§ Lord Althorp moved the reading of the Order of the Day on this Bill.
§ Colonel Wood presented a Petition against the Bill, from the Archdeacon and Clergy of Brecknock.
§ On Clause 24, which provides that if the incumbent should die before sale-day, or be lawfully evicted, translated, or promoted, the tax should be apportioned, being read,
§ Mr. Goring
rose to move the Amendment of which he had given notice against 916 translations, and in doing so, said, he would not have ventured to address the Committee, in the course of the important subject they were discussing, had he not felt constrained by Christian duly to take the first opportunity of suggesting to the assembled Representatives of the United Kingdom, the propriety and necessity of restoring, as far as possible, to its primitive purity, the fount and sources of discipline to the Church: an abuse which had existed for centuries. When once acknowledged, in his opinion, the length of time it had existed, only increased the imperative duty of immediately putting a stop to it. The system of translation of the Bishops, which commenced in the fourth century, at the instance of the most venal courtier, the most corrupt and timeserving churchman that ever existed, was, at its commencement, declared by the canons of several councils contrary to Scripture, and to the interests of the Church. Notwithstanding which, of such consequence was it to the falling Roman empire to make the Church an engine and tool of state (for which no more effectual means could ever be devised than this system of translation) that although thus denounced by the zealous and pious fathers of the time, it gradually became a substantiated prerogative and universal. No one was more anxious than he was to support every just prerogative of the Crown, but the commands of Christian duty and the interests of the Church must surmount every other sentiment. He trusted his Majesty's advisers would consider, that the exercise of this power was entirely unnecessary to preserve the alliance between Church and State, or for any other constitutional purpose, and that the concession of it would be of great advantage both to the Church and the Monarchy. He could not but deprecate a system which rendered the hierarchy the slaves of courtly favour, which made those who, to use the assertions contained in the apology of Tertullian, "are dead to all ideas of worldly honour and dignity, to whom nothing was more foreign than political concerns," the subservient tools of faction, the members of intrigue and cabal. He trusted that the Committee would feel, that it was no longer right that the Bishops should "stand in the gap and trade of more preferments." Must not political and interested motives intervene and dull the sense of religion in those who, professing 917 zeal for the doctrines of grace, ought to exhibit examples of purity in their lives? Two different characters were offered for the emulation of every Bishop—the one of proud ambition and ostentatious dignity—the other of humble meekness and of zealous piety. He wished to see the Bishops deprived of temptations to avarice and ambition.Nam quæ reverentia legûm, Quis metus aut pudor, est unquam properantis avari.To restore and maintain the respectability of the establishment in the eyes of the nation, to advance the interests of that Church of which he was a member, he felt it his duty to bring before the Committee a system in his opinion so hostile to its interests, and contrary to any instructions to be found either in Scripture or the fathers. He did not think any one abuse so injurious to the Church as this, which rendered impure the source from which its discipline and government should be derived. It was not sufficient that the lord of a household appointed his workmen what they should do, if the surveyors and upper workmen see not that they do it. Who could maintain, that the Bishops of our smaller sees, during the short time they were made the stepping-stone to higher honour, had it in their power to make themselves so far acquainted with the clergy of their diocess, as was consistent with the episcopal duty of instructing as well as governing those who were subordinate to them? It was, But this was not the only injury; the greatest injury produced by the system, in his opinion, was the sense it gave the people, that the Bishops prized their own advancement and glory more than the salvation of their flocks. However pure his motives might be, a translated Bishop must ever be obnoxious to this suspicion. If the Bench of Bishops wished to restore themselves in the eyes of the nation, they must show, that they were not actuated by worldly motives—that they did not make their office a secular calling—that their principles were sincere, and that they did all to the glory of our great master. If servility were perceived in them, if a wretched desire to obtain by courtly flattery, or unseemly means, accumulation of wealth, if they sacrificed political integrity for hopes of advancement, who could re- 918 gard them as the governors and fathers of the Church? "Quem murum integritatis at vallum providebimus, si auri sacra fames in penetralia veneranda proserpat, quid denique cautum esse poterit, aut securum, si sanctitas incorrupta corrumpatur cesset altaribus imminere profanus ardor avaritiæ et à sacris adytis repellatur piaculare flagitium? Itaque castus et humilis nostris temporibus eligatur episcopus, ut quocunque locorum pervenerit omnia vitæ propriæ integritate puriticet, nec pretio sed precibus ordinetur antistes." He felt a restoration, as far as possible, to primitive discipline was, to the Church, absolutely necessary, to that discipline originally designed to beget and nourish religion and virtue, in order to stifle modern follies and fancies, to reclaim an erring and degenerate age. He trusted, that from the support he should that night meet with, henceforth a Bishop when appointed might be tempted to no other feeling than this—"Farewell all hopes of court, my hopes in heaven do dwell." The hon. Member concluded by moving—"That the words 'translated and promoted' be omitted. He would afterwards propose the insertion of a clause to prevent the future translation of Archbishops or Bishops in Ireland to any vacant see, providing that the said clause shall not impede the uniting of sees according to the provisions of the said Act."
said, he believed that one of the ordinances of the Church was, that no person should preach a sermon unless in sacerdotal costume, which he thought the hon. Gentleman had transgressed. He was surprised too, that the hon. Gentleman should object so much to translation and yet use languge, that compelled the House to adopt it. Much of the hon. Gentleman's speech required translation. He would seriously put it to the hon. Member, whether this was a fitting occasion to introduce the discussion of such an important subject? He was in some respects disposed to agree with the hon. Member as to the injurious effects of translations. Thinking that the practice of translating a Bishop from one diocess to another, thus dissevering him from the acquaintances which he had formed in the one, and compelling him to make new ones in the other, and in that way diminishing to a great extent his means of general utility, was a practice that as far as possible should be discontinued and 919 abolished. But as long as the dioceses remained as they were, different in extent and value, it would be impossible altogether to abolish translation, as it would be obviously inexpedient and unjust to confine a Bishop of great learning, talents, and acquirements to a small diocess where he might have first distinguished himself, instead of transferring him to a more enlarged sphere of action and utility. This, however, was not the proper opportunity, as he had said before, for discussing such an important subject. Besides, the amendment which the hon. Member proposed would not effect the object which he had in view. At the present moment translations and promotions were legal, and all the change which the present clause in the Bill introduced into the law was, that the proposed tax should be apportioned between the individual who was removed from the incumbency either by death, translation, or promotion, and his successor. There could not, surely, be a more unfavourable opportunity for discussing the subject of translations than when it was proposed to impose a tax upon those who were thus removed. He hoped, therefore, that the hon. Member would withdraw his Amendment. He might hereafter bring forward a substantive Motion for the abolition of translations altogether, though he (Mr. Stanley) did not think that Parliament was prepared at the present moment to agree with the hon. Member.
§ Mr. Shaw
meant when they came to the clause for the reduction of the number of Bishops to propose as an Amendment, that the revenues of the different Bishoprics in Ireland should be reduced to the same amount which would render translations unlikely, and do away with the necessity of such a proposition as the present.
§ Mr. Charles Buller
said, that as the measure was extremely likely to encounter considerable opposition in another place, they should introduce into it every clause that was calculated to give it a popular character, with a view, if possible, to secure its success. Now, as the system of translations was one with regard to which the public entertained a strong opinion, and as there could be no doubt as to the evils which arose from that practice, he should give his cordial support to the present Amendment.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
said, that the hon. 920 Member who had just spoken had assigned a most extraordinary reason for supporting this Amendment. He stated, that this measure was likely to encounter great opposition in another place, and upon that ground he recommended that they should introduce as many debatable points as possible into it. The hon. Member said, it was necessary to render it popular, in order to secure the support of the people for it. If in its present shape it did not merit that support, it should at once be rejected by the House. The hon. Member recommended them to take a most dangerous course for the country. Even if the present Amendment were adopted, it would not do away with the practice of translations. The only alteration it would effect in the Bill would be, that the proposed tax would not apply to Bishoprics vacant in consequence of translation, and the question of the legality, propriety, and expediency of translations, would not be affected, directly or indirectly, by the adoption of such an Amendment.
§ Mr. Briscoe
said, that the practice of translations was injurious both to the interests of religion and of the Church, but this was not the proper opportunity to discuss such a subject.
§ Mr. Jervis
said, that the only object which would be affected by the adoption of the proposition would be the introduction of a technical Amendment into the Bill. If the practice of translations was to be abolished, the abolition should be effected upon a broad principle, equally applicable to the churches in both countries.
§ Mr. Goring
said, that if they were to come into a collision with the other House on this measure, as it was reported would be the case, they should make it as good and as popular a measure as possible, in order that the people might see, that their interests were consulted in that House, and were not consulted in the other House of Parliament. In deference, however, to the opinion of the House, he would withdraw his Amendment.
§ Clauses 25, 26, and 27 were then severally agreed to.
§ On Clause 28 being put,
§ Mr. Goring moved the addition at the termination of the clause, of an Amendment, to the effect to prevent the future translation of Archbishops or Bishops in Ireland to any vacant see.
§ Dr. Lushington
hoped the hon. Member 921 who had proposed this addition to the, clause would not proceed to a division. The question whether or not the system of translation in church preferment, which had been practised for so long a period, should or should not be continued, was one of vast importance, and he conceived that nothing could be more inconvenient than at the present stage of this Bill, and on a proposition suggested by way of rider, to one of its clauses, to enter into the discussion of so great and so important a question. It was impossible to dispose of such a question by so simple and undefined a course as had now been submitted to the Committee; indeed, before the Legislature could interfere in this respect, the Churches of England and of Ireland must be put upon the same footing, and at this period of the Session it was impossible that this great and important subject could be disposed of or decided with any adequate prudence or consideration. He would not hesitate to admit, that he thought some provision ought to be made in order to make translations in the Church less frequent, but he must ask the Committee if it was practicable, by a summary proposition of the kind now before it, that this could be well or practicably effected? In many cases he felt it would be advantageous to the Church, that translations should take place; for suppose a man of great learning and piety were Bishop of Llandaff, and a vacancy occurred in a larger see, would it not be right, he would ask, that the sphere of such a man's jurisdiction should be extended to the larger see? The system undoubtedly called for some amelioration, but he hoped the Committee would not be hurried into so important a consideration; on the contrary, he trusted they would agree with him in thinking that such an amelioration could only be properly the result of calm and prudent deliberation. He regretted to hear expressions as to the anticipations of results in another place, and that mention should be made of collisions. He was himself desirous for conciliation rather than collision, and therefore he had every anxiety to render this Bill palatable to others, who might have to decide upon its merits, instead of including amongst its provisions matter that was at variance with its general contents, and which would have the effect of producing that collision which he, in common with every man having an 922 interest in the welfare of his country, must deprecate and ought to endeavour to avoid. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would consent to withdraw the Amendment. He must say, in reference to the collision which had been anticipated, that in his humble judgment it was all but unconstitutional to attempt to foretel what might occur in another place as to the result of this or any other measure.
said, that before he put the Amendment proposed by the hon. member for Shoreham, he must first inquire from the Committee whether the Amendment proposed by the hon. member for Shoreham could, according to the recital of the Bill, be properly entertained.
hoped the Committee would not at present be called upon to express an opinion in this respect, but that the hon. member for Shoreham would withdraw his Amendment in order to propose it at a more fitting opportunity, when it should have his (Mr. Young's) complete support.
§ On Clause 32 being proposed,
said: I rise to propose that the preamble to this clause be omitted. It recites, that "his Majesty has been pleased to signify, that he has placed at the disposal of Parliament his interest in the temporalities and custody thereof of the several bishoprics, and archbishoprics, mentioned in this act, and the schedule (B) thereto annexed"—and I object to this recital, not only as highly objectionable upon constitutional grounds, but as wholly unnecessary and mischievous, as throwing all the odium of originating this measure of spoliation of the Irish Church upon his Majesty. Sir, I very much regret that, being misled by the arrangements for this evening's proceedings, I was not here in time to move the Resolutions of which I had given notice for this evening, touching his Majesty's message to this House, which is recited in this preamble. In point of form, it is contrary to all precedent of parliamentary usage that this message has been brought down verbally to this House. I find it stated in Mr. Hatsell's precedents, that, except in matters personal to any Member of this House (in which cases a verbal message is adopted), the invariable rule is, that the message from the Crown 923 should be in writing, under the royal sign manual, and communicated to both Houses of Parliament at the same time—and there are many instances of the jealous interference of the other House if this course is not pursued. But I object now to this message in point of substance. His Majesty is here made to surrender his interest in the temporalities of the bishoprics proposed to be suppressed, to the unlimited disposal of Parliament—not even restricted to be applied to ecclesiastical purposes; and again, his Majesty does not surrender for himself and his successors, but only his own personal interests. And what are they in the temporalities of any one of these Bishops, who may happen to survive the Crown? Clearly nothing. But I deny, that the Crown has any beneficial interest in the temporalities of the Established Church—at least with the exception that, on the death of each Bishop the King is entitled, by his prerogative, to the Bishop's palfrey, his bason and ewer, and his kennel of hounds. And these are to be compounded for in the Exchequer. This stands upon the authority of Lord Coke, and other ancient writers, cited in Mr. Chitty's recent treatise of the prerogatives, of the Crown; but, "expressio unius est exclusio alterius" and from this statement of the rights which do belong to the prerogative beneficially, we infer the exclusion of all others. The King, indeed, also presents to benefices which may fall vacant before the see is filled up. Of the temporalities, the lands and property of the Bishops, the King is merely the guardian during vacancy, and accounts for the profits to the successor. This is clearly both the law and usage at the present day. There have, indeed, been many instances of the Crown in ancient times taking possession of the Bishops' temporalities, and enjoying or committing waste upon them; but this has been forbidden by many statutes, as 1 Edward 3rd, s. 2, e. 2 14; Edward 3rd, s. 4, c. 3; and 25 Edward 3rd, s. 3, c. 6; and these statutes clearly negative the right of the Crown. I find, also, in Matthew Paris, that King Henry 1st granted a charter at the beginning of his reign, promising neither to sell, nor let to farm, nor take anything from the domains of the Church till the successor was appointed. And it was made one of the articles of the great charter in 9 Henry 3rd, that no waste should be made in the 924 temporalities of bishoprics, neither should the custody of them be sold. And indeed all the authorities which I have consulted established the same proposition, that the interest of the King is merely a barren trusteeship as guardian pro tempore of the temporalities. But if this be so, how can the surrender of this interest be made, as it is by this clause, the foundation of the Legislature interfering to suppress the bishoprics, of which the temporalities are surrendered, and seizing the fee-simple of their estates? It may be called what you will, but it is direct and unjustifiable spoliation, and a most dangerous precedent for the English Church, and every right of private property in the United Kingdom. It should not be forgotten that the Established Church in this country is recognised by our Constitution as a distinct estate of this realm. In Lord Coke's 4th Institute, treating of the High Court of Parliament, he says: "This Court consisteth of the King's Majesty, sitting there as in his royal politic capacity, and of the three estates of the realm, viz:1. The Lords spiritual, being the Archbishops and Bishops, who, when any Parliament is holden, ought, 'ex debito justitiœ,' to have a writ of summons;2. The Lords temporal; and 3. The Commons." And this I cite, merely observing that the vulgar error, which considers the three estates to consist of King, Lords, and Commons, is unfounded. It is further no less clear, that the clergy, by the Constitution of this country, have always been recognised as an independent body under the King, as their supreme head, meeting in convocation for their own government and discipline; and taxing themselves towards the necessities of the State generally, be it observed, in a larger proportion than was paid by the laity. I have here a full record of the proceedings in convocation, so late as the 27th Elizabeth, which I have extracted from Bishop Gibson's "Codex"—and indeed there can be no dispute that the clergy in convocation taxed their own body. I have also found a writ in the register, which every lawyer knows is of the highest authority, and which writ every clergyman whose lands should be distrained upon for any tax, had a right to sue out for his protection. This writ is addressed to the Sheriff, commanding him not to distrain; and reciting that it is by the custom of England that ecclesiastical property is not subject to be 925 taxed, except by the clergy. Such, then, being the respective interests of the Crown and the clergy, I most strongly object to the preamble of this clause upon most constitutional ground, that this surrender by his Majesty, and his supposed ultimate assent to this Bill, are in direct and positive violation of the letter and spirit of the Coronation Oath. I am aware that this subject has before been discussed in both Houses of Parliament on occasion of the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, and very recently, since I gave notice of my resolutions, by one of which I proposed to raise this question, it has been re-asserted by the noble Earl at the head of his Majesty's Government in another place, that the Coronation Oath binds his Majesty only in his executive, but not in his legislative capacity. This proposition I totally deny. I believe, that in former debates in this House the subject has never been fully considered, and I trust that a struggle—a fair but firm struggle—in argument, will yet be made ere so monstrous a proposition shall receive the deliberate sanction of Parliament. I do not hesitate to say, that the whole liberties of this country hinge upon it—it lies at the very root of our Constitution, and it is evident, that all the rights and liberties of the people may be uprooted and destroyed by the Crown and the Parliament, if this construction of the oath shall prevail. It is placed, I know, upon the words "or shall" being introduced into that part of the Oath where the King swears to "preserve to the Bishops and Churches all such rights as do or shall appertain to them"—and hence it is said, that the King may join with the two Houses of Parliament in destroying all, or the greater portion of such rights as do belong to the clergy; and then if in his executive capacity he preserves to the Church the remnant, or the nothing which is left, he thereby fulfils his obligation, which was but in the alternative, that he should preserve all which then shall belong to them, after the Legislature has deprived them of the rest. But, can this be satisfactory to men of common sense? At least there are two ways of reading this part of the oath; and as it would evidently not be enough for the Monarch to engage to preserve what rights the clergy possessed at the time of imposing the oath, without extending his engagement to such rights also as might be afterwards ac- 926 quired, hence arose, I apprehend, the addition of the words "or shall" appertain to them. This is at least an ambiguity; but in one sense it increases the security proposed; in the other, it renders it no security at all—nay, by the construction attempted to be put upon it, this part of the oath is rendered of no value, for in a former part of it the King swears to maintain all laws enacted by the Parliament. And again, even if these words prove, as is contended, that the King's legislative power was to be controlled, this argument cannot apply to that positive enactment, in the oath, that his Majesty "will, to the utmost of his power, maintain the Protestant reformed religion established by law." Here there is no ambiguity—and what power on earth can dispense with this obligation? or is it consistent with it to destroy ten bishoprics in Ireland (nearly half their hierarchy), and apply their possessions to other than ecclesiastical purposes? I say nothing now of its being also a positive contravention of the 5th article of the Union between the two countries, because I am to confine myself merely to the preamble in question. If I err in my opinion of the construction of the Coronation Oath, I have at least the satisfaction of knowing that I err in common with a large number of the most dignified, excellent, and enlightened men both in this country and Ireland; and to show the House their opinions upon this great question, I have read through every petition against this Bill, which has been presented to this House either from Ireland or England, and have selected seven or eight from each country, in order to read to hon. Members what are the opinions here expressed by the prelates, dignitaries, clergy, and lay members of the Established Church, singly with reference to this one point of the obligation imposed by the Coronation Oath. The hon. Member here read extracts from several petitions both from Ireland and England, all expressing in the strongest terms the opinions of the petitioners that the present Bill is in direct violation of the letter and spirit of the Coronation Oath, and protesting against its passing into a law. Let me now. Sir, consider in what sense, in construing this oath, it ought to be understood. In Paley's "Moral Philosophy," liber 3, I find that he slates that "oaths being designed for the security of the imposer, it is manifest that they must be inter- 927 preted and performed in the sense in which the imposer intends them, otherwise they afford no security to him"—and again, in Puffendorf, lib. 4, ch. 2, he says, "an oath must be understood in that sense in which the imposer understood it, and which he intended it to bear." This oath, then, must be interpreted and performed according to the sense in which the Legislature in 1688 intended it and imposed it. And what that sense was is rendered perfectly evident by reference to the debates in this House of that day, and which establish beyond all controversy that it was intended that the King should be bound in his legislative capacity, as well as in his executive. I refer particularly to two Amendments, which were put and negatived—one, to add the words "or shall" be established by law—upon which, Mr. Finch says: "No man can have any colour, but that still a liberty is to consent to any other laws to preserve religion, and those are according to the oath 'established by law.'" And the other when Mr. Pelham proposed to add as a proviso to the Bill, "that no clause therein should be understood so to bind the kings and queens of this realm, as to prevent their giving their assent to any Bill, which should at any time be offered by the Lords and Commons for taking away or altering any form or ceremony in the Established Church, so as the doctrines of the said Church, or the public liturgy, and the episcopal government of it be preserved;" and this was negatived, on the ground that making alterations in the ceremonial of the Church was not contrary to the principles of the oath—and so the exception proves the rule. I will only trouble the House further with one extract which I was delighted to meet with in Mr. Burke's celebrated Treatise on the French Revolution, as he there speaks distinctly of the Church property in this country as private property, and sacred as such. He says of the people of England, after eulogising their attachment to the Church: "From the united considerations of religion and constitutional policy, from their opinion of a duty to make a sure provision for the consolation of the feeble, and the instruction of the ignorant, they have incorporated and identified the estate of the Church with the mass of private property of which the State is not the proprietor, either for use or dominion; but the guardian only, and the regulator. They 928 have ordained that the provision of this establishment might be as stable as the earth on which it stands." In several other parts of his works he expresses the same sentiments; and, in one avers, "that the English nation will never suffer the fixed estate of the Church to be converted into a pension, or to depend upon the treasury, but that they have therefore made their Church, like their king and their nobility, independent." I will not read other extracts, or refer to other authorities now—permit me only to say, that in all the sentiments of this great and good man I entirely and cordially concur. As a lover of my country, and an admirer of its once glorious Constitution, I feel deeply the rapid spread of principles which will overwhelm it, the encouragement which those principles unhappily receive within these walls, and the daily inroads which are made upon its integrity and beautiful structure—but never more fatally than by this most oppressive and unconstitutional Bill—I feel deeply upon the subject, and earnestly entreat the House to reject the preamble to this clause.
§ Dr. Lushington
said, that the beneficial interest in Bishops' temporalities was vested in the Crown during the time that the sees might happen to be vacant, and therefore it was necessary that his Majesty should signify his assent to the measure before the House.
§ Mr. Poulter
contended, that if the United Church of England and Ireland meant anything more than a spiritual union it could only be regarded as a reproach to the former. He did not deny, that many individual dignitaries of the Irish Church were adorned by the highest virtues, but the institution itself was founded upon a principle of conquest, and had gone on upon a principle of intolerance, and, therefore, could have nothing in common with a Church whose foundation at least was in the affections of the people, and to which happy distinction he trusted again to see it fully restored by the Reforms which had been commenced by the noble Lord. In Ireland the Protestant Church having been imposed upon the people by violence and force, and maintained by a system founded in those principles, had rather tended to retard the growth of the Reformation than to encourage and foster it; and even if the blessed light of those principles were to beam upon the minds of the people of 929 Ireland, it could only be kindled by the provisions of this and similar measures. Indeed he could well imagine the noble Lord who had introduced the Bill as aspiring to the high honour of becoming a second founder of the Protestant religion in Ireland—the founder of a new Reformation upon the grounds of reason, moderation, and suitableness. He expressed his surprise that the old and exploded argument respecting the Coronation Oath had been revived; that argument had been triumphantly answered upon the Catholic question by the right hon. member for Tamworth. The Coronation Oath being imposed by the people on the Sovereign, it was impossible to say, that they were not to be the judges of the construction to be put upon its terms. It was, therefore, an absurdity to argue that the Sovereign was not at liberty to make any changes in the temporalities of the Church which the people thought beneficial to the general community. He maintained that it was in his executive, and not in his legislative functions, that the King was restrained by the terms of the oath. It had been said, that the Church received nothing from the State; but he believed its whole title to the property it possessed was a statutable and parliamentary title. Under the Statute of Edward 6th, the clergymen were ordered to read the Book of Common Prayer, under pain of the forfeiture of their benefices; and by the 13th of Elizabeth, all clergymen were deprived of their livings who would not subscribe to the doctrines of the Church of England. These examples proved, that the Legislature had on former occasions exercised its right of dealing with Church property as it thought proper. He very much regretted that this measure had been petitioned against by the Clergy and the Universities, especially that of Oxford, to which he had the honour to belong. He believed that, in passing the measure, the House would be advancing the interests of the Protestant Church and the glory of God.
said, as he felt it his duty to give his most strenuous opposition to the present clause, he was anxious to state, as shortly as he could, to the Committee, his reasons for doing so; and as an hon. Member near him had claimed their indulgence on the ground of having many important English petitions against the Bill, he felt he had a not less strong claim, as he had been intrusted with many 930 even still more entitled to consideration, as coming from Ireland, where this Bill was to be put into operation; and he had no hesitation in saying, with respect to the persons from whom those petitions emanated, viz., the clergy of Ireland, more particularly those about whom he was especially interested, the united body of clergy in the county which he had the honour to represent, that notwithstanding the attacks and unfounded charges which had been brought against them, their opinions were well deserving of the respect and attention of the Committee, whether their high intellectual attainments, their entire devotion to the interests of their profession, or their patience under unexampled sufferings, be considered. The petitions to which he alluded were against the principle of the whole Bill, "as infringing upon the rights of property, as inconsistent with the Coronation Oath, and contrary to the Act of Union." Upon the two latter points he would only observe, that they appeared to him to offer insuperable obstacles; and the Committee could have no doubt of the truth of the first, after the admission of the hon. members for Derbyshire and Dublin, one declaring "that he supported these measures of Ministers, as he hoped they would lead to the confiscation of Church property;" the other "that he considered them valuable only as bringing under the cognizance of Parliament the alteration and distribution of Church property, so that hereafter by a portion of it the country might be relieved from the Grand Jury Cess." Though he admitted these petitions were against the whole Bill, he considered himself justified in alluding to them on the present occasion, as if there was one clause against which more than another the petitioners protested, it was this one, and most justly, as it proved clearly that this Bill, which declared in its preamble "that the number of Bishops might be conveniently diminished, and that this and other alterations would tend to the advancement of religion, and the efficiency, permanence, and stability of the United Church of England and Ireland," was founded on false and delusive principles. With respect to the present clause he would confine himself to replying to the reasons assigned in favour of it on a former night by the late Secretary for Ireland—they were three; and he would admit they appeared to him on that occasion to have much weight. 931 He could well understand that English gentlemen, who were not locally acquainted with Ireland, might be induced by them, if they remained unnoticed, to support this measure. The first was, the comparison of the number of Irish Bishoprics with the number of English Bishoprics, contrasting the extent of their jurisdictions. The second was, the consent of the primate. The third was, the necessity for yielding to the clamour which existed on this subject. In order to satisfy the Committee upon the first point, he would beg to lay before them the peculiarities of the English Church, and wherein it differed materially from the Irish branch. The Irish bench of Bishops consisted of twenty-two; the whole jurisdiction of the Church rested with them; the Deans and Archdeacons in Ireland had no jurisdiction whatever; the Archbishops had the superintendence of their provincial Bishops, and like the other Bishops, the superintendence of their own particular diocese. The English bench consisted of twenty-six Bishops; but a small part of the superintendence rested with them; they had under them thirty-six Deans and sixty Archdeacons, with episcopal jurisdiction; the Deans and Archdeacons superintend the Chapters, and hold their courts and annual visitations; and the government of the Church was so well carried on by them, that the English Bishops hold only triennial visitations. The Archdeacons so completely relieved the Bishops of their most anxious duties, that they were known by the title of "oculi episcopi." The eighteen Irish Bishops did therefore the same work as the ninety-six Deans and Archdeacons performed in England, and the four Irish Archbishops performed the same duty as the twenty-six English Bishops, with the addition of the care and superintendence of their own particular diocese. From hence it appeared, that in Ireland there were only twenty-six ordinaries, that is, persons with episcopal jurisdiction; in England, 122. Where there was one Bishop in Ireland, there were in England six ordinaries. Further, could it be said, that in a country circumstanced as Ireland, whose greatest evils the late Secretary had so truly described, as want of capital, resident gentry, of employment, and of education—the reduction of the Bishops would conduce to remedying any of these evils. Let it be recollected, that there cross-roads are almost impassable, post- 932 horses seldom could be got, travelling was frequently dangerous to clergymen; could it then be contended that it would conduce to the interest of religion to extend the patronage of seven Bishops, when means of knowing their clergy would be diminished, or that the efficiency of the Established Church would be increased by withdrawing from some of the most important towns, such as Cork, Bishops, who from their station and character, exercised a wholesome moral influence, and were looked up to as the supporters of local charities, and the patrons of useful institutions. With respect to the consent of the primate, he need only say, that he so entirely concurred in the high eulogium passed upon that distinguished prelate by the right hon. Gentleman, that he felt it almost presumptuous to entertain a different opinion in any matter affecting the welfare of the Establishment, but they had now the admission of the right hon. Gentleman that he had overstated the assent expressed by the primate. Upon the last point he would only trouble the Committee by reading sentiments expressed so much to his satisfaction, upon a former occasion, by the late Secretary for Ireland, when the motion was only for inquiry into the state of the Church Establishment in Ireland, that he could not omit them at present—"Whether the proposition be considered as one of conciliation or financial advantage, there is no imminent danger which can warrant us in violating the rights and property of the Established Church; she must be supported or given up altogether. It is at present only proposed to clip her wings, and exhibit her in an humbled condition to her rival. If the feelings of the Roman Catholics of Ireland towards the Established Church are intemperate, it is time to show, that her natural protectors are neither too weak nor too indifferent to uphold her, and that her wealth excites no alarm among her friends, whatever jealousy it may excite among her enemies." Having thus as he hoped, disposed of the three strongest arguments in favour of the clause, he must protest against its being repeated, that he and his friends were hostile to any improvements. But let not improvement be tainted with party spirit, nor calculated to insult Protestant feeling in Ireland. He was ready to go even further than was proposed by Mr. Perceval, when he was at the head of 933 affairs in this country. Mr. Perceval opposed pluralities and unions, but now a sufficient sum might be deducted from the incomes of the Bishops to enable Government to carry even their plans into execution, if only they would not meddle with the discipline and ecclesiastical arrangements of the Church, with which, there was no question, they had not a right to deal. Reform, such as he alluded to, would be consistent with the Coronation Oath, with the Act of Union, and calculated to accomplish the wish of a revered Sovereign, "that the day might come when every cottage in his dominion should possess a bible." He would conclude, by entreating the Committee to proceed in this all-important work, according to the advice given on a former occasion by the right hon. Gentleman, "recollecting, that in a matter of such vital importance, the utmost caution should be used, lest by an indiscreet zeal for doing good, they may inflict an irreparable injury;" to reflect that the progress of this Bill was anxiously watched by many who lived in Ireland, supporting the laws and maintaining the union, and who would learn from the decision of that night, if the giant which would at length overwhelm them was to be fed and pampered on the life-blood of that hope and confidence which once invigorated and supported those loyal men; and he conjured them not to forget the warning voice of that nobleman (Lord Plunkett), who was raised to his present high position in Ireland for the purpose, as it was stated, of conciliating the Protestants—and who in his place in that House declared, "that to take away the rights of one class of people to give them to another, cannot be termed anything but spoliation; that he had no hesitation in saying, that the existence of the Protestant Establishment is the great bond of union between the two countries; and that, if ever that unfortunate moment shall arrive, when we shall rashly lay hands on the property of the Church, to rob it of its rights, that moment we shall seal the doom and terminate the connexion between the two countries."
§ Sir Robert Inglis
contended, that the question was not, whether the Coronation Oath applied or not to this clause, as stated by his hon. friend, the member for Shaftesbury (Mr. Poulter), but whether the Church of England and Ireland were one; and he had hoped, that the noble Lord would have declared that his hon. 934 friend, in denying that principle, had committed a great constitutional error. He had considered that the question of the Coronation Oath being confined in the obligations it imposed on the Sovereign to his executive functions, had been fully disposed of in former discussions. At all events, he retained his opinion, that whatever power the Legislature might have to modify the oath to be taken by a future Sovereign, yet nothing which could be done now, could have a retrospective effect upon the terms, or on the construction of the terms, of the oath which had already been taken, which must remain with those who imposed, and with him who took it alone. Nothing which could be done now with regard to the oath, could have any operation except with reference to the future. The hon. member for Shaftesbury had also appealed to cases in which the Parliament had interfered with the property of the Church since the Reformation. He begged to ask the hon. Member, whether the Acts of Edward 6th, and of Elizabeth, to which he alluded, were not adopted in concurrence with the decisions of the two Houses of Convocation, and, therefore, under circumstances by which the Parliament were only giving effect to regulations emanating from the clergy themselves? With regard to the amendment, it was not one which he desired to see pressed upon the Committee, as he did not concur with the hon. Mover as to his observations respecting the interest of the Crown.
§ Mr. Shaw
believed the present course was unprecedented, and asked the noble Lord, whether he could advance any instance of the consent of the Crown being given verbally, instead of under the sign manual, when any important right of the Crown was to be surrendered, although such a course might have been adopted in matters of minor importance.
§ Lord Althorp
could not mention any case in which the present course had been adopted; and although it was more usual for the consent of the Crown to be given by the sign-manual in such cases, yet he could see no substantial objection to the present course.
§ The Amendment negatived.
§ On the clause being again put,
§ Mr. Shaw
said, he hoped it would not be denied, that in the previous discussions of the Bill, he had not urged objections that were captious, or offered any vexatious delay to its progress; but he considered 935 that they had then arrived at one of the most important and objectionable clauses of the entire Bill. The two leading; principles of the measure, which, in his judgment, must earn for it the opposition of every man who valued the security of property and the interests of the Established Church, were, the alienation of Church property to other than Church purposes, and the general tendency of its enactments to lower the authority, and diminish the just influence of the spiritual heads of the Established Church in Ireland. The clause which related to the appropriation of the perpetuity purchase fund, occurred late in the Bill, and he would not then enter into a premature discussion of it. Still it was in one respect essentially connected with the present clause, inasmuch as if the proper funds of the Church were not diverted from its use, any arrangement or distribution of those funds for strictly ecclesiastical purposes would be much facilitated: but the principle of undue and unprecedented interference with ecclesiastical authority, was more immediately involved in the 32nd section of the Bill then before them. He had already objected to the constitution of the Board of Commissioners—to the power of suspending incumbents, where service had not been performed for three years, and to the difficulties interposed to the building of new churches; all contributing to the same end, but none so decidedly and so fatally as the present clause, by the reduction of the number of bishoprics. He objected to this both in an ecclesiastical and a political point of view. As regarded the first, the only argument ever attempted in support of it was, a comparison with the number of Bishops in England; but in that there was a double fallacy—first, in assuming, that in England there was a sufficient number of Bishops, and secondly, in supposing, that they performed the same duties as the Irish Bishops. The right hon. Gentleman instanced the case of an English diocese, which contained about 1,200 benefices, and covered an immense extent of country; but what, he would would ask, was the consequence? It was, that no one man, however active, zealous, and able, could possibly superintend its concerns: and supposing that they could put out of question all considerations of a political nature—which, no doubt, as affected spiritual Peers, would not, in these times, be calmly and dispassionately entered upon—would any reasonable man 936 deny that, for merely ecclesiastical purposes, a greater number of English Bishops would be desirable? The best proof of it was, that necessity obliged them to depute Archdeacons, who, in England, annually held visitations—had their own courts and registrars—and, in all respects, acted as the Bishops' representatives. In Ireland, the political prejudice would have no weight, as it was not contemplated to make any change in the number of representative Bishops; and with regard to those functions which Archdeacons discharged in this country, in Ireland there was no such practice; but there the Bishops in person held annual visitations superintended the churches, school-houses, and other ecclesiastical establishments within their respective dioceses; and kept up a constant communication, by correspondence and in person, with all their clergy. Yet this Bill, which professed as one of its primary objects, the dissolution of unions, and to promote the performance of duty in person in all cases, with strange inconsistency, was, in respect of the bishoprics, to adopt the principle of unions, and to throw upon the individual Bishops duties which it was impossible for any one of them adequately to fulfil. He would, upon this point, refer to a very apposite authority—that of a petition from the laity and clergy of the city of Cork, one of the dioceses it was intended to suppress, and signed by all the influential gentry in that large and important district. The petitioners stated it as—'Their decided opinion, that no one person, let him be ever so active, can possibly perform the varied and important duties of ordinations, confirmations, and annual visitation, combined with the frequent personal superintendence of parochial matters, throughout the extent of country comprised in the proposed union.' The learned and eminent Prelate who filled that See, which it was proposed to suppress, because the duties were insufficient to occupy a Bishop, had assured him (Mr. Shaw), that though he had been all his life engaged in the most arduous and laborious avocations—which must be well known to all persons acquainted with the nature of the Fellowships and Provost-ships of the University of Dublin—he never had his time and his mind so constantly and indefatigably occupied, as since he had been appointed Bishop of Cork. An hon. Member had complained, that an overgrown episcopacy had been detrimental 937 to the cause of the Protestant Church in Ireland. That hon Member professed much friendship for the Irish branch of the Established Church; but he certainly did not show, that he had any great acquaintance with its present condition. Was that hon. Member aware that, under the care and superintendence of those Bishops whom he ventured to condemn, greater benefits had been conferred, in providing all the means of advancement and extension of the Established Church, within the last quarter of a century, than had been in the entire century preceding? Four times the number of Churches had been built—three times, at least, the number of glebe-houses—and all other requisites and proofs of growing improvement were to be discovered in the same proportion. He had stated, on a former occasion, the number of new Churches, and other licensed places, which had been opened for the performance of divine service; but this had been met by the argument that it was one thing to have churches, and another to have congregations. In answer, then, to that observation, he could mention, that in three dioceses alone, which he declared had been only accidentally selected, but which would serve as a sample of the rest, in thirty new places of worship there were 1,246 regular communicants, making on an average forty-one in each; and that, according to the usual calculation of one communicant in ten who attended the Church, would give an average congregation of about 400 to each Church. He alluded to the dioceses of Cork, Cloyne, and Ferns, and he believed in other dioceses of which he had not the same accurate returns, that the increase had been quite as great both in Churches and congregations. Then with regard to this question as it affected the political and social state of Ireland; absenteeism was the evil that all were deploring, and yet in one sweep that Bill was to remove, independently of any religious consideration, ten gentlemen of high rank, station, and character, from their respective residences in that country. Now if the Government had 40,000l. a-year to lay out to the advantage of Ireland, he would ask could they expend it more profitably than in fixing ten such residents in the very places from which they were taking them away. The peculiar circumstances of the country were not in this, as in most other Irish questions, sufficiently considered. 938 The second tithe report of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Stanley) observed strongly upon the importance of this distinction; it stated that "In England there are few districts in which the want of resident proprietors or of landowners in easy circumstances operates injuriously upon the condition of the peasantry and the cultivation of the soil—in Ireland there are very many, and those probably in districts where the residence of a Protestant clergyman would produce the most beneficial results," The hon. and learned member for Dublin the other night bore testimony to the fact, that in all the offices of charity and benevolence extending themselves throughout the sphere of influence of the Protestant resident gentlemen there obtained no distinction in regard to religious creed. In 1824, the Bishop of Limerick had stated, that there were ten petitions before the Houses of Parliament, signed by multitudes of Roman Catholics, praying that more resident Protestant clergymen should be sent among them. The truth was, that previous to the combination which was encouraged and excited against that species of property, commencing in the year 1829 or 1830, no persons paid their tithes with more alacrity than the Roman Catholics. They regarded the payment in its true light, as a mere tax upon the land, belonging in nine cases out of ten to Protestant proprietors; and it was not, as had been alleged, from any natural dislike on their parts to the nature of the tax, that we owed the present condition of society in Ireland, but to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic priesthood sedulously circulated in their exhortations and their writings, to let "the hatred of tithes be as lasting as the love of justice;" and that it was the duty of those poor deluded people to "employ against the devouring impost all their wit and ingenuity, with all the means which the law allows," and which latter expression the right reverend writer well knew the people would construe to mean "by all the means which the law forbids." The efforts of political agitators were simultaneously used for the same purpose—and these being unchecked by the Government, the result had been the present deplorable, he might almost say dissolution of society in Ireland. Was it now then proposed to make further unavailing sacrifices to appease this same interested and designing clamour? Did his Majesty's 939 Ministers imagine that this sop thrown to the agitators and disturbers of the public peace, would have any other effect than to renew their strength and encourage their audacious resistance to the laws. Was there anything in the diminution of the number of the Irish Bishops calculated to confer a real benefit on the Roman Catholic population, while it would most justly incense the Protestant? If the requisite sum for all legitimate purposes of a strictly ecclesiastical character could not be otherwise provided, and the Church property be secured, then he and other Protestants would say reduce rather the incomes than the number of our Bishops. But no; that was refused, because, though it would equally accomplish the object so far as revenue was concerned, it would not equally serve to offend and insult the Protestants of Ireland. He charged that upon his Majesty's Government as their real motive in this enactment—and as he had often heard it said in reference to society, that a man of good sense and temper could always avoid a quarrel unless another was determined right or wrong to quarrel with him; so it now seemed to be with his Majesty's Ministers. It was not enough that Protestants should even consent to the same thing being done in a way less offensive to their feelings, because the object would appear to be to give them offence, and to offer them insult. But let the Government of this country beware. He had not failed upon these discussions to observe the tone and manner that the Ministers had adopted. They had permitted hon. Members who were their own supporters to charge upon them as a crime an attempt to support the Established Church in Ireland without repudiating the doctrine. The noble Lord the other night declared his opinion that no Minister could hold his place in England if he attempted to subvert her Established Church, but he studiously avoided applying the same observation to Ireland, and resting the support even of the Church in England upon the ground, not of right or duty, but of that popularity which alone seemed to be the ruling power over the mind of the noble Lord. He suggested the natural inference that if the Church in Ireland was not equally popular, the Minister was not bound to support it. The noble Lord also heard with a studied silence, almost amounting to acquiescence, the hon. member for St. Alban's (Mr. 940 Ward) a supporter of the Government, state, from the seat immediately behind the noble Lord, that so far from the continuance of the Established Church in Ireland being a condition of the union between the countries, he considered it the most likely means of their disunion. Did not the noble Lord well know, that this was no matter of opinion, but that it was declared by the Act of Union as an essential and fundamental article of that national compact, that the United Church of England and Ireland should forever be continued and preserved? Nay, he would tell the noble Lord more—that even if no such contract existed in law between the two countries, there would be in fact, and in the genuine feeling of the Irish nation, no link, independently of the Established Church, strong enough to maintain the connexion with England. Neither his Majesty's Ministers nor the Members of that House should deceive themselves with respect to the feelings of the Irish people. Overthrow the Established Church, and you seal the doom of the Union. The hon. and learned member for Dublin (Mr. O'Connell) would carry the Repeal of the Union in six months after the Protestant Established Church had ceased to exist in Ireland. He had no desire then to advert to the question of the Repeal of the Union, further than it was inseparably connected with the one before them. Being himself most averse, upon every principle, from that measure, he was the better witness as to the sentiments of others—and he felt, that he should be guilty of an abandonment of his duty, if he did not give timely warning to his Majesty's Ministers, that they were walking upon the edge of a fearful precipice. The Roman Catholics of Ireland almost to a man were against the Union—a large portion of the Protestants regarded it with favour, principally as a means of preserving their established religion. The feelings of many others would be estranged from this country, if this country abandoned their religious establishment in Ireland; and certainly the language of some hon. Members of that House, as applied to the gentry of Ireland, and particularly he would say of the hon. and gallant General (Sir Hussey Vivian) who had just arrived from the castle of Dublin in a sort of demi-official capacity, was not calculated to promote much cordiality of sentiment between them and those who legislated for 941 them in England. He altogether disclaimed any intention of menacing the Government or English Members of that House, but in sober truth and sincerity, and as an imperative duty, he must caution them, that it was not sufficiently borne in mind that the argument—that the Repeal of the Union must lead to a separation, to which he fully assented, and that Ireland could not possibly exist as a Separate state, if that were admitted, was not altogether conclusive of the question at issue—for though he spoke not his own sentiments, yet he was bound to suggest in time what might possibly be the opinion of others under altered circumstances. Such a thing was possible as Protestants conceiving that if the Roman Catholic religion was to be ascendant in Ireland, other great powers might deal with it more to their minds than the Government of this country, which he believed was at that moment in treaty with the heads of the Roman Catholic Church, with a view to form a State alliance between their religion and the Irish nation. Nor was it so clear that, in a choice of evils, republicanism even would not be a lesser one than a democracy in its worst form, when exercising the veriest despotism, as, if they were to judge from some of the leading Journals of the metropolis, it was at that moment in England, under the specious guise of a mixed Government and a limited monarchy. If the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) would pardon the liberty of his saying so, there was no person who more justly appreciated than he (Mr. Shaw) did, the suavity and courteous demeanour of the noble Lord to every Member of that House. But these were times of awful moment, requiring every energy and power of the mind to be awakened; and in allusion to an expression used towards the noble Lord, with reference to a much less important subject, the other night, he did entreat of the noble Lord not to "smile away" the peace, the prosperity, the happiness, and the very existence of Ireland as an integral part of the United Kingdom.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
declined following the hon. and learned Gentleman through the various topics which he had dilated upon in the course of his speech, as they had nothing to do with the question before the House; and because their only tendency was, to distract the attention of the House from the calm consideration of the subject under discussion. In 942 the first place he must protest against the doctrine of the hon. and learned Gentleman, that whenever an opinion was expressed by an hon. Member, unconnected with his Majesty's Government, if some Member of the Government did not rise in his place and disavow the opinion in question, his Majesty's Government must, therefore, be held responsible. Such was the fair deduction from the hon. and learned Gentleman's wishing to make the Government responsible for the opinions expressed by the hon. members for Shaftesbury and St. Alban's. The hon. and learned Member censured his Majesty's Ministers for not having at once contradicted the assertion, that a distinction existed between the Churches of England and Ireland. The hon. and learned Gentleman had asserted, that the tendency of this measure was, to subvert the Church Establishment in Ireland; whereas its object was, to uphold and support the Church in Ireland, by removing from it those blemishes and defects which only tended to disfigure and to weaken it. With the question, as to whether there should be a reduction of four, six, eight, or ten Bishops the House had nothing to do, until the schedules came under its attention. The question then under consideration was, whether the number of the Bishops was, or was not, disproportionate to the duties they had to perform. The hon. and learned Gentleman had quoted the Second Tithe Report, with a view to show, that in many parts of the country the residence of the Protestant clergy was attended with the most beneficial results. He (Mr. Stanley) entirely concurred in that assertion, and was of opinion that the greatest good was derived from a resident gentry; and that as the Protestant clergyman was in that situation, his presence was most advantageous. But he would beg the hon. and learned Gentleman to recollect that they were not about to take from Ireland one farthing of income; but the question was, whether the revenue of the Bishops might not be more advantageously distributed even as regarded the Church itself. Ministers did not propose to divest the Church of Ireland of any portion of its revenues; but that they should be more equally distributed. They merely proposed to have such a fresh distribution of the revenues of the Church, as would add to its efficiency, and thereby to the respect with which it would be regarded by the 943 nation at large. He was always unwilling; to repeat an opinion which had been expressed to him in private, in that House; but he would repeat now, what he had said before; he admitted that the Primate did not approve of this measure to its full extent; but he had distinctly stated, that if a measure of the sort were to be adopted, he thought that diminishing the number of Bishops would be the least objectionable mode that could be devised; and had recapitulated the names of some of those bishoprics which he thought might be spared with the least inconvenience; and the very first See that he named was that alluded to by the hon. and learned Gentleman; namely, the Bishopric of Raphoe; which the Primate recommended should be consolidated with that of Derry. He hoped that the House would excuse him while he proceeded to show that the number of Bishops who would remain in Ireland, after the consolidation of these bishoprics, would be amply sufficient for the performance of ecclesiastical duty. In the bishopric of Dromore there were twenty-six benefices. This was to be consolidated with the united bishoprics of Down and Connor, in which there were eighty-nine benefices, making a total of 125. In the bishopric of Raphoe, there were thirty-four benefices; in that of Derry, fifty-seven; so that the whole number of benefices to be placed under the superintendence of the Bishop of those consolidated dioceses, would be ninety-one. In the bishopric of Clogher there were forty-five; and in the archbishopric of Armagh, eighty-eight; making together, 133. In the bishopric of Elfin, there were thirty-six benefices; in that of Kilmore, thirty-six; together, seventy-two. In the united bishoprics of Killala and Achonry, there were thirty-one benefices; in the archbishopric of Tuam, forty-three; making, together, seventy-four. He must admit that this diocese included a very large extent of country. In the united bishoprics of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh, there were thirty-one benefices; in those of Killaloe and Kilfenora, sixty-nine; making, together, 100. In the diocese of Kildare there were fifty benefices; in the united dioceses of Dublin and Glendalagh, 114; making, together 164. In the diocese of Ossory there were sixty-one; and in Ferns and Leighlin, 118; making, altogether, 179 benefices. In the united bishoprics of Waterford and 944 Lismore, there were sixty-five; in those of Cashel and Emly, fifty-four; together, 119. In the united bishoprics of Cork and Ross, there were ninety-four benefices; in that of Cloyne, seventy-five; making, together, 169. Thus it appeared, that, according to the plan proposed by his Majesty's Ministers, no Bishop would be called upon to superintend more than 179 benefices; and was this too much for the superintendence of one Prelate? The bishopric of Exeter, in which diocese he resided, was much more extensive than any diocese in Ireland; as there were between 1,100 and 1,200 parishes in it. This number might certainly be too great for the superintendence of a single Bishop; but, at the same time, he could not allow that 179 benefices were too many. The number of livings in Ireland was 1,456; and he did not think that the future Archbishops of Dublin would have a disproportionate number of parishes to attend to, considering that they were not distributed over an extensive district. The aggregate revenue of the Church of England did not exceed 3,000,000l.; of which sum the episcopal revenues amounted to 156,000l. The total revenue of the church of Ireland, was between 700,000l. or 800,000l.; and of this sum the revenues of the Bishops amounted to 150,000l.; of which 130,000l. was in rents. It would not be disputed that there was a great disproportion between the revenue of the Bishops of Ireland, as compared with the whole ecclesiastical revenue of that country,—and that of the English Bishops, as compared with the aggregate revenue of the Church of England. He did not wish to take up the time of the Committee on this point; but he had been desirous of showing that there was a material difference as regarded the situations of the two churches, and would now only add, that it should not escape the recollection of the House, that it was not proposed to take away any portion of Church property; but merely to effect a more equal distribution of it.
§ Mr. Shaw
had not said, that the Government was bound by the opinions of what might be expressed by any Gentleman who sat on that side of the House, unless they disavowed those opinions,—but what he had said was this,—that the Government brought in a Bill for the purpose of making a different distribution of Church property a Ireland; and as the right hon. 945 Gentleman alleged, for the purpose of rendering more secure, and increasing the influence of the Church in Ireland. He was bound to believe, that the right hon. Gentleman supported this measure on that ground; but he would ask him whether he considered that other hon. Members in that House supported the Bill, because they believed, that it would tend to the security of the Establishment? Was not the hon. member for Derbyshire among the supporters of this Bill, who admitted that he was desirous of getting rid of the Church of Ireland? He did not mean to say, that the Government was responsible for the opinions of those Gentlemen, but they were responsible for measures which they introduced, and which were supported on such grounds. He did not so much object to the right hon. Gentleman for taking away a portion of the revenues of the richer bishoprics, for other ecclesiastical purposes,—as on account of his reducing the number of the Bishops. He was really sorry to have anything like a difference with the right hon. Gentleman, but he could not help observing (and he said it with the greatest respect to that right hon. Gentleman) that he had not acted altogether fairly in putting the construction which he did on the language of the Primate. He (Mr. Shaw) believed the case was this,—when that most reverend Prelate was informed of the determination of Government to abolish the vestry cess, and that that change must hereafter be made in the revenues of the Church, he observed that, under those circumstances, if no other means could be found, he would consent to a consolidation of bishoprics. The right hon. Gentle-man had no wish, he was persuaded, to misrepresent the right reverend Prelate, but the right hon. Gentleman had put a misconstruction upon the right reverend Prelate's words.
§ Mr. Gisborne
begged leave to ask whether, admitting that the measure was opposed to the letter of the Union, the hon. Member was prepared to maintain that that act of Union was binding to the very letter on all successive legislatures for ever? The Union was nothing more than an Act of Parliament, and surely the power which gave existence to that Act existed in the Legislature still.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
said, that the Act of Union was not a mere ordinary Act of Parliament, but a solemn treaty which 946 held good so long as the two countries continued in a state of Union. To violate its articles, therefore, was pro tanto to violate the basis of the Union. Then he had not heard the objections to the Bill founded on the Coronation Oath, rebutted by its supporters, indeed it would be impossible. He wished to observe, that the amount of incumbency did not represent the amount of labour. The Bishops in Ireland performed an annual visitation, which took place only once in three years in England. The number of the Roman Catholic Bishops in Ireland was increased of late. The small number of parishes was no reason for diminishing the number of Bishops. The principle of destruction had commenced when an assembly containing men, part indifferent, and part hostile, to the interests of the hierarchy, took upon itself to determine what should be the number of Bishops in Ireland. The measure was accepted, as the member for Tipperary said, only as 6s. 8d. in the pound. There was an end to a hierarchy when once it was diminished. The total destruction of it must afterwards become merely a question of expediency. The measure would conciliate neither Protestants nor Catholics. It could not conciliate the Protestants; and the most influential Roman Catholic Members said at the outset that it would not satisfy that body. This clause involved the whole principle; that was, the right of an assembly of laymen to interfere in the spiritualities of the Church. Parliament never did more in this respect than confirm the Acts of Convocation.
§ Colonel Conolly
should be wanting in his duty to his constituents and his country, were he not to oppose the Bill then under consideration in every stage. He considered the measure as not merely injurious to the Church, but as more calculated to advance the projects of those who were hostile to the connexion of the two countries, than any one Act of Parliament that had ever been devised. He observed with regret that hon. Members in discussing this subject, treated the Church of Ireland as though it were not a portion of the United Church of Great Britain and Ireland. If Protestantism were, as he believed it to be, the purest faith, why then should not the professors of that faith in Ireland receive equal protection with their brethren in England? They held by their religion as faithfully as the people of Eng- 947 land did, and he would beg leave to inform his Majesty's Ministers that Protestantism was the link and bond which united them with England. It was therefore incumbent on Ministers, by every tie moral and religious, as well as political, to cherish, foster and protect the Protestants of Ireland. If hon. Members knew how strongly his constituency, and indeed the whole north of Ireland felt upon the subject then under discussion, they would see how unwise it would be to interfere with their religion, or cause a diminution of their rights. Was it because a majority of the population of Ireland was Roman Catholic that the Protestant Church was to be sacrificed? He did not wish to molest any Roman Catholic, or interfere with the spiritual matters of the Roman Catholic Church, but he could not see any reason why the Protestant Church should be assailed as in the present instance, unless its ultimate annihilation was intended. The hon. Gentleman, the member for Derbyshire (Mr. Gisborne) very plainly stated, on a former evening, his reasons for supporting this measure, which he (Colonel Conolly) could only consider was meant as another sacrifice at the shrine of agitation. But it would not satisfy the Roman Catholics, as had been clearly demonstrated in that House. Why, then, he would ask, did Ministers persevere in a measure which was highly galling to the national feeling, and the tendency of which was to advance those measures which his Majesty's Ministers appeared to deprecate. He could not contemplate any measure better calculated than that then under discussion to forward the views of the enemies of Ireland. The proposition to reduce the number of the Bishops in Ireland was one which he could never consent to. The venerated Prelate at the head of the Church in that country had given it as his opinion, that he would prefer reducing the salaries of all the Bishops to reducing their number. Where, then, he would ask, was the necessity of heaping unnecessary insult upon the Church? What object could there be, in the present instance, of degrading it, unless with a view to its ultimate annihilation? He would not yield to any man in a wish to improve its practice, or render its ministration more perfect; and if this could be effected by altering the appropriation of the revenue of the Church, it should meet with no op- 948 position from him, but to its present degradation and ultimate annihilation he I never would be a party. He loved the Church as being the source of the little moral good which was to be found in Ireland. Why, then, should his Majesty's Ministers wish to diminish the means, and curtail the resources, of an establishment that had produced so much moral good as the Protestant Church in Ireland was capable of effecting? What, he would ask, was the crime which stained the characters of the peasantry of Ireland, but the debased standard of morals which existed there? He knew the wants and wishes of the lower orders in Ireland, and it had ever been his anxious wish to raise them in the scale of society and improve their moral habits—and he was confident that if they were allowed free agency of thought, and that the sources of the Established Church were not curtailed, no more powerful engine could be resorted to than the ministration of the Church of England; the moral and religious character of the people would speedily be improved, and the internal peace and happiness of the country placed upon a secure basis. It was impossible that national prosperity could exist without sound moral principles; and looking to the want of these principles as the greatest evil under which that country laboured, he looked with sorrow upon the introduction of any measure, the baneful effects of which must be to curtail the propagation of principles which must tend to counteract that evil. It was the absence of sound moral principles which made the passions of the people so excitable—it was the want of sound moral principle which rendered life and property insecure, and rendered the laws of no effect—and if Gentlemen wished to uphold the connexion between the two countries, let them beware how they disgusted the Protestants of Ireland. He admitted, with pain, that previous to the Union, the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland acted with great supine-ness. Since then, however, a great alteration had taken place—a stimulus had been applied, and a very extensive diffusion of moral and religious knowledge had taken place. This, he thought, was the moment when great good might be effected. A certain portion of instruction had been communicated to the people; they were now in possession of a considerable degree of knowledge, which, if not accom- 949 panied and controlled by the inculcation of sound moral principles, would, so far from being the source of good, but act as stimulants to sedition, violence, and outrage. When this Bill was first introduced, his hon. friend, the member for Oxford, had spoken, and justly so, of the expansive force of Protestantism. He believed, that accordingly as the population of Ireland advanced in knowledge, and exercised a freedom of thought and action, so would an extension of Protestant principles take place. He had never done anything to induce to proselytism, but he would say the advancement of the moral principles of the Established Religion in Ireland could not be looked upon by any man but as an advantage to that country. He claimed for the Established Church the recognition of her having done much to improve the moral feeling of the country, and instead of being spoliated, she ought to be fostered, cherished, and regarded. He would not repeat anything that might be calculated to lessen the efficiency of what had fallen from his hon. and learned friend, the member for the University of Dublin. He concurred in the view taken by his hon. friend, and would be most happy to lend his humble efforts in carrying those views into effect. He had strong objections to the principle involved in the clause, and he also objected to many of the particular bishoprics which it was proposed to reduce. The Bishops of Cork, Waterford, and Ossory, were not only diocesans, but the trustees of large funds which had been left for charitable purposes. He had heard it from two of the Bishops, and from the Dean and Chapter of Waterford, that if these bishoprics were abolished, the charities would be diverted to other purposes than those intended, and the munificence of the testators would run in a different course from that which they had marked out for their appropriation. He regretted exceedingly to find, that the principles now frequently broached in that House had become so palatable. It was broadly stated, and the sentiments were cheered by hon. Members, that property was merely a matter of opinion. Should these principles continue to gain ground, a subtle casuist would have nothing to do but to set to and despoil it, as in the case of the West-India planter. When such arguments were received with approbation in Parliament, he could not view without 950 alarm the inevitable result which must ensue—a result which had been so long foreseen and which was so rapidly approaching. The public taste for spoliation would be found to increase in proportion as its appetite was pandered to, until at length all species of property would be destroyed.
§ Sir Robert Bateson
said, he should not trespass long upon the time of the House, and in the few observations which he meant to offer would confine himself to the clause then before the Committee, which he thought one of the most important clauses in the Bill. He stated, on a former occasion, that the House having recognized the principle of the Bill, he would do everything in his power to reform the Church, as far as he could do, adhering to the preamble of the Bill, which set forth that it was intended for the purpose of promoting religion in Ireland. He would beg leave to call the attention of Ministers to the proposition which had been submitted by his hon. friend, the member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Shaw), and which had not been met by any hon. Gentleman who supported the Bill. Instead of diminishing the number of Bishops, he could not conceive why his Majesty's Government should not be content with diminishing their salaries as proposed; and thus the fund which, they stated, would be necessary to provide for Church-cess, and the augmentation of small livings, would be placed at their disposal, and the Protestants of Ireland saved from the degradation they must feel if the number of their Bishops were reduced. If Ministers wished to act in the true spirit of reform, why should they not equalize the revenues of the bishoprics—say, for instance, 4,000l. a-year for each, and thus create a fund adequate for all the purposes required? He strongly objected to the practice of translating a Bishop from one see to another. He thought Bishops should not be political Bishops, and therefore he should wish to see the power of the Minister over them curtailed. He also strongly objected to Bishops not residing within their sees, and would give no opposition to a proposition curtailing their incomes to half salaries, in the event of their not residing six months within their sees. He should like to hear from some member of the Government a reason for not adopting the proposition of his hon. friend (Mr. Shaw), but up to that moment, 951 no answer had been attempted by any hon. Member of that House, whether friend or foe. He had latterly heard very extraordinary sentiments broached in that House with respect to the rights of property. One hon. Member not long ago said that one-half the Church lands ought to be given to the Roman Catholic clergy, and the justice of such an appropriation of the revenues of the Church was not denied by his Majesty's Ministers. He also heard still more recently a most extraordinary speech made by the hon. and gallant General opposite (Sir H. Vivian). No man admired that gallant Officer in his professional capacity more than he did, but having had the honour of a seat in that House for three successive Parliaments, he must say, that he never heard sentiments uttered that appeared to him so extraordinary as those contained in the gallant General's speech—sentiments, be it remarked too, so different from those professed, at least, by his Majesty's Ministers. Those sentiments he must not consider so much the sentiments of the gallant General, as those of the highest personage in Ireland. He could not but feel a considerable degree of distrust at hearing such sentiments broached in such a quarter, when his Majesty's Ministers did not deem it necessary to repudiate them. He should strongly support the plan proposed by his hon. friend for reducing the incomes of the Bishops, rather than their numbers. Should the bishoprics be joined as proposed, the great extent of country they would cover must preclude the possibility of the Bishop discharging efficiently the duties imposed on him. Many of those bishoprics would comprise an extent of country of 150 Irish miles; and he would put it to English Members, whether it was possible the Bishop, under such circumstances, could perform the duty as it ought to be done. The Bishops were in the habit of not only attending the churches, but of preaching in every Church throughout the diocese. It was impossible that that arduous, and what he considered necessary duty, could be performed, if the bishoprics were united. For these reasons, and wishing to promote a real and substantial reform in the Church of Ireland, he should vote for keeping the number of Bishops as at present, but for reducing their incomes.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that to leave the 952 number of Bishops as they now were, with twenty or thirty parishes in a diocese, would be a scandal; he meant that it was so contrary to the system in England, that it could not be to the benefit of the Church that it should remain so. The question to be looked at was, what was most expedient and most for the benefit of the Church. And it appeared to him that this alteration was essential to the interests of the Church, and would remove many objections urged against it.
§ Colonel Perceval
said, that the right hon. Gentleman, the late Secretary for Ireland, had stated on a former occasion, that the principal object Ministers had in reducing the number of bishoprics in Ireland, was, for the purpose of creating a fund to meet the sum collected on account of Vestry-cess, and also for the purpose of increasing the salaries of the working clergy. Now it had been stated, and with great truth, that an ample fund could be found without inflicting the gratuitous insult upon the Protestants of Ireland which was meditated. He knew that reducing the number of Bishops would be felt in Ireland as an insult; and that it was a gratuitous one, no man who had heard the speech of his hon. friend (Mr. Shaw) could doubt. The right hon. Gentleman, also, in introducing the measure stated, that another object Ministers had in view was, to do away with abuses in the Church. Now, the only abuse they appeared inclined to remedy was, the curtailing of the number of Bishops. He had listened to the whole of the debates most attentively, and heard no other. His hon. friend, the member for the university of Dublin (Mr. Shaw), had asked a question which had met with no answer, and it was this—whether it would not be better that the Bishops of Derry and Raphoe should each have 4,000l. a-year, than that the Bishop of Derry should have 8,000l.? He regretted to find, that one of the arguments brought forward by his hon. friend (Mr. Shaw) appeared to make little impression on his Majesty's Government—namely, the feeling which such a measure as the present was calculated to create in Ireland, with regard to the Repeal of the Union. He (Colonel Perceval) looked upon the consequences likely to flow from it in connexion with that question as most dangerous, and he called upon his Majesty's Government to weigh the matter well before they alto gether estranged 953 the feelings of the Protestants of Ireland. The primate, in a conversation with him, said, that he only consented to a diminution in the number of Bishops, in the event of no other means being found to supply the necessary fund. Those means had been devised, and he hoped his Majesty's Ministers would take the proposition into their consideration. The right hon. Gentleman stated, that the number of benefices which the Bishops had to superintend was very limited, and he cited the instance of Killala, in which there were only twenty-seven benefices. He (Colonel Perceval) believed, that since that return had been made out, the number had been increased by the division of parishes. He knew, himself, that the parish of Erris was twenty-six miles long by twenty in breadth, and within a short period it had been divided into two; but if the funds admitted of it, it ought to have been divided into six parishes. There were other parishes in the neighbourhood where he (Colonel Perceval) resided, which were also so large as to require being divided. He thought they might learn a lesson from the Roman Catholics, who instead of diminishing the number of their Bishops, increased them. In Killala and Achonry there was but one Bishop of the Established Church, while there were two Roman Catholic Bishops. On the whole, seeing that no just reason had been given for reducing the number of Bishops, he must oppose the clause.
§ Mr. Dominick Browne
said, that a third of the Protestants of Ireland were Presbyterians, who hated the hierarchy as much as the Roman Catholics. If the Protestants were spread over Ireland as over England, twelve Bishops would be as sufficient for the area of Ireland as twenty-six for England.
§ Sir Robert Bateson
could not permit the observations of the hon. member for Mayo (Mr. D. Browne) to pass without a reply. That hon. Member stated, that the Presbyterians of Ireland hated episcopacy even more than they did Popery. Now he (Sir R. Bateson) resided in a part of the country, the great body of the population of which was composed of Presbyterians, and on their part he must state, that they entertained neither hatred for episcopacy or popery. In truth there was no class of men who lived in greater harmony with the Church of England.
§ Mr. Shaw
declined dividing, the Committee on the clause, upon the ground that, as he had stated, when he urged its postponement in the beginning of the evening, it must undergo further discussion when the hon. Members who were alluded to should be in the House, and when the question of the security of Church property should be settled, as, until then, he would not make any proposition touching the reduction of the incomes of future Bishops. He thought, therefore, that the division would be more conveniently taken at a future stage.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clauses from 33 to 38 also, inclusive were agreed to.
§ The House resumed; the Committee to sit again.