§ Mr. R. Grant
said, that in introducing the Motion of which he had already given notice, to the attention of the House, he should have preferred avoiding all particular observations, reserving to himself the right of making whatever remarks he pleased during the discussion of the question at some future stage; and this course he would have pursued, because he could not have anticipated that any difficulties would be thrown in the way of the Bill at that period, or any opposition offered to its further progress; but having understood that one or two hon. Members had announced their intention, as it undoubtedly was their right, to contest the measure in this its first stage, and other hon. Members having declared their design to suspend their opinions until they should have heard the reasons advanced on either side, he thought he had no option, but must, however reluctantly, trouble the House with an exposition of those points upon which he founded the belief, and indulged the hope, that his proposal would be entertained. He begged, however, to preface his observations upon the subject with an explanation of the nature of his connection with the cause he advocated. It was not only unsought and unforeseen, but altogether fortuitous. Understanding that sonic such question was in contemplation, he had been led to turn his attention to it—not without prejudices, which, however, calm reflection had completely dissipated—and thus convinced of the justice and policy of the measure, he did not consider himself at liberty to decline the honourable office of conducting it, although it came from strange hands. He stated this, that his humble opinions might not lose their due weight, however small that might be, being, as they were, entirely the result of conviction. The question before the House he proposed to treat after the following manner: he would first state the law in regard to that class of British subjects on whose behalf he appeared: he would next declare the grounds upon which these persons complained of that state of the law, 1288 and why they considered themselves entitled to relief: then he would proceed to touch upon the means of affording that relief: and lastly, he would attempt to answer some objections by which he had been informed the measure was to be encountered. The division of his address would, then, be fourfold. The state of the law—the grounds of complaint against it—the remedy—and the objections to that remedy; and having touched upon these four topics, he should have put the House into full possession of all the considerations, views, and objects, which seemed to him necessary to guide its decision. Now, as to the state of the law, it would not be necessary, though it certainly would be curious, to enter into an historical deduction of it from the olden time. He would accordingly content himself with adverting to one or two facts. It was a matter notorious to all who had examined the question, that members of the Jewish communion were, at an early period of our history, domiciled in these realms. After the Conquest, there were, during the first three reigns, frequent persecutions of that unfortunate race, without any just causes of complaint against them; and indeed, for the period of a hundred and fifty years that followed, it was difficult to say whether they suffered more from the mad malignant fury of the populace, who were their avowed enemies, or from the cool rapacious tyranny of the sovereigns, who professed to be their protectors. The excesses committed against them by the people were urged on by the most incredible reports; such as their plotting against the State—conspiring for the purpose of setting fire to the metropolis—crucifying Christian children, and so forth. And the fury of the people being excited and exasperated by these incredible reports, vented itself in excesses only less horrible than those crimes which were so falsely imputed to them. It was true, they were protected by the kings; but what was the nature of that protection? It was the same protection that these princes afforded the wild beasts in the royal forests. They were secured from general invasion; but it was only that they might be more effectually preyed on by their royal masters. At these periods, laws of the most odious nature (or royal edicts, which bad then the effect of laws) were passed, with a view of extracting from the Jews, under the various titles of taxes, imposts, duties, and gifts, that wealth which these persons had acquired by means of 1289 their superior intelligence, their more extended connection with foreign parts, and their active and industrious habits. And these laws were enforced under circumstances of the most terrible and revolting cruelty, and by acts which fixed an indelible blot upon, and even left a stain on human nature—he would not detain or disgust the House by entering into a recital of them—he would content himself with quoting a passage from Matthew Paris. Although the language was figurative, it was yet so picturesque, that he preferred giving it untranslated. It referred to the conduct of one of our sovereigns, and declared, "Non solum excoriendo, sed eviscerando exlorsit." In the reign of Henry 3rd certain ordinances were passed, denying those of the Jewish communion the right of holding or transferring land, and keeping them in all respects as serfs and villeins of the Crown, and likewise restricting their religious worship; for they were commanded to conduct their worship in so low a voice as not to be overheard by the neighbouring Christians. Next, in the reign of Edward 1st, was passed the statute de Judaismo. This conferred upon the Jews certain privileges, which, however, were more than counterbalanced by depriving them of the practice of usury, which, in those times, meant the same thing as the taking of interest. In the 18 th year of the reign of Edward 1st, by virtue of a royal edict, the Jews, to the number of 15,000, were expelled the kingdom; and this inhuman law was carried into effect, with every accompaniment of cruelty and scorn—with the confiscation of all their valuable property—with the infliction of the most galling personal suffering, and in several cases with the actual privation of life. It was well, though it was at the same time melancholy, to reflect that these dark and sanguinary stains were inflicted upon the brightest pages of English history, and those on which an Englishman was wont to dwell with greatest pleasure—the stirring days of the chivalrous Richard 1st, and those of the wise and enterprising Edward. But great as were the horrors perpetrated in these realms, they were more than equalled by the acts of contemporary sovereigns. They had already suffered in France under the iron rule of Philip Augustus; an ample counterpart for this was to be found in Germany; and then the storm rolled on towards Spain and Portugal, gathering force as it proceeded. So that from the first kingdom 150,000 1290 Jews were driven by Ferdinand and Isabella, and the most shocking cruelties were unreluctantly perpetrated against the miserable fugitives and their fellow-religionists by Emanuel, the otherwise enlightened and liberal monarch of Portugal. One hundred and fifty years elapsed after the Jews had been expelled from England before they again entered this kingdom. Having in vain negociated for their return with Cromwell, they were admitted by connivance during the reigns of the succeeding sovereigns. Under Charles 2nd and James 2nd they received letters of denization, which, although pressed, these monarchs refused to violate. Under William 3rd, however, the Alien-duty was imposed upon them, and in Queen Anne's time an Act was passed in the true spirit of the Anti-catholic code, compelling the Jewish parent to make provision for his child who should have become a Christian. In George 1st's reign an Act had been passed, to which, in the present instance, it was not necessary to allude. This allowed the naturalization of foreign Jews, and freed them from the Alien-duties; but here the question was not about foreign Jews, but about British-born subjects. He mentioned this to show there was no relation between the measure now proposed and that carried in the last century, which, however, he regretted to say, had, by the miserable pusillanimity of the Ministry, been repealed a few months after it was carried. No Act, he believed, had since been passed with the direct purpose of affecting the Jews. The Oath of Allegiance, passed in the reign of Elizabeth, contained nothing in its form or substance which was adverse to the feelings of these persons; but as it was required that it should be sworn to upon the Evangelists, it could not be taken by a Jew. Again, the Oath of Abjuration, which was intended to guard the kingdom against the return of the Stuarts, had nothing in it which they could not conscientiously take; but, unfortunately, at the conclusion of it, there was a formula which was to them an insuperable barrier; it was "upon the faith of a Christian." Next came the Sacramental Test, imposed by the Corporation and Test Acts, which excluded them, as, previously to the Session before last it did Protestant Dissenters, from various rights and privileges. Well, the House was pleased to remove this restriction, but it was replaced by a test not to be applied subsequently, as the former was, but pre- 1291 viously: and, worst of all, the Acts of Indemnity were at an end. Passing those Acts annually, relieved the Jews as well as the Dissenters, from the consequences of not having taken the oaths. The new Act compelled a man to swear "upon the faith of a Christian." Thus the three lunges of exclusion (if he might use the word) were these:—The necessity of taking the Oath of Allegiance upon the Evangelists—the formula at the end of the Oath of Abjuration—and the new Test, "on the faith of a Christian." Now there was nothing in the body of these tests that they would not adopt and subscribe; and he submitted to the House that the restrictions imposed by them on the Jews were fortuitous, and did not arise from any desire of legislating against them. The form of the first oath was made out before the re-admission of the Jews into this kingdom; the next Oath was framed when they were beneath political notice; and the Oath was made, not to supply a test for those who were not Christians, but to bind those who were. Then, as to the new restriction, it was suggested, not by that, but by the other House, and that House would support him in the assertion that it was less a deliberate act of legislation than a compromise on the part of the Commons to avoid the risk of losing an important benefit. All that excluded Jews from the ordinary privileges of British subjects were those formula he had stated. He would now state the general nature of these disabilities, as given in a clever pamphlet. They could not hold any office civil or military; they could not be schoolmasters or ushers; they could not be Serjeants at law, barristers, solicitors, pleaders, conveyancers, attorneys, or clerks; they could not be Members of Parliament, nor could they vote for return of Members, if any body chose to enforce the Oath; and, finally, they were excluded from all corporation offices. Some doubts, too, had been started if the statute de Judaismo was not still in force, excluding them from the right of holding or transferring lands, and leaving their religious worship without protection. These were certainly debateable grounds; but even so, nobody could doubt the right of the House to confirm that which was doubtful, and, consequently, he had been induced to mention these in addition to their notorious grievances. He might also remark—and a memorable instance of the truth of this assertion was afforded in the discussion of a Bill carried last Session— 1292 that capital disabilities, imposed by the law of the country, always inflicted a hundredfold growth of evil in the shape of other disabilities, forming a sort of after-crop of oppression through the agency of union and local regulations. It was quite true that this did not universally prevail throughout the country. In Exeter, Norwich, and other parts of the kingdom, Jews might engage in all trades, and enjoy the common privileges of citizens; but he regretted to state that in the great metropolis of the commercial world, they were subjected to restrictions of the most onerous nature. They could not obtain the freedom of the city. They could not exercise a retail trade—regulations, which, to the great mass of the members of the communion, were the most galling and the most oppressive. The Jews, in short, were nearly on the same footing as the Roman Catholics were last year; but the difference was in favour of the previous situation of the Roman Catholics, and against the Jews. Such, then, being the principles on which he claimed the attention of the House, and the state of the law to the Jews, he should proceed to state the grounds upon which ho called for the repeal of these laws. He had first to state that the number of the Jews in the Metropolis amounted to about 20,000. Accounts differed much respecting the number of them in the empire, but they might be estimated at from 30 to 40,000. This calculation would embrace all the United Kingdom. He, in the next place, begged the House to observe, that as a sect the Jews were known by the whole world to be the most ancient. Their religious and political principles were upon record—their habits were recognised as peaceable and industrious; and as subjects, they were proved by the experience of ages to be less stained than any other by the crimes of treason to the Monarch or the State. Such were the persons who thus suffered, and who now claimed justice and mercy at their hands. They lived usefully and peacefully under the Constitution; but all it had of grace, of favour, of privilege, or protection, was denied to them, while they had to groan under all that remained in it of what was illiberal and oppressive. He wished to observe too, that the effect of Catholic Emancipation had been, to aggravate the evils under which they suffered. He could mention one case in which it had been peculiarly oppressive, in which a young man, prepared to be called to the 1293 bar, was disqualified by the effects of that very Act of Toleration which had conferred such inestimable blessings upon others. Now, when the peculiar pressure of disabling laws on one class of the community was the result of the removal of disabilities from another, the severity and unfairness of the infliction was quite clear; and having said this, he felt he had exhausted all that could be said upon the subject. The Jews affirmed that, by paying taxes, they contributed to the support of the State, and that by their wealth they added to its opulence; and in return, they called upon the House for that which hitherto the legislature had denied them—an admission to the rights and privileges of the British Constitution. These being the nature and extent of the disabilities under which these persons laboured, and the grounds on which they asked for relief, he came next to speak of the means of relief, and he would say shortly, that as the Catholic Code afforded a perfect precedent of the disabilities common to the Roman Catholics and the Jews, in the years before last, so did the removal of those disabilities, as regarded the former, furnish a glorious precedent of the mode in which relief might be extended to the latter. The House might put them upon the same footing with the Roman Catholics since the passing of the Act. And for this special reason, that since Catholic Emancipation was likely to induce a judicial decision, they should give the Jews the benefit of that judicial decision, which would, in all probability previously take place in the case of the Roman Catholics. The Emancipatory Act pronounced by the country would, he anticipated, be followed, as in the case of Catholic Emancipation, by the removal of all corporation restrictions, even in the Metropolis. And here he could not avoid remarking that it was a strange thing that the City of London, great and wealthy as it was, should withhold that right of citizenship from the Jews which was conceded by Rome—by Pagan and Christian Rome,—in its most high and palmy state. But he certainly did hail it as an auspicious event that, notwithstanding the hostility displayed upon all occasions by the City of London to these persons—its anxiety to exclude them from all Corporation offices—to impose upon them the alien duties, and to prevent their naturalization in the country—that yet he had great reason to believe he should that night have the cordial support of the four Members for this great Metropolis. He had now stated 1294 generally to the House the nature of the measure he proposed for the relief of those persons. He would next address himself to the objections raised against it; and, in doing so, he must implore the indulgence of the House, when he said, that not a single objection should be brought forward by him, excepting such as he had either heard in that House, or understood, in private conversation were to be advanced in opposition to the measure. This he thought it necessary to say, lest on the one side he might be suspected of betraying the cause he professed to advocate, by conjuring up new and formidable obstacles in its way; or, on the other hand, of evoking mere phantoms of argument and opposition, that he might reap the vain honour of having laid them with a trifling exertion of his power. Having premised this, he would proceed to observe, that the principal objections were of a nature scarcely fit for popular discussion. They touched upon considerations so high, and so sacred, that he was embarrassed; but he could not altogether pass them by in silence, lest he might be presumed to admit the correctness of the arguments founded on them, though he could not debate upon them with the freedom admitted in other topics. The objections were three-fold; and there was also a sort of preliminary objection which contended against altering the law which had resulted from the wisdom of our ancestors; saying that, surely we should not hastily make any innovation on a state of things thus time-honoured, and thence insidiously wishing to deduce that it should not be rendered susceptible of any change whatsoever. His lion, friend in his observation upon this subject, had wished the House to abandon the principle of the Legislation of the two last years, but it was rather to be hoped that it would follow up that principle to its proper extent, and place the Jews on such a footing as would enable them freely to enjoy their political and civil rights. There were some persons who thought that the Jews ought to be admitted to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights, with some qualifications, one of which was, that they were not to be admitted within the walls of the British Parliament. These propositions of partial or more extended admission were advocated by those who stated and brought them forward, on the grounds of the established law of the country, and the wisdom of our forefathers. But whether they appealed to the one or the other 1295 for examples of the principle of mixed admission and exclusion, merely on account of religious differences, he denied that any such precedent was to be found. He denied that there was any instance of any sect of Christian separatists (except the Catholics might be so considered) who had been admitted to the free exercise of all the common rights of subjects, and yet excluded from seats in Parliament, and from the enjoyment of civil privileges. In all the laws which had been framed on these subjects our forefathers had carefully avoided mixture of civil disabilities and political exclusion with personal rights. In the first place there were the members of the church, who enjoyed all the benefits of the Constitution; then there were the orthodox Protestant Dissenters who enjoyed equal freedom with the Churchmen, and were admissible to Parliament; then there were heterodox Protestant Dissenters, and they too were admissible to Parliament, and many of them had seats there, but they were not admissible to office, and were denied the exercise of their worship; and then there were Quakers who were not admissible to Parliament nor to office, and who were denied civil rights, inasmuch as they were not permitted to give evidence in Courts of Justice, as they would not take an oath; and lastly, there were the Catholics, who had perfect freedom of worship, but were excluded from office and from Parliament. Such had been the state of our laws, thus exhibiting every variety of disability and of privilege; but it seemed that by some miracle the Jews had escaped from both those situations, which were, however, now pressed against them on the grounds of the experience of past time and the wisdom of our ancestors. This question had been argued on other grounds. It must be given up on precedent; but then it was said that our institutions were based upon the Christian religion, and that in our statutes every one who professed Christianity was advantageously distinguished from all those who denied its divinity and truth. With respect to our institutions, that argument had been urged in the year 1753 against the project for the naturalization of the Jews, and it had then been nobly answered by Mr. Pelham, who thus applied himself to its consideration: "As to what has been said, Sir, about Christianity being part of our establishment, and that we ought not to allow the professed enemies of our ecclesiastical establishment to come and live 1296 among us, no more than we would allow the professed enemies of our civil establishments to come and live amongst us, it is an argument that goes a great deal to far—not only Christianity, but Christianity as professed and practised by the Church of England, is a part of our establishment; will any Gentleman say that we ought not to allow any person to live amongst us that will not in every punctillio conform to the profession and practice of the Church of England? Surely, Sir, I am not to look upon every man as my enemy who differs from me in opinion upon any point of religion. This would be a most unchristian way of thinking; therefore I must think that the Jews are in much the same case with the dissenters from the Church of England." Such had been the liberal sentiments of the man who was then the Ministerial leader of that House. Such sentiments he (Mr. R. Grant) had heard with pleasure from the lips of Mr. Pelham's present successor in that office, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Secretary Peel) whose absence and its cause he now so much regretted* but who, he trusted would, on some future discussion of this question, repeat those sentiments which had already gained him so much credit among men of enlightened and generous minds. At no period could it be shown that our laws had supported one form of Christianity and had not opposed another: then hew could they collect that those laws had supported both these contrary forms against a third? The laws had been such as he had described till they came to the reign of William 3rd., when there was a nearer approach to that system for which Gentlemen now contended; but in that day there was no collection of Statutes supporting general Christianity as part of the law of the land; they supported Christianity, indeed, but it was the Christianity of the Church Establishment, which condemned the Catholic as meditating treason, and the Unitarian as uttering blasphemy. But if it were said, that because the laws were found to support some one part of Christianity it supported the whole, he denied the assertion, and maintained that he was entitled to reverse the argument, and then employ* The cause alluded to by Mr. Grant, was the illness of Mr. Peel's father, whose death on the 3rd of May, raised this Gentleman to the dignity of a Baronet and after that period he appears in our pages as Sir Robert Peel.1297 it in favour of his own views of the question. At the time of the Reformation it was said that Christianity became a part of the law of the land, or, in other words, that the Holy Scriptures were made part of the law of the land. He was not unwilling to enter upon that ground of argument, and in doing so he trusted that what he was about to say would not be considered as a proof that he was dead to the value of the institutions of the country. There was one sense in which Christianity was certainly part of the law of the land, inasmuch us the law undertook to protect the Sacred Scriptures. It did so because those Scriptures were part of the State religion of the country. Now a large part of those very Scriptures were supported in their sacred character by those very people in whose favour he was at that moment addressing the House, and from their ancestors had we derived our knowledge of them. On these grounds, therefore, he saw no possible objection to the Motion he was about to propose. Nor did he suppose that, because some hon. Gentlemen had disapproved of the legislation of the two last years, that they ought to disapprove of this, or to believe, as his hon. friend seemed to imagine, that we had quitted our former high station, and were now following a descending progression, that would ultimately lead us from the truths of Christianity itself. His hon. friend (Sir H. H. Inglis) could not say that ho was necessarily compelled to oppose the proposition, for he confidently expected that he should find many supporters among those who had opposed the measure of last year, which he was proud to say he had cordially supported. On those who had voted on the same side with him on that question, he now called for support; for it was not possible for them to stop short in that career of liberality on which they had so generously and so nobly entered. He called on the House to say whether it had been in error, whether the charge brought against it of being wrong was to be sanctioned by its own vote, or by the voice of the country, and by the voice—or he should rather say by the silence—of those for whom that measure of relief had been intended? Those who opposed him said they did so because they felt that they could not deviate from the maxims of their ancestors. The only mode in which they could be worthy of their ancestors was, to adopt the principles of those ancestors, and to adapt them to the altered circumstances of the 1298 present day. Instead of adhering to the letter of their acts, they should adopt their spirit, and do that which, under the same circumstances, their ancestors would have done. If we looked back to past events, we should find that our ancestors introduced those things that were now established as part of the institutions of the country; but at that time they were bold and daring innovations on existing forms. In introducing them, our ancestors showed their wisdom; but if when circumstances had changed we still retained these things, merely because they had been once introduced, instead of being proofs that we possessed the wisdom of our ancestors, they would remain memorials of the folly, the rashness, and the madness of their descendants. These arguments applied to one set of objections made to this measure. He came, then, to objections of a secular kind founded on those peculiar habits of the Jews which, it was said, unfitted them for the full and unqualified exercise of civil and political rights. It was said that they were a sort of wandering dispersed people, concerned in operations between different countries, but belonging to none. He partly admitted the fact, but what was the cause? Was it not to be found in laws which gave them no country, and attached them to no soil; and were not those who made such laws and then complained of their effects like those who must made men commit crimes and then punished them for their criminality? The circumstances in which he then stood proved their readiness to adopt the principles of a settled community—their readiness to give the Parliament their full affection and allegiance, if the Parliament would give them full protection and conciliation. they would adopt domestic habits if Parliament would give them a home—they would become a settled people if Parliament would afford them a country. Another argument connected with the same branch of the subject was, that there was something so demoralising in the state of some of their body that they were not fit to be invested with civil privileges. That charge was true with respect to some of them, but was false with regard to the greater part of them. There were no citizens more remarkable for their probity, integrity, and high-mindedness than the higher classes of the Jewish body. He admitted that the charge was well founded with respect to the lower classes of the Jews; but the moment the law that put an end to their disabilities was passed, a most trium- 1299 phant course would have been adopted to put an end to the accusation for ever. The higher classes had laboured hard to afford the advantages of education to their humbler brethren, but the latter were found in a situation of the most demoralized kind, and the feeling that they were so only tended to keep them in that state, and to demoralise others. He knew no readier, nor any, he would say, more wicked way to demoralise a people, and to make them corrupt, than to enact laws as if corruption already existed among them. So much for the secular head of objection to the measure he now proposed. He now came to another objection. It was said, that though these exclusions were not to be justified on the ground of precedent, yet that as matter of propriety the law admitted only Christians, and his hon. friend had said "I for one will not give a vote to unchristianise the British people." The argument was, that if Parliament admitted any class of persons who were not Christians, a door would be opened to the admission of all sorts of persons who denied the doctrines of Christianity. In the first place he denied the truth of the comparison, and he asserted that the most eminent divines of our Church had admitted that the system of Judaism stood in such a relation to the Christian religion as was not found and could not be found to exist between Christianity and any other religion. The very foundations of our religion were in the religious books of the Jews—in those books its principles were to be discovered, and the sincere professor of Christianity was deeply implicated in the past history, and in the future estimation of the Jewish people. On that subject he would take the liberty of reading a few words from the letter of an excellent and learned clergyman to the Jews. The writer said, so many and so striking were the analogies of the Jewish and Christian religions, as to prove beyond all doubt that both had their origin from the same source, and owed their existence to the same authority—they were founded on the evidence of the same species—they were the same in their practical nature and result—they were not distinct and dissimilar religions, but were identical—they were one and the same—Judaism was infant Christianity, and Christianity was adult Judaism. He fully agreed with this, but he put the admission of the Jews upon higher grounds—they were men who maintained and revered the obligation and sanctity of oaths, and who acted the part 1300 of peaceable, loyal, and upright citizens. He must state, that he was not aware of any principle on which they had a right to exclude the Jews from those privileges which were enjoyed by their fellow-subjects. If all were placed on one footing, all would direct their energies to one common purpose. As members of one community they would employ all their power to effect one common object. As labourers they would furnish to the State their industry—the brave would give their valour—the rich their means—and the wise their counsel—for the service of the State. The vital principle of all society was, and must be, mutuality—this was destroyed by political restrictions: put an end to them, and the reciprocal rights and duties of all men would again come into full operation for the benefit of the whole community. In the state of our National Church there were offices from which, as connected with it, the Jews must be excluded; but there was no reason why they should be excluded from those civil privileges which were common to the rest of their countrymen. The great principle which bound men to each other acted as universally as the principle of gravitation which attracted bodies to each other, and could be violated with as little propriety. The principles of our religion condemn a system of exclusion, which could only generate ill-will between men; and on every ground, he was satisfied the House would feel that they ought to conciliate the affection and attachment of those with whom they lived. He referred his hon. friend to the earliest times of Christianity, and called on him to say whether the sincerest and most devoted members of the Christian faith did not freely take offices in those Pagan establishments under which they lived? Why did they do so?—was it because they were indifferent to the evils of Paganism? Certainly not; for rather than drop one particle of incense on the altars, they would have suffered a thousand deaths. It was because they felt that the Supreme Disposer of Events had thrown them into a society with which they were connected by the ties of a common country, and they therefore gave their services for the promotion of the common good, and in favour of the government under which they lived. In doing so they did to a certain extent lend their support to the Pagan religion, because they supported the Government by which it was maintained; but the evil of that indirect support could not outweigh the claims of country, and 1301 they therefore supported the Government which liberally gave (while it did liberally give) them favour and protection. He would here interpose one word with respect to the representative system. There were persons who thought the Jews ought to be admitted to the enjoyment of all political rights except that of sitting in Parliament. Our ancestors, at the glorious Revolution, felt that every class of the community was worthy of civil rights, and might delegate a part of themselves to represent them in the great council of the nation. Last came what was said to be the great practical evil of the change he proposed—that Dissenters of all classes, sour Presbyterians, and wily Jesuits, were admitted into Parliament; and that some day or other, when Ministers were absent, and opposition off their guard, the separatists, in a body, would come down to the House; and Church and State, King, Lords, and Commons, would be out-voted and destroyed at once. Suppose anything so unlikely—so impossible, he might call it—to happen, it was not by one vote that a matter of that kind could be accomplished; and what had been done one day, might be undone the next; and instances were not unknown, when a strong vivacious feeling prevailed, that a measure was proposed contrary to the sense of the country, and opposed to the interests of the people, which although adopted by one vote, was annulled by another. A rally had invariably occurred, to the discomfiture, with great loss, of those who had succeeded for the moment by surprise. But was it not ridiculous to suppose, that any of the great moral establishments of this kingdom, founded on the love and affection of the people, would be endangered by the admission of a few individuals of a different creed? Nothing could be more miserable than that sort of valetudinarian legislation which, under the terror of fancied evils, sacrificed the well-being of the State to chimerical imaginations—nothing could be more short-sighted than such a proceeding, for he begged to add this principle—that the only mode of securing our establishments from such perils was to fix them as fairly as possible in the hearts and affections of the people. Those who indulged such apprehensions, said, in effect, that the pyramid of national power was in imminent danger from every gust that blew; and why was it in danger? Because they preposterously attempted to balance it on its apex, and to prop it by the ingenious but futile machinery of legislation, instead of resting it upon the broad 1302 base of the love and allegiance of the people. Let it be placed upon that base, and it would remain for ever in solid and unassailable tranquillity. He would touch very briefly on another objection: he mentioned it with some reluctance, but having been informed by a respectable and intelligent Member, that it would be the foundation of his vote, he could not omit it: it referred not to the religious opinions, but to the religious position of the Jews—that inasmuch as both Jewish and Christian commentators agreed this community was under a species of heavenly proscription, those who endeavoured to improve their condition would be guilty of impiety and presumption. He should say in answer, that the conclusion of the argument fell infinitely short of the premises, for what did it amount to?—that was, much as the Jews are under this ban, in consequence of which they were to be hunted to and fro—denied the ordinary rights of citizens—allowed no homes—no country—no freedom of worship—and to experience nothing but hatred and persecution, that therefore what? That they shall have ordinary protection—that they shall enjoy a certain degree of freedom of worship—that they shall have half what the argument denies them.—but that they should be excluded from civil office and franchise, which, so far from being persecution, was, as he maintained, no persecution at all. Those who were disposed so to argue should go the whole length of their proposition—should re-enact the murderous laws of the Plantagenets and re-sacrifice the unhappy Israelites to the fury of the populace. Then, again, as in the reign of Richard 1st, the streets of York would be floating with the blood of 1,500 Jews, who put an end to their own lives rather than fall into the merciless hands of their Christian enemies. Unless those who used the argument followed it out to this extent, they contradicted themselves, and were bound cither to abjure their premises, or with a Christian spirit to do an act of justice and liberality. Upon this point he would only read an extract from the work of a pious and enlightened bishop of our Church, who said, "the Jews are blameable for persisting in infidelity after so many means of conversion; but that is 110 warrant or authority for us to proscribe, to abuse, to injure and oppress them, as Christians of more zeal than knowledge or charity have been in all ages prone to do; it is worse in us to be cruel and uncharitable, than in them to be obsti- 1303 nate and unbelieving." The same writer went on to adduce motives for showing compassion to this unhappy people, contending that only wicked nations harassed and oppressed them, while the good would treat them with kindness and forbearance; and he added, "We should rather be the dispensers of Heaven's mercy, than the executioners of its justice." In the language of that pious prelate he cordially concurred. He had now nearly closed all he had to say upon this subject; but before he sat down, he wished to observe that it was not in his power upon this, as had been done upon a recent occasion, to make an appeal to the feelings, and even to the fears of Parliament; he could not state that the Jews formed the great majority of the population of a country bordering upon a state of civil war, from an antiquated system of oppression and misgovernment; he could not assert that the safety of the whole empire was at stake in the result of this question; he had nothing to offer but their weakness, whose cause he advocated, and for whom he claimed protection. Let him say, however, that not unrewarded would be the service thus rendered—not only would the concession have in this country all the merit of unforced wisdom and spontaneous bounty, but the knowledge of it would be extended to climes, where at present the British name was hardly known. The Jews spoke, as it were a universal language, and they would spread the story of British liberality in the remotest corners of the globe.—Hitherto they had known Christianity only as the pretext for savage persecutions, and they would celebrate the change, not merely with empty praises, but with the solid advantage of commercial preference. Mow willingly would they contribute to the welfare and prosperity of a Christian kingdom, which, though tardily, had generously conferred benefits hitherto withheld. He would conclude with a maxim common to both religions; and he hoped, without employing improperly the venerable language of Scripture, he might be allowed to say, that it was the duty of the House, in reference to this question, "to do justice and to love mercy." He moved for "leave to bring in a Bill to Repeal the Civil Disabilities affecting British-born subjects professing the Jewish religion."
Sir R. Inglis
felt himself called on to resist the introduction of the measure as an imperative duty from which he could not shrink; and he hoped it would be rejected instantly, and for ever. In the speech of 1304 his hon. friend, he did not know which to admire most—the topics he had introduced, or those he had omitted. He had discussed his subject under four heads:—1st, The present state of the law; 2nd, The grounds of complaint against the law; 3rd, The remedy he proposed; 4th, The objections to that remedy.—The object was to obtain the admission of Jews into Parliament but he defied his hon. friend, who seemed to have ransacked all history, to produce a single instance in which any but Christians had been admitted to political power. He contended, that long before the Oaths of Abjuration and Supremacy were framed, the test of admission was always upon some Christian relic, if not upon the Christian volume. The Jews had been excluded at all times, and not merely in more modern times, by the words "upon the true faith of a Christian." His hon. friend might say that the Roman Catholic Relief Bill had extended the benefits of the British Constitution to all classes of his Majesty's subjects, but he (Sir R. Inglis) denied that that was the principle on which that measure had been brought forward; and he asserted, that nine-tenths of those who voted for it had supported it on very different grounds. That fatal and ill-omened act, as he must call it, did not by any means go so far. It did not confer rights—it restored them; it restored rights to those who had once enjoyed them, and had subsequently, wisely or unwisely, been deprived of them. It declared, that within the pale of our common Christianity there should no longer be any distinction between Catholic and Protestant, but it established no broader principle. Then came the question, whether the case of the Jews justified any exception to the principle thus established? It appeared to him that there was nothing in their character, conduct, history, or present condition, which justified the appeal that had been made. He maintained that the Jews were aliens, not in the technical and legal sense, when Lord Coke culled them "aliens and perpetual enemies," but in the popular sense of the word: they were aliens because their country and their interests were not merely different, but hostile to our own. The Jews of London had more sympathy with the Jews resident in Berlin or Vienna than with the Christians among whom they resided—and a reference to a few instances would show that their interests were different and hostile. In one of the wars of the last century the Jews were expelled from Bohemia for assisting 1305 an invading army, and it was well known that they importantly facilitated the retreat of Napoleon after his campaign in Russia: they furnished the means to those who were lucky enough to escape. It was a known fact also, that while we were at war with France, the Jews of London had furnished Napoleon with a loan to enable him to carry on the most determined hostility, He did not see how his hon. friend could consistently stop at the point he proposed: his argument necessarily tended to the admission of all British subjects; for the distinction between British-born subjects and British subjects was too evanescent to justify a distinction between them. Whether British subjects happened to be born in Quebec, Jamaica, Calcutta, or Bombay, they ought all to be admitted to a share of political privileges; the next step would be, to abolish all oaths, for, after such a proceeding, they could only be exposed to ridicule. Some hon. Members might think this an advantage, and might hold that the best security for public men was the test of public opinion—that test being gathered from The Morning Chronicle on the one hand, and from The Morning Post on the other. He had always held that the grant or refusal of civil rights was a mere matter of discretion, to be decided by expediency, and not upon abstract right; and therefore, until better arguments were advanced, he should resist the admission of Jews, on the point of expediency. It might be urged that the number was so small as to disarm apprehension; but he said with Mr. Burke, that a small number might make up for its want of weight by its activity, and produce the greatest public events. Those with whom his hon. friend sat were not precisely those from whom the House would expect a contrary lesson. It might not be in good taste to expatiate on the value—the political and influential, not the pecuniary value—of seats in Parliament; but the Jews might get into the House of Commons, and use that power for their own selfish and unnational purposes. They were not a sect; but to this day they called themselves a people; and they might avail themselves of their political influence for objects connected with their own aggrandisement. At the time of the discussion of the debts of the Nabob of Arcot, Mr. Burke had not scrupled to designate certain individuals, who had purchased their seats, as the members for Arcot; within the last thirty years many firms had thought it right to be re- 1306 presented by members of their house, and in one instance four partners had filled seats at the same time to avail themselves of the mollissima tempora fandi, when their own interests were concerned. The Jews might obtain admission by the same means and for the same purposes, and an hon. friend of his had said, that he knew of four who' were ready to enter the House at once: considering that there were in the United Kingdom, at the utmost, 40,000 Jews, and that about every 40,000 Christians had only one representative, this number was considerably above their fair proportion. The command of capital would enable the Jews to obtain seats, and the introduction of a Jew ought to be considered direct evidence of bribery, for it was out of the question to suppose that they would ever obtain the unbought suffrages of the people. A Jew Member would carry on his forehead the evidence of the mode by which he obtained admission; and certain he was, that within seven years after the entrance of the first Jew, Parliamentary Reform would be carried. Notwithstanding what he heard, he repeated the assertion, that Parliamentary Reform must be carried within seven years after the first Jew obtained a seat in Parliament. Those who were in favour of Reform would, of course, therefore vote for his hon. friend's Bill; and with those who were opposed to Reform, he trusted the observation he had made would have its due weight. But supposing the introduction of Jews were followed by no consequences, he should still, on principle, resist their admission; and from the first hour of the Constitution to the present, he defied any man to show an instance in which any but a Christian had been admitted to Parliament, or to power. Indeed, the system of Christianity had been protected by the Parliament and approved by the people. If the Jew approached the Table of that House, he would approach it as one who declared the Saviour to be an impostor; and at the very time that he was sworn, his faith would be that the holy name by which we called ourselves was a name of contempt and derision. When the Jew asked them to admit him to a seat in that House, or on the judgment-seat, they were bound to remember, that in such a case he would be called upon to administer the law to a Christian people. With this fact before them, it appeared to him that there was no principle which could compel or justify them in giving the charge of a Christian Church or a Christian people to those who made these declarations. 1307 He could not but think that there was a solecism in this which it would be impossible to get over, and which ought to be paramount against his hon. friend's Bill. He was willing to admit that in other countries this step had been taken; but at the same time he was unwilling that the example of any other country on this subject should influence or affect the conduct of this; and in spite of what had been said by his hon. friend, he was sure that the institutions either of Pagan or of Imperial Rome would not bear them out in the course that was proposed. If they looked towards France, though it was true that the law there had given eligibility to the Jew as to office, yet there was not one single instance in which any Jew had been placed either in the Chamber of Deputies, or in the Chamber of Peers, or had been advanced to an office in the Administration of justice, or to a seat on the Bench. In no case had a Jew in that country yet held an office higher than that of Receiver. In the Low Countries the same was the case—there was no instance of a Jew being placed in a situation of power, either as regarded the representation of the country, or its administration of justice. With respect to America (a country, which had frequently been held up as a model to England), there had not been a single Jew admitted into the House of Representatives; nor in any part of the United States had a Jew been admitted to office, with the exception of one person (whose name was well known in this country), who had been appointed to that office which was the second to that of the Receiver of Customs in New York. But in these particulars there would be a great difference between these countries and ours. Once let the Bill of his hon. friend become a law, not a year, not a day would pass, without the principle coining into operation; and this fulcrum once gained, it was easy to see that it would open the way to the exercise of other and still more dangerous powers. In fact, if the point with respect to the Jews was once conceded, it would be difficult to withstand the intrusion of any other class. Under these circumstances, it appeared to him that the only course consistent with the remains of the old Constitution, and with their own character, was to resist the measure of his hon. friend from the very first. It was no want of respect to his hon. friend, that he took this earliest opportunity of resisting the Bill; but with respect to such an attempt, he thought that they were bound 1308 to oppose even the granting of leave. In the course of the present Session, an hon. Member, whom he did not then see in his place, had opposed the hon. member for Staffordshire, in asking for leave to bring in a bill to prevent the payment of labourers by butter and cheese instead of money. If this measure, of such comparatively trivial importance was to he opposed from the very first, he trusted that it would not he deemed any want of respect to his hon. friend, for him to implore the House to resist the measure of which his hon. friend was the advocate, by refusing at once to give leave for the Bill to be brought in.
§ Sir James Mackintosh and Mr. Macauley rose together, but the latter, being a new Member was called for by the House, and—
proceeded to address the House nearly as follows:—In spite of the parallel which my hon. friend (the member for Oxford) has attempted—I think in vain—to draw between this case and the Roman Catholic measure before the House during the last Session of Parliament, I trust that we shall not have to forego the votes of many of those hon. Gentlemen who in the last Session were opposed to the concession of the Catholic claims. Indeed, many of those Gentlemen will be precluded, by the course they then took, from offering any opposition to the present measure. The general principle of religious toleration was involved in the question of last year, as it is now: but most of those Gentlemen who voted against the Roman Catholics declared in favour of this general principle, only they found that there were special circumstances which took the case of the Roman Catholics out of the pale of that principle. But, Sir, there are no such circumstances here. In this instance, there is no foreign power to be feared. There is no divided allegiance threatening the State—there are no bulls—there are no indulgencies—there are no dispensations—there is no priesthood exercising an absolute authority over the consciences of those who are under their spiritual control—there are no agitators rousing and exciting the people to a course contrary to all good government—there are no associations assembling, or charged with assembling, for the purpose of assuming, a power which ought only to belong to legally recognized functionaries—there arc no mobs, disciplined to their task, and almost in the regular training of arms—there is no rent levied with the re- 1309 gularity of a tax. It was the fashion last year to declaim about a government that yielded to clamour, opposition, or threats, having betrayed the sacredness of its office, but there can be none such here; for even those most opposed to the present measure cannot deny that the Jews have borne their deprivations long in silence, and are now complaining with mildness and decency, As a contrast to this, the Roman Catholics were always described as an insinuating, restless, cunning, watchful sect, ever on the search how they might increase their power and the number of their sect, pressing for converts in every possible way, and only withheld by the want of power from following up their ancient persecutions. But the sect with which we now have to deal are even more prone to monopolize their religion than the others are to propagating the Catholic faith. Never has such a thing been heard of as an attempt on the part of the Jews to gain proselytes; and we may conclude, that with such rites and forms as belong to their faith, it could scarcely be expected by any one that a scheme of proselytism could succeed with them. Be that however as it may, it is a thing at which they never appear to have aimed. On the contrary, they have always discouraged such an idea. Let the history of England be examined, and it will furnish topics enough against the Catholics. Those who have looked for such things have always found enough to talk about as to the crimes they have committed: the fires in Smitlifield—the Gunpowder Plot—the Seven Bishops—have always afforded copious matter upon which to launch out in invective against the Catholics. But with respect to the Jews, the history of England affords events exactly opposite: its pages, as to these people, are made up of wrongs suffered and injuries endured by them, without a trace of any wrong or injury committed in return; they are made up, from the beginning to the end, of atrocious cruelties inflicted on the one hand, and grievous privations endured for consciencesake on the other. With respect to all Christian sects, their changes of situation have always afforded scope for charges of mutual recrimination against one another; but every one allows the side on which the balance between the Jew and the Christian is weighed down. As to the opposition offered to this Bill by my hon. friend, I am at a loss to sec on what he has grounded it, unless he takes the broad principle, that no one who is not a Christian is to be en- 1310 trusted with power, as his rule of action; I am at a loss to sec how he can refuse his assent to or oppose this measure without throwing himself open to the charge of inconsistency. If this Bill, like the Roman Catholic one of last Session, is to be opposed, it is condemning the strong and the weak, the violent and the patient, the proselyting and the exclusive, the political and the religious. If this is the course that is to be taken for our guide, persecution will never want an excuse, and the wolf will ever he able to invent a pretence to bear down and destroy the lamb. If this is to be the maxim set up for our land-mark, it will soon appear that every thing may be a reason with the aggressor, as every thing is shown to be a crime in the aggressed. In all the opposition that was lately evinced against the Catholics, it was never once assumed or pretended that the opposition was religious; it was political, and nothing else. When the object was to excite ill blood and rancour in the country—when red-hot speeches and tub-sermons went forth on the subject, the people were told that the question was, whether they should be compelled to worship stocks and stones, instead of the true God? But this was a point of view never alluded to by the more distinguished and candid opponents of the Catholic claims. I myself remember having heard the Earl of Eldon declare that it was not on religious but on political grounds that he was opposed to the measure. The question just at that time under consideration was that of Transubstantiation; and the noble and learned Lord observed that it was not because the Catholics believed in the real presence that they were objected to, but that being the test by which they were kept out, they were through that kept out, because they were not good subjects. But now the whole case is changed. Political objection is fairly given up; and in its place religious persecution is avowed. In all that my hon. friend, the member for Oxford, has offered to the House, I have traced but two political objections; and neither of them appears to me to be entitled to the weight which my hon. friend would give to them. The first political argument that my hon. friend has adduced against this measure is, that the Jews of this country are more attached to their nation—wandering and scattered as they are over the face of the earth—than they are to the people of England. The only answer that I shall offer to this, is, that at all events it is exceedingly 1311 unfair to lay down this as an objection till we have tried the experiment whether, by making Englishmen of them, they will not become members of the community. Till that has been done, all we can say is, that as long as they are not Englishmen they are nothing but Jews. The other objection of my hon. friend appears to me to be more extraordinary still. He says that if this measure be granted, the power of the Jews will be such that they will come into Parliament in a much greater number than is proportioned to their relative number in the country, and the consequence of this will be to destroy the present system of representation, which will be rendered odious to the people, and a reform in Parliament must ensue. All that I can see in this argument is, that the Jews will not get into Parliament, because we are labouring under a bad system of representation. At all events, the system that we have at present must be either good or bad. If the system is bad, it is evident that the sooner we get rid of it the better. If the system is good, why should we complain of that to which it naturally tends. These objections seem to be the only political objections that my hon. friend has urged against the measure now before the House, and all the rest may be characterised as purely religious persecution. But even when my hon. friend has brought himself to that, he does not pretend to say that he opposes the Bill because the religion of the Jews is dangerous. No such pretence is put forth at all. No such outcry as that raised last session is heard now. The opposition which has made its appearance now is, if I may use the phrase without giving offence to my hon. friend, nothing but the offal—nothing but the leavings of the intolerance which was so abundant last year. All that the House has been told is, that the Jews are not Christians, and that therefore they must not have power. But this has not been declared openly and ingenuously, as it once was. Formerly the persecution of the Jews was at least consistent. The thing was made complete once by taking away their property, their liberty, and their lives. My hon. friend is now equally vehement as to taking away their political power; and yet, no doubt, he would shudder at what such a measure would really take away. The only power that my hon. friend seems to wish to deprive the Jews of is to consist in maces, gold chains, and skins of parchment, with pieces of wax dangling at the ends of them. But he is 1312 leaving them all the things that bestow real power. He allows them to have property, and in these times property is power, mighty and overwhelming power—he allows them to have knowledge, and knowledge is no less power. Then why is all this power poisoned by intolerance? Why is the Jew to have the power of a principal over his clerk—of a master over his servant—of a landlord over his tenant? Why is he to have all this, which is power, and yet to be deprived of the fair and natural consequences of this power? Why, having conceded all this, is my hon. friend afterwards to turn round and say, "You shall have all these real effects and advantages of your situation, but in the fair sequence of their possession, you shall be crippled and borne down." As things now stand, a Jew may be the richest man in England—he may possess the whole of London—his interest may be the means of raising this party or depressing that—of making East-India directors, or sending members into Parliament—the influence of a Jew may be of the first consequence in a war which shall be the means of shaking all Europe to its centre. His power may come into play in assisting or retarding the greatest plans of the greatest Princes; and yet, with all this confessed, acknowledged, undented, my hon. friend would have them deprived of power! If, indeed, my hon. friend would have things thus arranged, I would put a question to him thus:—Does he not think that wealth confers power? If it do, can he be prepared to say that the Jew shall not have power? If it do not, where are we to draw the line? How are we to permit all the consequences of their wealth but one? I cannot conceive the nature of an argument that is to bear out such a position. If it was to be full and entire persecution, after the consistent example of our ancestors, I could understand it. If we were called on to revert to the days, when, as a people, they were pillaged—when their warehouses were torn down—when their every right was sacrificed, the thing would be comprehensible. But this is a delicate persecution, with no abstract rule for its guidance. As to the matter of right, if the word "legal" is to be attached to it, I am bound to acknowledge that the Jews have no legal right to power; but in the same way, 300 years ago, they had no legal right to be in England; and 600 years ago they had no right to the teeth in their heads: but if it is the moral right we are to look at, I say, 1313 that on every principle of moral obligation, I hold that the Jew has a right to political power. Every man has a right to all that may conduce to his pleasure, if it does not inflict pain on any one else. This is one of the broadest maxims of human nature, and I cannot therefore sec how its supporters can be fairly called upon to defend it—the onus probandi lies, not on the advocates of freedom, but on the advocates of restraint. Let my hon. friend first show that there is some danger—some injury to the State, likely to arise from the admission of the Jews, and then will be the time to call upon us to answer the case that he has made out. Till such an argument, however, is fully made out, I shall contend for the moral right of the Jews. That they wish to have access to the privilege of sitting in Parliament has already been shown; it now remains to show that some harm is calculated to result from that admission. Unless this is shown, the refusal is neither more nor less than persecution. My hon. friend put a different interpretation upon the particular word I have used; but the meaning will still remain the same; and when we come to define the sense, it must be found, that we are only quibbling about a word. Any person may build a theory upon phrases: with some, perhaps, burning would be persecution, while the screwing of thumbs would not be persecution; others may call the: screwing of thumbs persecution, and deny the justice of that expression when used to whipping. But according to my impression, the infliction of any penalties on account of religious opinions, and on account of religious opinions alone, is generally understood as coming within the meaning of the term, for all the purposes of political argument. It is as much persecution in principle as an auto da fé, the only difference is in degree. Defining persecution, then, as I do, I cannot conceive any argument to be adduced in favour of the mildest degree of this injustice, which, logically speaking, though not morally, indeed, might not be used with equal force in favour of the most cruel inflictions from similar motives. I have to make my apology for having occupied so much of the time of the hon. Gentlemen present; but I could not refrain from making known my sentiments to this House of Commons, which has done more for the rights of conscience than any Parliament that ever sat. Its sessions of 1828 and of 1829 have been marked by a glorious course in favour of 1314 religious liberty; and I hope that, before our separation, this Session of 1830, will put the finishing hand to that work which so many great and good men wish to see accomplished, but which cannot be, till this most desirable measure shall be carried into effect.
§ Mr. Harrison Batley
was of opinion, that the Jews could not be admitted into Parliament without an alteration of the original writ of summons, as their religion was entirely at variance with the spirit of that declaration. He opposed the Jews because they did not believe in Christianity. The original summons to Parliament ran thus. "De communi consilio super negoliis quibusdam arduis el urgentibus, regem statum et defensionem regni Angliœ et ecclesiœ Anglicanœ concernentibus." With that language in the original writ of summons, how was it possible to admit the Jews into that Christian legislature, to make laws for a Christian State and a Christian Church. It was contended that the Jews were unambitious, and might therefore safely be trusted. But if they were unambitious, it was because they had had hitherto no stepping-stone for their ambition. It had been calculated—and he believed upon very sufficient data—that in the event of such a measure as the present being carried into effect, twenty-five Jews would obtain seats in the Commons House of Parliament, and a few of the leading men amongst them would soon obtain as much influence there as they had already-possessed over the 3-pcr-cent consols. For his own part, he could never consent to any one taking his seat in that House who did not believe in the Christian religion.
Sir James Macintosh
said, that the speech they had heard from his hon. and learned friend (Mr. Macauley) was one which, he had no doubt, would make its full impression on the House, it being every way worthy of the name he bore. It was not, therefore, to supply any defects in that speech that he had risen to address the House, for indeed there were none that he could find, but principally to absolve his own conscience. He felt that it was a duty he owed to his religion, to mankind, and his country, to declare his sentiments on this occasion. His desire was, to bear testimony in favour of the completion of that system of religions liberty of which that House had already, during the last two Sessions, effected so large a portion. However politic it might have been in his hon. friend, who had so luminously introduced 1315 this topic to the House, to have abstained from any thing which might have been deemed applicable to the late differences of opinion which had prevailed in that House, he for one could not consent to forego the vantage ground which the late proceedings of Parliament had afforded him. In turning his thoughts in this direction, he could not but congratulate himself that he was, on the present occasion, addressing a House of Commons which had done more for religious liberty than any assembly since the first Parliament of William 3rd; and it would even have been free from that exception, if that Parliament had not passed the Act of Toleration, which, as it was the first step towards religious freedom, so it ought always to be considered also as the greatest. With respect to the arguments which the hon. member for Oxford had advanced against the measure, he should abstain from offering any general answer to them, as that task had already been so ably undertaken and performed by his hon. and learned friend; and he should, therefore, confine himself to a few remarks oh the practical consequences which the hon. member for Oxford had urged. The first of these appeared to him to be one of a very singular nature. The hon. Gentleman had neither done more nor less than discovered a great secret; one which had never been whispered within the walls of that House, and still less had been surmised beyond them. He had discovered a secret which, had it been proclaimed by a hostile voice, in spite of the "Tell it not in Gath—publish it not in the streets of Ascalon," would have amazed the universe: a secret which, if it was once got at by an interloping Jew in that House, would put an end to the whole system of the representation of this country. It seemed that this profound secret had remained concealed till the hon. Member lighted upon it: in vain had the great Earl of Chatham proclaimed the notorious sale of seats in that House—in vain had Mr. Burke, in his immortal speech, told the world that the Nabob of Arcott sent no less that eight Members into that House—in vain had been the thunders of Mr. Fox's eloquence, supported by all the talent of that side of the House, and reverberated by the brilliant eloquence of Mr. Pitt; the thing had never yet been truly discovered till now; and in spite of the long acknowledged venality of the seats in that House, it had remained for the hon. member for Oxford to find out, that once admit a Jew, and he 1316 would soon produce a reform in that House, and destroy the Constitution. A comment of more pleasantry was, "A Wonder—a Woman keeps a Secret!" But the wonder that the hon. Member had lighted upon—that it was reserved for a Jew, in the year 1830, to effect what had been reverberated by every wall of that House for more than sixty years, and had resounded from every village of the country, for so long he took it had the opinion been rife in Great Britain, that the Parliament must be reformed—was a miracle much more worthy of a proverb. The next argument of the hon. member for Oxford was equally singular with the first. It was singular, too, that the hon. Gentleman had not perceived how strongly his facts were destructive of the inference he had drawn. He had told them that the Nabob of Arcott sent eight Members into that House: but was that for want of disabling laws? No; all this had happened in the time of proper and becoming restrictions; and yet the Nabob of Arcott, at the head of this band of eight, had broke through their rules—had broken down their Statutes, and, taking possession of the Table, gone through the form of the Oaths as by law required. Here, then, was one refutation of the hon. Gentleman's argument! According to him, the remedy existed, and yet the disease was raging in all its fury. The hon. Gentleman had then gone on to tell them, that in Holland, and in France, and in the United States, in spite of favourable laws, no irruption of the Jews with the Legislature had taken place—no conspiracy of the Jews to spend vast sums upon their elections had been detected; and that it was only in the humbler stations of public service they were to be found. After this, had he not a right to say, that as the hon. Gentleman's first set of facts had destroyed one part of his argument, so this second set of statements equally refuted his supposition that in the event of public office being opened to them here, they would overrun the country? With respect to the exceptions made by the hon. Gentleman in the case of the United States, he could assure him that it was not the sheriff, but the mayor of New York that was a Jew; and with reference to Holland, a most learned and valuable Jew, of the name of Meyer, was president of the criminal court at Amsterdam, a gentleman who, for his high judicial character, and for his works of jurisprudence, was well known all over Europe. But the hon. Gentleman contended that there was something 1317 in this country which laid us particularly open to the attack of their wealth. The Jews, then, were safe people to trust in Holland, in France, and in America, but in England they were dangerous. If this argument were to hold, it would appear that they were to be all-powerful in England, while they possessed no power elsewhere. Did the hon. Member mean to infer, that the character of England was so much worse than that of any other nation, or that we were a more venal people? He hoped that this was not the case; but if it were so, the representation of England must be worse than any other; and the materials being bad, there was no reason for a Jew to proclaim "Urban venalem et citò perituram." The argument of the hon. Gentleman went to show that the Jews ought not to be admitted into the offices of the State, because they were more attached to each other than to any country. True, that was the case; but was the Government not to blame for this? We first deprived the Jews of a country and a character; and were we then to complain of their vices, and attribute it to them as a crime that they had neither country nor character? We had deprived them of all objects of affection in a country; we had made them become attached only to their own persons, and then we urged our own wrong as an objection to granting their prayers. He was unwilling to go far into the objections that had been advanced; but he should like to know who were the persons who would be let into a share of the Constitution by the precedent which would be established by consenting to this measure? The hon. Member had spoken of the natural-born subjects of his Majesty in the colonies; but they were eligible already. They were capable of holding land; they were capable of sitting in the Parliament; some of them did sit there, and he wished, for the sake of the empire, and the security of its union, particularly when he remembered the great accession of talents brought into that House by the hon. member for Saint Michael's (Mr. Labouchere), that many more natives of the colonies had seats in that assembly. The hon. Member had argued the question on the ground that the natives of India were not entitled to the privileges of the Constitution. But every native of India was one of the King's subjects: he owed his Majesty allegiance, and to him, in return, was due protection and justice. It was the first maxim of political society that they were 1318 not to withhold the advantages for which allegiance was paid, unless it were distinctly proved that great advantages would result to the State from not giving to individuals all the privileges claimed. That was the rule of justice. Every man born under the Constitution was entitled to all the privileges of the Constitution. He would repeat, as had been stated before, that this maxim ought to be applied to the Jews. It had been stated as an objection to the Jews, that they had been attached to Napoleon; but why had they been so attached? What attached them? Why he did them justice: he gave them protection, and made them the sharers of the privileges of the State: he admitted them directly into all the advantages of the law. Who drove them into his arms?—Their enemies, the authors of disabling laws, such as those it was now proposed to repeal. How was it that some Jews had become so degraded as the hon. Member described them?—How, but by the centuries of persecution to which they had been exposed. If it were true of the Jews that they had no regard for the esteem of their fellow men, that they were persons of no character, that they were lost and degraded; was it not, he would ask, because the law had degraded them. They had only sunk to the level of the reputation established for them by the law, and according to the old maxim—contemptu famœ contemptu virtutis—had been so regardless of their fellow-men as not to care what might be thought of their crimes and their vices. But what was the remedy? To degrade them still more—to continue their degradation; or rather, ought they not to remove the cause of the disease? There was, he believed, a theory of the present day, that disease was only to be cured by administering more of the stimulus that had caused it; or, according to the old proverb—to take a hair of the dog that bit you—and would the Legislature net on a similar principle. With all his respect for theories and proverbs, it would not do to apply the same doctrine to the Jews. They were subservient because they were openly despised; the moral defects of their character arose from the oppression they had been subject to. What was the remedy? To revive their regard for the esteem of other men, to awaken their sympathies with their fellow-creatures, to give them the same interests, to teach them the same lessons, to make them prize the privileges and distinctions which other men struggle to obtain; and to accom- 1319 plish these objects they must be released from their present degradation, and must be treated like their fellow-subjects. This should be the first step to reclaim them—the first means to restore the character of the Jews. This made his case so strong, that he might allow the most exaggerated description of their character and vices to be correct, though he was far from believing that they deserved all the odium heaped on them by popular prejudices, and he should content himself with asserting, that the present depravity of some part of the Jews was one of the strongest arguments which could be urged in favour of the measure. The Jews were now peculiarly situated in every country of Europe, and in every one their condition was much the same. They were composed of two, or rather they contained two classes—one was extremely poor and degraded, engaged in the lowest occupations, shut out from the pale of society by the tyranny of ages, and destitute of any regard to character. They were reduced to a state of hereditary depravity, and for them emancipation was necessary to restore them to their situation in society. That was the only remedy which could relieve them from the moral malady with which they were afflicted. On the other hand, there was a large body of Jews, merchants of great credit, possessing vast wealth, engaged in extensive schemes of industry, and filling a high and respectable station in society. They were engaged in transactions with every State of Europe. He would say, with respect to them, that they deserved emancipation. The lower class of Jews could only be reclaimed, and the higher only placed in the stations they deserved to occupy, by the same measure. Most of the governments of Europe, whether they had in them any of the democratic principle which some Gentlemen thought so much a source of evil, or whether they had none of that principle, like Austria; he might say, all the governments of Europe were now engaged in reforming the lower classes of the Jews; and what was the first expedient they had adopted? The first thing they had all done was, to take away the moral brand which had doomed them to continue their malpractices. The first efficacious step to improve their moral condition was, to let them know that they were men, and to teach their fellow citizens that they were to be regarded as men. They were relieved from the prejudices of the vulgar, and learned to look with the affection of breth- 1320 ren on those whom they had before looked on as enemies, and they were improved and elevated by their gratitude for the respect shown them by the law, and the kindness inculcated on their fellow citizens. He would trouble the House with but few further observations. His hon. friend, on a former occasion, in the year 1828, had said that the House had severed the State from the Church of England. In 1829, his hon. friend had declared that the House by its proceedings was separating the State from the Protestant religion—a union which, as far as he knew, never had existed—which was unintelligible to him, for he knew of no law confirming the Protestant religion, though there were many by which the Protestant establishment of this country was protected. There had been, he admitted, a union between the State and the Established Church; but the union between the State and the Protestant Religion was not mentioned in any law, and it would be absurd to make that separation a ground of alarm and apprehension. The Protestant Religion comprised Lutherans, Calvinists, Armenians, and Unitarians, all of whom differed from one another, agreeing in nothing except in protesting against the claims of the Catholic Church, and against the assumed power of the State to direct and control the religion and the consciences of men. What was his hon. friend's language? The State, he said, was to secure the Protestant Religion, and therefore it was not to enable persons to fill offices in the State who were not Protestants. But his hon. friend gave no reason for this—he merely stated an arbitrary definition. What gave a State a peculiar religion—what but the disqualifying laws which precluded the members of any other religion from taking part in its public affairs: his hon. friend's principle, then, was merely an assertion that the State made disqualifying laws, and then was bound to maintain them. It was a merely arbitrary definition, and his hon. friend would not find any enlightened antagonist who would admit his definition. He could never take a second step, or establish a second proposition. If his hon. friend said, that the religion established was only safe, and could only be secured by such disabling laws, that, he begged leave to say, was begging the whole question. The argument would have been good before the House had passed the measures of the last Session and the Session before, for the relief of the Catholics and Dissenters. Who ever gave that interpre- 1321 tation to our disabling laws begged the whole question concerning them. His hon. friend's arguments were, therefore, complete anachronisms,—his speech of that night might have done very well in 1828, before the repeal of the Test Act, for he might then have argued, however erroneously, that exclusion was the basis of our laws, and the safety of the State. His hon. friend assumed, that disability was the principle of the British Constitution—but that he denied. Certainly that was not now the principle, since the two Acts of the last Session and the Session before the last, repealing the most important of our disabling laws, left the remainder of any such laws only the petty exceptions to the great principle of freedom,—to contend for the preservation of them was not, even in his hon. friend's estimation, the "mean reparation of mighty ruins." Before they opened the gates of the Constitution to the Catholics and the Dissenters—before Christians of all sects and denominations were admitted, in its true spirit, to all its privileges, the arguments of his hon. friend might have had some plausibility, but now it could deceive no person. What was the principle of our Ecclesiastical Law, as stated by the right hon. Gentleman, whom he did not then see in his place, when he took the lead in proposing the measure last Session? He stated that the principle of our Ecclesiastical Law was, that we should have an Established Church, combined with civil and religious liberty, admitting all religions to a community of civil rights. This was, if he recollected it right, the language the right hon. Gentleman had inscribed on the banners, when he led them on to victory, in the cause of religious liberty. That language had gone forth into every part of the kingdom; and the Parliament had then declared—in 1828 and 1829—that these principles were the basis of our Ecclesiastical Law. He felt as great respect for some of the Gentlemen from whom he differed on that occasion as for any men living; but he must say, that those who had then adopted this principle, and should not now carry it into full effect, would find, as stated by his hon. friend, the member for Calne, (Mr. Macauley) a tenfold greater difficulty in making any specious objection to the present measure, than they would before have had; and they could not refuse to vote in favour of the present proposition, without declaring that they had abandoned the principles which they had then taken as the 1322 guides to their conduct. Did they refuse to vote for this measure it might give rise to a. suspicion that their former votes were dictated by a sentiment of fear, not by a principle of justice. Would they not act on the same principle towards 40,000 Jews as towards seven millions of Catholics? The House must, however, shut out the consideration of numbers, whether of thousands or of millions. Justice, it was said, was no respecter of per-sons, neither was she any respecter of multitudes; her rules must be observed towards individuals, and in forming them numbers formed no elements. It would be said, did they refuse the Motion, that they had been ready to do justice to the strong but not to the weak, and that they had been formerly governed by fear, and not by those high principles which ought to guide their deliberations. By not voting for the present measure they would wantonly cast a slur on their former conduct, and while the world gave them credit for a sense of justice and impartiality, they would tell mankind that they deserved not commendation, for their conduct had been dictated by far less honourable motives. He could not conceive that any Gentleman who had voted for those two great and healing measures would oppose the Motion, and would adopt one rule for the Catholics and Dissenters, and another for the Jews. The inconveniences which, it was said, would arise from the measure, were so small that they could only be discovered by the microscopical eye of his hon. friend. For his own part, he declared that the only difficulty he had ever had in considering the subject before he came into the House that night, was, to find out an argument which must be urged against the measure, in order that he might be prepared to answer it. He could find none, and had been so perplexed to discover even the shadow of an argument, that he had said to a friend that he would advertise a reward for one, that he might get it to refute. He might safely, he thought even with his small fortune have advertised a large reward, and have been sure of not finding one. His hon. friend had greatly surprised him by the number of topics he had adverted to, and by the length of his speech; but he must be permitted to say, that he had discovered in it nearly as few arguments against the measure as he had anticipated. Into all the considerations connected with religion, which had been urged by his hon. friend, he did not mean to enter; but there 1323 were one or two remarks which he thought deserving of the attention of the House. When a state or a legislature called itself Christian, it supplied all mankind with a test by which to judge of its professions and its conduct. To do good unto all men, and to love one's neighbour as one's self, were vital principles of Christianity. To do good to a whole community, and in doing that, to do good to all mankind—for the benefit of the emancipation would not be limited to the Jews, while no evils could arise from it to any other persons—was undoubtedly a Christian duty, and so sacred, that he might say, it had been placed by the Divine Author of our religion amongst his first precepts. "Love thy neighbour as thyself" was one of the chief principles of that religion: and who, according to its Divine Author, was to be considered as our neighbour? He begged the House to recollect the commentary on that word. From whom did the Founder of Christianity choose an example, to mark the universality of the benevolence which was the spirit of his religion? He did not take as the illustration what was righteous in the eyes of the people, what was beautiful, and what was admired by them; he selected a heretic, the follower of a sect hated, held in abhorrence even by the people to whom he addressed himself, as the model of a good neighbour. He inculcated the divine precepts of his religion, and the great duties of life, particularly the noble duty of charity, by selecting a man who was contemned by the Jews. The plain precept which directed us to minister to the wants of each other was one of the best tests of the true Christian, and a safer guide for the conduct of life, than obscure comments on a doubtful text, or mysterious prophecies. Let us, he would say in conclusion, love our neighbour as ourselves, and do not let us withhold from him any benefit or any franchise it is in our power to bestow, though he may be as great an abomination to us as were the Samaritans to the Jews.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, if he could consider that it would be a departure from the principles of the bill of last year to oppose the present measure, he should he one of the last to oppose it; hut he was of opinion it stood on very different grounds from that measure. He could not view the subject in the same light as the right hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House. He considered that there was a great and broad distinction between the parties to the mea- 1324 sures of last year and those who were now claiming the indulgence of the House—between the question of admitting members of the holy Christian religion to political power, and that of sharing it with those who disbelieved Christianity altogether. In opposing the measure he begged to be understood as having no prejudices against the Jews, who were, he admitted, peaceful and useful members of society; but there were considerations which should induce the House to pause, before it extended to them the privileges it had granted last year to the Catholic. The measure had nothing to do with charity, as the right hon. Gentleman had stated, but it was a claim on their part to be admitted to a share of political power. He opposed their claims, however, on grounds of expediency, as they were connected with the honest prejudices of the people, which ought to be respected, as they had arisen out of reverence for their own sacred religion. It was a question for the Parliament, worthy of its grave consideration, whether it would not be likely, by altering the oaths and the principles of admitting people into Parliament year after year, to run some risk of affronting the religious feelings of the people of this country. These feelings might be called prejudices, but they were honest prejudices, and the House might find in that a motive for respecting them. Parliament was bound to attend to the religious feelings of the people; and it was a sacred duty in the Members of that House not to conduct themselves so as to make the people believe they were indifferent to their religion. The House must be careful how it, by new measures of liberality so speedily after former measures of liberality, begot an impression in the country that it was indifferent to all religion. He had listened with great pleasure, as he always did to his hon. friend, the member for Fortrose, but he could not find in his speech any argument to encourage the House to give political power to a set of men who contradicted the Christian faith. His hon. friend had stated that they had, by late acts of the Legislature, admitted the Catholics and some Protestant sects, not interested in supporting the Established Church, to scats in the Legislature; and why not the Jews? He, for his part, did not think this a good argument. It had been the constant practice of the Legislature to protect Christianity, under some of its forms, in all their enactments. If his hon. 1325 friend's argument, however, were just, it ought not to stop at the Jews; and he was bound to push it so far as to maintain that all sorts of sects, as soon as they grew into notice, might claim a seat in Parliament. His measure ought, therefore, to have gone further. If the House were prepared to open the doors of Parliament to the Jews, they might open them to the Turks, and to the members of every other religion. If the case of the Jews were similar to that of the Catholics and that of the Dissenters he should not oppose it, but he did not think the cases similar. He thought that the House ran a great risk of weakening the confidence of the people in Parliament, by continually altering the laws, by which persons were admitted to occupy seats in that House; and, as he had before said, of inducing the people to believe that the Parliament was indifferent altogether to religion. He was afraid, too, that making all such propositions was running counter to the good feelings of the people, the majority of whom he had no doubt were opposed to the measure. There was this difference between the Jews and the Catholics—that the Catholics had shed their blood for us—they had fought our battles both by sea and land—they had swelled the force of our fleets and our armies, and there was a good reason why we should not make enemies of those who had served us, and who amounted to seven million people. But the Jews had not fought our battles—they had not served in our armies and navy, and they did not amount, it was stated by a writer of their own nation, to more than 27,000 persons. The arguments which applied to the Roman Catholics seemed to him, therefore, to have no application to the Jews. The relief given to the one was no precedent for granting the claims of the other. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by declaring that, as he did not wish to oppose the general religious feelings of the country, he should oppose the Motion.
said, if he thought the Motion likely to beget an impression among the people that the Parliament was indifferent to Christianity, he should find great difficulty in agreeing to the principle of the measure. But whether he looked to the principles of the Motion of his hon. and learned friend, or whether he looked to the conduct of the people since notice was given that it was the intention of his hon. friend to bring forward such a Motion, be was satisfied that the country did not 1326 regard it in the light described by the right hon. Gentleman. It was then between six and seven weeks since his hon. and learned friend had given notice of his Motion; that notice had been wafted from one end of the kingdom to another, and yet not one petition against granting the prayers of the Jews had been laid on the Table of the House. No, not even a rumour of a petition had reached it. When he saw this, and recollected how numerous were the petitions against the Catholics—when he recollected what a great interest their emancipation excited throughout the country—when he saw how quiescent at present the country was—he must say, that he saw no sign whatever of the prevalence of those feelings the right hon. Gentleman had attributed to the country. He would say that the Jews were at present, in this country, in an anomalous condition, such as no people ever were in, in a country that pretended to good order. Few persons were, probably, aware that Jews could now hold advowsons; and what was perhaps more extraordinary, it appeared by a decree lately given by the Earl of Eldon, that they were capable of electing clergymen. In those cases in which the clergyman was elected by his parishioners, it had been decided by Lord Eldon, after two years consideration that Jews paying parish rates were entitled, as well as other parishioners, as well as members of the Protestant church, to vote for the Protestant clergyman. The hon. Baronet, the member for the University of Oxford (Sir H. Inglis) had cited what he very properly considered a great law authority in proof of his opinion, that the Jews were not to be considered as entitled to hold the same rank as the Christians. But did the hon. Baronet know in what light that opinion of Lord Coke was regarded by his countrymen? Did he know that in the reign of George 2nd an attempt was made to cite that opinion in argument, and the whole Bar of the King's Bench, with the Chief Justice at their head, exclaimed at once—"For the honour of that great and truly learned man, and for the sake of the respect due to his memory, do not quote a passage which, above all other things, has most detracted from his character and understanding." The great principle of the Constitution of this country, it had been also contended was Christianity. Now, in the good old times of Popery, was Christianity the principle of the Constitution? No, the religion of the State was the reli- 1327 gion of the Pope for the time being, and up to the reign of William 3rd, the principle of the Constitution, and the religion of the State were direct intoleration, without the slightest regard to the religious opinions of others. To so great an extent, indeed, was this carried, and so little was the establishment of our religion thought of, that an individual who lived through two or three reigns was actually obliged to change his religion eight different times. The individual to whom he alluded was old Parr, who attained the great age of above 150 years, and who was forced to change his creed eight times by the terror of various punishments. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) seemed to think that the admission of the Jews to that House would have the effect of injuring the Established Church, by raising an opinion that the Members of that House were wholly indifferent to religion. His opinion, on the contrary, was, that the Established Religion was too well fixed in the affections of the people to require the aid of exclusion to secure it. They were told, however, that the case of the Catholics formed no precedent which could govern them in dealing with the Jews. That they were only 27,000 in number—that they were unimportant as a body—and that there was no reason for those apprehensions with regard to them which formed so strong an argument for the removal of exclusion from the others. He considered it to be most unfortunate and most lamentable that the opponents of the measure should be compelled to resort to such arguments, and he deplored the existence of a feeling which would seek to resist a measure of justice until it came before them under circumstances so suspicious. If, however, the number of the Jews was so small, and their influence so bounded, that there could be no danger in refusal, what possible danger could there be in admission? He was reluctant to press on the time of the House, but he thought the period was arrived when, without any violation of the principles of the Constitution, they could giant what the Jews required, with safety to the Established Church, and with satisfaction to those who prayed this concession. The right hon. Gentleman had declared repeatedly, that he was unwilling to allow the Jews to be admitted to that House. That he could not well understand, for he believed the right hon. Gentleman was by no means unwilling to meet the Jews else- 1328 where, and the time was not far distant when he would more than ever require their assistance. The right hon. Gentleman seemed unwilling to trust them in Parliament, and yet they had been intrusted with affairs ten thousand times more important than any connected with the possession of a seat in that House. The Jews desired nothing more than to be placed in the same situation as the Roman Catholics. They were willing even to abandon a part of what they already possessed, in order to obtain the same privileges as the Catholics. They were willing to give up the possession of their advowsons, and some other privileges; and for these reasons he thought that those who were not friendly to the Jews would act at least more liberally if they permitted the Bill to be brought in, and obtained some understanding of its provisions, before they declared against it a determined hostility.
§ Mr. Perceval
entreated the House, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to preserve the religion of Christianity—the religion of the State—from being defiled by the introduction of the Bill now proposed. If they wished to preserve the name of a Christian people—if they were anxious to support the distinctions of their Christian Constitution, he implored them to reject a measure which gave political power to a sect whose religion was hostile to both. Without trying to reconcile his vote on the Roman Catholic Question with the one he should give that night, he should merely say that he resisted this bill on the great principle that its admission was inconsistent with our Christian Constitution.
§ Lord Morpeth
said, that, if to justify himself in hazarding a few observations upon this subject, he had felt any hope that he should have been able to add any thing to what had already been brought forward, he had certainly better not now have risen; but he was inclined to think that upon an entirely new question the expression of a mere concurrence of opinion might be of some use, from however humble a Member of that House, though it added nothing in point of argument. The effect of argument might safely be left to the speech of his hon. and learned friend, the very circumstance of whose introducing this measure had conferred much benefit upon it—much by his great powers of mind, and much by his blameless character. An objection, anticipated indeed by his hon. and learned friend, had been taken upon a religious 1329 ground, and to that he would confine himself, because the arguments of any other kind had been already answered in an able manner by those who preceded him. In his opinion, indeed, all who paid taxes to the State, and contributed to the wages of the public servants, were entitled to the enjoyment of all civil rights. Against the measure, on religious grounds, there were arrayed the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), the hon. Gentleman who spoke last (Mr. Perceval), and the hon. Baronet, the member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. Inglis). To the last hon. Member he would say, "Educated at that University like the worthy Baronet, nursed like him in its discipline, and attached like him to its recollections, I am never sorry to have an opportunity of showing, that the spirit of hostility to the broad principle of religious freedom which pervades the parliamentary conduct of the worthy Baronet is not the inevitable result of a residence within its walls. And I am the more anxious to guard myself in every instance against such a disposition, because I believe it in fact to be the same spirit which, modified in this instance by the genius of the age and the mildness of his nature, formerly in every quarter of Christendom prompted every species of oppression against the persecuted Jew, and thought it virtue." It was foretold by the Author of the religion in the profession of which we are so inclined to vaunt ourselves, that, He came not to send peace on earth, but a sword, and the passions of mankind have interpreted the prophecy as if it had been a command. The opposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer went altogether to the appearance which he thought the House would present, of conceding this measure, and not to the principles on which it was founded; but if they must be intolerant he trusted that it would be on grounds less mean and pitiful than those stated by the right hon. Gentleman that night. The right hon. Gentleman had stated, and he was seconded in it by the member for Oxford, that if the measure was conceded, the Constitution of the country would cease to be exclusively Christian. This proposition was startling at first; but he apprehended it would be found that it was addressed more for love of sound than with a regard to the sense of the House. For his part he could not understand how the admission of a few Jews to their share in the privileges of 1330 the Constitution could render that Church less eminent or less powerful; but he could understand that a system of exclusion, and of meddling interference, would render any party both powerful and mischievous. We were not disposed to look upon either France, or Holland, or America, as being less of Christian countries, since they had adopted the great principle of making the discharge of civil functions independent of a prescribed religious belief; not, undoubtedly, because we did not recognise the importance of religious belief, but because that importance was so infinite as to make all human interference with it as inadequate as it was presumptuous. It had been contended by the hon. member for Oxford, that the numbers of the Jews prevented the possibility of their admission to political power. He (Lord Morpeth) could not imagine any thing more likely to favour their cause than a consideration of numbers, and he might say—"I thank you, Jew, for teaching me that word."—He wished to ask where, in this case, was the danger? One of the chief reasons which had made him so anxiously wish, and so sincerely rejoice in the accomplishment of the great measure of Catholic relief, was the assurance he felt that Protestantism would not suffer from its more close alliance in temporal matters with Catholicism; still less has Christianity itself—the faith which unites Protestant, and Catholic, and Greek under her common banner—planted upon the rock that shall never crumble—any thing to dread from any possible result of the measure which has been so convincingly recommended.
The Solicitor General
said, that the situation of the Jews had been more than once likened to that of the Roman Catholics, although it appeared to him there was a wide and material difference between them. The Catholics had possessed great power and privileges, of which they had been, for good reasons, deprived; and it did great honour to those who, studying well the circumstances of the country, had restored them to the situation they before had held. But how did the case of the Jews stand? They had possessed nothing; they held nothing. They had no civil rights; they never had any. He looked with as much abhorrence as any man, and deplored as much as any man the atrocities once perpetrated against them; but he could not, therefore, be insensible to the nature of their situation in this country. They had no natural rights; and Lord 1331 Coke, although he agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman (Dr. Lushington) in a manner not very creditable to his character, had declared they were the natural enemies of the Christians: such a sentiment was however a greater disgrace to his age than to Lord Coke. After sustaining great persecutions, they were banished altogether; and when they returned at the Restoration in small numbers, they returned as men who were not permitted to claim any rights of citizenship, or to hold lands, or in any manner to be received as subjects of the State. As they chose, however, to come back in this manner, and under these circumstances, it was impossible to' deal harshly with them, or to subject them to the same restrictions and persecutions in modern times which they had suffered before their banishment. Nothing, he was ready to admit, could well justify the code of laws enacted with regard to the Catholics, who were deprived of rights they had formerly enjoyed; but against the Jews, with the exception of an Act passed in the reign of Queen Anne, which permitted a child who became a convert to Christianity to take his parents' property by succession, in defiance of his wishes—an act not carried into effect beyond one or two instances, no statutes had been expressly directed. They came, then, to this country without any of the rights of citizens, but how differently were they now situated? Their religion was tolerated, and they were protected. They had a right to sepulture, their marriages were legal, their children were legitimate, and they could take by descent; they could purchase land, and they could transmit it to their posterity. He knew that a doubt had been expressed whether or not the Jews could hold land but in his opinion, they had as much and as good a legal right to hold land, and to take and leave it by descent, as any other person in the country. If there was any doubt on the subject, although he thought there was not, he should be glad to see those doubts removed by a bill brought in for that purpose: he should be happy to see the Jews become landholders; he should rejoice to see them become country gentlemen. On the other grounds, however, he confessed he saw objections to the admission of the Jews. Christianity was a part of the law of the land, although he was told that it varied with the opinions of the day; still, with all the variations of creeds and opinions, it was Christianity, The question seemed 1332 to be this: The door of the Constitution has been opened to the Catholics of Ireland: were they, therefore, prepared to admit other claimants? They were now come to this point: were they or were they not to put an end to all distinctions on the subject of religious opinions? It was said that there were no petitions against it from the people. He, for one, was glad there were no petitions, and that such popular ferments as those of 1753 would not again disgrace the country. He wished the question to be decided by the good sense of the House; and he thought the absence of these petitions one of the most favourable signs of the increasing knowledge of the time. It had been said by the hon. Member (Mr. Macaulcy) who had that night addressed the House for the first time with great credit to himself, that it was our own fault that the Jews were not Englishmen; and he would admit that we were much to blame if any legislation could make them Englishmen. But they had a peculiar character stamped on them by their own institutions, they were severed by them from all other people, they could not form a component part of any society in which they might be mingled: and as our laws had not made them Jews, they could not make them Englishmen. They married not with Christians, and entered not into any of those relations with the rest of the community which constituted family ties, and were the real bonds of society. No such objections applied to the Catholics; they intermarried with other sects; they formed part of the great family of Englishmen, and were interested in the country as well as in their own moveable property. Would hon. Members be ready to associate with Jews on that familiar footing which would be necessary if they were in office? He believed not; and he therefore, for one, would not allow the law to say they were worthy of those privileges which the common sense of the community at large, and the general feelings even of those who advocated their cause would in practice deny them. He was not disposed to emancipate the Jews in part. He would not open the door of the Constitution while the feelings of the people placed a sentinel at the gate? The arguments drawn in favour of the Motion from concessions to the Catholics, it would be seen did not apply to this Motion but if they did, he would say, true they had admitted the Catholics to participate in the advantages of the Constitution, but they had not yet sufficient experience of the 1333 result. They had opened the door to office, and to that House, but there was not yet time for the Catholic to obtain office as he must attain it; and therefore, although the state of Ireland might be benefitted, they did not yet know the full value of the experiment. In the absence, therefore, of any sufficient knowledge of what they had done, he, for one, was not willing to go further, and place the Jews in that House, or admit them to the opportunity of being placed in the high offices of the State; and in this respect, although he did not attach much importance to the question of numbers, still it was not to be left wholly out of consideration.
§ Mr. W. Smith
maintained, that if it were desirable that the Jews should at any time be admitted within the pale of the Constitution, it was desirable that they should be admitted with as little delay as possible. He must beg to express, not merely his approbation, but his admiration of the manner in which his hon. friend had brought forward the present Motion. He admired both the sincerity and courage of his hon. friend; and he had evinced both those qualities in the highest degree. Religion ought not, in his opinion, to be introduced into any question similar to the present, which was a question, not of religion, but of politics. Let those who introduced it recollect a passage in the book which they so justly revered—"Render unto Caesar the things which are Cæsar's;" and then came the grand distinction—"and unto God the things which are God's." On all points of religion he would leave men to their own consciences. As to political considerations, he wished to know in what times had the Jews evinced any inclination towards such political principles as ought to prevent them from having a share in the civil rights enjoyed by their fellow subjects? He had never heard of any such case. He had heard, indeed, of their having engaged to furnish loans for other countries than those in which they lived. If, however, they had not the patriotic feeling which would prevent such a transaction, the imputation rested, not on them, but on the governments which withheld from them those civil rights and privileges which alone rendered a man's country dear to him. He recollected an hon. Member, who had that evening opposed the Motion, and from whose good sense he should have expected a different line of conduct, declared in the last Session of Parliament that when once a dozen Catholic Members were introduced 1334 into the House, it would be for the supreme power of the State to take care of the Church of England, but that, for his own part, he should consider it as gone. That hon. Member must believe the Church of England to be founded on a very tottering basis if the introduction into the House of Commons of a dozen Catholics or Jews was calculated to lead to its destruction. He (Mr. W. Smith) was one of those who thought that political rights and privileges should have nothing to do with religion. But if he were asked whether they should not have any thing to do with any part of religion, he should answer that religion was divided into two distinct parts, the moral and the Creed. If Government were to have any thing whatever to do with religion, it ought to be with the moral portion of it, and not at all with the Creed. What was the morality of the Jews? The morality of the Christians. What Church was there belonging to the establishment which had not the Ten Commandments, the morality of the Jews, side by side with the Creed? If any rational man saw the Commandments and the Athanasian Creed thus in juxtaposition, was it doubtful to which he would give the preference? To the question of morality, therefore, they ought, in his opinion, to confine themselves. If they extended their consideration to matters of faith, no one could tell where they would stop. If they looked only at civil obedience, there was no danger of their falling into political error. He trusted the House would follow the sound advice given them by his hon. friend, and perfect the great work of the last Session.
§ Mr. R. Grant
said, he would make a very short reply. It had been allowed by every one that the loyalty and excellent conduct of the Jews were unexceptionable. No man, not even the right hon. Gentleman, had thrown any imputation upon them. It was quite unnecessary, therefore, for him to trouble the House at any length; for he appealed to every unprejudiced person who heard him, if any subject had ever been more victoriously argued than the Motion had been by those hon. Members who had supported it. It was perfectly evident, indeed, that their arguments were unanswerable. The great objection of those who opposed the Motion seemed to consist in the phrase, "they are Jews; we are Christians." Now, in his opinion, the very reason for admitting the objects of his Motion into a full participation of the civil rights of their countrymen was, that they 1335 were Jews, and that we were Christians. He did not wish to say anything disrespectful of the right hon. Gentleman, but the exposition of the right hon. Gentleman's reasons for opposing the Motion appeared to him to be most extraordinary. The greater part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech ought to have been pronounced three years ago. That the prejudices of the people ought not to be shocked, that the national feeling was adverse to the proposition, that the existing law was excellent, that the religion of the State would be endangered by any change; all these were the allegations which, year after year, during a long course of years, had been advanced with fluency in hostility to the great measure which, nevertheless, had last year been triumphant. He would not answer these allegations in the present instance; he would simply recommend the right hon. Gentleman to consult the Parliamentary Reports of his own speeches. What! after the Catholic question had been so decided, were they to permit the present question to pass through a period of similar agitation? Were they to discuss it for thirty years, and at the expiration of that period were the survivors to be told that the occupiers of the Treasury Bench saw their error, and that they agreed to toleration for ever? The right hon. Gentleman said, that the House must consult the prejudices of the people. Did the right hon. Gentleman recollect that a few years ago the people thought that Jews should be tortured, that they should be deprived of their property, that their wives and children should be torn from them, that they should be expelled from the country? Ought those prejudices of the people to have been consulted? But he (Mr. Grant) asked what right the right hon. Gentleman had to charge the people of England with such prejudices at the present day? He called upon the right hon. Gentleman to state in what instance the people of England had recently shown any prejudice against the Jews. If the right hon. Gentleman could not state any such instance, was he not calumniating the people of England, in charging them with a prejudice from which they were free? He could not, however, believe that the opinion which had been expressed by the right hon. Gentleman was the result of his deliberate judgement. In comparing the question of Emancipation, as it affected the Catholics and as it affected the Jews, the question appeared to him to resolve itself simply into this:—Were they to say to the Jews, "You 1336 have as strong claims upon us for emancipation as the Catholics had, but we will not grant it to you, because you are not so powerful as they were?" He called upon the House, after what they had so recently done in the cause of religious freedom, not to disgrace themselves by throwing out the present proposition, even without consideration. He called upon them at least not to resist the discussion of the question. He called upon them to be just to those who asked for their rights, but who were not in a condition to compel their surrender.
§ The House then divided—for the Motion 115; Against it 97: Majority 18.
§ Mr. Grant then brought in the Bill, which was read a first time.