§ The order of the Day for the adjourned Debate on the Irish Tithe Bill having been read,
§ Mr. Barron
rose. He said, that he felt it his duty, as a resident of Waterford to contradict the statements that had been made in the debate of last night, relative to the sentiments of the gentry of that country, both Protestant and Catholic. The support given to this Bill was not confined to the Catholics alone. The Protestants also were, he was fully convinced, most anxious that a Bill, such as that which had been introduced by his Majesty's Government, should receive the assent of that House. All the most influential landed proprietors, all the men of information, property, and station—the magistracy, and even the clergy in his part of the country—were most anxious that the Bill brought in by his Majesty's Government should pass; and they expressed their opinions openly and by petitions, that this question should be finally settled. There could not be a greater delusion practised on the people of England than to say, that this was a Catholic feeling and a Catholic agitation. He could assure the House and the English people, that the Protestants of Ireland were heartily sick of agitation, and so were the Catholics of property and station. But they knew well that this question would never be settled on the principles laid down by the noble Lord or the right hon. Gentleman opposite. They knew those principles to be unjust, and they would not be parties to injustice. They thought, and thought properly, that the people had a right to a portion of the tithes and of the Church property, which had been granted by their ancestors, not for the benefit of a petty sect—nor for political purposes—not for the advantage of an exclusive party— 1338 but for the general good of the community. Was he to be told, that though every shilling of this property had been bequeathed by Roman Catholics, their descendants were to have no share of its produce? Was this justice—was it common sense—was it decency? It was injustice of the grossest description, to which neither the Catholics of Ireland, nor the liberal Protestants and enlightened; Dissenters would ever consent. By an act passed in the 28th year of Henry 8th, which still remained unrepealed on the statute-book, every clergyman, on being inducted into his benefice, was obliged to swear that he would maintain a school for the education of the people of the parish. Much had been said by those who called themselves the supporters and champions of Protestant principles, in the House and out of it, on the sacred obligation of an oath; but he would ask, had the clergy of Ireland observed that which they had taken? In five parishes of Ireland, in which he had property, not a single school was kept by a Protestant clergyman, and he knew, at least, one hundred others similarly circumstanced. The Protestant clergymen, in two of those parishes, to whom he had made application, had refused, in writing, to subscribe a single farthing towards maintaining a school where Protestants and Catholics were educated together. Tithes were originally intended for the support of the poor, for the education of the people, for the building of churches, and for the maintenance of the clergy. The Ministerial Bill only enacted that a portion of them should be set apart for the purpose to which they were originally intended to be applied, and to which no one could deny that the Roman Catholic clergy had applied them. The speech of the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire (Lord Stanley), had for its object, to prove that there would be no available surplus in the revenue of the Irish Church. He might say, without meaning any disrespect to the noble Lord, that his speech was a mere rechauffe of the speeches delivered last year by the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel), and as a rechauffe was always less agreeable than the original dish, so had the noble Lord's speech hung heavy on the ears of hon. Members. He was sorry to see a noble Lord, of his supposed standing and talent, treat the question in such a manner. Not one single argument advanced by the noble Lord could have the slightest effect in convincing a single unbiased Member of the House. Taking into consideration 1339 the resolution of the House, passed last year by so unexpected a majority, and the increasing majorities of Government, he must say, that the noble Lord had brought forward his motion without having the slightest hope of carrying it, for the purpose of embarrassing, not of settling, the Irish tithe question. The noble Lord had ridiculed the idea of considering the Ministerial Bill as a final measure; but could the noble Lord expect that his proposition would lead to any thing approaching to a final settlement, after the recorded opinion of the House, and the expressed determination of the people of Ireland? The Bill advocated by his side of the House would put an end to agitation, and be hailed by both the Protestants and Catholics of Ireland as a great boon. When Gentlemen opposite told him that their measure would be final, he must ask what they meant by a final measure. He was not aware that any single law on the statute-book could be regarded as a final measure, and such a view of it would be contrary to the very essence of our Constitution. Why, Gentlemen opposite had once flattered themselves that the ancient systems of Parliamentary representation and Municipal Government would be final measures? It was ridiculous, in the present improved state of knowledge and information, to talk of final measures. He was not one who wished to see continual agitation in this or any other country. It should be recollected, however, that the people of Ireland scarcely ever obtained any thing in the way of concession, save when they had agitated, or had arms in their hands. This was the case in 1782, in 1793, and in 1829. But were not these dangerous examples—would it not be better to teach the people to look on concession as the result rather of a sense of justice on the part of the Government than of their agitation? It was the system pursued by the right hon. Baronet that had drawn men of influence and property into the whirlpool of agitation. They knew they had to deal with an inflammable people—a high-minded, a brave, and a sensitive people, and let them beware how they trifled with such a people much longer. If they persevered in their mischievous course, they would draw men of property out of the country, or into the ranks of agitation. They had too long treated Ireland as a conquered province, and they seemed to forget that there were 7,000,000 of Roman Catholics who lived within its boundaries. He cal- 1340 culated the Church property in Ireland to amount to 752,000l. Gentlemen had argued as if 480,000l. was the whole of the Church property. They had omitted the glebe property—the Bishop's lands, palaces, and gardens, and other holdings, which he valued at 190,000l. a-year. Then came the ministers' money—80,000l; making altogether 752,000l. a-year. He wished to give 50,000l. to the original owners, which would leave to the Church in Ireland 702,000l. a-year—a sum fully sufficient for the Bishops, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and other purposes; all they asked was, that of this 50,000l. should be appropriated to the purposes for which it was originally intended. This would leave 700,000l. for the spiritual instruction of the Protestants of Ireland, at a cost of 20s. per head. At the same rate the Catholics of Ireland, who were comparatively unintructed and unenlightened, would require a sum of 6,500,000l. In France, where no complaint was made of the want of spiritual instruction, he had reason to know from calculations made by the Minister of Public Instruction, and men of considerable experience, that it cost at the rate of 2s. per head. In Scotland the cost was 2s. 6d. a-head for the whole population. The more they examined it the more monstrous it would appear. The rate in England was between 5s. and 6s. per head. In Ireland it was near four times as high as in England, ten times greater than the rate in France, eight times greater than that of Spain, and twenty times greater than that of America. Could hon. Members really think of supporting such a system for any length of time? Would they grant the concession the people of Ireland looked for in time, or would they wait till they were forced, like the right hon. Baronet, to concede what they might have at first yielded with a good grace? He implored the other side of the House, if they wished to save Ireland from the troubles that threatened to disturb that country, to come to a compromise with his Majesty's Government on this vitally important question, and to assist the men of landed property in Ireland to save that property from being swept away in the agitation that was daily gaining ground. If they did not, they would see the whole of that property inevitably swept away, perhaps in their own time. He could assure hon. Gentlemen that his conviction was, that when landed property in the south should be swept away, that in the north would not be safe. The noble 1341 Lord had assisted in diminishing the number of Bishops in Ireland by ten, upon the ground that they were not necessary to the spiritual purposes of the Church or the Protestant population; and upon what principle did he refuse to diminish the number of the clergy who had no flocks on whom to attend? In many of the benefices in Ireland the Protestant population varied from three to thirty, and yet in such instances the noble Lord would give the clergyman an income of 300l. a-year. Let such parishes as he had described be united to the adjoining parishes, and even then there would be but little duty for a clergyman to perform. The noble Lord had asked would they starve a clergyman on 100l. a-year; but he Mr. Barron would ask in return why would the noble Lord give anything a-year to a clergyman who had nothing to do, and no flock to attend? It was well known that in Ireland men went into the Church merely for the purpose of getting appointed to a sinecure living. Those were the kind of men who were destroying the Protestant Church in Ireland. Those were the kind of men who had destroyed the Church in France, who had destroyed the Roman Catholic Church in England, and who were now destroying the Church in Spain and in Portugal. The principle of the Bill which the Government had brought forward was, to save the Church, and not to spoliate it. It would establish in Ireland a useful body of working clergymen, who would be respected by all classes, in the room of the hunting parsons, who spent their time and the produce of their benefices, not amongst their flocks, but with their families, enjoying the gaiety of Paris and Cheltenham. In the county of Waterford where he resided, there was parish after parish without any resident incumbent. He could ride upwards of thirty miles from his own house without finding one resident incumbent. The people of England perfectly understood now that the cry of the Church in danger, raised by Gentlemen opposite, was not raised for the safety of the Church, but from a love of mammon. For this it was that Ireland was to be left a prey to famine and bloodshed. Did the noble Lord (Stanley) think that he had so much weight in Ireland as to induce the people of that country to receive at his hands what they had refused at the hands of the right hon. Baronet near him, the Member for Tamworth? If he did, he greatly deceived himself. The people of Ireland admired 1342 the straightforward manliness of character of the right hon. Baronet, but they despised the paltry wavering creature who was ever undermining his friends and undoing his own acts. The noble Lord would, if he could, undermine the present Government, in order that he might himself come in for some situation in the general scramble. He could tell the noble Lord that the people of Ireland had no confidence in him, or in anything that emanated from him. They had much more confidence in the right hon. Baronet. He was sorry the noble Lord was not present, for if he were he would speak of him with still more freedom than he did. The noble Lord's Bill was nothing but a delusion. It was inconsistent, too, with principles professed before by the noble Lord himself. In the last year the noble Lord declared that the doctrine of proportion was pregnant with danger as applied to Ireland, and yet he now wished to apply that very principle to Ireland in paying the Protestant Clergy. It was sickening to see public men thus abandoning principle, and unsaying one day what they had said on another. He contended that there would be a large surplus, notwithstanding the denial of the noble Lord. The noble Lord had spoken of unnatural alliances; but what did the noble Lord think of himself when he found himself seated between the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, and the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn), and when he heard himself cheered on by the hon. Gentlemen behind him, who had been (and he said it not with any disrespect) members of Orange lodges? Did the noble Lord not think his position an unnatural alliance? Might he not say to the noble Lord, "Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis." The hon. Gentlemen opposite were quite right in forming the alliance; but the noble Lord was quite wrong. Would the House refuse 50,000l. for the education of that people of Ireland, while at the same time they taunted the people with being a brutal ignorant people? How could they be otherwise than ignorant when whole parishes were to be found in which there was not a single school? They told the Irish people that they were not capable of governing themselves, and yet refused them the means of education? He implored the House, for the sake of property, not to drive the people of Ireland to desperation. It was monstrous to tell a whole nation that they must remain in 1343 ignorance, and must have no share of the means provided for moral and religious instruction. There was now an opportunity for a rational compromise between the two parties that divided Ireland. Was it worthy of the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir James Graham) to endeavour to excite the religious feelings of the people of this country against the Catholics of Ireland? He would tell that right hon. Baronet that the days of Lord George Gordon were gone, never to return. The people of England were no longer to be deluded by such means. He could not help thinking that if the right hon. Baronet were seated on the Ministerial, instead of the Opposition benches he would not have such a holy horror of Popery as he now professed. Did not the right hon. Baronet know that the Roman Catholic religion was the religion of the great majority of civilised Europe? The Legislature had already put power into the hands of the Catholics of Ireland, and yet it was now called upon to look upon them as alien in feelings to their British fellow-subjects. This was a state of things that was unnatural, and could not last; and the sooner it was put an end to the better for the peace and happiness of both countries.
§ Mr. Gally Knight
said, that having been pointedly alluded to by the hon. Member for Waterford he felt it necessary to say a few words. The hon. Gentleman a short time back had quoted a passage from a speech of his delivered in 1832; and expressed his surprise, that after the declaration of the opinions contained in that speech he should regard the question now before the House in the light in which he did regard it. It would not have been wonderful if, after the manner in which promises had been broken, after the total failure of that reconciliation which was to have ensued, after the deeply-to-be-lamented conduct of the political priests, and the prostitution of religion to political purposes, he did not think it would have been wonderful if any man had been induced to take up, with regard to that question, an entirely new position. But it was not these considerations which made him think the Established Church less out of proportion than he had thought it, but because since 1832 its proportions had been materially changed. In 1833 inquiries had not been instituted, and it was confidently asserted that the annual income of the Irish Church amounted to no less than three millions. Since that time the truth had been ascertained. 1344 Lord Althorp—whose very name is a guarantee for good faith—had declared in his place that on no subject had he ever known so great a delusion to prevail. The real income of the Irish Church was found to be 800,000l.; from that amount 60,000l. a-year was diverted to relieve the Catholics from the cess of which they loudly complained. Ten Protestant Bishops were swept away; the revenues of the Established Church were reduced, and a large measure of Irish Church Reform was carried into effect. This was the explanation of his no longer entertaining the same opinions he had expressed in 1832. The income of the Irish Church was found to be only a third of what had been imagined, and from that diminished sum a large deduction had been made. Was it, then, inconsistent in him no longer to regard the subject in the same point of view in which he had regarded it before the truth came to light, and before the reform and the reductions had taken place? He was aware it was said, that a part of the Cabinet of Earl Grey had not considered his measure of Irish Church Reform as a final measure; but, in his own opinion, nothing was so directly the reverse of good Government as when great changes were made speedily to return to the charge. Such a practice created a perpetual expectation of change, and gave the public mind a habit of restlessness, the very opposite to that which it was the duty of all Governments to instil. For these reasons, even were he less satisfied with Earl Grey's measure of Irish Church Reform than he was, he should not have wished to open that book again. But, entirely apart from these considerations, there was another reason which made it impossible for him to act in any other manner; and when hon. Gentlemen quoted his speeches, he thought it would be only fair if they finished the sentence. With the leave of the House he would read what he said, in 1832, on that particular subject which was the basis of the present Bill. In reply to a proposition which was then made, of applying part of the property of the Irish Church to secular purposes, he had expressed the opinion which he held then, as he held now, in the following words:—"The proposition of applying tithes, or any other part of Church property, to other than ecclesiastical purposes, is not to be thought of. Whatever the Church enjoys always belonged to the servants of the altar. Whatever the Church enjoys belongs to the Church by as good a 1345 title as the layman's estate belongs to the layman. No part of the Church property was ever bestowed by a grant from the nation. How, then, can it be considered as national property, applicable to other than ecclesiastical uses? If an act of spoliation is committed on the Church, a blow will be struck at the root of all property, and the consequences would be no less dangerous than the act would be unprincipled." He now ventured to ask whether it would be consistent in him to do anything but strenuously to oppose the secular principle, which was the ground upon which the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, had declared last night he would take his stand. It was that principle which met him on the threshold—that principle for which alone the warmest supporters of the Bill avowed they thought it valuable—that principle which pervaded every line of the present Bill, of which the enactments were prepared with as much labour and astuteness as if it had been intrusted to the arch enemy himself. He admitted that his Majesty's present Ministers were in honour bound not to omit the principle from their this year's Bill—but he regretted that abstract principles should be dragged from the closet and obtruded on legislative assemblies. So brought forward, they were always the symptoms of morbid excitement, and often the precursors of fatal events. Men went wild about abstract principles—nations were convulsed in their name. The National Assembly of France, in 1789, teemed with abstract principles, and prepared itself by a course of them for a career of crime and of blood, whilst, on the other hand, there was not a single abstract principle to be found in our Bill of Rights, because the statesmen of that day knew how unwise it was to introduce them. The introduction of the principle was the more objectionable because it did not only apply to Ireland, but to the whole empire, and if once admitted, would be brought forward again and again, as much against the Church in England as in Ireland. The principle was not local, but imperial; and what purpose was it to serve? Did they hope it would satisfy the disturbers of Ireland? Nothing, it was now clear, would satisfy the disturbers of Ireland, but the complete subversion of the Protestant Church, and the establishment of a Catholic Church, and a separate Catholic republic. If these things were desirable were they possible? Would the great body of the Scotch and English people ever consent to the establishment of 1346 a Catholic Church in Ireland? and if it were established, would that give Ireland tranquillity?. Would it not drive to desperation a minority powerful enough to disturb the peace, and certain to do so, if cruelly outraged? Tranquillity would not be obtained. The scene of agitation would only be changed; but if the Catholic Church could not be established, the Protestant Church must remain a part of the plan, and whatever was to remain must not be humiliated, for they might depend upon it, humiliation was eventual destruction; yet the Bill before the House trampled the Irish Church to the earth. They were indignantly rebuked if they hesitated exactly to proportion clerical pay to the amount of labour done; but he protested against the introduction of the Utilitarian principle into the department of religious instruction. He was disgusted with the attempt to get religion done cheap, and he was astonished to hear the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, remind them last night of the miserable pittance received by some of the working clergy of England, as a thing worthy of imitation. The servants of the altar were not, after all, "hewers of wood and drawers of water." A minister of the gospel was not to be bargained for, and cheapened, like a damaged bale of goods. Hon. Gentlemen opposite wished them to be men of education, they wished them to keep up a respectable appearance, they wished them to be charitable, and yet they wanted to cut them down to the minimum point of support—they assumed that the number of the flock was the exact criterion of the labour of the pastor; but he assured them, a scattered flock, few in number, would cause as much labour as a dense congregation of twenty times the amount. A scattered Church was necessarily more expensive in proportion to its numbers than a collected Church; and in Ireland the clergyman had not only to perform his ordinary duties, but to labour as a missionary, and sometimes to suffer as a martyr. He contended that Ministers had no right to cut down the Church for the sake of creating a surplus; and that, by this Bill, they did so cut it down much below the necessary amount, as had been abundantly proved last night by the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire. He again asked, what was their object? Not to give the people education—because the State afforded whatever was wanted on that score; the object was to gratify the feelings of one party by the 1347 sight of the humiliation of another. This he must call pandering to the bad passions—passions of which men, in cooler moments, would be ashamed—passions which no Government ought to encourage. But there were two propositions before the House—the Reform of the Church and Commutation of Tithes. About the latter there was but one opinion. It was most desirable that the tax should be transferred from the tenant to the landlord, and remove the irritation and collision which arose from the present manner of collection; and in Ireland, where the collection was so peculiarly difficult, it was fair to give the landlord a fair compensation, and it was no hardship to make him undertake the risk, because the greater part of the land was in Protestant hands, and therefore it would only be a payment from a Protestant proprietor to a Protestant minister. In Ireland, there must always be Protestant landlords and Catholic tenants. He did not suppose the House would ever adopt the suggestions of the Priest of Carlow, and sanction the ejection of the lawful proprietors of the soil. In the pecuniary part of the matter the landlord was alone concerned, for eventually whatever the tenant ceased to pay in tithe he would pay in rent. This would assuredly be the case sooner or later in a country where there was a greater competition for land than in any other country in the world. The Catholic tenants were therefore exactly the persons least concerned, though they were always brought forward as the stalking-horses on this occasion. It was first represented they would be so much the less poor for every farthing taken from the Church; and then they were significantly reminded of their numbers—the six millions were for ever brandished in their faces. But this was nothing but the argument of physical force—the argument of anarchy—the tocsin of civil war; and this was an argument by which the House would never be influenced. But they were all agreed about tithes; the point at issue was the proposal of cutting down the Church to erect a surplus. If Ministers really wished to do justice to Ireland; if, without introducing an erroneous principle, or pandering to bad passions, they really wished to show that they cared for the Catholic population of Ireland, they would with one hand protect the Protestant Establishment, and with the other charge the Consolidated Fund with the pay of the Catholic clergy; they would provide a Regium Donum for the Catholics of the south, as there already was for the Presbyterians of the north—not to en- 1348 courage the Catholic religion—not as an establishment—but as a statesmanlike manner of dealing with things as they are, and of consulting feelings which deserve to be respected, as was uniformly done in every other Protestant country of Europe. He was recommending nothing more than had been the deliberate opinion of Pitt, Fox, and Canning—nothing more than had been once co firmed by that House. He was quite realy to do justice to the Catholics of Ireland, but not by doing injustice to the Protestants. But with such a proposition they had nothing to do at present. It was not in the Bill, and they had only to make up their minds on the Bill as it was. For himself, as the Bill involved a principle which he had uniformly opposed, and deprived the Irish Church of resources which no longer exceeded her necessities, he could not give it his support. At the same time he was not the friend of sinecures and pluralities—he was no defender of spiritual absentees. He did not wish Irish rectors to spend their time at Bath or Cheltenham. He was willing to distribute the revenues of the Church in whatever manner would best serve her true interests. All these great objects appeared to be attained by the amendment proposed by his noble Friend, the Member for Lancashire. It could not be said that this scale of remuneration was too high: he excluded the objectionable principle—he accomplished all the good, without admitting any of the bad. He should therefore support his amendment.
§ Mr. William S. O'Brien
said, he was aware that any argument he could offer upon this subject would be vain. Whatever might be the opinion of that House upon this Bill it must go for nothing, as it would be defeated by the other House of Parliament. He must, however, as an Irish Protestant, and an Irish Representative, state what his sentiments were. He would come to the main point, the application of the surplus that might rise from the Church property of Ireland, after providing for the spiritual wants of the Irish Protestants. This property was originally wrested from the Roman Catholic clergy, and given to the Protestant clergy, with a view to the conversion of the population of Ireland to the Protestant religion. In this they failed, and the proposed object not having been attained, he considered it fully competent to Parliament to apply any surplus of it to purposes best calculated to promote the education of the Irish people, guaranteeing, at the same 1349 time, existing interests. What ought to be done in a country, the great majority of the inhabitants of which were Roman Catholics, and only one-tenth Protestants of the Established Church? He contended, that after providing for the ministry of the Protestant Church, the surplus ought to be applied for the general benefit of the population at large. If it was contended that the Protestant Church of Ireland formed, by law, part of the Church of England, and, therefore, that such application of the surplus could not be made, he would say the sooner that law was repealed the better. Scotland had now an independent Church Establishment, though it was once attempted to force the Established Church of England upon her. She resisted, however, and was successful. He considered it the duty of the State to provide for the religious education of all its subjects, unless they entertained doctrines hostile to the public security. He cared not from what source the means were drawn, from local taxation, from the Consolidated Fund, or from a surplus of Church property. He had looked carefully into the subject, and he must confess he could see no injustice whatever in contributing to the support of the Roman Catholic clergy from any surplus income of the Irish Church. He should have been much better pleased, if, instead of giving 30l. per cent, to the Irish landlords, that sum had been employed to constitute a fund for the support of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. The Irish Members were quite willing that due provision should be made for the Protestant clergy, but they would apply any surplus that might be afterwards disposable to the general purposes of education. The question here was not as to 50,000l., or any other sum. The great question was, whether Roman Catholics were to be placed in all respects on the same footing as Protestants. In his view, it made no difference whether the surplus was 10,000l. or 100,000l. The noble Lord (Lord Morpeth) placed the amount too high at 360,000l. In Scotland, religious instruction was provided for a people much more numerous than the Protestants of Ireland at less expense than 300,000l., and it would not be denied that there was nowhere to be found a more moral, a more exemplary, or a better educated clergy than those of Scotland. The best course would be to throw all the Church pro- 1350 perty into a general fund, and let the Clergy be paid out of it without any deduction. The Bishops of Ireland were too highly paid. From 4,000l. to 5,000l. a-year was too much in so cheap a country as Ireland; 2,000l. or 3,000l. a-year, and 4,000l. to an Archbishop, would be amply sufficient; an additional sum of 1,000l. might be given to such of the Irish prelates as had to attend Parliamentary duties. The net revenue of the Irish Church was, altogether, 795,000l., and from this a surplus might easily be had of 159,000l. or 200,000l. The dioceses of Cashel, Cloyne, Limerick, and others, contained a vast Catholic population and few Protestants. Large sums were levied to provide for the support of the Protestant Church in these places, though the number of the Protestants was so small. Now could any person doubt the propriety and justice of applying part of this income to the benefit of the Roman Catholic population? It was easy to talk of Exchequer suits and writs of rebellion, but they would never alter the determination of the people to pay no tithe. If ever there could be an excuse for a breach of the peace, the tithe-payers of Ireland were excusable for their resistance to the laws. The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) announced to them that tithes were to be extinguished for ever in Ireland. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel), on conning into office, declared that tithes could no longer be levied on the occupier, and the million loan was given up to indemnify those who had not been paid. What was to be done? It was easy for Gentlemen opposite to oppose concession. They did not reside in that country, and were not daily alarmed with the dangers which threatened life and property. There were many Protestant Clergymen in Ireland who bitterly rued the course which had been pursued by their so-called friends and advocates. He deeply regretted, that the Protestant clergy were so much reduced; but at the same time he could not disguise from himself that their present condition was the result of that course of action and of political conduct which had induced them to take the field with armed men against their parishioners, and to go so far as to shed their blood when resistance was offered. He felt confident that they must be desirous of being extricated from the painful and difficult Position in which they were now placed, and 1351 that not only that party, but both parties, were desirous that the constant strife between them should be put an end to by the adoption of measures which, while they had the merit of being founded on the principle of conciliation, should have at the same time the additional credit of being founded on the principle of strict and impartial justice.
§ Mr. William Roche
said, that admiring as he did the liberal sentiments expressed by his hon. Friend, and he might say nearly colleague, he regretted that he must dissent from his views of conferring upon the Catholic clergy of Ireland a state provision. As an advocate for each sect supporting its own pastors, and thereby freeing religion and the clergy at large from the jealousies and hostilities created by a contrary practice, he must oppose the views of his hon. Friend on this head; but while he did so, he was anxious to acknowledge the sincere and good intentions of his hon. Friend, although he could not accord with the wisdom or expediency of this idea. Nevertheless, he (Mr. Roche) would like to see the comfort of the Catholic clergy in some measure provided for; not, however, by trespassing on the State or on other communities, but by their own people providing in each parish a moderate glebe-house and a moderate annexation of land, leaving them to earn the remainder of their support by their zeal and assiduity, and by the consequent affection and attachment of their flocks. But to come to the question at issue, he prayed cave to inquire what was the mighty, and, n fact, the only been sought for by the Bill of the noble Secretary for Ireland, namely, the appropriation of any contingent surplus; what more did they ask than the gleanings of a superabundant harvest, the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table? Should these be trivial and insignificant, as predicted by Gentlemen on the opposite side, were they worth contending for? but if, on the other hand, they proved sufficient towards their intended purpose, to what object could they he applied more salutary, or more congenial with the true spirit and interests of religion, and the imperative duties of every priesthood, than that of promoting the enlightenment, the morality, and the consequent temporal and eternal happiness of the people? and was not this more particularly due to that portion of the Irish people who, in consequence of differing from the doctrines of the Established Church, could not derive any other return from the heavy pressure on their industry, occasioned by the maintenance of that 1352 Church? Surely it was peculiarly incumbent on those ultra-guardians of Protestantism to contribute readily and liberally to the education of the Irish Catholics, inasmuch as they considered Catholicity the offspring of ignorance, which, like the shadows and vapours of night, must disappear before the light of education and inquiry. It would seem, from the arguments of these ultra-advocates of the clergy of the Established Church, that they were disposed to say, "educate and enlighten if you please, but please not to touch our incomes, or ask us to contribute towards it." This Bill puts the sincerity of those professions in favour of the education of the people to the test. Even in a pecuniary sense, this principle and this appropriation would be well advised on the part of the clergy of the Established Church, because it would tend to excite better and kinder feelings towards it in the minds of the people, and therefore render the situation of the clergy so much more comfortable. But if the clergy will yield nothing, but recklessly persevere in exacting the uttermost farthing by any means, however disastrous, they may drive the people of Ireland to recollect and to adopt the example set them by an Irish Protestant Parliament in a resolution of the House of Commons of that day, in reference to the tithe of agisnment, that whoever paid such impost should be considered "an enemy to his country." Unless the Protestant clergy hastened to arrive at a conciliatory adjustment, Ireland would become a perfect Pandemonium, and religion be made the demon of discord, instead of being an angel of harmony and peace. Everything connected with the Protestant Church would be abhorred, writs of rebellion be converted into real rebellion, and the laws in general, from being thus habitually opposed under a sense of injustice and oppression, would lose their weight and influence in all other respects. Evil enough had been experienced, and blood enough surely been shed under the existing state of things; he therefore trusted that the Protestant clergy and their over-ardent friends would, for their own sake, for peace sake, and for religion sake, cease opposition to an amelioration of the system, and to a Bill having for its object the conciliation of the people.
§ Mr. John Young
informed the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, that he was quite wrong with regard to the clergy of the Established Church,—they had already made extensive sacrifices to conciliate the people of Ireland; they were willing to make more, and no body of men 1353 in the country could be more desirous than they were to have the question set at rest. He wished to state, as concisely as possible, the general and deep-rooted feeling of the Protestants of Ireland; he would not follow the hon. Member for Limerick through the calculations which he had framed so ingeniously, but of the correctness of which he had some doubts, for this reason—that the general character of the measures before the House was of far greater importance than the practical details. He should not, therefore, stop to inquire whether the scanty pittance left to the Protestant clergy would be an adequate or inadequate remuneration. The features of the two schemes were so strongly marked, that no man who was friendly to an Establishment could long hesitate as to which he ought to prefer. The assumption of a surplus and its secular appropriation, on the part of Ministers, were the grand distinction. Against this the Protestants, and, he believed, the Presbyterians, took their stand. They were ready to admit great changes in the Church, and reform, to a considerable extent; but this appropriation, inculcated by excited and interested political partisans and sects ranged in bitter hostility to the Established Church, wore the appearance, not of relief for the Roman Catholics, but of humiliation to the Protestants, and even to their Church. Far from facilitating the passing of a tithe measure, this principle, enwoven and embodied with it, would retard its progress and injure its effect. Were it law, the Protestant clergy would be worse off than ever—their incomes limited, but not less precarious—their situations as exposed, but no longer independent. It had been asked what the word "final" meant. He would endeavour to explain it as applied to an Act of Parliament. Legislation should, as far as circumstances would admit, be definite and conclusive. It should settle, for the time at least, any matter it took in hand. If this applied generally, ought it not more especially to obtain in the present instance, which was a species of treaty, terms of adjustment between hostile and long-contending parties, which was to heal the wounds and reconcile the differences of Ireland, by arranging all preliminaries and determining all boundaries? But did it do so? Would this principle permit it to have such an effect? Never. It left a point—the chief point—undecided, and rankling in the minds of men. If it meant anything, it was a groundwork 1354 of future and more extended action; it left something to demand, and something to defend: doing this, it gave no permanent satisfaction to the conquering, and no permanent security to the defeated.—This principle was constantly supported by appeals to Physical force, to the people, to the seven millions; he never heard these numbers reiterated without feeling tempted to reply, as was done at a famous trial, when a king was the culprit, and the accusers said to be "all the good people of England:" "No nor a hundredth part of them," was exclaimed. He did not believe that a hundredth part of the people of Ireland were so savagely hostile to the Established Church as they were represented; the peasantry, grateful for the smallest services received, and generous to the utmost extent of their limited means, had not forgotten the charities of the Protestant clergy, and did not rejoice at their unmerited sufferings. They had been tampered with, or they would have been well satisfied with the concessions already made—with a commutation and entire redemption of tithes. As it was, many of those whose voices were loudest against the Church would long remember and bitterly regret its fall, if ever destined to sink beneath the attacks of its enemies, when they missed its fostering charities and protecting influence, and looked upon the gulph of poverty and wretchedness which they were deluded into thinking would be filled by its ruins, but which would only be rendered deeper and more dismal by its fall. Animosities assuming various forms, exasperated by a fatal succession of causes, and continued for centuries, had been goaded into fiercer action, and the people had been betrayed into ruinous excitement, through false hopes and false pride, by all the arts of imposition, and by promised advantages, which no extent of concession and no effort of legislation could ever realise. Even supposing, what he would not admit, that a measure, with the appropriation enwoven into it, were to satisfy the Roman Catholics for the moment, what effect would it have on the opposite party, on those who held four-sixths of the land of Ireland, and were its most industrious and improving inhabitants? It would dismay and dishearten them. They had just grounds for apprehension; they had conceded much, more was demanded, and that undefined and extravagant. While their present situation was awkward and perilous, they could not help recollecting, that amongst the most prominent and 1355 fiercely-insisted-on demands of the popular leaders in 1641, was what they were pleased to call "satisfaction in matters concerning the Church." The career of those leaders, however justifiable and brilliant at first, closed in a bloody civil war and the establishment of a military despotism. When they heard hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House recommending the Protestant ministers to renounce that influence which they say surrounds them and offends the eye of poverty, and resume the modesty befitting their apostolic origin, they could not help recalling that the same advice, in precisely similar terms, was given to the French clergy in the Assembly, by one whose name a few years after became the terror of all France. They formed part of the first speech delivered by the far-famed Robespierre. He knew there was that fund of solid good sense in the country which set all notions of revolution at defiance. Nor did he believe that there was any considerable body who had in contemplation schemes similar to the English popular leaders of l640, or the French republicans of last century. Still the Protestants of Ireland had reason to dread annoyance and encroachment, and were right in not willingly surrendering the most distant out-work which seemed to guard them. He perfectly agreed with his hon. Friend, the member for Newark, that the analogy attempted to be drawn between Prussia and Ireland was not tenable; still, were the alternative put to him, he would rather see the Established Church in Ireland placed on the same footing as regarded the Government, and other religious persuasions, as the Protestant church in Prussia, than accept a tithe measure with an appropriation clause. In the one case he flattered himself he could see something of the results—a settlement for the present, a hope for the future. In the ministerial measure no human wisdom could foresee the consequences. It must be worked out indefinitely at the will and pleasure of the popular leaders of the day, and of any Administration which, in an unsettled country, might chance to hold the reins of power. It would be a source of constant demand and aggression to the stronger, of constant oppression and anxiety to the weaker party, while it inevitably involved in the struggle a disturbance of habits, a disappointment of expectations, and an abatement of that reliance on the inviolability of legal possessions, which was the mainspring of industry and the chief source of comfort.
§ Mr. Edward Lytton Bulwer
said, the 1356 noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, had brought before them two questions instead of one. They had to decide whether they should reform the Irish Church so as to satisfy the noble Lord and the hon. Gentlemen opposite, or so as to satisfy the Irish people. Now he did not think the noble Lord had hitherto been so fortunate a legislator for Ireland as to induce that House to look very favourably upon the suggestions of one whose very abilities had only served to render more conspicuous the great disproportion between his unrivalled power as a debater, and his ill-luck (no less unrivalled) in his capacity as a legislator. The hon. Gentleman, the Member for Cavan, found fault with the Bill before the House, because it would not be a final one; but whatever merit the substitute proposed by the noble Lord (Stanley) might possess, the very last recommendation it could lay claim to was that of being a final settlement of the question; for if that House were to be untrue to itself, if it were to adopt the plan of the noble Lord, was not every gentleman perfectly aware, that while the six millions of Catholics (whom the noble Lord quite overlooked) remained out of the pale of his reform, they should still have the same discussion Session after Session, and the noble Lord's Bill would only be another landmark in the dreary waste of unprofitable and fruitless legislation. But if, on the other hand, they were to reform the Irish Church so as to satisfy the Irish people, they must do it upon the very principle the noble Lord had so solemnly abjured—namely, they must give the people a contingent benefit in the Church which the people were to maintain. If it were true, as the noble Lord had asserted, that the people would enjoy but a very scanty surplus, that only proved how favourable a compromise this was to the Church and how graciously they ought to concede to the generosity of a people, who left to a hostile religion all its adequate means of support, and demanded only for themselves the recognition of the bare and abstract principle of equity and justice. The question of surplus was a mere waste of words; either there would be no surplus—and therefore, as the hon. Member for Weymouth so well expressed it, there would be no spoliation; or if there were a surplus, before they appropriated a surplus they must discover a sinecure. Should they make it a principle of the State to abolish sinecures, and yet make it a principle of our religion to establish them? They 1357 talked of Irish bulls, but the words Irish Church were the greatest bull in the language. It was called the Irish Church because it was a Church not for the Irish. They had heard that those who ministered to the altar should live by the altar. But the Protestant clergymen did not minister to the altar—the Catholic priest ministered to the altar, and the Protestant lived upon the flock. But they were told that, though they had the legal, they had not the equitable right to appropriate Church property. Could any Protestant use this argument? How then did the Protestant Establishment exist? We stood upon the gigantic ruins of the Catholic Church property. Should we quarrel with the very title deeds by which we held our possession? They had been told, that it was arranged at the Union that the two Churches of England and Ireland should be incorporated as a defence to the weaker, or, in other words, the Protestant party; and they had been solemnly adjured to adhere to the contract. Was it at that time of day they were to be told that what the Legislature of one age had established, the Legislature of another age could not amend? Talk of adhering to the legislation of the past! You might as well talk of adhering to the Heptarchy. What! was there to be only one entail, which could never be cut off in the blunders of departed bigotry and the injustice of obsolete oppression? But then they were to be told they would establish a precedent to the danger of the Establishment of England. No, it was their opponents who established that dangerous precedent, when they told them that the Church or the State ought not to be influenced by the religion of the population. It was on that principle that they rested the broad foundation of the English Church, and by denying that principle they sapped that foundation. But, continued the hon. Gentleman, do you serve the English Church, if that be in danger from popular opinion, by linking it with the Irish—and declaring that they must stand or fall together? Do you act wisely to associate inseparably all that is odious, even to the friends of the Establishment, with all that is venerable and beloved? Do you act wisely by leaving to its enemies an argument that the majority of the representative assembly cannot defend? Is not this involving the uses of the Church in the condemnation which should attach to the abuses, and yoking together the diseased body with the healthy? Do you cure that which is dis- 1358 eased, or do you infect that which is healthy? But then you object to appropriation because it involves a principle, and you cannot tell where the principle may stop; this is perilous ground for the hon. Gentlemen opposite. Will no experience warn them? Was it not by this argument that they opposed the principle of the disfranchisement of Gatton and Old Sarum? Was it not by this argument that the Duke of Wellington resisted Reform? What was the consequence?—the year afterwards came Schedule A and Schedule B. We are now treating with the Gatton and the Old Sarum of the Irish Church. You resist the principle of a small reform: beware how your own procrastination irritates the public mind to that point when even a large reform can do little more than save you from revolution. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Cumberland, had said that concession never satisfied the Irish people. But with what grace did tirades against concession come from those who had begun the policy, and now declaimed against its results? Folly it was indeed, to admit Catholics to the Legislature, if you meant to continue religious disqualifications on political rights. How, one day can you say that Ireland and England are identically the same, and therefore they shall have the same Church; and the next day declare that they are not the same, and therefore they shall not have the same Corporations? Have you, then, a right to say they are not satisfied with concessions, when you never concede, till you are forced to it? And while you gave Catholic Emancipation to fear, you reject Bill after Bill while the Irish only appeal to your justice. But when we talk of the discontent of the Irish, let us not forget that the worst war is always that which is occasioned by constraints upon religious opinion. In Ireland those constraints do not indeed produce war, but they prevent all the blessings of peace. Look at England—look at Scotland—were they contented and submissive whenever a religious sentiment was at stake? You reject all the lessons of experience—you forget your own wars under Charles 1st. you forget your own. revolution of 1688—and you demand tranquillity and gratitude as the result of causes which in yourselves produced only revolutions. Your Church in Ireland costs you cent. per cent. to maintain it; at least it costs as much for the police and the soldiers as for the clergy themselves. And what, after all, is our profit? Where is the triumph of 1359 Protestant ascendancy? Where the evidence of Christianity itself? Do we imitate the Saviour or the Impostor, when we carry the Bible in one hand, and the sword in the other? Sir, I deny that the spiritual interests of the Church are secure, so long as any temporal causes render the Church detested. I deny that the Bible is rendered sacred when appealed to over the bodies of the dead. I deny the religion of Rathcormac—it was not Christ, it was Judas, who took the thirty pieces of silver as the price of blood. But if you insist upon your regard for the spiritual interests of the Church, because you promote the temporal interests of the clergy, how have you, attained even that object? In what a situation are the clergy of Ireland now? Do you mean that they should for ever continue in this situation?—are they to subsist for ever on public subscriptions?—for I tell you plainly that until you have repealed the Parliamentary Reform Bill, this House will never pass an Irish Church Bill without the appropriation clause. I ask you then, is it you—you who set up for the friends of the clergy—who insist upon maintaining them as the mendicants of public charity, and is it you, who sneer at the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny for receiving public subscriptions, when it is your own obstinacy on this question that covers the columns of the newspapers with the subscriptions of ostentatious piety for the starving clergy of the wealthiest Establishment in the world? Emulous of the fame of your own caricature of the learned Member for Kilkenny, it is the Protestant Establishment that you have made the big beggerman of Ireland. Sir, it is indeed a miserable light in which the ministers of the gospel have been placed by their pretended friends—a light at once odious and impotent—now calling out the military, now calling on the public. Are we only to read of the clergy of Ireland in cases of murder, or as objects of charity? and are hon. Members opposite who condemn them—men deserving in themselves of every eulogy passed upon them—to this character to arrogate to themselves the exclusive honour of being the friends of the Establishment, and the supporters of the dignity of the clergy? Sir, before I sit down there is another view of this question which hon. Members seem wholly to overlook. When the Reform Bill was being discussed the Duke of Wellington asked how the King's Government was to be carried on. Now, Sir, that question has, perhaps unexpectedly, 1360 received this answer—an answer fatal to the Government formed by the Duke of Wellington himself. The Government can only be carried on by acquiescence in the very principle we are now debating. And, Sir, I must ask another question. Till this principle is settled how is any Government to exist in harmony with the theory of the Constitution? If that Government is formed of hon. Members opposite, how can it exist in harmony with this House? If composed of its present materials, how can it exist in harmony with the House of Lords? I don't say which House must yield. I don't enter into that question. I rely enough upon history to believe that in any contest (in a country so far advanced in liberal institutions as England) between the popular party and the aristocratic, the popular party is sure to get the best of it; but this House has shown that it does not desire to bring on the consequences of an open conflict; but in the meanwhile is there anything in the present struggle upon this question that is for the benefit of either party? It condemns the Administration to weakness, but it condemns you to exclusion. While you think to proscribe the Catholic you proscribe yourselves, and from a Protestant prejudice you shut out your own Protestant champions from any participation of power. This is not all. The whole course of legislation is delayed—the public mind is unsettled—all Ireland is left a prey to discontent, and year after year passes on in confirming the habits of contempt for a law which the Government cannot justify, and the army itself cannot enforce. Now then, I say, granting even that all your reasonings are right, still, as in the Catholic question, balance the evil against the good, and ask yourselves whether you are engaged in a struggle that is worth all the sacrifices it costs? The opposite bench is the strand upon which all who have resisted this principle have been shoaled. No ability, no rank, no character has been able to contend against it. It has made itself the very principle upon which all Government must be formed. In this very House, which the right hon. Baronet opposite assembled to support his policy, it effected his downfall. Should we not, then, be mad to rest our English Church upon ground which Minister after Minister has found it impossible to maintain? If the battle of the Protestant Establishment is to be fought, let us enlist under its banners all its friends; let us keep up that Establishment in Ireland; but rather in its spirit than its form—rather as the agent of toleration than the 1361 minister of persecution. I do not say that if you grant this concession, you will have no future concession to make. It is always impossible to make that description of compact between a Government which is of the day, and a people which is immortal. But I say that you have no right to make bargains with justice, or stop short of any concession to the Irish people, so long as you leave them one hardship which is not shared by the people with whom they are united. Far, then, from thinking that this Bill will be the conclusion of our boons, I rather trust it will be the commencement: I see nothing to alarm me in the gratitude of a people; I see everything to alarm me in their discontent. No, I do not shrink from avowing that I hope this conquest over our sectarian prejudices is the forerunner of a steady and continuous career of justice. So that when, hereafter, the Irish Catholic shall ask what benefits he has derived from the union with a Protestant country, we may be enabled to point, in answer, to all the blessings which ought to be the necessary offspring of union with a people who have won for themselves the liberties of conscience, and whose forefathers, in abjuring the Catholic faith, never meant to adopt its worst errors, in claiming the prerogative of an exclusive and dominant ascendancy, but rather to assert the inviolable right of universal equality and toleration.
§ Mr. Maclean
cordially concurred in one observation made by the hon. Member who had just sat down, that even if the principle of this Bill were conceded, it would by no means be the last concession the House would be called upon to make. After having taken their stand on a question of principle, and so important a principle as that contained in the noble Lord's Bill, if they could be induced by any argument urged in the course of the debate to sacrifice that principle on which their stand had been taken, nothing would be left which could at all afford the people of England the slightest confidence in the integrity and wisdom of their procedure. He could not, however, but repudiate in the strongest manner the unfeeling allusion made by the hon. Gentleman to what he called "the ostentatious display of superfluous wealth" in support of the distressed Protestant clergy in Ireland, as if it had sprung, not from sympathy with those sufferings which, thank God, the Protestants of Ireland had no hand in creating, but from a desire, knowing that their names 1362 would be laid before the public, ostentatiously to parade their charity and overflowing riches. He was sorry to hear from the hon. Member such a sentiment as that, impugning motives which he had no right to call in question, on the part of men who, whatever might be the opinions of those opposite, had a right, however mistaken might be the views they had formed, to have credit for acting with purity of intention and integrity of motive. Judging from the declaration which the hon. Member had made, and the tone in which it was uttered, there could be little doubt the hon. Member for Lincoln, at least, was not among those who had paraded their ostentatious charity in behalf of the Irish clergy. But there was one question which he would ask upon this subject, and to which he challenged a fair and honest reply. Who was it created the necessity for that subscription? He thanked the hon. Member for Kilkenny for that cheer, and he would tell him sincerely, that he believed he (Mr. O'Connell) and the party with whom he acted were, in a great measure, the cause of that subscription. He did not mean to say—for he would not in his turn question the motives of that hon. Member—he did not mean to say the motives of his conduct were not conscientious and pure; but he would nevertheless maintain, in the presence of that hon. Gentleman, that the lessons which had been preached to the people of Ireland from lips clothed with thunder when addressing assemblies such as those that usually listened to him in that country, those lessons had undoubtedly excited the people of Ireland to a resistance to that which was well known to be the law of the land, and which, until it had been changed by the supreme authority of the Legislature, it was the first duty of the hon. Member, as of them all, to see that it was respected and carried into effect. Those on that (the Opposition) side of the House had been taunted repeatedly with the slaughters of Rathcormac, for it was said they had been occasioned by the tithe system. He altogether denied the assertion. They arose not from tithes, but from doctrines most assiduously promulgated with respect to tithes. Let those who preached passive resistance among the deluded peasantry bear the reproach, for they were the real fomenters of those appalling massacres which had been the melancholy result in Ireland. If obedience had been enjoined, and the law, however impolitic, had been impartially enforced, there would at least 1363 have remained at the present day no loss of life to deplore. But they had been told that the Protestant Church was built on the plunder of the Roman Catholics, and he had always said that the principle of the present Bill should be regarded as the introduction of a wedge to split asunder our Protestant Constitution, and restore that property to the Roman Catholics which it was said had been abstracted from them. He was prepared to prove, that long before the Roman Catholic faith had existed, a Church existed in Britain and in Ireland, and that it was supported by tithe. But when they came down to the time of Elizabeth, would hon. Gentlemen on the other side deny that she had acted with sagacity and wisdom as far as related to her Roman Catholic subjects? If they did, he would refer them to the published work of the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and he would ask them to do what he (Mr. Maclean) had done—he would ask them to read that book and extract from it some lessons of instruction with respect to the conduct of Queen Elizabeth towards the Roman Catholics of the empire, in which she exhibited that profundity of wisdom for which she was so much and so deservedly admired by those on the other side of the House. The noble Lord (J. Russell), in sentences as tersely put together as those the House had the satisfaction of listening to last night, wrote to this effect:—"It was happy for the country that Queen Elizabeth found it her interest to embrace the Protestant religion, and that, by the foolish as well as atrocious plots of the Roman Catholics, she was forced to cultivate still more strongly the affections of the Protestant party. Boast as we may of our Constitution, had Queen Elizabeth been a Roman Catholic, or James II. a Protestant, there would have been no liberty in England." That was the deliberately written opinion of the noble Lord, the advocate of the present measure. But he was not content with stating his opinion of the conduct of Queen Elizabeth towards her Roman Catholic subjects, but in another portion of his work, and the greatest credit was due to him for the manner in which he treated that part of the subject, talking of that period in the national history when restrictions were generally taken off all the subjects of the realm except the Roman Catholics—with respect to the times of William and Mary, he said, "Among the concessions made to religious liberty, there were none in favour of the Roman Catho- 1364 lics; on the contrary, new laws were passed, of excessive severity, tending to render the Roman Catholics poor and ignorant, heaping penalty upon penalty, and making them, as it were, slaves among a nation of freemen. Yet it must not be supposed that a nation so humane as the English acted in this harsh and unusual spirit of bitterness without deep provocation. The reigns of Elizabeth, of James I., of Charles II., and of James II., had been disturbed by Roman Catholic plots, more or less sanguinary; some using as their means the assassination of the sovereign, others the introduction of a foreign army, but all tending to extinguish the liberties and destroy the independence of England. Whether the precautions adopted by the English Parliament were wise I will not decide; but I am clearly of opinion they were just." Those were the opinions of the noble Lord relative to the times of William and Mary, with respect to which he doubted the wisdom of the precautions, but had not the slightest doubt of their justice. If such were the sentiments of the noble Lord—and he differed from him in some degree upon one point—he was of opinion that in early periods of our history they might have relaxed a considerable part of the Penal-laws affecting Roman Catholics. If, he repeated, the opinions of the noble Lord were as he had quoted, he could not be taunted with bigotry or intolerance when, willing to grant to the people of Ireland equal civil rights as citizens of the same empire, he demanded for the Church the preservation of that property which had been inherent in her for centuries—which was guaranteed by the Constitution, and which, if spoliated, would lead to interminable confusion and the disruption of all social well-being. He had been peculiarly struck by an argument which escaped the lips of the Member for Waterford, who doubtless had been indefatigable in his search for what he called "the truth," although most unfortunate in the success of his investigation. He summoned before them the mighty shadows of Aristotle and Plato, of Socrates and Cicero—he awoke the recollections of Bossuet and Fenelon, a singular juxtaposition, forsooth; but still he must have credit for his illustrious selection, and he asked, with triumph, if they had agreed on what was "truth." But his reasoning furnished its own refutation. Some of them found it not—they could not find it—from them it was hidden; 1365 but there was a place, and one alone, in which, if the hon. Member continued his researches, he would assuredly find it—the Bible. The brilliant intellect of Aristotle looked for it in vain—it was invisible to Cicero. Had it baffled, too, both Plato and the Member for Waterford? And were they bigots—were they plunderers—were they fondly chasing a phantom and sacrificing a reality when they said, that as Christian legislators they were bound by their faith not to diminish that scanty subsistence which was the inheritance of its teachers in Ireland? There was one other part to which he would allude before sitting down—he meant the extraordinary statement which had been made last night by one of the Ministers of the Crown. Speaking of the sentiments of Warburton and Paley, whose testimony, by the way, with respect to the objects of a Church Establishment had often been quoted in that House without its accompanying qualification, the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) was represented to have said, "He was not prepared to say, that their doctrine ought to be carried out to its full extent in Ireland. For his own part, he had no intention of so carrying it out; but he maintained, and he ever would maintain, that the interests of the great body of the people of that country ought not to be omitted from consideration; and when they talked of the duty of the State, he would say that it was not the duty of the State to choose and select and support that creed only which the Legislature or other supreme authority considered founded on truth, but that it was the duty of the State to provide means for inculcating the principles of morality and religion among the great body of the people." It was in vain that he had read the History of England. He had been educated in Protestant principles to no purpose, because he deemed it to be the duty of the State to support that creed which was the creed of truth. If that were not the case, why had they an established Church at all? The Protestant Church of England and Ireland was founded on the principles of the truth, and whenever it abandoned them, the sooner it was got rid of the better. He must be allowed, before sitting down, to appeal to that hon. and learned Member whose influence for good or ill was so powerful in Ireland, and acknowledging the prostrate situation of that country, he 1366 would say to him, in the language of one whose memory he adored—in the language of Grattan—"Your country is not dead, she but sleepeth in the tomb: you may awake her." You may join us in a wish which we sincerely profess to shake off the apathy which benumbs her mighty energies.She is not conquered; beauty's ensign yetIs crimson on her cheeks and on her lips,And Death's pale flag is not advanced there.Let him do this; let him accept what they offered. Was it much which he sought? Let him not reject that which both parties acknowledged to be good, because he was unable to obtain that which they never could concede without dishonour; he might then indeed arouse the land he loved to the consciousness of her true strength, and not risk the danger of awakening her to madness.
§ Lord John Russell
rose for the purpose of explaining, the hon. Member having somewhat irregularly alluded to what he (Lord John Russell) had been reported to have said in the debate last evening. He was not to be held responsible for any words attributed to him in the columns of a newspaper not published with the sanction of that House. He was not going over the ground anew; perhaps he had represented his own opinions imperfectly, but what he meant to state last night was, that his sentiments were in accordance with those which had been stated by Archdeacon Paley.
§ Mr. Maclean
said, he had made the quotation from The Times, as embodying his own recollection of the noble Lord's speech.
§ Viscount Morpeth
Having had but too frequent occasions to deliver my sentiments on this question, I feel that I should have little excuse, and still less temptation, for again presenting myself to the House, were it not for the desire I have to answer any objections, as well as to remove any misapprehensions, which appear to me to have arisen in the course of the debate. I do not feel myself at all constrained to enter into any controversy as to the general principle upon which this, as well as every other proposal of appropriation, rests. We make no secret of that professing principle—we avow at once that it is our intention to act upon it; and whether the burthen, which it has been both graphically and rhetorically represented to entail upon us, be light or heavy, at least we make no complaint of it, and it has not yet broken 1367 our backs. It is, then, neither the arraignment of our motives, nor the denunciation of our principle, which I feel to affect or concern me at the present moment; I have merely to deal with the objections which have been made to the machinery and practical operation of the Bill I have had the honour to introduce to the House. I will not even suffer myself to be diverted from this track, in order to follow the hon. Member who spoke last into the disquisition which his researches into historical lore have enabled him to make as to the antiquity of the Roman Catholic Church—a ground on which I frankly own I have always thought that Church to be the least assailable. I agree with him that it is the duty of every State, as it is that of every individual, to promote the reading of the Holy Scriptures as extensively as possible by every means short of the employment of force; but I hope the hon. Gentleman did not mean to intimate, in his catalogue of names, that Fenelon and Bossuet were not among the readers of the Bible. With respect to the position in which the question before us at present stands, my noble Friend, the Member for North Lancashire, has introduced a scheme counter to that which I have had the honour of submitting to the House. I will not now stop to inquire whether my noble Friend is the best and most happily constituted individual to be a mediator on this great question. I hope he will not, however, take it amiss if I state that the history of the past shows the interference and assistance he has hitherto afforded the Irish Established Church to have been more distinguished by chivalry than success. In the course of this discussion we have had two Messages brought from the other House: one by my noble Friend (Lord Stanley), from the most reverend and right reverend Bench, signifying to us that they will consent to the adoption of his scheme; and the other by the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Gladstone), apparently from the whole of the Upper House; taken collectively, signifying their determination not to assent to ours. But notwithstanding these august intimations, I must venture to hint a doubt whether either constitutional practice or the present complexion of public affairs, tend to make it requisite that such permits should be endorsed on the introduction of our goods. Together with my noble Friend (Lord John Russell), I state at once, that it is neither much of my business or disposition to quarrel with the measure 1368 of the noble Lord (Stanley); there are some points in it which appear to me objectionable, but I have no doubt that upon being fairly discussed they might be easily obviated, should we be disposed to concede the principle which pervades his measure, which is, that if any surplus arise, it must be appropriated exclusively for the benefit of those who are within the pale of the Church Establishment. My noble Friend (Lord Stanley) and those who have adopted his views, have urged very little objection to the first part of our Bill, which deals with the immediate arrangements to be adopted for the purpose of effecting a commutation of tithe; and I feel considerably relieved by their abstinence upon this point; because if there is any part of our measure on which I have had a misgiving, it is that by the present situation of affairs in Ireland we are inevitably compelled to deal rather hardly with the existing clergy of the Established Church in that country, in consequence of which I have been induced to believe that, should the question of tithe commutation be first settled on such an enlarged principle as would be acceptable to the great bulk of the Irish people, it might be proper for the Legislature to consider whether afterwards it was not in their power to give the clergy relief by modifying some of the peculiar charges to which they are now liable. There is, indeed, one point in which the two Bills entirely differ, whereas one contains, and the other omits, any provision for the redemption of tithe. It is a point which must be acknowledged to be beset with difficulty: indeed my noble Friend himself has admitted as much. This being the case, and as we have before us the complicated task of dealing with the commutation of tithe into a rent-charge throughout the whole extent of Ireland, I think it will be better to avoid still further embarrassment by adding the question of redemption; let it be reserved, as is also proposed with respect to English tithe, until we have seen the working of the rest of the measure without it. I will not enter largely into the difficulties which must be attendant upon this part of the case, but I will briefly intimate, that if the rent-charges are redeemed by money invested in Government securities at three, and a-half per cent, an immense reduction of the clerical revenues must take place; and if by an investment in land, the effect of it will be a general rise in the price of land, which would proportionally bring about the same detri- 1369 mental reduction in the incomes of the clergy. As my noble Friend has truly said, the value of land in several parts of Ireland is very different; in the north it is worth twenty-five, twenty-eight, and thirty-one years' purchase, which would only give the respective values of four, three and a-half, and three per cent. We have each of us one object in common, which is, to provide that the clergy should he a resident clergy; and if it were resolved upon to assign a certain portion of land to the clergyman by way of redemption for the rent-charge, that land should be within the hounds of his benefice—another condition which would enhance the difficulty of a general investment. Again, we wish to relieve the mind of the minister of religion as much as possible from the uncertainty and expense which would thus be attendant upon the collection of his income; and with that view we provide that a certain amount should be given to him on a particular day. If he is converted into a landowner, it is impossible to predict what may not be the conflicts which will take place between him and his tenantry; moreover, he will be exposed to all the casualties of bad seasons,—alterations in the market prices; from all which the Bill I have introduced will rescue him now and for ever. It thus secures him from the risk of improvident tenants, who might deteriorate his land, and throw it upon his hands comparatively valueless and unproductive. By the scheme of my noble Friend, persons who are liable to the rent-charge may enter into an agreement with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners: but these Commissioners, however competent for their employment they may he, will have to deal with those minute and complicated questions which have been encountered by the Board of First Fruits, and which have been often found to impede them in making the purchases which they were desirous of effecting. Sometimes the persons with whom they would have to deal would not have the fee-simple of the lands—they would frequently meet with leases on lives renewable for ever, by which clergymen would be frequently exposed to much loss; because, on each renewal, it is customary to impose a considerable fine. All these difficulties taken into consideration, I do not say might not, in time, be obviated and surmounted; but I think it advisable not to embarrass the question with any proposition for redemption at present, but reserve it for 1370 future consideration, should the circumstances of the Church, either in England or in Ireland, invite it. Passing to that part of the Bill which relates to the future distribution of Church property in Ireland, I may say that I last night felt myself greatly relieved at the very mitigated tone of opposition which I thought I perceived in the speeches of my noble Friend and other Gentlemen opposite, in comparison with the mode in which my Bill of last year was treated, and in comparison with the mode in which the noble Lord's own measure on the subject of Church temporalities was treated by the House. It is true, that one hon. Gentleman opposite described the present Bill as having been drawn up by the arch enemy of mankind, but it was some compensation to find, that other hon. Gentlemen were not quite so hard upon me. The two prominent grounds of objection to this measure appear to be, first, the number of real Church purposes which are at present incomplete, and which it is urged must be fully accomplished before we can make any transfer of a surplus for the purposes of education; and secondly, the alleged low average of income which we assign to the clergy, of Ireland. In reference to the subject of the first of these objections, the number of real Church purposes which are left incomplete, I may state that a number of returns, which have been moved for, I have not as yet been able to lay on the Table of the House, as there has not been sufficient time to make them out, but I am in no degree fearful of the strictest inquiry which can be made upon the subject: there is no part of the matter from which I wish to shrink. Our great argument lies in the fundamental maxim, the rightful tenure of property, and we hold that we stand equally unassailable whether upon an arithmetical balance sheet or upon the great fundamental principle upon which we proceed. As I have said, the specific returns moved for upon this subject have not as yet been made, but I may observe that, formerly, the Board of First Fruits in Ireland, and the vestry cess there, were intended to provide for, and did, to a great extent, provide for, many real ecclesiastical purposes; and that at present the "general fund" arising under the Church Temporalities Act is made applicable to the following purposes:—
These are purposes to which this fund is applicable, and I cannot but think that they are such as to satisfy hon. Members that the real purposes of the Church are not entirely set at nought or neglected. In lieu of the sources of revenue of the Board of First Fruits, which it merged in another board, and of the vestry cess, which it abolished, the legislature in that measure thought fit to provide, for the same purposes to which these had heretofore administered, other ecclesiastical revenues, which, though they obviously could not for a considerable time meet the purposes for which they were designed, without assistance from the public treasury, will according to calculation, at a future period realise a considerable surplus. My noble Friend opposite last night stated, that the whole amount of permanent income which the Commissioners had at their disposition to meet the permanent expenditure of 69,000l., was but 29,000l. It is true that 29,000l. is the amount reported to have been at the disposal of the Commissioners last year, but my noble Friend omitted to make any mention, as perhaps he ought to have done, of what has occurred since last Session. Two bishoprics have since fallen in—namely, Ossory, to the amount of 3,500l.; and Cork to the amount of 4,300l.; together 7,800l. Moreover the present Bishop of Ferns and Ossory has become liable to the tax, on succeeding to the temporalities of the see of Ferns on the demise of the late Bishop. The tax on ecclesiastical benefices rated by the Commissioners last year at 750l., has been increased by the Bishop of Killaloe becoming also subject thereto, and by the several livings exceeding 300l. which fell vacant last year. The Commissioners, in their Report to the 1st of August last, state also, that in appointments of clerks to three 1372 additional benefices amounting to an entire sum of 597l. have been suspended; and I am correct in stating, that since the date of that Report, the sinecure precentorship of Elphin, amounting to 263l., has been also suspended; and the Tithe Bill provides for the suspension of another sinecure precentorship, that of Christchurch, the amount of which has been 1,000l. for the last two years; so that when these circumstances are considered, not to speak of the interest arising from the temporary investments in stock of the moneys realised from the sales of perpetuities, and which will be found for the half-year to amount to 1,540; the accession of income under these additional sources, for the present year, may be fairly estimated at 5,200l., making in all, for the present year, 42,000l.; but this is exclusive of any moneys that may arise from the sale of perpetuities within the present year; and when the House hears that no less a sum than 166,151l. has been realised from this source alone to the 25th May last, that is, within the last two years—for the first six months the Commissioners sold nothing—that, indeed, in their first Report for the year ending August, 1835, they state they had only sold 2,365l., it will scarcely be thought that this source of income is small or that it will not rapidly enlarge. It is not unreasonable to calculate on a further accession of income from this source during the present year; but that has been entirely overlooked by my noble Friend. I will now, with the permission of the House, proceed to place clearly before them the real state of the prospects of the fund, by showing the amount of the funds in the hands of the ecclesiastical Commissioners, when all the sources of revenue, as contemplated by the Church Temporalities Act, the Amendment Act, and the present Tithe Bill, shall have been realized; contrasted with the sources of revenue estimated, by Earl Grey, to arise under the Church Temporalities Act alone, as follows:—
- "1. To provide things necessary for the celebration of divine service in the church or chapel of every parish.
- "2. To pay all parish clerks and sextons.
- "3. To defray the expenses of building, enlarging, or repairing churches and chapels.
- "4. To fence and maintain church-yards.
- "5. To augment small livings to 200l. per annum, and to purchase house and land for augmented benefices.
- "6. To compensate the lay patrons of any livings that may be divided under the provisions of the said Act.
- "7. To defray the expenses of the Commissioners, and
- "8. To provide for the maintenance of curates, &c., heretofore provided for by vestry assessment, under any statute, law, or custom."
1. CHURCH TEMPORALITIES ACT, 3 & 4 Will. IV. ch. 37. Revenues as at present contemplated to arise from 1. Produce of suppressed sees 50,780 2. Reduction of the bishoprick of Derry immediate and prospective 6,160 3. Future reduction of Armagh see 4,500 4. Glebe-house loan instalments, repayable for the next fifteen years 7,500 5. Tax on continuing bishoprics 4.600 6. Tax on incumbents of benefices 7,300 7.Interest at £4 per cent on £1,050,000, to arise from sale of perpetuities 42,000 N.B. Of the £1,200,000 calculated to arise from sale of perpetuities by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners (but estimated by Mr. Finlaison the Government actuary, to amount to £1,507,050) there has been realised and disbursed by the commissioners £150,000; but the interest of the
residue thereof, amounting to £1,050,000, will at the rate of £4 per cent, produce an annual permanent sum, as above specified. 8. Income of benefices, suspended under the non-celebration service clause, for the three years to February, 1833. Nil II. ACT TO ALTER AND AMEND CHURCH TEMPORALITIES ACT, 4 & 5 Will. IV. ch. 90. 9. From 38 dignities, without cure, and 49 prebends, without cure of souls, after deducting the expenses of collection, and making other abatements and deductions 8,000 N.B. This Act provides that in the case of any person holding any dignity or office under the rank of an archbishoprick or bishoprick, and not having cure of souls in any parish appropriated, thereto, the appointment to such dignity or office may, on the next avoidance, be suspended, which is the case of the aforesaid 38 dignities and 49 prebends £130,840 III. THE PRESENT TITHE BILL. 10. The 77th Clause saves existing interests, but vests the property belonging to minor canons and vicars choral in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners (some of which offices are reported by the revenue commissioners to be complete sinecures); and after providing for such of these offices as have duties, and are necessary to be upheld, authorises the surplus arising from such estates, amounting to an entire sum of £22,624, to be carried to the general fund, which surplus Is estimated to amount to. 4,000 11. The 79th Clause provides that the sinecure tithes disappropriated from, all dignities (having cure) may instead of being given to the vicars or perpetual curates, if otherwise sufficiently endowed, be carried to the general fund, under the administration of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; the revenue arising from which, after making all necessary deductions and abatements, is estimated to amount to 5,300 £139,140
I. CHURCH TEMPORALITIES ACT. 3 & 4 Will. IV., ch. 37. Revenues as estimated by Earl Grey to arise from— 1. Produce of suppressed sees £50,780 2. Reduction of the bishoprick of Derry, immediate and prospective 6,l60 3. Future reduction of Armagh see 4,500 4.Giebe-house loan instalments, repayable for the next 15 years 8,000 5. Tax on continuing bishoprics 4,600 6. Tax on incumbents of benefices 41,800 7.Interest, at £4 per cent., on £1,000,000, to arise from the sale of perpetuities 40,000 N.B. Cinder the Church Temporalities Act the ecclesiastical commissioners have the power of applying the principal arising from these sales to meet their present exigences, which precludes the possibility of realising eventually an annual permanent income from this source. 8. Income of benefices suspended under the non-celebration service clause, for the three years to February, 1833 Nil II. ACT TO ALTER AND AMEND CHURCH TEMPORALITIES, ACT 4 and 5 Will. IV., ch. 90. 9. Not provided for under the Church Temporalities Act. Nil III. THE PRESENT TITHE BILL. 10. Not provided for under the Church Temporalities Act. Nil 11. Not provided for under the Church Temporalities Act Nil £155,840
Revenues as contemplated to arise from the combined provisions of the Church Temporalities Act, the Amendment Act, and the present Tithe Bill, amount to 139,140l. APPLICATION OF THIS REVENUE. The charges which the foregoing fund of 139,140l. is designed to meet will be as follow:— 1. When the churches shall have been put into
complete repair, the ecclesiastical commissioners report that the future repair of them will require an annual sum of £25,000 Other expenses formerly defrayed by vestry cess, they state, will require 35,000 2. Expenses of the Commission 10,000 3. Interest on 100,000l. advanced the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in way of loan, at 4 per cent 4,000 £74,000 4.Building of churches, as estimated by Earl Grey 20,000 5.Building of glebe-houses, as estimated by Earl Grey 10,000 6. To repayment of the loan of 100,000l. by annual instalments, for the next five years, of 20,000 £124,000 There will remain, therefore, to meet deficiencies in the items as above specified, which must increase as the building of churches increases; for the other objects of the Commission; and for the additional clerks which the ecclesiastical commissioners are authorised to employ to carry the provisions of the Tithe Bill into effect, a residue of 15,140 £139,140
being nearly 2,000l. a year less than we now calculate on. The characteristic and distinguishing feature between the contemplated measures and the provisions of the Church Temporalities Act is, that the necessity of appropriating 46,500l. for the augmentation of small livings, as contemplated under the Church Temporalities Act, will not arise under the provisions of the proposed Tithe Bill; so that not only a larger residue will remain for the building of churches and glebe-houses, and the other objects of the commission, but a provision is made for enabling the commissioners to repay the debt of 100,000l. due by them to the public. When I have said that the noble Lord opposite has dealt rather hardly with his own measure, I feel that in one respect I am bound to defend that measure, as well as the commissioners, because it must be remembered that when 1375 they began their operations, they found an arrear of vestry cess for the last three years—payments evaded, it should be remembered under the glorious system which my noble Friend has since taken under his protection. After the statements which I have laid before the House, I feel myself in a position to contend, that by the operations of the present Tithe Bill, the financial concerns of the ecclesiastical commissioners, and the objects contemplated by the Church Temporalities Act, are, to say the least of it, in no degree deteriorated or injuriously affected. My opinion is, that they will be considerably aided and improved by this Bill. With that Act this Bill in no way interferes, except to improve it. Indeed, so strict is the abstinence from all interference, that, where funds are still to be deducted from sinecure dignities, we do not propose to carry this new surplus to the consolidated fund for the purposes of education, but they are to be carried to the account of the ecclesiastical fund. If, therefore, after meeting the principle of the Church Temporalities Act, the Legislature thinks it can find further surplus revenue, it is quite right to inquire whether or not a more rational, a more equitable, or higher purpose, cannot be answered in a fresh distribution of that surplus. I say this because I feel, that whereas one set of purposes provides only for the wants—and most important and most indispensable wants, I fully admit them to be—of a certain set, or, if you like the term better, of a segment of the population—the other set of purposes, without excluding that segment, provides for the very important and indispensable wants of the whole population. It was with this feeling that I heard one particular part of the speech of my hon. Friend, the Member for Weymouth, with peculiar gratification. In the justice of my hon. Friend's admonition, with respect to general education, I cordially concur. I fully agree with him that it is quite incumbent upon us to take care that the whole system of national education should be carried on upon a neutral and impartial principle. I am aware that several charges have been advanced against the present mode of carrying on education in Ireland. Some of these charges have, on representations being made to Government, been duly inquired into, and satisfactorily disproved; but there are others for which there is some foundation. I believe, however, that where the charges are well- 1376 founded, the defects are principally owing to Protestants having withdrawn from the management of the schools, and from the very inadequate means which the Commissioners as yet have had of providing properly instructed teachers for the schools. I have reason to think that several of the statements which have been put forth as to the working of the system, are very far from well-founded. I have heard to-day, upon authority on which I can rely, that one-twelfth of the schools in Ireland are in the Protestant county of Antrim, and one-fourteenth in the Protestant county of Down. This I am quite ready to admit, that if the Legislature consents to enlarge and extend the system, and if grounds of complaint and suspicion should exist, then it will be quite fair to expect that Government, or the Legislature, should institute the most searching inquiries into the subject. The other prominent ground of objection to the Bill appears to be the alleged low average amount of income proposed to be assigned by the Bill to the future parochial clergy of Ireland. Upon this point I will first observe, that I certainly feel that, if I could put all antecedent and surrounding circumstances aside, I could go quite along with the noble Lord and his friends in their wish to divide the whole Church revenue of Ireland, nay, twice as much, if there were twice as much, among its clergy. As far as my mere personal inclinations are concerned, I should be quite willing to make the clergy of Ireland, present and to come, as well off as myself, as well off as their learning, refined habits, private excellence, and amiability merit; but what we have as legislators to consider is, the circumstances of the case, the present state of Ireland; and the question, therefore, comes to this, do the incomes which we assign to the future clergy of Ireland fall short of the incomes of the clergy of the sister Church. In reference to this part of the subject, I shall have to trouble the House with a few statements of details. By the Report of the Instruction Commissioners, it appears that there are 1,385 ecclesiastical benefices in Ireland, at the present time; but should a new distribution of ecclesiastical benefices take place, it is submitted that no necessity would exist for upholding so many benefices. We, therefore, propose to reduce the number to 1,250, with an average net income of 294l. 13s. 4d. Of these 1,385 benefices we find that there are—
Revenues as contemplated, by Earl Grey, to arise from the provisions of the Church Temporalities Act alone amount to 155,840l. APPLICATION OF THIS REVENUE. The charges which the foregoing fund of 155,840l. was designed to meet, are stated by Earl Grey to be us follow:— 1. The Church cess, including the repairs of churches, estimated at £60,000 2.The augmentation of small livings to 200l. each 46,500 3. The building of churches, being the average expenditure of three preceding years 20,000 4. The building of glebe-houses, which his Lordship considered very necessary, as not one half of the benefices were provided therewith 10,000 £136,500 5.The expenses of the Commission, estimated at 6,000 £142,500 There remained, therefore, to meet deficiencies, in the amounts as above estimated, and for the other objects of the Commission, a residue of 13,340 £155,840
|Without any Protestants.||Where the Protestant population does not exceed, or is less than,|
|Class I.||Class II.||Class III.||Class IV.||Class V.||Class VI.|
§ With respect to the forty-one benefices in the first class, no plea of necessity can be advanced for upholding any of these benefices, in which there is not a single Protestant; neither can it be contended that the necessity arises in regard to the twenty benefices in the second class, of which one contains only a single Protestant, seven of them only two, three of them only three, six of them only four, and three of them only five Protestant individuals. And with respect to the remaining four classes of benefices, if they be considered as consisting not of individuals, but of families, and each family to consist of Protestant parents and two or three Protestant children, the third class of benefices, as aforesaid, would contain about two Protestant families; the fourth class, about three; the fifth class, about four; and the sixth class, about five, or, at the most, six Protestant families. Now, if such be the existing state of things in Ireland, it is submitted that the necessity would not arise of establishing, in any of these benefices, or any like them, a church, glebe-house, glebe, and resident minister, for the accommodation of two, three, four, five, or even six Protestant families, varying in number from ten to twenty-five Protestants, when, by the annexation of such benefices, or a part or Parts thereof to the church of an adjoining benefice, as local circumstances may render most advisable, and the contiguity of the Protestant inhabitants may require, the spiritual wants of the Protestants may, by such annexation, be more conveniently, and therefore more effectually, provided for than by the erection of a church, and the location of a minister in an extensive parish, where the few Protestant families live at a remote distance, it may be, from one another, scattered, as it were, over a large extent of territorial surface, which, in Ireland is not unfrequently the case; it being remembered that the question of contiguity, and all other local circumstances of the Protestants, convenience to the Church, &c., are proposed by the Bill to be referred, in the first instance, to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for their Report, and afterwards to the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Privy Council, for their 1378 adjudication thereupon; and this, not merely upon the next vacancy of each and every benefice, but upon every vacancy in future, should ulterior circumstances require the bounds and limits of the benefices to be modified and altered. If, therefore, the number of benefices, as at present existing in Ireland, be 1,385, and the reasonableness of the preceding observations be admitted, there are no less than 165 benefices contained in the six classes of benefices I have referred to; so that if 1,385 be reduced by 165, there will only remain 1,220 benefices, for which provision will require to be made by means of a church, glebe-house, glebe, and resident minister. But as some of the benefices consist of unions of two or more parishes, and as the parishes forming these unions, may from their extent, require to be erected into two benefices instead of one (as is the case at present), the convenience and contiguity of the Protestants to their respective places of worship being duly considered, provision has been made for the founding of 1,250 benefices, conceiving that it may be advantageous to subdivide some of the existing benefices, and to erect new ones. The details of the proposed 1,250 benefices with the average amount of clerical incomes under the present Bill, will be as I shall now describe. There will be
|675 benefices, containing more than fifty and less than five hundred Protestants, to each of which, may be assigned an income of 200l., arising from rent charge, and 45l. arising from thirty statute acres of glebe, valued at 30s. * per acre; thereby making the gross income required for benefices of this class amount to—|
|211 benefices, containing more than 500 and less than 1,000 Protestants, to each of which may be assigned an income of 300l. from rent-charge, and 45l. from thirty statute acres of glebe valued at 30s. * per acre; thereby making the gross income required for benefices of this class amount to—|
|190 benefices, containing more than 1,000 and less than 3,000 Protestants, to each of which may be assigned an income of 400l. from rent|
* The value of the glebe lands is taken at 30s. per statute acre, as the glebes to be assigned the clergy will consist wholly of profitable land, rent free, which is about the average acreable value of the profitable glebes in Ireland at present.1379
|charge, and 45l. from thirty statute acres of glebe, valued as before; thereby making the gross income required for benefices of this class amount to—Rent charges||£76,000|
|51 benefices, containing more than 3,000 Protestants, to each of which may be assigned an income of 500l. from rent charge, and 15l. from thirty statute acres of glebe, valued as before: thereby making the gross income required for benefices of this class amount to—|
|And if to these be added the 123 benefices, containing less than 50 Protestants; to each of which may be assigned an income of 100l. from rent charge, and 45l. from 30 statute acres of glebe, valued as before; thereby making the gross income required for benefices of this class amount to—Rent charges||£12,300|
|1,250 benefices requiring an entire sum of||£368,338|
|Population.||Number of Benefices.||Average of Souls to each Benefice.|
|ENGLAND AND WALES.—Population||14,500,000|
|Deduct for Dissenters, &c, one-fourth||3,625,000|
|The Bishop of London slates the number of the Established Church as three-fourths, Lord Grey thought it much less.|
|SCOTLAND.—No deduction is made||2,500,000||900||2,770|
|PRESBYTERIANS—ULSTER—(The gross number in Ireland is 642,356)||500,000||200||2,500|
|ESTABLISHED CHURCH IN IRELAND||852,064||1,250||681|
§ Thus the Irish clergy will, by the proposed Bill, be paid better, and have less duty to perform, than the clergy in any other part1382
§ exhibits fees payable at visitations. Independently of the excess of the average gross and net incomes of the Irish clergy under the proposed Bill, over and above those of the English clergy, under the existing regime, if the certainty of the amounts of income, and of regular periodical payments of the Irish clergy be alone considered, they are of themselves most important advantages, which cannot be lightly esteemed, and which ought not to be underrated in the eye of the clergy, the Legislature, and the English public. In reference to Scotland, I have not been able to procure such precise returns, as to the average incomes of the Scottish clergy, as those which I have stated from England, and Wales, and Ireland. I have, however, ascertained that the incomes of the Scottish clergy vary from 170l. to 240l. a-year. I will now proceed to make to the House a statement of the average of population, and number of benefices:—
§ of the empire. It appears by the Report of the Public Instruction Commissioners, that there are in Ireland 852,064 members of 1383 the Established Church. Provision has been made for 1,491 incumbents and curates of parochial benefices. Rejecting fractions, there will be one minister for every 571 Protestant individuals, exclusive of Bishops, and other dignitaries of the Church: and supposing each family to consist only of Protestant parents, two Protestant children, and one Protestant servant, there will be a minister of the Church for every 114 Protestant families. Now I think that these are very fair and valid grounds for arguing that the amount of the income enjoyed by the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland, considering the far less extent of their duties, and the comparatively limited number of their flocks, should not amount to as much on an average as that of other established churches, where the duties are more onerous, and the number of the flocks is greater; but in my much abused and calumniated Bill—in the Bill drawn up by the arch enemy of mankind—in my Bill, so reprobated by the hon. Member for Oxford, the amount exceeds the average amount in any of the other churches, while the extent of the duty will be less, and there will also be a great deal less of inequality in the distribution of the income. I do not speak of the Catholic clergy of Ireland, because it is well known to the House that they, like most other Dissenters, receive nothing at all from the State; but when we are told with so much perseverance of our niggardly dealing with the ministers of the Gospel, I think it is not quite fair to put out of consideration that of those ministers of the Gospel who have most of work on their hands, to them both tin's side of the House and the other side are content to assign nothing. I do not know whether there are any other material points which I have not noticed. My noble Friend stated as a great reason for not alienating any surplus from the immediate uses of the Established Church, that there are 505 benefices in Ireland without glebes. He states the number of chapels and churches at 1,594, and says we are reducing the benefices to 1,250. Now this includes the whole; and it is known that there are only 1,177 parishes in Ireland which have churches. As regards the arrangement of the benefices, a discretion is proposed to be vested by my noble Friend in the Privy Council. We have endeavoured to frame our measure so as 1384 to make it as little offensive as possible to the Protestants of Ireland. We propose to refer to the judgment of a Committee of the Privy Council, to be appointed, not by the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, but by his Majesty, he being the head of the Church, and we have limited the members of that Committee to members of the Established Church; whereas my noble Friend proposes, in certain cases, to vest the same responsibility, not in a Committee—not in a Selected Committee—but in the whole Privy Council. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners are to make their Report to the Privy Council, and that Privy Council may at any time consist, not exclusively, as now, of members of the Established Church, but even of a majority of Roman Catholics. By the way, as regards the investment of so much authority in the higher functionaries of the state, the recent proceedings of our opponents have shown they do not entertain so very sensitive a feeling on that subject as was represented. My noble Friend referred to some parishes as an illustration of the working of the Church Temporalities' Act; and among others, my noble Friend described the Fircall Union as consisting of six parishes, having a Protestant population of 1,115 persons, with five clergymen, and a joint income between them of about 315l. Now, it is true that this Union does consist of six parishes—that its total population is 1,115 Protestants—that there is a vicar and four curates—but instead of the income being 315l. a-year, the income is no less than 1,800l. and upwards; for, exclusive of the 315l. arising from tithe compositions, there are no less than 2,039 acres, plantation measure, in this union, viz.—593 acres in Lynally, 528 acres in Killaghey, 453 acres in Ballyboy, 465acres in Drumcullen and English parishes. But observe, that instead of this being a joint income between the five clergymen, the whole of the revenue is taken by the vicar, who pays 75l. a-year to each of his four curates. And what effect will the provisions of the Tithe Bill have on this union? It will be competent, if deemed advisable, to erect each of these parishes, with the exception of one, which has not any church, into a separate benefice, and, as each of the four benefices will then contain more than fifty, and less than 500 Protestants, to assign to each incumbent an income in rent-charge to the amount of 200l. per 1385 annum, and in glebe land to the amount of 45l., so that, instead of one incumbent swallowing up all the revenues, there will be four incumbents, whose joint income may amount to 980l. divisible in equal portions, and which will be an arrangement far more eligible, both for the ministers and the Protestants, than the existing one. My noble Friend described the Archdeaconry of Dublin as consisting of the parishes of St. Peter and St. Kevin, having a population of 10,114, and including three perpetual curacies—Rathfarnham, with a population of 890; St. Mary Donnybrook, with a population of 3,500; and Taisney with a population of 895; making a total of 15,599 members of the Established Church; that is, a benefice employing sixteen clergymen and eleven churches, and yet it is treated as a mere single benefice by myself. Why, it is true that it has been suffered to continue as a single benefice up to the present time; but this is one of the very points which the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Privy Council will have to take into consideration, namely, whether, it should be suffered to continue a single benefice, or whether a more eligible distribution of the component parts of it might not advantageously be made; the present Bill proposes to correct the very abuse which has been suffered to exist up to this moment, of which my noble Friend complains, and to do that with the most advantage to the Protestants, due regard being had to the ministerial duties of the future incumbents, to assign them a provision suitable thereto. The whole emoluments, arising from minister's money, tithes and glebe, are taken by the archdeacon, who pays to each of these sixteen curates a stipend of 77l. per annum; not one of these curates are perpetual curates, as my noble Friend conceives, they are mere stipendiary curates; and by them the whole duties of this extensive benefice are discharged, the archdeacon himself having another benefice in the county of Kildare, where he resides for the most part; and with respect to this benefice the Committee of Council will have the like power, as before, of considering whether a more eligible arrangement might not be made, and of apportioning the income of the several incumbents in regard to the duties which they may have to perform. Another case which my noble Friend cited was the town of Belfast, a single parish 1386 containing 17,942 Protestants, while the income derived by the incumbent is just 300l., and no more. Why this, and all other city benefices, are the very cases to which the provisions of the Tithe Bill so peculiarly apply. Should the remission of 30l. take place, the incumbent of Belfast would have only 210l. a year, and yet be obliged to support two curates; and supposing each curate to be paid the legal stipend of 75l. a year each, all the incumbent would have for himself would be 60l. a year; whereas, under the provisions of the Tithe Bill, the Committee of Council may and ought to assign him the maximum income of 500l. rent charge, and 45l. glebe; and besides, they ought to allow him a stipend of 75l. for each, and as many curates as they may consider so large and important a Protestant population to require; so that the income of this benefice, instead of being 210l., with two curates' stipends to be provided out of it, of 75l. each; the benefice ought to be made worth, as the Bill provides, 695l.—viz. 545l. to the incumbent, and 75l. to each of his curates, the incumbent providing the remaining 25l. to each curate out of his own income. Now, there is a plea which is consistently brought forward against all our proceedings and all our arguments, the force of which I do not mean to evade, which is, that the necessary effect of our own principles and of our own reasoning is to forbid us to stop where we are, and to carry us on much further. I never have assumed, in arguing on this question, that our measure meets the whole case or sounds the entire grievance; but I do say, that in a state of things such as is here before us, we have to deal with affairs extremely involved, complicated and disordered; we have to deal with a state of things of long prescription and practice, surrounded with difficulties, which in some way or other must be met, and we come forward to suggest that which, according to first principles and strict reasoning, may not be quite regular and right; but we suggest that which appears to us, under all the circumstances of the case, as an available compromise and a reasonable adjustment. For this we are met with an angry outcry and a long resistance—for this are we subjected to the imputation of every conceivable base motive, and are charged with an unworthy subserviency. Thus it is that we are driven, by the force of neces- 1387 sity, in self-defence, and in vindication of our own character and conduct, to state the whole case. I will quote here a passage from a quarter most unfriendly to our own view. The last Quarterly Review is good enough to remind me that we have "a grand return for 241 parishes in Ireland, presenting the result exhibited in this simple statement:—
|Protestant landed property||2,023,257|
|Protestant tithe composition||£82,531||9||10|
§ Sir James Graham
I rise to address the House on the present occasion with the greatest degree of diffidence and reluctance; diffidence, because all that ingenuity can devise—all that industry can accumulate—all that can be urged in argument—and all that eloquence can pour forth upon this subject—has been exhausted in the course of the debate;—reluctance, because I feel that I am addressing a House which is spell-bound by foregone conclusions to a course, which my sense of duty will not allow me to pursue; a course, too, in which, according to my judgment, in a critical juncture of affairs like the present, it becomes imperative upon the House to pause, to reconsider it, and to reverse their decisions; although I am far from being so sanguine as to expect that the division of this night will prevail upon them to do so. In point of principle there is not so much difference between the two measures before us, as there would appear to be from the heat and earnestness with which the question has been debated. My hon. Friend, the Member for Weymouth, has shown that, in three most prominent points, although the mode of effecting them varies, the two measures themselves are almost identical. The first of these points is, that no benefices shall be 1390 superseded. In this respect, the present Ministerial Bill is a great improvement upon that which was introduced last year; because that contemplated a very large suppression of benefices. The Bill of this year does not propose to establish a limitation in the extent of the benefices, but it provides that all Ireland shall be divided into benefices, with a clergyman of the Established Church attached to each. In this point the two Bills differ only in detail; in principle, they agree. The second point is one in which the same principle is contained in both Bills—that the tithe shall no longer be collected by the tithe-owner from the occupier of the land. There is some difference, however, in the details; his Majesty's Ministers proposing that the rent-charge into which the tithe is to be changed, shall be thirty per cent, less in amount than the gross value of the tithe, and my noble Friend determining his rent-charge upon a reduction of twenty-five per cent, of the gross value of the tithes. There is a further reduction common to both measures, which is that of two and a-half per cent., to be allowed by the clergy in consideration of being relieved from the cost of collection. The third point is the income of the clergy. On this point my noble Friend says, he thinks that the Church Temporalities' Act, introduced by the Government of Earl Grey, has not been sufficiently earned into execution, and that he is willing to introduce a measure, providing that on the next voidance of each living, where the gross income exceeds 500l. a-year, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners shall report the same to the Privy Council, who shall be empowered to reduce it to the amount of 300l. a-year. In the two first points the difference is merely as to matters of detail; in the third point the difference is one of principle, arising, as I conceive, from the determination of his Majesty's Government to act upon a resolution which was adopted by a small majority of this House, "that no settlement of the Church Question could be considered as final and satisfactory which should not provide for the education of the people of Ireland, without reference to differences of religious creed." In consonance with this resolution, they have framed a measure providing for such a distribution of clerical income as may secure a surplus for that purpose; but my noble Friend, bound by no such restraint, looks only to the necessities of the Protestant Church, and provides such a distribution of revenue as will conduce to the benefit of those who embrace the 1391 creed of that Church; and in doing so, he proceeds upon the principle that the gross income of the Church is not too large for the wants of those who belong to it, and may he so disposed of for their benefit as to leave no surplus whatever. There is a fourth point, which relates to the schemes projected for the education of the Irish people, on which the noble Lord himself appears to have some scruple; for he says, that if it should be necessary to call upon this House for a large annual supply from the public funds, that there may be so much doubt as to the mode in which it is to be administered, that he should think it to be consistent with his duty to move for a previous inquiry. Now, are we to understand that he has given notice of such an inquiry? I say, that he is bound to do so, because this Bill takes out of the Consolidated Fund no less than 50,000l. a-year—surplus or no surplus, income or no income—and, therefore, according to his own admission, the circumstances are such as to demand inquiry. I have heard it broadly stated, that the Commissioners have come to an understanding, that the education of the Protestants shall be superintended by Protestants, and that of the Catholics by Catholics. I wish to ask the noble Lord whether this be true, because, if it be, the arrangement appears to me an inconsistent one. It is said, that the mass is performed in the schools in the presence of the children; that some of the money granted for the building of schools has been used in the erection of a nunnery; if so, these are facts of grave importance, which throw great suspicion over the circumstances attendant upon the management of the fund, and render it necessary that the House should inquire before it pledges itself to any further grant of money. The hon. Member for Weymouth says, that my noble Friend, the Member for North Lancashire, has left totally out of his consideration the 6,000,000 of Catholics in Ireland. Now, in questions generally affecting that country, I should be the last person to contend that, rising as they are in power and importance, they should be overlooked; but I maintain that if there can be any case brought under the consideration of Parliament, in which we are not only entitled, but in the first instance bound to set aside the feelings, the wishes, and the interests of the Catholic population of Ireland, it is one in which a question arises relating to the property of the Established Church. This property is set apart for certain exclusive Protestant 1392 uses I do not say, that it is intended solely, for the benefit of the hierarchy of that Church; but I do say that it is property vested in the hands of the Church, specially for the spiritual benefit of the Protestant laity of Ireland; and as long as any of their claims are unsatisfied, I contend that the wishes and feelings of the Roman Catholic population are not to be consulted in the distribution of it. I go further, and maintain that, even supposing this destination of the property not to be for the best of all possible purposes, the impropriety of diverting it from that channel would not be in the least diminished. I remember that in a lecture delivered by a distinguished, but now deceased Friend of mine, Sir James Mackintosh, on the rights of property, he said:—Great wealth in the hands of a bad man may, by fraud, be transferred to the hands of a good man; and the immediate effect of that transfer may be beneficial: but the rules which regulate the right of property are, nevertheless, weakened, a dangerous example is set, and security for life and property is destroyed.Now, it has been said, in this debate, that there will be no scruples, and, therefore, there can be no robbery; but I conceive that where the principle itself involves in it the right of property, this is laying down a most dangerous position; it is as much as to say, that if I find a man with his hand in my pocket, seeking for my purse, and no robbery is committed,—no harm is done. The intention here is to take money which has been destined to the support of the Protestant Church, the necessities of which still require it; and I can only look upon such a spoliation, effected under Parliamentary sanction, as establishing a most dangerous principle, and one totally inconsistent with the settled rights of property. I will now shortly advert to some observations of the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department. I agree with him, that he takes a broad view of the nature of a church establishment, when he says it is not intended for the inculcation of any particular doctrine—that the Legislature is not to look to the truth of the creed it professes.—[Hear! hear!] The hon. Member for St. Alban's cheers that expression. Surely, a Gentleman of his clearness of understanding must see, when a Church is established by the State, it is the duty of that State to declare what the creed of that Church shall be. If you do not do this, you can have no Establishment whatever—all religions are put upon a per- 1393 fect equality. In this case we must have more than the generalities of the noble Lord. The Legislature must particularize—must mark its preference for some religion above all others, and secure, by proper measures, the peaceful observance of it throughout the country. I consider, therefore, that the State is bound to specify and define the religion which it is inclined to maintain. The noble Lord (John Russell) referred to Paley, in support of his view of the matter; but I do not think it is possible that the opinion I profess can be laid down in a more clear and satisfactory manner than it is done by that authority. Arguing in favour of a Church Establishment, he proceeds by steps. He says, that there are three requisites for it: first, that there must be an order of men set apart for the offices of religion; second, that there must be a local provision for their maintenance; and third, that the provision thus made, must be confined to the teachers of a particular sect; and, as if he was not satisfied with all this, he adds, "the knowledge of Christianity cannot be upheld without the clergy; they cannot be supported without a legal provision." I see the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny objects to this, but let him remember that I am quoting an authority which was referred to by the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department:—"and a legal provision cannot be established without the preference of one particular sect." So far the authority of Paley. I do not, however, much rely upon it, because it appears to me to be a self-evident proposition, that when a State marks out the generalities of a Church Establishment, and maintains it by a legislative provision, it is the duty of that State also to particularize the doctrine which the Church shall teach. When the noble Lord applied himself to the figures of my noble Friend, which he found much difficulty in dealing with, he complained that it was unfair to take an average which was founded on the minimum of the Bill; but I acquit him of that unfairness, for the noble Lord, who has just sat down, has argued on the maximum, of it, in a manner which would almost induce one to believe that figures can be made to bend either way; in doing so he has included a glebe. Supposing, however, that the Government only awards the minimum, so far from the clergyman receiving 295l. a-year, which is said to be the average amount, it will be reduced by two-thirds of that sum. Upon 1394 the average, it will be found, that the benefices of the clergymen in Ireland, by the provisions of this Bill, will be reduced to somewhat less than 130l. a-year. The noble Lord has said, that this Bill ought to be construed in the spirit in which it has been framed. It struck me, as somewhat extraordinary, that the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Home Department should have, in the most marked manner, observed, that this Bill is not so much the Bill of the Government as the Bill of the noble Lord (Morpeth). The same noble Lord observed, that if he had to frame this Bill he would not give an income where there were not fifty resident Protestants. Is this, I ask, the spirit in which the Bill is to be construed? Judging then of this Bill, by the spirit of the framers, and presuming, notwithstanding the disclaimer of the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department, that it is to be construed in the spirit of its framers, I cannot but regard it with apprehension. What did the same noble Lord say of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners? Why, he almost accused them of malversation. What of the Church Temporalities Act?—an Act to which that noble Lord himself was, as a member of the Cabinet, just as much a party as my noble Friend the Member for North Lancashire. I should remark, too, that that Bill was brought in, not by my noble Friend, but by the present Earl Spencer, and that for the purpose of marking to the. House and the country that the Cabinet unanimously adopted it, and that each member of it, with the noble Lord the Secretary of State, had generally adopted it, and generally approved of it. I was somewhat amused at the noble Lord, the Secretary of State, declaring that although this Bill was framed by the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland—combining as it does provisions which tend to reduce the income of the clergy,—yet that it was framed at the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth disclaims the responsibility of it altogether. Nothing can be more unfair than to assume that an hypothetical argument, used by that right hon. Baronet, in the course of a former debate, has been the foundation for such a Bill as this. Looking to the course pursued by the right hon. Baronet—looking to the discussions on this subject, nothing can, I say, be more unjust, than to fix the paternity of the bantling on him. The paternity is not on this side of the 1395 House. The author of the Bill clearly sits on the other side of the House. The author of this Bill is the hon. Member for Middlesex. It was almost begotten by him in the presence of the House. I shall quote a passage from a speech of his. It is this:—"I, for one, see no reason why we need hamper ourselves with benefices at all." That is simply and accurately a description of the principle of this Bill: and taking it, mutatis mutandis, it would answer for the title of the Bill itself. But the hon. Gentleman went on to say:—Why not divide Ireland into districts, and allot a certain number of men to afford spiritual consolation to the Protestants residing within such district? Why not commute the tithes, sell all the landed property of the Church, and cast the proceeds of the sale into one common fund, out of which you can pay the stipends of the clergy, doing away with that inequality of income which now prevails in the mode of their remuneration."*This doctrine is clearly and accurately laid down, and, I must say, much more clearly than the hon. Member for Middlesex is in the habit of expressing himself. The words to which I refer were used by the hon. Member for Middlesex on the 22nd of July, 1835. The noble Lord complains that my noble Friend who moved the amendment has not sufficiently discussed the details of this measure. I do not mean to go into them, because the present is not the proper time for doing so; but there are one or two points, with respect to which I entertain such strong objections, that I must beg permission to state the reasons on which those objections are founded. My first objection is, that the Bill goes to open all existing compositions for tithes; and this does not rest with the Lord-Lieutenant, or with the Privy Council; but the absolute power of deciding on these, which are solemn contracts, is committed to the arbitrary and irresponsible power of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. In settling the amount of composition, reference is to be had to the price of corn for the last seven years, taking that of wheat as the test of the amount of composition to be established. Now, in reference to the Returns of the price of wheat sold at the markets of Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Kilkenny, it appears that, within the last three or four years, the price has fallen 25 per cent. It does not follow that the price of grain may not rise; but the effect of taking this average will effect a material* Hansard, (Third Series) vol. xxix, p. 888.1396 reduction in the value of the tithe. Look to what will be the case of a clergyman having a benefice, now, of the value of 1,000l. a-year. Under the powers of this Bill, his income will be reduced 25 per cent. The first operation of the Act will be to reduce the 1,000l. to 750l. There is next to be applied the tax of 32½ per cent.; that brings the 1,000l. down to 506l. Is that all? Then there is the tax under the Church Temporalities Act, of 6l. 7s. 6d.; that brings it down to 500l. There are still attached to it further charges, and, taking them altogether, the 1,000l. is reduced to 450l. 2s. 6d. I say, then, that this is an unwise and unsafe provision, and one which this House ought not to enter into. It appears to me, that the powers given by this Bill upon the next avoidance of a living, of breaking up all the ancient parochial divisions in Ireland, are most improper. It is destroying all the landmarks of the Protestant Establishment in Ireland; it is placing everything relating to that establishment in inextricable confusion. At the same time, while you destroy those landmarks for ecclesiastical purposes, you retain them for all civil purposes. On a former occasion, I stated to this House that you cannot safely change any of the limits of the parishes unless you bear sedulously in mind that which should be always viewed as an essential point with respect to an establishment—namely, that every member professing the favoured creed shall have a church within a moderate distance of his residence. Now, in the shape in which the noble Lord has brought in this measure, I see no limitation to the doubling and quadrupling of benefices. This brings me to a calculation that has been made this evening. In point of fact, there is very little difference between my noble Friend and the noble Lord opposite. The average amount of income of the clergyman has been put down by the noble Lord as 295l. My noble Friend puts it down as averaging 298l. The real difference arising upon this point is just what I have stated. I am far from conceding that it would he a safe experiment to reduce the number of benefices in Ireland to 1,250. Taking them at thirty square miles each,—that is, six miles by five—I think they ought to remain at 1,385. If you admit that, then your whole case falls to the ground as to the surplus. There is not, I think, much difference of opinion among us as to what the income of the benefices ought to be. The real matter in 1397 dispute is as to the number of benefices, and that turns upon the size of the benefices:—and in this point of view it is essential to consider the nearest facilities of access to places of worship. Now, as to the Church of Scotland, to which reference has been made, I must observe, that there are twenty livings of which the income is 800l. a-year, ten of 600l., ten of 500l., and the several incomes, in short vary from 150l. to 800l. The hon. Member for Middlesex admits that 300l. is not too large an income for a clergyman who has duties to perform. In the Church Temporalities' Bill, my noble Friend has laid down the principle, that a benefice below 300l. should not be taxed. There is another point, too, of great importance to be noted. The clergyman remains liable to the charges made upon him, and yet his income is variable—it depends upon the best charge paid into the Exchequer. In England, the average of population in the parishes is upwards of 1,000; in Ireland, 681. Now, distance ought never to be excluded from our consideration in the arrangements of parochial distribution. In England, the average of acres in each parish is 3,450. Under the arrangement of the noble Lord, the average in each parish in Ireland is 10,000 acres. This is a most striking defect in the groundwork of the Bill. Documents have been laid upon the Table of this House with reference to the present condition of the different religions in Prussia. I am at a loss to comprehend the analogy between the two cases. In Prussia, no favour is given by the State to the Protestant religion above the Roman Catholic. In Prussia, the Sovereign has the supreme power of sanctioning the appointments of all clergymen not chosen by himself. Then there is the concordat between Prussia and the Church of Home. If a concordat were proposed between the Church of Rome and this country, it would, I understand, be distinctly disclaimed by the Roman Catholics of this country. But it is said, that justice must be done to Ireland. There can be no man more sincerely anxious to do justice to Ireland than I myself am; but, upon this particular question there seems to be a very mistaken view taken of that matter. I will say that the first claim to justice is the claim of the Protestant population in Ireland; and I will not look to any other claim from any other quarter. I have endeavoured to show, that if we regard those interests the incomes of the clergy will be reduced—as I, and others acting with me, are prepared to concede that they shall be reduced, 1398 but not to too large an extent. But then this argument, as to justice to Ireland, how has it been put at various periods? At the time of the Reformation it was merely put, as to freedom of worship, without any aspiration after office, and without any complaint of being precluded from it. After-wards, "justice to Ireland," demanded the abrogation of the sacramental test—then it claimed the elective franchise—then an equality of civil rights—then it must have Reform—and now, lastly, it has made a distinct demand for the revenues of the Established Church. Is, I ask, the destruction of the Protestant Establishment admitted to be, even by many of those who support his Majesty's Ministers, a safe principle to be acted upon? It has been said, that the rent-charge will be a burthen imposed on the Roman Catholic population. It may be easy to prove that the tithes are a tax paid by the landlord; (though that, I will admit, is a question of too great subtlety to be discussed on this occasion)—and that an impost of this nature must be galling to the people. But by the course which my noble Friend (Lord Stanley) has proposed, that great and crying evil will no longer be supposed to exist. I pressed my noble Friend (Lord John Russell) last Session for a Return which would summarily show the total amount of acres in Ireland which would be subject to the composition, and the number of Catholics and Protestants having the first estate of inheritance. That would place the question in a clear light, and at once remove all doubt. But not having been able to procure that Return, I am obliged to argue from the relative numbers of Catholic and Protestant landlords as they stand with respect to one of the dioceses of Ireland—Kilmore. In that diocese, the number of acres amounts to 357,000; and of these there are only 6,000 acres of which Catholics have the first estate of inheritance. The amount of composition for this district is 8,028l.; of this sum 7,921l. is paid by Protestant landlords, and only 107l. is derived from the Roman Catholics of the diocese. Carrying that proportion, then, over the whole of Ireland, the number of acres will be found to be 12,000,000, and only 201,680 of these are held by Roman Catholic landlords. The amount of composition will be 511,000l., of which only 6,904l. will be paid by Roman Catholic landlords. If this argument be sound—and I am not aware that there is any fallacy in it—away goes the argument that the Church is supported by Catholics. It is maintained 1399 by Protestants and by Protestant income. The great grievance now complained of is, that the Catholic peasantry are subject to the payment of tithes. Now that all of us are agreed as to the necessity of removing that grievance, how can it be said that that is a hardship which imposes on the Catholic landlords only one seventy-fifth part of this charge? [Calls of "Question."] I am sorry to weary hon. Gentlemen; but I feel it to be my duty to state my sentiments upon the subject, and this I wish to do in a manner that may not be offensive. I wish, to the best of my abilities, to state distinctly what are my opinions. The hon. Member for Waterford, whom I do not now see in his place, has imputed to me the basest motives. Standing in the position which I do, I really feel almost ashamed to notice the observations of that hon. Member, and I can now hardly condescend to do so. When, however, I hear such reasons as he has thought proper to assume for the conduct which I have adopted, and when motives such as those which he has insinuated are imputed to me, I feel I cannot pass over the observations of the hon. Member in silence. He states that he has a shrewd suspicion that disappointed ambition has led me to pursue the course which I have taken on this question; and that if I were on the opposite Bench I would have taken a different course. Now, it does so happen that I separated from my hon. Friends on the Ministerial side of the House when they were in the plenitude of their power; but I seated myself by those who are on this Bench when they were out of power. [Mr. O'Connell: Hear! Hear!] The hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny seems to doubt that assertion, or to think that it requires qualification; but the hon. Member should not forget, that when the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, sat on the Treasury Bench, I, under the peculiar circumstances of the moment, declined to sit with the right hon. Gentleman. So much for the "baseness" of my motives, and the "disappointed ambition" which has led me to take the course which I have taken. I now come back to a point from which I have digressed. I am anxious to show how the proposed change will tend to disturb tranquillity, and to shake the foundations of property; and impressing this view on the attention of the House, I beg to ask whether sentiments of a like description have never been uttered by his Majesty's present Ministers, and. by one pf them even since I retired. 1400 from the Government? I shall first bring under the notice of the House the opinion of the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department, in the year 1833, when the 147th Clause of the Church Temporalities Act was under consideration. That clause, as the debate then turned, first raised the question, Whether the appropriation of some surplus should not be diverted from Protestant uses to general State purposes? What, at that time, were the sentiments of the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department. These are his words:—He was personally convinced that to discuss the question would be to bring on a convulsion in the country.*I will not, now, discuss the question, which may at a future and no distant day arise, which the noble Lord then put to the House; but I ask whether, upon the subject now under debate—the application of the supposed surplus of 50,000l.—the noble Lord docs not take a course by which he seems to think, in 1836, that convulsion should be risked for that which he declared, in 1833, was a matter that could not be justified?If that House was to enter into a contest with the Lords they should do it for something worth contesting. The present was but a shadow of a claim, to prosecute which would be risking the peace and tranquillity of the country for the sake of an abstract principle. He regarded the Constitution in a very different light to some hon. Gentlemen. The check which one House exercised over another was not invented for the purpose of bringing the two Houses into collision on every difference of opinion, but in order that measures should be adopted that were satisfactory to both and beneficial to the country. There was no doubt that the diminution of the Bishops and the abolition of the Church-cess would not be voluntarily acceded to by the House of Lords, but merely because, on considering the nature of the Constitution, they would feel it their duty to yield to the sense of the country and to the declared wish of the House of Commons. The question for them to consider was, whether at the present season they would think it worth while to pass a Bill which contained many essential benefits, although it did not sanction a principle to which there existed in the minds of some men great, and perhaps insuperable obstacles. If that House were to enter into a contest with the House of Lords, he hoped the contest would take place on some question of importance, and that they would not wantonly and on trivial grounds provoke a collision.†* Hansard, Third Series, vol. xviii; p. 1095.† Hansard, Third Series, vol. xviii. p. 1095.1401 There are some hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side whom the noble Lord then proclaimed—I shall not do so—as having supported the clause of that Act, because, if it were carried, they hoped to have the Bill tin-own out elsewhere, an event which the noble Lord thought they looked forward to with no inconsiderable degree of satisfaction. The noble Lord proceeded to say:—He could understand it as proceeding from those who in discussions which had taken place in that House had paid but little regard to the general security of property; but for himself, he was of opinion that this country would not stand a revolution once a year. Under the present circumstances of the country, they were bound to make sacrifices to preserve and promote tranquillity and the security of property. Let others be for convulsion, he was for peace.*But what, I would ask, do we find to have been the recorded, expressed opinion of the noble Viscount at the head of the Government, as delivered by him only nine months since? And here I ask the House to ponder well over this remarkable declaration, on the second reading of the Church of Ireland Bill, as brought up to the House of Lords. Lord Melbourne, on moving the second reading of the Bill of lust Session, said:—At the same time, my Lords, that I propose this measure, I am fully aware of the effects which it will produce, and of the objections which may be urged against it. I am deeply sensible and much concerned at the impression which I feel that it will make. I cannot conceal from myself that it will be, in the first instance, and for a certain time, a heavy blow and a great discouragement to Protestantism in Ireland; that it will be also a great triumph to the adverse party. I am well aware that it is not the same thing to destroy as never to have constituted; to demolish as never to have built up; but this evil, which I trust will be but temporary, is forced upon me by the untoward circumstances which I have already described. I cannot avoid it, and that which I cannot avoid, I mast submit to with as much patience as I can command, and temper with as much of remedy and alleviation as it is in my power to administer. I admit the great peril and danger which necessarily attend upon and accompanies such mighty and fundamental changes. The shake and convulsion which they create, render doubtful the safety, not merely of the Establishment, but of the Constitution itself.†[Oh! Oh!] What! Does that hon. Gen-* Hansard, Third Series, vol. xviii. p. 1096.† Hansard, vol. xxx. New Series, p. 727.1402 tleman mean to deny that I correctly quote the words of the noble Lord, or does he feel disposed to reprehend me for repeating this solemn admonition:—"The shake and convulsion which they create, render doubtful the safety, not merely of the Establishment, but of the Constitution itself?" Now, coupling the observations of the noble Premier with regard to "certain untoward circumstances," with the phrase used by the noble Lord (the Secretary for Ireland), of his inability to shake off the question of appropriation, I beg the House to pause and deliberate, now that the matter of discussion between the conflicting parties is brought into narrow limits, and that the point of dispute is small, before it rejects so serious a warning as that which has been administered by the first servant of the Crown, and by a servant of the Crown, too, possessing the confidence of hon. Members Opposite. I recollect having been struck by an observation which that noble Lord used on one of the last occasions on which he addressed this House. It was in the year 1826, in opposition to a motion for Parliamentary reform; and the noble Lord replied to a very able speech which had been delivered by the present President of the Board of Control, in which he argued that Parliament was the safeguard of the Constitution, and that, if he thought reform would have the effect of changing the form of our Government, he should oppose it as much as any man. I well remember Lord Melbourne replied to this effect:—"All these disclaimers are very good, but my experience shows me that they are not to be relied on; for in politics it so happens that people get what they do not want, and want what they do not get." The effects of such measures as this cannot be limited according to the views of those who introduce them. The hon. Member for Kilkenny has openly declared that there will be no tranquillity in Ireland; and this, too, in the self-assumed character of representative of Ireland. I beg to direct the attention of the House to the evidence given before a Committee of the House of Commons by Dr. M'Hale, as representing the sentiments of the Irish Catholic hierarchy, with respect to the Established Church.—Dr. M'Hale, who, at one time, had preached conformity to the doctrine of St. Paul—"Render honour to whom honour is due, tribute to whom tribute, fear to whom fear,"—implying by such language that as long as tithe was the law of the land it should continue to be paid. 1403 Now let the House contrast these sentiments with a letter written afterwards, to the Duke of Wellington, by the same individual in the year 1834, in which he said, "after paying the landlord's rent, neither to parson, proctor, landlord, landlord's agent, or any other individual, shall I continue to pay a penny of tithe or any other tax which shall go to the support of the greatest nuisance in the civilised world." So that whatever concession may be made, there can be no chance of a cessation of agitation; because, according to Dr. M'Hale, it never shall cease until "the greatest nuisance in the civilised world" shall be altogether abolished. But it has been said, that the Church Establishment, bolstered up as it is, is incompatible with freedom. I am astonished at such an argument, and at the quarter from whence it comes. I, on the contrary, have always understood it to be the great bulwark of civil and religious liberty. It has proved itself to be this. It rescued us once from Popery and from tyranny; and on another occasion, it rescued us from the yoke no less galling—that of sectarian usurpation. I have heard such ominous language as this—that if the Bill do not pass, we must prepare for battle, and throw ourselves upon the justice of our cause. Hon. Members have talked as if some convulsion was near at hand, and of being prepared for the worst. I do still strongly confide in the strength and stability of the Protestant Establishment of this country; and I do solemnly believe, that it will still preserve us from all danger of tyranny, bigotry, fanaticism, and anarchy. Our Church may, it is true, on the other hand, have to sanction a serious breach,—it may be about to fall; but I, for one, if called upon in that fatal hour to let the Church crumble into dust, and with it the British Constitution, which rests upon it, and is mainly supported by it, shall declare in the language of Lord Bolingbroke, that "when truth and reason, and the cause of liberty fall with it, those who are buried in the ruins are happier than those who survive them."
§ Mr. Sheil
The right hon. Baronet has concluded a speech in favour of religion and of the Constitution by quoting an Atheist and a Tory. He has indulged in a dissertation upon property, which it is to be lamented that the Cumberland yeomen did not hear, in order that he may henceforth correct his erroneous notions on that subject. The right hon. Baronet has quoted Paley; he forgot to state that 1404 Paley is of opinion that the members of a government have no right to determine what is or is not the true religion, but should abide by the opinion of the majority of the people. He ought also to have remembered an authority better than Paley—the Scotch Parliament—which, in the Act abolishing Prelacy, laid down as the great reason for that celebrated proceeding, that it was opposed to the feelings of the majority of the Scotch people. These are great principles, and are worth far more consideration than the details of the measure before the House; it is not a question of vulgar arithmetic, but of vast policy, involving those regards by which Ireland ought in future to be permanently and uniformly governed. Two measures have been proposed: the one by a noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, who has won our confidence, attachment, and respect; the other, by a noble Lord who was Secretary for Ireland, and whose biography constitutes a calamitous portion of the history of Ireland. The one proposes appropriation; the other, distribution. Between which should we elect? The plan to which appropriation is an incident provides a surplus; the plan which has distribution in view leaves no surplus to be applied. It is evident that the latter is framed so as to avoid the creation of the surplus. But is there one? Let the statistics of the country be consulted. There are six hundred thousand Presbyterians, eight hundred and fifty thousand Episcopal Protestants, and six millions six hundred thousand Roman Catholics. In one archdiocese there are only forty thousand Protestants, and there are one million eight hundred thousand Roman Catholics. What more need be stated in order to prove that a surplus exists, and that the existing system cannot be maintained? It has been suggested by the noble Lord, that the inferior Protestant clergy are now paid in a manner disproportioned to their merits and services; for my part, wherever real services are to be performed, I am not only willing, but anxious that a clergyman should be adequately rewarded: but where there is no congregation I do not desire to see an useless ecclesiastic, no matter to what religion he may be attached. But when did the noble Lord, who now advocates new distribution, first bethink himself of the poverty of the Protestant clergy. When did he first give way to these feelings of commiseration in favour of the wretched curate and the family depending on him for sustainment? 1405 He never proposed any measure for their relief until the demands of millions have urged this great question to the issue to which it has advanced. He says, that he never can or will consent to it. I never expected, indeed, that he would divest himself of the fatal pertinacity which characterises him, and which has been the source of so much calamity to the country that was so long abandoned to his control. The man who could without remorse witness the fatal results of his miserable legislation, must indeed be incapable of penitence: but he is mistaken in supposing that his consent is necessary to the achievement of this great measure. This House, invested as it is with a power which is sure to prevail at last, sustained by the great body of the nation, has means of persuasion which have not been tried on former occasions in vain. Does the noble Lord recollect by what expedient the Cabinet of which he was a Member carried the Reform Bill?—and if that measure was accomplished, its results, its inevitable results, of which this is one, will by the same instrumentality be achieved. It is sufficient to trace the progress of this question, in order to see that its advances to success are beyond all doubt, and that, although it may be retarded, it cannot be stopped. There are a class of questions which cannot retrograde, which cannot continue stationary, and which must needs go on. Of this character was the Slave question, the Catholic question, the Reform question. Of this class is that which the Irish millions, returning to this House a vast majority of the representatives of Ireland, never will relinquish. In the year 1824, this question was first pressed to a division by the Member for Middlesex. In the minority the names of Hobhouse, of Rice, and of Russell are to be found. They saw even then that the concession of this right to Ireland was indispensable for her peace. The Member for Cumberland has quoted a speech of the Secretary of the Home Department, in 1833, to prove that he was opposed to a new appropriation; but that speech referred to the 147th Clause, and to a contingent and improbable surplus in the Church Temporalities' Bill, and not to a surplus, definite, substantial, palpable, like that which will result from the contemplated measure. It may be said that the noble Lord, as well as the Secretary for the Home Department, has been consistent. He has been, indeed, obstinate in his adherence to a detail, but his general policy has with that detail been most in- 1406 congruous. The instant the Reform of the Parliament was proposed in England, the reform of the Church was with the same loud voice imperatively required in Ireland. The excitement which arose in one country on the question by which it was most deeply interested, soon extended itself to the other, on the grievance by which it was most sensibly and painfully affected. Down, cried England, with nomination in the Parliament; down, cried Ireland, with sinecurism in the Church; perish Gatton and Old Sarum, cried the people of this country; perish the abuses, answered the Irish millions, which nothing but Old Sarum and Gatton could maintain. How, indeed, was it possible that the popular agitation which pervaded one country, should not have been communicated to the other? How could Ireland remain in apathetic contemplation of the great scenes which were passing in this country? Yet the noble Lord himself, who administered to the provocation of the popular passions in England, and the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) conceived that they could play the Gracchi or Reform of the Parliament, and complain of sedition, when Ireland demanded in the same right the reform of the Church. When the Tithe Bill was introduced, in 1832, the Irish Members remonstrated in vain; the measure was passed into a law. The people assembled in thousands and tens of thousands to petition against it. They were dispersed at the point of the bayonet, and their leaders arrested, convicted by packed juries, and imprisoned. The Parliament was dissolved; and provoked by these despotic proceedings, the shout for repeal arose from every hustings. The Coercion Bill was introduced, and even that melancholy measure, although intended to repress the display of the popular power, contributed to advance this question; for the English Members who had consented to severity, determined that severity should have justice for its companion. The Church Temporalities' Bill was introduced; it swept ten Bishops away, it abolished churches, it provided that certain vacant benefices need not be filled up (thus letting a great principle indirectly in), but unfortunately the 147th clause, which did not indeed expressly assert appropriation, but intimated its adoption, was rejected, and from the measure no tranquillising consequences ensued. At the opening of the Session in 1834, a most important disclosure took place. It was proved that the 1407 Marquess of Anglesea had, so far back as 1832, written a despatch to the Cabinet, insisting on appropriation, as indispensable for the settlement of Ireland; and thus, while the Irish Secretary was exclaiming against all concession, that distinguished Nobleman was bearing to the necessity of this great measure his incalculably important attestation: the question thus every day gained ground. The Member for St. Alban's at length gave his celebrated notice. The matter was brought to issue between the parties in the Cabinet, as it is at this moment between the two branches of the Legislature, and the celebrated Church Commission went forth. The noble Lord perceived that if the people were counted the days of ecclesiastical abuse would be numbered. He saw that appropriation was involved in the inquiry that must lead to it, and he resigned. He left Lord Grey behind him. What inference is thence to be deduced? If the noble Lord's resignation was founded on one principle, Lord Grey's retention of office must, upon a counter principle, have equally rested. Why, therefore, did the noble Lord refer so repeatedly last night to Lord Grey? What did he desire to intimate? Against any insinuation which he meant to convey, let the Church Commission issued by Lord Grey be appealed to. The Melbourne Cabinet is formed—dissolved in a moment of royal misapprehension of the state of Ireland: the right hon. Member for Tamworth comes in, announces the non-appropriation as the basis of his policy, is struck down by the resolution moved by the noble Lord, and out of the ruins of his Administration furnishes a new proof of the necessity of making this great and paramount concession to the power by which that Administration was laid prostrate. The Melbourne Cabinet sent up their Bill to the Lords: it is lost; but are the Government shaken, or in the least affected by it? No; a resolution of the Commons annihilates a Ministry in an instant; and to the Lords the Cabinet bid defiance. Who, then, will deem it matter of doubt by whom the victory will be won, if, indeed, to an encounter the two Houses should unhappily be driven? Take that single fact; do not go to remote periods or questionable examples; look at the event within your immediate recollection, at that which is passing this moment before our eyes, and away with all fear on the part of the people, and with all confidence on the part of their antagonists! 1408 The Session of 1835 closes, and in Ireland events arise which exhibit the fatal impolicy of the Lords in a new and remarkable light. This tithe question, which had before been so productive of disaster, generates a series of new evils. The Lay Association is formed in order to enforce the payment of the obnoxious impost: the heads of the Orange body are among the chief directors of its proceedings. The names of Lord Roden, Lord Farnham, and Lord Lorton, stand conspicuous in the Committee. I pronounce no opinion on their motives, or censure on their proceedings, nor do I indeed know to what extent the Lay Association has interposed; but this I do know, that never in the annals of litigation was such a scene as the Court of Exchequer now presents, exhibited. The writ of rebellion is issued; the law-officers appear before the Chief Baron and his brethren, to oppose the employment of the police in the execution of these writs; the executive is discomfited by the Court, and the Chief Baron becomes virtually the master of the whole constabulary force. The execution of writs of rebellion is confided, of necessity in many cases, to Commissioners of the lowest class and of the most desperate character. These miscreants enforce the attendance of the police at the dead of the night, break open the doors of nominal rebels, whose treason consists in non-payment of tithes, and incarcerate the delinquents. Is this state of things to continue? As yet, indeed, there has been no violent outrage, because the people look to the settlement of the question, and entertain the strongest confidence in the Government; but if the question continue unadjusted, and there is but one mode of adjusting it, I shrink, I own, from the contemplation of the consequences. A single, a most painful fact, will illustrate the state to which things have arrived. Not long ago, a letter addressed by me to the clergyman of my parish, was produced in this House. I made no complaint of its production, nor of the steps taken by the Rev. Gentleman to insure his tithe. I have recently learned that he has applied to the Government for the protection of the police in going every Sunday to church, in order to secure him from any outrage to which he may be exposed, and accordingly he proceeds every Sunday to church, accompanied by the police. I not only condemn, but I denounce as detestable, any attempt to offer him violence or affront; but while I denounce it, I cannot avoid 1409 deploring the political circumstances of a country, of which these lamentable incidents are the symptoms. It is monstrous, Sir, that this condition of things should be allowed to continue, and that, for the sake of an abstraction, the Conservative party should allow Ireland to be exposed to the disasters which may befal us. There is not a Protestant State in Europe but this, in which a proposition so preposterous as that Church property is inalienable, is asserted. The right hon. Baronet referred to the condition of the Lutheran and Protestant Church in Prussia, adding that the case did not apply. Why the opponents of popular privileges continually resort to foreign example for arguments against innovation; but when we appeal to the same source, when we point to Germany, in proof that Catholics and Protestants can live in perfect amity, that the Lutheran Church is paid exactly in proportion to the labours of its clergy, and that the income is regulated by the congregation; when we show them there is nothing in the two religions to create hostility, if it be not nurtured by the law, we are told that the case does not apply, and that, if an example is to be produced, it is not from the Continent that it is to be brought forward. Be it so. Scotland affords evidence as irresistible of the advantage of adapting the institutions of a country to the habits and principles of its people. Look to Scotland when an effort was made to inflict episcopacy upon her (how full is her history of the philosophy which teaches by example), and look at her after her national religious rights had been asserted. Noble and enviable country! She has won victories in civilisation. Her agriculture has climbed to the summit of those hills whose heather was once red with her martyrs' blood; the palaces of her industry ascend on the banks of every fifth; her estuaries are covered with navies that bear the produce of her labour to the remotest marts; in every science that exalts and expands the mind, in every art that cheers and embellishes existence, Scotland has made the most important contributions to the happiness of mankind. But, alas! when from the contemplation of the splendid spectacle which Scotland exhibits, I turn to my own unfortunate country, my heart sinks, I confess, within me in the melancholy consciousness in which every Irishman, no matter what may be his creed, ought to participate. But if Ireland does exhibit this fatal con- 1410 trast—if in a country that ought to teem with abundance there prevails wretchedness without example—if millions of paupers are without employment, and often without food or raiment—where is the fault? Is it in the sky that showers verdure? Is it in the soil, that is surpassingly fertile? or is it in the fatal course which you, the arbiters of her destiny, have adopted? She has for centuries belonged to England; England has used her for centuries as she pleased: how has she used her, and what has been the result? A code of laws was established, to which in the annals of legislative atrocity there is not a parallel; and of that code, those institutes of unnatural ascendency, the Irish Church is a remnant. But although that detestable policy was without example, it has since been chosen as a model. Well did Nicholas exclaim, when he perused the debates (as I have heard) in this House, on his frightful tyranny to Poland, well did he exclaim, "Poland is Russia's Ireland." He confiscates as your fathers did; he banishes às they did; he debases as they did; he violates the instincts of human nature, and from the parent tears the child, as they did; and he inflicts upon a Catholic people a church alien to their national habits, feelings, and belief, as you do. And think you not that there are men found in the Senate of St. Petersburg, who exclaim that the Greek Church must be maintained in ascendancy in Poland—that it is the bond of connexion between Poland and Russia—that a Greek priest, dispensing hospitality and holding out a salutary example by the excellence of his moral conduct, must in every Polish village be the source of improvement? and can you doubt that some Tartar Secretary for Poland is sufficiently prompt to furnish the materials for a Warsaw speech, and to exclaim that a lesson must be given to Poland, and that she must be taught to fear, before she can learn how to love? You all exclaim, the Russian' policy is not only wicked but insane. Is English policy commendable and wise? In Heaven's name, what useful purpose has your gorgeous Establishment ever promoted? Last night the Member for Weymouth, who represents and expresses the feelings of so large a portion of the religious and moral community of this country, who does not love Popery, but who abhors tyranny, told you that his conviction was, that the abuses of the Protestant Church had been the greatest impediment to the progress of the Protestant religion.