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A PLAIN STATEMENT

IN SUPPORT OF THE

POLITICAL CLAIMS

OF

THE ROMAN CATHOLICS;

IN A

LETTER TO THE REV. SIR GEORGE LEE, BART.

BY LORD NUGENT,

MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR AYLESBURY.

LONDON:-1826.

MY DEAR SIR GEORGE,

SOME of my Electors have desired me to put through another edition, a Letter, which I addressed to them in 1820, on the Catholic Question. To any such desire, so expressed, I am bound to attend; holding, as I do, from them and from you all the means I possess, or am ever likely to possess, of giving the support of a vote to any measure of public concern. At the same

time, I know that it is not their wish that I should be called on to repeat, in a form which would in some respects be disagreeable to me, mere opinions, the repetition of which, if it would be irksome to myself, I may well conclude would be much more so to others. On looking at that publication, which is little more than a very hasty vindication of the course which I early adopted, and have always maintained, on the subject of the Catholic Claims, I see many reasons for wishing to put into a different shape whatever parts of it our friends may think worth being republished at this time. I find, it is true, no opinions advanced in it by which I am not still very willing that my conduct should be regulated and judged; but I find many things done carelessly, at least done in a manner which I may be allowed, after six years, to think might be better for reconsideration. But, my dear Sir George, I will confess that I have another motive for wishing to alter the form of that Letter, and address my Constituents through you. It is not on account of your profession as a clergyman, because, in my VOL. XXVIII. NO. LV. A

Pam.

judgment, clergymen have, as such, no business with this or any other purely political question; nor is it only on account of the entire coincidence of opinion which I am happy to believe exists between us on every matter of public importance. It is because, recommended by you to the notice of those who have elected me to Parliament, I am accountable to you, among the first of that body, for my opinions, and for the grounds on which they have been formed; and because, if I wished to put them on record with my Constituents, for the first time or the last, there is no man under whose patronage and sponsorship I should be prouder to place them than yourself.

The public and private regards of my Electors have been proved towards me in a manner calculated to more than satisfy the proudest feelings of a man jealous of their esteem. But I am not satisfied with this alone. Invested with a public trust, when I find my conduct or opinions misrepresented before any portion of the body which has conferred it, I will do justice to both by fairly stating, as I conceive it, the question at issue. And this must be

my apology, if, in some passages adopting the very words of my former Letter, I may seem to address you in a language of remonstrance, or to confound you with such as I believe are inadequately informed on a subject on which the liberality of your sentiments proceeds not only from a love of truth and freedom, but from full and familiar acquaintance with the different bearings of the great Question at issue.

It is unfair towards the cause of Catholic Emancipation that it should be represented, as it so often is by both opponents and supporters, as a matter exhausted in argument. Whatever it may have gained or lost by the mode in which it has been treated, and however trite the case may have become, viewed as one of mere justice,-considered as one of policy, the arguments in its behalf vary year after year, as they accumulate in amount and rise in importance and urgency. As far as relates to mere justice, our case may be said to be closed, and must now be left to the silent but sure prevalence of right over violence and clamor, over the dishonest arts of some Protestants, and the natural prejudices of all. It is enough for that part of the case if it can be shown that a certain class of our fellow-subjects are suffering penalties on account of opinions which have no apparent influence on their conduct in the state. If the enjoyment of certain common-law privileges be the general rule of the English Constitution, and partial incapacitation be to be considered as the exception, (which position will not, I apprehend, be denied at least by those who are in the enjoyment of them,) I would only submit that we Protestants are bound to justify the exception, before the Roman

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