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1829.] Public Affairs-Roman-Catholic Bill.
189 among, great numbers of the clergy, whose cument affords an edifying exhibition of a general opinions were however inferred powerful and ingenuous mind, under the perhaps too broadly, from the fact of Mr. guidance of true piety and an enlightened Peel's rejection at Oxford; and, not least, judgment, reversing some of its most long the king himself is stated to have imbibed cherished sentiments; and we readily open serious scruples, in consequence of strong our pages to our highly respected friend's privatê representations which had been fearless and manly avowal, which, at a made to him; though, as is understood, moment of much public excitement, we he at length gave the fullest pledge of his would hope will have a beneficial and determination to yield to the decision of healing effect, in the minds of many who parliament. Under these various circum- have long esteemed Mr. Wilson as a faithstances, an opinion had gone abroad, that ful servant and minister of Christ, even less decisive measures than those originally though they should not be altogether conintended, would be introduced; an opinion vinced by his arguments. which has not been borne out by the fact; Turning, then, for the present from the for be the measures right or wrong, popular enactment of grace to those of necessary or unpopular, they are at least of a most restriction and precaution, we feel humbly decisive character. And this we are dis- thankful to God, that we find nothing in posed, upon the whole, to think is true them which abets or even recognises the wisdom on this difficult question; for if Church of Rome. Not more strongly did any thing is to be done, it ought to be done we ourselves object by anticipation in our effectually: half measures would only con last Number, to vetos, concordats, and, fer power without allaying irritation, and above all, to paying the Roman-Catholic more would in the end be won by instal. priesthood, than did Mr. Peel in the ments, than is now offered generously and speech with which he introduced his mea
sure. The Roman Catholic is to be placed The intended enactments, as we stated upon the general footing of other Dissentin our last Number, were to consist of a ers, as respects civil privileges ; and this measure of grace, and of others of restric- being the case, it must inevitably follow tion and security. The measure of grace before long, that the public grant to Mayis most ample; it opens all offices to his nooth will be withdrawn, for the payment Majesty's Roman-Catholic subjects, with of which there will now be no more reason, the exception of the Chancellorship of even of a merely political kind, than for England, and the Chancellorship and Lord a parliamentary support of the DissentLieutenancy of Ireland. To this large ing academies of Homerton or Cheshunt. grant of eligibility we should certainly We have not space at present for an anastrongly object, if we could believe that it lysis of the various clauses of the bill: and, is contrary to the injunctions of Scripture, as some of them may possibly be altered inimical to the cause of Protestantism, or in their progress through parliament, we likely to add to the extension of the papal the more readily defer our abstract of superstition; but not being convinced on them to a future Number. Among other any of these points, believing rather the particulars, they prescribe a new oath to contrary, and feeling deeply impressed with be taken instead of the rescinded oaths the various considerations which we briefly and the declaration against transubstanspecified in our last Number, we by no tiation; they make full exceptions to the means participate in the alarm with which admission of office and the enjoyment of many of our fellow-Protestants view this privilege, as respects the church and the ample enfranchisement. The subject de universities; the assumption of English serves, however, to be discussed at consi.
and Irish episcopal titles is prohibited; the derable length, as a religious, as well as a insignia of office are not to be taken to merely political question, and we are pre any place of worship, but those of the pared to undertake such a discussion; but, Established Church; public displays of for the present, we must be contented with Roman-Catholicceremonies are forbidden; referring our readers to a valuable commu persons under monastic vows, now in nication in a future page of this Number, the kingdom, are to be registered, and no from the pen of the Rev. Daniel Wilson, such persons are in future to be admitted. who having been strongly animadverted And, with a view to prevent the evils upon in various quarters, for the part which may result from the present state of which he felt it his duty to take in the the elective franchise in Ireland, by anoOxford election, in favour of Mr. Peel, has ther bill the qualification is to be raised considered it not unworthy of his office from 21. to 101., a measure which is argued and character, nay a duty which he owes to be desirable on general grounds, as well to those who, from the most laudable mo. as with reference to the removal of the tives, may have felt interested in learning present disabilities. the grounds of his opinion, to state freely, Into the nature and efficiency of these and with Christian simplicity, the long precautions we cannot at present enter; struggle which liad been passing in his and indeed, as we have before stated, wm own mind, in reference to this momentous augur little benefit from oaths, restrictions, question, and the arguments which even. or other securities, upon paper or parchtually influenced his decision. This do ment. The only effectual security for the CHRIST, OBSERV. No. 327.
peace of a nation, under the blessing of imagined, in favour of the measures now God, are wise and equitable laws, and proposed by his Majesty's ministers. the impartial administration of justice. was once, like the warmest of my The Roman Catholics are but a minority anti-relief friends, a strong opposer of all in the country; and they have, therefore, measures of concession to the Roman no right to be the dominant party; nor Catholics. I thought that the truth of the have we the least apprehension that they Protestant, and the deep corruption of are likely to become so. The supposition the Roman-Catholic, Church, alike comis quite irrational. We need not, how. pelled me to uncompromising resistance. ever, say, what an imperative duty lies I even thought that the Divine Prophecies upon their Protestant fellow-subjects to forbad any measures of conciliation. I endeavour, with all affection and zeal, to imagined that legislative enactments must bring them to a more scriptural knowledge, involve some approbation of the Roman and holier faith ; a subject upon which we Church, and might bring on the ruin of the purpose, before long, to expatiate, as its Protestant. For nearly twenty years
I importance deserves; and which, in the viewed the Catholic question in this light. mean time, we earnestly recommend to I was anxious not to be convinced. Conthe serious consideration of all our read. vinced, however, I have been-or rather
We conceive, also, that the govern- brought to a stand-led to doubt the cerment and legislature have important duties tainty of my former conclusions—and to to perform, in this respect, which we trust leave to the wisdom of the legislature the will not be forgotten or neglected. But determination of the point concerning the we must defer this topic also.
Catholic disabilities. The introduction of these measures has It is nine or ten years since this change produced long and earnest debates; the in my sentiments began to take place. result of which has been, on the first divi What first struck me, was the broad fact sion, 348 for, and 160 against the bill; of the miserable state of Ireland—the sad on the second, 353 for, and 173 against; progress of the Catholic religion—its firmer and in the progress of the bill through hold on the minds of the people—the the committee, proportionable majorities. animosity and division, the disorder and There is, therefore, no doubt of the whole turbulence—the general bad state of things measure passing the house of commons as to all the great foundations of morals in nearly its original form; and scarcely and piety, of civil subjection and mutual any greater doubt of its passing the upper security and peace. There seemed to me house, perhaps with a few modifications, to be no approach to that ordinary condiand receiving the Royal assent. Under tion of an important member of a great these circumstances we quite feel with all empire, which the position and external our fellow-Protestants, that the present is advantages of Ireland might otherwise truly an eventful crisis; and although we have ensured. do not perceive the same causes of alarm I next began to reflect, that almost all our with many of them, we fully concur with greatest statesmen, in my own day, of all them that it is a period which calls for parties, who differed on nearly every other earnest prayer to the Giver of every good subject, agreed upon this, that our exclusive and perfect gift, that he would direct all laws have been a prominent cause of these things to his own glory, and the peace, deplorable evils. These statesmen, I said welfare, and salvation of mankind.' The to myself, must know much more of the duties incumbent upon Protestants, under operation of disabling laws on large classes the intended new order of civil relations, of men, than I can pretend to do. They we hope, as before-mentioned, to dwell must be also much better acquainted with
There are, however, the actual circumstances of Ireland. I one or two points which we ought, if pos cannot, for a moment, doubt the powers sible, yet to notice; but we must first in of mind, the constitutional and historical troduce Mr. Wilson's communication, knowledge, and the attachment to the Prowhich is as follows.
testant Establishment, of such statesmen
as Pitt, Burke, Wyndham, and Grenville. To the Editor of the Christian Observer. When I see such men agree with their most
determined political opponents on a dry Islington, March 23, 1829. point of legislation, I ought surely to MR. EDITOR,—Your opinions on the pause. And when I add to these anthorigreat question which now agitates the ties, the opinions of others, who, uniting the country so nearly coincide with those deepest piety with similar talents and inwhich I am strongly disposed to entertain, formation as statesmen, seem best entitled that I solicit your permission to state some to my confidence; when I see such names of the reasons by which I am swayed in as Wilberforce, H. Thornton, Buxton, adopting them. Such a statement, at a Babington, Lord Harrowby, the Calthorpes, moment like the present, may possibly the Grants*, Sir T. Baring, Sir T. D. Acsatisfy the minds of some who are in difficulties similar to those I once felt myself ; * One of the last things which the late or, at the least, may convince them that venerated and most excellent Mr. Charles more may be said, than they have hitherto Grant said to me, was, that he was con
land, and a host of Christian statesmen, upon the vitals of the state the fever arrayed on the side of peace, I am induced which might be assuaged by proper treatto suspect my over-confident persuasions.
I then went on to ask myself, whether I allowed that this was certainly a point it was not possible that some popular distinct from religion: I doubted, howerror might have been unconsciously che ever, whether it could be separated from rished in my mind on this wide question; the Catholic superstition. Consider, then, and have led me to mingle my deeply- the present state of the laws, replied my seated hostility to Popery, with matters friends. They belong to a system which not necessarily connected with it. Past has outlived the occasion which created history certainly, teaches me, that every them. Most of the severer penal statutes great topic, which has been long agitated have been repealed, and those which rein a free country, becomes mixed up with main are neither one thing nor another; a variety of points with which it has no neither coercive enough to restrain the essential connexion.. Past history teaches rising energies of the people, nor generous me, that, of all topics, religion has been enough to give them the peace and tranmost apt to be the occasion of heats and quillity of citizens. They just serve to controversies, from its infinite importance, brand with a mark of indigvity, without and its direct concern with the conscience. affording safety to the Protestant, or any Past history teaches me, that when any effective check to the Roman-Catholic reportion of a great people is in possession ligion. They are the relics of a worn-out of immunities, they have been ever prone oppression. They send the Catholics to fears, jealousies, and alarm, when the abroad, as Mr. Wilberforce once finely said, admission of others to a participation of with their prison-dress upon them, after them has been proposed. Past history their fetters have been knocked off and teaches me, as Lord Clarendon strongly they have been considered to be at large. states, that the clergy, as a body, have, like The laws now allow the Roman Caall other bodies of men, been frequently tholics to follow commerce, acquire wealth, found the worst judges of matters of legis- possess and devise estates, pursue the lation affecting their own order. These honours of the bar and the camp, exercise things spring out of our common nature. the rites of their religion, advance in The blame rests, not on the present gene- knowledge and science, spread over the ration, but on man as man*.
country in their talents, reputation, numsiderations insensibly prepared my mind bers-above all, to enjoy the elective for examining the religious bearings of the
that is, they open all the question with greater care. I was willing abundant sources of influence and powerto consider, whether there were not sepa and then they deprive them of a share in rate parts of the subject to bé disposed of the privileges of the Constitution, deny on their respective principles.
them any efficient channel for expressing To this end, I inquired of those sena“ their grievances, leave them without their tors on whose piety and talents I had the natural leaders, and throw them into the strongest reason to repose, if they could arms of demagogues and priests. The point out to me any plain, intelligible prin- political power of the Catholics is not now ciple of mis-government in the affairs of the question; this already exists, and is Ireland, which was distinct from the reli- daily increasing ; but it works in discongious character of Popery; and which, if tent, in turbulence, in outrage. The engine removed, would leave the full force of pure has no safety-valve. Repeal these anoChristianity to operate upon the minds and malous statutes; sever the Catholic gentry hearts of the people. They mentioned from that unnatural dependence on their instantly, the anomalous state of the laws; priests, which the spirit of exclusion genelaws which thwart and impede each other's rates; give them the common interest operation; which place the Irish Roman. of citizens; mix them with the Protestant Catholics in A FALSE POSITION, where gentry and legislators; and their violence their property and wealth, their influence will be moderated, subdued, controlled. and numbers, work against the peace of The flood, which now dashes over the the community, instead of for it-laws rocks, and precipitates itself down the which irritate without subduing --which fearful torrent, will flow more gently and gather for the Catholics all the elements safely when mingled with the other curof political power, and yet deny them the rents of the soil, and allowed to roll in means of using it safely; which drive in the capacious bed of the parent stream.
Here then, said my friends, a false prin
ciple is at work. This is a political error, vinced that Catholic-relief was most agree an error in government, which has nothing able to the highest and purest spirit of to do with the character of the particular Christianity.
religion on which it operates. Set this The history of the league in France matter to rights, and you strengthen the of the civil war in our own country--of Protestant faith, and open a way for the the agitation fifty years since, when the conversion of the Catholics. Till this is more odious of the Roman-Catholic penal done, all other means of benefiting Ireland laws were repealed, attest this.
fail, because they only accumulate the
2 C 2
materials and causes of the evil. Every the greatest freedom of intercourse preincrease of the wealth, comfort, and in- vailed, the grosser corruptions of Popery fluence of the Irish, as things now are, in were less obtruded on the people in the creases the danger of the state. Each year's discourses of the clergy. Wherever I went, delay is aggravating the disease. And the conduct of England to her Romanwhat, they added, was the origin of these Catholie subjects excited surprise and inpenal laws? Temporary and incidental dignation. I remember the late amiable not to seize a religion, but to detect trea- and accomplished Baron de Stael wrote son. The occasion has ceased; the exiled me word, just before his death, that the family is no more : let the exclusive laws Jesuits, in proportion as they knew the expire with the cause which gave them circumstances of Ireland, were unfriendly birth. Irritating and harsh statutes, if to the measure of Emancipation, as likely continued beyond the occasion, can never to weaken the hold of their religion upon promote the religion of peace and love. the people. During the same journey
The more I considered the subject, the the frightful absurdities and superstitions more it seemed to me that these facts, of Popery, as well as its spirit of bigotry if they could be made out, would de- and intolerance, seemed to lead me to serve attention. It has been always so, hope that there was little danger of its said I to myself, in all ages and all coun. spreading again amongst a free, hightries : a distrustful and contemptuous minded, and religious people, like the policy makes men rebels by treating them English. I came home with my doubts as such a generous policy attracts and about my former opinions augmented. creates confidence, and obtains a loyal My dread of Popery, indeed, my abhoraffection by deserving it. If this unequal rence of its corruptions, and my veneration state of the laws is festering in the bosom for the Protestant Episcopal Church of of the people, can I wonder that Ireland
my own country, were more wakeful than is in its present state ? If we can extract ever ; but I was better prepared to sethis irritating thorn, we are most effectually parate these feelings from the question sapping the vigour of the false religion of the system of laws which affected the which it excites and inflames. There can Irish. be nothing that opposes the Divine law In this state of mind I continued after in this, as I used to think there must be ; my return, taking no share in the disnothing which dishonours God; nothing cussions which arose, but expressing my which undervalues the warnings of Pro- doubts as occasion served. I found the phecy; nothing which betrays indifference statements of my parliamentary friends to the Protestant faith. It is merely al- confirmed year after year--things in Iretering civil regulations as circunstances and growing worse--a power rising up require. To separate the religious from beside the law, and contrary to it-the the political parts of a mixed question, is priests more and more infatuating the the office of true wisdom. At least, let minds of the people. Still I found the me pause before I continue my opposition English clergy so decidedly hostile to any to all conciliatory measures. It is possible settlement of the case in a way of conI may be wrong. The whole subject may cession, that I was fearful of committing be susceptible of a new light. My prin- myself to a strong opinion on a question ciples, indeed, must be unaltered, my dread which might much depend on the partiof the apostate church be the same, my cular plan of accommodation proposed. reverence for the word of God the same; I began, however, to think some arrangebut perhaps I may discover that I have
ment must be made, which might tend to been mixing up these things, which I do undermine the strongest holds of a secular understand, with other things, which I and debased superstition. Against such do not understand.
an arrangement I could no longer, in Many of these considerations had been principle, see any insuperable obstacle
. thrown into my mind, and had been work
I thought it probable that it would be ing there, when I went abroad for health forced upon the government before long, about six years since. I was slow to give considering the hopes which had been up my old opinions. Though the foundation held out to the Irish Roman Catholics at of them was shaken, it was long before I the Union, the majorities which had been fully detected the error, or rather false gained in the House of Commons, and association of thought, which pervaded the actual state of Ireland. them. I went abroad, however. I saw You may imagine, then, sir, with what the Catholics and Protestants of France, feelings I received the announcement in Switzerland, and Germany enjoy the same the Speech from the Throne, of the proJaws, sit in the same legislative assemblies, posed adjustment of this long-agitated partake of the same spirit of freedom, and controversy. When the ministers of the sometimes (I do not defend the practice) Crown publicly declared, that the state of worship in the same temples. I was in Ireland made it impossible for them to go formed, that in Saxony, Prussia, the Ne
on in the present system ; that a divided therlands, and Hanover one equal state of government, a divided cabinet, a divided political privileges tended to peace and parliament, could no longer consist with national strength. I found that where the safety of the Protestant institutions
ions of Popa
people in a hererer le Sober Racks Eurprise erilis e late amade de Starł 232 death, that they they dzert
I religion un
and the national welfare; I was, at length, an integral portion of your population : strongly persuaded of the duty of a Chris- they live amongst you: they are a third or tian minister to leave the question in the fourth part of the British Empire : they hands of the three estates of the realm, and obey your laws, they pay taxes, they to assist in calming, rather than inflaming, form your armies, they fight your battles: the public mind. What I might have they are already united with you in gothought, if the adjustment had come from vernment, rights, and protection : you dethe hands of a leading member of Opposi- rive from them a share of all the benefits tion, or even from the policy of the late which subjects confer upon a state. LeMr. Canning, I cannot say: certainly my gislate for them you must, either in the confidence would have been less than that way of conciliation or coercion. Remain I now feel. Especially the manly avowal
as you are, you cannot. If you re-model made by the Right Honourable the Home your laws, you do it in order to strengthen Secretary, Mr. Peel - considering the the Protestant Church; to meet altered talents and acknowledged uprightness of circumstances; to render justice, and rethis distinguished statesman, his attach- quite years of neglect or injury, to Ireland; ment to our Protestant institutions, his to complete and make consistent your intimate knowledge of Ireland, his natural previous benefits; to carry into effect the and strong bias to the opposite measures spirit of your constitution. from his connexion with Oxford, and from You do this, moreover, with an avowed the lead he had taken in the House of and open profession of unalterable atCommons—considering, above all, the sa tachment to the Protestant religion ; you crifices of every kind, except conscience, do it with such provisions against the duty, and the future approbation of a worst practices of Popery as proclaims grateful country, which his noble conduct your dread of its corruptions; you exinvolved, -all this had a powerful effect clude the Jesuits ; you put down the on my mind, and led me to think that the Popish Associations; you take the pea. moment was indeed come for the amicable santry out of the hands of priests and settlement of the question.
demagogues; you exact from the Catholic These anticipations have, I must say, senator an express oath that he will been amply confirmed by the details of the maintain the Protestant succession to the measure as now laid before Parliament. Crown, and the Protestant church; that Looking at them in a religious point of is, you exact more securities than any view, I really hope they will tend to secure reasonable Protestant ever imagined pos. the interests of a pure Christianity, and sible. You avoid, further, in the conweaken all the strongest bulwarks of a duct of the arrangements, every thing that corrupt and degenerate one. The civil can give any colour to the charge of an details of the measure I leave to states union with Popery; you declare you will men, except so far as they are immediately have nothing to do with it; you will not connected with the religious question. I be implicated in the nomination of their am aware that a minister of the Gospel bishops; you will not support their clergy; may not fully understand a political pro- you will have no intercourse with their ceeding like this: he may, indeed, come corrupt hierarchy, no dealings, no conto a practical conclusion, and must come cordat, no understanding, no compromise to it, upon the best evidence he can ob- with Rome. You thus stand forth as a tain ; but his limited opportunities for ob- Protestant people, avowing your attachtaining the necessary knowledge cannot, ment to the Protestant religion, and perI own, but qualify the value of his opinion. forming an act of national equity, which
In a religious view, then, what are the you are persuaded will also go to underchief objections which now press on the mine the artificial supports of the apostate minds of conscientious persons?
church. If this be to unite with idolatry, “Does the proposed adjustment involve or to countenance Popery, I know not any approbation of Popery as Popery, what would be protesting against it. Nor any union with idolatry, any indifference have you done this till necessity positively to the Protestant faith? Is there any sin forced it upon you. So fearful have you necessarily involved in thus legislating justly been of the Roman-Catholic relifor the Roman Catholic subjects of our gion, that nothing would lead your gorealm?” This is the first objection. So far vernment to interfere, but a necessity so as my judgment goes, I would answer, imperious as to admit of no delay. It is No: I think there is no sin involved in no sin, therefore, but an obvious duty, a the settlement of it. The Irish Roman- plain act of national piety, a reparation Catholics are fellow-creatures, fellow- made for long-continued misrule. " It is to countrymen, fellow-Christians. They be set to rights an anomalous state of the long to a true, though a most corrupt, laws, and take from the Papists the factichurch. They were a part of your people, tious strength arising from indignation at would I
say to my countrymen, long be a sense of wrong * fore the Reformation. To alter the details of legislation concerning them is nothing new You have been doing it * If the annual grant to the college of ever since that glorious era. They form Maynooth were to be discontinued, it