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another nature.'* Now, can any thing be more clearly laid down than the distinction here taken between exclusion and penalty? And who were the lords that presided at the conference? The Duke of Devonshire, the Earl of Peterborough, Bishop Burnett, Lord Halifax, and lastly, Lord Somers himself.
"Next, let me ask my right honourable and learned friend, what he says to that article in the Scotch act of Union, which permanently excludes Roman Catholics from certain offices? If there be this natural right, and if that natural right be correspondent with the right of property, is it possible to suppose that the great men who adjusted the articles of the Scotch Union, would have allowed this permanent exclusion of the Roman Catholics? And yet without any of those immediate dangers from the power and tenets of the Roman Catholic Church, about which my right honourable and learned friend has spoken as the only causes which could justify such a measure now, the law of exclusion was introduced into that act of Union.
"But, coming to periods nearer our own times, when the dangers from Popery may be supposed to have had less influence, I would call the attention of the House to the debates which took place in 1771, and 1774, on the subject of the Quebec Act, let us look at the doctrine maintained by Lord Chatham and Lord Camden, re
Parliamentary History, vol vi. p. 80.
garding the oath of Supremacy. Both these dis tinguished men asserted, that the oath of Supremacy was as sacred and as obligatory as Magna Charta itself, or any of the most sacred acts made at any period of our history.
"Now, can these opinions be reconciled with the claim of natural right? I very freely admit, that, at the conference to which I have referred, the peers who managed it, allowed, that exclusion from office by law was a punishment of the severest kind. But, at a still more recent period of our history, in 1790, when the repeal of the Test Laws was under consideration, did Mr. Pitt admit the doctrine now contended for? Certainly not. Mr. Burke's dissent at that time, was on the score of danger from the Unitarians; but Mr. Pitt, a supporter of the Roman Catholics, directly contradicted the position of the honourable baronet, and my right honourable friend. It should be recollected, that the Test Laws then under discussion, were enacted with a view to the defence and preservation of the constitution; and Mr. Pitt told the House, he hesitated not to say, that if distrust were entertained of any one of the three branches of the constitution, it ought to be directed against the Executive power. The persons excluded by the Test Laws, laboured under no kind of stigma; but it was the policy of private life, not to allow any man to manage your affairs, whose principles
you did not like; but the exclusion of Dissenters could be looked upon as no punishment.'
"It seems to me, that the power of sitting here, or of voting for members, is just as much a natural right, as that for which my right honourable friend contends. Practically we know that, by an arbitrary distinction, persons who have not three hundred pounds a-year, are not allowed to represent their fellow-subjects, and that a qualification of an inferior kind is also required from the electors. If the doctrine of natural right be correct, why are not individuals with two-hundred pounds a year, allowed to sit in the House of Commons, or why have not all the inhabitants of the kingdom a right to send them to it? The fact is, the right, such as it is, is sacrificed to State considerations. I know that the ground of exclusion in the case of Roman Catholics is different, and I do not say that it is not more mortifying because it is a personal exclusion; but I say, that the violation of right is the same."
The following remarks on the subject of abstract right, are extracted from Bishop Blomfield's Speech on the Catholic Question, in 1825:"We have heard,-not indeed this evening, although it has been alluded to-but in the previous discussions of this important question, we have heard a great deal of the injustice and cruelty of debarring four or five millions of our fellow-subjects from the enjoyment of their natu
ral and indefeisible rights. Now, as to the principle, it makes no difference, whether it be four millions of men or four, that are deprived of what is said to be every man's birth-right.* I say there is no difference in point of principle, whatever there may be as to political expediency. If, therefore, we are to argue this question on abstract principle, let the consideration of numbers be put aside, as an element which does not enter into the solution of the problem. If the concessions be just and politic, grant them, were it but to forty; if otherwise, refuse them, even to four millions of claimants.
"But let us examine the meaning of those words, debarred of their civil' or, as some have said their natural rights.' Is there any civil right which individual citizens may not be called upon to forego, if public expediency demands the sacrifice? Is not this a principle, which, in some shape or other, must be recognized under every imaginable form of civil government? In our own constitution, favourable as it is to liberty, it is recognized and acted upon, in a degree which seems to have been forgotten by those persons who so loudly denounce the injus
* The best estimates laid before Parliament in 1825, made the Roman Catholics amount to about 4,800,000, and the Protestants to about 1,900,000, of whom two-thirds were of the established church. The estimates of the Roman Catholic Priests made their flocks about 5,500,000, and the Protestants about 1,600,000.
tice of withholding from any class of men a direct share in the actual government of the country; for this, simply this, is the civil right which is the present object of contention.
"It seems to me, I confess, to be as unjust in the abstract, to exclude a man from the legislature for want of a certain amount of property, as it is to hold him disqualified on account of certain opinions which affect the integrity and security of the commonwealth. I really am unable, in this view of the subject, to discriminate between the shades of injustice in the two cases. I know of only one answer which can be given to this argument, which is, that in the one case we have a certain test of qualification, in the other an uncertain; an answer which does not hold good with respect to the Roman Catholics, whose principles, if they are Roman Catholics indeed, are fixed, certain, and notorious. The fact is, that in both cases, a civil right is concluded and foreclosed, because public expediency requires it.
"But further, this principle is recognized by the supporters of the present bill, and in a manner somewhat extraordinary. The right of electing those who are to legislate for us, is certainly not less sacred than that of having a direct share in the legislation. To take away this privilege, is confessedly a greater violation of natural justice, a more daring inroad into the pale of civil right, than a mere exclusion from the legislature. Yet