§ Mr. Robert Grant
said, that before he proceeded with his intended Motion on the subject of Jewish disabilities, he was prepared to state to the House, in contradiction to what had already been asserted there,—namely, that the Jews did not feel those disabilities,—he was prepared to state that he had received letters signed by the most respectable of that class of his Majesty's subjects, declaring the interest they felt in the question, and regretting that it had not been yet settled. The case of the Jews was so strong, that he thought he might, without offering a single remark, submit their grievances to the House of Commons, with a full confidence of success. The whole body of persons of that persuasion, except a few who were too insignificant to merit attention, took the deepest interest in what he was about to propose. On a former occasion, in the late House of Commons, he moved for leave to bring in a bill for the removal of those disabilities which affected Jewish subjects; but, in conformity with precedents, and in accordance with the opinions of the friends of the measure, it was now thought better to move the House for a Committee of the whole House to consider those disabilities. In that Committee he would move a Resolution on the subject. His object was to place the Jews on the same footing with that class of separatists from the Established Church—the Roman Catholics—whose civil rights were now recognized by act of Parliament. On a former occasion, when the subject was less considered by the public than it had been since, he had felt it necessary to observe and make remarks upon the whole case. He did not now deem it necessary to take that course. He would state first the principle on which he rested his case, and he should then very shortly apply him- 206 self to one or two of the main arguments that were urged against it. The chief principle on which he called on the House to remove those disabilities—
§ The Speaker
suggested whether it would not be for the convenience of the House to know distinctly what course the hon. Gentleman meant to adopt. If he intended to move a resolution in a Committee of the whole House, it was to be considered, whether he would move for a Committee of the whole House at once, and then open, his case in that Committee, or whether he would open his case now, and end with his motion for a Committee. The difference of the two modes was this—that if he took the latter course, the debate would, in the first instance, be taken in the House, and afterwards in the Committee; but if the House went into Committee in the first instance, the case might then be opened, and a single debate would suffice on the Resolution.
§ Mr. Robert Grant
thought the latter course was decidedly the best for him to adopt. He should therefore move, "That this House do resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, to consider the disabilities affecting Jewish subjects." In the Committee he should state his Resolution.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
thought it would be better to open the case in the whole House, and not in Committee. If the debate were proceeded with, there might be an understanding, that the proposition about to be submitted to the consideration of the House should not be again discussed in Committee.
§ Mr. Robert Grant
should be glad to assent to the arrangement proposed by the hon. Baronet, if he represented any one but himself on this occasion; but the hon. Baronet could not answer for the course which other hon. Gentlemen might think it expedient to pursue. If they adopted the mode of proceeding which the hon. Baronet recommended, the House might be exposed to the risk of a double debate, which, he imagined, in this stage of the proceeding, to be wholly unnecessary.
§ The Speaker
suggested, that the consideration of the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman in the Committee of the whole House would be the regular course of proceeding. If the hon. Baronet would refer to the old practice of Parliament, he would find that the rule was, or at least that it was customary, before the House entertained a new measure of this nature, to 207 consider the propriety of doing so in a Committee of the whole House, and not with the Speaker in the Chair.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
objected to the House entertaining the proposition at all, and whether the Motion were for leave to bring in a Bill, or for the House to resolve itself into a Committee, he was disposed to oppose it. He certainly was of opinion that the sense of the House should be taken on the question that the Speaker do leave the Chair.
§ The Speaker
said, the proposition was merely for a Committee, as it would be for a Committee to consider whether the House should be recommended to take any measures.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
protesting against the principle of the measure, would not farther oppose the going into a Committee.
§ The House resolved itself into a Committee; Mr. Warburton in the Chair.
§ Mr. Robert Grant
said, it now became his duty to propose the following Resolution:—" That it is expedient to remove all civil disabilities at present existing affecting his Majesty's subjects of the Jewish religion, with the like exceptions as are provided with reference to his Majesty's subjects professing the Roman Catholic religion." The disabilities under which the Jews laboured were very nearly the same as affected the Roman Catholics at the time of passing the bill for their emancipation. He was desirous to remove the Jews from the situation in which they now were, and to place them where the Catholics at present stood. The great principle upon which he rested his case and which he frequently advocated in that House, he took to be this—that in every civilized and properly-regulated community no man ought to be excluded, as a general rule, from any civil right or privilege on account of his religious sentiments being different from those of the community at large, unless those sentiments threatened the disorganization of civil society. Unless that exception could be made out, a man's religious opinions ought not to operate as a reason against his enjoying any civil right or privilege. Now, if any one could show to him any other religious community, under the same circumstances, whose conduct was as correct and peaceable as that of the Jews, he would be perfectly content to second a motion for their relief. When he formerly introduced this subject, he had been reproached by an hon. Gentleman for taking up the cause of Judaism before he had advocated that of a 208 class of Christians—the Quakers. On that occasion he immediately rose and stated that, whenever that hon. Member brought forward a Motion in favour of that sect who were called Quakers, he would be happy to second it. He was glad that the House had saved him that trouble, having, per saltum, and by anticipation, conferred on a member of that body one of the greatest constitutional privileges. A noble friend of his had already given notice of a Motion affecting that body, and he hoped that the House would be equally inclined to accede to that Motion, and the one he had the honour to propose. In laying down the principle that religious dissent ought not; to constitute a ground for exclusion from civil office, he felt himself in much the same situation as if he were enforcing any other political axiom, of which the attempt to prove it was in some degree to shake its certainty. He held this principle as the very foundation of all political society—namely, that men who were united together in society combined for common objects—they were bound to make common exertions, to sustain common burthens, in order to support the existing system of society, and along with the liability to these exertions and burthens there should be a common liability to all honours and privileges. When men united to obtain a common object, and shared a common danger, it was but just, that they should be equally eligible to the common offices and honours of the society. Upon every general ground of expediency—upon every principle which led men to unite, their specific differences should not be further abrogated, nor should particular differences be further obtruded than was necessary to obtain the common object, and all the offices which did not involve some principle inimical to the general principle of the common good should be open alike to all who shared the common danger. To deny to a small minority any of those privileges or offices upon political grounds was oppression—to deny them upon religious grounds was persecution—and to practise either oppression or persecution was not only contrary to reason, and the principle on which society was formed, it was contrary to the spirit of that religion which was invoked on this occasion to justify the exclusion, which came to bring peace on earth and good-will to all mankind. The Jews whose claims he advocated came strictly within these general principles. They were not a narrow and unknown 209 sect, the birth of yesterday. Their principles were well known, and their sacred books were venerated by ourselves. Throughout their whole history they had distinguished themselves as an orderly, industrious, obedient, and religious people. Their morals were unimpeachable; the principles of their morals and of our own were the same. In political principles and moral and loyal conduct the Jews evinced that they had common interests with ourselves. Was it just that they should be excluded from common honours? The Jew had manifestly an interest in the state which afforded him protection—let him enjoy office, and so render his interest deeper. The Jew was interested in defending the country which contained his family and property—open to him the army and navy. The Jew was as deeply interested in the laws of the country as the Christian—place him upon the bench, if qualified. The Jew was interested in upholding the King and Constitution—let him serve the king as his other subjects did. Finally, the Jew having a common interest in the State, throw open to him those doors; and when he appeared at the Table, ask from him no passport but the choice of a competent body of free constituents. He had been once asked, "where, after the emancipation of the Jews, will be the great constitutional rule of law, that Christianity is part of the common law of the land?" He replied that the rule would stand in the same position as before—it would stand without the slightest alteration. It was well known, however, that the rule did not now receive the construction which had heretofore been given to it—that it was now looked upon in a common sense manner—it now received a better and more liberal explanation. Formerly the rule meant not only that Christianity should be observed in the land, but that every servant of the State should be of that religion which was established. That was the meaning of the rule in all our ancient writers—in all our ancient law books. The rule now meant that Christianity was professed, sincerely professed, by the majority of the community, and that they would suffer no individual to villify the doctrines, or obstruct or trample on the great principles of its morality. That was the doctrine laid down by our Mansfields—that was the sense in which the rule was interpreted by modern writers—and that was, he believed, the common sense of the rule. After this measure was passed, 210 Christianity would still be under the protection of the law, it would be supported in dignity and its observance would be maintained. Then, it was said, how can you, after having passed this Bill, call the Parliament a Christian Parliament? He would answer that question by asking another. "Is the Parliament now a Christian Parliament? Are you able, consistently with the present toleration of a small minority of Jews, to call yourselves a Christian nation? If you are, notwithstanding representatives of that minority so tolerated shall be admitted to this House, you will be as much a Christian Parliament in name as ever, and a little more so in spirit." He could not but caution hon. Gentlemen against pleading objections to this subject, in the name of Christianity, which strenuously opposed and denounced all oppression and religious intolerance—its name and its motto being charity to all men. However, there had been objections made to the emancipation of the Jews, by those who admitted the great principle of civil and religious liberty which he had sought to establish. These objections proceeded upon two grounds—the first was political, the other religious. First, in reference to the political ground of exclusion, it was said, that there was something in the doctrine and disposition of this particular class of religionists which rendered it improper that the rights of citizenship should be conferred on them by any nation in which they might be located, inasmuch as the spirit of citizenship was wanting in the bosoms of the Jews. It was said, that the Jews were preoccupied with a spirit of patriotism, not towards the country which afforded them protection, but for a distant country, towards which they looked for restoration at some period undefined and hidden in the mysteries of futurity; and, therefore, that the country of their casual residence should not admit them to its bosom on a principle of equality with other subjects. He would presently offer a satisfactory answer to this allegation; meanwhile he must observe, that the extent to which feelings of personal dislike of the Jews were carried by many was extraordinary, and almost too ludicrous to mention. An hon. gentleman, not now a Member of the House, once said, that he could not contemplate the possibility of being on dining terms with the Jews, and seemed to think that his own repugnance in this respect constituted a satisfactory reason for excluding such individuals from Parliament 211 His hon. friend was in a lamentable state of ignorance on this subject, as many Members present were aware, who could testify, from personal experience, that the cookery of the Jews was not the worst thing about them. But the whole argument which proceeded to exclude the Jews from civil office on the ground of antipathy was a complete non sequitur. If you do not like the Jews, that may be a very good reason for banishing them the country, but it is bad logic to say, "we dislike the Jews in private life, and, therefore, will not admit them into public offices." Now, with respect to the supposed anti-social principles of the Jews, the most sacred of their books had told them to "Seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it; for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace." This principle was fully recognized by the Jews in the time of Napoleon, who, wishing to confer the rights of citizenship upon the Jews, consulted some of the leading men among them in order to ascertain whether their tenets would warrant him in adopting such a measure, and the result was satisfactory in all respects. The report made to him by the great Council or Sanhedrim, dated Paris, 1812, contained the following assurances:—'That the law given by Moses to the 'children of Israel enjoins it as their duty 'to consider as their brethren the individuals 'of all those nations which acknowledge a 'God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, 'and among which they enjoy the 'advantage of civil society, or even hospitality 'and protection. That the Holy Scripture 'commands us "to love our neighbours like 'ourselves;" and that since we regard it 'as in conformity with the will of God '(which is justice itself), "to do to others 'as we would that others should do to us, 'it would be contrary to these sacred maxims 'not to consider our fellow-citizens both in 'France and Italy as our brethren. That, 'according to this doctrine, of which the 'truth is universally recognized both by 'those teachers who have most authority 'among the Israelites, and by every Israelite 'who is not ignorant of the principles of 'his religion, it is the duty of all 'to help, to protect, and to love their fellow-'citizens, and to treat them as they would 'treat their co-religionists in every thing 'that concerns the civil and moral relations 'of life. That since the Mosaic religion 'commands the Israelites to receive with so 'much benevolence and respect every 212 'stranger who might go to reside in their 'towns, it is still more strictly for them a 'religious principle to nourish those feelings 'towards the individuals of every nation 'which has received them in her bosom, 'which protects them by her laws and arms, 'permits them to worship God according to 'the rites of their faith, and admits them, 'as is now the case in France and the 'kingdom of Italy, to a participation in all civil 'and political rights. The grand 'Sanhedrim declares that every Israelite, born 'and educated in France and in the 'kingdom of Italy, and admitted to the rights 'of a citizen by the laws of these States, 'is bound by his religion to consider them 'as his country, to serve them, to defend 'them, to obey the laws, and to conform, 'in all his transactions, to the regulations 'of the civil code. Again, in a "Catechism of the Elements of the Jewish Faith" for the use of the youth of that persuasion, he found the following answer to the question, "whether allegiance is due to the sovereign and laws of the country in which they reside?" "Certainly; as long as the Messiah, our Redeemer, is not come, the king under whose protection we live must be esteemed as a king of Israel; and the country in which we live and are maintained, and under the shadow of whose government we enjoy security and comfort, must be considered in the same light as the land of our forefathers." But it might be said, that their practice was opposed to their precepts; he was prepared, however, to show that the experience of past ages proved that this was a mere prejudice, and that there was no ground for asserting that the Jews did not become good members of that community in which they might reside. He was prepared to show, that the opinion that the Jews are precluded by their faith from becoming as good citizens as any other class, was founded on ignorance of the facts of their history. The Jews were to be found in every nation; and in every nation they were conspicuous for the manner in which they performed their duties as members of the community. The Jews were a scattered people; but experience proved, in every instance, that where they had been allowed, they had become a part of the people among whom they dwell. This was not merely the case in modern times, but instances of it were to be found in the earliest period of their history. He would not take up the time of the Committee by referring to history for many instances. One or two circum- 213 stances, however, he must glance at: he need not refer to that memorable example familiar to every one, which occurred to one eminent individual of this people, who fulfilled all the duties of a citizen in the country in which he resided, without forgetting the land of his fathers. He would not refer to other instances in the early history of this people, but pass on to the time of their captivity, when they were severed from their native land, and had to reside in a country, the feelings and opinions of the inhabitants of which were entirely opposed to their own. But, during the period of the Babylonish and Persian captivities, it would be found that the most eminent offices in those two nations were filled by the Jewish captives in such a manner as to command the reluctant admiration of the states in which their lots were cast. At that period, too, the objection of the anti-social nature of the feelings and doctrines of the Jews was urged upon the sovereign of Persia in nearly the same language that was used in the former House of Commons. The King was told, "There is a certain people scattered abroad, and dispersed among the people, in all the provinces of the kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people, neither keep they the King's laws; therefore it is not for the King's profit to suffer them. If it please the King, let it be written that they may be destroyed." Now, this was following up the argument properly; but the king, so addressed, was Artaxerxes, who was as good a logician as the great man who addressed him; but, instead of destroying the people objected to, he hanged the objector, and so put an end to the argument. He should be sorry that the precedent should be acted upon, with respect to his hon. friend, the member for the University of Oxford, who, he hoped, would long live to urge—if not his objections to the relief of the Jews—his complaints at their emancipation. But the case he had referred to was not a singular case. Under the Ptolemies of Egypt, and the Seleucidæ of Syria, the Jews served in the highest civil and military offices. He could adduce many instances to show, that notwithstanding the affection which the Jews always manifested for the soil, the country, and the institutions of their forefathers in Palestine, they always acted the part of good citizens in those countries in which they sought protection. At last the final dispersion took place which reduced them to the state in which they had been for nearly 1,800 years. Proceeding from 214 that period, he met with one fact which was the more curious, because a sort of parallel case had occurred in our own time. It was perfectly well known that the emperor Julian called—Justly, though harshly, by the name of "apostate," was exceedingly anxious to conciliate the Jews, with a view to the accomplishment of a particular object. He promised to restore them to their country—he attempted to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem—and he opened his armies to the Jews. This was done partly from aversion to the Christians; but he was also actuated, in part, by a great political motive. His great, indeed almost his only rival in the world, was the Persian monarch; and Julian so acted principally for the purpose of facilitating his meditated attack upon that mighty monarch. The frontier provinces of Mesopotamia were full of Jews; and it was with a view to ensure their good will, and to attach them to his interest, that he treated the Jews with so much distinction. However, the Mesopotamian Jews had been kindly treated by the Persian monarch, and rejected all the blandishments of the Roman emperor, notwithstanding his great and admitted kindness to their brethren. They fought the army of Julian; they impeded its progress, and in the sound citizenship of the Jews of Mesopotamia, Julian met the first check which interrupted his progress, and tended to his final discomfiture, and the overthrow of all his plans. The same result was exemplified, in modern times, in the case of Napoleon. In consequence of his liberal treatment of them, the Jews of France rallied round his standard, and almost hailed him as their appointed deliverer; but on coming to states wherein their brethren had been protected by the Russian sovereigns, notwithstanding the admirable conduct of Napoleon towards the Hebrews, the Jewish citizens of those states continued firm in their allegiance to their original protectors. He would not drag the House through a long historical detail; but there were one or two points which he could not refrain from alluding to. The golden period of the Jewish captivity (as it had been called by Mr. Mil-man) was when many of them were called to sit in the councils of the sovereign, in whose territories they resided. At that period the Jews were protected by the greatest sovereigns of Europe; and well repaid the favours shown them, by evincing more citizenship than the original inhabitants of the countries into which they 215 were received, by serving their patrons with greater fidelity, and filling office with more efficiency than the natives. About that period, also, the emperor Charlemagne, when he sent on a great occasion an ambassador to the Caliph, Haroun Alraschid, employed as his ambassador a Jewish subject. The same was the case with the celebrated Pope Gregory the Great, who employed them in offices of trust and honour, and encouraged them to become cultivators of the land. But perhaps the most remarkable scene of their glory was Spain, where they not only were admitted to high places, but were the chief agriculturists of the country, and under the Moorish Sovereigns obtained a great name and power in the land. Under the Christian Sovereigns, though excluded from many occupations, the Jews were found amongst the eminent men of the country. After that period began the crusades, which though the dawning of civilization for Europe, were the commencement of persecution for the Jews, and he was sorry to say, that in this persecution France and England led the way. That commenced the iron age of the Jews, as Mr. Milman said; the iron age not from their crimes but from their miseries and their sufferings. The iron of oppression then entered deeply into their souls, and they were exposed to persecution from one end of Europe to the other—they were exposed to atrocities so atrocious, to miseries so miserable, that he would not dwell upon the description, but content himself by this passing allusion to those cruelties, and to state one of its consequences. Their present situation was in part the result of those cruelties. This was a consequence perhaps almost as much to be regretted as the cruelties themselves. The feelings then generated remained to this day, and were indulged to the prejudice of that people. They were no longer exposed to martyrdom; they were not tortured or put upon the rack, but they were exposed to indignities and insults. It was by referring to the cruelties of the nations of Europe at a former period that we defended the insults which were still practised towards the Jews and were among their remaining effects. He had mentioned the conduct of the Jews in Europe, and he would quote a specimen from the farthest part of Asia. Some of them had found refuge in China among a semi-barbarous people when they had been driven from Europe by persecution. The historian of the Jews in recording this fact observed, they were employed in agriculture 216 and traffic. They had cultivated learning with success; and some of them, as is attested by extant inscriptions,—had been highly honoured with the imperial favour, and had attained the rank of Mandarin. One of these inscriptions, hearing date in 1815, praised the Jews for their integrity and fidelity in agricultural pursuits, in traffic in the magistracy and in the army; and for their punctual observance of their own religious ceremonies. It was to be remarked, in particular, that this inscription bore testimony to the industry of the Jews in agricultural pursuits, though here it was said that they were unfit for such pursuits, and only fit to engage in trade or in money lending. He had three or four more proofs of the good conduct of the Jews when emancipated, to which he would advert. It had been found that the emancipation of the Jews in France had answered very well. Napoleon himself had stated that, and it was so well known that it was only necessary to allude to it. A remarkable testimony, however, was borne to the Jews in the chamber of Deputies, on December 4th, 1830, by M. Merilhou the Minister of public instruction who said "But since the Constituent Assembly placed the Israelites on a footing with other citizens, they have partaken of our glory and misfortunes their blood has flowed in the same fields of battle as ours,—their children have been brought up in the same schools with those of their Christian brethren,—they have imbibed the same principles—adopted the same habits—and have become most deserving citizens." He would add one other testimony, that of M. Charles Dupin, who was well known in this country. In one of his books that gentleman had this passage, "The Hebrews naturalized on our territory by the benefit of our laws, have acquired all the rights of other citizens. The exercise of these rights gives them virtues; they addict themselves to study; for the pursuits of usury they substitute those of industry; and they are Frenchmen in heart as well as by blood." Again, Prince Hardenburgh, the enlightened prime minister of Prussia, had emancipated the Jews in that country in 1811 or 1812. In 1814, two years after the emancipation, Prince Hardenburgh had, in an official letter to the Prussian consul at Hamburgh, borne the highest testimony to their merits. The right hon. Gentleman quoted a part of this letter which stated, 'The history of 'the last war against France, has proved 'that by the most faithful attachment they 217 'have rendered themselves worthy of the 'state which has incorporated them in its 'bosom. The youth of the Israelite 'confession have been the brethren in arms 'of their Christian fellow-citizens. They 'have also afforded examples of true heroism'—of a glorious contempt for the perils of 'war; and the other Israelite inhabitants, 'especially the women, have rivalled 'Christians wherever it was necessary to 'make sacrifices for their common country." He would quote a similar testimony in favour of them given by the Senate of Hamburgh in 1814. That document stated that during the period that the Jews had enjoyed the rights of citizenship there, and of a perfect equality with the other inhabitants of the state, they had been distinguished for their laudable conduct, and for their great exertions for the public welfare. The testimony which he had already quoted as to their good conduct as subjects and citizens in Prussia was given in 1814. Similar testimonials could be produced as to their good conduct in that kingdom up to the present moment. The House would allow him to quote a testimony of that description in the words of a near relation of his own, writing from Berlin in 1830, when a similar motion to the present was about being brought forward in Parliament. He stated, and this was the evidence of an individual upon whom every reliance could be placed, that there was no portion of the subjects of Prussia better conducted or more deserving citizens than the Jews; that previous to their emancipation there they had, in numerous instances, amassed large sums of money, which they had, since permission was granted them, exchanged for land; that at the present moment a large portion of the land of Prussia was in their hands, and that he would say the Jews in Prussia, were Prussians par excellence. One objection—a constant one to the enfranchisement of the Jews—was, that they were not like other subjects,—that the Jews of all countries were bound together by one tie, by a general spirit of common nationality, and that they were therefore not fit persons for admission to the rights of citizenship. He was ready to admit that they were bound together by the tie of oppression, but that tie had been broken in Prussia and in other States, where, upon an admission to an equality with their fellow-subjects, the Jews had proved themselves not unworthy of the concession, and the proposition which he was now about to submit to the Committee was to break that 218 tie in this country by conferring upon the Jews the rights of citizenship. Wherever that had been done the Jews had lost that strong bond of union which was made by oppression and become attached to the country which gave them protection. He would appeal to the highest testimony in proof of the admirable conduct of the Jewish soldiers in the Dutch army during the siege of Antwerp; that testimony was at second hand from General Chasse himself. That gallant officer stated that the Jews under his command were ready to blow up the citadel if he desired them to do so, and that in fact, there were not better soldiers in the army. He could quote innumerable testimonies to the same effect from history past and recent, but he was sure that at the present day it was not necessary for him to heap evidence upon evidence to show that the Jews if admitted to those rights of citizenship which their other fellow-subjects enjoyed, would exhibit in their demeanour and conduct a proper sense of their duties to the Government under which they lived and to the country to which they belonged. What were the arguments by which those just claims of the Jews were met and opposed? He had heard indeed of some arguments against those claims; he had seen them in print, which had shocked him so much that he would not allude to them at present or hereafter, unless he should be compelled to do so by a reiteration of such arguments within the walls of that House. There was, however, one argument which had been pretty extensively advanced against the claims of the Jews, and which, as it was advanced by persons who conscientiously believed in its force, he was anxious to draw the attention of the Committee to it. That argument was founded upon a fact with regard to which all Jews and Christians were agreed—namely, that the Jews were set apart as a peculiar people by Divine Providence, and hence it was argued that as this whole class of persons were, in fulfilment of the Divine prophecies undergoing a special punishment and dispersion, it would not be proper for this House to treat them as other nations of the world, and to admit them to the rights of citizenship. Now, in reply to that argument, he would say, that it was one that proved infinitely too much, for, according to those persons who used it, the proscription which was predicted as affecting this people, and to which they appealed, would not go merely to the extent of civil disabilities, but would go to the sanction of the 219 rack, the stake, the torture, and all other horrible inflictions to which the Jews were subjected in past times, and therefore if it was a right argument to say, that because the Jews, being in a peculiar state of probation, were exposed to certain evils, we, in fulfilment of the prophecies relating to them, had a right to inflict those evils upon them. But then we ought not to stop at the mere imposition of civil disabilities, but we should go back to those horrible tortures and abominations which were in former times put in practice against this unfortunate people, when men took into their hands the fulfilment of the predictions of the Almighty, but which abominable cruelties the humanity and sense of religion that prevailed in modern times would not for a moment endure. But, in point of fact, the argument was in every respect a false one, which appealed to the prophecies relating to the Jews, to show that we were thereby prohibited from doing any thing that might tend to their worldly advantage or promotion. He had, when he addressed the House upon a former occasion upon this question quoted the words of Bishop Newton, which effectually destroyed the sort of barrier which was thus attempted to be raised against the admission of the Jews to civil rights. That eminent ecclesiastic, speaking of those prophecies, said that though the Jews were to be dispersed and persecuted, that would not be a justification for those nations which would inflict sufferings upon them,—that the nations which inflicted evils upon them would suffer for doing so, while all good nations would support them in their days of calamity and misfortune. The words of Bishop Newton were, that charity was greater than faith, and that it would be worse for us to be cruel and uncharitable than to be unbelievers. The extract on this subject which he had formerly read from the celebrated work of Bishop Newton on the prophecies, was an unanswerable refutation of the pretended argument drawn from the prophecies against the admission of the Jews to the civil rights of citizens. He would also quote the authority of Dr. Buchanan, so well known for his antiquarian researches in Asia, and for his extraordinary labours as a missionary, who remarked that the time was come when Parliament should restore the Jews to the franchises of their fellow-citizens for it could certainly do so without contravening the Divine will. He could add, he said, many more quotations to those from the writings of eminent divines, but it 220 was unnecessary, he was sure, for him to do so. He would trouble the House with only one quotation more upon the subject—from the writings of an individual well known to many Members of the House, and one who was worthy of the highest admiration, though a dissenter from the Established Church—he alluded to the reverend Robert Hall. That celebrated man stated that a large arrear of guilt had been contracted by the nations of Christendom, on account of the manner in which they had hitherto, in past times treated the Jews, and that in the present age of liberality, when such mighty efforts were made to procure the repeal of civil disabilities on account of religion, it was time to free the oppressed children of Israel from the bondage which they had endured. He (Mr. Grant) advocated this proposition upon the grounds of justice and toleration alone; but if he were to appeal to feelings, there were strong and powerful feelings to which he could appeal on behalf of the Jews. It should never be forgotten that an immense debt of gratitude was due from the nations of Christendom, and from the professors of Christianity, to the Jews, and it behoved us to discharge that debt in the true spirit of Christianity, in accordance with the divine and charitable precept of doing to others as we would be done by. It would more than one hundred times reward the efforts which he had made on behalf of this cause if he should happen to be the humble instrument of inducing this great and Christian country, acting upon the true and genuine principles of Christianity to communicate to this long oppressed people their just rights and privileges. Doing so would open the eyes of the Jewish people,—it would show them that Christianity and persecution should not be connected, as they had, with some reason, hitherto connected them,—it would prove to them that we were determined to act up to the principles and spirit of that religion which we professed, and that one of the leading principles of that divine creed, the establishment of good-will amongst men, would be our guide and our director for the future. Religion and justice called upon us to adopt such a course, and perhaps the future fortunes of this country depended upon our now extending emancipation to this illustrious and long ill-used and oppressed nation. In their former journey through the wilderness to the land of promise, those nations that afforded them sustenance and relief received the blessing of the Almighty, and now, 221 in their journey through the wilderness of suffering and persecution, we were equally called upon to afford them the offices of good-will and benevolence. He was content to rest this question upon a ground comprehensive enough to contain it, and firm enough to support it—upon the ground of religious toleration. The infliction of civil disabilities without any reason was oppressive, and their infliction for no other reason but a difference of creed was religious persecution. He now, therefore, called upon them to wipe away a stain which had so long attached to their religion—he called upon them as professors of Christianity to wipe away the heavy stain that had so long disfigured its fair fame, and to show it as it was and as it ought to be—the religion of good-will and of charity towards all mankind. It was for such reasons and upon such grounds that he begged leave to propose the following Resolutions to the Committee:—"That it is expedient to remove all civil disabilities at present existing respecting his Majesty's subjects of the Jewish persuasion in like manner, and with the same exceptions, as the disabilities affecting his Majesty's subjects professing the Roman Catholic religion had been removed." The right hon. Gentleman sat down amidst loud cheers.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
, in rising to oppose the Motion, said, that his right hon. friend had made much larger concessions, to what he would call the spurious liberality of the age, than he could have ever expected from him, considering the respect which he knew that his right ho. friend entertained for all that belonged to Christianity. In the present instance he was greatly disappointed in the course of argument taken by his right hon. friend, as well as in his whole tone and manner. So fastidious was his right hon. friend, that he almost hesitated to call the well-known Julian an "apostate," who, from first being a Christian, afterwards turned, and became a most zealous Pagan. [Mr. Grant, across the Table, said he had merely used the phrase "justly, though harshly."] The fastidiousness, however, of the reservation was, he could not but think, ill-omened in the commencement of a discussion on such a subject as the present. His right hon. friend had laid it down as a general proposition, that religious opinions should not disqualify their professors from the holding of political power. Now, instead of setting forth with such a general proposition, his right hon. friend should have confined it to 222 the religious opinions of the persons whose claims he at present advocated, and he should have said that their religious opinions did not disqualify them from holding power. For if the more general proposition were to be admitted, and it was upon it that his right hon. friend grounded his Motion, it would enable the Parsee, the Brahmin, the Mussulman, the Jew, and all other sectaries and religionists whatever, who were natural born subjects of the King of this realm, to participate in all the rights of British subjects; and he would ask, whether they would be fit persons to be intrusted with all the ecclesiastical as well as civil interests of England? If such a principle were to be carried, the effect of it would be to place in the custody of very incompetent and unworthy men all the dearest interests of this country. It was not from any personal feeling towards the Jews that he opposed their emancipation—it was not upon the ground of their greater immorality, or their greater unworthiness as members of society, that he resisted their claims on this occasion—on the contrary, he believed that there was no portion of the community that furnished a smaller relative proportion of criminals, or that was better conducted than the Jews were; and this, under circumstances, which, as he admitted (whatever use might be made of his admission), were too often unfavourable to moral character. He regarded it as an established principle—a principle that had been the boast of the Constitution of this country—that Christianity was part and parcel of the law of England. His right hon. friend must admit that it would no longer continue to be so, if the Bill which he proposed should (which God forbid) become the law of the land. His light hon. friend had, indeed, acknowledged that in that case the maxim could not be taken in the ordinary sense in which it had hitherto been applied; but then he said that the Legislature would practically be as much Christian as it was before, and that it would never be found that those who would be thus admitted into it would be inclined, in that House, to treat the Christian ceremonies and belief with disrespect. Without entering further into that part of the subject, he would say that his experience during the last three years fully justified him in expressing his doubts upon it, seeing the respect that had been shown to their attachment to peculiar doctrines and peculiar institutions on the part of those from whom such forbearance and respect had been con- 223 tinually predicated before they had been placed in that House. The nationality of the Jews was a strong argument against their admission to the rights now claimed for them. Would his right hon. friend disclaim on the part of the Jews the nationality which they claimed? Would he produce any Jew who would disclaim it? Place them in Poland, in Prussia, in France, in Algiers, in China, they still regarded themselves as a separate nation, and they would resist the conferring of any benefit upon them, founded upon a renunciation upon their parts of that claim to a distinct national character. His right hon. friend had referred—for it was evident that to it he alluded—to the promotion of Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon as a proof that the Jews had been advanced to high stations in former times; but their promotion in the courts of Egypt and Babylon was a miraculous promotion for the purpose of carrying into effect the will of the Almighty; and no argument could be drawn from the fact to show that a Christian people should now admit Jews to place and power, unless his right hon. friend could prove that his clients were qualified in the same miraculous way as their ancestors, who had been raised to such high situations in the courts of Pharaoh and Cyrus. His right hon. friend had rapidly passed from ancient history down to modern times. If he might without levity refer to it, he could not help thinking, while his right hon. friend was giving the history of the Jews from the deluge, of a reverend speaker in a popular work, who always began with the cosmogony; nor could he forget, while looking at the rapid manner in which his right hon. friend was travelling over ancient history generally, the "Sir, the Chaldæans—sir, the Babylonians," in the speech of Temple Luttrell, in "Anticipation." But the question was not one of lightness. He would, therefore, resume his course, and follow his right hon. friend to modem times, and to his case from Poland. He (Sir R. Inglis) apprehended that the case of Poland was not the one in which the allegiance of the Jews had stood the trial best, for, in that instance, though the subjects of Russia, they notoriously aided the escape and retreat of Buonaparte. We had no record of the period when the Jews first came over to this country; but he could not be ignorant—indeed every school-boy must be aware—that they were to be found in England for centuries previous to the two last. He was aware of the cruelties 224 and persecutions inflicted on that body in the reigns of Henry 3rd, Richard 1st, and of King John. It was not his intention to lead the Committee into any anti quarianism upon the subject, or to quote the laws then enforced; suffice it to say, that, having been driven from the country, they returned again in the reign of Charles 2nd. But they returned solely for their own purposes and speculations. Did they, he would ask, at that period, stipulate for any privileges or immunities for their body? No; they took the law as they found it, as they were bound to do, coming as they did as strangers among us. And strangers they must continue to be—they must ever remain a distinct and separate nation; and was the Legislature—were the House of Commons—to unchristianise themselves and the country, in order to afford unnecessary privileges to these few persons? What right had a foreigner going into any country to find fault with the laws of that country, and pray their alteration in his favour, he being no more than a stranger and a sojourner? And strangers and sojourners the Jews must be until the restoration of their own Jerusalem—their ultimate home. At all periods of the history of this country it was the invariable practice to place all power and authority, of whatever description, in the hands of persons professing the principles of Christianity. There never was a period at which the contrary was the case. No power of any description had ever been intrusted to any man or set of men who were not required to swear their fealty to their King upon that sacred book, which we, as Christians, revere, but which the Jews despise. That oath had always been taken on the holy Gospel, or on a crucifix—in short, on something which was held sacred at the time by Christians, but which the Jews have at all times held in abhorrence. But it appeared that the solemn words, "As I am a true Christian," were to be given up for the present. The introduction of this measure, on the 5th of April, 1830, was the first time it was proposed to remove the political disabilities, as they were called, under which the Jews laboured, or in other words, to confer civil power upon any class of persons in this country, unless those who called themselves, and professed to be, Christians. He recollected the history of the Jew Bill of 1753; but that was not a measure introduced for the purpose of conferring political power; its object was, the naturalization of foreign 225 Jews. He would call upon his right hon. and learned friend (Mr. Grant), to state whether, before the year 1830, he had ever known any attempt made to give political power to any persons in this country, save to those who professed their belief in the records of our common Christianity, whose love of the Scriptures of God were founded in a belief in Christ? It had ever been a maxim of the Legislature, as well as of our Courts of Justice, that religion was part and parcel of the law of the land; but it would no longer be so if persons were to obtain seats in that House, and on the Judicial Bench, who believed that Christianity was a mockery. He maintained, that man living in society had no abstract right to power; he had a right to protection for his person, protection for his property, and protection for his religion, but he had no abstract right to the possession of any power above his fellow man. It had never been held, that man had an abstract unalienable right to political power; and unless it could be shown that the Jews in this country were insecure in their property, or unprotected in their persons or their religion, he would not allow that they were denied any right which they were entitled to claim. Were they prepared to place a Jew upon the Judicial Bench, where, perhaps, his first act would be to try a person for blasphemy? Was that Judge a fit person to preside in such a case, who held—he (Sir R. Inglis) spoke it with reverence—that Jesus Christ himself was an impostor? Was this the doctrine of the Jews, or was it not? And, if so, ought a Jew to preside in a Court of Justice in such a case? Let him not be told that in such a case a Jew might be a Juryman; if he were he might be challenged; but was he to sit and try a case, he believing in doctrines for the very enunciation of which the accused was to be brought before him? Some stress had been laid on the practice of other countries; but that was a very imperfect criterion of the fitness or unfitness of the present measure as it regarded this country. Upon this point he agreed to a certain extent with what had been laid down by the hon. member for Oldham, who, he understood, was prevented by illness from being present as he intended at that discussion. With reference to what had been said of Jews holding seats in the Legislature, he would observe that there was considerable difference in the construction of different Legislatures, and that a seat in the Legislature of this country was 226 of infinitely more importance than a seat in the Chamber of Deputies in France, or in the Congress of the United States of America; and what was considered right in both the one and the other might be found to be exceedingly wrong and impolitic here. But, after all, was there a single Jew who held a seat in the Chamber of Deputies in Paris, or in the Congress of the United States of America? He was not aware that there was even one in cither country. If the principle now proposed were adopted, they would go on altering the oath by little and little, at the recommendation of the supporters of this and that different sect of persons, until they at length came to a decision (and he had heard the doctrine broached more than once that Session) that they ought to have no oaths at all. The hon. member for Middlesex appeared, by his cheer, to adopt this doctrine. He would ask the hon. Member if it had not ever been the case that persons taking office, and filling a public situation, of whatever kind, were called upon to take certain oaths to preserve their allegiance to their King, and secure the stability of the Government? And if once they were to dispense with those oaths for the security of the Constitution, the next step would be short and easy, by which they would get rid of the obligation of an oath in every instance. The question was not whether they would tolerate this or that set of persons, but whether they were to get rid of the religion of the country altogether as the sanction and principle of human action? It would be insulting, and certainly was far from his wish or intention, to put into the mouth of any hon. Member, words stronger than those he had used. But he had understood, from the cheer of the hon. member for Middlesex, that he was anxious for the abolition of all oaths, and therefore it was, that he had put the question as to how the existence of society was to be secured without the administration of oaths; and he must add that, by the removal of all oaths, they would get rid altogether of religion, as the sanction of human action. But he would suppose, for the present, that the oath was to be retained; yet he found that the words "on the faith of a Christian" were to be removed. He would ask the Committee whether they were prepared to renounce that declaration? Were they prepared to admit to that Table a Jew, who, in the profession of his own religion, declared that religion to be right and theirs 227 to be wrong? Were they prepared to go this length in order that certain privileges might be extended to a comparatively small number of persons—privileges, too, which he maintained they had no claim to, cither individually or as a body? He repeated that he would not deny them justice; but justice had been already fully extended to them in the fullest protection of their persons, property, and religion. Upon all these grounds he felt bound to resist the proposition of his right hon. friend.
§ Mr. Macaulay
said, that when the question was formerly discussed, it was observed by a common friend of the hon. Baronet and of himself, a friend whom they both loved, and whose loss they had in common deeply deplored, that it was difficult to make a speech in favour of the Jews without weakening their cause by advocating truths which admitted of no question. Nothing, however, he must confess, which had happened since that period seemed at all calculated to alter the situation in which they were placed. Conscious of this, his hon. friend the member for the University of Oxford, had begun by entirely disclaiming all intention of calling in question the great principles of religious liberty, on which the measure in favour of the Jews was to be founded, had attempted to shake off the burthen of proving their case from his own party, and to place it upon those who advocated the cause of toleration. He had argued, that the conferring of political power upon any particular class of individuals was a matter of grace, not of right; that the distribution of that power being in the hands of the supreme authority in every country, no one had a right to complain, whatever distribution the supreme authorily might choose to make; that persons had no right even to ask on what grounds some were endowed with privileges to the exclusion of others: a doctrine so monstrous, if carried to its extreme extent, that every reasonable man would shrink from expounding it. Was the right hon. Baronet prepared to say, then, that it would be right for the supreme authority to enact that no man should be admitted to political rights unless he were six feet high, or unless he possessed some other capricious qualification of a similar nature? Would not such a regulation, even according to the hon. Baronet, be gross injustice? Yet such would be the logical consequences of his argument, that the supreme authority had a right to dispose of political power to whom 228 it chose. Suppose the Government of India chose to say that no man should have the direction of Government at Calcutta, at Bombay, or Madras, who had been educated at the University of Oxford; would the hon. Baronet consider that a just law? Would he be satisfied by his own doctrine, that political power was a matter of grace and favour? Suppose they were to enact that no man should be Governor General unless he had been born at Southampton, would that be a right principle in the opinion of the hon. Baronet? Did the hon. Baronet argue, that such tests as these might be enjoined with propriety by the supreme authority in any country? As well might they adopt at once the Indian principle of castes. But the hon. Baronet asked whether it was the wish of the supporters of the proposed measure to do away with all religious sanctions in the conduct of human affairs? To that inquiry his answer was this:—There was one principle which lay at the bottom of all religion—a principle which formed the basis of all the rules of religion and morality, both in public and private life. He would ask the hon. Baronet himself whether any principle were more strongly sanctioned by religion than that by which every man was to study to the utmost of his abilities the happiness of his fellow-creatures—that no man should inflict the slightest evil on his fellow, or be instrumental in withdrawing from him the slightest degree of happiness? The real question then was, whether the withholding of political power from any particular class of individuals were not inflicting a useless pain upon those who were subjected to such disabilities—a pain which ought not to be inflicted, unless those who were instrumental in continuing those disabilities could show that some great advantage was derived from them? As Christians, they were bound to regulate their conduct by that great rule which the founder of our religion declared comprehended all the law and the prophets—to love our neighbours as ourselves. As Christians he would assert that they were bound to remove the disabilities as soon as possible. And what was the argument against the removal? Why, that, if Jews were admitted, Mussulmans, Parsees, and Brahmins might obtain seats in that House; and the House was asked whether it would concede that privilege to persons who denied the authority of the Gospel? He would answer that question by another. He asked his hon. friend was he prepared to roast an unbeliever at a slow 229 fire? If not, let him say why; and he would engage to prove that his reasons were just as decisive against the intolerance of which he was guilty, as against that from which he shrunk with horror. Admitting the principle of persecution where were they to stop—why at one point rather than at another? Why at the point fixed upon by the hon. member for Oxford, rather than at that selected by the hon. member for Oldham, who would refuse Jews the privilege of possessing land? Why at that point, even, rather than at the point at which a Spanish inquisitor of the sixteenth century would have been inclined to stop? When once a person entered on the course of persecution, he was led on by imperceptible steps to the extreme point. The hon. Baronet, when he contended for the exclusion of Jews from political power, ought to recollect that this power was not confined to the privilege of sitting in Parliament. In all countries political power goes with property. Was then the hon. Baronet disposed to touch the property of the Jews? He apprehended not; but the hon. member for Oldham was so disposed, and he had much to say in favour of his view on the principle laid down by the hon. Baronet. If you deprive the Jew of parliamentary influence, it seemed to follow, as a consequence, that yon should deprive him of his landed property which was closely connected with that influence. If you touched his landed property, why respect his funded property? If you take his property, why not his liberty; and if his liberty, why not his life? In controversies between persecutors the difference was only as to degree. Those who would resort to the rack and the stake as a mode of persecution might say much for their views. Their intolerance possibly effect its end. There were, instances in history, in which religious dissent had been suppressed by bloody persecution. In that way the Albigenses were put down. In that way Protestantism was suppressed in Spain, so that it had never since raised its head; but he defied any person to show an instance in which petty exclusions, such as were now under consideration had bad any other effect than that of irritating the sect against which they were directed. The hon. member for Oxford had no right to maintain his argument against the Emancipation of the Jews, unless be was prepared to go the whole length of the inquisition. It was absurd to say, that the deprivation of civil rights was not persecution; it gave pain, 230 and persecution could do no more. There were many Members in that House, who, rather than be subject to the disabilities under which the Jews laboured would be imprisoned half a year, or pay a fine of 500l. On what principle, then, had his hon. friend a right to say, that these disabilities were not persecution, and that tine and imprisonment were persecution? All the reasoning of his hon. friend consisted in drawing arbitrary lines; the pain which he would inflict was not persecution; all pain beyond that which be would inflict was persecution. Again, his hon. friend drew an arbitrary line with respect to political power. He said, "this which I allow them to possess is not political power, but that which I withhold from them is political power." How was it possible, to leave men in possession of vast property, and yet deprive them of political power? There was nothing to prevent a Jew from possessing all the 10l. houses in a borough, or from having more 50l. tenants-at-will, than any nobleman in a county. If he possessed a million of money, was he not now as well able to give treats to please the palates of voters, and to hire bands of gipsies to break their heads, as if be were a Christian and a Marquess? Consider, for one moment, where could the line be drawn? You say a Jew might have the power of returning Members to Parliament, but he must not sit in Parliament; he might be a Juryman, but not a Judge; he might give damages, but not grant new trials; he might not be a Privy Councillor, but he might be a man of vast importance in the money market of this country, and control the exchanges; nay, a Jew might be summoned to attend a congress of sovereigns, and instead of being used like one of his ancestors—placed in a chair and subjected to the operation of a dentist—might be treated on equal terms, and supplicated to furnish the Allied Powers of Europe with the means of carrying on mighty operations. Still a Jew must not be a Member of Parliament. It was said, that the interdict of the Almighty rested upon the Jews, and that we were opposing his will in endeavouring to place them upon an equal looting with the Christians; but the Supreme Being will distinguish between substance and form—he will see that whilst we pretend to withhold political power from the Jews in form, we, in fact, allow them to possess it in reality. Why draw this line between outward form and semblance, and real substance and meaning? Those who 231 opposed the removal of the disabilities of the Jews on the grounds advanced by the hon. member for the University of Oxford, were making a compromise between the principle of persecution and the principle of toleration. The hon. Member, finding that his own good feeling and the spirit of the age, were too strong to allow him to follow out his principle to the full length, drew an arbitrary line, and said that all which lies on one side of it was persecution, and all upon the other only necessary caution and restriction. The hon. Member said "this pain I will inflict, and therefore, I do not chose to call it persecution. This power I will withhold, and therefore I do not choose to call it political power. Jews may possess great weight in the legislative and in the executive Government, but that I do not choose to call political power; and that, therefore, I will concede to them." Those who formerly cut off Jews' heads, dragged them at horses tails, and burnt them on slow fires, were men of a different spirit from my hon. friend, the member for the University of Oxford—they had none of his humanity; but they were more consistent. It was said, that it would be an anomaly to see a Jewish Judge trying a man for blasphemy. He would not defend the present law relative to blasphemy; but a sound law upon the subject might exist with an enlightened Jew upon the Bench. Every man ought to be at liberty to discuss the truth or falsehood of religion, but not to force upon the unwilling eyes and ears of others sights and sounds which are insulting to them. The distinction was perfectly clear; if a man chose to sell Paine's Age of Reason in a back shop to such as thought proper to buy it, or if another man chose to deliver a lecture against religion in a private room, neither of them ought to be prosecuted; but if an individual exhibited at his window, in a public thoroughfare, a hideous caricature of what is an object of veneration and respect to 999 out of 1000 of his fellow-citizens; or if he, in places of public resort, should apply outrageous expressions against that religion or against that being which ninety-nine out of a hundred of those around him were accustomed to regard with reverence, he ought to be punished, not for a libel, but for a nuisance; not for attacking that which we knew to be true, but for giving pain and disgust to his neighbours. Such a man was no more entitled to offer a gross insult to religion, and say, that he had a right to freedom of opinion, than another 232 man would have to establish a noisome and offensive manufacture in any neighbourhood, and say that he had a right to his property; or to run up and down the streets naked, and say that he had a right to locomotion. What was the principle by which all civilized nations were regulated with respect to the rights of burial? That the law should protect the remains of the dead from insult. In the legislative regulations with repect to dissections, which had lately been made in this country, a provision was introduced to prevent the feelings of the friends and relations of the deceased, from being outraged; and surely the same right which a man had, that his father's body should not be treated with indignity for the sake of science, he also had, that his religious feelings towards his Maker should not be outraged under the pretence of freely discussing the principles of religion. There appeared to him to be no difficulty in the case. If that which he had just stated was the rule, he could not see why a Jew, who was appointed to the Bench, could not conscientiously administer that rule. It was a rule which was as applicable to any false, but tolerated religion as it was to the true religion itself. If, for instance, at Malta, which was now subject to us, the practice were renewed of burning the Pope in effigy, on the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's accession to the Throne; or, if at Madras or Calcutta any gross insult were offered to the religion of the natives, he should certainly, were he a Magistrate in any of those places, feel no difficulty in interfering, and punishing the offenders. He would suppress such offences against the inhabitants. And, on the same principle, he was convinced that no conscientious Jew on the Bench would say that a gross outrage to the religion of this country deserved not punishment. But no charge could be brought against the Jews of evincing any disposition to attack the Christian religion, or to offend its professors. It was true that one imputation of such a nature had lately been thrown out in that House, but it was entirely unfounded. He had seen a great deal of the worship of the Jews, and he had heard a great deal upon the subject from others; and, from all that he had seen, and all that he had heard, he was able to say, without the slightest fear of contradiction, that there was no part of the Jewish worship, which was not only not insulting to Christians, but in which Christians might not, without the least difficulty. 233 join. There was nothing in the religious doctrines of the Jews which was calculated to render them either bad subjects or bad neighbours. Their Decalogue was the same as ours—the foundation of all their moral law was the same as ours. It had been contended by his hon. friend (the member for the University of Oxford), that the existence of the Prophecies, which doomed the Jews to be miserable wanderers over the face of the earth, was an argument against the adoption of the measure proposed by his right hon. and learned friend. He felt himself capable of proving, to absolute demonstration, that nothing could be more futile than such a supposition. If those Prophecies meant that the Jews should never, while as a nation they continued to wander over the face of the earth, be placed on perfect equality in civil rights with the people among whom they might happen to live, those Prophecies were false. For it was a fact, that throughout the United States of America Jews enjoyed an equal participation of civil rights with the Americans themselves ; and it was clear, therefore, either that the Prophecies were demonstrably false, or that those who put the construction on them to which he had just alluded utterly misapprehended their true character. As to the ultimate return to Jerusalem anticipated by the Jews, it was scarcely necessary for him to observe, that remote events, and especially events which were to occur at an indefinite time, seldom possessed much influence over the conduct of men. If distant and contingent events possessed any powerful influence, they should possess it over Christians as well as over Jews; for Christians all expected great changes; none supposed that the present state of things would last for ever; and there was one large class which confidently anticipated the near approach of the Millenium. There was one important point in which the Jews had a great advantage over the professors of any other religion which we believe to be false. There was not the slightest chance that their doctrines would spread. It was notorious that the Jews did not wish to make proselytes—nay, they almost rejected them, and seemed to think it culpable presumption in any one who did not belong to their race, to aspire to belong to their religion. Under these circumstances, it was not at all extraordinary that the conversions from Christianity to Judaism was at least as rare an occurrence as a total eclipse of the Sun 234 He had never heard but of one such conversion, and that was a very remarka-able case. He alluded to the instance of Lord George Gordon. Now, if there was any convert of which a proselytizing sect would have been proud, it was that individual—not only because he was a man of high rank and large property, and a member of the Legislature, but because he had been distinguished by the intolerance and ferocity of the zeal with which he had advocated his own peculiar doctrines of Christianity. But how had Lord George Gordon been treated after his admission by his new friends? He was reluctantly and slowly initiated in all the painful ceremonials of the Jewish religion; but when, on his death-bed, he talked of the rites of burial, according to the Jewish form, he was told that those rites could not be granted to him. That was not a religion likely to make many proselytes; those who professed so much zeal for Christianity might be pleased that such was its character. It should be at least a motive to assent to this measure for the Jews were not likely to increase their numbers by conversions. But the House had been told, that the Jews were an unsocial people—that they would enter into no friendly communications with their neighbours. Thus, that very peculiarity in their character which protected Christianity from the danger of any attempts on their part of making proselytes, was produced against them in another shape as a charge. It was strange to compare the manner in which the question for the Emancipation of the Catholics had been argued with the manner in which the question for the Emancipation of the Jews was now argued. When the Emancipation of the Catholics was opposed, the Catholics were described as restless, insinuating, insatiable; as prepared to take every advantage, and to adopt whatever measures might be calculated to give them an ascendancy. It was stated that, social learned, artful, clever individuals of their body were constantly employed as emissaries for the purpose of corrupting the religious faith of the various countries to which they were sent; that, to carry that great object into effect, they pretended to employ themselves in making astronomical observations for the emperor of China, and in imparting the lights of civilization to the natives of Paraguay; that go where you would you would find Catholic Priests earnestly engaged in attempting the conversion of the members of other 235 religions to their own faith. But now, when the question related to the toleration of a religion, the professors of which never attempted to make proselytes, and were not content with having a separate religion unless they could live in a separate family, that very circumstance was turned against them; they were charged with being unsocial, and on that charge was founded the refusal to admit them to a participation of political power. The fact was, however, that bigotry and intolerance never wanted anus, however much they might want, whenever it was thought desirable, to attack the character of a religious sect. Let it be proposed to tolerate any sect whatever, and to that sect the most dangerous qualities would, be, for the time, attributed. As to the charge of unsociability brought against the Jews, it was true, as it regarded their religion; and that was an additional security to which it might otherwise be supposed the Christian religion would be exposed by the admission of the Jews to civil rights. But that they were unsociable in their political capacity and as neighbours, had not been proved, and without proof was not to be believed. His right hon. and learned friend had produced a great mass of testimony to show that such was not the case; upon which testimony his hon. friend, the member for the University of Oxford, had made no impression whatever. But the charge if true was applicable not to the character of Jews alone, but to the character of all persecuted sects which had existed in various nations. From the reign of Queen Elizabeth down to the Revolution, the Catholics in this country had evinced much greater confidence and attachment in Foreign Princes than in their own. It was a saying of Cromwell's that all Catholics in England were Espagniolised. It might have been said at a subsequent period, when France became the chief Catholic power, that they were Gallicised. In consequence of this constant recurrence to foreign powers, the Catholics had a religious patriotism, which was separate from their national patriotism. It was the same thing with the Calvinists. When the Calvinists in this country were persecuted, they were constantly looking to the Calvinists of France for support. In France, on the other hand, the Huguenots thought the English Protestants much more their countrymen than French Catholics. In this country we had abolished all invidious religious distinctions re- 236 specting Catholics and Calvinists, and the consequence was, that if England were invaded to-morrow, neither Catholic nor Calvinist would trouble his head to consider whether the invaders were the most bigotted Catholics or the most bigotted Calvinists. Why not try the same experiment with the Jews? Why not try the same experiment which had been tried in France and Prussia, and which was now trying in the United States of America? Why not, if the Jews were supposed to be an unsocial and disloyal class of men, convert them by such a humane scheme into a social and loyal class of men? The only other main charge which had been brought against the Jewish character had not been brought by his hon. friend, the member for the University of Oxford, for his hon. friend had too much knowledge and taste to bring such a charge, but it had been brought by others. It had been brought by the hon. member for Oldham, whom he was sorry not to see in his place. It had been stated by that hon. Member, that the Jews were a mean race, that they were a sordid race, that they were a money-getting race, that they were averse to all honourable pursuits, and fit for nothing but those of usury—an occupation to which they sacrificed all patriotic feelings and all social affections. He believed, that this would be found to be another example of that logic of bigotry and intolerance which had been manifested in all ages, and which having in the first instance generated vices, then made those vices a plea for persecution. If England had been to the Jews only half a country, how could we expect from the Jews feelings of more than half patriotism? They had always treated the Jews as foreigners, and they now wondered that the Jews did not feel as natives. They had driven the Jews to live by mean occupations, and they now wondered they did not cultivate honourable toils. They prevented the Jews from possessing an acre of land, and they now complained that the Jews devoted themselves entirely to trade. They debarred the Jews from the pursuits of honourable ambition, and they now reproached them for taking refuge in the employments of avarice. For many ages they had inflicted injustice upon the Jews, and they were then surprised that the Jews had recourse to the artifice and cunning which were the invariable defences of the weak against the overwhelming power of the strong. Those who opposed the emancipation of the Jews were suffi- 237 ciently acquainted with the Jewish History to know that the vices and imperfections now charged against the Jews were not natural to the Jewish character. There was nothing in that character which incapacitated them from discharging the highest duties of citizenship. In the earliest ages of civilization, when all other countries of the earth were still in a state of barbarism—when letters and arts were yet unknown in Athens—when scarcely a but stood on the spot which was afterwards to be Rome, this despised nation had made large conquests, possessed great political power, established numerous manufactures, carried on an extensive commerce, had erected splendid temples and palaces, and boasted of eminent statesmen, warriors, philosophers, historians, and poets. What nation had ever more manfully exerted itself in the cause of civil and religious liberty? What nation in the last agonies of its dissolution, had given greater proofs of what might be accomplished by a brave despair? If', in the course of many ages this despised and ill-treated people might have in some degree degenerated from the qualities of their forefathers—if by having been subjected to humiliation and slavery, they might have contracted some of the vices peculiar to outcasts and slaves, instead of being a subject of reproach to them, was it not rather a subject of shame and remorse to us? Let the House do justice to the Jews. Let them repeal the disabilities under which they laboured—the last relics of intolerance in this country. Let them open to the Jews the doors of that House—let them open to the Jews every career of honourable competition. Until they did that, let no man presume to say, that there was no genius in the countrymen of Isaiah, and no valour in the discendants of the Maccabees. In supporting the proposition of his right hem. and learned friend, he considered himself supporting the true interests of Christianity. He should think that he was offering a gross insult to his religion, if he were to say, that such an aid as intolerance was necessary for its support. Without such aid it had been established, and without such aid he was confident it might be maintained. It had tamed barbarous, and overpowered refined nations. It had triumphed over the graceful mythology of the Greeks, and the rude and bloody rites of Saxon superstition had vanished before it. It had foiled the policy of the Cæsars, it had subdued the barbarous nations of the North. 238 But all these victories had been achieved, not by intolerance, but in spite of intolerant laws; and we learnt from all history that Christianity had every thing to fear from persecution as an ally, and nothing to dread from persecution as a foe. "May the Christian religion (said Mr. Macaulay, ill conclusion) continue for ages to bless this country with its genial influence; strong in its lofty philosophy—strong in its spotless morality—strong in that powerful evidence, to which the most comprehensive minds have surrendered their belief; the last consolation of those who have outlived every earthly hope—the last restraint of those who are above all earthly fear. But, Sir, let us not mistake the character of that divine religion—let us not attempt to fight the battle of truth with the weapons of error, nor endeavour to support by oppression a religion whose noblest distinction is, that it first taught the human race the lesson of universal charity."
§ Mr. Halcomb
felt, that he rose under the greatest disadvantage, after the eloquent address which the House had just heard—an address, however, which abounded with sophistry, even more than with eloquence. The hon. Member challenged any one to show why an arbitrary line should be drawn, and why on one side justice and on the other persecution should be supposed to exist. He (Mr. Halcomb) accepted the challenge. The broad line between that which ought to be considered persecution, and that which ought not to be considered persecution of the professors of Judaism, was bottomed on the principles of common sense and sound justice. The question was, whether there did not exist in the Constitution good reason for preventing the followers of Judaism from a full participation in that Constitution. Now the Constitution declared, that there should be in England an Established Church connected with and supported by the State. Even that principle had, indeed, of late been assailed, and therefore it was high time that the Members of that House should deliberate on the subject and make up their minds whether they would stand by the institutions of their fathers or not. As long, however, as there was that connection, it was their duty rigidly to uphold it, and notwithstanding all the taunts of the hon. Gentleman on those who held opinions different to his own; notwithstanding what he had been pleased to say about the logic of bigotry and intolerance, such was still the Constitution of this country. The union of Church and 239 State did not tend to make the Church political, but to the desirable end of making the State religious. The hon. Member was not entitled to call that persecution which merely prevented men from obtaining advantages the conditions of obtaining which they were not willing to fulfil. A country was entitled to confer political power only on those whom it chose to select for that purpose. Suppose the hon. Member himself, a Protestant, had a wife and children whose property he wished to protect by the appointment of two trustees; and suppose that there were six persons out of whom he might select those trustees—two Protestants, two Catholics, and two Jews. The hon. Member would no doubt choose the two Protestants; but could that justly be called a persecution of the other four? The same argument was applicable to States. There was no abstract right in men to political power ; for political power, for the conduct of affairs could not be vested in the whole of the people; and must, therefore, be intrusted to a select portion of them. Those selected must be qualified in the manner which the Constitution of England had long required. Among those qualifications, was the test of a religious creed; a most wise security, applying, as it did, not to temporalities, but to matters of a spiritual nature. He admitted the Jews were a body against whose moral character nothing could be adduced; that they were good and loyal citizens of the King; but in this most Christian country—Christian at least beyond those walls for whatever might be thought within them, he was convinced that in the community at large, there was a thorough and a general conviction, that the Church and State must stand and fall together, in this yet Christian country,—it was not right that full political privileges should be conceded to the Jews. He gave credit to Ministers for good intentions—for a desire to rule the people under Christian principles; but if they did not avoid the errors they were falling into in matters of religion, and cease to lend a helping hand to the downfall of the Church, they would ere long, and the country would ere long, bitterly rue the improvident spirit which directed their measures.
§ Mr. Poulter
said, that his hon. friend, the member for the University of Oxford, dwelt much, in the course of his address, upon the principle that Christianity was part and parcel of the law of the land. That principle was only laid down in judicial dicta, he believed, as applied to cases 240 of libel, to which it would as completely apply, after the admission of the Jews into this House, as at present. His hon. friend, in answer to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman who introduced the Motion, stated that the allusions to the cases of Joseph and Daniel were not in point, because their promotion was connected with miraculous agency; but that promotion would not have occurred, if the acceptance of service in the courts of foreign princes had been inconsistent with the duties of Israelites. The right hon. Mover alluded to an impression which prevailed in the world, that because the peculiar history and separation of the Jews were justly considered as a dispensation of Providence, it was the duty of mankind to assist such a dispensation. That was a difficult subject to discuss; but they ought to reflect, that although it might please God to turn and apply, in his own mysterious and inscrutable wisdom, the voluntary wickedness and crimes of man to his own purposes; yet such wickedness was not less abominable in his sight. The Jewish nation had already been exposed to the persecutions of the Inquisition, and to the sword of tyrannical and cruel princes. Those crimes had certainly operated to bring about the dispensations of God, but their authors on that account were not the less amenable to his justice. The Almighty had never commanded men to do or omit anything as the means of promoting his hidden counsels; but he had commanded them to exercise universal charity, and upon that command they ought to act, and not presume to do what was uncharitable on the plea of forwarding the secret schemes of Providence. If it were proposed as a problem how to prevent the conversion of the Jews, he should say, reject them from the bosom of civil society, and the enjoyment of civil rights. He could conceive that their admission to the enjoyment of the blessings and benefits of citizens might ultimately lead to their conversion, but could not conceive that persecution should unite them with the rest of mankind. Had not the world learnt, by past experience, that the system of exclusion excited pride, the most stubborn passion of the human mind, which bound the members of every sect together by the most indissoluble bond, and indisposed them even to an examination of any creed inconsistent with their own, far more than the operation of any religious sentiment? The Jews were accused of a want of patriotism, which had been caused by the 241 disabilities to which they had been subjected. It was no peculiarity in them. The history of England proved that all persecuted sects had sought another country. The Protestants of France appealed to the aid of England, as the Catholics did to that of Spain. The spirit of persecution had, indeed, ceased, but the spirit of exclusion produced effects which though very different in degree, partook of the same character. Reason and history sufficiently proved that patriotism was the result of a wise and liberal policy. As regarded the admission of a sect to the enjoyment of the rights and privileges of a state, the most important inquiry that could be made, was into their general, moral, and social character. But this peculiar people were distinguished by their veneration for the domestic and social relations of life. Instances of the violation of the duties of husband and wife—of parent and child—were rare amongst them. Their charitable institutions, their schools of education were very numerous. From drunkenness which, beyond any other vice called for the most anxious and urgent correction of the Legislature, and which was more and more infecting and demoralizing the whole of the lower classes, and had become a great national calamity, they were happily, and beyond others, exempted. No practice was more commonly resorted to as a mode of procuring a momentary alleviation to a degraded and wounded spirit. They had nobly resisted the temptation. That they were habituated to pecuniary avocations, and to the lower descriptions of trade—was not their fault. It would be an additional injury to impute to them that which was the result of the system of exclusion, of which they were the victims. Had they not always been a retiring and a peaceful people? Had they ever been known to be guilty of political crimes, or by word or deed to have aided in any attack either upon the Church or State? Had they shown any backwardness in contributing their share to the taxation of the country? They were capable of being electors—why were they to be the only constituents contumeliously excluded by law from becoming Representatives? They were now admitted to the Bar. Having gone so far in a just and enlightened spirit of concession, why stop short of the full boon of complete emancipation? The hon. member for Oldham had asked whether they were prepared to unchristianize the country—and permit a Jew Judge to try a libel upon the Chris- 242 tian religion? He should like to ask the hon. member for Oldham how long this new passion had glowed in his bosom? A malicious writing published with intent to vilify and bring into disgrace and contempt the Christian religion would be a libel, and an upright Judge of any religious persuasion whatever, might properly try a man for such an offence as that. If all experience showed, that civil distinctions promoted instead of removing religious difference—that tyranny never did, and never could, correct religious errors, but was odious to God as well as man—it might please the great disposer of all things to bring about the consummation of the extraordinary history of the Jewish people by love and charity. He believed without any ill-judged allusions to Scripture, that all true policy was to be found not in the books of men, but in the Word of God. To love one another was one of his chief commandments, and in obedience to that he would remove the disabilities of the Jews.
§ Mr. Hume
could not find, in the speeches of the hon. member for the University of Oxford, and of the hon. member for Dover, any arguments to answer the admirable speech of the hon. member for Leeds; and the proposition that these unjust and injudicious disabilities ought to be removed, was untouched. The lamentations which had been so pathetically uttered by the hon. member for Dover (Mr. Halcomb), seemed as if intended to apply to former Parliaments for repealing the Test and Corporation Acts, and emancipating the Catholics. He considered the Jews of the present day were by no means like those of former ages, and that it was a great mistake to go back at all to those times in legislating upon the present question. The arguments of the hon. member for Oxford on the subjects of the Jews' oath had no weight in his mind—they swore by Jehovah, on the Old Testament, and we, by God, on the Gospels, which was the only difference. It had been said, if this sect were once allowed full political privileges, by what right and on what reason could we refuse them to the Brahmins and Parsees? Nothing would give him greater pleasure than seeing Brahmins and Parsees in that House. He would tell hon. Members from his own experience, that they were as intelligent and valuable a class as any in their own country. He should give the Resolution his most hearty support. He held a letter in his hand, though he would not trouble the House by reading it, from Mr. Quincy Adams, the 243 late President of the United States, stating there were no better citizens than the Jews, and expressing a hope that ere king the whole of Europe would sec the justice and the wisdom of freely conceding to them the fullest political privileges.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
might perhaps save the time of the House by observing, that in the absence of many of those who were opposed to the measure he should not divide on that occasion, and he felt the less inclination to do so on account of the absence of his Majesty's Ministers.
must say one word on an occasion in which his feelings were so warmly interested. He had struggled for religious liberty, not for sectarian advantages, but for the principle that man's conscience should be free. An individual, as he knew, might be equally punished by unjust restrictions and by unmerited stripes. He was delighted that the day of good feeling in these matters had come—that this respectable and ancient nation, which had faithfully preserved a high religious sentiment, was no longer to be estranged from us, and that they could at last see the period when something like justice was granted to all men—when conscience was free, and the country rid of a stain which had so long dishonoured her.
§ Mr. William Roche
Belonging Sir, like my hon. and learned friend, the member for Dublin to a religious persuasion which had been so long so unjustly and injuriously persecuted and degraded as the Roman Catholics were—injuriously—not alone as regards their own feelings and interests, but the interests of the community at large; for it is impossible that 6,000,000 or 7,000,000 of the people can be oppressed and their energies paralyzed without inflicting deep injury on the whole community. I feel myself bound alike by a conviction of its intrinsic justice and utility, as by a disposition to mete out an equal measure of liberality to all sects, to support the Resolution before the House. Sir, we all recollect that the same stale arguments which used to be directed in days not long gone by against granting further political privileges to the Catholics are, amongst others, revived on the present occasion, and will ever be revived so long as any vestige of exclusion is allowed to remain. If, Sir, the Jews have proved themselves good subjects in this country, and in all other countries where they have been domesticated and admitted to political freedom, that is all we have a right to look to, leaving to them as 244 to every other sect, perfect liberty of conscience in their spiritual concerns. Moreover, Sir, I have such high opinions of the superiority of the Christian Religion, that I am convinced that the more intimately we associate with the Jews, the more they will discover and appreciate that superiority and abate their prejudices; and the more of justice and equality we dispense to them, the more they will see that we practise and carry into effect that admirable and characteristic maxim of Christianity of doing by others as we would wish them to do by us. Sir, whatever destiny the Almighty may have in view for the Jewish people, he can carry into effect without our vain co-operations, and we should therefore, leave that matter to His all sufficient Providence. Sir, it is not by calling in the aid of political exclusion or civil disabilities that we shall advance the progress or raise the character of the Christian Religion; but by acting in consistency with its charitable and benignant precepts, thereby exhibiting it in its naturally attractive light and heavenly origin. Sir, have any of those evil forebodings of which we have heard on every relaxation of restraining laws, been realized? On the contrary, is not the whole of society becoming every day more harmonised and more happy by the relaxation? Sir, instead of proceeding in the wake of other nations in this course of social improvement we ought to have led the way, but it is better late than never. With regard to the interests of the Constitution, I entertain the same views on this subject as I do in regard to our religion—namely, that the more just and comprehensive we make it, the more we engage the feelings of all to admire and support it. Finding the House, Sir, so desirous of closing the debate, I shall not longer occupy its time, especially as the feeling in favour of the proposition is so predominant.
Resolution read, and the Question put. The "Ayes" resounded through the House; the "Noes" were few.
Resolution agreed to—Report ordered to be presented to the House—House resumed.