Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

maintained as second only, it is best for the state to let all alone ; that, if the state feels itself incompetent to choose between truth and falsehood, it would be best to leave all to themselves ; but to support truth and falsehood at the same time is not wisdom, but presumptuous meddling with sacred things.* We have long laboured to convince the public, that for statesmen to take upon themselves to decide what is truth, and to impose that upon the nation, is a 'presumptuous meddling with sacred things, and we rejoice to know that in the protestant dissenters of this kingdom,—the holders with us of this great cardinal doctrine,we are likely now to find the great bulwark of protestantism. If this measure for reconciling the catholics to the continuance of the Irish establishment is to be defeated, we believe it must be mainly through the instrumentality of protestant dissenters; for they only possess the arms by which the battle can be fought and won. While other sects are struggling for domination, we are struggling for equality. While we assert the sole supremacy of the Great ilead of the church, and vindicate his laws from the tampering of temporal authority, we assert for every man the same rights as we claim for ourselves. We ask for no exclusive privileges, for no state patronage; we demand nothing which we refuse to others. The independence of the church-of-state patronage and controul, is the only theory which reconciles obedience to the laws of Christ with civil liberty. For that independence we earnestly contend; and therefore, into this contest we can now enter as impartial, and disinterested arbitrators. As a body, we have nothing to lose by defeat, and nothing to gain by victory. We come forward with this simple view, to see justice done, both to the cause of God and to the liberties of our fellow countrymen. The catholics know that we have never sided with their oppressors, but have been companions with them in suffering under wrong: they know that we sympathized with them under their oppressions, and that we helped them to break off their chains.

It is now just twenty years since the deputation from the Catholic Association, on their visit to London, were hospitably entertained at the house of a leading protestant dissenter, and were supported by the body generally in their demand for the restoration of their constitutional liberties. When those rights were at length conceded, protestant dissenters did not begrudge them the boon; but rejoiced to the laws administered in the spirit of the constitution. When

see

* Speech delivered March 18th, at the meeting in Exeter Hall, to peti. tion parliament against the increase of the grant to the College at Maynooth.

several catholics were added to Her Majesty's privy council, they held no meetings, they signed no memorials nor petitions, to deplore this act of liberality and justice. They have ever claimed for the catholics, and they will ever claim for all their countrymen a fair equality in the rights of citizenship. But they protest now, as they have ever protested, against being compelled to pay for the support of any man's religion. They would not be compelled to pay even for their own. They object to the endowment of truth, and it is only consistent for them, therefore, to object to the endowment of error. Let it not be imagined that, because protestant dissenters are just and liberal to catholics, they are therefore tolerant of popery, and would be willing to pay for its support. They know but little of the spirit and feeling of the body who entertain such an imagination. We confess we never thought that popery was any other thing than our fathers found it. A false liberality has rendered statesmen unable to distinguish between the duty of protecting men in the exercise of their religious liberties, and of endowing their religion with state emoluments.

We say, let the state protect the catholics, and let them have full liberty to propagate their creed, but let them bave no endowment. As soon as a religion becomes endowed, it acquires an artificial power. It matters not whether the endowment be a state endowment or a private endowment, the principle is the same, and the effect is similar. An endowed church makes the zcal and liberality of a past age auxiliary to its present support, when otherwise it would die away and become extinct.

It was a great error in protestant dissenters that they did not come forward, during the last session, and resist the passing of the ‘Charitable Donations and Bequests Act.' That act contains the germ of a Roman catholic establishment, and its simple operation will, in a few years, make the catholic church of Ireland an endowed church. That step towards the establishment of popery in Ireland has been already taken, and it is now proposed to follow it up, by a large endowment of the college at Maynooth. Our readers are aware that for the past fifty years, an annual grant of from eight to ten thousand pounds has been voted by parliament towards the support of this college; but, in order that the policy of the grant may not come annually under consideration, as at present, Sir Robert Peel has given notice of his intention to make a permanent provision for the institution, by a Bill which he will lay before parliament immediately after the recess. We say at once that, in our opinion, not only ought no increase to be made to the existing grant, but that the grant ought henceforth to be entirely abandoned ; and such we think will be the opinion of

the public generally, when once they are acquainted with the history, constitution, and objects of the seminary.

Previously to the year 1795, the whole body of the catholic clergy of Ireland received their education on the continent of Europe. At that time, there was no institution in Ireland for the education exclusively of persons professing the catholic religion; and, indeed, it was absolutely unlawful to endow a college for such a purpose, until the 35th, Geo. iii. c. 21 was passed. In the year 1793, Trinity College, Dublin, was thrown open to the Roman Catholics; but it does not appear that they were at all willing to avail themselves of that act of liberality, as a means of education for those of their body who were intended for the priestly office. Catholic priests, therefore, continued to be educated at Rome, Douay, St. Omers, and other places. It was stated by Sir John Newport, in the debate in the House of Commons, April the 29th, 1808, that previously to the French Revolution, four hundred and seventy-eight students were educated on the Continent* for the catholic priesthood of Ireland; and of these, four hundred and twenty-six received gratuitous support; but it was remarked on the same occasion, by Sir Arthur Wellesley, who, from having been secretary for Ireland, was acquainted with these matters, that most of those persons received priest's orders before they went abroad, and that about three hundred of them supported themselves, by the exercise of their functions as priests. On the breaking out of the French Revolution, the education of the catholic priesthood naturally arrested the attention both of the catholic bishops, and of the government. The former viewed with concern the danger to their church which must result from the annual introduction of so many priests, imbued with sceptical opinions; and the latter saw with equal alarm the danger likely to flow from the introduction of foreign prejudices and republican opinions. In these circumstances the catholic bishops found the government ready to sanction the establishment of a college in Ireland for the education of their priesthood, a project to which Mr. Burke is said to have given the sanction of his high authority.

In 1793, a memorial was addressed to Mr. Pitt, signed by Dr. Troy, the then catholic archbishop of Dublin, Dr. O'Reilly, and other bishops, in which they begged for permission to found a college, and prayed for a charter, that their funds might be the better secured.t We believe that, at that time, no thought was entertained of the institution being either established, or supported at the public expense. But the wily bishops suggested to the government, that, if the college were founded by themselves, it would be under popular controul; whereas, if the government were to found it, they would direct it for loyal and useful ends. At that time, Ireland was in a state of extreme excitement; the nation was panting after liberty, but saw no hope of the realization of their desires, but in separation from England, and the establishment of republican institutions. The catholic committee, the precursor of the catholic association, consisted, according to Dr. McNevin, of 'immoveable republicans. Under these circumstances, the catholic bishops, true to the policy of Rome, appeared before the world as the apostles of loyalty. In 1793, they came forward with a voluntary declaration of loyalty, and, in the same year, Dr. Troy, catholic archbishop of Dublin, with Dr. O'Reilly, and three other bishops, issued an admonition to the catholics, recommending allegiance to the king. In addition to these two manifestoes, Dr. Troy issued an address to the Defenders,' conjuring them to dissolve. They accordingly did dissolve, but only to pass into the deeper conspiracy of the United Irishmen.' The English government, who kņew nothing of the secret movements of Dr. Troy were delighted, and looked upon him as the most loyal of men; and thinking that they had gained the bishops to the side of loyalty and British connection, gave their consent to the establishment of the college. In 1795, Dr. Hussey, whom Mr. Pitt had made his channel of communication with the catholic bishops, was sent over to Ireland, as Dr. McNevin says, 'to organise and frame the plan of education at Maynooth ;' and we find, from an entry in the journals of the Irish House of Commons, (April 28th, 1795) that Mr. Thomas Hussey was ordered to attend the committee of the whole house, to whose consideration the bill for the establishment of the catholic college had been referred. This Dr. Hussey was so much trusted by Mr. Pitt that he was made the first president of Maynooth; but how worthy he was of that confidence, was amply proved by his conduct afterwards, by which he gave a notable warning to those ministers who seek to purchase loyalty by bribes. The establishment of Maynooth was intended as a bribe to secure the loyalty of the priests; and the increased grant now proposed by Sir Robert Peel, is designed for the same purpose; and we have no doubt will meet with a like return.

* Hansard v. xi. p. 89. + Sir Arthur Wellesley. Hansard v. xi. p. 89.

The first notice of the proposed Bill in the journals of the Irish House of Commons, is the following:

• April 23rd, 1795. Ordered, that leave be given to bring in a bill for applying the sum of ten thousand pounds, granted to His Majesty, or part thereof, for establishing a college for the better education of persons professing the popish or Roman catholic religion, and intended for the clerical ministry thereof; and that the Right Honourable Mr. Secretary Pelham, and the honourable Mr. Stuart, do prepare and bring in the same.'

Upon this we remark, that the first motion of the legislature upon this subject was, to apply ten thousand pounds of the public money for establishing this college ; and that the order given by the House was for the introduction of a Bill for the better education, not of laymen, but of priests. After the Bill had been read a second time, a petition of His Majesty's catholic subjects of Ireland, whose names are thereunto subscribed on behalf of themselves and others, was presented to the House and read; setting forth * that they object to the appointment of trustees to regulate the course of studies,—that that should rest with the 'Caput of the college itself, consisting of the principal and fellows,'—that they were likely to be most attentive, and most competent, and were most interested in the reputation and success of the college,—that in the university of Dublin candidates for fellowships were examined in public during four days—that the sizars also were elected after a public examination, at which all persons who presented themselves might be examined,—that these regulations were much to the honour of the Irish university, and do very much promote and encourage learning, industry, piety, and good morals,'that, by the bill, not only professors, but students were to be appointed by the trustees, without any examination being required,—that this would open a door for patronage and influence among the trustees, and for canvassing and caballing among candidates, which must prove injurious to the college, that they also objected to the exclusion of protestants, and the sons of protestants from the college—that the youth of both religions might with advantage be instructed in the classics, &c., in the same institution, and afterwards live in peace and amity —that by a recent act of liberality on the part of the legislature, catholics and protestants were educated together in the university of Dublin—that they had hoped that the principle of separation and exclusion had been removed for ever, but that they feared that that principle was now likely to be revived and re-enacted.

The petition, of which we have stated the substance, was referred to the committee on the bill, but no alteration in it appears

* We give only the substance of the petition.

« ZurückWeiter »