§ Lord Althorp
moved the Order of the day for the third reading of the Church Temporalities' (Ireland) Bill.
§ The Bill was read a third time.
rose to move the addition of a clause, by way of rider; the object of which was to reduce the incomes of all the Irish Bishops to 3,000l. per annum, and of the Archbishops to 4,500l. He complained that, in the case of the Archbishopric of Armagh, which it was proposed to reduce from 14,000l. to 10,000l. a-year, the Government had not taken into consideration the probable increase of income which was stated by a return before the House, to amount to 6,000l. per annum. Thus, instead of reducing the income of the future Archbishops of Armagh to 10,000l. a-year, they would increase it to 16,000l. In two other instances, the probable increase of income amounted to 700l. The bishoprics which were to remain, would also have a great increase of patronage. To the fifty-one livings in the gift of the Archbishop of Armagh would be added the thirty-six livings in the gift of the Bishop of Clogher, and so with others. Thus, the scheme would only diminish the income of one Bishop (Derry), whilst it would add to the patronage of the whole. He saw no reason why the Bishops should receive such large incomes; and he considered it highly objectionable that so great an inequality in the incomes of the different bishoprics should continue to exist. He proposed to put them all on the same footing as was the case with the Judges, and in order to give the House the opportunity of deciding this principle, together with that of the reduction of Bishops' incomes.
§ The Clause read a first time.
§ On the Motion that it be read a second time,
Mr. Secretary Stanley
said, that with regard to the Archbishopric of Armagh, that diocese was peculiarly situated. There was an outstanding debt for repairs, &c. on that see, which debt was from time to time increased, and, consequently, a large annual 258 Payment was required from the Archbishops. The nett produce of the sec was only 14,000l. a-year, and the prospective increase would not come into possession till all the incumbrances were paid off. When that time arrived, it would be quite competent to Parliament to deal with it, and carry into effect the example now set. With regard to the patronage, he thought it better to bestow it on the Bishops, who would have increased labour and responsibility, than on the Commissioners or the Crown, whose motives would certainly be suspected and maligned. The rider was altogether inconsistent with the principles of the Bill, and the subject of it had already been discussed and negatived. Even were they to agree to the Motion, it would be fallacious to imagine that the surplus would go to the public Treasury, for the Bishops, whose income was made up from tines, lees, and rents, would have no interest in demanding more from their tenants than the amount of their own incomes. They would not put themselves in bad odour with their tenants for the sake of raising money for the public Treasury, and they would be foolish if they did so. He, therefore, objected to the Motion.
§ Mr. Andrew Johnston
said, he was determined to move the previous question. He had always understood that the hon. member for Tipperary had, in common with the other Roman Catholic Members of that House, pledged himself, by his oath, not to interfere with matters affecting the stability of the Protestant Church. He was a Protestant Member of that House, and he conceived that no Roman. Catholic ought to interfere in the discussion of any question affecting the interests of the Protest-ant Church; or take any steps calculated to weaken that establishment, or in any way affect the Protestant religion. He was aware that the hon. and learned member for Dublin had, on former occasions, endeavoured to overwhelm him with argument, but he did not think the hon. Member was successful. He knew that the Council of Constance and the Council of Lateran had decreed certain regulations with respect to the Catholic doctrines. He would quote the opinions of Mr. Wilmot Horton, who stated, that though an advocate for the Catholic claims, he thought they ought not to vote upon questions affecting the Protestant Church. The hon. and learned Member (Mr. O'Connell) had alluded lo him in a manner, which, if it had not been for the declaration of the hon. and learned 259 Member against a certain usage which had long prevailed in society, and if it had not been for those principles of religion to which be (Mr. Johnston) meant ever to adhere, might have led to results very different from those of calm discussion. At the same time that he admitted the propriety of the hon. and learned Member's conduct in refusing to engage in personal contests, he thought it was the hon. and learned Member's duty, under such circumstances, to avoid even the appearance of offence to any party whatever.
said, he should speak with the greatest calmness, on the subject not withstanding the charges brought against him by the hon. Member. The hon. Member took credit to himself for being perfectly polite. Some of his language did not precisely justify the hon. Member in his assumption; but, however, it was certain, that the hon. Member was a meek and forgiving Christian, for he protested to Heaven that he was so, and he was right, according to his own account, for those whom he chose to persecute were the enemies of the Lord, and no Christians. He was prepared to cut the throats of the unbelievers, and to tell them afterwards, that he did so in mercy to the survivors. The hon. Member had read them a homily, and had argued that this measure was brought forward of malice prepense to the Church. He had also asserted, that the oath taken by Roman Catholic Members of Parliament ought to prevent them from voting upon the subject; but was there any inspiration in a certain number of pounds, shillings, and pence? He (Mr. O'Connell) bad heard, before, that godliness was great gain, but he had never before beard that great; gain was godliness. He was not aware of the tertium quid which could reconcile the difference between the parties. The hon. Member would do well to take care of his own conscience, and not mind the conscience of others. With respect to the theological principles of hon. Members, he was of opinion, that they ought not to be attacked, unless the aggressor knew something about them. The hon. Member fancied, that the decisions of a council were binding upon a Roman Catholic in temporal matters. He had frequently shown the fallacy of that supposition of the hon. Member, and this was the last time that He should fake the trouble of replying to such arguments. With respect to the oath which had been taken by Roman Catholic Member, he bad stated the grounds upon which he had 260 taken that oath. He would not deny, that a foreign prelate had spiritual jurisdiction over him and twenty-five Members of that House.
§ Sir Robert Peel
wished to express Ids opinion, that the right hon. Gentleman deserved credit for not having advised the Crown to assume the whole patronage of the Church. He was of opinion, that no better system could be devised than that which placed the responsibility of making a proper election of clergymen upon twenty-two individuals, in every way qualified to carry into effect the intentions of the Legislature. At the same time, he objected to the power which the Bishops' tenants were to possess, of changing the leases by which they now held land into perpetuities. Some of the Bishops had let their lands for a mere trifle, and in such cases, for a mere trifle, the tenant would, by this Bill, acquire the fee-simple of the property. He would suggest, that they should guard against such cases.
§ Motion negatived.
then rose to move the introduction in the preamble of the Bill of a recital, declaratory of the right of the Legislature to make such appropriation of the property of the Church as should most conduce to public utility. He made this Motion in consequence of the unanticipated, unfortunately, be might add, discreditable, withdrawal of the 147th clause of the Bill; that clause contained a principle, which he sought to restore, and without which he was convinced, that the measure would be unavailing. It was true, that Church-cess was abolished, but the Irish people would look, not to what was conceded, but to what was withheld—to what was omitted, not to what was retained—would compare the original tender with the ultimate fulfilment, and contrast the magnitude of the promise with the diminutiveness into which the performance had lamely and impotently dwindled. Let it also be borne in mind, that, while this Bill operated as a release to the people, it worked as a confirmation to the Church. It released the people from the payment of a few thousands annually, and confirmed the clergy in their doubtful title to upwards of a million of pounds. It actually made an addition to their wealth, by applying the perpetuity fund to the in-crease of livings. A new mine was opened, and its products were to be applied to the enrichment of the tabernacle. As 261 the Bill stood, it did not meet the great and paramount grievance; and, in order to render it productive of good, he should move the introduction of a recital, which would countervail the pernicious inferences in principle, which would he drawn from the Bill. It would counteract the bad results which would arise from the subtraction from the Bill of its vital and essential parts. Although he had proposed the assertion of an abstract principle, he did not think it necessary to enter into any abstract discussion, because he did not address himself so much to those who did not coincide with him on the speculative question, as to those who agreed with him in its truth, but doubted the propriety of giving it, at this juncture, a legislative expression. He should not, therefore, take the course which he had pursued on former occasions, when he had urged the distinction between corporate and private property, and had relied on the uniform example of all Protestant and Catholic Europe—the precedents to be found in our own history, in that of Ireland, and of Scotland—the policy adopted in our Transatlantic possessions, where the Catholic Church had been established by treaty, but where Protestant property was exempt from ecclesiastical taxation, and thus the Catholic establishment had been deprived of a large portion of its revenues. Neither did he conceive it judicious to press, on this occasion, the recent precedent afforded in the great diocese of Durham, where a portion of the property of the Church of England had been diverted from its former purposes to pursuits entirely unconnected with religion; these arguments would be applicable, if he sought to make converts to his opinions; but he should not so much endeavour to produce a change of sentiment, as of conduct. He should not call on those who considered Church property to be sacred, to enter into a sacrilegious confederacy to rifle the sanctuary. It was not to the members for the University of Oxford, who were the sustainment of the Church, and well deserved to be its ornaments—it was neither on the absolute professors of unmodified Toryism, nor on those amphibious statesmen, who were radical in polities, and conservatives in religion, that he should presume to call;—he would appeal to those who had repeatedly declared, that the possessions of the Church were public property, that 262 its opulence ought to be reduced, and appropriated in the manner most conducive to the national good;—and, above all, he would invoke the support of those who had voted for an inquiry, whether the possessions of the Established Church of Ireland were not more than commensurate to the duties to be performed by its ministers, upon an occasion rendered memorable by many striking incidents, and which was well remembered by the people of Ireland, however some of the individuals who took an active part in that transaction might require to have it recalled to their recollection. He had frequently alluded to it, but not when it was proposed to reduce to practice the principles professed in that conspicuous instance of the public virtue of the former Opposition. He should, therefore, very briefly advert to it, because the opinions expressed in their votes by so many of the auxiliaries of the present Cabinet were at all times, and especially at this moment, of the most signal consequence. On the 6th of May, 1824, the member for Middlesex moved this Resolution: 'That it is expedient to inquire, whether the present Church Establishment of Ireland be not more than commensurate to the services to be performed, both as regards the number of persons employed, and the incomes they receive.'* The present Colonial Secretary resisted that Motion with a farvour and power from which it was not difficult to auspicate his future influence over the debates of that House. He maintained, that Church property was as inviolable as private property—as property, landed, funded, or commercial. He asserted, that the whole income of the Establishment did not exceed 327,000l. a year † and, after expatiating on the incalculable advantages accruing to Ireland from her Establishment, he sat down amidst the acclamations of those who saw in him a man of great rank and talents, and animated by a disinterested and romantic enthusiasm in the cause of constituted religion. To that speech the hon. Baronet, the member for Westminster, replied, and not only denied the positions of the Colonial Secretary, but exclaimed: 'With regard to the Church of Ireland, the single question is, does that Church do good or evil? Is Protestant ascendancy* Hansard (new series), Vol. xi. p. 559.† Ibid. p. 564263 (for that is what is meant by preserving the Church) of so much benefit, that it must, at all hazards, be preserved; or is it not a curse to the people of Ireland?'* The division that ensued is preserved in Hansard—the names are given of those who voted in favour of the Resolution, in other words, in support of the principle which I seek to insert in the preamble; and, among them, the following occur:—R. Bernal, H. Brougham, Thomas Den-man, Viscount Ebrington, Edward Ellice, Robert Gordon, J. C. Hobhouse, T. F. Kennedy, G, Lamb, W. L. Maberly, Lord J. Russell, and (an authority on all questions where the rights of property are concerned) J. Scarlett. It would be difficult to assemble names of more weight or character than these; and while their sentiments, thus recorded in a vote, which has become a part of the history of this great question, must have great influence over others, it is not unmeet to inquire why it was appropriate to express those opinions then, if it be inexpedient at this moment. It will, of course, be urged, that this Motion is inapposite, and that the time is infelicitously chosen to call, cither on the members of the Cabinet, or those who are in its purlieus, to prove the faith that is in them. It would be difficult, however, to suggest any very sound reason for such boldness then, and so much caution now. Not only all reserve was thrown off in the oratory of the great leaders of Opposition, but in their votes a great principle of legislation was embodied; and surely if it was wise to set them forth in a Resolution, which could only be prospective, it is much more incumbent on the professors of these opinions, to act on them, and make them the foundation of their proceedings in this measure of ecclesiastical reform. He entertained a confidence in the support of many of the distinguished individuals who had taken a part so prominent on that occasion; and was sure that they would not prove themselves mere sentimentalists in politics, who, like sentimentalists in religion, substitute the protestation for the performance; and consider that the warm profession supersedes the practice of public virtue. Having touched on the signal precedent supplied by the eminent individuals to whom he had just alluded, he should proceed to another example, to* Hansard (new series) xi, p. 578.264 which he had not on former occasions referred the House, but which was perhaps more remarkable than even the vote which he had just cited. On the 14th day of June, 1825, the member for Middlesex, who was not to be deterred from his purpose, brought another and a still stronger resolution forward. That Resolution had afforded him the groundwork of the preamble which he proposed; and lest there be any person disposed to start on hearing it, he begged to mention, that it had received the coincidence of the present keeper of his Majesty's conscience. The member for Middlesex moved, that 'the property in the possession of the Established Church in Ireland is public property, under the control of the Legislature, and applicable to such purposes as in its wisdom, it may deem beneficial to the best interests of religion, and of the community at large; due regard being had to the rights of every person in the actual enjoyment of any part of that property.'* This was certainly a strong Resolution. The present Colonial Secretary had not at the time an opportunity of inveighing against it, for he was in Canada, where he might have observed the justice and soundness of the principle, on which Protestants are exempted from the payment of tithes to the established Roman Catholic Church. Mr. Canning replied to the member for Middlesex, as did the member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel); but who replied to them, and took them somewhat rigorously to task for the doctrines which they had laid down respecting the intangible character of ecclesiastical property? It had been recently rumoured that the Lord Chancellor professed himself to be the champion of the Established Church of Ireland. If he was so, it would be matter of curiosity to listen to the following extracts. 'He contended that both the mode of establishing Church property and the mode of dealing with it, were very different both in argument and practice, from the mode of establishing and dealing with private property. He would first say, that the property of the Church must be regarded, in the strict sense of the word, as public property, if the Church were considered, not as individuals only, but as a large body of 2,000 persons and upwards, having duties depending on their situations. '* There was no sort of analogy between* Hansard, (new series) xiii. p. 115 7265 Church properly and private property, which should lead to the conclusion, that the former should lead to the same inviolability as the latter. The Church received its property for the performance of certain services, but private property was held unconditionally. As well might the pay of the army, as the property of the Church, be called inviolable or private property, * The property of the Church was conferred by the State, for the performance of certain services, and the Legislature might deal with it, when it was necessary, for the benefit both of the Church and the State.'* This was the language of Henry Brougham, between whom and Lord Brougham and Vaux, an honourable identity, he felt convinced, was preserved. Whoever accounted these sentiments as the mere fugitive effusion of the dissenting rhetoric of the opposition bench, did that illustrious man a great injustice, and imputed to him an indifference to his duty, and recklessness of his renown, of which he was incapable. It was sunder the auspices of such great authority he proposed the insertion of the recital of which he had given notice, in the preamble of this Bill: he should not, indeed, make it quite so strong, but accommodate it to the caution of those, who, however zealous for the interests of Ireland, were disposed to tread with timid steps; and accordingly he should name the recital at the commencement of the Bill, thus: that beginning with the word "whereas," there be inserted the following words, 'Whereas the property in the possession of the Established Church in Ireland is public property, under the control of the Legislature; and after making a due provision for the maintenance of religion, the surplus of said property is applicable to such purposes as the Legislature in its wisdom may deem most beneficial to the community at large.' This was the preamble which appeared to him calculated to render the Bill of substantial usefulness to the country, by laying down the true principle of legislation; and for that preamble, as he had the warrant of Whig authority out of office, he should prove that he had the same sustainment, in the conduct pursued by the most distinguished members of the Whig school, since they had had a golden opportunity of realizing their aspirations for the good of Ireland. He had quoted the sentiments of the second* Hansard, (new series) xiii, pp. 1161–1163.266 person in his Majesty's Councils. He should proceed to cite the language of a Nobleman not in office, but who had, from his being above the approaches of an injurious conjecture, a more than ministerial influence over the independent portion of the Members of the House. The noble Lord, the member for Devonshire, (Lord Ebrington) who was the standard-bearer of a great party, and stood forward as its representative in moments of peculiar crisis, had at the close of the last Parliament expressed himself in a very unqualified manner in reference to the establishment: at that period the celebrated prospectus for settling the tithe question, of which the issue had not corresponded to their benevolent designs, was brought forward. The Irish Members exclaimed against the propositions then suggested, and called for a thorough reform, founded on the great principle of new appropriation. That was the effect of the Resolutions moved by the member for Wicklow. The representatives of the great body of the people, insisted that nothing short of an announcement of the principle, would produce any benefit. In that debate, the noble Lord, the member for Devonshire (Lord Ebrington), rose in his place, and said, that until a reformed House of Commons should have assembled, a Reform of the Church would be premature; but he pledged himself, in case the Cabinet did not propose a substantial Reform, he would himself come forward, and originate the measure. What sort of Reform had the noble Lord in his contemplation? Was it a Reform, by which, in place of diminishing, the Legislature should augment the opulence of the Church? Was it a Reform, by which the leases of Bishops should be made perpetual, and the fund erected by those perpetuities (the produce of this new expedient) should be distributed among the Churchmen still? The noble Lord had supplied an answer worthy of his understanding, and of his integrity; for he declared, that he considered the wealth of the Church as enormous, and that the public exigency required that it should be reduced. The following were his words:—'He was most anxious to see a thorough Reform made in the Church Establishment of Ireland, for he considered such a Reform to be wanted, and he looked upon a Church Establishment as an institution erected for the benefit of the State, and therefore liable to the regulation of Parliament, He 267 should most cordially support, and, if it were not undertaken by other parties, he would pledge himself, in the ensuing Parliament, if he were a Member, to bring forward, a Motion on the subject. He thought, that a Reform in the Church Establishment of Ireland was absolutely necessary to satisfy the people of that country. He did not, and could not, recognize the right of the Irish Church, to its present enormous revenues.'* These words were the exact ones, contained in Hansard—they were the words uttered by the noble Lord, and which would be recollected by every man who heard them. What was their meaning? What was the purpose of the noble Lord? Had he a new distribution merely in his mind? Did he contemplate the sale of the episcopal reversions in order to swell the opulence of the Establishment? What did he mean by saying, that the wealth of Churchmen was enormous? Did the Bill as it stood, touch the point of amelioration which the noble Lord had intimated? The noble Lord had now an opportunity of correcting the imperfections of this measure, and by expressing in the preamble the principle which the noble Lord had formerly laid down, preserve his consistency, and secure the gratitude of Ireland. Unless they adopted his Amendment, the Bill would deceive all the hopes of the people. It merely destroyed an impost of 60,000l. a-year, but it secured in perpetuity the enormous property of the Church. How, said Mr. Shiel, does it fulfil the promises and pledges of the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer? What did the noble Lord promise? How did he pass the Coercion Bill? What was the appeal he made to the Irish Members? He proposed a measure to them from which they shrunk. The noble Lord proposed his Coercion Bill. The most sacred privileges by which British citizenship is characterized are to be at the discretion of the soldiery, the ordinary tribunals may be superseded, and the trial by jury is to give way to the judicature of the camp. Their constitutional instincts take fright. The noble Lord's supporters recoil from the infliction, almost as we do from the endurance of despotism, and they think it as dishonourable to play the part of the tyrant, as of the slave. The Minister re-assures them. He tells them, that the heart of the Cabinet beats with* Hansard's (third series) xiv, p, 408.268 solicitude for Ireland, and, to cheer his followers on their way, points to the glittering spires of the Establishment, to which, under his guidance, through a difficult and dreary path, they are to make their way. The Irish Church Bill is announced, the reversion of the Bishops leases is to be taken from the hierarchy, and perpetuities are to be created, the produce of which is to be applied to such purposes as the Parliament shall determine. It was at once perceived, that here a great principle was contained; the House hailed the Bill, and even the hon. and learned member for Dublin (Mr. O'Connell), in a burst of unpremeditated gratitude, gave the measure a warm and cordial welcome. The hon. Member little thought (who could have foreseen?) what was to come to pass. "The Bill is read a first and second time, and goes through various stages in the Committee. Pending its progress, the great Captain thinks the time arrived for striking a blow. Windsor Castle is to be taken by assault; and my Lords, the Bishops, lead the forlorn hope. But the fortress is impregnable, a repulse is sustained, and all seems safe and well again. In this juncture, when the Minister seemed equally confirmed in the affections of the people, and the confidence of the Sovereign, the Secretary for the Colonies (it was to him that the task was assigned) comes down to this House, and astounds all parties, and dismays the auxiliaries of the Ministry, by an announcement, to which the annals of vacillation cannot afford a parallel. Like this there never yet was any thing; promise is heaped on promise, protestation upon protestation. When the Tithe Bill is passed, the Irish Church Bill is held out; when the Coercive Bill is passed, the Irish Church Bill is held out again. Men are persuaded to overcome their feelings, violate their principles, and contradict the tenor of their entire lives on the faith of this measure; and then, in an instant, without warning, without a previous hint, without the smallest intimation, the clause that contained all that was dear and precious to Ireland, all that was worth a jot, is relinquished. The life, heart, and soul, all that gave the measure its vitality and spirit, is abandoned; the pith, substance, the marrow and essence of the Bill is plucked out of it, and the husk, the rind, the void and valueless shell, the shrivelled and empty skin is left behind; and, as if this were not enough—as if it 269 were needful to make to injury the super-addition of affront, as if the understandings of Irishmen must needs be offended, while their rights are violated—they are told, that there has been no material change." No change! Was the principle of the Bill, then, nothing? Was it nothing here, and everything elsewhere? To the plebeians was it of no account, and to the great patricians was it all in all? The Lords would have rejected the Bill. Let them; better that they should undertake that office, than that the Commons should save them the odious task, and relieve them from tile responsibility, by leaving ourselves to select as alternatives the most deplorable pusillanimity, or the most lamentable tergiversation. "The object of the proposition which I submit to the House is, to reinstate the principle of the Bill, by the recital of that truth, out of which all legislation ought to grow, or it would be fertile in evil, and barren of all good. To the operation of this principle there can be but three objections: the first which I anticipate is the dissent in another place. But surely the whisper of a faction' is not turned to thunder for the Ministerial car. Let the dread of a dissent be once infused into our councils, and it would be better to repeal the Reform Act, and to restore the privilege of voting by proxy in this House. Let this fear be made the test of our legislation, and to the dignity and independence of the House there is an end. The Commons of England not only are not raised to their just position, but are sunk far below the level of constitutional equality. The Cabinet becomes tenant-at-will to the Whig Chief Baron, or rather to the Chief Baron of the Whigs. The second objection is, that this recital is inappropriate. 'Why', it will be said, declare the alienability, when yon have not got the materials for alienation?' Because the alienability leads to the alienation; the materials for the latter are at hand. Declare a great principle and it will be speedily applied. It is said, there may be no surplus; yes—but there may be one; and the Legislature should legislate for the event of which they have prepared the likelihood. It will be said, 'You should not recognize one principle or the other.' But look into the Bill as it stands; the principle of inalienability is implied, other ecclesiastical purposes' is no insignificant phrase. That purpose which is 270 expressed, supersedes every other.—Expressum facit cessare tacitum. The inference to be drawn from this Bill is, that Church property is intangible. That baneful conclusion ought to be rebutted; and the antidote is to be found in the preamble. But this, it will be lastly urged, is not the time. Not the time! When is it to arrive? Before the Reformed Parliament it was not the time until the Reformed Parliament; here is the Reformed Parliament, and the time has not yet come. When will it? When the Whigs an; in opposition? What! If we are to wait until their official convenience tallies with the rights of Ireland, we shall have to wait long indeed, or are we to abide until the Secretary for the Colonies shall change his mind? We who know Ireland long, and ought to know Ireland well, tell you, that this measure will be, without the recognition of this principle, utterly unproductive of the slightest good. It will be considered as an evasion, as a deception amounting almost to an imposture, a subterfuge through which men are to be enabled, to effect, from reiterated pledges, an ignominious escape. Without the recognition of this principle, the Bill will be deemed a variation of abuses, instead of a removal—an application to the Church of the principles which Toryism would have applied to the state, as a substitution for the East Retfords, the Bassetlaws, of the church—Will no experience teach you? Will you not learn from your experiments in national calamity? Until you adapt the institutions of the country to the character, habits, and feelings of the people, all your measures must utterly fail. Look back, not to any distant period, not to that long succession of evils which has followed the Church, and which has left such marks of calamity behind—but to your own acts, if you cannot derive instruction from the mistakes of others, be at least forewarned by your own. What has been the result of that part of your new ecclesiastical code in Ireland, which yon have already applied? We told you that new distraction—that transfer of odium from the clergy to the Government—that new antipathies and rancours—would flow out of your proceedings. This was the prophecy. How has it been fulfilled? At the last election your anti-Irish legislation produced a burst of anti-English emotion. Then came forth the Attorney General with his new ecclesiastical powers, 271 and then a scene of litigation unexampled in our public tribunals. Of processes, thousands and tens of thousands were issued for the smallest sums into which our money is divisible; decrees for pence were executed with sabres, the soldiery of England were degraded into Sheriffs-officers, and the Commander of the Forces sunk into a Chief Bailiff for the Church. The shame of the army, the oppression and the indignation of the people, excesses the most scandalous, attended with the effusion of human blood—these were the consequences of your measures. You saw, you felt it, and, pressed by the evidence, which it was impossible for you to resist, from the proceedings into which you had rashly rushed, you were at last compelled, on your own confession, in-gloriously to retreat. We were right then; are we wrong now? You are now proceeding to a second experiment, and sustained by the unfortunate realization of our forebodings. Pointing to the past with one hand, and to the future with the other, we tell you, that this Bill will equally prove a failure; and unless you recognise the great principle of appropriation, will be rendered abortive by the repudiation of the Irish people. If you desire to lay the ground work of peace in Ireland, lay the ground-work of future wise ecclesiastical legislation. This preamble is such a measure; adopt it, and it will accomplish as much as a whole code without it. Let it not be said, that this proposition is a mere abstraction. Its fiscal effects may be postponed, but its moral and political results will be immediate. You will lay the groundwork of peace, by creating confidence, and redeeming that debt of honour which every sentiment of justice, and every generous emotion, concur in calling on you to discharge to the Irish people." The hon. Member moved the following Recital, "Whereas the possessions now in the hands of the Irish Church are public property applicable to such purposes as the Legislature shall deem most beneficial to the interests of religion and of the community at large; regard being had to the rights of the persons in whom such possessions are now actually vested."
§ Mr. Hume
rose to second what was formerly his own Motion, and he did so with regret that those principles had been so long unattended to by those who were pledged to their maintenance. He regretted, 272 also, that those who, when not in power, washed thus to act, now that they were in office, had not the power to fulfil their wishes. There might be an objection technically to the preamble to a bill which did not contain one clause in conformity with it, and he, therefore, doubted how far the House would be right in affirming a principle which they had abandoned. As the hon. member for Tipperary had appealed to him (Mr. Hume) upon this point, he would say, that every proceeding which had taken place from the day of his motion to the present, had con-firmed what he then felt, for he well recollected that the present Lord Chancellor of Ireland, the then Secretary for that country, and the present Secretary for the Colonies, had attacked him as one guilty of highway robbery and spoliation. He had, however, hoped, that in the changes to be looked for when the feelings of the people were aroused, some beneficial alteration would take place; at all events he was sure it would be impossible to tide over the abuses of the Church, and he, therefore, hoped that this Bill would fail, as it was impossible it could do any good. He did not believe that those who were now in office could have changed their opinions; but they were truckling to influence which they ought to spurn, and suffering themselves to be guided by the opinions of those who, when the opportunity arrived, would treat them as they deserved. Backed as the present Ministers had been by the people, it was their business to maintain those principles, the declaration of which had brought them back to office. He regretted to be obliged to speak of the Gentlemen opposite as his duty compelled him. He had not intended to make any observations upon this stage of the Bill; but after it should have passed to enter his protest against it, as having a tendency directly the reverse of that which the noble Lord professed, by adding to the property of the Church that which, according to the statements of the noble Lord and the right hon. Secretary, it had no right to enjoy. The noble Lord had certainly done his best to convert a life interest into a perpetuity, and to add so much to the already overgrown establishment of the Church. If the proposition of his hon. friend were agreed to, it would undoubtedly lessen his objections to the measure. Until the noble Lord chose to try back and show that manly conduct which the House had a right to 273 expect from him and his colleagues in office, the Ministers would give no satisfaction to the people. From others they had nothing to expect; but certainly those others had been consistent, as they never held out any expectation. He would also say, that if we were to have Whigs in office who were to be governed by Tories, he would rather be governed by the Tories in the first instance. He did not like delegated power, and if the right hon. Gentlemen opposite were afraid of anything elsewhere, he knew well that nothing would pass save what fell in with the opinion of the present opposition; and this being so, the country would be placed in a most unpleasant predicament. He was sure now, that the people were greatly dissatisfied. The noble Lord (Lord Althorp) had said that neither he nor any Member of the Ministry wished to remain in power unless they were backed by the people. But would they be, or were they, backed by the people now? No—nor would they be supported, except by the fear of something worse. Were there no grounds for Ministers to be suspicious when they found that every measure obnoxious to the people was supported by those who wished to turn them out?
§ Lord Althorp
said, that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shiel) had commenced his speech by quoting the speeches of others. He knew this was a fashionable mode of debate, but he was sure, that those who debated thus ought to take good care that an answer from some of their own displays might not be found for them. He spoke impartially on this point, for the hon. Gentleman could never quote any speech of his (Lord Althorp's); and, at all events, the utmost that could result from such a practice was an injury to the mere party concerned. If the hon. Gentleman quoted a good argument, that would be very well; but a speech quoted was not of value. ["As an authority," from Mr. Shiel.] If it were quoted as an authority, it could not be very good after the inconsistency of the speaker was proved. But he denied, that any inconsistency had been proved by the hon. Gentleman, and he denied that any of his hon. friends who had been quoted had changed any one of the principles they started with on this Bill. The hon. Gentleman had referred to the speech which he (Lord Althorp) had made on bringing in the Coercion Bill; but on that occasion he said that his Majesty's Government, in the Bill to be brought in, desired not to 274 pledge themselves to any abstract question, and he said so because it was no secret, that on this abstract question his Majesty's Ministers differed from each other, and that they thought they could nevertheless on this measure go on together. The hon. Gentleman had observed that when he (Lord Althorp) mentioned the principle of the 147th Clause, it was received with great cheering. He did not at all recollect this, but he did recollect that certain parts of the Bill were warmly received. One was the reduction of the number of the Bishops, another was the abolition of the Vestry-cess, and a third was the announcement, that a power of suspension was to be given with regard to livings where duty had not been done for a considerable time; but that Clause 147 was particularly cheered he did not recollect. It was true that the whole plan was received with approbation by the House, and that he had expressed himself gratified at the reception the plan met with. But at present it was said, that clause 147 was the whole Bill, and that the whole principle was in that clause. He never was so surprised as at hearing this at a time when he was unable to attend, and at the importance attached to it, because during the whole discussion on the Bill Gentlemen both on that and the other side had spoken, and he had never heard any of them say, that the Bill would be the worse for leaving it out. The hon. member for Middlesex had expressed his surprise at this; but he (Lord Althorp) would repeat, that he had never considered this as one of the most important clauses of this measure. The hon. Member also said, that if the House was so to conduct itself that both the Government and the House should abandon their opinions because they apprehended collision with the other House, nothing could be more fatal. He fully agreed in that, and he was as prepared as any one in the House to meet the result of any such collision. But if the question were not of the greatest importance, he did not think that any government would be right to bring the two Houses into such a state. It had also been said, by the hon. member for Tipperary, that he had stated that the result of the surplus fund would be a sum of 3,000,000l., and he certainly had said so. In that he was mistaken, but he would ask the hon. Gentleman did he believe that it would produce so much? The amount had greatly diminished, and when the hon. Member said, that Church 275 property was increased, he must distinctly declare his dissent from that assertion, and his conviction, that the sum to be paid in lieu of Vestry cess would be fully equal to the surplus. The Bill introduced by Government was one which did not bind the House to the principle one way or the other; and then as to the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman, even the hon. Member who seconded it did not think it well timed, but he would go further, and say it was very ill timed. To introduce an abstraot principle into the preamble of a Bill, which not only was declared not to have such a principle in it, but to be directly opposed to that principle, was surely an odd proceeding; he certainly had never before heard of such a mode. It was bad in any case to assert an abstract principle in a preamble, and if it were wished to have a principle asserted, the better way would be by a simple resolution. Whether this were so or not, he did not think hon. Gentlemen would vote for its insertion here, even although they might fully concur in the principle. He did not himself wish to be understood as being opposed to this principle, but he would oppose the Motion, because the Bill was never intended to affirm that principle, and because their agreeing to put it in the preamble would be a course by no means parliamentary.
§ Colonel Davies
had no hesitation in asserting that the conduct of Ministers had lately been anything but consistent with what they professed some weeks ago, if there was anything that was valuable in the Bill, it was that very part of it which had been expunged. If the clause had never been introduced into the Bill, the question never would have been mooted: but, as it had been introduced, and as public attention had been directed to the matter, it ought not to have been withdrawn. There was a great deal of difference between not introducing such a clause, and introducing it only to withdraw it; but it was still worse, when it was remembered under what admonition it was withdrawn—namely, that if it were not withdrawn in that House, it would be thrown out in the other House of Parliament. He was almost inclined to say, that if the principle of the hon. Member's Motion were rejected, and a Motion was afterwards made to throw out the Bill, that he should support that Motion with his vote. Without this recital, the Bill, instead of giving content to the people of Ireland, would only create 276 among them greater discontent than now existed.
§ Mr. Ward
thought, that the House ought to adopt the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman, if they wished that Ireland should be a means of strength to this country, instead of being, as she was at this moment, a cause of weakness and anxiety. All the differences of Ireland might be settled, if justice was fairly done between the people and the church Establishment. He agreed with those who thought that this Motion was rendered necessary by the fact of the clause having been once introduced; but he was willing at the same time to say, on behalf of the Minister, that much of the importance now properly attributed to the clause, was probably owing more to the manner in which it had been taken up by the House, than to any other circumstance. Hon. Members—and he among the rest—had received what they deemed to be an assertion of the just powers of the State in so marked a manner—cheering it so as to draw down on the noble Lord the reproof of the right hon. Baronet opposite—that they had at once leaped to a conclusion, which, perhaps, the Ministers had done their best to avoid, and indeed to disclaim; but which they most readily, and joyfully adopted. They did this the more readily when they observed that Lay Commissioners were to be appointed to administer funds proceeding from the church. It was not wonderful, then, that the people had taken up their tone, and not being able, like themselves, to receive rapidly new lights upon any particular subject, had not been capable of following them with equal speed in the change that had since occurred. The result was, that the people were now disappointed with the Bill, or would be so, if this clause should now be omitted. If the clause had not been introduced at all, the people might have thought that, in the opinion of parliament, the time had not arrived when such a principle could be advantageously asserted; but having been introduced, and most cordially received, it was impossible that they could entertain such an opinion. The fact was, that the clause was another instance of that fatality which seemed to attend all the measures that were introduced for the relief of Ireland. There was a good deal of reason in what had been said by Dean Swift about England and Ireland. Dean Swift observed, that in all matters relating to the Government of Ireland, England expected to be addressed in terms, 277 which, as a boy, when he first met with them in Cowley's poems, he thought an exaggeration, though they were addressed by a lover to his mistress—Forbid it, Heaven, my life should beWeighed with her least conveniency.But he hoped that a Reformed House of Commons would not desire from Ireland such a romantic attachment towards this country, and that it would deal an equal measure of justice between the two nations. He trusted that the members of that House would not sacrifice the interest of Ireland to the supposed interests of the English Church. He made use of the expression "supposed interest," because he believed that the real interest of the Church of England would be promoted by drawing as strong a line of demarcation as possible between it and the Church of Ireland. The Church in Ireland still required to be supported in splendor, though not one single spiritual advantage was derived from that splendor. The hon. and learned member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Shaw) had, on a former night, spoken of the great increase of Protestantism in Ireland; and, in proof of his assertion, had instanced the erection of 600 new Churches in Ireland. Admitting the hon. Member to be accurate as to the number, let him ask how these new Churches had been built? Was it by voluntary subscriptions, or by the consent of the majority of the population in the different parishes in which they were erected? Quite the reverse: they had been built either by parliamentary grants, or under the operation of the Vestry Act, which enabled five or six Protestants, assembled in vestry, to indulge their architectural caprices without consulting the opinion of the rest of the parishioners. Instead of thinking the erection of these 600 new Churches a blessing to Ireland, he regarded it as among the most prominent causes which had led to the spread of dissatisfaction, and consequently tended to render, not merely ecclesiastical property, but every other species of property, insecure. He knew, that it was often said, that this Church was the National Church. He could not think of any National Church that was not the Church of the nation. He knew of no other test of a National Church than that of its being the Church of the majority of the nation; and wherever there was such a singular perversion as a Church on one side, and a people on the other, the Parliament had an undoubted right to remodel the establishment. If England were 278 still prepared to support the Church on the principle on which it once had supported it—namely, that to allow of no opposition, but insist upon conversion at ail risks and hazards—it might be right still to persevere in the old course; but (hat principle had been abandoned. In 1718, Dean Swift, in writing on the state of Ireland, after the warmth of a contest which had recently taken place, said: "As to Popery in general, which, for a thousand years past, hath been introducing and multiplying corruptions, both in doctrine and discipline, I look upon it to be the most absurd system of Christianity professed by any nation. But I cannot apprehend this kingdom to be in much danger from it. The estates of Papists are very few, crumbling into small parcels and daily diminishing. Their common people are sunk in poverty, ignorance, and cowardice, and of as little consequence as women and children.' And he afterwards said, that, as the Popish clergy were not to be educated, those then alive would have no successors; so that the Protestant Ministers would have no great matter of difficulty in bringing over to the Protestant Church the people who now, without leaders, and without a head, were little better than hewers of wood and drawers of water, incapable of doing anything for themselves.' The Catholics, however, had consistently adhered to the religion of their forefathers; they refused to be bought over, and the "hewers of wood and drawers of water" had become a mighty people. Their religious rights we had restored, their civil rights could not long be withheld from a people whose gallantry had been proved in many well-fought fields, and whose claim to a perfect equality of rights with the English he was proud to acknowledge. We could no longer say, that we were the majority, and that we were in possession. We were no longer the majority in Ireland; and if things were allowed to go on in their present state, we should not long have even possession to plead, for in the case of tithes the whole power of the Government had not been able to ensure their collection. He repeated, therefore, that as we no longer professed the principles of Government professed a century back, we must not think of acting on rules of conduct which were consistent enough with those principles, but were quite at variance with our own. Disputes in Ireland were no longer mere matters of religious belief, but of pounds, shillings, 279 and pence, and must be settled in a way differently from formerly. He should vote for the Amendment; but if it should be rejected, he hoped that he should not be deemed inconsistent if he voted for the passing of the Bill; for he saw in the clauses for the reduction in the number of Bishops, and for the reduction of livings in parishes where there had been no service for the last three years, some approximation to an equality of proportion between the people and the establishment. He should regret to see this Session pass over and leave the Irish Church almost intact, as a memorial of the humility of the first Reformed House of Commons. He trusted, on the contrary, that its establishment would begin to be reduced, and that that reduction would go on, till its amount was commensurate, and no more, with the wants of the people.
§ Mr. Peter
said, that he did not rise to reply to the hon. Gentleman, who had just addressed the. House. That was wholly unnecessary; for, with all the respect which he entertained for his talents, he could not refrain from saying, that a speech less applicable to its professed purpose—a speech more irrelevant to the subject of debate—he had never heard within the walls of that House. It was to the hon. and learned member for Tipperary, that he chiefly addressed himself. The Amendment proposed by him, he (Mr. Peter) considered as most unnecessary and uncalled for. It could effect no possible good, and might be productive of much mischief. Here was a Bill, which whether considered on principles of policy or justice—which, though attacked by some as going too far, and by others as not going far enough—which, even according to the admission of the hon. member for St. Alban's, was a great boon, a great benefit to Ireland; and should we foolishly throw it into jeopardy—should we unnecessarily endanger its safety—should we hazard its very substance—for a mere shadow? The hon. and learned member for Tipperary, as well as his friend the member for Middlesex, had each referred to a debate of 1825, and to the opinions expressed in it by many Gentlemen on that side of the House. In those opinions he fully concurred. He believed Church property to be national property, and, as such, to be applicable by Parliament to national purposes. But though such were the opinions of many, they were not the opinions of all. Some there might be, both within those walls and elsewhere, who had come to a 280 different conclusion. But why should the question be unnecessarily stirred up between them? Why should an abstract principle be put in issue, when the contest was wholly uncalled for, and when not a single advantage could be gained on either side, by entering into it? By omitting the words, which the hon. and learned member for Tipperary would force into the preamble, we lost nothing—we sacrificed nothing. Though we did not thereby admit, we certainly did not reject or deny, the principle of Church property being national property. We left the question precisely where it stood before, to be taken up and asserted by Parliament, whenever a necessity or occasion should arise for so doing. The hon. members for Tipperary and Middlesex had spoken with levity of contests between the different branches of the Legislature. He (Mr. Peter) could not contemplate such occurrences so lightly. He considered a collision between the two Houses of Parliament as an evil of the most fearful nature—as an evil to be deprecated by all wise and good men, and to be avoided by all just moans—by any concession or Compromise, short of an abandonment of principle. Should the evil, indeed, come—should the collision actually arise,—the House of Commons, he had no doubt, would do their duty. They would meet the crisis, as became men,—as became the representatives of a free and enlightened people. But cuncta prius tentanda—every possible preventive should be first resorted to; and who knew whether, by staving off the collision for a time—whether by continued moderation on their parts, and by returning reason and reflection on the parts of others,—who knew whether the catastrophe might not be altogether averted? An hon. Member had sneered at the words compromise and concession; but he would ask him, what great measure was ever beneficially effected without them? The revolution of 1688 was a compromise; the Catholic Bill was a compromise; even the Reform Act of last year was a compromise! These were all, more or less, compromises; and wise ones, in his opinion, they were,—founded on that favourite maxim of Mr. Fox—that it was better to concede a little to a friend, than to yield up all to an enemy. Were he (Mr. Peter) to be asked for the distinguishing feature between the English and French Revolutions of 1688 and 1789, he should say, that the one was the result of just compromise and mutual concession, whilst the other was the fruit of arrogance 281 and obstinacy that preferred all hazards and dangers to the slightest modification or supposed change of opinions however impracticable or wrong. As to the surplus of which the hon. Gentleman had spoken, it would be time to decide on the disposal of it, when we should have ascertained its existence. At present there was neither a surplus nor a probability of any. Should one hereafter arise, the Commissioners had only to vest it in the funds, as directed by the 58th clause, there to remain for the further disposal of Parliament. Before he sat down, he could not help adverting to the attacks which had been made by the two hon. Members on his Majesty's Ministers for their conduct towards Ireland. It was not for him to vindicate Ministers. They were fully competent to their own defence. This much, however, he was bound in justice to say, that if ever there was a measure brought forward with pain and reluctance—if ever there was a measure forced, as it were upon an administration by an imperative sense of necessity and public duty—it was that Coercion Act for which they had been so fiercely assailed. But, according to the hon. member for Middlesex, Ministers had inflicted nothing but injury upon Ireland. They had nothing in store, according to him, but pains and penalties, and persecutions, for that unhappy country. But what was the sober truth? What had been their real conduct with respect to Ireland? Why, till within the last ten months, it had been such as to extort unqualified approbation even from the hon. and learned member for Dublin (Mr. O'Connell). And what had been their conduct since. To what complaints had they turned a deaf ear? What grievances had they not endeavoured to redress? The Irish complained of their Grand Jury laws. A Bill was immediately brought in to amend them. They complained of the Vestry-cess; it was to be abolished. They complained of abuses in their Church establishment; and that establishment was about to be reformed. The Bill before the House might not contain all that the most sanguine could desire; it might not be the best or most perfect measure that could be devised; but it was as good and as perfect, he believed, as any, which, under existing circumstances, could have been brought forward with any chance or probability of success. Believing all this, he had considered it his duty to vote for the Bill in all its previous stages, nor would he so far abandon it then, as to consent to the Motion 282 which had been made by the hon. and learned member for Tipperary, and which, if carried, would probably lead to the loss of the whole measure.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
thought that the speech of the hon. member for St. Alban's (Mr. Ward) might have been introduced with much greater propriety into a discussion on Catholic Emancipation than a debate on the subject now under the consideration of the House. He begged to remind the hon. Member that Church Property in Ireland had a very different foundation from canal and rail-road property. It was established by the treaty of union. The hon. Member had repeated an assertion which had been made for the thousandth and first time in that House, that the Roman Catholic people were obliged to pay for the support of the Irish Church. That he begged for the thousandth and first time to deny. It was the property and not the people of that country which paid for the maintenance of the Church.
said, he would not detain the House one moment. He regretted the omission of the 147th Clause, because he thought it contained the only really valuable principle in the Bill. He was, however, bound to admit that the Church-cess was dealt with to the extent he desired. He was surprised to hear the hon. Baronet who spoke last state that the Catholics of Ireland did not contribute to the support of the Church Establishment. Were not Catholics distressed for the payment of tithe? But he supposed that the hon. Baronet meant that the Church was maintained by the landed proprietors. Now, admitting that nineteen-twentieths of the landed property of Ireland was held by Protestants, still there was the remaining twentieth, which belonged to Catholics. The fee-simple of the whole county of Kerry was in the possession of Catholics; and surely the hon. Baronet would not deny, that they were taxed for the support of the Protestant Church? He hoped the time would come when the House of Commons would be prepared to declare—that every man should support his own clergyman, and should not be obliged to contribute to the maintenance of a Church to which he did not belong.
§ The House divided—Ayes 86; Noes 177—Majority 91.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, M. A.||Barry, G. S.|
|Baldwin, Dr.||Bellew, R. M.|
|Bewes, T.||Lloyd, J. H.|
|Blake, J.||Lynch, A. H.|
|Briggs, R.||Macnamara, F.|
|Brotherton, J.||Macnamara, Major|
|Buckingham, J. S.||Marlin, T. B.|
|Buller, C.||Mullins, Hon. F. W.|
|Bulwer, H. L.||Nagle, Sir H.|
|Chapman, M. L.||O'Callaghan, Hon. C.|
|Chichester, J. P. B.||O'Connell, D.|
|Clements, Viscount||O'Connell, J.|
|Collier, J.||O'Connell, M.|
|Curteis, E. B.||O'Dwyer, A. C.|
|Curteis, H. B.||Oliphant, L.|
|Davies, Col.||Oswald, R.|
|Divett, E.||Parrot, J.|
|Dobbin, L.||Pease, J.|
|Dundas, Captain||Perrin, L.|
|Evans, Col.||Pringle, R.|
|Ewart, W.||Robinson, G. R.|
|Fellowes, Hon. N.||Roche, W.|
|Finn, W. F.||Roe, J.|
|Fitzsimon, C.||Ruthven, E.|
|Fryer, R.||Scholefield, J.|
|Gaskell, D.||Stawell, Lieut-Col.|
|Goring, H. D.||Sullivan, R.|
|Grattan, J.||Talbot, J.|
|Grote, G.||Tayleur, W.|
|Guest, J. J.||Trelawney, W. S.|
|Guise, Sir B. W.||Tynte, C. J. K.|
|Harland, W. C.||Wallace, H.|
|Harvey, D. W.||Walker, C. A.|
|Hudson, T.||Walter, J.|
|Humphery, J.||Warburton, H.|
|Hutt, W.||Ward, H. G.|
|James, W.||White, S.|
|Jephson, G.||Williams, Col.|
|Jervis, J.||Wilks, J.|
|Kennedy, J.||Wood, Alderman|
|Key, Sir J.||Yelverton, Hn. W. H.|
|Lambton, H.||Sheil, R. L.|
|Lister, E. C.||Hume, J.|
proposed an Amendment to the 50th Clause. He would remind the House that this Bill, as originally proposed by the noble Lord, contained a system of taxation upon all the present incumbents of ecclesiastical benefices in Ireland. That system was objected to as unreasonable, and in consequence the Bill was altered so as to make the taxation commence immediately after the decease of the present holders. This alteration applied also to the Bishops and their revenues, so that there was not a single-person possessed of a benefice in Ireland who would suffer any diminution of his income during his incumbency. This rule was universal, with one exception, and that exception was the present Bishop of Derry, and his reason for now proposing an Amendment, was to call the attention of the House to the unseemliness of making 284 that right reverend Prelate such an exception. In common with his Catholic brethren, he owed a debt of gratitude to that right reverend Prelate; for had it not been for the countenance of that right reverend personage, he and others of his persuasion would not have been entitled to a seat in that House. He knew of no other Irish clergyman, who had taken the part which that right reverend Prelate had taken on behalf of his Catholic fellow-countrymen, and therefore it was that he came thus publicly forward, and called upon the House to decide, whether the Bishop of Derry should be the only exception to the rule established in this Bill. The only reason which could be urged for this exception was, that the Bishop of Deny had accepted his bishopric knowing that the Government had this arrangement in view. But this arrangement was originally intended to apply to every Bishop and incumbent in Ireland; and as it had been altered with respect to them, he saw no reason why it should remain unaltered with regard to the Bishop of Derry, on whom, by remaining unaltered, it placed an unseemly mark of degradation. Connected as the right reverend Prelate was with certain leading members of the Administration, it was possible that Government might have felt some delicacy in placing him in the same situation as the rest of his reverend brethren; but he thought that they ought to discard such false delicacy, and not be afraid of rewarding a friend when his merits deserved reward, merely because it might be displeasing to an enemy. He should therefore propose to leave out of the Clause the words "The now Bishop of Derry," and to alter it so as to make the annual payment of 4,160l. out of the revenues of that see to the Commissioners under the Act fall only upon the successors of the present Bishop.
§ Mr. O'Dwyer
seconded the Amendment, and complimented the Bishop of Derry for the patience with which he had long suffered a sort of political proscription on account of his supporting the claims of the Catholics.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
was not impressed with the propriety of acceding to this Motion by the arguments of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite. If the House were legislating for the indulgence of political principle, or for the sake of gratifying private feelings of regard, there 285 Was no man from whom cither Ministers as a body, or he himself as a private individual, would more regret to take away Part of his income than from the Bishop of Derry; for there was no individual in whose hands a large income could he better placed for the benefit of the Church. The hon. and learned member for Dublin might think it right to express his gratitude to the right reverend Prelate for the part which he had taken upon the great question of Catholic Emancipation. He rejoiced that the right reverend Prelate had taken that part; but his payment for it must he found in the good feeling which was beginning to prevail between Catholic and Protestant, and not in an increased revenue of 4,000l. a-year to him as Bishop of Derry. The right reverend Prelate did not accept his see under an engagement that his votes in favour of Catholic Emancipation should meet with such a munificent reward, but under an engagement that when Parliament dealt with the revenues of his see, his vested interests in them should not stand in the way of Reform. In consequence of the alteration which had been made in the Bill, the Government had not made that reduction in the revenues of the sec of Derry which they had originally intended. Instead of reducing it 6,000l. a-year, they had only reduced it 4,000l. The hon. and learned Gentleman was mistaken in saying that the case of the Bishop of Derry was a solitary exception. The same principle had been applied to the deaneries of Down and Raphoe, and it was only justice to Dr. Plunkett, the Dean of Down, to state, that, though he did not accept his deanery under the same engagement which the Bishop of Derry had contracted on receiving his bishopric, he had stated his readiness not to allow his interest to stand in the way of ecclesiastical Reform, when he heard that the ecclesiastical Commissioners had recommended that a reduction should be made in the emoluments of his deanery.
§ Sir Robert Peel
took the same view of this question as the right hon. Secretary for the colonies. He should, however, be extremely sorry, if, in so doing, he should be supposed to mean anything derogatory from the high character of the Bishop of Derry. As that right reverend Prelate had received his first appointment to a Bishopric when be (Sir R. Peel) was Secretary of Stale, it was clear, that he could have but one opinion as to his merits. He could not, however, consent to the 286 principle laid down by the hon. and learned Gentleman in his speech—for, said he, "Here is a Bishop who voted uniformly for Catholic emancipation, and so I will give him, as a reward, 4,000l. a-year." Undoubtedly the right reverend Prelates who took an opposite view of that question acted on honest principles, and the House ought not to give so munificent a reward as 4,000l. a-year to one of their body, because he was distinguished by his uniform advocacy of liberal principles. But, on that ground, the Bishop of Derry could not and would not accept this grant. "This fatal deed," said Sir R. Peel, holding up a parchment in his hand—"this fatal deed disqualifies him. Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the Bishop of Derry once signed a petition decidedly hostile to the claims of the Roman Catholics for emancipation?" The right hon. Gentleman read an extract from a violent petition against the Catholic claims presented to Parliament in 1826, to which one of the first names attached was that of "Richard Ponsonby, Dean of St. Patrick." The right hon Secretary bad destroyed all the arguments of the hon. and learned Gentle-men but one, and that solitary argument he had, be believed, now demolished.
observed, that what had just fallen from the right hon. Baronet, was neither candour nor the affectation of candour. The Bishop of Derry had certainly placed his signature to that petition, but the right hon. Baronet had forgotten to tell the House the disgraceful manner in which his signature to it was obtained. He had also forgotten to tell the House, that, as soon as that right reverend Prelate bad discovered that his signature was attached to it, be had published in the newspapers a letter explaining the circumstances. He said, that be had, for some time previously, been labouring under a typhus fever; that, as he was recovering from it, a petition was brought to him as he was lying; in bed in the dark, for he was then too it to bear the light; that he was told that it was only a petition for the protection of the rights of the Church, and that it had been signed by Dr. Magee, the then Archbishop of Dublin; and that he bad signed it under a total ignorance of the illiberal sentiments which it contained, and which he took that opportunity of totally disclaiming. Under these circumstances, he thought that those who had made this use of a petition to which Dr. Ponsonby's name was surreptitiously obtained, 287 would make but little way in proving that he had not been the uniform advocate of Catholic emancipation.
§ Sir Robert Peel
thought, that before the hon. and learned Gentleman had made this attack upon him, the hon. and learned Gentleman should have had some grounds for supposing that he was aware of the existence of a letter which had appeared so many years ago in the newspapers. If he had been aware of the circumstances contained in that letter, he should certainly not have alluded to Dr. Ponsonby's name being attached to that petition; but he declared, upon his honour as a gentleman, that up to that moment he had not been at all aware of them. The petition had not been brought to him till that evening; and the hon. and learned Gentleman, who knew of the existence of that petition, and of all the circumstances connected with it, ought, in speaking of the uniform advocacy which the Bishop of Derry had given to liberal principles, to have explained the manner in which the right reverend Prelate had been betrayed into this seeming inconsistency.
Mr. O' Connell
wished to know whether, after the statement which the House had just heard, any man could doubt, that the Bishop of Derry had been the uniform advocate of Catholic emancipation? He also wished to know who the person was who had brought the right hon. Baronet that petition. He thought that the right hon. Baronet ought to have been more cautious in speaking as to the contents of a petition which had been raked up out of the oblivion in which it had slumbered for so many years.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
was prepared to support the Amendment, without reference to the political principles of the right reverend Prelate for whom the hon. and learned member for Dublin had been pleading. He would not be a party to diminishing the income of a single clergyman, much less to leaving a right reverend Prelate a solitary exception to the rule applied to all other persons of his rank and importance in the Church.
§ Mr. Finn
opposed the proposition of his hon. and learned friend, which he thought a most extraordinary one, coming from Church reformers. If there was any great debt of gratitude due from the Catholics to the right reverend Prelate, they ought to pay it out of their own purses. He would reduce the whole of the incomes, but he would make no exception of this kind on the ground stated.
§ The Motion negatived.
§ On the Question, that the Bill do pass,
rose, and some manifestation of impatience having been exhibited, the hon. and learned Member said, that he trusted when hon. Members considered the length of time that had been occupied—not in discussing the provisions of the Bill—but in endeavours to carry Amendments much beyond the provisions of the Bill—assailing the very foundation of the Established Church—they would not consider it unreasonable that a person standing in the relation that he did to the Church, should be indulged with a hearing, while he stated to the House his reasons why the Bill should not now pass. If hon. Members were prepared to say, that without any discussion whatever—if they were prepared to say, that without any regard to the consistency of the votes which the House had hitherto come to, no matter whether the Bill were at variance with the principles on which the House had acted at an early stage of it—hon. Members were prepared to pass it at all hazards, it would of course be vain for him to address them upon the subject. But on this point he did feel anxious to address them, and to this chiefly he meant to confine himself; and he trusted that the House, in fairness and in justice, would hear the observations which he had to make. The House had decided that Church property in the hands of the present possessors was not to be interfered with. Now, one of his main objections to the Bill was, that it did essentially interfere with Church property—not merely with respect to the property of the Church as a corporation, but it went further with respect to the Bishops, and interfered most unjustly with the enjoyment and ownership of the present possessors. The interest in the fee-simple of the property of the Bishops' estates was transferred by the Bill from the present possessors. The transfer of the interest in the perpetuity was not to take place on the demise of the present Bishops, or merely as to the suppressed sees, but was to take effect immediately from the passing of the Act; and as to all the present Bishops, this was manifestly unjust, and directly at variance with the principle which had obtained the sanction of the House, that Church property, in the hands of the present possessors, was not to be interfered with. At present the Bishop was entitled to deal with his property as he pleased. He had a right to say to the tenant whether he would 289 renew with him or not; and if so, what rent and fine he demanded. He had a right now, like any other owner, to say: "I will have my land at the expiration of the existing contract—or I will have what I think reasonable for it." No tenant can now say: "I'll keep your land, and another shall be the judge what I am to pay for it." These are the rights and incidents of property, and of these the present Bill went to deprive every Bishop at once. He would put it to hon. Members if they had not made up their minds to the spoliation of property in general, with what consistency and justice could they consent to violate it in this respect? The Bill, as it stood, would also alter the condition of every Bishop in Ireland, in another very essential respect. At present the control over the renewal of the lease gave perfect security for the punctual payment of the rent—he was in the habit of receiving his rent at the same time that he received the fine; but the present Bill made the Bishop a rent-charger, a mere pensioner for an annuity on his own estate. He had now only to do with the immediate tenant, a respectable class of men; but should the Bill pass, the Bishop would be driven to a distress for his rent, or to an ejectment—he would have to seek his remedy against the cottier tenant; and to those who knew anything of the recent history of Ireland it must be unnecessary to say, that if predial agitation should be again resorted to, and the Bishop be made obnoxious to the peasantry, he stood but little chance of receiving even a portion of his income. There was another particular in which the condition of the Bishop was altered by the Bill, to which he strongly objected. The amount of the rent he was to receive, was liable to fluctuation every seven years. If the price of corn should fluctuate, the tenant might call for a new valuation, and if he should not be satisfied with it, he had the power of appealing to the Court of Chancery, and thus involving the Bishop in interminable litigation, and during this scene of septennial Chancery suits, the rent of coures must be suspended. He had another most serious objection to the Bill—he meant the provision for a reduction in the number of Bishops. This he considered a violation of the fundamental constitution of the Church—an alteration as gratuitous as it was unnecessary. It had not even the tyrant's plea the necessity for the reduction of the number of Bishops was to raise a fund to meet the amount of vestry cess 290 —but the sum required could be obtained without thus violating the fundamental constitution of the Church. It was not necessary that the number of Bishops should be reduced—they might be all permitted to remain, and by effecting a reduction in their incomes, in this way, the sum required could be made up. This had been done as to Derry and Armagh—the sees were to continue—the property to remain vested in the Bishops, but they were to pay annually a certain sum to the Com-missioners. By the same process, without this outrage en the Church, right provision might have been made for the only plausible object of the measure. Another ground, on which the bill appeared highly objectionable to him, was the provision for suspending the appointment of clergymen to those parishes in which divine service had not been performed for the last three years. This clause was not made to depend on there being no Protestant parishioners—it presumed there might be such—it affected to provide for the occasional duties by a neighbouring clergyman. It did not require the Protestant inhabitants to build a church, or suffer the penalty—but it inflicted the penalty, although a church might be built within the present year, and thus prevented the possibility of relieving themselves from that loss by the building of a church. The Government had refused to admit a clause, obliging the Commissioners to appropriate the revenues of the parish, during the suspension, to the building of a church, or any other object, for the promotion of the Protestant religion in these parishes; and, therefore, it did appear to him, that the Government were treating the Established Church as though it were a nuisance, to which they were determined to put an end. If reciprocal justice had been dealt out with respect to the other religions—if the Bill directed, that no dissenting meeting-house or Roman Catholic chapel should be built in a parish where for three years before there bad been none—he could have understood it; but to pre-vent a Protestant rector from continuing amongst his parishioners, and to divert the fluids to other than the purposes of the parish from which they were derived—these provisions of the Bill appeared to him as directly levelled at the Established Church, with a view to its ultimate destruction. The hon. and gallant Member on his left (Colonel Davies), and the hon. member for St. Alban's (Mr. Ward), had both observed, that it was necessary for the 291 peace of Ireland to divert the Church property from the purposes to which it was at present applied. Were these hon. Members so ignorant as not to know anything of the Protestant population or the Protestant property in Ireland? Did they think that the Protestant proprietors of Ireland would consent to the spoliation of the property of their Church, and tamely submit to the diversion of it to other purposes? Would no discontent he excited on their part, who had concurred in the measure of the Union to obtain security for their religion and their Church? The same hon. Members had declared, that the religion of the majority ought to be the established religion. If that doctrine were true as to the Church, why not as to the State? If the opinions of a mere numerical majority, without regard to intelligence or property, were to decide the government of the Church, it would soon become applicable to the government of the State, and we might look for a pure democracy. Having had an opportunity of delivering his sentiments at large upon the introduction of the Bill, he should not now trespass further upon the attention of the House than to state that, in his serious judgment, it was not merely a question whether we should have an Established church in Ireland—but whether we should have one in England. If the vestry cess was to be con-ceded in Ireland, why should not Church rates be conceded to the Dissenters in England—and would the Church property in England be adequate to pay it and maintain her clergy? He would warn those hon. Members who had not yet made up their minds to the overthrow of the Establishment, how they gave their support to a Bill founded on such principles. For his own part he considered, that the best interests of the country were bound up with the maintenance of true religion, and he looked on the Established Church as the best means of supporting that religion; and, as the Bill before the House was calculated to subvert both, it should meet with his decided opposition to the last.
said, he should not be doing justice to the sentiments of that respectable constituency who had sent him to that House, nor to his own, if he did content himself with giving a silent vote of dissent to the measure under the consideration of the House. The existing interests of the Irish clergy were, in his opinion, as much entitled to the protection of the Legislature as any other class of his 292 Majesty's subjects, and they had as good a right to expect the entire and secure enjoyment of their possessions (free from that exclusive taxation now sought to be imposed upon them) as any other persons had to the enjoyment of their possessions. They were held by a tenure as valid, by a title that ought to be as secure and inviolable, as that of any estates held by fee simple, or by inheritance. It had always appeared to him to be nothing more than fair, just, and reasonable, that whatever changes in the Irish Church Establishment the excesses of turbulent times might have rendered necessary, should, in the first instance (at least), be submitted to the arrangement of the friends, members, and ministers, of that Establishment itself. Those who were best acquainted with its institutions were surely the best qualified to remove any causes of reproach or occasions of discord in the collection of its revenues, that might exist in the system of its temporalities; but, should this proposed measure be passed into a law, would it not be said, that the cause of agitation and of Whitefootism had prevailed—that the restless spirit of innovation now abroad had trampled upon the ancient and sacred institutions of Ireland? There bad been no necessity shown for this sweeping and destructive measure; and the expediency of the reduction, and the swamping of ten Irish bishopries, were not borne out by any evidence now in possession of the House. He entirely concurred in the sentiments and observations so ably made by hon. Members near him, that this measure was contrary to the honest bonâ fide acceptation of the Coronation Oath, however it might be sought to reconcile it by legal sophistry, and that it was at decided variance with the fifth article of the Legislative Union. Its consequences were likely to be most mischievous, as opposed to those principles of equitable legislation which afforded the surest safeguard to our national welfare, and it would be found most pernicious in its consequences, as striking at the root of the security of every description of property. With these sentiments, however unimportant the opposition of so humble a Member as himself might be considered, should he hesitate to express his decided disapprobation of this measure, he should be neglecting that duty which he owed to his constituents, to himself, to his Church, and to his country.
§ Mr. William Gladstone
did not wish to shelter himself, on this occasion, under a 293 silent vote. He was prepared to defend the Irish Church, and if it had abuses, which he did not now deny, those abuses were to be ascribed to the ancestors and predecessors of those who now surrounded him. He admitted, that the Irish Church had slumbered. [Hear, hear.] He asked those who cheered him, whether it was the only church which had slumbered? Had not many of the other Protestant churches slumbered since the Reformation? It was popular to declaim against the Irish Church, because of its affluence; but he denied, that the energy or the usefulness of a church was necessarily proportioned to its poverty. The connexion between successful zeal and poverty was not indissoluble. He would beg of those who seemed to think that primitive apostolic poverty was necessary to stimulate the zeal and activity of a church, to look at what took place in the valley of the Vaudois. The people there maintained the pure principles for which their ancestors had fought and bled; but was it found that their activity as a church was in proportion to their want of worldly means? No: it had been greatly supported by money from this country, but how did it act?—it acted solely on the defensive, and never sought to make an impression on the principles of its surrounding Catholic neighbours. He would admit, that the Established Church of Ireland had long slumbered; but he would contend, that since the Union it had done all that human power could do. The question, however, was, not what it had done, but was it capable of being fitted for action? He contended that, in a social point of view, it was no slight advantage to have scattered over that country a number of men who were gentlemen by education, and, more especially, who were Christians by profession. The existence of such a body of men in that country was also of no slight importance, as affording a connecting link between it and England. But he did not defend it on those grounds alone, nor was it on those grounds that he opposed the present Hill. He opposed it because he thought it would tend to desecrate the Established Church, and the desecration of a church must be productive of the most serious injury to a country. He thought it was of the utmost advantage to a country to have a body capable of spreading and extending the Protestant doctrines; and, without meaning any offence to his Catholic fellow-subjects, he could not but think that it would be productive 294 of great benefit, in a national point of view, to have the means of expounding, defending, and maintaining those doctrines ill an active manner. All he asked was, that such fair opportunity should be given, and then Cod defend the right. He feared that the probable effect of the Bill would be, to place the Church on an untenable foundation. He was unwilling to see the number of Irish Bishops reduced, because he believed that, in the course of time, time, duties would very materially increase, and, when that was the case, it would be a difficult matter to restore those whom they were now about to destroy. He did not pretend to have formed any opinion of his own upon the subject of the vestry cess; but, looking to the opinions of those who were well informed on the subject, he was willing to believe, that its abolition would be the means of extirpating a great source of heart-burning and irritation amongst the Irish people, and, for that reason, he considered it to be a wise proceeding. He had, however, always looked upon it to be a principle well established, that as long as a church was national, the nation ought to be taxed to support it; and, if the Government meant to maintain the Protestant Church in Ireland, they ought to enforce this maxim; but it was not the proper way to establish or to maintain the Church to proceed by laying further burthens on the body of the clergy, who, God knows, were already not over-burthened with money—as was done by this measure. He bad little doubt the Government would carry the Hill by a large majority, and, if they did, he could only hope that it would produce the effects which they had ascribed to it—namely, of securing and propping up the Irish Protestant Church.
observed, that the only reason assigned for withdrawing the 147th Clause was, an apprehension of a collision with the Lords—a fear, however, which did not seem to actuate the House or Ministers a few nights ago in the affair of Portugal. The population connected with the Church in Ireland was 500,000; the revenue of the Church amounted to at least 1,000,000l. He objected to this sum as altogether disproportionate to the numbers within the pale of the Church, and could not approve of a measure which went to uphold such an enormous establishment.
was almost at a loss to know whether he should vote in favour of the Bill or against it. The only feature of the measure of which he approved consisted in its abolition of vestry cess; but the main principle of the bill had been violated by the abandonment of the 147th clause. He could not reconcile himself to support the Bill after the abandonment of its leading principle. The reduction of the Bishops was a gratuitous insult to the Church, and did not benefit the Roman Catholic population. What the Catholics wanted was, relief from the burthens that oppressed them, but without damage, insult, or injury to the Protestant Church. Thinking that the Bill would not afford the necessary relief, he should vote against it.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
said, that when it was considered that the hon. and learned member for Dublin was daily in the habit of taunting Ministers with never undertaking any measure for the relief of the Irish people, it did appear a little inconsistent with the hon. Gentleman's doctrines and taunts that he should be the man, when a bill which tended materially to relieve his countrymen, was proposed on the responsibility of Government—that the hon. and learned Member should be the man to stand forward and say; "the Roman Catholics of Ireland shall continue to pay vestry-cess. I will not allow them to escape from the burthen of contributions to a Church to which they do not belong. I shall vote against the Bill." The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that the main principle of the Bill had been violated, and that he, therefore, felt it his duty to oppose the measure as it now stood. He (Mr. Stanley) denied that there had been any such violation. Every member of the Government who spoke upon the subject, had stated from the outset that a conversion of Church property to other than Church purposes formed no part of the Bill; they neither affirmed nor denied the abstract proposition, but they over and over again, declared, that it formed no part of the principle of the measure; therefore, he could not hear the hon. Gentleman taunt Ministers with abandoning that which they had never brought forward. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that there was nothing valuable in the Bill except its abolition of vestry-cess; and in his great tenderness towards the Established Church, he thought 296 it a gratuitous insult to reduce the number of Bishops, and apply the surplus that would remain, after relieving the Roman Catholics from the payment of vestry-cess, to the augmentation of poor livings, the building of glebe-houses, and other Ecclesiastical purposes. He asked the hon. and learned Member, on what principle he voted against the Bill, unless it were with a view to encourage persons in another place to throw it out, partly on the ground of the large minority opposed to it in the Commons? He (Mr. Stanley) was informed that the hon. and learned Gentleman had avowed that intention; and he ventured to caution hon. Gentlemen, who might object to parts of the Bill, to consider maturely how, with their views, which he knew were not by any means directed towards a collision with the Lords, or the production of confusion in the country (whatever might be the views of others)—to consider seriously how they could act in concert with their new allies—to pause before they were caught in the trap, which was so dexterously laid for them by the hon. and learned Gentleman—and to reject in time, an association and alliance of so extraordinary a nature, and which did not reflect great credit, at least upon one of the parties.
believed, that there was but one man in the House, who could have made the assertion which had been uttered by the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies. The right hon. Gentleman had said, that somebody had informed him, that he (Mr. O'Connell) had avowed, that his object in voting against the Bill was, to have it thrown out in the House of Lords. He did not believe that any person had told the right hon. Gentleman so. He had, certainly, no wish to commit a breach of order; perhaps he ought to have said, that nobody could have told the right hon. Gentleman so with truth. He was convinced, if his vote could have any weight whatever in another place, that the fact of his voting against the measure, would rather operate as a reason why it should not be thrown out in the Lords.
§ Mr. Harvey
complained, that the principle of the measure had been entirely lost sight of in the midst of personalities. It was evident, he thought, that the statement of the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies, as to Mr. O'Connell's avowal of a particular motive for voting against the measure, could not be correct, after the hon. and learned Gentleman's disclaimer of any such avowal. He (Mr. Harvey) found fault with the measure, because it did not adequately 297 meet the general wish for Church Reform. Besides, the Bill now about to puss, was not the Bill originally proposed by Government, which met with the approbation of that House. Who could forget the delight experienced at the statement of the noble Lord, that the surplus Church revenue was to be placed at the disposal of Parliament? The noble Lord had carried every financial reformer with him, by informing them that the amount of this disposable surplus would be 3,000,000l. But now the House was told that it was a mere fighting about words, to complain of the withdrawal of the 147th Clause, which, they were informed, was of no financial value whatever, there being no surplus. If this measure contained the principle of what Ministers denominated Church Reform in Ireland, what would be their English Church Reform? If such an establishment were to be upheld in Ireland, there must be a great extension, not any reduction, of the English establishment, in order to preserve a due proportion between the congregation and the Church in either country. If it were just, that between 1,000,000l. and 2,000,000l. per annum should be given to support the Church of a tenth of the people in Ireland, any plan of English Church Reform, would require for the Church in England an increase of means. There was in this reform, destruction to the very essence of the Protestant Church. He could understand the Catholic doctrine, which, pretending to a divine origin, claimed a right to levy contributions for its support; but the Protestant Church allowed the right of private judgment, and left it to the inhabitants of a country, to establish the Church most agreeable to them. By dividing the Church of Ireland from the Church of England, the advantage of the statement that, upon the whole, the Protestants formed a majority, and had a right to establish their own Church was lost. Dealing with the Irish Church alone, they must look only to the Irish people; and seven-eighths of them were directly adverse to the Protestant Church. The Legislature was forcing upon them an institution, from which they dissented—appropriating to it, alone, a revenue which ought to be applied to the support of the religion of the whole people. Such a measure would not pacify the people of Ireland, nor produce those results which were contemplated by the House, when the Bill was suggested as an equivalent for the Coercion Bill? Was it supposed that the at- 298 tempt to conciliate the Irish landlord by a paltry bribe of 60,000l. would be successful? It was as unworthy of their acceptance; as the offer was of the dignity of the Government. He had been accustomed to consider the want of a Church Reform in Ireland, as the greatest evil of that country; and was the grievance to be removed by being reduced by the paltry amount of 60,000l.? Small as the sum was, it was yet something given to the Irish landlord, and something taken from the Irish Church. Spoliation did not consist in taking a large quantity, but in any thing being unjustly taken; and, taking 60,000l. per annum from the Church was as Much spoliation as taking 600,000l. The magnificence of a larger sum might have induced defenders, even if acknowledged as spoliation; but 60,000l was contemptible in itself, and must, when more was expected, excite nothing but irritation. The right hon. Gentleman opposite was surprised at the indifference with which this concession was viewed; but, as regarded the expectations of the people of this country, upon the subject of Church Reform, it was impossible too strongly to express the disappointment and contempt with which they would receive the right hon. Gentleman's concession. But then it was asked; "Have we not strangled ten Bishops, is not that some-thing.?" True, they had strangled ten Bishops; it had been upon no principle. No arguments had been advanced—no reasons had been stated—which would not quite as well have justified leaving them all, or striking off a score. The Government announced that it thought this reduction the proper one; and having the sanction of their sagacity, that man was pronounced a driveller who ventured to dissent from the plan. He maintained, that to support the Ecclesiastical Establishment in Ireland, it must be supported in all its integrity; and that to spread Protestantism, and reconcile the Catholics to the Protestant principles, the lights and pillars of the Church must not be diminished. It was said, "Why not take this partial measure?" But when were they to expect more? This was the best time for a thorough Church Reform that could be anticipated. When they were taking the bit-by-bit measures of reform, with which the Tories endeavoured to delude the country, they were told to wait till they had obtained a thorough Parliamentary Reform, and that then they might expect reform in other matters. Now, however, they were told to delight in a bit-by-bit 299 Church Reform. The noble Lord, the Paymaster of the Forces, said, "that we could not afford to have a revolution once a-year;" but unless Parliament gave an Ecclesiastical Reform, there must be a revolution for the purpose of obtaining it. Many of the majority who supported his Majesty's Ministers would say, if questioned privately, that they voted for the Bill, because they saw a fearful opposition in their front, which made it necessary to take gradual measures—but, that, by-and-by, the Government would do more. But when was it to do more? When was it to be stronger than at present? Did Ministers wish the House to suppose that they were in their infancy—that they had not arrived at the maturity of their understanding? For his part, he saw nothing which could lead the House to hope that they would be more vigorous in another Session. This was their plan—this was all they could do; and, it was clear, that they could never do more, whilst they stood in awe of another place. But it was said, "Try the Bill—to see whether the Commissioners, with the million of money placed at their disposal, will not make Churches spring up where there is no Protestant population. He believed they would, for all they wanted was, a church, a parson, and a clerk. A Protestant congregation, when they had those three requisites for a Protestant incumbency was not requisite. They began at the wrong end; for they made a church before they found a congregation. To maintain the Church in its purity, it must be severed from the State, It must not be a political, but a religious Church. But a great fallacy ran through all the reasoning of those who called themselves supporters of the Church. They confounded the Church with its temporalities; but he asserted, that if all the revenues of the Church were to-morrow poured into the Exchequer, the Church would remain. Never was there a greater delusion than to imagine that the Church and State were inseparable companions. According to that principle it was the recognition of the State which made religion true, and whether it were Mahommedanism or Hindooism, or Buddism, the connexion with the State according to that doctrine made it the true religion. The fact, however, was, that they always marred each other, their union was far from being mutually profitable. Religion converted the State into a tyranny and the State converted whatever system of religion it espoused into a corrupt mass 300 of errors. No friends of the pure and simple principles of Christianity could approve of a political alliance between Church and State. If they wished the doctrines of Protestantism to flourish—if they desired the Church to rest upon the basis of pure practice and wholesome doctrine, lot them drive the Bishops from the House of Lords, and all the wicked out of high places. He hoped that the period was not far distant when an establishment more consistent with pure Christianity would be founded in Ireland.
was somewhat surprised at hearing the sentiments of the hon. Gentleman; for, if he did not mistake, the hon. Gentleman had, on a former occasion, supported the Bill, and he did not conceive how that could have been consistently with the opinions the hon. Gentleman at present avowed. He could not comprehend how the hon. Gentleman could ever have supported the Bill, if he had entertained his present sentiments. To night the hon. Gentleman had spoken out, and fairly said, that he did not want a Church establishment at all. With such sentiments it was impossible for that or any other Bill proposed by the Ministers to satisfy the Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman would Certainly, if he could, destroy all Church Establishments. It was most extraordinary, if the hon. Gentleman had ever been favourable to the Bill, that the omission of the 147th clause from it should have wrought such a change in the hon. Gentleman's opinions. He did not suppose that the omission of the clause could have made any change in the opinion of the hon. Gentleman. He saw, that on this occasion, the Government was to be opposed by the Gentlemen of both extremes—by those who thought that the Parliament had no right to meddle with the Church at all, and those who thought that the present measure did not go far enough. The Government was now to be opposed both by those who, like the hon. Baronet, the member for Oxford, objected to all Reform of the Church, and those who like the hon. Gentleman, desired to push that Reform a great deal further than the Ministers. The parties who were entirely opposed to each other would unite to vote against this Bill. That was, he thought, not a bad compliment to the course the Ministers had adopted. They had displeased both parties, which showed that the measure was neither imprudent nor unwise, and he hoped that the majority of the House would support the Bill.
§ Mr. Fitzgerald
said, that being the representative of an agricultural county, he felt it due to his constituents to vote for this measure.
§ The House divided—Ayes 274; Noes.94: Majority 180.
§ Bill passed.
|List of the NOES.|
|Apsley, Lord||Irton, S.|
|Arbuthnot, Hon. G.||Jermyn, Lord|
|Ashley, Lord||Johnstone, A.|
|Ashley, hon. H.||Kerrison, Sir E.|
|Baldwin, Dr.||Lefroy, A.|
|Baring, A.||Lewis, Frankland|
|Baring, H.||Lister, Ellis C.|
|Bell, M.||Lowther, hon. H.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Lygon, hon. Colonel|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Manners, Lord R.|
|Bruce, Cummin||Maxwell, J. W.|
|Butler, Pierce||Meynell, Captain|
|Calcraft, J. H.||Miller, W. H.|
|Castlereagh, Lord||Nicholl, J.|
|Chandos, Marquess of||Norreys, Lord|
|Chaplin, T.||O'Connell, Daniel|
|Cole, hon. A.||O'Connell, Morgan|
|Conolly, Colonel||O'Connell, John|
|Cornish, J.||Parrott, J.|
|Corry, hon. H.||Palmer, H.|
|Daly, J.||Peel, Sir R.|
|Dare, hon. H.||Perceval, Colonel|
|Davies, Colonel||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Dick, Q.||Pollock, F.|
|Estcourt, T. G.||Powell, Colonel|
|Evans, Colonel||Reid, Sir J.|
|Fancourt, Major||Ross, C.|
|Finch, E.||Ruthven, E.|
|Foley, E.||Saunderson, D.|
|Fremantle, Sir T.||Scarlett, Sir J.|
|Gillon, W.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Gladstone, T.||Stanley, E.|
|Gladstone, W. E.||Stormont, Lord|
|Gordon, hon. W.||Stuart, C.|
|Grimston, Lord||Tennyson, rt. hon. C.|
|Halcombe, J.||Trelawney, J. S.|
|Halford, H.||Trevor, hon. Rice|
|Hanmer, Colonel||Tullamore, Lord|
|Hardinge, Sir H.||Tyrell, Sir John|
|Harvey, D. W.||Wall, C. B.|
|Hay, Sir John||Wallace, R.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Welby, G. E.|
|Henniker, Lord||Williams, T. P.|
|Herbert, hon. P.||Wynn, Sir W.|
|Herries, rt. hon. J. C.||Wynn, Rt. hon. C.|
|Hope, H. T.|
|Hume, J.||Lefroy, Mr.|
|Hurst, R.||Inglis, Sir R.|