the Bill. The subject was, in his idea, of too much consequence to meet so precipitate a decision, and he would recommend it to their lordships to defer the farther consideration of this business till the next session, when an entire revision might be made of all the Acts that had hitherto been passed against the Roman Catholics, and such a plan of tolerance and alleviation formed from the result, as the general circumstances might sanction, and the general security require.

The Lord Chancellor spoke next, and repeated most of the arguments which were used by him in the preceding debate on this subject. He always, he said, spoke with infinite diffidence, and under every impression of reverence, when he opposed any thing that originated in the right reverend bench. But he held it the first duty of a member of the legislature to be ingenuous, to consult his conviction, and to speak from his feelings, whatever they were, without being influenced by any authority, however great it might be. This being his unalterable idea of the necessary duty of a senator, he should still persevere in urging his first arguments in favour of the amendment, because he had heard nothing that had produced any change in his actual sentiments respecting it. The reverend prelate who spoke last, had confined his objection to two points, first, that there was danger in permitting the use of day schools to Roman Catholics, and secondly, because he was afraid the effects of that tenet in the religion alluded to, which required an acknowledgment of the Pope's supremacy. As to the first of these arguments, he had only to urge against it, what he had previously suggested in the preceding debate on the subject, that it was intolerant in the highest and most severe degree; that it tended to the most shocking persecutions, and that it was as unnecessary as it was cruel. The reverend prelates had themselves acknowledged, that the number of Papists had very materially diminished; that no schools, one only excepted in Hammersmith, which in fact, was rather a revival of an old school than the creation of a new one, had been erected since the Act of last year, and that no information, not even of a private kind, by the way only of report,


common colloquial intimation, had been received of any proselytes having, since that time, been made to the church of

vanity of communication, and taciturnity, on such an occasion, guilt. He had not the honour of being a member of that House at the time of passing the original Bill of repeal, of the statute of the 11th and 12th of William, which took place two years ago, otherwise he should have intimated his objections at that period of the business. He then foresaw, or thought he foresaw, most of the disagreeable consequences of that transaction. His principal objections to the Bill, in its present state, that is, as it stood with the amendment, were these, that, in the first place, he thought with the right reverend prelate who preceded him, that a permission to Roman Catholics to keep public day schools for the reception and instruction of children of all denominations, Protestants as well as Papists, was a measure that was likely to be attended with great discontent, and equal disad. vantage. Their lordships should recollect at what period of life it was that a part of our Protestant subjects were to be exposed to the insinuations, artifice, and persuasion of these Roman Catholic teachers-at the tenderest and most susceptible age-in the days of childhood, when they had neither penetration enough to perceive the absurdity of any arguments that might be used to them, nor resolution sufficient to make any effectual resistance, where the natural awe of the master gave weight to the remonstrances of the insiduous converter. It was well known to be a predominant feeling among the Roman Catholics, to wish to make perpetual proselytes, and to exert every argument, and every art for conversion wherever they had an opportunity. From this disposition in the instructors, and this incapacity in the person to be subjected to their direction, every thing was to be dreaded, and he should not think our excellent system, strengthened as it was by the judicious combination of its civil and religious ingredients, entirely safe, if the Bill was suffered to pass into a law, with the appendage of the amendment alluded to. His second objection arose from this circumstance, and went against the Bill itself;-that it took no notice of a favourite tenet in the Roman Catholic religion, by which the professors of it were bound, even in civil concerns, to acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope. Ought not some renunciation to have been exacted? or, at least, some provision made against the possible consequences of such a tenet if suffered to remain? In his opinion there ought, and for

tants of this country, had been formally rescinded by them from their creed upon oath, and yet that was the particular situation, under which new grievances were to be devised and practised against them. His lordship concluded with expressing his hearty adherence to his first opinion, and hoped the Bill would pass as it then stood.

Rome, within the period alluded to. What then were the grounds on which they were to withdraw the indulgence which they had so properly bestowed? No new evil has arisen in consequence of that indulgence, and yet we are expected to reverse it. What was the original Act which the Bill of last year had in some degree repealed? It was a weak and horrid effusion of ignorance and tyranny, and had been passed in a manner, and under circumstances that alone bespoke its character, and condemned its contents. If the cruelty or the folly of the original Bill could not be denied, on what reasonable pretence could it be, that the repeal of it was to be objected to? But the reverend prelate had forgot that no Roman Catholic durst attempt to make a convert. There were still remaining several very severe penalties against any Popish teacher, who should succeed in making one proselyte, and if it was a child that was so influenced from its original faith, the father of it was also severely punishable, if he did not endeavour by any means in his power to prevent this effect, and attempt to reclaim him. That being the case, why should new punishments be devised, which went beyond the particular and proper object of them, and which tended much more to unnecessary persecution, than to the prevention of any probable evil. As to the other objection which had been made by the reverend prelate, respecting the supremacy of the pope, he did not believe that would have much influence with

The House divided; for the Bill with the amendment 14, against it 10. A new motion being proposed, for postponing the consideration of the Bill for a week, another division took place on that question, for it 19, against it 27. The Bill was therefore lost.

[blocks in formation]

"Such was the end of this unusually long, and very extraordinary session of parliament. A session, in which almost every day produced a question, and every question a debate, which in any other would have been deemed highly interesting; but which were frequently lost, in that glare of still greater matter, which sion, in which unexpected victories, and unwas so continually thrown out in this. A ses accountable defeat, alternately raised and sunk the hopes of the contending parties, from the highest pitch of exultation, to the state of despondency. The point of decision seemed more than once quivering, and hanging only by a hair. Upon the whole, it may be said with confidence, that so great a number of important affairs were never agitated in any one session. The riot, in the close, threw a general damp upon all endeavours whatever for reformation, however unconnected with its particular object. Popular fury seemed, for that time at least, the greatest of all possible evils. And administration then gathered, and afterwards preserved, no small degree of power, from a tumult which appeared to threaten the subversion of all government. This may likewise be considered as concluding the political existence of that parliament, for on the 1st of September it was dissolved." Annual Register.

their lordships. This was not day for
such a species of reasoning, the time of
blind implicit reverence was elapsed, and
doctrines of this kind were laughed at al-
most in the very sight of the pope himself.
This religious tyrant was laughed at even
in Popish countries, and the notion of his
supremacy ridiculed even where the high-lowest
est reverence for the church over which
he pretended to preside, still subsisted.
But if this had not been the case, had not
the Roman Catholics in this country made
a solemn abjuration upon oath, of this
particular principle? Had they not sworn
that without any mental reservation, or
equivocation whatever, they rejected all
belief in his supremacy, why then should
this doctrine be revived to their disadvan-
tage, when they had solemnly disavowed
it? Every thing that had any tendency
in the Roman Catholic religion, to dis-
turb the domestic quiet, and civil or reli-
gious comfort, of the established Protes-


my government, and of your just estimation of the real and permanent interests of your country.

"Your magnanimity and perseverance in the prosecution of this just and necessary war, have enabled me to make such exertions as will, I trust, by the assistance of Divine Providence, disappoint the violent and unjust designs of my enemies, and bring them to listen to equitable and honourable terms of peace.

"These exertions have already been attended with success by sea and land; and the late important and prosperous turn of affairs in North America, affords the fairest prospect of the returning loyalty and affection of my subjects in the colonies, and of their happy re-union with their parent country.

"Gentlemen of the House of Commons; "I feel myself under particular obligations to thank you for the large and ample supplies you have so cheerfully granted, and for the confidence you repose in me. No attention shall be wanting, on my part, to render them effectual, and to see them faithfully applied.

"My Lords, and Gentlemen; "Let me earnestly recommend to you to assist me, by your influence and autho ritv in your several counties, as you have by your unanimous support in parliament, in guarding the peace of the kingdom from future disturbances, and watching over the preservation of the public safety. Make my people sensible of the happiness they enjoy, and the distinguished advantages they derive from our excellent constitution in church and state. Warn them of the hazard of innovation; point out to them the fatal consequences of such commotions as have lately been excited; and let it be your care to impress on their minds this important truth, that rebellious insurrections to resist, or to re

form the laws, must end either in the destruction of the persons who make the attempt, or in the subversion of our free and happy constitution."

The Parliament was then prorogued to the 24th of August; and on the 1st of September it was dissolved.*

"The proclamation for dissolving the parliament operated like a thunder clap, with respect to suddenness and surprise, on those who were not in the secret. A new prorogation had taken place within a few days, which served to render the stroke still more unex





Meeting of the New Parliament.] Oct. 31, 1780. This day the New Parliament

pected. The shortness of the time allotted for the elections, increased the difficulties and disadvantages to those, who were at a distance from their boroughs or interests, and who had taken no previous measures of security. From these, and from other causes, the elections went much in favour of the court, and several of the most popular members, whose public conduct seemed to receive the general approbation of their constituents, were notwithstanding thrown out of their seats. Mr. Fox, however, carried his election for the city of Westminster by a great majority against the earl of Lincoln, who was supported by the whole weight and power of the court. Admiral Keppel, who was thrown out of his old seat at Windsor, by that weight and influence, was brought in by the public spirit of the electors for the county of Surrey, where he had little local interest or connection, compared with those of the other candidate: 113 new men obtained seats in parliament. The poverty of the times, operating along with the general hopelessness which now prevailed, that any opposition in parliament would be capable of producing a beneficial alteration in the conduct of public affairs, had both together not to be found, who would support the usual so powerful an effect, that candidates were not to be found, who would support the usual expensive contests of the counties. No general election, perhaps for a century, produced so little expence in that respect. Several members of the late parliament, who, although they did not take the trouble of declaring their sentiments to the public, were tired of a constant fruitless attendance and opposition, either determined to retire entirely from public business, or grew very indifferent as to the which now appeared among the electors, and event of their elections. The general venality that contempt of their own declarations and resolutions, as well as of all past faithful service, which it produced, could not fail highly to disgust many, and to render them still more hopeless of public affairs. They peevishly said, that whatever small degree of public spirit and virtue still remained among the people was entirely evaporated in words; and whenever the touchstone was applied, their venality would not only appear predominant, but would prove to be their only principle.

"No change of any consequence had taken place in administration, any more than in the state of the parties that composed the opposition. It could not arise from an apprehen

« PrejšnjaNaprej »