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That the admission of Roman Catholics to ParEament could not but be attended with great danger. Example from Polish History.
"It is often asked by those who advocate the claims of the Catholics, What danger can be apprehended from a few Roman Catholic members? The number likely to be returned is described as exceedingly limited-rari nantes in gurgite vasto." "I have had experience enough (said Mr. Peel) to know, that, under some circumstances, a very small party may, by dexterous management, possess itself of great influence over the House. I certainly believe that Roman Catholics, in the event of these disabilities being removed, would be found, some of them, ranged on the side of Government, and some on that of opposition. I make no doubt that they would exercise, to a great extent, that freedom and diversity of political opinion, which my right honourable friend anticipates.
"But where the Roman Catholic religion might happen to be concerned, I believe that as the East Indians unite, and as the West Indians unite-however opposed they may be at other times, and on other matters, to get a duty im
posed, or a duty repealed, on sugar for example, -so the Roman Catholics would unite, on the very same principle, of community of interest or feeling, upon a question affecting their own faith. By this adroitness in trimming the balance between rival parties, and, by uniting themselves in exciting the religious apprehensions and feelings of their brethren in that faith, I do apprehend, that the Roman Catholics might exercise a very considerable power in this House over their own community; and to a great degree, although compared with the Protestant body, their number should be comparatively trifling, might succeed in the attainment of their ultimate objects, however extensive these might be.
"Now, I conceive it evident, that it was this belief and impression which induced the legislature to interpose against the exertions of such influence, those guards which were created at the time of the Revolution. I am firmly persuaded that, at that time, King William and the great men who advised him did make a clear distinction between the penal laws to which the Roman Catholics were then subject, and the laws which it was necessary to enact in order to resist the species of influence to which I have just adverted, and of which they were much more apprehensive than of the attachment of the Roman Catholics to the house of Stuart. They evidently thought that they ought not to admit the Roman Catholics into the enjoyment of those offices,
where the exertion of that influence might be rendered most effective, and its influence could be most extensively felt. Accordingly, in the letter King William wrote in 1697, he said, 'I will give you every privilege I can, consistently with the free exercise of your religion, and every other privilege but that of admission to certain State offices and into Parliament; but I cannot consent to admit you into Parliament, or to those offices which constitute the Executive Government, because I do believe, although I respect you, that you must exercise, as members of that Government, an influence to promote the views of the Roman Catholic body.' So that King William and his counsellors, when it was determined that the crown should be Protestant, did not believe that the Crown would be safely secured in that succession, unless offices in the Executive, State, and seats in Parliament were denied to those who professed the Roman Catholic faith."
"It has been often said," observed Sir J. Copley, "that supposing sixty or seventy members of the Roman Catholic profession were returned to serve in Parliament, what possible injury could arise from such a circumstance-what means could they possibly devise for overturning the Protestant Establishment of this country? And those who ask such questions always answer them in the negative. But I am not satisfied on this point.
"Now I will entreat the House to recollectand it is with sincere regret I do so that there are at the present moment, and have always been, many Protestant members of the House of Commons, who entertain views, and profess sentiments hostile to the Established Church of these realms. If, in addition to the lukewarm friends, and avowed opponents, we throw into the scale another weight-if we add to this body another mass-knowing as we do, that both will act with the same spirit, and make one common cause, shall we, I ask, be discharging our duty to the Church, of which we are members, and which we have pledged ourselves and are bound to support? I heard it remarked on a former occasion, by the honourable member for Corfe Castle (Mr. Bankes)-and the remark seemed to me well deserving the serious attention of the House-that if even we should be able in the end to oppose an effectual resistance to the hostile feelings or attempts of these parties, we should ask ourselves, whether it was nothing for us thus to expose the Church to their repeated and continual attacks?"
"It is urged," said Lord Colchester, "that the danger which we object to the present measure, must have reference to the numbers of those whose pretensions, if admitted, are to create the danger. This is undoubtedly true. But we must be careful, not to lay what ought to be the durable foundations of our legislation upon shift
ing grounds. In legislation, as in every other prudential and practical question, we should consider to-morrow as to-day. And it is amazing to me, that any persons of ordinary sagacity can fail to foresee, that the paucity of present numbers affords no security against their future in
Any powerful minister of the Crown who advocates measures like the present, with a strong sense of the injustice which (according to his view) the existing families who constitute the Roman Catholic gentry have long suffered, may, and ought, upon his own principles, to make them speedy and full compensation for their longintercepted honours. In the reign of Queen Anne, we have a precedent for a simultaneous addition to our peerage of no inconsiderable amount; and in proportion as the grievance is considered to have been long, heavy, and unjustifiable, such in proportion would naturally be the reparation. We might well look to have in our House a much larger importation than took place at that period; and successive ministers under the occasional difficulties which beset them, when the gates were set open, and the broad path paved, might, and would enlarge the number without stint or limit.
"By irresistible inference what might be called equal justice should be done also with respect to the other House of Parliament. The Roman Catholic elector must be allowed to elect Roman