this is the very injustice, for so arguing on their own principles, I must call it, which the advocates of civil right now propose to commit upon a gigantic scale-by a sort of compensation, which, to my apprehension, throws into the shade the minor solecisms of the penal code. To admit with safety a few favoured persons to the privilege of legislation, you disfranchise three or four hundred thousand, and deprive them of a much more sacred and inalienable right.* I give no opinion as to the expediency of that measure, I am only arguing that the ablest advocates of civil right are compelled to admit in practice, that it is limitable, and may be restricted or withholden altogether.

"Nay more, in the very measure which now awaits your decision, is this principle acknowledged and embodied, for it proposes to continue and perpetuate the exclusion of Roman Catholics from certain offices of trust and power, to which they have as fair a right to aspire as to a share in your legislative deliberations. Of all judicial situations that of the Lord High Chancellor may well be thought the highest object of ambition to a Roman Catholic, and his exclusion from it the greatest grievance; inasmuch as in the decisions of a judge, who is not confined by the trammels of the statute law, but proceeds upon a discretionary equity, there is the greater scope for

The Bill to which the Bishop alludes, contemplated the disfranchisement of the Forty-shilling Freeholders.

partiality and prejudice. Yet from this office we are told by one of their own clergy, Mr. Collins, the Roman Catholics would consent to be excluded on account of the great State necessity which requires such exclusion. And this great State necessity he interprets to mean, the general persuasion of the English people that Roman Catholics should be excluded from that high office.

"I maintain, therefore, that upon the plainest principles which regulate civil society, upon the ground of universal and invariable usage, by the admission and enactment of the framers of this bill, civil rights are limitable by expediency; and that a capacity to serve the State in offices of trust and power, which is not limitable by the constitution, where there are just grounds for limitation, is such a capacity as is inconsistent with all the forms of government in the world.”

"Protection (it has been well observed by Sir R. H. Inglis) is the right of every man in civil society; power is the right of no man. No man has an abstract right to possess power in any community; it is the free gift of each community to each person, to each class; and on the principle on which the Constitution of England, consisting indivisibly of Church and State, has refused to give power, except to those who support it so undivided, I entirely concur. The principle (of abstract right) as applied to England, I deny on the authority of all the analogies

of our Constitution. Until there shall be no distinction of civil rights between the copyholder and the freeholder; until there shall be no inequality in political power, as electors, between the freeholders of thirty-nine shillings a-year and the freeholders of forty-shillings a-year; as candidates, between the freeholder of two-hundredand-ninety pounds per annum and the freeholder of three-hundred; (I say nothing of the anomalies of Scotland-I say nothing of the caste of the clergy, who are proscribed, very properly- but still proscribed as candidates for the House of Commons); until there shall be no difference between the legal infancy of twenty years, and the legal manhood of twenty one, (a distinction as artificial as any of the others); until there shall be no inferiority in the alien-born and the native inhabitant of these countries, both paying the same taxes and liable to the same personal burthens: until, in the progress of universal suffrage, there shall be no difference between the political rights of rich and poor, of boyhood and age, of male and female, I shall not cease to maintain that the Constitution has never vested in any of the inhabitants of England, as inhabitants, any political power whatever, or even, in the abstract, any eligibility to power; and, consequently, that no men, and no class of men are entitled to demand here, as natural rights, any political power over their fellow-men; or, indeed, even the capacity of such power in this country. The whole

is a question not of right but of expediency; and as such, may be decided either way without injustice.*"

"The papist insists upon equality in civil and political privileges as his right, his birth-right, his inheritance from nature. He considers his exclusion from a seat in Parliament, or any other dignity enjoyed by Protestants, as oppression. He no longer solicits but demands. Yet how can that naturally belong to all men, which it is impossible many men should possess ? There never yet was any nation where civil and political privileges were thus common. Does the British Constitution recognize any such claim in cases equally pointed? Are we to understand that all its subjects, except these tumultuous Papists, have hitherto enjoyed it? Is there no similar hardship, no exclusion, no deprivation, to render the instance before us less offensive?.. It happens that by law no man can sit in the House of Commons who does not possess landed


"I compare not (says Sir R. H. Inglis) the degree of privation by which the Duke of Norfolk, the Premier Duke and Earl of England, is withheld from his seat in Parliament, with the privation by which a freeholder of thirty-nine shillings a-year is withheld from voting at a County election: but I contend that the principle, however different the degree is the same. The State has arbitrarily and artificially allotted its powers to age, to sex, to class, to fortune, and to opinions: and the question is in every case one of mere expediency, whether more or less public safety, or public danger will be ensured by retaining, or removing any one of those distinctions."

property producing three hundred pounds a-year. Thus nineteen-twentieths of the educated population are at once cut off from their rights, their birth-rights, their natural inheritance, and what seems wonderful, they are quite unconscious that this deprivation is a hardship. Out of a hundred individuals, at least ninety-eight are in the same predicament; that is, by arbitrary regulation, they are ineligible; from other, but similar deficiencies, they cannot represent the people. Shall we be told that a pecuniarry disqualification is less injurious and degrading than a religious one? Why so? For the religious disqualification there are reasons at which no honourable man need feel offence. He is ineligible because his church has no agreement with, no toleration for, that national one which is an essential part of the State; because the Established Church is regulated, as to its discipline, by Parliament; and, consequently, because he, a Roman Catholic, should not legislate on its service, its government, or its endowments. Surely here is reason enough, and obvious enough. But to the claims of him who suffers only from a pecuniary disqualification, what shall we reply? • You are inferior, sir, to none of your contemporaries in honour, in education, in ability; you are eloquent and industrious, a skilful man in business, a citizen every way entitled to our confidence and respect; you have no interests inconsistent with the public welfare; no principles, religious or

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