Lord John Russell
I rise fully sensible of the arduous task I have undertaken; but although I am well aware both of the difficulty of that task, and of the responsibility I incur, yet the confidence I feel in the nature of the question I am to bring forward diminishes much of my anxiety, because I cannot but think that the clearness of the proposition I shall submit will compensate for any obscurity in the arguments I may use to enforce it. I am confident that the truth and justice of the cause will prevail though the weakness and incompetence of the advocate should be manifest. With no further preface, therefore, I shall enter upon the consideration of the subject of the Church of Ireland; and in doing so let me advert, in the first instance, to a Motion made on the 22nd of April in the last year. The hon. Member for the City of Dublin, then introduced a Motion for a Committee to inquire into the means by which the Union with Ireland had been effected, and as to the expediency of continuing it. The hon. Member was met by an Amendment in the form of an address to the Crown, which was carried by a large majority, and in the minority appeared only one Member for England, and no Member for Scotland. The answer to the 362 Motion of the hon. and learned Member, therefore, was given by the Representatives of England and Scotland, supported by a great part of those from Ireland. The address was in these terms:—"We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons, in Parliament assembled, feel it our duty humbly to approach your Majesty's Throne, to record, in the most solemn manner, our fixed determination to maintain unimpaired and undisturbed the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland, which we consider to be essential to the strength and stability of the empire, to the continuance of the connexion between the two countries, and to the peace, and security, and happiness of all classes of your Majesty's subjects. We feel this, our determination, to be as much justified by our views of the general interests of the State, as by our conviction that to no other portion of your Majesty's subjects is the maintenance of the Legislative Union more important than to the inhabitants of Ireland themselves. We humbly represent to your Majesty, that the Imperial Parliament have taken the affairs of Ireland into their most serious consideration, and that various salutary laws have been enacted, since the Union, for the advancement of the most important interests of Ireland, and of the empire at large. In expressing to your Majesty our Resolution to maintain the Legislative Union inviolate, we humbly beg leave to assure your Majesty, that we shall persevere in applying our best attention to the removal of all just causes of complaint, and to the promotion of all well-considered measures of improvement."—This Address was carried by the House to the foot of the. Throne, and his Majesty was pleased to return an answer, in which he stated that he should be "at all times anxious to afford his best assistance in removing all just causes of complaint, and in sanctioning all well-considered measures of improvement." This was the answer of his Majesty to the claim in the petitions of a large portion of the people of Ireland, enforced by a Member of this House, in whom they had the greatest confidence, and who undoubtedly possessed abilities to place his arguments in the best and strongest point of view. In pursuance of this answer which was adopted by the House of Lords, and thereby became, as it were, a solemn compact between the Parliament of the United Kingdom and 363 the people, given by the King, received by the Commons, and approved by the Lords, I am come before you to day to represent to you what I consider "a just cause of complaint" by the people of Ireland, and to induce you if I can to take a step to obtain a "well-considered measure of improvement." My complaint is that nothing of that sort has yet been done or attempted, and I have referred to this discussion, not only on account of its strict connexion with my Motion but because I think it ought to refute any answer to it founded upon some supposed danger, some distant apprehension, that what we may do to remove a "just cause of complaint," and to adopt a "well considered measure of improvement," with regard to Ireland, may have an injurious effect at some distant and indefinite time on one of the institutions of the country. I say you are not at liberty after having agreed to this address to put in that answer, and thus to bar a remedy. One of two things must be admitted: either you are prepared to do justice to Ireland—to consider her grievances, and redress her wrongs—or you are not. But if you tell us that your position is such, that any measure of that kind would be injurious to England, and dangerous to her Church Establishment, which prevents the remedy of the abuses of the Church of Ireland, you surely, then, have no right to say, that it is fit to enforce the Legislative Union. You are not to tell us, that you cannot listen to the well-founded grievances of Ireland, and are not prepared to do her justice, and yet insist on an adherence to the Legislative Union. I hold that such an answer would be most impolitic as regards Ireland, and most dangerous as regards the whole empire. I am one of those who think, that with perfect safety to the Church of England, you may remedy what is defective in the Church of Ireland, and, remedying that, may persist in your demand for the preservation of the Legislative Union. I own I cannot understand how any Members of this House can confess their inability to remove the grievances of Ireland, on account of a remote and contingent apprehension; and yet can maintain, as absolutely as I do, that the Legislative Union ought not to be disturbed. The state of Ireland has long been, and is now, a source of great embarrassment to every Statesman of this country. There is no doubt that the 364 moral, no less than the physical condition of that people, is one of great degradation. With respect to the physical condition—ivith respect to the poverty and distress prevalent in Ireland—if I were to bring forward a Motion on that subject, I should be obliged to state grounds for thinking that some measures were necessary, by assessment or otherwise, to lessen that serious evil. But that is a question of another kind, and for another day. The question which I have to consider is, the moral condition of the people, and how far the Church established in Ireland bears on that condition? Whether our Acts of temporary coercion—our Acts for enforcing the collection of tithes, and to compel the due administration of the law, have, or have not been effectual, there exists, as we unhappily know, a strong propensity to violence and outrage, not merely among a few lawless and ill-regulated persons but among all, or nearly all, classes of the community. This defiance of the law arises from an opinion, that the law is not fairly and equally administered. Dreadful acts of murder have been committed in various parts of Ireland. A murder has been perpetrated, at one time, on a clergyman of a most unoffending character, and at another time a Roman Catholic has fallen a victim to the animosity of those whom he had never intended to injure. It not unfrequently has happened that an individual, wishing to preserve the safety of his own person, has had more reason to fear the combination of those who set up against the law, than the ministers who execute the law. It has too often happened, that when Justice has raised her head, a stronger power has resisted her efforts, her balance has been destroyed, and her sword turned aside from its purpose by the intervention of a multitude. Every relation of life in Ireland, as Viscount Melbourne said in the House of Lords last year, has been, and still is, liable to be disturbed, by this lawless condition of affairs. The payment of rent, the hiring of land, the settlement of wages between employer and servant, in short, the conclusion of every bargain has been frequently impeded by threats on the part of those who appear to have no concern with making the engagements that to complete them would be attended with personal danger. If we look to the causes, although no doubt many might be named, yet we cannot help being 365 struck by the fact, that there has been no time in the history of Ireland since this country obtained footing and dominion there, in which there was not some dreadful contest, something amounting to a civil war, and a state of law which induced the people to consider themselves rather as the victims of tyranny, than the subjects of just Government. It has happened, by a kind of fatality, that those periods most remarkable, and most glorious in English history, have been marked by indications of some new distinction, some new calamity in Ireland. While we justly boast of the Statutes passed in the reign of our First Edward, an epoch remarkable in our civil history, for Edward has been called the English Justinian, the inhabitants of Ireland vainly petitioned for a removal of those invidious distinctions which deprived them of the benefit of English laws. A similar remark applies to the reign of Edward 4th. Throughout the reign of Elizabeth, when the Reformation was so prosperously completed, and when the glory of England was so resplendant, not only in arms, but in arts and literature, the Irish suffered the most grievous oppressions, and a new distinction was introduced, viz., that distinction of which I shall have so much to say to-day, brought about by changing the faith of the great body of the clergy, without the faith of the people undergoing the same change. Passing over the period of the Commonwealth, the great event of the Revolution, to which we look back with such proud and just satisfaction, when a new family was placed upon the Throne, which led to the establishment of the House of Brunswick in these realms, was attended with new calamities to Ireland. New distinctions were made to the disadvantage of that unhappy people; and on the score of their religion they were suspected of an attachment to the Monarch whom England had banished. They were accordingly visited by laws, which Mr. Burke truly designated as a barbarous code—they were proscribed, humiliated, and degraded, and treated as enemies both to the Throne and to the altar. At the same time our ingenuity was tormented to discover modes of restricting the trade of Ireland with our colonies, and the progress of her internal improvement was industriously impeded. Such were the circumstances which in Ireland corresponded with the most glorious events of 366 English history. Towards the end of the last and the beginning of the present century, a better era seemed promised to Ireland: many odious restrictions were removed and she freed herself from bonds which had previously most unjustly confined her. The power of legislation was restored to her, and about this period some religious distinctions were removed, and she approached nearer to the enjoyment of equal laws and to the possession of civil rights. The conviction of a long course of injustice and suffering, which naturally impressed the minds of the people, induced them even in this dawn of a happier day, to look a little into the cause of improvement in their prospects and condition. It was said by a Statesman, of no democratic turn, no lover of popular innovation, the late lord Grenville—that concession to Ireland was always the result, not of kindness, but of necessity. Such was the case when in the midst of the American war, with 80,000 volunteers in arms, England was obliged to make an appeal to Ireland. Such was the case in 1792, when the Elective franchise, first obstinately denied, was at length conceded, because a French war was impending. Such was the case, I am sorry to add, since the period when Lord Grenville spoke, when Catholic Emancipation was reluctantly granted. That concession arose out of no admission of the justice of the claim on the part of those who proposed it, but proceeded merely and avowedly from the fear of civil war. The point having been yielded in this manner, it cannot be expected that the minds of the people of Ireland should, be so changed as to be reconciled to their remaining disadvantages; ancient hatred and former animosities still necessarily prevail, and it seems to have been too often thought by them that, what force once extorted, force could again compel. I now come to you, and ask you to legislate in a different and a liberal spirit. I come to you, to ask you although the Reformation and the Revolution were periods of calamity and not of gratulation to Ireland, to make this era (when a Parliament has been assembled representing, I believe fairly, the opinions of the united people), celebrated in her annals for its justice and impartiality, inspiring her inhabitants with better hopes, and laying the foundation of a lasting settlement. In considering the state of the Church of Ire- 367 land, I am obliged to look back and consider a question that has been of late a good deal mooted, viz. the utility and object of a Church Establishment. I am one of those fully concurring in the defence set up last year by one of our Prelates, that an Establishment tends to promote religion, to maintain good order, and I farther agree with him as to the fact that it is agreeable to the sentiments of the majority of the people of this part of the empire. But as a friend of the United Kingdom, I call upon you to consider whether with respect to the Church of Ireland you can set up the same defence? Does it tend to promote religion, or to maintain good order? On this part of the subject I will take the liberty of reading a passage from Archdeacon Paley, where he speaks of a Church Establishment. "The authority of a Church Establishment is founded in its utility; and whenever, upon this principle, we deliberate concerning the form, propriety, or comparative excellency of different establishments, the single view under which we ought to consider any of them is, that of 'a scheme of instruction,' the single end we ought to propose by them is, 'the preservation and communication of religious knowledge.' Every other idea, and every other end, that have been mixed with this, as the making of the Church an Engine, or even an ally of the State; converting it into the means of strengthening or diffusing influence; or regarding it as a support of regal, in opposition to popular, forms of government; have served only to debase the institution, and to introduce into it numerous abuses and corruptions." I agree also with a right reverend Prelate who stated in one of his charges last year, that "the avowed object for which the Church is established is the spiritual instruction of all classes of the people." He adds, elsewhere, that the whole controversy is reduced to this—"whether the religious instruction of a nation is not more effectually carried on by means of an endowed and an Established Church?" That is precisely the question I propose to apply to the state of Ireland, and I ask whether this great object has been advanced by the mode in which the Church revenues are at present appropriated in Ireland—whether the religious instruction of the people has been promoted by the establishment of the Pro- 368 testant Church? I will first consider what are now the revenues of the Irish Church as compared with its revenues in former times. Upon this point a passage which I shall beg to read from a letter of Archbp. King to Archbp. Wake, after the death of the Archbishop of Tuam, dated March 29, 1716, is instructive. He says, "We have but about six-hundred beneficed clergymen in Ireland, and perhaps of these hardly two-hundred have 100l. per annum; and for you to send your supernumeraries to be provided out of the least of these does look too like the rich man in Nathan's parable." At that period then it will be seen that there were not more than 600 benefices in Ireland, and the total revenue of the Church at that time, even including lay impropriations was not more than 110,000l. Now, my hon. Friend (Mr. Ward) in his speech of last year made a statement of the present revenues of the Church of Ireland, which has not been disputed, and the exactness of which I believe there is no reason to doubt: It is as follows,—"The total number of benefices is 1,456, of which seventy-four range from 800l. to 1,000l. a-year; seventy-five from 1,000l. to 1,500l.; seventeen from 1,500l. to 2,000l. and ten from 2,000l. to 2,800l., which is the maximum. There are 407 livings, varying from 400l. to 800l. per annum; and 386 livings exceeding 200l." I have before mentioned that the total revenue of the Church of Ireland in 1716 was 110,000l., being made up of the sums of 60,000l. for benefices, and about 50,000l. for lay impropriations. Now, let us see what is its amount at present. I find it thus stated:—
These are the present revenues of the Church of Ireland, so that in the whole they amount to little less than 800,000l. We therefore at once come to the question, whether this large sum has really been applied to the religious instruction of the people, or to whose benefit it has been applied?—whether, while during the last century there has been this enormous increase in the revenues of the Church, there has been a corresponding increase in 369 the number of conversions to the Protestant religion?—whether the activity and zeal of the clergy have been such, and whether such has been their success, that the greater portion of the inhabitants of Ireland have become attached to the Protestant Church, and whether this beneficial change has been owing to the instructions of its ministers? I am sorry to say, that the result has been too much the reverse. I am afraid that in the last century, although it is not so now, it was considered rather an advantage, that there were but a few Protestant clergymen residing on their benefices; as they had no glebe-houses, and no Churches, they had a very fair plea for neglecting their spiritual duties. It is mentioned by more than one traveller, that such was the ordinary case, and even at a late date many of the clergy considered themselves rather part of a large political body, than as persons appointed for the spiritual instruction of the people. It has been stated to me by a reverend gentleman who has addressed me, and who once held a benefice in Ireland, that when first he went there he considered the character of the clergy of that Church very different from the character of the clergy of the Church of England. They had many very small flocks; they had difficulty in collecting their tithes; their attention was therefore too much absorbed by the means of collecting their tithes, and they did not partake of the character which does so much honour to the clergy of the Church of England. This statement was made to me by a highly respected gentleman, who held a benefice in Ireland for many years, and afterwards gave it up and returned to this country; and he mentioned an instance of a clergyman who thought himself aggrieved in being deprived of his benefice, because he would persist in holding a commission in a yeomanry corps. All the information that we have, and it is abundant, tends to show that such was formerly the actual condition of the Church. By Tighe's History of Kilkenny, it appears, that the number of Protestant families in 1731 was 1055, but in 1800 they had been reduced to 941. The total number of Protestants at the former period was 5238, while the population of the country, which in 1800 was 108,000, in 1731 was only 42,108 souls. From Stewart's History of Armagh, we find that sixty years ago the Protestants in that 370 county were as two to one; now they are as one to three. In 1733, the Roman Catholics in Kerry were twelve to one Protestant, and now the former are much more numerous than even that proportion. In Tullamore, in 1731, there were sixty-four Protestants to 613 Roman Catholics, but according to Mason's Parochial Survey, in 1818, the Protestants had diminished to only five, while the Roman Catholics had augmented to 2,455. On the whole, from the best computation I have seen, and I believe it is not exaggerated one way or the other, the entire number of Protestants belonging to the Established Church in Ireland can hardly be stated higher than 750,000; and of those, 400,000 are resident in the Ecclesiastical province of Armagh. Without going into particulars, for which indeed I do not pretend to be prepared, it may be said, that in Armagh the numbers are seven or eight to one, and in other parts of Ireland the disproportion is larger. I have, however, an account relating to different dioceses, which I believe to be very accurate and which I will state to the House. The noble Lord read several particulars, of which the following table is a summary:—
"Tithe Composition £534,433 Episcopal revenues exclusive of Tithes 141,898 Deans and Chapters and Economy Estates 5,399 Minor Canons and Vicars Choral 5,183 Dignitaries Prebendaries, and Canons 6,560 Glebe Lands 68,250 at 15s. Perpetuity Purchase Fund 30,000 Total £791,721"
Thus, in the diocese of Ardfert, the Protestants only form one-forty-first part of the population; in Down, one-eighth; in Lismore one-twenty-seventh; in Water-ford one-ninth; in Kilaloe one-nineteenth; and in Dromore one fourth of the population. Thus, too, it will be seen, that while in some parts of Ireland the members of the Established Church form a considerable proportion of the population, and it is therefore held that they require a considerable number of clergymen, in other parts they form but a small proportion—so small that it cannot be necessary 371 or right that there should be so large an establishment as is in other parts of the country. Having shown that these are the general results with respect to the proportions of the population—and every one knows that by no computation can the Members of the Established Church be made to form more than one-ninth of the whole population—I may venture, with the less fear, to give some particular instances of the proportions which the Members of the Church of England bear to the amount of money drawn from tithes, and applied to the spiritual instruction of a small portion of the people. The instances which I will state to the House are taken from a memorandum furnished by my right hon. Friend, the Member for Staffordshire (Mr. Littleton). They are as follows:—
Dioceses. Members of Established Church. Roman Catholics. Presbyterians. Other Protestant Dissenters. Total. Ardfert 7,529 297,131 27 304,687 Down 30,583 61,465 101,627 3,557 197,232 Dromore 35,677 53,516 59,385 818 154,409 Kildare 13,986 122.577 9 334 136,956 Kilfenora 235 34,606 4 34,845 Killaloe 19,149 359,585 6 326 379,076 Leighlin, 20,404 170,083 198 281 190.966 Lismore 8,002 207,688 164 382 216,236 Meath 25,626 377,430 671 199 403,926 Waterford 5,301 43,371 110 443 49,225 166,492 1,732,452 162,184 6,430 2,067,558
This, Sir, will be sufficient for my present purpose. I believe that similar instances, without end, might be produced from the knowledge, and, I may say, the personal acquaintance, of gentlemen residing in Ireland. Their tendency is to show that there is a very large mass of the 800,000l. raised for the spiritual instruction of a small class of the people, while all the rest of the people derive no benefit whatever from that expenditure. I believe that more care and more attention have been given of late years, particularly during the last seven years, to the spiritual cure of Members of the Church of England, than have been afforded at a former period. I believe that, in this respect, the Church of Ireland now stands high, and that there are clergymen belonging to that Church who exert themselves to the utmost to afford spiritual instruction to the people. But we must not fall into the error of supposing that it is only necessary to build Churches and glebe-houses, 372 in order to convert men to the religion which ourselves profess. There were times, perhaps—I know not whether it were so or not—when, by kindness and care, the English Church might have obtained a much more extensive footing in Ireland than it possesses now; but it is evident that, as regards a people so much attached to their own faith as the Roman Catholics are, you cannot hope, by merely placing a clergyman in a glebe-house, and advising him to preach every Sunday—you cannot hope that, by such means, any real advances will be made in their conversion. Everything contradicts such a supposition; and, if it were not contradicted merely by the present state of the facts, I am sorry to say, that what has occurred of late years would tend to diminish very much any such hopes that might have been entertained. It was thought fit some years ago to call together public meetings in Ireland, and to endeavour by controversy and dispute to bring over Members of the Catholic Church to the Protestant Church. Now, Sir, I must say, that those who took this course acted in defiance of all history and all experience. I can well conceive, that in the case of a rich Church established in a country in which it was enjoying large benefits without attending properly to the cure of souls, individuals, even though themselves were in error, might hope, by pointing out the corruptions and defects of such a Church, to obtain many converts; but that persons belonging to a Church like the Church of England—that they, belonging to a Church so large, and maintained by tithes paid by the people generally who dissent from it—that they should attempt a sort of crusade against the voluntary leaders of men who support their own Church, and hope to gain the supremacy in the controversy, does show, I think, greater zeal and rashness than prudence or wisdom. What, Sir, was the consequence? It might have happened, that things might have gone on in their usual course; but this controversy being commenced, the Catholic clergy considered themselves attacked, and raised a spirit resistance to the legal payment of that clergy to whom they were religiously and theologically opposed. I am far from thinking that that resistance was justified; still less do I think that encouragement ought to have been given to it. But I feel it to be my duty to place 373 before you the facts—to acquaint you with the state of things which naturally resulted from what was attempted, in order that you may see that the effect was to throw an additional obstacle in the way of the success of the Church of England in its endeavours to win over a large class of the Roman Catholics to its spiritual doctrines. In the parish of Graigue a system of violence was commenced, and it was said that the Roman Catholic Priests advised the people not to pay tithes. If they did so, all parties must blame them. A Protestant clergyman, on the other hand, seized a horse from a tithe-payer, and equal blame must be given to him for taking that course. I do think it is most lamentable, that instead of the clergy of the different persuasions recommending the mild precepts of the Gospel which they teach in common, they should have been the originators of disputes and strife; it is surely most lamentable, I say, that such differences should have been commenced by those who ought to be the Ministers of peace. Unfortunately there has prevailed throughout Ireland, for several years, a spirit of resistance to the payment of tithes, so inveterate that no exertions of the clergy and no efforts of the Government have succeeded in enforcing the collection of them. The extent of the evil is admitted by all parties. The laws passed during the late Administration having proved ineffectual, the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, the other night came down to the House, and, in his introduction of a measure relating to this subject, earnestly deprecated the use of military force for the collection of tithes. What, then, is the state of the Church of Ireland? You, in the first place, are unable to diffuse its spiritual and religious doctrines amongst the great mass of the people, and you have, in the second place, by your system of tithes, been constantly brought into collision with them. You have been constantly producing a state of things which, while it has led to the disturbance of this country, was irreconcilable with those spiritual objects for which the Bishop of London has said a Church Establishment alone ought to exist. Allow me, sir, to call the attention of the House to the principle which the great authority I have quoted lays down. That authority states, that Church Establishments should be considered as the means 374 of moral and spiritual instruction, and nothing else; the great object in establishing them was to be essentially useful. Bearing in mind what has occurred at Graigue and Rathcormac, I would ask whether the great and permanent objects of a Church Establishment can ever be secured by your determining that funds shall be demanded for the purpose of enforcing the doctrines of the Church of England, and for no other purpose whatever. Well, then, what do I propose to do in this case? I propose that there should be instituted such a reform of the Church of Ireland as would enable us to adapt the Establishment to the spiritual instruction of those who belong to the Church, and that there should be no unnecessary surplus. If you adopt this principle, you cannot do otherwise than greatly reduce the Church of Ireland. I propose, therefore, that you should undertake this object, and that you should apply what shall appear to be the surplus in some way by which the moral and religious improvement of the people of Ireland may be advanced, by which their interests may be considered, and by which they may hereafter believe that the funds which are raised nominally for their benefit, are used for their benefit in reality. It is with this view, then, that I mean to propose this Resolution to the House of which I have given notice. That Resolution is as follows:—"That this House resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House to consider the Temporalities of the Church of Ireland." The House having resolved itself into a Committee, I shall move, "That it is the opinion of this Committee that any surplus which may remain after fully providing for the spiritual instruction of the Members of the Established Church in Ireland, ought to be applied locally to the general education of all classes of Christians." In proposing this course, I feel that I am not doing more than the case requires. A similar course was taken in 1828, with respect to the Catholic claims, on the proposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster. I beg leave to explain the view I take, because I shall answer the hon. Gentleman opposite who asked me in what manner I intended to proceed. The Motion to which I have alluded, that the House should resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House to consider the state of the Roman Catholics, was carried by a 375 majority of six. The Committee then did resolve that it was expedient to consider the state of the laws affecting the Roman Catholics, with a view to their final adjustment. It was then moved that the Resolution be sent to the Lords, in order that their concurrence might be asked. The Commons and the Lords held a conference, on the subject, after which the latter fixed a day for the debate, the result being, that the Motion for their concurrence to the Resolution that had been adopted by the House of Commons was lost. I now propose that this House shall resolve to go into Committee, and having gone into the Committee. I shall propose a resolution which will embody the spirit and substance of my present Motion. On that Resolution being reported, I shall move an Address to the Crown. I shall move that the Resolution be presented to the Crown, with a humble entreaty to his Majesty that his Majesty would be most graciously pleased to enable the House to carry it into effect. I think that this is the course which we took on the question of the "Church Temporalities Act." After that Bill had been read a first time, the question was raised whether we could dispose of the Ecclesiastical patronage of the Crown without the special approval of his Majesty; and it was decided, Sir, by your predecessor, that the question having been brought under the consideration of the House by the King's Speech, the Bill might be read a second time, but, that afterwards, it would be proper that a special message should be received. I call the attention of the House to that question, because I think the manner of proceeding which I recommend is the best, not only in point of form, but because I do also think that the only manner in which a satisfactory measure can be proposed to the House, is by the concurrence of the Crown. In proposing this, I know not whether the right hon. Gentleman opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) will think it proper to follow the course he took in 1829. After a Resolution had been carried by a majority of six, the right hon. Gentleman went down to the King, and informed his Majesty that the House of Commons had decided by a majority in favour of the Roman Catholic claims, and that the state of Ireland being such as to induce well-founded alarm, it was his duty to change his course, and to propose a measure of 376 relief. Whether the right hon. Gentleman opposite will follow that precedent or not, I know not; but I do think that it is as competent to him to adopt such a course on the present occasion as it was for him to adopt the course he took on the Roman Catholic question. The right hon. Gentleman has, I know, stated his opinion on the subject, and that is an opinion which is against this proposition; but he has spoken in no more decided terms against it than he did with respect to the Roman Catholic question—a measure which he afterwards introduced. The right hon. Baronet, in his address to his constituents, which he professed to be a declaration of the principles on which he intended to act, stated, with respect to Church Reform:—"Then, as to the great question of Church Reform, on that head I have no new professions to make. I cannot give my consent to the alienation of Church property, in any part of the United Kingdom, from strictly Ecclesiastical purposes. But I repeat now, the opinion that I have already expressed in Parliament, in regard to the Church Establishment in Ireland—that if by an improved distribution of the revenues of the Church, its just influence can be extended, and the true interest of the established religion promoted, all other considerations should be made subordinate to the advancement of objects of such paramount importance." The right hon. Gentleman stated his opinion, in this very emphatic manner very soon after he took office. When subsequently the right hon. Gentleman was asked a question in this House, as to what he proposed to do in regard to measures resulting from the Commission now making inquiries in Ireland, he answered that he was not averse to any new distribution of the revenues of the Church, which would promote the interest and extend the influence of the Church; but any measure to which he consented, must be confined in its object to the promotion of the doctrines of the Church. In some observations upon the Tithe Bill lately brought before the House, in which the question of the appropriation of Church revenues was involved, the right hon. Baronet said, that he would consent to their application to their present purposes, but the amount must be confined to those purposes, spiritual and ecclesiastical, viz., those purposes for which the Church of England at present exists. Now, I do say, Sir, that the right hon. 377 Baronet having stated his opinion thus broadly on this question, it is quite clear, that whatever may be the result of the inquiries which the Commission is yet to pursue, it is necessary that the House of Commons should come to some decision on that point, and either adopt or reject the principle adopted by the right hon. Baronet. It the House be determined to confine the revenues of the Church to purposes strictly ecclesiastical, it is better for that determination to be declared; but if the House is not of that opinion, it is certainly of no use for us to be passing through the different stages of the Bills for the Commutation of Tithes. We ought, in my opinion, to proceed with that Bill, while this great question is unsettled—while it is yet unknown whether the Ministers and the House of Commons agree as to the question, or are at variance upon it. I think, Sir, that this consideration is a full justification of the course I take in proposing this Resolution to the House. It is quite clear that the late Ministry, or any similar Ministry, on the Report of the Church Commissioners becoming known, would have been disposed to act on the spirit of that Report, and, if necessary, would have proposed to reduce the Church Establishment in Ireland. But the right hon. Baronet tells us at once, immediately on his resuming office, again on appearing in this House, and also in proposing the Tithe Bill—three separate times he tells us—that the Commission may go on prosecuting its inquiries, but he should care for its Report no otherwise than as it would enable him to effect a better distribution of Church property among the members of the Church; and whatever the nature of the Report, whatever the surplus, however extensive the reduction which the Protestant Church might bear consistently with the preservation of its stability, and the extension of its really beneficial influence, he has made up his mind already not to consent to forego the principle of maintaining the property of the Church to its present purposes. That being the case, it is quite necessary, as it appears to me, to come to some distinct Resolution on the question. It is for the advantage of every one—for the advantage of this country—for the advantage of Ireland—and, indeed, for the general advantage of the empire—that there should be on this great and vital question, an Administration in harmony with the House 378 of Commons, acting according to its sense. And if the right hon. Gentleman has the confidence of the House, or if his opinions and the opinions of those acting with him being adverse, he is prepared to take the course he took on a former occasion—in either case, it is far better that at once we should come to some decision, and not be voting Supplies, and not going on night after night, and week after week, without knowing whether the Ministers of the Crown do enjoy the confidence of the House on this great question, or do not. Well, then, Sir, I think that, what I have said will be considered a sufficient answer to any argument that may be drawn from the fact of the Report of the Commission not being yet on the Table of the House. The hon. Gentlemen opposite may say, that it is inconsistent thus to bring forward a Motion on this subject, without the Report being before us, and they are quite welcome if they please to throw those taunts upon us; but I think it sufficient to state in reply, that the state of the question has been entertained, that it is a question no longer open—on the contrary, it is one on which a decided opinion has been formed by the hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House; and that decided opinion having been pronounced, it is quite necessary that we should ask whether or no the principle which we propose—whether the appropriation of the revenue of the Church of Ireland, or any part of it, to uses by which the people of Ireland generally can be benefitted, will secure the sanction of the House. I come now to the question with respect to the purposes to which I would apply the surplus. The other night an hon. Gentleman asked me whether I proposed that any part of the money should go for the purpose of affording religious education to the Roman Catholics, on the principles of the Roman Catholic religion. My answer is, that I propose to adopt the principle acted on by the National Board of Education for Ireland. The measure, constituting that Board, was proposed by my noble Friend, the Member for Lancashire; and, according to that measure, members of all creeds, children of all persuasions, can receive religious and moral instruction, and are brought up in harmony and at peace with each other. I have considered that, in the present state of Ireland, no measure would tend so much to its future peace, as the expending 379 of large funds, for the purpose of promoting education. From the earliest times, it will be found that the Protestants have been desirous of improving the condition of the people of Ireland, by means of education. It was the object of the 12th of Elizabeth, chap. 1st. The preamble of that Act actually states, that much good is expected to result from the establishment of a good system of education in Ireland. But, in after times, and in times much later, there have been those who considered that it was of the utmost importance that instruction should be given to the people of Ireland, in such a manner as would not interfere with their religious faith. In support of this statement, I beg the attention of the House, while I read to them the copy of a letter from the Lord Bishop of Clonfert to the Rev. Mr. Moore, of Boughton-Blean, near Canterbury:—
Parishes. Value. Estab. Ch. R.Catholic. £ £ Taghmon 446 Glebe 50 133 2920 Ballycormick 95 10 501 Ballynilty 82 21 390 Dunleer 153 G. 6 159 1460 Drumcar 53 120 1528 Monachebone 107 9 737 Moyleary 173 G. 30 13 1148 Cuppog 120 1 530 Rathdrummin 82 G. 20 7 662 Carrickbogget 57 — 332 Port 142 G. 5 5 800 Ullard 280 G. 45 50 2213 Graig 440 63 4779 Ossory 62 4 107 Balsoon 69 7 313Though I had not the pleasure of receiving your very informing discourse on Sunday-schools, at the time you intended, I have since got it, and read it with the greatest satisfaction. It is an admirable defence and recommendation of this new Institution, which I hope will daily become more general, and produce the best moral effects, by impressing the children of the poor with a sense of duty and religion, at the only time and age when they are capable of impressions. A poor man's creed need not be long, but it should be struck in early, and a true and right one. If he believes, as the common proverb says, that he is to die like a dog, he will undoubtedly live like one. The communication of education, is certainly a very great blessing to the poor; and had Mandeville, and they who, to serve political purposes, are for denying all instruction to the lower classes, only pushed their argument far enough, they might have proved that they had a right to maim, or put out the eyes of the common people, in order to make them more manageable, and more in the power of their superiors. Having never seen the paragraph in the English papers concerning me, to which you allude in your appendix, I can say nothing to it; but what I have endeavoured to do in my diocese, ever since my appointment, is this—there are twenty Catholics to one Protestant in it. To attempt their conversion, or to think of making them read Protestant books, would be in vain. I have, therefore, circulated amongst them some of the best of their own authors, particularly one Gother, whose writings contain much pure Christianity, useful knowledge, and benevolent sentiments. He wrote eighteen volumes of religious extracts, and died about the year 1696. Unable to make the peasants about me good Protestants, I wish to make them good Catholics, good 380 citizens, and good anything. I have established, too, a Sunday-school, open to both Protestants and Catholics, at my residence in the country, have recommended the scheme to my clergy, and hope to have several on foot in the summer. Pastoral works, however, of this nature, go on very heavily in a kingdom so unsettled and so intoxicated with politics, as this is. I return you my best thanks for your obliging present.I cannot conceive, Sir, that funds intended for the religious instruction of the people, can be misapplied when devoted to objects likely to make them good subjects of the State, and religious and moral. Objects of a similar kind were kept in view, when, in 1806, a Commission was appointed, which consisted of the Archbishop of Armagh, Mr. Grattan, and Mr. Edgeworth. After several years spent in inquiry, they agreed to a report, in which they carefully laid down the principle, that any new system of education ought to be such as would not interfere with the religious tenets of any particular party. In an appendix to the report, there is a letter from Mr. Grattan, who, in speaking of the sort of schools that should be formed, says, that they ought to be founded on more extensive and comprehensive principles. The Board for promoting Irish Education is composed of the Archbishop of Dublin, the Duke of Leinster, and others. I am sure that all must have heard, that the schools of the kind established by the recommendation of that Board, have been conducted with the utmost harmony, and attended with the most beneficial effects—moral and religious instruction has been conveyed generally to the people without reference to one particular and exclusive creed. I come now to meet one or two objections which have been urged, but which I do not think well founded. The first is, the assertion of that principle, that the property of the Church ought not to be diverted from the uses of the Church to which it belongs. With respect to that principle, I am not disposed to go at large into the general question as to Church property being considered private or not. I am disposed to consider that question as Burke was disposed to consider it, as expressed in his speech on the right of taxation over a colony, made on the motion for the conciliation of America. And I believe that if I were to attempt entering on that branch of the question, I should run great risk of overwhelming myself in 381 that—"great Serbonian Bog,Betwixt Damiata and Mount Casius old,Where armies whole have sunk.Burke has also said, "From the earliest considerations of religion and constitutional policy, from their opinion of a duty to make a sure provision for the consolation of the feeble and the instruction of the ignorant, they have incorporated and identified the estate of the Church with the mass of private property of which the state is not the proprietor, either for use or dominion, but the guardian only and the regulator. They have ordained, that the provision of the establishment might be as stable as the earth on which it stands, and should not fluctuate with the Euripus of funds and actions." Now I do not hold the opinion that this is private property, and that we can no more interfere with the revenues of a Bishop than with the estate of an Earl. Mine, however, is not the doctrine of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. If they made their stand on the question of private right—if they said, that Ecclesiastical property shall not be disposed of otherwise than as it was originally devised or distributed—I could easily understand them; but this is not their argument. They hold, that the State may distribute Church property otherwise than as at present; that the State, for example, can take from a Bishop, and give to a rector or curate. Does that doctrine, then, I ask, bear any resemblance whatever to the law which recognizes private property? Does Parliament ever proceed on that principle in the latter case, and say, "There are 100 or 200 great proprietors in this country, and it is expedient that wealth should be more equally distributed?" If Church property be private property, we cannot, for a moment, stop to inquire whether the Bishop of Durham has too much. We are satisfied it is private, and we cannot touch it. On what principle, then, do we proceed, and to what conclusion does our proceeding necessarily lead? My noble Friend, the Member for Lancashire (Lord Stanley), proposed a Bill, which was passed into a law, and which diminished the number of Bishops in Ireland. The number was too great, and the funds were to be distributed—in what manner? To those next in order—to deans and chapters. But supposing there was enough for them, and still a surplus, what then? Why, then it 382 was to be applied to rectors, to churches, and glebe-houses. But it might also happen, that the Bishops had too great a revenue still, so that there would be a surplus after all these objects had been accomplished. How is it possible to say, that we can redistribute this property, and yet not carry out the principle to its legitimate length, and distribute the surplus in a manner in which it may be most useful? On what principle do we go? Upon no other than this—that it is useful for the purpose of religious instruction that there should be a re-distribution. And what do we come to? To a principle totally distinct from, and at variance with, every law by which private property is affected. I maintain, we can only do that on the grounds of public expediency, of public right, and of public advantage. If, then, I show that public right, public expediency, and public advantage, require the application of some portion of those revenues to works of religious education and charity, where, I would ask, is the distinction between them? and how can the right hon. Gentleman pretend that he left that property more sacred than I do? I confess, that to my mind the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have no ground to stand upon, and I cannot see how they keep themselves out of the Serbonian Bog to which Mr. Burke alluded. On the one hand, they may stand on the notion of private property, and maintain the Ecclesiastical revenues intact and inviolate to their original destination; or, on the other hand, admitting the right of Parliament to interfere, they must hold that for the benefit of the subjects of the realm, for their religious instruction, for the well-being and harmony of the state, it may so interfere. But there is no resting between the two propositions; to say, that it should be partly distributed, and partly kept sacred, partly interfered with for public objects, and partly considered private property, does seem to me to couple, in one proposition, the utmost absurdity with the utmost inefficiency. Sir, I do hope that hon. Gentlemen opposite will grapple with this great question on clear and intelligible grounds. I must protest against any proposition not founded in distinct and known principles, and which does not tend directly to the good of the State. But we are told, in defence of the present mode of applying Church property in Ireland—that the greatest 383 number—fifteen to one, it is said—of the owners of the land in fee—are members of that Church. Sir, if I could fancy that any one would hold such a doctrine as this—that a Church Establishment was intended originally for the exclusive benefit of the rich—that spiritual instruction should be given only to men who had an estate of inheritance—that none but a man who possessed a freehold estate should be entitled to the comforts and consolations of religion—I could then understand the argument to which I have alluded; but when I refer to any of the great authorities I have quoted, who cannot be questioned or repudiated, and when I find it laid down that a Church Establishment is intended for the benefit of all classes, and more especially for the benefit, the instruction, and consolation of the poor, it is not enough to tell me, that those who originally contribute the sums which constitute the revenues of the Church are Protestants and members of that Church;—for I am bound to look at the effect of the payment of tithe, on the whole, as a system. Besides, on whomsoever the charge of maintaining the Establishment may fall ultimately, it is perfectly notorious that those on whom, for the most, the tithe is levied, and on whom it first falls, are members of the Roman Catholic faith. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir Henry Hardinge) stated to the House the other evening, that sums were collected every day, and will continue to be collected as long as leases are in force, of 6d., 4d., and 1d. from those who do not belong to the Establishment—from which, indeed, they derive no benefit whatever. The alleged circumstance, then, that the original proprietors of land happen to be members of the Church, ought not to be an objection to the proposition for which I contend. On these grounds, and unaffected by those objections I have noticed, I am prepared to move the resolution which I call on the House to sanction and affirm. I do think, that if—without adopting some such course as that which I venture to recommend—we pass the Tithe Bill in the shape in which it has been proposed, appropriating solely to the benefit of the Irish Church all its existing revenues, we shall neither obtain peace, nor act ultimately for the harmony and advantage of Ireland. I believe that the Irish people have warm affections, and are strongly attached to those who confer any 384 benefit on them. Notwithstanding those outrages and acts of violence to which I referred in the commencement of my speech, it is a singular fact, that no traveller ever goes into Ireland who does not declare that he has been received every where, by the poorest peasant, not only in the most hospitable manner, but with the utmost friendly and open-hearted kindness. Those who do not belong to Ireland, but have lived in that country, have assured me, over and over again, that the gratitude, and the overflowing of the affection of the peasantry towards those who manifest kindness towards them, is very great. Such being the feeling, and such the conduct of that, nation to individuals, the House has now an opportunity of earning that gratitude and making that affection its own, by asserting the principle for which I contend, and by thus doing justice to the people of Ireland. We have now the power of acting free from fear—free from any compulsion; there is no fear of foreign war before us, nor of civil war in Ireland. It is in our power at length to settle and gain the affections of that country, to silence the question of a Repeal of the Union, to gain the tribute of grateful homage from a people so warmhearted, so eminently brave and loyal; while we shall, at the same time, have the satisfaction of reflecting, that in doing justice to Ireland we shall have contributed more, than by any other measure we can adopt, to the future prosperity of the empire, making her unconquerable by her enemies, and an example of religious liberality to the rest of the world. I shall now conclude by moving, "That the House do resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, to consider the temporalities of the Church of Ireland."
§ Sir Edward Knatchbull
would not presume to occupy the time of the House in apologizing for the liberty he took in addressing them on a subject which was so important in itself, and in which he felt so deeply interested. If the noble Lord felt something like awe and diffidence, he at least participated as largely, if not more so, in those feelings, on approaching a subject of such paramount interest; but he would at once come to the proposition which the noble Lord had propounded, and state to him and to the House, the reasons why he could not accede to the Motion, and the course which he intended to take in opposition to it. He could not but 385 complain, that up to the moment of his entering the House that evening he was altogether ignorant of the precise course which the noble Lord designed to pursue. On a question of such immense importance, and on the decision of which so much depended, he must say such a course was greatly disadvantageous and inconvenient. Nor had it been for want of an opportunity of stating his intentions that the noble Lord contrived to keep the House in the dark as to the course he was to take, for his right hon. Friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had inquired, and yet the noble Lord had left the House in ignorance of the course he meant to pursue. It was perfectly true the noble Lord had declared on Friday last his general intention, but he added, at the same time, that he should not be bound by the form in which he announced it, and that he considered himself at liberty to vary it as he should think proper. Now, he could not but think such a course of procedure was extremely objectionable; public men ought to bind themselves by their word, and especially in matters of that description. Any thing else was uncandid in the extreme. Besides, from the open and explicit avowal contained in the latter part of his speech, there was no reason why the noble Lord should have been ashamed to proclaim to the House and the country the precise tenour of his Motion. But not to dwell upon that point, and to come at once to the main question, he might take one of three courses in meeting the proposition of the noble Lord. He might move the previous question, or move a resolution counter to that which had been offered to the House, or, as it was his intention to do, he might offer a direct negative to the Motion. He refrained from moving the previous question, because he was anxious that neither the object nor tendency of this question should be concealed from the House and the country; and he believed if he moved the previous question, he should leave in some degree of obscurity the course which he himself intended to follow. Neither would he move a counter proposition, for he should then be placing himself precisely in the same predicament in which the noble Lord himself stood at the present moment—affirming that prematurely which they were not in a state to determine. He did not state this as one of the grounds on which he meant to rest his objection, but as applying generally to 386 the course which the noble Lord himself proposed. He would at once openly, boldly, and decidedly express his opinion in the negative to the Motion of the noble Lord, and he trusted when the House heard the arguments he had to adduce, they would be prepared to concur with him in that course. He would ask the noble Lord, and he would particularly call the attention of the House to the point—what was the precise scope and object of the Motion? He wished the House to judge whether it had for its object solely, distinctly, and openly, the settlement of the question which it professed, or whether he had not rather availed himself of an opportunity for the purpose of trying what was a much more important matter in the noble Lord's view—the relative strength of the two parties in that House? It might have been doubtful, looking only to the first part of his speech, whether such was really the noble Lord's intention, but the expressions which fell from him in the latter part of his address, clearly and unequivocally placed the matter beyond the possibility of doubt. The noble Lord had referred to a declaration made by his right hon. Friend (Sir R. Peel) in an address to his constituents, and it was undoubtedly true that the intention was to make known by that means, not only to his constituents but to the whole empire, the principles on which the Government would be conducted. What, then, was the practical course which the noble Lord proposed to pursue if he succeeded in carrying this proposition? Why, he said he would present an address, for he anticipated the concurrence of the House—he would move an address to the Crown for no other purpose but in order to inform the Crown that the opinion of that House was directly opposite to that expressed by his right hon. Friend. That might be a right, reasonable, and legitimate mode of procedure, but in his judgment, at least, it would have been a more considerate—a more manly and a more consistent course for a statesman to pursue, boldly and at once to bring forward a Motion to the effect, that the House had no confidence in his Majesty's Government. But the noble Lord had not ventured to adopt that course; and by the resolution which he now moved, he proposed to do that indirectly which he had not the boldness to do in a direct and open manner. To the proposition of the noble Lord he must 387 withhold his consent on this distinct ground—he was not prepared to give his assent to the application of Church property to other than Protestant Church purposes. Such was his decided conviction; he would take issue on that point, and he was prepared to stand or fall by it. The noble Lord might talk as long as he pleased, he might refer to ancient history, tell them of proceedings had, and proceedings that he anticipated, but the gist and effect of the proposition was this, and nothing more—"I desire to take from the property of the Protestant Church of Ireland, which has more than she requires, and give it to the rival Catholic Establishment." And yet the noble Lord charged the Ministers with a violation of the same principles, because they conceded the re-distribution of the church property among Protestant clergymen. The noble Lord's argument was not valid in that respect. Was there no difference between taking property from one Protestant and giving to another for the purpose of promoting the original intention, and alienating that church property to the purposes which were quite contrary, and would only tend to the destruction of the establishment, by aggrandizing the Roman Catholic Church? On that point rested the whole question. He regretted very much, that a question involving so much religious feeling should have been so mixed up with political party animosity. He was perfectly ready to concede to others that free right to the exercise of opinion to which he considered himself entitled; for he was not one of those who presumed to think that he alone was right in his opinions. That was not the principle on which he had acted, it was not consistent either with reason or religion; but the noble Lord had brought this matter forward under such circumstances that it was impossible to be discussed without bitterness of feeling. He was at that moment placed very much in the same situation in which the noble Lords stood last Session when the hon. Member for St. Alban's (Mr. Ward) introduced the same question to the consideration of the House, and when the hon. and learned Member for Dublin afterwards brought forward a resolution pretty much to the same effect. Now what course did the noble Lord take on that occasion? Did he assent entirely to the proposition submitted by the hon. Member for St. Alban's? No, he dissented from it as inconvenient—as wrong in 388 principle. ["No, no," from Lord John Russell.] If he was in a mistake as to that point, he would take the liberty of reading the observations made on that occasion by the noble Lord. The hon. Member for St. Alban's introduced the Motion; the noble Lord opposed it; and yet he now introduced a Motion in character, circumstances, and leading tendency not very unlike. He would therefore call in aid the evidence of the noble Lord himself. The arguments used on that occasion it was competent for him now to use. What then did the noble Lord say in opposition to that Motion? "Two courses had been proposed—the first was to pass a resolution containing a general opinion on two or three matters of fact, and ending by calling on the House to affirm some abstract principles" The noble Lord knew not whether there would, in fact, be any surplus revenue after providing for the wants of the Protestant establishment; certainly, he was ignorant of the fact last year, for he had suggested the Commission of Inquiry for the purpose of ascertaining it; and, although he had gone into much statistical detail on the present occasion, he did not by any means know whether those statements were correct. He did not at all wish to impugn their accuracy, but he wished to know where the noble Lord had acquired that information, and why it had not been laid before the House? Was he to understand that the Commission issued by the Crown and sent to Ireland for the purpose of obtaining information which was necessary in order to guide their deliberations, had made their Report to the noble Lord? Either that was the fact, or the noble Lord had no better ground to rest upon than he had last year, when he thought it necessary, along with his Colleagues, to appoint that Commission in order to obtain further information. But the noble Lord went on to say, "The other course proposed was, to have a Commission of Inquiry; that was, that it was competent to Parliament to deal with the subject, and reserving to the next Session the practical measure to be proposed for remedying the abuses of I the Irish Church. The first course suggested appeared to him a very bad one, and one which he entirely dissented from. I It would be exceedingly imprudent, he thought, in the present state of things, to adopt a general resolution affirming an 389 abstract principle, instead of proceeding to a practical measure." He trusted the noble Lord, on re-consideration, would be of the same opinion still, and join with him in negativing the present proposition. But there was another high authority on the subject.—[Mr. Ward: "Is it I."] No! it was not the hon. Member for St. Alban's, although he did not, by any means, undervalue his power and authority. He alluded to the opinion expressed by the right hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. S. Rice) on the same occasion:—"It was upon these grounds, he repeated, that he maintained that this Commission would give to the House and to the country all that hon. Gentlemen had a right to expect. Take either the Resolution or the Commission, but let the House not insist on taking both, for the combination of the two was one of the greatest absurdities that could be perpetrated. Was the House determined to decide first and examine afterwards? Was it because this was an Irish subject that the House was determined to act in so Irish a manner?" He hoped that those reasons, so conclusive to the noble Lord and his colleagues when in office, would, in the exercise of that liberality to which some persons thought themselves so exclusively entitled, induce the noble Lord to act on the principles he had before advocated, and concur with him in opposing the present Resolution. But he must advert again to what he stated at the outset of his observations; and he would call the attention of the House to the ultimate object of the noble Lord's proposition. That object evidently was to remove from their situation his Majesty's present Ministers. What the result of the Motion might be it was not for him to prejudge; but he knew this, that the Ministers would do their duty towards the Crown and the public on those principles which had been clearly and unequivocally declared by his right hon. Friend; and he should wait with perfect confidence for the decision of the House on the subject. But he implored the House, before they lent themselves to aid the views of the noble Lord, to consider what was to follow if they adopted his proposition. The noble Lord desired the formation of a new Government. Of whom was that Government, he would ask, to be composed? Was it to be headed by the noble Earl (Earl Grey) who had lately been the Prime Mi- 390 nister of England? And would his Administration include all the talent and character which originally belonged to it? He would not say anything against the entertainment of such a legitimate object: for many of those who were connected with that Government he felt personally the greatest respect; but of what materials did the noble Lord expect the new Government would be composed? Why, necessarily of the most discordant and disjointed materials which it was possible for the imagination of man to conceive. Before the noble Lord could hope to work out any practical results from the success of his Motion, should it prove successful, it appeared to be a matter of indispensable necessity that he should be prepared to organize a Government capable of carrying on the business of the country, and of giving effect to the great change which his proposition involved. He desired to know if the noble Lord looked for support in forming such a Government to the Members of that House, who were returned by certain constituencies in the sister island. If such were the intended course of the noble Lord—if he desired to place himself at the head of such a Ministerial body, backed by such supporters, it was to be presumed that his recollection must have altogether passed away of the fierce attacks which the late Government had sustained from the class of Members to whom he was alluding. He had no difficulty in saying, that, if the noble Lord depended on support from that quarter, he would find himself most grievously disappointed. There was no Government which would not find itself most grievously disappointed if it looked for support from that quarter on any other than on terms which were well known, and on which there existed between the noble Lord and the class of Members of whom he had been speaking an essential, and, for aught that appeared, an irreconcilable, difference. There was one question on which a material difference must exist between the opinions of the noble Lord and those whom he wished to support him; and that the noble Lord was well aware of that fact was clearly indicated by what fell from him at the commencement of the debate. He spoke of the Repeal of the Union, and deprecated it in general terms; but, at the same time, he said, that, unless what he called justice were done to Ireland, there would be 391 some ground for it. Who, he would ask, was to be the judge of what the noble Lord called justice? Was the hon. and learned Member for Dublin to be that judge? He had seen with sorrow and dismay the close union which had been formed between the noble Lord and that hon. and learned Member. He was fully willing to leave hon. Members in general to advocate whatever line of policy they might deem expedient for the country; but to see the Whig party in England—the Whig party, did he say?—no a section of the Whig party—coalescing with the hon. Member for Dublin, and those with whom he acted, was to behold an event most astounding to his mind. What was the doctrine which had been put forward by that hon. and learned Member, on one occasion, when he was addressing himself to the question of giving relief to the distresses of the country? "If the noble Lord," he said, alluding to the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, "wished to grant relief to the people, let him strike off one per cent, from the interest of the national debt. That would afford the people relief to the extent of four millions and a half." It was with a gentleman who proposed this mode of relieving the country that the noble Lord was now coalescing. It was he to whom the noble Lord looked for support now. Strike off one per cent, of the national debt! Was the Governor of the Bank of England—was that hon. Gentleman, placed in the important and conspicuous situation which he filled, prepared to act in unison with a Gentleman advocating such a proposal? The fact was this—that the objection of the noble Lord, and those who acted with him, was not to the measures of the Government, they had some personal dislike to the men who composed it. Any specific charges brought against any one Member of the Government, whether his right hon. Friend or any one else, they had had no difficulty in rebutting; and all their measures had been received with approbation. Take the Irish Tithe Bill; no objection had been urged to the measure which they had proposed; he understood from all the information which he had received, that it was incomparably better than that of the late Government. Then, take the Dissenters' Marriage Bill,—had any objection been made to that? No sort of objection had, indeed, been made 392 to any measure introduced by his Majesty's Government; the only objection urged consisted in this, that his right hon. Friend was charged with introducing measures precisely similar to those which Gentlemen on the other side of the House had themselves brought in. The only difference, indeed, between the measures of these Gentlemen and the measures of his right hon. Friend amounted to this, that the former were found impracticable in their operation, whilst those of his right hon. Friend held out the best hopes of being effectual, and of being well received by the country. Then, again, he might allude to the English Tithe Bill, and also to the measures for Church Reform. He must remark, however, that the noble Lord throughout his speech while he spoke largely of the defects of the Church in Ireland, had imputed to the Government an indisposition to agree to any measures which might remove those defects. If the noble Lord would only take the trouble to refer to declarations of his right hon. Friend upon record, as having been made last Session of Parliament, he would find in them a most unquestionable and distinct assertion, that his right hon. Friend was perfectly willing and ready to do everything which he could do, even when out of office; and he was sure his right hon. Friend would be equally ready to do everything while in office—to remove from that Church any blemish or defect existing in it. The noble Lord had spoken generally of the condition of Ireland, and had lamented the scenes of violence and bloodshed which that country unfortunately exhibited. Did the noble Lord imagine that his Majesty's Government were indifferent to that state of things? Did he suppose that the accounts which were here received of murders, and disturbances, and violations of the law in many shapes, as occurring in that part of the United Kingdom, were received by them with feelings less sorrowful than those which they excited in his own mind? Could they hear of "Rathcormac," and not be to the full as willing as the noble Lord to do all in their power to prevent the recurrence of such unfortunate events? He would venture to say, that if certain Gentlemen in that House would only do that which he knew the noble Lord had no objection to do—abate that system of agitation which had been for a long time past in 393 existence, he should entertain a confident hope that a better spirit would prevail in that country. He need not trouble the House with any further observations. He opposed the Motion on this principal ground—that the adoption of the principle contained in it—the appropriation (as the noble Lord and other Gentlemen termed it) of church revenues to other than Protestant Church purposes, would lead to results, which he held would be inconsistent with the existence of the Church Establishment in Ireland, which would tend to the separation of Church and State, and tend also to raise in that country a feeling of hostility towards the Protestants who did form a minority of its population. And let him observe, that the noble Lord in speaking of the state of Ireland, and the measures which ought to be adopted in reference to it appeared to have forgotten that there were Protestants in that country as well as Catholics. Let them do justice to them, at all events. Let them not adopt measures which, in his humble judgment, would place that country in a situation infinitely worse than any in which it had hitherto been placed. He had now expressed distinctly the course which he meant to pursue; and he trusted that the House would agree with him in the propriety of rejecting the Motion.
§ Mr. Ward
said, that he should not follow the example of the right hon. Baronet, who had just addressed the House, by converting one of the greatest—if not the greatest considering all the varied and complicated interests which it involved—of all the questions which could possibly come under the consideration of the Legislature into a tissue of mere petty personalities. It was with feelings of deep concern, that he had used an expression which might be offensive to the right hon. Baronet; but really, when he saw a Minister of the Crown rising in that House at the commencement of such a discussion as the present—a discussion which he himself stated to involve a vital question, and yet not touching upon that question—negativing at once a proposition, but negativing it without discussing it—giving them a sort of manifesto in favour of his Majesty's present Government—talking to them of the Dissenters' Marriage Bill—of the Irish Tithe Bill—(of the Church Reform Bill;—of which he (Mr. Ward) believed, that 394 they literally knew nothing, except that a paper, considered to be the organ of the Church, had pronounced it to be one of the worst possible Bills—a circumstance, he must confess, rather in favour of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, when he heard the right hon. Baronet talking on all these subjects, and not touching once on the real Question, he felt, certainly, that it was necessary to express strongly his sense of such a course of proceeding. He should address himself at once to that Question. He admitted, that the right hon. Baronet had fairly stated the case. He had stated it fairly on this one point—that this was a trial of confidence, or no confidence in his Majesty's Government. It was a trial of confidence or no confidence, resting on the greatest principle that could possibly come under discussion in that assembly. On that point, the right hon. Baronet had, indeed, stated the case fairly—on every other point he had made no statement at all. If he could have felt anything like regret in yielding to the wishes of his friends and to his own desire of promoting the settlement of this great question, by placing it in the hands of the noble Lord who acted as leader of the party with which he was connected, he could assure the noble Lord that that feeling would have been changed into one of sincere gratification by the speech which he had delivered that night—a speech which identified the principle which it had been his (Mr. Ward's) lot to advocate under less auspicious circumstances, with the interest, with the existence he might say, of a great and enlightened party in this country. Hon. Gentlemen opposite might smile, when he said that he had advocated that principle under less auspicious circumstances. The fault was partly his own, and he owed an apology to those hon. Gentlemen who differed from him, not in point of principle, but in point of time, for having forestalled a discussion which they had weighty reasons for considering premature. He had always held that though minor differences might be compromised, the same course could not be pursued when the question regarded a fundamental principle—one of those principles which ought to characterize the policy of a Government and give the tone to its whole system; he felt, also, that nothing could be more fallacious than to suppose that great differences of opin- 395 ion could exist between the Members of a Cabinet without striking at the root of all confidence in the Government. It was to that state of uncertainty that he wished to put an end by his resolutions of last year; the speech of the noble Lord that night proved that he had effected his object. The House and the country must henceforward choose between the principle laid down by his noble Friend, and that advocated by the right hon. Baronet opposite. The principle of the right hon. Baronet was, the total inalienability of Church-property to other than Ecclesiastical purposes; the principle laid down by the noble Lord was, that Church-property was applicable to all such purposes of general utility as Parliament in its wisdom might determine. That principle the noble Lord did not state, as an abstract proposition; he did not state, in the terms of his (Mr. Ward's) resolution of last year, "that it was right the State should regulate the distribution of Church-property in such a manner as Parliament might determine;" but he assumed that right, and called upon the House, in the exercise of it, at once to proceed to a different appropriation of Church-property, and divert a portion of that property from the purposes to which it was at present devoted—supposing that by the Report of the Commission, a surplus should appear to exist—to purposes of general utility, and from which every class of his Majesty's subjects in Ireland might derive advantage without distinction of sect or creed. He was no stickler for abstract propositions; he cared not in what shape the Resolution might be put, provided that principle were clearly and distinctly avowed. They might take as the object of the new appropriation what they pleased—education or charity—or whatever a British Legislature, acting as he hoped they always would act, on the principles of strict morality, and justice, could determine to be a desirable object. He looked simply to the right of interference on the part of the Legislature; and he thought that in whatever shape the noble Lord's proposition might be put, there was no one who could vote for it who did not distinctly recognise a right inherent in the State to deal with all Corporate-property, whether Ecclesiastical or civil, in such manner as the welfare of the community might require; and thus to accommodate the institutions in Church and 396 State to those changes which time and the progress of society must inevitably render necessary. For that principle he held that every man must vote who voted for the Irish Church Commission last year, for it was on that principle that the Commission rested; no man could vote for that Commission who had not agreed in the right to purge and restore the State by good and wholesome laws, and in the right equally to amend the Ecclesiastical Establishments. He should be told, perhaps, that those who asserted that doctrine ought not to proceed to exercise the principle involved in it without any report of the Commission before them. He admitted that there would be some force in that objection if the noble Lord, the Member for Devonshire, had asked the House to proceed to any specific appropriation of any specific portion of the Church revenues; there would be an inconsistency in those who thought a preliminary inquiry indispensable last year, concurring in any such vote now. It was on the ground of the necessity of inquiry alone that difference had arisen between himself and a number of gentlemen who concurred in the general principle which he entertained respecting the Irish Church—who concurred in thinking that the revenues of that establishment were exorbitant; and in thinking that, if they continued undiminished, the establishment would remain a constant source of irritation and agitation—just agitation he would say—and just disturbance—yet who refused to concur with him in affirming that proposition without a previous Commission of Inquiry. For this they must wait before they could determine the details of the measure which they would ultimately adopt; but they were not bound to wait for it in order to determine the principle of the measure. That was all the noble Lord asked. He asked the House only to assert that they would not perpetuate those evils which the Commission of last year was intended to remove, but would, by announcing the principle on which they intended to proceed henceforward in legislating for Ireland, hold out to the people of that country that promise of approaching relief, which he believed in his conscience to be the only means of putting a stop to a state of things in Ireland not more injurious to the welfare of that country than to the character and stability of the empire at large, If this 397 principle were not laid down in limine, it would be cast at their feet as a bar to all subsequent proceedings—as a bar to all those practical reforms which they desired in the Universities, in the municipalities, and in other institutions. They all rested on the same ground—namely, that property in mortmain is the property of the State, and that the State may exercise a legislative jurisdiction over it whenever a case of necessary interference occurred. He admitted that the propriety or the impropriety, the justice or the injustice, of the interference, depended on the circumstances of the case; he admitted that when our religious establishments were concerned, they should be particularly cautious in the mode of interference. He admitted that hundreds of considerations of mere political expediency might justify dealing with Corporations which would not justify tampering with the Church; but he asserted just as distinctly that the right was the same in the one case as in the other. To this double question, of the existence of the right in the fullest possible extent, and the circumstances which called on them to exercise it in Ireland, he should address himself: and first, as to the existence of the right. If there was no right, interference was nothing but spoliation; and of that he never had been, and never would be, the advocate. The noble Lord had quoted a passage from Burke, which recorded, he (Mr. Ward) believed, the doctrine contained in his opinions on this question in the strongest possible terms; it was that in which he stated that we had by our law so incorporated and identified the Church with the mass of private property in this kingdom, that one was at least as inviolable as the other—if Church-property did not possess a character of superiority and inviolability. These opinions, backed by the authority of Burke, and by the follies which were perpetrated in every country in the name of Liberty and Reform, long passed current among us; the man who ventured to doubt them at the close of the last century was denounced as a Jacobin and little better than an Atheist. He was denounced by Burke, in his own emphatic language, as "A man of a cold heart, and a muddy understanding! One of the new-light and reason philosophers! A wretch whose sophistry not the syllogism of the logician but the lash of the executioner should refute." He 398 thanked Heaven that the time was gone by when any man could venture to denounce another in terms like those for differing on one of the most difficult questions which could come under the attention of the Legislature, namely, the circumstances which justify the interference of the State with property of any kind and the point at which the line must be drawn, which represents that species of property with which the State may interfere, from that with which it cannot interfere, unless in one of those peculiar emergencies in which the very existence of the commonwealth is at stake, and in which every other consideration gives way to the instinct of self-preservation. He believed that this constituted, exclusively, the difference between corporate and private property. Private property was one of those fundamental acts which constituted society—it was the band of society itself. "But the acts which form and endow Corporations, are subsequent and subordinate. The property of individuals is established as a general principle, which seems coeval with society itself; but bodies—whether Ecclesiastical or civil—are instruments fabricated by the Legislature for a specific purpose, which ought to be preserved while they are beneficial, amended when they are impaired, and rejected when they become useless and injurious." These are the words of a great authority—they are the words of Mackintosh, who fairly beat Burke in the field of argument on this point, and was the first to recall the attention of his countrymen to the principles of common sense. His opinions about the clergy were equally well known; they were sound and explicitly expressed. He said: "No other class of public servants are proprietors. They are salaried by the State for the performance of certain duties. Judges kings, soldiers, are all paid by the State; and so are the clergy, where there is an Established Church. They are paid for public instruction. The mode of their payment is indifferent to the Question.—A territorial pension is no more property than a pecuniary pension. Because the State has intrusted its Ecclesiastical servants with a portion of land, as the source and security of their pensions, they are not more the proprietors of it than the other servants of the State are of that portion of the revenue out of which they are paid." He proceeded to draw a difference 399 between the rights of private and Church property, "The lands of the Church, said Sir James Mackintosh, are not even pretended to be held for the benefit of those who enjoy them. This is the criterion between private property and a public pension. The happiness of the individual proprietor is the object of the first, and he possesses, consequently, as the best judge of his own happiness, the most unlimited powers of enjoyment, alienation, and even abuse. The lands of the Church have none of these attributes. They cannot be alienated, or abused, or bequeathed. The clergy are merely intrusted with the administration of those lands from which their salaries are paid." In these opinions both Warburton and Paley concurred; and Bishop Watson expressed himself similarly, saving always the rights of existing incumbents. He said—"There is no injustice in altering either the value of the benefice, or the mode of raising that value, when the property of the benefice reverts as it were to the State upon the death of an incumbent; but there would be injustice in compelling the present incumbent of any Church to accede to a change of property which he disliked."—Mr. Hallam stated the same principle.—Lord Brougham, in 1825, argued that, "There was no sort of analogy between Church property and private property, which should lead to the conclusion that the former possessed the same sort of inviolability as the latter. The Church received its property for the performance of certain services; but private property was held unconditionally." He illustrated this by saying, with reference to the Irish Church. "By taking away the property of an individual, he was deprived of the means of providing for his wife and children. But if the Legislature were to say to the priest of some parish, containing 500 Catholics and one Protestant, 'after you are dead, there shall be no longer any parson in this parish,' who would be injured by this? A person who never enjoyed it!" "Bacon held the same doctrine, 200 years before, when he said—'As the realm once gave tithes to the Church, so the realm, since again, have given tithes away from the Church, unto the King.'" The same line of argument had been taken recently in two works, both entitled to some consideration. One to which he alluded was a pamphlet entitled "An Essay on National property," 400 attributed to Mr. Senior. The other was an article upon Church property in the Edinburgh Review, with the author of which he was unacquainted, but it was the work of a most comprehensive intellect. Two other names he would bring forward—inferior certainly to none in political lustre and moral worth. The first was the name of Lord Grey, who, in a discussion which arose on this very Irish Church Commission in the House of Lords last year, stated his opinion in regard to the rights of the State as affecting the property of the Church in the strongest possible terms. He said—"The Commission is issued with a view, if you will, to a different appropriation of the revenues of the Church."—"The rights of the present possessors I will hold sacred; but I maintain that the property of the Church is a subject for the exercise of the discretion of Parliament."—"If there is a surplus, I avow the principle, that the State has a right to deal with that surplus, with a view to the exigencies of the State, and the general interests of the country,"—The other name to which he alluded, was that of the right hon. Baronet, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who certainly was high authority to the principle, though in a somewhat modified shape, by becoming the advocate of the doctrine of distribution. He said—"The time was come when we must consider whether we could not facilitate the propagation of divine truth, and extend the means of divine worship, by a different distribution of the funds of the Established Church." It was utterly impossible, however, to re-distribute without a great change in the appropriation; and the argument on which that re-distribution depended, though perfectly sound and convincing if the Church were one great corporation, holding property as common funds, was not so when it was considered that the Church was not one corporation, but a series—a bundle of corporations, with distinct funds. He knew not what was the nature of the intended plan of Church Reform; if it were to go to the expected length—to that length which would satisfy the people—to the equalization of bishoprics, and the making provision for the working clergy out of the surplus funds of the Cathedrals and chapters, there would be such a great, such an extraordinary, change of appropriation effected by that distribution, that he thought the right hon. Baronet himself 401 must recognise the principle for which he was then contending—namely, that there was a distinction between the rights of the Bishops and the rest of the clergy, as proprietors, and other individuals; and the right hon. Baronet must admit, as a necessary consequence, while the latter could not be touched, that there were no bounds to the right of interfering with the property of the clergy, except those imposed by a consideration for the public welfare. The right hon. Baronet could not advocate the doctrine of re-distribution without getting involved in the dilemma which had been so forcibly depicted in the work which he had referred to, the Edinburgh Review. "Either there is an essential difference between corporate and private property, or there is not. If there be this difference,—where is the injustice, or the danger of interference? If there be not this difference, how can interference, in the shape of re-distribution be justified; since as a precedent it would be equally dangerous? If this precedent were applied to private property, where could the line between re-distribution and confiscation be drawn? Re-distribution would, in fact, be neither more nor less than an Agrarian law." If the right hon. Baronet were prepared to carry out these extensive principles of Church reform, he could only do so by a most extensive system of re-distribution. He (Mr. Ward) did not object to that; but if the right hon. Baronet adopted that principle, the opinion expressed by Burke must weigh as nothing in the scale with the right hon. Baronet. Burke had said, "When once the Commonwealth has established the estates of the Church as property, it can, consistently, hear nothing of the more or the less. Too much and too little are treason against property." He had said, on a former night, that, although re-distribution might, and he had no doubt would, be effectual in England—although it might satisfy every honest Church reformer in this country, still he thought the distinction between Ireland and England to consist in this—that in Ireland re-distribution would not be of the slightest use; it would not remove one fraction of the burden which pressed now on the people; it would not allay in any degree the irritation then subsisting. He did, therefore, hope that the House would look to the situation of Ireland in a calm and dispassionate manner, and 402 consider whether it was not in their power by asserting the right of interference, to put an end to those evils which their own obstinate adherence to ancient principles in regard to Church property, had entailed on it. He came now to the question of what were the circumstances in the case of Ireland which called for that interference on their part, and in what manner her situation could be ameliorated by a reduction of the Established Church. That was a wide question, and one on which he had entered to such an extent last year, that he hoped the House would allow him to allude to some statements which he had then made in order to give himself the advantage of commencing the present argument from a more advanced stage. Many of those statements had been alluded to by the noble Lord, and to those he should not refer. He stated then, as the result of the best information which he could acquire, the following facts:—The population of Ireland was 8,000,000, of whom the Episcopalian Protestants were one in fourteen, or about 600,000. The revenues of Protestant Establishments, including Tithes, Glebes, Bishop's Lands, &c. amounted to 937,456l. The Army kept in Ireland, averaged between 1825 and 1832, from 19,000 to 23,000 men. The Police Force cost annually 300,000l. The number of Tithe Processes, from 1817 to 1821 was in Ecclesiastical Courts, 3,418 By Civil Bill Process, 89,905, making an annual average of 80,000. The grants since the Union to Charter Schools amounted to 1,378,369l., for Glebes, 234,415l. The number of resident and non-resident clergy during 1814, was 644 resident, and 543 non-resident; in 1817, 65 resident, and 544 non-resident; and in 1819, 758 resident, and 531 non-resident. He had referred, during the last year, to the authority of Lord Charlemont, Grattan, Pitt, Burke, Fox, and Sir James Macintosh, as authorities in favour of his view of the question. A constellation of the brightest names of which this country could boast. He added to these the names of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Cambridge, the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Dundee, and that of the late President of the Board of Control, beside those of a host of Irish Members. All these men were practically conversant with Ireland, and all concurred in the views which he (Mr. Ward) had upon the occasion to which he referred, endeavoured 403 to lay before the House. He would take the liberty of reading to the House an extract from a speech of a noble Lord who was a Member of Earl Grey's Government. He alluded to Lord Stanley, who, in speaking of the tithe system, in the year 1832, had summed up its consequences, with his usual ability in the following manner. "The resistance to tithes was almost universal in Ireland. It extended to the Protestants in the north, as well as to the Catholics in the south. The seeds had been long sown, and were deeply rooted. Every system which could mark a determined opposition on the part of a whole population—acting as one man against the imposition of a legal due—had been developed upon this occasion. No process could be served—no attornies would act." Nothing could be farther from his intention in quoting that passage, than to attribute to the noble Lord (the Member for Lancashire) any concurrence in his (Mr. Ward's) opinions upon this question. He knew on the contrary, that the noble Lord had with that high sense of honour, which always distinguished him, dissolved the earliest and dearest connexions of his political life, rather than adopt that principle. Still he could not avoid recurring to the speech which he had just quoted, as evidence to show the extent of the evils resulting from the present position of the Church Establishment in Ireland, and in order to prove, that whatever might be the abilities of the Minister who attempted to sustain that Establishment in its present shape—however great might be his energies, and however admitted might be the confidence reposed in him by the House of Commons (and unbounded was the confidence which that House certainly reposed in the Minister of whom he had spoken), no man could pretend to carry on the Government in such a manner as to meet with the wishes of the people and their Representatives, without resolving to take into consideration the system itself. It was to the system the Legislature must look; it was at the system the Legislature must strike. If they wished to extricate themselves from the difficulties in which they were then involved—if they wished to put an end to a state of things under which they were continually called on for grants out of the public purse to enable them to enforce a law which they had not the moral courage to repeal, and all this with- 404 out procuring peace for Ireland, or restoring the confidence of the people in the Government, but pursuing a course of legislation, the result of which must be to add contempt to a hatred of our Legislature—a consequence which must inevitably follow from the continuance of a system which must be abhorrent in any country possessing a particle of freedom, and where those measures only which are founded on the eternal principles of justice and truth could be received with gratitude. If, he repeated, they wished to escape the manifold evils inherent in the existing system, they could not hesitate to affirm the principle involved in the Motion of the noble Lord. He should, perhaps, be told, that he was begging the question; he should be told, that the Gentlemen on the other side of the House were prepared to act on the principles of justice and of truth. He should, he dared to say, be reminded, that the question of commutation of tithes being adjusted, the Government would be enabled to enforce the law with the occasional assistance of the army. He did not believe that any Bill for commutation would be of the slightest avail to Ireland, unless they changed the appropriation as the accompaniment of the act. They might exempt the clergy from actual collision with the people; but they only transferred the odious responsibility of the collection from the clergy to the landlords. No one could expect that the landlord should make a sacrifice of the amount of tithes due from the land. He must ultimately come on the tenant for the payment of the tithes; and his claim would be resisted on the same grounds as those now urged, namely, that the money called for would be appropriated to the maintenance of a Protestant Church Establishment. They would be obliged to give him the same support as that which the clergy were now compelled to seek from the army; and they might be prepared to see more Rathcormac scenes—the landlords, instead of the clergy, being the immediate cause of their enactment. He did not wish to be considered as referring to Rathcormac with any party view or object; he did not wish to cast the slightest imputation on those who were unfortunately implicated in that transaction—and particularly as their conduct was likely to become the subject of judicial inquiry; but he must be allowed, as a man and as a Christian, to enter his protest against a 405 system which could, by the remotest possibility, in the 19th century, produce such results, and couple those results with the name of a religion established for the purpose of inculcating the doctrines of mercy and of peace. He had, too, referred to the massacre at Rathcormac, in a House, the Members of which expressed their opinions of the conduct of foreign Powers in no very measured terms, whenever they acted in a manner at variance with our received notions of justice and right. He remembered on one memorable occasion, that the recital of the sufferings of the Poles created a burst of indignation in that House, to allay which it required the most energetic efforts of several hon. Members, to whom he need not more particularly refer. He would ask them to reverse the case, and to imagine themselves sitting in Russia, Prussia, or France—in which countries the most enlightened equality prevailed with respect to religious opinions, and where no unjust distinctions were drawn on account of any difference in the tenets of the different classes of inhabitants—and to suppose the hon. and learned Member for Dublin descanting upon the grievances to which the Catholics had been subjected for the last 300 years, in order to prop up and maintain a Church opposed to their feelings and opinions. He might, in his history of the wrongs which Ireland had endured, tell such an assembly as that which he just mentioned, of the existence and nature of the penal laws; and this was a topic which required no eloquence to impress it upon the minds of his auditory; nothing could add to the force of facts in reference to those laws. He might simply tell them, also, that a Church was maintained by the support of 7,000,000 of people, from the doctrines of which they dissented, and which directly, or indirectly, was the cause of all the sufferings and misery which the people of Ireland endured. Let them be told, that at this day, the laws with respect to tithes were so rigorously enforced, that upon one occasion nine human beings were sacrificed by what was termed law, in order to enable a Protestant clergyman to collect 4l. 10s. of tithes. He might just touch upon the story of the widow—her joy, when, upon looking at the first of the bodies of the slain, she discovered that it was not that of her son, and the heartrending account which she gave of her feelings, when, upon turning over the 406 second body, she found that her suspicions were well founded. Let the injustice of other countries, then, be no longer talked of, when such damning proofs of the most palpable injustice were to be found amongst themselves. Would this injustice be diminished by transferring from the clergy to the landlord, the odium of collecting tithes? No; his claim would be resisted with as much firmness and perseverance, as was that of the clergyman at present; and they must support his claim by armed force. Whilst upon this point, he would read an extract from Mr. Burke on the folly of attempting to reconcile the people to grievances, by having recourse to military power:—"Where grievances exist, the complaint or its causes, ought to be removed; and wise and lenient acts should precede measures of vigour. These ought to be the ultima, not the prima, not the iota ratio, of a wise Government. God forbid, that, on a worthy occasion, authority should want the means of force, or the disposition to use it? But where a prudent and enlarged policy does not precede it, and attend it too—where the hearts of the better sort of people do not go with the hands of the soldiery—you may call your Constitution what you will; in fact, it will consist of three parts (orders if you please)—cavalry, infantry, and artillery—and of nothing else, or better!" But he should be told, that if commutation were to be carried into effect, they would have the better portion of the community with the Legislature, and that the Government might be enabled to compel the collection with the aid of the soldiery, backed by the feelings and wishes of the greater portion of the community. Now, upon what authority did that assertion rest? He found a very different opinion expressed in a letter which was generally attributed to the Marquess of Anglesey, and which he had no hesitation in referring to, because he believed it had appeared in the public prints, and was allowed to be authentic—It was in these words:—"If the present system be persevered in, the King's Government will soon be left in Ireland without any other party than the King's troops. The Establishment, which at all times far exceeded the wants of the Protestant congregations, has hitherto been upheld by the State, mainly on the ground, that it served the temporal use of consolidating the connexion between the two countries. But this service it no longer 407 performs. Instead of strengthening the connexion, it weakens it. Any Government henceforth pledged to maintain that Establishment, must be brought into constant and permanent collision with public opinion, and with the prejudices and passions of the Irish people." Again, the noble Marquess said, "A strong impression has been forced upon me, that no measure of adjustment, however satisfactory in other respects, will perfectly meet the emergency, which does not include such a gradual reduction of superfluous members, as shall, finally, bring clown the numbers of its dignitaries and officiating ministers to a scale commensurate with the religious wants of the Protestant community." That opinion was founded upon a deep knowledge both of human nature, and of the Irish people. Lord Anglesey knew how inseparably the Protestant Church in Ireland had been connected in the minds of the Catholic population, with the remembrance of all those acts of legislative oppression, which history would, one clay, bring up in judgment against England. He knew that religion had been the cause, directly or indirectly, of nearly all the political laws which afflicted Ireland—that, upon the plea of religion—a code justly termed the "slave code," was established; of which Burke said, that it differed, and to its disadvantage, from every other system of religious oppression, which the world had previously witnessed. Under this system, which almost made him blush for the name of Englishman, the Catholics were doomed to exist for many years, subject not merely to the specific disabilities which the law itself imposed upon them, but subject, moreover, to all the injustice, to all the irritating, galling, maddening acts, of local oppression, the inevitable consequences of a policy, which established a favoured sect, and a proscribed sect, by the law of the land, and armed one with undue power, while it consigned the other to hopeless degradation. Under this system, priest-hunting became a fashionable amusement—under this system, as recently as the middle of last century, the Irish Parliament passed a law of so atrocious a nature, that it was always designated the Nameless Statute; a Statute inflicting upon every Catholic priest, arrested within the realm, a penalty at which human nature recoiled, but which men, calling themselves Christians, were pot ashamed to sanction, This Act was 408 sent to England, and was only prevented by the influence of Cardinal Fleury with Sir Robert Walpole, from becoming the law of the land; but it was upon record, that, when it was rejected, an English Lord-lieutenant was found base enough to condole with the Irish Parliament on having been foiled in this disgusting and atrocious enactment! He alluded to the many faults and crimes recorded by history, as marking the course of policy which this country had pursued towards Ireland, not for the purpose of reviving old animosities, not to open old wounds, but in order to show the utter impossibility of the Catholics of Ireland being ever reconciled to the Government of Great Britain, whilst it was inseparably connected in their minds with wide-spread suffering and humiliation. The very introduction of the Church Establishment into Ireland, was founded upon a legal fiction: it was based upon the supposition that the same relations existed between the Church and the people—between the pastors and their flocks—as those which prevailed in reference to the Church of this country; and without which, an Established Church must be received, not as a blessing, but a curse. "To suppose," as Lord Bacon says, [Laughter.] Where he was corroborated by what were upon most questions considered high authorities, in the opinions which he ventured to pronounce, he thought he had, upon such an occasion as the present, as good a right to refer to the sentiments of those from whom he had quoted, as the right hon. Baronet had, when he thought it necessary to support his arguments on the Dissenters' Marriage Bill, by an appeal to several authorities which he considered favourable to his view of the question. He would, then, with the permission of the House, refer to the opinions of Bacon:—"To suppose that men should live of the flock that they do not feed, or of the altar at which they do not serve, is a thing that can hardly receive just defence." And yet this was precisely the system which had been upheld at the point of the bayonet, in Ireland, for nearly 300 years. It was the system for which, according to Lord Clare, 11,500,000 of acres, out of the 12,000,000 which composed the surface of the country, had been confiscated. If they went back to the earliest period of the history of the Church in Ireland, they would find that the people of that country 409 kept aloof from its ministers, and refused their adhesion to its doctrines. How different were the circumstances which attended the period of the Reformation in the two countries. The people of England were imbued with the doctrines of the Reformation, before the transfer of Church property took place. In Ireland there was no such preparation to induce a willing concurrence in the tenets and establishment of the Church of England. In England, the performance of the worship of the Church, was conducted in a tongue which its members understood: in Ireland, the adoption of a foreign language was forced upon the people, in place of that in which their worship was celebrated, which, although it was a foreign one, was nevertheless closely associated with their history and their religion. In England, as would be found by the authority of Archbishop Usher, the tithes were divided into four parts, amongst which, he need scarcely remind the House, were the building expenses of the Churches and the support of the poor; in Ireland, after the Reformation, the people were obliged to pay for the erection of the Churches by Vestry Cess, and the poor were discarded from the precincts of the Church. How, then, could a Church which was not submitted to, or joined, through the force of reason and argument, be considered by the people as anything but a badge of conquest, forced on them by a superior power, which it was but natural they should determine to throw off at the first favourable opportunity, and had anything occurred since to modify these feelings? It was unnecessary for him to dwell upon the utter inability of the Government, at the present day, to collect tithes. The right hon. Baronet had the other night admitted the incompetency of the Government to attain that object. He should say no more, therefore, in reference to that question. But he would ask if the number of adherents to the Established Church had increased, and the number of Catholics diminished? In arguing upon this subject last year, he had adduced some facts, with respect to which he hoped he might be permitted to say, that all the information which he had since received, tended to confirm him in the opinion which he had then expressed. He regretted that he could not read from the papers which he had collected, but was obliged to depend upon his memory for 410 the facts which he was anxious to bring under their notice. He had received from the hon. Member for Kildare, returns from the whole of the diocese of Ossory, by which it appeared that there was, on an average, but one Protestant to every nineteen Roman Catholics in that diocese. He had been further informed that in some parts of that diocese, the proportion varied from one in forty-five, to one in 471; and that the whole number of the Protestant population was 10,433, and of the Roman Catholics 198,781. Was he not justified, then, in asking if there was anything resembling such a system in any other part of the world? Take the Protestant States, take Catholic ones, take America or France, or Scotland, or even the north of Ireland itself, and it would be found in every instance, that the remuneration which the clergy received was always proportioned to the religious services which they performed for the people. In Ireland alone was this rule departed from; and never until they established that relation upon its proper footing, until they reverted in fact to the principles of common sense, could they succeed in governing that country with credit or satisfaction. Gentlemen might talk of the essential protestantism of the Constitution, and of the necessity of maintaining a Protestant ascendancy, but he would remind them that Burke said, fifty years ago, that no words had done so much mischief to Ireland as Protestant ascendancy. One hundred and fifty years ago Protestant ascendancy might be supposed identical with the civil rights of the community, but that was not the case now. There was now no connexion between the Catholic religion and a Catholic Pretender to the Throne. Since the passing of Catholic Emancipation it could not be said, that the preservation of the Protestant ascendancy was essential to the maintenance of our civil rights. The right hon. Baronet opposite had effected by Catholic Emancipation, one breach in the Constitution of 1688—a breach in that system under which Ireland had so long groaned, and for his conduct upon that occasion the right hon. Baronet had his sincere gratitude, and he was satisfied, the lasting thanks of his country; but, he would ask, whether the reasons by which the right hon. Baronet had justified his change of opinion upon the question of Catholic Emancipation were not strictly applicable 411 to the subject of the present discussion? The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had before appealed to the authority of the right hon. Baronet upon the question which he had just named; but he hoped he might be permitted to call the attention of the House to another extract from one of the right hon. Baronet's speeches. It was as follows:—The opinions he had heretofore expressed on the Catholic Question, he still retained; but he must say, that looking to the position of the Government of the country—looking to the position of the Legislature—looking to the disunion which had prevailed on this subject in his Majesty's Councils—looking to the disunion which for several years had marked the proceedings of the two branches of the Legislature—and looking to the effect which all these causes had produced upon Ireland—he must say that there appeared to him to be sufficient reasons to accept of almost any alternative, rather than endure their continuance."*Let them follow the argument, and they would find that throughout no other sentiment was expressed than this.That things could not, and ought not, to remain as they were;" "that no Government could be formed on the principle of permanent resistance;" "That there was not the least chance that such a Government could carry through Parliament those measures, which a rigid adherence to the principle would render necessary;" and that, "if permanent resistance to concession were impossible, there only remained one alternative, namely, a consideration of this important question, with a view to effect such a settlement of it as should be satisfactory to all parties."†How forcible, how strikingly applicable was that language to the present position of affairs. It was impossible to form a Government on the principles of resistance. No such Government could hope to carry any measures upon such a principle through Parliament. Would the people of England grant a million every third or fourth year, in order to uphold the Irish Church, or would they wage a civil war in its behalf? There was no other mode of sustaining it. The task was hopeless, even if the object were necessary or just. But where there was neither necessity nor justice in the case, they might as well attempt to change the laws of gravitation, as to induce the people of England to concur in it. There*Hansard, vol. xx. (new series) p. 74.†Ibid. p. 79.412 were one or two other points to which he would then refer. The main argument against his proposition last year was that which was based upon the articles of Union between the two countries. He contended, that those articles were confined to the doctrines and discipline of the Church; his opponents contended, that they applied to the temporalities of the Church. He was firmly persuaded he was right. The articles which were first drawn up did embrace the temporalities, and were conceived in the following words:—And that the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of the said United Church, shall be preserved as now by law established for the Church of England; saving to the Church of Ireland all the rights, privileges, and jurisdictions now thereunto belonging.Upon this article Mr. Pitt observed, in his speech on April 21st, 1800:—The prosperity of the Church of Ireland never can be permanent, unless it be part of the Union to leave, as a guard, a power to the United Parliament to make some provision in this respect beyond any act of their own which can now be agreed upon."*The House was of that opinion, and the guard was left: for, in the Act of Union, as finally agreed, the reservation of the "rights, privileges, and jurisdictions," was omitted. Nor could he find in the debates the slightest indication of any difference of opinion on the point. Neither was Mr. Pitt's object concealed. He said it wasTo leave Parliament an opportunity of considering what may be fit to be done for his Majesty's Catholic subjects, without seeking at present any rule to govern the Protestant Establishment, or making any provision upon that subject."†In the address of the two Houses to the King, on May 12th, 1800, were the following words. The proposition was adopted with debate, and "with the few alterations and additions which we have found it necessary to suggest, we consider these resolutions as fit to form articles of Union between Great Britain and Ireland; and if those alterations and additions shall be approved by the two Houses of the Parliament of Ireland, we are ready to confirm and ratify these articles, in order that the same may be established for ever, by the mutual consent of both Parliaments"—he was of opinion that he had*Parl. Hist, vol, xxxv. p. 51.†Ibid, p. 196.413 furnished conclusive proofs with respect to interferences with the Church, of the animus of the parties by whom the Union was accomplished. The next point to which he thought it necessary to refer, was the interest which the people of England had in the settlement of this Question. He believed that the conviction was not as general as it ought to be, that, in doing justice to Ireland, the people of England were but doing justice to themselves. An hon. Gentleman, a friend of his, had asked on the hustings, in the county of Cambridge, "What had we to do with Ireland? Now the state of the people of Ireland had a great deal more to do with his constituency than perhaps he or they imagined—setting aside every argument which was based upon the principle of justice, and placing in abeyance any appeal which might with fairness be made to the people of the county of Cambridge, by asking them how they would like to be compelled to pay tithes to the ministers of a religion from which they dissented?—and if such a system were attempted to be carried into practice amongst them, he was very confident that none would exhibit a more formidably passive resistance to the system than would be displayed on the part of the constituency to whom he had alluded—he would just put it to them, whether they had ever reflected on the expensive luxury which this Protestant Established Church in Ireland was to them. Did they not know—did it never strike them, that if the wealth of the Established Church were reduced, they might reduce also pari passu the expenses of a standing army? [Cries of "No, no!"] Hon. Members cried "No, no!" but he would ask on what intelligible principle, but for the protection of the Established Church was the large military force continued in Ireland? When he looked at the force which was found necessary to be kept up in the colonies, he could not imagine for what object but that to which he had alluded, so large a standing army was continued in Ireland—a country separated from us only by a few leagues of water, and capable, he was convinced, of being united to us by every tie of national community and feeling. Let them look at the estimates for the year. The army in Ireland consisted of 21,678 men, whilst throughout the whole extent of our colonial empire there was 414 only 34,614 men! The exact number of men in each colony was not given, but the charge for the General and Medical Staff was a fair criterion of the number of. men, and the expense of that was: in Ireland 13,485l.; in North America, that is, Nova Scotia and Canada, with all the difficult and delicate questions pending there 9,195l.; in the West Indies and the Bermudas, including all the additional precautions rendered necessary by negro emancipation 5,621l.; in Gibraltar, Malta, and the Ionian Islands—the keys of the Mediterranean—7,844l.; in Africa, the Cape of Good Hope, the Mauritius, Ceylon, and Australia 10,210l. Then again, in England, Scotland, and Wales 21,415 men were kept for the preservation of property, and the due enforcement of the law, as well as to serve as the kernel of our whole military establishment abroad; while, in Ireland alone, we required 21,678 men; and even that was an improvement upon preceding years, when 23,000 men were kept up. Such was the consequence of the unnatural alliance between the army and the Church. He sincerely believed that if they did justice to Ireland, and removed the grievances of the people, they would put a stop at once to those discontents which at present vitiated the whole current of society in Ireland, and might then with perfect safety reduce our military force there, to an extent, which, at present, would be most dangerous. But would this military force be the less necessary under the proposed commutation of tithes? It would not; for the same kind of protection would be required for the landlords, which had hitherto been required for the clergy. Concede, however, a change of appropriation, and they might diminish the army in Ireland to 10,000, with a prospect of a still greater reduction, As to the new appropriation of the surplus, proposed by the noble Lord, he knew that great differences might exist as to the best mode of employing it; that education, charity, a provision for the Catholic clergy, and the relief of the poor, by a system of public works, had all had their advocates, both in and out of this House; but he beseeched those who had the slightest value for the real principle at issue, not to allow these considerations to influence their vote. Once assert the right of interference and control on the part of the State, and there could be no error, in the appropriation of the fund, which might not be rectified. 415 From year to year, they could gain experience as to the best mode of employing it effectually for the benefit of the people of Ireland, and they would have before them more correct data upon which to proceed. He looked simply to the assertion of the right; and he begged to remind the House that it was a right which had been admitted, and acted upon by almost every nation, in ancient and modern times, as well as by our own ancestors. What was the Reformation, but a re-forming of the Ecclesiastical establishment of the country, in such a manner as to comply with the wants and spirit of that age? And why, if the wants and spirit of the present age had varied, was our Ecclesiastical system alone to remain unchanged? Are the habits, laws, civil or political institutions of the country the same now as in the days of Elizabeth? Had the country remained stationary in science, in education, in the arts? Had we not the same rights as our ancestors, as legislators and as men? And why should it be supposed that we could not use these rights, of which they wisely availed themselves except for our own detriment? Why, in giving a new form to our establishment, not less dear to us than to them, were we to destroy all that was valuable as well as all that was bad? The argument would not bear looking into. They were not bound by the acts of any former generation, except in so far as those acts were conducive to the present advantage; and if they found, upon mature and dispassionate consideration, that there were some things in the Ecclesiastical system bequeathed to us by the sixteenth century, incompatible with the new interests which had grown up in the course of 300 years, in the mighty empire of which they were the representatives, they had not only the right, but it was their bounden duty, so to reform that system, as to leave to no portion of their fellow-countrymen any just cause of complaint. He begged to be understood as speaking of the Establishment as an Establishment, and not of the Church as a Church; the authority of the Church as such, was not only independent of the State, but superior to the State. Weak, indeed, would be the influence of religion over the mind, if it were supposed to originate in, or be affected by, human laws! A religion was not believed because it was established; it was established because it was believed by the great majority of the 416 community; and it was their assent that gave it validity. If any person doubted this proposition and conceived that the legislature must only look to truth, and not to the assent of the majority, as the basis of an establishment, he would ask them to explain how it happened that, by the very same infallible authority (that of the United Parliament of Great Britain), truth was different north and south of the Tweed? There was one true religion in England, and another true religion in Scotland, because, in the establishment of these two religions, they had most wisely, justly, and humanely; taken as their guide, in each country (and it was the only safe guide), the wants, the inclinations, the just demands of the people. They had done the same in Canada and Malta, and there was no reason to think they were mistaken. He understood and approved of that—he could admire that; but he could neither understand, admire, nor approve the principle upon which they refused to 6,000,000 of their fellow-subjects in Ireland, a right which they conceded in less enlightened times, to less than 2,000,000 of their fellow-subjects in Scotland—the right of worshipping God in their own way, without being saddled with an establishment to which they did not belong. Either they had been wrong in their former practice, or were wrong now; and he had no doubt where the fault lay. If ever there was a case in which the old Latin Grammar quotation of video meliora proboque deteriora sequor, was applicable, it was the case of Ireland; for in the very teeth of all former experience, in defiance of the lessons which the struggle with Scotland taught, and which the history of every other nation confirmed, they had persisted in principles which they knew to be false—which they admitted to be false in every other case—which they would be the first to reprobate as false, if they were applied by a Catholic sovereign to Protestant subjects; and yet which they had the weakness to adhere to in their own case, in spite of a conviction that sooner or later, they must abandon them. The time in fact had arrived. After 200 years dreadfully spent in an attempt (to use Mr. Windham's words) to grind, by pains, by penalties, and by every species of legal oppression, the Catholics into Protestantism, the experiment had at last been abandoned. One by one had England restored to the Irish the rights of which they had been unjustly deprived. We had 417 done them justice—tardily, he confessed, upon every point but one, and the power of withholding that one had been diminished, in exact proportion to the rights already restored. As Catholic Emancipation was the fruit of the first relaxation of the penal laws, so must the reduction of the Establishment be the fruit of Catholic Emancipation, for the power of upholding it was gone. The plea of right, the system of which the Establishment was a part, was given up, and the Catholics were armed with a tenfold power of resistance. How could they be expected to forego the use of it? Would the Catholics who had been admitted into the bosom of the Legislature not advocate the interests of the class which they represented? The time for righting the battle of the Establishment was in 1829, when the Catholic Relief Bill passed; and the right hon. Baronet ought not now to complain of a change which was the necessary consequence of his own measure. He could not say that he had no warning; for, in 1808, Mr. Perceval opposed the Catholic petition presented by Mr. Grattan, upon this very ground—namely, that there was no limit to concession when once the principle was conceded. Mr. Perceval was right: when once the work of concession was begun it was impossible to stop short, while anything remained which ought, in justice, to be conceded. In passing the Catholic Relief Bill a new principle was admitted into the Constitution, the principle that no considerations of political expediency could give permanency to a law which was not useful and just. But where was the utility, where was the justice of the law, which supported the Irish Establishment? What was it but a law against the majority of the people?—a law against the people themselves?—a law which, by the very extent of its injustice, determined its own invalidity? Could it last?—ought it to last? Ought they, as the representatives of a great and enlightened country, to risk a civil war in order to perpetuate it? That was the real question. It was useless attempting to disguise it. To a civil war they must come at last, if the principles of that party were adopted, which was prepared to ride rough shod over the liberties of Ireland, in order to uphold an establishment which it was impossible, as matter of argument, to defend. Once rouse the passions of the people on both sides—once drown the voice of reason in the cry of 418 fanaticism—once let blood be shed in the name of the religion of peace, and he would defy them to predict when it should cease to flow! But he would not anticipate that—he would not believe that a Reformed House of Commons would consent to inflict upon their country those evils before which the Duke of Wellington, in 1829, shrunk back appalled! He would not believe that there was any party weak enough or wicked enough, to contemplate such an attempt; and if the attempt were made, he believed that the unadulterated good sense of the English people would furnish a remedy. They knew that the foreign, affections, and foreign intrigues, against which the disabilities imposed upon the Catholics were intended to provide, no longer existed; that the Catholics were now identified with the Constitution of the empire; and were their brethren and equals, as well by law, as by nature. They knew that the Legislature had no right to stand between them and their God, or dictate to them the terms upon which they should enjoy those rights, which, like the air and light of heaven, were intended for the common benefit; and this, too, upon a plea of religion! It was not the diffusion of the Protestant religion, or of any sect of Protestantism, which formed the bond of human society. It was the full and equal enjoyment of social rights which bind men together! To deprive any portion of society of their equal rights, was to pave the way for a dissolution of the social system itself. As to those who held that it was not the application of these principles as regarded Ireland, but their consequences as regarded England, which was to be dreaded. He warned them, once more, not to fight the battle of the English Church on Irish ground. Much was in the power of the clergy, but it was not in their power—it never could be in their power—to devise a means by which an establishment could be upheld when four-fifths of the population were hostile to its existence. If ever such a case should arise in England, (which God forbid!) they could not, by any precedent, establish that guide to posterity in their mode of dealing with it. They would look to the best interests of their constituents; and, if they were told of the necessity of resisting innovation—of making a timely stand against the inroads of public opinion, they would answer, as he trusted the House would then answer—that the real danger 419 of a State consisted in rendering its subjects justly discontented; and that the best security for its stability consisted in the conviction that no change could possibly be for their advantage. It was his hope and prayer that these sentiments might, at last, prevail; and that they might not, by their decision, blight the hopes of six millions of our fellow-countrymen. Let the House begin the work of justice. Then, and then only, would God prosper that land—then, and then only, could he hope that we should be allowed to continue that career in which we had hitherto been so pre-eminently blessed, as an united, a contented, and a grateful people.
§ Sir James Graham
, spoke as follows:—I rise with great reluctance to address you on the present occasion, for though I have thought long, and deeply, and anxiously, on this subject, I have never before expressed ray opinions on it within the walls of Parliament; and I now feel a peculiar difficulty in discussing the question; for I must frankly avow, that it is connected with religious feelings and conscientious scruples, which, though they are binding on the individual's judgment, are not fit subjects for discussion in a popular assembly. I have never attempted, however, to address any portion of my fellow-countrymen, honestly and fearlessly expressing my opinions, without experiencing an extension of their indulgence, and I therefore feel a full confidence of obtaining a patient hearing, when I ask a British House of Commons to grant me its attention, while I state in as brief a compass as I can, the opinions which I entertain on the question now brought before us.
The hon. Gentleman who last addressed this House, has truly said, that the present question is one of vital importance. To me it has been of fatal importance. [Cheers with laughter.] Do hon. Gentlemen interrupt me thus early? Is this the indulgence which they are disposed in their liberality to extend? After the appeal which I made, is this the reception I am to encounter? I confess I had not anticipated anything so ungenerous or so unfair, but it was only the passing sneer of some one individual Member; and, seeing the quarter from which it proceeds, I pass it by with contempt. This fatal Question has hurled me from power—it has severed some of the dearest and closest of the political connex- 420 ions of my life—it has suspended and blighted,—I hope it has not destroyed,—some of my earliest friendships—it may yet drive me from Parliament—it may force me into the retirement of private life—it may incapacitate me for office, but still I must repeat what the hon. Gentleman asserted, that it is of vital importance, and it admits of no compromise. I, for one, have strained my conscience to the utmost, and have endeavoured to carry compromise on this question with those from whom I was compelled to differ, and with whom I agreed on all other points, as far as I could with a due regard to consistency of principle, but I will not, I dare not, carry it further.
The hon. Member has said, that this is a question involving confidence in the present Administration. I admit that the question is one which cannot be considered without reference to the present crisis and in the present juncture of affairs, I must avow, that no Government can be formed, or exist, with credit to itself, or with safety to the country, which is not founded on the basis of an entire agreement with respect to the Established Church of Ireland, and on a fixed determination, explicitly avowed, of the policy to be pursued with regard to the question now at issue. I state this frankly, and I own, that the principal support which I have given to the Government in the present Parliament has rested on the declaration made by the right hon. Baronet (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) in his address to his constituents—that it is his intention to support the Protestant Church in England and Ireland, and to resist any application of Ecclesiastical Revenues to secular purposes. The hon. Member has said, that it is most desirable to come to a settlement of this question of appropriation, and I agree with him, that no time should be lost in bringing it to a final decision; but what is the mode of settling it pointed out by the hon. Member? The hon. Member is most liberal in his application of his assumed surplus of Church property. He has told us, that we may take it for the purposes of education, or charity, or anything, so long as we take something from the Protestant Church. But is this all? The hon. Gentleman means to carry his liberality, or rather, the laxity of his principles, still further, and to apply his rule to all Corporate property; for he adds, that if this principle be not laid down, it will be a bar to 421 ulterior proceedings. It is this absence of all principle which alarms me; it is not the less alarming because it is left undefined, and because, unless conceded, it is said to be a bar to something, of the nature of which we are left in the dark, and which I consider the more dangerous because mystery is thus studiously thrown around it. It is on this ground that I am ready to vote with the right hon. Baronet (Sir Edward Knatchbull) and to negative the Motion of the noble Lord. The hon. Member for St. Alban's has expressed a hope, that union, for to-night at least, may be found in the ranks of the Opposition on the question of appropriation—thus clearly intimating that hereafter the question is to be left still open, and undecided. I must deny that the decision of the question now before us will be a final settlement of the great principle now rashly mooted. The present is but the commencement of a series of attacks, first on Corporation-property, then on private property, and, as a conscientious man, I cannot support it. I will admit that I cannot consider the Question now before the House, apart from the time and circumstances in which it is brought forward. My noble Friend, the Member for North Devonshire (Lord John Russell) has told the House that he is not unfriendly to the Established Church. Whatever my noble Friend may say in this House or out of it, I implicitly believe, from my intimate knowledge of his high honour and strict integrity; but when my noble Friend tells me that he is not unfriendly to the Established Church, I must beg to ask him whether he is equally confident that all those who support him on the present occasion partake of his sentiments; and can, with equal truth, profess attachment to the Established Church? I wish to avoid the expression of anything that can give offence to any one; but when I find that a Motion was made last year to exclude the Bishops from their seats in the House of Lords—when I find that that Motion was supported by many of those who will, no doubt, support the Motion of my noble Friend on this occasion, and amongst others, by a Member of his Majesty's late Government—I own that I cannot feel disposed to place much reliance on the profession of friendly feelings towards the Establishment when made by some of the supporters of my noble Friend on this occasion.
422 But this is not the only important question on this subject which has been, and will be discussed. I find that the question, as to the connexion between Church and State is to be mooted, that the voluntary principle is to be supported, and that we are to be called on to decide, whether it will not be better and safer to have religion unsupported by external aid, rather than to preserve the intimate connexion of an Established Church with the power and authority of the State. Changes also are in contemplation in the constitution of the House of Lords, and these are only some of the proposed changes which are openly avowed.
Now if I look back to history, I find that these experiments have not the charm of novelty—the Bishops, in a former period of our history, were expelled from the House of Lords, the connexion between Church and State was dissolved—the voluntary principle was fully recognized—the House of Lords itself was abolished, and the Monarchy did not long survive. Now, let me suppose that all these fatal experiments were repeated, what may we expect as the result? Has history, then, been written in vain, and are we to derive no benefit from the lessons of experience? I will quote a passage from an historian—not a religious fanatic, but a sceptical philosopher,—and let the House hear his description of the result of those changes. "Gaiety and wit," says Hume, "were proscribed; human learning despised; freedom of inquiry detested; cant and hypocrisy alone encouraged." Are hon. Members prepared for similar results from similar changes in the present day? But did they lead to no other? History tells us, that after thirty years of civil war, which were marked with anarchy and bloodshed, the people finding the evils which had come upon them utterly intolerable, fled for refuge to the Throne, and made an unconditional surrender of life and liberty and Church Government to the arbitrary will of an exiled Monarch. These things were written for our warning; and I pray that they may not have been written in vain, but that they may produce a salutary effect on the prudence and sober judgment of this great community.
Before I go further, I will make a distinct admission as to the difference between Church-property and private property. The hon. Member for St. Alban's has alluded to Hallam on this point, and 423 I will admit that I adopt, with some slight modifications, Mr. Hallam's distinctions between the two kinds of property. Mr. Hallam says—"I cannot, until some broad principle is made more obvious to me than it ever has yet been, do such violence to all common notions on the subject as to attach an equal inviolability to private and corporate property. The law of hereditary succession, as ancient and universal as that of property itself—the law of testamentary disposition, the complement of the former, so long established in most countries as to seem a natural right, have invested the individual possessor of the soil with such fictitious immortality, such anticipated enjoyment as it were of futurity, that his personal ownership could not be limited to the term of his own existence, without what he would justly feel as a real deprivation of property; but in estates held, as we call it, in mortmain, there is no natural intercommunity, no natural privity of interest between the present possessor and those who may succeed him, and as the former cannot have any pretext for complaint, if, his own rights being preserved, the Legislature should alter the course of transmission after his decease, so neither is any hardship sustained by others unless their succession has been already designated or rendered probable. Corporate property therefore appears to stand on a very different footing from that of private individuals; and while all infringements of the established privileges of the latter are to be sedulously avoided, and held justifiable only by the strongest motives of public expediency, I cannot but admit the full right of the Legislature to new mould and regulate the former in all that does not involve existing interests, upon far slighter reasons of convenience." I will say, that I agree with nearly all those limitations. I will take this distinction between the property of the Church and that of private individuals. The property of the Church has been destined for particular uses, as all trust property is, and should be applied to those trusts for which it is intended. The question then is, what are those uses? I will endeavour to answer the question fairly. The Church-property was granted for the maintenance and propagation of the Protestant religion. ["No, no."] Is this denied? Farewell, then, to the Protestant Church as by law established. But I will contend, that this was its original object, 424 and from that object I will not consent that it shall be diverted. When I say this, let me not be misunderstood as being hostile to those Church reforms which would go to a re-distribution of Church-property. As long as it is distributed for purposes strictly Protestant, the State, I admit, has the power (saving the rights of existing interests) to re-distribute it in any manner it may think proper. What were the measures introduced by Lord Grey's Government with respect to Church-property in Ireland? My noble friend (Lord J. Russell) has stated, that Tithe-property in Ireland amounts to upwards of 800,000l. a-year. This statement my noble Friend takes from the calculations of the hon. Member for St. Alban's, on which he seems to rely; but I heard an able and argumentative speech on the subject last year from the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Lefroy)—a speech, by the way, which has yet remained unanswered, and in which it is, to my mind, most clearly shown that the amount does not exceed 620,000l. a-year. By a measure of Lord Grey's Government, in which I concurred, a charge has been made on that property of not less than 70,000l. a-year, the amount of the vestry cess, which was before charged on land and is now thrown a burthen on the Church—a charge equal to an eighth or a ninth of the whole amount—but this is not all—a tax has been laid on all benefices varying in amount from 3l. to 15l. per cent. What is the principle of the Act imposing that tax? It goes to meet the very objection which is one ground of the present motion, namely, that money is paid for religious duties which are not required. It enacts, that where a minister derives a revenue from a living in which there is no Protestant population, that living, on becoming vacant, shall not be filled up. But what is the test of there not being a Protestant population?—the only one in my opinion which could safely have been selected, because it is a by-gone fact, on which agitation and violence cannot be brought to bear; and, because it cannot be influenced by present passions or future circumstances. It is, that any living in which Divine Service has not been performed from the year 1830 to 1833, and in which a vacancy shall occur, the Ecclesiastical Commission shall suspend, during pleasure, a re-appointment, and that the 425 revenues of that living shall, after deducting the payment of a curate, be applied to other Protestant purposes. Now what are these? What is the application of the revenues made by this measure? Why, the application is to uses strictly Protestant. The Commissioners have the power to re-appropriate the original revenues of these parishes thus circumstanced, to the augmentation of small livings in other parts of Ireland, to the building of glebe houses, to the repair and building of churches, and to the dissolution of unions in parishes inconveniently large. For myself, I must say, that in consenting to this suspending power, I strained my conscience as far as I could. ["Hear, hear!" and Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite may indulge in a sneer at my observation, but I repeat, that in consenting to adopt that principle, I strained my conscience to the utmost. I am speaking in the presence of noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen who were my colleagues in office, and who well know that I and others who entertain the same opinions as my own, made that concession in the hope of keeping together a Government which on other matters was cordially united—a concession made for the sake of union, in the hope of securing harmony and good will, and I am satisfied that none of my former colleagues can allege against me, or against any one of those who left office with me, that our present resistance to the proposition of the noble Lord, the Member for Devonshire, is at variance with the language we have ever held in private, or with the conduct which we openly declared our fixed intention to pursue. I am not surprised at the selection which has been made for the first point of attack, and especially when I remember that upon the other side of the House there are now sitting some hon. Gentlemen who, differing from my noble Friend, the Member for Devonshire, seek by these means to overthrow and to destroy the established religion of the country. It is, therefore, no matter of surprise to me, that this first inroad should be attempted on the Protestant Establishment of Ireland—an establishment situated in the heart of a country, the great majority of whose inhabitants are Catholics. They are wise in their selection of this, which appears the weakest ground of attack, but, it must be remembered, that the principle at issue is the key 426 of the position of the Church Establishment, and if we allow such an alteration as this, the result will be, that the Protestant religion will not only soon cease to be the established religion of Ireland, but a principle will be incidentally introduced fatal to the Protestant Establishment in this country also. Once admit the doctrine of local proportions, and the most signal consequences will inevitably follow—once admit the principle, and we must of necessity extend it to England, and thereby the existence of the Established Church would be not only endangered, but ultimately destroyed.
I now come to the proposition of my noble Friend opposite, and in dealing with it, I will ask no more than to apply to Church-property, the strict rules which govern all other trust estates. I see the noble Lord, the Member for Liverpool in his place, but regret that the hon. and learned Member for Dublin is not present, as I am about to put a case in which both the hon. Member and the noble Lord are somewhat interested. It is known, doubtless, to the majority of this House, that the Corporation of Liverpool is a very wealthy body; that the revenues arising from its property and resources are applied to the improvement of the commerce and trade of that port, by the formation of docks, quays, &c, until that body has almost exhausted the possibility of further improvements in that great and important harbour. It will also be in the recollection of the House, that the hon. and learned Member for Dublin is anxious for the construction of a ship-canal between Dublin and Kingstown. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin if he should succeed in getting a Commission of Appropriation to deal with Corporation-property, like that suggested in the scheme which has to-night been submitted in respect to Church revenues, would, no doubt, have his Dublin Canal completed at the expense of Liverpool. [Cries of "Oh, oh," from Mr. Cobbett.] The hon. Member for Oldham objects to this line of argument, but I must assure the hon. Member, that so long as I confine myself to the point in debate, and am observant of the rules and orders of the House, I am entitled to pursue such arguments as in my judgment bear upon the subject under discussion. Such, I contend, is the case I have put, and I repeat, that in the case I stated, 427 the ship-canal would soon be finished, but the surplus revenues of Liverpool would be reduced from affluence to deficiency. But, why is it that hon. Members opposite are so eager to get at the small sum which will arise out of the proposed appropriation of the surplus revenues of the Irish Church? Small that amount will comparatively be, for I do not believe my noble and hon. Friends opposite contemplate, if they have their own way, to go further than to take from the Church of Ireland a sum of about 100,000l. per annum. They do not mean to apply these surplus revenues to the payment of the National Debt, or to the exigencies of the State—the State is not so poor—they do not seek to confiscate them in favour of the Irish landlords—they are not so dishonest; they do not intend to yield them a prey to lawless violence and rapine; you are not so tame and cowardly; but my conviction is, that it is the wish of many of those who support the present proposition to take these revenues, not because the State is poor, but because the Church is rich—not that the State may gain, but that the Church may lose them. Such a doctrine as this, most completely breaks down that great principle (the doctrine of meum et tuum) which is the foundation upon which all property rests, and which it ought to be the object of all Government to maintain—a doctrine which, if once relaxed, will bring any nation from the condition of civilization to a state of barbarism. In order to show the exaggerations which have been put forth with reference to the revenues of the Church of Ireland, I am about to quote a document which has been prepared by direction of the Government, in 1832, by Mr. Erck. From this document, it appears that in Ireland there are 1,450 livings, but the returns of the revenues of these livings are not complete. No less, however, than 1,123 returns out of the 1,452 have been made, and of these it appears that about 570 livings, or, one-half of the whole, are under the annual value of 250l.; that 854 are under 450l.; and that 948, being four-fifths of the whole livings, are under 500l. per annum. These are the returns before the imposition last year of the tax of fifteen per cent., and, therefore, with the further tax now proposed of twenty-five per cent., the incomes will be further reduced nearly forty per cent. I admit that it is competent to Parliament to alter the 428 amount of this taxation, and to increase it upon larger livings; but, why not make the advance which has been granted of 1,000,000l., a charge upon the Perpetuity Fund and on the means placed at the disposal of the Ecclesiastical Commission under the Church Temporalities Act. This loan has been received by the Protestant Clergy in lieu of tithes unlawfully withheld—this would be an appropriation to purposes strictly Protestant, and the re-payment of that loan in this manner, is a matter well worthy of consideration.
The hon. Member for St. Alban's has touched upon the question of the Union, and has alleged several articles in that contract, bearing upon the question of the temporalities of the Irish Church. The engagements in the Articles of Union, have always pressed heavily on my judgment, with reference to this subject, and though I do not contend that it is like the laws of the Medes and Persians, and cannot be altered, yet there is still one particular Article of the Union peculiarly binding, which bears distinctly on this subject. I look to the circumstances which attended the completion of that measure, and I find that there was in Ireland a Legislature exclusively Protestant, and that without the consent of that Legislature, the Union could not have been effected. What was, then, the position of that Protestant body? They felt their weakness in one respect—namely, in being surrounded by a dense population, differing from them in their religious creed, and they were conscious that their religion was that of a small minority in the country which they governed. Hence their acknowledged weakness; and how did they seek to strengthen their position? Why, by making it an "essential and fundamental" Article of Union, that the united Church of England and Ireland should be for ever, one and indivisible. It appears, to my mind, that this was the moving consideration to the weaker party, upon the very face of the contract. Such being the case, is it just, is it decent, before even a generation has passed away, while many are still alive who were parties to this compact, that the Commons of England should annul the main and moving consideration, which led to the completion of the Union, and induced the independent Legislature of Ireland to enter into it? This point may be treated as undeserving of grave con- 429 sideration; but, in my conscience and judgment, I think it most important—so much so, that I regard with peculiar jealousy this first attack—an attack which I believe will lead to the establishment of Catholicism as the religion of Ireland, and to the separation of the two united Protestant Churches of Ireland and England.
The passage in the Articles of Union, to which I allude, is most important in my view of the question; it was, the clause which induced the Protestants of Ireland to yield their reluctant assent to that great measure. This was the impression which pervaded the mind of Lord Minto prior to the Union, as manifested by a speech delivered by that noble Lord in his place in the House of Peers. When the question was there debated, Lord Minto said, "that the Protestants could not be supported in that ascendancy which seems necessary even for their protection, without derogating from what may appear to be a natural right of the Catholics. The Catholics could not be supported in their claim of equality, without transferring to them that ascendancy which equality of rights must draw to the larger body, and which, from that moment, must expose the Protestants to dangers from which they ought to be protected. In the united Parliament, right may be done unaccompanied by wrong. Irish Catholics may be invested with their political capacities without the slightest danger to Protestant establishment or property. These, on the contrary, must acquire a ten-fold and a hundredfold security in the Protestant Parliament, and the genuine Protestant ascendancy of the United Kingdom. The Protestant Church and property may, on the other hand, be secured without perpetuating the present humiliating and degrading exclusion of the Catholic part of the Irish nation. Such are some of the particulars in the condition of Ireland, which appear to me to add, in her case, many powerful inducements to those which, in every other instance, may invite neighbouring and friendly countries to a close and intimate union of their governments. Protestants ought to be protected, and defended in the security of their property, their religion, and their persons, against any violence which the Catholics may be disposed to attempt when they have passed from their present state of subjection to that of authority and power." This passage from the speech of Lord Minto fully 430 confirms the view which I take of the question; that view, as I have shown, was held prior to the Union being effected; and in that view I am further corroborated by the expressed opinions of Mr. Pitt, who held out to the Protestants of Ireland the inducement of increased strength by the union of the two Established Churches, and to the Catholics, that when the Protestants were thus secured, then, but not till then, justice could be done to their claims for civil equality, which a Protestant Irish Parliament had withheld.
I have, on various occasions, heard it laid down (and I believe my noble Friend opposite has this evening adopted the doctrine of Archdeacon Paley) that "the religion of the majority ought to be the religion of the land." In every representative Government the religion of the nation will, doubtless, be moulded by the Representatives of the nation into that shape which the majority of their constituents may desire; and the question now is, what the Representatives of the United Kingdom consider to be the religion of the majority of the nation? My answer to that question is that so long as the Union continues, the Protestant religion is the religion of the majority. Now, as Archdeacon Paley has been quoted, I am always anxious to make use of his high authority. Paley distinctly lays down the doctrine, that the appointment of a minister to each parish is an indispensable and necessary ingredient in the establishment of the favoured religion of the State. This he declares in strong terms: his words are—"The division of the country into districts of commodious extent, and the stationing in each district of a teacher of religion, forms the substantial part of every Church establishment." Nor is this all; Paley did not rely exclusively on numerical majorities as the test of the established religion of a nation. Speaking of the degree and sort of interference of secular laws in matters of religion which are likely to be beneficial to the public happiness, he said,—"There are two maxims which will, in a great measure, regulate our conclusions on this head: the first is, that any form of Christianity is better than no religion at all; the second, that of different systems of faith that is the best which is the truest."
As to toleration, I hold that all men, without distinction of religious creeds, are 431 entitled to a perfect equality of civil rights. In considering the question of toleration, I shall not take into account the truth or falsehood of the creed professed; but when it becomes a question of a Church Establishment, the truth of the favoured religion cannot be excluded from consideration. Do hon. Members suppose that the Legislature should be indifferent upon this subject? If so, one of two absurdities must happen. If the State do not interfere, then there can be no favoured religion; all creeds must be alike in the eye of the law, that is, there must be no Established Church: or the question must be determined, independently of the Legislature, by local majorities; and the power, which is denied to the Representative body, must be variously exercised by different portions of the community, forming local majorities. Now, if there be one receipt more efficacious than another for producing discord, confusion, and ultimately leading to civil war, it would be the exercise of such a power on such a subject, by small parochial majorities, to the exclusion of the Legislature. The selection therefore of the favoured religion being necessarily left to the State, as Legislators, as a component part of the governing body, we must look to the truth of the favoured religion, before we can sanction it as the religion of the State.
I now come to look at this question in another point of view; and I shall here distinctly state, that sooner than admit this doctrine of local proportion—which I consider so dangerous in its tendency—I should prefer to see the Articles of Union between the two countries re-considered, and the Catholic recognised as the established religion of Ireland. I could understand the object of such a course, and could appreciate the value of the argument—"change the established religion for the sake of peace." Such an object is worth almost any sacrifice by which it could be procured—"nec quicquid tantâ pro spe tentare recusem." But the change proposed by the noble Lord will be a very great sacrifice of principle, without the slightest hope of procuring peace. I cannot conceive that the noble Lord would propose to withdraw more than one-fourth of the pastors from Ireland, and the remaining three-fourths would be maintained in the midst of the people of that country. In only one-fourth of Ireland, according to this supposition, would the appropria- 432 tion of tithe be changed. And what would be the effect of this "healing measure?" The amount of the reduction, it is proposed, should be paid into a certain Board in Dublin; in three-fourths of Ireland, tithes would be raised and appropriated, as at present; will the remaining fourth, from which the ministers are withdrawn, derive much satisfaction, when instead of paying money to clergymen residing-among them, and spending their incomes on the spot, they pay the full amount to an Education Board in Dublin, and take their chance of what may be returned to them as a dole in the shape of a school-house and a school-master. If peace, then, be your object, I warn you that it is perfectly useless to expect it from the proposition of the noble Lord. You will waive a great principle, but you will not obtain your object. I cannot approve of the course adopted in the present case, no more than I can of the effect it is likely to produce. It will be much more straightforward and much more statesman-like to bring before Parliament the question of the union of the two Churches, and to say, "It is expedient for the interests of the country, and for the interests of religion, that this Union be dissolved, and that the Catholic religion be recognised as the Established Religion of Ireland." That would be an intelligible, if not a statesmanlike course; but the surrender of a great principle, in the name of peace, without the hope of obtaining it, is unworthy of the character of a deliberative Assembly. But the House will allow me to ask, has not peace been promised before? Has not peace been promised before, when the Legislature was meditating a change with respect to the disabilities under which Roman Catholics were labouring? I shall take leave to read to the House the testimony of a witness whose evidence upon this subject might be regarded of considerable importance—I advert to that which was given before the passing of the Catholic Relief Bill, by the hon. and learned Member for Tipperary. The testimony of that Gentleman (Mr. Sheil), given in the year 1825, before a Committee, which sat to inquire into the state of Ireland, has been quoted on a former occasion, but it would not be improper to requote it for the benefit of a new Parliament. The question was put to the learned Gentleman—Do you think, in case the general question 433 of Catholic Emancipation were settled by Parliament, there would be a power existing in any individual to get public assemblies together and to create a combined operation in Ireland?The reply of Mr. Shiel was—I am convinced it would not be in the power of any individual, no matter how great his influence might be—no matter how perverse his ambition might be—to draw large convocations of men together in Ireland; nothing but the sense of individual injury produces these great and systematic gatherings through the medium of which so much inflammatory matter is conveyed through the country.Now, what was the learned Gentleman's definition, or rather his explanation of "individual injury?" He thus continues his answer.Let me take the question of the Union for example. There are many who suppose, that if the Catholic Question were arranged, the merits of the Union would be discussed. But, I am convinced, that if the Catholic Question were settled, a great body of the population, so far from being dissatisfied, would be perfectly contented with the Union, or would be indifferent to it. Whenever any mention is made in a Roman Catholic assembly of the evils of that measure, it is made for the purpose of rhetorical excitement, and not with any serious view on the part of the speaker to disturb that which, in my humble judgment, is indissoluble.The learned Gentleman, in reply to another question, stated that—In answer to the question, I beg to add this—that I am perfectly convinced, that neither upon tithes, nor the Union, nor any other political subject, could the people of Ireland be powerfully and permanently excited: at present, individuals feel themselves aggrieved by the law, and it is not so much from public sentiment, as from a sense of individual injustice, that they are marshalled and combined together.I will only read one other passage from the evidence of a Divine of the Roman Catholic Church, now no more—(Dr. Doyle.) He was asked—Did he think, would the objection to tithe, as it now stood, be settled, if the Roman Catholics were admitted to an equality of civil rights?He replied—Yes. I do believe, that re-admission of the Roman Catholics to an equality of civil rights would greatly tend to the settlement of the objection to tithes, as they now stand.In what way? he was asked. He replied—I conceive, that the removal of Catholic 434 disabilities would lessen considerably the feeling of opposition which is entertained towards the Established Church, and for this reason:—Those who labour under these disabilities, find the clergy of the Established Church employing the opulence and the influence they possess in opposing their claims. I do believe, if these claims were adjusted, the country would settle into a habit of quiet. There would no longer be that jealousy towards the Protestant clergymen which is felt by Roman Catholics so long as their grievances are unrelaxed.He was asked—What would be the effect of a settlement of the Catholic claims as regarded the communication between the Protestant and Catholic clergy?He replied—We should meet them, if our claims were granted, as brethren labouring in the same vineyard as ourselves, with the common object of promoting the interest of our common country.These quotations I have read for the purpose of showing how completely the hopes held out had been falsified—how the promise that was made had been forgotten by the Catholic clergy of Ireland. I shall trouble the House with an extract from a letter, written in 1833, by another divine of the Roman Catholic Church, Dr. M'Hale, Bishop of Maronia. In listening to this extract, the House will bear in mind the allusion of Dr. Doyle to the labourers in the vineyard. Let the House hear what this writer said in speaking of the establishment in Ireland—After all the evils that have been heaped upon this devoted land, there is some consolation in reflecting that the are has been laid to the root of the establishment. The pruners of the Ecclesiastical vineyard have not read the Roman history in vain; the loftiest of all plants have been already laid low. This, we may hope, is but the preliminary to a more enlarged process of pruning.The writer went on to say, that he should, successively, see all existing abuses corrected "until it is to be hoped not a vestige of the mighty nuisance shall remain." And is the entire removal of the "mighty nuisance," as it is termed, really the object contemplated? I am unwilling to detain the House; but I am, nevertheless, actuated by an earnest desire to lay before it my genuine sentiments on this most important subject. I am sorry to read extracts, but I consider it of paramount importance that, in this crisis, what is really meant, and what is really felt, on both sides, should be laid, fully 435 and fairly before that great community with which the decision of this question must ultimately rest.
I do not know whether the hon. and learned Member for Dublin be at this moment in his place or not; I shall indeed regret it deeply if that hon. and learned Member be absent. I shall not, even if he be present, say one word that will be hurtful to his feelings, but as the hon. Member belongs to that party of which my noble Friend, the Member for Devonshire, is now the accredited leader, it is of importance that the views entertained by them should be fairly brought under the consideration of this House. I do not mean to blame the hon. and learned Member. I am myself a sincere Protestant, and I have no doubt that, the hon. and learned Gentleman is in his turn a very sincere Catholic. In the position of the hon. and learned Gentleman, I should perhaps, view the Protestant establishment in the same light as he does, and if I did so view it, I might perhaps labour with the equal zeal—with the equal perseverance, but with far less ability, to overturn it. That is an object which the hon. and learned Gentleman has always avowed—which he has never for a moment dissembled. He has stated it in the strongest, the most explicit, and most emphatic terms in the English language. In proof of that assertion I will read to you the letter of the hon. and learned Gentleman to Mr. Sharman Crawford dated Derrinane Abbey, October 18, 1834. That letter related to the reduction of Irish tithe that was effected by Lord Melbourne's Ministry. It is written to his friend from his country residence, calmly, deliberately, in the absence of all excitement, and contains a statement of what the hon. Member had done in the last Session of Parliament, and of his motives for doing it. "It is quite true," he says, "that I demanded for the present,"—these are the very words now used by the hon. Member for St. Alban's, "it is quite true," he continues "that I demanded, for the present, but a partial reduction—it was three-fifths of the tithes. Why did I ask for no more? Why did I not demand the abolition of the entire? Because I had no chance," (and here again we have the hon. Member for St. Alban's using the same language,) "in the first instance of getting the entire abolished; and you perceived that I was refused the extent which I asked, being three-fifths, 436 and only got from the House of Commons two-fifths. I had, therefore, not the least prospect or possibility of destroying the entire; and because I am one of those who is, and always have been, ready to accept of any instalment, however small, of the debt of justice due to the people—the real national debt." Does the hon. Gentleman mean to say that tithes are a debt due to the people of Ireland? But Mr. O'Connell proceeded:—"I have been, and am ready to accept of any instalment of that debt, determined to go on, and look for the remainder as soon as the first instalment should be completely realized. It is totally untrue that I acquiesced in the perpetual continuance of the remaining three-fifths of the tithes." Are not these emphatic words? After what has been read from this same letter by the right hon. Member for Tamworth, respecting the character of Lord John Russell, Lord Melbourne, and Lord Duncannon, I am at a loss to know to what portion of the late Government the writer alludes in the next paragraph of the letter, which is to this effect:—"The honest and reflecting part of the Ministry must perceive that tithes must be abolished totally—unequivocally abolished—abolished without delay or condition." This House is not left in the dark as to the appropriation of Church Property, the hon. and learned Gentleman desires. He is equally explicit upon that subject as upon the abolition of tithes. I will prove this by referring to the second letter, which the hon. and learned Member has addressed from Derrinane Abbey, to Mr. Sharman Crawford, dated September 27, 1834:—"My plan," said he, "is to apply that fund in the various counties of Ireland to relieve the occupiers of land from Grand Jury Cess." That looks very like a confiscation in favour of the landlords of Ireland. But the hon. and learned Gentleman goes on—"My plan is to defray all the expenses of dispensaries, infirmaries, hospitals, and asylums, and to multiply the number of these institutions until they become quite sufficient for the wants of the sick." That is to say, that church property is to be granted to the landlords of Ireland to enable them to do that which, without confiscation, they are bound to do by the law of humanity, if not by the law of the land—namely, to provide for the relief of their poorer brethren. The matter, however, does not rest there. It has been said that this question of Irish tithe has 437 no connexion whatever with the question of English tithe. It has been said that our giving way on this point in Ireland will be quite harmless—that though there be in the two countries, two Protestant churches by law united, the measures applied to the one can never be considered applicable to the other. Mr. O'Connell, however, thinks otherwise. I see the hon. Member for Finsbury now present and I am going to remind that hon. Member that a dinner was given to him by his constituents on the day immediately after that memorable night on which the late Government was so strangely and unaccountably defeated in their opposition to Mr. O'Connell's proposition to take forty per cent, from the amount of Irish tithe. On that occasion the hon. and learned Member for Dublin thus spoke:—"It was only last night that the Ministers allowed"—(this was a curious expression, coming from the hon. and learned Gentleman)—"the House of Commons to strike out eight shillings in the pound of Irish tithes. Did the people of England understand what that meant? Why should not eight shillings be as good in the pockets of the people of England as in the pockets of Paddy? Let us go on. The king yielded to the voice of the people before, and why should he not do so again?" a strong encouragement this, by the way, to that Royal Personage, thus to yield again:—"The hereditary legislative body ought to be done away with. Both Houses ought to be representatives of the people. Two Houses of Parliament elected by the people were necessary to give fixity to the liberties of the people." In case there should be any mistake as to the meaning of the hon. and learned gentleman he has been still more explicit on another occasion.
I know not whether the noble Lord, who is now the leader of the Opposition, has adopted the principles of his follower, or whether his follower has had the complaisance to suspend his own opinions, but his follower has thus expressed himself in the letter to Mr. S. Crawford, which I have already quoted—"My object is to establish a principle. It is, that every denomination of Christians should support their own spiritual instructors"—taken negatively, "that no one Christian should be compelled to maintain the spiritual guide of another." This is our principle, our great principle." I have myself heard the 438 hon. and learned Gentleman explain in this House what he means by that great principle. I have heard him explain the voluntary principle thus:—"That he hoped to see the day when every clergyman should be paid like a lawyer or a physician by the fee for the job." I do not intend to allude invidiously to any particular creed; but the effect of the principle, thus broadly laid down, has been exposed in the most extraordinary manner by a clergyman of the Catholic Church, Mr. Croly. That individual has well described the fatal effects of paying the clergy by the fee for the job. It is one of the greatest curses which has befallen the working population of Ireland, and I should be sorry to live to see the day on which that principle should be established in this country.
To return for a moment to the situation of the clergy of the Church of Ireland, I have endeavoured to show that they are not receiving a superfluous allowance for the services which they perform. I have endeavoured to show from reference to statistical facts that where their allowance is superfluous, if indeed it ever be so, it is the exception and not the rule. I contend that if you are to have an established religion, and ministers resident in every parish, two things are necessary. The provision made for them must be certain—it must be beyond the reach of fraud—it must be beyond the reach of agitation—it must be beyond the reach of influence, in order to avoid the disgrace of the pastor's shaping his doctrine, not to the standard of truth, but to the taste of his hearer. It must be sufficient—sufficient to maintain them in an independent station, and not only them, but their families, for our religion permits our clergy to marry, and the dark annals of the Church have taught us, that an unmarried, is an unholy priesthood. I contend, therefore, that the salary attached to the majority of Irish benefices, is not too large for the maintenance of their incumbents in conformity with the Protestant principles, which I thus advocate. Having put this question upon religious grounds, I do not wish to lower my argument by resting it upon grounds of mere political expediency. I think, however, that the great evil of Ireland being the absence of its resident gentry, the residence, in each parish, of a well-educated gentleman, in whom the exercise of episcopal restraint, if not his own better feelings and sense of shame, 439 is certain to produce the example and influence of good morals, is calculated to be an active instrument of good government, and of constant beneficence, especially since the income of the Clergyman is always spent in his parish. I have testimony upon this point from a quarter from which I did not expect to receive it. That testimony proceeds from the hon. and learned, Member for Dublin. In the year 1825, the following question was put to him:—"Is it not necessary, at present, to have clergymen magistrates in some parts of Ireland, for want of proper people to act?" The reply was, "Certainly it is; the rectors of the Established Church are generally gentlemen of education, and constitute, as a portion of the magistracy, in individual instances, a most respectable and befitting class." I am well aware, it is contended, that the connexion of religion with politics desecrates religion, and embitters political hostilities. I cannot admit this doctrine to its full extent. There is a passage expressing my opinion, upon this subject, in language so much superior to any that I can use, that, although it is the language of a humble country clergyman one of that class, which it is the object of this resolution to remove from certain parts of Ireland, I will give it, as well as my memory will allow, in that country clergyman's own words. That country clergyman is the immortal Hooker; and the words are these: "There is a politic use of religion: men fearing God are thereby a great deal more effectually than by positive laws restrained from doing evil: for these laws have no further power than over our outward actions only; whereas unto men's inward cogitations, unto the privy intents and motions of their hearts, religion serveth for a bridle. What more savage, wild and cruel than man, if he see himself able either by fraud to over-reach, or by power to over-bear the laws, whereunto he should be subject? Wherefore, in so great boldness to offend, it behoveth that the world should be held in awe, not by a vain surmise, but by a true apprehension of somewhat, which no man may think himself able to withstand; and this is the politic use of religion." But it may be said, that in the line of conduct which I am now adopting, I am deviating from those genuine Whig principles upon which I have acted, since my entrance into public life; and in which I hope, and still flatter myself, though 440 hon. Members may sneer at the declaration—I shall persevere until its termination. What are these principles? I speak here in the presence of many distinguished Members of the Whig Party; in the presence of a Russell, a name famed for the support of these noble principles, not more of liberty than of the Protestant religion, and if I might venture to define Whig Principles, as I embraced them, I should say, that they consisted in the assertion of the utmost liberty of thought and of action in all matters, whether of politics or of religion consistent, with law, order, and constituted authority. No death's head and cross bone denunciations against the free exercise of the elective franchise. No prayer of mercy, limited to heaven, but denied on earth, to the unhappy Catholic, who shall dare to vote for a Conservative candidate. No, Sir, they consist no less in love of freedom, than in jealousy of Popery as an instrument of dominant Political power, and in ardent uncompromising attachment to the Protestant religion as by law established in these realms. I have been induced, Sir, to lay before the House the grounds upon which I intend to give my vote on the present question. I told you that I had, upon this subject, religious feelings; that the property, the disposition of which is the subject of our discussion, was set apart by the piety of our forefathers whether in England or in Ireland, to maintain and to propagate the Protestant religion—and I tell you that it is sacred, and must be applied to that, purpose. Those, who minister at the altar, shall live by the altar: this decree is high as Heaven; you cannot take it away: it is strong as the Almighty, you cannot overthrow it: it is lasting as the Eternal, it can never cease to bind you. It is binding on you as Christian Legislators and as Christian men; and for one, there is no consideration on this earth, which shall induce me to compromise or to violate it.
§ Lord Howick
observed, that his right hon. Friend who had just sat down, had stated to the House, that in the view which he took of the question, he was actuated by a strong religious feeling. He could assure his right hon. Friend that he gave him the fullest credit for pure motives, and he hoped to receive credit for being himself actuated by no other motives, together with a strong desire to 441 benefit the religion he professed. He had listened with the utmost attention to his right hon. Friend's arguments, and having done so, he confessed himself totally at a loss how to arrive at the conclusions which his right hon. Friend had come to. His right hon. Friend had distinctly and explicitly stated, that he agreed with the noble Lord, the Member for Devonshire, in the opinions which that noble Lord had expressed with respect to corporate property, and he quoted the words of Mr. Hallam, upon that subject, observing, that in those words he entirely concurred. His right hon. Friend admitted that corporate property was property to be made use of for certain purposes; he threw overboard at once the doctrine of any resemblance between corporate property and private property. He admitted that it was granted for certain uses, and that it was the duty and the business of the Legislature, to see that it was made to answer those purposes. But then, said his right hon. Friend, the property of the Church of Ireland was given for this use, to sustain and propagate the Protestant religion. If he were disposed, he might find some little fault with that proposition; he might say, that the property of the Church of Ireland was given, not merely for the purpose of maintaining and propagating the Protestant religion, but for the purpose of exciting in the minds of the Irish population a higher and more exalted notion of religion generally, and of promoting the general peace and welfare of the kingdom. But even admitting for a moment that his right hon. Friend's views were correct—admitting that the property of the Irish Church was granted for the purpose of maintaining and promulgating the Protestant religion in Ireland, he would ask his right hon. Friend, had it succeeded in those objects—had it maintained and promulgated the Protestant religion? His noble Friend, the Member for Devonshire, had made a striking statement of the decline of Protestantism in Ireland, under the influence of the existing system, and he (Lord Howick) remembered that the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel) in the speech with which he introduced the Bill for the Emancipation of the Roman Catholics, asked the same question that he (Lord Howick) then put to his right hon. Friend with respect to the Penal-laws under which the Catholics at that time laboured. 442 He confessed, that to him it was no matter of surprise that the people of Ireland should feel themselves aggrieved and insulted when they saw so large a portion of the property of the country as that claimed by the Established Church devoted exclusively to the maintenance of a elergy from whose creed they were perfect aliens. But that, in his opinion, was not the only cause of the decline of Protestantism in Ireland. He had only to look at what is constantly passing in Ireland, and to what sometimes takes place in this House in Irish debates, to be convinced that the system has not only failed to propagate the Protestant religion amongst the Catholics of Ireland, but that it has also been most injurious to the true interests of religion among the Protestants themselves. Did they not continually see in the Irish newspapers, accounts of great Protestant meetings, at which speeches were made, calculated only to excite the worst passions of human nature, to inflame the party spirit which prevailed in the country, and to keep alive feelings, the very reverse of the spirit of Christianity and peace? When he saw the accounts of such proceedings as these, and that the most objectionable of the speeches to which he referred were delivered by Protestant clergymen, he felt that the worst effects of the injustice which had been committed in Ireland, had fallen back on those whom it was meant to favour. When he said that he did not so much mean to blame individual clergymen for their conduct, as to condemn the system to which that conduct was to be attributed, since it placed them in a situation in which, with the ordinary feelings of human nature, men are almost sure to fall into error. In stating the argument that the property of the Protestant Church in Ireland could not be alienated from strictly Protestant purposes, his right hon. Friend had asked, in illustration of his objection to the principle of this Resolution, whether it would not go to warrant the application of any surplus fund in the hands of the Corporation of Liverpool to the formation of a ship canal between Kingston and Dublin. That property was held by the Corporation for the improvement of the town and harbour of Liverpool, and his right hon. Friend had asked the question whether they could, under any circumstances, argue that there being a surplus beyond what could be advan- 443 tageously applied to those purposes, they had, therefore, a right to direct a portion of the funds to the formation of the ship canal, upon the plea that this would be an indirect mode of promoting the same object, namely, the improvement of the trade of Liverpool; and he had shewn that such a proceeding would be unjust and dangerous. He would take his right hon. Friend's own illustration, and in his turn would ask his right hon. Friend a question. Let them suppose that the property of the Corporation of Liverpool consisted not in tolls levied on vessels coming into the harbour, but in rents of lands and in tithes, given originally for the purpose of maintaining the harbour, and improving the navigation; let them further suppose, that in course of time, from natural causes, the navigation came to be destroyed, and the harbour blocked up:—Would his right hon. Friend, in that case, maintain that he could not apply that property of the Corporation of Liverpool to any other purpose but the hopeless one of digging through continually-increasing sand banks, and of fighting for ever with the winds and waves? Would his right hon. Friend contend that they should still go on applying the property in vainly striving to keep up that as a harbour which nature had determined should no longer be accessible to shipping. He could fancy, under such circumstances, a Bill brought into Parliament to authorize the devotion of the funds to some more feasible object; and his right hon. Friend coming down to the House, and saying "This is corporate property,—and I admit the right of the Legislature to regulate its employment, and see that it is duly applied to the objects for which it was intended; but I contend you must confine its use strictly to the purposes for which it was originally granted; and we must examine carefully what those purposes are. Now, I have in my pocket an old charter, and I find that the property was expressly given to keep up the harbour at Liverpool; no matter, therefore, whether nature has made that impossible, still I cannot consent to the alienation of that property to any other purpose, how beneficial soever it may be to the public; for by so doing, I should be sanctioning a principle to which I have been all my life opposed. His right hon. Friend was embarking in a contest as hopeless as that would be, when he would retain the pro- 444 perty for the support of the Protestant Church in Ireland, in spite of the feelings and wishes of nine-tenths of the population. His right hon. Friend would convert the property, which ought to be the means of spreading the benefits of peace, civilization, and religion through the country, into the means of deluging Ireland with blood, and throwing it into confusion from one end to the other. His right hon. Friend had acknowledged the principle laid down by Archdeacon Paley; that the established religion ought to be the religion of the majority; but then, he added, that it must be the religion of the majority of the whole empire. Such a proposition, proceeding from a gentleman who came from so very near the Scotch border, was certainly not a little astonishing. Why did not his right hon. Friend propose to recommence the insane enterprise of the monarchs of the Stuart family, and attempt to dragoon the Scotch Presbyterians into the acceptance of episcopacy? On his own principle he was bound to do so. But again, his hon. Friend said, that the Resolution of his noble Friend might possibly be admissible, if it could be shewn that Protestant uses were exhausted in Ireland. He must confess that this was a doctrine which sounded to him very extraordinary. Did his right hon. Friend mean to say, that as long as there was a single Protestant in Ireland no application of this property, which he (Lord Howick) maintained was given for the good of the whole people and not for a party, was to be made which should benefit the nation at large? If so, he owned, that was a doctrine which he was unable to comprehend. But his right hon. Friend, feeling, perhaps, that these were not grounds for maintaining in its present disproportionate condition the Protestant Establishment in Ireland, stated another ground; he said, that the House was bound to decide upon which was the true faith; and in stating this, he added, that he conceived himself to be stating nothing which was at variance with the real principles of complete toleration. But did his right hon. Friend really mean to convert this House into an arena for theological disputes? Was he, on the one side, to come down armed with the huge volumes of the fathers, and the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, on the other, fortified by the councils and the decretals of the Church 445 of Rome, and to argue which was the true religion, the Catholic or the Protestant? And if (which might by possibility be the case) the decision should be adverse to his right hon. Friend, did he mean to say, that he would then be prepared to allow the hon. and learned Member for Dublin to introduce a Bill declaring that, for the future, the established religion of this country should be the Catholic religion? Was his right hon. Friend prepared to follow out his principle to that result? If so, why did he not act upon it with respect to Canada? Why not propose to add this one, which was now happily wanting to the other causes of discontent in that colony? He confessed, that it always grieved and surprised him to hear men who called themselves Protestants, make use of such language as this. He had always thought that one great service which the authors of the Reformation did to mankind, was that they emancipated the human mind from those fetters under which it had so long groaned, and established the exclusive right of private judgment, and he did not expect that any man who professed to follow in their steps would have ventured to come down and call upon those who seriously differed from him, to assent to any change of policy which he might propose, upon the ground that his religion was true, and their's false. Was it because we were a majority, that we had a right to insult the people of Ireland, by talking to them of toleration. To use such language was an insult to any man. For his own part, he was most sincerely and conscientiously a Protestant. Not only did he dissent from the Catholic Church, but he owned (and he was sure that no Roman Catholic would be offended at the avowal) he was not able with any powers of his mind to comprehend how those who acknowledged the authority of the Scriptures could assent to the Roman Catholic creed. It appeared to him to be a lamentable corruption of the purity of the Christian faith. [Cheers and Laughter.] Some hon. Members laughed; but was there anything approaching to intolerance in his avowing these opinions, when he declared that he was no less convinced that others entertained precisely opposite opinions with equal sincerity? Nor would there be any difference of opinion between him and them, if putting aside all angry attempts to prove one or the other to be right—if giving up all 446 useless attempts at proselytism, they on both sides endeavoured to advance those principles in which they all agreed, those fundamental principles which formed the basis of every Christian faith, freedom of opinion and the enlightenment of the minds of the people; leaving it to time, discussion, and reason, which were ever favourable to truth, to determine which form of Christianity was the true one. His right hon. Friend was but an ill-judging friend of the Church of England if he rested its claims upon the grounds which he had this night avowed. The Church of England rested upon its practical utility, and upon the affections of the people. He was happy to believe, that the reforms proposed by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer would increase that utility and confirm its hold upon the feelings of the people. But it was upon that utility and those affections only that it could ever rest; and if unfortunately those foundations should fail, it would be in vain for the right hon. Baronet, or any one else, to endeavour to uphold it by proving its doctrines to be true. Let the doctrines be the best that could possibly be imagined, the Church would fall, wanting those foundations, in spite of all efforts to maintain it. His right hon. Friend had asked whether those who sat on the Opposition side of the House concurred in the principles contained in the letters of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin on the subject of tithes. He for one avowed that he did not; and he would rather say that it was because he did not, and because he wished tithe property to be preserved, that he was so anxious to adopt the Resolution which his noble Friend had this night proposed. It was idle to conceal from themselves what was the real grievance of the Irish Church. It was not that tithes were collected; it could not, therefore, be gotten rid of by a transference of the payment of tithes from the tenant to the landlord. He listened attentively the other night to the right hon. the Secretary for Ireland, when he introduced the Resolutions respecting tithes; but that right hon. Gentleman did not venture the assertion that the Irish people were hostile to tithes. He would admit, that there was a very considerable mistake in Ireland as to the nature of tithes; and that the people generally regarded them as a tax, and were anxious for their complete aboli- 447 tion. He agreed that this abolition would be of no benefit whatever to the great body of the people; but that by the competition for land, the whole benefit would be thrown into the hands of the landlord. But did it, therefore, follow that there was no real grievance? The people of Ireland were groaning under this grievance—namely, that property intended for the most important and useful purposes, for the benefit of all, was now applied in a manner useful to none, but injurious. It was acknowledged not to be useful to the Catholics, and he believed it was not conducive to the real interests of Protestants themselves. It would be better for the highest, because the eternal, interests of Protestants themselves, if this property were at once swept away, rather than continue in its present state, and be the subject of such strife as that which it was now. It was not sufficient to change the manner in which tithes were collected, in order to correct the evils that existed. The Bishop of Ferns, in 1831, stated that it was not to the manner of collection, but it was to the payment of anything, over the application of which the Irish people had no control, that the objection was made; and in 1832, Mr. Brownlow gave us the same warning—he warned the then Secretary for Ireland of the utter folly of the Bill he then introduced upon the subject of tithes, unless he consented to give the people an interest in the application of that property. He had always heard this warning of Mr. Brownlow with the most deeply painful feelings, fearing that it would turn out to be true; and it was only from the conviction, that after the passing of the Reform Bill, Parliament would deal with this question upon principles of justice, that he gave his support—he would say, his reluctant support—to the tithe measure of that year. Since then things had greatly altered. The right hon. and gallant Secretary had informed the House that all the warnings of Mr. Brownlow had proved to be well-founded; that tithes, since then had not been collected, and that the only thing to be done, was to preserve the property which still remained. He was anxious to do so; and, with that view, they must proceed to give the people of Ireland an interest in the application of tithes. The last attempt to defer the settlement of that great question was defeated by the colleagues of the right hon. the Chancellor 448 of the Exchequer opposite. Any ordinary penetration might have been sufficient to convince any one, that when the House of Lords rejected the Tithe Bill of last year, they sealed the fate of the Protestant Establishment in Ireland. In that circumstance he saw a complete answer to the whole speech of the right hon. Baronet the Paymaster of the Forces. Like the hon. Member for St. Alban's, he was unable to find in that speech anything but a series of personalities, the burthen of which was, that last year the Gentlemen on his (Lord Howick's) side of the House had voted for the previous question on the Resolution proposed by the hon. Member for St. Alban's, and that now they had brought forward a similar proposition themselves. This, however, was not correct—the Resolution now before the House was not the same as that proposed last year by the hon. Member for St. Alban's. The present was free from serious objections to which the former Resolution was liable; but if it were drawn up in precisely the same words there would not be the slightest inconsistency on his part in supporting it. When the previous question was moved last year, the then existing Government had, by the issuing of the much-talked-of Commission, avowed their intention to recognize the principle of appropriation. The right hon. Baronet opposite now stood upon a totally opposite principle, and it was necessary to decide whether Ireland was to be governed on one principle or the other. The right hon. Baronet, the Paymaster of the Forces, said, that the late Government acknowledged last year, that it had not the information necessary to enable it to deal with the question. He would at once admit, that it was possible that when his noble and right hon. Friends should come to devise the practical details of the measure, it would be necessary for them to have before them the information which would doubtless be contained in the Report of the Commissioners, and he trusted that there would be ample time to proceed upon that Report during the present Session, and that the Tithe Bill would not be allowed to go out of the House without containing clauses in which the principle for which they were this night contending, should be embodied. In the meantime, however, he would maintain that the House was in possession of all the great leading facts which would enable it to 449 form a judgment with respect to the principle. His right hon. Friend had never denied the great and striking fact, that in Ireland an immensely wealthy establishment was kept up for purposes from which the great body of the people derived no benefit; and that the present condition of Ireland furnished the most clear and practical proof that that establishment had utterly failed to answer the great ends for which it was instituted. The plan which had been sketched out by his noble Friend who brought the subject before the House was, to provide for the maintenance of a sufficient number of Protestant ministers, and then to apply the surplus to the furtherance of the system of national education, of which his noble Friend, the Member for North Lancashire, was the author, and which, he was happy to hear, was working well. He asked, on the very principle upon which his right hon. friend was proceeding, how could there be a less objectionable mode of appropriating the surplus? It not only gave them the means of keeping up the Church Establishment in Ireland, but also the best means of propagating the Protestant religion there; for he maintained, that the best mode of converting the people of Ireland to the Protestant faith, was by spreading amongst them a rational system of education. If they looked only at the interests of the Protestant Establishment, apart from all other considerations, there could not be anything better calculated to promote the interests of that religion, and if they looked at the interests of religion generally, education was essential to its success. He had endeavoured to answer the arguments adduced by his right hon. Friend; but, before he concluded, he was anxious to make a few observations upon the alternative now presented to the House. "If, (said the noble Lord) we are not to adopt the principle contained in the Resolution, what are we to do? Are we permanently to maintain the existence of the Church of Ireland in all its present excessive luxury? Are we to maintain the struggle which is now commencing? I presume that those who oppose the Resolution not only think that we ought, but that they firmly believe that we can do so; for I suppose there is no man in this House so wicked or so mad as to incur all the evils of that struggle if he thought that we must ultimately give way." The 450 right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when speaking on the Catholic question, distinctly stated, that whatever was his objection to concession, yet the moment he conceived concession to be inevitable, he thought not only common sense, but duty, required that they should at once make that concession, with the best grace possible. We should do well to look back at the whole progress of the Catholic question, and to consider the disadvantageous circumstances under which it commenced, and the obstacles which it had to overcome. Yet in spite of all these disadvantages, that cause made its way; and after thirty years of divided government and distracted councils, the right hon. Baronet himself was compelled to come down to this House and state his undiminished objections to the measure, but that he must abandon them from an utter failure of the means of longer resistance. The measure was then carried in a manner and at a time which robbed it of more than half its benefits and of all its grace. The right hon. Baronet on that occasion asked, "Can a Government be formed on the principle of permanent resistance to Catholic Emancipation? I would put it to the House whether the principle of continued resistance can be acted upon without endangering the local interests of the empire? I wish that in the discussion of this point, the arguments may be put fairly; for, if it can be shown me, as a Minister of the Crown, that permanent resistance cannot be made with safety to the State, then I say that no other course is open to us than concession on such terms as I have stated. I ask, then, is the Government of this country to be formed on the ground of permanently opposing the claims of the Catholics? It is very easy to say that it is to be so formed; but the question here is not as to what is to be said, but what is to be done?" Were these circumstances, he would ask, more or less applicable to those of the present period? At that time the right hon. Baronet had been anticipated in his concession by the expressed opinion of the House of Commons; for, in 1828, the year preceding that in which the right hon. Baronet had spoken what he (Lord Howick) had just quoted, the principle of concession to the Catholics had been carried in the House of Commons by a majority of six. What was the 451 state of the present question? Three-fourths of the last House of Commons were opposed to the continuance of the Protestant Establishment in Ireland on its present footing. The present House had not yet expressed its opinion, but he hoped it would do so, as unequivocally, and by a still greater majority than its predecessor. As to the possibility of carrying on the principle of resistance to Ecclesiastical Reform on these broad and equitable terms, the right bon. Baronet had got a pretty significant hint the other night, on the Tithe Question. Although he (Lord Howick) did not vote, neither did his right hon. Friend the late Secretary for Ireland. On that question, the right hon. Baronet had only a majority of fifteen. Was it likely, then, the right hon. Baronet could carry through his resistance to the great principle on which so large a portion of that House were united? The next argument the right hon. Baronet adduced at the time of conceding the Catholic claims, was that the difference of opinion would, if a settlement were not effected, produce a collision between the two Houses, most dangerous in its effects. Have, he would ask, events lost their force since 1829, or have recent events seemed less likely to produce collision, or were they more free from danger than on the occasion of the Catholic question? If not, he (Lord Howick) called on the right hon. Baronet to concede now, on the very same grounds of policy on which he then made concessions. But there was one other and still stronger argument used at that time by the right hon. Baronet. The main argument on which he relied, and with the greatest effect, in behalf of the concession, was the unhappy state of Ireland. He well remembered the feeling eloquence with which the right hon. Baronet called on the House to end the distractions of that divided country, and equally well did he (Lord Howick) remember the answer given to that appeal by the right hon. Baronet's present colleague, now silting by his side. "Oh," said that right hon. Gentleman, "this is only the old story with which we have been familiar for the last twenty-five years." The right hon. Baronet replied, "I am told, that this is the old story with which we have been familiar for the last twenty-five years." It. is because it is the old story; that I desire to put an end to it. 452 It is because that which so long existed has failed; that I am tired of maintaining the present system." The right hon. Baronet might well have been tired of it. He (Lord Howick) called on him to put forward the same views tonight. He called on him to change that system, the success of which he certainly could not allege, and the continuance of which would be productive only of disunion and weakness. He called on the right hon. Baronet to follow that very same course which under similar circumstances, he had formerly taken; and he called on him the more earnestly because they were this night to decide whether they were to maintain the Protestant Establishment in reference to the benefit it was capable of conferring—in fact they were to try it by the test of its comparative utility to the people of Ireland. The question on which they had to decide, he (Lord Howick) was willing to judge on the same arguments used by the right hon. Baronet himself, when he proposed that they should concede. The right hon. Baronet, after using the arguments already quoted, went on to state that the public feeling should be gathered from the large constituency whose Representatives spoke their wishes in that House; and as evidence of the prevailing desire to concede the Catholic claims, he said that sixty-two of the Irish Members were favourable to concession, and only thirty-two were opposed to it. The sixty-two Members in its favour were the Representatives of the most populous districts. He (Lord Howick) believed the numbers expected to divide on the present question would not be much altered. From sixty to sixty-five of the Members from Ireland would be in favour of this question, and these Representatives of the largest constituencies. "It is," said the right hon. Baronet, "impossible to go on. You must do either of two things. You must go back to the Penal-laws and again crush the Catholics down to that state from which you have raised them, or you must at once concede to them their claims." Was not such an argument of tenfold greater force in the present instance? Having conceded emancipation, and still further invested the Irish people with power by the Reform Bill, did they hope to govern that country now on other terms than those of the period at which the right hon. Baronet had thus spoken? 453 Already, he believed, he had said enough on that view of the question; he should no longer pursue the parallel between the circumstances attendant on Catholic Emancipation and those so remarkably connected with the subject before the House; but he called on the House and on the right hon. Baronet to bear in mind what followed from the former struggle being unwisely, as it was fruitlessly protracted. He would not now say, or undertake to remind the right hon. Baronet on whom the responsibility rested of preventing the settlement of Catholic Emancipation four or five years earlier than it had taken place; but he (Lord Howick) called on him, ere he repeated the error in judgment, which in so many respects was productive of such irreparable injury—he called on him to avail himself of the experience he derived from that question, the concession of which he had himself personally proposed. Upon the right hon. Baronet, continued the noble Lord, and upon the course which he shall now pursue, mainly depends the question whether this great measure shall be now quietly and peaceably settled in time to have those healing effects which are anticipated from it, or whether we shall again commit the fatal mistake of allowing the proper season of concession to escape us, and to postpone and put it off until the very accumulated pressure of increasing difficulties shall break through all opposition, and perhaps in so doing, break down and destroy the bulwarks of our most valuable institutions. That time, I say, mainly depends upon the right hon. Baronet; but there is no Member in this House whose vote on this question can fail to have a material influence in promoting the one or the other of these results. I hope that there is not the slightest doubt of a majority in favour of the proposition of my noble Friend, but it is upon our having a large and a decisive majority that our main hopes of the peaceable and happy settlement of this question chiefly depends. Sir, it is, therefore, the bounden duty of every Member of this House to reflect upon the heavy responsibility which now rests upon him, and to consider that he is bound to act upon the deliberate and unfettered dictates of his own judgment; not from any mere personal consideration, or from any desire to support the party to which he happens to be attached, or adhere to 454 pledges inconsiderately and hastily given. For myself, I claim to act upon that principle which I thus earnestly recommended to others. The right hon. Baronet opposite, the Paymaster of the Forces, indeed did state, that this question was brought forward from a mere factious and self-interested motive. He expressed his bitter regret that this should have been made a party question. I can assure the right hon. Baronet that he has my most unfeigned pity, if, judging from what is passing in his own mind, he thus forms his opinion of the motives by which other public men are actuated in the discharge of their public duty. I have only this to say, that so far from having the slightest wish to supplant the present Government, the House are aware—at least, those Gentlemen who do me the honour to remember the observations I offered on the subject of the Address, are aware—that I distinctly supported that amendment upon one ground, thinking that it would not have the effect of overturning the Government. Since that period I have strenuously refused to concur in any motion having for its object the overthrow of the existing Administration. I have taken that course, not because I have the slightest confidence in the Government, not because I acquiesce in the doctrine of "measures, not men"—but simply for the reason that, in the actual state of parties and public events, I did not see the means of meeting the difficulties which I anticipated would arise from the sudden and abrupt dismissal of the existing Ministry. Sir, these difficulties I still see, and I will acknowledge that my apprehensions are not diminished at the present moment. It is, therefore, to me far from being matter of congratulation that his Majesty's Ministers have staked their existence as a Government on their being able to maintain the Irish Church in its present state. I would rather they had done on this as they have done on other matters. I would rather that in the Government they had forgotten what, perhaps, they now repent having said in opposition, and adopted the views of their predecessors. I should have been well content, for the sake of those with whom I act, if they had resigned all claim to the merit of carrying those great and healing measures, which I hope will be carried, in order that they may be brought to a successful termination peaceably, quietly, and without injury to the 455 State. But, Sir, if the right hon. Gentlemen opposite have determined otherwise, it is not for me, when a question is brought before the House, on which I am distinctly called upon for my opinion, as I am on the most important subject which is now submitted to our consideration, it is not for me to shrink from expressing my deliberate view of the case, whatever may be the result of our decision-whatever be the termination of the course which they think proper to pursue. I do believe, Sir, that a concession to the wishes of the Catholics on this subject is required from us, not only by sound policy-not only by a due regard for the safety of the British empire, but by the eternal and immutable laws of justice; and with this conviction, and entertaining these opinions, I have no option but to give the vote I shall this night record in favour of the Motion of my noble Friend; trusting that many other hon. Members will adopt a similar course of proceeding.
§ Debate Adjourned.