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Catholic representatives for his country, whether in England or Ireland, and I leave it to your lordships' meditation, how soon, and by what courses, political ambition, coupled with or goaded by religious zeal, duly directed, might gradually appropriate to itself, by the wealth of ancient and opulent families, much also of that description of property, which locally influences the return of other members to the Commons' House of Parliament."
"We already know," says Lord Bexley, "that in the elections of Ireland the priests have begun to exercise a tremendous power. They have already in two counties defied the influence of property, and returned members avowedly as their mere creatures, and we are threatened that they will do the same in all the counties of Ireland. That they have the power of doing so if their influence over the forty-shilling freeholders is every where equally great, appears from a document printed by the House of Commons in 1825. In this paper the freeholders who had been registered in Ireland for some years before, were divided into three classes-of fifty pounds a-year-twenty pounds a-year-and forty-shillings. Of this last class the number returned was one hundred and seventy-seven thousand, while the aggregate of the two remaining classes amounted to no more than twenty-five thousand. Those who have contended for the admission of Roman Catholics to Parliament
have always represented the number likely to be returned as too inconsiderable to be of any importance; but how grossly they have deceived themselves, this document, combined with recent events, too plainly shows."
"On what foundation," asks Lord Oriell," does the Protestant Church stand? Is it not on your laws? Do not its rites, its worship, its possessions, its hierarchy, its pre-eminence, all depend upon the laws of the realm? And are you ready to fill your legislative assemblies with Roman Catholics, with persons attached and bound to another church? Do you forget the necessary alliance between Church and State, that if you endanger the one you destroy the foundation of the other? And can you be so infatuated as to entertain for a moment the idea of calling on Roman Catholic members to make the laws on which both Church and State depend; and on Roman Catholic counsellors to execute them? I will give the Roman Catholics every merit which men can claim, and still the feelings which are incident to human nature must debar them from being able to make such laws as those who profess the Established religion of this country are bound to do."
"I know it has been said, that the progress of education and the march of civilization have wrought wonders among the Roman Catholics; and, looking to the present aspect of the times, it may, perhaps, appear to superficial observers,
that little danger is to be apprehended. But I will remind you that the horizon is often the clearest and most serene when the tempest is nearest. And here I will appeal to history, and ask you at what period did the Established Church appear to be in a more flourishing condition, than at the restoration of Charles II.? And yet in twenty years afterwards it was, that the greatest revolution took place in the condition of this Church; and it was next to a miracle that, by the machinations of a Popish prince, it was not overwhelmed in one common ruin with the State and Constitution of this country."
Such was the remark of Lord Liverpool; and it was observed by another great authority, Lord Eldon, that " He must have been a very inattentive observer of what passes in Parliament, who has not remarked that a small band or knot of individuals, acting together upon system-constantly acting together and watching for opportunities and movements favourable to their views and projects, may achieve great and important changes."
Satisfy Parliament that the boon can be granted with perfect safety to the Constitution in Church and State, and it will be granted nearly with unanimity, almost by acclamation.
"The nation will not be satisfied that their constitutional liberties should be risked upon speculative opinions and abstract refinements. The stake is too important to be ventured on a
mere calculation of chances. Let the concessions proposed be stated with precision-the barriers and arrangements, which are to accompany them, be accurately set forth, and carefully examined, so as to assure us of perfect security. If that course is not pursued, where are we to stop? where can we make our stand with safety but at the point at which we are already arrived? Without a change in the condition of the Roman Catholics, and without ample securities, should the Protestant circle round the throne be drawn still closer, we may, as that circle is diminishing, be carried on, even with accelerated velocity, towards a vortex, which would engulph in its abyss, the Protestant throne, the religious establishments, and the civil liberties of the nation."
The following portion of Polish history deserves the perusal of every individual anxious for the stability of our Protestant Constitution, and the happiness of our Protestant kingdom.
By a law passed at the diet of Grodno, in 1568, the honours and dignities of the senate, and all the high offices and considerable trusts of the state, and even the crown itself, were laid entirely open to every one, of whatever Christian communion or confession soever he be. This law conceding an equality of rights to the several religions of the Greek, the Roman, the Lutheran, and the Calvinistic churches, was solemnly confirmed, and made a part of the fundamental compact of an union between Poland and the
Great Duchy of Lithuania, which was accomplished by Sigismund Augustus. These several religions then may be considered as having started fair in the career of emulation. The Roman Catholics at this time did not bear a proportion in number to the Greeks of more than one to seven. After the death of Sigismund, and the new-modelling of the state into a republic with an elective crown, the first king on whom the choice of the diet fell, was a Protestant. A perpetual peace was at the same time established between the Greeks, Romanists, and Protestants, as the fundamental law of the republic. This amicable and reciprocal toleration lasted for a short period. But by little and little the Roman Catholics increased in power, till under Sigismund III. they obtained an evident superiority. That prince had been educated by Jesuits, and during his long reign, which lasted for near half a century, all the material interests of the nation were entirely neglected, and intolerance and persecution took the place of those equal and conciliatory laws, to which his predecessor Sigismund Augustus owed his prosperity and his greatness. The churches of the Dissidents were gradually demolished, bishops abandoned their flocks; the priests and people were compelled to follow them. Every gentleman who embraced the Roman Catholic faith, immediately destroyed all the churches of the