Speech against the Maynooth Grant by John Plumptre, MP

Anthony S. Wohl, Professor of History, Vassar College

decorated initial 'J'ohn Plumptre, member of Parliament for East Kent, and Chairman of one of the Exeter Hall meetings protesting the Maynooth Grant issued an address which, as E. R. Norman says, contained most of the arguments used by opponents of the Grant. One should note especially his argument that Englishmen made a drastic mistake in thinking that Catholic Emancipation would satisfy the Catholics and that they will build on concessions to make ever greater inroads into Protestantism .

The following are extracts from the full version edited in Norman, 144-147.

To endow Popery once more in a land that has been rescued from its yoke, is a madness little short of high treason against heaven.

Protestant fellow-subjects, -- We are soon to be called upon to make a further grant of public money for the support of the religion of the Church of Rome. . . . The College of Maynooth, at which students are trained for the Romish priesthood, is to receive "a liberal" increase of support from the public purse, and there is to be no investigation of the doctrines inculcated at the College, or of its discipline and management, lest the grace of the boon should thereby be lessened.

No doubt Her Majesty's Ministers intend by this, and other proposals with regard to Ireland, to conciliate the Roman Catholic population there, to put an end to the cry for the Repeal of the Union, and to remove from the Romish priesthood and from political agitators, certain grounds of complaint and alleged injustice. But how little do they appear to have profited from past experience, if they are seriously entertaining the expectation, that the steps they now propose to take, will make the Roman Catholic population of Ireland a peaceful and contented population! How numerous and solemn were the promises and assurances given before the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Act in 1829, that all would be peaceable and tranquil, if Roman Catholics were admitted into Parliament, -- that this would be the sure method of rendering the Established Religion in Ireland secure, and producing general content and satisfaction!

The step was taken, and other privileges have since been granted; and now the Established Church is the "monster evil" of Ireland, which must be removed; and it is too plain that no arrangements will be satisfactory which do not leave the Church of Rome supreme and dominant. The power and influence, which by various provisions have been conferred on the Roman Catholics, instead of making them tranquil and grateful subjects of the United Empire, have been, and still are, employed for the advancement of their further objects; - - and, being emboldened by what they have already obtained, they tell you plainly, they will not be satisfied, if this and that object of their desires be withheld from them.

Brother Protestants,--Are you acquainted with the character of the books which are used at the College of Maynooth? . . . .I am acquainted with the contents of some of these books; and I declare to you, that many of the doctrines inculcated from them into the minds of the students for the Roman Catholic priesthood, whom you are liberally to support, are such as all honest and sincere Christians would shudder at. I affirm to you, that, under the direction of such doctrines, if circumstances might allow a practical appeal to them, our Protestant monarch would not be safe upon her throne; the liberty, the property, the lives of our Protestant fellow-countrymen would not be secure.

And you are to contribute to the training up of priests, who are to be taught out of these books, and who will disseminate what they learn through the length and breadth of the sister island! . . . I ask you, will you yield to this, without the energetic and uncompromising use of all legitimate and constitutional means to avert the disgrace, the danger, the sin, that are threatening to befall your Country? Will you not pour your Petitions into Parliament from every city and borough, from every village and hamlet, from every congregation loving Protestant truth? . . .

As you value His favour, as you deprecate His frown, as your hearts and your altars are dear to you; as you would retain and enjoy for yourselves, and transmit to your children, the blessings and privileges which belong to you as Protestants, I beseech you to oppose, with all zeal and firmness, with all temperance and calmness, with all loyal attachment to your Sovereign-with all union among yourselves--with all charity towards all men--with all prayer and supplication towards God--this fresh inroad about to be made upon your consciences,--this new and deep wound to your highest and holiest feelings.

And I call upon you the more anxiously to do this, because the measure proposed seems to be not only wrong in itself, but to be one which, if unopposed, will probably lead to greater evils.

What if you efforts may not be successful? Still, in making your solemn protest against the intended evil, and using your earnest endeavours to avert it, you will have done your duty; and it will but remain for you to commit your cause to Him who is over all, and to cast the fearful responsibility of the proposed measure on the quarter to which it belongs.

Believe me to be, your faithful friend and servant,

JOHN P. PLUMPTRE.
London, March 10, 1845


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