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public occasion, in this county, by a Minister of our Church.
sense of the people, it has appeared that the metropolis, the country in general, and this district particularly, and much to its credit, have treated it with deserved indifference." He would have told him that one, as much his superior in clerical rank, as in gentleness, modesty, and Christian charity, thought otherwise. He might have said, in the words of his own eloquent and well-deserved eulogy on the venerable Bishop of Norwich: "It is the highest praise of a right reverend divine of the present day, that he has set an example of charity and moderation, in an address to his brethren replete with sentiments worthy of a liberal mind in an enlightened age; forming a happy contrast," &c. But I leave the person I have alluded to, if innocent, unattacked, because unnamed ;-if otherwise, the memory of my father can withstand and beat back such a maligner, and I have endeavored to show that the absent may yet discover means of answering for themselves.
I have endeavored to represent what is called Catholic Emancipation, on the grounds on which it first claimed my earnest wishes for its success, as a boon doubly blessed, but shedding benefits far more important on the giver than on the receiver. And here I ask nothing from generous sympathy, I ask only from an ordinary sense of interest, whether it be better to maintain for a few years longer an anxious, costly, and precarious system of party police over a people mortified, discontented, perhaps " wrung into undutifulness" by your trifling and cruel jealousies, or to rally round your throne, and your standards, and your laws, the undisturbed and unqualified affections of many millions, now unnaturally thrust aside from among the free subjects of your empire.
There is but one description of persons,-I trust they are but few, to whom I early alluded, but to whom I have not addressed myself. Those who, when they do read the history of mankind, read with the most cautious partiality such passages only as they may confidently hope will assist their already steadfast judgment; who look always back, instead of sometimes looking forward and around them, and look back only to distort both precedent and example; and, inverting the whole course of speculation on human character and events, would illustrate the art of government in the nineteenth century by pompous reference to some thousand-times-told tale of feudal manners
and of barbarous men. Such persons are ever ready to be the instruments, in any hands, of that intolerance, against the imputation of which they are the first to declaim, because they are the first to feel that the imputation is deserved; ever ready to
1 Rev. J. Fisher's Sermon, page 14.
justify the oppressing their fellow-subjects in the name of a free constitution, and the persecuting their fellow Christians in the name of a mild and merciful religion. Such are they, who, on a great subject involving, like this, questions of the deepest importance, of the nicest deliberation, perhaps of the sublimest morality, simplify their objections into one senseless, heartless, cry, calculated only to inflame every passion which ought to be soothed and repressed, and to arouse,-what sometimes the most foolish man may arouse, and the wisest cannot afterwards allay or control, a raging spirit of political and spiritual animosity. Of such persons, if I were constrained to address myself to them, I would ask, "Are you Protestants? The Protestantism you profess, is the religion of Spiritual Liberty; for it claims for its origin the right of private judgment, while the Roman Catholic church claims what, she says, is the unerring authority of her Councils. When our Church, then, endeavors to control entire liberty of conscience, she puts on the garments of popery, but without its armor of assumed infallibility. You belong to a Church whose
duty' it is (in the excellent words of an Address, within these few days presented to his Majesty by her clergy in convocation,) to vindicate the establishment in the spirit by which it professes to be governed, with temper, moderation, and firmness, seeking to conciliate those who may be opposed to us, not to exasperate them; to convince, not boastfully to triumph over them. And when you shall have read through and through the history of ecclesiastical wars and persecutions, and (going beyond the doctrines of the Atheist, Hobbes, who pronounced contention to be only the natural state of man,) shall have almost succeeded in representing to yourselves Christianity as the promoter of discord and violence, not as the teacher of union and brotherly love, ask yourselves what it is that is the subject at issue between you and those whom you revile and proscribe. Learn that your difference from the Roman Catholic is on matters, on which, if there be freedom to be enjoyed in this world, or happiness to be hoped for in the next, it is not only a man's privilege, but his duty, to feel and act for himself; that the difference is a difference to be settled on the other side the grave, when all the jargon of controversy shall be no more, and establishment and privilege shall have melted away before a tribunal in the sight of which kings, popes, and subjects, shall one day stand, not as conflicting sectaries, not claiming to be dealt
1 See Address of the Archbishop, Bishops, and Clergy, of the Province of Canterbury, in Convocation assembled, presented to His Majesty on Monday, the 28th of last month.
with according to their merits or their wisdom, but suppliants to be judged with mercy, even as they have judged.
"And, when you shall have a little humbled the pride of the Pharisee within you, look over again the grounds you have taken, historical, political, and moral. Believe me, the subjects of your generalities against popery (and by no very logical connexion in favor of intolerance) are not
"Green and fresh in this old world:"
You are not the first whom it hath delighted to expatiate on the undisputed but irrelevant horrors of Smithfield and St. Bartholomew's Day, or to exhibit the hideous memory of the fiery Mary, (by strange perversion of example !) in recommendation of a system of religious bigotry and persecution. In all this you are not alone or original: Lord George Gordon was before you.
"But yet wise and good men have differed from you; and, when we see Sir George Saville, Mr. Burke, Mr. Fox, Mr. Windham, Mr. Grattan, and one of whom, laying nearer considerations aside, I may be allowed to speak as of a sincere patriot and an enlightened statesman, when (with only one distinguished exception in talents, station, and integrity, Mr. Peel) we see all the most considerable persons of all parties united on this subject, you must observe that the balance of authority is somewhat remarkably against you. Authority, though not conclusive in our judgment, is sufficient at least to make us pause before we condemn as fools, or as worse, all those who have taken the most eager part in behalf of this great measure. It does not appear to me advisable hastily to conclude that the easy softness of Mr. Canning, Mr. Brougham, and Mr. Plunkett, has been duped by the arts of designing Papists; that Sir Francis Burdett had become enamored of a system manifestly incompatible with popular liberty; that Sir James Mackintosh might be more on his guard, if he were a little further acquainted with the modern history of the world; or Sir John Newport, if he attached greater importance to the particular interests of Ireland; that Lord Grenville is a rash visionary innovator; and Mr. Wilberforce no better than he should be."
But I cannot resist the conviction which I feel that prejudice itself, at least the worst sort of it, is rapidly giving way; and, with it, by degrees, the objections which some of the best men have felt, and the clamor which some of the worst have been able to excite, against a great and glorious measure of policy, generosity, and justice. The generation has but lately passed away which might have remembered when all those who in 1753 supported the bill for the Naturalization of Jews were themselves
represented as enemies of Christianity; nor can we forget in much later times the obłoquy so long encountered, and at length triumphed over, by the adventurous and unwearied benevolence of Mr. Wilberforce, in that immortal work in which he bore so large a part, the Abolition of the African Slave Trade.
In one respect, if I knew no more of them, I should be encou raged to place confidence in the Roman Catholics. I find that they have a religion. Discover that a man has a religion, and you have then an additional and a powerful tie by which his conscience may be bound. And whether he be a Jew who swears on the law of Moses, or a Turk who swears on the Koran, or a Hindoo who stretches out his hand to the East, or whether he be a Catholic who, like ourselves, kisses the volume of our com, mon redemption; or whether he be one of that moral and wellordered sect of Christians whose simple affirmation is taken by our courts as equivalent to an oath; we have, politically speaking, the self-same bond. In my opinion it is not wise so to have framed your tests as, admitting those who do not believe at all, to exclude those who only believe a little differently from ourselves. It is untrue to say that these are securities in favor of the connexion between church and state; because they are not tests of conformity to the church. They are only tests of dissent from two special tenets of another religion. Tests, not of belief, but of disbelief. If we are right in this policy, so would other countries be in pursuing the same; and then the only universal qualification would be universal unbelief.
Thus I have endeavored to set forth all the grounds I desire to have for the practical view I take of this question. 1. Policy. 2. Justice. 3. Unredeemed Pledge. I have endeavored, by appealing to the understandings of my constituents, to justify my own conclusions; and I wish to give them these as the reasons for which I always have supported, and, until convinced of their fallacy, shall continue to support, the Catholic claims.
Believe me ever, my dear Sir George,
With the greatest truth, your attached friend,
P.S.-I cannot close a letter necessarily so superficial as this, without feeling that I owe it to those to whose judgment it is addressed, to refer them to two or three works in which those who