§ Mr. Perceval rose to state, before going into a Committee, his objection to the vote that was to be proposed. Although it was his wish that the vote for Maynooth College should be entirely done away, he was precluded from taking any step in a Committee for that object, except by putting a direct negative upon the grant. As so much of the year, however, had passed away, and as the faith of Government had been pledged, he was not disposed to propose that the grant should be now refused, and he would, therefore, propose a resolution for the future. He would try to state, as simply and shortly as he could, his ground of opposition. The principle he rested upon was this. That a State stood before God as an individual; with the same dependence upon him for all blessings, and the same obligation to obey him. He did not feel himself called upon in that place to establish this principle; it was recognised throughout our Constitution; from the coronation of our King, in which the House lately took part, down to the prayers daily read at the Table of that House, this dependence and this obligation were acknowledged. It was his birthright as a British subject, to call himself the Member of a Christian State, to address this House as a Christian 607 Legislature, and to call upon them to act consistently and faithfully in that character. As Protestant Christians, therefore, it was inconsistent and unfaithful in them to be voting annually a grant for the purpose of educating men to teach religious doctrines which they held to be a system of falsehood, and a corruption of the word of God. If any Protestant Member objected to such terms, and held that the Papal system was not such as he had described it, let him rise in his place, and plainly and manfully say so; but at the same time he (Mr. Perceval) hoped he would state why he called himself a Protestant, and how he justified his separation from the Church of Rome. He knew it might be urged, that, what he asserted respecting the essentially Protestant spirit of our Constitution, however true it might have been formerly, was so no longer, and that by passing the Catholic Relief Bill, the Legislature had given up its Protestant character. He knew this sentiment to be held by many of his own friends, and he had heard it argued by others who were in favour of the liberal principles of the day. He would not argue this point abstractedly, he would not enter into the consideration whether, according to true and legitimate reasoning, such was the consequence of that act, but he was there to contend, that if this were really the case, it was not with their eyes open to such a conclusion that they passed the Act. The most illustrious advocates of that measure always contended, that if they thought it would lead to the destruction of our Protestant establishment, and of the exclusively Protestant character of our Constitution, they would never support it. It was not with that animus the Government brought in the measure, for his right hon. friend (Sir Robert Peel) had given, as his reason for rejecting the payment of the Roman Catholic clergy, which had been proposed as a security for their loyalty, that the Government would do nothing that looked like uniting the State in any way with the Papacy. This, therefore, was the view of the friends and proposers of the measure, and that it was with this animus the Legislature had passed the measure, he would clearly prove, from the nature of the oath provided for the Roman Catholic Members of that House. This oath distinctly stated, that the Roman Catholics were admitted by a Protestant Parliament to seats in a 608 Protestant Legislature, on condition of their coming under Protestant obligations. The words were these:—"I do sincerely promise and swear, that I will be faithful, and bear true allegiance to his Majesty the King, and will defend him, to the utmost of my power, against all conspiracies and attempts whatever, which shall be made against his person, crown, or dignity; and I will do my utmost endeavour to disclose and make known to his Majesty, his heirs or successors, all treasons and traitorous conspiracies which may be formed against him or them. And I do faithfully promise to maintain, support, and defend to the utmost of my power, the succession of the Crown, which succession, by an Act intituled 'An Act for the limitation of the Crown, and better securing the rights and liberties of the subject,' is, and stands limited to the Princess Sophia, Electress of Hanover, and the heirs of her body, being Protestants." That was the first Protestant engagement to the Protestant Constitution, that the Roman Catholic coming into that House was bound to observe. The Catholic continued:—"Hereby utterly renouncing and abjuring any obedience or allegiance unto any other person claiming, or pretending a right to, the Crown of these realms: and I do further declare, that it is not an article of my faith, and that I do renounce, reject, and abjure, the opinion that princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope, or any other authority of the See of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or by any person whatsoever." In that part, again, the Roman Catholic came under an engagement to satisfy the fears and doubts of a Protestant State, and a Protestant Legislature. And here was an additional statement:—"And I do declare, that I do not believe that the Pope of Rome, or any other foreign prince, prelate, person, state, or potentate, hath, or ought to have, any temporal or civil jurisdiction, power, superiority, or pre-eminence, directly or indirectly, within these realms." Again, then, the Roman Catholic entered into a third engagement to satisfy the doubts of the Protestant Legislature. "I do swear," the Catholic also said, "that I will defend to the utmost of my power, the settlement of property within this realm, as established by the laws; and I do hereby disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure any intention to subvert the 609 present Church Establishment, as settled by law within this realm." But mark how the oath continues—"And I do solemnly swear, that I never will exercise any privilege to which I am, or may become entitled, to disturb or weaken the Protestant religion, or Protestant government in the United Kingdom; and I do solemnly, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, that I do make this declaration, and every part thereof, in the plain and ordinary sense of the words of this oath, without any evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation whatsoever, so help me God." He repeated, this oath clearly proved that it was not with the intention of abrogating its Protestant character that the Legislature passed the Relief Bill, but that, in the character of a Protestant Legislature, they admitted the Catholic to a seat in Parliament, if he chose to come in under Protestant conditions. He must, therefore, object to the grant as a matter of conscience, and of duty towards God. Infidelity, he feared, was on the increase. He believed, that the doctrine of holding the scale equal between God and Satan on all occasions, was gaining ground in that House. He was as certain of this as of any thing—that liberalism in religion was infidelity at bottom; that they both came from the same root, and led to the same consequences; and he lamented to see in that House a disposition regardless of encouraging the latter, if the former were attained. He would observe, that for those who did not see the matter as he did, he thought there was another ground for their voting with him, which was, that the Government, professing to deal equal justice between Catholic and Protestant, had withdrawn the Kildare-street grant while they continued this. Even upon their own principle this grant also ought to be withdrawn, as he was convinced they would have great difficulty in persuading the Irish Protestants that they were dealing impartially with them, when they stopped the one and continued the other. He would not meet the vote by a direct negative in the Committee, because he thought Parliament stood pledged to individuals, and if hereafter a just and equitable claim could be made out for any sum, he should have the greatest readiness to consider the claims of individuals. What he desired was, to separate the State from the College of Maynooth. The hon. Member 610 concluded by moving as an amendment that, "It is the opinion of this House, that it is not expedient to continue the annual grant to the College of Maynooth after the present year."
§ Mr. Granville Ryder
said, I rise with the utmost satisfaction to second the Resolution which has been moved by my hon. friend and Colleague. I object to this grant to Maynooth College on several grounds. First because I am opposed, on principle to a professedly Protestant Government supplying funds to educate religious instructors for the people in doctrines which that Government is bound to consider as fraught with dangerous error. Secondly, because this grant stands as a complete anomaly in our parliamentary bounty, being, so far as I can discover, the only instance in which public money is bestowed for such a purpose as the maintenance of a purely theological seminary, and I have yet to learn upon what sound principles of Protestant legislation the Roman Catholic faith, in preference to every other religious persuasion dissenting from the Established Church, is entitled to have its ministers educated at the expense of the State. I object to this vote, thirdly, because from all the information which I can collect—and I am told that many Roman Catholic gentlemen concur with me in the opinion—the object for which this College was established has been completely frustrated; I mean the educating of a priesthood which should be more liberal, tolerant, enlightened, and loyal than that which was trained abroad in former times. I must oppose this grant, fourthly, because his Majesty's Ministers, having proclaimed their hostility to all exclusive educational grants, and having pushed this principle to an extreme in the case of the Kildare-place Society (which assuredly little merits the character of exclusiveness), the vote now under our consideration cannot even be defended upon their own grounds. I do not hesitate to avow that I desire with all my heart and soul, Protestant ascendancy, not indeed in that invidious, degrading, and merely political sense, as a shibboleth of party, and a rallying-point for jealous, vindictive, and domineering passions—a sense which, I lament to say, has been but too frequently affixed to the term—but in that far higher, purer, and juster acceptation, in which I should ever wish to see it applied; I mean, the ascendancy of Protestant religious 611 principles, as drawn direct and unadulterated out of the only fountain of Heavenly truth, the Bible, over the hearts, and minds, and lives of all my countrymen. Being deeply convinced that the points on which we, as Protestants, differ from the Church of Rome, are of the utmost moment as well to the temporal as to the eternal interests of men, I deem it to be my bounden duty, both towards God and man, to resist whatever may obstruct, no less than to uphold whatever may promote, the growth and confirmation of such a Protestant ascendancy. With these views and feelings I cordially second the Resolution of my hon. friend and colleague.
observed, that it was impossible to treat with levity a subject of such importance as that which had been introduced by the hon. Member, and introduced by him in so solemn a manner. It was difficult, however, to grapple with the hon. Member on a question which he had not put upon the footing of reason or argument, but upon a sense of conscience and duty towards God. But he could not look at the question as a religious but only as a political question. If by consenting to this grant he could imagine that he promoted the ascendancy of the Roman Catholic religion, or impaired the interests of the Protestant faith, he would vote for the motion of the hon. Member, and acknowledge it was not consistent with the duty of that House to sanction this vote. But that was not the light in which he could consent to look at the grant, which had been voted for years past, and by greater men than now advocated it in that House. It was in no way connected with the Catholic Question, nor had ever been considered to be so. So long ago as 1795 the Legislature had sanctioned this grant, not as a mere religious grant, but on political grounds solely. It was thought by the Government of that day—a Government, by the way, of which Mr. Pitt was at the head, that there was some danger in allowing those destined for the Ministry of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland to receive their education in a country where such opinions prevailed as were then known to exist in France, and as a measure of political caution it was judged advisable, that the public funds of the country should be charged with the education of the priests of Ireland at home, rather than run the risk of importing dan- 612 gerous political opinions, which would become tenfold more dangerous if they fastened on the minds of those through whom the moral and religious instruction of the great mass of the people were to be engaged. A sum of money was therefore voted for defraying a part, not the whole, of the expenses of the College of Maynooth, whither the Roman Catholic youth destined for the priesthood were sent, and the whole establishment was placed under the inspection of visitors, the majority of whom were Protestants. By this means a check and control on the system pursued there was obtained, which the Government could not pretend to assume, unless it bore a considerable share in the expenditure. From that time to the present, the grant had been continued, though not always to the same amount, for a few years ago, it was found that a sum of little more than 9,000l. a-year would be sufficient, instead of 13,000l. as given before. Now, if it were only on the score of authority, the House ought not to condemn, as unworthy of a Christian Legislature, a grant which had been introduced by Mr. Pitt, which had had the full concurrence of Mr. Fox, and which had been supported by all the weight of the authority of Mr. Grattan. These were the three great names under the authority of which the grant was first introduced in 1795, and it had been continued by every succeeding Government, not excepting that of which the hon. Member formed a part, and not on religious, but on political grounds. Nor was the grant without special grounds of justification. During the last war, Buonaparte offered an education to the Irish Catholics in France; but this was rejected by the Roman Catholic priests, who forbade their youth to exchange the education they obtained at Maynooth for the better education they could have got at Paris; and therefore, on a principle of gratitude, we owed something to the Roman Catholic Clergy. Now let him ask the hon. Member, what would he gain on the supposition that he were to succeed in persuading the House to reject this grant? Would it have the effect of diminishing Roman Catholic education, or increasing that of the Protestants, in Ireland? Did the hon. Member think, that at the end of a year, if this grant were withheld, there would be one Roman Catholic less in Ireland, or one Protestant more? Most certainly there would not. The amount of the 613 grant he did not consider of so much importance, for very little exertion amongst the Roman Catholics themselves would raise a fund much greater than this. It was the principle to which he looked. It was to the policy or impolicy of granting or withholding it. Supposing, for an instant, there was some danger in acceding to the grant, there was, he would contend, tenfold more danger in refusing it, and danger, too, of the most serious kind to the interests of the Protestant religion itself. For the sake of that religion, therefore, he thought the House was bound to support the grant, for, knowing the state of feeling in Ireland on this subject, he did not hesitate to state, that the Protesttant religion in that country would be placed in imminent danger by the rejection of this grant. It would alienate the minds of the Catholics greatly from the Government in that country; and not without some good foundation in reason, for the establishment was given by Government on the understanding that it would be permanent. The withdrawing of the grant now would be considered, therefore, a breach of faith on the part of Government. He would ask the hon. Member, did he object to Roman Catholic education under any circumstances, or did he object to that system of education which was adopted at Maynooth? If he objected to the education of the Roman Catholics in their own faith, was he prepared to go the length of stating that millions of people should be without any religious instruction whatever? Was he prepared to say, that the Catholics of Ireland were likely to be better men, or better subjects, by being without religious instruction of any kind? Or did he mean to contend, that it was better to be without any religious instruction, than to receive that of their own communion? He presumed that no man would venture upon the assertion of a principle so monstrously absurd as this. On what ground, then, did he object? Did he object to the particular system taught at Maynooth? If so, he must say, that that system was not objected to by the Protestant visitors of that establishment. When he said this, he did not mean, of course, that the visitors preferred that to a Protestant system of instruction: all he meant was, that there was nothing objectionable in it on political grounds. The Commissioners of Education also bore testimony to the advan- 614 tages of the system pursued at Maynooth, as any Gentleman might satisfy himself by consulting the reports which were on the Table of the House. One objection urged against the continuance of this grant was, that by cheapening the means of education in that College, the children of the very lowest classes were sent there, and that, in consequence, the Irish Clergy were, for the greater part, taken from the lowest and least respectable classes. Now what was the fact? It could be proved beyond contradiction, that education at Maynooth was much more expensive than education on the Continent, or in other public establishments in Ireland; and consequently, so far from being open chiefly to the sons of the lower classes, they were chiefly the children of the higher and more respectable classes who got admission there, for none others could bear the expense. Upon all these grounds, which he contended were political—upon the ground of justice to the Roman Catholics, and on the ground of the security of the Protestant Church in Ireland, to which in his conscience he believed that nothing would be more dangerous than the rejection of this grant—he called upon those who valued the peace and tranquillity of Ireland, upon those who regarded the stability of the Protestant Establishment in that country, to give their support to the Motion.
§ Sir John Newport
said, he was surprised at the course pursued by the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Perceval) as he recollected his ancestor's opinion when he withdrew the additional grant to Maynooth College in 1808, which had been given in 1806. At that time the late Mr. Perceval remarked, "It was particularly desirable, after the establishment of the connection of this country with the Irish Catholics since the Union, that the grant of the Irish Parliament should not be diminished."* For his own part, he thought it extremely desirable that the grant should be continued to its full extent. The establishment had been instituted for the education of the Catholic priesthood, who, from the disturbed state of the Continent at that time, could not go to the usual places abroad for education. He, therefore, considered, upon every ground, the Catholics had a claim upon the House for the sum now required at the least.* Hansard's Parl. Debates, vol. xi. p. 94.615 What, he asked, was meant by those hon. Members who opposed this grant? Did they mean to contend that Ireland had no claim upon the justice of the United Parliament for a grant of this kind? Did any hon. Member believe, that if Ireland continued to possess a separate Legislature, it would not have made a provision, and a much more ample one than this, for the education of the Catholic clergy in that country? And was it, he would ask, prudent or politic to make her feel the loss of a local Legislature in this respect? For his own part, he was most decidedly hostile to a Repeal of the Union, and for that reason he would wish to take from its advocates such irritating topics as might be dwelt upon, in referring to a refusal of such a grant as this. But was there no other ground on which the grant could be defended? Had the support which the great mass of the Roman Catholics give to the Established Church in Ireland, by tithes and church-rates, and other assessments, which pressed with great severity upon them, given them no claim to such a grant as this from the public funds of the country? He would contend, that as a matter of right and justice this grant ought not to be withheld. Its amount was of trifling value compared with the irritation which would be produced in Ireland by the rejection of the grant. It was objected to the grant, that it would be an encouragement to superstition and idolatry. Was it charitable—was it politic, or prudent, to tell millions of the people of Ireland, that the Government would not give any support to the education of their priests, because that which they taught them was superstition and idolatry? Was that the best way of contributing to the maintenance of the Protestant religion in Ireland? He had the pleasure of knowing many individuals amongst the Catholic clergy in that country; and he could state, that a more pious, more zealous, more intelligent set of clergymen—men more anxious to promote the spiritual and the temporal welfare of their flocks, could now here be found. Under all the circumstances of the case, he should give his most cordial support to the grant, believing in his conscience that nothing could be more injurious to the peace and tranquillity of that country, or to the permanent establishment of the Protestant religion in it, than the rejection of the vote.
Sir Robert Inglis
said, that it was no defence of the wisdom or policy of this grant, to urge that it had been given by a former Government. The question was not, whether that Government, in making this grant, had acted prudently or not, but whether such circumstances existed at the present moment, as ought to induce the House to accede to it. He considered that the whole question was open to discussion anew. Government had altogether altered its policy with respect to grants for education in Ireland, more particularly with respect to the sums given for the support of Protestant establishments. The same ground, therefore, did not exist for supporting this grant to Maynooth as heretofore, because the withdrawing of grants from Protestants, and continuing them to a Roman Catholic establishment, would show a partiality which no Government ought to encourage. Government had withdrawn the grant from the Kildare-street Society, on the ground that advances of money for education ought to be so distributed as that Catholics and Protestants should equally derive benefit from them; here, however, was a grant not merely for the promotion of Catholic education, but for the education of a large body of men whose duty it was to inculcate in the great mass of the population of Ireland, that religion, and those doctrines, which every conscientious Protestant must believe to be false. He did not object to the education of Catholics by their own funds, but he did think it inconsistent with Protestant principles, that a sum of public money should be granted by a Protestant Government to be applied in promoting doctrines which Protestants believe to be false.
§ Mr. Anthony Lefroy rose to make a few observations upon the subject now under the consideration of the House, with considerable difficulty, because, though he confessed he differed very widely in his religious and political opinions from his Roman Catholic countrymen, still he trusted that there was no man who would be more unwilling to cast a reflection upon their conscientious opinions, or to express a sentiment hurtful to their feelings; but as he had received petitions to present against the continuance of this grant, and had been desired to call the attention of the House to them, and abstained from doing so (in order not to trespass on the time of the House, at an inconvenient 617 period), he felt it due to those petitioners, as well as to himself, to take this opportunity of stating shortly the reason for the vote which he should this night give. He admitted that he did not conceive this House to be a suitable place for considering the theological errors of the Church of Rome, yet, as a Member of the British Legislature, and as one that fully concurred in the opinion that "to maintain that the State ought not to concern itself with the religion of the subject, is the greatest and most dangerous of all political errors, and to regard religion with indifference, the most dangerous of all modern ones," he felt it his duty carefully to watch over the interests of the Established Church, as not merely convenient to the State, but as being inseparable from it; and he felt it inconsistent, as a member of the Protestant Church, to contribute to the support of an institution which not only maintained, but educated and sent forth through the country, the ministers of a religion which he believed to be erroneous. He did not know how the right hon. the Secretary for Ireland could, in accordance with what he had before said, vote differently from him on the present occasion, as he had stated he was opposed to exclusive grants. On this ground he had diminished the grants to the Protestant Charter Schools, and had altogether withdrawn the grant from the Society for Discountenancing Vice; on this ground he stated that he had withdrawn the grant from the Kildare-street Society, though he and his friends who supported that institution, would not admit that it was an exclusive Society, and they supported it on the ground of being founded on a system calculated to do away with the differences that did exist among the people of Ireland, and to promote harmony and goodwill in that country. He knew that by such conduct his Majesty's Government had produced distrust and dissatisfaction, and it was, therefore, the more incumbent upon Protestants to view with jealousy every encroachment upon the interests of their faith, and not to assist in propagating another so much at variance with it. For these reasons he was compelled to vote against the continuance of the grant, and he trusted that any Roman Catholic Gentleman who heard him, would do justice to the feelings which urged him to assign a cause for this vote, as he thought that it was more candid to do so, than, by 618 merely giving a silent vote, to appear to follow in the train of a political party to offer an insult to his Catholic countrymen.
observed, that there was one question which every Member ought to ask himself before he came to a decision on that important subject. It was this—"Is it the duty of this House to preserve the Protestant Establishment in Ireland? and if it be, how far can that object be attained by such a 0grant as this?" Was not the great object of the establishment of Maynooth to disseminate amongst the population of Ireland, the belief that the doctrines which the Protestant Church held to be true, were sinful and heretical? Could any Protestant, then, give a conscientious assent to a grant for the support of an establishment the end and aim of which were hostile to Protestantism itself? He did not blame those who were opposed to the doctrines of the Protestant Church, for inculcating doctrines which they believed to be true, but he should not hold himself or any Protestant excusable in supporting, at the public expense, the inculcation of doctrines which he believed to be false. This was a question which admitted of no compromise. It was a question which related to the purity of God's Word, and those who believed that that Word was corrupted and defiled by the doctrines of the Church of Rome, ought not to promote the dissemination of that doctrine among their fellow-men. He could not conceive any measure more likely to be injurious to the Protestant religion in Ireland than this. Would it not, he asked, tend to weaken the confidence of many Protestants in their own faith, when they found the Legislature, consisting, with few exceptions, of Protestant Members, thus publicly supporting an establishment which denounced the Protestant religion as heretical, and which did all in its power to induce its members to abandon their faith, and embrace the creed of Rome? He would ask hon. Members who supported this grant, did they believe that the Church of Rome taught the pure doctrine of Christianity? If they did not, on what principle was it that as Protestants they thus openly encouraged the preaching of a doctrine which they believed to be false?
§ Mr. Cresset Pelham
said, it was his opinion that Parliament had the power to object to the grant. It was in one sense a religious question. As a Protestant he 619 considered himself bound to extend advantages to every one of his fellow-subjects, which, in his opinion, might conduce to their benefit; at the same time, he did not feel disposed to promote the education of the priesthood in Ireland. They had an opportunity of deriving a more liberal system of education on the Continent, than any they could receive at the College of Maynooth. He thought it inconsistent with the duty which, as Protestants, they owed to that pure form of worship which their religion inculcated, to vote a grant for the promulgation of doctrines which they must believe to be false, and he could not consent to support a system which, in his opinion, was disadvantageous to Christianity itself.
Sir Robert Bateson
was ready to give his support to the Motion of the hon. member for Tiverton (Mr. Perceval). He regretted extremely the course taken by his Majesty's Ministers with respect to education in Ireland. They withdrew the grant from the Kildare-street Society, because they thought its application was too exclusively Protestant, and yet they continued the grant to Maynooth, which they knew was exclusively Catholic. Had they continued the grants that their predecessors had recommended to Parliament for the promotion of Protestant education in Ireland, the continuance of this grant might be less objectionable than at present; though, in the abstract, he must say, that he did not think Maynooth entitled to the support of Parliament, because of the illiberality of the system on which it was founded. But had the grant, he repeated, been continued to both parties, he might not so much object to this; but he could never consent to continue a grant for the support of a Church which he believed to be in error, while, at the same time, the bounty of Parliament was withdrawn from establishments for education in connection with the Church whose doctrines he believed to be true. The right hon. the Secretary for Ireland had adverted to the opinion of the Commissioners for Education, in approbation of the Maynooth system, but he must take leave to say, that it was not entitled to that praise; judging from the works which were read there, and from the whole plan of education at Maynooth, he would contend, that nothing was more narrow or illiberal: and he believed it was the general opinion amongst the well-informed Roman Catholics, that 620 the priests educated at Maynooth were far inferior in extent of learning and acquirements to those who were educated in foreign colleges.
§ Mr. George Sinclair
said, that as an elder of the Church of Scotland, he felt bound to deliver his decided testimony against the continuance of the grant to Maynooth. His opposition, however, did not result from any feeling of illiberality to the Roman Catholics, or from any disposition to deny to them their civil rights. These rights he had himself advocated, and that, too, at a time when the advocacy of them had not become popular, but at a period when the Monarch and the Government were arrayed against them. It was, however, one thing to concede civil rights, and another to contribute to the propagation of a false religion. He was not ashamed to avow to this House, that in theology he was a follower of Luther, of Knox, of Calvin, and the other illustrious Reformers, to whom Great Britain and the world owed so deep a debt of gratitude. Still less could he consent to merge his faith as a Christian in the doctrines of political expediency, or hope to promote the welfare of his country, by lending equal encouragement to the ministers of the Reformed Church, and the priests of that religion against whose errors our ancestors had so solemnly protested. He could not consent to view it as a matter of indifference whether the doctrines of Protestantism, or the corruptions of Popery, were promulgated in the land; and he would remind the House, that if such indifference now prevailed within these walls, they must have greatly degenerated from the spirit which prevailed in other times. Their forefathers did not think that such questions were matters of indifference, or to be decided only by an appeal to a short-sighted expediency. Had they done so, they would not have contended for their faith, even to the death, and gladly marched to the scaffold and the stake, rather than deny their creed. He could not reconcile it with his sense of duty to vote for a grant which went to encourage the education of a priesthood, whose business it was to instil the errors of Popery into the minds of the people of Ireland.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
felt, that he had only one course to follow with respect to the Motion before the House. As a Protestant, he felt bound to oppose any mea- 621 sure which he believed hostile to the interests of the Protestant religion in this country. He had no wish to interfere with the religious opinions of any class of his fellow-subjects. As long as their profession was found not to be injurious to the State, he admitted that the State had no right to interfere with them; but it was one thing to tolerate, and another directly to encourage and support; and he could not see how any man who sincerely believed his own religion to be true, could conscientiously support an institution, the object of which was, to teach the people that it was false.
§ The House divided on the original question: Ayes 148; Noes 47—Majority 101.
|List of the NOES.|
|Agnew, Sir A.||Mandeville, Viscount|
|Bateson, Sir Robert||Maxwell, Henry|
|Best, Hon. W. S.||Mayhew, W.|
|Blair, William||Miller, W. H.|
|Boldero, Captain||Pelham, J. C.|
|Burge, W.||Perceval, Colonel|
|Clements, Colonel||Pringle, Alexander|
|Cole, Lord||Rickford, W.|
|Cole, Hon. A. H.||Ryder, Hon. G. D.|
|Conolly, Colonel||Sibthorp, Colonel|
|Cooper, E. J.||Sinclair, George|
|Corry, Hon. H. T. L.||Stewart, Charles|
|Cust, Hon. Sir E.||Stewart, Sir Hugh|
|Dick, Q.||Tullamore, Lord|
|Dundas, R. A.||Walsh, Sir John|
|Estcourt, T. G. B.||Wetherell, Sir C.|
|Fox, S. L.||Wynne, John|
|Gordon, J. E.||Young, John|
|Handcock, Richard||Perceval, Spencer|
|Hayes, Sir E. S.||Inglis, Sir Robert|
|Hodgson, J.||PAIRED OFF IN FAVOUR.|
|Hughes, W. H.|
|Ingestrie, Viscount||Archdall, General|
|Kearsley, J. H.||Grant, Gen. Sir C.|
|Lefroy, Thomas||Pollington, Lord|
|Lefroy, Anthony||Rochfort, Colonel|
|Lowther, Hon. Col.||Sadler, M. T.|
|Lowther, J. H.||Townshend, Hon. Col.|
§ The Speaker then left the Chair, and the House went into Committee.
was not, prepared to expect that hon. Members would allow the present vote to pass without some such objections as some of those he had heard, but he owned he had not expected to hear hon. Members go the lengths they had gone on this occasion. That many hon. Members were conscientiously opposed to 622 any grant to Maynooth College, or to any establishment having the same objects in view, he admitted, and did not object to them on that ground; but that a man should ground his opposition on a total misrepresentation of those objects, he was not prepared to expect. However little prepared he might have been to expect the concurrence of the hon. member for Tiverton on this occasion, he owned that he had not expected to find his opposition to the Roman Catholic religion couched in such terms when speaking of the doctrines of that creed, as if he arrogated to himself the infallibility of the Godhead. Was it charitable—was it Christian for one man, believing in the same Christ, to tell his fellow-man, that his mode of worshipping God was false and damnable? Whatever the hon. member for Tiverton might think of the Roman Catholic religion, he could assure that hon. Member, that he was glad that he did not belong to a religion which held such uncharitable, such unchristian language. With respect to the grant before the House, however he might concur in what had fallen from the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, he owned that he did not feel flattered—Ireland did not feel flattered—with the importance that the right hon. Gentleman attached to this grant. In amount it was nothing, and if it were withheld altogether, about which he was perfectly indifferent, it would be found that the Catholic priesthood would be as fully provided for in Ireland as at this moment. He was not surprised at the hon. member for Tiverton, and other hon. Members, complaining of being called on to give any support to a religion, in the truth of which they did not believe. Any conscientious man might feel the same objection, but did it never occur to those hon. Members to deal out the same meed of justice to others which they claimed for themselves in this respect? Did it never occur to them, that the Catholics of Ireland were compelled to support a Church in which they did not believe?—that they were not only obliged by tithes to support the wealthiest body of clergy in Europe, but that the building of churches, the repairs, the ornaments, of those churches—nay, even the very price of the sacramental elements, was taken from their pockets; and yet, now, when a paltry grant of the public money was proposed to the support of their own clergy, 623 hon. Members turned round upon them and said, "No, you shall not have any money from the public to support your creed, because you believe that which is false; because you believe that which is damnable." Was fallible man thus to assume the attribute of infallibility? Was a poor worm of the earth thus to set himself in judgment over the eternal doom of his fellow-being, and thus blasphemously presume to state, that his opinion must also be the opinion of God? What an example was here held out to the people of Ireland. If that example were followed, what must be the consequence? Let this grant but be refused—and, he repeated, he did not care for the grant—but let it be refused, and in one month after, was it not probable that the tithes and the Church-rates of Ireland would not be collected, unless at the point of the bayonet? Were the supporters of the Protestant Church in Ireland prepared to attempt that mode of collection, or did they believe that the Catholics alone were the only parties who would object? Let them not be deceived in that respect. No very inconsiderable number of the Protestants in the north of Ireland would be glad of the opportunity to resist the payment. Be that, however, as it might, he would confidently assert, that in three provinces out of the four in Ireland, it would be impossible to collect tithes and Church-rates, but by physical force, if this grant were refused. Were hon. Members prepared for these consequences from the principles they had this evening declared. With respect to the grant, he again repeated, that he did not value it as a boon to the Catholics. They would be most willing to support their own clergy liberally, without any aid from the State, if, like the people of Scotland, they had only their own clergy to support; if they were not pressed down by the burthens of a church in which they did not believe. He hoped, however, that the time was fast approaching, when the principle of each religion supporting its own pastors would become general. The hon. member for Tiverton, no doubt, believed that the religion of the Catholic Church was an error. He believed that it was true, but did he, on that account, presume to sit in judgment upon his fellow-man? Forbid it, Christian charity! He left man to be judged in religious matters by that Being who alone could judge justly. The intolerant spirit which the hon. Member had breathed forth 624 that evening, was the spirit which had produced the Inquisition in Spain, and the Orange Lodges in Ireland, and in each case the result was similar. Christian charity and Christian forbearance were forgotten: bigotry, prejudice, and personal rancour supplied their place, and so it must ever be, where man presumes to deny to his fellow-man that liberty which he himself claims in matters of religion. The priesthood, who were educated at Maynooth, were made the subjects of observation and attack. Upon that subject he would not at that time enter further, than to appeal to those hon. Members who had opportunities of judging of the character and conduct of the priests in Ireland. He would appeal particularly to those hon. Members who differed from him in religion, and who, he was sure, would not allow that difference to hinder them from doing justice to that able, intelligent, pious, and indefatigable, but yet much calumniated body of men. As to the grant, if the House divided, he felt that he must give his vote for it, but he must again beg to repeat, that he was perfectly indifferent whether it was given or not. Hon. Members had objected to the establishment of Maynooth, because, as they alleged, the cheapness of education there induced some of the very lower classes to send their children, and that, consequently, a large body of the priesthood were thus taken from the humblest classes. He would not then enter into the question, whether a man from the humblest class in society might not, by education, be raised to the highest acquirements in literature and science; examples of this kind were of every-day occurrence. Now, what was the fact as to the cheapness of education at Maynooth? It could be proved beyond a doubt, that education, in most of the foreign Universities, could be obtained for one-third what it cost at Maynooth. He had investigated this fact, and found, that it required three times the sum to pass a man through Maynooth, that it did through any of the foreign colleges. The sum of money Maynooth cost each individual, was three times greater. The first year alone cost 40l. That sum would certainly, have been amply sufficient to have taken the priest to France—to have kept him while there, and then to have paid his expenses home. It had been said, that this was a safe place for the Catholic clergy. Years ago, this might have been 625 an argument—in by-gone times, when they fled from persecution, and when the name "refugee priest," was a common one throughout the country. In times such as those, this might have been an argument; but Maynooth had given rise to a class of priests of a very different description; these priests had discovered that they had political rights as well as religious duties to attend to, and that they were as much bound to preserve the one, as they were to perform the other. But they gave abundant satisfaction to their own flocks, who looked up to them with gratitude and respect—who supported them with pleasure—who educated them at Maynooth—and who contributed, from their own stinted means of support, for this purpose. The priests discharged their duties in return, and were esteemed, valued, and beloved by their flocks. Maynooth had produced this effect, although not one-fifteenth part of the Roman Catholic clergy were educated in Ireland. Before he sat down, he must repudiate an idea which the hon. Gentleman appeared to entertain: he rebutted the charge; he denied that any man in that House was his superior, or that he had any worldly advantage to look up to in consequence of professing the Catholic religion. He was as ready to prove his belief in those doctrines as any man could be, in a proper place; he was as convinced of the truth of his religion as any Gentleman could be of the truth of his; he asked no compassion, no forbearance, from any man who made him a handle for abusing his religion; although he must confess, that he should prefer it if the charge were made in a little more courteous language, and with less acrimony.
§ Mr. Spencer Perceval
said, the hon. member for Kerry had accused him of having attacked the Roman Catholics in an ungentlemanly and acrimonious manner. Had such an accusation proceeded only from the member for Kerry, he might have been well content to have left it unnoticed where it fell; but the member for Kerry had been answered by a cheer, and in deference to that cheer, he would put it to the House, whether he had said one word which would justify such an attack The hon. and learned Member had accused him of using unchristian expressions, and of entertaining unchristian feelings against the Roman Catholics. He denied that he entertained unchristian 626 feelings towards any man, or that the expressions he had used could bear the constructions which the hon. and learned Member had put upon them. He had stated his opinion on a matter which, he considered, admitted of no compromise of feeling. He stated his opinion, that taking God's Word as the standard, Popery was a system of falsehood and corruption of the pure worship of our Lord Jesus Christ. On that ground, he thought, that as a Protestant, he could not consistently give his support to any grant for the encouragement of that religion. In stating that such was his conviction, he made no personal attack upon any man, and he denied that he was guilty of conduct unbecoming a gentleman. "But," said the hon. Member, "whatever opinion any one may entertain on this subject, and however highly I may value my character as a gentleman, I trust that I shall never be guilty of the baseness of sacrificing my duty as a Christian for the reputation of a gentleman. I trust I shall never be deterred by the sneers of any man from giving expression to opinions which, in my duty, I feel bound to utter. The member for Kerry ridicules the idea of any one saying that he believes his opinions to be founded on the Word of God. Why, Sir, what does the hon. Member himself mean, when he says he believes the Roman Catholic religion to be true? Does he not mean to say, that he believes it to contain the truth of God? That is, too, what I mean; but both cannot be right. If Protestantism be truth, then Popery is falsehood. The two religions are diametrically opposed. I say that the one is the truth of God. If this is the case, the other must be a corruption of His holy Word, and here, Sir, I am content, to leave the matter."
§ Mr. James E. Gordon
said, that he had refrained from taking any part in the discussion of the Amendment, upon which the House had divided, as he was prepared to meet the grant with a direct negative. With those who had preceded him, he felt himself in a somewhat unpleasant situation, as it respected the principles and feelings of many hon. Members of that House. It was, at all times a sufficiently ungracious duty to condemn and to oppose principles in the abstract, but when those principles were held, conscientiously held, and publicly professed by men of honour and integrity in that House, it added ex- 627 ceedingly to the embarrassment of the individual who should undertake to impugn them. It was not enough, in the present instance, that he should oppose himself to certain doctrines taught at the expense of a parliamentary grant, but constituted as the House of Commons then was, he must do so in the presence of hon. Members who were as sincere in the belief as they were honest in the avowal of these doctrines, and he envied not the condition of the man who could so effectually divest himself of the consideration of what was due to the feelings of others as to discard every restraint of a personal nature from his mind. He stood there, however, not to accommodate himself to the feelings of those whom he had the honour to address, but to discharge a solemnly momentous duty, and painful as that duty might be, he should enter upon the performance of it with the feeling of one who was deeply responsible as to the course which he was about to pursue. He would only further premise, that it was not his intention to enter upon the theological discussion of the doctrines of the Church of Rome. Whether they were true or false, was not, he considered, the question which they had then to discuss, but, believing as he did, with every consistent and scripturally instructed Protestant, that they were erroneous, and destructive to the souls of those who received them, he could not but be influenced in his opposition to the grant by that conviction. Assuming that as the foundation of his belief, the first ground upon which he should object to the proposed vote was very simple. The object of the grant was, to give currency to the doctrines of the creed of Pope Pius 4th, and against such an object he was compelled both by principle and consistency to protest. The right hon. the Secretary for Ireland had asserted, that the object of the grant was purely political, and he had listened with considerable anxiety to catch, if it were possible, some reason in support of such a declaration. Nothing, however, in the shape of reason had been given, nor did he believe, that it was possible for the right hon. Gentleman to defend his position by any arguments which were intelligible to that House. The office of the priesthood of Ireland was a religious office. The doctrines which they taught were set forth in the creed of Pope Pius 4th, and no one acquainted with that creed 628 would deny that it contained exclusively theological doctrines. But if the office of the persons whom it was the intention of the Government to educate, was a purely religious office, then the object of the grant was a religious object, and all the logic of that House would not prove the contrary. On that ground, therefore, he took his stand, treating the question as one of a religious character, he found himself restrained from giving any countenance to the grant, by the consideration that we were not at liberty to do evil that good might ensue. If moral guilt attached to the inculcation of error, moral guilt attached to the support and sanction of error, and if it was sinful to teach a system of Anti-christian doctrine, that House, in voting a grant to educate the teachers of such doctrine, would, in the language of Scripture, become a partaker in other men's sins. So much for what he considered the religious view of the question, in its simplest and most obvious sense, but he could not stop there. He should feel himself obliged to treat the subject more comprehensively than had been done by the friends who had preceded him, and to follow out the dogmata taught in the College of Maynooth to their practical results upon the mass of the population. These doctrines, which were wire-drawn, if he might so speak, into a variety of catechetical forms, were administered in that popular shape by the agents that a British Parliament had undertaken to educate, and, therefore, the question of what these agents taught to the people, entered as much into the argument for or against the present grant, as the consideration of the doctrines which they themselves were taught. He should not inflict upon the House the penance of an extended reference to the popular standards of theology, which the Priests of Maynooth were employed to administer to the peasantry of Ireland. One specimen would be sufficient, and in order that no objection might be made to the authority of that specimen, he should select the edition of the Christian Doctrine, revised by Dr. Doyle, and prescribed by him to be taught throughout his diocese. In the preface to that work, he found it announced as a useful contribution to the spiritual advantages of those whom the writer described his dearest children in Christ, and one among the instruments whereby the knowledge and practice of the Christian religion would be planted, and watered, 629 It followed, in the concluding part of the preface, that it was sanctioned by that most sacred authority with which the writer and his order are sanctioned from above. It was not, as he stated before, his object to enter upon the question of whether these doctrines, said to be taught by Divine authority, were true or false, but the effect which they were calculated to produce upon society, was a consideration in which that House was intimately concerned. Now among these doctrines, taught at the expense of the Protestant public, was one which stigmatized every Protestant in Ireland as a heretic, obnoxious to the wrath of God. He should leave it for the House and the country to estimate the consistency of calling upon Protestants to promulgate such tenets, and he should leave it for those who were acquainted with the moral, the political, and the social condition of Ireland, to speak of their effects upon society. But it was not enough that Parliament should be called upon to uphold doctrines which were inconsistent with the peace of society; it must also be called upon to lend its aid in support of doctrines which went to sap the very foundation of moral obligation. He found, for example, in the same work, a distinction laid down between moral and venial sin, and he should quote the terms in which that distinction was expressed:—Qu. "By what kind of sins are the commandments broken?—Ans. By mortal sins only, for venial sins are not, strictly speaking, contrary to the end of the commandment, which is charity." So much for the distinction itself. He would beg the attention of the Committee to the practical application of this principle, and the manner in which it affected the moral condition of society:—Qu. "When is theft a mortal sin?—Ans. When the thing stolen is of considerable value, or causes a considerable hurt to our neighbour." Thus, if the believer in that most accommodating doctrine, should be tempted to steal a shilling from an indigent and suffering neighbour, the act would come under the definition of mortal or deadly sin, forasmuch as it would cause considerable hurt to the injured party. But if the same individual should steal to the value of a thousand pounds from a person in great affluence, it might, after all, be a merely venial offence, because it would not cause considerable hurt to the injured party. Then it was to be kept in mind, that the 630 judgment of the thief constituted the moral arbiter which was to determine the distinction. Again with respect to the sin of lying—Qu. "When is a lie a mortal sin?—Ans. When it is any great dishonour to God, or notable prejudice to our neighbour." Thus the liar is at liberty to lie venially up to the point at which he may conceive that the practice causes great dishonour to God, or notable prejudice to his neighbour. And these were the doctrines which a professedly Protestant State was called upon to sanction, to support, and to teach, to the people of Ireland. But he would not restrict his view of this subject to the doctrines which the Roman Catholic priests of Ireland were educated by the British Government to teach, or the effects which these doctrines were calculated to produce upon society. There was another view of the character of the priesthood of Ireland which he was bound to include in his estimate of the question before the House. While that body was actively engaged in the propagation of what he considered dangerous error, and what the fathers of the Reformation would have termed soul-destroying doctrines, they were just as actively engaged in excluding the light of heaven from the darkness visible which it was their constant endeavour first to create, and then to perpetuate. Yes, while doctrines such as he had pointed out, and worse than what he had pointed out, were systematically and authoritatively taught; and while free course was afforded to the history of profligate and treasonable adventure, the Book of God was hunted from house to house and from hand to hand, with an almost instinctive hostility. The Bible—the palladium of Protestantism, and the foundation of our common Christianity—was a proscribed book, and a people who in matters of faith professed an exclusive reference to the precious truths which it contained, were called upon to educate and to distribute through Ireland in parochial detail, a class of individuals who were religiously pledged to banish it from public observation. Was this, he would ask, a calumny or a fact? Let the testimony of experience, and the declarations and oaths of Roman Catholics themselves answer the question. The first authority which he should quote in support of the declaration would be one to which that House could not reasonably object. In the year 1824 an encyclial letter reached Ireland from 631 Rome, in which versions of the Scripture in the vulgar tongue were stigmatised as Gospels of the Devil; and an appeal was made to the 4th rule of the index of prohibited books against the general use of the Bible in any form by the laity. And how, he would ask, was this rescript received by the Roman Catholic hierarchy of Ireland? Did they assert that independence of which they sometimes boasted, and appeal from the authority of this document? Or did they use their discretion with respect to the public and general use of it? No such thing. In a pastoral address, written to pioneer it through the kingdom, they gravely stated, that in the sentiment expressed by their head and chief they fully agreed; and, not satisfied with a mere assent in the matter, they appealed to the prohibitory rule of the index quoted by his Holiness as the groundwork of that assent. Thus they had the recorded decision of the Roman Catholic hierarchy of Ireland against the general use of the Scriptures by the laity, and that decision was in accordance with the uniform practice of the priesthood. What could we expect in such circumstances but a prevailing ignorance of the Word of God in the land? And what did we meet with in experience but a most appalling verification of that fact? One instance out of a multitude which he could quote would be sufficient to put that subject in a practical light. In the evidence given on oath by a most respectable Roman Catholic gentleman of the name of Donnelan, before the Commissioners of Irish Education Inquiry, he stated, that in many parts of the province of Connaught with which he was acquainted, the peasantry did not so much as know what a Bible or Testament meant, until the exertions of the Bible Society brought the book within the range of their observations. But further. At the time that that gentleman was giving his evidence, there were, as he asserted, multitudes who could not distinguish a Bible or Testament from any other book, even after it had been put into their hands. But perhaps he might be told, in answer to such a charge, that a version of the Bible had been printed under the sanction of the Roman Catholic Bishops, and was actually on sale in Dublin. Such he admitted to be the fact, but did the mere license to sell a copy of the Scriptures at 18s. in boards, afford evidence of a disposition to circulate the book? He had done with 632 Roman Catholic priests, in the discharge of what might be considered their ecclesiastical function, but called upon as he was to sanction a vote for the multiplication of their number in Ireland, there were other aspects of character in which he must take the liberty to contemplate them. It would seem that a circular order had lately issued from the seat of Government in Dublin, requesting the assistance of the clergy of the different persuasions, to cooperate in taking a census of the population of their respective parishes. This, in regard to Roman Catholic clergymen, he conceived to be a reasonable requisition on the part of a Government to which they were so deeply indebted but what was the result? He held in his hand five of the published replies to that circular, by Roman Catholic priests, and he should read one or two of these for the information of the Committee. The first was signed, John Burke, parish priest of Castlepollard, and he would, particularly request the attention of the Committee to its contents:—It was as follows.Sir,—I have been favoured with two copies of your circular, on the census of the population. I suppose the parish priest of Newtownbarry received one or two more. I would wish to know, what obligation the priests of Ireland owe, either to you or the Government, that we should assist your travelling servants, and look over their work. If you want clerical bailiffs, call on those whom you pay, and who have nothing else to do; with respect to us, we have neither time nor inclination to give you gratuitous services, no more than we would be inclined to disgrace ourselves by receiving your pay. You want the census of my parish. All the information that I can give you, is that its population was reduced on the last shooting day eleven in number, and that we have laws which forbid me to characterize that deed as it deserves,He should not occupy the time of the Committee by reading the whole of that disgraceful production. It would be sufficient to add the conclusion:—Sir,—Send your Orange messengers and enumerators to those to whom they are welcome, but let them not be annoying my little place by their unwelcome presence. I am too much affected by the loss of my parishioners, whom I regarded more than I do you, or any one belonging to or connected with the Irish Government, to turn my attention to this display, that is so worthy of the men who are the adorers of Jupiter, Mars, and Pluto in perhaps more instances than in taking the census.To Geo. Hatchill, Esq. Dublin Castle,633 The Author of the communication which had just been read, was represented as expressing himself in the plural number; "we, the priests of Ireland," was the phrase which he employed, and the Committee would find in the next sample which he (Mr. Gordon) should adduce, that there was a unity of feeling upon the subject, and that Mr. Burke had correctly represented that feeling. It was from a priest of the name of Fagan, in the county of Meath, addressed to the same officer of Government:Sir,—After the prompt and indignant rebuke which you have so lately received from my respected friend, the Reverend Mr. Burke, of Castlepollard, on the subject of the census, I did not imagine that you would so soon have the effrontery to annoy any more of the clergy of Meath with your insulting circulars. I therefore beg leave to assure you, that you know but little of the high character of the Catholic clergy, if you think they could be induced to become the associates of Orange underlings, and the pioneers of your work. No, Sir, they sympathize with their flocks in their manifold grievances, and will not become the enumerators of persons, who, perhaps, are marked out for victims on the next shooting day; and as long as Ireland is the prey of a faction, and 'despots work their tyranny in forms of law, in that ill-fated land, so long as Anglesey Yeomanry butcher with impunity a peaceable and unoffending people, so long will the Catholic clergy entertain feelings of deep indignation towards their oppressors, and scout such circulars as yours with the contempt they deserve.He held in his hand three other documents of an equally, or, if possible, of a more reprehensible description; and he was satisfied, that if the whole of the answers in the possession of the Government were laid upon the Table of that House, they would betray a secret of which the public could at present, form no adequate conception. And was that, he would ask, among the qualities of character and the dispositions towards Government which entitled the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland to the benefit of a parliamentary grant? But there was another view in which he should take the liberty of presenting one or two specimens of that body to the Committee. It might be within the knowledge of some hon. Members present, that Dr. Doyle had recently addressed a letter to a right hon. Gentleman on the opposite side of that House, in which he had expressed a hope, that the hatred of Irishmen to the system of tithes 634 might be as lasting as their love of justice. He certainly did not mean then to inquire into what had been the effect of that appeal upon the passions and the interests of an ignorant and misguided people, but it was natural to expect that the sentiments of such an authority would be duly echoed by those who were subject to his influence. What then was the fact? In a meeting of the people, as it was termed, of the county of Carlow, held a few days since at Bagnalstown, he found the clerical auxiliaries of Dr. Doyle at their post, and he should quote a part of the address which one of them was reported to have delivered on the occasion:— "The present tithe system is and will continue to be the source of deep discontent in this country; and why should it not, when the amount of tithes goes to swell the already full store of the bloated parson, who only eats and drinks and sleeps, and eats and drinks and sleeps again?" [cheers.] And had it come to that, that such expressions, when applied to the clergy of the Established Church, could be cheered in that House? Did those hon. Members who had cheered the expressions which he had just quoted, pretend to reconcile such expressions with the principles or the practice of a minister of the Gospel? If so, he would tell them that they betrayed a very lamentable ignorance of the character of a Christian minister. But let it go forth to Protestant Britain, that the grossest terms of abuse and reproach, when applied by a priest of Rome to the Protestant clergy, were loudly cheered on the Ministerial benches of that House. He could tell those hon. Members who could applaud such sentiments, that there was a voice without as well as a voice within these walls, and if there was one particle of Christian, of Protestant, or of Constitutional feeling in the land, it must, and it would, respond to such appeals as the circumstances of that night's discussion had addressed to it. He should again refer to the speech of the Rev. Mr. Maher:— "Was not that law," said that reverend gentleman, "a disgrace to the land, which had consigned two men to prison at Kilkenny, for merely endeavouring to preserve peace and order at a meeting held on the subject of tithes? Will not the fathers of Kilkenny make their sons swear eternal hostility to a system which has consigned these two individuals to rot in a dungeon? The real disturbers of the 635 county were the Grand Jury jobbers, and the minor fry who acted under them, the parsons and their proctors, and the landlords of that county. If the landlords did not take great care of themselves, the people of Carlow would rise up and drive them from the county." [Cheering.] Hon. Members might cheer such atrocious language and conduct, and, for aught he knew, it might be perfectly consonant with their sentiments to do so, but he did not hesitate to tell them, that those who could cheer such threats would cheer on to their work the midnight incendiary with the torch in his hand, and the assassin with the dagger under his cloak [a laugh, and hear, hear.) Those cheers should reach the public ear, and if there was a channel of conveyance from that House to the intellect or the feeling of the country, the sentiments which had been applauded that night, and the quarters from which the applause had proceeded, should circulate through the length and the breadth of the land. Did those hon. Gentlemen from Ireland who sat on the opposite side of the House, imagine that their defence of Roman Catholic priests, and their cheers when the conduct of Roman Catholic priests was impeached, would shield their persons and their property in the day of visitation? If they did so, he would tell them that they were grossly deceived; and when the landlords of Ireland received notice to quit, they might come to discover, when it was too late, that they would not be the last in the procession. He had done for the present with the Roman Catholic priests of Ireland in their political character, and the review of their principles in that capacity was the last argument against the grant with which he should think it necessary to trouble the Committee. He opposed that grant, because it would be employed to inculcate the tenets of what he believed to be a false and destructive faith. He opposed it because the effects of that faith, in the form in which it was taught by the Roman Catholic priests of Ireland, were destructive of the moral, the social, and the political well-being of society. He opposed it because the men whom it was voted to educate would allow free course to every species of publication which could inflame the passions, debase the principles, and vitiate the moral sense of society, at the same time that they exerted every effort to exclude the Volume which had 636 God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. He opposed the grant because it would be employed to train, and to place at their posts, a band of political incendiaries, whose influence and efforts would be exerted to excite, to organize, and to direct the hostility of the population against the Government, and against the Protestantism of the empire.
expressed great regret at the speech which he had just heard from the hon. and gallant member for Dundalk, which was calculated to excite rather than to appease religious animosities in Ireland. He had no objection to hon. Members indulging themselves in polemical discussion if they thought proper, but the House of Commons was not the fit arena for such discussions. That House ought to be the fountain from which peace and harmony should be diffused in a thousand streams throughout the land. He had no objection to the hon. member for Dundalk contending for the superior purity of his own faith; that was a matter of which, as far as he himself was concerned, the hon. Member had a right to judge; but he must submit, that even the conviction that his own faith was pure did not warrant him in making violent attacks on the opinions of others—attacks which could never lead to the conversion from error of any of those whom the hon. Member believed to be going astray, but which must rather tend to continue them in that error. Allusions were made to the Kildare-street Society, which were not well timed, for they ought rather to have been made when the grant for education was before the House. He regretted that no means could be devised to put a stop to the unhappy dissensions that prevailed on the subject of education. He regretted that minor considerations should arise on this important question, for no one seemed to doubt that there was every social and moral obligation on the Legislature to see that the people were properly educated. The question of the education of the Catholic priests was one of the greatest importance; and, under present circumstances, it would be an act of the grossest injustice to withhold the grant from the College of Maynooth: indeed, he had not heard anything approaching to the semblance of a reason why this should be done. This College was established with the understanding that the grant from Government 637 would be continued to it, and it would be a breach of faith to withdraw the grant at present; it would, at the same time, be highly impolitic to do so, because the certain effect of it must be to produce great irritation and animosity among the people of Ireland. As a financial measure it could not be regarded as of any importance, and the withholding it would have the greatest moral effect on the people. Previous to the establishment of this College, the greatest complaints were urged that the priests were sent to foreign countries to receive their education, and that they returned imbued with foreign prejudices, and it was on this account that the Ministry proposed the grant. It was said then, do not educate your priests abroad, for there they will adopt the prejudices of foreigners; and now, forsooth, complaints were made against the Irish priests, that they entertained too strong-national prejudices which arose from their being educated at home. This appeared to him to be a complete solecism. The hon. Member said, that they were ignorant, and at the same time he objected to institutions founded for their instruction, on the ground that they imbibed national prejudices at home. It was objected that the Catholic priests in Ireland were opposed to the education of the people: no objection could be more unjust or unfounded; and, in disproof of it he appealed to the fact which all those acquainted with Ireland were aware of—that every Catholic chapel in Ireland had a school attached to it, in the direction of which the priest took a very active part.
§ Mr. Lefroy
was anxious to rise immediately after the hon. Member who had just sat down, as, though he could not concur in his reasoning, he wished to follow the tone and temper in which he had addressed the House. Indeed, he saw no reason why this subject might not be discussed without the necessity of hon. Members wounding the feelings of one another, whether it were to be considered as a question of private conscience or of State policy. The hon. Member had viewed it in the first light, and the right hon. Secretary for Ireland had wished to consider it in the latter. He was disposed to take the subject in both views. The State had made choice of a particular religion, and decided upon maintaining it as the true religion. He conscientiously concurred in the choice the State had made, and therefore felt bound, 638 as a matter of private conscience as well as State policy, to secure to that religion a preference, and to resist any attempt to encourage or support an opposite system. This was not, as had been suggested, an arrogant assumption that the private judgment of the Protestant should control the private judgment of the Roman Catholic—it was merely giving effect to the judgment of the State, by those who conscientiously concurred in it, nor did he see why this should give offence to any hon. Member who happened to be a Roman Catholic, or be considered as any want of toleration: for there was a vast, an essential difference between that toleration which would not refuse to bear with any other religion, and that spirit of liberalism—worse than indifference—which would give positive encouragement and support to opposite and conflicting creeds. He could not distinguish between what was now proposed and the having two Established Churchs, in each of which the same State would be providing for the maintenance and education of ministers, who would be bound conscientiously to teach opposite and conflicting doctrines. If this had been proposed at the time of the Reformation would it have been listened to? If it had then been proposed that the State should have endowed an establishment for the maintenance and education of a body of the Roman Catholic clergy, would the Parliament which adopted the Reformation, have listened to such a proposal? And where was now the difference? Whatever justification might be supposed to have been derived from the plea of necessity, when the Continent was shut out from the Roman Catholics by the war, had long since ceased. When it was said, that the Roman Catholics contribute to the maintenance and support of the Established Church, and therefore were entitled to a support for their own Church, the argument proved too much,—it would go to prove that we should have as many Church establishments as we have religions; for the members of them all are as much bound as the Roman Catholics to contribute to the support and maintenance of the Established Church. Indeed, the right hon. Secretary seemed willing to lay hold of this argument, for he stated that the Presbyterians had an establishment supported by the State, for the maintenance and education of their clergy, the Belfast Institution. But that was a total mistake; such was not the object of that 639 establishment, and he would undertake to say, that the only establishment in England or Ireland, supported by the Government for the education of any clergy but those of the Established Church, was the Roman Catholic College at Maynooth. Much had been said of the expediency of this grant, and he was free to confess that, if it were open to decide the question upon the ground of expediency much could be said in its favour. But it was a question of principle—of religious principle and political consistency; and though it had been intimated that there might be danger in withdrawing this grant, he was of opinion that for States, as well as individuals, there was but one conscientious, one safe line to follow—that was, to resolve to do right, and take the consequences. He had, on these grounds, voted for the motion on which the House had just divided, and must, on the same grounds, oppose the grant now proposed.
§ Mr. Petre
concurred with his hon. friend (Mr. O'Connor), in the expression of deep regret that a discussion of this kind should be introduced into that House. All that hon. Members had to do with religion, was, to act up to its precepts, by doing their duty to the country, and by acting in charity with all mankind. These were obligations binding on men of every Christian denomination, without distinction of sect, but he feared that the observance of these duties would not be much promoted; on the contrary, that it would rather be checked by entering into discussions which, when taken out of place, tended only to exasperate rather than to conciliate. He should give his cordial support to the Motion before the Committee, because he felt the refusal of it would serve only to alienate the affections of the people of Ireland. He could not understand the proposition of the hon. member for Tiverton when he said, that liberalism in religion was infidelity in diguise, for he had always been taught to believe that liberalism in religion was nothing more than the universal charity of the Gospel.
§ Mr. Burge
also regretted the introduction of religious discussion on this occasion, because he felt that such discussions tended only to disturb and destroy those feelings of charity and forbearance which Christianity inculcated alike on all its professors. He therefore, did not rise to offer any objection to the grant, on the ground of his religious difference from those for whom it was in- 640 tended, but he nevertheless did object to it, because he found that his Majesty's Government, at the same time that they continued this grant, expressed their intention of withdrawing those aids which Parliament had usually given for the protection and encouragement of several Protestant establishments in Ireland. If he found that the protection and pecuniary aid of Government were to be extended to the Kildare-street Society, and to other institutions which had for their object the promotion of education on Protestant principles in Ireland, then he should offer no objection to this grant; but when he found so different a measure was dealt out to establishments at one side from those of the other, he could not sanction the inequality. He, therefore, should oppose the Motion.
§ Lord Ebrington
said, it had been his lot to hear many religious discussions in that House, and to listen to many speeches upon the subject of religion, which had given him pain. None, however, were ever more painful to him than those which fell from the hon. Gentlemen on both sides, who joined in the earlier part of the discussion of that evening. But if he felt pain and regret at that portion of the debate, it had been much more than compensated by the gratification which he had derived from the speeches of the hon. member for the county of Roscommon, and his hon. friend near him. If he wanted anything to confirm him in his vote for this grant—if he wanted anything to satisfy him of the propriety of the part which he had always humbly taken, in affording to his Roman Catholic fellow-subjects a participation in the constitutional rights and privileges which he, as a Protestant, enjoyed—he should have found it in the sentiments which he had had the satisfaction of hearing from the two Gentlemen to whom he had alluded, and who were professors of the Roman Catholic creed. The hon. member for Dundalk had said, that no man who felt conscientiously impressed with the truths of the Protestant religion could support this grant. He was as conscientious a Protestant as any man in that House; but he did not think that it was any part of the religion of a conscientious Protestant to abuse and vilify the faith of any other sect of his fellow-christians. He did not think that the adoption of such a course as that was at all calculated 641 to prove a man's attachment to the Protestant religion. He had some experience in Ireland as to the state of that country, as to the condition of its people, and the character and conduct of the Roman Catholic clergy, and he could bear testimony to their exemplary diligence in the discharge of all their duties as sincere and pious Christian pastors. He gave his cordial assent to the Motion, and he thought it would be an act of great injustice to the people of Ireland that the grant should be withheld.
§ Mr. Wyse
said, that the question was not whether Ireland should be Catholic or not, but whether the Irish Catholics should get a good education or a bad one. To say that, because they were Christians, they were not to attend to the education of other Christians who might differ from them in some particulars which they were not ready to admit—was contrary not only to the principles of Christianity, but contrary also to the practice and belief of almost every civilized nation. There was not a nation in Europe which did not entertain such a degree of concern for the interests and welfare of those of its subjects who might dissent from its Established Church, as to provide a certain description of education for them; and, if they could place that education under the control of the Government, they considered themselves fortunate in doing so, and not as conferring any great boon on the parties to whom it was extended. The hon. Gentleman who opened this debate talked of no other system of the Christian religion than that which he professed, as being endurable; but what right had he to say, that the College of Maynooth was Anti-christian? Go where they would, wherever the dominion of England was established, and they would find the principle of religious toleration acknowledged and acted upon, and the means of education everywhere provided. It was so in Corfu, in Malta, in Hindostan, in every part of the empire, where various creeds were professed, and different forms of worship observed. Why, then, should it be denied to Ireland? This grant for the College of Maynooth, when it had been first proposed, had been considered by the very persons most anxious to oppose it, as scarcely adequate to effect the object for which it was intended. The population had since increased, but the amount of the grant had continued unal- 642 tered. Yet the Protestants maintained that it was too much. He must bear testimony to the exemplary conduct of the Roman Catholic clergy, and to their zealous exertions in endeavouring to promote, on all occasions, the spiritual and temporal welfare of their flocks. It was a gross libel on that excellent body of men to say, that they were opposed to the education of the people. As one proof that they were not so opposed, he might mention the fact, that very lately a College had been founded in the county which he represented (Tipperary) sufficient for the accommodation of 300 students, that admission to it was open equally to Protestants and Catholics, and that all the expenses of its erection had been defrayed from the funds of the Catholic clergy of the diocese.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
said, he should support the grant, because he highly approved of the system of education which it enabled Maynooth College to give. He regretted, however, that it was not more extensive in its operation. As to the policy of making such a grant as this, he would observe, that the true way to secure the British connexion, and to keep the Catholics of Ireland attached to this country, was to educate them at home. It was most extraordinary to behold men like the hon. member for Dundalk and others, who had lived so long in the world, and who had learned so little, venting, at that time of day, the threadbare calumnies, the oft-refuted libels, and the disregarded and exploded cant which had been so often employed against the pious and exemplary Catholic clergy of Ireland, amongst whom the Protestant established clergy might find many examples worthy of their imitation. Any one who had the honour of being acquainted with the most reverend Dr. Murray, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, with the most reverend Dr. Curtis, and the right reverend Dr. M'Cabe, and many other distinguished members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy of Ireland, would admit them to be men of high distinction in literary attainments, and still more distinguished for their eminent virtues as Christian Bishops. As to the answer of the Catholic clergyman of Newtownbarry, which had been read by the hon. member for Dundalk, he must say, he thought it extremely unfair and illiberal to take an isolated fact of this kind (even assuming that it deserved the 643 character the hon. and gallant Member had given to it) as a specimen of the conduct of the whole of the Catholic clergy of Ireland. But he denied that the letter of the reverend Dr. Burke deserved the censure which the hon. and gallant Member had cast upon it. That reverend gentleman was at the moment suffering under the natural irritation which any man must feel at having a considerable number of his parishioners, he might say, wantonly destroyed.
§ Mr. Andrew Johnston
said, as an elder of the Church of Scotland, I feel bound to object to the proposed grant. At this late hour, and considering the present temper of the House, I shall only state a very few reasons which weigh strongly with me on the present occasion. I regret, Sir, that the hon. member for Tiverton took up this question on such low ground; and did not consider it, in what I may term an out-and-out manner. As an office-bearer of the Church of Scotland, to which I reckon it an honour to belong, a Church which has done more good for her people, I may say, than almost any other Church in existence, I cannot consent that the people of Scotland should be taxed for the support of an institution for instruction in the tenets of the Romish faith, which my Church holds to be idolatrous. The hon. member for Kerry has said, that this is a paltry grant; if so, why does he condescend to accept it? But, Sir, a portion of that grant must be contributed by the country to which I belong; and to this, as long as I hold the place of a legislator here, I will never consent. I agree, Sir, in opinion with those who hold, that the evils to which Ireland has so long been subjected, are not owing altogether to misgovernment, but mainly to the influence of the Papistical faith. Sir, I do not rest this assertion on speculative theories, but on historical facts, which I will not at present dwell upon. I must not, however, omit to notice the extraordinary reception which several petitions from Presbyterians, on the subject of this grant, have met with in this honourable House. I particularly allude to two petitions, which I have carefully considered; and which contain merely abstract propositions, founded on the Confession of Faith—the Articles of the Church of Scotland; and yet, the proposed printing of these petitions was, in no ordinary manner, refused. Sir, the 644 petition from Glasgow was subscribed by twenty-one ministers of the Established Church, nearly one hundred elders, and by five Dissenting clergymen. I am sure, if the hon. member for Preston (Mr. John Wood) had been acquainted with the creed of the Church of Scotland, he would not have applied the terms "pitiful spite" to these most respectable petitioners. Sir, I trust I may say, that this House is still a Protestant House of Commons; and, that the hon. Roman Catholic Members around me (and to whom I beg to disclaim the smallest intention of giving offence) are only tolerated here; having first taken a solemn oath, that they will do nothing to disturb or weaken the Protestant faith, or the Protestant Government. But how do we stand? A few nights ago, the hon. member for Louth, in speaking of the Established Church of Ireland (a Church for which I may state I have no particular affection, and which I am not here to defend, but which, as a Protestant Church, has strong claims to my support), that hon. Member said, he was "not her enemy, but, by instinct, he could not be her friend." And the hon. member for Kerry also declared, a short time since, that he "believed the Protestant faith to be false." Sir, I was friendly to Catholic Emancipation; but, hearing such extraordinary doctrines around me, I would pause, and ask, if the Legislature did wisely in admitting Roman Catholics to seats in that House. I shall not trespass further on the time of the House at this late hour, but merely to state, that I concur in the sentiments which have been expressed by my hon. friend, the member for Dundalk, on this subject, and that I shall vote against the grant to Maynooth.
Mr. Ralph Howard
would not be led into discussion as to differences of religion, by what had fallen from the hon. Member who had just addressed the House, or the hon. and gallant member for Dundalk, and he trusted the House would feel that he was not called upon in that place to enter upon such a discussion. He would beg to remind the hon. Members, however, that he (Mr. Howard) was one of those Roman Catholic Members who voted for the grant of 21,000l. for the maintenance of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and that the hon. Member who spoke last did not hear from him, or from any person professing his religion, any abusive 645 attacks on the faith of the Presbyterians. If the Catholics of Ireland were not taxed for the support of a Church to which they did not belong, they would not require such a paltry sum as this.
§ Sir Richard Musgrave
defended the Catholic clergy from the imputations which had been cast upon them, and said, that they were, in fact, the preservers of the peace in Ireland. They were the zealous promoters of education amongst their flocks, and, in fact, no body of men could pay a more constant and diligent attention to the duties of their sacred calling than they did. On these grounds, he should give his cordial support to the Motion.
§ Motion agreed to.— The House resumed.