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To solve this question, we must first find the answers of the three following. What are the evils that result from the existence of these disabilities? What are the evils that would result from their removal ? and, Which of these two sets of evils is the greatest and most imminent ?
As the disabilities in question are still legally existing, the opponents of the Catholic claims may insist upon holding by the possession, and are entitled to set the claimants upon making out a case of actual disadvantage or danger, before they can be called upon to alter an established system. The advocates of the Catholics, therefore, as the party who have provoked the discussion, are certainly bound to begin it, by answering the first of these three questions.
It would be easy to make a long and an eloquent answer ; but this has been done often enough already : and, in the present stage of the business, we believe there are very few readers to whom a very summary one will not only be more agreeable, but more satisfactory. On the part of the Catholic claimants, therefore, we answer briefly as follows.
In the first place, that the exclusion of nearly one fifth of our whole population from a great number of high and important situations, is evidently and directly an evil to the whole nation, inasmuch as it narrows, in that proportion, the choice which we should otherwise have for filling them to advantage ; and actually deprives us, for all noble and important services, of one fifth of the talent which would otherwise be at our disposal. This is a certain, and a present evil; the magnitude and effects of which it is not easy to calculate.
In the second place, this exclusion is an actual and certain evil, in so far as it renders one fifth part of our whole population discontented and uncomfortable. The process by which all such sweeping proscriptions extend as insult, much further than they actually reach as injury, begetting, on the one side, a general habit of insolence and contempt, and, on the other, a feeling of resentment and degradation, we have formerly * endeavoured to explain. We do not apprehend, however, that most of our readers will think any explanation necessary, or find any difficulty in believing, that every Catholic in Ireland, however humble or obscure, must feel his order dishonoured by these exclusions, and suffer considerably in his comforts from their subsistence.
If there be any thing that is substantially and directly evil in a system of government, it must be that which produces the discomfort and unhappiness of so large a proportion of its subjects :
* Vol. XI. p. 116.
but, in the present instance, the evil does not terminate in their unhappiness. Men who are unhappy in consequence of some act or arrangement of their government, are naturally inclined to be disaffected to that government, and it is the third great evil of the present system of exclusion, that the Catholic population of Ireland is much less firmly attached to the government than it otherwise might be, and that its discontents upon this score contribute very largely to promote that disposition to tumult and insurrection, by which the peace and the security of the whole state have been so often endangered. We are far from saying, that the degradation and discontents of the Catholics are the sole causes of the disorders to which Ireland has been so long liable; but there is no person of common sense who can doubt, that they have had a very great share in bringing them on, and in aggravating their symptoms.
In the present condition of the world, it may be stated as a fourth and separate evil, that the probability of the enemy being enabled to conquer, or incalculably to injure, this nation, is prodigiously increased by the discontented state of the Catholic population. In a country in other respects so misgoverned, and in many parts so uncivilized, as Ireland, numbers would, in all probability, be disposed to join the standard of an invader at any rate; but his only serviceable auxiliaries would be recruited by the wrongs and resentments of the Catholics. The priests, who could give information as to the state and resources of each district, and exert so vast an influence over its inhabitants, and the ambitious and enterprizing individuals of every description, who felt, in their talents and their daring, an inward vocation to glory, while they resented their exclusion from the lawful pursuit of it under their native government, would all be driven into the service of the invader, if they were driven there at all, by the pressure of Catholic disabilities. It is now equally needless to aggravate, and impossible to disguise, the tremendous peril in which Ireland will be placed, if Bonaparte should ultimately succeed in obtaining possession of the Southern Peninsula. Such is the course which vessels from that part of the world have to steer to the shores of Ireland, that the very winds which would best serve for their passage, would blow all our fleets from any station where they could be intercepted; and those winds are of such regular recurrence, that one of the highest naval authorities in this kingdom has been repeatedly heard to say, that during a particular period of the year, if he was carrying on a French trade from Lisbon to Bantry, he would be so little afraid of British cruizers, that he would not lay out one half per cent. in insuring against that hazard. It is not easy, then, to overrate the evils of that policy which tends to increase the hazards of such an invasion.
In the fifth place, the existence of the Catholic disabilities, and of the discontents which they necessarily occasion, must be considered as a great and most alarming evil to the whole nation, if it were only on account of the ready and most dangerous pretext they afford to those who are still more to be dreaded than even an invading enemy. That there is a party in that country who aim at the dismemberment, and consequently at the ruin of this empire, and who would not scruple to seek foreign aid to promote their nefarious attempts, is a fact which seems no longer to be seriously disputed. The neglect and the misgovernment of England have given rise to this party; and it is by exaggerating and dwelling on the effects of that misgovernment, that its leaders hope one day to make it triumphant. But though the oppressions of England afford a copious theme in past history, the injustice and insult of her Catholic code forms by far the most flagrant and intelligible of her actual malversations. This, accordingly, is the leading topic with all those who seek to produce a rupture between the two countries by inflammatory representations of English tyranny and oppression ; and the degradation and wrongs of the Catholics invariably form the chief ingredient in these provocatives to disaffection, which have been so plentifully administered to that irritable generation. When, therefore, it is recollected what have been the actual effects of such plausible representations, even those who think them the most exaggerated, and believe most firmly that Catholic emancipation would produce little substantial good to the bulk of that persuasion, must still admit, that it is a great evil that any pretext should be left for their propagation, or any plausibility lent, by our conduct, to the statements of their authors. The only effectual way, however, to prevent bigotted and disaffected persons from inflaming the ig. norant people of Ireland, by exaggerated accounts of the injustice of our laws against Catholics, is—to take away that injustice altogether to restore the Catholics to their whole civil rights as free subjects of the realm ; and thus, at once, to cure the discontents which spring naturally from their present degradation, and to prevent that artificial exasperation of them which may be produced by the turbulent and seditious.
In the sixth and last place, we consider it as a great cvil, resulting from the present condition of the Catholics of Ireland, that the odium and distrust which are necessarily attached to that condition, keeps the great body of them in a lower state of ignorance than any other Catholic community in Europe, and tends to perpetuate among them all that is humiliating or pernicious in their superstitions. In this way, the cause of true religion and of human nature itself is materially injured by the disabilities of the Irish Catholics,-the degree of persecution which is implied in those disabilities attaching them more strongly to their superstitions, on the one hand, and the general degradation of heir sect precluding them in a great degree, on the other, from thar Riberal education, and those sources of intelligence, by which alone they can ever be effectually reclaimed from the errors and absurdities of their belief. Protestantism itself, therefore, is thus ultimately injured by this parcial exclusion of its opponents from the best and surest means of reformation.
Such are some of the leading evils which the Catholics deduce, we think with perfect justice, from the present stare of the law with regard to persons of their persuasion-evils that affect the prosperity of the whole empire, and which would obviously be Temoved, by granting them, what they have somewhat emphatically termed, Emancipation. That these evils are great, imm neilt, and manifold, must be evident even from the foregoing brief enumeration : and whoever will take the trouble of entering into the details by which each article might be illustrated and confrined, will probably be of opinion, that among all the fatal errors by which nations have obstructed their own prosperity, there are but few instances in which so much and such various mischief has resulted from one principle of impolicy,
This, then, is the answer to the first question which has been suggested ; and such are the evils that are produced by the existe ing disabilities inflicted by law on the Catholics of Ireland.---The second question is, What are the evils that are likely to arise from the removal of those disabilities?
To this question we dare not trust ourselves with answering in 80 summary a manner as we have ventured to do as to the former. Being firmly persuaded that there are no real evils to be an. prehended from the removal of these disabilities, we might be thought to do injustice to the cause of our opponents, if we were merely to state, in a simple abstract, the objections which have been popularly urged in their behalf. It is necessary, there. fore, that this part of the discussion should be a licle more expanded; and that, besides the naked enumeration of the grounds upon which Catholic emancipation has been hitherto resisred, we should endeavour both to explain and to obviate the reasons upon which that resistance has been supported.
The chief grounds, then, upon which the enemies of Citholic emancipation have insisted, in so far as we have been able to collect, are the following; Imo, That any further concessions to that body, would be a violation of the privileges of the Protestant esta. blishment, as they already enjoy the most full and liberal toleration, and could not get mo:e, without being invested with honours and
political political powers : 2do, That, at all events, if they were to get the toleration or emancipation they now claim, this would only encourage them to ask something more; and that they would never stop till they had put down the Irish Protestant establishment, or transferred the benefits of it to themselves : 3tio, That there is something in the doctrines of the Roman Catholics that makes them, in many particulars, unfit to be trusted or believed ; and that, to remove their disabilities, would be to afford too great a scope for the operation of these dangerous principles : 4to, That their acknowledgement of the Pope's supremacy is equally full of danger; and makes it equally improper to extend their civil privileges : These, we think, are the chief arguments, of a general and permanent nature. But, in reference to the present crisis, it is further urged, 5thly, That the emancipation is barred by the King's coronation oath ; and, 6thly, That the Catholics have themselves forfeited all claim to it, by refusing their assent to the royal veto on the nomination of their bishops, which had been allowed to be reasonable by the warmest of their parliamentary advocates. In these six propositions, we conceive the sum of the anticatholic reasoning to be comprised ; and shall now beg leave to submit them to a very short examination.
The first, which maintains that the Catholics enjoy the most ample toleration already, and, in aiming at any thing more, would encroach on the Protestant establishment, seems at present to be the favourite argument of the few who do not rely entirely on popular prejudices, and affect to treat this question upon principles of accurate reasoning. It has accordingly been brought forward, of late, both in Parliament and out of it, with no little parade of logical precision, and with an air of confidence which we cannot help thinking very ill justified by its intrinsic value.
A religion, we humbly apprehend, must be in one of three situations with regard to the government of a country :-It must be established by that government; or it must be fully tolerated by it; or it must be in some degree or other persccuted.
A religion is said to be established by a government, when its standards are fixed by the public legislative authority,—when its ministers are paid and provided for by the same authority, and certain public functions or stations conferred upon a part of them, on account of the rank which they hold in that establishment. The definition of a religion completely tolerated, is still more easy. It is, merely, that it wants all those public honours and endowments-and is let alone ;---that its standards are not fixed by government, nor its ministers supported by it;--but that no pains nor privations are inflicted either upon those ministers or upon those who resort to them ;-and that, without any chance of gaine