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period, he denied his conclusion; and with respect to the Act of Union, and the subsequent Act, he would not trouble the committee, because the question must be decided elsewhere The general question of emancipation had nothing to do with this particular subject, which must be considered as a mere point of law. He had nothing of overweening confidence in his own opinion, nor would he enter into those differences or mistakes which might have been befallen into by some gentlemen who wrote pamphlets. He, however, doubted whether what Mr. Harrison stated was any thing more than a re-publication of what had been published by a learned member of the House of Commons. But it had very little to do with the question then before the committee. The first point, he asserted, was, that up to the Union of Great Britain and Ireland, any person was entitled to be elected without any disqualification affecting a Roman Catholic as such; for that, although the oaths and declarations were necessary to entitle a person to sit and vote, yet until that period had arrived, and he failed in doing so, he was completely a member of the House to all intents and purposes, and his election was good and valid ; that he proved by reference to the first statute quoted, which directed that members theretofore elected should take the oaths before the Lord Steward, and should not otherwise be deemed knights of the shire. The language of the 30th Chs. II. was equally clear in recognizing the validity of the election, but left it on the conscience of the member whether he would take the oath in the time and manner specified. Peers and meinbers of Parliament were on the same footing. The Act of Wm. and Mary, was the only one that applied to Ireland, and that said that no Peer could sit and vote or give bis proxy without taking the oaths, nor any member of the House of Commons could sit or vote without taking the oaths thereinafter mentioned. That statute thus recognized him to be a member, and only enacted that he could not sit and vote, until he had taken the oaths, &c. It went on to say, that such Peer or member of Parlament sbould be disabled from thenceforth; wherefore 24.
e distinction was plain. The committee were only to decide pon what was enacted, but they could not decide, that if an dividual were once a Catholic, he should be incapable of ing at any subsequent period elected. It was urged at the her side that there was a test, and yet they would not abide - it, nor by the care and the provisions of Parliament, but ould call on the committee to declare that there was no cessity for that test. Those enactments were devised be use the Legislature found it impossible to dive into the nsciences of men, and perhaps with a view that by being lowed to be elected, persons might be induced to take these -ths. Peers were entitled to their seats on merely taking e oaths; but still the King could create Catholic peers. He puld 'then leave that part of the question, satisfied that the Llidity of elections was recognized by every statute up to the nicn. The second point he contended for was that the Act
Union left the question precisely where it found it. This art of the subject the learned gentleman illustrated by a umber of quotations from the Scotch and Irish Acts of nion, and continued to say that if the Act of Union provided at all members must take the oaths before they voted, that one must settle the question, and that Mr. O'Connell was t subject to any disqualification that was not shared by hers in the kingdom-namely, the not taking the oatbs. he learned gentleman proceeded to say, that he merely sumed that it was necessary to take the oaths for the purose of the committee entering his protest, that that part of the estion must be decided before the House of Commons. The aestion for the committee was, not whether there was evience of Mr. O'Connell's being a Catholic, or of his final rseverance in the Catholic faith, for they could not know hat he might do, when he went to demand his seat in the ouse. The term disability could not refer to Mr. O'Conll; he was under none, for there was no diving into a man's nscience, and no one could say whether he might or might 5 take these oaths, although it was contended that Mr.
- O'Connell was at this moment disabled, because, by and by, he 7. might not choose to take the oaths that were required.
Blackstone had been referred to; but that eminent constitutional lawyer, amongst the disabilities he enumerated, never mentioned the fact of Catholics being disqualified from being elected. [Here Mr. Adam put into the hands of Mr. Pollock Mr. Coleridge's edition of Blackstone, which in a note enumerated Papists, Peers, and outlaws, as having been omitted in Blackstone's catalogue of disqualified persons.] Mr. Pollock commented shortly upon this note, and asked what necessity existed to enumerate peers amongst disqualified persons, when even judges who were cominoners were included in the list on account of their attendance on the Lord's House. He proceeded to say that he was not there to deny Mr. O'Connell's being a Catholic, but merely to watch the evidence given. There was, however no Act of Parliament which fixed the indelibility of the Catholic faith upon a man, like holy orders; and the history of the country shewed, from the many changes of religion which had taken place, that the legislature intended to give the very last moment for the taking of those oaths. What was there to prevent Mr. O'Connell from taking those oaths, although his learned friends at the other side would argue, that although he did so, he could not yet be a member of Parliament? The committee must, to decide in favour of the petitioners, adopt two propositions—first, that Mr. O'Connell will not take the oaths; and, secondly, that when he presents himself for the purpose of doing so, he wil not be permitted. That discussion could only arise when Mr. O'Connell presented himself to the House, and then a great question would have to be decided. He trusted that Mr. O'Connell was returned to try a great right, and that the committee would give him an opportunity of doing so, and that they would not come to a decision contrary to the usage of all tribunals, by anticipating what any individual might do at a future period. The learned gentleman ceased speaking at half-past three o'clock.
The chairman of the committee (Lord William Russell)
then asked whether the case was closed on both sides, and having been answered in the affirmative, strangers were ordered to withdraw, when the committee, after a few minutes deliberation, adjourned until the next day.
On the meeting of Parliament on the following day, Lori John Russell, as the organ of the Commttee, appointed to take into consideration the petition of Daniel O'Connell, Esq. reported to the House, that Daniel O'Connell, Esq. was duly returned, and that the opposition of Thomas Mahon was was neither frivolous nor vexatious.
The public excitement was now at the highest pitch as to the result of Mr. O'Connell claiming to sit in the House, without being obliged to take the usual oaths, which as a Catholic, be could not conscientiously do. The public had been for some time much disappointed by the erroneous statements of the days on which Mr. O'Connell intended to claim his seat, as member for Clare; but it was definitively fixed, that May the 15th was to be the important day; and at about three o'clock, Whitehall and Parliament-street were crowded by the higher classes, and the doors of the House of Commons were surrounded by respectable persons; whilst many public characters, and ladies of distinction, in their carriages, were present in Old Palace-yard, to witness the scene. At an early hour the gallery of the House was filled to excess; and never on any occasion were the benches fuller in the body of the House, in the side galleries, and below the bar. Most of the members were engaged in animated discussions, in smali groups, or individually; when at a quarter to four, the Speaker's approach was announced, and all was silent-the whole body of the House rising, as is usual, to receive kiin with respect. The effect was very imposing, and must bave been felt by the oldest members. Order having been called, the following proceedings commenced :
The Speaker :—The member to be sworn will be pleased to come to the table and take the oaths.- [Great exciterren: throughout the House].
Mr. O'Conneli now entered, bowing respectfully to tas
Chair, and was conducted to the table by Lords Ebrington and Duncannon. Mr. Ley, Clerk of the House, advanced to him in the usual manner, and tendered to him the oaths, which are printed on each side of a pasteboard, about the size of the cover of a small folio volume. Some discussion took place between the two gentlemen, during which the oaths were frequently turned over, and passages pointed out by Mr. O'Connell to Mr. Ley, who presently took them to the Speaker, to whom he seemed to communicate what had passed between him and Mr. O'Connell, pointing out the parts of the oaths to which Mr. O'Connell had objected.
The Speaker then rose and spoke as follows :-“ It is my duty to state to this Honourable House, that, if I be correctly informed, the course which the Hon. Gentleman at the table has proposed to take is a course entirely over-ruled by respectable and competent authority, and therefore I do not conceive it to be my duty to acquiesce in it. I understand the Hon. Gentleman to propose to take the oaths directed to be imposed on persons professing the Catholic religion, and entering this House by the authority of the Act of Parliament recently passed. As I read this Act, my impression is, and upon this impression I think it my duty to act till otherwise informed, that there are but two points in the course to be pursued in the taking of seats by members of this House. The first relates to the repeal of the declaration against transubstantiation. The other is the part of the Act appointing the oaths to be taken by each member of the House professing the Roman Catholic creed, in lieu of the oaths of Allegiance, Supremacy, and Abjuration. This substituted oath, as I imagine, is only to be taken by such members as shall be returned to sit in this House subsequently to the commencement of the Act. The Hon. Gentleman's return as a member to sit in this House for the county of Clare is in consequence of an election which took place long before the commencernent of this Act, and I have therefore only to revert to the law as affecting all members of the House before the present Act took effect. With the one exception of the repeal of the