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4. Your Petitioners beg leave most humbly to observe, that, although they might well and justly insist upon the firm and unabated loyalty of his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects to their most gracious Sovereign, their profound respect for the Legislature, and their dụtiful submission to the laws, yet they most especially rest their humble claims and expectations of relief upon the clear and manifest conduciveness of the measure which they solicit, to the general and permanent tranquillity, strength, and happiness of the British empire. And your Petitioners, entertaining no doubt of its final accomplishment, from its evident justice and utility, do most solemnly assure this Honourable House, that their earnest solicitude for it, at this peculiar crisis, arises principally from their anxions desire to extinguish all motives to disunion, and all means of exciting discontent.
“For your Petitioners humbly state it as their decided opinion, that the enemies of the British empire, who meditate the subjugation of Ireland, have no hope of success, save in the disupion of its inhabitants; and therefore it is, that your Petitioners are deeply anxious, at this moment, that a measure should be accomplished, which will : annihilate the principle of religious animosity, and animate all descriptions of his Majesty's subjects in an enthusiastic defence of the best Constitution that has ever yet been established.
". Your Petitioners, therefore, most humbly presume to express their earnest, but respectful hope, that this Honourable House will, in ils wisdom and liberality, deem the several statutes, now in force against them, no longer necessary to be retained, and that his Majesty's loyal and dutiful Subjects professing the Roman Catholic Religion, may be effectually relieved from the operation of those statutes, and that they so may be restored to the full enjoyment of the benefits of the British Constitution, equally
and in common with their fellow-subjects throughout the British Empire. « And your
Petitioners will ever pray, &c.
EDWARD BELLEW, Bart. TRIMLESTOWN, FRANCIS GOOLD, Bart. with a vast number of other respectable names.
Lord GRENVILLE said, that it was not his intention to offer any, observations to their Lordships upon the Petition which had been just read. He had apprised them before that he would give timely notice when he should bring forward the subject for discussion; at present he would confine himself to moving, that it may lay upon the table.
Lord AUCKLANĎ thought it necessary to trouble their Lordships with a few words. He had no means of knowing the tenor of the Petition which had been presented on the part of the Irish Catholics, until he heard it read in that House: but it seemed to him to put forward a claim for the full participation of all the privileges of the Constitution. - Whether the period for preferring this Petition was well chosen or not, it was not then necessary to discuss ; - but he hoped that now that it had been preferred, it would be discussed fully and radically, and with the least possible delay. It was essential to come to as speedy a determination as possible, upon a point which appeared to him pregnant with this inconsistency, that if it were carried, we should have a Pro. testant King and a Protestant Establishment, with Catholic Legislators. There was nothing in the signs of the times to induce them to be forward in beating down the barriers and fortifications of the Constitution in Church and State; he would say Church and State, for he could not sever those two ideas. He repeated his wish for a full; a dispassionate, and,
above all, a speedy discussion of the measure, if any thing more was meant than that the Petition should lay on the table.
Lord GRENVILLE would not follow the example of the Noble Baron in making any observations upon the Petition which he had presented. When the day should arrive for discussing it, of which their Lordships should be duly apprized, he would endeavour to enter upon the subject in that full and dispassionate manner which the Noble Baron so earnestly recommended.
Lord HAWKESBURY had ever considered the right of petitioning as one of the most valuable privileges of the people. It was the duty of that House to receive all petitions, the prayer of which was within their jurisdiction, and in the terms of preferring which there was nothing improper or indeco
As there was nothing in the Petition which it was not in their Lordships' power to grant, and as the terms in which it was conveyed appeared to him to be respectful, he would not oppose the motion that it should lay upon their Lordships' table; but if it was intended at a future day to found any proceeding on it, he for one would think it to be his duty, for the reasons he would then state, to resist it.
Lord GRENVILLE declared, in answer to the hypothetical observation of the Noble Secretary of State, that it certainly was his intention to bring forward, at a convenient period, a motion on the subject of the Petition he had presented.
The question was then put, that the Petition do lay on the table, and assented to.
The Duke of NORFOLK thought it would be proper that a Petition, on so momentous a subject, of such length, and containing so many important assertions, should be printed for the use of their Lordships, if the standing order of the House did not prohibit it. He would therefore move that it be printed.
The LORD CHANCELLOR was not aware that there was any standing order against printing a Petition, although it was not the usage of the House. The importance of the subject would no doubt induce their Lordships to come down and read it at the House; and therefore he did not think it necessary to depart from the established practice. The motion for printing was negatived.
FRIDAY, May 10. Lord GRENVILLE moved the order of the day for taking into consideration the Petition of the Catholics, which being read,
Lord GRENVILLE rose, and addressed the House to the following effect :
I rise, my Lords, with great satisfaction, to address your Lordships, after the very moderate and respectful Petition which has been just read. I ang happy to recollect that when I gave notice of this discussion on a former day, an opinion was expressed by Noble Lords, that this great subject ought to meet with a fair, full, and impartial discussion. The persons who have signed this Petition, have done every thing in their power to entitle them to such a discussion in this House. They address a body whom no local prejudices can be supposed to affect in the consideration of their claims, and with whom party violence cannot be supposed to have any weight in deliberating on so important a subject. I will say for myself, that I am wholly incapable of the folly or wickedness of introducing, or of supporting in this House, for party purposes, any measure that is so materially and essentially connected with the prosperity, peace, and unity of the Empire. I might appeal to all your Lordships, whether, if this were a question likely to conduce to views of such a nature, and if the individual who addresses you had such an object, his conduct would not have been precisely the reverse of that which he has, in the course of this business, found it proper to adopt. I am well aware, that in such a question, I must make up my mind to encounter much personal opposition, C 2
and many aspersions: no common degree of clamour and misrepresentation, with many ill-founded suspicions respecting my own sentiments in general. All this I must expect to meet; and in return for what must be felt on this head, I must console myself with the gratification of having endeavoured to discharge a great public duty. Whatever may happen, I shall not have to reproach myself with the evils that might result from the suppression of this Petition, the mischiefs arising from which must be infinitely greater than any that can arise, had no opportunity been thus publicly given to examine and discuss the merits of the Petition now before your Lordships. I am confident, my Lords, that the subject will be fairly and justly considered in this House; and that if not now, yet that the day is not very far distant when its prayer will be granted. What would have been the case had it been in the power of the Roman Catholics in IreJand to say, "There is not one person whom we can find to present our prayer to the attention of the United Parliament; the Legislature has shut its doors against us? What must have been the impression made upon them, but feelings of absolute despair? How contrary, my Lords, to all the views we were led to expect from the event of the Union, which held out the prospect of an impartial and unbiassed Parliament, freed from all peculiar prejudices, and ready and desirous to consider the wishes of a numerous, considerable, and respectable class of our fellow-subjects! Whether the Petition be complied with or not, surely it demands our most particular and impartial consideration.
" This being the case, my Lords, how shall I begin the discussion of this subject, and lay before you the grounds on which I humbly think the claims of the Catholics of Ireland are worthy to be granted? I shall begin by stating, as the foundation of the policy of this measure, though it is a fact that seems scarcely ever to enter into the consideration of those