§ Lord John Russell moved the Order of the Day for the House resolving itself into a Committee of the whole House on the state of the Irish Church.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, nothing, Sir, should tempt me to throw any obstacle in the way of the House coming to a decision on the question before it, but the present exigencies of the public service. With respect to the Navy Estimates, it is, I assure the House, of great importance that there should be a vote. On account, also, of the near approach of the expiration of the Mutiny Act, it is important that the Bill for the renewal of that Act, should be allowed to proceed. Under these circumstances, I beg to suggest to the House the propriety of coming to an understanding that if the debate, arising from the Motion of the noble Lord, should be adjourned this night, it shall not be resumed on Monday before the House has come to a vote on the Navy Estimates, and has advanced the Mutiny Bill a stage. I feel it to be my duty to state to the House that unless this course be pursued, great inconvenience will arise to the public service.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
I propose to take only those votes, the postponement of which would occasion great inconvenience to the public service. My suggestion is, that if this debate should unfortunately go over till Monday, we should be allowed at five o'clock to advance the Mutiny Act a stage, and take a vote on the Navy Estimates. After that, probably at eight or nine o'clock, this debate might be resumed. I have given the House a reason why the Mutiny Act should proceed; and my right hon. Friend will, in his statement, explain to the House the necessity that exists for certain votes in the Navy Estimates being agreed to.
§ Mr. Wilks
I beg to remind the right hon. Baronet that the Dissenters' Marriages Bill stands for a second reading on Monday night. Will the right hon. Baronet have the goodness to inform the House whether he proposes that that Motion shall be brought on?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
The arrangement I have suggested, is only in the event of the debate of this evening being adjourned; but should it not, the advancement of the Mutiny Act a stage, and the coming to a vote of the Navy Estimates, will not, I suppose, occupy any great length of time; and in that case, at about eight or nine o'clock, I should have no objection to discuss the second reading of the Dissenters' Marriages Bill. But, of course, I leave that to be determined by the House.
It was understood that this arrangement was acquiesced in.
The Order of the Day was read, and the House resolved itself into Committee.
Lord John Russell moved, "That it is the opinion of this Committee that any surplus which may remain, after fully providing for the spiritual instruction of the members of the Established Church in Ireland, ought to be applied locally to the general education of all classes of Christians."
§ Mr. Finch
said, looking at the Irish Church as it at present existed, he certainly considered that the proceedings now adopted were neither decent nor respectable, in reference to that venerable institution. It had been said, that bringing forward the Tithe Bill, occasioned the 792 necessity for the line of conduct adopted by the noble Lord, the Member for Devonshire; in his opinion, it ought to have induced the noble Lord to take a totally opposite course. The object of this Resolution was evidently to provide an endowment for the Catholic clergy in Ireland, although that had not been expressly asserted in the debate, with the view, forsooth, of conciliating them towards the Protestant Establishment. Such a proposition, however, originated in total ignorance of the real position, character, and policy, of the Catholic priesthood. They never could be conciliated by any payment from the State. It had been argued in the course of the discussion, that it was most unjust to force on the people of Ireland a Protestant Church Establishment, which was inconsistent with the views, and opposed to the wishes of the great majority of the population. He denied the justice of that argument. The Church in Ireland was supported by her own property, and all that the Establishment did was, to hold out the hand of fellowship to the Roman Catholics, and invite them to participate in the spiritual advantage which it conferred. He was ready to admit that Ireland had long been misgoverned, but it was the bounden duty of the English Legislature to bestow on the population of that country what they duly and conscientiously considered the greatest blessing that could be conferred by any State—good Government, but not dissociated from good religion. The position was a most untenable one, that the Protestant Church not having greatly increased in numbers, its revenues should therefore be diminished. The fact was, that till within the last twenty-five years, Protestantism had never got a fair trial, and now that persecution, and other unfavourable circumstances, had disappeared, numbers of Catholics were yearly acceding to its faith. He knew an instance where a clergyman, now in London, and who was ready to attest the fact at the Bar of that House, had, in one district in Ireland, admitted not fewer than 100 Catholics during the course of one year, into the Protestant communion, and Dr. Murray, the Dean of Armagh, had succeeded in converting an equal number in the same period, one of whom having made a public recantation of his former creed, had his house pulled down. The hon. Member then adverted to the fact, that the present 793 measure was intended for the purpose of conciliation, and alluded to the denunciations which the hon. and learned Member for Dublin had directed against Earl Grey and his colleagues, notwithstanding all their attempts at conciliation, because they had not adopted his extravagant and selfish notions. He could not but think that that hon. and learned Member had, in giving the Opposition the benefit of thirty-three of a majority last night, made a bargain with them to serve his own selfish views. With respect to this Resolution in itself, it was altogether unworthy of the character of a Statesman and the infallible result of it would be to light up the torch of discord and civil commotion throughout Ireland, and to unsettle all property, both corporate, civil, and ecclesiastical, in this country. Frequent reference had been made to the length of time during which the possession of tithes by the present owners was said not to exist, and some hon. Members had gone as far back as the year 1200. That, surely, was not the fair mode of arguing such a question. What would any one say to being called on to justify, explain, and prove his title to property extending the investigation through a period of 600 years? What security could any man have for his property, if such a practice were to obtain? But it was not by prescription, nor by Act of Parliament alone, that the property of the Protestant Church was secured, but by solemn treaty. But if Acts of Parliament were required, he would refer to the Act of Union, passed by a Protestant Parliament. At the time of the Union, and at the period of the passing of Roman Catholic Emancipation, guarantees were given of the inviolability of Church-property, and it must be considered as still further secured by the Coronation Oath. When he considered the object of the institution of the Established Church—when he reflected upon the sacredness of its character, he felt that there could be no strength, no stability for any species of property, if the Church were to be robbed. Let them look at the title of the fundholder—it was of only thirty or forty years' standing; in every point of view, then, he could not but deprecate the whole project of the noble Lord as dangerous in the last degree. The revenues of the Church with respect to their amount and distribution had been, as hon. Members must remember, made the subject of 794 much and severe reflection; they were talked of as the bloated revenues of the Church, as if the Members of that House were ignorant of the circumstances under which the Church in Ireland was placed. He happened that day to look into the miscellaneous estimates, and he saw the salary of a messenger set down at 400l., and other officers and servants of the public upon an equally munificent scale. The overseer of convicts at the hulks had a salary of 327l. a-year, and yet with the small stipends which the parochial clergy had in Ireland, and with the expenses of keeping glebe-houses in repair, they were described as possessing bloated revenues; it was thus, and by arguments founded upon representations such as these, that the opponents of Ministers sought to procure their removal from office, with a view to become their successors. The present Ministers were on their trial, and he felt confident that they would be acquitted; he need scarcely suggest that the conduct of the Opposition would, since the commencement of the present Session, contrast with that of the Administration in a manner most disadvantageous to the latter; it was really of a character quite unparalleled even in the annals of an unreformed Parliament. If the Members on the other side of the House were sent back to their constituents, he entertained not the least doubt that they would receive such a lesson as would fully convince them that the people of England were not satisfied with their conduct in that House; they would show their representatives that they did not approve of the conduct of an Opposition that had endeavoured to remove a Ministry which could carry on the affairs of the country while those who opposed them were wholly unable to replace them, for a Babel Opposition could never form anything but a Babel Administration. The hon. Member vindicated the Duke of Wellington from the charge some time ago brought against him, of having advised the dismissal of the late Government, and contended that Earl Grey, when he said that Lord Althorp was the right hand of his Government, had in effect given the advice which led to the change of Ministers. The present Ministers had never intrigued for office, nor had they ever done an official act which needed defence or vindication.
Mr. Andrew Johnstone
stated, that last night he had not voted upon either side. 795 He could not support those with whom he generally acted, nor had he divided with his Majesty's Government. He thought, however, that justice had not been done to the Protestant Church in Ireland by the hon. Members at his side of the House. It would, he thought, considering his Protestant opinions, ill become him not to stand up in support of the Irish Church in the hour of its distress. He thought that a bad test had been applied to that Church—namely, the test of its success, against which it was well known up to that time so many causes had conspired. There was at present in Ireland a body of most zealous, efficient, and evangelical pastors. He objected to have that revenue cut down which was essential to the Establishment, if they were to have an Establishment at all. They ought to have had means of information before they proceeded to a decision. What, he asked, must the country think, when it heard that they had come to a conclusion that morning, notwithstanding the great discrepancy as to the amount of the Church revenues which existed between the solemn statements of the noble Lord, and the right hon. Baronet? For his part, he was anxious that a sum of money should be applied to the purpose of sending missionary clergymen who might be able to preach the gospel to the people of Ireland in their own language. He was not opposed to a judicious Reform in the Establishment. He would go as far as anybody in salutary and healing Reform; but he never would consent to the destruction of the Church. If the House went on in the way they did that morning, to declare a surplus, the Roman Catholics would soon take cave to make one. He did not think that a question involving so many important considerations should have been entertained as a party question; and it would have been far better for the hon. Members to have proposed a substantive Resolution that the House had no confidence in the Administration than seek to effect their object by a side-wind. And if they had good constitutional support for their Motion, he would have been amongst those ready to declare they had no confidence in the Government. But he never would be a party to dealing unjustly with the Government of the country. He would not assist in throwing them overboard by any side wind. Let them have fair play. This 796 great Question of the Irish Church ought to be decided on its own merits. He looked upon the Opposition as a rope of sand merely; for even according to the evidence of Lord Melbourne himself, some of the present followers of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had been amongst the most vehement and vigorous enemies of the late Administration.
§ Colonel Conolly
said, that representing, as he did, a Protestant county, he could not refrain from denying the greater part of those assertions in which hon. Members at the other side had indulged during the debate. The Protestant population in Ireland had strong reasons to complain that their Church had been vilified—her revenues exaggerated, and marked out for spoliation—and every injurious course adopted to bring the Established Church into disrepute, during the discussions that had taken place upon the deceptive and furtive Motion of the noble Lord. His object in rising was to divest the Motion, so far as his humble abilities permitted him, of its outer guise, of its sinister and furtive character. It was pretended that the object of the present Motion was to promote education in Ireland. A more gross or iniquitous deception, under the pretence of affection for Ireland, was never yet attempted to be practised. The real object was, under a combination such as never before had been witnessed in that House—the object of this coalition, he would repeat, was, under a miserable generality, to aim a dagger at the breast of the Administration, which they dared not attempt openly to remove—and every thing which could disgrace the politician, and dishonour the human heart, had been resorted to for the purpose of carrying their nefarious intentions into effect. The Resolution was drawn in such a manner as to catch fish of all sizes within its meshes, but when it was exhibited in its proper colours to the English nation, they would despise those who resorted to such dishonest and interested means to carry their object. His own countrymen, however, would see the matter in its proper colours—he, as an independent Member of Parliament, should in his place denounce the measure, and it appeared to him that any person possessing a particle of understanding, must be able to divest the subject of the tinsel and glitter in which it was tricked out; and so 797 far as Ireland was concerned, he could say that the people of that country would not be mistaken in its effects, and they would never accept humbug for justice, or be deceived by a set of men who were trying to disguise unworthy and interested motives under the guise of affection for a sister country, who talked of tranquillity, and yet were continually appealing to the worst passions of the Irish peasantry; who were referring in the absence of present grievances to the times of Henry 8th, with the view to excite ancient animosities; who even now, while they promised so much, were for their own purposes rejecting the real remedy for the ills of Ireland, and substituting in its place one that must lead to the prostration of all law in Ireland. He admitted that the real evil, cemented with the Church in Ireland, was the mode by which the tithe was collected. His Majesty's Government had presented to the House a highly satisfactory measure, which was calculated to eradicate the evil. The great evil, as he had stated last year, was the necessity which was imposed upon the clergy of having recourse for the collection of their revenues to a pauper Catholic tenantry. The measure of his Majesty's Government went to eradicate that evil thoroughly; and yet it was to be rejected, and this furtive Resolution substituted in its place. The sham sensibility of this deceptive Motion would, instead of procuring peace and conciliation, only tend to irritate the people of Ireland of all parties. One of the greatest misfortunes of Ireland was, that some of the ills which affected her were made matters of speculation on which some men drove a trade, and throve by it. He stood there as an independent man, who for years had exerted himself to diffuse the benefits of Scriptural education in his own district. For thirty years he had done all in his power to promote such education, and he had done so out of his own pocket, and not by any predatory attacks on the public purse. ["Hear."] Hon. Members opposite, who were now the advocates of education, had uniformly opposed every plan of education which had been proposed for years in Ireland. He could prove it. They were content to leave the people in ignorance, because that was the material on which the Demagogue and Agitator could work with most effect. It really appeared to him, that if 798 there was an attempt to impose on the public mind, which presented itself in a more ludicrous point of view than another, it was the present. Hon. Members affected a desire to give the people education, but the only effectual way in which they could give it, was by going heart and hand with those whom they now opposed. If they did, the people would receive it, and would be grateful for it; but this was not what was wanted by hon. Members opposite; they wanted to make an attack on Church-property. He disclaimed being actuated by a desire to make proselytes—all he desired was, that the people should be permitted to read the Word of God. That was the system of education which he had always advocated, and which he would never cease to advocate. He protested against such an intolerant aggression on the property of the Church in Ireland. He protested against such an attack, made under miserable subterfuges, which any man who had lived a short time in Ireland or in this country must at once see through. To carry on such an attack it was only necessary to throw off all the incumbrances of common truth and common sense. Did not hon. Members see how the amount of Church-property had been raised—the Estimate of one hon. Member from 450,000l. to 1,000,000l? This was a Question of Appropriation. The snpporters of the proposition were rolling the apple of discord through the country—and hon. Members who had the love of God, and a desire of preserving peace and order on their lips—had for their real object the perpetuation of clamour and the increase of violence in Ireland. Was it done to hold it up as an object of plunder and spoliation, and an endless source of profit? The Church, it seemed, according to the arguments of some hon. Members, was to be plundered first of a large portion of her revenue; but it was to be restored again when the number of Protestants had increased. But was it likely that such increase would be permitted under the present system of intimidation in Ireland? Was it likely that the number would increase under the death's-head and cross-bones system of intimidation? When such marks, which might involve the lives of the parties, were placed on the shops and drawn round the house-doors of those who dared to vote against the wish of the greatest despot in Europe; he meant the hon. and 799 learned Member for the city of Dublin? He would repeat, that this was done by the greatest despot in Europe—the hon. and learned Member for the city of Dublin. If murder were not despotism, he knew not what was.
§ Mr. Roebuck
rose to order. It was, he submitted, highly irregular to make such charges. The hon. and gallant Member had charged the hon. and learned Member for the city of Dublin with instigating to murder.
§ Colonel Conolly
bowed to the opinion of the Chair, but he hoped that the consequences of such threats in Ireland might be as unreal as his assertion. Every base motive had been brought into action to cover the real and insidious purpose of hon. Gentlemen opposite. They had practised delusion to cover their insidious purpose—they had adopted a tortuous course to achieve that which they dared not attempt openly. He would tell them that their conduct was factious. It had all the ingredients of faction except courage. He had felt it his duty thus to strip this scandalous proposition, on which the votes of 322 Members had been caught, of the garnish with which it had been covered. He complained of the whole course which had been adopted towards the Established Church. He complained of her ministers having been villified—her faith derided; but he would say, that from none do the Roman Catholic peasantry receive greater kindness than from the ministers of the Established Church in Ireland—and bigot as he was supposed to be, Roman Catholics preferred living with him to persons of their own creed. He could not conceive how Members who voted last Parliament against the repeal of the Union could have been induced to sanction this deadliest blow to the connexion between the two countries. It was impossible he contended to destroy the Church in Ireland without the separation of the two countries following as matter of consequence. If the Protestants in Ireland were not supported by Great Britain they would be compelled to seek safety in another land. It was a fact, that year after year they were flying in thousands from their native shores. Last year there were many of his own tenants, whom he was most anxious to 800 keep with him, preferred this voluntary exile; and when he tried to persuade them to remain, some of them replied to him—"How can we think of remaining here when we cannot walk the public roads in safety." From similar motives, he had no doubt many thousands departed every year, and to such an extent was this carried, that not less than a quarter of a million of persons left Ireland for other countries. No doubt the account of the diminished number of Protestants was grateful to the ears of many Gentlemen opposite; but it was a source of pain and regret to those who had the best interests of their country at heart. With respect to the motion before the Committee, he must again say that he did not think it in the power of mischief to create more effectual means of increasing discontent and disturbances in Ireland. Hon. Members in supporting it would hold out a temptation to every kind of rapine and every kind of outrage in Ireland. It would operate more than any thing else to disturb the peace, as well as the domestic tranquillity in that country. Holding this opinion, and believing that it was only a flimsy pretext to cover their own political interests, he would cordially join in opposing the motion.
§ Mr. Sharman Crawford
said, on the subject of tithes, he had in another place stated, and he now repeated his opinion, that justice was not done to the Catholic or Presbyterian population in being called on to contribute to the support of a Church to which they did not belong. It had been objected to the present motion that it would not satisfy the people of Ireland, and the case of the Catholic Question was instanced as one from which great expectations were held out, none of which had been realized in tranquillizing that country. He would admit that Catholic Emancipation had not produced the good that was expected from it; but the reason was, it had not been accompanied with those other necessary measures which the state of Ireland called for. The abolition of Tithes was one of those measures, and he was convinced that until that measure was finally and amicably disposed of Ireland would not be tranquil. There were other measures also necessary for attaining that important object. One of these was the application of a part of the revenues drawn from Ireland to the employment of the people, and another the establishment 801 of some provision for the relief of the impotent and destitute poor. Unless some measures of relief of this kind were devised, the great mass of the people of that country would never obey the laws. One great, source of discontent, and one which pressed heavily on numbers in Ireland, was the Tithe of Agistment. By an Act of the Irish Parliament, the Tithe of Agistment was altogether abolished; but by the compulsory Tithe Composition Act, passed in the late reign, that tithe was made an impost on all land which before had been levied only on pasture land. Great hardship and distress had arisen from this, for all property that had been purchased, and all leases taken for a long time before, had been made subject to that exemption. With respect to the payment of tithe being exacted from those who differed from the Church, which those tithes went to support, he would ask members of the Established Church what was it that gave them the name of Protestants? Was it not because they protested against any power of the Church or State being exercised to fetter the free exercise of their opinion, or in any way to bind the human mind? But he would contend, that to enforce the payment of tithes on those who did not belong to that Church which received them was a violation of the rights of conscience. He had no wish to disturb the Church of Ireland; all he wished was, that justice should be done to that country. If it were not, he owned that he should feel bound to join in the call that had been made for the restoration of her own domestic legislature. He would, however, prefer that the united Parliament should do them justice; because, if that were done the two kingdoms would be more thoroughly united, and England and Ireland would, as they ought to do, stand or fall together.
§ Colonel Verner
said, before the noble Lord opposite submitted his motion to the House, he should take the liberty of calling its attention to a case in which he was deeply interested, and of asking a question arising out of it, to which he was naturally desirous to receive an answer. The case and the question could be very briefly stated, and he should beg leave to repeat them. The case which he submitted to the noble Lord was this:—For some time past it had been his intention, as soon as some arrangements which he contemplated were completed, to erect a 802 church and to endow a curacy upon his property in the north of Ireland; the question to which he was anxious to obtain an answer was, whether endowments such as his were to become subject, by the noble Lord's Motion, to parliamentary control? He proposed this case to the noble Lord, because he believed it to be of much importance in itself, and one in which many were interested—and agreeably to the expectations which the noble Lord's reply encouraged him to entertain, he did hope that it would have receded in the course of the noble Lord's statement before the House the consideration he thought it deserved—and that be should have received an intelligible answer, for the noble Lord had given him no reply. He had left him to deduce his own conclusions; in short, he had not afforded him the slightest assistance. He repealed his question, "if a private individual endow a church for the maintenance and extension of the Protestant religion, does his donation, the moment he has bestowed it, become liable to be seized and applied, by those who perhaps hate that religion, to purposes which are hostile to it?" If it were answered that private endowments were to be exempted from parliamentary control, then he would ask of the noble Lord to give the benefit of this exemption to whatever in past days was of private donation. But, if the noble Lord said, that as soon as an endowment had been conveyed by an individual for the maintenance of a Church he loved, it should be, at the will of Parliament, applied to the benefit, directly or indirectly, of a religion against whose doctrines he conscientiously protests, then he affirmed that the noble Lord virtually deprived the Church of any benefit it might hope to derive from the liberality of private individuals. Could any thing be more unfair, or more unjust, than that an assembly, consisting of persons of various religious persuasions, from which there was scarcely any exclusion, except of ministers of the Church, should dispose of the Church revenues—should pronounce what is a surplus, and direct it to uses not Ecclesiastical? If for no other reasons than these he should have felt himself called upon to vote as he did last night, against the noble Lord's Motion. It was his wish to have said a few words upon the subject of education in Ireland, but after the lengthened discussion which had already taken place, 803 he would not trespass longer upon the time of the House, reserving the few observations be might think it necessary to make, until that subject was more immediately before it. He should not now have risen, were it not that the question he had put to the noble Lord seemed to have been passed over by him, as undeserving his attention.
Lord John Russell
begged to state in answer to the hon. and gallant Member, that his resolution would not warrant any interference with private endowments; nor did he propose to meddle in any way with them.
§ Sir Robert Bateson
could assure the House, that he would not detain them at any length, nor should he have addressed the House at all were it not for the allusions that had been made by the hon. Member for Dundalk, to the meeting held last year in the county of Down; and as neither of the Members for that county happened now to be in their places, he trusted to the indulgence of the House while he refuted the charges that had been brought against those who attended that meeting. He begged to state, in answer to those taunts, that the meeting (the objects of which had been so much maligned and misrepresented, and in which never was a more respectable assembly congregated) had been held because the people of that important county felt the greatest want of confidence in his Majesty's late Government—because they were satisfied that Government was no Government for them—that in Ireland the Protestants, had not, under that Government, fair play; but, on the contrary, because the constituency of the county of Down had discovered that, whatever the hon. and learned Member for Dublin chose to dictate to the late right hon. Secretary for Ireland, that became the law of the land. He stated without the fear of contradiction, that never was there a more unpopular Government to the mass of the Protestants of the north than was that over which the right hon. Gentleman opposite had presided. The right hon. Gentleman, however, chose to sneer at that meeting, but he (Sir R. Bateson) must be permitted to say, that the sneer came with peculiar bad taste from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Littleton) when applied to the county Down meeting. The meeting in question, combining, as it had done, all the pro- 804 perty, influence, and respectability of the great and opulent county in which it was assembled, had been called together for the purpose of addressing his Majesty with an expression of its want of confidence in his Majesty's then advisers, and that immense meeting, the numbers of which he would not attempt to describe, had separated without the slightest riot having occurred, without any individual quarrel. He was not to be put down by the sneers and gestures, by that system of intimidation which he saw practised last night with sorrow and disgust by the occupants of the benches opposite, in a manner which was disgraceful at once to Gentlemen, and still more so to the character of the British Senate. Nothing could be more disgraceful than when a Member got up to express his sentiments, that he should be attempted to be coughed down. "We (said Sir Robert Peel) on this side of the House, do not interrupt you—we hear you out, and all I ask in return is fair play." With respect to the assertion of the hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. S. Crawford), he would only say, that the requisition to call the meeting was signed by every nobleman in the county, and by every gentleman of property in the county, with the exception of the hon. Member for Dundalk himself. The hon. Member attempted to get up a counter declaration, yet, notwithstanding emissaries were sent throughout the county, who had applied at all the alehouses, only eight hundred signatures were obtained. The sentiments expressed at that meeting were those entertained by the inhabitants of the province of Ulster, a province equal to any other in Ireland in respect to the moral worth of its residents, and to their intelligence, and which contributed by its trade and commerce more largely than any other province to the revenues necessary for the maintenance of the State. In that province individuals could find security for their capital, and protection for their persons; there the inhabitants were not threatened with the "death's heads and cross bones;" neither around the residence of any man was drawn the line of demarcation, which was the signal for a system of exclusive dealing. In the province of Ulster, the capitalist or the small trader was not liable to the denunciations of any hon. Member, to the effect that he "might have a chance of mercy elsewhere, but 805 that on earth none would be shown him!" He would ask the House, whether this district of Ireland—a district in which trade and commerce flourished, and happiness prevailed—should be wholly despised? With regard to the Question before the House, he should not presume to go over the arguments which already had been adduced, but he would state thus much—that there was no man more anxious than himself for a real Reform of the Church of Ireland. Neither would he oppose the abolition of sinecures, but at the same time he would increase the stipends of those curates and working clergy who were now paid at too low a rate. With regard to tithes, he believed, nay, he knew, that the present system was not acceptable to a great portion of the community, and of all things he should wish to prevent the clergy being brought in contact with the occupier of the soil. These were not only his sentiments, but those of his constituents. He was anxious for a complete alteration of the tithe system; but with regard to the proposition of the noble Lord, the Member for Devonshire, he looked upon it as the first step towards the complete annihilation of the Protestants of Ireland. He wanted no domination over the Catholics, neither would he submit to Popish domination. He would go still further, and say, that if such an appropriation as was proposed be made, the Presbyterians of Ireland would not be satisfied—already they did not approve of the present system of national education, as being contrary to their tenets and principles. That body, in common with himself and others, held the public grant in aid of the present system of education in Ireland to be a grant to the Roman Catholic portion of the population, and he was therefore justified in stating that it would not be even-handed justice to make such provision as was now proposed. He could tell the noble Lord and the House, that the Presbyterians of Ireland would not accept it; in a word, it would neither give satisfaction to them, nor to the poorer classes of the Roman Catholics. He, in common with his constituents, wished for a general system of education founded on the Gospel, as the means by which to remove bigotry, darkness, and superstition—a system by which the people would be enabled to judge for themselves, and to free them from the thraldom of a bigoted priesthood. He 806 would add, that wherever a Church was built, and its duties discharged by a zealous clergyman, that Church even in Roman Catholic districts, was filled to overflowing. He never would consent, because the number of Protestants in a parish might be small, that therefore no minister should be continued. He believed, that one, two, or ten individuals were valuable in the sight of their Maker, and therefore were as well entitled to the exercise of their religious rights as thousands. He must apologise to the House for these observations, which he had uttered on the spur of the moment; these observations were dictated by conscientious and heartfelt feelings, and he therefore hoped he had not unnecessarily trespassed upon its attention.
§ Mr. Littleton
said, that noise, and the declamation of set speeches were not the legitimate attributes of debate, but the statement of the hon. Member, who had last spoken, that the observations he had made had been offered on the spur of the moment, was the best excuse that hon. Member could offer. The hon. Member had been pleased to say, that the cause of the county of Down meeting in November last, was the unanimous feeling of that county, that even-handed justice could not be obtained from the Government. If that was the case, why, before the close of the last Parliament, had no specific charge been preferred against the Government? He (Mr. Littleton) challenged the hon. Member to make the charge, and should the hon. Member do so, he could promise him a most triumphant answer. He should have remained silent on the present occasion but for the taunt which the hon. Member had thrown out. He must, however, take this opportunity of asking the hon. Member, whether or not he was one of four or five magistrates who had put their names to the requisition printed and published in the county of Down, inviting the impartial judgement of the Orange lodges of that county at the meeting in question.
§ Sir Robert Bateson
said that he had never heard of the requisition alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman. He was not an Orangeman. With regard to charges against the late Government, the right hon. Gentleman need not be so eager; perhaps they might be made sooner than would be agreeable. The right hon. Gentleman ought to be the last man 807 to speak sneeringly of the county of Down.
§ Lord Castlereagh
said, that having been personally alluded to, he should be wanting in respect to the House if he did not endeavour to address a few observations in reference to what had fallen from hon. Members on the other side. He was sorry that he had not been present in the House when the hon. Member for Dundalk had alluded to the late meeting of the inhabitants of the county of Down. He (Lord Castlereagh) thought he had set himself right with the House in respect to that subject. He had stated that there was a disinclination prevailing in the north of Ireland to the payment of Tithes. But the landlords of that part of the country had taken upon themselves the payment of the tithes, and the hon. Member for Dundalk knew as well as himself that the most beneficial results had followed. He (Lord Castlereagh) was unwilling to analyze the petition on the subject of tithes which had been presented by the hon. Member, but of one of those petitions he would state, as a fact, that it was hawked about through no less than ten parishes, and obtained only about 4,500 signatures. It had been attempted to be shown that the meeting in question was an Orange meeting, convened, as the right hon. Gentleman opposite had seemed to assume, by a requisition bearing the signatures of four or five magistrates. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman if the Orangemen had come out to that meeting with insulting supremacy or taunting ascendancy—with either violence or menace? No such thing. He would not enter into the numbers of the individuals comprising that meeting, described by some of the newspapers as 50,000, but this he would say, that before twelve o'clock at night the town of Hilsborough was as quiet as though no such immense meeting had been held therein—a meeting which left no recollection behind it of an unhappy or unpleasant character. This, however, had been designated as a dangerous meeting. On the subject now before the House, he should be devoid of every feeling, standing in the situation he did, if he maintained a strict silence. With respect to that subject, the first sentiment (divested, as in his mind it was, of party feelings), which occurred to him was, that the maintenance of the Church of Ireland was assailed, and that it was now attempted to undermine its best secu- 808 rities. It was useless to attempt to call it a petty resolution, or to qualify it by saying that if carried, with it the proceedings must stop. The Protestants of Ireland would not believe any such thing, but would look to the proceedings as manifesting most certainly no very great attachment to that establishment. The noble Lord opposite, by moving the present proposition, had placed himself forward as the organ of the Catholic portion of the Irish community; and no doubt many hon. Members were rejoiced to see the noble Lord come first forward for the formation of a Roman Catholic Established Church. Such, he contended, would be the result of the Resolution, and it served in his mind to prove the error which the British Legislature had committed in consenting to grant the boon of Catholic Emancipation. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Members might sneer, but had not those who now did so told the Legislature, that if the measure of Emancipation was conceded that would quiet Ireland? Was it for the present purpose that they had solicited the proprietary of the north to unite with them in carrying that measure?—was it for that that those who held the Protestant institutions of Ireland as dear as their country had submitted and yielded to their solicitations? The present events proved how correct those were who warned the British Legislature and the country of the danger of making too great concessions. The best argument which had been advanced in favour of the proposition under consideration was, that numerically the Catholics were opposed to the system of contributing to the maintenance of a Church from which they derived no benefit; but he would ask, could it not some years, nay, some months hence, be urged with equal truth, that it was the equally intolerable hardship and grievance which the Catholic people of Ireland felt to be under the control of a Protestant proprietary possessing the land, and that, therefore, the support of that proprietary was as great a grievance as had been in the Protestant Church. The present time was one of no common danger, but was a period at which every man, however small or unimportant his stake in the country, ought to come forward. He cared not what might be the Government, the good of his country was, as an Irishman, nearest and dearest to his heart; and so long as he had the power he would raise his voice 809 against a measure like the present, pregnant with evils to every lover of his country, who could not but look at it with dismay. By the present proposition Ireland would not be quieted, the Catholics would not be conciliated, because it did not go further, and the Protestants would be disgusted because it went too far. The proposition brought danger too near the Church of England for the Protestants of this country to remain tranquil or satisfied, and though he might be blamed for raising a "No Popery" cry, yet he did not fear to do so on the outset. He raised the cry of "No Popery," because he saw a disposition to serve, without considering the evils, one party, to inflict immediately an injury upon the Protestant Church of Ireland, and, prospectively, and still more deeply, an injury upon the Protestant Church of England. He thanked the House for its kind attention. He was anxious to indicate his views and feelings—feelings which he was determined to maintain as those of the party by whom he had been sent to the House. That party looked with anxiety to the result of these deliberations, in order to see whether the Protestant Church was to be kept up, or sacrificed to suit the purposes of those who forgot all considerations, save that of turning out a Government with whose principles they differed.
§ Mr. Wyse
said, he believed the noble Lord who had last spoken understood but little the real sentiments of the country, for in the north of Ireland the cry of "No Popery" he believed was entirely extinct. But he did not wish to dwell upon this subject. He should turn from the war cry of the noble Lord to the Question before the Committee, and should at once resume the subject of debate. He would call the attention of the House to the Question before it, and he would request that the Resolution before the Committee be read by the Clerk, in order that it might be known what the Resolution was. ["No, no."] Well, then, he would abandon his request, and proceed to discuss the Question. The noble Lord had said that he was favourable to toleration and to a wholesome system of education, but the noble Lord would only have such toleration and such a system of education as he would himself prescribe. The noble Lord had said, too, that he was favourable to the Resolution as far as it referred to education, but then he said also that the whole of the north of Ireland was opposed 810 to it. That was not correct. Some surprise had been expressed at the Roman Catholics being again discontented. He would remind the house that, during the recent discussion, only two Roman Catholic Members had addressed the House. They had a legitimate reason for so doing, as they had been accused of violating the oath which they had taken at the Table, not to do any thing which was calculated to subvert the Protestant Church as by law established. He should not have deemed that accusation worthy of notice, had not the subject been noticed by the right hon. Baronet in the eloquent speech which he had delivered last night. The Roman Catholic Members had exercised their privileges in that debate, but not for the object which the right hon. Baronet had described; for they considered that the correction of abuses was not the subversion of either Church or State. If the object of the Relief Bill had been to exclude Catholic Members from discussions of this nature, then was Catholic Emancipation only half granted, and the Roman Catholics were defrauded of half their rights. The Roman Catholic Members did not attend Parliament, like the Peers, as the representatives of their own rights, but as the representatives of extensive constituencies, the Protestant part of which were as hostile to these abuses as the Roman Catholics themselves. Every Gentleman who had addressed the House seemed to be agreed as to the nature of the abuses which existed in Ireland; but he had not seen in the speech of the light hon. Baronet any plan proposed for their remedy. If Ireland was a poor and impoverished country, and if the lands of Ireland were uncultivated, that was not the fault of the soil, but to the blighting dissensions which prevailed among its inhabitants. The Catholics of Ireland looked to the application much more than to the collection of the revenues of the Church; and the object which they looked to most was education, to be provided for out of those revenues; for until the people were properly educated, it was impossible that they could form correct opinions, and till they could form such opinions they must continue tossed about between different agitations. The situation of Ireland at this moment was such that unquestionably education was the most likely means of raising that country from the degradation in which she had 811 for so many ages been sunk. By the Act of Henry 8th, the Irish clergy of that time were bound to provide for the education of the people by the establishment of parochial schools. But he should not dwell on the subject of education, as it was to be brought specifically before the House on a future occasion, for which he should reserve himself. The diocesan schools were established in Ireland in the reign of George 2nd, for the purpose of general education, and he contended that any surplus of Church-property in that country ought to be expended in like manner for general, and not exclusively for Protestant education—no matter what form of religion those who required that education might belong to. The establishment of charter schools, was entirely attributable to the negligence of the Protestant clergy; but a very small portion indeed of the First Fruits in Ireland, and the Queen Anne's bounty in this country, was applied to the support of those schools, and the deficiency was made up by Parliament from the pockets of the people. The Protestant clergy took upon themselves certain duties, which they were bound to perform, but how great was the contrast between their example and the lessons they taught from their pulpits on the Sunday. The Reformation in Ireland was nothing but a transfer of property from one religion to another, and forcing upon the people a religion with which the people were at war. It was the religion of an oligarchy, and not of the people. It was not religion at all; it was not Protestantism—it was Churchism. He had always supported in Ireland the principle of providing sufficiently for the Protestant clergy and for the spiritual wants of that part of the population professing that religion, but he could never agree to the principle that larger funds should be applied towards those objects than could possibly be required. He did not uphold the doctrine that, no matter whether there was a parson or no, there must be a Church. This was not a question that related merely to a change of men in the government of the country. No, it was a question that regarded the pacification of Ireland. That country had been too long a victim to a bad system of policy. When hon. Gentlemen talked of the duties incumbent on the people, they ought not to forget the duties incumbent on the clergy. If the clergy called for the strict perform- 812 ance of the duty of the people to them, the people ought, on their part, to require the performances of the duties of the clergy to them. The obligation was much more binding on them than upon the laity. They were the teachers of morality and religion, and if they failed in setting a good example, how could the people listen once a week to the words pronounced from the pulpit, without contrasting their words with their performance? This Resolution was but casting up accounts with the body, with whom Parliament could be on no other terms as long as they neglected their duty, than those of discord and dissatisfaction. The history of tithe in Ireland was nothing but a history of religion forced on the people by their clergy. Paley had said that the only object of these institutions was public utility, and when that was gone they ought to be resumed. If Catholic Emancipation had not worked well, it was because it had not been granted when it would do most good. If it had been granted in full generosity of spirit, the result would have been different. But Catholic Emancipation had been granted too late, and contrary to the expressed opinion of the Minister himself, and therefore it had not been productive of those advantages which it was calculated to produce. He was far from wishing to deprecate the gift or to detract from the merit of the man who made it. He knew well the sacrifices, both of a public and a private nature, which the right hon. Baronet opposite had made to accomplish that measure. But, however much he (Mr. Wise) valued that measure, he did not as a measure of state policy consider it at all comparable with a plan of general education. The present Resolution would lead to an explanation why it was, that in the north of Ireland there were one thousand schools, while in all the country besides there were only six hundred. If Emancipation had not produced all the good results that had been expected from it the reason was, the protracted period to which it had been delayed; and, he was convinced that nothing now could benefit Ireland but following up that measure by a general and sound system of education. A movement in a country could not be stopped by the denial of justice. The check must come from the people themselves, and in order to enable them to guide it effectually, they ought to be properly educated. He concluded by 813 declaring his intention to vote for the Resolution.
§ Mr. Shaw
said, that nothing had struck him so much, from first to last in the debate, as the difference between the real and professed object of the Resolution, between the ground upon which the majority supported it, and the working of it by the noble Lord, as well as the construction sought to be put upon it in the speeches of the noble Lord's immediate section, and more especially, in the able and ingenious, but he could not add candid, speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rice); the right hon. Gentleman had said, that the object with which he sought a surplus was for purposes purely Ecclesiastical; now, if this was education under the superintendence of the Protestant clergy, it would be one to which some proportion of the Church property might be applied, and if his right hon. Friend (Sir R. Peel) had been as anxious to find an excuse for supporting the Resolution, as the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Rice) were studious to conceal its real object, he might have saved himself some trouble, but then he would not have acted with that manliness and straightforwardness which had distinguished him since he had taken office. As to the question of education, to what did it come? He would not go into the contested question of education generally. [Cheers.] He knew what those cheers meant; they meant to charge him with inconsistency. Now, his mind had undergone no change in respect of the system of national education introduced by the late Government; he had no objection to state what his opinion now was, although he had no desire to provoke a premature discussion on the subject. The noble Lord opposite had done him the honour of quoting a speech which he had made on a former occasion; he did not mean to deny that he made a very strong speech against the Government system of education; but the noble Lord had attributed a sentiment to him which he denied having ever uttered—that the law was only to be provisionally obeyed. The noble Lord had said, that this speech had been quoted by a noble Lord in the other House. Now he had never heard of that circumstance before, nor had he seen the report, but he had, notwithstanding, contradicted the same statement when it had been made by 814 the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Wyse) in the House of Commons, shortly after the speech in question had been delivered. He (Mr. Shaw) must, however, say, in reference to this pretext of applying this supposed surplus in aid of the present board of national education in Ireland, that he believed the only difficulty of that Board was, to find means of applying the funds already at their disposal, opposed as the system was to the principles of the Protestant population of Ireland—and that they succeeded only by drawing off schoolmasters from more useful employment by the temptation of higher salaries than a less forcing system could afford. The truth, however, was as had been stated by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) in his admirable speech, the spirit of which shed new lustre on that high and disinterested course which the right hon. Baronet had already taken with respect to the principle of Appropriation then under consideration, the truth was as the right hon. Baronet had observed, most justly, that the real motive of the present proposition was not to give, but to take away. The supporters of it cared not, provided they could spoliate Church-property, to whom or to what the spoils were appropriated. Such, too, precisely, was the leading object of the Tithe Bill of—nominally, of the right hon. Gentleman who was then Secretary for Ireland, (Mr Littleton)—but really of the learned Member for Dublin—of last August. Had the sum which was held out as a bribe to the clergy, in that Bill, been advanced from the Consolidated Fund, and charged upon Church-property, as was proposed, it would have amounted (according to a calculation, since made, of the wants of existing incumbents,) to a debt of three millions: thus absorbing the entire revenue—although that would have been wholly inadequate to repay the State, and be depriving the Church of all means of future subsistence. If there had been a doubt then of the motive of the learned Member (Mr. O'Connell), or if there was now of his present motive, it would appear plainly from the extract of a speech of the learned Gentleman which he (Mr. Shaw) held in his hand. So recently as the 15th of August last, shortly after the Tithe Bill was rejected by the House of Lords, the hon. and learned Member, in addressing a meeting at Waterford, made use of the following language:—"He said that he 815 and his friends had, night after night, struggled to do away with the bloodstained measure of Tithes. The Ministers became sympathetic, and agreed to give up two fifths, but Lord Grey's beautiful order put. them on again, and he was glad they would not make two bites of the cherry, for next year they would get rid of the five-fifths." That was then the hon. and learned Member's object, and that was now his object. The hon. and learned Member proceeded to say—"As they could not buy the clergy, they must fight them." Now, he begged the attention of the noble Lord opposite (Russell) to what followed:—"As they could not buy the clergy, they must fight them. He wanted agitation. He wanted to extinguish tithes, and then"—and then what? Was it the peace, the good order, the perfect contentment which the noble Lord anticipated from the passing of his Resolution? Was it the abandonment of the agitation for the Repeal of the Union which the noble Lord affected to believe would be the result of the adoption of his Proposition? He should hear—"and then what they should never forget—an independent Legislature." There was the avowed object of the chief supporter of the noble Lord's resolution. He would now beg leave to read to the House, a few extracts from a letter addressed to the Duke of Wellington by Dr. M'Hale, who had assumed the title of Archbishop of Tuam, which would leave no doubt as to what his object was. The rev. Gentleman said, "Your Grace is not, I trust, one of those persons who imagine that the mere will of a sovereign or his ministers imposes the obligation of law; nor is it, I trust, your impresion that every enactment brings with it that solemn sanction, provided it is passed by a majority of the senate. No, my Lord, all the united authorities of the sovereign and the senate can never annex the conscientious obligations of law to enactments that are contrary to right, reason, and justice; and hence the stubborn and unconquerable mutiny of the minds of the people of Ireland against those odious acts (I will not call them laws) which have ever forced them to pay tribute to the teachers of an adverse creed."—[Cries of "Question."]—He apprehended that he was not wandering from the Question in endeavouring to make manifest the object of the bon, Member for Dublin, and those who 816 were connected with him. In another passage of the letter, Dr. M'Hale said—"Compositions and land taxes in lieu of tithes are all vain artifices. If the landlords take on them the payment of tithes, and attempt to charge them on the tenantry, then the landlords will be conspiring against the payment of their rent, nor need they any more dangerous combination. I shall freely declare my own resolves. I have leased a small farm, just sufficient to qualify me for the exercise of the franchise, in order to assist my countrymen in returning those, and those alone, who will be their friends, instead of what their Representatives usually were—their bitterest enemies. I must, therefore, confess that, after paying the landlord his rent, neither to parson nor proctor, nor landlord, nor agent, nor any other individual, shall I consent to pay, in the shape of tithe or any other tax, a penny which shall go to the support of the greatest nuisance in this or any other country." Now, after that, would the right hon. Gentleman (the late Secretary for Ireland) who ought to know something about that country, endeavour to persuade himself that it was not the object of a considerable party who supported the Resolution moved by the noble Lord opposite to destroy the Protestant Church? He would for one moment advert to the articles of the Act of Union between England and Ireland, and would show the construction put upon it by an authority which ought to claim attention on the opposite side of the House, and of which every Irishman, whatever his politics were, must be proud—he meant Mr. Grattan. In 1819, Mr. Grattan said—"The antagonists (the opponents of emancipation) have said, that with equal privileges, population draws power; then there is an end of their opposition, for the population of the two islands is Protestant five to one, and the Protestant ascendancy would therefore be established by the emancipation of the Catholics, and increased, inasmuch as where the different parts of the community have their natural place, the strength of the majority embraces the strength of the whole—there is no deduction; you must consider, then, also, in addition to their numbers, that the property, particularly the landed property, is beyond comparison Protestant—you are to consider that the seat of the Legislature is Protestant—you are to consider that the 817 Crown is exclusively Protestant.*" This reasoning of Mr. Grattan, then, fortified by the opinions of Pitt, Lord Minto, Mr. Canning, and all the great authorities of the day, on the union, is opposed to the whole tenor of the argument on the other side of the House, that the majority of the population in Ireland is to decide the question of the Established Church; if so, where are you to stop?—Why not apply the same rule to Lancashire, or any other district or even parish in England where the majority is not of the Established Church?—and how, with common consistency, can hon. Members contend that the Bill of last year, which they supported leaving three-fifths of tithe still payable, would have altered the principle against which they protest, or that now the grievance (as they call it) of a Church established by law, to which the majority of the people does not belong, would be removed by taking away only a part of its revenues? Church or no Church is the real question involved in this Resolution, and we need not try to blink it. The disturbed state of Ireland did not originate in the objection of the tenantry to the payment of tithes, which was merely a pretext. He attributed the resistance to the payment of tithes to a system of agitation and intimidation which was constantly going on. He could state to the House an important fact connected with this subject. Up to the year 1826 every Roman Catholic catechism contained an article enjoining the payment of tithes; but in every such catechism published since that time that article was omitted, and, before that period when the systematic combination against the payment of tithes was organized under the priestly and political agitators of Ireland, it was a common practice in many parishes where all tithe is now withheld, for the Roman Catholic clergyman to assist the Protestant clergyman in the collection. An instance had been mentioned to him that day by an Irish clergyman on whose behalf, at the time, he spoke of, the Roman Catholic priest of his parish used regularly to give notice in his chapel that the tithe was due, and exhort his hearers to pay it to the Protestant rector. But what was the extraordinary doctrine held on the other side, especially by the right hon. Baronet (Sir John C. Hobhouse), that in Ireland*Hansard, vol. xi, p. 20.818 law had failed—government had failed—public charity and private benevolence had failed—the Established Church had failed; but, said the right hon. Baronet, we have at last discovered in this unascertained and non-existing surplus which we are to apply to an unexplained purpose, a panacea for all the ills, a remedy for all the wrongs of that unhappy country. True it was, that law, and Government, and Church, and every other means of improvement had great and almost unprecedented difficulties to contend with in Ireland, and the great secret of these difficulties was, that Ireland in many parts being in a state of almost barbarism, as compared with Great Britain you are applying to it the highly civilized institutions of this country, and vainly expecting the same results; "but if in the case of the Church you reason that it has not prospered and increased as in England, therefore you should remove it—why stop short there and not say the same of English law, English Government, and above all, the English legislature? You say," continued the right hon Gentleman, "Protestantism is not increasing, but what is the case with the poor, unhappy Protestants in the south of Ireland? Scattered through a country such as I have described persecuted and oppressed, they are generally driven either into societies for self-defence—to assume, for personal safety, the guise of a religion in which they do not believe—or, what is more frequent and irreparable to seek, in a foreign country, the peace and protection which they cannot find in their own. I have it on good information, and I believe that within the last few years, upwards of 150,000 Protestants (the flower of our Protestant yeomanry) have emigrated from Ireland? What, then, is your course of justice to the Protestants of Ireland? The greater number driven as exiles from their country and their homes by outrage, intimidation, and every species of oppression, you then send a commission to number the remainder, and you punish them because they are not more numerous. You find them comparatively few and unprotected amongst a population whose religion you in common with them believe to be erroneous, the habits of that population are uncivilised, and what is the comfort and encouragement you propose to the civilized Protestants—to remove the minister who holds up the light of truth in the midst of darkness, and to wither that green spot, as it were, of 819 civilisation which he may have cultivated amidst all his difficulties, privations, and discouragements in the wide waste of ignorance and barbarism that surrounds him. But, Sir, to return to the real Question before us. It is not one of degree, but of principle—not of the more or the less—not of a part, but of the whole; not whether there is a surplus, or if so, how it should be applied—but divested of all party tactics, of all ingenious obscurity, of all dexterous covering—the real Question is, shall the Protestant Church be suffered to exist in Ireland? I, Sir, admit the power of the Legislature to take it from us, but I very respectfully, but as firmly deny their right. I deny it on the faith of a great national compact. I deny it on the broadest principles of justice and of truth. I deny it on the ground of the strongest obligation of a grateful recollection on the part of England of the long tried and unwearied attachment of the Protestants of Ireland to British connexion and British interests. I warn you, that if you dismember the united Church, soon will follow the dismemberment of the united empire. If you recklessly cut off the Irish branch of the Establishment, your own will not long survive it. With her will fall your highest national glory—and with the severance every hope of peace, prosperity, civilization, or happiness to Ireland. I desire not to introduce, unnecessarily, questions of religious controversy into the discussions of this House; but, Sir, our greatest men have boasted, that "Church and State" were ideas inseparable in the minds of Englishmen; and if in our deliberative capacity, we are to consider whether or not that union is to continue, surely we should not be ashamed to entertain such a question in the spirit of a Christian Legislature. I mean nothing offensive to Roman Catholic Members of this House. I wished my Roman Catholic countrymen equality in civil rights, and I always have avoided giving them offence even in matters of religion—but, Sir, so long as truth is opposed to error, and darkness and light are not alike—whatever opinions may prevail in this House, you will never persuade the sober sense, and religiously-disposed mind of the British public, that it is a matter of indifference which the Protestant or Roman Catholic be the established religion in Ireland, and as I believe in my conscience, that is the question which this Motion is to decide. 820 Knowing that it is brought forward with a party and political spirit, and not knowing more than any hon. Gentleman opposite what will be its effect upon the conduct of my right hon. Friend (Sir R. Peel) if he be defeated in the result of these discussions, and, having given him my independent and disinterested support, because I believe upon his continuance in office, depends the safety of the monarchy, and all the civil institutions of this great country—yet, considering the question of what persons may fill the highest offices of the State, as nothing compared with the great religious principle involved in this Motion, I earnestly hope and trust it may not be suffered to be decided by a side-wind motion, or any party dexterity, by the Representatives of the people in this House; but that it may be submitted to the calm and solemn decision of the country. I know not what the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. C. Hobhouse) means by an appeal to the lowest and the vilest passions of the people; but I would make mine, on behalf of the Irish Protestants, to the highest and the noblest sentiments which animate the mind of man to those sentiments which elevate him above the lower creation, distinguish him as an immortal being, and connect his destinies with the vast interests of eternity—and, addressing myself to the enlightened people of Great Britain, I would tell them that our common religion was in danger; that, with all deference to this House, it was assailed within these very walls; that as regarded the Established Church in Ireland, I would invite them to correct its errors—to remove its abuses in order to strengthen its efficiency; but I would implore them to preserve its existence, and to protect it from its adversaries; to remember the deeds, and the courage, and the faithfulness which was evinced of old in defence of that reformed faith, of which in Ireland it is the depositary; and I would earnestly beseech them not to abandon into the hands of its deadliest opponents that sacred cause, in defence of which our fathers and theirs bled, and suffered, and died.
§ Mr. David Barclay
wished to ask the noble Lord, the Member for Devonshire, a question,—namely, whether he would consent to insert in his Resolution, words which would declare that the surplus fund should be appropriated to no secular purpose whatever except the purpose of edu- 821 cation? He had voted for the Resolution in the full persuasion that the noble Lord did not intend to appropriate Church-property to any other purpose than that of the moral and religious education of the people; but, whatever he might think of the noble Lord's intention, the speeches he had heard in that House led him to apprehend that some hon. Members did not feel disposed to limit the appropriation in that way. His constituents felt some alarm on the subject, and he believed that feeling had extended to other constituencies. He was desirous of knowing whether the noble Lord would consent to the insertion of the words which he had mentioned; if not, he would make a motion for their insertion.
Lord John Russell
said, he thought, that as the Resolution was a general one, it was unnecessary to include matters of detail in it. They would more properly be the subject, of a Bill. He thought, also, that the adoption of the hon. Member's suggestion might give rise to a question as to whether the general education of the people was a secular purpose. Under all the circumstances of the case, he hoped the hon. Member would not think it necessary to submit a Motion on the subject. He thought that by adopting the Amendment of the hon. Member for Weymouth, he had satisfied those who had entertained some scruples on the subject of the Resolution.
§ Dr. Bowring
congratulated the House at having at last recognised a principle which had been established throughout Christendom, and which, as he believed, contained in it the elements of future peace and tranquillity. In its recognition we were but following the example of all other nations, whether Catholic or Protestant. In Portugal the Government and Cortes were at this moment occupied in appropriating the surplus revenues of the Established Church. In Spain he had himself been present at the discussions which had taken place when the Cortes had for its President a Catholic Bishop, and a large number of the Ecclesiastical hierarchy were Deputies of the nation. The difficulties were not as to the right of the State to interfere—that was a point conceded—but as to the amount of the property to be taken from the Church and applied to other national purposes.—In France, happily the same result had been arrived at—a result, whose beneficial 822 influence it would be hardihood to deny. In Catholic Belgium, in Protestant Holland, in Lutheran Denmark, in Prussia, in Hungary, and in many other countries which he might name, Governments and Representatives had interfered—had appropriated Church-property—had legislated on the simple principle which the Resolution of that night would introduce into the British code. Why was there in those countries none of this religious violence, the heart-burnings, the sufferings, which were spread over Ireland, but that the Church Establishments were made subservient to the wants of the people? Now, in Ireland, whether the statement of the noble Lord, or the right hon. Baronet were the true one—the excess was enormous—an excess unfriendly to true religious principle, for who would doubt that the days of the poverty of the Church were the days of its greatest purity? For every Protestant in Holland—that country so eminently distinguished for its religious character, the cost was not one twentieth of the amount levied for every Protestant in Ireland. In France, where all sects were equally provided for, Catholics, Protestants, and Jews; the cost per individual, was not one twelfth per individual, of the cost per Protestant of the Established Church of Ireland. He saw in this debate far more of the struggling for pelf than for principle; and, in desiring the settlement of the Question according to the spirit of the Resolution, he believed the best interests of Protestantism were really and substantially served.
§ Lord Sandon
said, that after five nights' debate he had heard that evening not one argument recommending the Resolution before the Committee. He had heard nothing that could instruct him how the Irish people were to be reconciled to Tithes by the carrying of the Resolution before the Committee. When they were called upon to adopt such a principle as that contained in this Resolution had they not a right to ask whether the appropriation which it proposed would be satisfactory or not? On this point he had not heard a single observation made, but he thought they should be furnished with some information on that head before they agreed to an abstract Question. He was willing to admit that the State had the power to deal with the revenues of the Church; but he at the same time thought that such a right ought not to be exercised save in an ex- 823 treme case. From the period of the Reformation down to the present time the people had been accustomed to regard the property of the Church as sacred; but if that property were now to be devoted to other than Ecclesiastical purposes was it likely that the rights of any species of property would be long respected. This he believed was the first time that an attempt had been made to bring the rights of property into discredit, for that would be the inevitable result of the course they were now taking. Did they not recollect the question which his right hon. Friend (Sir R. Peel) had put to the noble Lord the Member for Devonshire, respecting the sum that would be necessary for carrying the proposed plan of education into effect, and the difference of opinion that prevailed between them as to the amount of the revenues of the Irish Church? The noble Lord even if he took a sum of 200,000l. for effecting the object which he had in view, would have them believe that there would remain nearly 600,000l. to be distributed among the Clergy of the Establishment; but his (Lord Sandon's) right hon. Friend, on the other hand, asserted, that this could not be the case, inasmuch as those revenues did not exceed 450,000l. Here was a dilemma in which the noble Lord was placed, and how had he escaped from it? The fact, however, was, that the noble Lord and those who supported this Resolution were dealing with a mere supposition; they were, in short, providing for the appropriation of a surplus which had no existence but in their own imagination. He must say, that he was surprised at finding the noble Lord or any other Gentleman who had held office under the Crown bringing forward a proposition so absurd and monstrous as the present, and all he could say was, that such conduct proved most indisputably that both the noble Lord and his Friends were wholly unfit to be trusted with the destinies of a great country like this. They should not forget what the effect of such a proposition would be—that it would open the door for other measures to which they could not assent without incurring the utmost danger to every institution in the country. He must say, that he could not perceive the advantage of this proposition, or what the principle was which was meant to be established by it. They did not intend that it should render the religion of the majority of the people of 824 Ireland the Established religion of that country; and as the principle contained in this Resolution was not only new, but such as had never before been thought of, he, without expressing any opinion as to the power of Parliament to interfere with the revenues of the Church, felt no hesitation whatever in giving it his most decided opposition.
§ Mr. Borthwick
observed, that it was now past twelve o'clock, and therefore moved that the Chairman should report progress and ask leave to sit again. [Cries of "Divide" and "Adjourn."]
On the question being put, Mr. Hawes expressed his anxiety to offer a few observations to the Committee ["Adjourn"]. If it were their wish that he should postpone the remarks he had to offer, he would do so with pleasure [Cres of "Adjourn," and "Go on,"]. He wished to remind the House of one circumstance, which bore most strongly on the present Question. He had sat in the last Parliament, and had heard the noble Lord, the Member for South Lancashire propose the celebrated 147th Clause; the object of which was to give the State a power over a certain portion of the property of the Church derived from the conversion of leases from twenty-five years into perpetuity leases. On that occasion it was stated most forcibly by the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the hon. Baronet, the Member for the University of Oxford, that that property was to all intents and purposes Church-property; that it sprang from the Church, and was wholly and entirely derived from it. He contended then that that noble Lord himself was the very first individual who had advocated the making Church-property public, for he most certainly had proposed its alienation to most useful and strictly analogous public purposes. The supporters of this Resolution were the real friends to good Government in Ireland. By a steady perseverance in the course they had adopted they would not only prove themselves to be so, but would deprive the advocates of bad Government of their best and principal argument.
§ The Committee divided on the Motion to Adjourn.—Ayes 140; Noes 178; Majority 38.
§ Colonel Sibthorp moved, that the Chairman do leave the Chair.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, 825 it may appear to some desirable to come to a decision on this important subject tonight; but there are others who wished to be beard before the question now under consideration is finally disposed of. An immediate decision may, I admit, be approved of by a majority of those now present; but I must put it to the House whether it is not due to the constituencies of the hon. Members who still wish to speak to allow them an opportunity of obtaining a hearing? I have no doubt that it is the anxious desire of many of the constituent bodies throughout the country that their Representatives should express their sentiments on this important occasion, and I can answer that it is the wish of an hon. Friend of mine, who is not now in his place, to have an opportunity of delivering his opinions before this debate closes. As far as I am personally concerned I could wish, that the proceedings on this Resolution should terminate to-night, but, seeing that there are not now present more than half the number of Members who voted last night, I think it would not be quite fair to come to a decision in their absence, especially as many of them have gone away under the impression that they would be allowed an opportunity of declaring their sentiments. Considering, however, that this debate has lasted five nights I must acknowledge—and in this I think the House will agree with me—that we have heard quite enough upon the subject—but still as it is desirable, that we should, if possible, attach confidence in our decision, I think it only right that every one who may wish to speak should be allowed a fair hearing. I do not mean by this to express any opinion but merely to offer my advice; and although I am free to admit that it would be more convenient to come to a decision at once, I still think upon the whole we will best consult the general wish by allowing all parties fair play.
Lord John Russell
was not disposed to interrupt fair discussion. He did state, on the preceding night, that if there were several Members to address the House, it would be better to hear them before they came to a decision, and not a single Member rose at that time. He really thought that when a decision of that House had been declared, and with such a majority, they ought to determine upon going on that evening. As to the observation that had been made of great numbers being 826 absent, it should be observed that it was in consequence of their attendance on four nights' debate, and that after the decision, and the lengthened debate, their absence was owing to so many having paired off. He must say that the proposition which had been advanced of still continuing the debate, and adjourning it to another night, was not altogether a reasonable proposition. Having said this, he certainly, at the same time, would say that though he did not think the proposition was reasonable yet he was not disposed to throw any obstacle, in the way of affording to hon. Gentlemen the opportunity of delivering their sentiments. He did not certainly know the reason why these Gentlemen had not taken advantage of the opportunity that had been afforded to them. Certainly, if it was their impression—if it was the impression on the part of those Gentlemen that they should speak on the Resolution, and that the opportunity should be afforded to them on another evening, he would not oppose it if it were the understanding that at an, early hour on Monday night the debate should be proceeded with.
§ Colonel Sibthorp felt it his duty to persist in his Motion.
§ Lord John Russell hoped the hon. Member would re-consider his determination.
§ The question was put.
§ Mr. Borthwick
explained, that his object in moving the adjournment was to afford junior Members, of his standing, an opportunity of being heard, an opportunity which he himself had been unable to obtain yesternight. ["Adjourn!"]
§ Colonel Sibthorp
said, that as the hon. Gentleman was not heard, he felt it his duty to persevere in the Motion he had already made. ["Adjourn, adjourn!"]
§ Mr. Spring Rice
intreated the Committee to remember, if they were about to divide, that the proposition of the hon. Gentleman would have the effect of getting rid of the Question altogether, and of closing the subject.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that whatever construction he may take the liberty—I repeat it—may take the liberty—and I think it is a very great liberty to put any construction on my Motion—I shall leave him to maintain his opinion; and following his example of taking liberties, shall take the liberty of entertaining mine. 827 I shall, therefore, persevere in the Motion I have made.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
wished to state, with all possible good humour, that he would be the last man to put a misconstruction on a Motion coming from the hon. Member for Lincoln. He had given no interpretation of it—he had merely called the attention of the House to the fact, that if the Chairman left the Chair on the present motion, the proceedings were at end.
§ Mr. O'Dwyer
appealed to the Chairman's Parliamentary experience, whether the House of Commons had ever adjourned on the sole ground that some few Gentlemen were unable or unwilling to attend. The truth was, that the greater part of the House were perfectly satisfied with the decision of last night. It put the matter beyond dispute, and he could easily understand that Gentlemen who wished to guard themselves against the charge of offering a vexatious opposition to the well-ascertained feelings of the House of Commons, would infinitely prefer staying away to coming down and dividing the House on every occasion of that kind.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
would leave it to the candour of the hon. Member whether, after what he had then said, he should not vote with him for the adjournment. The hon. Member asked, if he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had ever known an instance, where a debate had been protracted to four nights, in which a debate was adjourned in consequence of a wish expressed by Members to deliver their opinions. [Mr. O'Dwyer: After the majority had been fully ascertained.] There was a Motion brought forward last year for the Repeal of the Legislative Union, in which the number on the one side was 43; and on the other side 400, odd (he forgot the exact number); but it was in consequence of the wish of that small minority to deliver their sentiments, that the House consented again to adjourn the Motion. In that case he believed, too, that the majority was pretty well ascertained when the Motion was agreed to. After this instance, he hoped that the hon. Gentleman would justify the confidence he had in him, by voting for the Motion of adjournment.
§ Mr. O'Dwyer
begged to ask the right hon. Baronet, if, after the majority in that case had been ascertained, there was a renewed debate.
Lord John Russell
was understood to 828 say, that if the right hon. Baronet would agree to permit the debate to be resumed before the Orders of the Day were taken on Monday, he would not any longer oppose the adjournment.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer reminded the noble Lord, that he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had said, at the commencement of the evening, that he hoped the debate would close to-night, and as far as he was personally concerned, he should be satisfied if it were so. Although he thought that the postponement of the Orders of the Day fixed for Monday, might be attended with public inconvenience, he had no objection to acquiesce in the proposal of the noble Lord.
§ The House resumed, the Chairman reported progress, and the Committee to sit again on Monday.