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Parliaments, scrupulously evades religious distinctions. A Dissenter of any class may take it. A Deist, an Atheist, may likewise take it. The Catholics are alone excepted; and for what reason? If a Deist be fit to sit in Parliament, it can hardly be urged that a Christian is unfit! If an Atheist be competent to legislate for his country, surely this privilege cannot be denied to the believer in the divinity of our Saviour! If it be contended that, to support the Church, it is expedient to continue these disabilities, I dissent from that opinion. If it could, indeed, be proved, I should say that you had acted in defiance of all the principles of human justice and freedom, in having taken away their Church from the Irish, in order to establish your own; and in afterwards attempting to secure that establishment by disqualifying the People, and compelling them at the same time to pay for its support. This is to fly directly in the face of the plainest canons of the Almighty. For the benefit of eleven hundred, to disqualify four or five millions, is the insolent effort of bigotry, not the benignant precept of Christianity; and all this, not for the preservation of their property,- for that was secured, but for bigotry, for intolerance, for avarice, for a vile, abominable, illegitimate, and atrocious usurpation. The laws of God cry out against it; the spirit of Christianity cries out against it; the laws of England, and the spirit and principles of its Constitution, cry out against such a system.
73. SECTARIAN TYRANNY, 1812. -Henry Grattan,
WHENEVER one sect degrades another on account of religion, such degradation is the tyranny of a sect. When you enact that, on account of his religion, no Catholic shall sit in Parliament, you do what amounts to the tyranny of a sect. When you enact that no Catholic shall be a sheriff, you do what amounts to the tyranny of a sect. When you enact that no Catholic shall be a general, you do what amounts to the tyranny of a sect. There are two descriptions of laws, the municipal law, which binds the People, and the law of God, which binds the Parliament and the People. Whenever you do any act which is contrary to His laws, as expressed in His work, which is the world, or in His book, the Bible, you exceed your right; whenever you rest any of your establishments on that excess, you rest it on a foundation which is weak and fallacious; whenever you attempt to establish your Government, or your property, or your Church, on religious restrictions, you establish them on that false foundation, and you oppose the Almighty; and though you had a host of mitres on your side, you banish God from your ecclesiastical Constitution, and freedom from your political. In vain shall men endeavor to make this the cause of the Church; they aggravate the crime, by the endeavor to make their God their fellow in the injustice. Such rights are the rights of ambition; they are the rights of conquest; and, in your case, they have been the rights of suicide. They begin by attacking liberty; they end by the loss of empire!
74. THE AMERICAN WAR DENOUNCED, 1781. — William Pitt.
William Pitt, second son of the great Earl of Chatham, entered Parliament in his twentysecond year. He was born the 28th of May, 1759; and took his seat in the House of Cornmas, is representative for the borough of Appleby, on the 23d of January, 1781. He made his frei oratorical effort in that body the 26th of February following; and displayed great and astonishing powers of eloquence. Burke said of him, "He is not merely a chip of the old block, but tæe is the old block itself." At the age of twenty-four, Pitt became the virtual leader of the II a of Commons, and Prime Minister of England. He died January 23, 1806. The subjoined remarks were made in reference to a resolution declaring that immediate measures ought to be adopted for concluding peace with the American Colonies.
GENTLEMEN have passed the highest eulogiums on the American war. Its justice has been defended in the most fervent manner. A noble Lord, in the heat of his zeal, has called it a holy war. For my part, although the honorable Gentleman who made this motion, and some other Gentlemen, have been, more than once, in the course of the debate, severely reprehended for calling it a wicked and accursed war, I am persuaded, and would affirm, that it was a most accursed, wicked, barbarous, cruel, unnatural, unjust and diabolical war! It was conceived in injustice; it was nurtured and brought forth in folly; its footsteps were marked with blood, slaughter, persecution and devastation; in truth, everything which went to constitute moral depravity and human turpitude were to be found in it. It was pregnant with misery of every kind.
The mischief, however, recoiled on the unhappy People of this country, who were made the instruments by which the wicked purposes of the authors of the war were effected. The Nation was drained of its best blood, and of its vital resources of men and money. The expense of the war was enormous, much beyond any former experience. And yet, what has the British Nation received in return? Nothing but a series of ineffective victories, or severe defeats ; — victories celebrated only by a temporary triumph over our brethren, whom we would trample down and destroy; victories, which filled the land with mourning for the loss of dear and valued relatives, slain in the impious cause of enforcing unconditional submission, or with narratives of the glorious exertions of men struggling in the holy cause of liberty, though struggling in the absence of all the facilities and advantages which are in general deemed the necessary concomitants of victory and success. Where was the Englishman, who, on reading the narratives of those bloody and well-fought contests, could refrain from lamenting the loss of so much British blood spilt in such a cause; or from weeping, on whatever side victory might be declared?
75. ON A MOTION TO CENSURE THE MINISTRY. — William Pitt. This noble and dignified reply to the animadversions of Mr. Fox was made in 1783, when Mr. Pitt, then Prime Minister, was only twenty-four years old.
SIR, revering, as I do, the great abilities of the honorable Gentleman who spoke last, I lament, in common with the House, when those abilities are misemployed, as on the present question, to inflame the imagination, and mislead the judgment. I am told, Sir, "he does not
envy me the triumph of my situation on this day;" a sort or language which becomes the candor of that honorable Gentleman as ill as his present principles. The triumphs of party, Sir, with which this selfappointed Minister seems so highly elate, shall never seduce me to any inconsistency which the busiest suspicion shall presume to glance at. I will never engage in political enmities without a public cause. I will never forego such enmities without the public approbation; nor will I be questioned and cast off in the face of the House, by one virtuous and dissatisfied friend. These, Sir, the sober and durable triumphs of reason over the weak and profligate inconsistencies of party violence, these, Sir, the steady triumphs of virtue over success itself, -shall be mine, not only in my present situation, but through every future condition of my life; triumphs which no length of time shall diminish, which no change of principles shall ever sully.
My own share in the censure pointed by the motion before the House against his Majesty's Ministers I will bear with fortitude, because my own heart tells me I have not acted wrong. To this monitor, who never did, and, I trust, never will, deceive me, I will confidently repair, as to an adequate asylum from all the clamor which interested faction can raise. I was not very eager to come in; and shall have no great reluctance to go out, whenever the public are disposed to dismiss me from their service. It is impossible to deprive me of those feelings which must always spring from the sincerity of my endeavors to fulfil with integrity every official engagement. You may take from me, Sir, the privileges and emoluments of place; but you cannot, and you shall not, take from me those habitual and warm regards for the prosperity of my country, which constitute the honor, the happiness, the pride of my life; and which, I trust, death alone can extinguish. And, with this consolation, the loss of power, Sir, and the loss of fortune, though I affect not to despise them, I hope I soon shall be able to forget:
76. ON AN ATTEMPT TO COERCE HIM TO RESIGN. - Id.
Certain resolutions were passed by the House, in 1784, for the removal of his Majesty's ministers, at the head of whom was Mr. Pitt. These resolutions, however, his Majesty had not thought proper to comply with. A reference having been made to them, Mr. Pitt spoke as follows, in reply to Mr. Fox.
CAN anything that I have said, Mr. Speaker, subject me to be branded with the imputation of preferring my personal situation to the public happiness? Sir, I have declared, again and again, Only prove to me that there is any reasonable hope-show me but the most distant prospect – that my resignation will at all contribute to restore peace and happiness to the country, and I will instantly resign. But, Sir, I declare, at the same time, I will not be induced to resign
as a preliminary to negotiation. I will not abandon this situation, in order to throw myself upon the mercy of that right honorable gentleman. He calls me now a mere nominal minister, the mere puppet of secret influence. Sir, it is because I will not become a mere nominal minister of his creation, it is because I disdain to become the puppet of that right honorable gentleman, that I will not resign; neither shall his contemptuous expressions provoke me to resignation: my own honor and reputation I never will resign.
Let this House beware of suffering any individual to involve his own cause, and to interweave his own interests, in the resolutions of the House of Commons. The dignity of the House is forever appealed to. Let us beware that it is not the dignity of any set of men. Let us beware that personal prejudices have no share in deciding these great constitutional questions. The right honorable. gentleman is possessed of those enchanting arts whereby he can give grace to deformity. He holds before your eyes a beautiful and delusive image; he pushes it forward to your observation; but, as sure as you embrace it, the pleasing vision will vanish, and this fair phantom of liberty will be succeeded by anarchy, confusion, and ruin to the Constitution. For, in truth, Sir, if the constitutional independence of the Crown is thus reduced to the very verge of annihilation, where is the boasted equipoise of the Constitution? Dreadful, therefore, as the conflict is, my cons ience, my duty, my fixed regard for the Constitution of our ancestors, maintain me still in this arduous situation. It is not any proud contempt, or defiance of the constitutional resolutions of this House, it is no personal point of honor, — much less is it any lust of power, that makes me still cling to office. The situation of the times requires of me—and, I will add, the country calls aloud to me that I should defend this castle; and I am determined, therefore, I WILL defend it!
77. BARBARISM OF OUR BRITISH ANCESTORS. — Id.
THERE was a time, Sir, which it may be fit sometimes to revive in the remembrance of our countrymen, when even human sacrifices are said to have been offered in this island. The very practice of the slave-trade once prevailed among us. Slaves were formerly an estab lished article of our exports. Great numbers were exported, like cattle, from the British coast, and were to be seen exposed for sale in the Roman market. The circumstances that furnished the alleged proofs that Africa labors under a natural incapacity for civilization might also have been asserted of ancient and uncivilized Britain. Why might not some Roman Senator, reasoning upon the principles of some honorable members of this House, and pointing to British barbarians, have predicted, with equal boldness, " There is a People that will never rise to civilization! There is a People destined never
to be free!
We, Sir, have long since emerged from barbarism, we have almost forgotten that we were once barbarians; we are now raised to a situation which exhibits a striking contrast to every circumstance by which a Roman might have characterized us, and by which we now characterize Africa. There is, indeed, one thing wanting to complete the contrast, and to clear us altogether from the imputation of acting, even to this hour, as barbarians; for we continue to this hour a barbarous traffic in slaves, we continue it even yet, in spite of all our great and undeniable pretensions to civilization. We were once as obscure among the Nations of the earth, as savage in our manners, as debased in our morals, as degraded in our understandings, as these unhappy Africans are at present. But, in the lapse of a long series of years, by a progression slow, and, for a time, almost imperceptible, we have become rich in a variety of acquirements, favored above measure in the gifts of Providence, unrivalled in commerce, preëminent in arts, foremost in the pursuits of philosophy and science, and established in all the blessings of civil society. From all these blessings we must forever have been shut out, had there been any truth in those principles which some gentlemen have not hesitated to lay down as applicable to the case of Africa. Had those principles boen true, we ourselves had languished to this hour in that miserable state of ignorance, brutality and degradation, in which history proves our ancestors to have been immersed. Had other Nations adopted these principles in their conduct towards us, had other Nations applied to Great Britain the reasoning which some of the Senators of this very island now apply to Africa, ages might have passed without our emerging from barbarism; and we, who are enjoying the blessings of British liberty, might, at this hour, have been little superior, either in morals, in knowledge, or refinement, to the rude inhabitants of the Coast of Guinea.
78. RESULTS OF THE AMERICAN WAR, 1780.-Charles James Fox.
Charles James Fox was born in England, on the 24th of January, 1749. He made his first speech in Parliament on the 15th of April, 1769. In the style of his oratory he has been compared, by some critics, to Demosthenes. "A certain sincerity and open-heartedness of manner; an apparently entire and thorough conviction of being in the right; an abrupt tone of vehemence and indignation; a steadfast love of freedom, and corresponding hatred of oppression in all its forms; a natural and idiomatic style, vigor, argument, power, these were characteristics equally of the Greek and English orator." Fox died on the 13th Septeinber, 1806, in the fifty-eighth year of his age.
WE are charged with expressing joy at the triumphs of America. True it is that, in a former session, I proclaimed it as my sincere opinion, that if the Ministry had succeeded in their first scheme on the liberties of America, the liberties of this country would have been at an end. Thinking this, as I did, in the sincerity of an honest heart, I rejoiced at the resistance which the Ministry had met to their attempt. That great and glorious statesman, the late Earl of Chatham, feeling for the liberties of his native country, thanked God that America had resisted. But, it seems, "all the calamities of the