§ Mr. Hume
presented himself to the House. The subject had been already so often before it, he said, that it really was his original intention to have abstained from troubling the House with any observations in reference to it; but the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, in the speech he had addressed to the House last night, on his motion for dividing the Bill into two parts, had addressed himself so pointedly to him (Mr. Hume), as one of the difficulties he had to contend with in dealing with the question, that he was anxious to remove from the mind of the House the undue impression which the right hon. Baronet's allusion to his exaggerated statements of the revenues of the Irish Church was calculated to convey. If the right hon. Baronet did him the honour to refer to his speech of 1822, upon the subject of the Irish Church, the right hon. Baronet would find that he was not quite correct in supposing his (Mr. Hume's) estimate of its available revenues to exceed 3,000,000l. sterling. On the 19th of June, 1822, he brought the question of the state of the Irish Church before the House, believing, as he then sincerely believed, and as, after fifteen years' experience, he still believed, that to the condition of that Establishment might be traced nearly all the evils and misfortunes of that unhappy country. At that period he was most anxious to impress upon the House two points of consideration—the one, the great magnitude of the Establishment; the other, the immense amount of its revenues. He was bound to state the authority from which he derived the information he then brought before the House. It was the authority of Mr. Wakefield, in his estimate of the revenues of the Irish Church—a work which was 886 compiled during his residence with the late Lord Oriel, and at a period when he had, as he (Mr. Hume) believed, the best information that could possibly be derived. Mr. Wakefield computed the rental of Ireland at 14,000,000l. sterling; the property of the Church in Irish acres at two. elevenths of the whole product of the land. Taking this at 2,556,000l., and adding the value of the parochial tithes, he found the total on Mr. Wakefield's own showing to be 3,200,000l. He had further stated, that if the estimates were correct, the actual gross amount of tithe then receivable was little short of 1,000,000l. sterling; and that there were twenty-four archbishops and bishops, and 1,270 beneficed clergymen, enjoying a revenue of nearly l,000,000l. sterling. Now, how stood the fact? Why, a noble Lord, who had brought forward a motion on the subject, in common with other high authorities, had calculated the amount after all deductions and charges, at considerably above 600,000l. The noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire (Lord Stanley), had stated in 1824, that the revenues of the Church of Ireland amounted to only 327,000l. If his (Mr. Hume's) statement were exaggerated on the one hand, the noble Lord's was surely exaggerated on the other. He (Mr. Hume) had contended that the average revenue of each benefice was 520l.; the noble Lord had stated that 265l. would be the outside; but taking the average amount of the 417 livings commuted under the Tithe Composition Bill, the annual value of each amounted to 499l. His statement therefore, was not so much exaggerated after all; and, even if there were an unintentional exaggeration, it was attributable to the secrecy which had been preserved, and the perseverance with which the production of all accounts and statements had been refused. Considering the limited means of information he or any individual possessed on the subject, he submitted that the error was a very trivial one. He had only to look back for a period of eleven years, to the time when the noble Lord had made his statement, and to consider the facts which had since that occasion transpired, and to ask the noble Lord, and to ask the right hon. Baronet whether they or he were most correct? The very first vote he had given in that House on the question of the Irish Church was in 1812, on Mr. Canning's 887 Resolution of the 22nd of June in that year, which was to this effect:—"That this House will, early in the next session of Parliament, take into its most serious consideration the state of the law affecting his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects," with a view to such a final and conciliatory adjustment as may be conducive to the peace and tranquillity of the United Kingdom—to the stability of the Protestant Establishment, and the general satisfaction of all classes of his Majesty's subjects. From that moment until the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Bill, he had been deeply impressed with the importance of that first step of conciliation, and he still thought there would be no peace or tranquillity in Ireland, until the Church Establishment in that country was placed on a better footing. If he had made such a speech as that made by the right hon. Baronet last night, he would have been immediately charged with paying attention to nothing but pounds, shillings, and pence. The whole of the right hon. Baronet's speech was a question of pounds, shillings, and pence. He talked of the necessity of protecting the Establishment, to be sure, but did he put this question to himself or to the House? Had the Church Establishment in Ireland, from the period of the first substantive motion, recognising the necessity of reducing it in proportion to its general utility, given satisfaction to the people, or answered the object for which it was founded. Measure after measure had been brought in, Bill after Bill had been introduced, Secretary for Ireland after Secretary for Ireland had endeavoured to perpetuate that Church in its old state, and what was the result of all their attempts? Signal and complete failure. So utter was the failure, that after all their endeavours they were compelled at last, to give up the Tithe, and to grant 1,000,000l. to the clergy of Ireland. The right hon. Baronet had failed throughout the whole of his argument to advance a single reason which went to justify the division he proposed. He would admit every one of the right hon. Baronet's positions and, the more broadly he admitted them, the more incorrect were his conclusions. What was the right hon. Baronet's object? To separate that part of the Bill which went to appropriate the revenues of the Church of Ireland to other than Ecclesiastical purposes, from the other portions of the measure. The right 888 hon. Baronet's argument was this—"I hold that the property of the Church ought not to be applied to any purposes but those strictly Ecclesiastical, but I am willing to correct the abuses which disfigure the Establishment; to equalize its revenues, and to give incomes only to resident clergymen." Very well. The right hon. Baronet's great argument was that the fund from which the surplus was to be derived was already bankrupt, and that until the year 1853 there would not be one farthing of surplus available. Why, if there were to be no surplus at all, on what ground did the right hon. Baronet oppose the progress of the Bill? Any objections to the details, any amendments to the Clauses, might be urged in Committee. The whole proceeding was a contradiction; the very ground the right hon. Baronet took, destroyed his own case, and he ought not for one moment to have impeded the Bill in its progress to a Committee. The right hon. Baronet had objected to the noble Lord's Bill. He (Mr. Hume) would admit, that it was not the best that might have been introduced. He for one saw no reason why they need hamper themselves with benefices at all. Why could they not divide Ireland into districts, allot a clergyman to every place where there was a sufficient number of Protestants, commute the Tithes, sell all the landed property of the Church, bring the whole of the proceeds into one general fund, and pay the stipends which were to be proved necessary, out of it? The right hon. Baronet had alluded to the emoluments of the Scotch Church. He held in his hand a list of the livings of the Scotch clergy, with the emoluments attached to each, and he would give the right hon. Baronet the information he seemed to require. There were twenty livings, the emoluments of which were 800l. a-year each; ten with 2,600l. a-year each; tea with 500l. (all of these being benefices connected with the larger and more populous towns), and the remainder varied from 150l. to 300l. The Scotch clergy, he admitted, were better paid than the clergy of Ireland, for one reason—they were more equally divided over the country; but he had always contended that 300l. a-year was not too high a salary for a resident Clergyman with efficient duties to perform. The right hon. Baronet had referred to the case of Collon, where he said the Commissioners had se- 889 sequestered the two small livings, which contributed the greatest amount of revenue, and left the clergyman of the largest parish to perform the duties of the whole, with scarcely any revenue at all. To suppose that the Commissioners would act on any such principle, was to suppose they were fools, and disposed to act directly contrary to the trust confided to them; the mere statement of the case convinced him that the right hon. Baronet did not understand the Bill, or the powers given to the Commissioners by the 72d. Clause, which really left him not a leg to stand upon. His opinion decidedly was, that the Bill did not go far enough; for, after all, it would keep up establishments which were not wanted, and perpetuate that appearance of domination and tyranny so repulsive to the people of Ireland. He could not believe that any such alteration as was now proposed would give satisfaction to the people of Ireland. He valued the Bill for its principle, and hailed it as an earnest of the intention of the House to promote the welfare and consult the interests of the Irish population; but it was a question of serious importance to the people of England as well as Ireland, whether they should perpetuate a system of domination, which degraded every other sect, and excited the religious animosities of the whole population. Entertaining this opinion, he thought the Government, at no distant period, would be obliged to re-consider the whole Church Question, and adopt an entirely different course. The Bill would only do as a step, and as a step he was content to take it. If his charge were 6s. 8d. he would take 3s. 4d. rather than lose the whole, but he would wait for the remainder, and embrace the first opportunity of getting it. Of all the great subjects of discussion between England and Ireland, on none did they owe so heavy a debt to the people of Ireland as on the Church Question; and he hoped they would see some such change as he had proposed, before many years had elapsed. He would not seek to effect it at present, because he did not think he could carry the people of England along with him; but time, reason, and experience, he was convinced, would induce them, one and all to awaken to a sense of its justice and necessity. The right hon Baronet had said last night, that if the measure were carried, the Church would become stipendiary. Why should not the Church be- 890 come stipendiary. Was it to be paramount to the Government. Here was the error, and here it had been before. The same obstinacy and wilful blindness had influenced the Anti-Reformers; they had stood by before, and would stand by now, until the storm of public opinion carried all before it. He was extremely surprised not to have heard one word from the right hon. Baronet on the real object of the Bill. The right hon. Baronet had talked of the Establishment, of persons starving on 225l. a-year, and pointed out the apparent absurdity of some of the Clauses, but did he ever put this question to the House—for what purpose was the Christian religion founded. Was it not to promote peace and good-will among men? Had the right hon. Baronet asked himself, or had any of those Gentlemen who now opposed the Bill, asked themselves whether the Church Establishment in Ireland had produced that result? Excitement, irritation, murder, and bloodshed, were these the effects of the best of religions? Oppression, tyranny, and resistance, were these signs of peace and good-will? The Establishment was a failure. It was the plain truth, and there was no denying the fact—a lamentable failure. All history and experience showed that wherever religious domination had existed, the more had persecution and intolerance flourished. These were the effects of the Church of Ireland, and those effects, it was proposed to remedy in part. Was the Bill again to be thrown out, and the people of England to pay another million as the price of the folly which allowed it to be thrown out? He hoped not one farthing of the public money would ever leave the Exchequer for such a purpose. Let the heads of the Irish Church—let the heads of the English Church—let the Duke of Wellington, or any other man—if they were disposed, render futile the liberal arrangements made last year, and the still more liberal arrangements (even on the right hon. Baronet's own showing) contemplated in the present; but let not the people of England, under any pretence, or on any consideration, lend their countenance or sanction to such a proceeding. He considered that they were now called upon, on principles fortified by experience and practice, to endeavour to allay the spirit of excitement and discontent that existed. With this object, differing as he did from the Bill in many of its details, and unwil- 891 ling to impede the good intentions of his Majesty's Ministers, he would be most unwilling to throw any obstacles in the way, and should therefore support the measure. He believed that those who opposed this Bill took the worst course for their own purposes they could possibly take. They were the real Reformers, for by their opposition to all measures of Reform, they opened the eyes of the country. The right hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn) had, in 1824, accused him, when he brought forward the subject, of an intention to subvert, not only the Established Church, but the Constitution. With what compunction must the right hon. Gentleman now think of that speech, when he considered how general in all parts of the country the doctrines which were then advocated now are? So prevalent, indeed, were they, that even in Cambridge, he would venture to say, that the right hon. Gentleman would find his opinions in a minority. The right hon. Baronet, and the party who acted with him, were, as he said before, the real Reformers! Who had produced resistance to tithes in Ireland but the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley)? who, when he was Secretary for Ireland, said, "Let me have but the King as proctor, and I shall recover the tithes; let me but make use of the name of the King, and I shall collect them all, and tranquillize Ireland." But had the measures of the noble Lord the effect which he anticipated? Did he recover the tithes? Did he tranquillize Ireland? No. The noble Lord was not able to carry his point. Would that not teach the noble Lord and those who acted with him, what ought to be done for Ireland? Would that not lead them to mark the signs of the times, and take a lesson by them? What was the effect of the continual opposition of the Gentlemen opposite, to all reform? The consequence of it was, that it was now driving every part of the country into resistance. Was it not owing to the people despairing of being otherwise successful, that there was so strenuous a resistance at this moment to the Church-rates? He had a letter from Wolverhampton, which showed the feeling in respect to Church-rates. A Motion was made last week for a new rate, when an Amendment was moved that the question be adjourned, and the Amendment was carried by a majority of 948 to 303. This showed that three-fourths of the people of 892 Wolverhampton were opposed to Church-rates. The Church-rates would now infallibly be lost—all the power in the country could not save them. The same would be the case with the tithes, if the opposition to the settlement of the question continued. Why should they, therefore, not make a timely secession from their present position. With regard to the Church of Ireland, he was inclined to abolish all the present parishes and benefices, and divide the country into new parishes, as the wants of the country might require. Many of those opposed to him might be of a different opinion, and would not, therefore, join him in that plan, but still he entreated them to withdraw their opposition to the measure now under consideration, which was founded on a spirit of conciliation to all parties. By further opposition they would sacrifice the Established Church in Ireland altogether. It was not to be expected that more money should be paid by the people of this country towards the support of the Irish clergy, and the recovery of tithes was absolutely hopeless. Let them then refuse this measure, and what would be the consequence? He would tell them that their opposition, would be more fatal to the Established Church of Ireland than any thing which could possibly be proposed from the Ministerial side of the House. With regard to the speech of the right hon Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, he had not brought forward one single argument which appeared to bear upon the point. The right hon. Baronet had contended, that there was no occasion for the measure, as there was no surplus fund in existence. Now if that were the argument—if the right hon. Baronet were convinced that the surplus fund was bankrupt, and that there would in fact be no surplus for more than fifty years, why should he and his party trouble themselves about it? The right hon. Baronet had showed that there would be no surplus fund, and he therefore claimed his vote in support of the measure for the surplus was the great source of dispute. He (Mr. Hume) thought that in all the inventions of human mischief, mankind had never invented an engine so destructive of the public peace as the Established Church of Ireland. How long had the people of Ireland lived in hope of some improvement being made in their condition? and how had those hopes been realized? He blamed the Govern- 893 ment of Lord Grey for having followed out the policy of their predecessors in regard to Ireland; but that was the rock upon which that Administration split, and he should think that those who formed it were now convinced that they had acted wrongly. But that species of policy was now at an end, and he admired the present Government for taking a different course. It was thrown out as a matter of reproach that the hon. and learned Member for Dublin supported this measure. But he could say, that the hon. Member for Dublin had always been an advocate for the oppressed against their oppressors, and was as anxious as any man to see the people of Ireland in a quiet and happy state; and he hoped that the people of Ireland would receive this Bill as an earnest of what it was the wish of the Government to do for them. He claimed from the right hon. Baronet the withdrawal of his opposition, because the right hon. Baronet said he had proved that there was no surplus, and surely, as a man of common sense, he would agree that it was foolish to quarrel about what was not in existence. But he (Mr. Hume) was satisfied that there would be a surplus, though the great advantage which he expected from the measure was, that it would tranquillize the country, and give the people of Ireland an expectation of better times.
said, that the hon. Member for Middlesex had said, that though he had long fought on different sides from him, yet he gave him (Mr. Goulburn) credit for having sincerely entertained the opinions which he had advocated, and conscientiously pursued the course which he thought best. He was ready to give the hon. Member for Middlesex equal credit for sincerity, in pursuing that course which, however dangerous it might have appeared to him, was conducive to the forwarding of those views, which no doubt the hon. Member conscientiously thought the best. But so far from feeling any hostility on this occasion to the hon Member, he, on the contrary, thanked him for having stated what appeared to him to be in many respects, very correct views of the question under discussion. The hon. Member stated that he accepted this measure not as a final settlement of the question, but as a beginning—as an earnest of something to be done for the people of Ireland, the ultimate object which he had in view being that there 894 should be no establishment of the Protestant religion at all ["No, no"]. The hon. Member had certainly said so.
§ Mr. Hume
begged to explain. If he had said, that there should be no Establishment of the Protestant religion in Ireland, he certainly had not meant to say so. What he meant to have said was, that he wished the present parishes and benefices to be abolished, and new parishes constructed according to the wants of the country.
Then it appeared that the hon. Member would have an Establishment of the Protestant religion, but only wished to do away with all the old bulwarks of the Church, in order to reconstruct them; but what did the hon. Member then mean by this being only an earnest of what the people of Ireland had to expect? What did he mean by saying, that this was not to be the final deduction to be made from the incomes of the clergy of the Established Church, but that it was only the commencement of a series of deductions which were to end in what he said would meet the approbation of the people of Ireland? He Mr. Goulburn) thought that there was nothing to which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) more strenuously objected than the junction of measures different in their natures in one Bill. He had frequently been taunted by the hon. Member for doing so, and yet on the present occasion, when his right hon. Friend, the Member for Tamworth, proposed to divide into two separate Bills the two measures of which this Bill was composed, the right hon. Gentleman opposed it. The object of the two parts of the Bill were quite different, and acting upon the Minister's own principles, he called upon them to separate the two objects, and make two Bills. They could place together no two subjects more unlike or disconnected together; and that observation he made, not on his own authority, but upon that of a noble Lord (Hatherton), who brought forward the subject of Irish tithes, as the organ of the Government in the House, in the course of last year. The Noble Lord (then Mr. Littleton), when he introduced that measure, laid down a clear distinction between the realization of Irish Church property in the shape of tithes, and the appropriation and application of that property to any purpose connected with the Establishment in Ireland. 895 The noble Lord said,—"I must beg leave, before I proceed further, to caution Members of all parties against admitting on their minds any impression that, in the treatment of this subject, they are considering a question which in any manner involves the appropriation and application of Church property in Ireland. That I hold to be a perfectly distinct Question; it is one that has been made the subject of Parliamentary discussion heretofore—and it is a Question which may, I think, be constitutionally made the subject of Parliamentary discussion hereafter. I fully admit that point; but I do implore Gentlemen, that, in entering on the consideration of the Question, in what manner they can best realize the property of the Church, they will not for a moment mix it up with the perfectly distinct Question of the appropriation or application of its revenues. Sir, the Question which the House has now to consider, is simply and entirely a Question of property. It is as much a Question of property as if it regarded only the payment of rent."* He concurred entirely in those sentiments; and as the then Government did not mix up those different subjects in one Bill, his right hon. Friend was only acting in furtherance of the opinions of Gentlemen opposite, and carrying out the principle which they themselves had established, when he recommended the separation of this measure into two parts. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said, that his right hon. Friend ought to have opposed the second reading. The right hon. Gentleman was a good tactitian, and would be glad to find his right hon. Friend oppose the principle of a Bill which had for its object not only the settlement of tithes, but the Question of the re-payment of the million given to the clergy. No; his right hon. Friend felt that there were parts of the Bill to which he ought to give his support while there were others which he should feel it his duty to oppose, and he, therefore, had no alternative but to allow it to go to that stage in which he might move that it should be divided into two Bills. He presumed that the reason why the Government had brought forward the measures conjointly was, that they felt they could not carry the one part of the measure without joining it with another of a popular character. They were afraid* Hansard, (third series) vol. xxi., p. 573.896 that their measure would not bear examination, and they therefore determined upon producing a species of political Siamese twins. The hon. Member for Middlesex, for the want, he supposed, of a better argument, had thought fit to attack him (Mr. Goulburn) for having done nothing for the Irish people. It was painful to have to enumerate what had been done by one's self; but having been attacked by the hon. Member, he had no other course to follow but to enter upon his defence. He had been appointed Secretary for Ireland in 1820, and submitted to the House a measure for the accomplishment of tithe composition, and, notwithstanding the opposition of many Irish Members, the Bill passed, and for a time put an end to the disturbances on the subject of tithes, which distracted Ireland at that period. It made the collection of tithes safe and easy, and, but for circumstances which afterwards happened, it might have continued to answer the object for which it was intended. He was blamed by the hon. Member for not having made the composition compulsory; but his answer to that was, that he had brought in a Bill with the compulsory Clause in it, but found that he was finally obliged to abandon it, in consequence of the opposition which it met with from the Irish Members, and he was compelled to accept a voluntary composition for twenty-one years, on the understanding that the Bill would, at a future period, be more efficient. The right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had said, that the Ministers were enemies to non-residence, but so were their opponents. Who, he would ask, had brought in a Bill to put a stop to non-residence—who had brought in the Curate Bill? Were they not introduced by himself? These Bills had passed into laws, and he wanted no farther proof of their efficacy than what had taken place since they had been agreed to. More had been done by these measures than by any previous measure that had ever been introduced. He recollected when a charge was thrown out against the clergy of the Church of Ireland as non-resident, Lord Plunkett, the present Lord Chancellor of Ireland, said, that there was no church in which residence was so much enforced, or in which the clergy so zealously discharged their duty. A Bill had also been introduced for the severance 897 of unions, and to unite sinecure situations in the Church of Ireland to the poorer vicarages, or give them to the working clergy. This principle had afterwards been carried out to a greater extent in the Church Temporalities' Bill, by which a portion of the income of the dignitaries of the Church was applied to the general instruction of the people in connexion with the Church. The Government of which he was a Member, on their return to power in 1828, appointed a Commission to see how far the principle of the Bill could beneficially be carried into effect; shortly after the principle was made to apply with reference to two Deaneries—namely, those of Down and Dromore; the revenues of which, 2,0001l. a-year, were taken and divided amongst the incumbents of twelve different parishes, which had been placed under the superintendance of curates who had then miserable incomes, and by means of this allowance a respectable but moderate income was made up for each of them. Each of these persons also possessed a large Protestant congregation. He contended, however, that more depended on the manner in which the Government distributed the Church patronage than anything else, as affecting the Church of Ireland—he meant, that proper care was taken that the persons appointed to the higher offices in the Church were competent to the proper discharge of the duties they had to perform. He would appeal to the lists of appointments made in the Church during the time he was Secretary to the Marquess of Wellesley, under the Administration of Lord Liverpool, as a proof of the sincere desire of the Government to reform abuses, and to put the Church on a proper footing. His right hon. Friend opposite had reminded the House that when he (Mr. Goulburn) was in office he had repeatedly called on Parliament for large sums for the Irish Church, instead of taking, as the present Government had, a portion of the income of the dignitaries of the Church for that purpose. When his right hon. Friend complained of the sums expended on churches and glebe-houses, he should have objected to the votes at the time they were proposed in that House. He would, however, remind his right hon. Friend that, after the first year of his entering into office, he (Mr. Goulburn) did not propose a grant for the purpose. His right hon. 898 Friend, however, at the time had not indicated the slightest opposition to the grant. Again, his right, hon. Friend had found fault with the Vestry Act, the repeal of which he said was called for from one end of the country to the other. That measure was introduced as an Amendment in the room of one proposed by Sir John Newport, and such was the opinion respecting that Bill, as an amendment of the then existing law, that that right hon. Baronet did not oppose it, and there was no division either on its principle or any of its details. The only division that took place on that measure was on an Amendment proposed by his right hon. Friend—namely, a Clause to get rid of the Vestry Cess, and throw it on another fund. This, however, had been opposed, as not coming within the immediate object of the Bill. His right hon. Friend had complained of the purposes made of the Bill; if, however, it had been made a handle to excite political discussion, and to make attacks on the Establishment; that, however, was a charge which could not fairly be brought against the authors of the Bill; or, at any rate, if there was a fault, the Legislature shared it with the framers of the measure. His right hon. Friend had, also, said, that they ought not to consider the Church of England as connected with the Church of Ireland, and read an extract from Mr. Knox's Remains, with a view of proving that assertion. He (Mr. Goulburn) admitted that there were differences between the circumstances of the two countries, but he considered that the principles said to be applicable to the Church of Ireland were equally applicable to the Church of England. Therefore, when he considered a measure proposed for adoption with regard to the Church in Ireland, he could not help looking to see how far it was applicable to this country. Now he maintained, that the arguments that would justify the application of many of the most objectionable provisions in this Bill, would equally apply to a measure, with similar provisions, as affecting the Church of England. For instance, the principle of sequestrating the revenues of a parish, and appropriating them to other purposes than the payment of a resident clergyman, where there were not fifty Protestants in a parish, applied equally to the latter Church as to the former. There were some livings in this country to which the objections 899 urged with respect to certain parishes in Ireland could be raised. If hon. Gentlemen would look through the Report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, they would find that there were above 100 parishes in England containing less than fifty members of the Church of England, and, if they adopted the present measure, might it not be urged that where there were so few attendants of the Church there should not be a resident clergyman? If that was the principle, on what grounds could they make a distinction between the two countries in those parishes where the circumstances happened to be similar? He must object to a principle which made the superintendence of a minister depend upon the amount of population. This was a question in which the maintenance of religion was deeply involved; and to preserve a belief in the doctrines of the Church it was essential that its ministers should be maintained. It was even more essential in those places where the Protestant population were few than in those where they were more numerous. The Church in Ireland might be regarded as a missionary establishment—an establishment to spread the doctrines of which was most desirable; and, with this view, it was his opinion that these doctrines could be extended with greater efficacy amongst small than amongst large congregations. Besides, the presence of a clergyman was more necessary amongst the few for this purpose; as in the larger communities the number of the population tended to preserve their doctrine. Where the communities were small each individual came under the immediate superintendence of the pastor, and from this circumstance the happiest results must follow. He knew many instances in which the greatest good had been effected under resident ministers in parishes where formerly there were but few members of the Church, but where now there were many attendants at church. And knowing this to be the case, he had taken the trouble to add together the numbers in several columns of the large volume of Reports on the Table, to find what had been the relative increase of Protestants and Catholics in some parts of the country. He had found that where there was even a very limited congregation, a pastor who exercised constant care and watchfulness could effect much by zeal for religion. On referring to the Report he 900 found that in the diocese of Waterford there were 110 parishes. The noble Lord, by his Bill, proposed to sequestrate the incomes of all parishes not containing more than fifty members of the Church. Now, out of the one hundred and ten parishes in this diocese there were only thirty-four the Protestant population of which exceeded fifty. In Clogher, on the contrary, there was not one parish which came under the ban of the noble Lord's Bill. Now, what was the progress of Protestantism in those two dioceses?—and if it was only for this alone the Report was valuable, as it gave the census taken at two different periods, namely, 1831 and 1834. This circumstance gave them an opportunity of judging of the increase between these two periods as to the relative increase of Protestants and Catholics. What, then, were the facts? In Water-ford, where there were seventy-six parishes, with less than fifty Protestants, the increase of Roman Catholics was three-and-a-half per cent., whilst the increase of the Protestant population during the same period was no less than thirty per cent. In Clogher, on the contrary, where no single parish had less than fifty Protestant inhabitants, the Roman Catholics had increased in the proportion of three and three-quarters per cent., whilst there was only an increase of three and a quarter per cent., amongst the Protestant population. Did not this single fact show the value of preserving the incumbencies where the Protestant population was less numerous? The means of instruction were, in such cases, more complete; and the House should, therefore, not easily be induced to adopt a principle which would do away with a Ministry that had been found so efficient and valuable. "But," asks the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, "will you preserve to those whose duties are least large incomes, and deprive those parishes where the duties are onerous of their fair proportion?" This he would say was never contemplated. They were all agreed upon removing whatever was defective in the system; but he would ask in return, would they deprive independent clergymen of those places in which their superintendence had been found productive of so much good? Remedy, he would say, the defects of the one, but do not do away with the good consequences of the other. Look at Carlow. Remedy the 901 deficiencies which exist there. And look to the instance of Carrick, quoted on a former occasion by the hon. and learned Member for Tipperary. Let the House look, also, to the situation of Collon, as instanced by his right hon. Friend (Sir R. Peel). With regard to what had been urged by the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) relative to this case, and his explanation of the 71st Clause, and the discretionary power of the Lord-Lieutenant, he (Mr. Goulburn) could only say that he found Collon named in the list of the noble Lord. Now, what better authority could they have on such a point than the documents furnished by the noble Lord himself? Out of that union the noble Lord took the produce of two parishes to help in feeding his reserved fund. He would now observe upon what had fallen from the hon. Member for Middlesex. That hon. Member admitted that his right hon. Friend (Sir R. Peel) had proved to demonstration that there could be no surplus, but at the same time the hon. Gentleman said, "I'll prove that there is a surplus." He admitted the ability, as a calculator, of the hon. Member for Middlesex, but he hoped the hon. Gentleman would acquit him of undue partiality in agreeing with the right hon. Baronet that if a fair and rational allowance were made for the advancement of religion and the support of its ministers, there could be no surplus. There could be no surplus if the House adhered to the Resolution which it had already passed. That Resolution pledged the House to provide for the spiritual wants of the Protestants of Ireland, and it had been clearly established that if that pledge were redeemed there could be no surplus. But why, asked the hon. Member for Middlesex, why oppose the Bill if there be no surplus? The answer was furnished by the speech of the hon. Gentleman himself. The hon. Member looked to tranquillize Ireland by the adoption of this measure. Was that the way to tranquillize Ireland—to hold out a hope of pecuniary advantage, which, as there could be no surplus, could only be realised by the extermination of the Protestants. Why, instead of appeasing Ireland, this would only urge her on to the demand of new sacrifices hereafter. Let a surplus first be proved; but let them not hope, by assuming a surplus, that Ireland would be tranquillized, when it discovered that no such surplus existed. 902 On the contrary, if this principle were agreed to there would gradually be demanded greater and greater sacrifices of the Irish Church and the House would be urged on, step by step, and Session after Session to new submissions. They would sink it lower and lower, to more limited and narrower means, until the whole fabric of the Church would be brought to an end. Under this impression, and anxious that the whole measure should undergo deliberate discussion, which, in his opinion, could only be effected by the proposed separation, he would support the proposition of his right hon. Friend, Sir Robert Peel. He could not consent to the proposed sacrifice of independent Ministers, nor agree to a measure calculated to expel from the Church every man of liberal education. He was no advocate of excessive emoluments, but he was of opinion, that those of the clerical profession should bear some adequate and relative proportion to other professions. Why should it be proposed to a young man, desirous of entering the Church, that the minimum of his income should be 150l. to 200l. and his maximum but 300l., for the Bill gave the power to reduce it to this? Why should such a proposition be made as the whole reward for attainments, learning, piety, and virtue, when the very Bill afforded much higher remuneration to persons of another profession, who would be employed under it in subordinate situations. Such a measure would operate most injuriously upon the whole body of the clergy, and through them upon the Church. He would again say of this Bill, that it ought to be divided, and both parts submitted to separate investigation. He would not detain the House further than to make a single observation on a subject alluded to by the hon. Member for Middlesex. That hon. Gentleman read a letter, he believed from Wolverhampton, respecting Church-rates, and complaining that some settlement of that question had not taken place. But why had that question not been settled? Was it the fault of those who set on his side of the House, or of the hon. Members' who now occupied the Ministerial benches? At the beginning of the Session did not he and those who were associated with him in the Government of his right hon. Friend, express their intention to bring in a measure to settle the question of Church-rates? And, that being the case, why were they 903 to be attacked for not doing that which hon. Members opposite put it out of their power to do? He contended, therefore, that the onus of explanation as to why the measure for settling the question of Church-rates had not been carried, should be given from the opposite, and not from his side of the House. He was, however, dealing now with a very different subject, namely, a Bill deeply affecting the rights of the Protestant Church in Ireland, and he did hope, that the House would not act precipitately, but that they would give to a measure of such vast importance to Ireland—to the Church Establishments he might say, of both countries—that consideration which the subject required, and allow the separation of the two questions which it involved, so that each might undergo full and proper discussion. If they consented to this he was not without the hope that the result would be the adoption of a course which, while it corrected the irregularities of the Irish Church, would tend greatly to promote the advancement of the true interests of the Protestant religion, and thereby confer a signal and a lasting blessing on the people of Ireland.
§ Mr. Pusey
said, that as he was about to give a vote in opposition to the motion of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, under whom he had acted in former Parliaments, and under more adverse circumstances, he trusted the House would permit him to trespass upon their patience for a few minutes whilst he explained, as openly and unreservedly as he could, the reasons for the course he intended to pursue. He found by the Report upon the Table of the House, that in one-half of Ireland—namely, the provinces of Connaught and Munster—the number of Roman Catholics was 3,500,000, being not less than the whole population of the kingdom of Portugal, whilst the number of Protestants who were scattered over the same part of the country did not exceed 150,000, being not equal to the population of Liverpool. Thus, there was a kingdom of Catholics on the one hand, and a town of Protestants on the other. He did not mean to say, that the principle of population was that upon which alone the question of a Church Establishment was to be decided, yet it certainly was an element in the consideration of that Question, and it appeared to him impossible to deny, that in the part of Ire- 904 land to which he had referred, it was approaching a point at which it must be taken into consideration. It was painful, no doubt, for a member of the Church to enlarge on its defects and abuses; but in these times it was in vain to shut one's eyes against them. It was to be lamented that they had so long been permitted to exist. With permission of the House he would state a few facts from the Report, illustrative of the present state of some of the benefices in the south of Ireland. The hon. Member then read the following statement, showing the amount of the Protestant population, &c., in four dioceses:—
He might be told, that those benefic[...] had been consolidated, but he could no forget, that when the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, brought forward the salutary measure under which that had been effected, the same cry of sacrilege was raised by a portion of the public press, which was heard upon the present occasion. He feared that if the Church should be injured, the blame would rest upon the heads of Protestants, who had for centuries allowed the revenues of the Church to be diverted to selfish and jobbing purposes, rather than upon the heads of those who proposed, after providing for the spiritual wants of Protestants in Ireland, to appropriate the surplus which remained to purposes of general education. It had been stated by a portion of the public press, that the Bill unchristianized 879 parishes in Ireland. He turned to the list of the parishes to be unchristianized, and how many of them did the House suppose he found to be without churches, parsonage-houses, resident incumbents, and, with very few exceptions (not more than 11 or 12) without the performance of divine service, or even a Protestant population? No less than 704. He would next advert to the assertion that the provisions of the Bill
* Collected in a few parishes.
would destroy Protestantism in Ireland. There were at present in Ireland 1,385 benefices, which by the working of the Bill would be reduced by 177, leaving 1,200 as the number to be allowed to exist in future. It should be recollected, however, that though there were 1,385 benefices, there were but 889 resident incumbents. Now the Bill enforced residence, and therefore there would in future be 1,200 resident incumbents, being upwards of 300 more than the present number, or an increase of 35 per cent. For his part, he thought that if it were possible to put the Bill into operation immediately, it would be the best thing that could be done. Although he had noticed the vast preponderance of the Roman Catholic population, and the wretched state of the Church Establishment in one part of Ireland, he could not disguise from himself the danger which must attend the breaking down of the principle of the inviolability of Church property. He would infinitely prefer applying the surplus to building churches where they were wanted, for Protestants in Ireland, to the appropriation to which it was destined by the Bill; but when he looked at the vast Roman Catholic population in Ireland,—when he remembered that it was through the beneficence of their ancestors that the local trusts were founded for the benefit of parishes, he could not be surprised that that population should advance a claim to derive some benefit from those funds. The question was, what ought to be done under existing circumstances? The Protestants of course wished to retain the funds for the benefit of their own establishment, and the Roman Catholics not unnaturally, laid claim to a large portion of them. He looked upon the Bill as an award made by his Majesty's Government between the two parties; and although he was opposed to the general politics of the Government, he must say, that he thought it was a fair award. The boon which the Bill offered to the Protestants was accompanied with a condition in favour of the Catholics. He would venture to remind the right hon. Baronet, because it bore upon the question of the propriety of dividing the Bill, that when he, so much to his honour, proposed the emancipation of the Roman Catholics, he accompanied that boon with the condition that the 4Os. freeholders should be disfranchised. So in the present case, the boon to the Protestants,
which consisted in securing the tithe property to them, was accompanied with a condition in favour of the Roman Catholics. It was unnecessary for him to trespass longer on the attention of the House. However it might pain him to be separated for an instant from the party with which he had heretofore acted, and whatever distrust of him it might produce amongst the members of the Church to whom he owed his seat in that House, be felt bound to declare that if the vote which he was about to give were to be the last he should give in that House, he considered the sacrifice due to his political opponents, who, he thought, were consulting the best interests of the Church, by not exposing the Question to further agitation. If the Question should lie settled now, he believed that in two years it would be almost forgotten that tithes had ever been paid in Ireland; but if the measure should fail, the clergy would be left in a state of utter destitution. In conclusion he declared that whatever might be the consequence to himself, he would discharge what he conceived to be his duty by opposing the Motion of the right hon. Baronet.
§ Sir James Graham
said, he was not surprised at the satisfaction which the House had expressed on hearing the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. Though he differed decidedly from the hon. Member, still he was bound to say that he had delivered his sentiments like an independent English gentleman, and having changed his opinions, did not hesitate in a fair, open, and manly way, to avow that he had changed them.
It was impossible that he should once again address that House on this very painful subject, without referring to what had fallen from the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, when he introduced the measure now before the House. The noble Lord concluded his able address by stating, that if in his conscience, he did not believe that the interests of the Protestant religion would be maintained by the present Bill, no man would rejoice more than he should if it were defeated. Respecting, as be did, the noble Lord's statements and character—respecting, as he did, his private virtue and public principles, he could not hear such a declaration from him without carefully reconsidering all the opinions which he 907 himself had formed on the subject, and without reviewing the conduct which he had thought proper to pursue. And if such reconsideration and review had brought him to a conclusion similar to that which had been stated by the hon. Member for Berkshire, nothing that had passed, no opinions that he had before expressed, would prevent him from coming forward and avowing to the House, that under all the circumstances of the case he was prepared to make that compromise on the subject which the hon. Member for Middlesex had so strenuously and strongly recommended. But he was bound to say, that so far from his opinion having been changed, his retrospection had led him to the conclusion that all the evil forebodings he had expressed when the abstract resolution on which this Bill was founded was under the consideration of the House, had been more than realized—he felt more than ever certain, that all the evils he had expected would inevitably flow from the measure under consideration.
In the first place, he had a remark to make on what had fallen from the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Pusey) who had just sat down. The argument on which lie principally founded his approbation of the present Bill was the insufficient number of the resident clergy, the insufficient number of the parsonage houses, and the inadequate provision for the scattered population of the Protestants of Ireland.
§ Sir James Graham
said, that the question whether churches could or could not exist advantageously in such districts under such circumstances, involves the question which should be the religion favored by the State in Ireland and the maintenance of the Establishment was the great principle for which they were now contending. But he would deal for the present with the hon. Member's substantive objection, viz., the insufficiency of the resident clergy, and the insufficiency of the glebe-houses; and he would put it to the hon. Member for Berkshire, and urge this consideration upon him, that the present Bill, to which he was now disposed to give his assent, struck at the very root of a measure which was intended to supply, and which could not 908 fail to supply, a sufficient remedy for the evil which he pointed out. The measure to which he alluded was the Irish Church Temporalities' Act, a measure to which several of the hon. Gentlemen who sat on the other side of the House were parties when it was introduced, and which he supposed, till they introduced the present Bill, they were prepared in common consistency to maintain. The main provisions of the present Bill, however, would have the effect of destroying the fund which was to be made available by the former Bill to remedy the very defects of which the hon. Member for Berkshire complained. In fact, the measure now under discussion was a virtual repeal of the Church Temporalities' Act. Now, what were the sources from which the funds were to be derived that were to supply the Ecclesiastical purposes which the Church Temporalities' Act was destined to perform? There were only three that he would enumerate. First, there was the amount arising from the revenues of those livings the appointment to which on the next avoidance was to be suspended in conformity with the Act. Under the Act, that fund was to be carried to the credit of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; but by this Bill it was to be taken from them, and to go to the reserve fund, and the right was given, if an overplus was found to exist, to appropriate it to secular purposes, which however disguised was the final destination of the reserve fund. The next provision to which he should advert was more peculiarly applicable to the purposes to which the hon. Member for Berkshire referred. It was that all those funds which were appropriated to livings attached to certain dignities in the Irish Church, as they became vacant, were to be applied, first to the augmentation of the small livings, and were afterwards to go to the Ecclesiastical Fund to be applied to strictly Ecclesiastical purposes, such as the building and repair of Churches. Here again was an alteration. These funds, under the present Bill, were no longer to go to Ecclesiastical purposes, but were to go to the reserve fund. Then there was the perpetuity fund, already most heavily charged—that fund was to be charged five per cent, additional under this Bill. The result was, that this Bill, which went to destroy the Act by which provision was made for the augmentation of small livings, and for building glebe-houses and churches, was to receive the support 909 of the hon. Member for Berkshire, though at the same time he was complaining of the deficiency that even now existed. The hon. Member had also addressed himself to a point of form; he had objected to the division of the Bill as proposed by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tarn-worth, and illustrated his argument by a reference to what tools place on the introduction of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill. He trusted the hon. Gentleman would excuse him for saying that he did not think a more unhappy illustration could by possibility have been adduced. What was the course pursued by the right hon. Baronet on that occasion? It was admitted by him that the two measures, the Roman Catholic Relief Bill and the Forty-shilling Freeholders' Disfranchisement Bill were more or less connected; but he did not say that they were connected so intimately that he thought it safe to embody them into one Bill. What, he again asked, was the course taken by the right hon. Baronet? Did he not, acting in perfect candour, and pursuing that course which he called on the Government in this case also to pursue, so far from endeavouring to bind them together, so that they must both be taken or both be rejected—did he not introduce them as separate Bills? He gave distinct notice to the House that it was the policy of the Government that both measures should pass, but he afforded the opportunity of voting for one and rejecting the other. He had a clear recollection that the measures were introduced as two separate measures. The right hon. Gentleman certainly begged it to be understood to be the policy of the Government that both should pass as nearly simultaneously as possible; but that for which he was now contending was that, the two Bills were not bound indissolubly together, and that the opportunity was given of dissenting from either.
In the next place he wished to make a few observations on the speech of the hon. Member for Middlesex, and he thanked the hon. Member for the plain, manly, and direct manner in which he had declared his intentions and opinions on the present occasion. He thought that some of the mists and obscurity which hung about the measure had been dispelled by the clear light of truth reflected on it by the hon. Member for Middlesex. He doubted, indeed, whether the hon. Member for Berkshire could have been present, and could have heard the speech of that hon. Gentle- 910 man; but it appeared that he must have heard the nimble and adroit speech of his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, addressed to the House last night. His right hon. Friend declared, that it was now necessary, once and for ever, to settle this question; to look at it with reference to principle, and not as a matter of detail. So said the hon. Member for Berkshire. The hon. Member for Middlesex, however, had treated it as a pounds, shillings, and pence question, and had gone into those very details, for entering upon which the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tarn worth, was taunted by his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, strange to say, declared that he would not, on that occasion, condescend to grapple with such minutiæ. On some future occasion, however, they were to have the answer of his right hon. Friend to the admirable argument of the right hon. Baronet, who limited himself almost entirely to the pounds, shillings, and pence, a view which the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, he need not condescend to notice. But the hon. Member for Middlesex, adopting the pounds, shillings, and pence language, in which he delighted to revel, when he came to comment on the request of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer to settle the Tithe Question by passing this Bill, admitted to the House that he did not consider it a final or satisfactory measure; he offered, however, to take it as an instalment, though he would not give a release, and he even avowed, that he could only receive it as a payment of 3s. 6d. in the pound. The hon. Member for Middlesex was still more explicit. The right hon. Baronet had pointed out many deficiencies in the measure; these the hon. Member said he was aware of, and he never had considered the Bill itself as at all satisfactory. He then added, that he had a plan of his own, which was to abolish every parochial Division now existing in Ireland; he would change the system entirely, and adopt a new one—he would make the clergy altogether stipendiary—be would break up and re-arrange the whole establishment on a spick-and-span new plan of his own—the long established system he considered entirely inapplicable to the present times, and indeed completely worn out—the ancient boundaries and land-marks were not worth preserving. Where, then, it might be asked, was this final settlement? Once 911 and for ever they were called on to settle this question; but where was the peace they promised? The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, his watchword was peace—but there was no peace. He was convinced, that this measure, which it was said, would carry peace to Ireland, would carry a sword. The hon. Member for Middlesex declared, that they were not the real friends of the Church who fought this battle desperately; but he would reply that they were false friends indeed who would ask the enemy to assist in repairing abuses, and allow them to alter the system itself under the pretence of sup- I plying its deficiencies. Let them hunt this I question as they would through all its shifts and turns and winds and doubles, and they would come at last to the point on which they really differed, and that was, what should be the favoured religion of the State in Ireland? and when they decided that the Protestant should be the Established Creed, what was necessary to give effect to that decision? Clear it was—they might dissemble it as they would—and clear it would be, whatever their attempts at concealment, that this measure, or rather that portion of it which was founded on the Resolution passed, in the early part of this Session, was an attack on the great principle of an Established Church. The hon. Member for Middlesex illustrated the truth of what he was now putting to them. He quoted the case of Scotland, and a better case could not be selected. It gladdened him to hear those observations from the hon. Gentleman, because that was a point with respect to which he most cordially agreed with him. That hon. Member represented that the Established Church of Scotland was a perfect model—there they would find residence—there the clergy were not scantily, not prodigally, but comfortably provided for. The hon. Gentleman went on to say, he was willing that every clergyman in Ireland, resident in a parish with a congregation, should have 300l. a year. Now that was exactly the argument put by the right hon. Baronet. He proposed, that they should make this single concession, and then they might for the present, waive a discussion of the details of the measure of the noble Lord. He argued thus—admitting that there were 1,385 benefices, if there were 246 in which the number of Protestants were less than fifty; and, for the sake of this part of 912 the argument, he struck off the 246 on account of this deficiency in the amount of the congregation, there would then remain 1,139, where, according to the plan of the Government there would be a sufficient congregation, and where there would be a clergyman constantly residing. Let them next carry the principle of the hon. Member into effect and give to each of those resident clergymen 300l. a-year, and at once the whole question of surplus vanished. They might thus carry the Bill without the resolution. Let them admit the principle as regarded the 1,139 benefices, and so far from their being a surplus, it was as clear as that two and two make four that there would be an absolute deficiency.
It was next necessary for him to advert to one or two facts stated by the rt. hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer last evening. Though the right hon. Gentleman said he would not deal with figures, and touched them as if they were hot irons, yet he did burn his fingers with them a little. He said that there were forty-one benefices without Protestants. Now, in candour, his right hon. Friend should not have omitted the statement, that if there were forty-one benefices without Protestants, there were sixty-four benefices which paid no tithes whatever. There were forty-seven without any provision for the cure of souls, and seventeen inappropriate. He repeated, that there were sixty-four benefices, one-fourth of the whole number, containing less than fifty Protestants in which there was no Ecclesiastical tithe. The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that a new light had broken in upon those who opposed the measure—that they were now quite enamoured of the Commission and its Report. He must say, in reply to this, that he did not understand the right hon. Baronet to express any approbation of the principles on which the Commission was appointed; but that the Report was most useful could not be denied, because it disposed of many of the gross delusions which had existed respecting the amount of parochial tithes. But whatever might be the opinion of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, he had not in the least changed the opinion which he had before entertained of the great danger of the principle on which the Commission was issued. He repeated, that if he felt objections to the latent principle which it was clear to him it contained, those objec- 913 tions had been confirmed an hundred-fold by the measure which was now founded upon it. The principle to which he alluded, was that of numerical proportions, which clearly were made the groundwork for the decision of the question whether from a parish, in which there shall be less than some given number of persons professing the Established religion, the Minister of the Established Church shall be withdrawn or not. That principle, he contended, was fatal to the existence of any Church Establishment. He contended, moreover, that if it were a sound principle, its application could not possibly be confined to Ireland, and that five years would not roll over their heads before its extension to England would be pressed on them with irresistible force: and he himself would frankly say, that if he were called on to sacrifice the principle of an Established Church at all, by yielding to the principle of numerical proportions, he would rather sacrifice it to the Protestant Dissenters in this country, than to the Roman Catholics of Ireland. The principle, however, as originally enunciated, had been limited to the question of whether or not there should be a minister of the Established Church in certain parishes; but such was the rapid progress of noxious principles when once admitted, and so much had they already extended, that that principle was already applied to the amount of revenue to be paid to the minister, even when he was to be retained; for it was distinctly with reference to the question of what was the true number of the congregation to which spiritual duties were to be administered, that the amount of all the revenues of all the livings after the next avoidances, was to be determined. That principle, too, if admitted for Ireland, could not fail to be extended hereafter to England, inasmuch as it was one which, if sound, must be of universal application; and much as he objected to its application to Ireland, his objections were redoubled by his seeing the inevitable consequences with which is was fraught to the Church of his own country. It had been asked by his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was it not absurd to levy the revenues of Cashel and Tuam, where there were few Protestants and many Catholics, and with them supply certain Ecclesiastical purposes which might be necessary in the provinces of Dublin and Armagh? He would answer that question, by asking the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for 914 the Home Department, whether he had avoided the very same absurdity under the very provisions of the present Bill? Was it not indeed certain that he would levy from the rich Protestant parishes in the diocese of Armagh, under the title of the Reserve Fund the revenues to be expended in the education of Catholics in the south of Ireland. A question had been put to the noble Lord by his noble Friend, the Member for North Lancashire (Lord Stanley) when the principle of appropriation had been discussed in the shape of the abstract resolution, to this effect:—"Suppose a surplus to be admitted, how do you mean to appropriate it" (and the question had been put as presenting somewhat of a dilemma)? "Do you mean where there shall be a surplus according to your rule in any parish, to apply it to the education of the population of that particular parish? or do you mean, in order to render the measure more acceptable to the whole population of Ireland, to levy funds from the various parishes, and to expend them in remote parts of the country? If you say that you will expend them locally, you will be driven into the greatest absurdity in some cases, where the funds to be applied to education may be so large as by surfeit to defeat your purpose; if you expend them in a distant district, what will become of your measure of peace? Wherein will be the satisfaction to the confiscated parish, which contributes a large sum, not to be expended within its own limits, but to be enjoyed by some distant non-confiscated parish?" To these representations the noble Lord had, at the time when they were made, given no definite answer; but how had he left the case in the Bill now before them? He had left it just as vague as that most vague of all resolutions on which the Bill was founded.
His hon. Friend the Member for Nottinghamshire (Mr. Evelyn Denison) had asked what had been gained by the rejection of the Bill of last year. He had asked the question rather triumphantly, and had been cheered accordingly. He would answer his hon. Friend, that a great deal had been gained by it, even if those who were desirous of resisting the new appropriation should fail in their endeavours. It had been proposed by the measure of last year to take permanently from the Irish Church forty per cent. of its property; under the present Bill only thirty per cent. was to be taken, so that there was at once a gain of 915 ten per cent. But had nothing else been gained? He called on the hon. Member for Middlesex to join with him in congratulations to the people of England that it had been rejected. Last year it had been proposed to transfer the ten per cent. which was now saved by the present Bill to the pockets of the Irish landlords, and to call upon the people of England to pay twenty per cent. during the lives of the present incumbents out of the taxation of England. It had been always argued that the striking and flagrant injustice of the Church Establishment in Ireland arose from the circumstance of payment for the maintenance of that Church being made by the great bulk of the community, which is composed of Catholics. He contended that that was a gross fallacy. He absolutely denied that tithes were paid by the husbandman, by the labourer, by the occupier: he contended, on the contrary, that they were a tax on property, and were paid by the owners of it. He would read on this subject, a few words, written by one now no more, but who was gifted with a remarkably clear understanding—who grasped strongly every subject which he touched, and who rendered it intelligible to all whom he addressed—he meant the late Mr. Cobbett, who had expressed himself so late as 1834 as follows:—"The elergy are not paid by the people any more than the landowners are. The tithes are as much their property as rent is the property of the landlord: the right of the former can no more be destroyed than the title of the latter; and why the clergyman should receive as pay what the landlord demands as his own I cannot conceive. The tithes do not belong to the husbandman, they never can be his. It has been the fashion of late years to talk of abolishing tithes. Those who have land would do well to consider how they would relish the abolition of rent, for they must rest assured that the latter will never be far from the former. Those who would make a law for abolishing tithes would not wish to have another for abolishing rent; but they would soon find a set of legislators to do it for them." This was a very shrewd and pertinent observation, which it was not inexpedient that landlords should bear in mind. His right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had quoted the authority of a Mr. Knox, to show that the connexion of the Church of Ireland with that of England formed no necessary part 916 of the Union. He had not been aware that that person was so high an authority as the right hon. Gentleman seemed to regard him; but, however high an authority he might be, he would appeal from him to the authority of a Catholic eminent for his learning, and now occupying a high station, and favoured by the Government—he alluded to Mr. Blake. In 1828, that gentleman had been asked whether he thought the Catholic Relief Bill would be injurious to the Protestant Church Establishment in Ireland? and his answer was, "I do not think that it would be; if I did, nothing should induce me to support it, for I am of opinion that the Church Establishment is a strong link in the chain which binds England to Ireland; and that connexion is, in my opinion, indispensable to the safety and happiness of both." What was the opinion of Lord Plunkett, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland? It was still more explicit. He did not pretend to quote the exact words, but the sense of what the noble Lord had said was too well impressed on his memory to allow him to misrepresent it. The noble Lord had said in effect, that if ever, in an unhappy moment, they rashly laid hands on the property of the Protestant Church in Ireland, to rob it of its rights, they would seal the doom of, and destroy the connexion between, the two countries; from that moment their connexion could no longer survive. He did not think that it was sound argument to compare the circumstances of the Church in England with the circumstances of the Church in Ireland; because if there did exist that great disparity of numbers which appeared to be clearly established, he might still contend, that the circumstances of the payment in England were quite as different from those of the payment in Ireland as were the relative proportions of the professors of the Established religion in the two countries. He held in his hand a Return from twenty-three parishes in the diocese of Kilmore, which he had every reason to believe accurate, inasmuch as it was signed by the clergymen of the different parishes, and had been some time uncontradicted, before the public. From that it appeared that the gross number of acres paying tithe in these parishes, was 363,832, and the gross amount of tithe composition levied upon them was 8,629l. Of that number of acres what proportion did the House believe to be the property of Pro- 917 testant chief landlords? No fewer than 357,234, only 6,578 acres being held by Catholic chief landlords. What was the proportion of the payment? Of the gross sum of 8,629l., the composition paid by Protestant chief landlords was 7,921l.; and that paid by the Catholic chief landlords was only 147l. The average rate of composition for the whole was exactly 5¼d. per acre. The amount contributed by the Catholic was a quarter of a farthing per acre. If the average rental were taken at 8s. 9d. per acre, and the average produce at 1l. 6s. per acre, the tithe in those twenty-three parishes would be one-twentieth of the rent, or one-sixtieth of the produce. The tithe was to the rent as one to twenty; and rent being to the produce in the proportion of one to three, the tithe was to the produce as one to sixty. He begged the noble Lord to recall to his recollection what had been the wish expressed by his former constituents in Devonshire. They desired, that there should be a commutation of tithe in England on the principle of approximating it to rent, and they had petitioned, that tithe should be to rent in the proportion of one to ten. In Ireland, however, tithe was to rent as one to twenty; in England it was as one to three. In Ireland, also, tithe was to produce as one to sixty; in England it was as one to ten. He contended, therefore, that whatever disparity might exist between the proportions of those professing the Established religion in the two countries; the difference in the payment was greater still than that disparity. He had already said, that he was satisfied that the present was not a measure which would give peace to Ireland. He well remembered that when the enumeration of the people of Ireland by religious classes was first called for, the hon. and learned Member for Dublin gave a distinct warning to the Government, that it was a most dangerous process so to range a whole population, in classes, according to their different religions. He himself would say, that though the first enumeration might not have produced that effect, yet that the fatal danger was to be traced in the measure now before the House. The right hon. Gentleman opposite tried to escape, by saying the measure was purely retrospective. He absolutely denied that such was the case. The measure was, indeed, only retrospective in the first instance; but where a suspension had 918 once been effected, a power was given to the Government, if circumstances should be so altered as to afford a sufficient inducement, to remove that suspension, and to restore the resident minister who had been removed under the operation of the Bill. From that moment, however, the measure became prospective; it gave an irresistible stimulus to the Protestant landlord, who disapproved of the withdrawal of the minister to increase the number of the Protestant population, and it gave to the Catholic landlord, if he rejoiced in the absence of that Protestant minister, a decided interest in using all the means in his power to prevent his restoration. All these dangers and feuds which the hon. and learned Gentleman anticipated from the original enumeration, he anticipated from the present Bill. If its promoters were sincere in their wish to give effect to the Church Temporalities' Act, their assent to the measure now before the House was astonishing. He alluded more particularly to those with whom it had been formerly his fortune to act as a colleague, and who had been parties to the introduction of the Church Temporalities' Act. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had referred to two passages in the speeches of Lords Grey and Lansdowne; wherein those noble Lords, advocating his adoption of that measure, most strenuously urged on the Legislature the necessity of making an immediate and large provision for the augmentation of smaller livings in Ireland, and for the building of glebe-houses. He might here further observe, that when the Legislature passed that Act they did stamp, as far as possible, their decided judgment as to what ought to be the amount of the income of each benefice in Ireland; for the provisions of that Bill were, that no living under 300l. a year should be taxed, and that livings under 200l. a year should be augmented. Moreover, as if to render the point clear beyond doubt, the 106th Clause was inserted, providing that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners might dissolve unions of parishes, with this remarkable proviso, "that the annual value of any such parish so divided as aforesaid, shall not by such division in any case be reduced below the sum of 300l." He would, having observed thus much, now refer to what had been said by Lord Grey two years ago—since which period no money had been expended in the building of glebe houses:—"The 919 sum of 10,000l. a year," said that noble Earl, "to be applied to the erection of glebe houses, is a very necessary expenditure, inasmuch as not one-half of the benefices of Ireland are provided with glebe houses." That was the very objection taken by the hon. Member for Berkshire: the Church Temporalities' Act had had for one of its objects the supply of that very insufficiency, and the Bill now on the Table would have the effect of virtually repealing that Act. He knew, indeed, that it was contended that it would be most improvident to build churches and glebe houses in parishes containing only a small number of Protestants. He had before endeavoured to convey to the House a knowledge of what he conceived to be the grand view of an established religion, namely, that every one professing it, whether he be a member of a large or of a small community, should have a facility of public worship, according to the forms of that religion, within a reasonable distance of his own residence. A departure from that view would, in his opinion, be fatal to the principle of an Established Church. On what principle did the Roman Catholic Church act? That Church, whose members prescribe to those of the Established Church the doctrine that unless there exist a numerous congregation, calling for a large supply of spiritual assistance, a resident Minister should not be continued. He knew from his own personal experience, that in many cases Catholic chapels had been built, and Ministers appointed in places where the congregation was exceedingly small. The maintenance by the Legislature of a favoured religion was neither more nor less than the imposition of a tax. It was surely needless to argue that if there was to be a favoured religion, the state should decide what that religion should be. This brought him to the question, should the Protestant religion remain the established religion of this United Kingdom. He entirely agreed with the right hon. Member for Tamworth that the Bill before them did infinitely too much or too little. It did too much, as involving a great violation of principle, without effecting any great object; and it did too little—it was indeed as a mere speck in the horizon—if regarded as a means of compounding the differences unhappily existing throughout Ireland. Were a person to tell him that the Catholic religion ought to be established in Ireland—that the property of the Protestant Church should, in the hope of satis- 920 fying the great body of the people, be transferred from the support of that Church to the maintenance of a religion professed by the body of the people, he could understand the meaning of such a proposal; but when a person told him that he was in favour of the Protestant Church, and yet endeavoured to cut down its means—to destroy the very root, the natural means of propagating it, and increasing its utility—he was bound to credit the candour of such a person, but he must say, that it was at the expense of his understanding. To lose sight of the national character of an established religion, to exterminate it in some large districts, and to confine it within the narrowest limits in those in which it was retained, did not appear to him to be consistent with a wish that it should prosper. The more natural course, indeed, for a person sincerely entertaining that wish, would be to devise means whereby the efforts of its ministers might be seconded, and their influence rendered of more avail. He was not for pushing any vain scheme of proselytism in Ireland; but at the same time he was desirous of giving the Protestant religion a fair chance of spreading, and he certainly joined with his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in congratulating this Protestant country—and England more especially—that notwithstanding all the numerous disadvantages under which it has recently laboured, the Protestant religion has been gaining ground in Ireland. He could conceive means of aiding its further extension by employing catechists and schoolmasters speaking the Irish language, and professing the Protestant religion, to impart instruction in its principles, to the young among the most ignorant of the population of Ireland. He would mention another mode of contributing to religious peace in Ireland. He had cordially supported Sir John Newport and his right hon. Friend through many years of opposition in their efforts to effect a removal of the Vestry-cess; and it certainly was to him a source of pride and joy that he had been a Member of the Government by which it was at length removed. There was an impost, however, still remaining, which was quite analogous to Vestry-cess, and which might be with equal propriety remitted—he meant the Ministers' money which was levied in towns to the amount of about 12,000l. a-year. If this Bill were to pass, he was quite sure, that before three years had elapsed, 921 there would be a cry raised for its removal, much stronger than was ever heard against Vestry-cess or against tithe. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin, when once contrasting the Catholic Church in Ireland with the Protestant Church, rejoiced that his Church at least, was not tainted with the mammon of gold—alluding, he supposed, to the poverty of the Roman Catholic clergymen in his own country. But how stood the fact? He shrewdly suspected, that the parochial clergy of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland were in the receipt of very large incomes. He had been present at a Committee the other day, when it was distinctly stated that at Clonmel, the annual receipt of the parish priest was 1,000l.; and yet they were now debating the propriety of fixing the maximum of the livings in the Protestant Church at 300l. If they retained a Church Establishment for Ireland, it was absolutely necessary that they should place its Ministers above poverty, dependence, and degradation. He had been asked by the right hon. Member for Tipperary as one living in the neighbourhood of Scotland, what his Scotch neighbours said on this subject: and he had the means of satisfactorily answering the question. He lived on the borders of the county next to Scotland, at the south western extremity of Scotland; and within the last six weeks, the Synod of that neighbourhood, it was called the Synod of Dumfries, had assembled, and come to the Resolution of sending an Address to his Majesty, which he had had the honour of placing in his Majesty's hands. It was to this effect:—"We consider any attempt to interfere with the integrity of the Protestant established religion, by appropriating the revenues of the Reformed Church to any other purpose than the maintenance of the Ministers, and the due dispensation of her ordinances among the people, and the support of truly Protestant education, as a violation of the fundamental laws of the Constitution, as dissolving the bond of allegiance between your Majesty and your subjects, as an act of injustice to the whole community of Protestants, in whose birthright is included the maintenance of their religion, as tending to destroy all confidence in the security of every description of property, and as encouraging the machinations of those reckless men who are pursuing a course which, if the testimony of history may be believed, will lead to general confis- 922 cation and robbery. We beg leave humbly to offer our hearty thanks for your Majesty's most gracious expression of regard and affection towards that portion of the Protestant Established Church, to which we belong; and your royal solicitude for its extension and welfare, which in our humble opinion, would be put in imminent danger by the recognition of the principle publicly avowed in reference to the Protestant Established Church in Ireland." That was his answer to the question which had been put to him by the hon. and learned Member for Tipperary, as to what his neighbours on the opposite side of the border said on this question. But he might be told, that those who took the same line of argument as he did, had embarked in a hopeless struggle—that all their efforts were in vain, and that whatever might be thought of the principles on which the question was settled, it was, at all events, practically set at rest, and that all further resistance was unavailing. Now, he did not hesitate to avow, that while he continued to take a humble part in public affairs, he would never yield to any argument of that description. When great public principles were at stake, he did not think that the community had any chance of a fair decision, if those who, in their judgment and consciences, believed that the principles were sound and defensible, were induced to abandon the defence of them, not from conviction, but from gloomy forebodings as to the consequences to which firm and honest adherence might lead. He did not wish to argue this question on personal grounds; he had confined himself to the maintenance of those principles which he felt bound to defend, without dwelling in the slightest degree upon topics which involved purely personal considerations. The hon. Member for Middlesex had reminded the House that the storm ran high. He would reply to that observation by saying, that when the storm runs highest you must steer by compass. And what was the compass of public men? It was not, he maintained, vague notions of expediency: it was a firm adherence to great first principles, which it would be dangerous to compromise, and unmanly to desert. He would assure the House that he was most unwilling to occupy their time by reading long passages to them; but there was one passage which bore on this question so strongly, and which was fraught with so much wisdom and instruction, that al- 923 though he feared he had exhausted their patience, he trusted that they would extend to him a further share of their indulgence whilst he ventured to read it to them. It referred to a melancholy passage in the history of this country, when a question arose on a principle somewhat analogous to that now under discussion—he meant the expulsion of the Bishops from the House of Lords. The monarch who reigned over this kingdom at the period to which he referred, was Charles the 1st., who had already consented to put Lord Strafford to death—with what reluctance and qualms of conscience it was then unnecessary for him to state. The next measure which was pressed on him was the expulsion of the Bishops from the House of Lords, and he was induced, in opposition to the stern dictates of conscience, to submit to the necessity which he was led to suppose the danger of his situation imposed on him. Now, he begged the attention of the House to the arguments which were urged on that unhappy Prince to induce him to adopt a measure, to which his judgment and feelings were opposed, as well as the remarks which Lord Clarendon made upon the subject. These arguments, too, he begged the House to recollect, were not advanced by false advisers, but by honest Ministers who erred in judgment. With these remarks he would submit to them the observations of Clarendon which ran thus:—"Now the Bill for taking away the votes of Bishops out of the House of Peers, which was called a Bill for taking away all temporal jurisdiction from those in holy orders, had no sooner passed the House of Peers, than the King was earnestly desired 'to give his royal assent to it.' The King returned, 'that it was a matter of great concernment, and therefore he would take time to advise, and would return an answer in convenient time.' But this delay pleased not their appetite; they could not attempt their perfect reformation in Church and State till those votes were utterly abolished; therefore they sent the same day to the King, who was yet at Windsor, and gave him reasons to persuade him immediately to consent to it, one of which was 'the grievances the subjects suffered by the Bishops exercising of temporal jurisdiction, and their making a party in the Lords' House:' a second, 'the great content of all sorts by the happy conjunction of both Houses in their absence;' and a third, 'that the passing of 924 that Bill would be a comfortable pledge of his Majesty's gracious assent to the future remedies of those evils which were to be presented to him, this once being passed.' Reasons sufficient to have converted him, if he had the least inclination or propensity to have concurred with them. For it was, upon the matter, to persuade him to join with them in this, because that being done, he should be able to deny them nothing. However, those of the greatest trust about the King, and who were very faithful to his service, though in this particular exceedingly deceived in their judgments, and not sufficiently acquainted with the constitution of the kingdom, persuaded him "that the passing of this Bill was the only way to preserve the Church, there being so united a combination in this particular, that he would not be able to withstand it. Whereas, by the passing of this Bill, so many persons in both Houses would be fully satisfied, that they would join in no further alteration; but, on the other hand, if they were crossed in this, they would violently endeavour an extirpation of Bishops, and a demolishing of the whole fabric of the Church.'" "They alleged 'that he was upon the matter, deprived of their votes already, they being not suffered to come to the House, and the major part in prison under an accusation of high treason, of which there was not like to be any reformation, till these present distempers were composed; and then that by his power, and the memory of the indirect means that had been used against them, it would be easier to bring them in again, than to keep them in now.' They told him 'there were two matters of great importance pressed upon him for his royal assent, but they were not of equal consequence and concernment to his sovereign power: the first, that Bill touching the Bishops' votes; the other, 'the whole militia of the kingdom, the granting of which would absolutely divest him of all regal power, that he would not be able to deny both; but by granting the former, in which he parted with no matter of moment, he would, it may be, not be pressed in the second; or if he were, that as he could not have a more popular quarrel to take up arms than to defend himself and to preserve that power in his hands which the law had vested in him, and without which he could not be a King; so he could not have a more unpopular argument for that contention than the preservation of the Bishops 925 in the House of Peers, which few men thought essential, and most men believed prejudicial, to the peace and happiness of the kingdom.'" "The passing that Bill for taking away the Bishops' votes exceedingly weakened the King's party, not only as it swept away so considerable a number out of the House of Peers, which were constantly devoted to him but as it made impression on others whose minds were in suspense, as when foundations are shaken. Besides, they that were best acquainted with the King's nature, opinions, and resolutions, had reason to believe that no exigence could have wrought upon him to have consented to so anti-monarchical an act; and, therefore, never after retained any confidence that he would deny what was importunately asked; and so either absolutely withdrew themselves from those consultations, thereby avoiding the envy and the danger of opposing them, or quietly suffered themselves to be carried by the stream, and to consent to anything that was boldly and lustily attempted." He would not pursue the history of that unhappy Prince further; his history, as well as that of this most instructive period of our history, was familiar to every hon. Member of that House, and he had only to express a sincere and ardent hope that no similar consequences would follow from acting on representations made at this time, which were not widely different from those which were then pressed on the atttention of the Monarch. It was thrown out at the other side (on the principle, no doubt, that ridicule prevailed often when argument failed), that the stale cry "of the Church in danger," was now attempted to be raised. Now, if this sneer had proceeded from those who considered an Established Church an evil, and that of Ireland a national grievance, he should not be much surprised, but when it came from those who appear to consider a national Church a benefit, he could not help saying, that he was astonished how it could for one moment be considered a matter of indifference that the existence of the Church should be in the slighest degree endangered, or that the Protestant religion should continue to be the favoured one in Ireland. He had now used all the arguments which it was his intention to address to the House; and if, on the whole, they were of opinion that the Protestant religion was good in itself, that it was pure in its doctrines, and 926 useful in its practice, and that, as a national Establishment, it was intitled to afford instruction to those who professed it in the most remote parishes in Ireland; if they believed that such were its excellencies and its characteristics, they were bound to preserve it in its present extent and character. If they believed that the Establishment of the Church formed an essential part of the Constitution of the country—that it afforded the most favourable means of spreading rational and sound religion—if they believed that it contained the sources of consolation in pain, in poverty, in sickness and in sorrow, and that it exercised a just authority to teach, while it favored the utmost freedom of inquiry, then it behoved them to cling to this Establishment—to defend it manfully and boldly—not to surrender the cause of their Protestant brethren in Ireland; and, above all, to make no second concession to the influence of Catholic agitation. He admitted that toleration was the first principle of Protestantism; but the question now was, whether the Catholics should be kept within the bounds of toleration, or allowed to act in a spirit of ascendancy. He had every respect for conscience [marks of disapprobation.] Did he not support Catholic Emancipation, and remain for many years in hopeless opposition an advocate of that measure? Did he not support the Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts? He repeated, that no man in that House had a more sincere respect for the scruples of conscience. But he confessed he had no regard for conscience when it assumed the shape of resistance to the payment of a legal impost. And to the conscience of passive resistance—to the conscience of agitation—to the conscience of repeal—to the conscience of "the annual tribute"—and, least of all, to the conscience of Death's head and cross-bone menaces he, for one, was not prepared to make the smallest possible concession. For the Reformed religion, as it was established in these realms, there was no sacrifice which he was not ready and willing to make; and, with respect to Ireland, he would, in conclusion say,—"communia altaria æquè ac patriam diligite colite fovete."
§ Viscount Howick
* Sir, I was most* From a corrected Report published by Ridgway.927 anxious to address the House after the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge, because it appeared to me that that right hon. Gentleman had—more than any other Member who preceded him in this debate,—addressed himself to the immediate Question brought before the House by the Motion of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, for the division of the Bill. But, Sir, I now rejoice that I gave way to the hon. Member for Berkshire, since I have thus an opportunity of expressing the satisfaction with which I heard the speech of that hon. Member, which, in my opinion, reflects equal credit upon his head and his heart. In that speech the hon. Member has given proof both of a candid mind and a sound judgment and in spite of personal feelings and sacrifices, he is open to conviction produced by facts clearly brought before him. The hon. Member has also shewn very great ability, and has stated in the clearest and most convincing manner the arguments on which rests the defence of the Measure we have submitted to the House.
I am also happy, Sir, to have an opportunity of expressing the different feelings which have been produced in my mind by the speech of my right hon. Friend, the Member for Cumberland, and of answering some of the arguments which he has used, and which, coming from one who says he knows that toleration is the first principle of Protestantism, really seems to me not a little surprising. But, Sir, before I proceed to do this, the House, I trust, will permit me—though not, perhaps, immediately connected with the particular subject under consideration,—very shortly to notice some of the observations of the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge. That right hon. Gentleman occupied a considerable portion of his speech in answering some of the remarks which fell from my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. My right hon. Friend, in the course of his speech, said, and I think most truly and unanswerably said,—that a great part of the difficulty by which this Question is surrounded, has arisen from the former conduct of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, in having, while in power, refused or neglected to correct, before it was too late, the many abuses and acknowledged evils which existed in the Church Establishment of Ireland.
928 The right hon. Member for Cambridge denies this charge, and, in reply, asks—"Are we the patrons of Church abuses? Have we done nothing for the improvement of the Church in Ireland?" And he then entered into a long and warm encomium of the manner in which the patronage of the Church was bestowed during the administration of Lord Liverpool, and of the Bills which he had himself introduced on the subject of tithe composition—of non-residence and disseverance of unions, winding up the whole by reminding the House that these great improvements had been effected by Lord Liverpool's administration, in spite of all the difficulties occasioned by troubled times and by the war which was then raging. But surely the right hon. Gentleman could not have heard the speech of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, which called forth the remarks of my right hon. Friend near me. The right hon. Baronet said,—"I am no advocate for the abuses of the Church. I do not deny that the facts stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Attorney-General for Ireland, with respect to some particular parishes demand a remedy: and I am ready to deal, not prospectively, but immediately, with the existing abuses of non-residence, because in such abuses I can recognise no vested rights. I am no friend to clerical sinecures;—of all sinecures they are the worst. I would at once put an end to that state of things, under which a starving curate can be left to perform the real duties of a parish, while the well-paid rector resides at Brighton."
Such, Sir, is the language used by the right hon. Baronet, who is now such an enemy to the abuses which he acknowledges to exist, and which he is prepared to remove. But, then, we are told that this is no new doctrine of the right hon. Gentleman and his friends—that, when in office, they did all they could to remedy these abuses. Then why, let me ask, do they still remain to be corrected?—do they, or do they not, exist at the present moment? Has the statement of the Attorney-General for Ireland been impugned in any one particular? Do these abuses, I again ask, to which the hon. and learned Member has referred, exist, or do they not? It cannot be denied that they do; and I then further inquire, whether the right hon. Gentleman opposite, 929 and the party with whom he acts, were not in possession of power for a period amply sufficient to have enabled them to apply an efficient remedy to these anomalies? The right hon. Baronet opposite was appointed Secretary for Ireland, if I rightly recollect, in the year 1812. I did not expect the renewal of this discussion, or I would have been prepared with the exact dates; but I believe he was appointed Secretary for Ireland in 1812, and continued in that office until the year 1818, or 1819. In 1822 he became Secretary for the Home Department, and remained in that situation, a leading Member of the Cabinet, and immediately presiding over the administration of the affairs of Ireland, for no less than five years. With this power then in his hands and these opportunities at his command, why is it, I again ask, that he has left still to be corrected those abuses to which he now expresses so determined an opposition? But the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the University of Cambridge, says, that they held this power during war, and in troubled times. Why, Sir, of the period during which the right hon. Baronet held office, only two years were years of war; and for those who talk of "troubled times," I should like to institute a comparison between the last five years of Lord Liverpool's Government and the present time,—between the opposition with which he had to contend, which was known by the well-earned nick-name of his Majesty's opposition, and that which we have encountered since the first of March, 1831, when my noble Friend introduced his Bill for the Reform of the representation of the people? Sir, I say, that if ever there was a Government which was placed in circumstances favourable to the entertaining of large and comprehensive views, and for the calm consideration of dangers which were still at a distance,—it was the Administration which then existed. Never, yet, was there a Government which enjoyed so many advantages: it was all-powerful in this House. There was no political excitement of any kind in the country; there was profound peace abroad; and there was no cause whatever to prevent the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and his colleagues, from giving their whole attention to the correction of those abuses of which he now avows himself one of the boldest enemies. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) cheers me, as though he understood me to imply that nothing has 930 been done by former Administrations towards remedying these abuses. I did not say, Sir,—I did not mean, that nothing had been done; I only call upon the House to compare what was done by the Government, of which the right hon. Baronet was a Member, with what was left undone, and with what has been done since; taking also into consideration the facilities they enjoyed compared with what we have possessed for maturing and carrying great measures; and I say, the defence of the right hon. Gentleman will not, for one moment, stand good in the eyes of the country.
But, Sir, I wish to deal quite fairly and candidly with right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I must therefore admit, that there is a much better and a more substantial defence to be made for them than any they have thought tit to urge,—it is a defence which I can perfectly understand that the right hon. Baronet may not be desirous to put forward, but which might, I think, have been successfully advanced by him. He might say, "It is very true, we had great power in this House, but as the House was then constituted, we held that power by this tenure, that we should not deal too rigidly with abuses." It was by means of these abuses, as we all know, that in the unreformed House of Commons the majorities upon which the existence of the Ministry depended were kept together; it was therefore impossible that these majorities, returned by Schedule A and Schedule B, should be employed for the destruction of those very abuses which furnished the bribe and the bait by which their services were secured. If the right hon. Gentleman had rested his defence upon this ground, I should at once have admitted it to be good; but then, Sir, I should have expected him, with equal candour, to have given up what he said four years ago on the subject of the Reform Bill, and now to have agreed with me, that that measure, instead of a curse, was the greatest blessing ever conferred upon this country.
Sir, I fear I have dwelt too long upon this topic, which I am aware does not bear directly upon the question before the House; but those hon. Gentlemen who heard the speech of the right hon. Member for Cambridge, will, I am sure, perceive that what I have now said was in answer to a challenge thrown out by him, which it was impossible I could pass by. I will, however, now come to the main and most 931 important question before the House. It appears to me the great and almost single argument against this measure, which has been advanced by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge, and by my right hon. Friend who has just sat down, is, that, in point of fact, there can be no real surplus after providing for all the wants of the Protestant Church in Ireland. I believe that almost the whole of their arguments resolve themselves into this. The most elaborate calculations have been gone into, for the purpose of shewing that, upon an equal division of this property, there would not remain more than an adequate stipend for each of the Protestant clergymen in Ireland. I will not go into those calculations; I could not do so with any effect, without taking up much more of the time of the House than I could with any propriety demand. But this is not my only nor my principal reason for declining to enter into these calculations; my chief reason is, that they seem to me to be brought forward to support an argument which is, in itself, essentially unsound. If those calculations were in themselves ever so correct (which I must beg leave to deny), they would still, in my opinion, form no sufficient basis for the conclusions attempted to be built upon them. What is the real and practical ground on which his Majesty's Government propose this measure? We find that there exists very general dissatisfaction amongst the people of Ireland, who complain that, in supporting the Church Establishment on its present scale, a very large endowment is applied in such a manner as not to be conducive to those ends of general utility which it ought to answer. This is the main complaint which the people of Ireland bring forward; and when I come to examine the grounds on which this complaint is founded, and to inquire whether it is just or unjust, I find it necessary, in the first instance, to look at what are the principles on which a national church and a national endowment are to be supported. My right hon. Friend has all along argued upon the assumption, that the mere maintenance of the Establishment is the ultimate object of the endowment, and that beyond this we have no right to look. Now, Sir, I have always held,—and I am happy to find myself confirmed in this opinion by some of the greatest ornaments of our own Church, including Dr. Paley and the 932 present Bishop of London,—that a Church Establishment, like every other human institution, is created for the benefit of the great body of the people, and that it is intended to diffuse amongst them the truths of Christianity. When a Church Establishment is really a successful instrument for the accomplishment of this object, I scruple not to say I think it the most useful of all the institutions of a state. I think so, not only because I conceive that the happiness of the governed being the end of all government, their eternal as well as their temporal happiness is to be regarded; but even passing by this consideration, I think so even merely with reference to the political welfare of a country.
My right hon. Friend, when addressing the House on this subject on a former occasion, quoted a beautiful passage from Hooker, which so perfectly expresses what I think upon this point, that I will take the liberty of repeating it. He says:—"There is a politic use in religion. Men who fear God, are thereby more effectually than by positive laws restrained from doing evil, for those laws cannot reach beyond the outward actions of man; whereas, in the inmost recess of the heart, religion serves for a bridle. What more wild and savage animal can there be than man, if he think himself able either by fraud to overreach, or by force to overbear, those laws unto which he is subject? Wherefore, when there is such boldness to offend, it behoves that the word should be held law, not a vain surmise, but a grave apprehension of somewhat which no man is able to withstand, and this is the politic use of religion."
Sir, I cordially concur with my right hon. Friend in his admiration of these sentiments, and in thinking that even were it merely for this. "the politic use of religion," it ought to be one of the first objects of a state to extend its influence. But I go still further in my agreement with my right hon Friend, and I say with him, that for the purpose of upholding religion, and of diffusing its most salutary effects, a national Church Establishment is the best, if not a necessary, instrument. I believe (in opposition to those who maintain a contrary doctrine, and contend for what is termed the voluntary principle) that mankind cannot safely be left with respect to the want of religious instruction, to be acted upon by the same motives that guide them in providing for their mere physical 933 necessities. There is no danger that these should he forgotten; but, unhappily, those who are the most deplorably in need of religious instruction, are from that very circumstance insensible of its necessity; their attention requires to be roused, and their fears excited us to their lot in another world; and, in my opinion, unless the State adopt some means of doing this, and of bringing religion under the notice of those who are in a state of absolute indifference about it, we cannot reckon upon its having that general effect which it ought upon the minds of the population.
Sir, I was glad, a few nights ago, to find that this was precisely the view of this question taken by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth. In the Debate on the Church of Scotland, the right hon. Baronet said, that in considering the necessity of providing additional means of religious instruction in that part of the kingdom, he would take into account both what was done by the Established Church, and also what was effected by the Dissenters; but that he felt bound to inquire whether there were what he called any neutral ground, occupied neither by the Church of Scotland nor the Dissenters, and if so, to consider how the wants of those classes, for whom nothing had yet been done, might be provided for. Sir, in laying down this rule, in which I entirely agree, I conceive the right hon. Baronet clearly to have adopted the principle for which I am now contending,—that the endowment of a national Church is intended for the benefit of the great body of the people, by bringing religious instruction to the doors of the whole population. But if this be the test of the usefulness of an establishment, and of the propriety of maintaining it, what must be our judgment of the present condition of the Irish Church? Is it the successful instrument of diffusing religious instruction amongst the mass of the population, and, above all, amongst the poorer classes? I will not detain the House, at this hour, by going into the cases of individual parishes, but looking only generally to the state of extensive districts, it will be seen at once how little the Established Church of Ireland has done for the great body of the people. In three out of the four provinces of Ireland, the members of the Established Church amount only to one-fourteenth of the population. In one province, that of Tuam, they are actually only one-twenty-eighth; and in the two provinces of Tuam 934 and Cashel together, comprising the whole of the South and West of Ireland, the Churchmen are but one in twenty-three of the population. Then, I ask, with this proportion of Catholics to Protestants, will it be contended that the whole revenues of the Church shall be applied to so small a minority—such a mere fraction of the population of the country, and that consisting of a class already far richer than any other? Shall I be told that there is no surplus to be found, and that one-twenty-eighth, or one-twenty-third of the population are to have the whole revenue of the Church (which is settled upon it for the instruction of all) applied exclusively to their particular benefit?
But my right hon. Friend says, that there is no injustice in this, because the revenue derived from tithes is paid by the Protestants, since they are the principal owners of the land on which tithes are to be considered as a tax. Sir, I deny altogether the correctness of this argument, which rests upon the total misconception of the grievance of which the Catholic population have really a right to complain. I contend that they are wronged, not in being taxed for purposes in which they have no interest, but in having altogether withheld from them, and applied exclusively to these purposes, a property in the benefit of which they ought to share. Regarding, as I have already said, a national endowment as meant for the good of the whole people, and seeing that in Ireland it does not in any degree answer this purpose, I say that this diversion of the funds by which the Church is supported from their legitimate employment, and not the imposition of a tax, is the real grievance. I deny that tithes can be properly called a tax, either upon the occupying tenant or upon the landlord. They form, it is true, ultimately, a deduction from the rent of the landlord; but to that which is thus reserved, he has no more claim than he has to his neighbour's estate. Tithes are not a tax either upon the landlord or upon any one else: they are a separate and distinct property, set apart for a particular purpose. My right hon. Friend, I see, agrees with me in this; but the difference between us is as to what that purpose is. My right hon. Friend says, "it is the maintenance of the Church." I say it is the maintenance of religion, and that my right hon. Friend's whole argument is built upon the fallacy of confounding the two—a fallacy so obvious, that I am surprised it should have 935 imposed upon him. To assume that the Church Establishment, and the religion which it is intended to teach, are the same thing, is a sophistry so shallow that I should have thought it might almost have been detected by an infant. Religion lives in the hearts and minds of men; it can neither be created where it is wanting, nor crushed where it really exists, by the direct agency of human laws. Its essence is too subtile for our control. The Establishment, on the other hand, is the creature of the law: it is a mere human institution for the promotion of religion; and by its success or its failure in answering this purpose, it must stand or fall. Who, then, can venture to say, that the Established Church of Ireland has been a successful instrument for the diffusion of religion? My right hon. Friend has, indeed, asserted that Protestantism is upon the increase in Ireland. The time will not allow me to enter into minute calculations to disprove this assertion; but I must beg to call the attention of the House to a very remarkable statement of facts upon this question which has within a day or two appeared in an article of a periodical work, (the Edinburgh Review) which I hope many hon. Members may have seen.
It is mentioned in the article to which I have referred, that Sir W. Petty, in the reign of Charles II., estimated the Protestants as being to the Catholics in the proportion of three to eight. In 1733, Maule, Bishop of Dromore, made nearly a similar estimate, which is also supported by the returns of the hearth-money collectors, while the Catholic Bishop of Ossory (who would not be likely to diminish the importance of his own Church) rated the Protestants even higher. By the lowest of these statements, the Protestants, a century ago, were to the Catholics as three to eight—they are now only as three to twelve and three-quarters. So much, Sir, for the effect of the Establishment, in disseminating the peculiar doctrines of our own Church. But if we look to the higher objects of an establishment,—which I conceive to be meant less to inculcate this or that particular form of Christianity, than to diffuse a knowledge of those great and fundamental truths of our religion, in which all sects agree, to bring the whole population under the influence of those rules of moral conduct which have been prescribed by the Divine Founder of our faith, and of which the authority is alike recognised by all who call themselves Christians,—if, I say, we 936 look to this—the real object of an Establishment—remembering that the soul of a Catholic is no less precious than that of a Protestant, what are we to think of the effects of the present system? This is a question on which it would he painful to dwell, and the facts are too notorious to require that I should attempt any description of the present state of things. Without, therefore, pursuing this branch of the subject further, my argument is, that it is absolutely necessary that a portion, at least, of those revenues, by which the National Church in Ireland is supported, should be applied in some manner, by which it may be rendered more beneficial than it now is to the great body of the people. The question is, then, how this is to be done? It is well known that the Roman Catholics will not take instruction in the manner in which it is now offered to them. They may be denounced as blind and superstitious, for refusing that Protestant instruction; but the fact is, nevertheless, undeniable; and the only resource, therefore, is to modify the plan on which we have hitherto proceeded, and if the people will not take what we think would be the best kind of instruction, let us offer them the best they will consent to accept.
With a view to the spread of Protestantism itself (without adverting to the importance of improving, even if we cannot convert the people), I maintain that this is our most prudent course, and that we ought to give instruction in such a form as will be likely to render it more generally acceptable. I have so firm a conviction of the truth of the Protestant religion, that I believe the more the minds of the people become enlightened, and the more they become acquainted with the general doctrines of Christianity, the more will the Roman Catholics be disposed to receive favourably our opinions on those points in which they at present differ from us. But my right hon. Friend, who disapproves of what we propose, says that he too is willing that schools should be established; and he stated distinctly, that he should consider it a proper application of a portion of the revenue of the Church to employ it in establishing schoolmasters and catechists, to teach the Protestant Faith in the native language of the people in those parts of the country in which English is not commonly spoken. What, then, is the difference between us? Why, that my right hon. Friend would teach nothing but the peculiar doctrines of our own Church, 937 though these he is aware the people will not receive. We would teach,—if not the whole of those doctrines which we believe to be true, at least as much as we can teach with effect,—those precepts of the Gospel which are held in common by every sect, and in which we all agree. He would establish schools to which the great body of the Irish people would not allow their children to resort; we would establish them in a manner to render them practically useful by extending the system of education which my noble Friend opposite (Lord Stanley) so successfully commenced. But, Sir, my right hon. Friend has another objection to the measure which we have proposed. He says, that the principle on which it is founded will necessarily lead to results far beyond those which we intend; and that, if we once admit that principle, we shall find no spot where we can stop—no possible resting-place, until we shall have established the Catholic instead of the Protestant religion in Ireland. Sir, I contend that this is no argument whatever for rejecting the measure we have brought forward: it may be a good one for doing more than we have proposed, but certainly not for doing nothing. If our principle be a bad one, let its error be exposed; but my right hon. Friend should be cautious how he says, "Your principles are sound and good, but we must not adopt them, lest they should lead us further than we desire." Let him take care how he says to the people of Ireland, "We admit your claim to be well founded,—we grant that you have reason and justice on your side, yet we resist that claim,—we refuse to act upon the principle you assert, not because it is unjust (for we admit its justice), but because it may carry us further than we wish to go." Sir, if this be the language we are to use, we shall not have long to complain of the moderation of the demands which are preferred. If my right hon. Friend admits the principle, that the endowment of a National Church is to be supported on no other ground than its utility in affording the means of instruction to the people, and if he also is really and sincerely of opinion that, by the measure we have proposed, that principle will not be carried out to its full extent, let him bring forward some more complete measure of his own. I, Sir, for one, shall be prepared to listen with all respect and attention, to whatever my right hon. Friend may so suggest: but in the absence of any such suggestion, I cannot listen to what 938 seems to me so absurd a proposal as that of rejecting a measure founded upon a principle of which the justice is not impugned, on the ground that that principle might carry us much further than we wish. How much wiser is the opinion expressed by the hon. Member for Berkshire, who has told us that he admits the present condition of the Church of Ireland to be so anomalous, that he has no hope it can be maintained, and that be therefore does not hesitate to close with the present offer, as a more advantageous bargain for the Church than we can again expect an opportunity of making.
Sir, following the course taken on the other side, I have hitherto considered not the actual question before the House, but the general principle of the Bill introduced by my noble Friend (Lord Morpeth). But the motion of the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel), is not for the rejection of the Bill, but for its division into two. Having closely attended to all that has been said during this debate, I am not aware that any arguments, strictly in support of this specific Motion, have been brought forward by any Gentleman, with the exception of the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn). What was his argument? He says you ought not to include in one Bill two separate and distinct subjects, and that no two subjects can be more distinct than the collection of tithes and the appropriation of the revenue derived from them: and he adds in support of this conclusion, that such was the view acted upon by a former Administration, concurring in the general principles held by his Majesty's present Government. Now, my answer to this argument is, that those two subjects, instead of being distinct, are intimately and indissolubly connected. The main purpose of this Bill is to remove the difficulties which have for some years prevented the collection of tithes, and the first question which naturally suggests itself is—What was the original radical cause of these difficulties. Does any gentleman imagine that they have arisen merely from the harassing mode of the collection of tithes? Why no; the true source of the difficulty was far deeper, it arose from the rooted hostility of the people of Ireland to that which they considered a gross and crying injustice,—the exclusive appropriation of the revenue derived from tithes, to purposes in which they felt no interest, and from which they derive no advantage 939 whatever. Sir, as I have already said, this, in my opinion, is a real and substantial grievance, and the people of Ireland would, I think, have been more or less than men, had they passively acquiesced in the continuance of the Establishment in its present state.
But whether this opinion be correct or erroneous—be the grievance, to which I have adverted, real or imaginary—the fact is indisputable, that the hostility of the Irish people to the present appropriation of the Church revenues, is the great and leading cause of that state of things, with reference to the collection of tithes, which we now deplore. Do I make this assertion on any questionable authority? No, Sir; even so long ago as 1832, before the feelings of the Irish people upon this subject had received the encouragement they since have from what has passed in this House (and I need not say how great an effect must have been produced by the opinions expressed in the late and the present Parliaments), but even in 1832, during the progress of the Tithe Bill of my noble Friend opposite (Lord Stanley), we were distinctly warned by Mr. Brownlow, that the real cause of all the difficulty which existed in the collection of tithes was the mode in which the Church revenues were appropriated. Perhaps, indeed, I may be told that Mr. Brownlow is not altogether an unexceptionable authority upon this subject, because he was an advocate fur a change in the application of the property of the Church; but I will quote you one which is open to no such imputation. I find, Sir, that on the 13th of July, 1831, on the presentation of a petition in the House of Lords, referring to the question of tithes, the following observations were made,—"Tithes have been changed in every parish in which composition has taken place into rent, and, notwithstanding that change, opposition has continued. All the old objections to tithes have been done away in those parishes,—tithe-farmers, tithe-proctors, viewers, valuers,—all have ceased to exist. But there are payments to be made, and the laws by which they are sanctioned are now the objects of hostility.
By whom were these observations made? By any one hostile to the Irish Church, or an advocate for its reduction? No; they are the words of the Bishop of Ferns, one of the dignitaries of that Church. Sir, when I find the fact equally admitted by persons of the most opposite opinions, and 940 confirmed by the very highest authority, can I doubt that the difficulties which have arisen in the collection of tithes, have arisen mainly from the hostility of the Irish people to the manner of their appropriation? And if this be the case, how can the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) call upon me to strike out of a Bill, of which the whole object is to secure the collection of tithes, that precise part of it, which is directed against the chief cause of the resistance that has been experienced? How can he ask me to leave behind the main root of the whole evil, and merely to deal with the outward symptoms, leaving the disease to extend itself unchecked? Sir, I contend if we separate this Bill into two, if we disunite what are so intimately connected—the collection and appropriation of tithes—the inevitable consequence will be, that resistance to tithes will break out in a new shape, and will be perpetuated all over the country. Did not the right hon. Baronet himself, in a former debate upon this subject, make the observation that though we are about to convert tithe into rent-charge, and to impose this charge upon the landlord, the amount would have ultimately to be recovered from a Catholic peasantry? May we not then apprehend that if we leave the cause of resistance un-diminished, we shall find the resistance continue to be made to this payment, whether it take the shape of tithe or of rent.
Nor, Sir, is this mere supposition formed upon grounds however probable. Unless I am greatly misinformed, what I apprehend has already come to pass. Irish landlords who have either undertaken, or by the existing laws have become liable to, the payment of tithes have been unable to recover in the shape of rent that which they themselves have been called upon to pay. This, if I am not very much deceived, has already happened, not in a mere isolated case, but in several instances. Nay, Sir, my noble Friend opposite (Lord Stanley), has told us that something very like this has happened to himself. The case, as he stated it on a former evening, was this. Some portion of an estate belonging to him, which had been underlet, at 27s. per acre, to the occupying tenants, by a middleman, to whom it had been leased, came lately by the termination of the lease into my noble Friend's own possession, and he thus, by the operation of the existing law, became subject to the tithe, from which the occupying tenants were exempted. This land 941 my noble Friend relet to the former occupiers at 22s. per acre, 20s. being what he reserved to himself as rent, and the other 2s. being the amount he had to repay to the clergyman as tithe. Now, Sir, my noble Friend has informed us that when under these circumstances he claimed the whole as the rent due from his tenants; they said we will pay you the 20s. rent but we object to give you the 2s. to be paid over to the clergyman of the Church of England. This, I believe, is a correct statement of the facts? [Lord Stanley: Yes.] Well, Sir, it is true the result was, that the tenants of my noble Friend did not carry their point; his answer to them was perfectly fair and reasonable. He said, I have a right to let my land at any rent I please, at 27s. per acre, as before, or at 22s. as at present. Your business is only to pay me what you have agreed to pay, not to inquire what I do with what I receive; it is nothing to you whether I spend it myself or pay it over to the clergyman in lieu of tithe. My noble Friends reply was successful; but, let me tell him, that there is much more cause for alarm in the fact, that under such circumstances the claim was made, than there is ground for encouragement in the success of his resistance to it. My noble Friend proved himself a firm and also an indulgent landlord; he was able at once both to relieve his tenants from tithes, and to reduce their rent from 27s. to 22s. As the law stood, the middleman, from whom the land was immediately held, was not liable to the tithe; it was charged upon the Catholic tenant who had been paying 27s. an acre for rent in addition to the demand for tithes, enhanced by the expensive and vexatious mode of collection. My noble Friend relieved the occupying tenant not only to the extent of 5s. an acre deducted from his rent, but also by the sum he had before paid for tithe, which was now included in the reduced rent. It is no wonder, then, that my noble Friend, at the very moment of having given such a boon as this, was able to enforce the payment of his rent, but the fact that under such circumstances as these the 2s. were objected to, is an irresistible proof that there does exist that strong sense of the injustice of the present application of tithes, which is the foundation of my whole argument. If I were to select one case more than another as the strongest confirmation of what I have advanced, this would be the case I should choose. Let it be recollected that the refusal of the 2s. claimed as tithe could not, 942 in this case, be prompted by distress—it came from individuals who, comparatively with others in the same situation of life with themselves, must have been wealthy. Those who know what the condition of an Irish peasant usually is, will be able to estimate how greatly their's must have been improved by the amount of the reduction which had been made in their rent. Yet, notwithstanding this, such was their deep-rooted hostility to the mode of applying the 2s., which they considered as tithe, that they went to my noble Friend, and remonstrated against its payment. My noble Friend is (as I have already observed a firm, as well as an indulgent landlord, and he succeeded in getting the amount which he claimed;—but will other Irish landlords be equally firm? How few can afford to be equally indulgent? Will they, in every case, be altogether strangers to the same feelings which actuate the peasantry? I say, then, you have no right to anticipate that the resistance to the payment of tithe, in the shape of rent, will never be permitted to triumph and if this resistance should be successful in any one parish, the example will be followed in others,—it will spread like wild-fire throughout the country, and when the contagion shall once have become general, my noble Friend will find that even his firmness will no longer be of any avail. Sir, we know that it was precisely in this manner that the general resistance to tithes spread from a single parish; and when the same thing shall happen with repect to the rent-charges you are about to impose, it will be as impossible for any Government to compel the landlords to pay the amount which they are unable to recover from their tenants, as it has been found to enforce the re-payment of the instalments of the 1,000,000l. from the clergy who have not received their tithes. What, then, will be the consequence? Why, that the people of England being guarantees for the payment of that rent-charge, will find that the whole expense of keeping up the Irish Church, in all its enormity, will be thrown upon them.
Nor is this all. We shall do well to bear in mind that even at present the relation between landlord and tenant in Ireland is not altogether in a satisfactory state. I presume that there can be no Gentleman so little acquainted with the condition of that country as not to be aware that a large share of the evils with which it is afflicted have grown out of circumstances connected with the occupation of land, and that disputes, 943 upon this subject have been one of the most fruitful sources of disturbance. Perhaps it may not be generally known, but I believe it to be an undoubted fact, that already in some parts of the country, there have been symptoms of the commencement of the same system of passive resistance with regard to rents, as that which has been so successful against tithes. But then, Sir, under these circumstances, would it not be the very height of imprudence to adopt any measure which would have a tendency to provoke the resistance of the peasantry of Ireland to any part of what they pay as rent to their landlords? Let us beware how we interfere upon a subject of so much delicacy, and remember that in doing so we should, indeed, be playing with edge-tools. If we pass this Bill in the manner proposed on the other side, the effect will be that we shall compel the landlords to collect from the peasantry, as a portion of their rent, the hated charge of tithes, without having done anything to mitigate the hostility which is borne to it. To that particular portion of the rent of land I believe resistance would then speedily commence; and can we doubt that this part of the rent having been successfully refused, the remainder could not long be preserved? The certain consequence, therefore, as it appeal's to me, of the proposed separation of the Bill, would be to overturn for ever the security of landed property, and in doing so, put an end to all hope of any improvement in the condition of Ireland, since such improvement can only be expected from the removal of that insecurity which now checks the investment of capital in a country affording so many natural facilities for its profitable employment. I must therefore express my deliberate opinion, that, much as I should regret the total loss of the property in tithes now held by the Church (and which, if properly applied, might, I think, be so useful), I had much rather that this property should at once be abandoned without any further struggle, than that we should embark in a contest in its defence, which I am convinced would be fruitless, and which would shake to its foundation the whole fabric of society in Ireland. Such are the reasons upon which I resist the separation of the Bill, which I agree with the hon. Member for Berkshire, in considering as a measure of compromise between different interests, of which one part ought not to be taken without the other. My right hon. Friend (Sir James Graham), indeed, has expressed a strong ob- 944 jection to such compromises, and has found fault with the precedent quoted by the hon. Member for Berkshire, in the course pursued in coupling together Catholic emancipation, and the disfranchisement of the Irish forty-shilling freeholders. My right hon. Friend says, this is no precedent at all, because the two measures adverted to were not included in one Bill, but formed on the contrary, two separate and distinct Acts of Parliament. True, Sir, they were in point of form introduced as two separate Bills, but I am sure my right hon. Friend who took an active share in all these transactions, cannot possibly fail to recollect that the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Robert Peel), in stating the course on which the then Government had decided, distinctly informed the House that the two Bills were to be considered as parts of one great measure, and that they must stand or fall together. So clearly was this understood, that a meeting—at which I think my right hon. Friend must have been present—took place at the house of the hon. Member for Westminster (Sir Francis Burdett), and it was only resolved after considerable debate, that in consideration of the boon of which it was made the condition, the disfranchisement of the forty-shilling freeholders should not be opposed. Nay, more; it is impossible it should not be in the recollection of my right hon. Friend, that the present Lord Brougham, then one of the leading-Members of the Opposition in this House, characterized this measure as the immense, the all but excessive price which he had with difficulty made up his mind to pay, even for the inestimable good which it was to be the means of purchasing. I say, therefore, that the precedent quoted by the hon. Member for Berkshire, was perfectly in point, and that in settling any great and difficult question, it is frequently the wisest course to agree to the compromise of coupling together concessions to each of two hostile interests.
But there is another reason for the division of the Bill, urged by the right hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn). He says that we ought to consent to this proposal, in order that each part of the Bill may undergo separate and fair discussion, and that he presumes we must conceive ourselves to have no reason to shrink from such a discussion of either. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman shall have as much discussion as he pleases; if he likes, he may, in I the Committee, have a separate discussion upon every clause. But, Sir, there are very 945 good reasons, of which I cannot believe the right hon. Gentleman to be ignorant, against our dividing the two parts of the Bill, if we ever mean that one of those parts should be adopted; and we should indeed deserve to be as wofully deceived, as we should find ourselves, if we were simple enough to consent to what is now suggested, merely for the purpose of ensuring a fuller discussion. No, Sir, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman, he shall not induce me to part with the advantage I feel that I possess, by taking my stand upon the Resolution of the House, that no measure upon the subject of tithes in Ireland, can be final or satisfactory unless it involve the principle contained in the latter part of this Bill. Sir, I will go further, and I will, without hesitation, avow, that I had rather the Bill should be entirely rejected, than that this Motion should be carried. I should, indeed, greatly regret the failure of this measure—I should deplore the continuance of that forfeiture of the property in tithes, which the right hon. Gentlemen opposite have acknowledged, both by their speeches in this House, and practically by their conduct whilst they held the powers of the executive Government, must be the necessary consequence of leaving the law in its present state. I should deplore, I say, this loss of a property, which, well applied, might be productive of so much good. I should lament the many cases of severe and unmerited individual hardship which it would occasion, and the utter destruction of that Church, which while I wish to reform, I do not desire to subvert; yet I am bound to express my settled opinion that even these consequences, which I am aware would follow from the rejection of the Bill, would be less fatal than those which are to be expected from its mutilation. Our passing the Bill so mutilated, cannot be regarded otherwise by the Irish people, than as shutting out from them, for ever, all prospect of concession upon a subject on which they feel most deeply, and the probable effects of this I cannot regard without the greatest apprehension. I cannot conceal from myself the fact, that the efforts of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, in favour of a Repeal of the Legislative Union between the two countries have met with a degree of favour in Ireland greatly to be lamented. This project, mischievous as I think it, has undoubtedly acquired an alarming hold upon the minds of many of the inhabitants of that part of the empire, and I should, therefore, be most 946 unwilling to arm him with an argument in its favour which it would be so difficult to answer. Sir, I entreat the House seriously to consider what will be the force of the argument which, if we agree to mutilate this Rill, we shall enable the hon. and learned Gentleman to use in addressing his countrymen in favour of a Repeal of the Union. He will have to tell them, that this measure, on which the hopes and wishes of a vast majority of the Irish people are firmly and unalterably fixed, was supported by three-fourths of the national Representatives, including almost all those who are returned by the largest bodies of constituents, but that they had been outvoted in the United Legislature, and that the earnest prayer of the nation had been rejected. He will have to tell how the United Legislature had adopted the arguments of my right hon. Friend opposite, and refused to listen to the demands preferred by the people of Ireland, and by their Representatives; not because they are unjust (for the principle on which they rest has not been contested), but lest this principle, if admitted, should lead further than he is inclined to go.
§ Sir James Graham
If my noble Friend means to draw this as an inference from what I have said, he has a right to do so; though, even there, I am prepared to contest with him the justice of the inference; but, if my noble Friend means to quote expressions which I used, I have only to say, I have no recollection of having used them.
§ Viscount Howick
I was stating what I conceived to be the inference legitimately to be drawn from the argument of my right hon. Friend. I particularly guarded myself against being supposed to quote what he had actually said, by stating that his argument against the Bill, as being only a half-measure, resolved itself into this; I contended, that in urging the rejection of the provisions of this Bill, on the ground of their not carrying into full effect the principle on which they are founded, my right hon. Friend did, in fact, recommend that, admitting the principle to be just, you should resist it as dangerous. Sir, I repeat, that I dread the effect of arming the hon. and learned Member for Dublin with an influence greater than he has already obtained, in consequence of the misguided policy towards him, and towards Ireland, formerly pursued by the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Robert Peel). I am unwilling to supply him with an argument in favour 947 of Repeal, which it will be so difficult to resist. I do not wish to enable him to make a contrast between the determination of a united Legislature, and the probable decisions of a Parliament sitting in Dublin. If the House wishes to maintain a real Union between the two countries—if you wish to make that Union, at present existing, not a mere paper bond to be dissolved in the first moment of difficulty—if you wish that Ireland should be, not a spear to wound you, but the best arm of your defence—you will give your most decided negative to this proposal for destroying the measure of my noble Friend. Sir, for my part, I desire that the two countries should be united, not merely in name, but in fact; that Ireland should be bound to us by the closest and most indissoluble ties; that she should be, as it were, a part of ourselves, prepared and willing to take her full share of every difficulty we may have to meet, and of every sacrifice we may be called upon to make: but, instead of this, if we refuse to let her participate in the advantages we enjoy, we never shall be able to regard her but as a province retained by compulsion in reluctant obedience, and requiring, in time of war, to be watched with even greater caution and jealousy than the enemy with whom we are engaged.
Sir, I repeat it, there is no safety for the Union; there is no safety for the empire, unless the Imperial Legislature is prepared to act in reference to Ireland, upon the eternal principles of justice, and to extend to her the same benefits of good Government, which, sitting in England, we feel bound to secure to the people of this country. We claim for ourselves a Government founded upon the consent of the people, the only foundation upon which a free Government can rest, and if this be the right of England, is it not the right of Ireland also? If you are not disposed to govern her on those principles, you are not fit to govern her at all. I assert, that if the Church of Ireland, in its present form, and as at present maintained, be contrary to the settled wish of a vast majority of the people of Ireland, then the system should not be allowed to continue. Sir, before I conclude, I have only to say that by the Resolution we some time since adopted, we entered into a solemn engagement with the people of Ireland, that no Tithe Bill should be passed, without a concession being made to their strong feeling upon the subject of the Church; to that engagement I call upon the House to adhere, and not, by 948 dividing this Bill, to crush hopes which it would have been far better never to have excited, than to have raised for the mere purpose of rendering more bitter the disappointment by which they are to be followed.
§ The debate was again adjourned.