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That many of the Duties of a Member of Parliament are incompatible with the Principles of a Roman Catholic.
SUPPOSING Catholic Emancipation, as it is called -supposing such a bill as that brought forward in 1821 by Mr. (now Lord) Plunket, carried; let us look to the consequences of such a measure, as they were detailed by the present Attorney General in his speech on that occasion.
"It is not merely to the oath, but to the principle, to the political and general consequences of the bill, that I object. One political effect is, to admit Roman Catholic legislators, and to enable them to fill the highest departments of the State, with two exceptions; and this cannot be allowed without endangering the Protestant community. It is worth while to see how this object is carried into effect; how the Roman Catholic servants of the Crown are to execute the duties imposed upon them. It is admitted that they are not to interfere in ecclesiastical affairs; that they are not to advise the Crown as to any ecclesiastical appointments: so that this enabling, capacitating, authorizing bill, disables,
incapacitates, and unauthorizes Roman Catholics with regard to all spiritual concerns.
"Suppose, for instance, that one of these much-injured and long-suffering noblemen was appointed secretary of State, or premier of an administration, he could not recommend a bishop, or fill up any ecclesiastical preferment within his gift or patronage. The French have a Ministre
de Culte; but such an officer is unknown here; and the Roman Catholic peer can only be half a minister, with half the power and half the duties that will belong to a Protestant. Thus this bill, pretending to erect a building, only half completes it, and leaves it open, naked, and unserviceable. This great and gross defect, this singular absurdity, is not to be laid to the charge of the eloquent gentleman (Mr. Plunket) who introduced the bill: the necessity of the case compels the insertion of it.
"True it is, that in such a case ecclesiastical preferments are to be regulated by a commission, and that commission is to be named by the Crown; but is it to be supposed that the premier will not have his influence in this respect, and after all accomplish what it is the intention of the bill to avoid? I will now direct the attention of the supporters of this measure to the privy councillor's oath. By this oath the privy councillor is bound not to advise the monarch on this or that particular measure, but on every question connected with the well-being of the
State. What is the consequence? Why, if this measure were carried, we must alter not only the oath imposed by the statute of Queen Elizabeth, but the privy councillor's oath also.
"But if the Roman Catholic interferes in ecclesiastical matters, what penalty is meant to attach to the infraction of the law? Is it a fine of 6s. 8d., or of 3s. 4d.? I contend that the supporters of the bill, who consider those exclusions as contrary to the rights of the subject, and injurious to that fair and honourable ambition, which no man more ardently admires than I do, cannot give to the Roman Catholic an exalted situation in the State, without expunging the oath of Elizabeth, and entirely altering that administered to a privy councillor. With respect to the interference with ecclesiastical authority, this point can be illustrated in a very easy manner. Suppose a Roman Catholic holds the office of lord chamberlain, he could not even appoint a chaplain in ordinary to his Majesty: so that whatever ecclesiastical duty is attached to the office, the Roman Catholic liberators take care to transfer from him, and to impose the performance of that duty upon others.
"Again, what will be the effect of the bill with respect to Roman Catholics sent out to govern of our colonies? It will be described as a very hard thing that a man who has distinguished himself at Waterloo, should be prevented, on account of his religion, from going out as gover
nor of Jamaica, or of any other of our West India possessions. But if he were sent out under this bill, what must we do with him? Why, he must proceed to his destination in one frigate, and his ecclesiastical coadjutor in another. The governor of a colony represents the sovereign. He has ecclesiastical power; in fact, he is the Head of the Church in that colony. Whatever power the king possesses in ecclesiastical matters, he representing the king, has a right to exercise. But,' say gentlemen, 'how unjust it is that a brave man who has lost a limb in your service, should be debarred from proceeding to the colonies from enjoying a splendid retirement as the reward of his services? And how do those gentlemen propose to get over this injustice? Why, by placing the Roman Catholic in the possession of an office, the duties of which he cannot perform!
"But what is likely to occur at the Council Board? It is well known that various disputes, connected with ecclesiastical matters are referred to it for decision. The consequence must be, that, whenever a case of an ecclesiastical nature is called on at the Council Board, Mr. Buller, will be compelled to say to any Roman Catholic privy councillor present-You must leave the Board, or you will be guilty of an infraction of the law'―This is the mode in which gentlemen intend to conciliate the feelings of the Roman Catholic ! Not a day would pass without the occurrence of
some circumstances far more grating to the feelings of the Roman Catholic than anything which can happen at present. It will be necessary, drawn up as this bill is, to have two individuals in every office of the State; one to perform the civil, the other to take care of the ecclesiastical duty.
"We are earnestly called upon to admit the Roman Catholics to political power. But, are we to admit them at the hazard of overturning all the old-established offices in the State? As the bill stands, they cannot be admitted to the old offices; new ones must be formed for them. Gentlemen who are in favour of their claims say, "We wish the Roman Catholics to participate in existing offices,' but if they are placed in those offices, they cannot perform the duties attached to them."
"No admission can," said Lord Stowell, in 1813,"with any degree of safety to the interests I have described, be given to offices which are either judicial, with a jurisdiction extending to ecclesiastical questions, or to such as convey to the person who holds them a great portion of political power. For these are the two principles, within the range of which I conceive the danger, and the necessity of providing against it, to be bounded.
66 'The office of common law, for instance, is one from which a Roman Catholic ought to be excluded. And why? Because a person in that situation has to decide most important questions,