moved the Order of the Day for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, to take into consideration the subject of Tithes in Ireland.
hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would not press his Motion at present, but would consent to postpone it at least for a week, as the Select Committee up-stairs had now nearly gone through all its examinations on the subject, and was on the point, he believed, of finishing its inquiry, and presenting its Report. The peace of Ireland was at hazard in this case, and he would most earnestly entreat—nay, beseech—the right hon. Gentleman not to press this measure forward until they had the whole of the evidence taken by the Committee, and the result of their inquiry laid before them.
said, that he never desired to press any measure forward without affording to the House the fullest possible information with regard to it; but in his mind the very argument that the hon. 971 Gentleman had urged for the postponement of this Motion was the most powerful that could be advanced for its being taken into immediate consideration. The House had already devoted two nights to a full discussion of the Resolutions which he should have to propose in the Committee, and those Resolutions by no means constituted a final measure as to the settlement of the Church of Ireland. The Resolutions which he was now anxious to press forward were intended to meet a pressing emergency, and to express the sense of that House as to what it was their determination to do in reference to the resistance that had been made to the payment of tithes. It was true that the Select Committee might very soon close its inquiries, but he was far from saying that such would be the case. Taking into account the intricacy of the details through which they had to go, and the overwhelming importance of the interests which had been committed to their consideration, he did not think that it would be practicable or fair to call on the Select Committee to come immediately to a final decision on the subject. It had been said, that all the Irish Members were arrayed against the measure which he had proposed; but he could not consider twenty-seven out of the 100 Members for Ireland as representing the opinion of that country on this question. It had been stated, also, at meetings in Ireland, that with regard to this question, Ireland was on one side in that House, and the Whigs, Tories, and Radicals, had all joined on the other, for oppressing Ireland. Now, he begged to say, most distinctly and emphatically, that such was not the case, but that there had been 314 English and Irish Members on one side, and only thirty-one on the other. Under the circumstances of the case, he thought that he did not ask too much from the hon. Members opposed to him on this question, to allow him to go into Committee now on this subject, have his Resolutions considered seriatim there, and an opportunity given to him of bringing forward his Bill, founded on those Resolutions, in order to meet the urgency of the occasion. During the progress of that Bill through the House, ample opportunities would be afforded for the discussion of this subject.
§ Mr. Maurice O'Connell
said, Sir, I should not, perhaps, have now risen, were it not for the manner in which the Secre- 972 tary for Ireland has met the very reasonable request of my hon. friend. I do not blame the right hon. Gentleman for persevering in his own course; but I do find fault with the taunting manner in which he has spoken of the minority on a former division on this question ["no, no," from Mr. Stanley.] Sir, the right hon. Gentleman may not have intended the taunt, but it was felt and understood by every one of those twenty-seven Irish Members, and it will be felt and understood in Ireland, to which country the right hon. Gentleman will have to answer for his conduct on this question. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman tells us that the House had already decided, by its vote, the course to be pursued, and that it is not for a small minority to array itself against the sense of the House—for thirty-one Members to stand up against 314. He goes further, and he says, that England, Ireland, and Scotland are with him, and only twenty-seven Irish and four English Members against him. Sir, this statement I utterly deny. This is not a question between 314 English and Irish Members, in the majority, and twenty-seven Irish and four English in the minority; it is a question between the majority and the minority of the people of Ireland. It was, in the first place, a question whether the great majority of the people were to continue to pay a great portion of their earnings to maintain the Church of the minority in affluence and luxury; and it now comes before you in its modified shape, as a question whether (the inexpediency of so mulcting the people being determined on) a large portion of the money of the people is to be paid away, without any definite promise of relief to them—whether the clergy of the minority were to receive remuneration for services unperformed, and the majority not even the hope of relief from miseries endured. Thus had the question been received in Ireland—thus did it still continue to be viewed—and as long as the twenty-seven Irish Members who voted in that despised minority had the voice of Ireland in their favour, so long would the taunts of the right hon. Gentleman be disregarded by them. Sir, it is in vain to tell us that only one quarter of the Representatives of Ireland voted in that minority. Will any one here deny that the people of three-fourths of Ireland are loud in their opposition to this impost, in their approbation of the part taken by that "quarter" 973 as it is called, of the Irish Members, and in their condemnation of the course pursued by the right hon. Gentleman's majority. I say, three-fourths of Ireland—for I will not venture upon the debateable land of Ulster—though even there the evidence produced against us the other night by the Solicitor General, in the shape of a letter from that highly respectable character, a lieutenant in the revenue police, states that in Protestant Ulster—in ultra-Protestant Donegal—6,000 people had assembled at noon-day to call for the abolition of tithes. Thus supported, Sir, I care not for the majorities which may be obtained in this House: I care not for the decisions of the English and Irish supporters of these propositions. I look for my majority to Ireland; I say that the country which feels the wrong, has the best right to decide upon the remedy. The tribunal before which we are to be judged lies in Ireland—and fearlessly do I call for the decision of that tribunal. But, Sir, let us look to the composition of that minority of twenty-seven; I find that in that minority there voted both Members of each of eight counties in Ireland; I find that of another county both Members who would have voted with us, were unfortunately absent, mid, on my soul, I believe that it was the absence of one of those Members which occasioned the haste with which the right hon. Secretary has brought forward his propositions ["oh! oh!" from the Treasury Benches.] The right hon. Gentleman and his supporters may sneer at that declaration; I give it as my firm conviction; and I ask, without tear of contradiction, whether such is not the opinion of Ireland, of the country where the measures of the right hon. Secretary are to be judged?—I ask whether that is not a received opinion in England? I ask whether there is a Member in this House to whose mind the same idea has not occurred? Sir, there voted, also, in that minority, one Member for each of several counties, and the Members for most of the principal towns in the south of Ireland. Of one great city in Munster, indeed, both the Members had voted for the majority—with what effect upon the minds of their constituents, I will leave them to discover. Sir, I beg pardon for having been led thus away by my feelings, and I come to the request made by my hon. friend, the member for Drogheda, of his Majesty's Ministers. That hon. Gentleman asks for 974 time—he says, wait a little, until your Committee closes its labours, or, at all events, give us the benefit of the evidence before the Committee of the Lords; but the Secretary for Ireland says no—you have detained us three weeks, and, therefore, we will give you no more evidence. It is true that many witnesses have been examined before our Committee, but we will pin you to the evidence already published; it is true you have had the result of the labours of the Lords for this fortnight back upon your Table; but even that yon shall not have printed; you must proceed to judgment upon the evidence of my eight or nine parsons, and three or four policemen; that testimony is in your favour; it is likely the rest of the evidence will be more so, therefore you shall decide upon that ex parte evidence! Sir, is not this the meaning of what has fallen from the right hon. Secretary? Is not this what will occur to every man in Ireland as his determination? He tells us, you would have to wait too long for the evidence before our Committee—we shall not close for many days. Granted; but then give us the advantage of the evidence before the Lords; it has been a fortnight on the Table. Your own assistant, the Irish Solicitor General, has moved long since that it be printed. Why are we not in possession of it? [Mr. Stanley: There has not been time.] Not time, Sir! not time in a fortnight to reprint so small a volume as that! Sir, I have myself, short a time as I have sat here, known much more voluminous Reports printed and distributed in infinitely less time—but it is not the want of time, but of inclination, that has withheld this Report from us. It is my firm conviction that it has been intentionally with held—that some secret influence has been used to keep it back—and such, Sir, will be the opinion of the people of Ireland. They are not to be deceived—and they will reiterate with me—"That we have been called upon to decide, on insufficient evidence, and that evidence, at all events, more full, and, as regards the people, more favourable, being within the reach of the Ministers, they have withheld it." Sir, I once more, and for the last time, implore the right hon. Gentleman to pause before he hurries us to this decision. I tell him it may be fatal to his own fame, and must be injurious to his party. I tell him it will prevent his measures from being final and satisfactory, and render them 975 temporary and insufficient. I know that he can and probably will overwhelm us with a majority in this House; but I know, also, what Ireland will think, and I value not his majority. Of the twenty-seven Irish Members amongst whom I voted, there is not one who does not feel that he is acting in this matter according to the most ardent wishes of his constituents. There is not one who is not strong in the support of those whom he represents, and for one I tell you that it is not here this question will be decided, but in Ireland [cries of "Oh! oh!"]. I am not to be deterred by that interruption from doing my duty to those whom I represent. I repeat distinctly, that it is not here this question will be decided, but in Ireland. I know the feeling of that country on these propositions; I know the feelings of those who sent me here on this entire question, and, strong in their support and their concurrence, I care not for your decision.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
said, there was no real difference between hon. Gentlemen on this occasion, for all agreed that there ought to be some relief afforded to the suffering clergy of Ireland, and this proposition was assented to by the hon. and learned Member himself, who now opposed going into a Committee. The only questions, then, that remained were, out of what fund that relief ought to come, and whether it ought to be repaid? If the Irish Members wished the relief to be paid out of the Consolidated Fund, and desired that no re-payment should take place, he was sure that they would have the manliness to state that at once, and not attempt to gain their object by a side wind. The question of the mode of re-payment was, however, a matter of detail, which they could not consider till they listened to the details that were now to be laid before them. If he was not convinced that this measure was framed with the intention of benefiting the people of Ireland, there was no earthly consideration that should induce him to vote for it; but he was so convinced that such was its intention, and that such was its object, that he urged the House to go into Committee upon the subject, and there to express their opinion on the details that would then be laid before them.
§ Mr. Wyse
said, it was with precisely the same views as those expressed by the right hon. Gentleman, that he had formed the determination of opposing these Resolu- 976 tions. He felt convinced that the subject could not be satisfactorily settled by the present course, and, therefore, he was compelled to vote against it. On a former evening, he had opposed the Motion for the House to resolve itself into Committee, from a conviction that they had not sufficient evidence before them to legislate upon. He observed, from the evidence already on the Table, that the evidence given by Dr. Hamilton, Mr. Dwyer, and Mr. Langrishe, was greatly modified by that subsequently given by Mr. Greene. Therefore it was desirable they should wait until all the other evidence could be laid on the Table, before they were called upon to legislate. He was sure there was not a Catholic Member in that House who would not attach great importance to the evidence of Dr. Doyle—there was not a Presbyterian who would not estimate highly the evidence given by Mr. Montgomery, and Protestant Members must also attach importance to the evidence of two gentlemen who had so many opportunities of knowing the state of the country. He saw no immediate necessity for pressing this measure through the House, but it might be safely postponed, in his opinion, until the investigation before the Committee was concluded. He would caution the right hon. Gentleman against supposing for one moment, that however interested in the settlement of this question hon. Gentlemen might be, they spoke the sentiments of only a small portion of the Irish people. He could assure him they did not express mere personal feelings on this subject, but that they represented the opinions of thousands, and, indeed, gave utterance to a very important portion of the public opinion of the country. It was not as simple individuals, but in their relation to public opinion in Ireland, that they ought to be judged. He objected to the course now proposed, of proceeding to frame a coercive measure, before they knew the nature of the remedy to be applied. He could not arrive at the same conclusions as the right hon. Secretary, relative to the necessity of agreeing to these Resolutions without delay. He did not think that a case had been made out as to the clergy being placed in a situation of utter destitution, but, at the same time, he should be loth to withhold from them any pecuniary aid.
§ Mr. Brownlow
did not expect that this debate would have arisen on a preliminary 977 Motion of this sort. He had opposed the first introduction of these Resolutions, but he had been overruled by a majority of the House; and as the Resolutions were now before them, he thought that they ought to go into the discussion fairly, and with a view to a final adjustment.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
agreed with the hon. member for Tipperary, that it was most desirable that the evidence of the witnesses who had been examined by the Committee, since the former evidence was printed, should be laid on the Table; but he had no objection to proceed, as the House had already determined that the Resolutions should be considered in Committee, although he would rather that the discussion should be postponed.
§ Mr. Leader
conceived the House was in the same situation as if the debate had stood over from a former night, but every allowance ought to be made for the excited feelings of the Irish Members, who were acted upon by the extraordinary excitement which prevailed in Ireland upon this most momentous subject. He assured the House that the solicitude of the people of that country upon the questions of Catholic Emancipation and Reform, were much less than their interest in the settlement of the measure, connected as it was with the Protestant Church, now before the House. Still he considered that as it had been suggested to bring the question in controversy to the narrowest point on the first night's debate, the Irish Members made their stand on the Resolution respecting the coercive and penal laws, to enforce the payment of the last year's arrears of tithe in the disturbed dioceses. He should think it most expedient to adhere to the same course. He did not entertain a doubt that the state of that country required not temporary laws of a coercive nature, but remedial laws, calculated to restore order, by relieving the wants, and conforming to the wishes, of the Irish people. For his own part, he had not a particle of doubt but that the attempt to connect the power of the Crown, the Church, and the army, against the people, for the purpose of enforcing payment of the arrear of tithe in the disturbed dioceses, would form a dangerous precedent, and was to be scrutinized with great jealousy, and opposed with the utmost firmness; that was the point which caused the recent division, and which had excited such a strong feeling in Ireland. His hon, 978 friend, the member for Drogheda, was highly commendable in looking for every information which could throw further light on the subject; and so was the hon. member for Clare, in his desire to have the evidence of the Lords' Committee printed and circulated. But as the Speaker's leaving the Chair was for the purpose of resuming an adjourned debate, the best way was to proceed, and for the Irish Members to expose the danger of extending any further penal and coereive laws to their country.
assured his hon. friend that he did not rise originally to oppose the Speaker's leaving the Chair; but to appeal to the good sense of the right hon. Secretary, whether it was desirable to press this subject, until after the evidence lately given before the Committee, was printed.
§ Mr. Maurice O'Connell
wished to oppose the Resolutions as unsatisfactory, but he felt that it would be more consistent with the rules of the House to do so in Committee.
§ The House resolved itself into a Committee.
§ The first Resolution—"That it appears to this House that, in several parts of Ireland, an organized and systematic opposition has been made to the payment of tithes, by which the law has been rendered unavailing, and many of the clergymen of the Established Church have been reduced to great pecuniary distress,"—was read.
§ Mr. Ruthven
assured the House, that the course now about to be pursued was directly opposed to the feelings of the people of Ireland, and, if persisted in, would produce nothing but mischief. They were now called upon to proceed with these resolutions, when the evidence upon which they professed to be founded was most imperfect. He protested against proceeding until all the evidence had been heard before the Committee, and the Report presented. The right hon. Secretary admitted that he brought forward this subject, because it was absolutely necessary to afford some aid to the distressed clergymen of the Irish Protestant Church. He would venture to assert, and he was sure that his opinion was borne out by the evidence adduced before the Committee, that the accounts of that distress had been greatly exaggerated. He admitted there were individual cases of great hardship, and there could be no objection to a temporary advance of money for these persons; but he 979 protested against the system of coercion which it was proposed to introduce. He objected to the disposition shown by the Government to coerce the people of Ireland, when there was so much tardiness shown in bringing forward the remedial measure which had been promised. There had been great haste in submitting these Resolutions to the House, but no haste in laying the ulterior measure before the Committee. He never would consent to this measure of coercion being passed until he knew what was the nature of the plan to be submitted to the House relative to tithes. Nothing was of so much importance to Ireland, as the settlement of this question. If the clergy were in such distress as was represented, he was sorry not to see those members of that body who were revelling in luxury, come forward to assist their brethren. He was surprised to hear the right hon. Secretary read the Irish Members a lecture, but his admonitions would have little effect, if not accompanied with more salutary measures than he had hitherto brought forward. When the right hon. Gentleman said, on a former occasion, that the country wanted a lesson, and that the people of this country were not to be overawed by strong language, he was at a loss to understand what he meant. Did the right hon. Secretary consider this language as conciliatory to the people of Ireland? he assured him it was felt to be quite the reverse, and gave little reason to expect much benefit from any remedial measures to be brought forward by him. He felt that the measure to be submitted by the right hon. Gentleman, relative to tithes, was likely to be one of those bit-by-bit measures, calculated to keep open the seeds of dissension, and satisfactory to no parties. The resolution before the House had reference only to the present year, and it did not afford a redress for the wrongs committed in former years, nor would it prevent the recurrence of them in future. He must condemn the conduct pursued by the clergy in many parts of Ireland, some of whom were in favour of delivering the people over to the army and the sword, for the purpose of extorting payment of that which ought to be a voluntary offering. They were now, however, called upon to pass a Turkish law, and compel the people to give that which they could not be induced to give by other means. The clergy were to be indebted to martial law for the 980 recovery of their tithes. He feared that the consequences of this policy would be such as all must lament. Public opinion ought to be attended to; and if the Government were not prepared to yield to it, they ought to be compelled to yield, or resign their power to those who would. It was in consequence of the resistance to public opinion, in the reign of Charles 1st, that that monarch was brought to the block. His Ministers—Laud and Strafford, fondly anticipated that they could constrain public opinion, but the result showed how much they had miscalculated. He thought every part of the present resolution was most objectionable. It appeared that the Law Officers of the Crown were to be employed in every case where the recovery of tithes was concerned. The expense of paying those gentlemen would ultimately fall on the people of England. Suppose a man refused to pay, were the Ministers prepared to send him to gaol for resisting the payment of a charge, which the authors of the resolution admitted was of so oppressive a character, that it must be abolished? Would hon. Members allow men to be sent to prison for conscience sake? Hitherto, only passive resistance had been shown, but coercion would drive the people to desperation. Besides, the expense in the collection of tithes by the machinery proposed would be most enormous. An army must be employed for the purpose, and many persons would resign themselves to the utmost rigour of the law, and even to death itself, rather than submit to the payment. In any outrages that had hitherto taken place, the causes could be distinctly traced to the conduct of the police and the military, and the people looked to Parliament for relief; were their expectations now to be disappointed? If they were, their patience would be wholly exhausted, and they would retaliate upon the authors of their sufferings by every means in their power. The object of the meetings nominally in favour of Reform was really intended to get rid of the tithes. In a country situated as Ireland was, it was impossible to expect that the people should not dislike the payment of tithes; while such a large revenue was devoted to the Church establishment for the instruction of only a small part of the people, it was impossible that they could be contented. If that Church were overthrown, it would be rather by the luxury of the clergy than the defects 981 of its doctrines. It was impossible that the Church establishment, in its present form, could continue. It would be safer and better for the Protestants themselves if the Catholics were made more contented than at present, by a different distribution of Church property. Even the Protestants complained that the working clergy of their own Church were not sufficiently paid, while the Bishops were much overpaid. There ought to be a fair remuneration for all the useful clergy, and nothing more. He had the authority of Dr. Doyle for saying that the present system could not be carried again into execution in Ireland.
rose to order. He put it to the hon. Member, if he could quote the evidence of Dr. Doyle, which was not yet before the House. He would suggest to the hon. Gentleman that the resolution related to a matter of fact, and it would be advisable to confine themselves to the matter immediately before the Committee.
§ Mr. Ruthven
considered it a matter of grievance that this evidence was not laid before the House in a parliamentary state, when it was printed in the newspapers. However, as referring to it was objected to by the right hon. Secretary, he would confine the few words he had to say to the point before the Committee. He must recommend an harmonious agreement between all parties, and a submission to the doctrines of expediency. He looked to some means of that kind as calculated to restore peace to the country, for nothing would prevent the people of Ireland from insisting upon the removal of tithes, and the Reform of the Church. They had no desire to infringe upon the income of the present parish incumbents, who were, many of them, worthy respectable men; but a disposition should be shown to make a future distribution of Church property according to reason, which would tend to allay irritation, and would induce the people to pay up their arrears. The hon. Member concluded, by moving the following Resolution as an amendment:—"That the state of the property of the Church in Ireland requires revision and modification, and that a reduction of the Church Establishment has become necessary and expedient, so as to facilitate the ultimate appropriation of its revenues to the uses of their original objects, viz. the maintenance of the clergy, the building and due support of churches and places of public worship, and the relief of the poor; but that, 982 under existing circumstances, the present incumbents of parishes in Ireland are entitled to protection in the arrangement of Church property, the future regulations of which should be made upon a basis calculated to afford a proper and suitable provision for the ministry of the several congregations in the respective parishes of Ireland, as well as to supply means of materially relieving the poor."
said, having so often troubled the House upon this subject, he would not detain the Committee, on the present occasion, beyond a few moments. The hon. Member who had moved a resolution as an amendment to the one which he had had the honour of moving, had been guilty of an absurdity, for he had complained that the evidence was not sufficiently developed upon the subject of tithes, to enable the House to come to a proper conclusion, and yet the hon. Member had now moved a resolution founded upon that evidence, which went much further, for it not only went to pledge the Committee as to the state of the Church property in Ireland, but that there should be future regulations to afford a provision for the ministry of the several congregations, as well as means for the relief of the poor. He objected to this amendment, and he did not consider the present as the most convenient time for going into the whole question introduced by the hon. Member. Whenever the subject should be regularly introduced before the House, he should be ready to discuss it; but, as he had already said, the present was not the proper time to bring it forward.
Mr. Gally Knight
confessed that the arguments advanced by the hon. member for Downpatrick had confirmed his opinion, that the evidence contained in the first Report of the Tithe Committee not only justified the Resolutions proposed by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, but made it imperative on the Government to act without delay; not so much on account of the state of the Protestant clergy, as on account of the state of Ireland itself. He would yield to no man in regard for that country. He became acquainted with it, at a period of life when impressions are deep and lasting; and earnestly desired to see her happy. It was painful to him, to pursue a course said to be opposed to the wishes of the Irish people; but it would be more painful to do that which he thought wrong. He regretted 983 to hear that which he considered an inestimable boon, represented to be a burthen. He had laboured hard in the cause of Catholic emancipation, because it was the cause of justice, but he entertained the hope, that the gratitude of Ireland would have been the reward. He entertained the hope that, in consideration of that concession, Ireland would have endured other evils with a little patience; and would have allowed the Legislature time to redress them. To him it was no small disappointment to hear on the present occasion expressions of dissatisfaction; and, when the Legislature appeared with fresh gifts in its hands, to be overwhelmed with fresh demands. Let them look back for a moment; let them remember what was the grievance which, till very lately, was alleged to be the most vexatious grievance that afflicted the people of Ireland. Was it not the intrusion of the Protestant tithe-proctor into the Catholic cabin? Was it not the collision of the tithe-proctors and the peasantry which so frequently produced these scenes, of which it was painful even to think? Surely the entire abolition of such a system was no trifle either to undertake, or to bestow! Was it not, on the contrary, an undertaking surrounded with difficulty—an undertaking as bold as it was humane? Was it, then, to be expected that so many hon. Gentlemen, immediately connected with Ireland, instead of seeing this measure in the light in which it might have hoped they would have seen it, would be heard to declare, that what was hitherto thought the greatest of all grievances was only a very minor grievance; and to assert that the measure proposed contained nothing of a conciliatory nature? He would not presume—he had no right—to reprove. He spoke, not in anger, but in sorrow, when he appealed to those whose words were words of power; and when he attempted to express his grief that they should employ that power rather in accordance with the passions of their susceptible countrymen than in clearing away the mist from their eyes. Such men as they were could not be mistaken: they knew what the tithe system was in Ireland; they must know that the abolition of that system was a beneficial measure. How, then, could they have the heart to tell a deluded multitude, who looked up to them for advice, that the abolition of that system was no 984 boon at all? and, when the measure in preparation might have been received with delight, how could they poison the very springs of joy, and pour that beverage into the peasant's cup, when he might have tasted the waters of health? Did he tell them that this concession was to be the last, or ask them never to look for anything more. No, he, on the contrary, allowed that more must be done; that more ought to be done. But he called upon them, as reasonable and practical men not to declare that nothing was done because all was not done, to acknowledge the difficulties by which measures of such vast importance were surrounded, to give time for those difficulties to be gradually removed, and whilst they looked forward to the future with hope, to contemplate the present with approbation. Allusion had been made to future elections and future constituencies; but were they to mislead their countrymen in order to secure their votes? It was not absolutely necessary for a man to be a Member of Parliament. He might pass his time happily and honourably in a thousand other ways—but it was necessary for him so long as he was a Member of that House to consider nothing but the real good of his country. If he knew that the vote which he intended to give that night were to cost him his seat to-morrow, he trusted that it would undergo no alteration. He had practised what he preached; and he trusted, that, in any sentiments which he might deliver in that House, he should at no time be found to be influenced by any considerations of popularity, or fortune, or fame—by no consideration but what he believed to be the real good of the empire. There was nothing which he so ardently desired as to see Ireland in a state of repose. Why was that unhappy country to be for ever torn and convulsed by excitement and agitation? Why was she never suffered to know what it was to be tranquil? and was it her own sons who prolonged the distraction of their parent? and, instead of helping the Legislature to bind up their wounds, bid them bleed anew! He conjured his countrymen to have mercy upon Ireland—on their own country! and, instead of telling the people to remain discontented, enjoy the sweet and holy triumph of guiding them to their good! If this subject were calmly and dispassionately considered, it must be allowed that a complete awl final commu- 985 tation of tithe must place all parties concerned in an infinitely more satisfactory situation. But, the proposition of the hon. member for Downpatrick—to apply the tithes, or any other part of the Church property, to other than ecclesiastical purposes was not to be thought of. Whatever the Church enjoyed had always belonged to the servants of the altar. Whatever the Church enjoyed belonged to the Church by as good a title as the layman's estate belonged to the layman. No part of the Church property was ever, in these islands, charged with any provision for the poor. No part of the Church property was ever bestowed by a grant of the nation. The whole of it was nothing but the free gift of pious individuals, confirmed by the laws of the land. How, then, could it be considered as national property, applicable to other than ecclesiastical uses? If an act of spoliation were committed on the Church, a blow was struck at the root of all property, and the consequences would be no less dangerous than the act would be unprincipled. He did not mean to say, that, in Ireland, no change in the distribution of the Church property would be admissible; because the ministers of the national Church, which in Ireland, was the Catholic, did not, at present, receive any part of that property, and because he was convinced that some change in this respect was essential, not only to the welfare of Ireland, but to the existence of the Protestant Church. He rejected with scorn and abhorrence the modern and revolutionary doctrine that Church property was public property, applicable to the purposes of the State; but, in Ireland, he was anxious to see a more equitable distribution of the Church property amongst the clergy themselves—he meant the Catholic clergy as well as the Protestant. And whenever this important measure should be adopted—and adopted, he was convinced, it must be at no distant period, he hoped it would be no half measure—no miserable attempt to keep up the revenues of the Establishment to their present amount. He wished the measure to be extensive and complete, in order that it might be final. And now, one word with respect to the measure of coercion:— From the manner in which this measure had been reprehended, one should think that martial law was about to be instantly declared throughout the whole of Ireland! one should think that the tithes 986 were forthwith to be collected at the point of the bayonet! But what was the truth? That Government should be invested with the power of calling upon the debtor to pay a part of those debts, which were, on all hands, allowed to be just—at the same time relieving him from all the legal intricacies, and hateful reminiscences, of the old system, and at once concluding the vexatious and indecorous scuffle between the Catholic peasant and the Protestant minister. Would any man seriously say, that England could be expected to advance the money for the liquidation of the debts of Ireland, without taking, any security for being repaid. Would any man say, that any Government would be worthy of the name, that permitted the laws to be eluded because they had been disobeyed? But they had been told that the Irish peasant could never be made to comprehend the propriety and advantage of the change—this hocus pocus conversion of tithes into land, and the substitution of the King in the place of the Protestant clergyman. In reply to this, he must say, Paddy was by no means a dull fellow. He had heard of his ignorance of English when called upon to give evidence; of his being a little deaf when desired to do what he disliked; but he must be allowed absolutely and entirely to deny his dulness of comprehension. Let the matter be explained to him as it was, and he would quickly understand it; and, if he had a head to understand, so had he a heart to feel—a heart which was in the right place, and which only wanted to be aware that kindness was meant, to be ready to overflow with gratitude and good-will. For the reasons which he had stated, he felt himself bound to support the proposed Resolutions. He thought that the evidence already before the House warranted them in going thus far at present. In his opinion, the coercive part of the Resolutions was amply compensated by the conciliatory part—the promise of commutation. This step was a great one: all could not be achieved at once; more would be accomplished hereafter.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
said, the hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. Galley Knight) surprises me: he says, that the property of the Church is appropriated as it ever was, and ever must be; he denies the public and charitable appropriation. I beg to say he is mistaken: let him turn to ancient authorities—turn to Origen, who wrote "that the Church 987 should not devour those things that belonged to the poor and the widow, but be content with simple diet and apparel;" to Prosser, who wrote "that the minister able to support himself ought not to participate in the food of the Church;" to the decree of the council of Antioch, which says, "that the Bishops do distribute the goods of the Church," but required "that they took no part to themselves;" to the council of Nantz, which declared, "that the clergy were not to use tithe, but as committed to their trust, to be disposed of for the use of the poor." Tithes were called "the Lord's goods"—"the patrimony of the poor." The hon. Gentleman mistakes terms, and confounds principles—he narrows the term "Church" to, the clergy, whereas its real acceptation among others is "God's people," the "poor and the destitute." How then can he say, that the clergy possess an exclusive right to this property? What is their title but the Act of Henry 8th? They hold their property under this law, and under no other title, and they hold it subject to the ancient uses for which it was intended. The Report of the Committee, in one part, seems to favour this interpretation, for it speaks of an extensive change in the present system of maintaining the clergy, and of the complete extinction of tithes, therefore, I support the Amendment, because it is similar to one I intended to submit to the Committee—because it reverts to original principles, and because, while it secures the best interests of the clergy, it points out a provision for the poor, and a relief for the people. This is what we ask—this is what we conceive to be just, and we know it to be requisite. Allow me to say that I conceive it to be one of the misfortunes of the Ministers of England, and originally the cause of the distress and disgrace which now attend their Government of Ireland—that they should never have heard the language of truth, except in the complaints of her people. Perhaps, it is not yet too late to correct this original error. The Irish themselves are far from thinking the noble Lord, who in this House presides over the Administration, capable of a direct attack upon their dearest rights, and the legal protection of their persons and their property. They are ready to hope for much from his honest intentions and from the natural benevolence of his disposition; if it were possible in us to form a suspicion dis- 988 honourable to his character, I hope we should adopt a style of remonstrance very different from the humility of complaint. It is worth while, considering how far we agree, and where we differ—first, we agree on the great importance of the subject—it is not only an Irish but an English question. To the Irish it is a question of life and death—to the English it is one of security and repose, for England can never be safe unless Ireland is tranquil. I agree in the three first Resolutions. Though I differ on the principle laid down, I do not admit the right of the clergy to come to this House, and ask for the arrears withheld, any more than I would the right of a landlord. On the contrary, I conceive a good resident landlord preferable to an absentee clergyman, who has no church and no parishioners—but I am willing to grant as a benevolence what I deny as a right. Here, too, the case is overturned, and not fully made out; it is founded on partial testimony, and the most essential evidence is not yet before the House. The fourth Resolution is the most objectionable. If I refer to the Report, I read there that "rigorous measures" must be adopted, and the execution of measures of severity. If I refer to the speech of the Solicitor General, I find that he is only to dispense with the service of process. Can I believe this to be the only thing in contemplation? Impossible; if the Resolution means to be effectual it does not go far enough. I will not trust such a Resolution. This Committee was called a blind Committee, and this I call a muffled Resolution; it is brought in, too, with a theatrical parade, and is cautiously kept from the view, where the drapery conceals the bowl that is to lull our senses, and the weapon that is to wound us to the heart. Can the Solicitor General imagine that he removes the evil by dispensing with the legal form of the process? I tell him no. He will be just where he stood before, for what becomes of his decree? who is to buy? who is to purchase? He dispenses with the form of law, but will that secure a sale, or procure a single bidder? He must know it will not, and he is likely to find that his royal prosecutor will prove to be the only purchaser. Sir, the fault I find in the mode of treating this subject is, that the people of Ireland are wholly forgotten. The Secretary for Ireland talked much of the clergy and their usefulness—he forgot the people— 989 he talked of the military and their arduous labour—he forgot the people. He talked of the police and their dangers, and their losses, but he forgot the people—he forgot their wants, their complaints, and their sufferings. I much doubt whether a lofty tone and a dictatorial phraseology is best suited for the case, the crisis, or the country. We are told, you "must vindicate the authority of the law—assert the dignity of insulted justice—do not offer a premium for revolt against the law, or give any reward for disaffection." In my judgment the question is not whether we should vindicate bad laws, but amend them—not whether we should assert the dignity of an oppressive and unjust system, but totally reform it—not give premiums for abuse in the state, but remove them at once and for ever. Now, I conceive the remedy is not the strong Resolution, but a Resolution for redress. English gentlemen deceive themselves if they imagine that by changing the name they remove the evil. It will still exist, whether paid by the landlord, or extracted from the tenant—the abuse will still exist. The trust remains violated, and the country discontented, for it is not the amount of tithe so much as its bad appropriation. The people look to this, and will not be satisfied until they obtain it. But here we are told, in ominous terms, that "the day of collision" has been put off. The day of collision! Are those the words of the Secretary? Has it come to this? Has the Government—or the effect of all your varied governments in Ireland, indeed, only come to this, "that the day of collision is put off." Sir, I make no comments on the prudence of the phrase—but I here take leave to caution the people of Ireland. I call on them to mark these words; to ponder over these words; to be cautious what they do; to be careful that they be not entrapped by insidious friends, or deadly foes; to guard, as well as to control, their passions and their acts, for they may depend upon it, that violence will frustrate their object, it will defeat their friends, destroy their cause, and endanger their country. But I rely on it, that an antidote to violence will be found in the good conduct of the people, as I am sure it will be in the good feelings of the government. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to attack the Irish landlords—an old theme, and not a just one—and much overstated. In some cases they may be 990 bad landlords, as well as in England but, as a general charge, I deny it. See, however, the policy of this attack. The right hon. Secretary finds two parties in Ireland at variance—the clergy and the people—and he sets at variance two other parties—the landlords and the people; and he does so at the moment that he proposes to tax the one without relieving the other—to make the landlord pay the tithe, to make the tenant pay the cess, and thus he gives all to the Church, and takes all he can from the landlords and the people. Connected with this he revived the stale subject of the subdivision of land—that miserable crotchet on which the fleeting fame of so many Irish Secretaries hung and expired. The Subletting Act he spoke of—the Subletting Act he exclaimed against, and most emphatically did he say—"in my conscience I believe the Subletting Act to be the curse of Ireland." Sir, without offence, let me say, what is the curse of Ireland? Sir, the curse of Ireland is an inexperienced Secretary. Is this my opinion alone? No, Sir, non hic sermo meus; look to Carte's life of the Duke of Ormonde; the evils of Ireland he attributes to the constant changes of the civil officers—men sent over ignorant of the state of that country, and recalled before they knew the wants and wishes of the people, and had time or knowledge sufficient to relieve them. Fraught with his official learning, and his historical advice, the right hon. Secretary proceeded, and observed, that the time had now arrived, in which we must—"teach a lesson to the people of Ireland," such were his words, and he added. "Ireland must no longer look to her turbulence and her agitation." Teach Ireland a lesson! Is this the language? Why, they have taught her nothing, nothing but lessons—lessons, too, that she sadly remembers. I pass over the Boyne, Aughrim—even the perjured faith of the treaty of Limerick; I lay aside that lesson—I turn to the books on your Table—I refer to the Acts of Elizabeth, and her proclamation enjoining torture to her president in Munster. What will the Secretary say of that lesson? I refer to the journals of this House: read the solemn vote of thanks to the Almighty, offered up to Heaven for the sacking and the three days massacre at Drogheda; here, was indeed a lesson, and under correction from the hon. Mem- 991 ber opposite, who invoked, the other night, repentance and a general fast—I say a most pious lesson this was, truly. I refer to the treaty of Charles, and his breach of faith towards the Irish people, and his infraction of their petition of right. I refer to the cowardly treachery of another King, the second James, who idler having embarked the Irish nation in his cause, basely fled from his own fire, and justified those words—"Put not your trust in Princes." I dwell not on the lesson taught by the Tories of old, or the Roundheads, or the Cavaliers—I come to 1779, and 1782, when, on these benches, sat my Lord North, deaf and insensible to the complaints of the people of Ireland. They asked for free trade and a free constitution, the people were patient—though they were starving—they were suppliants—they were but humble petitioners; but the Minister was deaf—he refused to yield—he talked, too, of "vindicating the law"—he, too, spoke of "mobs and insulted justice"—and he refused everything. But, in two years time, when the Irish nation had buckled on her armour, and the clang was heard from field to field—when there were 100,000 men in arms, and 300 pieces of cannon there—then the Minister came down to this House, granted everything, yielded everything, repeal of Poyning'slaw, independent legislation,even the restoration of the final judicature, which had not been originally demanded, and thus he yielded to violence that which he had before refused to justice. This was, indeed, a lesson, and it is treasured in the recollection of the nation—a lesson, however, to the minister as well as to the people; but later, in 1791–2, when the privileges then demanded were sternly refused; when the petitions of the people were not merely rejected, but actually kicked out of the House, how did the Minister act? He refused every thing to cairn request and sober petition, but, as soon as the battle of Jemappe had been lost, then he hurried down, and made a precipitate surrender. Here are lessons surely that we cannot forget; we cannot belie the history of our country, and though we may forgive our wrongs, we cannot forget our education. But I turn to the ex-Secretary opposite. Ireland need not go very far back. She need only look from the Secretary in to the Secretary out, from the right hon. Gentleman at this side of the Table to the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Did not the right hon. 992 Baronet refuse the requests of the Irish people? their calm demands, and their just prayers; Session after Session, year after year; five years, ten years, twenty years—no concessions. Nay, the very reverse, for both those Irish ex-Secretaries declared that they opposed all concessions, because they wished to uphold the Church and the Constitution of the country; and I saw and heard them afterwards both declare, that they yielded what they before denied. The one said he did so to uphold the Church, and the other to preserve the Constitution!!! Do I blame them for thus retracting?—No. The feelings of humanity triumphed over the errors of an early education, and the precepts and principles of the Dublin Castle were for a moment forgotten. But when was this? Not until the public calamity had reached its height—not until the waters of bitterness had nigh overflowed the land—not until the hour of collision had almost arrived—not until violence and agitation had so increased that the very phrase became part of the viceregal phraseology—then, but not till then, you yielded. Here, then, is a lesson with a vengance! Here is your own lesson of twenty years' practice held up to your view. Is it then just, is it fair, is it prudent—nay, is it expedient, to turn upon us—thus to taunt—thus to upbraid the country? Teach Ireland lessons, truly! What extravagance!—what insanity of phrase! Talk not to her of vindicating justice. Read in your own lesson your own errors. 'Tis you, 'tis you, who have misled the people—'tis you who have brought them on to dangerous ways: and do you now not only desert, but upbraid them? This is another and an additional lesson. You have deceived the country—you have taught Ireland these dangerous practices, those fatal lessons of immorality—you have poisoned her with your deadly potions until the profligacy of the master has almost become the daily bread of his mistress—then you turn on the unfortunate victim of your bad passions, and, in the moment of her distraction, you recite the catalogue of her errors, (your own crimes) and preach to her a homily upon the doctrine of forbearance. Yes, Sir, Ireland has learnt a lesson. Ireland has dearly purchased it. Agitation is the price that Ireland has ever paid for liberty. I wish her laurels had worn well, for they were dearly earned. The right hon. Baronet objected to my friend, the member 993 for Kildare, on account of his expression that he considered tithes a badge of servitude. Sir, I adopt the phrase—it is a badge of servitude: and my hon. friend need only look to Scotland—there he finds a nation who considered it a badge of servitude to have imposed upon them as the religion of the state that which was not the religion of the people. They successfully resisted, and they succeeded. But my hon. friend did not object to pay that Church—for he pays now the Presbyterian. His objection was, to the abuse of the trust. The objection was, that the poor curate, who works, gets little, and the rector, who does not work, gets almost all. Look to the petitions on the Table. That from Gowran parish, where there are 2,700 Catholics, and only thirty-three Protestants, and the tithes are 550l. Ballyconbeen, county Waterford, there are no Protestants, the tithes are 378l. Aglis, county Cork, fourteen Protestants, 610l. tithe; Monasterboyse, all Catholics except the curate and his wife, tithes 800l. a-year; Cloney, no church, no resident clergyman, tithes 300l. a-year; Kilcork, no Protestant, no church, no clergyman; Dungarvan, seventeen Protestants, tithe and cess 500l. a-year; Monaniny, one Protestant family, tithes 400l. a-year. These are just grounds of complaint. The people see no services performed, and pay heavy taxes notwithstanding. But is there no abuse besides this? I hold here a tithe-proctor's receipt. The tithe due was 5s. 3d and the costs of distress and sale, and proctor's fees, amounted to 13s. 10s.—For this the poor man's pig valued at two guineas was sold, and the change returned was ls. 11d. I hold another receipt for 10s. two years' tithe of an acre of bad meadow, demanded and paid seven years after it was alleged to be due—clearly an illegal demand. What is the case of turf or smoke-money, as it was called? This, too was clearly an illegal demand, and, so far back as the time of Lord Clare, he stated in Parliament that the demand for turf was an illegal demand. I contend the people pay more than the tenth if all costs and expenses are considered. The member for Preston said, in England the tithes were often one-fifth of the rent. I instanced the case of the parish of Timoleague, 2,800 acres, the rent-roll valued by Government valuation at 1,700l. a-year, and the tithe 414l. a-year, or near a fourth. And here the first quality of land I find 994 valued at 9s. an acre. What is the case of Kilbrue parish? There thirty-three acres were tithed at 36l., or one guinea an acre. I conceive that was near one-third of the rent; and I would wish to ask, how much of the produce? In fact, if the case is closely examined, it will appear that the charges are not only unjust, but exorbitant. See the cases when tithe is thrown out and the party still proceeded against by bill in the Exchequer. Should not these grievances be remedied? And do the Resolutions go to any effectual remedy of these points? But, is there no other evil? What is the case of Church cess? Is this no complaint? See the occurrence that lately took place in the county of Monaghan, where an unfortunate man's goods were seized for Church cess, and the implements of his husbandry were taken. This was clearly illegal. He resisted, and was killed on the spot by the collector. The amount of the cess was only sevenpence. The man was tried at the last Assizes for murder. The warrant was declared to be illegal. The Jury were sent back to their room three times, and at length brought in a verdict of acquittal! These things naturally inflame and excite the people; the more so, when it appears that clerical Magistrates act in such cases, and when warrants for Church cess are ordered and signed by clergymen. This is another evil; and the Magistracy should in this instance be reformed. I say, that it is idle to think these Resolutions will afford a sufficient remedy. You must go to the root of the evil. You must reform so as to afford redress. The people, I am sure, will be tranquil. I am also sure they will not be denied. They see the whole of their case, and Session after Session will bring it before the Legislature; and, by persevering in a constitutional course, will finally procure redress. For my part, I do not stand in need of their instructions, or even of the requests of my constituents. Justice is on their side; and, in seeking for that, we seek not the spoliation of the Church, or the downfall of the Establishment. On the contrary, its fall is more to be apprehended from its overgrown wealth than from any lopping off of so gorgeous and superb a structure. Depend on it the question is more deeply rooted in the minds of the people than Gentlemen suppose. It is in vain to hope they will be satisfied with a mere change of name. The appropriation is what they look 995 to. I repeat it, that it is a question of life or death. I would not advise the Minister to go to war with the people of Ireland.
§ Mr. Lefroy
said, as a friend to the Church, to the law, to good order, and to the connexion of Ireland with this country, a connexion so important to the welfare of both, he could not sit silent, nor content himself by merely giving a vote on this question, without making some observations upon the doctrines which had just been advanced by the hon. Gentleman. He thanked the hon. member for Downpatrick, for having brought forward a distinct Resolution, which would at once give the House an opportunity of ascertaining whether the Church enjoyed its property by sufferance only, or by right and title. The Resolution, however, although professing to be one of peace, purported to refer to the original title of the Church, and to look back to the first application of Church property; but the hon. Member in the course of his speech abandoned altogether that ground. It was then taken up by the hon. Member who last addressed the House; for in the beginning of his speech, he insisted upon the right of the application of Church property after the manner he mentioned; and in the very concluding sentence of it he called upon the House to apply this property according to its original trust. It was, therefore, of importance that it should be ascertained whether there was any ground whatever for this claim now made—this obsolete and, as he had considered, abandoned claim with respect to the application of Church property to three or four specific objects. When, on a former occasion, an hon. Member quoted a passage from Blackstone in support of this claim, he (Mr. Lefroy) had taken the opportunity of saying, that if he had looked a little further into Blackstone, he would have found that the construction he put upon that quotation was totally unauthorized; and that Blackstone did not use the words in the sense in which the hon. Member had interpreted them. He had not heard from that hon. Member since, or of the doctrine which he founded upon that authority. He, therefore, took it for granted that he had given up a position so untenable. The hon. member for Meath had referred to a vast variety of continental authorities; but had he referred the House to any act of the King 996 in Council, to a single Act of Parliament, or to a single decision of any court of law, or to any dictum of any Judge, which maintained the doctrine, that Church property was originally applicable to the sustentation of the poor, of the Bishop, and the incumbent, and to the repairing of the Church? Had he mentioned a single trace or vestige of authority of any such right having been insisted upon or enforced? He should like to know what sort of right that was, for which no authority of law could be produced, and for the exercise of which no precedent could be found within legal memory, or even in the course of tradition. It had been said by the hon. Member, that the Church derived its title from an Act of Parliament, and that Parliament had a right to deal as it pleased with Church property, because it was originally given by Parliament. He would take leave to ask the hon. Member upon what he founded that position? The Church derived its property, not from the State, nor from Parliament, but from original endowments. She derived her property from the very same source, by grant and endowment—from which every hon. Member in that House, and every noble Peer in the other House, derived his estate. Those estates descended to them, charged with the payment of tithes, and the Church had the same qualification for enjoying them as those persons had to enjoy the remaining nine-tenths. It was a great mistake to suppose that the Reformation consisted in a transfer of Church property. The Church property at the Reformation remained in the hands of the Church, and had been transmitted to those who held it now. The Reformation consisted in the modification of the Established Church, in respect of doctrine, discipline, and supremacy. But the property of the Church at the time she, in convocation, made that change in doctrine and supremacy, and conformed her discipline to it, consisted of less than 200 livings, and these have been transmitted to her successors: it was a great mistake, therefore, to say that the Church derived her property from an Act of Parliament. The only property transferred by Act of Parliament, was property vested in the monasteries, and what was not transferred from the monasteries, vested in the Crown. In all those original endowments, of which there were many now forthcoming, there was not a single vestige of proof that any part of the pro- 997 perty was intended to be devoted to the poor, and to the repair of the Church. But if there were any foundation whatever for the claim to a third, or a fourth, in point of law, the fact could be established, that the Church of Ireland did not enjoy more than a third or a fourth of the tithe. According to the evidence before the Committee, it was quite plain that the clergy of the Church of Ireland did not levy for their tithe even so much as a third of their right: therefore, upon any hypothesis, the claim now made on the behalf of the poor was not sustainable. But it had been said, that in several parts of Ireland the proportion of the Catholics to the Protestants was so great, that it was most unreasonable that the tithes should be applied to the maintenance of the Church of Ireland. Then a claim was set up on behalf of the majority, for the maintenance of their Church. But the majority for this purpose must be, not a mere numerical majority, but a majority of those who paid tithes. Now of the property in Ireland seven-tenths belonged to the Protestants. When Gentlemen talked of levying a tax on the majority, for the maintenance of the minority, they used the word majority in a sense totally inapplicable to this purpose. The question was not a numerical majority, but a majority of those who had the property charged with tithe. But if the numerical majority had a right on that ground alone to the one-tenth, upon the same principle they would have a right to the other nine-tenths. There was no ground of distinction; nor could any such claim be sustainable to the one-tenth, which would not extend to the other nine-tenths. This doctrine, therefore, would go to the total subversion of all law, and of the constitution of society, when that claim, founded upon the entire subversion of the popular principle of law, was asserted and mainly rested upon by Gentlemen in that House. He rejoiced to find that a system of spoliation was disclaimed by his Majesty's Government. He trusted the declaration made by the noble Lord last night, namely, that the property of the Church was only to be applied to the purposes of the Church might be considered as a satisfactory assurance that his Majesty's Ministers were perfectly sincere in their desire of benefitting the Church by this measure: at the same time that they were endeavouring to afford relief to the people by altering 998 the mode of collecting the Church property. He felt that it was a measure which, as a friend to the Church, both of England and of Ireland, might be good, accompanied, as it had been, by the assurance, and by the recommendation of the Committee, that the rights of the Church should be preserved, he might well assent. If these pledges should be redeemed, and the Church property be put upon a footing that would hereafter advance the cause of religion, then would the change now proposed be beneficial. It was in the belief that such would be its result, that he gave it his support. But, on the other hand, if it was intended to take from the Church any part of its property, or to put the clergy in a condition of mere rent-chargers, then he considered himself bound, and trusted that every friend of the Church would feel bound, to oppose a measure of that sort. With respect to the Resolution for enabling his Majesty's Government to take effectual measures to recover the rents, he trusted it would not only have the sanction of that House, but that it would be put into execution by the Government with vigour and determination: for he was perfectly satisfied they must make up their mind either to govern Ireland effectually, or to lose it. That country was now in such a state, if it was to be left to accident and agitation, and to the power of those parties who had had possession and dominion over it for some time past, he was perfectly satisfied it would be lost—lost to England and lost to itself; because he was sure that the best interests of Ireland would always be maintained by its connexion with England; and that by a severance from England, Ireland must be lost.
§ Mr. Penrhyn
said, it was not his intention to trespass more than a few moments on the time of the House. He felt that this was an extremely important question, and trusted that, in approaching the discussion of it, he might be thought to do so with no other feeling, and no other wish, than to follow that course which appeared to him to be promotive of the best interests of Ireland. In his opinion those interests would be best promoted, by measures which should evince an anxious desire on the part of the Legislature to conciliate, and not provoke that hostility which, unfortunately, had reigned so long between that country and this, and which had checked the prosperity and growing interest that otherwise 999 would have taken place between countries so intimately connected. Looking at the state of Ireland generally, but more particularly looking at the state of that country in regard to the system of tithes, it was evident that the time was come when it was absolutely necessary for his Majesty's Government to take up that question with a view to its permanent settlement, and of putting an end, for all future time, to those evils which that question had produced. From the events which had recently occurred, it was obvious that any measure to be final and satisfactory must proceed from the Legislature. A question attended with so many difficulties, and involving so many vested interests, could not be satisfactorily settled by any Government, nor ought the Legislature to leave it to any Government to settle. No government could have, or would deserve to have, the confidence of the people, that did not enforce the law as long as it was the law of the country; while, at the same time, it was equally imperative that it should attend to the complaints of the people, and to provide such constitutional remedies for their grievances, as, by the aid of the wisdom of Parliament, might be thought most applicable to the case. Judging upon this principle, he was not aware that the present Government were open to the imputation of not having done their duty to the country. It did not appear that they had, on the one hand, omitted to exercise the powers of the law, wherever the exercise of them was demanded—or, on the other hand, neglected—to apply a remedy to the grievances of the people, when those grievances were made known to them. But it must be admitted that there existed in Ireland two very opposite parties, and that the difficulty of governing that country was considerably aggravated by the collision of those parties; and it was almost impossible for Government to adopt any course which should give satisfaction to both. He trusted that the Members of that House, whether from Ireland or not, would feel it to be their duty to legislate, not for a party, but for the nation at large. When the powers of the law were found insufficient to preserve the peace and to protect the property of the country, it became the duty of that House to support the Government in their application for additional powers; and, in the present case, his Majesty's Ministers had 1000 acted that part which was best adapted to promote the real interests of Ireland; while, by their determination to enforce the law for the upholding of the rights of the Church, they had given a most eloquent refutation to the charge that had been made against them of their being a popularity-hunting Government. The Resolutions appeared to him to contain in them all that was essential. First, it was proposed to provide for the immediate and pressing wants of the clergy; secondly, to vindicate the law so long as it was the law of the land; and, thirdly, to hold out to the people a promise that the more immediately urgent measures should be followed up by such other measures as should for ever put an end to the evils of which they complained. It had been said that the evidence upon which they were proceeding was insufficient. He readily admitted that it was insufficient to enable the House to determine what should be the remedy; but this was an extremely different thing from what they were now called upon to do. He did not believe anything would give more satisfaction to the people than to point out a remedy before the danger came; for what were the facts to which the attention of the House was called? First, that there was in Ireland a systematic resistance to the payment of tithes. Was there any person who had read the evidence before the Committee, that would not admit that such was the case? The next fact was, the insufficiency of the present law. To this fact they had the testimony of the men whose duty it was to carry that law into effect, and they all declared the impossibility of recovering tithes under the existing law. As to the next point, with regard to the necessity of some remedial measure, surely they had ample evidence. Ireland was now undergoing the fiery ordeal of Irish agitation. There were persons in Ireland who, by every means in their power, were exciting the hostility of the people to the system of tithes. The magic word had gone forth; and by means of public meetings, of political pamphlets, and pastoral letters, a system of resistance had been successfully established throughout many of the counties in Ireland. It would be sufficient for him to state that that feeling had begun to take possession of the minds of the peasantry of Ireland, and that it had caused them to offer no longer, even that passive resistance with which they com- 1001 menced. As a proof of this he would remind hon. Members of the occurrence at Bennett's Bridge; and only desire those who were incredulous on this point, to look into the daily papers of Ireland, where they would read of the constant and open resistance that was now made to the payment of tithes. When those pastoral mandates were issued, he was quite sure the parties had no idea of what the results would be: but this only shewed to what extremes the people would go in opposing what they conceived to be an unjust law. The consequence of all this had been, to reduce highly respectable clergymen from that station in life which, by their connexions, education, and calling, they were entitled to hold, to a condition in some cases, of the most distressing description. It had been said that this was mainly owing to their own exactions. Without pretending to deny that there were some instances in which this accusation might be properly brought, he would maintain that the clergy, as a body, were not liable to the charge. He did not believe that the Catholics themselves would make so sweeping an accusation. So far from this being the case, he could fairly assert that the clergy, in very few instances, had received anything equal to their legal rights, few indeed had exacted so much as they would have been entitled to, under the Composition Act. But if there were matters on which they might differ, there were other points on which they could not butagree. They might differ as to the paying collecting, and distributing of tithes, but it was impossible for them to entertain, different opinions as to the necessity of meeting the claims of the clergy, not only upon their humanity, but upon their sense of justice, in this, the hour of their adversity. His Majesty's Government, however, had another, and a very important, duty to perform, and that was, to support the laws so long as they were the laws of the land. No person who wished well to good order and to the very being of society, could permit the people to take the law into their own hands, and be themselves the arbiters of what should or should not be considered a lawful claim. It was quite evident, that if any Government once permitted this, as regarded one species of legal demand, the same popular doctrine might soon be made to apply to rents and debts of all descriptions, as well as to tithes. They were told to wait until they 1002 could bring forward this remedial measure; but were Gentlemen aware that the spirit of resistance was spreading itself day by day, and that if any delay was suffered to take place in checking its progress, the whole people of Ireland would be subject to the interdict of the agitators? No man entertained greater aversion to acts of severity than he did; but, at the same time, he felt it absolutely necessary that the authority of the law should be vindicated. It was most dangerous to allow the system of preventing those farmers, who thought they ought to pay the clergymen, from doing so, by the influence of terror. A similar system was pursued with regard to the clergyman, who was afraid to resort to that legal remedy which the law allowed him; and with regard to the Jurors, who were afraid to give a verdict against the defendant in tithe cases. Such was the state of things in Ireland, and it was one which required the strict attention of his Majesty's Government, and they ought to consider well whether the authority of the law should not be enforced, in order to put a stop to this system of terror. It was the bounden duty of Parliament to assist the clergy in the recovery of that to which, by law, they were entitled. The course recommended by his Majesty's Government was calculated for the attainment of this object; and, therefore, it had his cordial support. At the same time, he would not support the giving any authority of this nature, if it were not accompanied with such arrangements as would satisfy the people of Ireland, and the adoption of some general system of paying the clergy, in the place of the present obnoxious tithe system. He had observed with regret, that those who had influence over the public mind in Ireland had thought it right to oppose the Government, for if they had taken a different course the propositions would have received the willing assent of the people. All parties agreed that the clergy should be relieved, and no better course had been suggested than that laid down in these Resolutions. There was a systematic violation of the law in Ireland; measures had been employed to excite the people against it, and such power ought to be intrusted to his Majesty's Government as would enable it to enforce the law.
§ Mr. James Grattan
was very desirous to see peace and tranquillity restored in 1003 Ireland, but he confessed that he did not look upon the measure which the right hon. Secretary had it in contemplation to bring forward as calculated to still the agitation or to quell the unquiet feeling which was abroad in Ireland on the subject of tithes. There was not an Irish Member possessing a single acre of land in Ireland who was not affected by the question; and they owed it to themselves, and to their constituents, to sift the matter thoroughly, and prevent any renewed oppression. He must complain of the manner in which the Committee, to which the investigation of the question had been referred was constituted, and the consequence of which was, that, with the exception of a single witness, all the evidence was in favour of the tithe party. He deprecated all hurry in passing any measure on the subject. He wished to facilitate the settlement of the question, and would promote any measure which he thought would succeed; and he now advised delay, because he did not think that the Resolutions proposed would have that effect. He denied that the distress of the Protestant clergy in Ireland was so great as it had been represented to be. On referring to the evidence, it appeared that the rev. Mr. Butler said, that the whole of the composition for the rectorial and vicarial tithe in his parish amounted to about 570l.; and between 300l. and 400l. of this was collected. This Gentleman collected his tithes to November, 1830; and no case of distress had been made out in that instance. The rev. Mr. Cotton, son-in-law of the Archbishop of Cashel, and Archdeacon of that diocese, rector of Thurles, and vicar of the union of four parishes, called Lismalin, stated, that his income was upwards of 2,000l. a year, but that last year he could collect only 50l., and that more than half the tithes of 1830 was unpaid. He had been able to collect less than any other person; but he could not be in great pecuniary distress, looking at his connection with the Archbishop of the diocese. Again, the rev. Mr. Roberts had not been able to collect more than a very small portion of his tithes. The rev. Mr. Dwyer held a living of 800l. per annum, and had not been able to collect more than a portion of his tithes. It was given in evidence that the clergymen were obliged to lay down their horses and carriages, in consequence of the withholding the payment of 1004 tithes; but if that Was the extent of the distress, it did not require immediate parliamentary relief. He would not oppose the first Resolution; though it was not free from objection. He was convinced that the plan for collecting the arrears never could be acted upon, and that it would lead to the greatest mischief. It was said, if a man did net pay his arrears, he must go to gaol; but such a proceeding would kindle a flame throughout the country difficult or impossible to extinguish. It was said by the right hon. Member opposite, on a former occasion, that there was a precedent in 1532, for the present proceeding relative to tithes, when, in consequence of the payment having been resisted in some placed, a different appropriation of them was determined on, and provision was Made, for recovery of the arrears then due. The cases however, were essentially different, and the precedent quoted would not apply. The volume on the Table contained the examination of seventeen witnesses, whose evidence had, in many particulars, been controverted by that subsequently given, and, more especially by that of Dr. Doyle and Mr. Montgomery. The question was a great and an important one, and the House should not be called on to come to a decision until it was in full possession of all the information which could be collected. A Jury was not required to give in a verdict with only half the case before them; nor should the House of Commons, on half a report, decide on a question in which great and important interests are involved. He believed that the gentleman would undertake to pay the parochial clergy the full amount of their claims, if it was clearly understood that, on the death of the present incumbents, a different appropriation should be made of the tithes. He did not wish to withhold assistance from the clergy, but he recommended that the House should vote a sum of money on account, for the purpose of relieving them, and then postpone the collection of the arrears until all measures respecting tithes was completed. It appeared by evidence, that the annual amount of tithes in Ireland was 700,000l.—a monstrous and intolerable sum. The annual amount of the Grand Jury presentments which had been so much calumniated, and out of which many poor establishments were maintained, the expense of which ought to be borne by the tithes, was only 850,000l. He really believed 1005 that, in many cases, the occasional losses of the farmer, the fluctuations of different seasons, and other circumstances, being taken into account, the clergyman got more than a tenth—more than he was entitled to. He denied that tithes were property which could not be meddled with. The Protestants in the north of Ireland, who had established their own moduses at their own pleasure, were the most urgent for the general payment of tithes; thus throwing the principal burthen on the poor Catholic tiller. It was a wonder that such a system of diversity, confusion, and irritation, as the tithe system of Ireland, had gone on so long. The right hon. Secretary talked of vindicating the law, but he was not vindicating the law: he was bringing in a new law. Again, he must urge the postponement of the scheme, in order that they might all lay their heads together for the purpose of endeavouring to devise some plan that should be substantially beneficial. He was decidedly of opinion that a portion of the tithes should go to the poor; and that the Protestant clergy who did the duty of the Church should receive a greater share of the emoluments of that Church. Had such considerations as these been attended to, Ireland would not have been convulsed from north to south on the subject.
§ Mr. Hunt
said, that, at that late hour, as no doubt there was not a single Irish Member who was not anxious to give his opinion upon the subject, and as, therefore, it was hopeless to expect to finish the discussion that night, he would move as an amendment, that the Chairman report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
said, that the Chairman had no progress to report. This was the third day of the discussion, and yet the Committee had not passed one single Resolution. If they went on in this manner, day after day, making speeches on all the Resolutions, and not agreeing to one, time would be wasted, and the public business Would be at a stand. He hoped that, after the long debate which had taken place, they would come to a decision on some of the Resolutions. To the first, second, and third, the objections seemed but slight; to the fourth and fifth they were more weighty. What he proposed was, first, to dispose of the Amendment of the hon. member for Downpatrick, and then to take the sense of the Committee on the first three Resolutions. He would 1006 afterwards have no objection to postpone, for a short time, the last two Resolutions,
suggested that, as the hon Member had manifested his desire to press his praiseworthy Resolution, and as a division would merely excite delay, he should withdraw his Amendment. He believed no further debate would take place.
§ Amendment withdrawn.
§ The Committee divided on Mr. Ruthven's Amendment: Ayes 27; Noes 123—Majority 96.
|List of the AYES.|
|Bainbridge, E. T.||*Lambert, H.|
|*Bellew, Sir E.||*Leader, N. P.|
|*Brownlow, C.||*Macnamara, W. N.|
|*Chapman, M. L.||*O'Farrell, H. M.|
|*Doyle, Sir J. M.||*O'Callaghan, D.|
|Duncombe, T. S.||*O'Connell, M.|
|*French, A.||*Power, R.|
|Gillon, W. D.||*Sheil, R. L.|
|*Grattan, H.||Torrens, Colonel|
|*Grattan, J.||*Walker, C. A.|
|Hunt, H.||*Wallace, T.|
|*Ingestrie, Lord||*Wyse, T.|
|*Jephson, C. D. O.||TELLER.|
|*Killeen, Lord||*Ruthven, E. S.|
§ Those marked thus * are Members for Ireland.
§ On the first Resolution being again put,
§ Mr. Wyse
said, he would place before the House, as briefly as he could, the motives which induced him to offer opposition to some of the statements contained in the three first Resolutions. Several of the Protestant clergy were stated to be in the utmost distress, owing to the existing combination and resistance to tithe; and the State was called upon to come forward to their assistance. This allegation was grounded, both on the Report and Resolutions, on the evidence before the House. As he had already observed, at an earlier period of the night, he did not think these 1007 allegations were borne out by the evidence adduced before the Committee, and, therefore, unless further proof of the fact was advanced, he could not assent to such statement, and, of course, could not vote for the grant of money now proposed. He begged to be distinctly understood—in his mind, there were two points, essentially different, to be considered. First, whether, if such a case as that which had been stated did exist, the clergy would be entitled to public relief; and, secondly, whether such case did or did not exist. To the first of these propositions he could not refuse his assent, because if the teachers of a Christian institution, the guardians of public morality, the salaried officers of the public were guaranteed by that public in the enjoyment of their offices or salaries, it must be admitted, that the public were bound, by the strictest ties which could bind nations or individuals, to fulfil the engagement, and to afford protection and security for their enjoyment until some new contract with the same or other individuals was entered into by the State. The State acted thus in all other cases; and if it did not act so, it would virtually be signing its own death-warrant, and would openly teach disaffection and disorganization, by taking away from property and personal rights security—the real essence of all social institutions. The case had been confounded with that of landlords; but it was widely different. Those, at least, who considered clergymen, not as landlords, but as servants of the State, for the uses of the State, could not object to this conclusion. Landlords, indeed, might be reduced to much the same position, by an act of the State itself—an improvident, fraudulent, or precipitate law—like too many of the financial laws, as they operated in Ireland; and, in such cases, perhaps, in strictness of justness the, State ought to intervene. But these cases were rare; and, as the State did not interfere with their profits, or claim a right to do so, so neither should it be called upon to redress or retrieve, by pecuniary relief, any loss they might sustain. He would not, then, refuse to the clergy, as such, any fair relief, provided the justifying case for such relief was first made out. Upon these premises he based his argument. It appeared to him, that two conditions were necessary for this purpose; first, that the individual was in a state of distress; and secondly, that he had not 1008 brought that distress upon himself. If these conditions really existed, he for one, would not hesitate an instant, but give cheerfully, not as charity, but as strict right. Then came the main question. Were these conditions fulfilled? He contended they were not. He grounded this assertion, not on vain hearsay, or vainer imagination, but on those documents, upon which the right hon. Secretary relied for the opposite conclusion. The complaint was, that the Protestant clergy were in the greatest suffering and distress. What was the evidence to bear this out? The first instance given by the right hon. Secretary was that of Dr. Butler. He stood at the head of the suffering clergy. The words of the complaint in his own letter were:—"I have been banished from my home and duty, a starving exile." Banished? Where, did the House think?—to Cheltenham; "from comfort to absolute poverty." This statement must be compared, however, with the assertion of his parishioners, and of hon. Members in that House. These assertions, it was true, had not been proved, but neither had the assertions of the reverend Doctor. Both should be inquired into, and both weighed by other evidence. One thing was certain, that Dr. Butler was in possession of the tithe-right of thirteen parishes, extending thirty-two miles, producing, with all deductions, a rental of 1,400l., and he had been in possession of this income for thirty-six years; and he was stated to have purchased to the extent of 300 acres in the same county. Sir John Harvey had been quoted by the right hon. Secretary, in the next instance. The question, No. 113, was as follows; "A gentleman with whom I am well acquainted told me, he had just been sending a sheep and a few potatoes to a gentleman who was formerly in comparative affluence; and that he had neither a shilling, nor a pound of meat, nor bread in his house." So far the right hon. Secretary read, but why did he stop there? The next question and answer run thus:—"Can you give the name of the clergyman?"—"I do not know his name." And this was the evidence of the distress of the clergy given by Sir John Harvey! The hearsay distress of a gentleman of whom he literally knew nothing. Dr. Fitzgerald came next. He traced the sufferings of the starving clergy very perfectly to the right cause, Their conse- 1009 quences, however, did not appear to be quite so calamitous; not more than what many other "respectable" gentlemen had been obliged to submit to, without having had the good fortune to receive a single tear of compassion from this House, or any more substantial proof of sympathy from the Treasury. Great stress had been laid upon Dr. Fitzgerald's testimony; and it was worth while to attend to it. In reply to inquiries in this matter, he candidly answers to question 224, "that the Irish are rather an improvident race of people. They may live up to their incomes, and keep establishments of horses, carriages, and servants, and in the cases that I speak of, they have been obliged to lay them down." This, no doubt, was a great affliction, but hardly requiring legislative interference. The point was, were these gentlemen, as Dr. Butler stated, starving exiles from their duty and home? No such thing. Hear the evidence. "Have you known any case of distress in which clergymen have been in want of food?" Answer, "No; not to that extent," So that the clipping off of a lackey here and there, and some privations of a more serious nature, here and there, were all that Dr. Fitigerald was ready to assert. Dr. Hamilton was "another sufferer." He has been in possession of parishes, extending nine miles by six—had raised his tithes from 350l. to 2,000l, and now lowered them to 1,700l., and out of that very large income, there had been no saving, no economy, no surplus whatever; but, it might be said, he had spent this money amongst his parishioners. Perhaps so; and so far he had acted as well as most curates. This, however, had not been thought good ground for raising their salaries from the 70l. to 100l.—they were allowed to starve on. The only grievance was, that the privation should come occasionally; but was this privation, after all, so great? Was it so common or general as to justify this super-abundant compassion of his Majesty's Treasury? Here was a testimony which neither Protestant nor clergyman could reject. The right hon. Secretary had not seen it, or, in his anxiety for impartial discussion, it would, no doubt, have been pressed upon the consideration of the House. Mr. Langrishe, son of a landed proprietor of the very same parish, a Protestant gentleman, a Protestant clergyman, to these very same inquiries answers thus;—'Is it within your knowledge 1010 that there are several clergymen, to whom there are two or three years' arrears due?—Yes, I have heard that Dr. Butler, and various others, have two or three years' rent due; but that is not 'uncommon where there is no forcible resistance. There is very often an arrear of that kind; the clergyman takes a little, and goes on with the account. Are greater arrears due now than under ordinary circumstances?—No; I conceive they are much less.' That was a point blank contradiction to the general pressure of this calamity; the very point upon which the entire application rested. If the right hon. Secretary rested upon his report, he could not take it without the evidence; and if he quoted the evidence on one side, quite as strong could be quoted on the other. But did these Gentlemen come into Court with pure hands? Supposing this distress was "generally" to exist, had it not been of their own creation? These gentlemen, indeed, had been set up, not merely as claimants, but as martyrs—not merely as innocent, but as meritorious. Some of the gloss of these eulogies would, however, wear off on a little nearer examination. Dr. Butler was a professed self-panegyrist; but he must oppose him a second time to his parishioners. The pastor, in such matters, had surely not a better right to be heard than his flock. Dr. Hamilton was represented as consideration and meekness itself. A Catholic and a layman gave suspicious testimony against the moderation of a Protestant clergyman in that House. Dr. Doyle was not to be named; but the same Mr. Langrishe, whom he had already mentioned—a neighbour—and, therefore, with opportunities of judging—a Protestant clergyman, honourably zealous for the character of his religion and profession—a gentleman, in fine, in every sense, his testimony must assuredly carry the same weight as that of Dr. Hamilton himself, says, "that the composition, was a very fair rate of composition, indeed, on the part of the parish, but that be thought it rather high;" and, on being asked, "if it was not considered extravagant, both by the gentry and tenantry," he answered, "that he did think it a great deal too high." In answer to another question, he answered, that, "had Dr. Hamilton got his composition at 3s. 10d., it would have been double the amount of what was usual." He added, that Dr. Hamilton refused to 1011 produce his book, without alleging any reason for so doing; that he had had a long quarrel with his parishioners about the building of a new church, and high wall to prevent the windows (as Dr. Hamilton stated) from being broken—no great proof this of the perfect understanding existing between him and his flock. Another question put was this, "Had he accepted the offer made him, do you think the parish Would have remained without disturbance?"—"I think that no disturbance whatever would have taken place." That testimony showed that the clergy were neither meritorious nor innocent. There was another case, which could only be approached with reluctance and deep regret—the lamentable murder of Mr. Whitty; It had been, was, and ought to be, deplored and reprobated in the strongest language by all good men. He was conciliatory and kind in his individual capacity; but he fell a victim to the system, and to what the system had produced. His predecessor, Mr. Hare, had raised the tithe from 800l. to 2,000l. Mr. Whitty was called upon to reduce it. He was willing to do so, and did reduce it to 1,300l.; but there were grounds for further reducing it to 1,100l. The Archbishop refused to assent to this. New quarrels arose, and, in the interval, exactions, to a considerable extent, were made by his proctor. In some cases it was stated, that land valued formerly at 6l. was raised to 21l. The exasperation of the people burst out into open violence, and a most atrocious deed was perpetrated. The fault was not in the man, but in the system, and this system they were called upon to relieve. He thought he had stated enough to justify the course he intended to take. Hon. Gentlemen might say that cases of a very different nature could be produced. He was anxious to hear them, but they could not be produced from the evidence. If new evidence could be offered, it was the best reason that could be advanced for deferring the grant. If the clergy could show, by any additional testimony, that they were reduced to want, and were free from blame, he should be ready to adopt the Resolutions; but, until such evidence was furnished, he could not vote for the Resolution.
Mr. James E. Gordon
felt himself called upon to defend the conduct of the clergy a the Established Church in Ireland: he denied entirely the charge made by the 1012 hon. member for Tipperary, that their conduct had led to the aggression against tithe; he particularly alluded to the rev. Dr. Hamilton, who had been examined, and had been included in the sweeping charge made by the hon. member for Tipperary, than whom a more pious, charitable, and exemplary man, did not exist.
§ First Resolution agreed to.
§ On the second Resolution being put by the Chairman,
§ Mr. Hunt
said, that it was especially to this Resolution that he was opposed, for he did not think the sufferings of the clergy of Ireland were such as to induce him to consent to money being taken out of the pockets of the people of this country for their relief. The Church of Ireland was rich, and well able to afford relief from its own resources, as the emergency of the case might demand. He should not propose any amendment, but he would divide the House, even if he stood alone.
§ The Committee divided on the Resolution, when there appeared—Ayes 86; Noes 11—Majority 75.
|List of the NOES.|
|Bainbridge, E. T.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Boldero, Captain||Sibthorp, Colonel|
|Duncombe, T. S.||Shiel, R. L.|
|Gillon, W. D.||Torrens, Colonel|
|Hunt, H.||Wyse, T.|
§ Third Resolution agreed to.
§ The House resumed.