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FROM THE RIGHT HONOURABLE WILLIAM PITT TO THE LATE KING, WITH HIS MAJESTY'S ANSWERS,
PREVIOUS TO THE DISSOLUTION OF THE MINISTRY IN 1801.
A.- Letter of Mr. PITT to the late KING.
DOWNING STREET, Saturday, January 31st, 1801. MR. Pitt would have felt it, at all events, his duty, previous to the meeting of Parliament, to submit to your Majesty the result of the best consideration which your confidential Servants could give to the important Questions respecting the Catholics and Dissenters, which must naturally be agitated in consequence of the Union. The knowledge of your Majesty's general indisposition to any change of the Laws on this subject would have made this a painful task to him; and it is become much more so by learning from some of his colleagues, and from other quarters, within these few days, the extent to which your Majesty entertains, and has declared, that sentiment.
He trusts your Majesty will believe, that every principle of duty, gratitude, and attachment, must make him look to your Majesty's ease and satisfaction, in preference to all considerations, but those arising from a sense of what in his honest opinion is due to the real Interest of your Majesty and your dominions. Under the impression of that opinion, he has concurred in what appeared to be the prevailing sentiments of the majority of the Cabinet, —that the admission of the Catholics and Dissenters to offices, and of the Catholics to Parliament (from which latter the Dissenters are not now excluded), would, under certain conditions to be specified, be highly adviseable, with a view to the tranquillity and improvement of Ireland, and to the general interest of the United Kingdom.
For himself, he is on full consideration convinced, that the measure would be attended with no danger to the Established Church, or to the Protestant Interest in Great Britain, or Ireland :-That now the Union has taken place, and with the new provisions which would make part of the plan, it could never give any such weight in office, or in Parliament, either to Catholics or Dissenters, as could give them any new means (if they were so disposed) of attacking the Establishment:—That the grounds on which the laws of exclusion now remaining were founded, have long been narrowed, and are since the Union removed :That those principles, formerly held by the Catholics
which made them considered as politically dangerous, have been for a course of time gradually declining, and, among the higher orders particularly, have ceased to prevail :-That the obnoxious tenets are disclaimed in the most positive manner by the Oaths, which have been required in Great Britain, and still more by one of those required in Ireland, as the condition of the indulgences already granted, and which might equally be made the condition of any new ones:—That if such an Oath, containing (among other provisions) a denial of the power of Absolution from its obligations, is not a security from Catholics, the sacramental test is not more so:—That the political circumstances under which the exclusive laws originated, arising either from the conflicting power of hostile and nearly balanced Sects, from the apprehension of a Popish Queen or Successor, a disputed succession and a foreign Pretender, and a division in Europe between Catholic and Protestant Powers, are no longer applicable to the present state of things:—That with respect to those of the Dissenters, who it is feared entertain principles dangerous to the Constitution, a distinct political test, pointed against the doctrine of modern Jacobinism, would be a much more just and more effectual security, than that which now exists, which may operate to the exclusion of conscientious persons well affected to the State, and is no guard against those of an opposite description:
That with respect to the Catholics of Ireland, another most important additional security, and one of which the effect would continually increase, might be provided, by gradually attaching the Popish Clergy to the Government, and, for this purpose, making them dependent for a part of their provision (under proper regulations) on the State, and by also subjecting them to superintendance and controll:
That, besides these provisions, the general interests of the Established Church, and the security of the Constitution and Government, might be effectually strengthened by requiring the Political Test, before referred to, from the Preachers of all Catholic or Dissenting Congregations, and from the Teachers of Schools of every denomination.
It is on these principles Mr. Pitt humbly conceives a new Security might be obtained for the Civil and Ecclesiastical Constitution of this country, more applicable to the present circumstances, more free from objection, and more effectual in itself, than any which now exists ;-and which would, at the same time, admit of extending such indulgences, as must conciliate the higher orders of the Catholics,
and by furnishing to a large class of your Majesty's Irish subjects a proof of the good will of the United Parliament, afford the best chance of giving full effect to the great object of the Union,-that of tranquillizing Ireland, and attaching it to this country.
It is with inexpressible regret, after all he now knows of your Majesty's sentiments, that Mr. Pitt troubles your Majesty, thus at large, with the general grounds of his opinion, and finds himself obliged to add, that this opinion is unalterably fixed in his mind. It must, therefore, ultimately guide his political conduct, if it should be your Majesty's pleasure, that, after thus presuming to open himself fully to your Majesty, he should remain in that responsible situation, in which your Majesty has so long condescended graciously and favourably to accept his services. It will afford him, indeed, a great relief and satisfaction, if he may be allowed to hope, that your Majesty will deign maturely to weigh what he has now humbly submitted, and to call for any explanation, which any parts of it may appear to require.
In the interval which your Majesty may wish for consideration, he will not, on his part, importune your Majesty with any unnecessary reference to the subject; and will feel it his