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- 1805. He would consider the question, 19, as it re.
garded the rights of the subject, 24, as it affected the rights of the Crown. Those, who composed the society of a State, had a general right to be governed by equal laws, and not to be unequally or at all restricted in any thing, which was not necessary for the safety of the people. Salus populi, suprema ler est. Amongst the friends to the Catholic claims, some were for granting them emancipation as a matter of faver from policy. He would give it as a right; because it is the general right of the people, and because there was no exception, which ought to operate against the Catholics of Ireland. Government had a right to impose restrictions, but if there were no necessity for them, then came the right of the people to en joy the full benefit of the law. No duration of time could add justice to an unjust law. A severe law might have been justly made, and would remain just, whilst the necessary cause for it continued : but from the moment that cause ceased, the law became unjust. Although he generally deprecated all laws attempting to restrain conscience, yet the laws against the Catholics were only pretended to have been justified at the times they were passed, as political, not religious. Here Mr. Fox illustrated his positions by the most judicious and impartial references to the conduct of our Government towards Ireland from the days of Elizabeth, down to the American war; when the publio eye was opened to the impolicy of treating the Irish Catholics with such unaccountable severity. 1805.
i He always conceived, that to bar a man of his
rights on account of his religious opinion was ty7 ranny: nor could it even be justified by the Salus
populi, which was no ground for preventing a man tid from enjoying his religious opinion. According n to Mr. Burke, the restrictions in Ireland, the fero
cious manners of those, who were Protestants, and
duced a degree of desperation in that unhappy - people, which made it doubtful, how far they
might be trusted. The effect of the system had Die been that of changing by degrees the whole pro
perty of Ireland ; and that country had been brought into a state highly to be lamented. It certainly was a circumstance likely to produce the general disaffection of the people, that the whole of the property was in the hands of the Protestanta ascendancy, whilst the mass of the population was
Catholic. The relaxation very properly began by e enabling the Catholics to acquire property : and * the power connected with tht free trade and con
stitution, which was given to the Irish in 1782, had had the happy effect, by producing an encrease of Catholic property beyond all proportion greater, than that enjoyed by the Protestants, Since which, the oppressive distinctions between Catholics and Protestants have been greatly softened and corrected. From the time of the acquibition of property by the Catholics, he never had conceived, on what principle their demands were not copceded to them ; and least of all, why parti
Mr. Fox continued.
1805. cular 'restrictions were kept op, when others were
The remaining restrictions prevented Catholics from enjoying certain offices civil and military, and from sitting in either House of Parliament. After having detailed the history of the passing of the Test Act, tre arrived at this conclusion. That the Test Act was passed, because our ancestors doubted whether Charles II. were a Protestant or not, and because they suspected him of a design to overturn the constitution of his country, as was the case of James II. But was that a reason, why a Protestant King, not liable to susp cion, was to be deprived of the assistance of his Catholic subjects? They had given up the restraint to the Irish Catholics, with regard to the subordinate offices in the army, navy, and law, but they retained it as to the higher ; thus completely extinguishing that aspiring emulation, which alone calls talent into full exertion. No man thought of expelling the Catholics from Parliament, till the nation was in a paroxism of rage and terror, upon the discovery of the Popish plot in 1698, (suppose it to be true or false) when it was believed, that the Catholics were going to Wassacre the Protestants, when it was expected they were to have the assistance of the King of Spain, and when the ridiculous story of the silver bullets was set on foot. He shen shewed, that the Catholics were not excluded from Parliament by reason of their dissenting from the doctrines of the established Church, 'for Protestant Dissenters
were aclmissible to Parliament, and differed' from those, doctrines, perhsps more widely than the Catholics. Virtual representation in Parliament was onquestionably a vital principle of the constitution; and whilst Catholies were excluded in Ireland, they could not have a real virtual representation in the sense the word representation ought to be upeterstood, implying a syimpáthy and fellow feeling between the representative and the person's represented. Mr. Fox ridiculed the idea, that Can binet Ministers, wlie might happen to differ upon theological questions, would consume the hours of Council in polemical discussions of their religious tenets. He instanced the Duke de Sully, Marshal Turenne, Neckar, and Prince Ferdinand of Wirtemberg, as persons ditfering in religion from the Sovereigns, who. so advantageously employed them in their seryice.. The Pretender being gonė, and all radical difficulties remoyed as to him, Mr. Foś dwelt soine tiine upon the objections raised against the question concerning the power of the Pope, which he treated as utterly absurd. But iti was said, Bonaparte had obtained an influence over the Pope, the Pope governed the Irish Priests, and thus Bonaparte would be able to attach to him the Catbolics of Ireland. - Mr. Fox had no doubt, but that Bonaparte would be very willing to make use of such an engine to serve his purposes in Irelaud.
But how could he use his influence there? If they - would repeal those restrictive laws, there would be
nothing to fear from that quarter : but if on the contrary they persevered in their restrictions, the
1805. way, in which his influence would become formi.
dable, would be this. The Irish Catholics would be told, “ An equal participation of rights was holden out to you: but instead of granting your just claims, instead of affording you the relief and protection you were promised, you are still stig. matized as outcasts; you have now therefore only to look to a Catholic Emperor for assistance, and through him you may expect the emancipation, which has been denied you.” Of any internal influence of the Pope or Bonaparte over the elections or votes of Members of Parliament no reasonable
apprehension could be raised, i Mr. Fox · Mr. Fox then drew a very strong line of demar
on cation between the spiritual and temporal power.
The Catholics swore, that by their doctrine of spiditual supremacy, they allowed no temporal or civil power to the Pope. The Presbyterians no inote admitted the King to be head of the Church, than the Catholics. They excluded the Catholics from office and Parliament by oaths, and in the same breath charged them with neither heeding or observing them. They professed to diffide in the loyalty of the lower orders in Ireland, and they entrusted them with arms, and admitted them into the army and navy, and to the rank, to which they would naturally aspire; they confided in the loyalty of the higher orders; they knew, that their fortunes gave them an interest in the country, and their knowledge and information taught them to prefer the Government of it to that of any other; and yet they shut them out of the sie