Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

followed of course; those who had any other security, as it was called, to devise ; or those who thought the disabilities might be repealed at once, and the law left as sufficient security, all persons who entertained one or any of these opinions were bound to give the preference to Lord Andover's address over a resolution which declared against all alterations, and went the length of petitioning Parliament, not even to try to do that which they felt to be conducive to the peace if not necessary to the safety of the country. · Here he would have left the subject, but as his noble relation near him, had mentioned the great statesmen who had been favourable to the cause, he could not help adverting to the authority of persons who had local information, and whose character and situation of life reso cued them from the imputations very often, though he believed very unjustly thrown out against the active leaders of political parties... he meant the Lord Lieutenants of Ireland.--Since he had sat in Parliament there had been five Protestant noblemen of this country who bad been employed in that office by various ininisters, and who had all returned convinced both of the necessity of granting the Catholic claims, and of the safety with which it might be accomplished---some of them went out with unfavourable impressions of the Catholics, and returned with a conviction in their favourI be first he should mention, was indeed well disposed to them from the beginning-he meant that excellent man Lord Fitzwilliams Differences, however, which arose between his

[graphic]

2014980S

government and the ministry at home, not upon the principle but upon the time and mode of concession, led to his recal. The next was Lord Camdeu-.-he would not speak of the transactions of his administration, for he wished to avoid speaking harshly of any man; but during that noble lord's viceroyalty occurred the Irish insurrection, very commonly but very falsely termed a Catholic Rebellion. He said falsely, because the documents before Parliament proved that the insurrection was conducted by a committee of five,of wbich four were actually protestants. But to return to Lord Camden--whatever might have been the conduct of his government to the Catholics, he had not been home two years before he resigned his office at home, because an obstacle had occurred to granting Catbolics emancipation.

The Marquis of Cornwallis was a man with whom he (Lord H.) was unacquainted in private and unconnected in public—but his public actions were known, and he appeared in all of them a person of great judgment, temper, and integrity, and above all, of singular prudence; and Lord Cornwallis was so firmly persuaded, after his own experience in Ireland, of the necessity of repealing the disqualifying laws against Catholics, that he uniformly stated that the union was incomplete and useless without Catholic emancipation; and he did not confine the expression of this sentiment to his private intercourse with government, or even to his official dispatches; but in a paper which might be called a public proclamation of his opinions, (a manner of expressing them certainly very unusual for a man of his caution and moderation, he informed the Catholic body of his sentiments in their favour, and of his reasons for retiring from the government of I reland, and renewed his assurances to them of his adherence to their cause. Then Lord Sidmouth became minister-he came in upon the principle of resisting the Catholic claims he must naturally have sought for a Lord Lieu. tenant of Ireland, who had doubts at least. if not objections to granting the prayer of their petitions-he certainly selected a nobleman of great honour, excellent sense and sound judg. ment, one too who bore a title that was a 'sort of pledge of his knowledge of the laws, and attachment to the constitution of his country. This was Lord Hardwicke--he was a ñian eminently qualified to judge for himself without bias or predilection, or if he had any, it must have been in favour of Lord Sidmouth's opinions—but Lord Hardwicke was a man of observation and reflection, and from what he saw without interest or prejudice, he too became convinced of the necessity of Catholic emancipation. Since that time his friend and relation the Duke of Bedford had gone as Lord Licutenant ---he went indeed to Ireland with a bias in fàé vour of liberality, toleration, and concession ; but if he went with 'a bias, he came back with a : rooted persuasion of the absolute necessity of Catholic emancipation. Now, he would ask, if great and enlightened statesmen ; if Mr. Fox, with whose name he could hardly trust himself in a public assembly; if Mr. Burke, Mr. Pitt, Mr. Windham; if all the

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

5000149805

disinterested Protestant Noblemen, who had been employed by various administrations, had set out on their government with various opi. 'pions on this subject, had all sooner or later concurred in condemning the existing laws against Catholics as unjust and impolitic, could they be brought to suppose by the motion of the Hon. Gentleman that day, that no alteration could be effected in them without endangering the state, and subverting the establishment? Were all these authorities incapable of forming a judgment of the consequence of a political measure ? or were the great names and respectable nobles men he had mentioned less interested in our constitution and establishment than ourselves ? But they had yet further authority the authority of a majority of the House of Commons who bad at least expressed by their resolution that if it was practicable to do any thing, it was desirable tbat it should be done ; they had engaged themselves to consider the subject. But, the gentlemen who supported · Mr. Calley's amendinent must be prepared to say, that the House of Commons was wrong, either in thinking that such an adjustment, if practicable, was advantageous, or in imagiuing that it was possible to do any thing. Could they take upon them to say either of these things to the House of Commons ? As to the conduct of the Catholics, there might be imprudent men among them. In what society were there not imprudent and even bad men ? In all transactions where men were engaged, buman passions would enter; but would it, for

[graphic]

instance, be fair to the church of England, of which he was proud to call himself a member, to pick out some violent, intolerant and foolish expressions of some hot-headed man, and such there were, and then say, these are the opinions of the church of Ergland ? The truth was, the fanatics on both sides agreed, and the Catholic fanatic was as unfavourable to the petitions as the Protestant fanatic could be; they loved to disseminate hatred and not love, division and not union and strength. He wished to shew the same fairness to Catholics which we expected for ourselves. Now if gentlemen would for a moment put themselves in the situation of Catholics, and suppose that they had stated their grievances, and that the legislature without deciding on them, had resolved to consider them deliberately, would they think it fair for another body of people to step in and say, give this subject no consideration ; do not try to reconcile those subjects to your state, but say what has been must continue: there shall be no alteration, there shall not even be a discussion on the subject. In this country there were few Catholics, and therefore here it was a matter of justice only-hut in Ireland the people were Catholics, and he would ask if, in point of policy, it was prudent to be bandying this question between the people of the two countries, and pitting the zeal of one against the grievances of the other, instead of leaving the mode of satisfying buth to the calm deliberation of those who represented equally the people of Ireland and England ? Surely,

« PreviousContinue »