« PreviousContinue »
“ be moved this session, yet it was left to the “ catholics to consider, whether they should run " the risk of the consequences attending its lying over to next year :
“ Mr. Pitt repeated several times, he hoped the “ roman-catholics would be assured, the present
adjournment of their business to next session “ did not arise merely from motives of delay, but “ that government seriously intended to consider « their situation, and wished to grant them that relief, which, in prudence, they could adopt.”
Lord Petre, sir Henry Charles Englefield, and Mr. Fermor, having communicated to the committee this account of their interview with Mr. Pitt, the committee addressed a letter to him, in which they thanked him “for the obliging and candid
manner in which he had received the deputa“tion from them, and assured him that they would “ lose no time in procuring the information he “ wished to have respecting the opinion of catholics
on the pope's dispensing power: and in the mean “ time sent to him the publication intituled 'Ro
MAN-CATHOLIC PRINCIPLES IN REFERENCE “ to GOD AND THE King.'”—A copy of it is inserted in the Appendix to the third volume of these Memoirs *. -To give this document the greater authenticity, the honourable James Talbot, then vicar-apostolic of the London district of the English roman-catholics, was pleased, at the request of the members of the committee present at the meeting, to sign the first page of it with his name.
* Appendix to Vol. iii. Note I,
In pursuance of Mr. Pitt's suggestions, three questions were sent to the universities of the Sorbonne, Louvaine, Douay, Alcala, and Salamanca. They were expressed in the following terms, and received the following answers :
“ 1. Has the popeor cardinals, or any body of men,
or any individual of the church of Rome, any civil “ authority, power, jurisdiction, or pre-eminence “ whatsoever, within the realm of England ?
“2. Can the pope or cardinals, orany body of men, " or any individual of the church of Rome, absolve “ or dispense with his majesty's subjects from their “ oath of allegiance, upon any pretext whatsoever?
3. Is there any principle, in the tenets of the ” catholic faith, by which catholics are justified in “ not keeping faith with heretics, or other persons “ differing from them in religious opinions, in
any transaction either of a public or a private "nature ?"
The universities answered unanimously: "“ 1. That the pope or cardinals, or any body of “ men, or any individual of the church of Rome, “ has not nor have any civil authority, power, juris“ diction, or pre-eminence whatsoever, within the “ realm of England.
“ 2. That the pope or cardinals, or any body of men, or any individual of the church of Rome, “can not absolve or dispense with his majesty's
subjects from their oath of allegiance, upon any “ pretext whatsoever.
“ 3. That there is no principle in the tenets of " the catholic faith, by which catholics are justified
s in' not keeping faith with heretics, or other per“ sons differing from them in religious opinions, “ in any transactions either of a public or a private “ nature.”
The opinions of the universities of the Sorbonne, Louvaine, and Douay, 'were first received; and were transmitted to Mr. Pitt with the following letter : :
66 Sir.... . ; . some on, ... The committee of the English catholies have for the honour to lay before you the opinions of the 5 universities of Sorbonne, Louvaine, and Douay, " which have been transmitted to us in consequence “of your desire. ... vier sinna .“ i “ You will, we hope, see from these opinions, * that the sentiments of the most famous foreign “bodies, perfectly coincide with those which we “ had the honour of stating to you last year, as “ our firm and sincere tenets.
“ At the same time we beg leave to call to “ your remembrance, that our opinions were fully
stated to you previously to the obtaining these " of the foreign universities; and that they were & consulted, not as the rule by which we form our “ ideas of the duties of good subjects, but as a " collateral proof to you, that our sentiments are 5 consonant to those of the most enlightened and « famous bodies of catholic divines on the con“ tinent upon these subjects. :)
“We have the honour to be, &c." ; As soon as the other opinions were received, the committee transmitted them also to Mr. Pitt.
Copies of the questions proposed to the univer, sities, and of their answers, and translations of them, are inserted in the Appendix to the first volume of these Memoirs *.
"At a meeting of the catholic committee at Mr. Butler's chambers, in Lincoln's-Inn, on the 19th of April 1788, at which lord Stourton, lord Petre, lord Clifford, sir Henry Englefield, sir William Jerningham, Mr. Throckmorton, Mr. Towneley, and Mr. Hornyold, were present, it was resolved,
“ That Mr. Butler should prepare the draft of "a bill for the repeal of the laws against the “ English catholics." . i .
The draft of such a bill was accordingly prepared by him. .. . . With the approbation of the committee, it was afterwards laid before Mr. Hargrave, and professionally approved by him.”
I .. It consisted of several distinct clauses, *1-repeal, ing all the laws which placed the English catholics in a worse situation than the protestant dissenters; so that, if it had passed in this form, the English catholics would, in respect to all civil rights, have been on a complete level with the protestant dissenters. . . ,
. It contained no oath or declaration of any kind, :
* Appendix to Vol. i. Note II.
except that, in some instances, the benefits which it conferred, were extended to those only who had taken, or who should take, the oath contained in the act passed in 1778, for the relief of the catholics.
At the time, to which our subject has now led us, a general attempt was making to procure a modification of the statutes of uniformity.
They operate, but in a very different degree, on three distinct denominations of christians,-romancatholics,-protestant dissenters,—and members of the established church.
All were then applying to the legislature for relief. At the head of the first was the catholic committee ;-at the head of the second, Mr. Beaufoy; -at the head of the third, lord Stanhope.
The dissenters had recently published a pamphlet, intituled, “ The Right of Protestant Dissenters to “ complete Toleration,”—a standard work among them. They expressed in it, the warmest wishes for the success of the roman-catholics, and called on them to publish their creed.
One express object of lord Stanhope's bill was to give relief to the non-conformists of the established church; but the medium, through which he proposed to effect this, was,—by liberating persons of every description from the penalties of non-conformity. The effect of this bill would, therefore,