« PredošláPokračovať »
all that we ask is, that the Duke, as a just, a grateful, and an honourable man, will redeem this pledge-How would it not brighten all his fame, and crown all his honours, thus to address the House, (upon the first occasion of a debate on the question of Catholic emancipation,)as the champion of that ill-fated land, for whose welfare, equally with that of every other portion of the empire, his sovereign has now placed the reins of state in
jects, in support of the established constitution; with this view, his Majesty trusts, that the situation of his Majesty's Catholic subjects will engage your serious attention, and in the consideration of this subject, he relies on the wisdom and liberality of his parliament.” After this message had been read, an address, which was an echo of the sentiments contained in the recommendation from the throne, was agreed to. The speech of the Hon. Gentleman (now Duke of Wellington,] who seconded the address, is in page five of the 13th volume of the Irish Parliamentary Debates, and is thus reported :-“In regard to what has been recommended in the speech from the throne, respecting our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, he could not repress his approbation on that head : he had no doubt of the loyalty of the Catholics of this country, and he trusted that when the question should be brought forward respecting that description of men, that they would lay aside all animosities, and act with moderation and dignity, and not with the fury and violence of partisans.” (See Mr. Shiel's speech at the late aggregate meeting of the Catholics of Ireland.)
his hands; a land which, while it gave him birth, has also the merit of having been the fostering parent of those companions in arms of whose services he speaks so feelingly, and for whose reward he is so impatient.
“My Lords ; in presenting myself to your lordships as the advocate of the ineasure now proposed to your consideration, I am only indulging in the pleasing task of discharging a debt of gratitude, which has long weighed heavy upon me; for, independently of the indisputable policy of uniting all classes of his Majesty's subjects, in a common participation of the blessings of the constitution,—and for other reasons, which I leave to be argued by other noble lords,-I owe too much, as an individual, to the Catholics of this empire, and to those of several foreign states, not to avail myself with eagerness of every opportunity of advocating these claims, as a measure of justice to the one, and as a grateful return of enlightened liberality towards the other. It is already well known to your lordships, that of the troops which our Gracious Sovereign did me the honour to entrust to my command at various periods during the war; a war undertaken expressly for the purpose of securing the happy institutions and independance of the country; that at least one half were Roman Catholics. My lords, when I call your recollection to this fact, I am sure all
further eulogy is unnecessary.
Your lordships are well aware for what length of period, and under what difficult circumstances, they maintained the empire buoyant upon the flood which overwhelmed the thrones, and wrecked the institutions of every other people; how they kept alive the only spark of freedom which was left unextinguished in Europe ; and how, by unprecedented efforts, they at length placed us, not only far above danger, but at an elevation of prosperity for which we had hardly dared to hope. These, my lords, are sacred and imperative titles to a nation's gratitude. lords, it is become quite needless for me to assure you, that I have invariably found my Roman Catholic soldiers as patient under privations, as eager for the combat, and as brave and determined in the field, as any other portion of his majesty's troops ; and in point of loyalty and devotion to their king and country, I am quite certain they have never been surpassed. I claim no merit in admitting that others might have guided the storm of battle as skilfully as myself: we have only to recur to the annals of our military achievements to be convinced, that few indeed of our commanders have not known how to direct the unconquerable spirit of their troops, and to shed fresh glories round the British name. But, my lords, while we are free to acknowledge this, we must also confess, that without Catholic blood and Catholic valour,
victory could ever have been obtained ; and the first military talents in Europe might have been exerted in vain, at the head of half an army. My lords, if on the eve of any of those hard-fought days on which I have had the honour to command them, I had thus addressed my Roman Catholic troops: “You well know that your country either so suspects your loyalty, or so dislikes your religion, that she has not yet thought proper to admit you amongst the ranks of her free citizens ; if, on that account, you deem it an act of injustice on her part to require you to shed your blood in her defence, you are at liberty to withdraw:" I am quite sure, my lords, that, however bitter the recollections which it awakened, they would have spurned the alternative with indignation; for the hour of danger and of glory, is the hour in which the gallant, the generous-hearted Irishman, best knows his duty, and is most determined to perform it. But if, my lords, it had been otherwise : if they had chosen to desert the cause in which they were embarked; though the remainder of the troops would undoubtedly have maintained the honour of the British arms; yet, as I have just said, no efforts of theirs could ever have crowned us with victory. Yes, my lords, it is mainly to the Irish Catholic that we all owe our proud pre-eminence in our military career; and that I, personally, am indebted for the laurels with which you have been pleased
to decorate my brow,-for the honours which you have so bountifully lavished on me,—and for the fair fame (I prize it above all other rewards) which my country, in its generous kindness, has bestowed
I cannot but feel, my lords, that you yourselves have been chiefly instrumental in placing this heavy debt of gratitude upon me, greater, perhaps, than has ever fallen to the lot of any individual ; and however flattering the circumstance, it often places me in a very painful situation. Whenever I meet and it is almost an every-day occurrence,) with any of those brave men who, in common with others, are the object of this Bill, and who have so often borne me on the tide of victory; when I see them still branded with the imputation of a divided allegiance, still degraded beneath the lowest menial, and still proclaimed unfit to enter within the pale of the constitution, I feel almost ashamed of the honours which have been lavished upon me: I feel that though the merit was theirs, what was so freely given to me, was unjustly denied to them ; that I had reaped, though they had sown; that they had borne the heat and burden of the day, but that the wages and repose were mine alone. My lords, it is indeed to me a subject of deep regret, that of the many brave officers of the Roman Catholic persuasion, some of whom I have had occasion to bring to the notice of the country, in relating the honourable