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merous penal statutes, some of which are too abominable to be executed. It requires no great sagacity to foretel, that where religious liberty flourishes, civil liberty will not be long in following, Temporary convulsions and disorders may prevent those exertions for the recovery of civil rights, which however cannot be suppressed, or long suspended, where the mind is freed from the manacles of ecclesiastical servitude; and Britain if she obstinately perseveres in proscribing the major part of the Irish nation, and preventing their enjoyment of the full benefits of the constitution, will ere long most severely feel the consequences of such a system of injustice, and impolicy, in her own decline, and in the advancing prosperity of those states once her inferiors. Such seems to be the course of events marked out by Providence; and whatever may be the motives of the ruler of France, or whatever offence plain truth may give to the supporters of old establishments, the joint work of statecraft, and priestcraft, we are firmly persuaded that the system which that ambitious chief has pursued in France, and in almost every country subdued by his arms, so far as it relates to. Toleration, and a restoration of the long lost religious rights of men, will ultimately be productive of the happiest effects.
The part which Mr. Perceval, with the rest of his Majesty's ministers have taken on this subject, too plainly proves how undeserving they are of the thanks so readily given them at some recent meetings of Protestant Dissenters. It is indeed impossible that men who set up the senseless cry of “ No Popery," who, entered the cabinet on the foundation principles of Intolerance; who have refused granting the catholics what was expressly promised them at the period of the Union, for the purpose, it is much to be feared, of more completely deluding them ;-it is impossible that men who eagerly cling to those opinions which have caused evils innumerable to their country and the world,—who not only obstinately refuse to take the catholic petitions for the restoration of their civil rights into consideration, but who with equal obstinacy, negative every motion made for the amelioration of the present most galling and oppressive tythe system, by which one million of the Irish are rendered the bloodsuckers of five millions ;-it is impossible that such men can deserve the thanks of the friends of religious equality.
Such men as the present ministers whilst they profess to hold the opinions on which they came into office, never can be the friends of religious liberty Policy may on certain occasion prevent them from abrogating or violating the Toleration Act; but it is policy alone: and notwithstanding the thanks bestowed on them for not supporting Lord Sidmouth's bill, it is remarkable, that the only speeches made on the ministerial side, were in approbation of its principle, although it was, after the food of petitions which covered
the table and the floor of the house of Lords, deemed an improper time farther to press the bill. As to the “ courtersy” That Mr. Perceval shewed to the deputations who waited on him, the gentiemen who composed these deputations doubtless shewed au equal degree of courtesy in return : thus was the account balanced: men who are not active supporters of a measure do not deserve thanks; their merit is merely of a negative kind : the dissenters as has been observed by members of the established church, passed a vote of thanks to ministers for “not fogging them !” Such shabby merit has indeed since been abundantly overbalanced by the perverse refusal to inquire into the universally acknowledged grievances of the Roman catholics, that is four fifths of the people of Ireland.
As a society is now forming for the protection of the rights of protestant dissenters, we hope one object of the proposed society will be the enlargement of the boundaries of religious liberty ; and as Lord Stanbope has given notice of a motion to be made in the next session for a repeal of all the remaining penal laws in matters of religion which still disgrace our statute books, that petitions will previously be set on foot by the dissenters throughout the kingdom, and that they will be at least as numerous, and as respectably signed, as on a recent occasion. Unless this be the result, it will too evidently prove to the world that the dissenters in general bave only selfish ends in view, and little credit will be given them for their professions of acknowledging no human authority in religion, or for the expression of their wishes that the period may speedily arrive, when all restrictions on the rights of conscience shall be au: nihilated.
We haye inserted in our following pages, an interesting account of a meeting of the friends of RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, composed principally of the higher ranks. The speeches of some of the distinguished personages present, contain some of the noblest senti.. ments on the subject ever uttered." What gentlemen,” said Lord MOIRA, " is the nature of that glorious cause we are now assem“ bled to celebrate. The cause of the catholics ? No. The cause “ of the protestants ? No. The cause of Irishmen? No: but the “ cause of all mankind ; and more than even that, the cause of “ TRUTH. Upon such a theme it is scarcely possible to think will “ a strength and a greatness proportionate to its native sublimity; “ who then can pretend to speak upon it? Or who to realise in “ mere words, those mighty conceptions, which so exalt, enlarge, “ and purify the soul, that is capable of them? Therefore all
those good wishes which communicate between sect and sect, “ however amiable, are yet so only because they distinguish without “ dividing us, and are nothing when compared with that diviner * sympathy that takes within its pobler range, not individuals but
ti the species, not the sectarist but man, not a sect but the world. "The cause of the Irish catholics has, no doubt, its own immoveable "grounds and unanswerable claims ; but it is yet infinitely super“ seded by that infinitely greater one, whose eternal principle is the “ universal recognition of the indefeasible right of every British “ subject, of every human being, to worship his God in the way “ his conscience tells him he ought ..... Let him who resists the " claims of the catholics, make it out to his own conscience, upon “what one principle of truth and justice be can profanely interpose “ his bigotry between the soul of man and his maker, in order to “rob him of God's best blessing, and poison his relish for existence " by separating life and liberty. For what is life without 'liberty? “ Unlawfully to take away my life is a crime of the deepest enor“ mity; and is it nothing, unjustly to take away my liberty ? Or " rather gentlemen, say which of the two murders is the most foul “ and unnatural ? There can be no genuine freeman, who must « not feel, that of all murders, the grossest in itself, and the most “ deplorable in its consequences, is the MURDER OF HUMAN “ RIGHTS!"
These are sentiments which do honour to human nature, and we are glad to find them proceeding from a nobleman high in the confidence of the Prince Regent. If we may consider them as congenial with those of his Royal Highness, we may hope for somewhat better times, at least in this respect. The rights of conscience acknowledged, and restored, would be the foundation stone of reformation. In the mean time, it is the duty of all friends to these sublime principles to unite, protestants of all denominations with catholics, for the furtherance of this grand object.
AMENDMENT OF THE PENAL CODE.
Sir SAMUEL ROMILLY has again most laudably exerted himself to obtain a reformation of our penal code; to render it somewhat less similar to that of DRACO, written in blood, and to cause the laws to be respected by being made proper to be carried into ese. cution, instead of being as at present, set aside, in capital cases, vine out of ten. This is a subject, which affects not only criminals, but juries, yea even judges, as numbers of cases occur that give much pain to those who bring in the verdict, and those who pronounce sentence. One of the speakers in a late debate on this subject, (Mr. Abercrombie) observed—" When he recollected that “ judges and jurors were every session guilty of that, for which they “ certainly were not punishable, but wliich nevertheless, could go 6 by no other name than that of perjury, be certainly did think
« that reformation was called for. He should unfold a case whicka “ though stated last session, could not fail to make a proper im“ pression. A female had stolen a 10£. pote. The jury in order “ to save her from capital punishment, returned a verdict-Under “ 408. What opinion must a person who heard the trial have “ formed, if next day, he himself should have stood in the crimi“ nal's box for perjury ?-As to criminals it would be found, that in “ the last ten years, 895 were tried, of whom 155 were acquitted, “ and of the remainder, 414 were found guilty of stealing below " the value of 40s. He would ask any person who heard him, if “ there was the smallest room to doubt, that of these 414 found “ guilty, a very great number must have been guilty of stealing to “ a larger amount than 40s. The verdict therefore in all such cases “ was contrary to fact. By repealing these laws a very great relief .would be afforded to prosecutors and juries. Prosecutors must '« be much more disposed to come forward, when assured the pu“ nishment is commensurate to the crime."--As the law respected the judges, Mr. MORRIS stated a remarkable fact which occurred in a court of justice of which he was witness.- " An unfortunate “ woman was tried for stealing above the value of five shillings. He “ was present at the trial. From many circumstances it was obvious " that it was a first offence, and every person in court wished her “ acquittal. The jury watched the testimony very narrowly, to see “ if any thing could be laid hold of in her favour. Lord Kenyon “ told the jury, that they were not to take any of the alleviating cir“ cumstances into consideration in their verdict, whatever palliation “ they might be, and the woman was found guilty. Lord Kenyon “ proceeded to pass the sentence of the law. When the woman “ heard the sentence of death, she fell lifeless to the ground. Lord “ Kenyon, who was endowed with great sensibility, instantly called “out My good woman I do not mean to hang you. Will nobody “ persuade the poor woman that she is not to be hanged? This case “ made a great impression on bimself, as well as on every one present. “ He had frequently heard the same noble lord pass sentence, not “ on the prisoner before him, but on the law !” .
Such a case might well make a great impression on the hon. member, and it is somewhat surprising it did not make a similar impression on every one acquainted with it. It proclaims aloud the folly and iniquity of laws, which juries and judges dread to execute, and wbich after trying, but finding it impossible to evade, a verdict of guilty is found, sentence of death solemnly pronounced, and the judge, shocked at the sentence according to law, is most anxious 10 persuade the condemned, fainting criminal, that he will not suffer it to be executed! One might have imagined that no difference could have existed in the opinion of our legislators, as lo
ced that commoners i minal cod
*the absolute necessity of such a reformation of our pénal code, that the laws instead of being held in dread and abhorrence, might excite such veneration and respect, that the sentence should be set aside only in extraordinary cases, where circumstances might occur after the ; verdict given, to occasion a suspension of the execution, or a pardon from the crown. But Mr. Perceval acknowledged “ the fact “ stated to be well calculated to awaken the feelings of the by* standers,” but added, “ that it became the house in their legis. " lative capacity to have firmer nerves." Now, although the right hon. gentleman had on various occasions during the war, 'on the Copenhagen, the Walcheren expeditions, &c. discovered that the “ nerves” of the house were tolerably firm ; he found on the present occasion that they were not quite firm enough for bis purpose. The bill passed the Commons; but soon after it was sent to the Lords, Mr. Perceval was convinced that noble “ nerves" were made of “ sterner stuff,” than the nerves of commoners. The bill was thrown out by the house of Lords, and thus our criminal code, with all its deformities is suffered to remain, under the miserable pretence, constantly urged by the friends of long standing imperfections and abuses--" Innovations are dangerous !".-An assertion 80 pre-eminently stupid, that it is impossible for any legislature to avoid overturning it in the practice of almost every day's legislation. This is so important a matter, and is so connected with the morals, and of course the welfare of the nation, that we should recommend it to our countrymen to consider it as next in magnis tude to those great objects, the repeal of our persecuting code, and a Reform of parliament; but we fear that the people must endure much heavier calamities, before they will be so awakened as generally to unite in petitions for the redress of this, or indeed of any other national grievance. We hope, however, that Sir S. Romilly will again try the strength of the “ nerves” of both houses, and that the Lords, as well as the Commons will be found to pogsess, not “ nerves” of brass, but of sensibility, becoming rational creatures, and christian legislators.
RETURN OF THE DUKE OF YORK TO OFFICE. The retreat of the French armies from Portugal, although as it appears from a proclamation of Lord Wellington, it is uncertain whether they may not return ibither before the conclusion of the campaign, has been received with so much exultation, and has so affected the brains of ministers, that they imagine they may take what liberties they please, and that no insult offered to popular opinion can be too gross. It is only on this principle that we can account for their recommendation of the Duke of York to the , M
ease, and that on this primeros york to th