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the late Lord Lieutenant, had, previously to his government, given the most striking and unequivocal proofs of their attachment to Great Britain, of their power of subduing all their own private feelings; and of sacrificing to his Majesty's service no small part even of their known animosities upon public differences, by supporting, out of office and out of confidence with the then rulers, the cause of British Government in a very marked and distinguislied manner.
"12. Because it appeared in the debate, that one of the matters of discussion between his Majesty's confidential servants in England and the said Lord Lieutenant, had arisen on.occasion of a Bill intended to be introduced into the Parliament of Ireland by Mr. Grattan, "For the further relief of his Majejlfs Catholic fnbjetls in that kingdom" Of subjects to be agitated in the Parliament of that kingdom, this House can take no cognizance; but they may take cognizance of the conduct of a British Peer, Member of this House, and representing his Majesty, for his conduct in his Majesty's service, in any part of his dominions. If the late Lord Lieutenant gave countenance to any measure repugnant to that service, and in defiance to that authority, and positive instructions given by his Majesty's ministers here, it forms a matter of constitutional discussion in this House.—Upon that point Earl Fitzwilliam has alleged, that he is ready to put himself upon the judgment of this House; for he contends, that the motion for leave to bring in such a Bill (which he admits to have been made at his express desire) did not afford cause of alarm or apprehension in any manner whatever. He contends, that the principle of such a Bill was highly conformable to other former proceedings known to be countenanced by his Majesty's ministers; nor does it appear by any thing alleged in the debate, that the countenance understood to be given by the late Lord Lieutenant for a further relief, could be a just ground for his removal; when a recommendation from the Throne itself, by his predecessor the Earl of Westmorland, in the year 1793, for advantages of infinitely greater extent, that is to fay, a general capacity for all offices and franchises (about thirty offices, and seats in Parliament only excepted) has been made matter of merit.
"13. Because it appears for several years past to have been the policy of his Majesty's British Councils with regard to Ireland, and of the Parliament of that kingdom, to remove the several civil restraints which had been made in consequence of religious differences; for all offices had been opened to Protestant Dissenters, without any limitation whatever, by the repeal of, the test in that kingdom, in the year 1770, 19 and 20
Vol. III. C c of of his Majesty, chap, vi. From those Dissenters no test what* ever was exacted, in lieu of that from which they were exT. onerated. But for the Citholics, by an Act of the 13th and 14th of his present-Majesty, chap, xxxiv. a test oath was proposed, for ascertaining the allegiance and fidelity of Catholics, as such. About four years after, that is, in the year 1777-8, 17th and 1 8th of George III. chap. xlix. in consequence of this oath, a strong legislative declaration was made, in which the principle, which had been gradually followed up by subsequent Acts, is strongly and decidedly affirmed; for the preamble of that Act, after stating certain penalties and incapacities under which the Catholics did then labour, thus proceeds: "Whereas, from their uniform peaceable behaviour for a long series of years, it appears reasonable and expedient to relax the same; and it must tend, not only to the cultivation and improvement of this kingdom, but to the prosperity and strength of ALL his Ma~ jenrf^Sofnlflientt that his subjects of All denominations fliould enjoy the benefits of our free constitution^ anil should be bound io each other by niutual interest and mutual njfeBion." Soon after, that is, in the 2 t,st and 2id of his present Majesty, chap. xxiv. ft was again declared, that the>Catholics, on taking the test oath aforesaid, " ought to be considered as good and loyal subjects to his Majesty, his Crown, wd Government; and that the continuance of the laws formerly enacted, and then in force, against persons of the Popish religion, are therefore unnecessary, in respect to those who have taken or ffiall take the said oath, auu is injurious to the real welfare and prosperity of the kingdom os Ireland." Nothing can be more clearly laid down than the prjnciple upon which, the several acts of relief from the first year of relaxation, virtually beginning so early as the year 1773, twenty years before the passing the large Capacitating Act of the year 1793, was grounded, namely, the recognised allegiance, and reciprocal right to protection, held out upon, taking this and other test oaths. It was plain that the policy of the Legislature was, to affirm the principle as largely as possible, and to make the capacities follow (as they have practically followed) gradually, according as favourable occasions stiouid offer. These Acts have always been understood to have emanated originally from his Majesty's gracious, disposition, and to have proceeded to the government of Ireland, through the Britifli Cabinet. Is. these tests could not be deemed a security in the reserved cases, it is impossible to assign a reason why they were deemed 3 security in the hundreds of others, to which a capacity was opened bv the Act of 1793The incapacitating reserves in the Act of 1793, like those of the former Acts, proceeding (though more ilowly) upon the
tame same declared policy, evidently were not made upon their own declared principle. They were made in the regular progress of a system of enlargement, in order to compromise with the spirit os monopoly. But, it is asserted by Earl Fitzwiliiam, arid nothing without inquiry can effectually contradict the assertion, that, whilst in reality the restrictions gave satisfaction to hone, they caused discontent in many.—The Protestants regarded these exceptions with total indifference.—The Catholics looked on them as signs of suspicion and degradation: They considered them as marks (contrary to the declared policy of the Acts) contrived to be set upon them by their enemies, to distinguish them as bad subjects and bad citizens. The proceedings of their enemies leave in their minds no doubt, that these tokens of reprobation are kept as pretexts for affronts, contumelies, and injuries of all kinds; and for practically depriving them of most of the benefits of those capacities which the law seemed to hold out to them.
14. Because it is alleged, that a Bill for further relief was publicly known, as likely to be in agitation before the departure of the Lord Lieutenant from England; that he had no instruction whatever directly to oppose it, though an opinion was expressed, that it had better be delayed for a time of greater tranquillity; but the expediency of giving support to it was a matter left to his discretion, as, in the nature of things, it necessarily would be, on any subject, the principle of which was admitted, the fitness of the time being the only point of doubt, and which could only be decided by existing circumstances.
"15. Because it is offered in proof, that the late Lord Lieutenant was diligent in the search, and prompt in the communication to ministers of every information on the subject. That he soon found, that all hope of putting off the question was impracticable—that he had reason to think the present time, for carrying the principles of the Acts of 1792 and 1793 to their full object, to be, of all others, most favourable—that he found the relief to be ardently desired by the Catholics; to be asked for by very many Protestants, and to be cheerfully acquiesced in by almost all—that this circumstance removed the difficulties, on which the postponing the question cpuld alone be desired—that he found the delays had created much suspicion and uneasiness amongst the Catholic petitioners, who were numerous almost beyond all example—that he found a Bill on those petitions would infallibly and speedily be brought into Parliament, and that many Members were desirous to introduce it; and, if this were the cafe, the measure might come into hands with which neither* he nor the King's ministers
C c 2 had had any connexion, which would leave with Government only the disagreeable part of altering or of modifying, if any alteration or modification had been thought necessary by the British Government, depriving his Majesty thereby of the whole gTace and effect of what was done: That in this unpleasant situation he sent for Mr. Grattan, and desired him, as a person in his confidence, and who would act on the occasion according to what he and the ministers, in their prudence, might suggest. That Mr. Grattan did consent, and did, at his desire, move for leave to bring in a Bill for the further relief of the Roman Catholics. That the motion for leave was received with little discussion, and without any division. That no bill on the subjeEl -was in fail brought in—and that ministry were informed, that none would be brought in without their knowledge: Nor until of late, and after Lord Fitzwilliam's departure, was such a thing attempted. That the then Lord Lieutenant communicated largely all his ideas on the subject. That whilst the proposed Bill was not yet introduced into the House of Commons, and whilst he was obeying their instructions, with regard to informations and opinions, he was suddenly removed, with the strongest marks of displeasure and disgrace. That on this state of things, no sufficient reason appears to exist, in this measure, any more than in the business of arrangements, for the unusual and alarming step of disgracing a Lord Lieutenant in the middle of a session of Parliament, in which the business of his Majesty, and of the whole empire (as far as that kingdom could operate in it) was carried on with unusual unanimity and success, and with a very great concurrence without doors of all orders and descriptions of men. It is a step for which, on the debate, nothing was said to make it appear justifiable, and to render an inquiry concerning it unnecessary.
"And the said Earl Fitzwilliam, moreover protesting for himself, and on his own part, declares, that this House refusing such necessary investigation, he doth conceive and feel himself injured and oppressed, as a British subject, as a Peer of Great Britain, and as a person who has exercised an high and very responsible trust under his Majesty. That he is not content merely to prove his innocence—that he was, and is, ready to make it appear to the House, and to his country, that in that trust he has acted faithfully, zealously, affectionately, dutifully, and diligently towards his Sovereign—that he has acted with attention and practicability towards his colleagues in office—that he has acted with an enlightened regard to the
true true interests of the nation, which, under his Majesty's authority, he was appointed to govern. That he stands upon, the merit of his measures, and the prudence of his arrangements: That by them confidence was recovered to Government. That he stands, for the justice, and the policy of removing the few, feeble, miserable, inefficacious, but invidious restrictions, that remain on the Catholics of Ireland, as wholly useless for any good purpose, but powerful in causing discontent, both with regard to Government and to Parliament; as furnishing handles of oppression to the malevolent, and as supplying pretexts for disorders to the turbulent and seditious. That he should have shewn a degree of incapacity, wholly to unfit him for his arduous trust, if he had acted on an idea, that the politics of this time, or that the present or probable future interests of states, do at all depend upon questions, whether of doctrine or discipline, either as agitated between Catholics and Protestants, or as agitated by Protestants amongst their several subdivisions. The church and state have enemies very different, and infinitely more formidable, than any which have their origin in any religious parties. He has for some time been persuaded, but most clearly so since he went te Ireland, that by good management the dangerous principles and tempers of the times, which have another and more recent origin, may be kept from taking root either in the church of Ireland, there happily established; or in the Presbyterian church, in communion with that of Scotland; or in the church of the old natives of Ireland, communicating with that of Rome j or in any other religious sect whatever; but that through intemperate, vexatious, corrupt, or oppressive conduct, every one of these descriptions may be infected with this evil, in greater or lesser degree of extent and malignity, according to the degree of oppression or indiscretion, with which they are severally treated. He was, and is, convinced, that the best mode of resisting this reigning danger, either from within or from without, is not to be found in a plan for reviving, by art and influence, prejudices and heartburnings expired, or ready to expire, or of sowing the seeds of eternal diseorcHaiid division between the people. During his government he had nothing to complain of the dispositions of any religious description as such; and his principles of government led him to cultivate the union which ho plainly saw of itself commencing between them. It was his constant endeavour, by every means, to combine the minds of every sort of men, churchmen, Presoyterians, and Catholics, of every the least proportion of education, talent, influence, or property, in affection to their common Sovereign; to