Page images


have your excufe for appealing to the law of conqueft, because they have by the sentence of the corporation, nothing elfe to relieve them from the doom of flavery!

The refult of this interpofition of the Irish government in this religious war, the confequence of having poured their angry ingredients into the cup of religious fury, has been that, as far as relates to Irish government, they have totally loft the confidence of the Catholics; they have loft the confidence of one part of his majesty's fubjects by their corruption, and of the other by their intolerance.

Hon. D. Browne. The part that I have taken in difcuffion of the Catholic question in this house, and my connection with perfons of that fect in my own country, makes it, as I think, incumbent on me to exprefs my warmeft thanks, and my highest approbation of that part of his Excellency's fpeech that recommends the cafe of the Roman Catholics of Ireland to the confideration of its parliament. I truft, the Catholics will not for. get the parliamentary perfecutions against them, which have been unremitting fince the revolution, have ceafed from the commencement of the reign of George the 3d; that he was the firft Prince that ventured to recommend their loyalty and grievances to the confideration of their countrymen; I trust they will be the best prop of his crown, the best support of the conftitution: if ever they fhould for a moment forget what they owe to their beneficent fovereign, I will be afhamed of what now is my pride and my boast, my attachment to them. Tied to them by every principle of heredi


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

tary and perfonal regard, I pledge myfelf to them, to this Houfe, and to the world, that my exertions for their caufe fhall ceafe only with their perfect liberation from the difgraceful ftate of civil difability in which they ftand. I have with fome trouble and care prepared a bill for that purpose: to rescue my friends from flavery, to purify the law from abfurdity, is my warmeft wifh; but it is a fituation to which my wifhes alone entitle me. His majefty's minifters in this country will, I fuppofe, bring forward his majefty's measure before parliament. I am perfectly fatisfied to confign it to their care, and fhall be content to give them my zealous fupport, if the bill brought forward be what I think it ought for the Catholics; I will ufe my beft endeayours with them to prevent their embaraffing the measure by unreasonable demands. If, contrary to my expectations, it fhould be a half measure for them, I will endeavour to amend it.

Right hon. Mr. Hobart.-Although the right hon. gentleman has been pleafed to exprefs, in ftrong terms, his difapprobation of the conduct of this houfe, I fhould not think it refpectful to the gentlemen who compofe it, for me to enter into their juftification. With regard to that part of his fpeech which concerns me perfonally, and particularly with regard to my treatment of the Catholics, I muft obferve, that he has mentioned that the impreffion he received was conveyed to him from the publication of the debates in William-ftreet

[Mr. Grattan, interrupting him, faid, 1 did not fay he had done fo, but that they had accufed him of having done fo, for I was not a judge of the fact, though they were of the expreffion.]

[ocr errors]

I am happy (refumed Mr. Hobart) that the right hon. gentleman has called upon me, as it affords me an opportunity of explaining my conduct with regard to the Catholics, and I trust the gentlemen of this houfe will do me the juftice to believe, that I am incapable of treating any defcription of his majefty's fubjects with difrefpect. When the Catholics in the feffion of 1790, applied to me on the subject of the petition they defired to have fupported in parliament, I certainly gave them no encouragement, because I did not confider myself warranted in fo doing; but if my declining to hold out expectations of relief at that time was any proof of difrefpect, I am inclined to believe that the right hon. gentleman was equally guilty of it. And I know that altho' they applied to many other members of this houfe to prefent their petition, not one was found who would comply with their wishes. Subfequent to this period, a relaxation of the popery laws paffed in Great Britain, and expectations were then entertained, that fimilar measures might be adopted here. With that view I had communications with feveral of the Catholics, and I did then recommend it moft ftrenuously to them, to adopt a conciliating line of conduct, as the only ground upon which they could hope for indulgence from parliament. Whether this advice was likely to forward their objects, I leave to the houfe to judge; but I must explicitly fay, that the opinion I gave was not to any particular defcription of Catholics, but to all, as I could prove to the right hon. gentleman by naming them to him; which I am ready to do. Was this conduct purfued by me with a defire to fow discontent? No-it was with the best intentions towards their interefts. What dispatches the

right hon. gentleman may allude to, I cannot poffibly know; nor fhall I act fo inconfiftently with my duty as to difcufs the lord lieutenant's dispatches here; but I may venture to say, that if he had laft year reprefented to the British minifters, that the Houfe of Commons would not then grant the elective franchife, he would not have made a falfe reprefentation. As to the grand juries-I am not to defend the conduct of others; but I must say, after what has fallen from the right hon. gentleman with refpect to the manifefto of the metropolis, that I approved of it as little as he seems to have done.

Mr. Hardy, after making fome remarks on what had paffed between Mr. Grattan and Mr. Hobart, faid, that he did not confider his right hon. friend (Mr. Grattan) as having charged the latter with any want of perfonal civility to the Roman catholics; he certainly charged government as deficient in attention to them; but as to Mr. Hobart, no one who had obferved his proper deportment in the House of Commons, could think of charging him with perfonal incivility to any man or fet of men whatever.

He then faid, that nothing had ever afforded him more fatisfaction, than to hear that morning, that his majefty had given it in charge to the lord lieutenant to recommend to parliament a reconfideration of the Roman Catholic queftion. Never was any measure, in his opinion more fraught with benignity and true political wifdom, and, he would venture to add, that if followed up by parliament as it ought, it would tend more than any thing elfe to heal all divifions, and diffufe general peace throughout the country; it would, in fact,

be the vestibule to the Temple of Union among all true Irishmen. An hon. gentleman (Mr. Wesley) who had feconded the addrefs, had very properly faid, that they fhould act in this bufinefs as judicious temperate ftatefmen, and not as violent partizans. As for himself he did not know of any gentlemen who ftood forth as partizans for the Catholics, though they had, and juftly, many warm friends and advocates. If, however, there were fuch, he fhould only fay, Let the legislature take the Roman Catholics to themselves, and fuffer no man to go before them in the affections of the Roman Catholics. If the latter leaned to this or that man, or any particular fet of men whatever, they did no more than men who feel themfelves oppreffed. would always do, that is, look with gratitude to thofe who fympathifed with them, and bid them to hope for relief. Could any minifter or parliament annihilate fuch propenfities? No. But they might turn the current of thofe feelings into fuch channels as might be beneficial to their country. Was it agreeable to any rational policy, to the natural order of things, to fee the Roman Catholics, that is, the major part of the people of Ireland, at one time leaning on the crown for fupport, then looking for protection from fome enlightened Proteftants; then following fome perfons of rank of their own perfuafion, then fixing their eyes on diffenters, then on both houfes of parliament, and after all, turning their backs on the miniftry of their own country, and flying to the foot of the throne for relief. Was this feemly? Was it to be endured much longer? And what was the cause of it but this that the Roman Catholic queftion was not fufficiently understood in the country, or that it had not been taken up


« PreviousContinue »