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Byron & politics: ‘born for opposition’
Home|Special Collections Exhibitions|Byron & politics: ‘born for opposition’|Britannia: Parliament, party & the Prince|6. Byron’s draft parliamentary speech on Roman Catholic emancipation, 1812 

6. Byron’s draft parliamentary speech on Roman Catholic emancipation, 1812

NLS Ms.43354, f.7r

Byron was one of eight speakers in the House of Lords debate on the Earl of Donoughmore’s Motion for a Committee on the Roman Catholic Claims, on 21 April 1812. Catholic emancipation was not in fact achieved until 1829 (see exhibit 15).

This early manuscript draft of his speech has significant variations corrected from the published account, including Byron’s deleted opening remarks which were written when he thought that this (rather than the Frame Work Bill speech) would be his maiden speech.

My Lords,
In delivering my sentiments on the question before the house, I have to claim your indulgence not only as a stranger to this assembly in general, but almost to every individual of whose attention I solicit – Unconnected with party, I can neither claim the approbation of one part of the house, nor incur the animadversions of the other, I wish to say the little I have to offer without offence to either, & the sole object of my ambition is a patient hearing. – – My voice & my vote must be for the Catholics. –
The Catholic question itself has been so often, so fully & ably discussed, that it would be difficult to urge a new argument for or against them it. – But with each succeeding discussion a difficulty has been removed, objections & have been canvassed & conquered, & some of the warmest opponents to their petitioners have at length admitted the expediency of their [unclear] relief – – But granting this, they present have another obstacle, perhaps of no very formidable nature, & which whether so or not will one day prove as great an friend assistance to the Catholics, as it may now seem an argument against them, I mean, my Lords – Time – it is not the time, say they, – or it is an improper time, or there is time enough yet. – – In this, I in some measure concur with the temporizers, inasmuch, as it is not the time I could have wished for the re accomplishment of Catholic emancipation, that time is past my Lords, the Catholics should have been e=

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