§ * The former debate on this subject was adjourned, at the request of Lord Althorp, because, as it was understood, some of his colleagues had resigned. In the interim it was known, that Mr. Stanley, Secretary for the Colonies, Sir James Graham, First Lord of the Admiralty, die Duke of Richmond, Post-Master General, and the Earl of Ripon, Lord Privy Seal, had resigned their offices, because they differed from their colleagues on the subject of the appropriation of Church property. Mr. Spring Rice was appointed Secretary for the Colonies, Lord Auckland First Lord of the Admiralty, the Marquess of Conyngham Post Master General (without a seat in the Cabinet), and the Earl of Carlisle Lord Privy Seal. The following is a list of the Cabinet as it was formed, or was immediately afterwards modified:—
|Earl Grey||First Lord of the Treas.|
|Lord Brougham||Lord Chancellor.|
|Marq. of Lansdown||Lord President.|
|Earl of Carlisle||Lord Privy Seal.|
|Lord Althorp||Chanc. of the Exchq.|
|Lord Holland||Duchy of Lancaster.|
§ Lord Althorp
I rise for the purpose of moving the Order of the Day for resuming the adjourned debate on the Motion of my hon. friend, the member for St. Alban's. In doing so, I wish to address a few observations to the House. In the first place, I think it due to the House, and due to the Government, to give some explanation of the course we have thought it, expedient to take, and that explanation will, perhaps, induce my hon. friend to consent to a further postponement of the question. It is not necessary for me to mention, since the fact is avowed and notorious, that differences of opinion existed among the members of the Government respecting the power of Parliament, should the necessity be found to exist, of appropriating the whole, or a part of the revenues of the Church of Ireland. We were aware of the difficulties felt by some of our colleagues who have now separated from us, and which separation no man more sincerely regrets than myself. I must of course lament the loss of the able assistance hitherto received from them. I feel it now, and I shall feel it deeply hereafter; but we were aware that four of our colleagues differed from the rest of the Cabinet upon this question, although we agreed upon every other question. We all, however, concurred in thinking that it was not practically necessary to come to a decision upon it, until we had seemed the revenues of the Church of Ireland for such purposes as those to which it might be expedient for Parliament to apply them. We were not, therefore, of opinion that any practical question would come before us which would make it necessary for us to separate upon such a difference of opinion. Agreeing, as I stated, upon every other point, and also on the question of the Irish Church establishment, though we differed as to the appropriation of Church property, we thought we should not be
12 justified in breaking up the Government unless that question of appropriation came practically before us. But the Motion of the hon. member for St. Alban's, and the manner in which we were aware it would be supported here, led us to feel that there was great difficulty in our situation: the Duke of Richmond, Lord Ripon, and my two right hon. friends in this House, most honourably for themselves and most handsomely for us, tendered their respective resignations so as to relieve us from our difficulty of meeting the question without having something to propose on the part of the Government, of a decisive character. In consequence, I suggested the adjournment of the debate on my hon. friend's Motion. It has been, I know, rumoured abroad, that there was a difference in the time at which the resignations took place: that is a complete mistake. When I came down on Tuesday last, I was not aware that any resignations had been tendered: I heard it after I came into the House; and the instant I learnt that the resignations had been tendered and accepted by his Majesty, I felt that I could only do what I did. Nothing could have been more improper than for me to have allowed the debate to proceed under such circumstances, knowing that the Administration was broken up. This is the explanation I have to give as to what passed on Tuesday. Now I have to add, that the course his Majesty has been advised to adopt has been, to issue a Commission of Inquiry. That Commission is to be a Lay Commission, to visit the different parishes in Ireland, and to ascertain on the spot the number of the Members of the Established Church in each parish and benefice: in cases where there is a union of parishes in one benefice, they are to ascertain the number in each parish—the distance from one united parish to the other—the number and rank of the ministers, whether resident or non-resident—to point out those parishes in which divine service is performed, whether in churches or chapels, and to ascertain the average number of persons attending divine worship, and whether that number has increased, is increasing, or is stationary. Further, the Commissioners will have to institute similar inquiries as to the professors of the Roman Catholic religion, Presbyterians, or other Dissenters, and to investigate the state of each parish, as regards moral and religious education; the 13 number of schools, whether the scholars have increased, or are stationary, and whether the means of education are adequate to the purpose. They will have to report generally on all other circumstances connected with the moral and political relation of the Church to other sects—its influence on the people of Ireland, and, in short; the investigation is to be as comprehensive as possible, so as to embrace points not. yet included in any inquiry—viz., the proportionate number of Catholics and Protestants in the different parishes. I need not say, that Ministers could not have advised his Majesty to issue such commission unless his Majesty was prepared to act upon the report as the case might require. Such is the course his Majesty has been advised to take, and it will be observed that the Motion of the hon. member for St. Alban's pledges the House to an opinion without previous inquiry. It must, I apprehend, be clear to all, that without some such investigation in the first instance, it would be impossible for Parliament to legislate upon the subject; and the question, therefore, is, whether my hale friend, and the House, will think it right to come to a decision on the principle without evidence. In moving the Order oldie Day, what I wished to ask was this:—Having stated the nature of the proposed inquiry—the seal having been already affixed to the Commission—and, that it will be of so comprehensive a character, that those who advised it will be pledged to act upon it—whether, under such circumstances, the hon. Member thinks it necessary to persevere in his Motion, or will, as I hope, consent to withdraw it.
Lord Palmerston Foreign Secretary. Lord Melbourne Home Secretary. Rt. Hon. T. S. Rice Colonial Secretary. Lord Auckland First Lord of the Adm. Rt. Hon. C. Grant Pres. of the B. of Contr. Lord John Russell Paymas. of the Forces. Rt. Hon. E. Ellice Secretary at War. Rt. Hn. J. Abercrombie Master of the Mint. Other changes:— Marq. of Conyngham Postmaster-General. Mr. Cutlar Fergusson Judge-Advocate-Gen. Mr. F. T. Baring Secretary to the Treas. Captain Byng One of Lds. of Treasury.
§ Mr. Ward
I feel myself in a situation of most singular, and, I may say, of most painful responsibility. The noble Lord has come forward, on the part of the Government, to meet one of the gravest, and, I will say—considering all the points embraced—one of the greatest questions ever submitted to this House. He purposes to meet it by a Commission of Inquiry, which, I am bound to say, seems to have been instituted on the fairest principles, and furnished with the most ample instructions. I admit that at once. I have also perfect confidence, that if the noble Lord were sure of continuing in his situation, that the object of the Commission would be fairly and honourably executed; but I feel unspeakable pain in adding, 14 that the concession having been made in the manner we have witnessed, and to the extent to which Ministers are pledged, does not and cannot satisfy me, in the position in which I am placed. I entreat the House to believe, that. I am not influenced by any improper, factious, or unfriendly motive towards his Majesty's Government; I look merely to the course I am bound to pursue as an honest man, upon this occasion. I have mooted, and I believe fairly, a great question, as to the appropriation of the surplus revenue of the Church of Ireland; and I admit that, if my Motion had been adopted (and I believe I am warranted in saying that it would have been adopted, but for what occurred on Tuesday night), the next step would necessarily have been the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry. In our individual capacities, we are all in possession of some information; but we have not sufficient data to warrant the House in legislating upon the subject, or to justify Government in bringing forward any measure. That I admit: therefore, I am for previous inquiry; but I couple it, also, with a distinct recognition of the principle on which we must proceed at last; viz., that this House has a right to dispose of such surplus revenue of the Church of Ireland, as the Report of the Commissioners might make it appear there existed in Ireland. I may be allowed also to add, that I wish it to be applied to the relief of that portion of the population which is not benefited by the present establishment. I should have been happy to have entered into any arrangement—any compromise, were Parliamentary sanction given to the Commission; but, without that sanction, the whole question—the whole gist of time Commission, if I may so say, turns on the permanence of the noble Lord and his friends in office. If he ceases to occupy the situation he now tills, the Commission will be totally null and void—in fact, only so much waste paper. There is a great difference between the proposal of the noble Lord, and a solemn vote of one branch of the Legislature; I therefore, regret, that. I am unable to comply with the noble Lord's wish. The fact, that the Cabinet has been deprived, by the impossibility of meeting this discussion, of the services of those of the noble Lord's Colleagues to whom he has so feelingly alluded, has only rendered the unequivocal adoption of the principle for 15 which I contend, by those remaining in his Majesty's Councils, the more indispensable. It would, indeed, be a most lamentable result if they were not to gain in principle what they have lost in tried talent. All that I can say is, that nothing I have heard to-night changes my opinion as to the necessity of pressing my Motion to a vote.
§ The Order of the Day for the resumption of the adjourned debate was read, and the Speaker read Mr. Ward's Motion.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that as his hon. friend had declined to accede to the proposal of postponing the Motion, it became his duty to speak upon it. As to one clause of the Resolution before the House—the right of Parliament to deal with the property of the Irish Church—he had already stated his opinion, which was decidedly in accordance with that of his hon. friend. He could not have been a consenting party to the advice to his Majesty to issue a Commission, unless he had entirely agreed in that principle. As to the remainder of the Resolution—that the amount of Church-property in Ireland is at present more than commensurate to the wants of the Establishment, whatever might be his own individual opinion, and whatever might be the anticipated result of the inquiry, he did not think the House would be prepared to come directly to such a conclusion. For this reason he could not concur in the conclusion of the Resolution, that the amount of the Church revenues in Ireland ought to be diminished. He was perfectly ready to admit that Parliament, when duly informed, was competent to decide that point: Church-property was trust property; and if the amount of it were greater than was necessary for the accomplishment of the objects of the trust—if it were greatly greater than was required for the maintenance of the Established Church for the benefit of Ireland—so far from injuring the interests of that Church—so far from injuring the religious interests of the Protestants of Ireland, he thought that, to apply a part of the revenues to the religious and moral education of the people, would tend much to promote the prosperity of the Protestant Church. But having stated thus much, it appeared to him, that it was not fitting for the House of Commons to adopt the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's resolution. Some previous investigation ought to take place; and when it was known 16 that his Majesty had been advised to issue, and had actually issued, a Commission of Inquiry, which could only take place upon the principle that Parliament had a right to deal with the surplus property, as an abstract proposition, it seemed to him that to persevere in the Motion before the House would not tend to any beneficial practical result. His hon. friend had said, that he should be satisfied with the pledge, if he were satisfied, also, that the present Ministers would continue in office. He (Lord Althorp) did not apprehend that if his hon. friend carried his Resolution, it would affect the stability of the Government in any degree, or give any force to his own wishes. His hon. friend might think that, by possibility, the result of the debate would place the Government in a better position than at present; but he was sure that his hon. friend could gain nothing by perseverance. With these views, he did not think it desirable to adopt the Resolution; it was always objectionable for a House to pledge itself as to what it would do in a future Session, but most of all upon a question like the present. Without information, it was impossible for the House to say how far it ought, or how far it ought not to go; and the Resolution was merely a vague declaration of the right of Parliament to interfere—a right which, he was confident, as the House was at present constituted, it would be ready at any future time to recognize: and if it were not so constituted, the declaration, supposing it now adopted, would not hereafter receive the slightest attention; and, therefore, it was needless and useless to pass the Resolution. When he first rose to request his hon. friend to postpone his Motion, he had confined his observations exclusively to the Resolution which had been proposed, and he purposely omitted to make any reference to another question, which had been previously decided on by his Majesty's Government—he alluded to the present state of the Tithe Bill. Though it was, from the first, intended by Government that nothing contained in that Bill should have the effect of prejudging the question as to the appropriation of Church-property to the exigences of the State; yet it was thought by many Gentlemen on both sides of the House, and more especially by those connected with the representation of Ireland, that it would be prejudged by the Bill as originally framed. As, how- 17 ever, his Majesty's Ministers wished to leave that question open, they resolved to omit the whole of the clauses relating to the redemption of tithe. It was now for hon. Members to decide whether they would put so little confidence in the declarations of the Government, confirmed as they were by the issue of a Commission of Inquiry, as not to be satisfied unless a vote of that House was taken on the subject. His hon. friend had intimated that he was ready to agree to any modification of his proposition. His hon. friend said, that he was prepared to agree in au Address to the Crown for the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry. Such an Address was unnecessary, because a Commission had already been issued.
§ Lord Althorp
His hon. friend, then, would not object to a modification of his resolution, provided that the appropriation of Church property in Ireland to the exigences of the State was declared to be within the competence of Parliament, and even desirable, for he believed the hon. Gentleman went as far as that. With respect to the first part of this proposition, he thought that it was unnecessary for the House to declare an opinion; and with respect to the second part, he did not think that the House was prepared to come to a decision on it at the present moment. Such being the state of the case, the best course which in his opinion he could adopt was, to move the previous question. This was the course it had been his intention to take on Tuesday last, but under circumstances different from the present; because then he should not have been able to state that his Majesty's Government had taken up the question seriously; but now, in moving the previous question, he was enabled to state, that a commission had been issued for the purpose of inquiring into the subject, and he thought that, under the altered circumstances of the case, many gentlemen might now vote in favour of the previous question, though they would not have conceived themselves justified in doing so on Tuesday last. His hon. friend shook his head at this statement; but such was his own opinion on the point, and he repeated that he could conceive it possible for many hon. Gentlemen 18 who would have opposed the previous question on Tuesday last when the opinion of the Government was not known by the appointment of such a commission as that he had mentioned, to vote for it now; and on the other hand, he was of opinion, that many who would have supported that Motion last Tuesday, would now be opposed to it. He would not detain the House longer, having explained the grounds on which he should move the previous question. In doing so, he asked the House to put confidence in his Majesty's Government. He was not ignorant that, after the statement he had just made, some gentlemen might be found in that House less disposed to place confidence in the Government than before. He was not so absurd as to suppose that the course taken by the Government, in accordance with the wishes, as he believed, of a great majority of that House, would be agreeable to that portion of the House, whose opinions on this subject he was aware were very different from those of the majority. But he appealed to the confidence of the House generally, for he was ready to admit, that the fate of his proposition must depend on the degree of confidence which the House was disposed to place in the Government, and on that ground he should conclude by proposing the previous question.
§ The Amendment having been put,
§ Mr. Hume
said, that however willing he might be to put confidence in the noble Lord personally, he could not put confidence in the administration of which the noble Lord formed part; and he would state to the House why. On the 12th of February last year, the noble Lord, after enumerating the value of Church property in Ireland, concluded his speech by declaring "that if by any act of the Legislature new value can be given to any property belonging to the Church, that new value will not properly belong to the Church, because it is an acquisition dependent on such act of the Legislature, and may be appropriated immediately to the use of the State."* The noble Lord then admitted the whole principle involved in the Motion of his hon. friend the member for St. Alban's, and all doubt on the subject was removed by the course which was followed with respect to the* Hansard (third series) xv. p. 574.19 147th clause of the Irish Church Bill. The Conservatives sitting on his right, who had that night cheered some of the observations of the noble Lord, objected to that clause, which was, however, supported by his Majesty's Ministers, and carried by a majority of 380. That clause he always regarded as the most essential part of the Bill, because it admitted the principle, that Parliament had a right to deal with the property of the Church. But what followed afterwards? The House, after affirming that principle by a large majority, was induced, in consequence of differences in the Cabinet, which many suspected at the time, but of which no one had any precise knowledge, to assent to the rejection of the clause by a majority just as large as that by which it had at first been carried; and the only reason given for this extraordinary proceeding was, that the retention of the clause in question might have the effect of preventing the Bill passing through the other House of Parliament. At that time no objection was expressed to the principal clause by the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, not even by the late right hon. Secretary for the Colonies. When he saw an Administration thus shifting backwards and forwards, and holding an indecisive course with respect to such a vitally important question as that now under consideration, he must say, that he for one could not consent to place confidence in them. The House was aware, that certain Members, conscientiously believing, that Parliament had no right to interfere with Church property, had seceded from the Cabinet, because they did not choose to avoid giving an opinion on the Motion submitted to the House by the hon. member for St. Alban's, by proposing the previous question. Ought not the House to act in the same manner? Ought not hon. Members to decide on the principle at once, and not leave it unsettled in the bands of the noble Lord opposite and his colleagues? The House would perhaps be surprised to hear, that there was at this moment an ecclesiastical commission existing in Ireland, appointed on the 15th of August last, and of which Sir H. Parnell, Sir John Newport, and several Prelates and Peers, were members. That commission had been appointed to inquire into, among other matters, the amount of ecclesiastical revenues in Ireland; and he knew not in what particular the functions 20 of the commission which the noble Lord said had just been issued differed from those of the commission he alluded to, excepting that it was part of the duty of the newly-appointed body to inquire and report on the comparative numbers of the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. He was ready to admit, that the appointment of the commission was a proper proceeding, for he did not see how the House could carry into effect the principle involved in the resolution proposed by the hon. member for St. Alban's without being in possession of the fullest information. But was the House aware of the progress made by the commission already in existence? The noble Lord said, that he did not know the actual amount of the revenue of the Church in Ireland, but the noble Lord ought to know, that a report had been made by the commission already named on that subject, and another report was promised to be laid on the table of the House during the present session. He apprehended, then, that the House would soon be in possession of all the information which the noble Lord proposed to obtain by the appointment of a new commission, excepting only an account of the comparative numbers of the different sects in Ireland. But was this latter point of so great importance that full information respecting it must be obtained, before any decision on the Motion under consideration could be come to; and would the House be acting right in yielding confidence to his Majesty's Ministers, who had not as yet expressed any opinion at all on the question? The noble Lord had said, that he was not prepared at the present moment to state his opinion with respect to the resolution proposed by the hon. member for St. Alban's, and, under these circumstances, it was not fair, in his (Mr. Hume's) opinion, to call on the House to place confidence in the newly-modified Administration, without being assured that the Cabinet admitted the right of the State to dispose of Church property, and were ready to act on that principle to the fullest extent. In what worse situation would the Ministers be placed by affirming the present resolution? Supposing that, after due inquiry, it should be found, that the revenues of the Church were not greater than necessary, in this case there would exist no surplus to be appropriated to the service of the State, and Parliament would only have to con- 21 sider the expediency of a better distribution of the revenues among the ministers of the Church. He was sorry to think that the Government had paid but little attention to that excellent letter of admonition which had been written by Lord Anglesey to Earl Grey. [The hon. Member quoted several passages from the letter in which the expediency of an immediate Reform in the Church Establishment was insisted upon.] He was of opinion that the time was come for reforming the Irish Church, and for removing those causes of complaint which it was admitted by Lord Anglesey, by the late right hon. Secretary for the Colonies, and by almost every member of that House, were justly attributable to the tithe system. The expectations of the country would be disappointed if the principle involved in the resolution under consideration was not affirmed by the House. He was ready to admit, that the new commission, by collecting a mass of valuable information, would materially facilitate the labours of Parliament; but still its appointment did not in the least supersede the necessity of affirming the principle of the right of Parliament to deal with Church property. Indeed, in 1824, he had himself proposed two resolutions—one asserting the principle he had just stated, and the other recommending the appointment of a committee to carry it into effect. He, however, objected to the previous question, because if carried, it would have the effect of preventing anything being done for the benefit of Ireland until another Session. When the Coercion Bill was passed, he greatly regretted, that remedial measures did not accompany it; but it would be unwise, indeed, if on the present occasion the House neglected the opportunity which offered itself of allaying irritation in Ireland. He could not conceive how it was possible for the noble Lord to find any supporters in that House, unless he came forward and declared whether he was in favour or opposed to the principle of the resolution. The Members of that House were aware that an address signed by several hon. Gentlemen had been presented to the noble Lord at the head of the Government. He asked one of the gentlemen by whom that address was signed, whether approbation of the past policy of the Government was expressed in it, and whether any stipulation was made for the future? He received an 22 answer in the negative. He then inquired what the purpose of the address was, and the hon. Gentleman could not tell him. In his opinion, those who supported the Motion of the noble Lord, without requiring some declaration as to the principle on which the new Government was to act, would place themselves in the same situation as the hon. Gentleman to whom he had alluded, and find it difficult to explain the reason of their conduct. For himself, he must say, that he could not place confidence in an Administration until he knew what line of policy they intended to pursue. He considered the proposition of the noble Lord to be a milk and water affair, and only made for the purpose of gaining time; and he trusted that the hon. member for St. Alban's would press his Motion to a division.
§ Colonel Davies
said, that he came down to the House the other evening prepared to support the Motion of his hon. friend the member for St. Alban's, at whatever risk to the Government; but the declaration made by the noble Lord, that a commission of inquiry had been appointed, and that as soon as a report should be made, Government would be ready to take the subject up, had placed him in a situation of considerable embarrassment, in common with many hon. Members who intended to give their support to Ministers on the present occasion. He thought much good might arise from the appointment of the Commission; and he did not, like the hon. member for Middlesex, regard it as a mere milk-and-water affair, proposed solely for the purpose of gaining time; for he believed, that the noble Lord opposite, and the majority of his colleagues, were sincere, when they avowed their intention of investigating the subject fully, and of acting with respect to it in a most enlightened manner. But he knew not how it was, that the present Ministers never brought forward any measure without introducing some bitter material into the composition. Why was it that their conduct, which, on the present question, ought to be such as the whole empire, and particularly Ireland, might regard with delight, was rather calculated to excite distrust and alarm than confidence? The noble Lord had called on the House to put confidence in him. He had great confidence in the noble Lord. He believed there was no man in existence more 23 sincere in his expressions, or more honest in his designs; but he had very little confidence in the Government to which the noble Lord belonged; and if anything were calculated to destroy even the small portion of confidence he was disposed to place in the Government, it was the miserable shuffling mode of proceeding which had been exhibited on the present occasion. It was understood, that the present course had been followed in deference to the wishes of two noble members of the Cabinet, one of whom a short time ago delivered a high conservative speech. If this report were true, he could only say, that such individuals were unfit for the times in which they lived; and the sooner the Government got rid of them the better. It was not possible for any small clique now to rule the country; and it should be recollected, the Whigs of the present day stood not in the same situation as the Whigs fifty years ago. For an Administration to be powerful, it was now necessary to appeal to the people; and when it received the support of the country, all those individuals in another place, who were obstacles in the path of the Government, would eventually be obliged to yield. The noble Lord said, that it was unnecessary to agree to the resolution, because the principle was established by the appointment of the new Commission. This was, undoubtedly, true to a certain extent; but the appointment of the Commission was the act of the Government; and what he wanted was, to see the principle of the resolution recognised by that House. The noble Lord knew, that every concession had been made to him; he knew, that the hon. member for St. Alban's was willing to have his Motion modified in any manner, provided that the principle was retained; yet the Government rejected all offers, and seemed only anxious to make an exhibition of imbecillity in the sight of the country. He confessed, that he was so embarrassed by the proceeding of the Government, that he knew not how to vote; and he thought it would be much to be regretted, if the present question were not decided by a large majority. He was afraid, that the proposed mode of getting rid of the resolution by moving the previous question, would not be understood by the country, and that the character of the House would consequently suffer. Yet, feeling himself placed 24 in a situation of great difficulty, he thought his best course was to vote for the previous question.
felt confident, that the effect of the indecisive conduct of the Government would be, to compel the present Administration to make way for one better suited to the spirit of the times. The noble Lord opposite claimed the confidence of the House in favour of the Government; but would it not be as well for the House first to know of whom that Government was composed? The hon. member for Middlesex had given some very good reasons for refusing confidence to the Administration, supposing it to be really framed; and if it was to the same Government as before, he (Colonel Evans) had one or two reasons of his own for withholding his confidence. The noble Lord had stated, more indistinctly than might have been expected, his opinion on the question under consideration; but if that opinion had been most unqualifiedly expressed in favour of the resolution, he should yet have been in doubt as to the course the Government would pursue. The noble Lord, before he accepted office, had frequently voted in favour of the principle, that the taxes should be taken off knowledge; and though, since he had been in office, he declared that his opinion on that subject remained unchanged, it did not appear that he had succeeded in inducing the Government to propose the repeal of the taxes on knowledge. The noble Lord said, that the House was not in a condition to express an opinion on the question, for want of information; but the House surely did not forget, that, in February last year, the noble Lord stated the amount of the revenues of the Irish Church to be 800,000l. It was true, that the noble Lord subsequently threw some doubt on this point: but, probably, the noble Lord belonged to that sect of philosophers who held, that nothing existed in reality. Having heard no good argument adduced against the resolution before the House, he should certainly give his vote in its favour.
§ Colonel Conolly
said, that the mode in which it was endeavoured to establish the principle involved in the resolution, appeared to him most singular; and he had hoped, that the counsellors of the Crown, particularly after the opinion of his Majesty had been so recently declared on the subject, would not have resorted to 25 the wretched and equivocal proceeding adopted by them that night. He was well aware of the difficulties of the Administration, and he, for one, would have allowed them to make their ministerial arrangements in whatever way they pleased; but he could not help thinking, that they were trifling with the religion of the country, by shuffling off the consideration of this question in the way they proposed. He had rather that they had affirmed the resolution at once. He could not find language sufficiently strong to express his aversion to the course pursued by the Government; and, considering the importance of the interests involved, and the agitated state of Ireland, he was surprised, that the noble Lord had not thought proper to express an opinion with respect to the question under consideration. Ministers ought to have come down and taken a decisive part on this important question, which, he would not hesitate to say, was one of the most revolutionary nature which had ever been proposed to a deliberative assembly under a settled government. When he considered, that this was an attempt to wrest from the House an assent to three propositions most unjust in principle—first, that the Church Establishment in Ireland exceeded the spiritual wants of the Protestant population of that country; next, that it was the right of the State to regulate the distribution of Church property; and lastly, that the House ought to act upon the two former propositions by reducing the Church property,—when he considered the nature of those propositions, he was indignant to think that any man could be found in that House seriously to urge them on its attention. He denied and deprecated each and all of the propositions in terms as strong as he could possibly use. He repeated, that he was astonished at the course taken by the Ministry on this ocsion; and, without meaning to be personally offensive, he would say, that it was equivocal and contemptible. It was at once trifling with the House and with the people. He could hardly trust himself to use the strong terms which arose in his mind on this subject. He denied the premises on which the proposition before the House rested. He denied, the right of Parliament to deal with the property of the Church. He denied that my such right existed, unless, indeed, such a right should be contended for as would un- 26 settle every kind of property in the country. Let hon. Members see to what extent this principle would go. What property could be said to be safe, if it were once adopted? Was there any title, or any land, which could be deemed secure? Was there security for any thing which men usually held sacred? Was the Royal word—was any charter—was any patent, a security for any thing, if this principle were once sanctioned by the House? Was it not "crying havoc, and letting loose the dogs of war?" Was it not upsetting every thing which men held sacred in the country? That it was the first step to such a course, no man could deny, who allowed the experience of other times and former circumstances to guide him. Did not all of those who heard him, know from history,—did not many of them know, from the experience of their own times, that a spoliation of Church property usually, almost necessarily, led the way to a spoliation of every other kind of property? This, however, was the bringing out, it was the march and progress, of those principles which had been advanced under the tempting name of Reform. He had stated, at the time of the discussion of that measure, what consequences might be expected from it, and they now saw some of those consequences before them. They now saw the progress of Reform in the attempted destruction of everything which man held sacred. He spoke warmly on this subject, because he spoke from the deep interest which he took in the existence of the Church Establishment in Ireland; which interest arose from his firm conviction of the blessings and benefits which it had conferred, and was conferring, on that country. He was satisfied, that so far from exceeding the spiritual wants of the Protestant population in Ireland, the Church Establishment of that country was not sufficient for those wants. This might not give satisfaction, he was aware, to those who thought differently—it might not give satisfaction to those who either knew not or did not care for those wants. He repeated, that it was not sufficient for those wants. They should consider not only the actual wants of the Protestant—they should go further, and consider what had once been well said by the hon. Baronet, the member for the University of Oxford—they should consider "the expansive force of Protestantism." As long as he was an Irish Pro- 27 testant, as long as he had life, as long as he preferred truth to error, he would cherish that remark in his memory, and would cherish the principle which it involved. That principle was one of sincere cordial attachment to that Church, which he knew was calculated to produce so much good, and whose "expansive force" was such, that, in proportion as it was encouraged, it would extend its benefits in that country. Another objection which he had to the Motion before the House, and to the course pursued by Government, was, that it was a sacrifice of the Irish Church to agitation, to that cry which should have been suppressed as soon as it was raised, if Government had acted upon those powers for which they had made so loud an appeal to that House. It had been truly said by the late right hon. Secretary for the Colonies, whose noble and manly course on the occasion of this question, he wished had been imitated by others, that they should not part with anything which was necessary for the interest of the country. That right hon. Gentleman would not give up a single point which would risk a sacrifice of principle. He resigned his office, and the splendid prospects which his high character and talents had opened before him, and left the Cabinet in the possession of his honour and integrity. That right hon. Gentleman had taken a course which it would have been honourable and creditable for others to have followed. He had acted upon principle, and had proudly disdained to sacrifice principle to place. He would riot consent to give up any portion of Church property to spoliation. If he looked at the effects of the inculcation of his religion in Ireland—if he saw that where it most prevailed, there was most order, and that where it was least known there was most ignorance and disorder—if he saw such good effects from the prevalence of Protestantism—and if be saw that these were now about to be sacrificed to clamour and agitation,—had he not a right to expect from his Majesty's Government that they would come forward and give such a destructive notion as that before the House a decided negative, rather than meet, it in the way they had done? He really was so horrified and shocked at such a motion, that he scarcely knew how to express his feelings. If he did express them warmly, it was because he knew the Protestant 28 Church in Ireland, and saw that its professors and ministers had done so much to mitigate the evils of that country—had done so much to enlighten the people—had effected so much to bring about good order, and a due observance of the laws. These were the effects of Protestantism where it prevailed. He had had an interview with the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) last week, and, in company with two others, had claimed something for the north of Ireland. Had not that part of the country a strong claim on the public feeling and on the public purse, when it was considered that there religion had done much for the promotion of peace and good order? Contrast that with the condition of those parts of Ireland where the Protestant religion was less known: where it existed, peace prevailed—where it was not known, or but little known, war and disorder were predominant. Why, then, he would ask, should they confound the innocent with the guilty,—why should the former be made to suffer for the acts of the latter? If the Government, with the power which had been placed in their hands for the repression of disorder, were not able to control the disaffected, let them say so, but let them not confound the innocent with the guilty—let them not adopt that spoliative principle, of which the example was set them in another country after the beheading of their monarch. He would say, that they were now going fast towards the same democratic principle which had brought about such disastrous results elsewhere. They were now going broadly upon the principle of robbery. He would repeat it, it was robbery; for whose property or estates would be safe if this principle were once adopted? Who could think themselves secure when they saw the property of' the Church thus spoliated, to satisfy clamour; and that, too, a clamour which the Government could have put down, if they had only used the means which the Parliament had placed at their disposal? He could go on on this subject for ever. His soul was full of execrations, to which he could not give utterance. He would only say, that he would not pollute himself by voting for either of the courses pointed out—that of the hon. member for St. Alban's, or that proposed by Government.
§ Lord John Russell
rose for the purpose of making a few remarks in reply to the 29 observations of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down; and he thought the House would agree with him in thinking, that the hon. Gentleman's speech Contained little else than mere declamation. In speaking, then, he was actuated by feelings of no common kind, for he was addressing the House for the first time after a separation from men of whose power in debate—of whose ability in conducting public business—of whose unsullied integrity and honour, no man in the House, or in the country, entertained the slightest doubt. To have acted with such men—to have agreed with them in general principles—to have had the comfort and satisfaction of their co-operation in carrying great public measures, was undoubtedly a solace in the troubles of public business; and to be deprived of it must be attended with deep and lasting regret. When he said, that such as these must be his feelings, might he not put it to the House, whether there could be any truth—whether there was the smallest symptom of probability—for the opinion entertained by the hon. member for Middlesex, and others, who had insinuated that we could part with such men—that we could consent to divest the Administration of the use of their great abilities—that we could place ourselves in a situation of inconvenience and difficulty, which must necessarily be the result of a separation, when there was no actual difference of principle amongst us? He said, that the appointment of this Commission involved a great principle—it involved the principle, that if it was ascertained by facts and by evidence, that the revenues appropriated to the Irish Church ought to be applied to different purposes than those to which they were now made tributary, or that they ought to be reduced, his Majesty's Ministers would not shrink horn the performance of their duty, but propose a measure for the consideration of the House, founded on, and in accordance with, that. Report. He apprehended, that the argument of his noble and right hon. friends who had retired from office would be to this effect:—"We cannot consent to this commission of inquiry as to the comparative numbers of Protestants and Catholics—as to the amount of Church property in each parish or district,—for, that inquiry being concluded, we may be called upon to go a step further, amid deal with the Surplus properly, if any such 30 should be found. We may, in that case, be called upon to adopt remedial measures, and as we think none are necessary, we will not, in the first instance, consent to any inquiry." Now, such a dissent, and on such grounds, was, he admitted, highly honourable to those who acted on it, but surely those who acted on a different principle ought, if they were believed to be men of character and honour, to have the credit, if the House trusted them at all, of intending that the commission should fairly and bonâ fide be carried into effect; and that its report, if it should report the fact that the Church property in Ireland was more than adequate to the spiritual wants of the Protestant population of that country, should be carried into execution, and that Ministers would, in accordance with the report, recommend some measures consistent with the resolution of the hon. mover. Two courses had been proposed—the first was, to pass a resolution containing a general opinion on two or three matters of fact, and ending by calling on the House to affirm some abstract principle. The other course proposed was, to have a Commission of Inquiry; that was, supposing that it was competent to Parliament to deal with the subject, and reserving to the next Session the practical measure to be proposed for remedying the abuses of the Irish Church. The first course suggested, appeared to him a very bad one, and one which he entirely dissented front. It would be exceedingly imprudent, he thought, in the present state of things, to adopt a general Resolution affirming an abstract principle, instead of proceeding to a practical measure. He had had sufficient experience in Parliament to teach him, that this would be a very improper line of proceeding. If, as some hon. Gentlemen supposed, it should appear upon inquiry, that the revenues of the Church of Ireland ought not to be reduced, that would strongly confirm his opinion. This was what he collected to be the notion of the hon. Member for Middlesex. [Mr. Hume: No! no!] He had, it seemed, misunderstood the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman certainly never understood the Ministers; but he believed the hon. Gentleman said, that if, on inquiry, it should turn out, that the revenues now derived by the Irish Church were properly applied, then no legislative measures would be necessary, 31 Would it not be absurd for the House to adopt a general Resolution, and next Session call on hon. Members to rescind it? Would not this be an unworthy course for Parliament to pursue? The hon. member for St. Alban's said, "but let us affirm the principle;" and this he said, without telling the House exactly what the principle was which he wished the house to affirm. But let the House look at the Resolution. One part of it said, that "the Protestant Episcopal Establishment in Ireland exceeded the spiritual wants of the Protestant population;" and another, that it was "the right of the State to regulate the distribution of Church property in such manner as Parliament might determine." Now, with regard to the latter proposition, he begged leave to say it was very improper, not to say absurd, to appoint a Commission, unless they allowed this, and that it was, to all intents and purposes, admitted and allowed on the part of his Majesty's Government by such appointment. His Majesty's Government, therefore, had, in fact, affirmed that portion of the Resolution, by the appointment of the Commission. With regard to the other part of the Resolution, that the Establishment exceeded the spiritual wants of the Protestant population, and ought to be reduced, that certainly ought to be founded on facts. He had a strong opinion on the subject, and did not hesitate to say, that if it should be found, on inquiry, that the religious and moral instruction of the people was not properly provided for by the Church of Ireland—the only ground on which an Established Church could be or ought to be upheld—some measure should be devised for better appropriating or reducing her revenues. He begged to say, that he did not think it right, in the first instance, to agree to a resolution pledging themselves to an abstract principle which might be afterwards contradicted by the inquiry consequent on that pledge. It appeared to him, that the better course to pursue was, as suggested by Ministers, to appoint a Commission composed of laymen, and not of Churchmen, which he considered the most valuable part of the proposition, to ascertain the real facts of the case, and its real merits, and then that Government should introduce a measure founded on those facts. Parliament might then, with full knowledge, adopt, alter, or reject altogether, as they 32 might deem best for the general interests of the country, the measure recommended by Ministers. As a question of legislative proceeding, the most simple course—the course recommended by common sense, was the best, and that was the one proposed by his Majesty's Government. But the question had assumed another shape, for an hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Evans) said, he was not satisfied with a Commission, because he knew not the actual state of the Government—whether, indeed, there was a Government, or, at all events, who were the individuals composing it; and that the Commission was the suggestion of two noble Lords still in the Cabinet to get out of the difficulty. The fact, however, was the very reverse; but, be that as it might, he did not see, even then, how those who thought with the hon. and gallant Member, and had no confidence in the Government could do otherwise than vote for the Resolution. He went, however, a great deal further, and said, that there was nothing in the words of this Resolution to bind any government whatever. If this Resolution were passed, and the House could not confide in the Government to carry it into effect, of what use was the mere passing it? Would not the bold and manly course be for the hon. member for St. Alban's to say, "I call on the House to pass this Resolution; and then let us have a Government to whom we can confide the carrying of it into effect?" But laying out of view for the present, the general policy of the proceeding, he considered, that the Government of this country must be carried on in the manner that he would venture to describe. A Government must be formed of persons agreeing in principle with the majority of the House of Commons; and he thought it necessary to state, that the Members of the House of Commons had a right, if the Ministers of the Crown had not their confidence, to express their opinion to the Crown, and had a right to require that the Ministers of the Crown should be persons in whose character and principles they were disposed to confide; but, having secured that point, it would be consistent with all proper principles of Government, and with the wisdom of the Legislature, to leave to such Ministers the task of bringing forward their measures according to the principles which they approved of. If there were any use 33 in having persons intrusted by the Crown with the conduct of public affairs, it was, that they might be able to consult and deliberate as to the best manner of carrying into effect whatever measures might be approved of by Parliament and by the Crown. Gentlemen asked what was the Government? He said, the Government was the Government of Earl Grey, and of his noble Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was their Government, framed on the principle, that reform was necessary in the Church of Ireland,—a principle in which he believed the majority of this House concurred; and if that were the case, why, it was wise and prudent to leave to them the manner of carrying this reform into effect. With regard to measures of reform, he had always been anxious that they should be carried on peaceably; and he had always believed, that if the Crown, the House of Commons, and the people, agreed generally in the principle of the measures to be adopted, there would be no great difficulty in embodying these measures into laws. But if these powers were in opposition to each other,if the House of Commons should say, "It will not satisfy us if these measures are carried as you, the Ministry, wish them to be, we look to more extensive measures of reform," such a course would lead to very dangerous results, and would prevent the carrying of reform by that peaceable working of the Constitution, which they all anxiously looked to for the accomplishment of these great ends. He was fully persuaded, that many hon. Gentlemen were too sensitive on this point, and that there must ultimately be a triumph of liberal opinions. Entertaining these sentiments, he was content, for one, to see that the march of liberal opinions was gradual and deliberate; and he certainly felt convinced, that if hon. Gentlemen would agree to the previous question, and not allow this resolution to be put, measures might be produced in the course of next Session, (they could not possibly be produced earlier) by which the question of the revenues of the Irish Church might be arranged in a manner satisfactory to the majority of that House, and to the country at large. If there were members of a Cabinet who disagreed with their colleagues on a matter of principle, those members acted in the most honourable and consistent manner, by tendering the re- 34 signation of their offices; but if the majority of the Cabinet recognized a particular principle, and were determined to adopt measures to carry that principle into operation, it would be most unadvisable, most premature, to bring forward a mere abstract question, which, after all, if Parliament should be dissolved, would decide nothing as to the future course of proceeding.
*—There are very many considerations, private as well as public, which will at once suggest themselves to the good feeling of the House, which would render me most anxious to avoid entering into any lengthened or elaborate discussion of the principle involved in this debate. It is impossible for any man to have quitted, without feelings of the deepest regret, colleagues, with whom he had acted in one uniform spirit of kindly feelings—colleagues among whom, during the whole time that they sat together in the Cabinet, there was never heard an angry word, or an unpleasant expression towards one another—colleagues, with whom, on all great principles connected with our domestic and foreign policy, it was equally a pleasure to act, and a duty to co-operate. Deeply did I regret it, when I could no longer conceal from myself, that the time was come which left no alternative for an honest and honourable man, when a difference of no personal nature, mixed with no feeling of unkindness, or want of, I may say, affectionate regard, but an important and vital difference in principle, compelled the separation of a Cabinet who entertained for each other feelings of political attachment and of private friendship; and whose private friendship, I will say with confidence, has not been broken in upon by their present political difference, If I came down to the House with these feelings, I cannot but entertain them the more strongly after the kind expressions which have been made use of by my two noble friends who preceded me. It was apparent to me, that his Majesty's Ministers were about to enter on a course of proceeding which I could not conscientiously enter on with them; and feeling that, if I entered on this course unconscientiously, I should do so dishonourably to myself, and injuriously to the public service, I had no alternative* From the corrected edition, published by Hatchard.35 but that of tendering my resignation. The circumstances by which I am now surrounded deprive me of the means, if it were necessary, of entering into a detail of the various proceedings which have led to this separation. I have not yet been honoured with an audience of my Sovereign for the purpose of resigning into his hands the seals of office which he did me the honour to commit to me; and at which I might ask permission, if I felt it necessary to my own honour and character, to offer a full explanation to Parliament and the country, who have a right to be satisfied that public men do not on light grounds abandon the public duties which have been imposed on them, —but the speech of my noble friend, (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) has made such an explanation a work of supererogation. I differ with the hon. member for Middlesex, when he says, that, in the course which has been pursued, there does not appear to be any great difference in principle between those individuals, who remain in, and those who have retired from office. The commission which has been issued since I ceased to have the honour of a seat in the Cabinet, involves a principle which, either in or out of office, on every occasion, and in every place, I have felt it my bounden duty to oppose. It involves a principle which I conceive to be destructive of the very existence of an Established Church,—a principle which would leave the clergy of the Establishment in each individual parish dependent on the temporary and fluctuating proportions of the religious community. The hon. Gentleman has told you, that we have issued commissions and inquiries on various matters connected with the Church, and that they have been followed up by practical measures. I agree with him, that we have sent commission after commission, and inquiry after inquiry, and that we have adopted measure after measure; but they have all had reference to one object, and to one object only,—to remove real causes of grievance,—to remedy real defects in the constitution of the Church,—to make the Church what she ought to be, more attractive, more pure, and more strengthened, by removing those blemishes which disgusted her friends, and encouraged her adversaries to attack her. I believe that, on all these occasions, the principle, that you have a right to deal with the property 36 of the Church, has been studiously, I hope not dishonestly, left open by the Cabinet, for future consideration. The time for its consideration seems now to have been forced on by circumstances over which the Cabinet had no control. The question is now broadly at issue; and whether I take the Resolution of the hon. Gentleman, or the Amendment of my noble friend, coupled with the declaration which I regretted to hear hint make, the same principle is involved, the same admission is made by this Government which would never have been made by the late Government, that you are at liberty to deal with the property of the Church for other than Protestant Church purposes, and that, even should you admit, that it is requisite there should be a Protestant clergyman resident in every parish throughout Ireland, you pledge yourselves to degrade that clergyman, by making him the stipendiary of the State. To this principle I cannot consent—I cannot submit to see the Protestant clergy, in this Protestant country, placed upon a footing of entire equality with the clergy of all other sects and persuasions. I hold the very essence of the principles of an Established Church to be, that you shall furnish to every member of that Church, whether they reside in a densely-populated district, or whether they be thinly scattered, that which, by God's blessing, we will preserve to them—the celebration of the worship of Almighty God, according to the rites and practice of the favoured religion, free of any payment whatever. I am not willing to see the time when the Minister of' the Crown shall come clown to this House, and, in moving the clergy estimates, congratulate the House, that the diminution of Protestantism in fifty parishes in Ireland has enabled him to take off 5,000l. from the estimates of the year. I know, Sir, that if you act upon such a principle, it will be destructive of the utility—and I may add—of the permanency of the Established Church. I believe, that it will be subversive of the reverence hitherto paid its ministers; and I know that, in certain parts of Ireland, it will be accompanied by fatal steps to render the number of Protestants so small as to justify a proportionate diminution of the grant to the Protestant clergy. I know that, even in the present state of things, the tide of Protestant emigration is flowing out from many parts of Ireland in a deep, a full, 37 and a rapid current. I will not introduce any further incitement of violence in that country, by saying publicly, and with authority to its people—"Diminish the number of Protestants in your parishes, for, by so doing, you will diminish the burthens which press most heavily upon you." This doctrine of proportion is pregnant with danger, as applied to Ireland; and, if once admitted, is certain to be applied to England. I ask you, Sir, upon what ground will any Minister who has done away with a Protestant living in Ireland, because the incumbent. of it had a diminished flock, stand forward in this House hereafter, when a Dissenter—I care not of what denomination, Catholic or Protestant—comes forward and shows, by figures which cannot he contradicted, that, in this parish, and that parish, the Protestant congregation belonging to the Established Church is a small minority, and ought not to bean incumbrance upon the finances of the State. But, before you admit this dangerous doctrine, tell me, if you can, where—when admitted—it will stop? Before you call upon me, as a practical statesman, to admit this your novel, and, as I think, dangerous doctrine,—tell me that you can stop its application when and where you will. Admit this doctrine of proportion—admit, that where you have only ten Protestants of the Established Church in a parish, you have a right to take away the Protestant minister; and then tell me why you have not the same right where there are only twenty, or fifty, or a hundred Protestants of the same persuasion? The hon. and learned member for Dublin said, on a former occasion, that where the fourth of a population of a parish did not belong to the Established Church, there he would take away the ministry of the Establishment. I believe that, since that time, the hon. and learned Gentleman has fallen to a tenth; but why may he not raise his proposition again to a fourth?—why may he not raise it to any proportion in which the Protestants do not form an absolute majority of the parishioners? If you once sanction this doctrine of proportion—if you Once admit, that the religion of the majority in each parish is to be considered the religion of State, and is to be supported with the State accordingly, then this country is no longer a Protestant country, but a country in which all religions, whether they be pure or impure 38 I mean nothing offensive to any man), are equal in the eye of the law and of the State. [Mr. O'Connell: Hear! Hear!] I thank the hon. and learned Gentleman for that cheer, and I appeal to the House and the country at once,—"Are you prepared, in the face of Parliament, and in the face of the country, to say, that it is an indifferent point, whether you support a Protestant or Catholic establishment?" If I might venture for a moment to act on behalf of the hon. colleagues from whom I have so recently separated, I would return the hon. Member thanks on behalf of the Government; for he has made clear and intelligible the principle on which I take my stand. Up to that point I contend you must go, if you go up to this—if you leave the question of Church abuses, and begin to tamper with the Church property, you Must come at last to this conclusion—that all religions ought to be placed on the same footing. Now, I tell the House, boldly and distinctly, that the people of England are not ripe for that; and when I say, that the people of England are not ripe for that, let me call upon you to pause before you assent to a Resolution which you cannot, which you ought not, which the people of England will not let you, carry into effect. I did not think, that I should ever live to hear a Minister of the Crown propose such a Resolution—I do not think that I yet see the Legislature that will pass it—and I am not certain that I know the Sovereign who will assent to it. I have honestly and conscientiously gone the full length to which I am prepared to go in reforming the abuses of the Church. I say the abuses of the Church, for I admit, that there are questions regarding pluralities—regarding non-residence—regarding the internal discipline of the Church—regarding its purification and amendment—regarding the increased respectability of its ministers—and, even to a certain extent, regarding the better distribution of its revenues for Church purposes, to which we are bound to give immediate attention. But the question of the appropriation of the property of the Church to any other but Church purposes involves principles to which I, for one, will never give my assent. The hon. member for Middlesex says, that the House sanctioned this principle, when it sanctioned the 147th clause of the Irish Church Temporalities Bill. 39 I admit, that many Gentlemen did adopt the same view of it which the hon. member for Middlesex now takes; but I think, that the hon. Member will admit to me, in return, that the ground upon which that clause was originally moved was this—that it contemplated the appropriation, not of any property belonging to the Church, but of a new species of property created under that Bill. The property which the clause dealt with does not belong, and never did belong, to the Church; but having been created by the State, it was argued that it was applicable to the purposes of the State. The House, however, did not acquiesce in that distinction,—the House considered it as the property of the Church; and then we felt it to be our duty, when the clause was considered as a question of the appropriation of the Church property, to press upon the House (and we pressed it upon the House successfully) the propriety of abandoning a clause which had been apprehended in a sense very different from that in which we, its framers, apprehended it. I am not aware that, either in my own vindication, or in explanation of the view which I have taken of this case, it is necessary for me to trespass further on the indulgence of the House. I trust, however, that the House will bear with me whilst I remark that the amended Motion of the hon. member for St. Alban's contains a conclusion not very accurate in point of logic. The hon. Member takes one principle, to which I may or may not assent; and then derives from it a conclusion to which I never can assent. He first says, that "it is the right of the State to regulate the distribution of Church property in such manner as Parliament may determine;" and then he assumes, that it is expedient that the temporal possessions of the Church of Ireland, as now established by law, should be reduced," that is, in other words, "because as a sacred trust, you have a right to superintend the property which has long furnished the means of supporting the ministers of that form of worship which you believe to be true, and which you are bound to maintain by the Act of Union between the two countries,—because you admit the right of the State to regulate the distribution of Church property among the members of the Church,—therefore, I call upon you to reduce—to appropriate—that is, to confiscate, that property—to 40 apply it to the purposes of charity, to the purposes of education, to any other purpose you please,—therefore I call upon you to put 125,000l. a-year into the pockets of those who now pay that amount in tithe, as it will conduce more to the tranquillity of the country, than paying it over to the ministers of a religion not supported by the majority of the people." Now, I beg leave to tell the hon. Member, that I dissent entirely from his Resolution, and that, if I were to follow the bent of my own inclination, and if the forms of the House allowed me, I should meet it with a direct negative. Under circumstances somewhat different from those in which we are now placed, I was prepared to agree to the previous question, upon this Resolution. I may, therefore, perhaps, be asked, how is it that I am not satisfied, when I find my late colleagues now prepared to move the same Amendment on the original Motion? My answer is, that their Amendment is now accompanied by conditions which render it more unpalatable to me than when it was originally proposed to me to support it, and which do not render it a whit more satisfactory to the hon. member for St. Alban's. What, then, is the practical line pointed out to me by reason and prudence? In concert with no man except those noble and hon. friends who have acted with me upon this occasion, and without whose consent and concurrence I have taken no single step in this matter—pursuing the course which my own sense of honour and public duty points out to me—desirous of cautioning the House not to assent to an abstract resolution of this nature, without knowing at what time, by what means, and by what men, it is to be carried into effect—desirous, also, of not involving Ireland and England, by assenting to it, in a formidable state of confusion in the interval between the present and the next Session of Parliament—prepared on my own behalf, to put a decided negative upon it, yet prevented doing so by the reasons which I have already stated—anxious not to draw down upon myself and upon those who have on this occasion acted with me, the responsibility of endangering, by taking a different course from that marked out by the Government, the passing of a Resolution which they, though from different motives, seem equally to deprecate—while I declare my firm adhesion to the principles upon which 41 I entered office—for which I quitted office (and in quitting office I made no sacrifice, if I did not sacrifice the esteem and regard of my friends; and whatever reputation I may have acquired for honesty and integrity in public affairs)—desirous, I repeat, of not seeing this Resolution carried into effect,—and confident that, without danger to both countries, it cannot be carried into effect,—still, under all the circumstances of the case, much doubting and much reflecting upon them all, I am compelled to agree to the Amendment of my noble friend. I acquiesce in the previous question. I thank the House once more for the patience with which it has listened to me. If, in the trying circumstances in which I have been placed, I have expressed myself strongly, it has been owing to my feeling strongly the importance of the present occasion. In doing so, I hope that I have not expressed myself in a manner to hurt the feelings of colleagues from whom I part, with no sentiments save those of regard, and regret that our opinions on this great question no longer permit us to tread together the same path of public duty.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
could not help thinking, that his right hon. friend had introduced into the speech which he had just concluded many topics which, though of the greatest importance in themselves, were not immediately applicable to the question before the House. As to the last observation of his right hon. friend, it was quite unnecessary, for with the exception of a single phrase there was not a word upon which he, or any other of the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues, had any reason to offer a remark. The phrase to which this observation applied was that in which his right hon. friend had stated that he was addressing the House in his own vindication. His right hon. friend required no vindication. There was not an individual of any party who was not ready to admit, that his right hon. friend had acted on this, as on every other occasion, from the purest impulses of patriotism. He trusted, that his right hon. friend would admit to others, that if they had concurred with him in general principles, they would also have concurred with him in their course of action. In what, then, he would ask, did the difference of opinion between his right hon. 42 friend and himself consist? It consisted in this—that according to the doctrines of his right hon. friend, be the revenues of the Church of Ireland ever so great, be they the source of incumbrance or even of mischief to the Church of Ireland, still, by reason of circumstances extrinsic to that Church, the Parliament was bound to continue for ever that, which by the hypothesis was an incumbrance and a mischief, and to withhold that remedy which by the same hypothesis would be most beneficial. His right hon. friend said, that the principles of his Majesty's Government involved the destruction of the Protestant Establishment of the Church of Ireland. If he could bring himself to adopt that position, his course would be perfectly clear, and very different from that which he now intended to follow. He was by education and feeling, and on conviction, attached to the Church of England, and he would never consent either in that House or elsewhere, to any measure calculated to endanger it. But if the question were put in this way to him—if it were proved to his satisfaction that the wealth now enjoyed by the Protestant Church in Ireland was more than adequate for the purposes to which it was originally devoted—if he saw in the possession of that wealth, not a principle of safety, but a principle of danger, then he would consent to consider the question how that excess of wealth could be best disposed of, as much for the sake of the Protestant Church itself, as for the sake of the other interests of the nation. Again, his right hon. friend had compared the state of the Protestant Church in Ireland, with the state of the Protestant Church in England. Now there was a great and obvious distinction between the conditions of the two Churches; and it did not follow, because this step was taken with respect to the Church of Ireland, that a similar step was to be adopted with respect to the Church of England. Were not, he would ask, the circumstances of the two Churches quite dissimilar? His right hon. friend knew, that in all essential points they were. If ever danger should betide the Church of England, it would arise from acting on the principle—that the Legislature could not apply a remedy to the abuses of the church of Ireland, without leading to the application of a similar measure to the abuses of the 43 Church of England. He recollected well, that when his right hon. friend, the member for the University of Cambridge Cost introduced his Tithe Commutation Bill into that House, it was objected to by certain partisans of the Church of England, until words were inserted in the preamble of the Bill, distinguishing the case of the two Churches. But what became of the analogy discovered by his right hon. friend in the case of the Irish Church Temporalities Bill? Was the House prepared, because by that Bill it had abolished ten bishoprics in Ireland, to abolish even a single bishopric in England? Was it right, after the example set in that Bill, to say, that the House could not apply any remedy to the abuses of the Church of Ireland without applying a similar remedy to the Church of England? In the commission which was now about to issue, the House had an assurance, that if there were shown to be an excess of wealth in the possession of the Church of Ireland above the purposes for which that Church was bound to provide, it would be competent to Parliament to discuss the mode in which that excess should be applied. He had heard much about the mode of appropriating the Church property; but that was not the question at present. The question was as to asserting the right of Parliament to deal with that surplus, if any surplus should be proved to exist above the necessary purposes of the Church. Beyond that he would not yield a single point. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that it were to be stated that every incumbent in England received only 263l. a-year, and that every incumbent in Ireland received a much larger sum, would any man say, that that was a state of things which that House either could or ought to defend? It was upon these grounds that he, seeing that the commission which was about to issue involved the principle of the Resolution moved by the hon. member for St. Alban's, in case the evidence to be collected proved a surplus of wealth in the Church of Ireland—keeping his mind open as to the mode in which the appropriation of that property was hereafter to be made—but admitting at the very outset that, if there were a surplus, there was no objection on the part of Ministers, supported by Parliament, to deal with it. It was upon these grounds, he repeated, that he maintained, that this commission 44 would give to the House and to the country all that hon. Gentlemen had a right to expect. Take either the Resolution or the commission, but let the House not insist on taking both, for the combination of the two was one of the greatest absurdities that could be perpetrated. Was the House determined to decide first and to examine afterwards? Was it because this was an Irish subject, that the House was determined to act in so Irish a manner? His right hon. friend had stated, that his objection was to the doctrine of numbers; but had his noble friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) laid down the doctrine of numbers, to which his right hon. friend had objected? or had he laid down any principle of the kind? It was not, he was sure, for the interest of the Church of England to fight its battle, if battle it must fight, upon the indefensible grounds which had been taken up for it by some of its friends that evening—it was by reducing the abuses of the Church of Ireland, that the security of both would be best established. To keep the two separate and to carry Church Reform into Ireland was indispensable for the safety of the Church of England.
§ Mr. Ewart
said, he understood the Government objected to adopt as an isolated Resolution the Motion of his hon. friend the member for St. Alban's; yet they approved of it as far as regarded the end proposed. Why, then, did they not embody it in their own resolutions? All their speeches had been favourable to it. It was perfectly practicable for them to carry their commission for inquiry, and yet to assign at the same time the view with which they carried it. He (Mr. Ewart) must be excused if, with every respect for the right hon. member for South Lancashire,(Mr. Stanley), he differed from him when he vindicated the maintenance of a predominant Church. The reasons which the right hon. Member urged were the very same reasons which in former times had been urged in favour of papal ascendancy. They differed only in degree. When he heard such doctrines, he must say, that "New Protestant was but Old Priest writ large." He was sorry, too, to hear his right hon. friend (Mr. Spring Rice) advocate the course adopted by the Ministry merely because he considered it as supporting an establishment. In his view, the question was not merely a Pro- 45 testant question, it was a national question. He must, with every respect to the feelings of hon. Members, express his fears that many of them supported the predominance a the Church from all idea of its connexion with the aristocracy. He confessed his sincere belief, that in this and in other matters our system was even dangerously aristocratical, and he was convinced that it was the duty of Parliament gradually to unaristocratize that system to which religion should never be Made subservient. Again he called upon the Ministry to say why they could not combine the principle of his hon. friend the member for St. Alban's with their inquiry. Let them state at once the means they proposed, and the end they had in view. They would thus unite the opinions of both sides, and make no sacrifice of consistency themselves.
§ Mr. Lambert
hoped, that the House would permit him to explain very briefly the reasons which induced him to support the Motion of the hon. member for St. Alban's. In the first place, he would ask any Gentleman who on Tuesday last was prepared to vote for that Motion, what had occurred since then, to justify him in withdrawing his support from it? It was true, that in the interim a part of the Cabinet had separated from it; hut it was evident that, in the Cabinet, as it now existed, there were still some influential Members opposed to this question of appropriation. From what had recently occurred, it appeared to him that a difference of opinion on this subject laid long existed in the Cabinet, and that it had been suppressed by mental agreement. How did the House know, that this difference of opinion did not still continue in opposition to the wishes and to the interests of the country? It appeared to him that this subject divided itself into two distinct branches; first, there was the question as to the principle of appropriation; and next, there was the question as to the amount of property to be appropriated. Now, the question as to the principle of appropriation stood by itself. Place that principle upon record beyond the power of revocation, and then proceed to inquire into the amount of revenues to be appropriated. A commission issuing from the Crown might be revoked, but a Resolution of that House affirming the principle of appropriation could not be revoked. It would stand on the journals 46 —it would bind a future House of Commons—it would control any future Administration ["No, no."]. In spite of that cry, he contended that it would have that effect, for with the sense of the country ascertained upon the point, and with this Resolution recorded on the journals, he would not say, that it would be impossible, but he would say, that it would be dangerous, fur any ministry to act in opposition to a sentiment so recorded. He hoped, that in what he was next going, to utter he should not be guilty of any irregularity, but there had appeared since the debate of Tuesday night, and the significant adjournment which had then taken place, an uncontradicted statement of the opinions held by the first individual in the State. He should like to know who was the responsible adviser for, and who was the reporter of that answer? He gathered from that answer, whether it were true or apocryphal—and hitherto it, had not been contradicted—an additional reason for pressing this Motion to a division. He could not bring himself to believe that there did not at this moment exist a dissension in the Cabinet. If there were not such a dissension, why did not the Government come boldly forward and say—"We sanction the principle of this Resolution, and will appoint a Commission to ascertain the amount of the revenues to be appropriated?" The Government, however, must understand that this question could not be permitted to sleep. The times required a bold policy, which would meet the eye or the day. We know, at present," said the hon. Member, "what, we have lost in talent and respectability. I ask what have we gained? We all know our loss, and the loss of the Cabinet. I fear, that before long we shall both experience it fatally. If we stop short now, if we vote for the Previous question, we shall do that which we might have done last Tuesday, without haying incurred this loss. Let us then meet the question boldly, and recognise the principle we contend for—a principle which I venture to assure his Majesty's Ministers will find press upon them at every instant at every stage of the tithe question, now in progress through this House. On Tuesday night a divided Cabinet was to have met the Motion of my hon. friend by the previous question; we are told the Cabinet is now unanimous. and yet the same course is pursued. Shall we, then, hesi- 47 tate to do that now which it is evident we shall be compelled to do hereafter." The present question, was too important the hon. Member contended, to lie dormant—it ought to be decided at once, for there was no occasion for an inquiry. The sense of the country and the House was fixed on this subject, and the general wish could not be much longer postponed. For the reasons given he should support the Motion of the hon. member for St. Alban's, which established the principle of the control of the Legislature in this matter. That principle being established, an inquiry, such as that proposed by the noble Lord might afford satisfaction. He was convinced that the course referred to was the best that could be adopted with a view to satisfy the country, strengthen our institutions and promote the stability of the Crown.
could not agree with the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, that the noble Lord's commission of inquiry would give any satisfaction, under whatever circumstances; and he warned Ministers against being led away by the delusion, that this commission would do any thing for them. We had a commission of corporate inquiry last year; and what good did it do? How much nearer were we to obtaining relief from the grievance of corporate abuses? A commission was a mere pretence—a wet blanket to stifle what the country required, and what Ministers, if they had sufficient determination and manliness, would give,—he meant satisfaction to Ireland and security to England; for, unless satisfaction were afforded to Ireland, blessed be God! there could not be any security for England. His object in pressing this subject on the attention of Ministers was solely with a view to give satisfaction to Ireland. He had a plan of his own for giving satisfaction in this matter, but he did not now press it on Ministers or the House; and why?—because he wished to urge the noble Lord opposite to come forward and proceed with a satisfactory plan himself. Let the noble Lord do so, let Ministers adopt that course, and take Ireland out of the hands of agitators, as they termed him and his friends. If Gentlemen thought that there was no real grievance, that all alleged evils were mere poetry and the imagination of public men, it would not be hard to satisfy the demands of the Irish people; but if grievances 48 actually existed—real and substantial grievances—was it too much to ask for their redress? If Ministers were determined not to redress those grievances—if they were resolved to continue that most degrading of all conditions, in which the mass of the people were obliged to contribute to the wealth and splendour of a Church from which they conscientiously dissented, and which repaid them with insult for their tribute—if that were the intention of Ministers, let them take a bold and manly course, and call back the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) to the situation which he had just relinquished. The right hon. Gentleman told the House his principles frankly and boldly, and said, that there must be a Protestant Church Establishment in Ireland; no matter how few the Protestant congregations and hearers, that Church must exist for the sake of maintaining the purity of Protestantism; it was, therefore, consistent in the right hon. Gentleman to act as he did. But what became of the consistency of the right hon. Gentleman's late colleagues? He laughed to scorn the right hon. Gentleman's doctrine, and told him, that his principle had been tried in Ireland for 200 years without effect. It commenced in blood and rapine and plunder—it was continued with the like consequences, and had perpetuated heart-burnings and injustice down to the present hour. The right hon. Gentleman was for supporting a state religion which was not the religion of the people; he was for maintaining the old principle, the purity of Protestantism. If the right hon. Gentleman held fast by ancient principles, why went he not back to Popery at once, and why not give back to the Carthusians, Benedictines, Dominicans, and Franciscans, that property which was originally theirs, but which the right hon. Gentleman now insisted on having appropriated for the sake of the small number of Protestants in Ireland? But nevertheless, and notwithstanding the absurdity of his doctrine, the right hon. Gentleman was consistent; he had gone out of office on principle, and Ministers had remained in office on principle; but the right hon. Gentleman differed from his late colleagues in this respect, that he now openly and boldly asserted his principle, while they did not venture to maintain theirs. The right hon. Gentleman, he repeated, had asserted the principle upon which he went 49 out of office; why did not Ministers assert the principle on which they remained in? Why, instead of publicly professing and acting on their principles, did they resort to an armed neutrality? Why talk of a commission of inquiry, the result of which they might have half a century hence? Why not affirm the principle which they professed, or were supposed to entertain, and act upon it at once? The commission was to investigate the revenues of the Protestant Church, and to inquire into how many Protestants there might be in each parish in Ireland; not only how many Protestants, but also to examine the segments into which Protestantism was divided, and ascertain how many were to be allotted to John Calvin, how many to Martin Luther, and what number to John Wesley? Were the Commissioners to take people's adherence to the 39 Articles into consideration? Was there also to be a crusade of that kind? If any one said, "I can only sign 38 of the articles," was he to be distinguished from the more completely orthodox, and were there to be 38-article men, as well as 39-article people? Were the Commissioners to inquire into the numbers of the Roman Catholics? He for one was content that they should—he was willing to have that inquiry, because he believed, that the Catholics would be found to be pretty much as they were represented to be. Were the Commissioners to go to the police force and count the numbers, and see that the same men should not be estimated twice—told off in Cork, and then again in another Kilkenny? Were they to examine the present state of the population, to ascertain the number of births since the last return, to investigate the obituaries, to go on canvassing all people, and looking into all subjects, in this vague and interminable way? Why, such a system of inquiry would prove a Penelope's web; there would be no end to it. Fever or cholera might make a serious difference in the proportion of Protestantism in a parish, and fresh inquiries would be constantly demanded. This was the unsatisfactory commission which was now offered to Ireland, instead of a full and healing measure; and yet, even about this paltry commission, gentlemen could not agree, because it seemed to promise something, however remote or incomplete, for that unhappy country. "Oh, how unanimous you were," exclaimed the 50 hon. Member, "when you were coercing Ireland! there was then no difference in the Cabinet! you inflicted court-martials upon Ireland without hesitation or dispute! When you were about to coerce Ireland, you were perfectly unanimous, but now, in the work of conciliation, you are for the first time divided!" Those who had separated themselves from Ministers on this occasion, had at least acted an open and manly part; not so those who remained in the Cabinet. And with respect to them, he would say, "You shrink from affirming what is or ought to be your own principle; you offer us a nugatory and deceptive commission; you throw this tortoise-shell over yourselves in order that you may have a chance of creeping at a snail's pace out of the difficulty." What was the situation of Ireland in reference to the Protestant Church? Arrears of tithes were due to the Protestant clergy, and also to lay impropriators, to a considerable extent. Were the Commissioners to ascertain the amount of tithes in every parish, or would Government stand on the old valuation? In eight, out of ten parishes, the valuation was complete. Were the arrears due to the clergy and lay impropriators to be first levied on the country, and then were the police and military to be sent out to collect the new Land-tax? What would be the result of all this? He did not like to dwell on the subject. Meanwhile, however, we were to have a commission to ascertain something or other—when we were like to have a winter of blood and a spring of more coercion. This was not a question between two sections of the Cabinet; it was a much higher question—a question of conciliation towards Ireland. That country was never more ready and willing to be conciliated than at present. But how? By fair words and promises? No; but by acts. Give us acts and deeds, adopt a decided and satisfactory course in relation to this subject; and then you would conciliate Ireland. You had now a favourable opportunity—the Irish Tithe Bill was before the House; it contained the principle of appropriation. You were willing to give up that. Give us a proper and satisfactory recognition of the principle. The hon. member for Donegal quoted the hon. Baronet, the member for Oxford University, with respect to "the expansive nature of Protestantism." If the observation applied to Ireland, it ought 51 to have been "the 'expensive' nature of Protestantism." What he asked for was to introduce appropriation as a clear and distinct principle of the measure before the House. He had said, that the principle should be acted on in parishes where the proportion of Protestants was less than one-fourth of the population. The right hon. Gentleman opposite erroneously attributed to him "one-fifth" as the proportion which he had referred to. He might have said in private conversation, that there was not one-tenth of the population Protestant in parishes with which he was acquainted—in Kerry, for instance. He asked, in the name of common justice and common sense, whether, under such circumstances, the present system ought to be supported? ["Hear, hear."] That cheer said, "No;" it implied, that it ought not to be kept up; why not put what appeared to be the sense of the Government and the House upon record, by acceding to the Motion of the hon. member for St. Alban's, to whom both England and Ireland were indebted for bringing it forward? The character of Ministers was of importance; it was, or ought to be, precious to Ireland—that character it was their duty to maintain and elevate; but how could they do so when they hesitated to put boldly on record their acquiescence in the principle of appropriation, thereby showing that they were worthy of their trust and true to themselves, by openly maintaining what they at present merely affected or pretended to think? It was in their power to make the important declaration—Ireland looked to the Ministers with anxiety. The House had told the Sovereign, that you were ready to redress the evils of Ireland; by an overwhelming majority you had recently negatived that plan of redress to which Ireland was and would be attached, and from which it could not be detached, unless by satisfactory concessions, such as were now demanded. It, therefore, behoved the House and the Government to do justice upon the present occasion. When the people of Ireland read this Debate, and saw that, instead of embracing the great principle of appropriation, it merely related to little personal matters,—and when they saw the Ministerial majority against the professed principle of the minority,—a majority swelled by the late Secretary for the Colonies and by others, whose support was the result of a 52 cunning and equivocal friendship, would not the people feel great disappointment and indignation, and would not they mock him to scorn if he were to give Ministers his confidence? Would they not say, and with apparent justice, our supposed friends and advocates are either miserably deluded, or else they are wretched deluders." Might they not, with equal justice, say, "There are plans of self-aggrandizement to be accomplished; situations of power and emolument to be obtained; personal and interested objects to be effected; and those who have talked about the evils of Ireland, and of the necessity of a domestic Legislature, are truckling to the Government with private views, and endeavouring to promote their own interests at the expense of their country." Suppose this result to be brought about, in what degree would it benefit Ministers? Perhaps they might get another set of agitators in the place of the present—they might get worse. He would tell diem that; and they might do worse, even if they could succeed in ruining the character of men whom he now told the Government they could not purchase, and whom he did not wish to suppose that Ministers were weak enough to attempt to deter from their duty. England had tried with Scotland the game she was now playing in Ireland. How often did the walls of that House echo with declarations of an intention to establish firmly, and maintain unshaken, the system of episcopacy in Scotland! How often did majorities express their scorn at the idea of allowing the Scotch to throw off the surplice, and reject the orders and regulations of the Established Church! But, nevertheless, the Ministers of that day were defeated by the good broadswords of the Scotch. For fifty years, England persecuted a people which conscientiously differed from it on points of doctrine and discipline; but all the attempts to establish episcopacy in Scotland failed. Was a different result to be expected in Ireland n the present day? Was Ireland a Protestant country?—No. It was not by the Government calling Ireland a Protestant country that it could be rendered so, but only by the people becoming Protestant. Did Ministers want a commission of inquiry to show the enormous majority of Catholics in Ireland? Did they want such an inquiry as to the fact of the small minority which the Protestants of that coun- 53 try constituted? He put it to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, whether he entertained any doubt on the subject? If so, let the right hon. Gentleman go to the parishes of Loughlin and Shanagolden, in which he was a considerable proprietor, and see the relative numbers of Catholics and Protestants; the right hon. Gentleman could not want any inquiry for that purpose. It was idle to talk of a commission of inquiry. If the House first established the principle of appropriation, it might afterwards proceed to work out the details by means of a commission, but no preliminary inquiry was wanted. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) said, "If you send out a commission, the White Boys may soon change the relative proportion of Protestants and Catholics in certain parishes." It was possible, that such a thing might happen, but he hoped and believed that it was not likely. He could refer the right hon. Gentleman to a county which had been desolated of its Catholic inhabitants at a former period. Undoubtedly, the principle was a dreadful one, and might be mischievously exercised both against Catholics and Protestants. No man could deprecate any thing of the kind more than himself. But it would be easy to obviate any risk of that kind, if a date already passed were selected for estimating the relative proportions of Catholics and Protestants—the 1st of March, for instance, might be the day fixed, and thus we should get over that danger at least. But was there no other evil to be dreaded? Did not the great mischief and evil in Ireland consist in the dissensions existing between Catholics and Protestants? The House had that night heard sentiments of self-gratulation expressed on the part of the Protestants, at the prospect of the Church being upheld in Ireland; what would be the feelings of the Catholics? See the wretched absurdity and mischief created by your dominant Church in Ireland! The law gave the Protestants a superiority in that country, and, because they possessed a legal superiority, they were induced to imagine that they also possessed a physical and moral superiority. Was this fallacious idea to be encouraged? Were the people of Ireland to be set against each other for the maintenance of the principle of pure Protestantism? Was this gross injustice to be committed? Government and the Legislature were arrived at a period when they 54 might do much good by proceeding boldly and actively; but the method now proposed to be adopted was a mere mockery, and could not be attended with any successful result. Gentlemen opposite must themselves admit, that if we did not first establish the principle of appropriation, the Government commission would be neither more nor less than a rambling proclamation to array the Protestants and Catholics in every parish in Ireland against each other. It would excite party processions, irritating distinctions, and meetings. Then would come the daily riot, the evening collision, and the midnight murder! It would he disseminating in Ireland an additional motive to excitement—another cause of dissension. They had tried the principle of pure Protestantism in Ireland for 200 years; the experiment had failed; let it be abandoned. The people of Ireland were now anxious to fall into the arms of this country—to join the ranks of Government. They desired to see a strong and effective minority working out the great principles of the Reform Bill, with energy and sincerity; they desired so to strengthen the hands of the Administration, as not to allow the possibility of parties in any quarter, either in the vicinity of that House or elsewhere, resisting the King's Government with a prospect of success. Ireland was ready to assist in that work; but Ireland would not accept chaff for wholesome food. She required more than words and promises,—she demanded acts and deeds that did not admit of ambiguity or mistake. Think not to satisfy hungry Ireland by talking of roast beef, or to assuage her thirst with a drinking song; she required something real and substantial, and would laugh to scorn all empty promises and professions. Ireland would despise the commission of inquiry, when Ministers pledged themselves to nothing, except to a quarrel with the late Secretary for the Colonies. Nobody could more respect the sincerity, manliness, and integrity, of that right hon. Gentleman than himself; but, at the same time, he thought the right hon. Gentleman's policy the very worst that could have been adopted with respect to Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had swamped the Ministry; from the first, he was its evil genius,—a calamity to the Cabinet; but his honour and principles were undoubted: high in the powers of his genius, and firm in the assertion of prin- 55 ciple, the right hon. Gentleman could lay claim to the merit of consistency. He was ready to do the right hon. Gentleman full justice; but everybody was aware how much mischief he had done the Government. However, the Cabinet had parted with the right hon. Gentleman on good terms, and reckoned upon his future support. A very pathetic scene followed, worthy of a novelist's pen; but, although the right hon. Gentleman seemed to weep a little at parting with his late colleagues, he soon resumed his wonted air, and proved his rigid and unbending adherence to his own principles. He called upon Ministers and the House to adopt the same lion part: they had under their protection every sect; and if they began with an equitable principle in Ireland, they would shortly be enabled to do more justice to England. Do this act of justice to Ireland, and they would soon be able to reduce the Pension List and repeal the Septennial Act. When Gentlemen once felt the sweets and advantages of popularity, they would be led on from good to better. Let them, then, begin with Ireland in this instance. He had indulged in some appearance of hilarity; but his mind sunk when he considered the hopeless and irreparable loss which Gentlemen, sitting on the Ministerial bench, had experienced. They could not get back the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) if they wished—that was out of the question. They had cut the bridge behind them—there was no retreating. Then go forward. They heard the cheer of Tuesday at the noble Lord's announcement; they would hear that cheer again, if they were to embrace the principle of appropriation. Never was Ministry so strong as the present would be, if it would declare and work out that principle; but never was Ministry so weak, if they stopped short or hesitated. If they chose, they could be thus strong, and in no other quarter could there be any competition. If they now shrunk from their duty, they had had their warning, although from a quarter which they might distrust or despise. If Ireland had been happily separated by 300 leagues from England, then would not the blessings of God in the former country have been turned into the bitterest curses; then would not the Catholic people be compelled to support in splendour a Protestant Church. Gentlemen talked much of what had been done for the Irish by 56 England since the period of the Union, but he could see no trace of any solid advantage conferred upon Ireland, with the exception of what had been reluctantly wrung from this country. "We now prostrate ourselves, (said the hon. and learned Gentleman), before you,—not in weakness, but in a spirit of voluntary humility and conciliation, and request justice at your hands. It is your duty to pacify Ireland. Show your Christian and charitable, as well as just feelings, by doing so. We confess ourselves in your power—we have no intention of revolt or resistance—we implore you for this boon—we ask you to pass the present resolution. Still more. Do you wish to strengthen the Administration?—support the resolution, support the friends of justice and liberality in the Cabinet; for it is not yet formed; no new writs having been moved for. You can not reclaim the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley); he is irrecoverably lost; but no one else is so pledged, not even the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), whose loss would be undoubtedly great, if he should finally relinquish a department into which he has introduced most important reforms." He called upon Gentlemen opposite to repudiate the proposition for the previous question; and asked how the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley), with his manliness and sincerity, could assent to a vote by which he affirmed the principle of appropriation, at least in some degree? It was hardly consistent with the right hon. Gentleman's character to meet the resolution of the hon. Member for St. Alban's in that manner. He had trespassed on the House at considerable length; and, if time allowed, would still proceed, but more in sorrow than in anger. Last week, he thought he had seen a streaking of the political horizon with a new and cheering light for his unhappy country; but he now found it to be a mere ignis fatuus—not the genial light which would shed lustre and happiness upon Ireland. The hon. and learned Member concluded:—"Do we ask you to persecute or injure our Protestant fellow-countrymen? God forbid! There is not a Protestant in the House who would be more anxious to resist any such proceeding than I am. All I ask is justice. Do this; and you will have all England and Scotland, and every thing valuable in Ireland, with you. We only wish to have that incubus shaken off which has long in- 57 jured and insulted the Catholics. We talk not of superiority for ourselves, all we ask of you is, that in the construction of the Bill relative to the Irish Established Church, you will, at length, do that justice to Ireland which England obtained for herself, which Scotland extorted from you, and which Ireland, through my humble voice, now implores you to grant."
§ Mr. Charles Grant
said, that it was not his intention to trespass at any length upon the patience of the House, or follow in detail the speech pronounced by the eloquent Gentleman who had just resumed his seat. However much he differed from that hon. and learned Gentleman in general on the subject of Ireland, he always heard him with sympathy and with a melancholy satisfaction, as a man who felt for his country, and as the eloquent representative of the wrongs which, in former times, Ireland had sustained. But the misfortune was, that the hon. Gentleman was equally eloquent with regard to Ireland, whether discussing measures of decided relief to that country, or complaining of measures of coercion. He was at a loss to see any argument in the hon. Gentleman's speech which tended to support the original resolution: for the hon. Member, although professing to be favourable to that resolution, was decidedly against issuing a commission, notwithstanding the hon. member for St. Alban's had said, that his first step upon the recognition of his resolution, must be the issuing of a commission. The hon. Member said, "Give us acts, not words," and yet he objected to an act so decided as the issuing of a commission. The hon. member for Wexford stated, that the resolution received his support, because it would be binding on any subsequent House of Commons; but that was an inadequate and fallacious ground of support; for, notwithstanding the resolution should be now agreed to, any future House would approach the question quite as freely and unfettered as the present. The hon. member for Dublin ought to produce some other plan which he could recommend, for all objections to his noble friend's commission applied as strongly to the resolution of the hon. member for St. Alban's, the object of which was also the appointment of a commission. He desired not to see any triumph of one party over another; it was to afford reasonable satisfaction to Ire- 58 land, with a view to the continuance of that union which he hoped would long cement the interests of the two countries, that he supported his noble friend's Motion. The hon. member for Wexford had asked what circumstances had occurred since Tuesday last, to induce the House to adopt the proposition now made to it by his Majesty's Government. Events had occurred since then fully sufficient in themselves to justify the adoption of such a line of conduct; and if he should only advert to the single circumstance of the able and eloquent speech which had been that night delivered by his right hon. friend the late Secretary for the Colonies, he would take his stand upon it, and he would say, that that speech alone entitled them to ask the House, under different circumstances than existed on Tuesday last, to adopt a different line of conduct. He thought, that every impartial man—that every man of common sense—would see, that the proposed appointment of the Commission rested upon intelligible grounds, and that the Government was fully justified in asking for the vote it did, under circumstances completely different from those that existed on Tuesday last. The hon. member for Wexford had also said, that divisions existed in the Cabinet on this important subject; and he had surmised, that this proposition was the fruit of such divisions. He could assure that hon. Member, that he was completely mistaken in such a supposition. He would venture to assure him, and to assure the House, that there were no divisions in the Cabinet on this subject. He could assure the House, and he trusted that the character of the members of the Cabinet, as men of honour and of honesty, at all events as men of common sense and common understanding, would be felt to fully bear him out in the assertion, that they would not have considered themselves justified in proposing the issuing of this Commission if, amongst the members of the Cabinet, there existed the slightest dissent upon such a vital measure. The hon. and learned member for Dublin had assailed the proposition of his Majesty's Government, as being calculated to get rid of the real merits of the question, and to divert the House from pronouncing an opinion upon it. He looked upon it as a plain and direct declaration by the Government of the line of policy which it was determined to pursue. 59 He would assert, in spite of the hon. and learned Gentleman, that no man in that House—that no man of common sense in the country—could mistake for a moment what that line of policy was. He could not but think, notwithstanding all that had been said by the hon. and learned Gentleman, that the warm feelings and the good sense of the Roman Catholics of Ireland would induce them to arrive at a different conclusion from the hon. and learned Gentleman with regard to the issuing of this Commission, and that, in spite of his denunciations, they would give credit to the Government for its intentions. In the issuing of the Commission he cordially and entirely concurred. He firmly believed, that it would constitute the most important step the Government had ever taken for the effectual conciliation of Ireland, and for cementing the union between the two countries. Without further detaining the House, he begged to repeat, that such a proposition had his cordial and entire concurrence.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, that at a period of such importance, and when events were passing calculated to excite in the public mind so much anxiety,—nay, so much dismay,—it was with deep regret that he found himself precluded on this occasion from taking any course that could be satisfactory to his own mind, or which could, he feared, be intelligible to the country at large. A Motion had been made by the hon. member for St. Alban's distinctly affirming two principles—first, that the temporal possessions of the Church of Ireland exceeded the spiritual wants of the Protestants of Ireland; and secondly, this new and important principle, that that House had a right to appropriate the temporal possessions of the Church of Ireland to purposes not necessarily connected with the interests of the Protestant Church. He wished to fight the battle on that principle. He was ready to declare his opinion on that subject. He wanted to state it—not as the hon. and learned Gentleman said, in a tone of offensive exultation, and not claiming superiority over any class of his fellow-subjects because he was a Member of the Church from which they dissented; but prepared to maintain, that the House was bound to preserve inviolate the Protestant establishment in Ireland as well as in England. He was ready to uphold and defend that principle. That was a 60 subject he was prepared to discuss—on which he required no further evidence, being then determined to give to the proposition of the hon. member for St. Alban's his distinct and decided negative. But he did not therefore mean to imply, that he was contented with the present condition of the Established Church in Ireland. Two years ago, when a Committee was appointed on the subject of tithes, those who were connected with that Committee could bear testimony, that he (Sir Robert Peel) admitted himself ready to consider any measures calculated to correct any abuses that could be shown to exist in the ecclesiastical establishment of Ireland. He stated his opinion at that time, which still remained the same—that the period was come when they ought to consider whether or no measures might not be devised for appropriating a portion of the Church-property of Ireland, not to other than ecclesiastical objects, but so as to facilitate the propagation of divine truth, and extend the means of divine worship, by an improved distribution of the funds of the Church. He was ready to assert that principle now—he was ready to consider any reasonable proposition which had for its object, bonâ fide, the maintenance and extension of the Protestant Establishment, and the increase of the benefits attendant upon the reformed religion; and he was ready, at the same time, to give his decided negative to such a Motion as that of the hon. member for St. Alban's, which would sanction the appropriation of those funds to other than ecclesiastical purposes. But, instead of being permitted either to affirm or negative the main proposition, technical difficulties were interposed in his way which he could not surmount. He must give a vote; and, in whatever way he gave it, he must take a course which would not be satisfactory to himself. The noble Lord had, at the beginning of the evening, met the Motion by the previous question. The noble Lord had thus precluded the possibility of amending the Motion of the hon. member for St. Alban's, for the question to be proposed was, whether the main resolution should or should not be put. He deeply regretted, that such a course should have been adopted. He doubted whether a great majority even of the Members of the House would understand the purport of it; and he was quite sure, that out of this House ninety owe persons out of one hundred would not put the proper con- 61 struction on the moving of the previous question. It would have been fair, and more consistent, on the part of Government, to have met the question at once with a simple ay or a simple no. There were three courses open to him for adoption. He might absent himself from the House, and give no vote at all upon the Motion of the noble Lord; but he would he thereby liable, should the main question be put without further debate, to lose the opportunity of giving his vote for negativing the proposition of the hon. member for St. Alban's. He must say, however, that to absent one'self from a division was not a very manly or straightforward course, and it was not one that he often adopted, for, in ordinary cases, it betrayed an inability to make up one's mind between the affirmative and negative on a question of public concern, and a wish to escape the difficulty by leaving the House. At the same time, he must admit, that sometimes that course was proper; and if ever there was a time when it would be justifiable, it was on an occasion like the present, when he found himself, by the course adopted by the noble Lord, precluded from expressing the strong opinion he felt by a vote on the main question. He found himself involved in this difficulty—that if he voted for the previous question, it might seem to imply that he gave his sanction to the measure which had been proposed by Government,—a measure of which he wholly disapproved. In voting against the previous question, he would seem to ally himself with the decided enemies of the Church, with those who professed a wish to spoliate her, and he should swell their ranks on a division. That course would be neither satisfactory to himself, nor intelligible to the public. If, upon the whole, he should resolve to vote with his Majesty's Government, he must do so with the distinct explanation,—first, that he meant, by taking that course, to imply no confidence in his Majesty's Ministers—for he felt none; and secondly, that he disclaimed altogether the slightest approbation of the appointment of such a Commission as that which the noble Lord proposed. The appointment of that Commission was fraught with great danger. It. involved no intelligible principle. It professed, in terms, to be merely instituted for the purpose of making inquiries—some of which were superfluous, and others totally unintelligible. What would be 62 the effect of this measure on the receivers of tithes in Ireland—on the payers of tithes—on the Roman Catholics—on the Protestant Dissenters,—and on the members of the Established Church? The last thing to be desired was, the appointment of a new Commission, in addition to all the former Commissions that had been sent to Ireland. What course could be devised less likely to mitigate the anxiety of all parties, or to relieve their doubts, than a vague, indefinite., interminable inquiry? The Government objected to the principle involved in the Motion of the hon. member for St. Alban's. Then, he asked, did they recognise any principle in appointing this Commission, or not? If they recognised a principle, why did they object to the Motion of the hon. member for St. Alban's? and bow could their own Commission be exempt from the objection which they urged against the hon. Member's Motion? Either there was a principle involved in the appointment of this Commission, or there was not; and why not openly and manfully avow it? The noble Lord said, if it should be found that there was a surplus in the revenues of the Protestant Church of Ireland, Parliament might appropriate it for the purpose of moral and religious instruction. What was meant by these terms, which, unexplained, were very equivocal? When the noble Lord spoke of "moral and religious instruction," did he claim the right, out of the present possessions of the Protestant Church in Ireland, to support the Roman Catholic Church in that country? If, by "moral and religious instruction were meant;" moral and religious instruction based upon the principles of the Church of England, if it were meant bonâ fide to devise the means, out of the temporal possessions of the Church, of increasing religious instruction, and extending divine worship according to the principles and the faith of the Established Church, he should listen with favour to the proposal. If the right to sanction the establishment of the Roman Catholic religion in Ireland, and to provide for it out of the funds of the Protestant Church were claimed, for God's sake advance at once the principle on which it was proposed to act. The noble Lord said, "I will consent to an inquiry into the state of every parish in Ireland; and if, on making this inquiry. I discover that there is an excess of revenue beyond what 63 is necessary to provide for the spiritual wants of the people, I think that the surplus may be differently appropriated." But, after the inquiry was finished, would they have advanced any nearer to the main object of that night's discussion? The Commissioners were to give no opinion as to what constituted an excess. They would merely lay before Parliament, after a long and protracted inquiry, certain statistical information: and it appeared to him, that the House was just as well able to give an opinion on the principle at present, as it would be when the Commissioners had made their report. The hon. member for St. Alban's talked of assigning to each Protestant clergyman the same amount of income as a Presbyterian minister received. The hon. Member, no doubt, would consider that an adequate provision; he should consider it most inadequate and unjust; nor would they have advanced a single step nearer to the removal of this difference after receiving the Report of the Commissioners. But when was the inquiry to terminate? There were 2,500 parishes in Ireland, and the Commissioners were to inquire into the amount of Church property—into the number of Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Dissenters—into the state of education—into the funds available for the purposes of education in each separate parish. Look to the progress of other inquiries—of the inquiries, for instance, into the amount of population in Ireland, or of the inquiries of the Ecclesiastical Commission! That Commission had existed for two or three years, and it had presented one report, confined to one province,—that of Armagh. While the inquiries of the new Commission were pending, what would be the consequences in Ireland? It would paralyze all the exertions to effect a commutation of tithe. In the course of last year, an Act was passed for encouraging the Protestant landlords of Ireland to effect the redemption of tithe; but if they were left in a state of uncertainty as to ulterior objects—if they were told, that the payments which they might make in lieu of tithe might hereafter be appropriated to the support of the Roman Catholic religion, would the Protestant landlords either aid in the recovery of tithe, or voluntarily consent to any payment as a substitute for it? In that case, suspense was worse than any decision. Its tendency would be to paralyze the 64 efforts of the Legislature, and to destroy the property, about the application of which they were contending. He could not, therefore, consent to the appointment of this Commission; and if he felt himself bound to vote for the previous question, it was only because he had not the power, by the forms of the House, to give a direct negative, and because he would not depart from the rule on which the generous party with whom he was connected had always acted. They had never resorted to petty artifices for the purpose of embarrassing the course of his Majesty's Government,—they had not sought for opportunities of uniting in their votes with those from whom they differed altogether in principle. Their desire had been to give an honest support to the principles of good government, not to embarrass an Administration by factious opposition. With regard to the main question,—the maintenance of the Established Church in Ireland, in all its rights and privileges,—he was perfectly ready to enter on the discussion of that subject, and to pronounce an opinion in favour of its inviolate preservation. The whole speech of the member for St. Alban's was directed to this principle, that the State ought not to have any established religion whatever. [Mr. Ward: As regards Ireland.] That evasion would not do. If the principles were correct, they applied to England as well as to Ireland; and he would attempt to show that the extension to England must be the result of the application of them to Ireland. He would, on this point, first notice the arguments of his right hon. friend, the member for Cambridge. The right hon. Gentleman said, in answer to the speech of the late Secretary for the Colonies, that the principle for which he must contend in Ireland was this,—that if there were an excess of Church property to so great an extent as to endanger the existence of that property, then the Legislature not only had a right, but was bound to interfere, for the purpose of protecting that property. Now, that was one of the most dangerous doctrines which could be promulgated, not only in reference to the property of the Church, but in regard to all property, ecclesiastical, corporate, or individual. If an excess of property were supposed to endanger property, then a part might be curtailed to secure the remainder. What safety could there be for any property, if a government established 65 such a principle, with reference to an hypothetical case? If the principle were applicable to the property of the Church, was it not equally applicable to the property of individuals? Might not the confiscation of private property in certain cases be justified on the ground or on the pretence, that it was excessive, and that the security of the whole was endangered by the excess? If the Ministers had made up their minds, that there was an excess, and were prepared at once to appropriate the surplus to purposes other than those to which it was now devoted, that would be an intelligible course, and pregnant with less danger than a protracted inquiry into the fact of excess, with a menace of confiscation if the fact should be established. If the King's Government doubted as to that fact, could there be anything so dangerous to the existence of all property, as the discussion of the contingencies under which it would be justifiable to seize upon a supposed excess for the purpose of affording protection to the remainder? It was possible to conceive cases in which individuals might become possessed of wealth so enormous, as, with the latitude of expenditure allowed in a country enjoying free institutions, to endanger the general interests. But who would dream, without some extreme practical necessity, of appointing a Commission to consider whether certain individuals might not possess what others considered an excess of property? If any one description of property could not rest with safety on that best of all titles, prescription,—if it were not secure under the safeguard of the law of the realm, the title to all property must be rendered doubtful. The right hon. member for Cambridge had contended, in the next place, that it did not follow, because certain measures were necessary in Ireland, with respect to Church property, that therefore they must be applied to England. The right hon. Gentleman gave, as a proof of this, the Church Temporalities Bill of last Session. But there was a fallacy in the universal application of this argument. There might, no doubt, be measures of local regulation advisable in regard to the Church in Ireland, which were not necessary or advisable in England. Differences in local circumstances might justify a difference in enactments of detail. A Tithe Commutation Bill might be adopted in Ireland, and it did not necessarily follow 66 that the same provisions should be adopted in England; but if you appointed a Commission in Ireland to inquire whether there was not an excess of Church revenue, to inquire into the relative proportion of Protestants and Dissenters, and the facilities afforded to each respectively of attending divine worship, you recognized a principle which was applicable to England as well as to Ireland. The measure was not one of local detail; it involved a principle to which the Dissenters of England would soon appeal, and for the application of which to this country they would loudly call. Though a law had been passed reducing the number of Bishops in Ireland, there had been no demand for a similar measure in England, because this was a measure of regulation, affecting no interests save those of the Church and of members of the Church. The Church revenues remained untouched, and devoted to their original purposes, though subject in certain respects to a different distribution. But there was passed, at the same time, a measure for relieving the Dissenters of Ireland from the payment of Church-rates; and what had been the consequence? The principle was immediately appealed to in this country, and a measure had been proposed for England, relieving the Dissenters from direct contributions to the Church-rates, and placing the charge upon the general revenues of the State. That concession had not satisfied the parties for whose relief it was intended; and it had been opposed as inadequate by 140 members, whom it was intended to conciliate. The same consequences would ensue in this instance. Local measures of regulation they might apply to Ireland singly, but measures involving great principles could not be applied to Ireland, without provoking a demand for the application of them to England. He was indebted to the courtesy of the hon. member for St. Alban's for a correct copy of his speech. Having, unfortunately, been absent from the House at the time of the delivery of this speech, he was gratified by having the opportunity of perusing it. The hon. Member, in that speech, sought to establish a principle which, if it were a sound one, was of universal application. The hon. Member said, "If I am told, that this religion (the Catholic) is not the true religion, and that we ought not to sacrifice to political expediency the sacred interests of truth, I again 67 deny the fact. I say, that with truth, as legislators, we have nothing to do." If that were so, surely they were equally free from any bligation—equally disentitled to consider what was truth in England, as in Ireland. ["No, no!"] 'We have to look (the hon. Member continued) to civil utility alone, as the basis of the connexion between the Church and the State; and if we once wander from this strong ground, there is no predicting the consequences which must ensue. Who is to be the judge of truth, except one to whom, in this world, there can be no appeal? Where is the source of truth, except in that sacred volume from which, in all times, ay, even down to the present day, the most opposite conclusions have been drawn upon points of doctrine, at least by the wisest, the most virtuous, and the most conscientious of mankind? Look at the consequences, again, of adopting this principle. If we maintain the established religion to be the only true religion, the State must follow up this doctrine. It must enact Test-laws for its protection—it must put down all who reject it. Sir, it was in the name of truth, that the Spanish Inquisition was established; and Louis 14th was never more intimately convinced of the truth of his religion than when he desolated the fairest provinces of France in its name by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.' The purport of this reasoning surely was, that the removal of all civil disabilities did not constitute civil equality among the subjects of the King—that the governing powers had no right to establish one system of religion in preference to another. The hon. Gentleman confounded two things perfectly distinct. The Legislature might have no right to compel, by penal laws, the observance of one religion in preference to another; it might have no right, by the establishment of religious tests, to exclude from the service of the State those who dissented from a particular form of worship; but it had a right, because it was convinced that one was the true religion, to allot an ample provision for it as an Established Church. If the Legislature had not this right in Ireland, on what ground could the existence of it in England be vindicated? The whole course of the hon. Gentleman's argument was directed against a preference by the State of one form of religious worship over another, The hon. and learned 68 Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell) said, that it was a degradation to him to be obliged to contribute to the support of a faith that he did not profess. Now let us change the scene for one moment from Ireland to Scotland. Let us take the case of a wealthy nobleman in Scotland, professing the religion of the Church of England, possessed of great hereditary estates, and having inherited those estates, subject to the payment of tiends,—subject to the payment of rates for the repair of the Presbyterian Church; or rather, let us take the case of an individual purchasing land subject by law to all these charges, and having procured an abatement from the price of the land fully equivalent to their amount. What would be thought of the honesty of this man, who having driven as hard a bargain as he could with the vendor of the land—having calculated to the fraction of a farthing the outgoings from the estate on account of payments to the minister, and payments to the Church, and having pocketed the full abatement from the purchase-money, should then pretend religious scruples, and declare, that it was a degradation to him to contribute to the support of a Church of which he was not a Member? How does the case of the Scotch Episcopalian, either inheriting or purchasing land, subject by that same law which established and protected his own rights, to certain charges for the support of a Church to which he did not belong, differ in point of principle, or in point of feeling, from the case of any other Dissenter? If the argument of the hon. member for St. Alban's had any weight, the principle that he wished the Government to recognise was as applicable to Scotland, as to Ireland or England. In the whole course of the debates on the Catholic question, the argument never was urged, that the great grievance of the Roman Catholics was their obligation by law to contribute to the support of a Protestant Establishment. We were never then told, that the removal of civil disabilities must necessarily lead to the abolition of the Protestant Church Establishment in Ireland, or the diminution of its revenues. But we were told directly the reverse. We were told by the hon. member for Westminster—by Mr. Grattan—by all who supported the several Bills brought in for the removal of civil disabilities—nay, it was formally recorded in the preamble of each of those Bills, that 69 the united Protestant Church of England and Ireland was established permanently rind inviolably, and that the removal of civil disabilities was calculated and intended to strengthen that Church. The learned Gentleman had asked, what right had we to transfer the property of the Roman Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation? At the Reformation, the abuses of the Church were reformed—the Church of England was purified. The hon. and learned member for Dublin might laugh at this observation; but surely he would not deny the existence, at the period of the Reformation, of scandalous abuses, which disgusted even the best friends of the Catholic Church. Surely the hon. and learned Member would not defend the extravagant pretensions of the Pope in the fifteenth century, the dispensing power, the system of indulgences, and the various other abuses which then existed in the practice of the Catholic Church. But there was no analogy between the circumstances of the present period, and the period of the Reformation. If the legislative authority of the State were of opinion, that the doctrines of the established religion were not founded on Divine truth, let it act in conformity with the principles of the Reformation, and establish some other form of divine worship; but if it still believed that the tenets of the established religion were based upon the immutable truths of the Holy Scriptures, then they were bound, on the true principles of the Reformation, not to impair, but to maintain inviolate, the rights and privileges of the Church Established, and believed to be the true Church. The opinions he was expressing were, or at least had been, the opinions of eminent men, members of the present Administration. He did not quote their speeches for the purpose of involving them in any contradiction with their present opinions, but for the purpose of supporting, by their authority, the course he was resolved to pursue. Lord Plunkett, one of the most powerful and able advocates of the Roman Catholic claims, reconciled his support of those claims, with his devotion to the interests of the Protestant Church, and declared that the existence of that Church in Ireland was essential to the maintenance of British connexion, by the following remarks: 'With respect to the Protestant. Establishment of the country, I consider it 70 necessary for the security of all sects; and I think that there should not only be an Established Church, but that. it should be richly endowed, and that its dignitaries should be able to take their station among the nobles of the land. Speaking of it in a political point of view, I have no hesitation in saying, that the existence of the Protestant Establishment is the great bond of union between the two countries; and if ever that unfortunate moment shall arrive, when the Parliament, shall rashly lay their hands on the property of the Church, to rob it of its rights, that moment will 'seal its doom, and terminate the connexion between the two countries.' Concurring in these sentiments, he concluded with repeating that if, upon such grounds as those upon which his Majesty's Government were prepared to act, the House countenanced the principle of appropriating to secular purposes the property of the Church, it was weakening the foundation of all property, and alienating the minds of the Protestants of Ireland, who reluctantly consented to the removal of the civil disabilities of the Roman Catholics, under the strongest assurance that the removal of those disabilities would redress every grievance, and would restore complete political equality and public tranquillity. They had seen their faithful ministers robbed of their property by every species of combination and fraudulent resistance; and if the House now told them, that the revenues of the Protestant Church might be severed from that Church, and be appropriated to the establishment of another faith—the very faith against which they protested—it would give a shock to Protestant feeling in Ireland, little less fatal in its bearings upon the connexion between the two countries, than if consent had been given to the recent Motion of the learned Gentleman for a Repeal of the Legislative Union.
§ Mr. O'Reilly
expressed his regret, that the Motion of the hon. member for St. Alban's had not been met by his Majesty's Government broadly and fairly by a decided negative. Such a negative would have had his most cordial support. He entertained the highest respect for the principle of civil and religious freedom, and he was most anxious not only that the body to which he belonged, but also every other denomination of Christians 71 should be secured the full enjoyment of perfect liberty of conscience; but, as an honest Roman Catholic, he never could consent to the proposed appropriation of the property of the Church as by law established. Though he regarded the appropriation of the revenues of the Romish Church at the time of the Reformation as a most monstrous robbery, yet he nevertheless did not desire, that such a precedent should be followed in these days. He must deny and disavow the doctrines which had, on the present occasion, been laid down by the hon. and learned member for the city of Dublin as being the doctrines entertained by the majority of the Roman Catholic population of Ireland. On the contrary, he (Mr. O'Reilly) asserted, that the Roman Catholics of Ireland felt bound to pay the contributions which the law demanded of them; and though they resisted the payment of tithes, it was not for conscience sake, but from the objections and dislike that the mode in which those tithes were levied alone created. He repeated, that it was the mode in which tithes were levied, that made their name odious to the Roman Catholics of Ireland; and although the higher order of that class of Christians were unwilling to pay tithes according to their present amount, they were perfectly willing and ready to acquiesce in such a commutation as the Legislature in its judgment might fix. He had never, either in his place in Parliament, or in any popular assembly, advocated what was termed the extinction of tithes; and he had a strong objection to the Motion of the hon. member for St. Alban's, because, when the property of the Church should be taken, he knew not how long the hands might be kept out of the resources of the Roman Catholic Church, the doctrines of which were unchanged and unchangeable. He did not wish to see a Protestant Church Establishment superseded by those who had evinced and manifestly entertained no respect for any established institution; and regarding, as he did, the Protestant Established Church as one of the best bulwarks of Christianity, he could not agree with those who thought that, as in America, every man had a right to set up a clergyman of his own particular creed. The effect of such a system had already been shown in America, where struggles ensued on elections or promotions of clergymen, on the letting pews, 72 and the doctrines which they were to preach. Under the existing institutions of this realm, the Church to which he belonged had increased, not only in Ireland, but in every part of the realm; and, regretting, as he did, that the present proposition had not been met with a decided negative by the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he must repeat, that, should any ulterior measures be submitted, which in any degree were calculated to transfer the revenues of the Protestant Church to the endowment of the Church of which he was a member, such measures would meet his most firm and strenuous opposition. The Romish Church had lived and flourished under existing laws, in spite of opposition and of oppression; and he felt confident that it would continue to do so without any such change as was proposed.
§ Mr. Clay
said, that he was very far from wishing to offer any opposition to the course which the Government had felt it their duty to pursue, and therefore felt, in the first instance, much disposed to support the Amendment proposed by the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had originally felt the more induced to do this, because the events of the last few days had altered the Cabinet; which, though it was true had lost much talent, yet it was equally true, that in the change it had gained a unity of purpose. He felt the full value of that change, and, up to a very recent period, he had the strongest inclination to support the Amendment of the noble Lord; but after what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Secretary for the Colonies, and the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, he felt, that the course was not practical. The right lion. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Stanley) had boldly stated as his principle, that, under no circumstances, would he consent to the alienation of Church property—no, not even though, in 250 parishes in Ireland, there was not contained one Protestant. The right hon. Gentleman had expressed doubts, as to whether a British Parliament could be found to sanction such an alienation of Church property, and had wound up his doubts by the declaration, that he had not yet seen the Sovereign who would give his sanction to such a proceeding. He would, however, tell the House and the right hon. Gentleman, that the British Parliament 73 would be guilty of a dereliction of duty if it did not now put on record a declaration of the great principle for which he contended. Even if, after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley), he could have doubted as to the course he should pursue, such doubts would be entirely removed by the speech of the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, who had taunted the Government—a taunt which had been cheered on the right hon. Baronet's side of the House—that though a Commission of Inquiry was to issue, yet the Government held no sincere or honest intention of carrying the result of that Commission into execution. Did the right hon. Gentleman not say, that the previous question did not mean the admission of the principle, but was a convenient parliamentary mode of shirking the expression of an opinion. Thus it had become important that the House should affirm the Resolutions proposed by his hon. friend, the member for St. Alban's, and, by so doing, solemnly assert the principles which those Resolutions embraced. He knew, that the noble Lord said, that they ought not to assert an abstract principle; but no better method could be found of legislation, than solemnly to assert abstract principles as the basis and guide of future proceedings. It had been urged as an objection, also, that the introduction of these principles into the Irish Church Establishment would speedily be followed by a similar proceeding in reference to the Church in this portion of the realm. He would, in answer, state, that the people of England would not consent to make Ireland a vast camp or a great garrison, to force upon a reluctant people the abomination of a Church Establishment to which they were not attached. Could it be for one moment maintained, that a clergyman should receive 2,000l. per annum, for administering to the wants of a congregation which he did not possess? The right hon. Baronet had said, that to interfere with the property of the Irish Church might weaken the security of property, generally, even of individuals. Such an assertion arose from a sad confusion of ideas. Would private property be rendered insecure by reducing the salary of the Privy Councillors? Church property was properly set apart by the State for services performed, like the salaries of Privy Councillors; private property never was set apart by the State, 74 and only the greatest confusion of ideas could predict any danger to the latter from amending the distribution of the former. The true notion of Church property was, that it was a sum, or fund, held in trust by the State, to be devoted to the moral and religious education and instruction of the people, and, therefore, it was competent for the State to interfere as to its distribution and application. If the power to deal with these revenues prevailed at the period of the Reformation, it existed now; and it should be remembered that, if the Roman Catholic could argue for an Established Church, the Protestant was not in the same position, for the latter maintained the principle, that every man may place his own interpretation upon the contents of the Bible, and yet the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Stanley), and the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, would give all the revenues of the Church to those who maintained only one particular interpretation of the contents of the sacred volume. He concurred with Dr. Johnson in thinking favourably of a Church Establishment; and he still further concurred in his opinion, that such an Establishment could only be defended on the ground, that the faith and doctrines which it inculcated were those of the majority of the population. He should have hoped, that the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, would have consented to deal with the Church in the manner proposed, and have followed that consent by the issuing of the Commission which had been mentioned; but, after what had fallen from the opponents of the principles contained in the Resolution, he (Mr. Clay) could not do otherwise than vote in support of it. He regretted, that he should be obliged to state, that the course which had been taken by the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was most unwise and pusillanimous. If the noble Lord was favourable to the principle, he ought, in a manly, straightforward, and sincere declaration, have declared his sincerity; and if he entertained a different opinion, the Resolutions should have been met by the noble Lord with a decided negative.
§ Mr. Hawes
said, that the hon. Gentleman, who had just spoken, appeared to have been converted by the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley), and the right hon. Baronet, the member 75 for Tamworth; but, for himself, he (Mr. Hawes) must say, that those very speeches induced him to give his support, on the present occasion, to his Majesty's Government. He was not induced, by those addresses, to give a vote which would be calculated to throw out a liberal Administration. The question really under consideration, was not entirely a Church of England question, which some hon. Gentlemen had endeavoured to make it; but it was whether or not the House would give its support to an Administration which was identified with some great and important measures, at present more or less complete, on the Table of the House, or whether it would put an end to those measures and to the Administration from which they had emanated, in order to make way for a more conservative Ministry. In affording his Majesty's Government his support, he should sacrifice some principles which he had ever entertained; but, under their present difficulties, and the impression, that their continuance in office must be beneficial to the country, he should not shrink from the responsibility which might attach to him for giving them his most cordial support on the present trying occasion.
§ Mr. Barron
had acquired increased confidence in his Majesty's Government, in consequence of the secession from its councils of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley). Having that confidence, by giving his support to the proposition of the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he did not feel, that he should vote against the principles contained in the Resolutions which had been moved by the hon. member for St. Alban's. By doing so, he did not conceive, that he should pledge himself in the remotest degree against the principles thus laid down. He believed there existed a secret reason which precluded the Ministers from stating, in exact or definite terms, the ulterior proceedings which they might contemplate, or to make such disclosures as would remove all doubts of their intentions; but now that the Ministry was purified, he trusted that they would pursue that bold course which would secure the confidence of the country and the support o every independent man in Parliament.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
said, that the hon. member for the Tower Hamlets seemed to approve of the present Administration because he thought it had preserved its 76 unity of purpose. But could any one have beard the speeches delivered by the two noble Lords opposite, and his right hon. friend, who was still one of the members for the town for Cambridge, without being convinced that a difference of opinion did exist in the Cabinet respecting Church property? It was quite manifest that the noble Lords had made their minds up to appropriate the revenues of the Church to other than ecclesiastical purposes. The hon. member for Middlesex complained that there was great mystery in the way in which the noble Lord delivered his sentiments; but, in his (Sir Robert Inglis's) judgement, the noble Lord made a much stronger avowal of the views entertained not only by himself, but by the Government with which he was connected, on this subject than accorded with his taste. It was, he repeated, impossible to have heard the noble Lords without being convinced that they had made up their minds to a different appropriation of Church property to that which now existed. But what had his right hon. friend, the member for Cambridge, said, when descanting on the result of the Commission proposed to be appointed? He said, that when the Report of that Commission was before him he should examine it with a free and unbiassed mind; but it was not a little observable that a syllable had not escaped him which could pledge him to any such lengths as his noble Colleagues were evidently prepared to go. Here, then, was an obvious difference of opinion entertained by the three members of the Government who had spoken. He did not allude to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, the president of the India Board, but he thought he had said enough to show, that distinct opinions respecting the appropriation of Church property were held by the members of the Cabinet who had spoken that night. Two of them had maintained the right of the Legislature to appropriate the revenues of the Church how they pleased, while the third, his right hon. friend, the member for Cambridge, declared that he should keep his mind open—that as yet he had arrived at no conclusion as to the course he should take on this momentous question. Surely here were the elements of dissension developing themselves, notwithstanding the congratulations of the hon. member for the Tower Hamlets that 77 nothing but unity prevailed in the Cabinet. He (Sir R. Inglis), however, thought that with much more reason he might congratulate hon. Members on the back benches of the Opposition on the prospect that was before them of being at no very distant day called upon to sit on the Treasury benches. But, without adverting further to the honour of a connection with such a Government, he would merely say, in common with his right hon. friends (Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Stanley) he Celt the difficulty in which he was placed as to the vote which he should give on the present occasion. Of the two propositions before the House the previous question certainly was the least objectionable, and, although he should of necessity vote for it, he would, had the rules of the House allowed of his taking that course, have felt it his duty to meet the resolution of the hon. Gentleman, the member for St. Alban's, by moving a direct negative. If that, or the other House of Parliament, undertook to regulate and reduce Church property in Ireland they were equally entitled to do it in England; and, above all, the same principle which would justify regulation and reduction would also justify extinction. He would defy any hon. Gentleman to show that the principle once adopted might not go as far as to the extinction of the Established Church. Now the question was, was the country prepared to go to this extent? If it were competent for Parliament to reduce the property of the Church it was equally competent for it to annihilate or to transfer. In his opinion, as far as the vote of the House of Commons coon go to establish that principle, and entail such consequences, this motion would do so if carried. Upon the grounds he had stated, and having to choose between two evils, he should vote for the previous question.
§ Viscount Palmerston
wished to address the House for a very few minutes; and he should have the less occasion to obtrude himself for any length of time on the patience of hon. Members, because he did not feel called upon to enter into a discussion on that part of the question which would bring him into collision with his right hon. friend; and he felt the greatest satisfaction in this circumstance, inasmuch as, whatever sneers the hon. and learned member for Dublin might please to throw out respecting the honey of friendship, and however much that hon. 78 and learned Member might deride the expression of pain which honourable men must feel at separating from one another,—he must assert, that to find himself opposed on such a question, after so long a connexion of personal and political friendship, to his right hon. friend, afforded him the very greatest personal pain. The question was, whether the House should come to a decision in favour of the Resolution brought forward by the hon. member for St. Alban's, or support the previous question. He confessed, that he had not heard one argument which went to prove that the preferable course for an independent Member of Parliament to follow, was to vote for the Resolution of the hon. Member. If it were urged, that the Government had not shown any intention to act upon the Commission of Inquiry, his answer was this: he appealed to the speech of the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies, and to the difference of opinion which subsisted on this subject between the members of the late Cabinet. This was of itself enough to show, that the Government, in issuing a Commission, had made op their minds to act on the principle, that Parliament was competent to regulate the revenues of the Church. The hon. Member who had proposed the Resolution had not brought forward the shadow of argument to prove, that his Resolution would be more advantageous than the previous question. Even the hon. member for Middlesex had admitted, that if the Resolution were carried, it must be followed by a Commission. What, then, did they intend? Did bon. Members gravely propose to record a solemn Resolution of that House, affirming the existence of certain facts, and then institute an inquiry, to ascertain whether these facts did or did not exist? Again, the hon. and learned member for Dublin had, no doubt on due deliberation, given the strongest possible reasons against voting for the Resolution. "You must not," said the hon. and learned Member, "trust to words, and promises, and declarations." Why, what else was the Resolution of the hon. member for St. Alban's? Did it contain any thing else but words, and promises, and declarations? "Give me," said the hon. and learned Gentleman, "give me deeds, not words." And what deeds did the hon. and learned Gentleman expect from the hon. Mover? Was it not his expressed intention, even after he carried his point, to let his Reso- 79 lution remain a dead letter, and to wait till the following Session of Parliament before he proposed a measure founded on his Resolution? He was rather surprised that any Member, entertaining such opinions as the hon. and learned Gentleman entertained, should think of lending his support to a Motion which went, not to produce acts and deeds, but only to add more promises, to hold out further expectations to a deluded and exasperated people. To him, therefore, it appeared little less than a gross absurdity for the House to accede to the Motion of the hon. Member. If the House were prepared to deal with a question of such importance, in which the religious feelings of the country were so deeply interested, without previous investigation, they would support the hon. Member; but if they conceived that a solemn inquiry was necessary before adopting such a proceeding, he called upon them to reject the Motion. If that Motion were carried, would not the Catholic population of Ireland expect that a Resolution thus introduced would be followed up by some immediate measure of relief? It could not be a matter requiring much deliberation, whether the original Motion, or the previous question, should have the preference in the minds of hon. Members. He was prepared to affirm, in opposition to the premises laid down by the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, the principle, that the property of the Church was not to be looked at in the same light as the property of individuals, and that it was for the Legislature to determine in what manner that property, which had been granted for certain trusts and purposes, should be distributed. It was his distinct and deliberate opinion, that it was the right of the State to deal with the trust of the property of the Church. It was idle to argue from the one species of property to the other, for the circumstances under which each originated were totally distinct. Neither did he conceive, that the arguments which justified a Reform of the Irish Church, could by any possibility apply to the Church of England, for the two countries were placed in totally dissimilar circumstances. The hon. member for Wexford had asked, whether the present Cabinet was united in taking this view of the subject, and he (Viscount Palmerston) had no hesitation in saying, that a perfect unison of sentiment on this 80 subject did subsist among the members of his Majesty's Government. If the hon. Member by his Resolution was desirous of forcing the Government to deal with the revenues of the Church as the property of the State, and if any hon. Member thought that, by voting for that Resolution, he should coerce Ministers into these measures, he would tell him, that they needed no coercion or constraint on the subject. He was only anxious to state his adherence to the principles he had laid down; and he trusted, that those hon. Members who had been in the habit of reposing confidence in Ministers would not withdraw that confidence now, and, as the Commission had already passed the Great Seal, would lend their aid to the Government in their endeavours to carry their opinions into practice.
§ Mr. Dominick Browne
trusted the House would lend him their patient attention for a few moments. The real question before the House, and before the country, was, whether the Roman Catholic religion in Ireland, the faith of six millions of its people, of three-fourths of its inhabitants—a faith which had maintained its noble front with inviolate purity and strength against every species of persecution for centuries—whether this should be any longer treated merely as the tolerated tenets of a sect? The Roman Catholic religion was the religion of Ireland; there was, no doubt, a certain portion of Presbyterians in the North, and of Protestants here and there, but the religion of a vast majority, of six millions out of eight millions, of three-fourths of the people was Roman Catholic. Was the faith, then, of so great a majority of the population to be treated as merely the doctrines of a sect, or ought it not rather to be considered and treated as the religion of that country. Throughout Europe there never had been, nor was there an instance in which the religion of the majority was so considered or treated. Prussia, for instance, had never attempted to hold up the Roman Catholics in Silesia, or on the Rhine, as a sect subservient to one Protestant Church; nor had Russia attempted anything of the sort with the Roman Catholics in Poland. Ireland was the only country in which such a monstrous absurdity had been instituted, and it was now high time to do away with the absurdity. The House seemed to be acting under an idea that Ireland was a 81 conquered country, and that it was a great thing for a "conquered" country to obtain any relaxation in their oppressions and burthens ["No, no!"]. He was glad to hear those noes, as they, at least, showed that some members of the House were not impressed with the feeling he had deprecated, yet, however the case might now be, the conduct pursued towards Ireland hitherto had been unhappily such as but too well to warrant such an opinion as he had expressed. As to the infliction of the English Established Church on a Roman Catholic population, he would ask, what would the English have thought if James 2nd victorious in Ireland, had come over to England and attempted to set a Roman Catholic clergyman over every English parish? What would the English have thought of this—or, rather, what would they have done? Would they have suffered such an infliction? No. Why, then, should they wish to inflict upon the Trish nation an insult and an oppression which they would not have endured themselves? He had hoped and expected that Ministers would have come forward and laid down the principle that the Roman Catholic clergy were entitled to assistance and support, not as a boon but as a right; but as they had not done so, he should feel it his conscientious duty to himself and his constituents to support the Motion of the hon. member for St. Alban's.
§ Mr. Ellice
observed, that a more conclusive argument against that which had been urged by the hon. Member opposite could not be found than that which was contained in the speech of his hon. friend behind him, who boldly recommended the diversion of the revenues of the Irish Church in order to raise an ascendancy of a Catholic clergy. ["No, no!"] He begged his hon. friend's pardon if he had misunderstood him, but he understood him to say, that he could not vote with his Majesty's Government, unless the Catholic clergy were provided for out of the revenues of the Church of Ireland. ["No," from Mr. Browne.] He begged pardon if he were wrong, but he thought that his hon. friend had said so. However, if his hon. friend had said so, he must say, that it would form a very strong argument for opposing the Motion of the hon. member for St. Alban's. Ireland indeed, and he fully admitted it, had its full measure of suffering, and the Church 82 was no inconsiderable item in the catalogue of her grievances. From its abuses and its oppressions, much misery had come upon that ill-fated country; but the time to put a stop to those oppressions, to remove those abuses, had arrived, and he hoped that a full and free inquiry, with a view to the revision and complete redress of her wrongs, would afford her that rest which she so much needed. Since he had had the honour of a seat in that House, he had taken much interest in the affairs of that country, and he remembered that some time ago, in seconding a Motion made by the hon. member for Middlesex, he had said, that not a county in England would have endured for a day the kind of treatment which two Irish counties had experienced for six months, during which period upwards of 12,000 tithe processes were served in those counties. Since he made that statement, it was true that they had been giving gradual relief to Ireland, but it was impossible that the present state of the Church could be upheld. He had at the same time stated, that the course he proposed was necessary for the maintenance and strengthening of the Church itself. He adhered to those opinions, and any measures which he should support must, therefore, unite the two objects of upholding the Church and affording redress to the Irish people. He might have been desirous to concur with his right hon. friend (Mr. Stanley) in the views he had taken, but for the difficulties which he foresaw in maintaining the Church at all without some conciliation to Ireland, and without which he felt they must give up all hope of her internal tranquillity. Having, therefore, taken his determination to stand upon the principles which had been so clearly and forcibly stated by his noble friend that night, he was compelled, however painful to himself, to separate himself from his former colleagues who took a different view. The appropriation of the revenues of the Church of Ireland would be such as would give peace, repose, and tranquillity to distracted Ireland. He would not have consented to the issuing of a Commission to conceal his own opinions, and he felt bound to state, that his honest intention was, and he spoke as a Member of the Government, to act upon the Report which that Commission might forward. But when the hon. Baronet, the member for Oxford, talked of a difference of opinion still existing between his noble friend 83 and some other parties in the Government upon that most important question, namely, whether Parliament had or had not the right of appropriating the property of the Church to whatever purpose it might deem desirable, he thought it necessary to declare that there was no such difference, in order that it might go forth to the country that the Government were completely united upon that question. If this, then, were the case, he did feel himself entitled to make a very strong appeal to the hon. Member who brought forward the Motion, and ask him, whether he thought it expedient to press it upon the House? He would put it to the hon. Gentleman whether, after the speech of the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, he did not see a danger that might arise from an appeal to the Protestant feeling of this country? Let him assure his hon. friend that those who had witnessed the course of previous events in this country, and who knew what the state, and strength, and depth of that Protestant feeling was; he would assure his hon. friend that they who knew this must have some little feeling of apprehension for the result of any division amongst the friends of liberal principles on subjects of this description. He threw that out for the hon. Gentleman's consideration, for he believed that they had the same object in view. If the cry which he heard from the opposite side meant that he had for his object the full and complete reformation of the Irish Church he avowed it. He had joined the Government upon those principles, but if it were meant to imply that he had views tending to the destruction of the Church, then he denied it. He had equally in view the support of the Church and the pacification of Ireland. It was upon these principles that he stood where he was, and this policy alone he was convinced could give them the least chance of eradicating that state of things which had so long and so unhappily existed in that distracted country.
§ Mr. Browne
explained, that he did not mean to say what had been attributed to him, but as he was pressed on the subject, he must say, he thought half the revenues of the Irish Church ought to be appropriated to the Catholic priesthood.
regretted the course pursued by the Government, and that while professing their attachment to principles of conservation in Church questions they 84 were all the time acting upon a spoliative principle, and exposing the Church to its application in all time to come. He felt that they were now come to times when every man must make his choice whether the country was to have the Constitution and an established religion, or an infidel republic upon the principles of Tom Paine. All men must come to that choice, and he regretted to see a Government in this country, while professing an attachment to the former, adopting a course of policy having a direct tendency to bring about the establishment of the latter. The hon. Member who brought forward the subject, had stated the gross revenue of the Church at 937,456l. Now he had examined the items composing the total revenue, and he undertook to prove that they did not exceed 521,431l. He would undertake to make that out to the satisfaction of the House. The first statement of the hon. Member he should notice was that of the Bishops' revenues, which he gave at one hundred and twenty odd thousands. He admitted, that this had been the revenue of the Bishoprics; but the hon. Gentleman in stating that had forgotten to deduct the cancelled bishoprics, which amounted to 50,730l. Then in the revenues of the dean and chapter, he had omitted to give them the credit they so justly took for the sum of 21,400l. which they devoted to the repairs of cathedrals. The hon. member for St. Alban's had, perhaps not intentionally, exaggerated the revenues of the Church of Ireland by nearly one-half. The true amount of those revenues did not exceed 615,000l., of which sum about 449,000l. was appropriated to the benefices of the clergy, which were 1,456 in number, giving an average revenue to each of about 308l. per annum. He made this statement fearlessly, and was prepared to stand pledged to its truth. If any hon. Member disputed it, let him stand up in a manly and decorous manner to do so. He would state further, that 678 of the above livings did not exceed 300l., and that many of them went as low as 30l. If it were to be contended that the revenues of not a few livings were redundant, and that some parishes were considerably overpaid, he would assert, in reply, that there were as many which were underpaid. If it were proposed to appoint a Commission only to inquire into the extent and revenues of the different parishes he would 85 not object to it; but he regretted to find that his Majesty's Government had mixed up with that proposition the principle of population—a principle destructive to the Church Establishment in Ireland. It was impossible to have a satisfactory result upon a matter of this kind from a purely lay Commission. When the hon. member for Middlesex brought forward a similar Motion in the year 1825, Mr. Canning opposed it by declaring that it would be a "most barefaced infraction of the Act of Union," and desired the Clerk of the House to read the fifth clause of that Act in support of that declaration. One word in conclusion in reference to the Protestant population of Ireland. The hon. member for St. Alban's had stated them at only 600,000; but he (Mr. Lefroy) would appeal to documents before the House, documents furnished by evidence upon oath, to show that that was not half the real amount of the adherents of the Established Church in Ireland.
§ Mr. Ward
rose to reply:—The noble Lord, he observed, had said, that he (Mr. Ward) had brought forward no fact or adduced no argument that night which should induce the House to agree to his Motion; but in saying so the noble Lord would seem to forget that his facts and arguments had been all brought forward upon a former occasion, and that it was not for him to trouble the House by repeating them, his case having been already made out. As to the general accuracy of these facts, there could be no prouder confirmation of it than that they had not been impugned by any one of the three right hon. Gentlemen who had spoken that evening, and who were so intimately acquainted with the affairs of Ireland. He alluded to the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, the late right hon. Secretary for the Colonies, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Rice). The only person who had assailed the correctness of his statements was the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last. He had accused him (Mr. Ward) of gross exaggeration. He, however, had rested his statement upon documents accessible to everybody—he had rested it upon a statement made by the noble Lord, and confirmed by Returns made to that House. This was with respect to two-thirds of the parishes; and for the 272 parishes of which there was no Return he had added one-fourth; and for 85,000 Irish acres 86 of glebe land, which were equal to 130,000 English acres, he had allowed 30s. an acre. Upon these grounds he had made his calculation. He had yet to learn that he had been guilty of any inaccuracy. He much regretted, that the noble Lord had not seen fit to combine the issuing of his Commission with some positive assertion of die principle he was anxious to have adopted by the House. He was sorry to cause a division between the friends of liberal principles, or anything wearing the appearance of a division; but as the principle which he had advocated had been so very strongly controverted by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) and the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel), he felt that he would be hardly justified before the House and the country in not pressing the question to a vote. His only regret was, that the question could not come fairly before the House. Many hon. Members, he was aware, who were friendly to his proposition, did not yet, in consequence of the Commission which had been issued, feel it right to vote against the Motion for the previous question. He found fault with no one less pledged than he himself was; he blamed nobody; he lamented only the course which Government had thought proper to pursue.
§ The house divided on the Question that Mr. Ward's Motion be put—Ayes 120; Noes 396: Majority 276.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adams, E. H.||Dashwood, G. H.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Davies, Colonel|
|Attwood, T.||Dawson, E.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Divett, E.|
|Barry, G. S.||Dobbin, L.|
|Beauclerk, Major||Dykes, F. L. B.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Ellis, W.|
|Bewes, T.||Evans, Colonel|
|Bish, T.||Ewart, W.|
|Blake, J.||Faithfull, G.|
|Blamire, W.||Fielder, J.|
|Brotherton, J.||Finn, W. F.|
|Browne, D.||Fitzgerald, T.|
|Buckingham, J. S.||Fitzgibbon, Hon. R.|
|Bulwer, H. L.||Fitzsimon, C.|
|Bulwer, E. L.||Fitzsimon, N.|
|Butler, Hon. Colonel||Fryer, R.|
|Callaghan, D.||Gaskell, D.|
|Chapman, M. L.||Gillon, W. D.|
|Clay, W.||Gisborne, T.|
|Cobbett, W.||Grote, G.|
|Collier, J.||Gully, J.|
|Crompton, J. S.||Hall, B.|
|Curteis, Captain||Handley, B.|
|Curteis, H. B.||Hawkins, J. H.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Roche, D.|
|Hill, M. D.||Roche, W.|
|Howard, P. H.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Humphrey, J.||Romilly, J.|
|Hutt, W.||Romilly, E.|
|Jacob, E.||Ruthven, E.|
|Kemp, T. R.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Kennedy, J.||Scholefield, J.|
|Lalor, P.||Sharpe, General|
|Lambert, H.||Sheil, R. L.|
|Lambton, H.||Stawell, Lieut. Col.|
|Langton, Col. G.||Strutt, E.|
|Leach, J.||Sullivan, Richard|
|Lister, E. C.||Talbot, James|
|Lloyd, J. H.||Talbot, J. H.|
|Lynch, A.||Tennyson, Rt. Hn. C.|
|Macnamara, F.||Tooke, W.|
|Martin, J.||Trelawney, Sir W. S.|
|Martin, J.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Molesworth, Sir W.||Walker, C. A.|
|Morrison, J.||Wallace, R.|
|Nagle, Sir R.||Wallace, T.|
|O'Brien, C.||Walter, J.|
|O'Callaghan, C.||Warburton, H.|
|O'Connell, D.||Wason, Rigby|
|O'Connell, Maurice||Watkins, J. L.|
|O'Connell, J.||Wemyss, Captain|
|O'Connell, Morgan||Wigney, N.|
|O'Connor, F.||Williams, Colonel|
|Oliphant, L.||Williams, W. A.|
|Oswald, J.||Wilmot, Sir E.|
|Oswald, R. A.||Wood, Alderman|
|Parnell, Sir H.||Hume, J.|
|Pease, J.||Ward, H. G.|
|Philips, M.||PAIRED OFF.|
|Potter, R.||Bowes, J.|
|Poulter, J. S.||James, W.|
|Rippon, C.||Rotch, B.|