§ The Order of the Day having been read for the resumption of the adjourned Debate on the Irish Church Question,
§ Mr. Sheil
said, that last night he had risen with the noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland; and although the Speaker had called on him because the Member for Cumberland had distinctly adverted to him, yet he had given way to the noble Lord, because he felt the importance of the position which was occupied by the noble Lord who in that House, was the representative of the illustrious person whose talents and principles he had inherited. He (Mr. Sheil) felt great gratification at having receded, and having thus contributed essentially to the public good; for the noble Lord had set all doubt at rest as to the opinions entertained by the eminent statesman to whom he had referred, respecting the great question which was before the House, A notion 467 had been studiously propagated, that the opinion of Lord Grey was not in accordance with that of the late Government, with regard to the Irish Church. The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) and his right hon. confederate (Sir James Graham) were indulging themselves in ironical cheers; but let them bear in mind that Lord Grey remained in office when they retired; that they retired because the Church Commission was issued; that the Church Commission was founded on the principle on which this proposition, now under discussion was grounded;—thus coupling the declaration, unequivocal and absolute, of the son of Lord Grey, with his remaining in office after the noble Lord and his Confederate had resigned, he must be, indeed, a sceptic who would doubt the perfect coincidence in opinion on the part of Lord Grey with the Melbourne Administration. This was a great point gained, and the English people would feel assured that the great principle which was involved in this proposition was sustained by the authority of the most distinguished statesman in England—the man of the greatest experience, of the largest views, and who had accomplished the greatest things for the English people. Let the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, hint, and intimate by his physiognomy, any thing he pleased; he would defy the noble Lord to prove that the conclusion which he had drawn was not legitimately inferred. He would turn to the speech of the late First Lord of the Admiralty (the official picture of the right hon. Baronet, it was not easy to anticipate), and advert to the references which the right hon. Baronet had made to him. The right hon. Baronet had alluded to a speech which he was represented to have made at Clonmel. The right hon. Baronet had shown great, industry and sagacity in searching out all the scraps and fragments which could be raked out of the political ordure in the gutter of an election; but he was at a loss to discover how so vast a question could be illustrated by such references as the right hon. Baronet had indulged in. He would at once tell the right hon. Baronet that, although he was an agitator, he had never delivered that speech. He had said, that if an elector accepted a bribe, the sordid recompence of baseness and of perjury would be attended with ill-luck—that bribes were like fairy presents—that those who took them were generally visited with evil for- 468 tune—and that although he should not deprecate any visitation with which Providence might afflict them in this world, he should not imprecate against them the vengeance of heaven in the next. Mr. Finn, the Member for the county of Kilkenny, was present, and would coroborate his statement. He (Mr. Sheil) was, from the unfortunate velocity with which he spoke, exposed to be misunderstood, and this was little to be wondered at, when a remarkable speech, delivered at the hustings by the Member for Cumberland, with his characteristic enunciation, had been so grossly misrepresented. The right hon. Baronet had been reported to have stated, that the "present Ministry was composed of the worst materials." Nothing could be more important; yet he was misconceived, and in this House thought it necessary to protest against its imputation. His speech had been regularly published by Ridgway; he then should have been slow in charging others upon evidence so imperfect as an Irish provincial print. The right hon. Gentleman had also adverted to his evidence in 1825; but as he had also referred to that of Doctor Doyle, which concurred with his, he should say little or nothing of himself. The right hon. Baronet had done justice to the Christian Prelate; he was, indeed, a man of great virtues as well as great talents; he bore a far closer resemblance than a pontiff with 16,000l. a-year to St. Paul; he was not one of those pious but not wholly disinterested persons who had proved in a manner so satisfactory to themselves the necessity of instituting a pecuniary conformity between the spirit of religion and the spirit of the age; he lived and he died poor, and furnished one of the numerous proofs, that although there may be more theological doctrine among the priesthood of the Church of England, there is fully as much of Scripture practice in that from which it was derived. He should not have made these remarks but for the insinuations of the right hon. Baronet respecting the evil effects of the celibacy of the Catholic clergy. The right hon. Baronet should know them better before he censured them so much. He had only looked at them through a telescope from, the Admiralty. Doctor Doyle and others had said, that after Catholic Emancipation there would be an acquiescence in the Protestant Ecclesiastical system. At that period the Roman Catholic body would 469 have in all likelihood agreed to accept a provision for their clergy; and let it be remembered that the events which subsequently took place, and which arose from the delay of Emancipation, could not have been foreseen. The Catholic Association grew into power and importance; the organization of the country became complete—in the French Chamber of Deputies the state of Catholic Ireland became the subject of discussion—the Clare election took place, and liberty was at last extorted from the Wellington Administration. And what was the first step afterwards adopted by the Government? The Member for Dublin was thrown back upon the people: the doors of the House were closed against him, and a more formidable re-enactment of the Clare election took place. Then followed the Whig mistakes; to a small rivet a long chain was fastened. But let not Emancipation be blamed for the state of things in Ireland. It was reform that produced all that has befallen. Did the Catholics disguise that truth from the House? When the Reform Bill was pending, he bad told the House that the reform of the Church would be the inevitable result of the reform of the State, and that as the people of England would not endure boroughs without constituencies, in Ireland a church without a congregation would no longer in its abuses be endured. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Cumberland ought never, with his principles, to have supported the Reform Bill. He ought to have coincided with Mr. Croker, from whose admirable speech he had last night borrowed so many revolutionary horrors. It was nearly in the same language that Mr. Croker had spoken of the events which led to the Commonwealth, excepting that Mr. Croker had pointed to Hampden and Pim, and the right hon. Baronet to Colonel Leith Hay. The right hon. Baronet was, however, mistaken in supposing that that Gentleman was a Member of the Government at the time. He was not a Lord of the Treasury when the right hon. Baronet was First Lord of the Admiralty. In another this would be considered a misrepresentation, but it could be only regarded as a misconception on the part of a gentleman of the strong religious feelings of the right hon. Baronet. By the bye, these religious people, these gentlemen who were in the odour of sanctity, became at times formidably zealous. If they were 470 in reality as meek as doves, they bore some resemblance to that animal whose wisdom men were enjoined to imitate; if you differed from them, they at once exhibited the proverbial spirit of theological animosity; their former associates became little better than a convocation of thimble-riggers, and they saw nothing but a mere legislative shoplifter in Lord Grey. But of motives of an impure character he would entirely acquit the right hon. Gentleman, who acted a disinterested part, so the Church question had been fatal to him. Perhaps the right hon. Baronet did not think so when he and three Cabinet Ministers resigned, and the driver of a State vehicle with a peculiar name, declared, that he never expected to see a British Parliament, a British King (and that meant more than met the ear), nor a British people, assent to such a proposition. Now, however, it appeared, that the right hon. Baronet might even lose his seat. What! had the bugbear of Popery vanished in Cumberland?—was there no hope of raising there the fanatic cry?—and in his county were the doctrines of the noble Lord on Corporate Property exploded and set at nought? The right hon. Baronet had a great reverence for corporate property; he ought to infuse some of his scruples into his friend the Cumberland yeoman, and teach him, by the à fortiori process of reasoning, that if corporate property were sacred from spoliation, private properly should be still more secure. What! would the right, hon. Baronet cut off 30 per cent from the honest creditor—would he efface the lines of distinction between meum and tuum to that extent—would he relieve the great mortgagers of their encumbrances, but refuse to take off the enormous load with which Ireland was weighed down and overwhelmed. The right hon. Baronet had shown great ingenuity in arguing on corporations, but his illustrations destroyed his position;—his nautical imagery was running too much in his head. But was he really serious in talking of the immutability of Church property? If his doctrines were sound, the Protestant Church would not be entitled to a single rood of ground. The assignment to her of the property left for purposes utterly different would be wholly void. The right hon. Baronet talked of vested rights. How did his good ancestors, those pious shoplifters, deal with the 471 Catholic Church? The right hon. Baronet raised a question as to what were the uses of the property of the Church. He should not go into the old learning on the subject, but refer him to comparatively modern authority. So close was the vicinage of the right hon. Borderer to Scotland, that he begged him to pass the boundary and to accompany him there. The authority of the Scotch Church on this subject was unequivocal. In Spottiswood's History of that Church, matter would be found which ought to set the controversy at rest. "In the convention kept at Edinburgh, said Spottiswood, in January preceding (1560) a form of Church policy was presented and desired to be ratified. Because this will fall to be often mentioned, and serveth to the clearing of many questions, which were afterwards agitated in the Church, I thought meet, word by word, here to insert the same, that the reader may see what were the grounds laid down at first for the government of the Church." After stating four other heads, the document proceeds to set forth the fifth, which is entitled "Concerning the provision of ministers and distribution of the rents and possessions justly pertaining to the Church." Under this head the following passage occurs—"That two sorts of people must be provided for out of that which is called the patrimony of the Church; to wit, the poor, and the teachers of youth. The poor must he provided for in every parish—the poor widows, the fatherless, the impotent maimed person, the aged, and every one that cannot work, or such persons as are fallen by the course of nature into decay, ought to be provided for." Page 160—"It is necessary that care be had of the virtuous and godly education of youth; therefore we judge that in every parish there should be a schoolmaster, such a one as is able, at least, to teach the grammar and Latin tongue." Again, in page 289 of the same work, he found that, in the year 1578, "Mr. Andrew Melvil held the Church busied with the matter of policy, which was put in form, and presented to the Parliament at their sitting in Striveling." This form of Church policy was entitled "Heads and Conclusions of the Church." Chapter the 9th was entitled "Of the patrimony of the Church and distribution thereof;" and the 9th section ran thus—"The canons make mention of 472 a fourfold distribution of the patrimony of the Church; whereof one part was applied to the pastor, or for his sustentation and hospitality; another to the elders and deacons and the whole clegry; the third to the poor sick persons and strangers; and the fourth to uphold the edifice of the Church, and other officers specially extraordinary. We add hereunto schools and schoolmasters, who ought and well may be sustained of the same goods." Chapter the 13th had the following reading:—"The conclusion, showing the utility that shall flow from this reformation in all estates." The 5th section ran thus—"Finally to the King's Majesty and estate this profit shall redound, that the officers of the Church being sufficiently provided, according to the aforesaid distribution, the surplus may be liberally bestowed for the supporting the Prince's estate and the affairs of the commonwealth." At the time this form of Church policy was presented, episcopacy had not been abolished, but the Assembly of the Church passed an ordinance that "Bishops should not take up, for maintaining their ambition, the rents, which might maintain many pastors, schools, and poor; but content themselves with a reasonable portion for discharging their office."—Spottiswood, p. 303. The efforts which were made to force upon Scotland an establishment at variance with the feelings of the people were too familiar to need expatiation: the manner they terminated was well known, and in 1689, that famous Act was passed which in a few words did such great things. The Act was this—markit, Englishmen, mark it; it was full of wisdom, and in the briefest compass included the largest policy: "Act abolishing Prelacy, July 22nd, 1689. Whereas the estates of this kingdom, in their claim of right, declared that prelacy, (he left out mere verbiage) is and hath been a great and insupportable grievance to the nation, and contrary to the inclinations of the majority of the people, &c. and the King and Queen's Majesties do declare that they will settle that Church Government in this kingdom which is most agreeable to the inclinations of the people," &c. They might ask him, did he want such a change? He answered emphatically, No. If the Parliament would be just, the Irish would be moderate; wherever there was really and bonâ fide a Protestant congregation, let there be a clergyman well paid; and 473 where there was no flock, let there be no pastor. Regard must be had to the circumstances of the country; it must be remembered that there was a large mass of property in Protestant hands; a just mean might be struck, that the entire matter might be equitably adjusted. But that Parliament should persevere in sustaining with abstract principles those ideal buttresses, the tottering and crumbling pile of antiquated abuse, and declare that it will listen to no argument, attend to no expostulation; that was a course which offended and irritated, and made the Irish demand more than, if the Parliament were reasonable, they should be disposed to do. What a lesson Scotland—happy, well-governed Scotland—afforded! What precious and abundant fruits have been gathered by a wise system of Government! Let those who conceive that there is nothing unnatural, nothing monstrous, nothing prejudicial, in the Church policy of Ireland, make an hypothetical application of that policy to Scotland. The right hon. Baronet, the Cumberland Conservative, told the House last night that a great advantage was to be derived from the residence of Mark Beresford, and hoc genus omne, in Catholic districts, and that to a gorgeous Protestant hierarchy in Ireland there could be no objection. Well, let the House suppose that in Scotland an Episcopalian clergyman were to be located in every parish, to be supported (for that was the point) by a compulsory impost on the followers of Knox, and that a wealthy sinecure Episcopacy were to be settled in that country (above all, let there be a successor to Sharpe, the Archbishop of St. Andrew's); did they not know that Scotland would endure martyrdom rather than endure it? And if such a measure would be deemed atrocious and frantic in Scotland, how did it come to pass that the very selfsame system in Ireland was regarded as reasonable, wise, and just. When the Repeal of the Union was discussed, the British Parliament triumphantly bade the Irish look to Scotland; it was to Scotland, in discussing the Irish Church Question, that he bade it look. In that country, the Ecclesiastical Institutions had been adapted to the character, manners, and feelings of the people, and accordingly the country had been conspicuously fortunate: her trade, her manufactures, her agriculture had made an amazing progress, and the smallness of her 474 military establishment afforded the best proof of the pacific habits of a virtuous and industrious people. Turn, then, continued the hon. Member, to Ireland: the heart grows sick at the thought of what she might be and what she is—of what she was made by nature, and what she has been made by you; for she is yours, she belongs to you; you have had the care of her; her faults are yours, her follies are yours: you are answerable for her errors; for her transgressions you are responsible: her crimes, her atrocities, her bloodshed, her horrors, her madness—all, all are yours; and if I tell you this, it is not for the purposes of unavailing crimination—no, it is in order that I may awaken in your minds, and in your hearts, a sense of the strong coincidence between your palpable interest and your obvious duty, and persuade you to adopt a policy by which the source of all this calamity and all this crime shall be closed; for which it is not superstitious to say, that those who, from factious motives, shall be instrumental in its continuance, will have to pass, before a higher than any human tribunal, a terrible account. Sir, I pass from these general considerations to the proposition before us. It is full, ample, unequivocal; it renders an official compromise, by which the public interests should be sacrificed, impossible; and it puts at end to every surmise respecting the pure intentions of those from whom it has proceeded. I never doubted the noble Mover of this proposition: his name—his public life—his vote in 1824—his resistance to the noble Lord (the Member for Lancashire) when in office, gave indisputable evidence of his adherence to the liberal principles by which he is distinguished. The proposition which he has made contains a great principle; and, avoiding all abstractions, it applies it to matter of plain, practical, feasible advantage. We are asked for a plan. Those have no right to ask for a plan who would object to every plan, because they object to the principle on which any plan could be founded. Neither are they entitled to demand the Commissioners' Report; because the Report cannot affect the principle, and therefore by the Report their measures cannot be swayed. But what stand we in need of a Report? The Member for Cumberland has superseded that necessity, because he admits that the Catholics are an immense majority. 475 But I will convict him, and his associate on this question, by a reference to the Church Temporalities' Bill. That Bill was passed without the Report of a Commission. One section of it provides, that in any parish in which divine (which is an alias for Protestant) service has not been performed for three years, the vacancy may not be filled up. Does not this establish all that we require? Is not this evidence of a surplus? What are you to do with such revenues? The Member for Lancashire will answer, "Distribute them anew." Indeed! How does it come to pass, that you never dreamed of a new distribution until we insisted (for insist we do) upon a new appropriation? You never showed the least compassion for the poor curates with seventy-five pounds a-year, and their starving families, until from the more wealthy sinecurists a substraction was to be made and a sacrifice; but, even for its own relief, a necessary operation was to be performed on the swollen, bloated, and hydropical Church Establishment. Again I press you on your Irish Church Temporalities' Bill, with respect to your hierarchical establishment. The noble Lord (the Member for Lancashire) struck off ten Bishops with one blow. He blew off ten mitres from the heads of the hierarchy with a single puff. All this he did without the Report of a Commission. Is it not reasonable on our part to ask, whether, having struck off so many, he has not left too many behind, and whether the residue be not more than proportionate to "the spiritual wants of the Protestants of Ireland?" Do they want twelve Bishops, and do the Bishops require such enormous incomes as has been left to them? The noble Lord (the Member for Lancashire) will cry "ay;" but in estimating the value of a Bishop, I am not at all disposed to abide by his appreciation, nor do I want a Report to show that an Irish Bishop should have a larger income than a British Judge. I put it thus: I ask the direct question—should a Bishop be better paid than a Judge? clergymen will say "yes," lawyers will say "no." But I see before me the learned Member for the University of Dublin, an eminent practitioner at the Irish Chancery Bar; he has a great interest in this question, and I ask of him whether a Bishop or a Chancellor ought to be better paid. [Here Mr. Sheil stated the incomes of the 476 Bishops, and insisted that the Archbishop of Armagh would have, even under the Church Temporalities' Bill, 19,000l. a-year. This he undertook to establish; and as to the other Bishopricks, it was equally clear that the incomes were monstrous.] Such is the Episcopal system, and all the sacerdotal gradations correspond with it, which has been, even under the Church Temporalities' Bill, established in Ireland. Has it answered any useful purpose? Has it even accomplished the end proposed by the religionists who introduced it? The Scripture says, that a man is to be known by his fruits; cannot a system be tried in the same way? I might take a long retrospect of the Established Church; I might go back to 300 years, but four will suffice. I shall not go farther back than 1831, the period at which the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, began with Ireland to furnish the proofs of his wisdom and talents for Government. In the course of that year, the question which has since gained such incalculable importance was first broached. It was treated with disregard by the House, and with disrespect by the noble Lord. But the Irish people followed in Ecclesiastical, the example given them by the English people in Parliamentary, Reform; you refused them redress; they (and I am sorry for it) refused the clergy bread—and you advanced 60,000l., which was a sort of foretaste of the extent to which subsequent demands on England, in favour of a Church which yields no imaginable good, might be carried. The Parliament was prorogued, and a couple of massacres, illustrative of the wisdom of your proceedings were perpetrated. In 1832, the King's Speech spoke of tithes, and the noble Lord, the then Secretary-at-War with Ireland, brought in that Bill which pretty clearly proves that his genius for legislation is not in a direct ratio with his faculties for debate. The Bill miserably failed; every thing he has touched he seems to have spoiled. In 1833 (you see how rapidly I go through events, on which we might reflect for hours) the million was granted; a Bill was passed for its recovery, at which Ireland laughed; not one farthing of the tithes was paid. Another Session arrived: people's eyes began to open; the Member for St. Alban's brought his celebrated Motion forward; the Commission was issued, and the noble Lord 477 and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Cumberland resigned. The Member for Cumberland told us last night that he was swayed by religious feelings; be it so; let him and his associates in religion look back; let him revert to the incidents which have taken place within the last five years, in which they have borne so large a participation; and in those moments of solemn thoughtfulness, from which none of us are exempt, when, amidst the silence of factious passions, the "still small voice," to which none of us are deaf, is distinctly heard—when those religious men (for we have been told by them that such they are) kneel down at night to pray to God before they sleep, how profoundly must they feel how much misfortune, how much calamity, public and individual, how much crime, how much blood, how much awful responsibility hereafter, perhaps, as well as here, might, if a different course had been pursued, have been avoided. Would to Heaven the last Tithe Bill had been adopted! All men must regret its rejection, but none more so than the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government. He would have avoided the pain of coming down to this House, and of proposing that from the clergy, the actual incumbents, twenty-five per cent, instead of twenty should be deducted, and that England should, by a splendid metamorphosis, convert the loan of a million into a donation. If you could buy peace with a million, it would be a bargain; but to give a million, and get new discord in return, is laughable indeed. There is something ludicrous as well as deplorable in the incidents of your Irish Church. That such atrocities in favour of the Church, and against it, should be perpetrated, is deplorable; that the Government, who are indirectly instrumental in their perpetration, should not be appalled and shocked into conversion, is deplorable; but that England should not only at an enormous cost maintain a vast army for the defence of the Establishment, but actually give up one solid mass of gold—a million of money—without the least chance of a return, in the shape of public tranquillity or any other advantages, is ridiculous indeed. And is the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) insensible to all this? How unfortunate it is, that he pledged himself on the Irish Church; and how incon- 478 sistent was that pledge with his undertaking to comply with the spirit of the Reform Bill, as if the Reform Bill did not beyond every thing else—prescribe and dictate the abatement in Ireland of this monstrous and abominable evil! The Reform Bill has augmented the power of the Irish people; the heart of Ireland swells with the consciousness of that exciting augmentation; sixty-three Members for Ireland, in the name of millions, ask, demand, insist upon redress: the Government have confessed that the laws is baffled, and that even in the bayonet there is no longer power. That, under these circumstances any man of sagacity should persevere in the course proposed by the Government would be surprising; but that a man of the great abilities of the right hon. Member for Tamworth should do so, is a great failing, and he will forgive me for pointing if, out: he does not go before—be does not even accompany events; he lets them get the start of him, and he pants, and "toils after them in vain." He exhibited this imperfection in the Emancipation, to which tardily he was compelled to submit; he exhibited it in the Reform Bill, to which he is now obliged to bow down; and he is, unfortunately for his country, to which he is qualified to render such great services, betraying the same fatal error with regard to that Church which, if it has no other useful appurtenance, has, at least, provided a burial-place for many a Ministry and has a grave ready for the present Administration.
said, that the question was one which required the fullest information to come to a right decision on it, and he was prepared to contribute all in his power to that purpose. He had heard from hon. Members on the other side of the House statements in point of law, statements in point of practice, and statements in point of fact, which he considered he should be undeserving of the situation which he held in that House as the Representative of the enlightened body who had sent him there if he did not apply himself at once to their refutation. To do that, as well as to assert the impolicy and injustice of the principle contained in the Resolution of the Noble Lord, the Member for Devonshire, was his object in addressing the House, and he trusted that they would bear with him patiently for that reason. In the first instance he should apply him- 479 self to some of the observations of the hon. and learned Member who had preceded him in the debate. The hon. and learned Gentleman, it was true, always addressed the House with a talent and a vivacity which was sure to attract interest as well as to excite attention. Though he had no pretension to the same felicity of expression, or the same originality of utterance, he still hoped that the importance of the duty he had to discharge to his constituents and the country, as well as the weight and nature of the facts which he had it in his power to communicate to the House respecting the question at issue, would secure him the favourable attention and construction of the House. The cause he advocated was the cause of truth and justice, and he could entertain no doubt on the subject. The hon. and learned Member had stated to the House, in the latter part of his speech, that he wished Reform of the Church of Ireland for the sake of the Church itself. But did the hon. Gentleman explain what was the meaning he attached to the word Reform? Did he suggest in his plan any project which had for its end the benefit of the Church itself? What did he suggest? He suggested that the Church should be deprived of a fourth, at least, of its revenue. Did the hon. and learned Member attempt to show, that by crippling its efficiency he was conferring on it a benefit? Or did he attempt to establish that there were no objects connected with the Church Establishment itself to which the fourth of its revenues, of which he would so readily deprive it, could be usefully applied? The hon. and learned Member had said, that it was essential to the safety of the Church itself as well as to the interests of the country that "the bloated and dropsical Establishment," as he was pleased to term it, should be deprived of a portion of its revenues; but the hon. and learned Member had attempted to offer no proofs, except in one single instance, of excessive endowment in any one of its Ministerial offices. The hon. and learned Member had referred to the case of the Church of Scotland to show that one-fourth of its revenues were applied to the support of schools and the maintenance of teachers; but the hon. and learned Member had neglected to state that these were strictly purposes connected with that Church, inasmuch as they were established for dis- 480 seminating its doctrines, and were, moreover, superintended by its pastors. What reference then had these arguments of the hon. and learned Member to the case of the Church of England? The hon. and learned Member had shown how the religion of the Scottish Church was constituted the religion of Scotland by an Act of Parliament, because the majority of the people professed the same faith; and there he had stopped short. But to do justice to his argument the hon. and learned Member should have carried it farther.—He should have extended the principle implied in it to Ireland, and stated, in common consistency, that, because the majority of the people of that country were Catholics, Catholicism should be constituted its religion by an Act of the Legislature. The hon. and learned Member had spoken of the religion of the Church of Scotland being declared the religion of that country by a Legislature essentially Protestant and of the Church of England; and he (Mr. Lefroy) supposed he did so with a view to support his argument. But he would refer to an Act of the Irish Legislature of 250 years since quite analogous to the subject, in which the religion of the Established Church was declared by law the religion of Ireland. But by whom was that declaration made? By Protestants? No. It was made by Catholics; and the Act which affirmed it was passed by a Parliament the great majority of which, if not almost the whole, were of that creed. Thus was a reform in the religion of Ireland, from the Catholic to the Protestant Communion effected by a Parliament of Roman Catholics. [Laughter on the Opposition side of the House.] Hon. Members might laugh, but he thought they should rather be ashamed to do so if by their mirth they meant either to confess their own ignorance of the matter, or, knowing it, deny such a notorious fact.—This Act was repealed in the reign of James the 2nd, re-enacted in the reign of William and Mary, and repeatedly confirmed in the subsequent reigns. The last confirmation which it received was at the time of the Union between England and Ireland, in which Act it was distinctly laid clown as an incontrovertible proposition. He (Mr. Lefroy) had been induced to enter at such length into that part of the question for the purpose of proving the falsity of those assertions which went to establish that the Protestant Church Establishment 481 was forced upon the Irish people by a Parliament alien to its religion as well as to its feelings, and of showing that it was sanctioned by a Catholic Legislature in the first instance, and affirmed by the last Parliament which sat in that Kingdom. "It was one of the Acts of Slavery," said the hon. Member for St. Alban's, "that a liturgy in a foreign language should be imposed upon the people of Ireland." But he (Mr. Lefroy) would beg to inquire whether that hon. Member knew that up to the present period as well as prior to that to which he had alluded, the Roman Catholics of Ireland had never had a liturgy in their native language, had never heard a single religious service in their own tongue? Was that the description of knowledge which the hon. Member should bring to bear upon such a subject as the one at issue? Was that the enlightenment he shed upon his followers? The great ground of attack taken by the opponents of the Church was its excessive wealth, and that was the ground which the hon. and learned Member for Tipperary especially selected. The hon. and learned Member imputed to the Church the character of being bloated and dropsical with excess of property; but how stood the actual facts, divested of all exaggeration, accidental or designed? When the real condition of the Church and the exact amount of its revenues were ascertained, how unfounded would the charges of the hon. and learned Member appear to the House. The hon. and learned Member for Tipperary had not attempted to adduce more than one instance in support of his argument; but the hon. Member for St. Alban's had adduced none. However, the hon. Member had made a statement last year in his Motion on the subject before the House, which he (Mr. Lefroy) should take as deliberate results of the hon. Member's opinions and information. The hon. Member had stated that the Church of Ireland had a revenue of a million, or thereabouts, per annum, on that occasion; and he (Mr. Lefroy), on that occasion had ventured to question the accuracy of the statement. He (Mr. Lefroy), the more effectually to impugn them, had laid before the House a statement of the actual and exact revenues of the Church of Ireland, which he was happy and proud to find the hon. Baronet (the Member for Cumberland), had sanctioned in his speech of last night as ac- 482 curate and complete. By this statement, as well as by the statements of the noble Lord who brought forward the Resolution before the House, it appeared that, in place of a million, the Church of Ireland had not more than half a million for its support—in point of fact it had not half a million. He (Mr. Lefroy), took upon himself to make this statement, and also to prove it satisfactorily. Although the details necessary to the latter purpose would, perhaps, appear tedious to the House, yet, as they contained incontrovertible facts, he trusted for its indulgence to be heard through his statement of them. The noble Lord who proposed the Resolution had stated that the income of the Irish Church was 791,721l. annually.—The hon. Member for St. Alban's had made it 937,456l. That made a difference between the advocates of the Motion of 145,735l. a year in that instance alone, and the cause which he (Mr. Lefroy) had the honour to advocate obtained the advantage of an admitted reduction being established. He (Mr. Lefroy) should establish to the satisfaction of the House a still greater reduction, and prove, he trusted incontrovertibly, that the overcharge of the noble Lord, as between him and the actual fact, was much greater than that between the noble Lord and the hon. Member for St. Alban's as to the nominal revenue assigned in the first instance. The noble Lord had stated that the income of the Bishops was 141,986l. whereas the real income of that body was 120,670l., giving in that particular item a reduction in the stated amount of 21,216l. There might be reduced from the noble Lord's charge the following particulars—
483 Instead of an income of nearly a million, as was stated last year by the hon. Member for St. Alban's, or of near 800,000l. as stated last night by the noble Lord. There were 1,456 incumbents for whom the provision was 400,825l. per annum, making an average of 278l. per annum, subject to the tax for vestry-cess, and to the payment of about 700 curates amongst all the rectors. So much for the accuracy of the noble Lord in that respect. He (Mr. Lefroy) should leave him on that point, and refer to another. A statement had been made by the noble Lord respecting the proportion of the population of Ireland to whom the duties of religion were administered by the reverend persons receiving that money. With respect to that statement he (Mr. Lefroy) felt bound to say, that the noble Lord had taken a most unjustifiable proceeding in forming his estimate of the comparative number of the Protestant and Catholic population of Ireland. The noble Lord had taken his statement from a selection of the returns made by ten dioceses in that kingdom, and from these alone he assumed what he termed his facts. But the comparative amount of the two portions of the population of the country was too important a material in the issue of the question to be treated on such authority as the noble Lord had adduced, especially as the Irish Church was to stand or fall by that criterion. On the strength of the assumed disparity the Irish Church was assailed at all points; and to ascertain the exact state of the matter his Majesty's Government of the time sent out a Commission to inquire into the fact, and report thereon, Lord Althorp saying that it was impossible to legislate on the question without due information. That Commission had not concluded its labours as yet. Why did not the noble Lord allow the House to have the benefit of its report before he brought on his Motion? Unlike Lord Althorp, his Lordship did not wait for any accurate information on the subject; but, having received privately from some of the Commissioners the returns often districts, he proceeded to act upon them as he should act only upon the whole report. Of these ten only two were Protestant districts, the remaining eight were essentially Catholic, some of them, he might say, the most Catholic of any in Ireland. On these the noble Lord founded his statements of the comparative, 484 amount of Protestants and Catholics in Ireland; and statements so founded, he should meet with a flat contradiction. The noble Lord would be compelled to admit that he had furnished the House with no accurate means of obtaining information on that point. He had pressed on the question most unjustifiably; he had called on the House to legislate in the dark; and he had cast imputations on the Church of Ireland founded on certain statements, without waiting to give the House an opportunity of ascertaining their correctness or incorrectness, or any thing connected with the truth of the matter. It had been said by the enemies of the Church that it had altogether failed in effecting the ends for which it had been originally established—the maintenance, support, and extension of the Protestant established religion in Ireland. That assertion was based upon the assumed disproportion between the Protestants and Catholics in that country. The only proper evidence on that subject would be the Report of the Commissioners; but, without waiting for that, he was prepared to say that other causes than any connected with imputations on the clergy might with much more truth than the contrary be assigned as a reason for the disproportion. Were there, he would ask, no causes arising from the peculiar circumstances in which that country was placed? The noble Lord had gone back to a very remote period in order to account for it; but he needed not have ascended so far into antiquity. The causes lay nearer to our own times. Could there not be found in the history of the present sufficient cause to produce the effects stated? Were there no melancholy details of massacres as of daily occurrence on account of difference of creed? Were there no instances of intimidation practised by those of one persuasion towards another? Was there no persecution exercised towards those of the Protestant faith in any part of that country? Had those who asserted the increase of Catholicy no other grounds to charge it on than the neglect and remissness of the Protestant clergy? Was there no other mode of explaining the disproportion than that. If the Protestant population of Ireland be considered in relation to its number of sectarians there would appear no grounds for imputing a neglect of duty to the clergy of the Established Church. What apologies moreover did there 485 not arise out of these peculiar circumstances to which the noble Lord opposite had adverted? How had the Established Church endeavoured to carry on the objects of the Reformation except by promoting the formation of schools, in which the doctrines of that Reformation and the discipline of the Reformed Church could be imparted; for, whenever they proceeded in any other way he need not remind the House how they had been opposed? The evidence of Dr. Doyle before the Committee afforded some account of the result on the part of the Protestant clergy in their efforts to diffuse scriptural information and a knowledge of the Gospel. Whenever they commenced such an attempt, it proved only a signal for a Catholic combination against their property. It could not be said, that the Protestant Church had failed in its object from neglect of its duty, when every attempt to diffuse its doctrines had been opposed in such a manner. He maintained, that no case whatever had been made out against the Protestant Church. The House had been told, that it was viewed as a severe grievance by the Irish people, and that the Catholics of Ireland deemed it a hardship, to have their property applied for the maintenance of the established religion of the country. What grievance could there be on the part of the Roman Catholics in paying the tithes to which their land was subject, and to which every Dissenter in England was equally liable, he was at a loss to understand. The tithes came out of the pockets of the landlords in proportion at least of nineteen-twentieths. Upon the main question of the right of the Legislature to divert this Church-property from its purposes he would controvert the position laid down by the hon. Member for St. Alban's, and he would maintain that the grounds and arguments by which that hon. Member had supported it would equally justify any species of spoliation. That hon. Member had maintained that all property in mortmain was the property of the State. If this were the case, he would only beg leave to ask, what then was the meaning of all those Acts of Parliament respecting Mortmain—which were as early as the First Edward and Henry, and which never treated property in mortmain as an alienation from the State, for if they had, the State might, at once have resumed it. Did the hon. Member for St. Alban's 486 mean that the property of the Stale was in the King, the Lords, and in the Commons? The House had been told by one hon. Member that it was in all three. He, however, would say, that no lawyer would assert that either or all three possessed any such property, or was capable of possessing it. He would allow that the King, Lords, and Commons had a right to legislate for property, but still he would contend that they had no property, and that they were not a body which was allowed by the Constitution to be possessed of property. The right of ownership of property was in the great aggregate of the population, and the right of Church-property lay in the great aggregate of Ecclesiastical Corporations which consisted of the Ministers and servants of the Established Church of England. It lay in the Bishops, in the Chapters and integral Members, and in the Rectors and their successors. They had a duty in the trusteeship of this sacred property. To any extent of modification in respect to this property might the Legislature go for the purpose of enforcing the duties and the obligations of the trusteeship, but he utterly denied the right of the Legislature to sever or misappropriate this property from the trust to which it had been annexed in its original endowment. Was that House to be told that the Church of England was the only existing body that could not hold property for its support? Every class of Dissenters was allowed to hold property for the maintenance of their respective religions, and there arose from these considerations a duty on the part of that House. That House had to see to the trust as regarded the ordinances of religion, and if there were a surplus not requisite for the ministration of the Church it was, he contended, the duty of that House to appropriate it to the religious instruction of the Members of the Church of England, and of persons connected with it. The House ought to recollect that Government had lately withdrawn its countenance from the Protestant schools of Ireland, and that those schools had not now the advantages which they had formerly had. He stated this upon the authority of a distinguished traveller, in Ireland (Mr. Inglis), who had given a statement of the condition of the schools under the National Board, to which the noble Lord would apply the surplus funds of Church-property in order, as he had 487 said, to apply them to the use of all persons of every religious persuasion, without any distinction of creed whatever. Mr. Inglis had said, that in the county of Galway two of the schools received aid from the new Education Board. In each there were five hundred children. He could not think that the funds of an Education Board were legitimately applied in aid of one of these schools, which was under the management of a set of nuns, and the chapel of which had all the characteristics of a Popish chapel. This was a sample of the schools of Ireland which were maintained by the new Education Board, and he was convinced that these were schools very different from those which had been contemplated by the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, when he first established this system of education in Ireland. He would add, that the Presbyterians, to a man, had refused to let their children go to these schools. If such were the case, and if a surplus of Church revenues of the Protestant Church should be found to exist, it would be the duty of that House to appropriate that surplus exclusively to the education of the children of Protestants in Ireland. The hon. Member for St. Alban's had said, that non-residence had been imputed to nearly one-half of the number of the Protestant clergy in Ireland. When he had looked into Parliamentary documents—he was sorry to say that the Parliamentary Returns were so far back as from 1814 to 1819—but when he looked into the Parliamentary Returns he found, that in the course of from 1814 to 1819, the increase of residence on the part of the Protestant clergy had been from 644 to 755; and he was convinced that within the last year if there were any returns before the House they would show a still greater progress. He had every reason to believe, that the residence of the clergy now was at least as strict in Ireland as in England. It had been stated by Lord Plunkett, when he was a Member of that House, that upon inquiries which he had instituted he had reason to believe that the whole number of absentee clergy of Ireland did not at that time amount to fifty. Such had been the statement of the noble and learned Lord. The Resolution before the House, he (Mr. Lefroy) would maintain was totally subversive of the Church of Ireland; for it was not merely the proposition of a diversion of revenue to another purpose, 488 but it went to the establishment of the Roman Catholic religion on the ruins of Protestantism in Ireland. The grievances complained of could not be effectually redressed by any other means. The analogy that had been drawn between the state of Ireland and that of Scotland could not be maintained, for there was no parallel between the cases. Unless for the establishment of their own religion the majority of Irish Catholics could have no right to lay hold of the property of the minority. If they had such a right they would use it only for the purposes of securing the triumph of their own faith. The ultimate object of those people, though it was not avowed—but the drift of all the arguments tended to that point—was the establishment of the Catholic religion in Ireland. Let the point be fairly discussed, in order to see whether the House, or whether the people of England, were prepared for such a result. He trusted that his right hon. Friend would not suffer the question, a question which did involve the fate of the Church of Ireland, to be disposed of by any factious vote, or by a coalition, such as the coalitions which had recently been witnessed in that House. He hoped that his right hon. Friend would meet the Question with that firmness, and with that honour, for which all parties so cordially gave him credit. He trusted, that his right hon. Friend would not suffer the Qustion to be thus disposed of, and if the Church of Ireland were doomed to fall, it should at least fall with the full knowledge, with the concurrence, and with the good-will of the people of England, and that the Protestant population of Ireland should have an opportunity of deciding upon the stability or ruin of that religion, the value of which they had experienced—a religion that had raised the country to that high station which she had filled amongst the nations of Europe.
1st. Off the Bishops as per Parliamentary returns £21,216 Ditto for ten cancelled Bishopricks 50,773 2. Off Deans and Chapters, as per returns, their actual income, deducting repairs, being only 2,206l. 14,936 3. The Tithes are subject to the deduction of one fourth, to be made by the pending bill 133,608 4. Perpetuity Fund, as being the interest of a fund produced by sale of fines, and consequently charged already in the Bishop's income 30,000 Total deduction to be made from income, as stated by Lord John Russell £250,533 Leaving a balance of 541,188 The real Income of the Church subject to the tax for vestry cess, varying from 2½ to 15 per cent. which will average at least 41,188 Giving the real net income 500,000
§ Mr. Charles Wood
said, that he thought that the answers which had been given on the previous night to the charge of factious motives urged by the hon. Gentlemen at the opposite side of the House against those with whom he was in the habit of acting, would have protected his hon. Friends from the imputation which had been cast upon their conduct by the right hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down. He could assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that he was actuated by no factious motives in 489 giving the vote which he intended upon that occasion. He could assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that he (Mr. Wood) had no wish to supplant the Government of the right hon. Baronet, in giving his vote upon the present Question, however careless he might be whether that Government was removed or not. In the course which he proposed to pursue, he was influenced by no other motive than a sincere desire to hasten the decision of a question without which that House could not, in his opinion, take a single step in the settlement of the affairs of Ireland; and this he considered a sufficient answer to the charge of inconsistency to which, in the opinion of some hon. Gentlemen, he was exposed by the wish which he expressed to affirm a principle at the present time, which, under the circumstances which existed at that period, he refrained from sanctioning during the last year. If he looked upon the Resolution now proposed as a mere abstract proposition, he should feel it his duty to pursue the same course as he adopted last year, and vote against it; but it was because he believed that the decision of this most important question depended upon the decision of the Resolution, which, if it were not in itself practical, would, if acceded to, be followed by the most practical results, that he did not hesitate to express his concurrence in, and approval of, the Motion which the noble Lord had introduced. He felt compelled to take this view of the Question, because he believed that, unless the Question of Appropriation were settled, no measure for the collection of tithes in Ireland would be received in that House, or could be carried into execution in that country. It had been their misfortune to postpone measures having for their object the benefit of the people of Ireland, especially those connected with the Church Establishment, and the religious feelings of the people, beyond the time when it would have been politic to adopt them. As a proof of the justness of this observation, he would refer to the signal instance of concession to the Roman Catholics by the grant of Catholic Emancipation; and whilst upon this point he would say, that he did not concur in the opinion pronounced by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Cumberland, with respect to the ingratitude which he asserted had been exhibited on the part of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, notwithstanding that 490 they had been released by the Parliament of Great Britain, from the religious disabilities under which they had so long laboured. He believed that the Catholics of Ireland were grateful to those who then supported their just claims; but he could not admit that the Roman Catholics fairly owed any gratitude to the Government which conceded, or the Legislature which passed, the measure of Catholic Emancipation. He did not wish to be considered as maintaining unnecessarily any opinions with respect to a past measure, but this he would say, that in the agitation which now prevailed in Ireland with respect to tithes, they were reaping the bitter fruits of the lesson which had then been taught the people of Ireland—namely, that having appealed in vain to our reason and justice, they owed their success to our fears. He would next address himself to the question of the collection of tithes in Ireland, and touch upon some of the measures which had been passed ill order to effect that object. So far back as the year 1807, the Duke of Bedford, and several of those men who then took part in the management of public affairs, recommended the adoption of a measure for the settlement of the tithe question, not far different from that which had been, lately introduced to the House. No such adjustment of the question, as that recommended, took place; and, in about twenty years after the period to which he had alluded, the Irish Government, forced by the circumstances which attended the existing system, introduced a measure for tithe composition. He believed that it was the intention of those who brought, forward that measure that it should be compulsory; but, according to the genius of the Irish Judges, it was construed as permissive. He was convinced that many benefits would have resulted to the people from a compulsory system, which, in consequence of the course adopted, they were unable to procure. Many measures had been afterwards introduced on this subject, one of which was by the noble Lord (Lord Stanley), and another by the right hon. Gentleman near him (Mr. Littleton)—that Bill which had been carried in that House, had been rejected in another place, to the destruction of the hope which had been entertained by the people of Ireland, that a wholesome measure was at length to be granted. Could he then, after having called their attention to such facts, 491 be accused of doing anything which was inconsistent or unreasonable, when he argued that a long space had invariably intervened between events proving the existence of palpable grievances, and legislation for their correction? They had followed with too tardy a step the necessities of the times; and were they who were prepared to act with him to be charged with committing a wrong, or to be fairly exposed to the imputation of inconsistency, if they were desirous to make up for lost time, and come at once to the decision of a question of vital importance to the people of that country. These were the grounds upon which he considered himself justified in coming to a decision upon the Question of Appropriation before he came to deal with the Question of the collection of Tithes. It must be in the recollection of the House, that when the question respecting the collection of the tithes in Ireland was first brought before the House, not merely the hon. Members for Dublin, and Cork, and Tipperary, who might be supposed to entertain violent opinions upon this Question, but the hon. Members for Mayo, Mr. Brownlow and Lord Carew—in fact, all the Members and landlords of Ireland, save those who belonged to the high Orange party, told the Ministry that unless they disposed of the Question of Appropriation there was no hope of procuring peace for the inhabitants of that country. In spite of those warnings, however, the Government persevered in their efforts to enforce the collection of tithes without coming to any decision upon the Question of Appropriation. Had they, he asked succeeded in their efforts? Had the Warnings which had been dealt out to them proved false or true? The right hon. Baronet opposite and the right hon. and gallant Baronet (Sir Henry Hardinge), and likewise his noble Friend (Lord Stanley)—men not likely to shrink from any danger or difficulty which they might encounter in the discharge of a public duty—declared that to collect the arrears of tithes the Governments to which they belonged were powerless. Acts of Parliament had then been passive; civil authority and military force were both exercised for the purpose of enforcing collection of tithes with no other effect than the occurrence of scenes at which humanity shuddered; and all these circumstances took place, conveying only one melancholy reflection, that all the exer- 492 tions of power had entirely failed in the desired effect. Surely, then, when all these means failed—when all the exertions of the Government were totally unsuccessful, was it not time to adopt the advice of those who were the most conversant with the condition of the Irish people, and whose opinions were worthy of receiving the sanction of the House, that it was the course which common sense pointed out that they should at length conciliate the people of Ireland, and induce them to make the payment of tithes cheerfully by giving them some interest in their payment. He might be charged with sacrificing a principle for the purpose of answering the purposes of expediency, by sacrificing a portion of that income to which the clergy were now entitled; but whilst some attempted to insist upon such a principle, the Protestant clergy were starving; and what a mockery was it to tell them, "We will not consent to the reduction of one farthing of your dues," whilst they were compelled to admit that the law was utterly powerless to enforce the collection of them. If the course, however, now proposed, were really a sacrifice of principle, it was one which those who voted for all the measures with respect to the collection of tithes were obliged to make; for by those Bills the incomes of the clergy were proposed to be reduced twenty-two and twenty-five per cent. Now, this he was willing to admit, that the landlord ought to be allowed something for taking upon himself the responsibility of the collection; still he would prefer to see a practical benefit conferred upon the people of Ireland, to having the money which was to be paid for the reduction of the income of the clergy, going into the pockets of the landlords. But in dealing with the proposed Bill of this Session, on the subject of tithes, he wished to know how the right hon. Baronet could hope to have the Bill pass through the House, without having decided upon the Question of Appropriation? He might remind the right hon. Baronet that, on the discussion upon the 147th clause of the Church Temporalities' Act, 150 Members, many of them the firm supporters of the Government, voted against the Ministers, in order to assert the principle involved in the Resolution of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell); and he might add, that by the unintentional 493 absence of some Members on his (Mr. Wood's) side of the House, the Resolutions upon which the right hon. Gentleman grounded his measure, were carried, but only by a majority of fifteen. He could answer for few, perhaps, but himself; but he hoped he might be permitted to say, that he considered the settlement of the Question of Appropriation, as of not only great, but vital importance, in maintaining the tranquillity of Ireland, and he could never consent to enter upon the question of the collection of tithes, until the former question was first fairly disposed of. He might be told, that the objection of the Irish people to the payment of tithes, rested not so much upon the nature of the payment, as upon the amount of tithes, and the mode of their collection. But would they reject the evidence of all the landlords in Ireland, of the Members of that House, Catholic and Protestant, that the feelings of the inhabitants of that country were opposed to the nature, and not to the amount of the payment. This was no new feeling; it had existed since the time of the Reformation. The Reformation came upon the people of England, when they were ready and prepared for change. Here the Reformation was carried by the people against the Crown; but in Ireland it was forced by the arbitrary mandate of the Monarch upon an unwilling and ignorant people. He admitted, with reference to an argument of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Lefroy), that it was a Catholic Parliament who established the Church in Ireland, as it was equally a matter beyond doubt that a Catholic Parliament passed the Act of Reformation in this country; but he was sure that the right hon. Gentleman would not deny that from that time to the present, a large majority of the people of Ireland belonged to the Roman Catholic persuasion, and that all attempts to convert them to the Protestant faith, had proved unavailing. He could not deny that strange pastors, ignorant of the language of the people, were forced upon them, and exhibited, during their ministry, such conduct as would disgrace any Christian country. The hon. Member here read an extract from a history of the Protestant clergymen at the time of Elizabeth, in which it was stated that simony, and abuses of every kind, prevailed amongst that body, and that they acted like laymen in holding lands, 494 &c., the only distinction between them being that those who were called the clergy, had entered holy orders. Such had been the character of the members of the Established Church in Ireland, in the time of Elizabeth; and though he readily believed that there were now many pious and exemplary men in that body, still the change in their conduct had been effected at too late a period to induce any great proportion of the population to become adherents of the Established Church. If these were the feelings which Ireland must entertain upon recounting her history, were those feelings more likely to be calmed than aggravated, by reviewing the history of other countries? Where could they find any country under any system of Church Establishments—be they Catholic or Protestant—where a rich Church with a small congregation, was maintained at the expense of an overwhelming majority belonging to a different persuasion? But their feelings were no less outraged, than their property was taxed, in the maintenance of one Church established by law, and in the support of another, to whose ministry they contributed through inclination. What, he would ask, would be their feelings, if two such establishments were supported at the expense of the people of England? Would they not be filled with a just indignation at such an unwarrantable infliction upon their consciences and resources? and could they expect that when they, with all their superior notions of what was just and lawful, were unwilling to submit to the hardship, that the ignorant peasantry of Ireland should not give way to violence and outrage, when such a system was attempted to be forced upon them? If this, then, were a correct view of the case—if reason and judgment pointed out the course to be adopted—why should they not at once strike at the root of the evil, and determine upon a different appropriation of the revenues of the Irish Church? He wished, however, to be distinctly understood, that in arguing in this way, nothing could be further from his intention than to do anything which would tend to subvert or destroy the Established Church in Ireland. He was not willing to deprive of the means of Protestant worship, a single member of the Established Church, or deprive the minister of any of those dues to which he was justly entitled; but he was convinced that all those ends 495 might be fully and adequately answered, at a much less cost, than the present expense of the Establishment. He would not attempt to go through the details into which the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Lefroy) had entered, or to cope with the complicated, and, he would permit him to say, unintelligible statements, which he had made. He would just, however, remind the right hon. and learned Gentleman, that, according to a statement which he had made last year, there would be a surplus of 100,000l. upon the revenues of the Church of Ireland, after paying every beneficed clergyman in Ireland at the same rate as those of the Protestant Church of England. He did not wish to make the question a rule of three; but still some regard ought to be paid to the number of the congregation in a parish; for surely the population of a parish was no unfair criterion of the extent of the duties of the clergyman. It was on that principle, that the distribution of the regium donum by the State proceeded; and though it might not be desirable to establish an exact doctrine of proportion, yet some attention to it appeared to be unavoidable. The main question, however, at present was, not whether there was a surplus or not (that was admitted by most parties,) but how, if there was a surplus, it should be appropriated? In his opinion, the State had a right to deal with that surplus as it liked. If that had not already been made clear by those who had preceded him in the present discussion, he could not hope by any arguments of his to establish the point. He did not, however, agree with his hon. Friend, the Member for St. Alban's, that it was of little importance in what way the surplus should be applied. He would rather that it should lie dormant, than that it should not be applied to the most beneficial purposes. He was prepared to deal with that surplus so far, in conformity with the views of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Cumberland, as to consider that the Legislature were trustees, bound to apply it for the public good. Nay, although he did not admit there was any strict right on the subject, yet he was, by no means, unwilling that the surplus should be applied to purposes analogous to those to which the Church revenue was originally limited. His noble Friend proposed to apply the surplus to the general purposes of education. The right hon. 496 Baronet, the Member for Cumberland, wished it to be re-distributed in a manner strictly conformable to its original destination. For his own part, he was at a loss to see how an acquiescence in the right hon. Baronet's proposition, could be at all satisfactory. He was at a loss to see how it would be possible to reconcile the Catholic tithe-payer to contribute to rebuild a Protestant Church, or to pay the stipend of a Protestant minister, even in the county of Down. Still less could he believe that the House would adopt a principle so unjust as to impose a local tax and grievance, for the purpose of benefitting a distant district. It was the opinion of the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin, that if any appropriation whatever were to take place, it should be for the purpose of Protestant education alone. Now, only two years ago that House put an end to the system of exclusive Protestant education. Whatever difference of opinion might have existed at that time on other points, there was a concurrence as to the expediency of comprehending the Catholics, as well as the Protestants, in one permanent system of education. He was glad to hear that, in another place, the benefit of what had been done on that occasion, had been acknowledged by some who were not very favourable to it. With what propriety could it be proposed to confine the advantages of education to the Protestants, in a country seven-eighths of the inhabitants of which were Catholics? He trusted that the House would go one step further than the right hon. and learned Gentleman; and would say, that the education for which the surplus revenue of the Church was to provide, should embrace the whole population of Ireland, Catholic as well as Protestant. That would be the only mode of establishing a friendly feeling between the two classes. It was admitted, even by the supporters of the narrow system which had hitherto prevailed, that it had failed in establishing that feeling; that it had not produced peace and good-will among the people of Ireland. Let another course be pursued; and let them no longer adhere to what, in his opinion, was adverse to the true principles of religion, and the true principles of Christianity. Nothing, he was persuaded, could tend more to the progress of the doctrines of Protestantism, than such liberality. But, whether that were 497 so or not, whatever might be his private opinion on the question of religion, that as a legislator he had nothing to do with. But of this he was sure, that it would be for the good of all, Protestants as well as Catholics, that education in Ireland should be so generally diffused as to destroy superstition and to enlighten the people. If any hon. Members continued to entertain legal scruples on the subject, those scruples might, he thought, be removed, by a reference to the Report of the Commissioners of Irish Education (and it was enough to say, that of that Commission, the late Primate of Ireland and Mr. Leslie Foster were members), in which allusion was made to an old Statute, by which it was evident that one of the first purposes of the property of the Protestant Church in Ireland was, the institution of schools. By that Act, which was passed in the reign of Henry 8th, the first founder of the Protestant religion in Ireland, every Protestant clergyman in that country was bound to maintain a school in his parish. And though he might not be prepared to enforce the observance of that law, at the present moment, the principle of it could not but be admitted. He would no longer trespass upon the patience of the House, but would conclude by giving his warm support to the Resolution proposed by his noble Friend.
—Representing, as I do, an Irish constituency, I hope the House will pardon me if I venture to trespass on its time for a very few minutes; but it would have been impossible for me, on this occasion, to have given a silent vote, and I am, therefore, anxious to explain the reasons which have induced me to adopt the course I intend this evening to pursue. I have given to the proposition of the noble Lord opposite, the most attentive consideration, and if I am now disinclined to concur in it, it is not because I think it inexpedient to enter into a mature deliberation on that great question, but it is that at the present time, when we are in daily expectation of having the Report of the Commission appointed to inquire into the value and nature of the Ecclesiastical property in Ireland laid on the Table of this House—remembering, too, the argument of the noble Lord himself last year, that it was not adviseable to enter into any discussion on the subject before this Report was presented, the necessity for which the observations of the noble Lord last night 498 have not removed—and also bearing in mind the events that have passed within these walls since the meeting of Parliament, I can discover no reason for this hasty attempt to entertain a question of such difficulty and importance, but that of embarrassing His Majesty's Government, and finally driving the right hon. Baronet, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, from a station which, in my judgment, he fills so ably and with such signal advantage to the country. As an Irishman, feeling most deeply for the cause of my native country, whether as regards its individual prosperity, or the welfare of the united empire, I cannot but look on this subject with intense interest. And I should consider myself to blame if I did allow this opportunity to escape me, now that I have the good fortune to be favoured with the attention of the House, for declaring my conviction that one of the most obvious, as well as effectual means of settling down Ireland, will be by creating a connexion between the state and the clergy of the Catholic church in that country. Were such an alliance to be formed on a solid and liberal basis, I am satisfied that the most beneficial results would ensue to all parties, and the poor of Ireland would be relieved from a burthen which now presses heavily upon them. I have convinced myself of the paramount necessity, as well as policy, that exists for our endeavouring, without sacrificing any great principle, to seek some means of effecting this desirable object. Were the people of England inclined to be only half as generous tö the Catholics of Ireland, as they have been to the slaves of Jamaica, and their former masters, an income would be provided that would go very far towards accomplishing this purpose. The church in France, including all sects—the Church of 30,000,000 of people—only costs the State 1,604,000l. a-year; at least, that was the amount of the estimate in 1833. The Irish Catholics are 7,000,000—less than a quarter of the number of the French people; therefore 400,000l. a-year would, in all probability, be amply sufficient for this end. I ask the people of England, if this would be a large price at which to purchase the peace and prosperity of Ireland? Does Prussia—Protestant Prussia—does she reject an alliance with the Catholics of her conquered provinces? No; and it will be found on inquiry, that in no country does more 499 perfect harmony exist than between that state and her dominion acquired by the treaty of Paris. Holding myself to be perfectly unpledged on this question—reserving to myself the right to act on a future occasion as my judgment may dictate—nay, declining now to give an opinion on the merits of the noble Lord's proposition—I shall give my vote against it, on the ground that I have had the honour of stating to the House.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
trusted, that the House would indulge him with a patient attention, while he endeavoured to express, as clearly as he was able, the views and sentiments which he entertained on this important question. He did not wish to disparage the value of the speech which had been delivered that night by the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. C. Wood), but he looked upon that speech as more applicable to a Tithe Bill than to the subject of appropriation. The views stated by the hon. Member with respect to the Established Church of Ireland would apply with equal force and propriety to the whole empire. The principle laid down by the hon. Member was cheered by the Member for St. Alban's. But, after all, of what value could the principle be, if even so inconsiderable a sum as 100,000l. was still to be supplied for the support of the Church Establishment in Ireland? The objections and the difficulties would still remain as strong as ever. Pacification would not be secured in Ireland by a transfer of a portion, or even of the whole, of the revenues of the Established Church. This was the Serbonian bog which the noble Lord carefully shunned, but which the hon. Member for St. Alban's had plunged into. The hon. Member's tread was much more decided than the noble Lord's, and more candid in laying down his principle, for he contended that Parliament had a right to deal not only with the whole of the Church-property, but with all corporate property whatsoever. They who maintained such principles ought, before they attempted to act upon it in a single instance, to reflect seriously how far they might eventually carry them. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) brought this point last night, powerfully and unanswerably, before the House. For his own part, no power on earth could ever induce him to admit such a principle to regulate Church-property. It was property not conferred by the State, and the 500 State had no right to take it away. He saw no difference between the Established Church in Ireland, and the much happier and more tranquil portion of it in this country, which could, at any future time, prevent the application of the principle, as well to England as to Ireland. Though circumstances might not, just at the present moment, exist in England which could afford the hon. Gentlemen opposite any appearance of justification for applying their theory to the Protestant Establishment of this country, the principle would still remain in full force, ready for application whenever it suited their convenience to bring it into operation. They who broached such a theory, whatever they might say, or whatever they might pretend to the contrary, could entertain no very deeply-rooted respect for the Church property of England, when they proposed the application of the principle to the Temporalities of the Irish Church. One hon. Gentleman said, he would limit the application to that country, in which the Protestant Church was an evil, but would not extend it to that part of the empire in which it was found to be a blessing. By whom was this measure brought forward and supported? All those who spoke in the debate of yesterday admitted themselves to be members of the Established Church, they professed a veneration for its doctrines, and a wish for its continuance. They professed to be Protestants, but in their proceedings he firmly believed they looked as much to the satisfaction of those who were not of the Established Church, as they did to the support of the religion which they professed. In considering this question he could not leave out of his recollection the fact, that up to the year 1829, the Roman Catholics never expressed any wish, or manifested any inclination to disturb the ascendancy of the Protestant Establishment in Ireland. He was entitled to expect, from the declarations of the Roman Catholics themselves, that no proposition would emanate from them having a tendency to overthrow the Temporalities of the Established Church. If the import of language was to be taken from the plain meaning of words, all Catholics who took a seat in that House were bound to uphold the present settlement of Church-property as by law established. He should like to know, how the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Tipperary, could reconcile his 501 speech upon this question with his declarations upon former occasions, and with the oath he took as a Member of that House. This was the security, a feeble one indeed, given to those who conceded Catholic Emancipation; but they never could have expected to see such a crisis as the present arrive. Who was it brought this question now forward? Technically indeed, and in the usual forms of Parliament, it was brought forward by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), but in reality at the desire and by the instigation of the Catholic body. What, after all, was the conduct and character of the Church thus assailed? The Member for Halifax, indeed (Mr. C. Wood), had told them something of its history at a former period. Whatever blame might attach to it in the early days of its establishment in Ireland, the case was now very different indeed. Nothing could now be alleged against it discreditable either to its doctrines or to its discipline. This was fully admitted even by the hon. Gentleman himself. In place of going back to former periods of history, the great consideration with the House ought to be, what was its character—how great was its usefulness in the present day, and to the present generation. It had made rapid improvements of late years. In the year 1762, there were only 542 Protestant Churches in Ireland. They soon after reached the number of 643. In the year 1800, they were 689, and since 1800, not less than 312 new Churches were erected, and 64 more were in progress. If the principle now proposed for adoption had been in operation in the year 1800, this great advancement of the Protestant religion, this support of the best interests of Christianity, this great number of Protestant places of worship must have been lost to the great cause of morality, and of the Protestant faith. How could the Member for Halifax be, as he professed himself, a friend to the Protestant Establishment, while at the same time he said, he would vote no money for its support? [Mr. Wood: I did not say so.] The words of the hon. Member were, "I cannot agree to extend the Protestant worship by increasing her means." How could he expect to extend the Protestant Church without affording her means? They had heard upon tills occasion, a great deal urged about the distresses of the people of Ireland. Unless the grievances and sufferings of the peas- 502 antry of Ireland could be clearly traced to the existence of an Established Church, which had, not yet been done, their distresses could have nothing to do with this Question. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) in his speech last night, carried them back to the time of the Spanish Armada, to the wars of Marlborough, and other glorious epochs of English history, and said those epochs were invariably marked by the greatest calamities of Ireland. Whatever laws might have been passed in the days of Anne, there were no such laws now. The proper business and duty of the Parliament now was, to look to the present state of the Church of Ireland, to see how far it had advanced, what good it had effected, and what might reasonably be expected from it hereafter. If thirty-five years ago the means of the Church exceeded the wants of the Protestant population, they were now on the contrary inadequate to those wants. There were political considerations connected with this subject of the highest importance, if indeed it was considered important that the Legislative Union between the two countries should be maintained. The Protestant Establishment was the strongest bond of union between them. Let Protestantism be destroyed in Ireland, and it would be impossible to maintain the Union. Weak as the bonds of that Union were at present, they never could be entirely broken until the bond of Protestantism was destroyed. There were many considerations, entirely independent of the religious view of the Question, which made it highly important that Protestantism should be maintained in Ireland. When he considered the difficulties the Church had long to contend with in Ireland, and particularly during the last six years—when he considered the number of Churches that had been built recently, and the numerous congregations which already attended them, and the still greater numbers which might hereafter attend them—he could not help coining to the conclusion, that the Protestant Establishment of Ireland was everywhere deserving of support and protection. At all events these were not the times in which such an attack should be made upon her, and these were not the men by whom it ought to have been made.
§ Mr. Poulter
observed, that it was once considered true that everything greater included in itself that which was less; but 503 it was now contended by a Church, whose sole title was a Parliamentary title, who claimed by the dispossession on the part of the State of another Church, without the slightest regard to vested interests, that that State had not the power in the most extreme case to apportion or reduce that Church even under a most distinct recognition of all vested rights. Who could doubt what the title of the church was who had read the Statute 2nd and 3rd Edward 6th, by which the clergy were bound to the use of the Common Prayer under the penalty of deprivation? Who could doubt what that title was who would read the Statute 13th Elizabeth, by which all benefices were taken from those who refused to subscribe to the Articles and doctrines of the Church of England? If this extreme severity of legislation was adopted in this country what must have been the course of things in Ireland, where there was not the slightest pretence for a reformation? Here then were the title-deeds, here was the commencement of the title of the Protestant Church, to the use and support of which, by the will and decree of the nation, a vast property, granted principally by private Catholic individuals to the ministers of their own persuasion, was forcibly, and contrary to the intent of the granters, applied and converted. If this statutable disposition had been made for a year only, and had been from that time down to the present day annually renewed, the case would have stood in principle precisely as it does at this moment. It was most important to consider that the national transfer of which he had spoken was for life only, and this interest, and this interest alone, had passed from time to time to the actual and living ministers of the Church, the fee-simple remaining in abeyance, and in the guardianship and custody of the nation. He put his support of this Motion entirely on the distinction between the principles of the two establishments. Both stood in need of great changes, but while a better Administration and distribution is sufficient for the one, diminution is absolutely required for the other. If hon. Members will persist in identifying the two, let them do so—he was as resolute in separating them. He saw no danger to the one from any degree of correction necessary to the other. The Reformation was in unison with the national feeling in one country, but was founded upon con- 504 quest and violence in the other. Was there no difference, he would ask, between charity and the power of the sword? For such was the exact measure of the difference between the foundation of the two Churches; and it would be an insult to truth and justice to permit the temporal enormities of the one to find shelter under the cover of a similarity in spiritual doctrine to the other. No length of time, no lapse of ages, should prevent his hearty concurrence in an effort to redress a great national iniquity. No appeal to the rights of property, beyond existing lives, could ever be maintained where such rights were never united with the real and religious interests of a nation. In such a case no prescription could be urged against the cries of a people, and the voice of a people becomes the voice of God. It might be admitted that any change in long established things was an evil, and that nothing could justify it but the most powerful necessity. If the peace and prosperity of Ireland were essential to the welfare of the empire such a necessity had now arisen. Antiquity, when utterly opposed to the improved wisdom and intelligence of mankind, was the idlest of all justifications. Whatever force it might have on the minds and prejudices of some, it would be lamentable, indeed, if a Legislature should ever forget, that antiquity was the real infancy of the world, and that the period of its most advanced age, and of the most extended human experience, was that instant of time in which he had now the honour to address the House. Who, in ancient times, would have disturbed the peace of the earliest Roman families, because they had been founded on the rape of the Sabine women? Who, in modern times, could justify a Repeal of the political union between England and Ireland because it was founded on fraud and corruption? But it was only in those cases in which ultimate good was the actual and modern result, that the defect or wickedness in the origin of an old title could stand excused: but where anarchy and national misery were the existing consequences of an original crime, the whole subject ought to be regarded as res integra, and to be taken up de novo. In such a case it must be just to undo pro tanto what it was most unjust to institute. What could be thought of a state which devoted somewhere about 1,000,000l. a-year to the spiritual wants of about half a million people? What would be thought 505 of a policy which would carry a religious war into a country, and, having triumphed over it, should set up the monstrous pretence of a united Church of the two countries? No Acts of Parliament could ever sanction the using the name of religion against the principles of religion itself. Though the imputation, from being un-parliamentary, could never have been expressly uttered, it was sometimes asserted that the majority of a reformed House would be actuated by a feeling of hostility to the interests of religion, and to its legitimate institutions. Nothing could be more unfounded than this. If he might be permitted, he would say, that it was a characteristic of the late House to require that every proposition offered to it, and which was in any way connected with religion, should be made with a religious intention and purpose. In all instances, without exception, in which the House suspected, whether correctly or otherwise, that any proposition of the sort was unaccompanied by such a spirit, it not only denied it all favour, but invariably rejected it with a decided and a marked severity. He did not see how an assembly including so much talent, and such enlightened views, could err against either truth or justice, which had made it a law to itself on all such subjects, to consider not merely what was acceptable to man, but what was acceptable to God also. When, he should like to know, would the argument of destruction cease to be resorted to? For there never was a great measure of improvement proposed which had not been met by this argument. So long ago as the Bill of Catholic Emancipation was passed this was the language of its opponents. Just before the passing of the Reform Bill some small remains of vitality were still found to exist in the nation; but this was to be utterly annihilated by the abominable Reform Bill. All of a sudden this total destruction had become an unchangeable, unconstitutional law—a law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not, and the nation was to be a third time destroyed by the proposition of the noble Lord. This nation, with its three lives was the most extraordinary that ever was heard of. He might liken it to the famous serpent of antiquity, whose heads grew again as fast as they were chopped off. He might liken it to the zoophyte, which, though cut into separate pieces, continued to survive with a multiplied existence. He would 506 rather compare it to that peculiar monster on whom its mother is said to have bestowed exactly three lives and no more—Nascenti cui tres animas Feronia mater,(Horrendum dictu) dederat: terna arma movenda;Ter leto sternendus erat: cui tune tamen omnesAbstulit hæc animas dextra, et totidem exuit armis.Those who supported this Motion were taunted sometimes with apportioning the Establishment of Ireland by the rule of three. How much was there to be for ten, how much for twenty, how much for fifty Protestant communicants? This might be called an argument a ridiculo, and though it might produce laughter and pleasure, did it ever produce conviction? Was there ever a question of general reasonableness—was there ever a question of degree—was there ever a question including the ingredients of amount and number, in which such an argument might not be used? The very universality of it totally destroyed its force; for it might be used in every instance. Could any man say, that an enlightened body of men, with all the information which existed on this subject, could not lay down some general principle of just relation and just proportion between emoluments to be received, and spiritual duties to be performed? It did not follow in the case of any particular incumbency that it must either be entirely suspended, or entirely preserved. There might be many intermediate courses, and where the Protestants were very few indeed, they might, in many cases, be united to adjoining parishes. Was not the same line of argument used on the Reform Bill? When the number of 2,000 was taken how much ridicule was cast upon it. It was said, suppose you had 1,998 in any small borough, would you disfranchise it for want of two—unless, indeed, some good lady, by graciously producing twins, should step in and save the borough? Were not some of those who now resorted to the same argument, the first to answer it on that occasion? For himself, he would only add, that no one could estimate more highly than he did the value and the absolute necessity of religion. No one was more sincerely disposed to look upon human life as a dreary waste, as a scene of sorrow and despair, without the consolations of religion. Nothing could have induced him to support this Resolution but 507 the strongest conviction that the overgrown and unnatural extent of the Church Establishment of Ireland had materially obstructed the cause of Protestantism in that most misgoverned country. He would also add, that if it were proposed to him to choose between a civil war and a wound to be inflicted upon religion, he should have no hesitation in preferring the former as the least of the two calamities.
§ Mr. William Gladstone
said, that the hon. Gentleman, who had just concluded, although he had apprized the House that his speech was fraught with the latest acquisitions of modern civilization, in common with all other hon. Gentlemen and noble Lords who had spoken on the same side of the Question, had proceeded upon totally unproved assumptions. In all that they had said—in their statements, and in their reasonings, which he did not fear—and in their declamation, which did cause him apprehenssion—they had gone upon the gratuitous and unsustained supposition that there existed a surplus revenue over and above what was necessary for the due maintenance of the Church in Ireland—an assertion which was wholly unsupported by proof. He thought Church-property was as sacred as private property, but between private property and Church-property, he saw a difference. He should say, that the former were sacred in persons, and the latter to purposes. Did the Reformation violate the sacredness of Church property? That sacredness could not in all cases be strictly maintained; but it was always desirable to keep the property as sacred as circumstances would permit. Such was the case at the Reformation; but would such be the case if the Motion of the noble Lord opposite were carried? At the time of the Reformation, the Legislature, composed of the Representatives of the country, having changed the Established Religion, changed to the same extent the appropriation of Church property. If the Protestants should ever happen to be again in a minority in that House, he, for one, avowed his conviction that a return to the ancient appropriation would be the fair and legitimate consequence. Until that should be the case—until the Legislative Union should be dissolved—until the Representatives of the Catholics constituted the majority in that House—he, for one, should raise his humble voice as a Protestant against the principle involved in 508 the Motion before the House. The great grievance complained of in Ireland was, that the Protestant Establishment there was paid for by the Roman Catholic inhabitants. Now, was such in reality the case? Was it so paid for? Were tithes paid for that purpose, or were not tithes rather a part of the surplus profit of the land, which went, not to the cultivator of the soil, but to the owner of it? Tithe was paid by the landlord—and the grievances on this point complained of by the people of Ireland, were rather in theory than in reality. But if there were evils arising out of this question of tithes, was not the present Government prepared to redress them? Had the Government not a Tithe Bill in the course of progress through the House, the object of which Bill was to place the payment of tithes where they ought to be—on the landlords? One of the arguments, and, indeed, the principal argument, of the noble Lord, the Member for Devonshire, by which he pressed the House to agree to the invasion of the property of the Protestant Church was, that that property was not duly applied, nor did it answer the purposes for which it was originally intended. Well, he might admit that; and suppose he also granted that there were general abuses and neglect in the administration of the Church of Ireland. Having made such an admission, was it not, then, fair for him to ask, had not the same general vice that prevailed in the religious government of that country pervaded also, and to a like extent, in its political government? Now, whatever remedy might be applied to either case, would not the Roman Catholics say, "Take away the Protestant Church with all its abuses, and give us back our own Church?" Whatever decision they might come to on the question before them, he was borne out in the opinion that the present Motion was merely initiatory, that it would open a boundless road, that it would lead to measure after measure, to expedient after expedient, till at last they came to this conclusion—namely, the recognition of the Roman Catholic religion as the national one. The Roman Catholics in Ireland called upon them to give up the Protestant Establishment there, because they were told by persons in that House that the Protestant Church must surrender. What was the remedy proposed for the grievances of the Roman Catholics, that would 509 make them give their support to the Protestant Church? In principle they proposed to give up the Protestant Establishment. If so, why not propose to abandon the political Government of Ireland—to cede the Repeal of the Legislative Union? But no, the Protestant Church was to be first given up. When that had been done what answer would be given to the demand for a Repeal of the Union, founded on the complaint of misgovernment? The Irish would then say, "Your religion is not so bad, we do not complain of it, and particularly not at present, that its resources are applied to their original purposes." On some admitted facts of misrule in the political Government of Ireland, the people of that country would call upon them to grant them the Repeal of the Union. Such would be the fatal results of concessions, similar to those now about to be made. He would next come to the question of a surplus Church revenue in Ireland. When a contingent surplus was made the basis of a Motion, and when the supposition of its existence caused a convulsion in that House, and throughout the country, the noble Lord ought to have waited until he could prove, by official documents, that such a surplus was really in existence. As regarded the Perpetuity Fund, it appeared from the statement made by the right hon. and gallant General (Sir Henry Hardinge) the other night, that it would be in debt for fifteen years to come, so that the period was not as yet arrived when the question of a surplus could be raised with respect to that fund. The amount of tithes was, in round numbers, 540,000l. per annum. On that a deduction of one quarter would take place by the Tithe Bill now passing through that House, which would reduce the original amount to about 400,000l. a-year. Then the amount arising out of glebe lands, as stated by the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), was 68,000l. a-year. Under the Tithe Bill, now proposed by Government, there would be three further deductions on the 400,000l. The first, in the shape of a rent-charge on the laud, would be followed by a diminution of the income of the Church to the amount of ten per cent. Then a taxation of livings would amount to 20,000l. a-year, and the suspension of livings, in some places, would leave 400,000l. a-year as the parochial revenue of Ireland. Could that sum be considered as enormous for the Irish Church? The 510 number of benefices in Ireland was 1,450, and according to the returns, the average yearly income of each was 275l. Now was that too much? Why, taking the Scotch standard, which was considered the beau ideal of economy, the average incomes of benefices by it was 250l. a-year. If it fell short of that in Scotland, he would ask whether 275l. a-year was too much for a minister in Ireland, when it was considered how many duties he had to perform, and how many expenses he was exposed to? Was it anything extraordinary, that there should be 400,000l. a-year allowed for the parochial institutions of the Irish Church? The noble Lord who brought forward the present Motion, calculated that the number of persons belonging to the Established Church in Ireland, was 750,000; but he believed that they amounted to upwards of a million, or at least to a million. ["Oh! oh," from the Opposition]. If he were wrong in his calculation, with whom rested the fault? Did it not rest with the noble Lord whose conduct brought on the discussion of this question before they had received full information on it? Allowing that there were a million of Protestants in Ireland, the result would be, that it would give to each of the 1,450 rectors a flock of nearly 700 souls, and that in a country where the population was scattered over a wide extent, and lived at a great distance the one from the other. Was that amount too small to occupy the attention of a Clergyman? He thought that it was not. Where then was the surplus revenue, to the appropriation of which they on that side of the House were called upon to assist by the noble Lord and the hon. Members who had succeeded him. If they were to suppose, for the sake of argument, that the population of Ireland consisted of all Protestants, then would the present Church Establishment in that country be totally and ludicrously disproportionate to their wants. Taking eight millions to be the population of Ireland, and 1,000 persons to be placed under the spiritual care of each minister, and allowing 300l. a year to be the income of every minister, the result would be, that the parochial revenue ought to be upwards of 2,000,000l. instead of 400,000l. its present amount. Hon. Gentlemen might laugh and think it absurd to assert that one Clergyman ought to be allowed to every thousand, and that each Clergyman ought to be allowed 300l. a year. The above 511 amount would be four or five times what the present income of the Clergy was, and it would be six times their income when the property of the Church was placed on a sure and satisfactory footing as it would be by the measures in the contemplation of the present Government. When such was to be the case, he considered that hon. Members would do well to consider the vote they meant to come to on the present occasion. They ought not to allow their minds to be influenced by various absurd and false rumours which had been circulated without contradiction by persons who had their own views in exaggerating the state of the Irish Church. No doubt but he as well as other hon. Members were unconsciously influenced by such rumours, but let them look attentively to the facts of the case, and their courage must revive. He submitted that there was no surplus, as far as the House could be aware, of the available revenues of the Church of Ireland; and to show that he was not alone in that opinion, but was supported by another who had had the means of judging, he would read a remarkable passage from a pamphlet, entitled "On National Property, and the Prospects of the Administration," giving the opinions of its author, Mr. Senior—a gentleman intimately connected with some of those who were most favourable to the Irish Church Commission on this very important subject. In reference to the parochial revenues of the Irish Church, Mr. Senior said, "We are not yet in possession of the results of the labours of the Irish Church Commissioners, but from the little which has transpired on the subject, "We are led to expect that the Irish Church Establishment exceeds the spiritual wants of the population much less than is generally supposed. There is reason to believe that the result of the Report of the Commissioners will be to show, that there is a considerable Protestant population in most parts of Ireland, and that if the Church were to be suppressed in those districts only where it is now needless, the proportion of parishes in which it was got rid of could not be large." Thus it was, Mr. Senior entirely threw overboard the notion of a surplus parochial revenue. He confined his views of alienation to what might be taken from the Episcopal Establishment; and he need not remind the House that no large amount could, upon any supposition, be derived from that source 512 under the now existing arrangements. The proposition, therefore, to which the noble Lord, the Member for Devonshire, invited the House to assent, was alike impracticable and unjustifiable: impracticable, because the moral means of maintaining the state of things it proposed to create, would be lost; unjustifiable, because there was no principle upon which the Protestant Church Establishment could be rightly or permanently upheld, but that it was the establishment which taught the truth. He did not mean to make any observations offensive to the feelings of hon. Gentlemen who might profess the Roman Catholic religion; but the Government, as a government, was bound to maintain that form of belief which it conceived to contain the largest portion of truth with the smallest admixture of error. Upon that ground the Government of this country maintained the Protestant and declined to maintain the Catholic religion. But the noble Lord invited the House to give up that ground;—the noble Lord, and many of the Gentlemen who sat around him, told the House that with the truth of religion the Government had nothing to do. Their argument was this:—no matter what the religion,—no matter whether it be true or false,—the fact of its existence was sufficient—wherever it existed it was to be recognised; it was not the business or the duty of a government to endeavour to influence the belief of the subjects. But, God forbid, he said, that the House should assent to such a doctrine! It was refreshing to the House to have its attention recalled from the lower and minor features of the Question to its higher parts, as it was last night by the noble and high-minded speech of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Cumberland. He would not eulogise that speech—any praise of his would be useless—but seeing that it had changed the character of the debate he thought it necessary to call the attention of the House to it. The most important consequences would attend the success of the motion before the House. In the first place it would enfeeble and debase, and then altogether overthrow, the principle on which the Church Establishment rested. The noble Lord invited them to invade the property of the Church in Ireland. He considered that they had abundant reasons for maintaining that Church, and if it should be removed he believed they would not be long able to 513 resist the repeal of the Union, and then they would become fully aware of the evil of surrendering the principle the noble Lord called upon them to give up. Hon. Members should look back to the connection that had so long existed between Church and Stale, and to the time when Governments exercised tyranny over the private opinions of individuals. He was of opinion that, as persons were responsible for their opinions, they ought to be allowed to freely form them. At the time of the Reformation the tyranny exercised over private opinion was shaken to its base, and something like true religion and just toleration ensued. If that good spirit had been carried further, and into further effect, they would not be at the present day arguing this question respecting religion in Ireland; and he was bound to believe that if that tolerant spirit had been extended there, Ireland would not have remained a Catholic country. But the good system first established had been unhappily abused by men actuated by the impulses and prejudices common to human nature. The remedy of the noble Lord was a miserable refuge from the adoption of a bad principle. Hon. Members were called upon to accede to that principle; they were called upon to support a religion, as if existing de facto, and not founded on the true basis of religion. In New England, formerly, the Government called upon each individual to support the religion he belonged to. Ere that system was well known in this country and called the American system, it had been abandoned, in the land of its birth, and was now only known to have existed in America by tradition. The system they were now called upon to agree to was in its essence transitory, and yet it involved the existence of all Church Establishments. He hoped that he should never live to see the day when such a system should be adopted in this country, for the consequences of it to public men and to the character of the country would be lamentable beyond all description. If those individuals who were called upon to fill the high functions of administering public affairs should be compelled to exclude from their consideration the elements of true religion, and to view various strange and conflicting doctrines in the same lights, instead of administering those noble functions they would become helots and slaves. It might be said, that the present discussion was not premature, 514 and unhappily from the feeling that existed in some parts of the country respecting the union of Church and State perhaps it might not be considered so. If the separation of Church and State was hastening on, the present motion, instead of retarding it, would increase its rapidity. If in the administration of this great country the elements of religion should not enter—if those who were called upon to guide it in its career should be forced to listen to the caprices and the whims of every body of visionaries, they would lose that station all great men were hitherto proud of. He hoped that he should never live to see the day when any principle leading to such a result would be adopted in that country.
§ Mr. Feargus O'Connor
, like the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, felt himself inspired with courage by the spirit of truth. When the hon. Gentleman complimented the speech of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Cumberland, the hon. Gentleman forgot or mistook the grounds upon which the right hon. Baronet objected to the Motion brought forward by the noble Lord the Member for Devonshire. The right hon. Baronet's objections were founded upon religious considerations, whilst those of the hon. Gentleman rested, as he himself admitted upon mere contingency. The hon. Gentleman said, that although he now opposed the Motion, yet if the time should ever arrive at which the majority of the population of the United Kingdom should become Catholics, he should be ready to bow to such a proposition as that brought forward by the noble Lord. The noble Lord (the member for Devonshire) had been taunted for bringing before the House a mere question of principle, without going more into detail. But the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, had gone into minute calculations, and had quoted extracts from the pamphlet of Mr. Senior, all of which tended to strengthen the proposition of the noble Lord. The noble Lord did not say that he would appropriate such or such sums; but, in the language of Mr. Senior, he said, "Wherever I find any sums improperly appropriated, I will step in to correct it." The hon. Member had said that there were 1,000 souls to every clergyman—["No, No!" from the Ministerial side]. Well, 700. He thought the hon. Member would have relied on this; but, oil the contrary, the hon. Member 515 had thrown argument altogether overboard and substituted declamation in its room. It was said that his hon. Friend, the Member for Dublin, and himself were too sanguine upon the subject of tithes; but he had no doubt that their hopes would be realized by this Measure. So much did the people of Ireland look to this Measure, that they would be more gratified by the passing of the Resolution than by the abolition of two-thirds of the tithes.—The right hon. Member for Cumberland had said, "I will not go with you, because you intend to trench upon Corporate properties." While the Opposition side of the House was taunted with having formed an anomalous coalition, he might, perhaps, retort, when he saw with whom the right hon. Baronet was associated, that he could not look upon the right hon. Baronet in any other light, than as one of those persons whose consciences a noble Lord (Lord Stanley) had boasted that he held in his pocket. He agreed with those Gentlemen, and more particularly the hon. Member for the University of Oxford, that the present Question was not one merely of tithes—it had a higher order of interest in the effect it would produce upon the Catholics of Ireland. Why had the noble Lord, the Member for Devonshire, been taunted with a change of principle by the Paymaster of the Forces? The present Government had brought in two measures—one in favour of the Dissenters, and the other on the subject of tithes—both of them fuller than those brought forward by the late Government. Did he mean to contend that the present Ministers only had a right to change their principles, but that the noble Lord was to be stopped from going one step beyond his first proposition? The hon. Member who had last spoken had said there was this difference between public and private property—that private property was to be considered as belonging to individuals, while public property belonged to purposes. Looked at in this point of view, he begged to remind the hon. Member that Church-property was originally given to maintain hospitality, as well as for other purposes to which it was not now applied. If, therefore, there should be now found a surplus beyond the necessities of religion, surely it should be restored to those purposes for which it was originally intended. It should be recollected, also, that there was another difference: tithes were created by law, 516 but the rent of land was only protected by law. He must say, with reference to the Illustration resorted to by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) of the ship canal from Kingstown to Dublin, that if he, who had neither rank nor station in that House, had made such a proposition, he would have been unmercifully laughed at. The noble Lord, the Member for Devonshire, had said, that the time had arrived when something must be done. He had stated that all those who had sojourned amongst the people of Ireland had been enamoured with them, and that their crimes were the result of oppressive and bad Government. He, however, had no hope of seeing anything effectual done for Ireland by Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, for they proposed measures not because they thought the measures were wholesome, but in order that they might keep their places. He would ask hon. Members, on the other side of the House to do as was recommended to them by the noble Lord the Member for Northumberland, to place themselves in the position of the Dissenters from the creed which they were bound to support, and then think what would be their feelings? What would be their feelings to have to pay such a Minister and to have his stipend collected at the point of the bayonet? It was useless to speak of the number of acres in the hands of the Protestants of Ireland. This was not a question of pounds, shillings, and pence, but a principle to which the people attached great importance. It was said, that the proposed Tithe Bill was good, but with the Tithe Bill he had nothing to do.—With the concesssion of the million he had nothing to do, excepting as far as it was to a certain extent the concession of the very principle contended for by the noble Lord who brought forward the Motion. It should be recollected that the clergyman received increased security just in proportion as the landlord's security was diminished. If there was a bad year, the landlord was forced to make a reduction of rent to his tenantry, but the profit of the clergyman was not of the season, and, therefore, he profited in proportion as the landlord was mulcted. From the conclusion of the noble Lord's opening speech up to that moment, there had not been a speech to the point except that of the hon. Member for Tipperary. Indeed an hon. Member had descended to per- 517 sonalities, and had said that the hon. Member for Dublin boasted of his success on some occasions—and why not? If he represented a nation which had been unfairly treated, and if his honest advocacy had made them freemen instead of slaves, why should he not be proud of it. He believed religion would be served by working out the principle of the noble Lord, who had not said that there would be one farthing to apply. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) had said that 100,000l. would be the utmost; but though that sum was nothing to the right hon. Baronet, it was much to the poor people of Ireland. If he mistook not, the right hon. Baronet was a Member of the Government when the 147th clause of a celebrated Bill was under discussion; yet, at that time they heard nothing of its being monstrous to check the avarice of an overgrown Church. Upon the preceding clause, too, the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, had said, when it was carried, that it destroyed the 147th, for it had taken much which might have been appropriated to another purpose. The right hon. Baronet and the noble Lord were now, however, throwing their shield over the present Government, and presenting their daggers to those who would overthrow it. Taunting the Opposition while sitting on the flanks of the Government, and aiding it in its career, in order that the places might be kept warm for themselves. But, supposing even that the motion were carried, it would possibly be said that it was not tantamount to a vote of want of confidence. It might also be asked why not at once bring forward a motion directly expressive of want of confidence? His reply was, that the present was a more honourable, distinct, and straightforward course. Its object could not be mistaken, as it would lead to the same result. He hoped that when the debates of that House should be read by the people of Ireland, and when they were acquainted with the sentiments of the noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland, and when they found that at length there existed for them a feeling of sympathy in that House, and that their Representatives had arrived at the dignity of being hated, that they would look to the proceedings of that branch of the Legislature with more confidence and with more hope. The Irish Members, he admitted, were treated in 518 the present Parliament with more respect than in the former Parliament, and this he trusted would not be without its effect upon the people of that country. The hon. Member then adverted to the non-residence of the Irish Protestant clergy, and declared, that the rector of his own parish he had never seen, nor had the oldest inhabitant. The curate lived out of the parish, the clerk resided at a distance of fourteen miles from the Church, and the sexton sold spirits without a license in the churchyard. This he stated before, but the right hon. Representative of the University of Dublin was enabled to deny it, because the clerical authorities fearing an exposure from the frequent debates on the Irish Church, took care to introduce pro tempore a more improved discipline. If the recognition of the principle of the noble Lord's motion would cause a saving of only 1,000l., he would strenuously advise the House to adopt it. Such a course would show to the Irish people the determination of Parliament to correct all existing abuses; and indeed the principle rather than the amount of the tax was cared for by the people. Give them an interest in the tax levied upon them—give them an advantage to the benefit of five shillings only, and they would willingly pay the other fifteen shilings. He agreed, therefore, in the assertions of the noble Lord that no Tithe Bill ought to be passed until the Question of Appropriation was definitively settled. The settlement of that question should be the basis of any measure for the adjustment of tithe, and therefore it was necessary lo bring forward the present motion thus early. He regretted that the right hon. Baronet opposite did not persevere in that straightforward line of conduct which was to be expected from his character both as a statesman and as a man of talent. He, at least, must be perfectly aware that sooner or later the principle of the noble Lord's resolution must be affirmed by the House. He must recollect that it was agitated by the people out of doors, when they were without any aid in that House; and with what effect, he would ask, would it be now agitated when the people found that they had the support of the majority of their Representatives in that House? What force, he would ask the right hon. Baronet, would be capable of resisting them? Would not the people say, that they were 519 only looking for that for which the majority of their Representatives were looking, and would they not remember that in endeavouring to obtain it many of them had been shot in conflicts with the military and the civil authorities? The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Cumberland, had in the course of his speech said, that affirming the noble Lord's resolution would be violating an article of the Act of Union. That right hon. Baronet quoted the Act of Union, when it answered his own views, but did he not know that it was utterly impossible to justify the abuses of the Protestant Church by the Act of Union? On what grounds did the right hon. Baronet introduce the subject of the Repeal of the Union into his speech? If the House wished to see the feeling in favour of that measure abate, they would clothe, feed, and educate, the people of Ireland. At present the people of Ireland were in a state of comparative tranquillity; but the embers of discord were still alive, and to reject the resolution of the noble Lord would be to fan them into a flame. To this he would add that if they recognised this principle they would considerably narrow the discussion as to the policy of repealing the Union, they would enforce its consideration and disposal on its own immediate merits. He should feel it his duty to support the noble Lord who had introduced the motion, and the noble Member for Northumberland, both of whom had acted most laudably in marching with the spirit of the age. The movements of the noble Member for Lancashire and the right hon. Baronet were retrograde, while those of the other two noble Lords were progressive, and in accordance with the spirit of the Reform Bill and the rapid march of intellect. From the noble Member for Devonshire the Irish people had much to expect. He trusted they would meet with no disappointment. He trusted that the practice of making the Irish Members a mere dead weight in a division, and of bandying them from one party to another, would never again be resumed. He trusted that henceforward they would be invariably found voting with an imposing majority in the cause of civil and religious liberty throughout the world. He could have wished that the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Robert Peel) was unfettered, for he was sure his good sense would not have suffered him to hesitate 520 as to the propriety of acceding to the principle. But unfortunately the right hon. Baronet was hampered by his connection with a party in the possession of whom an unrighteous ascendancy had long remained. The members of that party were in many—perhaps in most instances excellent landlords and most respectable country gentlemen, but as Magistrates they acted tyrannically, and in no degree mitigated the effects of the political ascendancy they possessed. They had been told that in every parish in Ireland dwelt a tyrant who assumed the name of "The People;" but there was also a tyrant who called himself "the law, the Constitution, the religion, and the loyalty of the country." To this tyrant a check must be given, and he had every reason to believe that to recognise and carry out the principle of the noble Lord's motion would effect that object, and considerably benefit the people of Ireland. He was glad to find, that he and the noble Lord had hit upon a question on which they could agree. He was glad to find himself assisted by so powerful a party. Under what circumstances he received that assistance was of no importance. The principle was all he looked to, and in explaining the justice and probable operation of that principle he had felt it his duty to trouble the House at such length. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by thanking the House for the patience with which they had heard him—observing, that if he had not been the Representative of a very large constituency, deeply interested in the present motion, he should not have trespassed upon their attention.
The Solicitor General
assured the House that nothing but the importance of the subject under discussion, and the deep interest which he knew was entertained by the majority of his constituents, and which he believed was felt by the great body of the English people, could have induced him to alter his original determination, and to offer to the House a few observations—few they certainly should be—before he gave his vote upon the Question at issue. It was not his intention to follow the hon. Members either on his or the opposite side of the House in the details they had given in respect to the property of the Established Church in Ireland. Some observations on that point he had, indeed, purposed to make, but so ably had he been anti- 521 cipated by the hon. Member for Newark, that any attempt of his would only weaken the impression which had already been made. He also felt, that the House was without any sufficient evidence, either documentary or otherwise, to justify the adoption of any legislative measure, or the sanction of any important resolution. On that ground alone he would not support the Motion of the noble Member for Devonshire. But even if the House had been in possession of the requisite data he should have objected to it on other, and, as he believed, on far higher considerations. He objected to the principle involved even in the language of the Motion; he objected still more to its ultimate application, as disclosed, if not by the noble Mover himself, at least by the hon. Members by whom he had been followed. He admitted that the noble Member for Devonshire in the speech introductive of his Motion had adopted a more moderate tone than the hon. Gentlemen who afterwards spoke from his side of the House. The noble Lord, as he thought, did not put forward so openly and prominently the ultimate object and intent of his resolution; yet in some of the topics he brought forward his selection was not more judicious, though his language was milder and less startling. Some of those topics, it seemed to him, were calculated only to increase the party animosity so unfortunately prevalent in Ireland, and to inflame to a still higher pitch the melancholy spirit of religious discord and strife. He knew not why the noble Lord thought proper to go back to the early history of the connexion between England and Ireland. He knew not why the noble Lord went back to the barbarous legislature of our Edwards, or even of much later periods—why he referred to Acts of the British Parliament to which no man of whatever party, or whatever religious persuasion he might be, could look back without feelings of the deepest regret. He knew not why those topics were introduced into this discussion, nor, above all, did he know why the noble Lord should say to the Catholics of Ireland—"From the justice of England you have nothing to hope—whatever you have obtained from her, has been extorted from her fears." Why did the noble Lord say this to the Catholics of Ireland—why did he say this of the English House of Commons? He was not misrepresenting the noble Lord. What he understood him to 522 say was this:—"If the English House of Commons do not sanction my resolution—if they will not hold out to you, the Catholics of Ireland, a prospect of the removal of the Irish Established Church—if they will not promise the relief which my resolution contains, then I say to you, 'You may justly clamour for the Repeal of the Union.'" Did not the noble Member for Devonshire say this to the Members for England:—"Although it may be your belief that the adoption of my resolution is pregnant with danger even to the Established Church in England—to the most sacred, the most cherished of the institutions of the country, yet I ask you to vote for that Motion, and if you do not I call on you not to vote against the Repeal of the Union." Thus had the noble Lord addressed the Members of the English House of Commons. He, as a Member of that House, and as a member of the Established Church, believing in his conscience that if this resolution did receive the sanction of the House, the Established Church in this country would be endangered; believing that such would be the effect, he could not by any motive be induced to give his vote for the noble Lord's Motion. And whenever any resolution was brought forward for the Repeal of the Union, either by the noble Lord or by any of his new associates—he should feel that he did not discharge his duty to his country if he did not vote against that resolution, or against any other which he believed would dismember the British empire. Though the noble Lord in the speech he had made, had not followed out the ultimate effect and intention of his own Motion, yet the hon. Member for St. Alban's and the hon. and learned Member for Tipperary had been more explicit, and had taken care not to leave the House in the dark. The Question before the House appeared to him to stand thus: Should or should not the funds of the Protestant Church in Ireland be distributed, and handed over to the Catholic priesthood? That such was the question he collected from the speeches of the hon. Members he had named. The hon. Member for St. Alban's certainly did state something very like that proposition. He had taken down his words as well as those of the noble Member for Northumberland, and the ultimate object of the resolution as explained by them could not be mistaken. The House is called upon to take a step, not perhaps immediate in opera- 523 tion, but one which must eventually lead to the utter abolition of the Established Church in Ireland. "You forced," says the hon. Member for St. Alban's, "your religion upon a reluctant people,—you compel them to contribute in the shape of tithe to a religion they do not believe; the Catholics of Ireland, never, will be reconciled to the existence of the Protestant Church. This system is the cause of all the evils of Ireland." Again, the noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland, had said, that the "existence of the Established Church was an insult to the people of Ireland." He did not mean to misrepresent what the noble Lord had said, but most certainly he had so understood him, and he was quite satisfied that, when the debates of that House were read through the country, the noble Lord would be so understood by the people, and the language in which the noble Lord had thought fit to couch his resolution would lead to the belief that it was intended as the first step to the overthrow of the Church in Ireland. He would advert, for one moment, to the language in which the resolution was set forth, before he bestowed any consideration upon what he regarded as its ultimate object. Looking simply at the language of the resolution, what was it which it called upon the House to do? First, it called upon the House, in the present stage of an inquiry into the very subject, to pledge themselves that there was a surplus revenue, after providing for all the wants of the Church of Ireland; and then it pledged the House to a specific appropriation of that imaginary surplus. Hon. Members who supported the Motion stated that such a surplus did exist; but that it did not exist had been clearly demonstrated by his hon. Friend, the Member for Newark. But, even supposing that such a fund did exist, was that the time, he would ask, to call upon the House of Commons—ignorant of how much was possessed in advowsons—how much was private property—what were the proportions between Catholics and Protestants; was that a time to call upon them to pledge themselves to some specific appropriation? Was it possible for the House of Commons to come to such a resolution—declaratory on the one hand, and binding on the other, in the absence of all information upon these several points? If he wanted an authority to give weight to this argument he should 524 only refer to the conduct of the noble Lord who moved the resolution, when, upon a former occasion, a Motion on the same subject was introduced by the hon. Member for St. Alban's. In what way did the noble Lord and his colleagues meet that Motion? Why, they issued a Commission in Ireland, and directed them to institute inquiries upon certain particular subjects, and when the discussion came on in the House they said "we will not enter into this discussion now, in the absence of all the necessary information"—They met the resolution with a direct negative, for it was "ill-timed." Well, how did the case stand now? The Commission, as he had already stated, had been issued—the Commissioners entered upon the specified inquiries, and were at present on the point of presenting their Report to the House; and yet, before this Report was laid upon the Table, the noble Lord thinks it right to come down to the House and move that very Resolution which, under the same circumstances, himself and his Colleagues had negatived last Session. This he urged, not for the purpose of supporting a charge of inconsistency against the noble Lord, but for the purpose of fortifying, by the authority of the noble Lord and his Colleagues, the course at present adopted by the Government. The noble Lord was then in office he could have no party motive to actuate him in opposing the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for St. Alban's. The noble Lord and his Colleagues were then strong in a majority of that House, and being so, they took the proper and the sensible view of the subject, in opposing the Motion, in the absence of that information which was necessary to enable them to form a correct judgment as to the line of conduct it would be proper to pursue. They said that the Resolution, instead of assisting them in those measures which they projected for the benefit of Ireland only delayed them, and they, therefore, called upon the House not then to come to such a Resolution, but to wait for the Report of the Commissioners. Such were the reasons upon which the Resolution was opposed then, and he asked if these reasons were not equally applicable now? If the noble Lord would couple his Resolution with the speeches which were made in support of it—bearing in recollection that hon. Members—as for instance 525 the Member for Halifax—while they professed their desire to maintain and preserve the Protestant Church, stated the real grievance to be, that Roman Catholics should be obliged to contribute to the support of the Established religion—that money was taken from the members of one sect to support the religion of another—could the noble Lord, bearing this in his recollection, suppose that the grievance could be remedied by taking from the Church ten, fifteen, or twenty per cent? Did the noble Lord suppose that a diminution of the income would be a removal of the grievance?" Did not the noble Lord know that those to whom this sacrifice was made would laugh at it, if they were told that this was the remedy of the evil of which they complain? Did he not well know that this would not be regarded as a removal of "the deep-rooted" grievance of obliging the people of Ireland to contribute to the support of a Church in the doctrines of which they did not believe? He was convinced that the arguments on the other side, if pushed to their full extent, went to the removal of the Church Establishment. He differed from the Resolution in the principle which it involved, affirming a right to meddle with the property of the Church. The noble Lord opposite said that those upon his (the Solicitor General's) side of the House, who supported the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his views of a new distribution of Church-property, were inconsistent in refusing their assent to the present resolution. But this was a dilemma of the noble Lord's own creation, upon either horn of which it would be impossible to fix those hon. Members who, supporting a new distribution of Church-property, refused their assent to the Resolution before the House. There was a broad difference, indeed, between taking altogether from the Church the property which belonged to it, and re-distributing it for the better accomplishment of those purposes for which it was originally intended. He was not aware that any hon. Member upon his side of the House had said, as had been imputed, that there was no difference between the property of the Church and the property of individuals. There was necessarily a difference between all property held by individuals and Corporations. The property of the Church was held on certain trusts, and if it could be 526 shown to him that any Resolution for altering the mode of distribution could better effect the purpose for which it was held, then he was ready to admit that the Legislature not only had a right, but was bound to interfere to effect that alteration. But if more latitude of principle were allowed, and if it were said, that that House had a right to appropriate the property of the Church differently from the way in which it was originally intended, then would he oppose such a proposition, which, in his judgment, outstepped the privilege of the Legislature. It would be an interference with the sacred rights of property, and the precedent established might be applied to the unsettlement of private property. He should make one observation upon the nature of the trust for which this property was held. The noble Lord opposite said that a great portion of this property came from our Catholic ancestors, and was originally appropriated to Catholic purposes. If that were a well-founded supposition, and the doctrine which it involved were admitted to be applicable to the property of the Church of Ireland, it would be equally applicable to the property of the Church of England. But he utterly denied that any such principle was applicable to either. He denied that the law sanctioned any such doctrine. He had no wish to go into a religious discussion, and, above all, he should be sorry that any observation which fell from him should give any offence to those who differed from him in religion. But the feeling of the people of these countries, and the doctrine of the law, was, that the Reformation did not create any new religion, but that it was a purification of the Church from certain defects and superstitions; and the property of the Church was received for the purposes of the Established religion. That, he took it, was the trust for which the property was originally given—for the purpose, he should repeat it, of maintaining and supporting the established religion of the State. If it were diverted from that purpose, and any portion of it given to the Catholics of Ireland, it would be an interference with the rights of property, and the same view which would enable the House to take the property of the Church of Ireland would also enable them to take the property of the Church of England, and to give it to Dissenters of any denomination who might 527 happen to constitute the majority in any parish. If that were a correct argument, and he thought it was—the Question became one of the very greatest moment. He felt convinced that the conduct of the House of Commons would never receive the sanction of the people of this country in making such a distribution. He believed, when the intention and the object of that Resolution became known to the people of England, they would see from one end of the country to the other, the same manifestations of feeling which had been exhibited in some parts already, that they would never give their sanction or support to any resolution the object of which must destroy the Establishment in Ireland and tend to injure the Established Church in England. Though they were bound not to wound the feelings of the Roman Catholics, they were also bound not to disregard Protestant feeling; and as British Legislators they would, in his opinion, be forgetful of their duty if they abandoned the Church of Ireland and permitted it to be destroyed. They were now taking a step which would lead to the destruction of the Church. There was one other objection suggested to him by the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down. He complained of the language contained in the Resolution, because that Resolution appeared to be framed in language which did not convey the full effect of the object it had in view—it seemed to be framed, not, he would say, for the purpose of concealing that object, but for the purpose of—the object was apparent—obtaining the support of a greater number in that House; and if the Resolution were framed according to its spirit, and in the words that would describe it, if its language were stronger, he believed the noble Lord would not have so many supporters. He complained then of the language of that Resolution as applicable to the matter before them. But then they were told that there was another object intended by that Resolution, and that was with regard to the Ministry. The object was, if not to express a want of confidence in the present Ministers, at least to do that which was tantamount to it, to embarrass the King's Government in the great measures which they had now in contemplation. Suppose that the Resolution then before them was passed, would it not be to interfere with the Bill introduced by his hon. and gallant Friend 528 (Sir Henry Hardinge)? and would that have any other effect than to delay that relief which the hon. Member for Dublin declared that the people of Ireland were panting for? Would not the very first effect of that Resolution be to delay the completion of that measure? But an hon. Gentleman told them that a vote tantamount to a want of confidence must lead to a resignation of the King's Ministers. Now suppose that the Resolution moved had that effect—that the Government should go out, and on a Resolution like that—what would follow? He was aware that he himself held office under that Government; but he was also, heremembered, a Representative of the people in that House; and of this he was quite sure, that the opinions he expressed there were those of a great majority of his constituents. He had, it was true, no public life to look back upon—he could not ask of hon. Members to look back upon his past life, as a test of his sincerity in the support of his Majesty's present Government; but he might be permitted to say, that his feelings had always been, from the moment the Reform Bill was carried, that it had destroyed the some what old party distinctions of Whig and Tory amongst them—he felt, and he had frequently expressed the same opinion of the Government of Lord Grey, as long as it was united, as long as it could command a majority in that House, and the affections of the constituency, grateful for the Reform Bill—as long as it was strong enough to resist the efforts of the destructive spirit which aimed at the worst objects, he thought that every well-wisher to good Government should desire to see it continue in power. But when, upon the discussion of this very Question, when it was last before the House, the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, and the right hon. Baronet retired from that Government—when it was evident that Government was taking another course—when it was negotiating with the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, who had been denounced very shortly before in the Speech from the Throne—when it was evident that the then Government was not able to resist the spirit of destruction, it was manifest that it was a Government which had not, and ought not to have the confidence of the people. Suppose that a new Government were formed, it must be admitted that it would not be formed exclusively of the 529 party of the noble Lord. He would form a junction with that party in England, which had been described by the hon. Member for Derbyshire; and as to Ireland, was it not evident that the noble Lord must look to that party, which had, in that House, the hon. and learned Member for Dublin for its distinguished leader? He asked that House, but above all, he asked the Representatives of England, if such a Government could possess, for one year, nay, for one month, the confidence of the people? Though he did not believe that a Government so framed, and coming into power upon the basis of such a Resolution, could exist for any time, yet he did fear that the mere accession to power of persons professing such principles, would give to the Movement party an impulse, and a force, which no power in the State could successfully combat. For that reason, he called upon every hon. Member, whatever might be his party, if sincerely attached to the Monarchy and the Constitution of the country, to pause upon the vote which he was about to give. He did ask of them, when one of the institutions of the country was openly attacked by the Resolution they were about to adopt, to forget at this time all party differences. He said so because he sincerely believed that this institution was attacked by the Resolution before them; and also because he firmly believed, that the maintenance of the Established Church in this country, was one of the best means of protecting the religion and the liberties of the people.
§ Sir John Hobhouse
said, I can assure the House that it is with great reluctance that I venture to trespass upon their attention on this occasion, and that I feel far from certain that I shall be able to do so with any adequate effect, after the very able speech of the hon. and learned Solicitor General. I cannot help congratulating the Government, and congratulating the House, upon his accession to office, I cannot help congratulating the House upon the speech they have just heard—a speech which shows that the hon. and learned gentleman to great forensic talents adds all that power which a man who aspires to eloquence and station ought to possess before he takes the very high degree which the hon. and learned Gentleman has attained. And, if I may be permitted to add one word, in this place, Sir, I must say, that the learned 530 Gentleman has aspired to very high ground indeed, for he has grappled completely with this Question. He alone, as far as I am able to understand, has stated most broadly, that his opinion plainly is, that if you agree to this resolution, you do in fact infringe upon all the laws, not only of public, but, by analogy, of private property; that, in fact, you cannot touch the Church of Ireland without touching the Church of England also—without touching upon property in general; and, by inference, if the State should think it necessary private property also. Sir, that is the assertion of the hon. and learned Gentleman; and I must say, that I should have been better pleased with his very eloquent and able address, had I not happened to hear, at the close of that address, something somewhat unworthy the character and talents of the hon. and learned Gentleman. I thought, Sir, that in the concluding part of that Speech, I did hear something like an attempt to ring the old alarm bell in our ears—an act which by this time I should have thought too contemptible for a man of character and talent to perform. The learned Gentleman attempted to ring the old alarm bell—that alarm bell, Sir, which, had it frightened the man who made him, had frightened the right hon. Baronet the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he would never have been in the position in which he now stands, or have been able to bring forward the high talents of his learned Solicitor General. What, Sir, is it come to this? Is a great debate upon a subject which has hitherto been dealt with, with something like a regard to reasoning, at last to dwindle into nothing but a miserable and filthy appeal to the vilest, the lowest of all human passions? Are we to be terrified out of what we think our duty, and to be told that because at the eleventh hour we at last have ventured to do justice to a great nation—not our enemy not even our ally, but a part and parcel of this great empire—that we are to be restrained and deterred by the fear of what is almost a by-word? When we at last venture to come forward and attempt the settlement of this great Question, can the learned Gentleman, with all his talent, and all his learning, and all his resources, drawn both from law and reason, do nothing more than tell ye that ye are not to do this, for if you do, you will light up the old flame in England—the old cry of the year 1807—the old cry which for so 531 long prevented the settlement of the Catholic Question—which for so long deprived men of sense in this country of their best power of action, and continued to be an obstacle to the foundation not only of good Government, but of any Government at all? I must venture to say that another reason compelled me to rise, on this the only occasion of my intruding myself upon the House since I have been a Member of it—I mean since the commencement of the present Session of Parliament. I have heard various taunts thrown out against the late Government—I mean my Lord Melbourne's Cabinet—as if it were a Cabinet tried, found wanting, and condemned, against which the people of England had passed a verdict after a fair trial had been granted to them. The learned Gentleman knows as well as I do, that this is a topic that cannot fairly be enlarged upon—either on this, or on any debate on the present subject. He knows perfectly well, that although it may suit him in his conjectures to say, that the late Cabinet were not sufficient, for the exigencies of the people of England, still they certainly—happily, perhaps, for their own fame—happily, perhaps, for their future prospects of benefitting their country—were not brought to the same test as the right hon. Gentleman's opposite have been brought to. They were not brought to the same test. They did not make the same appeal to the people; nor did that people, on an appeal being made to them, express an opinion which the hon. and learned Gentleman and his right hon. Friends must by this time have discovered to be no trivial or unimportant one. I beg leave to observe, also, let the learned Gentleman and others say what they may, that I firmly believe, that the Members of the late Cabinet meant honestly by the King, and honestly by the people; that they had nothing to fear from the Parliament; and that, if they had met that Parliament again, they would have done their duty, not only to the country, but to the satisfaction of the people. It is very true that they had to encounter great difficulties. They were aware of those difficulties—they knew them well—but, at any rate, even to have escaped from them, they would not have compromised any one of their opinions. They would have deserted no party; they would not have tried, by any means, justifiable or not, to catch hold of stray votes, 532 and waverers on this or that occasion; and Sir, as the best proof of this, I can only say that which is known to my late colleagues, that we were determined, had his Majesty been pleased to continue us in his service, to have come down to Parliament with a measure based on this great principle. Let the learned Gentleman call it confiscation if he likes—I call it a measure of justice; the country will deem it such. The Parliament will by their vote of to-morrow confirm it to be such, and at least justice will be done, I hope and believe, to that Cabinet and to that Government who, with motives unsullied and unquestioned, as far as I know, intended to bring forward, for the relief of the people of Ireland, a proposition for the settlement of this great question. I certainly cannot contend with the learned Gentleman on a point of law. I do not know that I can contend with him on any point whatever; but he has laid down a rule from which he says it is impossible that any man of learning or reason can dissent—namely, that the property of the Church of England in England, or of the Church of England in Ireland, was originally so settled and so given, that it must be in its nature and for ever inalienable. I really thought that this question had been settled long ago; I thought that even the pamphlet which I saw the Chancellor of the Exchequer reading just now had rendered the subject so clear that any man who was able to take part in an ordinary debate would at once say, that for any person to get up in his place now-a-days, and assert, that Church property in itself was venerable, and could not be touched, even by Act of Parliament, except by shaking the very foundations of society itself, would be an attempt to bring back—I can hardly say to bring back, for it is an opinion that has never yet been entertained to my knowledge, but to refer to principles which, if they were carried into general practical effect, would be ruinous and destructive of the advancement and progress of society. The hon. and learned Gentleman will excuse me for reading a most eloquent passage from a most eloquent, though very common, and, I dare say, elementary writer? It is, of all the beautiful passages of his most beautiful work, perhaps, the most perspicuous, and as I think decisive. Mr. Justice Blackstone, in the eighth chapter of his 4th book, has this passage:—"As in matters of faith 533 and morality, they (meaning the Church of England, the hierarchy, and all the Establishment of the Church of England) acknowledge no guide but the Scriptures, so, in matters of external polity and private right, they derive all their title from the civil Magistrate. They look up to the King as their head—to the Parliament as their lawgiver—and they pride themselves in nothing more justly than in being true Members of the Church—emphatically—"as by law established." Why, Sir, this authority shows to me clearly that the Church of England—and if the Church of England in England, of course the Church of England in Ireland also—is emphatically the offspring and child of the law, and that the parent may deal with that child. [Oh, oh!] Is the hon. Gentleman incapable of understanding a common argument? I am not pretending to state a fact; I am laying before the House the authority of Blackstone; and what I mean to say is, that the natural deduction from that authority is, that the Church of England and all its Establishment is the child of the law; and that as the law has made it, so the law may deal with it. Why Sir, can this be doubted? Has it been doubted in any civilized Christian society? I believe not. I have read communications on the subject, and am not aware that in any country under the sun it has ever been doubted that the Church Establishment is the creation of the law. I am not speaking of the spiritual concerns of the Church, but of the temporalities; and I cannot help thinking that right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and the learned Gentleman more particularly, when he mixes up the temporalities of the Church so much with its spiritual concerns, is not doing justice to the institution. It was very well stated by the noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland, that it was very possible that the too great prosperity of the temporalities of the Church may interfere with its spiritual benefits. A great many authorities have been quoted in the course of this debate—from Bacon, I believe, down to the pamphlet the right hon. Baronet holds in his hand. I find an authority in Bishop Watson, who, in a common letter dated in 1798, says, "If the tithes of that country (meaning Ireland) must still remain with the Protestant clergy, the Catholics should be paid from the public treasury." He put it hypothetically—"If the tithes." Why, Sir, 534 I suppose he had has high a notion of the real value of the Church Establishment, and of its sacredness, as the learned Gentleman himself, and yet in his time it was not thought sacrilege, it was not considered a profanation of the Ark of God, as it were, to interfere with the temporalities of the Church when such interference was considered necessary for the good of the State; and here I must take the liberty to state, that I think the real question at issue, is not the distribution, nor a new mode, nor a better mode of collecting, but that the point of improvement, if improvement it really be, is whether or not you intend that the Catholics of Ireland shall understand that they are the participators to a certain degree in the advantages derivable from an Establishment they now consider altogether hostile to them. It appears to me, that so long as you leave this Question unsettled, you never will be able, and never can hope, to reconcile the Establishment to the Catholics of Ireland. We have heard a great many details tonight. Supposing them to be true; supposing only that there are fourteen Catholics to one Protestant to be accurate—can we imagine that the present Protestant Church Establishment will be satisfactory to the people of Ireland? I cannot comprehend how the right hon. Gentleman opposite can reconcile it to his sense of justice; and I am quite sure, that the more this Question is inquired into, the more the House of Commons will find that there is only one way of arriving at a satisfactory conclusion. You have tried force in Ireland; force has failed. You have tried the law; the law has failed. Private charity, public benevolence—all have failed. There is only one thing wanting, and that is, an acknowledgment, that henceforward this enormous Establishment shall be proportioned to the spiritual wants of the people; and that if there be any surplus, that surplus shall be applied to general purposes. My right hon. Friend, the Member for Cumberland (Sir James Graham), said last night, that larger promises had been made and violated—that the Catholics of Ireland had said—"If you will pass the Relief Bill, you shall have peace in Ireland." Now, I ask my right hon. Friend, whether, because that measure has not produced all the good results which the promoters of it, and he amongst them, anticipated, he would refuse his assent to it now, supposing the Ques- 535 tion to arise over again, under present circumstances? I cannot help thinking, that the tone of my right hon. Friend's speech of last night would have rendered it equally convincing against any Reforms whatever. He undoubtedly expressed his regret at having been severed from the late Ministry, but he certainly took a very singular mode of telling us how fond he was of them. I cannot help thinking that he was pursuing much the same course as the learned Gentleman, and that instead of treating the subject as if he were speaking to rational men, he spoke as if he thought we were to be convinced by that argument, the force of which the merest tyro in reasoning readily perceives, and which refers very strongly to the palpitation of our pockets. I cannot help suggesting to my right hon. Friend, that it was in consequence of the unfortunate course he and the noble Lord adopted, that the country is now reduced to its present condition; and that had not my right hon. Friend, and the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, unfortunately separated from Earl Grey's Government, the country would at this moment have been governed by a stable and enlightened Administration. He thought, I have no doubt conscientiously, that it was necessary for him to withdraw, and the consequence is, that we are, at this very moment, governed by an Administration, which—without any personal disrespectful allusion—certainly, politically speaking, has turned out wholly unequal to the task. The right hon. Gentleman, the Paymaster of the Forces (Sir Edward Knatchbull), and other Gentlemen who have spoken on the same point, had said, "If you turn out the present Government, are you provided with a substitute?" Why, Sir, I really do not think that is our concern. The right hon. Gentleman opposite must excuse me for saying, that, considering the circumstances under which the late Government were turned out, they are the very last people in the world who have the most remote right to ask such a question. I think we might with much greater propriety ask them, how they came to think they were provided with a Government—such a Government as, after an appeal to the people, could not ensure them one majority in the House of Commons? Again, considering the very easy mode in which I should suppose—judging of course from what I see—Governments are put 536 together, if I may be allowed to form an opinion upon the subject, I should certainly say, that it was no very difficult task. I could select out of the hon. Members present, fifteen Gentlemen—fifteen! three fifteens—who (I will make no invidious comparisons) might constitute three or four Governments, any one of which would certainly do as well as the right hon. Baronet's. I would not attend to any of these, and other such taunts, Sir, were it not for the purpose of replying to what, I must certainly call the inefficient speech which has been made by the right hon. Gentleman, the Paymaster of the Forces. I listened to that speech, as I was bound to do, considering it as the speech of a Gentleman put forward by the First Lord of the Treasury—as a speech which was the type and symbol of his own personal opinion on the subject of what should be done by the Government on the present occasion. The moment I saw him rise, Sir, I was certain we were going to have a direct negative on the Question—I was certain that that right hon. Gentleman, considering the line of politics he had previously taken, was to come forward and move an Amendment—which, from anything like a half-and-half Reformer, would have appeared somewhat ridiculous; but when the right hon. Gentleman, the Paymaster of the Forces, confined his whole speech on this great Question, to an attack upon what he called the factious motives of hon. Gentlemen who sit on this side of the House, it struck me that the main fire of the Government was still in reserve, and was to proceed from the battery from which it always does proceed with most effect; and that at the last, as at the first, we were to have it from the right hon. and distinguished Gentleman opposite, who is, it seems, to be the beginning, the middle, and the end of the debate upon this subject. What the right hon. Gentleman, the Paymaster of the Forces said, amounted in fact to this:—"You are a faction—you have just been turned out of the Government, and you wish to turn us out in our turn." Why, Sir, I really do not know that we have any very great reason to be discontented with our present situation—because, in the first place, we are the Government—though not in name, in fact. There has not been a single Question yet carried against us; not one—not a single Question, Yes, and as my noble Friend (Lord 537 John Russell) reminds me, that we not only carry on the Government in this House, but are the Executive Government also; at least, if we have not a positive, we have something like a negative vote on Government appointments out of this House. So, Sir, setting aside the mere odd, trivial, and insignificant circumstances, of our not sitting on that (pointing to the Ministerial side of the Speaker's Chair), I really do not see what it is we have to quarrel with in our present situation. The air is freer here—decidedly purer; I was accustomed to inhale it for the first fourteen years of my political life, and I say, most sincerely, that I prefer it most decidedly; I am not fond of dancing in chains, and I therefore say, very unaffectedly, that I prefer this side of the House. I repeat, prefer it; and when the right hon. Baronet has been there a few days longer, he will prefer it too. Why, what is there to make our present situation disagreeable? We retired from office, or rather in plain terms, we were dismissed—without, as I have ever yet learnt, any formal notice, without any complaint against us; neither the King nor the country made any complaint, that I have yet heard of, against us—we sacrificed no part of our character?—we made no compromise—we altered no determination—we belied no principles—we did not in any way compromise our public actions; and I trust, that when we did retire, or at least, when we were dismissed from his Majesty's councils, we preserved that, without which no man can act beneficially for his country, or honourably for himself—I mean our character and our honour. We preserved that integrity about us, which ought to belong to the character of every public man, and without which, all talents, all experience, all station—all the smiles of a Court—all popularity are vain and frivolous. I have to beg pardon of the House most sincerely for trespassing on their attention so long, or for trespassing further; but I cannot help thinking, that the hon. and learned Solicitor General, very unintentionally, I have no doubt, but certainly most grossly—misrepresented what was said by my noble Friend with respect to the Repeal of the Union. The hon. and learned Gentleman says, that my noble Friend advocated the Repeal of the Union, and that if the present Motion failed, he would become an advocate of that measure. ["No," 538 from the Solicitor-General.] My noble Friend said no such thing. What he said, was, that if the House granted the request now made on behalf of the Irish people—if the House acceded to the proposition, it would cut away the ground from under the feet of those who had hitherto advocated the Repeal of the Union; but that if, on the contrary, it did not accede to the proposition, it would leave the advocates of that measure the grounds upon which they had hitherto stood; and although he himself was opposed to it, still that those who supported it would have something like a show of reason on their side. That was the sense and meaning of what, my noble Friend said, and I believe very nearly his very words. But I now come back to my original cause of complaint—namely, that the hon. Gentleman who spoke on the other side of the Question, attempted to terrify the House and the country into the idea, that, not only shall we not be doing an act of justice to the Irish people, but a positive injustice to the rest of the empire, if we accede to this proposition. And that if we lay down the principle, that the funds now appropriated to the Church, shall be appropriated to purposes of utility, strictly connected with, and analagous to, Ecclesiastical purposes, and that we may fairly give away any superfluity, we are sanctioning spoliation. I deny—as it has been denied by all those who preceded me on this side of the House—that it is spoliation; and not only do I deny it, but I say, that if you do not admit the principle, you are striking, and continue to strike, at the root of all society, by sanctioning the notion, that you may continue to have a great State-engine, maintained at a great expense, although after an experience of 300 years, it has been found that it does not contribute to the happiness of the people for whose good it is intended, merely on the principle that it is inviolable because you choose to call it so. If this mode of proceeding continues, however ingenious the arguments made use of in support of it may be—even if fifty such Bills as that introduced by the right hon. Baronet be attempted, you will have to deplore another and another failure—you will have Ministry after Ministry, and unless you can come to an adjustment of this, as I conceive, uncontrovertible principle, you will have to lament having come to a decision in support of what I call a false consis- 539 tency, while you refuse to listen to the suggestions of wisdom, and at the same time to accede to the feelings and opinions not only of the greater portion of the Members of this House, but a great majority of the people of the empire.
§ Debate again adjourned.