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passions overspread the mind; neither is a voluntary and cherished ignorance less culpable in men, who use it as a weapon to inflict pains and penalties on millions of their innocent fellow subjects.—When an umpire is appointed to decide upon the most trivial affair between man and man, does he ever presume to do so, without a full and fair inquiry? Would he not consider it a flagrant injustice, to come to a decision upon partial or insufficient evidence? Yet here is a case, involving not only the well-being and prosperity of the whole empire, but, in a more intimate manner, affecting the rights, the properties, the reputation of seven millions of people, and yet both deliberative branches of the legislature, - almost without hesitation, certainly without adequate knowledge, or mature examination, pronounce a verdict of guilty. It is wholly impossible, it is utterly inconsistent with the exercise of their rational faculties, that they can have duly weighed and examined the question, and yet come to the decision which they do. The evidence is now so clear, so fully before the world, that whoever, in spite of it, should shut his eyes to the light of justice, we must pronounce to stand convicted of an inveterate hardening of the heart, and a palpable blinding of the understanding. We must then conclude, that it is only by ignorance and prejudice, by faction and interest, that men are governed in this matter.
My object, therefore, is, as far as my humble endeavours may extend, to warn the thinking portion of the community from being misled by those false and malignant spirits who are so busy to poison the public mind against us; who dress us up in a hideous garb, and put upon us all sorts of deformities of their own invention, till people believe us to be any thing but what, I trust, we really are. Still the injustice which we are doomed to suffer from ignorance and credulity, is that of which we have, perhaps, the most reason to complain, because it is the easiest to rectify.-While every other species of learning is pursuing a rapid and triumphant career—whilst the press teems, almost daily, with authenticated expositions of our doctrine—and whilst well-informed Catholics are to be met with at every corner, ready to give evidence of our faith,-is it not too much to be reduced to the alternative, of being either neglected as unworthy of attention, or of seeing our tenets and our conduct studied only in the writings of our adversaries ? The errors of
( “ I believe that there are few subjects on which so many opponents are to be met with, of that very numerous class who think themselves justified in feeling strongly without enquiring deeply, who, acquiesce in unexamined statements merely to fortify their own preconceived sense of the case, and who are ever recurring to defences à thoutsand times overthrown, and now, by universal consent of all well-informed persons, abandoned, merely because the
the generality of mankind may, it is hoped, be extenuated, as arising from prejudices carefully
fact of the discomfiture and surrender may have escaped their not very extensive research, or may have lost its place in their not very impartial memory. This is a serious difficulty, because with such persons it is not easy to determine at what precise period of the controversy to begin. There is, however, another class with whom it is impossible to deal: the mere shouters of “ No Popery;" those who, without the desire of enquiry, or the capacity of reasoning, think that they see their interest or their honour bound up in a determination never to doubt any early, or accidental, or careless, impressions, to which by habit they consider themselves pledged. Such we can only leave to rejoice in their own conclusions, unquestioned and undisturbed, withdrawing ourselves from all dispute with them as we should from the attempt to go through a proposition in mathematics with a person to whom the admission of an axiom appears to be matter of too hazardous generosity, and who accordingly, while expressing his readiness to listen to proof, feels that he owes it to his cause to refuse every preliminary concession on which a proof can by possibility turn. Until they shall have done what they never will do,-until they shall have enlightened themselves on the history, not of their own country only, but of some other parts of modern Europe, -until they shall have learned what the penal laws were, and what they are now,-until they shall know the story and condition of the Roman Catholies in this empire, and of Protestants in others,—they must be content to be challenged as Jurors to pass upon this Question. Nay, more,
instilled into the infant mind, fostered through every stage of education, and perhaps matured by subsequent habits of indifference in religious matters, or at least by a neglect of all further enquiry; but for men who profess to make accurate research and profound study the basis of every opinion which they deliver to the world — men of reputed learning and of extensive literary fame there can be no palliation, when, in the face of the strongest historical evidence, they are guilty of deliberately advancing the most gross and unfounded calumnies against their Catholic fellow-countrymen.
Amongst the many to whom these imputations apply, there is no one who offends more conspicuously than Dr. Southey. The glaring misrepresentations of Catholic history and Catholic doc
- they must, till then, absolutely abstain from all customary expressions of vituperation against the Papists, on pain of convicting themselves of possessing less than they ought of common honesty, or less than most men would be thought to possess of common discretion.” Lord Nugent's most excellent Statement, fc. in Support of the Political Claims of the Roman Catholics. Hookham, 1826.
The virulent abuse of that portion of the public press which is opposed to emancipation, as well in England as in Ireland, is an irritating and never failing insult which we are daily condemned to endure, and is one of the most grievous of all our penal inflictions. As long as it is the support of that system which oppresses us, so long shall we be its victims; but the cause which produces it being removed, it will vanish with all our other disabilities.
trine in his “ Book of the Church,” though so ably exposed by Dr. Milner, Mr. Butler, and others, continue to glitter through every subsequent edition, and to diffuse their pestilential influence among the public, and that, too, at a moment when the most calm and unprejudiced consideration of the great question of the policy of establishing religious tests for the qualification to political privileges, is become necessary, certainly for the strength and stability of the country, and perhaps for the very existence of social order in the empire. The fact is now fully established by long experience and incontrovertible evidence, that no permanent peace and tranquillity can exist in Ireland under the present system of religious warfare and political oppression.) Whatever, therefore, does not directly tend to advance that consummation so ardently desired by every friend of justice and humanity, and of the general prosperity of the State, cannot be too sincerely and too strongly deprecated. But what shall we say of him, who endeavours by the most extensive circulation of the most atrocious and most unfounded calumnies, not only to oppose a barrier to the tide of peace and good will which, sometime back, appeared
(9) See Mr. Shiel's temperate but eloquent speech, on moving an Address to his Majesty on Lord Sidmouth's letter of the 23rd Sept. 1821, APPENDIX, No. v.