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its attention to this Bill, and to remind the House that in construing it there are general principles of common sense to enable us to decide on the construction of a Statute, as well a any Bench of Judges to determine an intricate point of lex, Previous to the Union and the passing of the Act of 322 Charles II., the object of the Legislature was to prerest Papists from sitting or voting in Parliament, and any decision of the House upon that Statute must be a decision ancillary to that object. The object of the Statute of Charles was to exclude Papists; but here is now before me a Statute whese object is to open the doors to the Roman Catholics, and to annihilate the bar that has hitherto impeded their progress First, I say that this Relief Bill, like many others, sometimes takes up a portion of the subject in the middle—then it goes at once to the commencement, and again reverts to some other part of the subject: at all events, it is not so methodical in its construction as to enable me to give at once an analysis of its contents. The second section provides for this case, for all Roman Catholics being Peers, and it enables them to sit and vote on taking the new oaths. It applies as well to the Peers created in the period that intervened between the Statute of Charles II. and the present day, as well as to those Peers whose titles and rights existed prior to that statute: of these there were two who were deprived. I may now say, because it has been admitted in the Legislature, by an unjust attainder-Lord Kenmare and Lord Baron French : they were created Peers during the period when it was impossible for either of them to exercise the right of the Peerage by sitting and voting in Parliament. This Act has admitted them to those rights. As the prerogative of the Crown has been restored to its full effect by means of this Statute, so the right of representation has been made an equal right; as the Royal Prerogative has been perfectly successful, the privilege of the people ought to be equally potential. There are, however, these words in the second section :-" or who shall after the commencement of the Act be returned as a Member of the House of Commons to sit and vote in either House of Par
liament respectively." After the passing of the Act, every body is to be entitled to the benefit; and I beg the House to reflect, that if I be not by the second section included, I am not excluded by it: though it does not affirmatively establish my right, it does not negative it by any enactment; it may not be sufficient to admit me, but there is nothing to shut me out. One point alone includes me, and it is a point of legal construction, depending on the authority of cases which I shall not now analyse. I might do so, as a Lawyer, were I addressing a Bench of Judges, but before a popular assembly I ought not to occupy time in any such attempt; I only allude to them in order that if a Court should hereafter decide that my argument is valid, it would impose upon me the necessity of taking no oaths at all, or else protect me against the exaction of the penalty. The construction which a Lawyer may put upon the Statute, I apprehend, would be, that he who was returned after the passing of the Act was embraced within its provisions; and the House will give me leave just to mention, that it has lately been solemnly decided in the case of a will, that notwithstanding the peculiar wording of it, children born after the date of the instrument were included in its provisions. I will only remind the House of these technical rules, which, I trust, will never be carried into effect at the expence of any whom I am addressing. I repeat, that if the second section does not include, it does not exclude me. It may be said that it was framed for other objects—to let in persons who have such claims as those of the Earl of Surrey; and here let me claim the assistance of the legal Gentlemen in the House. Beyond a doubt-and I call their particular attention to the fact—if the second section does not aid me, it cannot possibly injure my right to sit and vote. I come, then, at once to the right I come to it under the tenth section of the Act; and I implore you to forgive me for trespassing so long upon other matters, when I have this section before me, which seems to render doubt impossible.
“ And be it enacted, that it shall be lawful for any of his Majesty's subjects professing the Roman Catholic religion to hold, exercise, and enjoy all civil and military offices and places of trust or profit under bis Majesty, his heirs, or suecessors, and to exercise any other franchise or civil right, except as hereinafter excepted, upon taking and subscribing, at the times and in the manner hereinafter mentioned, the oath hereinbefore appointed and set forth, instead of the oaths of Allegiance, Supremacy, and Abjuration, and instead of sud other oath or oaths as are, or may be now by law required to be taken for the purpose aforesaid by any of his Majesty's subjects professing the Roman Catholic religion.”
I claim the benefit of that section: it is plain and distinet, and includes no technical subtleties; there is nothing thros a cloud over its clearness, and having read it, I might stand upon that alone. If then I touch upon other matters, it is only because, not having the right to reply, it is necessary for me to endeavour to anticipate. If, in my anxiety to remove all objections and obstacles, I attribute to Honourable Members weak arguments they would not have used, and which they may gravely disclaim, I hope I shall be forgiven.This section introduces the franchise : in common parlance, indeed the franchise was introduced before; because the 5th section provides that Roman Catholics shall vote at all elections of cities, counties, and towns; and it provides a new oath to be taken. Therefore, as far as franchise can mean the elective franchise, the Act is so intentionally extensive, that it uses the word, unnecessarily perhaps again. Nay more, the franchise connected with Corporations, is actually mentioned again in the 14th section : thus in the 5th section it means one species of franchise, in the 10th section another, and in the 24th section a third; for fear any franchise should be omitted and forgotten; lest any party should by chance be excluded from the benefits, which I hope and trust will flow from the Act, the word franchise is to be found in three different parts of it. It then goes on to give all civil rights, excepting such as are hereinafter mentioned. The first question is, whether the right of sitting and voting in Parliament be hereinafter excepted. I meet that with a
direct negative—it is not: but there are offices excepted in the 12th section, such as the Guardians and Justices of the United Kingdom, the Regent of the United Kingdom, Lord High Chancellor, Lord Keeper, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. In the 15th section also the civil rights are excepted which might be exercised for ecclesiastical promotion, and for presentation to livings in the gift of Corporations. These do not include the right for which I contend, and I shall not detain the House by going through the Act more ininutely: I have read it carefully and attentively, and I can assert that I find in it no such exception. I shall be asked, perhaps, whether the right to sit and vote be a civil right? And I would reply, if I were permitted to do so, by asking another question-if it be not a civil right, what is it ? I have looked into law-books with a view of this question of civil right, and I find that Mr. Justice Blackstone, in his Commentaries, has divided the whole law into rights and wrongs : on the front of his book is formed the very right to sit and vote in Parliament. But I appeal to common sense and common understanding, is it not a civil right? Must it not be a civil right? In the section itself I find civil contradistinguished from military—that Roman Catholics may “ enjoy all civil and military offices.” The section itself therefore explains the meaning of the terin. But travelling out of the section, and resorting to those who have best defined the meaning of words in the English language, what do we find? Dr. Johnson tells us, that “ civil” is an adjective which means “ relating to the community; political; relating to the city or government.” Now, “political ” and “ civil” must, by the bye, mean the same thing; the only difference being that one word is from the Greek, and the other from the Latin. They are synonymous and identical; and no man can deny that sitting and voting is both a political and a civil rigät. The example given from Spratt fully supports this assertion.
“But there is another unity which would be more advantageous to our country; and that is our endeavour after a civil, a political union in the whole nation. This definition and description necessarily includes the right I claim; but let us see what is the definition of that word “right" After giving other significations, Dr. Johnson proceeds to the thin sense of “ right,” which is “just clairn;" and he follows it by others; such as “ that which justly belongs to one”_" property ” _“interest” _“ power, prerogative”-“ immunityprivilege ;" in short, there is not one of these significations that is more comprehensive than I would desire it to be. He inserts the following example from Sir W. Raleigh, of " just claim;"—“ The Roman citizens were by the sworg taught to acknowledge the Pope their Lord, though they knew not be what right.” This is a plain definition and description of civil right. It cannot mean “ franchise," because franchise has already been included; it cannot mean “ property," because property is included in the 23d section of the Act, which requires no oath at all for the enjoyment of it :-“ From and after the passing of this Act no oath, or oaths shall be tesdered to, or required to be taken by, his Majesty's subjects professing the Roman Catholic religion, for enabling them to hold or enjoy any real or personal property.” Thus, then, “ civil right” in this Act does not mean property: it does not mean franchise; but it means a'just claim, a political privilege, an immunity of any kind whatever. Common sense here shews what the law sanctions; that by civil right necessarily must be concluded the right to sit and vote. Another observation is, that this section relates to the times and manner of taking the oaths ; but suppose I were to concede that no time and manner are expressed, yet the civil right being granted under the oaths directed, and the time and manner being the only condition, necessarily would supply the condition. We have in the 19th section the mode of taking the oath for Corporate Offices, and in the 20th, the time and manner of taking the oaths for other offices; but I will not detain the House upon that point, because in the 23d section, the Legislature has wisely provided for the case : it declares, “ That the oath herein appointed and set forth being taken