Page images


“tion of the Secretary at War,' is-subversive of 1807

" the fundamental principles of the glorious con5" stitution of the country, as established in 1688;

" dangerous to the Protestant interest, the peace, * order and security of the Britisli empire; and

" that it is the duty of this court to petition both ..^ Houses of Parliament, not to-sanction so 'alarna

"ing a measure, the oaths of supremacy being an "integral part of the Bill of Rights." Mr. Sa: muel Dickson seconded the motion, and Mr. Bell, after having refuted the arguments advanced by Mr. Deputy Birch, concluded by moving the previous question, which was carried by a majority of seventeen.

On the 5th of March, Lord Howick moved for Lord Howard leave to bring in the bill* of whicla lie had given Catho

au s eit ficers bily,

moves the


* As this bill was the pretendeel or real cause of overturning one of the most powerful administrations ever formed in thes country, and it was brought in not only for the laudable and ne." cessary purpose of enabling the state to avail itsell of above five millions of his Majesty's Catholic sábjects, but also avowedly in

the doubtful hope of keeping the vital question of their emanci1 palion al rest, a copy of it'is here given for the satisfaction of w all parties interested in the subject matter. It was 'a crude and

ill-digested bill, suddenly adopted by government as a half mea. sure, to supply the more glaring defeces of a less than half meas: sure, the mission or alteration of a clause in the 'mutiny act.' The measure, though embracing an object of transcendant-innporlanice to the empire, was purely the act of the ministers: they' did aot consult the Catholic body upon it. Nor did they even submit it to the observations of his Royal Highness the Prince of: Wales, though so deeply affected by the results, and su personas ally interested in the original, formation, as well as the credit and stability of teatadministi ation. in o is É siin?


1907. notice to the House, ; : He shonkt brave hoped, that

such a position, particularly at such a time, would

" A bill, for enabling his Majesty to avail himself of the ser, vices of all his liege subjects in his naval and military forces, in the manner therein mentioned.

" Whereas it is expedient, thras his Majesty should be enabled

avail himself, of the services of all his liege subjects, in his naral and military forces, for the maintenance of the sights of his Crown, and the interests, honor and independence of the British Empire: Be ii therefore enacted by the King's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and l'emparal, and Connons, in tiris present Parliament assembled, and by the aarbority of the same. That it shall and may be lawful for his Majesty to grant or confer, or by his Royal sign manual to empower the proper officer or officers to grant or confer any military commission, warrant, or appointment whatever, either in his Majesty's sea or naval forces, or in any of his Majesty's land or military forces whatsoever, to or upon any of his Majesty's liege subjects, without exception ; and that every such commission, warrant or appointment, so granted or conferred, shall and may be lawfully exercised by such of his Blajesty's subjects, in all places within or without his Majesty's dominions, any law, statute, or usage, to the contrary notwithstanding. Provided, that every such person shall, within , months after his accepting the said çoramission, warrant or appointment, taite, make, and subscribe the declaration and oath herein after, mentioned, which declaration and oath shall be ingrossed on the back or at the foot of the commission or appointment se granted or conferred, aod shall be then attested by the signature of the magistrate or officer, in whose presence the same shall have been subscribed, and by whiom the said oath shall have been administered. And be it furtber enacted, that such oath and declaration may be admidis tered and attested by any court of record, or judge of "such court, or by any justice of peace, or other magistrate having power to administer oatlas, in any parts of his Majesty's dominions. And that, if the party taking sad subscribing the same;


of Bedford. have met with no opposition. Understanding, 1807. ; however, that there were honourable members in

shall, at the time of his so taking and subscribing the same, not be within his Majesty's dominions, the same may then be admi:

nistered and attested by any general officer or commanding offis cer of lais Majesty's land forces, or by any adıniral or commanda

ing officer of his Majesty's naval force. Provided always, that in this last case, the person bolding such commission, warrant, or appointmeat, shall, within ,e's months after his return ta

any part of his Majesty's dominions, again take, make and sub : - scribe the same oath and declaration, in presence of some court

of record or magistrate as aforesaid. And be it further enacted,

that no person having so taken, made, and subscribed such daika * and declaration, respectively as aforesaid, shall be liable to any Śpains, penalties, or disabilities whatsoever, for having'esercised

or acted in or under any such commission, warrant, or appoints ment, any, law, statute, or usage, to the contrary notwithstanding. And although such person shall not have complied with

any of the directions of any former statute respecting the quali: fcations of persons holding or' exercising offices within this

realo. And be it further enacted, that the said oath and diectat
ration, to be so taken, made and subscribed, shall be in the words
following, viz." ), A, B. being by this commission appointed
"to be there set forth the appointment) do hereby solemnly
" promise and swear, in the presence of Almighty Goul, that I

will be fairbfal, and bear true allegiance to his Majesty, King

George the Third, and that I will do my ulmost to maintain " and defend him against all treasons and traiterous conspiracies,

and against all attempts whatever, that shall be made against
bis person, crown, or dignity; and that I will, to the utmost

of ny ponyer, resist all such treasons, conspiracies or at interupts, and will also çlisclose and make known the same, as

soon as they shall come to my knowledge ; and I do also pron " mise and swear, in the presence of Almighty God, that I "''will, to the utmost of my power, maintain and support the

succession to the Crowo of the United Kingdom of Great Bri. "tain and Ireland, as the same now stands limited by law; and


that House, who meant to contest it, lie should offer to to the house an explanation of the grounds

• that I will also, to the utmost of my power, maintain and sup. “port the established constitution and government of the said “ United Kingdom, against all attempts whatever that shall be " made against the same." And whereas it is expedient, that his Majesty's subjects, however employed in any of his Majes. ty's sea or naval forces, or any of his Majesty's land or military forces whatsoever, should be allowed the free exercise of such religious opinions, as they may respectively profess ; Be it enacted, that no person enployed in his Majesty's sea or naral forces, or land or military forces, and having previously signi. fied in writing, signed by himself, to his commanding officer, his dissent from the doctrine or worship of the Church of Eng. land, as by law established, shall, under any pretence, or by any means, be prevented from attending, or be subject or liable 10 any pains, penalties or disabilities for attending such divine worship or religious service as may be consistent with, and according to this religious persuasion or opinions, at proper or seasonable times, and such as shall be consistent with the due and full discharge of his naval or military duties; nor shall any such person be compelled or compellable te atiend the worslip or ser: vice of the said established Church; and that any commissioned officer, acting in violation of, or contrary to this provision, shall, apon conviction thereof, before a general court martial, be liable to be suspended or dismissed from his Majesty's service, or to such other punishment, not extending to life or limb, as the

said court shall award; and that any warrant or non commis*sioned officer so oflending shall be liable to such punishment,

not extending to life or limb, as shall be anarved by a general or regimental conrt martial. And be it further enacted, that this att shall be and continue in force from her in the year of our Lord: * ;until the ' in the year of our Lord ". :?'..

w i .. .. . It is obvious, that this bill was 'not intended to remedy the great national evil, which consisted in the statute disabilities, pains and penalties falling op abore fire millions of his Majes

which the bill was founded, without going into the question of the general expediency of penal laws,


ty's Catholic subjects, who might enlist, or may have enlisted as private soldiers or common seamen in his Majesty's service. Hence it was usually called Lord Howick's Catholic officer's bill. Yet the act of i Geo. I. c. 13. had re-enacted all the operative penal parts of the 25. Car. II. (the Test Act) and extended them to

private soldiers and common sailors for refusing or neglecting for 1. three months after having enlisted, to take the gaths of suprema

ey, abjuration and allegiance. That act of Geo. I. affects Catholics only, for it says nothing of the sacramental test, which mosi Protestant dissenters conscientiously refuse ; although none of them object to the negative oath of supremacy (on which is founded the operative exclusion to Catholics, who submit to a supreme bishop) as they admit of no head of the Church on earth. It cannot be dissembled, that a very large part of the Irish Catho

lics, disrelished, contemned and ridiculed this officers bill. They * considered it as an insult on the body. They had not so refined ni upon political economy, as to be sensible, that a country could

be over. peopled. With Adam Smith, thsy still substantially thought and measured a nation's happiness by the density of its population. They considered Lord Howick’s boasted policy of strengthening the Protestant ascendancy, by thinning the Catho

lic population, at least hot friendly to the internal prosperity of is the country. To kill off its male youth, in foreign warfare, was

the most insidious mode of depopulating it by emigration. This they connected with the checks given to Irish population by the provocation and suppression of the rebellion of 1798. And they never separated it from the jealousy of government at the rapid growth of the physical force of the country. They considered Lord Howick, whose bill they indignantly despised, as connect. ed domestically as well as politically with Mr. Ponsonby, who, with other distinguished patriots, was once zealous for reform and emancipation, though he had latterly declared, that it would militate against the interests of the empire to concede either. They had brought themselves to this (not very unna. VOL. II. .

2 H

« PreviousContinue »