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sitting in either house of Parliament;" the Bill of Rights (1 William and Mary,) which excludes Roman Catholics from the crown for the following reason, "Whereas the late King James the Second, by the assistance of divers evil counsellors, judges, and ministers, employed by him, did endeavour to subvert and extirpate the Protestant religion, and the laws and liberties of this kingdom;" and, "Whereas," proceeds the Bill of Rights," it hath been found by experience, that it is inconsistent with the safety and welfare of this Protestant kingdom to be governed by a Popish prince, or by any King or Queen marrying a Papist; the said Lords spiritual and temporal, and Commons, do further pray that it may be enacted, that all and every person, or persons, that is, or are, or shall be, reconciled to, or shall hold communication with, the See or Church of Rome, or shall profess the Popish religion, or shall marry a Papist, shall be excluded, and be for ever incapable to inherit, possess, or enjoy, the Crown and government of this realm and Ireland;" the Act of Union with Scotland (5 Anne, chap viii.) states, in order "that the true Protestant religion professed and established by law in the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, should be effectually and unalterably secured," it was enacted, that "all and singular Acts of Parliament, in force for the establish
ment and preservation of the Church of England; and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, shall remain and be in full force for ever;" the King's Coronation Oath, the words of which are, "I will, to the utmost of my power, maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel and the Protestant reformed religion established by law; and I will preserve unto the bishops and clergy of this realm, and to the churches committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges as by law Do or shall appertain to them, or any of them;" -besides the Act of Uniformity, the Corporation and the Test Acts.
"When (said Sir J. Copley, speaking on the Catholic Question, 1827) gentlemen tell us of the laws which have been passed, onerous to the professors of the Roman Catholic religion—when they complain of the severity of those laws, they carefully keep out of view the necessity which caused their enactment; or, if they touch upon it, they touch lightly. That course is, towards this House, highly mischievous-it is false and deceptious. Are the feelings of reverence, with which we regard the acts of those who have gone before us, to be outraged by our being told, at this time of day, that our forefathers were oppressors, and had proceeded in those enactments, which have so long been considered the bulwarks of our civil and religious liberties, without ade
quate cause? Are we now, after twenty years' discussion, to be told, that men of great knowledge, of unimpeached integrity-the warm lovers, the most ardent friends and champions, of constitutional liberty, were bigots, persecutors, intolerants, oppressors ?
"Without uttering one word calculated to excite bad feelings, I will, with the permission of the House, review some of the circumstances under which certain of those so-much-complained-of statutes became the law of the land. If we advert to the reign of Elizabeth, I ask, does any man suppose that the laws against professors of the Roman Catholic religion, which were then enacted, proceeded on speculative conjecture, on imaginary apprehensions, on suggestions of invention ? Is it not, on the contrary, well known that those laws were enacted for the express purpose of keeping the Roman Catholics of that day in subjection; a body, who, if they were not kept in subjection, and effectually controuled, would have overborne and oppressed the Protestants to an extent far beyond all that can now, with any show of truth, be imputed to the Protestants of the present times. The legislators of that day had been close observers of what had recently occurred during the short dominion of the Roman Catholics in the reign of Mary. They had been all of them actors, and some of them sufferers, in that period of horror.
They lived in that age when bigotry and intolerance were triumphant-they were spectators of the frightful scenes enacting in France; the horrible atrocities perpetrated there, and also in the Netherlands, were before their eyes, or fresh in their remembrance. The power of the Roman Catholic religion of that day was seen in the full force of its arbitrary and tyrannical character. And, the Roman Catholics of that period were, day by day, endeavouring to undermine and to overthrow the government of this country; and in connexion with one of the most despotic and bigoted governments that ever existed in the world that of Spain-to re-establish the system which had already proved so hostile to our liberties. To guard against the recurrence of evils, the most intolerable by which society can be afflicted, our forefathers enacted the laws against the Roman Catholics.
"I will now (said Sir J. Copley) pass to the period of James, when laws were enacted imposing upon Roman Catholics the oath of allegiance and other oaths; not for the purpose of wounding their feelings, or insulting their honour, but in consequence of an attempt which I will not describe-of a character so atrocious and horrid, as to be almost incredible, were it not for the clear evidence on which its truth was incontestably established; and yet, with necessities such as these, pressing upon the condition of our ancestors, they are charged with intolerance and
bigotry, when they merely proceeded on principles of self-defence.
"From this period, and this country, I will pass to a later day, and to another land. I will refer you, in justification of the Protestants who are charged with bigotry and intolerance, for having passed the laws respecting the Roman Catholics to the occurrences in Ireland, in the reign of Charles I. in the year 1641, when insurrection and massacre deluged, I may say, that unhappy country with blood, and occasioned scenes of devastation and horror more extensive than the imagination of man is capable of conceiving. Is it wonderful that with such scenes before them, and witnessing the persevering attempts which were made by the Roman Catholics of that period to obtain predominance, men attached to the laws-men of upright and honourable minds-men imbued with the principles of statesmen, should feel themselves imperatively called upon to enact laws-of severity if you will --but laws which were calculated to repress the evil of which so just an apprehension was entertained?
"I will now revert to the period of the Revolution, when in consequence of various schemes which were evidently concerted for the purpose of introducing the Roman Catholic religion into the country, and just as some of those schemes, that excited well-founded and extreme alarm in the mind of every Protestant, were ripe for ex