§ Mr. Ward
* I am perfectly aware that a man, who voluntarily undertakes to bring forward a great question in this House, has no right to expect that he can propitiate its indulgence by any professions of humility, or by any expression of a wish, however sincere, that the task had fallen into fitter, and abler hands. I must, however, at all events, entreat the House to believe me, when I state, that I have not taken up the momentous subject, on which the discussion of this night must turn, lightly, or hastily, or inconsiderately, nor without the deepest conviction of the im-* From a Corrected Report.1369 portance of the principles which it involves. It is upon this ground alone that I venture to claim the attention of the House; for I will not do hon. Members the injustice of supposing that any deficiencies on my part will induce them to withhold from this question that deliberate consideration which its importance demands. I fear, however, that it will be necessary for me to trespass at some length upon their indulgence; for I can only justify myself to my own conscience, and to the House, in bringing forward so great an innovation, as that which I have felt it my duty to recommend, by showing, not only that there are ample grounds for a departure from ancient practice, but that there are not less ample grounds for believing that the change will be productive of a great practical good. I must first prove the necessity, and then the justice of what I propose; for it is upon this basis alone that all changes in the policy of a great community should rest, and more especially those changes, in which its religious institutions are concerned. I intirely concur in the sentiments once expressed on this subject by the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for the Colonies, who said, two years ago—'That the question of the maintenance of that connexion, which, in all Christian countries, the Legislature had thought fit to establish between itself and the religion of the State, ought not to be raised without the most deliberate consideration; and that, on the part of the Government especially, it required the plea of the most imperative necessity, to justify any interference with existing relations.' Sir, I adopt every word, and every sentiment, here uttered; but the question which I have to put to the House is, whether, upon the most deliberate consideration, it does not conceive, so far as Ireland is concerned, that the case of imperative necessity has already arisen?—whether we can reject the evidence of that necessity, which has accumulated upon us?—and whether, if we admit that evidence, (however unwilling we may be to receive it), we can refuse to apply the remedy, which I believe the Constitution to have placed within our reach? Sir, this is the case which I have to establish; and if I fail in establishing it, the House will only discharge its duty by rejecting my present Motion. Before I enter, however, upon the details in which that Motion must necessarily involve me, I wish to state distinctly the course, which it is my intention to pursue, and the rea- 1370 sons which have induced me to change—or modify, at least—the shape, in which my Resolutions originally appeared. I hope the House will do me the justice to believe that I have not sought, by thus altering the terms of my Motion, to obtain any unfair advantage. I gave the earliest intimation of my intentions to the noble Lord opposite; but having been informed, by the highest authority to which the point could be referred, that it was quite impossible to take the sense of the House on a proposition embracing such a variety of details as my original Resolutions, I was compelled to separate the question of the principle, from that of the details. I confess that I had an additional inducement to do this, from my knowledge that, upon the details, many hon. Gentlemen differed from me, whose support, upon the principle, if it were brought forward alone, I might fairly hope to obtain. Besides, I was aware that, from the want of local knowledge, as well as of accurate sources of statistical information, there might be in the details a degree of obscurity and vagueness, which I should not have to encounter in the discussion of the principle. I, therefore, felt it my duty towards those who concurred with me with respect to the principle, to call upon them for their votes on the principle only, to-night, and to reserve the details for the future consideration of the House, if it should think fit to sanction the principle. I must also state, with regard to these details, that, although I have felt it right not to bring forward the question in the shape of a mere abstract principle, without showing in what manner I conceived that this principle might be worked out without the slightest violation of justice, or trenching, in any way, upon individual rights, I am so far from being wedded to the details of my plan, of the unavoidable deficiencies in which I am fully sensible, that if any fairer, or, above all, any more effectual, mode of carrying the principle into operation can be suggested, I shall be the first to adopt it. I now come to the question of necessity, which is the basis of my whole argument—the necessity, the imperative necessity, of making a great, and extensive change in the Protestant Church of Ireland, as now established by law, if we are sincere in our desire to tranquillize that country—to heal old wounds—to repair past injustice, and to identify the interests of Ireland with those of the empire at large. In entering upon this part of my subject, I assure the House that nothing is further 1371 from my wish than to inflict upon it proofs of my industry, in the shape of long quotations; but the House must feel, that it is most essential for me to show, that some of the wisest, and greatest, of those statesmen, whose names adorn our annals, have always sought the cause of those disturbances, which have so long afflicted Ireland, rather in her religious, than in her political, wrongs. Indeed, the question of religion is so blended, and interwoven, with the whole course of our Irish policy, that it is impossible to draw a line of demarcation between them. Religion has perpetuated those distinctions between the conquered and the conquerors, which time must otherwise have effaced; religion has served as the plea for every successive confiscation: religion, in short, is the cause, to use the words of Sir James Mackintosh, in the last work, which he has bequeathed to his country—'why, the State, the Church, the administration, and the property of that unhappy Island, are bound together by such unnatural ties, and placed upon such weak foundations, that every rumour of alteration in one of them spreads alarm for the safety of the whole.' Sir, this opinion is not peculiar to Sir James Mackintosh; it has been shared by nine out of ten of those, who have either taken part in the administration of Irish affairs, or have paid to them here, the attention which they deserve. Their feelings may have been modified, as the more odious parts of our system of religious intolerance have disappeared; but the evidence, which bore originally upon the question of Catholic Emancipation, and upon the still more important question of the abolition of the Penal-laws, bears now just as forcibly upon the last remains of this system, the compulsory support by the Catholics of an Establishment to which they do not belong. The system is one system—the parts are parts of a whole—and those feelings of just indignation, which that whole formerly excited in the bosom of every Catholic, whom it consigned to an existence of degradation, of oppression, and of wrong, are now concentrated against that portion of it which remains, as if to perpetuate the memory of past injustice. Mr. Canning, so early as the year 1812, reprobated the system of bit-by-bit justice, which seems ever to have been the course which England has delighted to pursue towards Ireland. He asked one of his opponents, who refused to grant Catholic Emancipation, yet boasted of the abolition of the Penal-laws,—'Whether he thought 1372 that those wise, and salutary regulations, though abolished, ought not to be forgotten? Whether, although we had partially—perhaps improvidently—removed the chain from the limbs of the Catholic, we ought to leave a link or two behind, to remind him that he was once in fetters?' The Protestant Church appears to me to be this link, or rather the law, by which a compulsory provision for this Church is wrung, in the shape of tithes, from the scanty pittance of the Catholic peasant. This feeling is not of modern growth, or the result, as some have thought, of modern agitation. It dates from the very moment when the design of exterminating the Catholics, by process of law was abandoned; and when the relaxation of the Penal Statutes gave to them, as a body, what I may call a legal existence. Lord Charlemont tells us, in one of his earliest memoranda, that the rise of the disorders in the south of Ireland was to be ascribed intirely to tithes;—"Tithes which the Catholic, without any possible benefit, unwillingly paid in addition to his priest-money." Mr. Grattan, at a little later date, placed upon record his opinion on the subject of tithes, in a speech, which will ever be regarded as one of the most splendid monuments of human eloquence. Mr. Pitt, on this subject alone—that of doing justice to the Catholics—coincided in opinion with his great rival Mr. Fox. Indeed, I may say, that a careful reference to the debates which preceded the Union, will bear me out in stating that Mr. Pitt was convinced, even then, that, without a very great reduction of the Protestant Establishment in Ireland, that measure never could be considered as complete. His words are so remarkable (I allude to the debate on the 21st of April, 1800) that I cannot refrain from recalling them to the recollection of the House:—'I shall only say this upon so interesting a subject, that the prosperity of the Church of Ireland never can be permanent, unless it be a part of the Union to leave, as a guard, power to the United Parliament to make some provision on this subject beyond any Act of their own that can now be agreed upon ……… It may be expedient to leave to Parliament an opportunity of considering what may be fit to be done for his Majesty's Catholic subjects, without seeking at present any rule to govern the Protestant Establishment, or making any provision upon that subject.' This was the language of true political foresight; and 1373 the experience of thirty years has only given us additional cause to deplore that Mr. Pitt's counsels should not have been acted upon sooner. The Union with Ireland never has been completed! The interests of the two countries never have been identified! The Protestant Church has remained, during the whole of this period, a bar to any kindly approximation of feeling between them—a bar, which it is our interest, not less than our duty, to remove. Is there any man in this House who will affirm, that if Mr. Pitt's views as to Catholic Emancipation, and an establishment for the Catholic clergy, which he is also known to have contemplated, had been acted upon in 1801, we should ever have had a Motion for the Repeal of the Union in 1834? I do not believe it possible—have not those who have agitated that question here, and elsewhere—(elsewhere, at least, fir somehow or another, the subject was not dwelt upon here with the weight which I should attach to it) invariably found it necessary to connect the question of Repeal, with the claims of the Irish clergy? Are not half the petitions for Repeal, tithe petitions also? And, if the grievances resulting from the Protestant Establishment were redressed, have we not reason to believe that the charm which now dwells in that word "Repeal," would be broken? If, from the days of Mr. Pitt, we come to more modern times, we shall find, that the influence of the tithe question upon Irish hearts—I will not say Irish imaginations, because I feel that justice is on their side—has never varied. I do not wish to weary the House by analyzing all the proofs of this, which may be found in our Journals. I will come, at once, to the year 1822, and refer to the Motion of Sir John Newport, which was a very remarkable Motion, from the opinions which it was the means of eliciting. And what was the language which Sir John Newport held? Why he told the House, "That the tithe system could not be continued, except to entail eternal disquietude, and misery, upon Ireland." On the same occasion, I find my right hon. friend opposite, the Secretary of the Treasury (Mr. Spring Rice), exclaiming, in answer to some one, who urged the extreme delicacy of the subject, and the danger of mooting it in this House, that, "There was one thing more dangerous than discussion, and that was—despair." He added that—"Tithes, though not the exclusive cause of disorganization in Ireland, were mixed up in all the disturb- 1374 ances, which had so long prevailed there, so that it would be futile to devise any measure of relief, in which they were not included." Upon the same occasion, the right bon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Control, made that memorable speech, which, as long as Ireland exists, will he referred to as one of the most beautiful, pictures of her situation, and her sufferings, as well as one of the most honourable proofs of the soundness, and liberality, of the views entertained by the right hon. Gentleman himself. And what, I ask, was the gist, and essence, of this remarkable speech? What, in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, amidst all the grievances of Ireland, was the grievance most acutely felt? The last drop in the full glass of her sufferings? Why, tithes! 'Tithes which, he said, had contributed more materially than any other cause to the deterioration of the country. The Levellers of 1760 resisted tithes. The Hearts of Oak, in 1764, resisted tithes. The fury of time Munster Insurgents, in 1787, was more peculiarly directed against the clergy. And, since the Union, revolts had not been less frequent, and their objects always the same.' Sir, this is strong evidence, and I hope it will be esteemed so by the House. But does it stand alone? Look to the very next year—1823, and to the not less remarkable Motion brought forward by the right hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Parnell), now the member for Dundee, for a Committee of Inquiry into the state of his native country. On that occasion I find him stating, that—"Out of a period of thirty-one years, no less than twenty-six years had been years of actual insurrection, or disturbance. Four years alone had been marked by anything like tranquillity." And to what did the hon. Baronet attribute this appalling state of things? Why—'To political excitement, arising out of religious wrongs. This, he said, was the evil we had to contend with. We must cure this, to put down disturbances. Scotland was never tranquil, until such a change was made in time laws, as restored, and re-established, the religion of the people.' In 1832, the Committee, moved for nine years before, by the right hon. Baronet, was granted; and I ask any Gentleman, who has read the evidence taken before that Committee, with the attention which it deserves, whether it does not entirely corroborate the views entertained by the right hon. Baronet, and whether it 1375 does not prove, to demonstration, not only that the causes of political disturbances in Ireland must be sought in religious wrongs, but that, amongst those wrongs, none have exercised so constant, so irritating, so pernicious an influence upon the minds of the people, as those connected with tithes? I might prove this by the evidence of almost every witness examined before that Committee; but I do not feel justified in trespassing at such length upon the indulgence of the House. Besides, I may be told, that the abuses of the old tithe-system are recognised by all parties. The variety of claimants—the perpetuity of small demands—the incessant collision with the occupying tenants, and, above all, the iniquitous exactions of the tithe-proctors;—these are things which no one attempts either to palliate or to deny! Indeed, no one has felt them more acutely, or described their effects so well, as the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for the Colonies, whom I regret not to see in his place. I regret it the more, because part of my argument must, necessarily, turn upon the line of conduct, which that right hon. Gentleman has felt it his duty to pursue, both in and out of this House, and upon the consequences of that conduct to the empire at large. I hope, however, that the House will do me the justice to believe, that if I cannot allow the absence of the right hon. Secretary to make any difference in the line of argument which I intended to pursue, I shall, at all events, not take advantage of that absence, to introduce any argument which I should not have urged had he been present. I shall simply follow the course which I had originally chalked out for myself, and from which I cannot depart, without injuring the cause which I have undertaken to plead. In the year 1832, the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies, in describing the effects of the tithe-system, said—'That resistance to tithes was almost universal in Ireland. It extended to the Protestants in the north, as well as to the Catholics in the south. The seeds had been long sown, and were deeply rooted. Every symptom which could mark a determined opposition, on the part of a whole population,—acting as one man, against the imposition of a legal due, had been developed on this occasion. No processes could be served,—no attorney would act.' I concur entirely with the right hon. Gentleman, in the truth of this picture, but I differ with him as to the remedy to be applied. He says, that 1376 commutation will be sufficient;—I say, that nothing short of a new appropriation can suffice, to produce even a momentary tranquillity. The argument used by the right hon. Secretary himself, at different periods, as well as the evidence taken before his Tithe-Committee of 1832, have rivetted this impression on my mind; and it is my deliberate conviction, that, without an entirely new appropriation of the revenues of the Protestant Church, the Irish people will regard commutation as a mockery. If I wish for a proof of this, as regards the future, I need only look to the past. In doing this, I cannot be supposed to be actuated by any unkindly feeling towards the right hon. Secretary, or towards his Majesty's Government, which I have so constantly supported during the short period that I have had the honour of a seat in this House. I refer to the past, simply, by way of illustrating what ought to he our conduct at the present time. I admit the great difference between the position, in which the question stands now and that in which it stood in the year 1824, when the right hon. Secretary first came forward as the champion of the Irish Church. There was, at that time, a great deal of exaggeration with regard to Church revenues abroad. We had no accurate data to go upon. Besides, so long as the Catholic emancipation was withheld, tithes were a minor grievance; and few had reflected upon the importance, which they would necessarily acquire in the eyes of the people of Ireland, when every other right was conceded to them, and the tithe system was left to stand alone,—a solitary monument of past oppression. I can perfectly understand the right hon. Gentleman's motives, under these circumstances, in taking up the gauntlet in defence of the Church, as he did, when he opposed, in 1824, the motion of my hon. friend behind me (the member for Middlesex), for a Committee of Inquiry. The right hon. Gentleman stated the case very fairly. He said,—'the Motion went either too far, or did not go far enough. The Established Church in Ireland should either be supported, or given up altogether.' This is the real question. Now the right hon. Gentleman has since had the opportunity of trying the experiment, whether in Ireland, the Established Church can be supported or not. He has been placed in a situation, in which the whole resources of this empire have been at his disposal. The Legislature has reposed in him, personally, the most unlimited confi- 1377 dente. Men, arms, money, Tithe Bills, Coercion Bills,—nothing has been withheld, that he has thought proper to call for; and I now ask him what has been the result? Is Ireland tranquil? Is the property of the Church secure? Can we contemplate any reasonable probability that the ministers of that Church will ever again be able to collect what are undoubtedly their legal dues, either through the medium of a Commutation Bill, without a change of appropriation, or by reverting to that system which the right hon. Gentleman himself once characterized as,—"a system which never ought to have existed, in any Christian community, between the pastor and his flock." What he says of the machinery, I say of the system itself;—of tithes in substance, as well as tithes in name; of tithes levied on a Catholic population for the support of a Protestant Church! This is the grievance, against which the complaints of the people of Ireland are directed; and this is an evil which no commutation can reach. If I want proof of this, I must again refer to the fate of the right hon. Gentleman's resolutions of 1832,—those celebrated resolutions, by which he constituted the Crown the receiver general of the Church, upon the supposition that he had only to make the Crown the creditor, and that by aid of the power which he possessed, he should be enabled to settle the question at once. What were the arguments by which those Resolutions were met? Why, the right hon. Baronet, the member for Dundee, told him, that,—'The system of advances and repayment, was impracticable. He was convinced that the means, by which that object was to be effected, would not succeed. They had the most distinct proof in the evidence given before the Committee, that they could not succeed. To his own knowledge, that evidence was most correct; the plan had not the slightest chance of success.' In this sentiment, almost every Irish Member, without distinction of party or politics concurred. The hon. and learned member for Tipperary, (Mr. Sheil) said,—"The collection of tithes is not the question; the amount of tithes is not the question; but the question is, shall the tithes be otherwise appropriated or not?" The hon. member for Kildare, (Mr. More O'Ferrall) said, that—"he never paid tithes without feeling himself degraded; he regarded it as a tribute paid by the conquered to the conquerors." The hon. 1378 member for Wexford (Mr. Lambert) said,—'He thought the Catholic people of Ireland wronged and insulted, by being compelled to pay tithes to a Protestant Church. For his own part, he never paid them without feeling, that there was no just right to compel him to do so. The law might give the right, but to him it was a legal wrong.' Sir, these are the sentiments—not of professed agitators—not of men who are desirous to dissever the connexion between the two countries—but of men distinguished amongst ourselves by their high and gallant bearing, and who may fairly be supposed to represent here the opinions of the more moderate class of the community to which they belong. There was no want of prophets, indeed, on the other side! The Solicitor-General for Ireland (who, by-the-by, has not now a seat in this House), announced, most distinctly, that—'the moment the fiat of the Legislature was pronounced, combination against tithes in Ireland would be broken. The arm of the Church was weak, but the arm of the law was strong; and combination and conspiracy would melt away before it,—'Like snow before the summer's sun.'It is always a dangerous thing for a lawyer to deal in poetry; but there never, perhaps, was a case in which the visions of the imagination were so decidedly at variance with facts as in the case now before us. The Act which the hon. and learned Gentleman sought was passed;—he was invested with the powers for which he had so earnestly prayed;—and what then? At the expense of 26,000l., in the course of six months, he succeeded in collecting 12,000l. of arrears. The attempt was then abandoned, and this House was compelled at the close of the last session, to purchase a truce at the expense of one million more. That truce is now about to expire. On the 1st of November, the clergy of Ireland will be thrown once more upon the resources of the country; and I ask the noble Lord opposite, with that feeling of unfeigned respect and regard which I have always entertained for him, whether he can, with that fearful responsibility which must rest upon him, recommend to this House to have recourse to a system of commutation, the inevitable failure of which every one again predicts; or whether he will not rather address us in the words which Curran once used in the Irish Parliament, and say,—'You have the infallible test of fact and experience before you, and 1379 wretched indeed must you be, if false shame, false pride, false fear, false spirit, can prevent you from reading that lesson of wisdom which is written in the blood and in the calamities of your country.' Sir, we have tried force to support the Irish Church, and it has failed us. By the Return which I hold in my hand, I find that, from the year 1825 to 1832, our army in Ireland varied from 19,000 to 23,000 men: that is to say, it consisted, as nearly as possible, of the same amount of British force as is required for the whole of our Indian Empire, and within one-third of the force employed to occupy our colonies in the other three quarters of the world. The expense of this army in Ireland, from the 1st of April, 1833, to the 31st of March 1834, amounted to 1,025,621l.; in addition to which we have kept up a large police force, the cost of which, from the year 1830, to 1832, has increased from 256,663l. to 287,192l.; and I suppose, since 1832, there has been a still greater increase.—[Mr. Finn: 50,000l. a-year more.]—So much for the question of expense; but, independently of this, I will put it to the House to say, whether it is not a great abuse of our gallant soldiery to convert them into agents for the collection of tithes in every petty village and district throughout the country? Their character has, indeed, only been raised hitherto, by the trial, but it should not be risked too long. We have not only tried force, but we have tried law, to support the Irish Church; and that has failed us also. I hold in my hand a Return of the number of tithe causes tried in Ireland from 1817 to 1821, which was ordered to be laid on the Table of the House on the 18th of March, 1822. It states, that, the number of tithe causes tried in the Ecclesiastical Courts, amounted to 3,418; and that the number of tithe causes tried at Quarter Sessions, by what is termed Civil Bill Process, before the assistant-barristers, amounted, in the same period, to 86,487; making a total of 89,905; which gives an average of nearly 20,000 tithe-causes in each successive year. Besides this, the Magistrates are empowered, by the 54th of George 3rd, to decide all cases under ten pounds; and the Clerk of the Peace for the county of Armagh estimates the number of causes brought before the Magistrates of that county alone, to be 1,000 annually. I do not wish to submit such a statement as this to the House, without stating precisely the manner in which it has been made out. The Clerks of the Peace, in making the original returns, stated gene- 1380 rally, that they were unable to make any distinction between tithe causes and other causes, tried before the assistant barristers; but they added, that, to the best of their belief, about one-third of the causes thus decided were tithe causes. From seven counties, indeed, there are distinct returns, either of tithe causes, entered as such, or of those causes tried at the suit of clergymen or tithe-proctors, which are supposed, naturally, to have originated in tithes. In all the rest, I have taken the third of the whole return as the basis of my calculation. But so anxious was I to avoid anything like exaggeration in this matter, that I put the paper which I had thus drawn up into the hands of the hon. and learned Recorder for Dublin, whose absence on this occasion I much regret, and asked his opinion respecting it. He told me, with great fairness, that he could not speak personally as to the accuracy of any of the statements, but that, as the cases tried before the assistant-barristers comprehended all those cases in which a note-of-hand had been given, and as that mode of paying tithes was almost universal in Ireland, he did not conceive the estimate to be exaggerated. Well might the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Control, say of such a system as this, in the speech to which I have already referred, that—'Tithes were a constant source of irritation in Ireland, from May to April, and from April again to May. Year by year, the same tormenting routine re-commences; and as it extends from farms to villages, and from villages to counties, you will see what a fruitful source is here opened for discontent and heart-burnings; and, in the end, for the most serious troubles.' But we have tried, not only force and law, for the support of the Irish Church,—we have tried liberality also! I find, by a reference to the Report of the Committee on the Irish Miscellaneous Estimates in 1829, that the grants made to the Charter Schools, the Associations for Discountenancing Vice, and to the Kildare-place Society, in all of which institutions education was, in some way, connected with a system of Protestant proselytism, amounted to 1,378,369l. During the first fifteen years of the Union, the grants of this House for building churches, and purchasing glebe-lands, amounted to 234,415l. more. And, as these grants have been continued down to a very recent period, I do not think that I can be accused of anything like exaggeration in stating, that upwards of two millions of English money, 1381 in addition to the million granted last year, have been employed to gild the pill of the Protestant Establishment in Ireland, which the natives of that country have, nevertheless, been almost unanimous in rejecting! The Irish people have clung, with an almost desperate tenacity, to their ancient creed—a creed, which has been endeared to them, not only by the attempts which have been made to shake its hold upon their affections, but, I fear I must add, by the flagrant abuses of the Protestant Establishment itself. Before I approach this branch of my subject, or enter into a comparative statement of the services rendered, and of the scale of remuneration required, by that Church, I must state to the House, that I was most anxious to obtain some better statistical data, upon which to judge of this part of the question, than any that have hitherto existed. The House is aware, that all religious distinctions have been excluded from the census of the population in Ireland, since 1731. The returns moved for by the hon. member for Cheshire, of those parishes in which the number of Protestants does not amount to fifty, have not yet been laid upon the Table of the House; and the returns of the Catholic Association, which have often been appealed to, only include 278 parishes out of 925. I am, therefore, forced to have recourse to the more ordinary sources of information, the accuracy of which there can be no reason to doubt, as the basis of my calculations. By the Population Abstract in 1831, it appears, that the population of Ireland, at that time, amounted to 7,767,401 souls. I may, therefore, fairly estimate them at 8,000,000 at the present day. The rev. Mr. Cooke, the moderator of the Synod at Ulster, in his evidence before the Committee of Education in the year 1828, states, that the Presbyterians of the Synod of Ulster amounted to 559,828. In the Synod of Munster there were 5,000 more; and in the other provinces, 5,022; making together a total of 569,840 Presbyterian Dissenters from the Established Church in Ireland. In 1812, Wakefield estimated the Episcopalian Protestants at one-fourteenth of the whole population; and I have no reason to believe, that his estimate was incorrect, or that the proportion has changed in their favour at the present day. I have a Return made in 1831, of the population of thirty-seven parishes in the diocese of Ossory, for the accuracy of which the hon. member for Kilkenny will vouch. The population of 1382 these thirty-seven parishes, in the year 1731, according to a return made by the Protestant Bishop to the House of Lords, was 16,487; the Protestants amounting to 1,935. In 1831, the total population was found to be 64,225, of whom 1,453 only were Protestants. Thus, while the total population had quadrupled in the period of a hundred years, the number of Protestants had fallen off by one-fifth; not as compared with the whole population, but as compared with its own numbers in 1731. The average would be about one in forty-four. The returns, which have been made to me from various parts of Ireland, tend to confirm this result, or, at least, to prove, incontestably, that Wakefield's estimate of one-fourteenth, exceeds, rather than falls short of, the real number of Episcopalian Protestants in Ireland. I hold in my hand returns from nine different counties, taken, I can assure the House, without the slightest wish to make out a case, for I have included all the documents that have reached me, wherever I have been able to ascertain that the parties furnishing them might be relied on for their accuracy. These Returns comprehend seventy parishes, containing a population of 329,000 Catholics, and only 14,037 Protestants, many of whom are stated to be Dissenters. This gives an average of one Protestant to twenty-three Catholics, in the whole seventy parishes; but the proportion, in different parishes, varies from one in nine, to one in sixteen, one in forty, one in 95, and, in one parish, the proportion is even one Protestant to 134 Catholics! I have a return of the population of seventeen parishes in the county of Louth, which is stated to amount to 17,007 in all, of whom only 253 are Protestants. In these seventeen parishes, 3,000l. a-year is paid, annually, by the Catholics for the religious instruction of 208 Protestants! for forty-five of the 253 included in the return are stated to be Dissenters. The only part of the census taken by the Catholic Association, which was complete, was the census of the diocese of Waterford; and the population there, in 1828, was found to amount to 231,818 Catholics, and 1,149 Protestants. The House will perceive that the average which I have before taken of the nine counties which gave one Protestant to twenty-three Catholics, exactly tallies with this. I received, this morning, some additional returns from twenty other parishes, the total population of which amounts to 85,700 souls, of whom 2,155 only are Protestants. This 1383 would give an average of only one in thirty-nine; but I am far from wishing to assume that these conclusions can be correct. I have no doubt that the strongest cases have been selected by those who have put themselves in communication with me. But if, in lieu of adopting the averages which these returns would authorize me in taking, (that is, one in twenty-three, or one in thirty-nine), I assume Wakefield's average of one in fourteen to be correct, I think I cannot fairly be accused of any design to diminish the numbers of the Episcopalian Protestants below their real amount. This would give 600,000 in all, as the numbers of those, for whose exclusive benefit the present Establishment is kept up. And what is the cost of this Establishment?—Very nearly one million sterling. The noble Lord, in his calculation last year, did not make it out to be so much; but he omitted, in his estimate, the glebe lands held by the clergy, amounting to 85,000 acres of good land, which, at 30s. an acre, would amount to 135,000l. a-year. This, together with the Bishops' lands, the ecclesiastical Corporations, and the returns of tithes, will make a total of 937,456l. as the yearly revenue actually received by the Irish Church. The total number of benefices is 1,456, of which seventy-four range from 800l. to 1,000l. a-year; seventy-five from 1,000l. to 1,500l.; seventeen from 1,500l. to 2,000l.; and ten from 2,000l. to 2,800l., which is the maximum. There are 407 livings varying from 400l. to 800l. per annum; and 386 livings, exceeding 200l., which is the maximum of remuneration among the Presbyterians of the north. Who can say, that such a fund as this is requisite to supply the spiritual wants of 600,000 souls? Who can wonder that the very magnitude of the Establishment, and the paucity of the duties attached to the different livings, should have rendered the Irish clergy peculiarly open to those attacks, on the score of non-residence, and neglect, which constitute one of the most serious charges against them? I find by reference to returns which were laid before Parliament in 1819, that the numbers of resident and non-resident clergymen, during the five years preceding, were nearly equal. In 1814, there were 644 residents, and 543 non-residents; in 1817, there were 765 residents, and 544 non-residents, and, in 1819, there were 758 residents, and 531 non-residents. The non-residents are classed rather singularly—they are called non-residents by exempttion, non-residents by dispensation, faculty, 1384 or license; non-residents without dispensation, faculty, or license; and miscellaneous non-residents. This last term I do not quite understand; but, be the classification what it may, one thing is evident, namely—that the greater part of the work of the Protestant Establishment in Ireland has been done by the curates, of whom there are no less than 730, at the present day, receiving salaries varying from 18l. to 200l. a-year, but averaging, perhaps, between 60l. and 70l. Now, if, for this pittance of 70l. a-year, the working portion of the Protestant Establishment can be provided for, what must the feelings of the Catholics be towards that part of the Establishment by which no work is done at all? Why should they submit to the burthen, which this Establishment imposes on them? Why should they not, to use the words of my hon. and learned friend, the member for Tipperary (Mr. Sheil), "cry out as loudly against churches without congregations, as the people of England did against boroughs without constituents?" I admit the analogy between the two cases, and I believe, that the demand will be found to be equally irresistible in the one case, as in the other, because it is equally just. I shall now be asked whether I wish, by pointing out the defects of the Establishment so strongly, to strip the Protestant Church entirely of those revenues which have been so long appropriated to its service, and to transfer them, at once, to the Catholics, as constituting the majority of the population? Certainly not. I do not hesitate to say, that I contemplate nothing of the kind. I wish only to do away with that glaring disproportion, which exists, at present, between the scale of duty and the scale of remuneration in the Church. I do not see why there should be livings of 800l. or 1,000l. a-year, with not more than ten or twelve Protestants to benefit from so ample a fund; and those Protestants constituting, in more than one instance, the family of the vicar, actually brought into the parish by himself. I do not see why, in cases where there is only the remnant of a Protestant flock, some provision should not be made for that remnant by the occasional services of a curate, without entailing on the parish the expenses to which a rector thinks himself entitled. I do not see why we should not follow the same scale of remuneration with respect to the episcopal clergy, where there are literally not Protestants sufficient to constitute a Protestant congregation, as is held to be satisfactory 1385 by the Presbyterians of the north of Ireland. The country is the same—the religious services are the same—yet you find, if you look to the evidence of Mr. Cooke, the Moderator of the Synod of Ulster, that the incomes of the Presbyterian ministers of the first class, in the large towns of Armagh, Newry, Belfast, and Dublin, (the great prizes in the lottery of Presbyterian Church preferment) do not vary from 250l. to 300l. a-year; while, in the country districts, they do not average 160l. This includes the Regium Donum, or Government allowance, which is distributed amongst them in three separate classes, (the first of which receives 100l. a-year, the second 75l., and the third 50l.,) as well as the stipend derived from their flocks, which consists entirely of pew-rents, surplice-fees being quite unknown. If this example is not sufficient, look at the clergy of Scotland! In what country, on the face of the globe, are the duties of the pastoral office more faithfully performed? In what country does the clergyman exercise a more beneficial influence over his flock? Where are the clergy, as a body, more looked up to, respected, and beloved? Yet, what is the scale of remuneration there? The minimum is, I believe, 150l. a-year; but, in the majority of the country districts, it is about 200l. In some cases it amounts to 250l., but in none does it exceed 300l. With this example before us, I think I cannot be accused of acting with niggardly parsimony towards the Church, if I propose, as a proper scale of remuneration for the episcopalian clergy of Ireland, who are actually in want of a flock, that which is considered by the Presbyterian clergy of the north of Ireland, and by the whole Presbyterian clergy of Scotland, as an ample compensation for the faithful and laborious discharge of all the duties of the Christian ministry. If I am asked how I would regulate the distribution of these salaries, I say, that I would give to Commissioners the power of assigning certain salaries, in particular cases, subject to the control of Parliament, which should fix permanently those cases in which a provision might be made. We have an example before us to prove the facility with which a plan of this nature may be carried into execution, in the ecclesiastical system of France. Provision is made there, in the Budget of every year, for the clergymen of every congregation of Christians, without distinction of religious opinions, who notify their existence to the Minister of the Interior. There are certain forms 1386 to be attended to, in order to constitute a legal existence; but when these have been complied with, the Minister, at once, assigns to them, in the Budget, a fixed sum, which is sanctioned by the Chambers. In France there is no tithe fund, upon which to draw for these grants. It was, as is well known, voted away, in a moment of what has been called revolutionary enthusiasm, but which I should call revolutionary frenzy. However, the benefit did not go to the great land-owners only, as it would do if tithes were abolished in Ireland, or here. There was so great a mass of confiscated property sold at that period, under the name of National Domains, and this I property was so parcelled out among the small landowners, that the benefit of the abolition of tithes has been brought home to every class; and every class is justly called upon, now, to contribute towards the national fund for the support of religion. That fund is distributed, as I have already said, by the Minister of the Interior. The Bishops and Archbishops receive out of it from 15,000 to 20,000 francs; the salaries of the curates are small, but vary according to the surplice-fees, which, in large towns, such as Paris, amount to a considerable sum. I am assured by friends, upon whose accuracy I can rely, that this system works well—that it prevents rivalry between the different sects, and ensures a full measure of religious instruction for the people. It is for this House to say, whether there may not be, in the case of Ireland, many circumstances, which might render the adoption of a similar system advisable there. I merely submit to the House, now, the necessity of some decisive change in the present state of things, as a general proposition; but I shall be prepared to go into details, as to the best mode of effecting this change, if the House should sanction the principle of reduction which I have laid down to night. But, of course, although reduction is the first step towards any improvement, our right to reduce depends upon our right to deal with the Church property at all,—on which important subject, as I have introduced it into my present Resolution, I shall beg leave to offer to the House a few observations. I have been blamed for mooting this subject at all, at this particular time; and I have been told that, by doing so, I have raised a new ground of discussion. I really will not do hon. Members the injustice to suppose this. I will not do the House the injustice to suppose, that any hon. Member could bring himself to vote for a reduction 1387 in the Irish Establishment, without believing that we have a full right to regulate the distribution of the Church property in any way that the welfare of the community may require. If we have not that right, we cannot approach the question at all. We have no plea for interfering with it! We must, therefore, establish the right in the first instance, and then proceed, if necessary, to act upon that right. Sir, I do not shrink at all from this discussion. I ant aware of the prejudices which have long existed on this subject—I am aware of the odium to which a man may expose himself, with a certain party at least, by advocating, even at this day, and in this House, what appear to me to be the plain principles of common sense. ["No, no.] I merely made that observation, because it has been urged on me by many Gentlemen who are disposed to vote for the principle of reduction, in the case of Ireland, that they do not like to assert that we have that right and power of control, which, in my view of the case, could alone justify our interference; and I repeat, that this feeling is so strong with me, that I cannot follow their advice, by attempting to evade the question, but shall bring it fully and fairly before the House, after first touching upon a peculiarity in the case of Ireland, on which great stress has been laid, as an objection to our dealing with the property belonging to the Church in that country—I mean the Act of Union. "The 5th article of that Act is, I believe, the one on which those Gentlemen, who have invoked it to their assistance, found their argument. It states distinctly, 'That the Churches of England and Ireland, as now by law established, shall be united into one Protestant Episcopal Church, to be called the United Church of England and Ireland; and that the "doctrine, worship, discipline, and government" of the said United Church (not one word about temporalities), shall be, and shall remain in full force, for ever, as the same are now by law established.' I know that, in the year 1825, no less a statesman than Mr. Canning—for whom no man can entertain a more sincere respect than I do, from every personal feeling—(for he was the first friend I had in public life)—said, that he thought these arguments conclusive, not only against reduction, but against inquiry. He rested his opposition to the Motion of the hon. member for Middlesex on this ground alone, and asked the House, 'Whether it were possible to pass a Resolution for a Com- 1388 mittee of Inquiry consistently with that Statute? The compact, which had been made at the Union, might be broken; but, until that was done, Parliament could not, without a violation, which would lead to the apprehension of violations of all kinds, concur in the Resolution of the hon. Member.' The same line was taken by the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth; and it has been followed, most perseveringly, by the hon. Baronet, the member for the University of Oxford, whose absence, on the present occasion I see with great regret, knowing the cause to which it must be ascribed. Now, without indulging in anything like casuistry, or special pleading, on this point, I cannot help saying, that, when I couple the declaration made by Mr. Pitt, in his speech before the Union, to which I have already referred, with the omission of the word "temporalities" in the Act of Union itself, I think I have a right to assume, that it was not intended, by the Government of that day, to include the temporalities of the Irish Church in the provisions of the 5th Article. [Colonel Perceval: No, no.] Sir, I repeat the assertion! I believe, that it was the intention of Mr. Pitt to confine the operation of that article to the objects expressed by the words specifically introduced into it—namely, the "doctrine, worship, discipline, and government," of the united Church, all of which I would hold sacred. I merely wish to confine their operation to the circle within which alone they can operate beneficially—namely, the circle of the Protestant Episcopalians in Ireland, who constitute the Church, and who, as a Church, will, I hope, always continue united with our own. But even supposing that it was the intention of those who framed the Act of Union to include in it the temporalities of the Church—I say, that they had no right to bind future generations. They had no right whatsoever to preclude the future Representatives of the two contracting parties in Parliament assembled, from agreeing, by common consent, to modify that Act in any way which the common interests of the two countries might require. I have high authority for saying this—the highest in England at this day—I mean the present Lord Chancellor, who met Mr. Canning on this ground, in 1825, and said: 'Much had been said of the compact of the Union between Great Britain and Ireland, and of its inviolability; yet, who that looked at the previous Union between Scotland and Eng- 1389 land, but must be convinced, that it was incidental to such treaties or engagements to be subjected to the future consideration of the Legislature.' Lord Brougham gave, as an instance of this, the abolition of heritable jurisdiction in Scotland, within forty years after the Union, by common consent, although the right had been specially reserved by the Act of Union; and he added: 'Taking into consideration the state of the Church in Ireland, and the state of the population, who, though obliged to support that Church, received no benefit from it,—it was "monstrous" to assert that such a system should never undergo legislative revision. These were the opinions of Lord Brougham, when he sat in this House. I might push the argument further—I might ask, whether this House would prefer a union in name, to a union in reality? Whether it would prefer the form to the substance? But this is not necessary. The question is no longer a question of principle, but a question of degree. The principle was conceded, last Session, in the Irish Church Reform Bill; for there is not one principle contained in the Resolution which I shall move to-night, which was not acted on in that Bill, although in a modified shape. You dealt then with the Bishops—prospectively—as I wish to do now. You reduced their number by one-half—you abolished Vestry-cess—and you even laid an Income-tax upon existing incumbents, which is more than I have proposed to do, for I wish to hold sacred all existing rights. I repeat, therefore, that this is no longer a question of principle, but simply of degree; and those who are disposed to oppose the Motion on the plea of principle, must seek some other ground of opposition than the Act of Union. Well, then, are there any other grounds of opposition? Have we a right to deal with Church property at all?—(for we come now to the general question)—or are there, in the state of Ireland, some peculiar circumstances, which render the exercise of that right particularly dangerous there? With regard to the general question, as to our right to deal with the Church property at all, the opinions of so many Members of this House have been so frequently and so strongly expressed, that I hardly feel it necessary to trouble the House by referring to them. I shall, however, select one or two. In the first place, I will quote the observations of the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) opposite, on his own Motion on the state of Ireland in 1824; 1390 and I beg, to assure the noble Lord, that I do so without the slightest wish to embarrass him, or to pin him down to a particular course, by a partial, or garbled quotation, but merely with a view to strengthen my own case, by recalling to the recollection of the House what have been, and I trust are, the opinions held upon this subject, by some of its most distinguished Members. The noble Lord said, (May 11th, 1824): 'If it should appear that, by a different distribution, or even by a diminution, of the revenues of the Church, the people might be less alienated from that Church than they now were, he did not think that, in recommending such a measure, he should be proposing anything inconsistent with the prosperity of the Church Establishment in Ireland.' The House will perceive by this, that, between the noble Lord and me it is clearly a question of degree. Lord Brougham, in the following year (1825), exclaimed, with reference to this same subject, in his own emphatic manner—'God forbid, that he should contend, that the Church had the same power over its property which individuals had over theirs. There was no sort of analogy between them. The Church received its property for the performance of certain services; but private property was held unconditionally.' As late as the year 1830, I find even the hon. member for Essex (Mr. Baring) rising in this House, 'To enter his protest against the doctrine, that, in no case was it competent for Parliament to meddle with the property of the Church, which was to be held as sacred as any gentleman's private property. What the state of the Church of Ireland might be, he did not pretend to know; but this he did know—that there was a power in the three branches of the Legislature, to revise the distribution of its property.' Sir, these are sound and practical opinions. They are borne out by the practice of every European nation, and are, moreover, in conformity with the sentiments of some of the most eminent of our own divines. Warburton distinctly states, that, 'The alliance between the Church and the State, is not irrevocable. It subsists just so long as the Church thereby established maintains its superiority of extent; which, when it loses, to any considerable degree, the alliance becomes void. For the united Church being then no longer able to perform its part of the convention, which is formed on reciprocal conditions, the State becomes disengaged.' 1391 Again he says:—'The adventitious advantages derived by the Church from the State must be defended by the State as long as the Union lasts. But when the Union is dissolved, they both fall together, without any essential damage to the Church as a religious society.' Paley uses yet stronger language, for he begins his chapter on religious establishments, by saying:—'A religious establishment is no part of Christianity. It is only a means of inculcating it. Its authority is founded upon its utility.' And he adds:—'There is nothing in the nature of religion, as such, which exempts it from the authority of the Legislature, when the safety or welfare of the community requires its interposition.' And again:—'If the Dissenters from the establishment become a majority of the people, the establishment itself ought to be altered, or modified.' Bacon who, though no divine, is a great authority, says, in his Treatise on the Pacification of the Church:—'I would only ask why the civil state should be purged and restored by good and wholesome laws, made every third or fourth year in Parliament assembled—devising remedies, as fast as time breedeth mischief; while, contrariwise, the ecclesiastical state should still continue upon the dregs of time, and receive no alteration.' These, Sir, I repeat, are the doctrines of sound common sense; and, as such, they were acted upon by our ancestors long before they were laid down in books. They had no scruples, at the Reformation, in transferring the property of the Catholic Church to the ministers of that creed, which became the creed of the majority of the people. They knew that the "adventitious advantages," of which Warburton speaks, ought to cease with the alliance which had given birth to them; and, the moment that alliance was dissolved, they transferred the property of the Catholic Church, both in England, and Ireland, to the ministers of the reformed religion. What the State then gave, the State has the power to resume, upon the same principle, that is, if we find it necessary for the good of the community! If, (to use the words of the noble Paymaster of the Forces, on the 13th of July, 1832,) we find—'That the Protestant Church in Ireland is too large, not only for the wants of the Protestant population, but for its own stability.' Or that—'What was intended by our ancestors in the establishment of the Church of Ireland, for religious, and moral, purposes, 1392 had not answered that end.' This is the real question, which we have now to determine; and not only has the Legislature a right to examine into this question—to sift, and probe it, to the very bottom—but the people of England have a moral right to call on this House to discharge this sacred duty, and to modify, remodel, or recall altogether, the charter of the ecclesiastical corporation in Ireland, if it be found not to have answered the ends of its institution. But, said the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, (on the 13th of March, 1832,) such an interference in Ireland would be peculiarly dangerous. Look at the old confiscations:—'If a prescription of 300 years can plead nothing in favour of Church property, how unlikely is it that a prescription of 150 years can plead in favour of the settlement of lay property.' Now, the force of this argument depends on the fact, whether Church property is regarded by the people of this country (as I conceive it to be, universally) in the light of trust property, or not? If it be so regarded—if it is held to be what Grattan calls it, "the salary of prayer, and not the gift of God, independent of the duty," it cannot be, in any way, injurious to lay property to interfere with it. As to the old confiscations—I will appeal to the hon. and learned member for Dublin to say, whether it is possible to interfere in any way with the Acts of Settlement under Charles and William, however harsh or unjust the provisions of those Acts may have been without destroying the titles of every one of those Catholics who have acquired property in land since the relaxation of the Penal-laws? We may, therefore, fairly set the interests of the present generation against those of the representatives of the old proprietors of the soil, and trust to them for the maintenance of acts, which it is impossible now to revert to, without bringing down upon us the fabric of society itself. Sir James Mackintosh has a passage upon this very subject in his last work, which is so apposite, and so powerful, that I shall beg leave to read it to the House, and it is the last quotation, with which I shall trouble them. Speaking of the Irish confiscations, he says:—'It is one of the most malignant properties of extensive confiscation, that it is irreparable. The land is sold to honest purchasers; it is inherited by innocent children; it is made the security of creditors:—its safety becomes interwoven, by the complicated transactions 1393 of life, with all the interests of the community. One act of injustice is not to be atoned for by the commission of another, against parties who may be equally unoffending.' To the influence of these feelings we may safely trust for the maintenance of the Acts of Settlement as they now exist; and I will venture to predict that the feeling will only be strengthened by any measure, that gives tranquillity to Ireland, and enables her to develope those resources with which nature has so richly endowed her, but of which, by a singular combination of misfortune, and misgovernment, she has been prevented, hitherto, from availing herself. Sir, my task is now drawing to a close. I have argued the question of necessity. I have argued the question of right. I have shown that, in the opinion of many of our most eminent statesmen, the present system in Ireland cannot go on; that we war against nature itself in endeavouring to uphold it. I have shown that a great change in this system must take place, before we can hope to witness that identification of interests and of feelings, between the two countries, which it must be the object of all to bring about: and I have shown, moreover, that the remedy is in our hands. I now, therefore, call upon this House not to shrink from the duty of applying it. I call upon the House most earnestly, and solemnly, to reflect upon the tremendous consequences, which the decision of this night must have, not only upon Ireland, but upon the empire at large! If we look to Ireland, I ask any Irish Member, who hears me, without distinction of party, or politics, whether his hopes of public tranquillity—I might almost say of domestic peace—do not depend on the settlement of this question before the ensuing winter? For, when I talk of tranquillity in Ireland, I do not mean that tranquillity, which we are accustomed to enjoy in this more favoured part of the empire—I mean, simply, an exemption from scenes of anarchy, of rapine, and of blood—of which those can form no conception who have never been exposed to their withering influence. If we look at home, we shall find, that the character of this reformed House must depend, most materially, on the decision which we are about to pronounce. We have evaded this question once—we can do so no longer! It is now brought fairly forward—not mixed up with the question of the Irish Tithe Commutation Bill; but as a substantive question, on which the country has a right to expect an explicit declaration of opinion 1394 from all concerned, and, more particularly, from the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have always stated, that, whenever the time for making such a declaration arrived, they would not shrink from it. Sir, I have said, that the character of this House, as far as England is concerned, depends on the decision of this night, and I will not recall one word of this assertion!—Where, I ask, is the constituency, occupied as all now are with questions flowing out of the great question of religious rights, before which any Member can hope to justify a vote, upholding, in all its magnitude, the colossal injustice of the Irish Church? Where is the Dissenter, who can give such a vote, sanctioning, as he must do by it, the principle, that it is not upon the basis of population, that an establishment ought to rest? Where is the Scotch Member who will give such a vote, and disgrace the noble lessons of his ancestors, by contributing to rivet the chains of a country, which has struggled less successfully, but not less justly, than his own? As to the members of that Church, to which I myself belong, I think myself entitled to address to them a few words of earnest warning. Let us not endeavour to serve the cause of the Church of England at home, by connecting it with the cause of injustice in a sister country! The cases of England, and Ireland, are now perfectly distinct. It will be our fault if they are hereafter confounded. The Church of England still rests on the broad basis of population. It still maintains its hold on the affections and respect of a great proportion of the English people; and it is my most earnest wish and prayer, that it may long retain it! But I feel most deeply convinced that it can only do this by conforming to the spirit of the times in which we live. By withholding no just rights—by opposing no just demands—by conceding to its opponents, here, every civil privilege, which they are fairly entitled to ask—and, above all, by not attempting to perpetuate, in Ireland, a system, which is not less at variance with the just rights of man, than it is with the mild and pure spirit of Christianity itself. If I am told that it is easy to declaim on such a subject as this, but very difficult to legislate—I, at once, deny the fact. I say, look at Scotland! Look at that statute, which gave peace to her, after fifty years of oppression, and suffering! It contained just twenty lines; and twenty lines would suffice now to restore Ireland to tranquillity, if they contained an assurance, as this 1395 statute does, that, in the future distribution of Church property in Ireland, due regard should be shown to the religion of the vast majority of the people. If I am told, that this religion is not the true religion, and that we ought not to sacrifice to political expediency the sacred interests of truth—I again deny the fact. I say, that with truth, as legislators, we have nothing to do! We have to look to civil utility alone, as the basis of the connexion between the Church and the State; and if we once wander from this strong ground, there is no predicting the consequences which must ensue? Who is to be the judge of truth, except one, to whom, in this world, there can be no appeal! Where is the source of truth, except in that sacred volume, from which, in all times—ay, even down to the present day—the most opposite conclusions have been drawn, upon points of doctrine, at least, by the wisest, the most virtuous, and the most conscientious of mankind! Look at the consequences, again, of adopting this principle! If we maintain the established religion to be the only true religion, the State must follow up this doctrine! It must enact Test-laws for its protection. It must put down all who reject it! Sir, it was in the name of truth that the Spanish Inquisition was established; and Louis 14th was never more intimately convinced of the truth of his religion, than when he desolated the fairest provinces of France, in its name, by the revocation of the edict of Nantes! These were the effects of maintaining the established religion to be the true religion in Catholic countries. But let us not forget, Protestants as we are, that it was in the name of truth that Ireland was cursed with the Penal-laws! Sir, I have no wish to dwell upon this hateful topic; but when I see—and I do not use the term irreverently—how in this case, at least, the sins of the fathers have been visited upon the chidren, unto the third and fourth generation—when I see what a plentiful crop of strife, of disorganization, and of blood, has been born by the seed sown in 1704, when the attempt was made to degrade, and brutalize, the whole Catholic population, by a series of legislative enactments—I feel that there cannot be a man in the assembly, which I am now addressing, who would ever again consent to sully the pages of our statute-book by unjust, and partial laws, enacted in the name of truth. If I am told that the people of England are not prepared for the adoption of such principles as these, 1396 and that, at all events, it is useless to moot them here, because they will never receive the sanction of another branch of the Legislature—I, once more, deny the fact! The people of England are prepared for the adoption of the principles of justice, and of religious toleration; to the fullest extent of the terms; and, as to the other branch of the Legislature, we have nothing to do with it. We ought neither to court, nor to fear, its opposition! Let this House but discharge its own duties honestly; let it place itself in the van of public opinion, instead of lagging, tardily, behind;—let it above all, redeem that pledge, which it has so recently, and so solemnly given,—"to remove all just causes of complaint in Ireland, and to promote all well-considered measures of improvement," and I will venture to predict that its influence will be irresistible! Sir, the path of duty—I had almost said the path of honour, when I looked to our late Address—lies open before us. Time has worn away those obstacles, which Mr. Pitt was unable to surmount: and that vision of conciliation and of peace—(I use his own words—and most remarkable words they are)—which he saw in the distance, but which he was unable to realize, is now within our grasp. Let this House, by its vote of to-night, calmly and deliberately, but firmly—resolve to enter on this path—the path of duty, and the path of honour—and so far am I from apprehending that the people of England will ever desert us, in the attempt to assert what I believe to be the cause of true religion—of just, and equal rights—that I am convinced that every honest heart and voice will be with us, and that the blessings of millions will cheer us on our way. Sir, I feel how inadequate my efforts have been to do justice to the importance of this great cause. I trust that the exertions of others will cover my deficiencies; and that it will receive from the House that full measure of deep, and earnest consideration, to which its own merits so justly entitle it. With these feelings—with these wishes—with these hopes, I shall now proceed: to move—"That the Protestant Episcopal Establishment in Ireland exceeds the spiritual wants of the Protestant population; and that, it being the right of the State to regulate the distribution of Church property, in such manner as Parliament may determine, it is the opinion of this House, that the temporal possessions of the Church of Ireland, as now established by law, ought to be reduced."
§ Mr. Grote
rose to second the Motion of his hon. friend, and stated that he did so, fully concurring in all the opinions which his hon. friend had expressed. He felt, that the proposition was not only an act of justice, but that it was recommended by every consideration connected with the peace of Ireland, and connected with the peace of the Empire at large. It was a proposition, the adoption of which would be wise at all times, but would be especially wise at the present moment, when the question of tithes in Ireland had become one of so much importance, and when such extensive alterations were made and proposed in the law with respect to that subject. The eloquent speech of his hon. friend, and the manner in which he had touched upon all the subjects to which the Motion related, not only relieved him (Mr. Grote) from the necessity of entering at great length upon the question, but imposed upon him the duty of being as brief as possible. The adoption of the proposition would in no way assail the spiritual efficiency of the Church in Ireland; its only effect would be, to assail the immoderate endowments of that Church. As far as its spiritual efficiency went, it would be left as it was, but it would be stripped of those worldly riches which, while they added nothing to its weight and influence, were the cause of the distress and impoverishment of the whole of the Irish population. He could not concur with those who sought to identify the case of the two Churches of England and Ireland. Those who sought to do this would degrade the one Church, without elevating the other. The two Churches were not only not the same, but they were opposite in spirit and in principle. What was the great argument in support of the Church of England, and of that connexion with the State which gave it exclusively the temporalities which the State had to bestow? Was it not that it was the religion of the great majority of the people? Could the Established Church of Ireland be defended on the same principle? It was not necessary for him to remind the House, that when lands and other temporalities were set apart for religious worship, it was for the support of one form of worship, in which all were united in one common Church. Diversity of creeds was then unknown; at least those who might dissent were not acknowledged as a public body, and were obliged to keep their dissent carefully concealed. In the sixteenth century this unity of 1398 opinion and worship was broken up. What then became of the temporalities of the Church? In those states where the change of religion was great, as in England, the temporalities were, in some cases, taken by the Government, and applied to secular purposes; but the greater portion were given to that sect of which the majority of the people were members. There was only one case in Europe in which the temporalities did not go to the majority, but to a small minority of the people, and that was in Ireland. To the honour of Europe be it said, there was no other instance in which a similar application of Church property, had been made. And that application, in Ireland, was a departure from reason and justice, and unsupported by any historical precedent. He felt persuaded that no great doubts existed of the Church Establishment of Ireland being exorbitant as compared with the wants of the Protestant population of that country. Where could such an establishment find its parallel in Europe? Take the case of France even under the bigoted reign of Charles 10th. From the account laid before the Chamber by the minister of public instruction in 1828, it appeared, that the whole expenditure of the Church Establishment of that country, including all the pomp and splendour of Catholic worship, did not exceed 33,200,000 francs for a population exceeding 32,000,000. That was, that the religious worship of all France cost the State little more than one franc per head, or, in our coin, something less than 1s. per head. Now, compare this with the Church revenue of Ireland; that amounted to an income of about 900,000l. for a population of about 600,000 persons,—i. e. about 1l. 10s. per head; being more than thirty times as great in proportion as the expenditure of France for a similar purpose! But if the cheapness of foreign countries and their different modes of living made the comparison with Ireland not a fair one, let them compare it with the expenditure of England, and they would see the vast disproportion between the two, compared with the Protestant population of each. He would not dwell on the case of Scotland, which had been so ably put by his hon. friend, further than to say, that those who contended that the Church Establishment of Ireland was not too great, must admit, that the exemplary and active clergymen of Scotland were starved in their vocation. There were some who, admitting the magnitude of the Irish Church Establishment, were still prepared 1399 to contend that the State had no right to touch it, or to apply it to other than religious purposes. He was not able to find out on what ground the sovereignty of the Legislature was to be limited in this respect more than in any thing else in which the public interests were concerned. He might find in such writers as Bossuet or other able defenders of the Catholic faith, a consistency in arguing that the State had no right to touch Church temporalities, but he could not think that there was any consistency in a Protestant—in a defender of the principles of the Reformation—in maintaining such an argument, because every Protestant must be aware, that, in the progress of the Reformation, Church property had been violated—that was, had been applied to purposes different from those to which it had been originally intended. He concurred, therefore, with his hon. friend in the opinion that the power of Parliament was not limited in that respect, and that the present Parliament had as much right to modify as any former Parliament had to enact the grant of such temporalities. Where bargains had been made with individuals, or where individuals had an interest in the property, he would not disturb them. He thought that his hon. friend had made out a strong case in support of his Motion, by the great poverty of the mass of the Irish people, and by the perpetual recurrence of religious and political disunions, arising from the collection of these revenues. His case was made out, too, by the constant hostility evinced to the Protestant Church. But it was not alone the mode of collection, the amount collected, nor even the hostility of those who professed a different religion, so much as this, that the establishment was a monument of Protestant ascendancy and an insult to every Catholic. Let the Church be reduced to its proper dimensions, and much of these grounds of objection would be removed. If the Legislature attempted to continue that establishment in its present magnitude the Legislature would share in its unpopularity, and it was to be expected that the whole Protestant Establishment would fail amidst multiplied peril and multiplied calamity. The Protestant Establishment in Ireland was considered a grievance upheld only by the irresistible influence of English con- 1400 nexion; and when the Irish peasant paid his tithe he was led to look upon it as the result of that connexion. If, then, the House looked to the permanence of English connexion with Ireland, it should limit the Irish Church Establishment within proper boundaries, those boundaries to be measured by the wants of the Protestant population of the country. In the late discussions on the subject of the Union with Ireland, he had listened with pleasure to the powerful arguments which had been urged in support of the continuance of that connexion which now subsisted between the two countries. He had heard most convincing arguments urged in favour of the advantages which must result from it to both countries. He had heard most of the arguments on the other side completely answered; but when the advocates for the Repeal of the Union put forward the evils which arose from the Irish Church Establishment, no man replied to them. When the magnanimity of England in her conduct to Scotland, as compared with her conduct to Ireland, with regard to their respective Churches, was urged, no man replied to them, and why? Because no reasonable answer could be given to such objections. The first step towards the reform of an abuse was to lay down a good principle—such a principle was laid down in this Motion, and, as a first step, he earnestly hoped that the House would concur in it.
§ Lord Althorp
Since my hon. friend who rose to support this Motion, commenced his address, circumstances have come to my knowledge which induce me to move, that the further debate upon this subject be adjourned to Monday next. I cannot now state what those circumstances are; but I hope the House has sufficient confidence in me [The noble Lord was interrupted by loud and long continued cheering, from all parts of the House.] I hope, I repeat, that the House will have sufficient confidence in me to believe, that I would not make such a proposition unless I were convinced of its propriety. I now move, that the further debate on this Motion be adjourned to Monday next.
§ This Motion was carried.
§ The noble Lord moved, that the House at its rising do adjourn to Monday next. Agreed to.