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ing the limitation. An hon. baronet, (Sir Lawrence Parfons) had laid down a pofition, to the truth of which he fubfcribed without hesitation, tho' he denied his inference; namely that the more points the catholics had to gain, the more inducements they had to enter into combinations; but he differed from him in the application of this pofition; for Mr. Forbes faid, that fo far from fupporting his propofition of limitation of franchise, he confidered that the argument of the hon. baronet tended to prove the neceifity either of a total incorporation or exclufion; but the truth of the pofition could not be controverted, therefore he should endeavour to leave the catholics as few points to gain as poffible. Nothing was fo dangerous in a state as an unequal diftribution of conftitutional privilege; the moft enlightened writers on the ancient government of France attributed the defpotifm, under which the people of that country groaned, while England, fprung from the fame Northern Hive, was free to this circumftance, and tothis caufe, he said, we may attribute the inflammation of the minds of the people of that country, whofe oppreffion provoked them to frenzy, and precipitated them into measures, which have effected the extinction of all the privileged orders, and conftituted authorities in that country. Mr.. Forbes exhorted the house to embrace the opportunity of attaching the catholic to the conftitution and government, which the reduced fituation of every power to which he was habituated to look up and respect, afforded. He would for argument fake, fuppofe that a civil commotion should arife in England; tho' he trusted that there was not cause to apprehend fuch an event, yet as Europe was confeffedly pregnant with fome great political event, a wife legiflator would take every precaution. If the catholics were not compleatly affimilated with proteftants in respect to political advantages, it required not much fagacity to foresee in cafeof ferious disturbances in Great Britain, theeffectsoffuch an inequality of condition; that the parties in Great Britain E ę


would be bidding at each other on the fubject of catholic emancipation; whereas if we now attach that defcription of people to government, and unite them with the proteftants, the whole people of Ireland might act as a great body to fupport the balance of power in the empire againft contending factions, might poffibly prevent them from proceeding to extremies, or at le aft fpeedily tranquillize them. It fhould also be confidered, by thofe who oppofed this meafure, and yet were deeply interested in the profperity of Ireland, that nothing was more unlike than the fituation of Europe and America, now, from what it was when the popery laws were firft enacted: In America, the free exercife of the catholic religion was not incompatible with the full enjoyment of political liberty; when the agitation, which at prefent prevails in Europe, had fubfided, there was every reason to expect that the contention between governments and their fubjects would terminate in the establishment of free conftitutions in the form of limited monarchies; and an extenfion of political privileges to perfons of all religions. Such an event, as well as the encreafing profperity of America, muft operate as a moft powerful inducement to the catholics of this kingdom to emigrate; and an enlightened legiflature would provide against fuch powerful attractions, by fecuring a decided preference on the comparison of the condition of catholics in Ireland and in other countries.

Mr. Forbes obferved, that fome gentlemen had faid, the catholics were premature in their application-the time will come when they can be gratified with fatisfaction to all parties. Mr. Forbes afked, how long the catholics have to wait? when were their opponents to overcome their prejudices? what was the term and nature of catholic probation? This no gentleman had defined.-Suppofe in this awful and anxious interval, the catholic, impelled by the prevailing propenfity of the times for enquiring into the


nature and relations between the governors and governed, fhould examine into our right of excluding him from the elective franchife, how could we jufti. fy it, placing it, for argument's fake, even on as ftrong a foundation as we can, that of the acts of Anne, to which at beft though not very strong, he thought this act is not entitled. Those popery laws were enacted against catholics, not merely because they were catholics, but because catholics were jacobites; the family of the Stuarts were now extinct, the caufe of the exclufion had ceafed; therefore to continue these laws longer would in fact be to re-enact them. But it has been urged that a catholic enjoys as many privileges of the constitution, as a number of proteftants; that he is in the poffeffion of civil liberty, though not of political. He afked, whether in 1782 the proteftant would have been contented with fuch a condition? whether he did not confider political fo effential to the prefervation of civil liberty, that he was determined to rifk his life and fortune for the attainment of the former ? what a facrifice had America made on the fame principle? and had the proteftants a right to urge a doctrine and principles against their catholic brethren in fuch palpable contradiction to their own profeffions and their own conduct? It has been argued, that if catholics are not capable of voting, they are not in a worse fituation than many proteftants, who are not electors-a clear diftinction exifts between the fituations of the two defcriptions of men; if a proteftant has intereft to obtain his freedom in a corporation, or can raife by any means a fum fufficient to purchase a forty fhilling freehold, he may be in poffeffion of the elective franchife, not fo with the catholic; the proteftant is excluded by accident, the catholic by fomething next to an impoffibility with a confcientious man, as he can only purchase his fran chife by the facrifice of his eternal falvation.

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Mr. Forbes applied himself to the argument principally infifted on by the friends to the limitation of 201. that the priests would work on the fuperftition and poverty of the lower class of people, in anfwer to this he observed, as it was notorious that all the priests in the kingdom, had taken the oath of allegiance, this argument fuppofed that their tenets juftified a dispensation of that oath; therefore he would examine whether fuch a doctrine ever univerfally prevailed among the Roman catholic clergy, and whether it obtained at this day, even in Ireland at a period when the clergy of that religion were confidered as the flaves of bigotry and fuperftition, fo early as the reign of Elizabeth and James I. He could affert from inconteftible evidence of history that a confiderable party of the catholic clergy profeffed and taught, with firmness and vigour, in fupport of the government to which they had fworn allegiance, a civil obedience to the crown; hence in all the wars of Elizabeth feveral of the Romifh profeffion were diftinguished in the service of the crown. The doctrine of the Pope's power to difpenfe with oaths of allegiance has been two centuries fince renounced and abjured by the principal catholic univerfities in Europe, which renunciation was in the year 1790, repeated by thofe univerfities, and has fince alío been adpoted by public and folemn declarations of the catholic clergy in Great Britain and Ireland, an act affented to in the most explicit terms, by the prefent Pope in the year 1791. Mr. Forbes called on gentlemen, who availed themselves of this argument, to ftate any poffible advantage, which the priests could propofe to themselves by inciting the lower clafs of people to difaffection to the established government. Had they any profpect of protection from their old and natural patrons; the family of the Stuarts was no more, the power of the pope was fo compleatly and notorioufly diffolved, that he should confider it as an infult on



the understandings of his hearers were he to impute any authority to a character of fuch imbecility, who was at this moment like a mendicant friar, fupplicating the protection of every proteftant prince in Europe. From France the priests could not any longer expect fupport; the catholic clergy of this country abhorred the principles of the French, as much as that people detefted every fpecies of church establishment; tho' the French government might affume a form different from that, which now prevailed, it was not probable that the prefent race would overcome their indifpofition to the clergy. Under thefe circumftances, the priests must regard as their only protectors, the men of rank and property of their perfuafion in this country; and he fhould endeavour prove presently, that it was not probable that men of that defcription would aid them in a fcheme, which muft terminate in the confufion of all property, and a fyftem of indifcriminate depredation by the lower clafs of the community; neither was it probable that any body of men according to the prevailing opinions of this day, could be found fo ftupid or abfurd, as to erect another popish hierarchy after having rescued themfelves from the yoke of one, under which a great part of Europe had groaned for fo many centuries. When gentlemen affected to apprehend danger from the lower clafs of people, they reverfed the order of things; it was an established maxim, that the fashion of opinions and habits defcended from the higher to the lower clafs in fociety; but according to the prefent mode of reasoning, a very inferior description of the people were to give the tone of fentiment and conduct to the whole of their perfuafion; he was confident that a little experience would prove that the bill would produce a contrary effect, that the tenant by its means would maintain a more intimate connection with his landlord, and as three-fourths of the landed property of the kingdom, were poffeffed by proteftants, they would re


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