HC Deb 21 May 1834 vol 23 cc1157-76

Mr. Robert Grant moved the second reading of the Jewish Disabilities Bill.

Major Cumming Bruce

said. When a similar motion was made to this House last year, I felt it my duty to oppose it, and nothing which I have since heard has induced me to change the opinion I then expressed. The right hon. Gentleman has not condescended to state a single reason in its favour; and no consideration which I have been enabled to give the subject induces me to regard with less regret this renewed attempt of my right hon. friend to inscribe his name among the Dii Minores of liberalism. I shall not seek to occupy the time of the House by going over those grounds of objection which, on that occasion, I took the liberty of stating. My objections may be summed up in a single sentence. The Motion goes to unchristianise the Legislature of the country—to sweep away, as far as this House is concerned, everything like a national recognition of our highest allegiance—an allegiance to God, as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and the principle of infidel recklessness which it involves, appears to me so very mischievous—so pregnant with danger and with evil—that, if I stood alone, I should certainly divide the House against it. Last year, Sir, I took upon me to predict that, whatever might be the fate of this measure in this House, the Crown would be saved, in its capacity of head of a Christian Church, from the insult of having such a Bill offered for its assent. I relied with confidence on the calmer wisdom, on the more grave deliberation, on the considerations of higher Christian principles by which, in another place, this measure would be weighed and found wanting. That reliance, Sir, I still entertain. In that other place, fortunately for the best interests of religion and of the country, the presence of the dignified clergy of the Church of England ensures to questions of this nature a more anxious and—I say it without any the most remote intention of disrespect towards any Member of this House—a more fitting consideration, than they are likely to receive in a purely popular assembly, composed of individuals of all modifications of religion, or of none. Such consideration is ensured, not merely from their being actually present, and from the part which they may be expected to take in the discussion of such questions, but also from that general higher tone of respect for Christianity as part and parcel of the Constitution, which their presence is calculated to maintain, even among the lay members of the other branch of the Legislature. In producing such effect, they fulfil the object of those great men by whom the Constitution was restored and perfected; who, in determining that the Bishops should sit and vote in the House of Lords, did not seek to render the Church political, as the prejudices of some, and the ill designs of others, may suggest, but to render the State religious, and, in so doing, to place our legislation on the only sure basis on which legislation can permanently rest—its intimate union with true religion. On that intimate union, on the force which it must exercise while it continues to exist, I rely for the rejection of this monstrous proposal—a proposal which goes to invest with power to legislate on the highest objects of legislation—the best means of upholding and promoting true Christianity—a sect, not of persons indifferent to its interests—that were bad enough—but a sect avowedly hostile to its very name, and the continued existence of whose religion depends on the success of their efforts to prevent that which it is the first duty of all Christian states to promote—the advancement and universal acceptance of the truth as it is in Jesus, when prophecy shall have its full and certain accomplishment—when every knee shall bow to him whom the Jews reject as an impostor, and every tongue confess that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. I say, Sir, if the subject were not one of the deepest seriousness, there would be, to my apprehension, something irresistibly ludicrous in this repeated folly of the right hon. Gentleman, by which he desires to associate with us in the duties of Christian legislation, a sect, whose very existence amongst us, as the professors of their peculiar creed, depends on the imperfect and inefficient discharge of our highest ob- ligations. This measure so obnoxious to many conscientious men, has never been called for, or sanctioned, by any considerable portion of the people. I am aware that it is recommended to us by the representative of a great popular constituency, and that he was chosen by that constituency after he had declared his intentions respecting it. At the period, however, of his election, any thing which held out the promise of an extension of popular rights was received by such constituencies without much examination. The official duties of my right hon. friend have prevented him from seeing that great popular constituencies are again coming to their senses—that they are awaking to a sense of their duties as Christian men, and are no longer desirous of sacrificing all other considerations to the promotion of any innovation which might deck itself out in the colours of universal and irrespective liberalism. He thinks, doubtless, that he is acting in the sense, and according to the wishes of his constituents, while he thus keeps his hand in, if I may so express myself, by the continued cultivation of this little remaining corner of the ground of the old constitution of parliament, which still remains to be broken up. He has, indeed, been sanctioned and supported by the Government, and by a majority of this House; but when I look to the general results of those elections which have taken place since the general election, it does not appear to me that the support of the Government and of the majority by which it is usually upheld, affords any very certain indication of the general approval of the nation. I should be almost inclined to consider it as an indication of the very reverse; and if the feelings of the public, as far as I have been enabled to judge of them as relating to this question, did indeed influence the ministerial majorities, I should expect many conversions to be attested by the vote of this night; but it would, perhaps, be unreasonable to expect that the right hon. Gentleman should abandon the cultivation of the little barren and worthless corner,—barren and worthless, I am sure it will be, however skilfully cultivated, of any practical good result,—which he had almost succeeded in appropriating to himself,—on which he had almost effected a settlement; and if those whose duty it is to watch over the interests of the community, had not considered it of value as the last remaining proof of the right of that community to a tract of incalculable value and extent, they too might have allowed him, as far as practical results were to be apprehended, to go on undisturbed in his paltry encroachments. Fortunately they were aware of its importance; and whatever he may think of the wisdom of their consequent resistance of his appropriation, my own conviction is, that the great majority of the enlightened and reflecting portions of the community has approved and sanctioned their proceeding. Some petitions in favour of this measure have, I admit, been presented to the House, but they can be taken as expressing the opinions of only a very small minority of the country. I am ready to allow, that a minority of the British nation has, of late, raised the cry that religion and civil rights have, and ought to have, no necessary connexion; that a man's civil and social rights are altogether irrespective of his religious obligations; that the individual may, if so it please him,—if he will condescend so far,—in private recognise the force of those obligations, his dependence on his Creator, and the duties which that dependence suggests; but that nations,—the aggregate of individuals—are necessarily atheist, and that a vulgar error alone has recognized the title of King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I say a small minority has raised this cry, and faction and party have, for their own ends, echoed it, till the isle is frightened from her propriety. I very much doubt, however, whether even this minority,—among whom are many conscientious men—would consent to declare, by an act of direct legislation, that there was no difference between truth and falsehood, and that they were ready to dispense with Christianity as a necessary qualification for legislating for a Christian country. I very much doubt this even of that minority; but sure I am, that the great majority of the nation does utterly repudiate so monstrous a doctrine. Were it otherwise, then indeed I should despair of my country—then indeed I should fear that the glory was departing from her—then indeed I should apprehend that we might say of her what was said of an empire whose greatness has been trodden under the foot of the misbeliever— Spent art thou, proud, imperial Queen of Nations, And thy last accents are upon the wind— Thou hast but one voice more to utter—one Loud, dreadful, terrible,—and then art heard No more among the nations. But, Sir, I have brighter and better hopes. The Christian people of these kingdoms know, that by the Divine bless- ing alone nations prosper—that by the Divine forbearance alone, national calamities are averted—they know that it is written, "the nation which honoureth me I will honour"—and they refuse to recognise as nationally beneficial a principle which rests on a fallacy so monstrous as that a rational being can by possibility be placed in any circumstances or condition, can by possibility lay just claim to the enjoyment of any right, irrespective of the power by which all circumstances are controlled, and from which all rights emanate. The Motion of my right hon. friend rests, if it rests on anything, on the propriety of separating religion from civil rights, in so far as those rights involve the possession of political power. As wel may you endeavour to separate the moral from the physical nature of humanity—as well expect the body to continue in the exercise of the reasoning powers, if parted from the soul. There is the madness of individuals, when the chain and the straight-waistcoat must bind down the unhappy maniac—when, under the most mysterious of individual dispensations, the soul seems to have fled before its time from the still animated tenement of the body, and when that ray of Divine light by which man may look up to the throne of God, seems quenched in a darkness more terrible than that of death. There is also the madness of nations,—and few of us are so young as not to remember the example of such dire calamity,—when a maniac nation,—too strong to be held by human fetters,—burst its bonds, and spread ruin and desolation around it. There, too, was broken the tie which connects the civil rights with the religious obligations of society. There, too, was quenched that ray of Divine light by which the nations might read the law of the great governor of nations; and, in the madness of her irreligion, France performed,—if I may be permitted to quote the words of an eminent Dissenter,—as on a darkened theatre, the first part of that fierce and fearful tragedy, of which we have but lately seen another and another act; and now, holding up to us the mockery of a constitutional Government,—that phantom of a mob-begotten sovereignty, Which wears the likeness of a kingly crown, But bears a blood-stained sceptre in its hand. a power which tolerates, if it does not encourage the national irreligion,—she prepares for herself future, and still recurring calamities. I may be, and I dare say I shall be, taunted as illiberal,—laughed at as superstitious,—but my own entire conviction is, that her long years of disorganization,—her wars leading the stranger in triumph to her capital,—her revolutions driving away a despotism of imbecility, to establish a despotism of iron—her streets drenched with the blood of her citizens, who have sought,—ay, and will seek again, through all the atrocities of civil conflict, to use the power which raised, for the purpose of putting down her best of republics—I say my entire conviction is, that all these calamities flow from one source—the casting off her national recognition of God. We have but to follow the example of her liberality in matters of religion to share in its certain consequences. The Bill of my right hon. friend would, as it appears to me, be a very important step in the same direction, and I have not yet been able to discover such advantages in our existing close alliance with the monkey-tiger, as should induce me to be anxious that in this respect we should seek to draw more closely the ties of our present fraternization. Look, Sir, at the state of religion in France, and tell me the religion of individuals needs not the support and sanction of true religion by the State. I say of true religion, because that careless and indifferent system introduced, I believe, into that unhappy country by the Mahometan Buonaparte, which sinks all difference between truth and falsehood, and accords the support of the State to all sects alike, is, in my opinion, if possible, worse than no support at all. But I will not detain the House by entering on the discussion of that argument. We are told, that we have opened the doors of this House to men of all modifications of religion, and of none—that the Socinian and the infidel are already admitted within the portals of the Legislature, and that any danger to be apprehended from the few Jews who might find their way into this House would be as nothing compared to that instinct of destructiveness by which the former persons may be supposed to be actuated. Sir, I deeply deplore the fact of their admission. If any test could be invented which could reach and exclude them, it should have my cordial support; but it does not appear to me that, because we are already exposed to certain dangers and inconveniences, therefore we should be indifferent to their increase. That was, indeed, the doctrine laid down by the right hon. Gentleman, the Vice Presi- dent of the Board of Trade, in discussing the question of the Corn-laws, who, when the right hon. Baronet, the First Lord of the Admiralty, in his able and masterly speech on that occasion, insisted on the danger to a great nation of allowing itself to become dependent on foreign, and perhaps hostile, nations for the supply of an article of primary necessity, replied, that such a ground might have been tenable and good while we were altogether independent of foreign supply, but that we had passed that point; that, to a certain extent, we actually were dependent; and therefore, that we were no longer in a condition—in fact, that we were precluded from considering the value of a condition—of absolute or even comparative independence. I say, the House will remember the tone of exultation and confidence which he assumed, when he announced to us this refutation of his right hon. colleague's argument. The House, however, did not go along with him in the adoption of a principle of such utter recklessness, and which, I am sure, can never be safely admitted as a principle which should be allowed to influence the legislation of a great country. If, then, Sir, we are in a condition, from circumstances difficult of control—and I admit, that they were full of difficulty—of having persons eligible to be returned to this House who it were better and more safe to have excluded—I can see in that no reason for extending the same eligibility to others, especially where, as in the present instance, a much greater sacrifice of principle is involved. But there is, in the case of the Jews, another ground of exclusion, and one on which, fortunately, we can act without raising any question affecting the rights of the natural-born subjects of the Crown. The ground to which I allude, is the fact of their being strangers and aliens amongst us. On a former occasion, last year, I endeavoured to state this ground of resistance to the present Motion, and I shall not now detain the House by going over, in other words, the same argument; but it does seem to me, that certain honours thrust on my right hon. friend—"some achieve greatness, others have honours thrust upon them"—in the shape of addresses of thanks from various bodies of foreign Jews for his exertions in favour of their nation, go far to prove that, with them, the lesser considerations of locality are altogether merged in the sympathies of an extended nationality. It was, doubtless, very gratifying to him to find himself be-praised and extolled in indifferent German or classical Hebrew, for the enlarged spirit of his comprehensive philanthropy; but it certainly showed, that, as far as the Jews were concerned, they would never be influenced by that exclusively British patriotism which—you may call it confined and narrow if you will—but which, as a qualification to legislate on British interests, above all on British religious interests, is, in my view, the only patriotism worth having. I say of the Jews, that their best energies—their warmest affections—their strong, abiding, undying love of country, in its highest sense, are away from this and every other land of their dispersion—that they look to the distant country of their past and promised glory—to the land of their sires—the inheritance reserved for themselves or their posterity—and that in our cold climes they remain submissive, but unwilling exiles. We are told, indeed, that they have fought in our armies—have bled in our defence. The Jews of Poland are cited as having been among the first ranks of her patriot armies. Why, doubtless, Sir, a noble and a warlike people—(and such their whole mysterious history proves them to have been)—would not sit still when the cry of resistance to oppression, and the trumpet of desperate contest sounded in their ears; but I am at a loss to find, in this, a title to participate in our legislative power. The Germans have fought for us—the Swiss have poured out their blood with desperate fidelity, in defence of the Governments which employed them—they have fought against numbers, and against hope; but was it ever pretended, on this account, to confer on the Christian German a right to participate in our legislative power? Did the Pope ever think of conferring on his heretic and faithful defenders, all the rights and privileges of the Catholic Italian? Never, in either case. The facts alluded to prove, that the Jews are brave and faithful, and actuated by the same feelings of gratitude, and neighbourhood, and friendship, as other men: they establish no pre-eminence. I, Sir, am proud and anxious to acknowledge their many excellent qualities; but I cannot show my appreciation of them by the sacrifice of the highest principle. If there be inconvenience, or loss, or oppression, to which they are subjected by the operation of any existing law—remove it. God forbid that I should seek to perpetuate, much less to aggravate, the weight of those mysterious sufferings by which they, as a nation, are surrounded as with a halo of calamity. In his own good time, the power which has afflicted will console and comfort. The promise of their restoration will have its sure accomplishment; but it needs not the trifling of this godless legislation to accelerate the period of its fulfilment. If my right hon. friend had come to ask for justice, I should join with him in the demand. I should say, "Give them all justice—ay, twice the sum;" but he is not content with justice—like "a second Daniel come to judgment," he pleads also for the forfeiture—and here I would beseech you let not—I will not say malice against this Christian Constitution—but let not a false liberality bear down truth. This bond of justice contains "no jot of blood"—but the forfeiture is for a pound of flesh to be cut off "nearest the merchant's heart"—and as it seems to me that the life-blood of the Constitution must be shed in its excision, I shall continue, by every means, and on every occasion, to resist the Motion now before the House. I will conclude, Sir, by moving, that this Bill be read a second time this day six months.

Mr. Halcombe seconded the Motion.

Mr. Petre

said, that he should be ashamed of himself, and unworthy of a seat in that House, if he did not lend his warmest wishes, and give his cordial and best support, to such a measure as this. He supported it on the broad ground, that the religious opinions of every man, or set of men, should not be used as the means for his or their civil disqualification. The arguments which had been adduced by his hon. friend who had moved the Amendment against the measure appeared to him convincing reasons in its favour. The time was come when religious opinions should no longer constitute the principle of civil disqualification. Every one should be allowed to worship God as he thought best, and, provided his opinions did not detract from that loyalty which he owed to his sovereign, or militate against the interests of the State, there was no reason why he should be debarred from the enjoyment of those rights and privileges which were possessed by the rest of the community. We had no right to interfere with a man's religious opinions—to God alone he was accountable for them; and when coercion was employed, or civil disqualification was resorted to, on such grounds, it was neither more nor less than odious and unjustifiable intolerance.

Mr. Poulter

agreed entirely with those who thought that no religious belief which was not inconsistent with the preservation, order, and peace of civil society, was a justifiable cause of exclusion from civil privileges, and that those who were favourable to the continuance of civil disabilities had the burthen cast on them of proving the absolute necessity of such further continuance. In the entire absence of what he considered any such proof, he should always give his humble support to this measure. All political ground of objection seemed wholly destroyed by historical evidence; and if history were indeed philosophy teaching by examples, we had only to follow with confidence its undoubted and assured experience. Hon. Members who opposed the Bill, complained of a want of nationality in the Jewish character, which was, in truth, solely attributable to our own degrading treatment of them. The instances of France, Holland, and the United States had exhibited and established the perfect competency of the Jews to perform the functions of either civil or military officers, and of becoming, to all intents and purposes, complete subjects of those States into which they were fully and honourably admitted. The objection which was more than any other urged against the proposed emancipation, and which was dwelt upon most forcibly by those who admitted the moral and social excellence of the Jewish people, was, that Christianity was part of the law of the land, and that this, as a constitutional principle, prohibited the removal of their disabilities. In looking at the true nature of this supposed principle, which was, strictly speaking, certainly nowhere to be found as a part either of the written or unwritten law of this country, it was observable, that the instances in which it had been referred to and relied on in modern times had been almost exclusively occasions in which the question had been raised by persons under prosecution,—whether insulting and disgraceful libels upon Christianity could be brought under the cognizance of Courts of Justice, and such attacks upon the religion of the country had been universally held to be punishable by the law. It might be therefore pretty confidently affirmed, that the modern familiarity and use of this expression had mainly been founded upon judicial dicta. It might also be practically true, as it was to be hoped that the institutions of a people almost universally Christian naturally partook of a character of Christianity. But on looking at the political history of this country, it was impossible not to see, that for a long period of years, and till very lately, the great object was to connect all participation in the Civil Government, not with the profession of general Christianity, but with the principles of the Established Church. This was the real union which was the theory and the object of the ancient system. The spirit of toleration, the diffusion of education, and more enlarged views, and an abhorrence of persecution, had annihilated this system for ever. The old cry was Church and State. It now was Christianity and the State. If all the Members of a Legislature could have agreed in religious opinions, it would undoubtedly have been a happy coincidence; but it was a good unattainable. There might be an anomaly in confiding the protection of institutions to those who were hostile to them, hut the Legislature had determined most wisely to submit to that anomaly rather than incur a much greater evil. It was very easy now to say, that the sole objection was against those who were not Christians. It was a very politic argument; it suited the actual state of things. All other objections had been tried, and almost all had totally failed. This formed a species of support in the doubtful and divided feelings of the country on this subject. The arguments against those professing a different form of Christianity from ourselves were urged as forcibly and as anxiously as against the Jews themselves. What hostility could exceed that which once prevailed between different denominations of Christians? Indeed, it must have exceeded any other, if it were true that an approximation in religious belief increased the bitterness of religious animosity. What was the exclusion of the Jews, but the last remnant of an expiring intolerance? The best interests and precepts of Christianity were in conformity with this measure. To exclude from civil privileges without an absolute necessity, and for self-protection, was a species of indirect persecution, which was abhorrent from the spirit of the religion we professed. As friends of religion they were bound to abstain from that miscalled support and assistance which the religion itself utterly disavowed and disclaimed. It was of the essence of that religion to commend itself solely by its own intrinsic purity and excellence to the good feelings of the human mind. It would have been well for man- kind if what had been called Christianity-had been so in spirit as well as in name. In some countries it had borne a much greater resemblance to Paganism than to the mild principles of its divine founder. They might rejoice, that notwithstanding much error, it had not been so with them. It would be no excuse for moral crime that it had been committed in promoting the fulfilment of a Christian prophecy. They might leave Providence to the accomplishment of its own inscrutable purposes. Let them be content to follow the precepts of charity and of mercy—let them hope that an act of grace, by gradually removing that stubborn pride which was the most powerful motive that could reign in the human heart, even in matters supposed to depend upon mere abstract belief, might be the first step towards the ultimate conversion of the Jews to Christianity.

Sir Daniel K. Sandford

said, that not having seen the Bill for the better Observance of the Sabbath, about to be introduced by the hon. Member who spoke last (Mr. Poulter), he would not say, whether there was anything about it of that Judaical character, which would account for the congenial feeling with which the hon. Gentleman advocated the pretensions of the Jews. But when that hon. Gentleman, and the hon. member for York, referred him to France, to Poland, and to America, for an example of religious toleration, he (Sir D. Sandford) must tell them that he would not turn to these countries, nor to any other as a model for Great Britain in legislative measures connected with religion. He would not resort to France, for she had too often held herself forth as the enemy of all religious principle; he would not go to Poland, for she, alas! had neither will nor constitution of her own; and he would not go to America, for he should ever contend that America, of all lands beneath the sun, afforded the worst, the most fatal example, on every subject that concerned the cause of Christianity. [Cries of "Oh, oh," from Mr. O'Connell.] He wished that the learned member for Dublin, who cheered that remark with so peculiar an emphasis, would give him a fair and speedy opportunity of meeting him upon the question, and he pledged himself to show, if America were to be adduced as the great argument for destroying all the safeguards of a National Church—he would prove from history, from experience, from the statistics of the Americans themselves, that they had little title to be blazoned forth as a pattern to the Christian world. It was no pleasing duty, especially in the present temper of the House, to rise there as the opponent of a measure which bore the semblance of religious toleration—but there was as wide a difference between the spirit of true toleration, and the false liberality of which this Bill was the offspring, as between the spirit of political freedom, of which the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues had been so often the able and successful defenders, and that spirit of anarchy and political license, of which they were the declared, and he hoped would long continue, the decided enemies. He would resist the further progress of this Bill on the broad and simple principle, that this was a Christian country, that we had Christian institutions, that we had a Christian Legislature, that the sanctions of our laws were Christian, and that it became the Members of that House as the Representatives of a Christian people attached to those laws and institutions to do nothing to unconsecrate their character. Oh! but he was told that if he put the question upon the ground of Christianity, charity was a Christian virtue, and that charity called for the removal of the Jewish disabilities. He was not there to impeach the comprehensive nature of Christian charity; he recollected with a sensation of delight that exquisite enumeration of its gracious and beautiful conditions, which formed the most overwhelming passage in all the pages of inspired eloquence, and placed charity, as she deserved to stand, at the head of the whole catalogue of virtues. But charity had done her part towards the objects of the Motion before the House. The Penal Statutes had disappeared—the fires of persecution were extinguished—the chains of feudal tyranny were broken—and the Jew held his property, and enjoyed the protection of the laws, by as secure a tenure as the Christian. But he could not admit, that charity demanded the concession of political privileges—of political privileges involving danger to the character of our civil institutions. Why, could hon. Gentlemen deny, that whole classes of men were debarred, by the Constitution of this country, from a participation in political privileges? Was not the elective franchise restricted? Were not members of the sacred profession, if they belonged to the Established Church, men who made up their minds to enter holy orders—as the Jew, when arrived at years of discretion, made up his mind to abide by the creed of his forefathers—were not they prevented from throwing off their sacred garb, from entering at the bar, or rising to the judicial bench, or becoming Members of the House of Commons? And had not the Catholic subjects of his Majesty, for a long space of years, been excluded from a share in some of these political privileges. They had been shut out from such privileges as long as danger to the State could arise from their enjoying them. While the succession to the Throne was disputed, while the very independence of the nation was threatened, they had been justly so excluded; and had he (Sir D. Sandford) lived at the period when those dangers menaced the kingdom, he would have opposed the admission of the Catholics to political power, as vehemently as he had, in a humbler sphere than that in which he now stood, favoured and promoted it, when the changes to which he had alluded had disappeared. But the dangers to the fundamental character of our institutions, which were to be apprehended from the present proposal, were of a permanent nature, and could not be removed. He had no objection to rest the main force of his opposition to the Bill upon the eventual difference between these two cases—rthe case for the repeal of Catholic disabilities, and the case for the relief of the Jews. He perceived by the clauses of the Bill itself, and he had gathered from former speeches of the right hon. Gentleman and his friends, that they relied almost entirely on the pretended analogy between the claims of the Roman Catholics and those of these new Candidates for political privilege. But he would maintain, that there was no substantial analogy between them. This measure was a mere travestie upon the great measure to which it was represented as parallel. Jewish emancipation, as it was called, was nothing better than a parody upon the Emancipation of the Catholics. Look at the inherent, the irremovable distinction between the one case and the other. It was not true to say, that ours was a Protestant Constitution. There were, indeed, Protestant points, and those of great value and importance in the Constitution—a Protestant Monarch—Protestants in certain high offices around the Throne—but the chief glories of the British Constitution were anterior to the separation between Catholics and Protestants. Its foundations were laid deep and broad by the hands of our Catholic ancestors in some of the remotest periods of British history. By a Catholic nobility and a Catholic priesthood was wrung, from the hands of a despot the great charter of our liberties; and they must remount to still more distant times for the origin of its strongest bulwarks—trial by Jury, and the Representative system. He could not assent, therefore, to the proposition that our Constitution was essentially Protestant. But it was essentially Christian. Christianity was intertwined with the whole fabric of our institutions, giving to them stability and dignity, and to our laws a sanction and authority which nothing else could bestow. Now into the support of that principle, and into the veneration of that sanction, the Catholic could enter as heartily and warmly as the Protestant:—he adored the same God under the same attributes; he hoped for pardon through the same Redeemer; he looked for the same retribution; and he felt, notwithstanding some differences that need not then be particularised, the weight and influence of the same religious principles. But could all this be affirmed in like manner of the Jew? Did he view the Deity under the same relations, or trust in the same atonements—or derive the sanction of laws and government from the articles of a similar faith? Was it fair, then; was it common justice to the Catholic to set him, even in argument, upon the same level with the Jew? But, after all, what had been the strongest reason urged in favour of the Catholic Emancipation? Was it not political expediency? The illustrious Duke in the other House—the right hon. Baronet in the House of Commons—who had carried the measure of Catholic relief, gave great prominence to the argument of political expediency. But where was the expediency in the case before them? Where was the Jewish association, acting in defiance of law, assuming a power beyond the reach of control, and coercing the Legislature into a compliance with its sovereign decrees? Where was the Hebrew agitator? Where were the combined millions of exasperated Israelites thundering for admission at their doors? How often, in furtherance of the Catholic claims, had the numerical argument been employed? How often had they heard of seven millions of the finest peasantry on the face of the earth, and of their being fourteen to one in relation to the Protestants of Ireland? What! was he to hear of a similar proportion now between the Jews and the Christians of Great Britain? Then they must not have seven millions, but 196 millions of Jews, arrayed against the Christian population. But he believed that there were not 196 Jews in the country, who cared a farthing about the privileges proffered by this Bill. His hon. friend behind him was quite right in the distinction he had drawn between the devout, sincere Jews, and those Jews to whom this Bill would open an avenue to political honours. For the devout Jews, he (Sir D. Sandford) would acknowledge feelings of profound respect and sympathy. He sympathised with them in their pride of ancestry—an ancestry that laughed to scorn the proudest Christian genealogies—in their fond recollections of departed glory—in their bright hopes of its future restoration. But he had no sympathy with the Jewish worldling—the nominal Jew, who remained so in externals, for the sake, perhaps, of some financial advantage, or to maintain the credit of a commercial firm, the home of whose heart was not, like that of his religious countrymen, amid the hallowed scenes of Palestine; but in the prospects of professional advancement, or amid those benches, to which from beneath the gallery he might be casting the longing eyes of political ambition. He could have no confidence in a Jew of that description—dead to the hopes and aspirations of his better and nobler countrymen, and alive only to his own ambitious desires. Such a Jew was too likely to join, within that House, the ranks of the enemies of the Church—and, in his opinion, the Church had enemies there already more than enough. He was told, why not admit the Jew into that House, into which the infidel found an easy entrance. There might be infidels in that House—he hoped they were not many; but it was a curious argument to advance, "Here are already those who, upon principle, or from the want of it, must be inimical to the Christian cause, and therefore, by all means, let us increase their number." But if they had infidels within these walls, at least they were not open and avowed. There were none there who, on approaching that Table, had not come under obligations which they might indeed forget and abandon, but which they could not openly renounce without bringing on themselves the inevitable stigma of degradation and dishonour. Show him the man that would dare to rise in that House and proclaim himself a declared unbeliever. In that House did he say? Let him go to the last and lowest scene of disgrace and misery—where trembling guilt awaited the announcement of its doom—let him go among felons, and the companions of felons, where prisoners, and witnesses, and auditory, were too often marked with the foulest stains of contamination and crime, and even in such a presence as that let him try the effect of such a declaration. Let him go to the Old Bailey and avow himself an infidel. He (Sir D. Sandford) was conjuring up no imaginary vision; he was describing what had actually occurred; and even in that place of crime, and infamy, and punishment, the wretch who ventured upon an open avowal of infidelity, was driven forth amidst a storm of execration. Now, he would not assist to place upon the bench of that court a man who could not sympathise in such a burst of irrepressible honest indignation. He would not place there one who could have no respect for the sanction of the oaths administered before him—it would be an impious mockery to make a judge preside over the hourly administration of oaths, whose sanction he was bound, by his own tenets, to treat with abhorrence and disdain. And how, he might ask, would the effect be less revolting, if that House were to be opened to the avowed foes of Christianity? It was not often, perhaps, that an appeal was made within those walls, to the awful names, and the tremendous sanctions of a Christian's faith; but such occasions did sometimes intervene, and then it was felt, that the most sovereign of all arguments was urged, and the most resistless of all claims, to acquiescence. He could not endure to think that now, by the introduction of a monstrous novelty, the harmony of such impressions must be for ever destroyed, the unanimity of the feeling broken, and the glow of a high and just enthusiasm, if for a moment it lighted up the countenances of that assembly, must be slackened by the contemptuous sneer of Jewish unbelief. He saw indeed that, as far as that House was concerned, the minds of the majority were made up in favour of the measure; but he remembered with satisfaction, that it had to pass through the ordeal of another House, where he hoped that its final doom might be confidently anticipated. If, unfortunately, the verdict of that other House should not be against it, he should say, that the addition of that Bill, in the shape of a law to the Statute Book of England, would be the worst, the most uncalled for, and the most irrevocable blot that was ever cast upon her legislative annals.

Mr. Buckingham

deprecated the allusion which the hon. and learned Gentleman, who had spoken last, had made to the ease of the infidel who had been discarded from the witness box in a court of justice, upon the avowal of his principles; for, in his judgment, there did not exist the slightest analogy between such a case and that of a professor of the Jewish faith; on the contrary, the Jew was constantly received as a witness in both civil and criminal cases. He contended, that while the Jews in this country were not freed from taxation and other liabilities to national risks, they ought at least to be admitted to an equal participation in the rights and privileges enjoyed by their fellow-citizens.

Mr. William Roche

said: I should consider myself either violating or forgetting that supreme and proud precept of Christianity, "Doing unto others as we would wish they should do unto us," were I not to give my sincere support to the measure now before the House, for relief of the Jewish people from the Civil Disabilities under which they labour, because of adhering (however erroneously, yet conscientiously) to the spiritual doctrines of their creed. Sir, as a Roman Catholic, so long kept in thraldom, so long oppressed by a cruel injustice because of respecting the dictates of conscience, I should consider myself doubly guilty and ungenerous, did I not hasten to strike off the chains of intolerance from every sect, and view civil rights as the meed of civil services; leaving the mind of man free and unshackled to adore and conciliate his God in the manner he may sincerely and purely believe to be most congenial with the will of the Deity. And, Sir, the more free the mind is left in this respect, the more easily relieved is it from preconceived prejudices, and therefore the more capable and willing to examine into and arrive at sounder and more sustainable doctrines. Persecution perpetuates error, and doctrines the most absurd, may be called into life and vigor, which, if left to their own weakness and instability, would soon die a natural death. Sir, I shall only add, that of all sublunary means (for we must leave the rest to God's own will and Providence), nothing is more likely to wear down the prejudices and pertinacity of the Jews, than permitting them to enjoy and intermingle with us in all the social and civil relations of life. With these sentiments, Sir, I shall give my cordial support to the Motion.

Mr. Robert Grant

rose and said, that he hoped he should not be thought guilty of disrespect to the House, or to manifest any disregard to the subject under its consideration, if he declined to enter into any reply or argument upon it. He thought, that the House, at least the majority of the House, would have already perceived, that all that had been said on the opposite side of the House had done very little harm to the measure he had introduced. On the contrary, he thought (and he assured the House that he said it with profound and sincere regret), that such arguments as had been advanced against the Bill did no good to the cause of Christianity.

The House divided—Ayes 123; Noes 32: Majority 91.

List of the NOES.
Agnew, Sir A. Martin, T.
Ashley, Lord Maxwell, J. W.
Bateson, Sir R. Mosley, Sir O.
Blackstone, W. S. Norreys, Lord
Bulkeley, Sir R. Palmer, R.
Burrell, Sir C. Plumptre, J. P.
Campbell, Sir H. Rickford, W.
Duffield, T. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Dugdale, W. S. Stormont, Lord
Fleetwood, H. Villiers, Lord
Forster, C. Verney, Sir H.
Gladstone, W. E. Vyvyan, Sir R.
Gladstone, T.
Halcombe, J. TELLERS.
Halford, H. Bruce, C.
Hardy, J. Sandford, Sir D. K.
Hurst, R. H. Paired off.
Lennox, Lord A. Hughes, H.
Lowther, Colonel Sinclair, G.
Manners, Lord R. Verner, Colonel