§ Mr. John Young
said that, in stating as concisely as possible some of his objections to the third reading of the Bill, he would not attempt to add another to the unanswerable arguments by which its principle had been met; to that principle, however, he entered his most decided dissent, and while he acknowledged that in parts of the measure there was much of good, he deeply regretted it was so overloaded with evil and injustice. The situation of Ministers was peculiar and difficult—held in check by able and powerful opponents, and urged on by allies too desperate and uncompromising to admit of pause or moderation. He could not but reject the proposed withdrawal of a very large proportion from the clergy of Ireland. This would prove an evil of serious tendency. The Protestant clergy possessed the confidence and respect of all classes in the country, and as had been stated by a tourist of liberal principles, Mr. Inglis, the Roman Catholic emigrants, when they wished to effect a remittance home from any of the colonies, invariably preferred the Minister of the Established Church as the medium of transmitting it to their friends or families. Mr. Senior, in his 404 Pamphlet on Poor Laws for Ireland, stated it as his opinion, that a diminution of the numbers of the Protestant clergy in Ireland would materially check its improvement. They were the best, if not the only machinery for dispensing any general charity, or carrying into effect any system of relief for the poor. The remuneration fixed by the Bill was too small, considering the long and expensive education a gentleman was obliged to go through before he could assume the functions of a clergyman—functions, too, which debarred him from the exercise of every other lucrative employment. He did not think any Member would affirm, except within the walls of the House, that the proposed salaries were adequate. Again, these salaries were to be equalized. This was most objectionable, for it precluded all hope of reward, all idea of encouragement, for superior ability, knowledge, or exertions. The clergy in future would be paid by Government. They were to receive their stipends from the Commissioners. What, then, became of that independence of the clergy, which had been so often and so loudly extolled—which, at various periods, had been of essential service to the state—guarding,at times, the liberties of the subject, and at others, again, the prerogatives of the Crown? In France, the clergy were paid by Government, and, from all he had heard or read, there was nothing either in their position with regard to the Ministry, or their influence upon society, which could make him wish to see the Ministers of the religion he professed placed on the same footing. Passing from the difficult and disagreeable situation in which this measure meant to leave the Irish clergy, he would ask what party would it permanently satisfy? What tranquillity could it insure? Of the Protestants, nineteen-twentieths had already declared their abhorrence of its principles, and their dissent from its details. The Presbyterians would not rejoice at the downfal of the Established Church. It was a shelter and a safeguard to them against enemies, whose violence and intolerance they had just grounds for fearing. A measure involving so sweeping an innovation on the tenure of any property, as this did on that of ecclesiastical possessions, could not but cause apprehension and dismay in the minds of sober, intelligent men, every where actively engaged in commerce or agriculture, like the Presbyterians; Besides, the ap- 405 propriation of the surplus, whose future existence was so problematical, to purposes of general education, was precisely similar to that of the funds placed at the disposal of the Commissioners of national education. No distinction of religions was to be made. Now, the most strenuous and the longest continued opposition to the national system came from the Presbyterians—that opposition was not yet withdrawn, and it was little likely they would ever sanction with their approbation the proposed application of the revenues to be diverted from the Church. It was true these two bodies, the members of the establishment and Presbyterians, were a minority in the country, were as one to four-and-a-half—but they were the possessors of eleven-twelfths of the landed property, and of a vast proportion of the capital employed in commerce; therefore, their voice should be listened to in such discussions. It was actually their possessions which were taxed for the support of the Church.—The Roman Catholics were next to be considered. Would they be satisfied? The House had already heard from the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, and several other gentlemen who said they represented the Roman Catholic feeling of Ireland, that this measure was received by them only as an instalment—as the delayed payment of a part where they have a right to the whole, winch whole they were determined to extort so soon as circumstances permit, to the very uttermost. On this ground mainly he based his objections to the Bill. It would satisfy no party, and produce no peace. This was his conviction, and also, he well knew, that of a vast majority of the resident landed proprietors of Ireland, of men of varying fortunes from the amplest down to very moderate incomes, unconnected or little connected with Administrations, with the Court or the Aristocracy, who formed a respectable portion of those middle classes in whom the intelligence and the real power of society reside, and who, bound by constant residence, and every tie of interest and affection to Ireland, looked upon the Bill with mistrust and disapprobation. They considered it an infringement of the Act of Union—they dreaded it as a shock to the rights of property in a land, where those rights have never been too well respected. They regretted to see the clergy of the religion they revered, diminished in numbers, and everywhere 406 impoverished and under-paid, while the Church itself became the dependant and stipendiary, instead of the equal and support of the state. And they most deeply regretted to think all this would be done in vain, for they knew too well the state of the country, and the feelings of those with whom they had to deal, to expect that the Bill, if carried, would attain anything but a delusive and transitory calm in the storm of violence and encroachment. Without imputing submission to dictation on the part of his Majesty's Ministers, he must say, that they had leant too much to those who appeared as the Roman Catholic party. Perhaps it was natural for them to do so, to have a bias towards those who gave them powerful support in that House—certainly in framing the measure, the leaning was too apparent—that party had carried into it all their own views—they were, it must be recollected, the declared. enemies, not merely of the Protestant Church, but of the Protestant population of Ireland—had introduced into them discussions, ancient animosities, almost national hatreds, which should have long ago been buried in oblivion, and had imbued the measure so strongly with their wishes and opinions, that it had lost the semblance of that impartiality and fairness which should have characterised it. He (Mr. Young) had witnessed so much of the excitement caused by the agitation of the Church question in Ireland, and so many of the outrages, and even bloodshed, consequent upon that agitation, that he was most anxious to see it adjusted. He had scarcely set a limit in his own mind to the extent of the sacrifice he was ready to make, in order to lend his humble aid to that adjustment—he had therefore been deeply disappointed when Ministers produced a Bill, whose merits were so completely outweighed by its unjust and oppressive tendency as that before them.—Therefore, though most anxious, on every account, to see intricate and long agitated questions set at rest, though any delay would leave the Protestant clergy still unprovided, and in distress, and cause another winter to elapse, marked like the preceding, by outrage and calamity—yet he could not vote for the Bill. He would sooner hazard alt those miseries, than vote for a measure, which deviated from those principles of honesty and justice, on which, alone, the legislation of a country could be permanently or safely earned on.
§ Mr. Borthwick
said, that the spirit of the Bill did not confine its mischief to the sphere of the Irish Church alone, but was calculated to increase and extend political and religious agitation, and to destroy eventually the Legislative Union which existed between this country and Ireland. It was a Bill which would be unintelligible but for the resolution which preceded it; but its principle and operation were capable of being traced by means of that Resolution. The supporters of this Bill said that it was calculated to pacify Ireland, and yet its provisions were of a most inconsistent and contradictory nature, and such as could, by no possibility, be looked upon as final. If it were proposed that the Protestant religion should cease to be the established religion of the land, and that Roman Catholicism should be set up in its place, he could understand that as a final measure; but a measure such as this, fluctuating according to the number of Protestants in a given parish, furnishing a clergyman where there were fifty Protestants in a parish, and removing him when the number fell anything short of that, was only to propose a source of continual agitation, as the result must necessarily prove. The noble Lord who brought forward the measure had invested himself with the mantle of prophecy, and, gazing into futurity, said that he saw many monsters, and much of misery in the vista, if this Bill should be rejected—that it would strengthen the hands of those who sought the repeal of the Legislative Union. Now he (Mr. Borthwick) saw, in the passing of this measure, much more likelihood of advancing the question of Repeal. By the tenth article of the Union the safety of the Established Church was provided for, and here were Ministers endeavouring to pass a measure by which that article was repealed, thus, of themselves, partially repealing the Legislative Union. Where was the consistency of such conduct? He hoped that he was pursuing a legitimate course of argument. The hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Dublin, in speaking of this Bill, said that he accepted it as an instalment of the whole amount, as 6s. 8d. in the pound. Now, Ministers, in repealing the tenth article of the Union, paid an instalment on that debt, which the hon. and learned Member would accept also, not only in the light of an instalment, but as an acknowledgment of the entire debt. The Bill, then, in the first 408 place, admitted the principle of the repeal of the Union, by repealing one of its articles; and it, in the next place, admitted another principle, namely, that number should be the criterion by which to support the Established Church. Now, pushing this principle further—and who could doubt that, when once admitted, it would be pushed further—why, if number was to be the test for a parish, should it not be the test for the entire country? This would be the result of such a principle when carried out to its full extent. Now, had the measure proposed during the Administration of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth been carried into effect—if in the year 1836 there were no sinecures to be found in the Established Church in Ireland, no absenteeism, or any other abuses—if there had, in short, taken place a thorough reformation in that Church, what argument would be left for the hon. and learned Member for Dublin upon which to found his call for Repeal? Were the people of Ireland so insensible to the advantages accruing to them from the Legislative Union that they would be glad to seize upon any pretext to urge on the agitation of a question from which already so much mischief had arisen? That, indeed, would have been a reform, and a final adjustment of the measure. He would not enter upon the question of surplus, which had already been so ably treated in the unanswerable and unanswered speech of the right hon. Member for Tamworth, to which not even a shadow of reply had been made; neither would he enter into any theological questions with regard to Catholicism in Ireland, nor contrast it with that which dispersed the errors by which Christianity had been clouded, and put an end to the vilest tyranny that ever existed, viz. the tyranny of Popery. He meant no offence to Roman Catholic Members, for he believed many Irish Catholics would admit that he who humbly called himself the servant of God's servants had been the tyrant of the tyrants of the earth. Had any change come over the spirit of Popery? If the Irish Church was not Roman, then it was the Catholic Church of Ireland, and not the Catholic Church. Then, if so, here were two universal particulars—the universal particular Church of Ireland, and the universal particular Church of Rome. How could it be pretended that this measure could make the Established Church of Ireland more 409 efficient, when it took from its Ministers; or how could a measure fluctuating, and provocative of agitation, be called final, and productive of peace? But then the Roman Catholics were to be conciliated by devoting a surplus to the general moral instruction of the people. For his part, he knew of no moral apart from religious instruction, and he asked what creed it was proposed to teach them? If no particular creed was proposed, if the natural theology of Lord Brougham was intended, he could assure them that this was unnecessary in Ireland. The people there acknowledged the existence of a Deity. If, by moral education, religious was to be understood, how could it be arranged? No Roman Catholic would send his child to a school where it was likely to be contaminated by what was considered heretical doctrine; and he, for his own part, conscientiously believing in the Protestant religion, would not suffer his child to run the hazard of imbibing the doctrines of those who believe quia impossibile est. Neither would he run the hazard of having him adopt a religion which, according to one of its schools, admitted that a certain portion of evil might be done, that a great good might follow. This was the doctrine of one of its most respectable schools. He did not mean to attribute it to Roman Catholics generally, nor did he mean to insinuate that they had no regard for an oath, for even the doctrine of the Jesuits, or of Loyola himself, did not go to this extent. Their doctrine was, that to save an immortal soul, you might say that which was not true, for the purpose of bringing that soul within the limits of Catholicism. He believed the doctrine extended no further, and that the permission did not hold under any other circumstances than to pluck from the burning one immortal soul. Knowing this, he would not send his child to a school where such doctrines were taught, and he felt that all really conscientious Roman Catholics must have the same objection to a Protestant teacher. This proposition for general instruction, then, was but a hollow covering for the new principles introduced by this measure; and he feared pretences most when they came under the mask of liberality. He believed that the best possible engine to wield was real reform, when it merited that title, and that nothing was a worse engine when it was made to serve only as a covering for the work of destruction. The people of 410 Ireland, according to the declaration of the hon. and learned Member for Tipperary, were rebellious, for he stated, that this measure must be passed, or the foundation of the Throne would be unsafe; and asked, what was this but telling the House that it did not possess the power to legislate for Ireland? He would predict that within one year from that moment in which he was speaking, that giant power, which on the opposite benches was beginning to press upon those who now supported it, would come upon them to crush the Constitution, not merely as it was to be found with reference to England and Ireland, but as it was to be found in the union of Church and State.
§ Mr. Sharman Crawford
observed that it was with extreme regret that he opposed any measure emanating from his Majesty's Government, but he objected to this Bill, not on any of the grounds that had been stated by hon. Gentlemen who had gone before him. He was opposed to it because he thought that it was in its enactments too partial to the Church, and did not give the great body of the people that relief to which they were fairly entitled.—He would not then say any thing with reference to the Catholics, but he had no hesitation in declaring that no measure would be satisfactory to a large portion of the Presbyterians of the North of Ireland which did not relieve them entirely from the payment of the Ministers of the Established Church. In proof of this he could refer the House to several declarations that had been lately made on the subject by that class of persons. Before he had the honour of representing the borough of Dundalk, he had received an address from the majority of the constituency of that place, in which this principle was clearly stated. Previous to his election he had stated his concurrence in it, for he had long entertained a sincere conviction on the subject. He had given no pledge when he was elected, but he saw no reason to disavow his opinion. He could not help feeling that if the tithes were rightly apportioned, the Church would not receive above 40,000l. a-year, one-fifth of what was proposed to be given to them. The hon. Gentleman concluded with moving the following Resolution, saying he should leave it to the Speaker to decide whether he was at liberty to move it at the present stage of the Bill. "That, in the opinion of this House, it is unjust, and conse- 411 quently detrimental to the true interests of the Protestant Established Church, that tithes or any compulsory assessment of any description should be levied generally from the people or from the lands of Ireland for the support of that Church, the members of which amount only to about one-tenth part of the population; it is therefore expedient that tithes and all composition for tithes should cease and be for ever extinguished, fair compensation being made for all existing interests: and that the sums necessary for such compensation should be raised on the security of an annual tax to be imposed upon profit-rents in Ireland, of such amount as may be necessary for discharging the interest and liquidating the principle of such debt within a limited time; the proceeds of such tax to be afterwards applied to the education of the people, the relief of the poor, or such other general purposes as Parliament shall direct."
§ Mr. Anthony Lefroy
said, that he thought that those hon. Gentlemen who agreed with him in opposing the Bill for the Reform of the Irish Church, as proposed by the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, had reason to thank the hon. Member who spoke last for the bold and straightforward manner in which he expressed his desire to deprive the Established Church of all its revenues, as those who differed from him could not mistake his intentions, or be led astray by false promises. He even considered him as a useful ally on the present occasion, as, by the Motion he had made, he had put to flight the hopes held out by his Majesty's Ministers, that this measure would be considered by all their supporters either an adequate reform or a final settlement. No further than this did he wish to associate himself with the opinions or sentiments of that hon. Member, and he still more rejoiced to think that whatever a majority of the present House might decide, still the great body of the English nation would not concur in his views. He did not propose now to add any arguments to those which had already been brought forward so ably against the principle of this Bill, which unanswerable and unanswered as they were had failed to Convince. He knew any effort on his part would be vain indeed. For the same reason he would not occupy the time of the House by stating additional instances from the Report of the Commissioners, 412 though many there were, to prove how those who were intrusted with this Commission could exercise its power to the destruction of the Irish Church, particularly when he recollected the reply of the noble Lord in the striking case of the parish of Collon, as described by his right hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth, when he defended the Bill, by stating, that though, as in that instance, a clergyman having the spiritual care of several hundred souls, might be reduced from an adequate income to 12l. per annum; yet, as the Bill did not render it absolutely necessary, but only left it discretionary to do this, it should not be opposed. It was on the very ground that he objected to the placing this discretionary power and responsibility in the hands of any set of men, that he opposed the Bill, especially in the present state of Ireland, when men's judgments were liable to be influenced by threats, intimidation, and the grossest misrepresentations. Whilst, however, he abstained from entering more fully into these topics, he had a sacred duty to perform, and that was, on his own part, as well as on the part of those who had selected him to express their opinions in that House, to protest against the principle of this measure, which invaded in an unexampled manner the rights of property and gave the colour of law to confiscation and robbery. He would put it to the House was he not justified in so describing it, when it deprived the Protestant Church of Ireland of the revenves belonging to two-fifths of its parishes, to apply them to other than Ecclesiastical purposes, whilst a large proportion of the working clergy were destitute of the means of even a decent subsistence? and, was he not justified in saying that the hopes that were held out by the Government, as to its belonging a satisfactory or final reform were delusive, after the speech which they had just heard, and still more after the speech of the leader of the movement party in that House, who declared, "that he accepted it as affording means of obtaining more." With respect to those declarations he had nothing to say, nor even to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, who, in a tone and manner insulting to every Protestant, ridiculed the idea of an Established Church being maintained at all in Ireland for the Protestants. These hon. Members declared themselves now openly for plunder, and they were 413 taking the consistent course to effect their object; but in what light could he regard the consistency or the honour of his Majesty's Government, and of the noble Lord their leader in this House, who professed to preserve, and to coincide with the right hon. Member for Cumberland in opinion that the Protestant Church had been established by act of union—"that the property generally was in the hands of Protestants." and that "no Church Establishment could be really considered efficient unless religious worship was brought home to every man's door." He must say, their conduct had not the credit of being open and straightforward as of those hon. Members, whilst it was equally calculated to promote their wishes. The noble Lord gave as a reason for supporting this Bill, that great abuses existed. His reply to this was—reform them—but recollect "real reform commits no wrong, does no injustice." Make the establishment as efficient as possible for promoting its moral influence, and its religious objects; increase the working clergy, build glebe-houses, and give means that the parsonage house may be considered, as it has been well described, "a place of mercy; a house of refuge, the very light of which should be pleasing to the poor and desolate." He would give an instance where not only the poor Protestant might he disquieted, and deprived of the benefit of religious instruction by the working of this Bill, but where it would commit a manifest injustice towards the Protestant gentry. He would suppose a case of a gentleman becoming entitled to an estate in a parish in the South of Ireland, where there were few Protestants, and little inducements to reside; he, however, thinks he has an important duty to perform, but before expending his money in building and improving his estate, he inquires if his children and family can have the advantage of the religious instruction of a Protestant pastor; on ascertaining this to be the case, he becomes a resident, and affords comfort to all those depending on him; but this Bill will now come into operation, and if that parish happens to contain forty instead of fifty Protestants, the Commissioners have the power of depriving that Gentleman of the benefit of a resident clergyman, whilst he remains subject to the tithe which he had voluntarily undertaken for such spiritual advantage. Surely such an injustice may 414 take place, and is calculated to fill with alarm every man who truly values his religion, and knows the comforts it imparts. He could not conclude these observations without expressing his deep regret at the opinion expressed on a former night by the noble Lord, who, on introducing his Bill, stated "that the only intelligible ground on which an established religion could rest, was on its being the opinion of the majority." If this meant anything, must it not go to the length, not only of ad-admitting that the Protestant Church must be pulled down, but that the Roman Catholic must be established in its stead, as the majority in Ireland are admittedly Roman Catholics. The noble Lord further said, that an establishment was not for the exclusive benefit of the Protestants, but to teach those truths in which all agreed. He certainly felt startled and amazed by such an opinion, coming from the noble Lord with whom at present rested the destinies of the Protestants of Ireland; but there was, he rejoiced to think, opposed to it the opinion of a noble Lord, the Member for South Lancashire, in which he was sure the British nation would fully concur. That noble Lord stated, "that an Established Church is upheld in order that there should not be a single spot out of the reach of the ministers of the national religion, in order that the services of that religion may be duly performed, and its doctrines taught, without any admixture of error; and he considered the present Bill a plan for appropriating the revenues of that Church, not to its own purposes, but to that of the Roman Catholic Church." He entirely concurred in these sentiments, so ably expressed, and he would entreat the attention of the House to the opinions he had expressed, not merely as the conviction of his own mind, but as held by the great portion of the loyal people of Ireland, who, he feared, would be driven to despair if this Bill became the law of the land.
§ Colonel Verner
said, after the lengthened discussion which had taken place upon this Bill, he should not have felt justified in troubling the House with any observation of his own, had he not this day presented thirty-four petitions against it, and concurring as he did in the prayer of those petitions, he felt he should not be discharging his duty towards those persons who entrusted them into his hands, were he to permit this Bill to be read a third 415 time without expressing his opinion with regard to it. He thought it right to state to the House that those petitions were most numerously and most respectably signed. One was from the grand jurors, magistrates, and gentry assembled at the last assizes for the county which he had the honour to represent; the others were from parishes, and contain, many of them, from 1,000 to 2,000 signatures. What he would particularly call the attention of the House to was, that they were signed alike by Protestants of all denominations, in some instances by Dissenting Ministers—all anxious to testify their abhorrence of this obnoxious measure. He had observed, in many instances, hon. Members state to the House—more particularly some hon. Members from his country—that they supported the Bill as Protestants. It was not for him to question the purity of any men's intentions; it was not for him to say that he doubted their sincerity when they stated that they thought they were benefitting the Church; but he had an equal right, as a Protestant, to express his opinion—and, as a Protestant, he had no hesitation in saying that his belief was, that the passing of this Bill would tend to the overthrow of the Established Church in Ireland—the extirpation of Protestantism from that country, and the substitution of Popery in its place. It was quite impossible not to see that the arguments of the right hon. Baronet who moved that the Bill be divided into two were considered as admitting of only one answer; that answer was given by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, and by the hon. and learned Member for Tipperary; the answer was—not that the Bill would serve the interests of the Church or religion; it was confessed that if the necessities of religious worship were provided for, there would not be a surplus, there would be a deficiency. The answer was not that the adjustment would be final. The representative of the Irish people has long since and often declared that he accepted such a measure merely as an instalment of his demands. The hon. Member for Middlesex, in the course of the debate, made the same acknowledgement. What then was the answer to the proofs of the right hon. Baronet that the Bill was calculated to destroy the Church. It was the answer of intimidation. "We are," said the hon. Member for Dublin, with all the display of triumph 416 which physical strength supplies—"we are six millions and a half"—and, therefore, because these six millions and a half demanded the destruction of a Church, which the Protestant Members, in their simplicity, thought the hon. Gentleman had sworn to defend, the future revenues of the Church Establishment were to be confiscated. When such threats as these were held out, he would put it to the common sense of Englishmen—he would put it to their calm consideration, could they wonder if Irish Protestants should feel hurt—there was no security for their existence, and that, as a matter of course they should unite for their mutual protection. It was very natural and very consistent in the hon. Member to offer his argument of millions in answer, if he might so express himself, to the unanswerable arguments of the noble Lord and the two right hon. Baronets who spoke on his side of the House. But he met his menace on the part of the Protestants of Ireland, and told him they had encountered greater dangers than any person in that House had reason to apprehend from the threat of his boastful millions, and they had overcome them. And he would say to his Majesty's Ministers, that if they would treat that hon. Member's threats in like manner as they were held by the Protestants of Ireland, and not allow themselves to be led as they were by that hon. and learned Gentleman, they would consult more the peace of the country—the interests of true religion—and prevent that effusion of blood which must inevitably follow the passing of this measure; for the Protestants of Ireland would only part with their religion with their lives. He thought it his duty to make those very few observations, and he had only to add, that if the last struggle were to come—and he feared the time was not far distant—and if England could forget those who had never been false to her, they would be true to themselves, and, uniting more closely, should reply even to the threats of this boastful six millions as their forefathers did—and, as they did, leave the result to God.
§ Mr. Hardy
said, that if it were the principle of the Minister that an Establishment was only the means of inculcating religion, (in which he entirely agreed) the Bill, so far as related to the Appropriation Clause, was in utter violation of that 417 principle. The whole argument of Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House proceeded on the assumption that an Establishment was only for the purpose of carrying on public worship to those who professed the religion of that Establishment; that was what he (Mr. Hardy) denied; he considered the Establishment as the means of carrying religious instruction to those who were of a contrary religion. What was the moral and religious instruction which it was intended by this Bill to introduce? He, of course, presumed that if noble Lords were sincere in their professions, the Protestant religion would be that which they would wish to favour in preference to any other, and they would direct their efforts against the corruptions against which they themselves had protested. But what did the Bill do? He expected a Bill which would do away with all the existing abuses of the Establishment; which would abolish Pluralities, non residence, and all the corruptions which had produced so much of well-grounded complaint. But the Bill contained not one single provision for improving the machinery of the Church, as a means of religious instruction. On the contrary, he found the baneful principle of numbers pervading the whole arrangements, so as to take away the only life which existed within it. Had their ancestors argued so at the Reformation would not this country have been at this moment Catholic? If numbers had been the criterion then, this country would not now have been Protestant; but it was because the religion of Protestants contained the injunction to go out into all the earth and preach the Gospel to every creature; it was because that commission had been Carried into effect that at this moment, instead of here and there finding an isolated Protestant, they found whole kingdoms, and among them, most prominently, that in which he had the happiness to live. They were then bound to try the experiment of making the Established Church as efficient as it could be made before they thought her useless. But the House had been told by the hon. Member for Dundalk that the hon. and learned Member for Dublin had held forth the assurance to the Irish people that tithes should be entirely abolished. The hon. and learned Member said, (on a former occasion) "Make adequate provision for the spiritual wants of the Members of the 418 Established Church, and we Only ask of you the remainder for the moral and religious instruction of the rest of the population." But he (Mr. Hardy) did not acknowledge the hon. and learned Member as a fair judge of what was "adequate provision for the Established Church." Indeed, he was of opinion that considering as the hon. Member did, Protestantism to be heresy, all the hopes in his bosom must be set upon its final and utter extinction. He had been told, on distinguished authority, that there would be no surplus. But he for one knew perfectly well that although there might be none, now the noble Lord was pledged to a surplus, that the noble Lord must find one; and after what had fallen from the lips of the noble Lord, the Irish people would not be satisfied till they had found not only a surplus, but a surplus constituting the whole revenues of the Irish Church. He had been taunted by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin for making his religion of pounds, shillings, and pence. He denied that he did so; or that he stood up for the clergy or the Church, taken separately and distinctly, but only as the means of propagating religious truth. And if the noble Lord met him with the difficulty with which he had met the hon. and learned Member for Bandon the other night, viz., "Who, when all are fallible, is to decide what is truth in religion?" he could only say, he agreed entirely with the noble Lord inasmuch as religious truth could only be discovered by Revelation, consequently that the man was in the best way of getting at truth who searched the whole Bible, instead of shutting it up. But that was actually the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism; a difference which was recognised by the Dublin Board of Education system, for in that shameful compromise (as he must call it) with Catholicism, the very first principle of Protestantism was violated—that the whole Bible should be laid open to every creature; so that it was an instruction which could neither satisfy Protestants nor Catholics, except inasmuch as it conceded the principle to the latter that the whole Bible was not necessary. He was at a loss to discover on what grounds this compromise was founded; for, as the hon. Member for Kilkenny had said the other night as the first destination of the "Reserve Fund" would be to those parishes from which the Protestant minister had 419 been driven, (under the Clause relating to fifty Protestants) certainly, after driving away the Protestants from the parish they would have no right to say to the Catholic, "You may have a modified instruction in religion." Having conceded a part, the Catholic might just as well demand the whole, and say, "No, I will teach my children as I think proper." That was the fair inference from the situation in which the Bill placed the Catholics. The hon. Member for Dundalk had said he would not touch existing interests; but he (Mr. Hardy) considered they were not so much to consider existing interests as the interests of religion and of truth, and the best means of inculcating and propagating both. He did not wish to force or coerce those who differed from him; he only said, "there is the Bible if you choose to read it." Or he would send ministers and readers from house to house teaching them verses from the word of God; and if by those means he could not convince them, then, and not before, would Church. He would first make it as efficient as possible, and would not give it up till he was convinced that it was inefficient. Those were his feelings with regard to the Bill; and he must say in conclusion he was surprised to see Protestant Dissenters supporting a system by which all the advowsons were to be purchased, and all the lay-patronage of the Church of Ireland was to come into the hands of the Crown. When the hon. and learned member for Dublin put them in mind of the Scotch Covenanters resistance to Episcopacy, he ought to have reflected that they considered the Liturgy as a species of mass, and that it was not so much to the doctrines of the Church of England as to its ritual which they objected as savouring of Popery. But Ireland was in very different circumstances. In this Protestant country, and with a Protestant king, this measure was one which our ancestors would have resisted as prejudicial to civil and religious liberty. On these grounds he objected to the Bill, and to it he never could consent.
§ Mr. Scarlett
said, that if the object of the Government had been to conciliate the support of a certain party in that House, and in Ireland, they could not have pursued any course that was better calculated to attain that object than the one they had taken. They seemed alto- 420 gether to disregard the interests of the Established Church, and their object seemed to be, not in future to govern Ireland by means of the Protestants, but through the instrumentality of Roman Catholics. This, however, he believed to be as unjust as it was impracticable, and therefore he felt bound to give his strenuous opposition to the measure. An observer of passing events might, without any difficulty, perceive, that the party most hostile to the Protestant Church now considered themselves upon the verge of obtaining ascendancy in the country. What might be expected from such a party was to be collected from the arrogant letter which the other day was addressed by a Catholic Bishop to the foreman of the Grand Jury in Wexford. Under all the circumstances he could not but give his earnest opposition to the Bill before the House.
§ Mr. Robinson
denied, that those who supported the Bill were disposed to abandon the Protestant Church, still less to hand it over to the Catholics. What was there in the state of things throughout Europe which could lead them to expect a Roman Catholic predominance in this country? The influence and power of the Pope in Europe at the present day was imaginary; in Ireland, indeed, if it existed, it arose from the divisions which distracted that country, in consequence of the religion of the state being opposed to the religion of the majority of the people. There was nothing in the Bill affecting the connection between the Protestant Church and the Government of the country—that was preserved in all its integrity. No man could be more anxious than he was to oppose the establishment of the predominance of the Catholic religion in Ireland or this country.
§ Mr. Shaw
said, that much as he was opposed to the leading principle of the Bill, he would not in the then thin state of the House, which could afford no real test of its opinion, put hon. Members to the trouble of dividing; and as neither the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, (Lord Morpeth) nor any Member of his Majesty's Government, had said a word on the present stage of the measure in its justification, he did not feel it necessary to repeat, his various and strong objections to it; the more particularly, as he had recorded them on the journals, upon the bringing up of the Report last Friday. He had then moved such Amendments as he con- 421 sidered were calculated to improve that portion of the Bill, which related to the settlement of the tithe question, and had proposed the omission altogether of those Clauses which appropriated the property of the Church to secular purposes, and contrary to the principles and practice of our ancestors, enacted means for impeding and preventing, as far as legislative interference could, the extension of the reformed religion in Ireland. He must bear testimony to the candour of the hon. Member for Dundalk, (Mr. Samuel Crawford), and to his consistency in maintaining that nothing short of the abolition of the Established Church in Ireland would satisfy the Roman Catholic population of that country; and, further, he coincided with the hon. Member in thinking, that the principle acted upon by the Government, if just to any extent, went that entire length;—and that, while it was an intelligible principle, that you should maintain a particular form of religion in any given district, because it was the established religion of the country, yet, that there was no charm in the number of fifty. For that purpose—and that such a principle was quite unintelligible, the hon. Gentleman had also admitted his willingness to preserve to present incumbents their existing interests. That had caused him, while the hon. Gentleman was speaking, to turn to two letters which he had about him, as a proof of the high and independent spirit which actuated the Irish clergy on that point, and to which, as a sample merely of the feelings of the great majority of that exemplary, though persecuted, body, he would beg leave to refer. The first was written by a friend of his from Dublin, covering, as the letter itself stated, "the memorial of an unfortunate clergyman, requesting attention to the case of his two sons, who, some months before, had left Ireland to seek their fortunes in the Canadas." The writer continued, "I can add, from my own personal knowledge, that this Gentleman, entirely dependent upon tithes, has, during the last three years, scarcely eaten any animal food." [A laugh from hon. Members.] "Good God!" said the right hon. Member "is it possible that party prejudice or religious animosity can have so withered the feelings of common humanity in any hon. Member, as that he can laugh at such a recital as that?" "He," the letter went on, "was obliged to give up a policy of 422 insurance on his life, and is at present in a declining state of health, in consequence of severe mental suffering. One of his children (he hoped there would be no more unfeeling laughter at what he was then about to read,)—one of his children had lately died of consumption, her case requiring those luxuries which his situation would not allow him to procure for her. The characters of his sons," in whose behalf the application was, "are unexceptionable; they have had a University Education, and the office of clearing woods is very unsuited to young men of their gentlemanlike appearance and habits." Yet, the men, under such afflicting circumstances as those, would not consent to a Bill which secured him in his own income for life, because it contained a principle which conscientiously he could not sanction. The other anecdote he had received from a clergyman well known to him, in the diocese of Leighlin, and he would read it in his words:—"During the last week I sent a petition through this diocese for signatures to the different clergymen at their respective residences. My messenger in a remote district inquired for the residence of the vicar of the parish, and was shown a small cabin on the side of the road, and told that the vicar was in an adjoining field. My messenger requested his informant to accompany him in order to point out the place, and having come in sight of the field, said, 'there is the clergyman.' Where, said the messenger, for I only see a man digging drills (meaning drilled potatoes) with his coat off. That is the very man, was the reply, and from this occupation the vicar returned to his residence and signed the petition." [Cries of "Name!"] No, he would not give the name in public, but he should be happy to place the letter in the hands of any gentleman in private. If that independent man, deprived of his lawful income, was ashamed to beg, and still could, and was willing to dig, he felt it was no degradation to that Gentleman; but the reverse; still it might hurt his feelings to have his name brought before the public. [Mr. O'Connell:—the date?] The 27th May, 1835. And what was the petition that man came in to sign; and returned cheerfully to his humble employment again? A petition against a Bill which was to have provided for himself for life, but which he scorned to accept, because it 423 recognized a principle subversive of the Church of which he was a Minister. He (Mr. Shaw) confessed he had an honest pride in referring to disinterested conduct and sentiments like those. He had presented petitions signed by, he believed, almost every clergyman in Ireland against that Bill, and let it not be supposed, that the clergy were unwilling to make a liberal sacrifice of their own rights in order to the satisfactory and permanent adjustment of the tithe question, or that they were hostile to real Church Reform—to the dissolution of Unions—the discontinuance of pluralities—the enforcement of residence—the better distribution of Church income. The truth was, those things were all being done; and the Bill did not advance them, but on the contrary, would impede their progress. Neither did he affect to say, that body of suffering men were indifferent to the loss of their lawful property, or the privations and sufferings they were undergoing—all he did maintain was, that in a spirit of martyrdom that would have done honour to the best days of our Church. They were ready to bear all rather than sanction a principle which they held to be contrary to truth, and destructive to the interests of genuine Christianity. No body of men in the community so much needed personal relief; yet they were ready to lay down their lives rather than betray the sacred cause which their holy profession, and the law of the land committed to their charge. That spirit he (Mr. Shaw) trusted would guide the deliberation upon that measure elsewhere, and he was persuaded the good sense of the people of England would approve the course that it would dictate.
did not mean to enter into the debate; but merely wished to call the attention of the House to the melancholy tale of the clergymen. One of the letters was written so far back as May last, and the right hon. Gentleman must have been aware that the distress of this clergyman need not have been so great for he might have availed himself of the benefits of the Million Act. [Mr. Shaw: So he did.] And then the other letter gave an account—a pitiable account—of a Vicar digging his own potatoes in May. Who ever heard of digging potatoes in May.
§ Mr. Shaw
The expression in the letter was, "digging drill;" and he gave the 424 hon. and learned Gentleman the full benefit of his nisi prius point of distinction, whether the clergyman in question was putting potatoes into the ground, or taking them out. But he (Mr. Shaw) would put it to the feeling of the whole House whether it was not monstrous that the hon. and learned Gentleman should thus add insult to the various injuries he principally had inflicted on the Irish clergy, and have the cruelty to deride the unexampled sufferings of which the hon. and learned Member had been, he might say, the whole cause. He only hoped, that some hon. Members opposite, differing from him in politics, would allow him to place those documents in their hands—though, indeed, he trusted they knew him to be incapable of imposing on the House by any statement not well authenticated.
§ Mr. Twiss
said, that on a former occasion the noble Lord opposite declared, that the people of England would not support a revolution every year. The noble Lord, however, now appeared to think, that they would not object to a revolution every other year. The noble Lord himself thought, in 1833, that the principle of this measure was revolutionary but in 1835, his opinion appeared to have undergone a very considerable change. The hon. Member read several quotations from the speeches of Lord Althorp, to show that his Lordship was then opposed to a principle, which was the same as the one embodied in the Bill before the House. The hon. and learned Member then entered into a series of calculations to prove that there was no surplus of Church Temporalities in Ireland to deal with, and, consequently, that Government were labouring under a delusion, or endeavouring to delude the public mind, when they talked of a new appropriation, of such a surplus. He contended, that the preamble of the Bill was not borne out by the provisions of its subsequent Clauses. The preamble, after stating, that there were some livings in Ireland, the emoluments of which were too large, and others in which they were too small, proposed to remedy that evil; and then, after the Church Establishment had been duly provided for, to apply any surplus revenue which might remain to the purposes of education, &c. But was this preamble borne out by the Bill? No. The larger benefices were to be reduced by it, and some to be totally abolished; but other 425 benefices in which the stipend was too small, were not to be ameliorated. Therefore, he maintained that the preamble of the Bill was not borne out, inasmuch as adequate provision was not made for the Established Church in Ireland.
The Bill was read a third time and passed.