§ Mr. O'Connell moved, that the House be counted.
§ The House was counted, and it being declared, that there were 118 Members present, the debate proceeded.623
§ Mr. Ronayne
observed, that the object of his hon. and learned friend in counting the House was perfectly manifest. Yes, the object of his hon. friend was to show to the country, that, while four or five hundred Members could be called together to uphold the Pension-list, they could not muster together more than one hundred when the question to be considered was of the utmost importance to the people of Ireland. They could not command more than a hundred when the question was, whether or not Ireland should be visited with the tender mercies of the police and the military. The present Bill, he contended, was meant to perpetuate tithes under another name. With respect to the breach of confidence which was stated to have accompanied the production of the letter of the Marquess of Anglesey to Earl Grey, he could state, that the observation, if applied to him, was without foundation. The noble Lord knew, that there were many modes, without treachery, of obtaining such a document. He had read a paragraph in a paper, in which a certain individual was stated to have said, that he could not tell how any Gentleman could make use of such a document. He would only say, that, as far as the observations applied to him, he would take that opportunity of giving them his strongest and most indignant refutation. He did not think it necessary to give the source of his information, as he had a precedent in the noble Lord (Lord Althorp), who had refused to name the author of a calumny upon a Member of that House, which was admitted to be false and futile. For the purpose of saving a noble Marquess (the Marquess of Anglesey) he would read part of his correspondence. The hon. Member then proceeded to read a letter of the noble Marquess, in which he condemned the practice of compelling 8,000,000 of people to pay towards the support of an Establishment to which they did not belong. He could assure the Members of the Administration, that he would no more think of adopting their notions of honour, than he would think of imitating their "consistency." He was not affected by the contemptuous smile with which the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Stanley) honoured him. He was too well accustomed to the insolence with which the right hon. Gentleman treated the House on all occasions, 624 to be annoyed by it now; the right hon. Gentleman might smile contemptuously as much as he pleased; he might throw his legs upon the table like a man in a North American Coffee-house.—[Cries of "Order, order;" "Chair, chair."]
§ The Speaker
said, he was sure, that if any hon. Member had been guilty of disrespect to the House at any time, the House would not have failed to take notice of it at the time.
§ Mr. Ronayne
would repeat, that not only himself, but every Member around him, had repeatedly had occasion to express to each other the indignation they felt at the gross insolence—it was far beyond disrespect—with which the right hon. Secretary habitually treated the House.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
rose to order. He denied having been ever, intentionally at any rate, guilty of disrespect towards the House. If, on the present occasion, he had smiled, it had been at the preconcerted plan which so palpably appeared to have been got up between the hon. and learned member for Dublin, and the hon. and learned member for Clonmel (Mr. Ronayne), viz., that the former should count the House, although there were evidently above a hundred members present, and that the latter should introduce a clap-trap, to be duly transmitted to Ireland, about "500 members being present when the Pension-list was to be defended, but only 118 when the question was, whether Ireland should be given up to the police and the military." He would recommend the hon. and learned Member, when next he had the House counted, to take particular note how many Members of the name of O'Connell were present. On the present occasion, the hon. and learned Member was the only Representative of that name honouring with his presence the discussion as to "whether Ireland was to be given up to the tender mercies of the police and the military."
said, it was a pity, that the right hon. Secretary had not applied himself to answering, if he could, the very first remark of the hon. and learned Member, instead of making an attack upon him (Mr. O'Connell), who had taken no part in the discussion. The right hon. Secretary's charge against him was distinguished by the right hon. Gentleman's usual disregard of veracity. [Order.]
§ The Speaker immediately rose, and Mr. O'Connell said, "Well, I withdraw that expression. May I not be permitted to explain?"
§ The Speaker
Certainly. The hon. Member may be allowed to explain what he intended to say, but he cannot enlarge upon the words he used.
would explain, then, that having been attacked by the right hon. Gentleman, and accused most unfoundedly of having formed a premeditated plan or combination with his hon. friend to have the House counted for a particular purpose, he had called upon that House to discredit an accusation, than which he had never known anything more unfounded, than which nothing could be a greater falsity—that, he believed, was the Parliamentary word, and that he might be allowed to use. The truth was, that he had formed no plan, and had had no communication with his hon. friend. He had passed the last eight-and-forty hours in the utmost anxiety for the result of this Motion, and there was no sacrifice he was not ready to make to secure the pacification of Ireland. He had come down to the House under a strong feeling, which had been roused to abhorrence when he saw so small an attendance, and especially of English Members, and he then thought it his duty to take the course he took. And did the right hon. Gentleman think, that he was to be deterred from what he thought his duty by his taunts and the cheers which they excited? He knew it was easy for any man to get a shout of applause who attacked him, but that would have little effect upon his conduct. He agreed with his hon. friend in the view of the bearing of the right hon. Gentleman towards the House. Did the right hon. Gentleman think, that the indecent mode in which he frequently placed himself in that House—He thanked the hon. Gentlemen for their cheers; but, although there might be others of a different opinion, he thought such conduct was indecent; and he had heard fifty other Members say, that they thought so likewise. He was doing nothing, and had done nothing when the right hon. Gentleman attacked him. What right, therefore, had the right hon. Gentleman to tell him, that he had been a party to a conspiracy, when he had called over the House for no other reason than his desire to mark the 626 distinction between the attendance of Members when the personal interests of Ministers were concerned, and when the matter in debate only concerned the interests of the people of Ireland universally? The right hon. Gentleman had no reason for charging him with combination; and he had said not a word to provoke the attack which he had been selected to bear. But this was not the first time that he had found men ready to assail him who were cautious not to attack others.
§ Mr. Ronayne
then resumed. He denied the existence of any such combination as had been alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman. But he was not surprised, as that right hon. Gentleman had, on the 6th May, 1834, called the Irish, a bigoted illiterate people, possessed of all the vices and virtues of savages, to whom the new religion would be disagreeable, as it was forced upon them by conquest. It was against the perpetuation of a State Church that he (Mr. Ronayne) contended, and should contend as long as he lived; under what name soever it might be saddled on the country—tithes, or commutation, or any other name whatever. The Church Establishment of Ireland was maintained for no other object that he could discern, than to enable the English gentry to quarter their children upon it; and that it had no spiritual purposes to forward, was, as he would show, the opinion of several of the most distinguished members of the present Government when they sat on his, the Opposition, side of the House. [The hon. and learned Member here read extracts from the letter of the Marquess of Anglesey, which he had already referred to, and also extracts from the speeches of the Marquess of Lansdown and other Ministers, which, he said, were their sentiments before they had taken their seats on the Treasury Benches, and before a change of position in that House had effected a change of opinion.] In reference to the letter of Lord Anglesey, the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had said, that it was a gross breach of confidence to publish it. He denied it, and considered it was as incumbent upon the person into whose hands it had come, to make known its contents, as if he had been secretly informed of a conspiracy to injure the interests of the country, to disclose it. The question of tithes in Ireland 627 did not involve, as hon. Gentlemen on a former night had contended in the debate on the Repeal question, a dismemberment of the empire. It was a question whether peace should be restored to Ireland, or whether all the misery, bloodshed, and confusion, which tithes had created in that country, should still be perpetuated. Although the subject was one of such vital and paramount importance, the simple request made by the hon. members for Wexford (Messrs. Lambert and Carew), the other night, to have the debate postponed for the space of a week, in order to have the opinions of Irish Members ascertained as to how the provisions of the Bill would operate, was sternly refused. The desire of these gentlemen, who were the firmest supporters of the Government, could not be gratified, and the discussion was persevered in. In looking at such a measure he could not but remember, that it was proposed by a body of men who, when on that side of the House, had said, that the Church Establishment in Ireland ought not to be maintained, and who now supported the Pension-list, which they had then so often denounced. The House was, perhaps, not aware of the actual state of Ireland in regard to the population. He held in his hand a paper, being the census taken of the united dioceses of Waterford and Down in the year 1826. From this it appeared, that the population of Waterford alone consisted of 28,550 Roman Catholics, and about 4,000 others than Roman Catholics. The total amount of the census was, of Catholics 231,118, and of others not being Roman Catholics, 10,111. These were the proportions of a population for which it was proposed to legislate by such measures as that now before the House. Another mistake under which the House laboured was, that the amount of lands attached to the Sees of the present Protestant Bishops was no more than that which had been possessed by their Catholic predecessors. The fact, however, was otherwise, for it appeared, that the possessions attached to the Roman Catholic Church in Tipperary, in the year 1641, amounted to 8,517 acres, and the result of the rebellion in that year was to add 5,956 acres to the possessions of the Church of lands confiscated from their former Catholic proprietors. Since that period several hundred acres had been added to the ecclesiastical possessions, under the denomination of bequests 628 for pious purposes, making a total, in the county of Tipperary, of 17,111 acres dedicated to Church purposes. 3,000 acres of this were appropriated to the support of Trinity College, Dublin, and yet it was said by some hon. Gentlemen, that these emoluments were not sufficient, and that there was not a more moderately endowed establishment in the world. He would here beg to ask how many Irish bishops were promoted to sees in England, and, vice versa, how many English bishops were promoted in Ireland? An answer to this interrogatory, would, he thought, sufficiently illustrate the objects which the English gentry had in advocating the continuance of the Church Establishment in Ireland. It would also show the discrepancy in the situation of the two countries, and would amply explain the reasons of the conduct pursued by the English Government to Ireland. The right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth had said, the other night, that there were twenty reasons why the Irish Church should be kept upon its present footing. The Irish Church Establishment might be a very convenient thing for the right hon. Baronet and others who appointed their early teachers to its emoluments. [Sir Robert Peel: Hear.] The right hon. Baronet cried "Hear." It might be a very pleasant thing for him; but how did the people like it? [Sir Robert Peel: But it is not so; it is not the case.] The hon. Baronet denied it. Well, he was prepared to enter upon the question whenever he pleased. The hon. Member referred to various passages in different speeches of Sir Francis Burdett, Mr. Brougham, (now the Lord Chancellor) Lord Ebrington, Mr. D. Browne, and the right hon. Edward Ellice, all of which were condemnatory of the principle of maintaining a Church Establishment in Ireland, from whose doctrines the great majority of the people dissented. These sentiments were uttered by them in 1826, on the Motion of Mr. Hume for a Committee to inquire into the expediency of abolishing the Church Establishment in Ireland. They all divided on that occasion with Mr. Hume, but he begged to remark, they were not then sitting on the Treasury Bench. But it was said, that, in the discussion of the present Bill, the question of appropriation ought not to be introduced. He could not subscribe to that doctrine; he contended, that the subjects 629 were inseparably connected; and when he called to his recollection the speech made by the right hon. the Secretary for the Colonies last year, and the conduct of the Government, he could not omit so important a consideration. Did not the House remember, that, in the progress of the debate on the Tithe Bill of last year, the right hon. Gentleman withdrew the 147th clause of that Bill, because it was supposed to have included in its objects the enunciation of the doctrine, that Parliament had a right to regulate and control the disposition of Church property? This was done lest the tithes should be interfered with, and the exercise of Church patronage in Ireland discontinued. The amount of Church property in Ireland, according to the Down survey, was 700,000l., and, if the truth were told, it would be found to approach near a million of money in value. Such being the case, taken together with the enormous revenues of the Bishops' sees, he defied any man to prove that the Church of Ireland was supported for purely spiritual purposes. On the contrary, its main end and object was to provide for needy and hungry dependents. It was an observation made by the late Mr. Grattan, in his peculiarly forcible epigrammatic style—"Under a system of compulsory payment, the income of the clergy falls with their virtues, and rises with their bad qualities." Never did that great and gifted man propound a truer doctrine. These topics, he was aware, he was urging, perhaps, with little effect—for he felt he was addressing an unwilling audience. He should, therefore, trespass but a very few minutes longer upon their attention. Before he concluded, however, he could not help reminding that House, that they had always legislated for Ireland as though it were a Protestant country, like England. While adverting to this view of the subject, he should read an extract of a letter written by an individual, greatly and deservedly revered in Ireland, and whose name was not, perhaps, wholly unfamiliar to hon. Members of that House—he spoke of the right rev. Dr. Doyle. The letter to which he alluded, was addressed by that eminent man to the late Secretary for Ireland, the present Secretary for the Colonies. The hon. and learned Member then proceeded to read an extract from the letter, in which the writer said, that no greater error could be committed by a statesman 630 than to legislate for the Church of Ireland as he would for the Church of England. It was difficult (the writer went on to say) for a man born to an inheritance of rank, of wealth, and of power—one who fancied that the people were born to be ruled, and he to rule—to admit into his mind any idea of making concessions to the necessities or the wishes of the people. The right hon. Gentleman, to whom that letter was addressed, had not, the writer said, succeeded in doing so—and in that opinion he, (Mr. Ronayne) fully concurred. The writer concluded by saying, that it would be impossible to give peace to Ireland while the present system of Church revenue was continued. These were the opinions of Dr. Doyle, in which every man conversant with the state of the country of which he was speaking must fully coincide. In taking his leave of the subject, he (Mr. Ronayne) could assure the House, that any further attempt to maintain tithes would only bring additional disgrace upon its authors. Was it necessary to remind the House, that laws derived their authority from the moral sanction of those they were intended to govern? The people of Ireland were hostile to tithes; and could it be supposed, that laws for their maintenance would be of any avail? They might go on fulminating their edicts; but what would be the effect? This Bill, he predicted, would have the same result as that unequalled piece of legislation which was introduced by the right hon. Gentleman opposite last year. A most cumbrous and vexatious machinery was put in motion, and, at an expense of 28,000l., 12,000l. were collected. And such would be always the result when laws were made in opposition to the fixed wishes of the people. They might continue to deluge the country with blood. Why, to recur to no more distant period than the last week, were hon. Members ignorant of the detail of what had occurred in Limerick? There, in supporting this system at the point of the bayonet, four persons had been killed, and twenty wounded—perhaps mortally. How much longer was it supposed the people would endure these evils? Did not every Gentleman at all acquainted with Ireland know, that most of that dark category of crime which disfigured the annals of the country—Whiteboyism, in its various shapes—sprung from the efforts to maintain a Church from which the 631 people derived no benefit, This was a melancholy fact. Let the House, then, persevere if they would. The misfortune, in the first instance, would fall upon his country; but the crime, and the consequences of that crime, would be upon the heads of its authors. The hon. Member concluded by moving, "that the second reading of the Bill be postponed to that day six months."
§ Mr. Lalor
seconded the Amendment. The Irish people would never endure, that such a sum of money should be drawn from their property to be lavished on men who were the bitter foes of their country, who heaped all kinds of contumely and oppression upon them. Tithes were not only one-tenth of the value of the land of the country, but of the labour and capital of the poor. But, great as was that hardship, it was a folly to suppose, that it was the amount that was complained of. No; it was the appropriation of it to such men as the Protestant clergy. There was another fallacy, in supposing, that the tithe composition was entered into voluntarily. No such thing. At first twenty-two of the highest rate-payers were empowered to effect a composition. After a few years' experience, it was found expedient to add to them those who possessed large property in the parish—Magistrates and others. These, in a short time, bore down the twenty-two, and thus compositions were carried against the wish and interest of the parishioners. In the parish where he resided, the clergyman, who was a pluralist, and an absentee for thirty years, proposed a composition to the amount of 1,100l. To this the parishioners objected, saying, that they would give him, if he produced his books, the average of his tithes for the last seven years. This he refused, which was some proof that he wanted a much larger composition than he was entitled to. In the course of a year he died, and his successor, through the facilities afforded by the change in the Act, contrived to pack a vestry and carry in the parish a composition to the amount, not of 1,100l., but of 1,500l. The same happened in several other parts. But the composition had one advantage; it opened the eyes of the people to the emoluments of the Church, and led to passive resistance. It was a mistake, too, to suppose, that tithes were paid by the landlord; they were paid by the tenant, for, in fact, they were a tax on his labour 632 and capital. It was said, that land tithe-free would let higher than tithe land. Certainly it would—first from the amount of the tithe, and secondly, from the annoyance of it. But, then, he would maintain, that if tithes were abolished to-morrow, the land would not let higher than it did before. For instance, houses did not let higher after the removal of the hearth and window taxes than they did before. If tithes were applied to the relief of taxation, to the granting a provision for the poor, or to some national purpose, they would be more palatable. There was Church land enough for the maintenance of the whole Establishment, if the whole Irish people were Protestant. The Church had about 1,000,000 of acres, which, if well managed, would be more than enough for all its purposes, without the addition of tithes. Nothing but the total abolition of tithes would satisfy the Irish people.
§ Sir Henry Willoughby
said, that he should studiously avoid the question of appropriation: the only question properly before them was, whether the Bill tended to the beneficial commutation of tithes. The commutation provided for in the Bill appeared to him to be the best basis on which tithes could be settled in Ireland, accompanied as it was, by a table of reduction, and by an easy power of redemption. The hon. member for Tipperary and other hon. Gentlemen had, with great ability, pointed out what they considered the defects of the present Bill; but they offered to the House no suggestions of their own for a better system of procedure. Though they might not desire to destroy the Irish Church, the tendency of the course they were pursuing was unquestionably to have that effect. The hon. and learned member for Dublin having been examined before a Committee of the House on the 11th of March, 1825, said, in his evidence—"The Catholic people of Ireland are not anxious to transfer the property of the Church into other hands; and if the people of England were acquainted with that fact, they would not be so opposed as they are to the Catholic claims." He might assert, then, on the best testimony, that, at all events, at the time to which he had alluded, the Catholics of Ireland did not seek a different appropriation of the Church property. Gentlemen also declared that they had no wish to transfer tithes to the landlords; but, certainly, from the 633 acknowledged competition for land in Ireland, where the people were so anxious to obtain land at any price, if tithes were abolished, they would go to the landlords. Though he was friendly to the principle of the Bill, there were particular clauses of it to which he was opposed. But that being a matter of detail he should reserve his statement of the objections he had to make till the Bill got into Committee. He, however, might be now allowed to say, that in one clause of the Bill he considered the lay impropriators of Ireland to be very ill-used. If, by an Act, we gave to the lay impropriators four, they being entitled to five—or if we gave them three, they being entitled to four—that was an act of spoliation. Looking at the lay impropriators as at a man who had purchased his property, the provisions of the Bill were hard. If a surplus were found, it was to be handed over to the Consolidated Fund; he thought the lay impropriators were entitled to that surplus. From the time of Henry 8th to the present there was not an attack on the property of the Church that did not give a part of the spoil to laymen. He would state some objections he had to certain parts of the Bill when it was sent into Committee. Lay impropriators would suffer great injury by the Bill, which would take from the Church at least one-fourth of its property.
§ Mr. Denis O'Connor
regretted, that he was compelled, in the discharge of the duty he owed to his constituents, to withhold his support from the Bill under the consideration of the House. He wished he could support it, because it was introduced by the present right hon. Secretary for Ireland, who, he felt convinced, was actuated by a sincere desire to ameliorate the condition of that country, and because it professed to have for its object the abolition of the evils of that tithe system, which contributed, as had been justly observed, more than any other cause whatsoever, to fill with misery and crime a country that would have otherwise been peaceful, prosperous, and united. The right hon. Secretary sadly miscalculated the advantages which he anticipated from the present Bill. It would be far from satisfactory, and, therefore, could not be final, and nothing, in his opinion, could be more pregnant with evil than passing laws affecting property of any description which involved in 634 themselves the certainty of their future and almost immediate alteration. Most undoubtedly the present Bill would not receive that acquiescence from the people on which its permanency could be based. In his judgment, in adapting laws, the tone, the temper, the circumstances, and the wishes of the great body of the people, for whose benefit the laws should be made, ought to be consulted, as far as that could be done without a compromise of justice, or of social order. This Bill, like all the remedial measures of the present age, came too late. Some twenty years ago, when the people were harassed by tithe proctors, but were not yet goaded to general resistance, and were unconscious of their power, he did think the present measure would have been received as a boon. But that time was gone by; the time for compromise, the time for half-and-half measures had passed away; they should legislate for the present, not for the past. Now, what are the present feelings of the people with respect to tithes? They feel they have the power of successfully opposing the payment of tithes by passive resistance to their collection. They believe, in the literal interpretation of the word extinction of tithes, which fell from the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies. He admitted freely, that he never mistook for a moment the meaning that word was intended to convey, but every one of the witnesses who gave evidence before the Committee of the House concurred in saying, that the people gave a literal construction to that expression. The people believed their representatives would demand the literal fulfilment of all they inferred from that expression. They felt, that its fulfilment was but consonant to every principle of justice. They were convinced, that tithes ought to be extinguished, not in name only, but in substance and reality. They objected to the principle of tithe; they would not assent to the payment of public money, where no public service was rendered in return. No matter under what name it might be collected, be it called a Land-tax, or be it called tithe, it was alike to them objectionable. The medium through which it was collected, was a matter of indifference; be it the landlord, or be it the tithe-proctor, who enforced the assessment, it was equally obnoxious. Now, he would ask, how did the present Bill benefit either the 635 people or the landlord? Were the people exonerated from the payment of any portion that they paid before? Not one iota. All that the tithe-proctor could demand under the Tithe Composition Act, the landlord would be empowered to recover under this Bill. What difference was it to the poor man whether it were the bailiff or the tithe-proctor that wrung from him the same amount, and for the same purpose? Was the landlord benefited? He was told, that he should have a bonus, if he would assume the enviable position of tithe-proctor. What, he would ask, was the landlord's duty, and what was his reward? That which the Church, with all its ascendancy, that which the State with all its powers, its magistracy, its police, its horse, foot, and artillery, could not collect, the landlord must recover, under the penalty of forfeiture of his property, and, as a boon, he was to be allowed to retain the last reluctant drop he could squeeze out of the people, the last penny that was to fill the measure of a demand that was acknowledged to be irrecoverable. The Government failed to collect the tithe; they said to the landlord: "We cannot collect it, but you must. It cost us twenty-five thousand pounds to collect 12,000l., out of 60,000l.; you shall collect it at your own expense, and provided you pay us 80l. out of every 100l., no portion of which we (with all our powers) could recover, you may keep 20l. for yourself." Neither tenant nor landlord were benefited by the Bill except in so far as the mode of collecting the assessment was improved. Were that assessment lightened in its amount, or were it differently appropriated, then satisfaction would most unquestionably be afforded; but there was no hope held out in the Bill, that the appropriation would be altered; indeed, the contrary was to be inferred from all the speeches in which the measure had been recommended; and, as to the amount of tithe, that was to be placed on the land in the shape of a Land-tax. He was assured, that it exceeded the amount ever bonâ fide collected as tithe. He felt quite convinced, that, upon inquiry, it would be found, that in an extraordinary number of instances the tithe compounded for, far exceeded the amount ever paid as tithe. Hon. Members deprecated all discussion on the appropriation of the money to be collected under this Bill; they asserted, 636 that its collection and its appropriation ought not to be considered together. He considered, that it was almost impossible not to associate them in the discussion of the present question. In proof of how much the safety of one depended on a declaration with respect to the other, he would read passages from the publication of the rev. Mr. Hincks, a Protestant clergyman of high literary attainments, and lately a distinguished fellow of Trinity College. That Gentleman stated, 'I have been for some time completely satisfied, that as a permanent provision for the Established Church, tithes or any substitute for tithes are irrecoverably lost, and that it is only by a prompt recognition of this by the Legislature that they can be saved, if they can be saved as a national revenue, as a provision in the first instance for the existing incumbents, and ultimately as a part of the provision which a Christian nation must establish for the poor which shall never cease out of the land.' Did not he enforce the necessity of recognising the right of appropriation in any attempt to secure the fund? Mr. Hincks went oh to say—'Any hope of retaining permanently its endowments for the Established Church is delusive; I recognise to the fullest extent the right of the nation to dispose in what way she may please, of the endowments of the Church, as existing incumbencies terminate. I cannot question the right of the nation to interfere; my wishes do not get the better of my judgment; the time is come.' He agreed with Mr. Hincks, that the rights of existing incumbents should be respected, even though some of them had forfeited all claim to the protection of the Legislature by not availing themselves of the million, granted with a view of tranquillizing the country; but he never would be induced for the faults of a few to withhold the rights of the many. He did not wish to intrude on the time of the House, but he could not avoid making a few observations on the Amendment suggested by the hon. member for Kildare, and supported by the hon. member for Wexford. In so far as it proposed to equalize the tithe all over Ireland, he dissented from them entirely and most unequivocally. Their propositions appeared to him consistent neither with justice nor policy. They proposed to increase the tithe in those districts, where contracts had been 637 entered into under the impression, that the tithe was light, in order to lessen its pressure on those districts where engagements had been made with the knowledge that the tithe was high. It was on the very grounds, that they attempted to justify the equalization of tithes that he protested against it, namely, that its amount was widely different in one place from what it was in another. Were it nearly the same he might assent to a general assimilation. There were different modes adopted in different parts of the country; some were never subject to tithes for hay or potatoes. Were they now to be deprived of an advantage which had been secured to them by prescription? Was it just to those who had purchased, inherited, or leased property subject to a small amount, to compel them to pay a large amount, in order to exonerate those who had purchased or inherited their property subject to that amount; but, said hon. Members, extend the same laws to Ireland as to England. He would say, give both the same laws where the circumstances were the same; but the circumstances of tithe in England and Ireland were widely different. The Tithe Bills for the two countries profess to provide a substitute for tithe in each, and therefore the substitute ought to be different, as the tithe was different. "But," they said, "if a small amount of tithe be imposed on the districts, where a small amount has been paid, a premium would be given to those who resisted tithe, and punishment would be inflicted on those who paid it. That was a most unfair assertion. The places where the least tithe was paid, were in Ulster and Connaught; and it was precisely there, that there had been the least resistance to tithe; so that, in fact, it would be much fairer for him to say, if more tithe be now imposed on Connaught and Ulster, and less in Munster and Leinster, than before, that the former were punished for their obedience to the law, and the latter rewarded for their resistance to it. Let those hon. Members diminish the tithe in their own districts, if they could, but not by increasing it in any other. As matter of policy, nothing could be more unwise than to increase it in any part of Ireland. The dissatisfaction that would arise from the increase of tithe in one place would, he assured the House, be much greater than the satisfaction that would be produced by its decrease in another the benefit would soon be 638 forgotten: the injury would be held in constant and painful recollection. The increase of tithe in any place would be regarded as an evil; and if this was inflicted by a Bill professing to be a Relief Bill, it would be considered a mockery, and might be productive of the worst possible results. He protested against the injustice and the impolicy of any equalization of tithe, as recommended by his hon. friends; but to the present plan he could not assent, because it appeared to give consolidation and perpetuity to a system that had caused misery and dissatisfaction in Ireland.
§ Mr. W. Roche
said: Not being personally connected with Tithes or Church property, I shall refrain from entering into a detail of their practical evils and results which, during the two nights' discussion on the subject, have been so forcibly and amply demonstrated to the House; but, Sir, although I shall thus refrain from details, I cannot forbear observing, as regards the principle upon which that impost and mass of property are founded, that religion never can become what its Almighty author designed it to be, "the tranquiliser of our passions, prejudices, and animosities;" the promoter of our social harmony and happiness, instead of, as it often unnaturally and unfortunately does in these countries, augment and embitter every other source of discontent or collision, until every class of Christians cease to tax and harass their neighbour, by compelling him to support doctrines from which he conscientiously dissents, while, from duty and inclination, he is called upon to support those his conscience and feelings concur in, or, in other words, until each sect maintains its own institutions, that only sound, moral, and honest maxim, one to which the conviction of mankind is every day advancing, as is demonstrated by the rapidly increasing representations and petitions to that effect from all classes of Dissenters. Sir, in every country where this honest and conscientious principle prevails, we have indubitable proofs of its value and advantages; nor can even the spiritual tenets of any particular sect have fair play, while, as in the Established Church, the sense of injustice and antipathy arising from unfair and compulsory support opposes calm inquiry at the very threshold. But, Sir, until this fair and happier principle be recognized and adopted, I feel it to be my duty to prefer 639 and support such measure or modification of the existing system as will most conduce to mitigate its evils, and prevent a recurrence of such horrors, of such painful and cruel conflicts, as unhappily occurred a few days ago in the county of Limerick, the county to which I belong, but which nevertheless prove, in a most melancholy manner, the unconquerable antipathy of the Irish peasantry to the tithe system; a conflict in which, notwithstanding the humane and praiseworthy forbearance of the magistrates and military, the people rushed into destruction almost, I may say, to the cannon's mouth, and caused the immediate death of five individuals (one of them a female), and severe though lesser injury to twenty or thirty more. Sir, every principle of sound policy, every sense of moral feeling, call upon us to remove so fertile a source of injustice and bad consequences, so rapidly increasing a cause of utter alienation on the part of the mass of the Irish people, and so utterly repugnant likewise to the true character and principles of Christianity.
thought, that the Bill before the House would not go to prevent any scenes similar to those which had already taken place. The collection of tithe, he maintained, was a system which was founded upon the principle of the ascendancy of the Protestant Church in Ireland. He thought that they were the real Protestants who dissented from and protested against an Established Church—who objected to a dominant church; and he would maintain that each church should be supported by its own adherents. This was the fair and just principle to go upon. There were no means he would not resort to, to oppose the domination of that Church of which he himself was a member. If they were to regret anything more than another, it was the fact that a number of those Ministers of religion who received wages for their services, prostituted its name, and debased its duties. One great mischief to which the present Bill would lead was, that the landlord would be thrown into the obnoxious situation of demanding from his tenantry that impost which had been productive of so much misery in Ireland. It was clear, that the landlords must collect the tithes, or that which was a substitute for them. The tithes, he held, were national property, and he did not wish to take them 640 away, and put them into the hands of the landlord; but let them be directed to the proper quarter—let them be directed to objects which were really religious. Seeing that the people of Ireland had been led to expect general relief from tithes, they had expected something more than this measure. In one parish, placed under the operation of the compulsory composition, twice as much, nay, three times, aye, and four times as much, had been taken for the same value of tithes as was taken in another. Certain papers had been reverted to within the last few days upon this question, which were utterly fallacious—they were furnished, he believed, from Dublin Castle. The hon. member for Kildare had made use of them; and he was certain he was wrong both in the use and application of them. Some parishes were paying five shillings, and others not two shillings. He thought the effect of this Bill would be only to proceed from bad to worse, though this Bill might, perhaps, answer the contingency of the day as far as the Government were concerned. In conclusion, the hon. Gentleman adverted to the fact of this debate having commenced with a most scanty number of Members present. And when the House was about to be counted, there came, he said, a rush into the House, which had induced him to make the parliamentary noise of "hear, hear!" When he saw men thus eager to see who should be first to throng up to the benches to put down the Irish, he certainly had expressed the feelings of an Irishman outside of that House, as he would do under similar circumstances inside.
§ Mr. Fitzgerald
said; Sir, that this Bill has caused much dissatisfaction in Ireland is beyond all doubt, and I fear much it will also create great disappointment; for, after the Address to his Majesty, lately passed by the House, the people of Ireland have reason to expect, that when the grievance which, above all others, has oppressed them the most, is under consideration, a substantial remedy would at once be applied, thereby proving that the Imperial Parliament deserved the confidence they claimed from my countrymen, when legislating for them. It is true, Sir, that we have had, in the last five or six years, many enactments on tithes; but it is equally a matter of notoriety that they all failed—and why? Because while the supporters of them professed that they 641 were to ameliorate the system, and to better the condition of the tithe-payer, the bills in their operation had quite a different effect. They, in most instances, increased the amount of tithe to be paid; in all they bettered the title, and added to the power of recovery of the tithe-owner; thus augmenting the evil they professed at the outset to remedy, for if such were not the intention of Parliament at the time, why meddle at all with the subject? Now, Sir, on these points I have had many complaints from the county I have the honour to represent, but I shall now merely select two of them, because they come from parishes adjoining my residence in the county Louth. The first is from a very considerable parish indeed, which was put under the Compulsory Composition Act of 1832, in pursuance of which a vestry was held, when an agreement took place between the incumbent and parishioners, and with the knowledge of the Commissioner, whereby the sum of 1,750l. per annum was fixed as the sum to be paid in lieu of all future tithes, and it was considered the composition was so settled. Sir, in confirmation of this, I hold in my hand a letter from the incumbent, stating he was authorized by his Majesty's Government and the Lord Primate, as the joint patrons of this parish, to ratify this agreement; and yet, Sir, will it be believed, that the parish now stands charged with no less a sum than 1,995l.? that is 245l. a-year more than his Majesty's Government, the Lord Primate, and the incumbent himself had finally agreed to take in September last. This is what my constituents complain of, and which it is my duty to lay before this House. The House, in hearing that such a sum as even the 1,750l. was to be paid by any one parish, will easily believe it must be a considerable one, and so it is. By the last census, (1831,) it contains no fewer than 9,721 persons, all of whom are Roman Catholics, except about 200 of the other persuasions; so that hon. Members will readily conceive how sorely this additional burthen, after the ample provision already stated, is felt by the inhabitants in general. The other case I shall quote is that of a smaller parish, (Dromeskin;) there it is stated to me, that the rector let the whole of the tithes in 1831 for 368l., which may fairly be supposed to be the value; and yet, though the price of corn has ever since been on the decline, 642 yet, for 1832, he demands 509l., and the still further advance of 560l. for 1833; both these sums the parishioners resist, and desire an inquiry. This parish contains 2,621, of which 101 are not Catholics. Sir, in stating thus the grievances of my constituents, on a subject so necessary to the best interests of Ireland, it is not my desire to complain of any individual, and in seeking redress on this important subject, by an abatement of the tithe system throughout that kingdom, I have no idea that the benefit should go to the landlords exclusively. I wish this property to be reasonably ascertained, and then to be considered as national—I wish all the just and necessary wants of the Church Establishment in Ireland to be provided for, and that any surplus, after the demise of the present incumbents, should be applied, under the control of Parliament, to religious purposes, if you will. Sir, I regret that the resolution of my hon. friend, the member for Kildare, as to the appropriation of tithes is not to be entertained by Government at present; for, after all, that is the greatest grievance of the system; and as we are called upon to make sacrifices to the common cause of preserving the peace and well-being of Ireland, it would be very gratifying if the Government came forward with its views on this important part of the subject. As I consider, therefore, this Bill deficient and objectionable, I must vote against it.
was in hope that, by adjourning the debate he should attract the attention of English Members. He hoped that justice would be done to Ireland, but that hope appeared also futile. He had come down to the House that night in expectation that the attention of English Members would be aroused to the condition of the Irish people, and that their sense of justice would have impelled them to come to a satisfactory settlement of the question of tithes; but a chill came over him when he saw the benches so empty, and he vented his indignation in the only form left him—that of moving that the House should be counted. Perhaps he was wrong in doing so—perhaps not; but, right or wrong, the sentiment was strong in his mind (when he recollected the majority on Repeal, in connection with that meagre attendance) that English Members—he did not mean to accuse them—were apa- 643 thetic on mere Irish subjects. From the time he counted the House, early in the evening, until that moment, the attendance was miserable. He had often seen twice the number on a debate on an English turnpike Bill. The neglect of Ireland was so manifest all through, and this Bill was such a convincing proof of it, that if it were allowed to pass in its present shape, it would be very easy to tell who was right or who was wrong in demanding a domestic Legislature for that country. He did not wish to originate exciting topics; but the absence of English Members from the discussion of this Irish subject, and the tone of the House all through, compelled him to say what he did. He would ask English Members, were they aware of the length and antiquity of the tithe war? It commenced in 1760, which, up to the present period, made a sum of seventy-four years as its duration. It had lasted all the time, with the exception of a few brief pauses, caused by the increase of sanguinary statutes; but these pauses were always followed by prolonged bursts of greater atrocity, crime, and the effusion of human blood than before. That was the brief, but comprehensive and melancholy history of tithes in Ireland; and if any man chose to gainsay him, he was ready to go to history and the Statute-book for proof. The first Act of Parliament for the suppression of tithe disturbances was passed in 1763. That Act gave power to Magistrates to put to death any person or persons present at an illegal meeting, which refused to disperse at their direction. The Magistrates were made the judges of its legality or illegality. The next enactments were made in the 2nd and 3rd Geo. 3rd. By these, ninety-five capital offences, in connection with resistance to tithes, were created. One of them in particular, made it capital to attack a dwelling-house. He had seen men convicted and executed for merely placing their hand on the door, and never offering violence to the building. The Statutes proceeded from bloody to bloodier, and crime increased with them, pari passu. Since the Union, however, it had become greater than ever. When all the forms of constitutional punishment were exhausted, recourse was eventually had by the Legislature to courts-martial and Coercion Bills. Thus there were seventy-four years of crime—crime of the worst cha- 644 racter—assassinations—murders—burnings—and all caused by tithes, or, at least, by the resistance to the collection of tithes. The Coercion Bill was passed; but did any one mean to tell him, that Ireland was tranquil? It was true a calm had been produced, as he and others had predicted, for a short period; but how was the country circumstanced now? Had that deceitful calm continued? Would the noble Lord tell them, that Ireland was tranquil, or likely to be so? They had had a lull in Ireland, but had it not ceased? Had they not proclaimed four baronies, and last week, only, had not the Magistrates of Westmeath declared or proclaimed three Baronies in that county? Did any man suppose, with these facts before him, that they could go on much longer without taking effectual measures to pacify Ireland. They might depend upon it that "Wait a while" would not do, neither would their present Tithe Bill do. The right hon. Secretary for the Colonies thought to pacify Ireland, at least he introduced his great Tithe Bill for that purpose when Secretary for Ireland. He meant no offence to the right hon. Secretary; on the contrary, he gave him credit for having been actuated by the best feelings towards Ireland on that occasion. That the Bill was to pacify Ireland, it was expressly announced as intended to "vindicate the law;" a lofty and sounding phrase, which was warmly received by that House; and a further promise was made that, when the law was vindicated, then something would be done for Ireland. These professions and promises were received with loud cheers. Well, the Bill was carried; but how did it succeed? Did it pacify Ireland? Did it do a single bit of all the promised good? Though the right hon. Gentleman armed himself with all the laws for the recovery of crown debts—with all the laws between landlord and tenant—with all the laws relative to the clergy—how did he succeed? 12,000l. was collected, and 28,000l. was expended on the collection of that amount of debt. Besides which, the right hon. Gentleman was obliged to call in the aid of infantry, cavalry, artillery, and even marines, to get so much, and at such an enormous expense. It might be said, the cause of Ireland's misery was agitation, and that she would have no rest till the race of agitators which at present convulsed her was at an end. To this he 645 would answer, that agitation had begun long before the present race was born; and that agitation would go on after their death, unless the cause of it were removed. This proved, that the evil was far more deeply rooted than was believed; and English Members would be either wanting in their duty, or else hypocrites, if they did not look closely to it. He would not then multiply instances which rose to his mind, but he would take leave to quote two only. The first two years of the reign of George 4th, 1821 and 1822, were the most free from political agitation, in consequence of the hope that the promises of that monarch's youth would be fulfilled when he had leisure to think of Ireland; yet there had never been greater agrarian disturbances in that country, than during that time. In many places open insurrection had taken place, and the people had fought the King's troops with various success. In 1828, the greatest political agitation which Ireland had ever known existed, in consequence of the repeated refusals of Catholic Emancipation; yet, in that year, and the two following, there was no agrarian disturbance whatever. This was a proof that political and agrarian agitations were not parallel, and that one was not caused by the other. Therefore, the cant about political agitation was worse than idle; it was wicked, because it offered a pretence for withholding from a people conciliation and justice. The truth was, tithes were the great political and agrarian agitators. If they were taken away, disturbance would exist no longer. The present was an awful and an important period in the history of his unfortunate country. What he said that night might have the effect of appeasing the people of Ireland (he wished from his soul it might have) or it might have the effect of hastening a catastrophe which he would give his best blood to avert. Why was it, that Ireland was treated differently from England, and particularly from Scotland? Had there been any agrarian agitation in England for the last seventy-four years? Had there been any in Scotland? No. Scotland was appeased by concession; England had always obtained what she wished. Why not try the same experiment in Ireland? Surely it was less likely that different means would produce the same results, than that the same means would produce the same 646 results. Scotland was made prosperous by conciliation—was it fair to suppose Ireland would be made otherwise by the same course? Did they think so meanly of the Irish as to suppose, that they were incapable of profiting by the advantages held out to them? A great opportunity presented itself of making an effort in favour of Ireland; and would they allow it to escape them? The other day, when an address was to be presented to the Crown on the question for the Repeal of the Union being negatived, they all went up in their carriages, Lords and Commons, Dissenters Quakers, and all—up they went—there were plenty of them when the object was to give Ireland a bad word. The Irish Catholic people came here in 1825; in that year, they went on their knees, and offered vows and protestations, and all, he believed, were satisfied, and no one doubted their sincerity. But it might be asked, wherefore revive this? De te fabula narratur. They asked for emancipation, but it was refused—indignantly refused to them. But, at length, those who refused were obliged to surrender it, almost disgracefully, that which might before have been given with honour, and received with gratitude. He now came to another, and to himself, and he would state this openly, that he was ready to give up the darling plans of his life—he was ready to retire into private society, if his Majesty's Government would only consent to do justice to Ireland. For this he was ready to sacrifice all that was most dear to him—fame, fortune, all.—He would be content, should Ministers deem it desirable, to retire into the privacy of domestic life—if that darling object of his ambition—that for which he would lay down his life, if the sacrifice were required—justice, were done to his country. He did not speak from his head, but from his heart. He felt and meant every thing he thought and uttered. The crisis had arrived when the ministry had it in their power to do justice to Ireland. He knew that they were strong, but that they were also beset with difficulties—that their path was strewed with thorns. He entreated his Majesty's Ministers to reflect that they were now at a crisis, when the pacification of Ireland was most essential. They were surrounded with difficulties. They met with abundance of opposition from various quarters. The agricultural interest was crying out for relief— 647 the Trades' Unions were growing to a portentous magnitude, and now against these proposed amendments of the Poor-laws, a powerfully hostile spirit was already evincing itself. Surely, then, at such a time, the pacification of Ireland was a matter of the first consequence. And if they asked him how they were to pacify Ireland, he would answer, by not enforcing compulsory payment for the purpose of supporting the clergy of a religion in the doctrines of which the great majority of the people of that country did not believe. What were the consequences of pursuing an opposite system? Did they wish to gratify the hon. Member for the University of Dublin, who last year advised the clergy to insist, Shylock like, upon exacting the very last shilling of tithe which they could claim? Did they wish to behold the effects of that advice? Alas! it had been written in letters of blood. If his Majesty's Government, in choosing between two courses in relation to Ireland, resolved to adopt a Tithe Bill, for the purpose of upholding and perpetuating Protestant ascendancy in Ireland, it would be the worst bargain they had ever made. He now came to the Act itself. He would not enter into the details; they would be more properly and conveniently discussed in a committee; and if he referred to any details at all, it would be only to such as necessarily involved a principle. The first object of the Bill was, to ascertain what was the amount of the public property in tithes. He did not object to this ascertainment, but he objected to the manner and the mode, and, on that ground, must vote against it. Complaints had been made against the landlords in Ireland, but he would not enter into topics of irritation. He thought it just, that there should be an ascertainment. He looked upon tithes as public property, and that neither landlords nor tenants ought to have the spoil of it. This ascertainment of the property should also be a moderate one, as was the case with the ascertainment of the teinds in Scotland. But the present ascertainment was not moderate. He did not desire, however, an entirely new valuation. He did not seek to disturb the existing valuation in those parishes that were content with it, and he was bound to say they were numerous. But there were very many cases in which the parishes complained of the valuation that had been put upon 648 their tithes, and to such parishes he entreated there might be granted another investigation, with instructions to value moderately. Was the House aware, that no composition could take place under Mr. Goulburn's Act, without the consent of the clergyman? It was a one-sided voluntary. The parish could not compel a composition, unless the clergyman and the bishop consented; but whenever the clergyman considered, that a composition would be for his interest, he had the power of compelling it. The advantage, too, existed entirely on the side of the clergyman, and there were many cases where the larger tithe-payers refused to come in; the clergyman called on a number of the smaller tithe-payers, and thus succeeded in carrying his point. In fact, so well armed was the clergyman by Mr. Goulburn's Bill, that there was no single instance of a successful opposition on the part of the parishioners. In many instances a value was set on lands which had not paid tithe before for fifty years. The Commissioners—they were notoriously unfit for office—indeed, the impartiality of that Bill, and the effect which it was likely to produce on the people of Ireland might be fairly estimated from the fact, that it was, on its promulgation, regarded by the Protestant party throughout Ireland, as one of the greatest benefits and blessings that could possibly be conferred on the Established Church. But, in one respect, the right hon. Gentleman's Act was ineffectual, for, pass whatever Acts of that nature they pleased, they could never overcome that determination which was generally felt throughout Ireland—that tithes should not be paid—a determination of the most obstinate nature, and which the peasantry of his country had so often sealed with their blood. The people of Ireland had determined to pay tithes no longer—a determination for which, as a recent incident in the county of Limerick proved, they were ready to shed their blood. There was something ludicrously horrible in that affair. Two cows and a couple of pigs were seized for tithes by a detachment of the eighty-fifth regiment of foot, and a large body of police, under the direction of a magistrate. Though the military and police were attacked with stones, they exhibited great forbearance. It was not until a fellow rushed out of a cabin, and discharged a pistol at a serjeant of the 649 85th, that the party fired. Four of the people fell dead on the spot, and several were carried away wounded. He did not blame the authorities—he adduced it only as an instance of the lengths to which the people of Ireland were prepared to go in their resistance to tithes; to show that, even in the noon-day, they would have the recklessness to attack the King's troops, and rush, open-eyed, on destruction, before they would submit longer to that impost. He admitted, that the people were decidedly in the wrong; but he would ask, whether any speech made in that House could have the effect of managing a people actuated by such a spirit? No; they must first search out the evils which existed, and then try to root it out altogether. The fact was, that Ireland was at this moment suffering under centuries of misrule; and after having been once given to understand, that they were to be called on for no more tithes, they had now—erroneously, he admitted—determined to resist them, even to death! But surely they ought not to punish Ireland for such misconduct. He would say to them, in the language of the poet—Be to her faults a little blind,Be to her virtues ever kind,when an opportunity of being so presented itself. All the valuations hitherto made, had been both inaccurately and unfairly taken. In the first place, the persons selected for commissioners were, with very few exceptions, totally unfit for the duty; and, in the second place, the averages which formed the basis of their calculations were unfairly taken, representing, in fact, any thing but the average amount of the tithe paid. They were struck from what was agreed to be paid, and not from what was actually paid, and the composition, in consequence, it could not fail being apparent, was most unfavourable to the payer. But that was not all; for when the present right hon. Secretary for the Colonies came forward with his Tithe Bill, not content with the unfair calculation of the commissioners, the right hon. Gentleman cited no less than nineteen supposititious cases of non or partial payment of tithe, in order that he might fix the scale of composition at even a still higher rate than the Commissioners suggested. One case was, where tithe had not been paid for a period of fifty years. [Mr. Stanley:—But the claim was admitted.] Who admitted it? The Govern- 650 ment Commissioners. And who admitted it to them?—The sexton or clerk of some parish. It was perfectly absurd to say, that if any claim existed, no payment would have been enforced for a period of fifty years. In fact, so far from the nineteen cases which the right hon. Gentleman cited being nineteen reasons for adding to the scale of composition, they were nineteen reasons for going to an entirely new and different investigation. The Irish people only sought for justice, and it was idle to think of conciliating them while they had reason to think it was withheld from them. Sir John Davis had truly said, in his report, there were no greater lovers of justice than the Irish people, a compliment which, if devoid of truth—which he was far from saying it was—at all events, possessed the charm of novelty. Let the Government but come forward, and show a determination to act with justice towards the people of Ireland, and they might rely on it that, before twelve months expired, peace and tranquillity would be restored to that, at present, wretched country. What he asked for was, an entirely new tithe valuation. He was, in short, in the character of an advocate, applying for a new trial on the part of the people of Ireland. It might cost the country some 20, 30, or 40,000l.; but if, as he was confident it would, that sum secured harmony and peace for many years to come, was there a man in that House, nay, would even the economical Member for Middlesex think of objecting to the outlay of so much money for such a desirable purpose? The first thing he had to ask of the House was, that the Bill should be suspended for a time, and taken back to the office from which it emanated, and that its provisions should be submitted to the consideration of the people of Ireland. Perhaps there was about him (Mr. O'Connell), that which would prevent the Government from consulting him on the subject; but, should they feel disposed to pass over, even for the time, the fact of his being their opponent—he would say, their sometimes rash and inconsiderate opponent—on many questions, he was ready to cast from his breast every feeling of auger, hostility, and vexation, and with all possible calmness, and, if necessary, with the "bated breath and whispering humbleness" of a beggar, to offer his best suggestions as to the description of bill which was most likely to 651 give general satisfaction to the Irish people. The Irish people, he repeated, sought but justice; and if that was withheld, not only would they carry a repeal of the Union, but effect a separation between the two countries. Were the Irish people to be told, that justice should be dealt out to Scotland, that justice was to be dealt out to England, but that to Ireland no justice was to be extended?—that she was to be ruled with a rod of iron?—and were they, after that, to turn round and expect to find the Irish people happy and contented, and to express their surprise, that deeds of desperation were committed? One word with reference to the Bill itself. How could the House expect such a Bill to allay disturbances, when, instead of removing the cause of those disturbances, it held out the prospect of a constant continuance of the same burthens. The burthens were shifted, but they still pressed on the shoulders of the people. There were the same burthens—there was the same allocation—in short, all the ingredients of the evils which they sought to remove, were to be retained. So long as these were continued, it was in vain to expect any pacification—so long as these continued, it was in vain to expect to check the demand for Repeal; if these were continued, they might expect, that the demand for Repeal would rapidly increase, even unto a demand of separation. What, then, it might be said, did be propose? Did he propose, that the landlords should get any part of the public property? On the contrary, he thought, that the landlords were bound to make some sacrifices for the pacification of Ireland. You now propose to take the fifth of this property from the Church, and give it to the landlords by way of purchasing their consent to the measure. He saw no very great difficulty in entirely abolishing this compulsory payment. First, they themselves had admitted the principle of taking one-fifth from the Church. Then to provide for another fifth; would this country, he should like to know, refuse to come forward with an advance of a second fifth of 120,000l. a-year dead weight, diminishing annually. Would England—would that House consider this too great a sum to give, to pacify Ireland. You gave 2,000,000l. to the chartered schools. Was the pacification of Ireland of less importance? You gave 1,300,000l. to the King's army in Ireland, exclusive of 652 police. Would that be necessary, if the war against tithes were extinguished in Ireland? Who would object to it? No one; not even the hon. member for Middlesex himself; and if any over captious economist were to call the grant into question, what a triumphant answer would that Minister have, who could rise and say, "True, I have given 120,000l.; but—I have pacified Ireland." He forgot to add the grant of 20,000,000l. for the negroes. Of course, he had not the vanity to compare Irishmen with negroes; but the nation which refused not 20,000,000l. to strike off the chains of West-Indian slavery, could not refuse 120,000l. to restore peace to Ireland. The third fifth he would charge on the inheritance of the land, as a debt, paying 5l. per cent interest, where the landlord would not buy it up. There would be no difficulty in this, and even tenancies in tail would not stand in the way of such an arrangement. The remaining two-fifths he would lay on the land, with a power of redemption at twenty years' purchase. This was his plan; and if the clergy gave up one-fifth, there would certainly be enough left in the remaining four-fifths for every possible purpose to which the ecclesiastical revenues of Ireland could be legitimately devoted, whilst it would take from the people all sense of the burthen. On the contrary, the effect of the present Bill would be merely to put the landlord into the heart of the Agrarian war in which the clergyman was now engaged. Every man who had attended to the ominous aspect of affairs in Ireland, must have observed how nearly the Agrarian disturbers in that country had approached the refusal to pay rent as well as tithe. Hitherto, it was probable, that the numbers of tenants and peasantry interested in the land had prevented the adoption of any such determination; but it was matter of serious consideration for the House; for, in his opinion, the moment they mixed up tithe with rent, that moment the rent of the landlord would become as unsafe as the tithe of the tithe-owner. In respect of the tithes to estates, this Act would be of serious importance; for as Crown debts instituted in Ireland a species of Statute staple bringing the real estate, there would not, in the course of three years, be any estate in Ireland, the title to which any lawyer; could pronounce to be safe. As far as the landlords were concerned, the Bill would 653 be ruin to them, for it would come into operation just as the Agrarian war had, of its own accord, come to their door; and would supply the last, and perhaps only motive required to carry it into their quarters. Once more he intreated the House to look to his proposition. He did not propose to attack vested rights; on the contrary, he would preserve to every incumbent his full advantages and emoluments. But, after the decease of all existing incumbents, he thought some alterations might with fairness and justice be made. For instance, in parishes where there was no Protestant, he thought, no Protestant clergyman ought to be paid. In that case, his hon. friend, the member for Roscommon, would wholly escape. Nor was the case of his parish a singular one. Wherever as many as one-fourth of the inhabitants were Protestants, there he would not object to continue the emoluments to Protestant clergymen as fully as they enjoyed them now. This he thought most moderate. Why, if it were proposed in England, that in every district, one-fourth of which were Dissenters, the whole inhabitants should pay for the support of the Church, of that minority of a fourth there would instantly be a mutiny; but he would engage, that the people of Ireland, from the Glant's Causeway to Cape Clear, would, with one accord, ratify his proposition. Of course, as these items fell in, they would relieve the dead weight. But it might not be unwise to seek some new allocation; and if part of it were bestowed for charitable purposes, he did not think it would be a perversion of the fund. And when upon works of charity, he would suggest—mind he asked not for it—but if they were equally desirous with himself to conciliate Ireland, he would suggest, whether any thing would tend more to facilitate that great object, than some trifling provision, as by the purchase of small glebes for the ministers of that religion to which they were devotedly and fervently attached. Let him not be mistaken. This was not made by authority—it was a mere suggestion of his own—it might even cost him a loss of popularity; but there was no popularity he was not ready to sacrifice for the pacification and advantage of his native land. He had spoken at greater length than he intended, and he hoped that he had succeeded, as he was anxious to do, in avoiding all topics of irritation. He had shown, he knew, some irritability 654 in the early part of the evening. He was sorry for it. He deeply, deeply regretted it. Nothing was further from his wishes than to bring any feeling of pique or indignation into his conduct on such an occasion as the present; and most solemnly and sincerely he assured the House, that if he had an enemy on earth, he would press him to his heart, if he would only join with him in securing the pacification of his wretched country. When he looked back to the history of that country for the last seventy-four years—when he contemplated the effects of the bellum plusquam civile by which the country had been during that period disturbed—when he called to mind the innumerable occasions on which the sanguinary laws and cruel government of that country, had caused the tears of the widowed and the fatherless to flow—when he saw that land, which nature had so eminently gifted, become the object of pity and reproach, could he, as a man, as a Christian, as an Irishman, refrain from endeavouring, by every means in his power, to secure her a little peace and repose? Why was Ireland still disturbed, still unsatisfied? Because Government would not apply to that country the simple plan by which Scotland was in former times pacified. The present Bill, he felt called upon to oppose; but, he did so, he assured the House, from no feelings of hostility to those with whom it originated. Let the Government show themselves desirous of pacifying Ireland by introducing some measure, not liable to the objection under which the present Bill laboured, and he pledged himself that they should meet with his most cordial support.
§ Mr. Shaw
said, that before he replied to the observations of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he would shortly state the reason of the vote he meant to give. He objected strongly to many of the provisions of the Bill; he thought them unreasonable, and unjust to the clergy of Ireland; they deducted nominally one-fifth from their income; but if those provisions were not modified or altered in Committee, the real deduction would be nearly one-half. In the first place, it was made upon an already reduced income; in all cases—or, at least, nineteen out of twenty—where voluntary compositions had been entered into, the clergy had made large abatements from their just demands, in order to ensure certainty and facility, as they were then led to suppose, in the 655 collection of their incomes. But, from that reduced income, the further reduction of twenty per cent was now to be made. Then, on an investment in land, the rate of purchase would be very different from that on which the clergy were forced to sell; and, besides, they would become liable to all the costs, charges, and contingencies incident to landed property, and subject, after any change of incumbency, to the heavy tax imposed by the Church Temporalities' Act; and if the money was not invested in land, in that case, after two years, the clergy would receive but 3½ per cent. Those were details, however, which could be more properly dwelt upon in Committee; and the principle, or what professed to be the principle, of the Bill he would not oppose,—a commutation of tithe to a charge on land, and to shift the burthen of that charge from the occupying tenant to the landed proprietor. The only reasonable objection to tithe was, that it fluctuated with the produce of the land, and might, in that respect, be regarded as an impediment to the progress of tillage, and other agricultural improvement. To the extent, therefore, of making it a fixed charge, he was ready to go; and, as every tax on land must be eventually paid by the persons beneficially interested in the land, he preferred that being done directly and nominally which was done virtually, though indirectly. The arguments against this principle, employed by hon. Members who had spoken against the Bill, it was very difficult to meet. They were shortly—that might had prevailed over right—that the law had been put down by unlawful combination—that, therefore, it was in vain to refer either to reason or to justice. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell) said, that tithes had been the fruitful source of crime in Ireland for seventy-four years, and before any of the present agitators were born; and he (Mr. Shaw) was ready to admit that, for that length of time Ireland had been in an unquiet and unsettled state, evincing itself in opposition to tithe, as well as to every other legal right,—the people led on by interested agitators being generally arrayed against the law and the Government of the country; for though the hon. and learned Gentleman was well entitled to the merit, and he (Mr. Shaw) was ready to concede it to him, of being the prime agitator of his own day; yet there had been agitators 656 before him; however, to come nearer to the present time, the hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken of a period when another party joined the mob and the agitators: he (Mr. Shaw) meant the present Government, in 1830. They found the assistance of agitation convenient to promote the objects they (the Government) had in view; and then grew up that organised and systematic opposition to the payment of tithe, which the Tithe-Committee reported must threaten the whole frame of society, if permitted to triumph over the provisions of the law. The measure of 1832 for advancing 60,000l. to the clergy, and which the hon. and learned Gentleman taunts the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) with introducing, in order to vindicate the law, and under which, he says, it cost the Government 25,000l. to collect 12,000l., failed to that extent, for this obvious reason, that it provided no costs should be paid by any party, no matter how vexatious or unfounded their resistance to the demands of the clergy, thereby holding out the plainest bounty to litigation, and which had its full effect. Notwithstanding that, however, when the Government began to experience the truth of the further observation of the Tithe Committee, how small the step was from successful resistance to tithe to a resistance to all law and every right, they resorted to strong and decided measures to enforce its payment; they were on the very point of being successful; many had come in to pay their tithe, and, almost universally, the people were preparing to do so, when, in that spirit of weakness and vacillation which had characterized every measure of the present Government in Ireland, the noble Lord (Lord Althorp), after all the mischief of a stretch of power had been done, and nothing remained but to reap the benefit, declared in that House, that no more tithe should be collected; and from that moment the unlawful combination against it took deeper root than ever. All who were about to pay, of course held back, and even those who had paid had the effrontery to demand a return of their money from the clergy; and the conduct of the noble Lord led to the Bill miscalled the Relief Bill of last Session; the Bill which the hon. and learned member for the city of Dublin accused him of advising the clergy not to act under. He at once admitted the charge. He was not in the habit of 657 saying one thing in that House and another out of it. The hon. and learned Gentleman might have heard him, in his place, on the second reading of that Bill, denounce it as the most unjust towards the Church, and the most subversive of the dominion of the law, and all the rights of property, that had ever been introduced. He, of course, said the same out of the House, and did advise the clergy not to accept the treacherous aid it proposed to them; he was only sorry that more had not followed his advice. Yet he emphatically denied one part of the charge of the hon. Gentleman,—namely, that he had recommended the clergy to exact the last shilling due to them; he had done the very reverse, and recommended them to remit to the people who acknowledged their claim, even more than the Bill required,—but not to acquiesce in a measure which recited that it was inexpedient to collect tithe, and virtually yielded the rights of the clergy to the lawless combination against them. He acted upon a principle, of which he would give even the hon. and learned Member the benefit; and if the same unlawful combination was formed to prevent the payment of what is commonly called his tribute—say by the Orangemen of Ireland,—he would resist their interference by unlawful means against even that voluntary payment. He owned that he was not one of those who, differing widely as he did from the hon. and learned Gentleman, thought that, considering the views of those who paid that tribute, they at all overrated, in point of money, the talents, the activity, and, above all, the powers of doing mischief of the hon. and learned Gentleman. What was the present plan of the hon. Gentleman as to the fifth of the tithe being paid by the Government? No doubt he (Mr. O'Connell) would willingly agree to that; but then did not all the objections he urged equally apply to the remainder, and would not he equally agitate against its continuance? The hon. and learned Gentleman had, however, in another part of his speech, at last opened to the House his real object:—"You gave," he said, "to Scotland the church of her choice and of the majority of her people,—try the Scotch experiment with Ireland." Well then—in spite of oaths and declarations—it was come to the open avowal, that the Established Church was to be abolished, and the Roman Catholic sub- 658 stituted for it in Ireland. Were the English people prepared for this? Would the Protestants of Ireland bear it? He had often been astonished at the flimsy subterfuge of the hon. and learned Gentleman, when he told them that tithes and endowments were not religion. He (Mr. Shaw) well knew that they were not religion, and that in that sense the hon. and learned Member could neither subvert the Church, nor weaken or disturb true religion; but they were the very things which constituted the Established Church and the established religion, as connected with the State, which the hon. and learned Member, on his admission to Parliament, had solemnly declared and swore that he would not attempt "to subvert," nor exercise any privilege to which he became entitled, to "disturb or weaken." As to the hon. and learned Member's cant of kindness about the present incumbents, he paid it not the least regard. "No," said the hon. and learned Gentleman, "if the Church is to be spoliated—if that act of great injustice is to be done, let it be without disguise, openly, and in the face of day; let not the appearance of fairness be put upon confiscation,—let not the covering of justice be thrown over the violation of all right; stab not the lasting interests of the Church from under the cloak of affected consideration for her present ministers; they would spurn the bribe offered them to betray the sacred trust committed to their charge. It would be but the highwayman who robbed the traveller of all that he possessed, handing him back a few shillings to pay for his night's lodging. If the Irish branch of the Established Church is to be sacrificed at the shrine of agitation, her poorest incumbents will not be the persons to officiate at the ceremony. They will make common cause with that venerable institution, to which they are not more attached by duty than devoted in affection. Is it possible that the House can be deceived by the affected tone of conciliation of the hon. and learned Gentleman? He has played the same game within the last week, with himself and the hon. friends who were then about him (Mr. Shaw). The Repeal of the Union was then the immediate object of his wishes; his language to the House was, 'have nothing to do with those deceitful Whigs; a Government that is only playing one party in Ireland 659 against the other;—cast off those haughty Sassanachs;—let us be united, and Ireland will be a nation again.'" Now the destruction of the Church was the question, he opened his arms to the same Government; apologised for his heat and indiscretion in the early part of the evening; offered the right hand of his affection to the right hon. Secretary of the Colonies, nay, in very attitude would clasp him to his breast. But, above all things, the hon. and learned Member cautioned the Government against any contest with the hon. member for the University of Dublin and his friends; they were ungrateful, overbearing, dominant spirits, that would rule the Government with a rod of iron. He hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman was persuading himself for the moment that what he said was true. This habit was constitutional; and he conceived all means were justifiable, so they tended to promote the object of his immediate desire; but of this he (Mr. Shaw) was quite sure, that had they joined him in the Repeal of the Union, he would have made them instruments for the destruction of their own Church; and that if the Government were to co-operate with him for the destruction of the Church, the hon. and learned Member would use them as tools for promoting the Repeal of the Union. The hon. and learned Member concluded by saying, that while he voted for the second reading of the Bill, he reserved to himself the full right to canvass all its provisions in Committee; and if such alterations or modifications as he thought necessary were not adopted, to vote against it on the third reading.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
was anxious to say a few words, because he, in common with other hon. Members, was struck with the tone and manner in which the hon. and learned member for Dublin had made the observations which he had submitted to the House. For that tone, and for that manner he (Mr. Stanley), as an individual member of that House, and as one who, whatever the hon. and learned Member might suppose, took no little interest in the welfare of Ireland, returned the hon. and learned Member his best thanks. "I say, continued the right hon. Gentleman, and I say it with the utmost sincerity, that if the hon. and learned Gentleman will, not only here, but in all other places, follow up the same mild and can- 660 did mode of argument which he has this night adopted—not only will he never hear from me one word of political acrimony, but he will also materially advance the object which I believe him to have at heart—the interest of his own country. I differ from him, however, so widely upon the merits of his proposition, that not even the eloquent speech which he has just delivered—a speech which I must say, surpasses all the eloquent speeches which he has yet delivered in this House—can induce me to accede to it for a single moment. The hon. and learned Gentleman says, that for the last seventy-four years the tithe system has been the source of calamity and bloodshed to Ireland. I agree with him fully, that to the tithe system may be traced much of the blood and misery of Ireland. It is no new opinion of mine, it is one which I have expressed over and over again in this House. The tithe system is the curse of Ireland, which I have laboured long and earnestly to remove. The hon. and learned Gentleman says, that all the plans which have hitherto been tried to remove the evils of the existing system have been abortive; and he therefore proposes one himself, which, but for the last part of it in which I cannot concur, differs so little from the system now proposed by my right hon. friend, as to hold out upon the hon. and learned Gentleman's principle, but small prospects of pacification. The hon. and learned Gentleman tells us that the composition under the last act was considered a voluntary act. Now, I scarcely comprehend what the hon. and learned Gentleman means by that expression; for the composition cannot be carried into effect, in any case, without the consent of the clergyman on one side, and of the parishioners on the other. The hon. and learned Gentleman then proceeds to tell us that under the existing composition, the amount is unreasonably high, because it was assessed under a strong delusion on the part of the people. The hon. and learned Gentleman knows well, that this is to me a tempting subject; but as a proof of the unqualified approbation which I feel for the tone in which the hon. and learned Gentleman has this night spoken, I will not say a single word on the inducements true or false, which were held out to prevent the people from attending before the Commissioners. I will even go further than this—I will say, that if I could see 661 in his plan any prospect of final arrangement, any hope of either the immediate or the ultimate pacification of Ireland, I would cease to look back, I would forget all past agitations, I would gladly close with the hon. and learned Gentleman, and I would say to him, "If, under any accident, or delusion, or misguidance—call it what you will—the parties who had to pay tithes, and who ought to have attended at a certain period, failed to attend,—let there be a locus pœnitentiœ given to them—let them have time for a re-consideration, and we will not inquire why the valuation, if it was not correctly made, was incorrectly taken at a former period." The right hon. Secretary then proceeded to ask the House, whether the project of the hon. and learned Gentleman contained a fair prospect of pacifying Ireland; and whether it was possible to amalgamate his project with the present Bill? The hon. and learned Gentleman was content, in the first instance, to throw overboard the proposition for equalizing the Land-tax over Ireland; and in the next, to throw overboard the proposition for equalizing the poundage or rent in one parish with the poundage or rent in another. He was also content to take the composition, subject to those alterations which the local circumstances of each district justified, as the basis of the new payment by the Irish people. The hon. and learned Gentleman says, "I shall deduct one-fifth from the present income of your clergy, according to the arrangement of the present Bill." Undoubtedly the Bill did propose such an arrangement. To that extent, then, the hon. and learned Gentleman and himself were agreed; that, for the sake of the security, the tranquillity, and the future welfare of Ireland, such a sacrifice on the part of the Church to the State is not unadvisable. But, when the hon. and learned Gentleman said, "I must have another fifth out of the public revenues of the empire to diminish the burthen to be paid by the people of Ireland," he was putting forth a claim on behalf of the tenants and landlords of Ireland, which neither of them had a right to make upon Great Britain, either in reason or equity. Let him not be misunderstood; he did not mean to say, that even to this extent of sacrifice, if the ultimate effect would be the pacification of Ireland, this great country would not be induced to accede. Let him, however, follow the hon. and learned member for 662 Dublin through the various topics of his speech; and let him compare the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman with that which was brought forward in the Bill of his right hon. friend, the Secretary for Ireland. His right hon. friend proposed to deal with four-fifths of the tithe, by charging it now on the patty occupying the land which paid it, and prospectively on the landlord, and by giving him the power of redeeming that charge by a fixed payment on the annual rent. Now, what was the proposition of the hon. and learned member for Dublin? He said, "Let the loss be borne thus:—one-fifth by the clergyman, one-fifth by the Crown; and let the other three-fifths be thus apportioned—one-fifth by the landlord, and two-fifths by the occupying tenant."
Mr. O' Connell
was understood to say, in explanation, that one-fifth was to fall immediately on the landlord, and two-fifths were to fall on the land, to be levied on the occupier.
If such were the case, where then was the prospect of the pacification of Ireland? The hon. and learned Gentleman had told them over and over again, that it was not the amount of tithes to which the people of Ireland objected, but to the objects to which that amount when paid was applied. [Mr. Sheil, "That's the whole case."] The hon. and learned Member said "that was the whole case." He admitted that it was so; but if so, why all this distinction about what was to be done with the two-fifths and the three-fifths? If the objection of the people of Ireland went not to the amount but to the principle of the payment for tithe, why should the House suffer itself to be deluded by this new scheme? That scheme was objectionable, because it multiplied the number of paymasters to the Church, without facilitating the means of collecting the payment. It left all the difficulties as at present—and let the blood be shed for the two-fifths which was shed for the whole amount of tithe under the present system. Recollecting this, he must observe, that the proposal of the hon. and learned Gentleman was a fallacy, and uothing more than a fallacy. It relieved the landlord of forty per cent, on the whole amount of tithe, and of sixty per cent where he was both landowner and occupier; and for the levying of the rest, it left the tithe-owner exposed to all the 663 odium to which he was exposed now, with this addition to it—that he had to levy from a larger number of persons a smaller sum. "But," said an hon. Gentleman, "this renders the parties more ready to pay." How was this, he asked, to be reconciled with the hon. and learned Gentleman's declaration, that it was not to the amount of the tithe that objection was taken? Did the hon. and learned Gentleman mean to say, that the clergyman would have greater facility in collecting 5s. hereafter, than he had in collecting 10s. now? Not a whit. Did the hon. and learned Gentleman—did any of his supporters—mean to say, that tithes were at present on an unreasonable footing in Ireland? No man could say that; for it appeared upon unimpeachable evidence, that tithe did not amount to more than one-sixteenth part of the rent in Ireland. Would the hon. and learned Gentleman say, that by reducing the tithe to one-thirty-second instead of one-sixteenth part of the rent it would be paid more readily in Ireland? The question really was, as the hon. and learned member for Tipperary had shortly put it, "will you maintain or will you abandon the Church Establishment in Ireland?" Into that question he would not enter at that moment; he would not even argue the appropriation question, for the Bill left it completely open to the future consideration of Parliament, only providing in the interim a system for its collection more equitable, more safe, and more conciliatory than the present. He preferred this Bill, modified as it might hereafter be in its details, to any project, however plausible, which held out no rational prospect of the future pacification of Ireland, which decided no question but the allocation, which he would not argue then, because it must be more seriously discussed on some future occasion by Parliament. He had given this answer to the statement of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, under the influence of no ill feeling towards him individually; on the contrary, he had no other feeling than that of sincere gratification at the manner in which the hon. and learned Gentleman had stated his opinions, and of earnest desire, that, for the sake of himself and his country, he would continue to preserve the same tone and temper which he had that night exhibited—a tone and temper which would be reciprocated by all who heard 664 him in that House, and which would add till greater distinction to his Parliamentary career than any which he had yet acquired, of which no man was more ready to admit the brilliance than the individual who was then addressing them.
§ Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
said, that if the plan of the hon. and learned member for Dublin would settle this question for ever, he would not say that he would object to paying one-fifth of this burthen from the public funds of the empire, though upon principle he objected to taxing the people of England and Scotland for the benefit of the people of Ireland. After what had passed that night, he trusted that the hon. and learned Gentleman would not, on any future occasion, state that the affairs of Ireland were neglected in that House. He contended that, on the present occasion, the House had nothing to do with the appropriation of the tithes. The House was bound, however, to protect the fund to be derived from them, whether that fund was to be appropriated hereafter to the Protestant Church or to the Roman Catholic Church in conjunction with the Protestant Church, or to the general purposes of the country at large. Ireland was interested in having that fund preserved, and it could not be better preserved than by fixing it as a land-tax on Ireland. Though he intended voting for the second reading of this Bill, there was one point connected with it, on the expediency of which he entertained some doubt. He doubted whether the House should invest the funds intended for the future support of the clergy in land, and his doubts were founded on the unthrifty management which had been the lot of the Bishops' lands universally in Ireland. He hoped, therefore, that this part of the Bill would be well considered in the Committee. He also trusted, that Parliament would, at no distant day, consider whether the enormous endowments of the Church of Ireland, so disproportionate to the amount of the Protestant population, ought to be continued.
§ Lord John Russell
said, that the able and eloquent speech of the hon. and learned member for Dublin had made so deep an impression upon him, as he was sure also it made generally upon the House, that he could not refrain from making a few observations on that occasion. If the hon. and learned Gentleman would always address the House with the same temper and mo- 665 deration, he would find the House not only ready, but anxious, to pay the same attention to the grievances of Ireland that it now paid to the grievances of England or of Scotland. He hoped the hon. and learned member would not, in future, take advantage of accidental occurrences, in themselves really insignificant, and draw from them the rash inference, that there existed, on the part of the House, an intention to disregard Irish feelings or Irish interests. On the subject of tithes two distinct questions presented themselves to their notice—the one was as to the amount, and the other as to the appropriation. With regard to the amount, Ireland had certainly no great right to complain. On a former occasion, a statement was made from one of the Tithe Reports, by which it appeared, that in some parishes in Ireland the tithes were one-twentieth, and that the largest amount was about one-twelfth of the rent. It so happened, that some of his constituents in Devonshire had petitioned that House, that their tithe might be fixed in future, at one-tenth of the rent; so that in England, it was considered by some Gentlemen unreasonable for men to desire that their tithes should not be more than one-tenth of the rent; when the very highest amount paid in Ireland was one-twelfth. That cases existed in Ireland in which the tithe fixed under the Compulsory Composition Act was very high, could not be doubted; but, generally speaking, the amount was very moderate, as compared to England. With respect to the proposition of the hon. and learned Member, that one-fifth of the composition should be paid out of the public revenue, he was quite certain that this contribution of the nation would be entirely thrown away, unless some new principle were established by Parliament with regard to appropriation. Upon the subject of appropriation, the hon. and learned member for Tipperary alluded the other night to an opinion which he (Lord John Russell) gave when out of office, which, the hon. and learned Member said, was contrary to the opinion he had since given when in office. But the only opinion he had ever given on this subject when out of office was, by giving a silent vote in favour of a Motion made by the hon. member for Middlesex. He did not understand that this Bill contained any proposition on that subject. As he understood it, the object of this Bill was, to ascertain and secure the amount of the tithe. The question of appropriation was to be kept entirely 666 distinct. If the object of the Bill were to grant a certain sum to the Established Church of Ireland, and the question were to end there, his opinion of it might be very different. But he understood it to be a Bill to secure a certain amount of property and revenue, destined by the State to religious and charitable purposes; and if the State should find, that it was not appropriated justly to the purposes of religious and moral instruction, for which such revenues were intended, when given to any Church Establishment, it would then be the duty of Parliament to consider of a different appropriation. His opinion upon that subject was declared—not when out of office, but when in office,—and that opinion was, that the revenues of the Church of Ireland were larger than necessary for the religious and moral instruction of the persons belonging to that Church, and for the stability of the Church itself. The more he had seen and reflected since, the more had that opinion been confirmed. He did not think it would be advisable or wise to mix the question of appropriation with the question of amount of the revenues; but when Parliament had vindicated the property in tithes, he should then be prepared to assert his opinion with regard to their appropriation; and if, when the revenue was once secured, the assertion of that opinion should lead him to differ and separate from those with whom he was united by political connexion, and for whom he entertained the deepest private affection, he should feel much regret; yet, considering himself pledged, not only by his general duty as a Member of that House, but by the Resolution which had been passed the other day, to attend to the just complaints of the people of Ireland—and considering, that if there ever were a just ground of complaint on the part of any people against any grievance, it was the complaint of the people of Ireland against the present appropriation of tithes—he should then, deeply lamenting the decision he should feel himself bound to come to, but at the same time reflecting, that he had, to the utmost of his power resisted all projects for the Repeal of the Union, and that he had by the support he gave to this and former Bills for the maintenance of Tithes, vindicated the right of property against those who wrongfully withheld them, he should, at whatever cost and sacrifice, do what he should consider his bounden duty; namely, do justice to Ireland.
§ Sir Francis Burdett
said, that, in the 667 tone of the debate, and in the disposition manifested on each side of the House, both on the Ministerial bench, and amongst Irish Members, he thought he saw, for the first time, a glimpse of hope of removing what had been so long rankling in the minds of the Irish people, and of making that union, so important in other respects, a source of strength and happiness to both countries. This object appeared to be of such magnitude that all other subjects and details shrunk into utter insignificance. He was prepared to make as great a sacrifice, in a spirit of justice or of generosity, as any Irish Member, for he felt it was both politic and wise in this country to carry this object into complete effect. He felt strongly upon this subject, for from an early period of life, he had been deeply, though perhaps not prudently, implicated in it; but it was a subject which was calculated to drive a wise man mad. But he admitted, that he felt then not as an Englishman, except as desiring to promote the good of his fellow subjects. He rejoiced at the feeling tone which had been employed, as this was a subject which had kept Ireland in a ferment at all times, as the great grievance of a large proportion of the population of Ireland, and if arranged at an early period, all heart burnings and discontent would have been prevented. The attempt at conciliation which had been made by the hon. and learned member for Dublin might, if the question of tithes was placed on a satisfactory ground to the Irish people, effect an adjustment of the question of the Union; but if this opportunity were not taken, it might be lost for ever. Where there were differences between the right hon. the Secretary for the Colonies and the hon. and learned Gentleman as to details, they might be settled in the Committee; and if all parties came into the Committee with the same spirit which had been shown in this debate, there was a prospect of placing the two countries in harmony together. He should, of course, agree to carrying the Bill into Committee, and he trusted the prospect of reconciliation and conciliation which had appeared to-night would there be realized.
§ Major Beauclerk
was glad to hear the speech of the noble Lord (the Paymaster of the Forces), which would pour more oil into the wounds of Ireland than any speech made in that House. The question between the two countries was, what 668 was to be the appropriation of the tithe? Was it to be continued to the Protestant clergy? If so, he should give every opposition in his power to the Bill, and he did not think that Irish gentlemen would be so base as to pay for the support of a Church establishment which was opposed to the faith of the great body of the people. He must, in spite of the noise which was making in the House also congratulate the House and the hon. Baronet, the member for Westminster, on his enlightened speech.
§ Mr. Barron
also thought, that what had fallen from the noble Lord would do more good in Ireland than all the Acts of Parliament which had been passed for years. The people of Ireland, he believed, would not seek a separation, but they were sick of demanding justice which was always refused. The speech of the noble Lord, however, would gain millions of hearts in that country. He did not advocate the separate interests of the landlords; he did not wish that one shilling should go into their pockets. All he asked was first, to settle the tithe upon an equitable principle, and secondly, when settled as to amount, that there should be a fair and equitable adjustment of the mode in which it should be distributed for useful public purposes.
§ Mr. David Roche
hoped, that, as he seldom troubled the House, hon. Members would allow him a few moments on a question of such consequence to the peace and tranquillity of Ireland, and especially to the part of Ireland that he came from, which had been so lately the scene of such a deplorable conflict on the subject of tithes. He had deemed it his duty, during the Easter recess, to lay the right hon. Secretary's Bill before his constituents and he was fortunate enough to find both the grand juries of the county and city of Limerick assembled, to whom he submitted the Bill now before the House. He assured the right hon. Secretary for Ireland that both those bodies were unanimous in their opinion that such an enactment would not produce the tranquillity of the country, and that, as landlords, they declared they would not on such terms mix up tithes under any name whatever with their rents. He assured the House that he entered into the subject with the most anxious and sincere desire to afford his Majesty's Government every information in his power as to what 669 would be likely to conduce to a permanent and peaceable arrangement of this difficult subject, and he went the length of proposing to the grand juries which he had the honour of attending, a plan which differed in no respect from that of his hon. and learned friend the member for Dublin, as far as securing the tithe property of Ireland as a public fund. To that proposition he found the most ready acquiescence, and he was convinced that if the landlords of Ireland, much as they had been traduced, were to obtain their tithes at the rate of three-fifths of the composition, and placed it as a land-tax on their estates, that, so far from taking advantage of the clause enabling them to charge their tenants two-fifths, as proposed, very few would do so, but would relieve the occupying tenant altogether from the payment of this impost. Having obtained the opinion of those gentlemen, having also consulted the other resident landed proprietors that he had it in his power to communicate with, both in his own county, and in the counties of Clare and Kerry, and having submitted to their consideration the plan, of all parties making a sacrifice for the public tranquillity, he deemed it his duty to consult the Roman Catholic clergy of his acquaintance, and from those reverend gentlemen he received communications highly approving of the proposal—the Roman Catholic Bishop of Limerick, the Dean, and all the parochial clergy of his part of the country expressed the most decided opinion in favour of the plan; but he was bound to say, that although as an arrangement for the payment of tithe it gave great satisfaction, yet the allocation of the fund was also a most material point, and it would be a want of candour in him not to state, that to produce a full measure of gratification to the country, it was absolutely necessary to make that a part of the Bill. If, however, his Majesty's Government would not, or could not, on the present occasion, grant to Ireland the whole of her just expectations, still, he hoped that their measure of relief would come as near the proposal of his hon. and learned friend the member for Dublin, as possible. The giving satisfaction to the great body of the working farmers, by relieving them from sixty per cent of the composition would leave them so little to pay, that he was quite convinced no further difficulty would arise 670 on their part. He felt assured that his Majesty's Government must be as well aware as he was of the necessity of not maintaining at the public expense a sinecure church, in parishes where there were no communicants, and the proposed arrangement of his hon. and learned friend the member for Dublin was so reasonable, so just, and so temperate, that he trusted his Majesty's Government would even still make it part of their Bill. With regard to the sacrifice which he admitted he was asking to be made from the public treasury, he asked it to procure peace and tranquillity in Ireland, and to save this country a much larger expense in enforcing the provisions of the present Bill, which, if followed up, he was sure must end in a most deplorable civil war in his country; but was there no precedent for the grant. Was not twenty millions given last year by this House to the West Indians?—and was not the Protestant Church as unjustly forced on Ireland as slavery was in those Colonies? To him it appeared, that there was as good a ground to ask this sacrifice as there was to make that to which he had just alluded, but it was said that the lands were held by the landlords of Ireland, subject to this charge, and therefore they ought to get no relief. Were not the lands of England held by the proprietors subject to Church-rates, and to all the charges for building and maintaining the edifice of the Established Church?—and yet is there not at this moment a proposal from his Majesty's Government to this House, to release the lands of England subject to the vestry-tax, to the extent of 250,000l. per year, out of the Consolidated Fund? He thought he had made out a case which demanded at least equal justice for Ireland, and he hoped it would meet with the consideration of his Majesty's Government. He thanked the House for the kindness with which they had heard him, and in conclusion he felt a hope, from the temper and course of this debate, that a happy and amicable adjustment of this difficult subject might still be obtained.
§ Mr. Littleton
would not trouble the House for more than two minutes. The hon. member for Limerick had urged the authority of the grand jury of Limerick against his (Mr. Littleton's) Bill; but it would appear that the grand jury were equally averse to the plan of the hon. Member. The immediate object of his 671 (Mr. Littleton's) Bill was, to provide for the extinction of tithes by their redemption. A strong objection he had to the proposition of the hon. and learned Member was, that he required a grant of the public money to complete his plan; and the proposal seemed more extraordinary as coming from a party who were loudest in their outcries against any grant to the Established Church. The next question was, who would benefit by the proposed alteration? Where the tenant had a long lease, he would reap the benefit; where a short lease was held by the tenant, the landlord would be the gainer. He did not feel it necessary to express his own opinions on the subject of appropriation; he had his own opinions of course, and when the proper time came, he should not shrink from the expression of them. When he brought forward this measure, he declared the sentiments which he had always entertained, that the appropriation of the revenues of the Church, when secured, was a fair object for Parliamentary interference. But the first point was the realization of these revenues—that of appropriation might afterwards be discussed. This was a view of the subject in which he felt justified in saying all the members of the Government concurred.
§ Mr. Sheil
would only say three words. The right hon. Gentleman had said, he did not agree with the Paymaster of the Forces. Did he mean to censure a Cabinet Minister? ["Oh, oh!" and cries of "Spoke."] He had spoken on one question—this was another. "I insist on my right," the hon. and learned Gentleman continued, "and I am not to be pushed by an exclamation, from the ground on which I firmly, but respectfully, stand. I said that the right hon. Gentleman declared he did not agree with the Paymaster of the Forces, and now, if you please, cry "Oh" to that. Compare the exclamation with the fact. ["Question."] I am speaking to the question; I am speaking to a question that touches men's interests, men's feelings—that searches the heart of the Cabinet to its very core. I do entreat the House to put aside any feeling of disrelish they may entertain towards myself, and remember that I am an Irishman, and acting in the discharge of my duty." The hon. and learned Member proceeded to say, that a Cabinet Minister had come forward, and in the most solemn and deliberate manner had 672 expressed his opinion respecting the appropriation of the revenues of the Church, which would be hailed with joy by the Irish people. Now, he would ask this question—did not the speech of the right hon. Gentleman present a most extraordinary contrast to the speech of the noble Lord? The opinion of the House might be, that he had no right to ask this question. The hon. Baronet, the member for Westminster, had congratulated the House on the sentiments to which the Government had given expression. Was he not to share in those congratulations? He desired a clear stage and no favour. Of what fault was he guilty? What crime had he committed, that he should be debarred from declaring his sentiments? But the people of Ireland would hear what that House refused to listen to. He had asked the question, and it would be for the Cabinet to answer it. One word more; this Bill, by one of its most essential clauses,—one which contained the very marrow of the question,—provided, that the money to be raised should be laid out in the purchase of land, to be conveyed for ever to the Irish Church. Would the noble Lord vote against this clause in the Committee, and thus ratify his pledge?
§ Lord Althorp
said, that the hon. and learned Member who spoke last had certainly not spoken so much to the question as to the Cabinet. Before he, as one of the Ministers, answered his questions to the Cabinet, he would take occasion to notice some of the points in debate. The Bill now before the House was for the purpose of securing the revenues of the Church in Ireland to the clergy, which they were far from being secured in the possession of now. It was not the intention of Government to go any further at present than to secure these revenues. The Bill also provided for the redemption of the tax which was to be imposed on the land in lieu of tithes. He conceived that the first of these objects the Government was bound to effect, and nothing less than bound by their duty to do so. And, with respect to the second provision, he considered that the interests of Ireland were thereby consulted, and that it would prove ultimately highly beneficial to the people to be able to redeem the tithe tax at any future period. It had been stated in debate by an hon. Member, that the plan of the hon. member for 673 Dublin, as stated by him that night, was preferable to that of the Government. He concurred heartily in the praises which had been bestowed on the speech of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, and he concurred, also, with his right hon. friend and his noble friend, in thinking that, if the plan of the hon. member for Dublin could secure the peace of Ireland, the sacrifice which it would demand from the revenue of the empire would, comparatively speaking, be a trifling consideration. But, before he agreed in adopting the proposition of the hon. and learned Member, he must be perfectly assured that peace would ensue from its adoption. He feared that such would not be the case. He knew, that the collection of tithes caused the greatest strife in Ireland; and he knew, also, that the pretence for this resistance was, that the refusal to pay was not so much founded on the amount of the Tithes as on the principle of opposing the imposition of any such tax. But if otherwise—if this proposition would procure permanent, and not a temporary, peace to Ireland—he then should not have been averse to entertain it. If ever it should in future appear that the amount of tithes had been charged unfairly in any parishes, then he would allow, that a case had been made out; but as to the general proposal of the hon. member for Dublin, although his plan, too, contained a redemption scheme, yet as he saw no greater, nor so great a prospect of peace ensuing from its adoption, than from adopting the Bill, he did not consider himself justified in voting against the present measure in favour of the hon. and learned Member's proposition, particularly as it involved what, in one sense, must be considered a large (though if the object were attained it would be a small) portion of the revenue. The hon. member for Kildare had, also, made a proposition, which was to commute the Tithes in Ireland, as it was proposed to commute those of England. He must remind the House, that the circumstances were by no means alike in the two countries, and that, although, in this country, he might and did advocate the principle of adopting an average as a mode of arriving at a species of rough justice in the matter; yet, inasmuch as the Tithes in Ireland bore, in many cases, no proportion whatever to the rent, he conceived that the same plan would not do there, because the satisfac- 674 tion which would result from the diminishment of Tithes in some places would be greatly overbalanced by the dissatisfaction which would arise from its being raised in others. On these grounds he disapproved of the proposals which came from the hon. members for Dublin and Kildare, and resolved to adhere to the plan of the Government, which, he was ready to admit, contained strong provisions for collecting the Tithes, though not more than the justice and necessity of the case demanded. Now, for the question of the hon. member for Tipperary, who had evinced so much surprise at the difference of opinion which existed between some members of the Cabinet on the question of the appropriation of the Irish Church revenues. The hon. and learned Member was aware of this difference before, because he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had heard him quote a speech of one of his hon. Colleagues, which proved it to exist. He admitted, that there was such a difference of opinion; but, at the same time, all the Ministers were united in the conviction, that it was their duty to secure the revenues of the Irish Church in the first place, and not to allow them to be frittered away in the manner which had been threatened. When that great object was effected, then he admitted, that the question of appropriation would be open to discussion. He would not now enter on that question, but he should merely state, that it was a question open to the consideration of Parliament, and subject to their ultimate decision.
§ Mr. Anthony Lefroy
said, it had not been his intention to express any opinion upon the measure so long under discussion, till, as the hon. and learned member for Tipperary said, a difference of opinion on the most important clause in it had manifested itself amongst his Majesty's Ministers, which pressed hard upon their hearts and feelings, and which, he begged to assure the House, shocked his heart and feelings, and those of his hon. friends near him, to a degree which no words could adequately express. He, therefore, felt it an imperative duty on his own part, as well as of those hon. friends whom the forms of the House prevented a second time expressing their sentiments, to protest firmly against the doctrines for the first time revealed by the noble Paymaster of the Forces. He had not approved of all the details of this Bill; but, 675 with the same desire as ah hon. Baronet opposite to promote harmony and good-will amongst all classes in Ireland, he had felt it his duty to give it his support, on a distinct understanding, however, that the whole Bill, and not merely a part of it, was to receive the support of the Government; and it could not be denied, that the appropriation clause was the one of all others that rendered it most acceptable to him and those friends with whom he acted; and he would beg to assure the House, and the hon. Baronet, that should the good effects which had been anticipated follow from the passing of this Bill, there was no man who would feel more sincere gratification from such a result than himself. Notwithstanding the dismay that was produced on his mind by the laxity of the opinions of the noble Paymaster, he did gladly catch a gleam of hope from the very different sentiments expressed by the other members of the Government; but he would boldly declare, in the presence of those Ministers, and he desired to do so with all due respect, that if he were to be thus deceived, the most unexampled political treachery had been practised on him and his hon. friends, who had been induced, under the impression he had stated, to support the Bill. He could not, as an Irish Member of Parliament, who represented a large body of Irish Protestants, sit down without earnestly calling on his Majesty's Government to pause, if they had any such intention—to recollect, ere it were too late, that which they could not or dare not deny, that those Protestants had been chiefly instrumental in cementing and preserving the Union, which all admitted was no less essential to the happiness and prosperity of England than of Ireland; and that, if Ministers persevered in this course, they would inflict a wound for which no balm could be found, and commit a violence for which no future acts could ever atone.
§ Colonel Conolly
said, that when he announced his determination to support this Bill, his impression was, that the funds with which it would deal were to be applied to the purposes for which they were originally intended. His Majesty's Government had since gone from that ground. They had abandoned the distinct proposition on the face of the Bill, and he now claimed to be released from the engagement that had been made at a time when he was grossly deceived. When 676 the Bill was first introduced, he stated it to be his conviction, that there was not an honest man in Ireland who would not give it his support, and he himself was determined to assist in carrying it through. But when he saw, that there existed a determination on the part of his Majesty's Government to avail itself of his credulity as the means of advancing such a principle as the House had heard avowed, could he stand there as the representative of a large county in Ireland, and see, without resistance, so outrageous an attempt at felo de se? He repeated, that this would be an act of felo de se; and, in justification of his remark, he would refer to the difficulty his credulity had led him into. He had fancied, that Ministers meant to do what they said they would do—that they would consider themselves pledged to what they had originated. He, for one, had been shocked to a degree not to be described when he heard announced the intention of Government. He had considered, that he had to deal with gentlemen and men of honour. It might be supposed that he was led away by his feelings on the present occasion; he denied that it was so. He, however, did feel strongly on hearing it stated, that the Church revenues were to be applied to other purposes than that of the support of the Church. His Majesty's Government having taken up this new ground, he would only say, that he never would support them in it.
§ Mr. Littleton
said, that in the defence of his own character, and in the defence also of the Church and his Majesty's Government, he must ask the hon. and gallant Officer if he was in the House when he (Mr. Littleton) submitted that resolution to the House on which the Bill was founded? And if the hon. and gallant Gentleman was in the House, he would ask him further if he did not remember, as nineteen-twentieths of the House, no doubt, did, that he (Mr. Littleton) then stated, that the question of appropriation was a separate and distinct question? And if the hon. add gallant Gentleman did remember this, on what principle could he reconcile to himself the language that he had used, when he stepped forward and told them that he thought, up to this moment, he had been acting with gentlemen? The hon. and gallant Gentleman having so expressed himself, he (Mr. Littleton) would declare 677 that, whether the hon. and gallant Gentleman supported the Bill, or whether he withdrew his Support from it, was to him (Mr. Littleton) a matter of the most perfect indifference.
§ Mr. Robert Wallace
opposed the Bill. He did not Wonder that it was opposed by the Irish Members, when it was intended to secure a large revenue to a sinecure Church, the only duty of which was to keep alive hostility and discord in the country. He considered that the Ministers did hot act wisely by persisting in the measure.
§ Lord Ebrington
considered the question of appropriation had been left an open question; if he had not so understood it, the Bill would never have obtained his support.
§ Mr. Lefroy
said, he did not rise to rediscuss the question, but he wished to make one or two observations in consequence of what had fallen from hon. Members at his side of the House. It appeared to him that his hon. friend (Colonel Conolly) was labouring under a misconception as to what had fallen from right hon. Members opposite. He (Mr. Lefroy) did not understand his Majesty's Government as having stated their intention to strip the Irish Church of its revenues, but what he did understand them to say was, that the appropriation of these revenues was an open question. By the Bill as it stood, the revenues were appropriated to the Church. When the clause to which he referred, should come under discussion in Committee, it would be Open to any hon. Member to move an amendment to that clause, and then for the first time the question of appropriation would come directly under discussion. As the Bill stood at present—inasmuch as the revenues were appropriated by it to the Church, he felt justified, nay, bound to vote for the second reading. In adopting this course, he felt on the one hand, that he was not compromising the interests of the Church in Ireland, while, on the other, by rejecting the Bill, he would deprive the Church of all opportunity of making an advantageous adjustment of the question. Although individual members of the Cabinet might not feel themselves committed personally to a specific appropriation of the revenues of the Church, yet as a cabinet they were undoubtedly committed by bringing in a bill containing a clause by which the revenues of the 678 Church were distinctly appropriated to the same uses as the tithe composition. Under these circumstances he found himself bound to vote for the second reading of the Bill.
§ The House divided on the Question for the second reading of the Bill: Ayes 248; Noes 52—Majority 196
|List of the NOES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Lynch, A. H.|
|Attwood, T.||Martin, Thos.|
|Blamire, W.||Nagle, Sir R.|
|Buckingham, G. S.||O'Brien, C.|
|Davies, Colonel||O'Callaghan, Hon. C.|
|Fielden, J.||O'Connell, Daniel|
|Kennedy, J.||O'Connell, Morgan|
|Palmer, General||O'Connell, Maurice|
|Pease, J.||O'Connell, Charles|
|Oswald, R. A.||O'Dwyer, A. C.|
|IRELAND.||O'Ferrall, R. Moore|
|Baldwin, Dr.||O'Reilly, Wm.|
|Barron, W.||Roche, D.|
|Barry, G. S.||Roche, W.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Blackney, W.||Ruthven, E.|
|Blake, M. I.||Sheil, R. L.|
|Butler, Hon. Col.||Sullivan, R.|
|Callaghan, Dan.||Talbot, J. H.|
|Chapman, M. L.||Talbot, Jas.|
|Dobbin, L.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Evans, Geo.||Walker, C. A.|
|Finn, W. F.||Wallace, Thos.|
|Fitzgibbon, Hon. R.||Lalor, Patrick|
|Fitzsimon, C.||Ronayne, Dominick|
|Fitzsimon, N.||PAIRED OFF.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Grattan, Henry|