« EelmineJätka »
part of what is intended to be said in the address will apply, in great measure, as much to the situation of the Irish and Scottish, as to the situation of the English roman-catholics: but as the penal codes of Ireland, Scotland, and England, in respect to romancatholics, are very different, it has been thought advisable to confine the present address to the case of the English roman-catholics only.
It is generally represented in the publications of which we complain, that the English roman-catholics labour under no real grievances; and that, if all the remaining penal laws against them were repealed, the number of those, who would be really benefited by the repeal, would be too insignificant to make their relief an object of legislative concern.
But this representation is altogether erroneousthe English catholics labour under many severe penalties and disabilities: their whole body is affected by them, and would be essentially benefited by their removal.
1st. By the 13th Charles 2d, commonly called the Corporation Act, their whole body is excluded from offices in cities and corporations.
2d. By the 25th Charles 2d, commonly called the Test Act, their whole body is excluded from civil and military offices.
How injurious these acts are, both to the public and to the individuals on whom they operate, appeared in
1795; in which year, during the then great national alarm of invasion, lord Petre, the grandfather of the present lord, having, with the express leave and encouragement of government, raised, equipped, and trained, at his own expense, a corps of 250 men for his majesty's service, requested that his son might be appointed to the command of them. His son's religion was objected, his appointment was refused, and another person was appointed to the command of the corps. You cannot but feel how such a conduct tended to discourage the catholics from exertions of zeal and loyalty. But the noble family had too much real love of their country to resile from her service, even under these circumstances. His lordship delivered over the corps, completely equipped and completely trained, into the hands of government, and his son served in the ranks. Surely you cannot think that laws, which thus tend to alienate the hearts, and paralyze the exertions of those who, in the hour of danger, thus wished to serve their country, are either just or wise.
3d. By the 7th and 8th of William 3d, ch. 27, roman-catholics are liable to be prevented from voting at elections.
4th. By the 30th Car. 2d. s. 2. c. 1, romaneatholic peers are prevented from filling their hereditary seats in parliament.
5th. By the same statute, roman-catholics are prevented from sitting in the house of commons. 6th. By several statutes, roman-catholics are dis
abled from presenting to advowsons, a legal incident of property, which the law allows even to the Jew.
7th. Though a considerable proportion of his majesty's fleets and armies is roman-catholic, not only no provision is made for the religious comforts and duties of roman-catholic soldiers and sailors, but, by the articles of war, they are liable to the very heaviest pains and penalties for refusing to join in those acts of outward conformity to the religious rites of the established church, which a roman-catholic considers to amount to a dereliction of his faith. By the articles of war, sect. 1, a soldier absenting himself from divine service and sermon, is liable, for the first offence, to forfeit 12 d. and for the second, and every other offence, to forfeit 12 d. and to be put in irons. By the same articles, sect. 2, art. 5, “ If " he shall disobey any lawful commands of his superior" (and, of course, if he shall disobey any lawful commands of his superior officer to attend divine service and sermon)" he shall suffer death, or such "other punishment as by a general court-martial "shall be awarded."
In the last parliament, it was shewn, that a meritorious private, for refusing, (which he did in the most respectful manner) to attend divine service and sermon according to the rites of the established church, was confined nine days in a dungeon on bread and water.
The roman-catholics acknowledge with gratitude, the virtual suspension of these laws, in consequence
of the orders recently issued by his royal highness the present commander in chief, and the facilities which they afford for enabling the roman-catholic soldiers to attend their own religious worship; but they beg leave to observe, that these humane regulations still want the firm sanction of law, and therefore to a certain extent, are still precarious: and are not always attended to.
8th. In common with the rest of his majesty's subjects, the roman-catholics contribute to the religious establishment of the country; they have also to support their own religious functionaries; and thus have a double religious establishment to defray. Of this, however, they do not complain; but they think it a serious grievance that their own religious endowments are not legalized like those of the protestant dissenters.
In hospitals, workhouses, and other public institutions, the attendance of the ministers of their own communion is sometimes denied to the poor of the roman-catholic religion, and the children of the roman-catholic poor are sometimes forced into protestant schools under the eyes of their parents.
SUCH, fellow subjects, is the particular operation of the principal laws still remaining in force against your English catholic brethren.-The general effect of them is, to depress every member of the body below his legitimate level in society.
Even in the very lowest order of the community, some situations conferring comfort, emolument, or distinction, are open to the individuals of that class, and in proportion as the several classes of society rise into importance, these situations are multiplied. From all of them the law excludes the English catholic. This effectually places him below his protestant brethren of the same class, and makes the whole body in the estimation of the community a depressed and insulated cast.
This the roman-catholics severely feel; but it is not by its substantial effects alone that they feel their depression. Some avenues of wealth are still open to them-none to honours or distinctions. Thus, thousands of those possibilities, the prospect and hope of which constitute a large proportion of the general stock of human happiness, are peremptorily denied to the roman-catholics. No hope of provision, of preferment, of honours, or dignity, cheers their souls or excites their exertions. A roman-catholic scarce steps into life when he is made to feel that nothing which confers them is open to him; and however successful his career may have been, it seldom happens that his success has not been, on more than one occasion, either lessened or retarded by the circumstance of his having been a roman-catholic.
Here then our protestant countrymen are called upon to place themselves in our situation; and to reflect, what their own feelings would be, if, from