Warren M. Elofson, John A. Woods, and William B. Todd (eds), The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, Vol. 3: Party, Parliament, and the American War: 1774-1780

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Speech on Scottish Catholics31 March 1779

Source: Morning Post, 1 April 1779

Another report is in London Chronicle, 1 April; and General Advertiser, 1 April; and is abbreviated in London Evening Post, 1 April.

Burke took the opportunity of a debate on the Bill against Smuggling4 to raise again the situation of the Catholics in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

pg 431Mr. Burke could not approve of any law that condemned to the flames any thing that could be serviceable to mankind; he therefore must reprobate the idea of burning vessels taken from smugglers; they might be sold, or usefully employed in the service of the state. He then took occasion to mention the case of the Roman Catholics of Glasgow and Edinburgh, who were absolutely out of the protection of the laws; one of them indeed, a shoe-maker, had ventured to open his shop;1 but none had been hardy enough as yet to follow his example. He had received a letter from the Secretary of the Protestant Association at Edinburgh,2 declaring he had not been the author of the pamphlet which had been attributed to him: he therefore thought it proper to make a reparation to the Secretary, by contradicting, on the strength of the letter, the opinion he had formerly delivered in the House respect-ing the Secretary of the association as the supposed author of the pamphlet. But he observed, that this association for protecting the Protestant religion, as he said, from the claws of Parliament, still subsisted, and as the Roman Catholics were in no small danger from it, he gave notice, that after the holidays he would renew his motion on the petition he had already presented to the House, and which had been only put off for a time by the previous question.

No evidence has been found of Burke having done so.

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Editor’s Note
4 19 Geo. III, c. 19.
Editor’s Note
1 William Lockhart was the shoemaker at Edinburgh (MS. at Sheffield, Bk 8.53).
Editor’s Note
2 From Patrick Bowie (Ralph Bowie was in fact secretary); see Corr. iv. 53–7.
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