§ The Order of the Day for resuming the adjourned debate having been read,
§ Mr. Trelawney
addressed the House as follows: I believe I may say the facts—the important facts—with respect to the question in debate, are on all sides, undisputed. There is no doubt that the Irish Church establishment is upon a scale of most extravagant proportions, when considered in relation to the number of the Episcopal population. But this admission is not supposed to settle the question; reasons are still given why no essential change should be made in the condition of the institution, and some of these objections I now propose to examine in detail. It is contended that, however the existence of the Irish Church may be considered to be a degradation—a sign of most palpable inferiority, it is (at least) no pecuniary grievance to the Catholic people, because in fact, the landlords are liable to the charge on which the Church exists. This is a mistake. If the landlord pay the tithes, he must pay them out of some property he possesses. Now, he certainly does not own that portion of the revenue of land which is applicable to tithe, because he acquired his estate subject to 176 that liability. Tithe, is therfore, the property of the State; and from it, as such, every individual in Ireland has an equal right to the benefits which would accrue from its proper appropriation. At present seven millions of persons are required to look on calmly, while half a million a-year is applied to purposes not in accordance with their wishes deliberately expressed; and I shall be much obliged to any one who will undertake to disprove this assertion. It is next contended, "that to apply the funds now appropriated to the Church to any other purposes would be an act of spoliation." If, indeed, it could be proved that the State had absolutely given to some person or persons, for good consideration, a certain sum in tail for ever, there might be some force in this objection. But to maintain that a certain abstraction called the Church can attain rights, which can only vest in animated moral agents, is simply absurd. There is good reason for paying off incumbents: the amount which they should receive of course bearing equitable relation to the value of their life-interests, their disqualification from other occupations, and some other circumstances. Another objection to interference with the revenues of the Irish church is—That any invasion of its rights would involve an invasion of the English Church." "In particular," it is said, 'if perfect equality between the two religions be conceded, how can you refuse the Irish Catholic bishops seats in the House of Lords?" I reply, remove all the Bishops from the House of Lords, and you will get rid of the difficulty at once.Having noticed these general objections, I shall now endeavour to establish three propositions with regard to this subject. I shall attempt to prove, first, that a Church Establishment is unjust towards those who, dissenting from it, are compelled to contribute out of their means to the propagation of principles they disallow. This proposition ought to require little more than to be stated to be at once admitted: religious, like civil liberty, is the being bound by no law but such as conduces in a higher degree to the public good, and the onus of showing that a Church Establishment is desirable remains with those who support one. The state has no right to say to any individual, "However good and virtuous a member of society you may be—however strictly you adhere to the civil and municipal laws of 177 your common-wealth, you shall suffer in your person or estate, unless you assist us in diffusing doctrines you reject as unsupported by adequate testimony. The State, first, arbitrarily assumes the truth of the doctrines it supports, and then endeavours to compel others to assent to them, in spite of their conscientious convictions to the contrary. The State must therefore, appear to the Dissenter to be nothing better than a suborner of heresy. Secondly, I shall now endeavour to prove that religious establishments are impolitic and especially baneful to the very faith they propose to diffuse. The greatest security of orthodoxy is the liberty of preaching any doctrines, however absurd. By such liberty, I mean liberty in the largest sense of the word, which not merely guarantees the right of preaching any doctrines, but exempts both preacher and congregation from liability, either to suffer in their persons for, or to contribute out of their means to, the propagation of tenets to which they cannot subscribe. It will be said, where this liberty exists, all kinds of follies will be propagated amongst the more ignorant, and therefore more credulous of the people." That there is this danger cannot be denied. But the very multiplicity which seems so dangerous, is the greatest defence of the belief which is true. The very variety of the absurdities to which the fullest licence of propagating them gives rise, naturally awakens in the minds of rational inquirers a sense of the importance of such a scrutinizing investigation of the question "What is truth?" as is calculated to confirm, rather than weaken the probability of their discovering it. Again, absurd beliefs neutralize each other—they generally fall to pieces by degrees, in proportion to the shallowness of their inventors. But the instant a particular belief obtains support from any quarter, such as the state sometimes affords, that moment it receives a blow, from which it must materially suffer at some time or other. The believers in other creeds exclaim—"Ah! you could not stand on your own internal evidences; you would fall but for external aid, whilst we stand in spite of opposition? Give us your advantages, and see how much more diffused our doctrines would be!" Now, as there is generally but one favoured sect, and as the unprotected, or rather discouraged, sects are very numerous; and as each of these last employs the same 178 argument against the former, much injury is done an Established Church by the aid it receives; and thus, both in religion and trade, the objects of protection become its victims too! How much better to let the truths of Christianity rest on their own merits. The man, who is firmly convinced of a certain position, is generally for that very reason the more ready to submit it to the test of the closest and most rigid inquiry. He bids defiance to the attempts alike of open or insidious adversaries. His language is, "Do your worst; and yet my proposition will spread its way!" This fearlessness, this sort of intellectual intrepidity, adds new strength to the opinion of the sincerity of the individual who displays it. Example is as efficient a proselytizer as argument. But the example of a person believing a particular truth or system of truths, is all the more influential where there is evidence, not only that he does believe, but that he so believes as to be contemptuous of all endeavours to shake his belief. Now, if the policy I have hinted at be well founded, it is evident the opposite to it must be most objectionable; and one great example of this last policy is "the Irish Church." You maintain that Church by a misappropriation of the money of the Irish people—a misappropriation which is not merely a waste, but a mischievous waste, from the jealousy which it excites. What is the result of this perseverance in wrong? That you produce in the Catholics, on the one hand, an artificial aversion to Protestant principles, coupled with a reluctance to inquire into the merits of a religion whose practical fruits are so intolerable; and, on the other, a closer and more affectionate adherence to the ritual, ceremonies, and creed of the proscribed religion, from which they derive, amidst the desolation of misrule, the few consolations they enjoy. Let us examine this point a little more closely. It may be with equal truth affirmed of all believers in religious creeds, that in proportion as their minds are weak and uncultivated, by so much more are they disposed to judge of doctrines less from their internal evidence, their probability or improbability, than from secondary considerations; as, for instance, the character of a particular priesthood, the supposed effects of certain doctrines on the mind, the general charity towards all men prevalent in a particular sect, and many other subordinate matters, 179 Nine-tenths of the Catholics pass their whole lives without finding it important to explore the grounds of the faith that is in them. They infer in its favour from the affectionate interest of their parents, who taught them its rudiments; their priesthood, who subsequently built on the same foundations, and sometimes from the solemn pageantry of its sublime worship, its decorations, its paintings, its music. Such are the matters which often determine a faith; and if anything is calculated to confirm it, it is the absence of such evidence on the part of other faiths, with which it may be compared. If, for example, a Catholic finds that the State, resting for support on a Protestant population, refuses to deal impartially with members of their creeds, the natural sentiment is, "How bad must be the faith of those whose practice is so unfair, so prejudiced, so wanting in the first principles of justice!" "How weak must be a Protestant's opinion of the truth of his own religion, if he thinks that the concession of an equal share of the privileges of citizens to his Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen is calculated to undermine it!" Thus, the practice of the Legislature tends, first, to confirm Catholics in their own faith; and, secondly, to estrange them from our own. And hence our policy justifies the melancholy observation, that the conduct of religionists is too often such as to give colour to the sarcasm, that they deem religion so good a thing that they seek a monopoly of its consolations, by repelling the overtures of willing proselytes, and rendering the paths of conformity more thorny and its barriers less surmountable. The third proposition I desire to prove is, that, in the present state of Ireland, the Church Establishment there is especially impolitic. Making every fair allowance for exaggeration, there are few who can regard it without deep feelings of anxiety and alarm, and there are still fewer who can attribute it to any other cause than to some part of the policy of this country. I know it may be said, that much is accounted for by the natural irritability of the Irish people; but an irritable people are precisely those who are not susceptible of a continuous passion. They may be aroused to a very high pitch for a short time, but their excitement is seldom lasting, without real, positive and substantial grievances at the bottom. No high degree of moral 180 or physical fever can subsist long in itself. It must either destroy itself or the patient. There must be some master-grievance. What is it? Is it absenteeism? It is, probably, one cause, but it is also an effect of agitation. Is it the want of fixity of tenure? This too, may be a cause, but an inadequate one, otherwise, we should have the same complaint in England. The complaint of the people of Ireland is not that landlords do as they please with their own, but that, possessing unbounded influence in Parliament, they misappropriate, in the case of the revenues of the Irish Church, property which is not their own, but that of the people generally. But is it the state of the representation? No! The complaints of the inequalities in the representation would never have been heard of, had the Government been impartially conducted. The rotten boroughs would exist to this day, but for the follies of former Governments. On the whole it may be said, intense and continuous agitation proves some master-grievance. None of the subordinate grievances—though, unquestionably, important when cumulatively considered—seem sufficient to account for such a condition. Nothing, therefore, remains, but that which is certainly a great grievance namely, the Established Church. You must abolish that Church, or expect the alternative, namely, civil war in Ireland, which you will conduct, in spite of, or in direct opposition to, the will of the British people. I know something of the views of the unrepresented in this country—at least enough to justify my offering you a salutary warning in time. Even if the Irish do not resort to civil war, they will at least lose no opportunity of embarrassing this country in every way. A foreign war would be hailed as a harvest of civil rights. But think of the policy which would make war appear the sole precursor of good. How bad the condition of a country, which can only hope to inscribe a charter of freedom in letters of blood! We must eradicate all invidious distinctions between Protestant and Catholic. We must extirpate the prejudice that we cannot be, or be thought, right, without resenting the audacity of all who dare to think otherwise. We must no longer suppose that toleration of other men's views is indifference with regard to our own—constituting, as we do, hatred, a sort of private criterion of the intensity of a faith which 181 preached toleration to all. Our divines—especially of Exeter-hall—must eliminate the characteristic bias, which prompts them to mistake scholastic refinement for practical religion; and, having taken up some crotchetty dogma, to deem it necessary to defend it with vehemence, in order to vindicate their own understanding. Then will the conduct of this country cease to be what it has been—never just, without displaying timidity; and, therefore, never sympathising without seeming hypocritical. I admit the difficulties of her Majesty's Government, and I scorn to confound misfortune with malignity. I admit the general disposition of Government to administer the affairs of Ireland well and impartially. But they have, unfortunately, committed themselves to a policy in which they cannot advance without danger, and from which they cannot recede without disgrace. I call on Government to be ware how they multiply their difficulties Let them not defer too much to an extreme section of their supporters. I believe the right hon. Baronet has head and heart to govern Ireland well; but, perhaps, not the power of determinate action. If so, he has but one honest—but one safe course to adopt. In the mean time we must look to him for deliverance from a difficulty—from a crisis—which he cannot conceal from himself or the world. Past police except that of the Whigs, will not do. Coercive policy will create jealousy in England without being successful in Ireland. In conclusion, I have only to add that my remarks have been made less in hostility to her Majesty's Government than from a desire to induce them to consolidate their own reputation, by doing justice where justice is due, and I hope they will be appreciated in the spirit, I trust, the deserve.
§ Sir R. H. Inglis
said, the hon. Gentleman Mr. Trelawney) who has just sat down, commenced his speech by stating that the Established Church was an abstraction and that an abstraction could have n rights. He was pleased to admit, indeed, that individuals holding benefices under that Church, might have rights; and he was willing to respect their life-interest accordingly; but he denied that the Church, as such, had any real rights. Now I on the other hand maintain, that the Church is, even in the lowest point of view, a corporation, capable, like all other corporations, of receiving and holding civil rights 182 in perpetuity; and though the Church is a spiritual corporation, it is no more in law or in fact an abstraction, than the Mayor and Aldermen of Bristol or of Exeter are abstractions. I have always admitted, indeed, that there is a distinction in the rights of property held by corporations and that held by individuals; but I never could admit, that there is any distinction between the rights of civil and of spiritual corporations; or that Parliament is entitled to seize the property of either. Every argument used by the hon. Member against the right of the Church to its actual possessions, must equally apply to the right of every civil corporation. The hon. Gentleman proceeded to refer to the difficulty noticed last night by my noble Friend the Secretary for Ireland (Lord Eliot), consequent upon the assumed establishment of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, as to the admission of Roman Catholic bishops to the Upper House in the same manner as the Bishops of the Established Church; though, it ought to be added, that my noble Friend, in adverting to the difficulty, expressed no wish for its removal; but, said the hon. Gentleman opposite, "I will at once remove that difficulty; I will remove all the bishops from the House of Peers." From whom did this proposal emanate? From the representative of one of those seven illustrious bishops, to whom, in an hour of extreme peril, the Church and the Constitution of England were most deeply and permanently indebted. To say the least of such language, it did not proceed with peculiar gracefulness from the lips of that hon. Member. I do not deny that I had desired to rise last night immediately after the hon. Member for Sheffield, in order to have offered the most instant and direct negative to his motion; but I cannot regret that I gave way to my noble Friend, the Secretary for Ireland, whose peculiar post it was, and who had defended and maintained that post with so much gallantry and ability. The hon. Member for Sheffield was one of those, who, in the blandest terms, proposed the most violent measures; who, in the gentlest tones, pronounced the most virulent curses; and, with a courtesy which might be a model in any other matter, uttered his bitterest anathemas against that Church, which, in my opinion, deserves the respect of all, and the zealous support of those, who, like the hon. Gentleman, profess to be members of it. For, let it always be recollected, there is no longer in law or in fact a Church of 183 Ireland; as little is there, in strict parlance, a Church of England. At the Union, their distinct existence terminated; they were fused into each other—in doctrine, in discipline, and in establishment, identified: from that time they became one and for ever the United Church of England and Ireland. It is against this United Church that the attack of the hon. Member for Sheffield is directed. I regret that my noble Friend the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell) had not been in his place last night, when that attack was made; and is absent this evening also. That noble Lord would have seen that the hon. Member for Sheffield allowed him no room for excuse or explanation with regard to the vote which he might give on the subject of his motion. Whatever other faults, indeed, I may find with the speech of that hon. Gentleman, I cannot, at all events, accuse him of having misled the House as to his intentions, or of having endeavoured to prevail upon his hearers to vote for his resolution, on their own reading of it, instead of upon his distinct and most candid exposition. Some are willing to support a proposition under their own qualification of its meaning. No, says the hon. Member for Sheffield; you take my motion, if you take it at all, upon my showing you what I mean by it. There shall be no mental reservation on the part of the noble Lord, the Member for the City of London, or of any Member of his late Cabinet; or of any other Gentleman in this House. The motion means neither more nor less than the entire destruction of the Established Church in Ireland. His words were—The Temporalities Act, and the appropriation clause were but the first steps."—"The time has come when all men must re-consider their views of Irish policy.It is worth while, too, to recollect, that of the Church Temporalities Act, he asserted, that though called a re-distribution, it was reallyA new appropriation; it was a great and useful concession, made by the more judicious friends of the Church.Here he condescended to point them out to my particular admiration and imitation: will he add, whether to those who hold now, and held then my opinions, that example be specially encouraging? "Men," said the hon. Member for Sheffield, "who saw that they must sacrifice something to save the rest." What do they save by his proposition? How does he state that proposition? I copied his words;— 184My plan is to break up your present Establishment altogether."—"To have nothing to do with archbishops and bishops."—"To give back the churches to the Roman Catholics."—"To make the Roman Catholic clergy the link between the Crown and the people; and to atone for ages of misrule by a full and generous confidence.Even this, however, is not all. The hon. Gentleman is not contented with recommending the overthrow of the existing establishment in Ireland, and the surrender of its revenues and of its edifices to the ministers of another Church; but he desired to destroy even the parochial divisions. It was not enough for him to change the priests of the country:—I would break up (he said) the whole parochial system; and would substitute the congregational. I will re-distribute the whole ecclesiastical income of the Established Church in Ireland. I calculate that it is now 552,000l.; I will take from the existing Church all but 70,000l.In other words, he will take seveneighths—he will take 17s. 6d. out of every 1l., which the Protestant bishops and priests in Ireland now enjoy by law: "and I will leave," says the hon. Member, "70,000l. to the Protestant Episcopal Church." And then, to prevent any other Member hereafter being squeamish in dealing with this 70,000l., now so mercifully and graciously left by the hon. Gentleman, he went on to propose the abolition of the oath now taken by Roman Catholic Members at this table (to the effect that they would never injure or weaken the Protestant Church established by law:) by such abolition repealing the last faint security which that Church held from them. Even this is not all—even this (says the hon. Gentleman) is only "the first step." He did not, indeed, intimate how much further he could go; but he said, with a face of gravity which was inexplicable, while he was following up such propositions with such a review of them, "this is no unworthy compromise." The hon. Gentleman is a member of the Established Church; and, as such, ought to be presumed to treat that Church with respect—yet, he loads her with abuse; he strips her of almost everything except a rag to cover her nakedness; he puts a halter round her neck, and then delivers the other end of the rope to her bitterest enemy; and, after all, assures her and us, that this treatment is "no unworthy compromise." And he takes credit for having proposed nothing inconsistent with the character of one who still calls himself a Member of the 185 Church of England; and, consequently, let me again remind him, a member also of that portion of the United Church which is established in Ireland. It is true, as I have already observed, that all this destruction is executed with the gentlest touch, and with that blandness of tone and manner which always distinguish the hon. Gentleman; but to the eel about to be skinned, it matters little with how soft a hand the operation is performed; and to the prisoner about to be strangled, it matters as little whether the bowstring be a common rope or a silken cord. And, certainly, with whatever weapons, the hon. Member effectually labours, as he effectually intends, to get rid of the Church now established in Ireland. Now, on what grounds does he justify this measure of destruction? Why, first, he tells us that Ireland has been misgoverned for the last 300 years. Perhaps, if a certain other hon. Member were in the House—whether he be better discharging his duty elsewhere, I need not at present inquire—he would tell the hon. Mover, that he has left out more than half the period—that Ireland has been misgoverned ever since it came under the rule of what he calls the Saxons, meaning the Plantagenet kings. In that case, at least, there would be no religious question; and if Ireland were then misgoverned, it could not be through the intervention of the Protestant Church. I will, however, confine myself to the limit fixed by the hon. Member for Sheffield: he says then, that Ireland having been misgoverned for three centuries, the Established Church has been the chief cause of such misgovernment; and its chief instrument:—has been "the iron link, which has bound the two countries." He justifies his proposition on a third allegation, namely, that the existing state of things, which he desires to alter, has continued established in specific violation of the treaty of Limerick. Now, on the first point, the misgovernment of Ireland for the last 300 years—I will so far agree with the hon. Gentleman as to admit, that there had been great neglect; a neglect first, of the language of the people, and secondly, of the other means of advancing the interests of the Protestant Church in that country. This has been the sin of England; and has, consequently, been its curse. If the same efforts had been made, if the same system had been adopted in Ireland in 1534, as in England—I might go further back with not less reason—if the Holy Scriptures, if the Liturgy 186 had at that time been translated into the vernacular tongue—if the same means of instructing the people had been introduced into Ireland which, in the course of less than a century were attended with such signal success in this country, then the same results might, on the same grounds, have been expected; then a very different state of things would now be presented to our observation in Ireland. But at the Reformation the people were not taught in their own tongue; that tongue, on the contrary, was systematically discouraged; and they were excluded from that teaching which alone could be generally acceptable, or even accessible, to them; and they were never invited to the services of a Protestant Church in a language which was understood by them. Another point in which, for the larger portion of those three centuries, England had been deeply guilty, was her neglect, not only as I have already indicated, of the people to be taught, and of the way of teaching them, but of the teachers also, and of the whole system and machinery of the Protestant Church, particularly in the south and west; and indeed, in more than one remarkable instance in the north also. For some years Queen Elizabeth kept in her own hands some of the chief bishoprics; the bishopric of Derry, one of the richest of the number, was left for many years unfilled, the Queen retaining for her own use all the revenues of the see. I speak from a general recollection: but I believe that, almost a hundred years after the Church became nominally Protestant, more than one bishopric in Ireland was to be found in the hands of a Roman Catholic. It matters little for my argument whether the Queen retained the bishoprics in her own hand, or whether she permitted them to be filled by members of another communion. My position is, that the same mode of advancing the cause of the Reformed Protestant Church Establishment, which had been so eminently successful in this part of the empire, had not only not been tried, but had been systematically neglected in Ireland. Thus far I admit, that there has been great and fatal misgovernment on the part of England with respect to Ireland. But whoever else had been to blame for this, surely it is not the Church. The State makes bad appointments in the Church, or makes no appointments at all; surely the Church is the suffering rather than the guilty party. But has there been no change in later days? The hon. Gentleman himself admits, that 187 "The worst abuses of the old system are done away." He allows, that "Some of the most enlightend, virtuous, and able men are now on the Bench in Ireland." When I see by whom the late vacancies in the Irish sees have been filled up, I will fearlessly place those prelates, whatever minor difference, if any, may exist between them, in competition with any who had been appointed by any preceding Government. Indeed, I cannot help admiring the admirable discretion which my right hon. Friend at the head of the Treasury has evinced, not merely in respect to those whom he has appointed to office generally, but also in respect to those whom he has passed by. There is but one exception, I think—an exception, however, not relating either to England or to Ireland. To return for a moment to the Church in Ireland—I believe that it will be long and largely indebted to my right hon. Friend for the appointment of the Bishop of Cashel and the Bishop of Ossory. [Mr. M. J. O'Connell: "Ossory."] Of course, it cannot be expected that every appointment will receive the same unqualified approbation from both sides of the House; but I am glad to perceive from the cheer of the hon. Member for Kerry (Mr. M. J. O'Connell), that at least he agrees with me as to the nomination of Dr. O'Brien to the see of Ossory; and that in this House, therefore, there is no difference of opinion as to such nomination. The hon. Member for Sheffield did me the honour yesterday to refer to something which I had said ten years ago, as admitting that the Church in Ireland was secularised. I interrupted him, at the moment, for which I beg now to apologise to him—desiring him to state to what period of history I was then referring. He misunderstood me, and supposed that I wished to know the page in Hansard from which he was quoting my admissions. My meaning was, that the hon. Gentleman would be pleased to show to the House, that, in the passage to which he was adverting, I was specifically referring to the very times which he had selected as the worst; and that I was reluctantly conceding the point to him. If I may be permitted, in order to set myself right with the House, to quote my own words—I will read a few lines from Hansard's account of the debate on the Church Temporalities' Act:—He (Sir R. Inglis) was bound to admit,—no man who had read 'Archbishop Boulter's Letters,' or knew anything of the Administra- 188 tion of Primate Stone, could fail to admit,—that for the sake of maintaining the connexion of the two countries (the 'English interest in Ireland,' as it was always called), the Churchmen of those days were, in many cases, too much secularised; and though there were splendid exceptions, their high and peculiar duties were too often neglected."*Among those splendid exceptions was one, whose name would do honour to any Church in any age:—To Berkeley every virtue under Heav'n.It was in reference then to that period, that I used the expression cited by the hon. Member for Sheffield. I also stated in the course of the same speech, that it was from the time of the Union that I date the spiritual character of the Church in Ireland. I did not, and do not mean from the date of the mere act of Legislative Union. I know that many arrangements made at that time continued for years to interfere with the now growing improvement; but I know, on the other hand, that at no period in the history of any institution has there been, in the same interval of time, a change so great and so beneficial, as that which has been effected in the state of the Church in Ireland within the last thirty years. The hon. Gentleman was pleased to twit me with something I had said about the apostolical succession. I do not at once recollect the passage or the occasion; and I am certain, that I need not here refer to the question. It is enough for me to assert, that the vulgar necessity of appointing persons to eminent posts in the Church in Ireland in order to meet political objects, has practically passed away; that with pure and good appointments in the higher functions, pure and good appointments will follow in the lower functions of the Church—that such has been the case in Ireland—that since the commencement of the present century, nearly 400 new churches have been built. I speak generally; the number up to 1834, was 350, more than a third of the whole number in 1800—that the learning, the piety, the activity of the clergy have increased in proportion; and that these considerations, while they ought to render powerless the efforts of the enemies of the Church, ought to stimulate the respect and gratitude of those who are its members. But, while the hon. Gentleman cannot deny these facts, they fail to disarm him. His speech is as though they were not: he talks as if the whole code of Penal Laws* Hansard, vol. xvi. p. 1394—1 April, 1833.189 were still in existence—as if Ireland were still as misgoverned as ever—as if the wrongs of the people of Ireland, meaning thereby always and exclusively the Roman Catholics in Ireland, even arose from the existence of the Protestant Church Establishment; as if that Church were the instrument of that misgovernment, and as if the Church, as it is, ought to be swept away, just as much now as at any other period of her history. "Yes," says the hon. Gentleman, "still there are unions:" and he holds up to our view a map of a county, Kilkenny, I think, at one end of which is the fragment of one union; and, at the other end, another fragment of the same union: I have reason to believe, that from an hon. Friend on this side of the House, the hon. Member will receive a more satisfactory, because a more authoritative explanation on that particular point, than I am entitled to give; and therefore, without further referring to that individual case, I will only entreat the House not always to rely with implicit confidence on the returns on our Table, however honest and literally correct they may be, unless those returns be accompanied by some explanation, or be read with local knowledge. Take, for instance, the case of the union of six parishes, held by one individual, a dignitary of the Church, the Chancellor of Cork, at the time when the returns were made twenty years ago. The case may be different now; but take it as it then was. I am speaking in the hearing of many acquainted with the city of Cork. Will the House believe that the entire of one of these six parishes, that of St. John of Jerusalem, consisted of a single tenement, a sugar-house? and that another of those parishes, that of St. Dominick, contained also but one tenement, and that was a distillery? This case was formerly explained in the other House by my lamented Friend the late Bishop of Limerick. Now, so far as these parishes were concerned, it was evident, that whatever might have been the motive for the original formation of the union in question, the existence of it did not materially interfere with the spiritual labours of the individual who held it. The hon. Member said, that these unions were formed for the benefit of some favoured individual; but it should be remembered, that by the act of the Legislature, and by that which was even still higher authority, the operation of an elevated standard of Christian principle, the ecclesiastical authorities in Ireland were con- 190 tinually diminishing the number of these unions. But then (said the hon. Member for Sheffield), in point of fact, the Protestant population is decreasing in Ireland. I will not enter into a question of statistics with him, because in my view of the case, the proportion of numbers does not affect the conclusion to which I feel we ought to arrive. I do not, however, concede to him that the Protestant population has diminished; on the contrary, I believe that it has increased, though not, I admit, in the same proportion as the Roman Catholic. The hon. Gentleman, indeed, seems to consider numbers as everything; but, carrying that principle to its legitimate extent, it would lead to the proposition, that whatever might be the faith or the opinion of the majority of a nation, the rulers ought to recognise and establish it; and on his principles, therefore, the hon. Gentleman ought to be prepared as cheerfully to establish the religion of or of Brahma, as Christianity. The hon. Member for Sheffield denies the idea of a national conscience. Now, without following my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade into the discussion of that question, I will never cease to maintain, that, inasmuch as there is in each of us an individual conscience, each individual is bound, whether acting in public or in private, with others or alone, to throw all his weight and influence into the scale which he believes to contain the truth. No man loses his own individual responsibility because he is acting with others. If in his private capacity he is bound to enlighten the ignorant, and with all his influence to promote the truth, he is equally bound to employ all the means which may be entrusted to him in public life, to extend the same great objects. Neither in public nor in private is he to promote a good end by bad means, or to violate any right which his fellow men may possess; but, consistently with this principle, every one of us ought to use all our influence to promote what each may believe to be true; and if all did this, the question of a national conscience need not be agitated in England. My noble Friend the Member for the City of London has, on several occasions, taken a just view of the claims of the Church of England upon those who profess its doctrines in this country; but he endeavoured, on a former debate on something like the present subject, to draw a distinction between the Church in England and the Church in Ireland; and while he admitted, as a gene- 191 ral truth, the value of an Established Church for the maintenance of religion, the regular celebration of divine worship, and the diffusion of Christian education, he contended that the Church in Ireland was not in a condition to discharge these duties towards the great body of the population, who were hostile to it. If that were so, which I do not admit, the course for a wise and Christian statesman—always recollecting that he has got his machinery,—that it is in his hands—is to strengthen and enlarge its powers. For let us always recollect, as was well stated by my noble Friend, the Secretary for Ireland, last night,—we are not discussing the question of establishing a national Church in that country; but the proposition of the hon. Gentleman opposite, for destroying one; and in those circumstances the fact of an institution being established is a consideration which no statesman ought to disregard. Personally, I would take higher ground. I defend the Church in Ireland, because I believe it to be the truth. I defend it, further, because it is the truth established. I defend it again, because it is the truth established, not by an ordinary act of law, but by a solemn treaty between two independent nations. I cannot but think, indeed, that this view of the Union between Great Britain and Ireland has not always been brought forward in reference to other matters so prominently as it ought. In reference to the present matter, I concur entirely with my noble Friend the Secretary for Ireland last night, that, as an article of a treaty, recognised and confirmed by two Legislatures in the two countries, the maintenance of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Ireland is unalterable. And I feel with him, that the Irish Parliament as it was then constituted, would never have passed the Legislative Union except there had been such security as human wisdom and power could in their judgment have given for the perpetual support of the Reformed Establishment. Again, my noble Friend well stated, that the Imperial Parliament would never have passed the measure of 1829, if it had not been for the evidence given in 1824 and 1825 by Roman Catholics from every quarter, pledging themselves in every form of words, that their emancipation would not only not be attended with danger to the Protestant Church, but would add to its security. That evidence was for the two or three years after it was given, circulated with great zeal and effect. It was 192 said to those "bigots," as we were called, who still opposed that change in the Constitution,Can you disbelieve those men who are only now excluded from Parliament because they refuse to take an oath, when they tell you in this solemn evidence, that they would not receive any of the spoil of the Established Church, if it were offered to them; and that they do not even desire to injure or disturb it?This evidence was given by many who were supposed to represent the general mind of the Roman Catholics, and who unquestionably possessed the greatest influence among them. One of the number, upon whom, without any disparagement to any other, either to the hon. and learned Member for the county of Cork (Mr. O'Connell), or to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the borough of Dungarvan (Mr. Sheil), the Government and the friends of emancipation were understood greatly to rely, I mean the present Chief Remembrancer, Mr. Blake, gave in his examination the assurance to the friends of the Church:Emancipation," he said, "would counteract any bias which they, the Roman Catholics, might have against the Church, which is connected with the State by an indissoluble union, and must therefore stand or fall with it.By declarations such as these the suspicions of many were lulled; and—without reviving the discussions of 1829—the measure of that year was passed. I will only repeat, that I have never regretted my own opposition to that measure: and have yet to learn what advantage it has given to the State, or what security to the Church. Having thus adverted to the two first propositions of the hon. Member for Sheffield, on which he rests his motion for the destruction of the Protestant Church in Ireland, namely, that for three centuries England has misgoverned Ireland, and that the Established Church has been the instrument as well as the pretext of that misgovernment, I proceed to his third proposition, namely, that the existence of the present state of things is a violation of the Treaty of Limerick; meaning, I presume, that it was stipulated then, in some way, or other, that the Church of Rome should be established in Ireland. To this construction of the treaty the hon. Gentleman seems to attach the greatest value, as being sufficient in itself to justify him in taking away seven-eighths of the property of the 193 Established Church and giving it to the Roman Catholics. He asserts, thatThe most zealous Protestant will hardly deny that the capitulation of Limerick was most scandalously violated.And, as a proof of the baseness of principle which accompanied that violation, he thinks it fair to refer to the sermon of Anthony Dopping, Bishop of Meath, who, from the pulpit, maintained that faith was not to be kept with papists. Why, I may ask, does the hon. Gentleman stop there in his story? why did he not go on to state that this same bishop, whose see is always, I believe, held by a privy-councillor, was, for this very sermon, struck out of the council by King William 3rd, and that another bishop, the Bishop of Kildare, mounted the same pulpit on the next Sunday (I quote, I think, the very words of Harris, the historian of Ireland), to repel the doctrine so reprobated. So much for this solitary instance, in which a scandalous doctrine was maintained by a Protestant. The hon. Gentleman might as fairly have illustrated the state of the law and police of London, by stating, that in broad day, in the Strand, before twenty witnesses, a man had his pocket picked, while yet he omitted to add, that the offender had been instantly seized, committed, sent to the Old Bailey, tried, condemned, and transported. But the more important question remains. Did the Treaty of Limerick grant to the Roman Catholics any thing now withheld from them;—was it, or was it not, violated at the time? On a former occasion, fifteen years ago, I stated fully the grounds upon which—to myself, at least—it appeared clear, that the Treaty of Limerick would not bear the weight then attempted to be laid upon it; that the Emancipation of the Roman Catholics, as it was called, could not be claimed under the spirit or letter of that treaty; and with equal confidence I will now briefly state, that the subversion of the Protestant Church, which the hon. Member for Sheffield urges, cannot be claimed by virtue of any stipulation made at Limerick. A very few sentences will comprise my case:—the besieged were in great difficulty; I do not deny, that the besiegers also had great reason to desire to close the war. At that time, Limerick alone held out for James 2nd against William 3rd. On the 27th September, 1691, the garrison having previously asked for a cessation or hostilities, sent out their proposals to De Ginckel upon his consent to which they were prepared to surrender 194 their so-called impregnable fortress. In these proposals the House will find no reference to Roman Catholics having seats in Parliament, or to their religion being established. The utmost which was asked was contained in the 4th and 6th articles: by the 4th,Irish Catholics were to be capable of bearing employment, civil and military, and to exercise professions, trades, and callings, of what nature soever.By the 6th, they wereTo be allowed to live in towns corporate and cities, to be members of corporations, to exercise all sorts and manners of trades, and to be equal with their fellow Protestant subjects in all privileges, advantages, and immunities accruing in or by the said corporations.But not only were these terms not granted; they were instantly rejected. I request the attention of the House specially to this point: not only were the terms thus proposed rejected; but De Ginckel replied to Saarsfield, who had sent them, that, although he was a foreigner, he knew enough of the laws of England to know that such terms were incompatible with those laws. Then the Irish sent out again the same day, to know what terms his Excellency would be pleased to grant? Upon that message the Treaty of Limerick was framed, and the capitulation took place. Now can it be believed that De Ginckel would grant more in the afternoon than he had under the same circumstances indignantly refused in the morning? The belief is preposterous; and the allegation is contrary alike to history and to logic. Whatever the treaty of Limerick granted in the evening was less than had been asked in the forenoon;—whatever was not included in the proposals sent out by the besieged was certainly not added in the terms granted to them. But the whole treaty must be read, in order to prove how utterly impossible it is to suppose that much is granted by implication when a trifle is granted in direct words: can it be contended, for example, that by the spirit of that treaty the Church of Rome was to be recognised and established by law, and the Reformed Protestant Church, then and now established, was to be degraded and despoiled under one article, and that all Roman Catholics were to have equal rights with all Protestants, when by another article such Roman Catholic noblemen and gentlemen as are comprised therein—those who have property of not 195 less, I think, than 100l. per annum, [I wish we had thought of this when we were discussing the Irish Arms Bill—]Were to have liberty to ride with a sword and case of pistols, if they think fit, and to keep a gun in their houses, for the defence of the same, or for fowling.No, Sir, what was granted to Limerick was something, which, whether it be much or little, had been refused to other cities and forts which had surrendered: the Roman Catholics in Limerick obtained for themselves and for all others of their church in the kingdom, so far as the besieging general could grant, and so far as William and Mary could confirm the grant, the right of the private exercise of their religion; not its equality with the Protestant Church; still less, its ascendancy. With this specific answer to the last argument of the hon. Member for Sheffield in support of his proposition, I might close. His motion for the destruction of the Established Church in Ireland is not sustained by the Treaty of Limerick. My defence of that Church rests not merely on my belief of its truth, and on the fact that it is established, and on the further fact that it is established not only on art act of Parliament, but by a solemn treaty between two independent nations; but on the conviction, also, that, in its civil relation to the State, the Church is of inestimable value; and its services are entitled not merely to indulgence but to approbation and national gratitude. In many parts of Ireland the resident clergy of the Establishment are the resident gentry; palliating in some degree the evils of absenteeism on the part of landlords; in all parts, they raise, and they distribute large sums for the relief of the poor, never confining themselves to the poor of their own flocks; in one memorable instance, 75,000l, was raised by successive charity sermons by one clergyman of the Established Church, the larger part of which went to the poorer Roman Catholics. And, lastly, because I believe that the Established Church is the great link, and may be made the permanent link, of connecting the two countries. For this, and for every other reason which I have stated, I oppose, with my whole heart, and with the fullest and most conscientious conviction of my mind, the present attempt to degrade and destroy the Protestant Church in Ireland.
§ Lord Listowel
said, looking to the general tenor of former debates on the condition of Ireland, I think that it has been admitted on all sides that the present 196 state of that country imperatively demands that the Legislature should well consider how the errors of past times and of former Governments can now be best corrected by a wise and just policy. I do not mean to say, that evils which have been the growth of centuries can be remedied in a day; but this I would say, that the time is come, when it behoves you to deal by remedial measures with the causes in which those evils originated, and by which down to the present hour they are in a great measure continued. It is furthest from my wish to rake up ancient grievances; or to paint them in their true and hideous colours—the memory alone of such things is enough to depress the heart of any man who has any feeling for the rights, or pride in the honour of his country. But passing from those times when a cruel and barbarous policy prevailed in the councils of this nation, and referring to a more recent period, the period of the Revolution, I would ask, what has Ireland been from that day down to the present hour, but an anomaly in the contemporaneous history of the world, a blot and a reproach on the fair name of England a scandal to the land which boasts of being the champion of liberty, and the avenger of oppression? It cannot be said, that the blame of these things lies with Ireland any more than it can be said, that the blame of slavery lies with the negro because he differs in complexion from ourselves. No, Sir, the cause of these evils is as clear as the noon-day sun, and may be expressed in three words, Protestant against Catholic. The people of Ireland were oppressed solely because they maintained that religion which was once your own—which was the faith of your forefathers, and which, not less than the wisdom of your ancestors, ought at least to be respected, for it was professed by many of the best and wisest men that ever adorned the world. A Protestant church was forced upon a Catholic people, and can you be surprised, that discontent and heart-burnings have been the result. It ought to have been the policy of England to have assimilated Ireland to herself in every possible respect, but you did nothing of the kind; you only tried to assimilate the two countries in the very one respect in which it was impossible to do so, in endeavouring by force of a Church establishment, and of penal laws, to convert Catholic Ireland into a Protestant country, 197 and in that attempt, I need not tell you how signally you failed. How, I would ask, must such policy as this be viewed in the eyes of the civilized world? What must men think of it in France, in Germany, and in America? Is it not considered a violation of common sense, an outrage upon common justice? And is it not accounted a fit and natural retribution, and one, let me tell you, which enlists the sympathies of foreign nations, that Ireland should be to you what she now is, a source of serious embarrassment, and the cause of painful apprehension? In that country you have a redundant population, which though steeped in poverty, exhibits a wonderful example of patience under human suffering while for activity of mind and body, for intelligence, for the practice of all the domestic virtues, for industry, for valour, and for self-restraint; they cannot be surpassed. Such is the people whom you have done your utmost to alienate from British connection. I implore all thinking men in this House, and in the country, well to ponder over this grave and momentous state of things. I entreat you to carry into practice the great Christian maxim, the truth of which your hearts must acknowledge, "do unto others as you would that others should do unto you." Conciliate Catholic Ireland, not by fair words, and plausible professions, but by broad and intelligible acts of liberality and of beneficence. Already has the mighty power of steam approximated the shores of both countries, and the Irish channel presents but little impediment, to your communications, and to the operations of your Government. For forty-three years you have done every thing to prove, that there has been no real union between England and Ireland. For twenty-nine of those years you had your penal laws. Down to the present hour, you have your English Government and your Irish Government—you have your Lord Lieutenancy, but too frequently the fruitful source of disunion and of party strife. I do not think that any institution could be devised more calculated to perpetuate dissension and cherish party and religious discord than the Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland; and I do hope, that the day is fast approaching, when her Majesty's Government will see the necessity of abolishing that useless office. If that were done, and if distinctions were removed wherever they are found to 198 exist, a great step would be taken to prove to the people of Ireland, that you were in earnest in your desire to govern her as they have a right to expect. But above all, let your sincerity be shown in dealing with the Church of the minority, and according as the opportunity is afforded you by the demise of an incumbent appropriate the surplus revenues of the Church, after providing for the fit and decent support of his successor, to some great national purposes, in a manner that would be satisfactory to the majority of the people, who are already charged with the maintenance of their own Church. Hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, have been often taunted with the variety of opinions which they hold with reference to reform in the Protestant Church of Ireland. It is true that various opinions are entertained on this subject; but let me observe, that such opinions only refer to the means which point to one end—which lead to the one result, namely, that in a country which numbers 8,000,000 of population, and of which less than one-eighth professes the Protestant faith, the Protestant Church ought to be cut down and adapted to the wants of those who do belong to it, and not suffered to remain as she now is, an object of distrust and of disgust, of contempt, and of annoyance to those who do not. Would to God that some such policy as that to which I have referred, were adopted, instead of your offensive Arms Bill, whereby you add fresh excitement to the public mind, and mark the distinction between the laws which you apply to this country and to that, at the very time when you ought to show that they are united under equal laws, and whereby you widen the pre-existing breach between the two countries, at the very moment when it ought to be your wish, as it must be your policy, to narrow it to the smallest possible compass. Sir, the people of Ireland are tranquil through the length and breadth of the land, with the exception of occasional crimes, of which this country unfortunately affords but too numerous examples. They are committing no acts of violence—they are engaged in no unlawful courses. It is true, that a wide-spread agitation prevails in that country, but it is equally true that that agitation is conducted in a manner perfectly peaceable, and with due obedience to the laws. No man regrets the existence of 199 that agitation more than I do; for I do believe that its object, if successful, would lead to consequences most disastrous to the best interests of the British empire. It is my conviction that the very existence of this empire as one of the leading powers of Europe, demands not only that the Union should not be disturbed, but that it should be consolidated and rendered perfect. But, Sir, I do complain that her Majesty's Ministers have shown no disposition to meet that agitation by any other measures than those of a coercive character. In the same breath in which they told us, that we had arrived at no ordinary crisis, in which they denounced what the right hon. Baronet, the Home Secretary, called the rebellious spirit of the Repeal agitation, they expressed their determination to maintain the Protestant Church in Ireland, with all its imperfections, as it at present exists. Sir, I am at a loss to reconcile that determination with the apathy and inactivity which they have displayed. I warn her Majesty's Ministers against being the first parties to commit aggression, and to involve Ireland in the horrors of civil commotion. If they do, great will be their responsibility for the consequences that must ensue; and I seize this opportunity to declare, that so long as the proceedings of the Irish people are marked by loyalty to their Sovereign and obedience to the laws, I for one will be no party to any such aggression. I would appeal from the sentiments uttered and the conduct pursued by her Majesty's Government to the good sense and liberal feelings of the British people—on those noble qualities which characterise them as a people I place the fullest reliance, and I entertain the sanguine hope that they will speedily withdraw what confidence yet remains to them, and I believe it is but little, from a Government whose policy has a manifest tendency to lead us into disgrace abroad, and to involve us at home in ruin and in intestine troubles. I entreat them never to sanction a resort to force on the part of their rulers towards their fellow-subjects, so long as their wrongs and grievances remain without remedy or redress; but I would say to them, open your arms to Ireland, and receive her as a sister who claims and has a right to expect the fullest affection and equality at your hands, equally attached as she is, with yourselves, to that parental authority, which, by its beneficent ex- 200 ercise, our gracious Sovereign knows so well how to endear to the hearts of her people.
§ Lord Bernard
said, after the length at which Irish subjects had been discussed in this House, during the last three weeks, and indeed during the whole past portion of the Session, it was with no ordinary degree of reluctance he felt himself bound to address to the House a few observations. But on the present occasion, considering the object and aim of the motion introduced by the hon. Member for Sheffield, it was a duty which he (Lord Bernard) owed to those whom he had the high honour to represent—a duty which he owed to his brethren, the loyal and faithful Protestants of Ireland—not to remain silent—above all, he should be wanting in his duty to that revered Church of which he was a member, and to which he was most sincerely attached, if he did not firmly but calmly, state the grounds on which he should give to the motion of the hon. Member his most decided opposition. And he must say that he, for one, felt that he had reason, to complain that a motion of such great importance should have been brought forward at this late period of a laborious and extended Session—at a time when not only many who agreed with him in general opposition to the political views of the hon. Member for Sheffield, were in the ordinary course absent, but very many also were now absent, who, though in general adopting the same views with that hon. Member, were at least, he firmly believed and fondly hoped, not prepared to support any measure or motion for the destruction of the Protestant Established Church in Ireland. He said the destruction of the Church, for that at which the motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield aimed, was no more nor less than (as a similar suggestion had been properly designated in another place by the greatest of living men), an attempt to repeal the laws on which the glorious Reformation and the Reformed Church, with all its blessings and advantages, were based. It was, he (Lord Bernard) fearlessly repeated, no less than that. And here let him ask this House, let him ask the reasoning men of all parties—let him ask the Roman Catholics of this House and of the country if the existence in Ireland of the Protestant Established Church was deemed to be an offence and a grievance to that country, how long was it probable that a Protestant Government would be borne—how long was it likely 201 that the Protestant succession to the throne would be quiescently endured? He spoke now, as he always spoke, with the greatest respect for his Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen, with respect for their feelings, and sincere regard for themselves. He felt it a pleasure to acknowledge that he had lived among them and mixed familiarly with many of them, and if a word of his was in the remotest degree susceptible of being interpreted into an offence, he meant it not—he should deeply regret it. But he would ask of the Protestant portion of this House, of those who in England adhered to and upheld the Protestant Church, whether they could really hope to conciliate, to win the respect, the estimation, and regard, and confidence of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, if they, the members of the Established Church, came forward to sacrifice the interests—to abandon, to destroy the Church of Ireland. When they (the Roman Catholic people), whom it was thus vainly essayed to conciliate and win, saw gentlemen thus faithless to their own Church, could they place much confidence in those hon. Gentlemen as guardians of the temporal interests of themselves and of the community? And on the other hand, could it be supposed that those conciliatory movements would be regarded as sincere, as anything better than temporary expedients and illusory promises? Had the Irish people so soon forgotten, or did the hon. Gentlemen opposite indulge the fond imagination that the Irish people had so soon forgotten the fate of a similar motion to the present, and introduced by the same hon. Gentleman (the Member for Sheffield)? Had that people forgotten that a former Government had based on it claims to confidence and to support, had introduced measures in the spirit of that motion, declaring their determination by the fate of those measures to abide, yet had abandoned those measures and still retained their offices? But in immediate reference to the present motion, and to similar suggestions, there was one argument reiterated so constantly, and urged so confidently, as to demand particular attention and particular refutation. That argument was—that the Protestant Church of Ireland was an intrusive church, and that the dignities and revenues of the Protestant Church in Ireland ought to belong, and in justice did belong, to the Roman Catholic Church. Now he contended that the facts of the case were directly the reverse, and some of the facts he would take the liberty of submitting to 202 the House, to show that the Church as at this day established in Ireland was the ancient church of that country, and therefore the legal, rightful, undoubted inheritor of all the privileges and revenues of that ancient Church. The first authority which he would adduce was that of Dr. Carew, not a Protestant authority, but a famous professor in the College of Maynooth. He wrote thus:The light of the Gospel appeared at a very early period in her horizon, before St. Patrick engaged in the conversion of the Irish people.Hume, the historian, speaking of the early independence of the Irish Church, says:—The Irish followed the doctrines of her first teachers, and never acknowledged any subjection to the see of Rome.Bede tells us that the celebrated St. Colmar, an Irishman, was bishop of Lindisferne; a council was called upon to dispute the point of the celebration of Easter. St. Colmar argues thus:—This Easter, which I used to observe, I received from my elders, who sent me bishop hither, which all our fathers, men beloved of God, are known to have celebrated after the same manner, which, that it may not seem unto any to be contemned and rejected, is the same which the blessed Evangelist St. John, the disciple especially beloved by our Lord, with all the churches that he did oversee, is read to have celebrated. I marvel (he exclaimed) how such men call that absurd in which we follow the example of so great an apostle, one of whom was thought worthy of reposing upon the bosom of his Lord; and can it be believed that such men as our venerable father Columbkill and his successors would have thought or acted things contrary to the precepts of the sacred pages!A writer of the life of Wilfred, who defended the Church of Rome, while St. Colmar defended the Church of Ireland, Fridogenus, a Roman Catholic, inform us that St. Colmar still further added thus:—We abide by the customs of our fathers, which was given to us by Polycarp, the disciple of St. John.Dr. Moore. the eminent writer, who in every case was favourable to the Roman Catholic church, in his history stated—about the year 553 a question arose about the three chapters, which Moore expresses it, "awakened the alarm of the see of Rome." The Irish took a part opposed to Rome. Cardinal Baronius, in his Annals ad annum 506, No. 21, says:— 203All the bishops that were in Ireland with most earnest study rose up conjointly for the defence of the three chapters, and when they perceived that the church of Rome did both revive the condemnation of the three chapters, and strengthened the fifth synod with her consent, they departed from her, and clave to the rest of the schismatics, animated with that vain confidence that they did stand for the Catholic faith while they defended those things that were concluded in the Council of Calcedon.And it was a most remarkable fact in history, that the doctrines of that Council of Calcedon were distinctly recognised by the act of the 2nd Elizabeth, cap. 1. To pass to another part of the history of the Church. The hon. Member for Sheffield had used, for the purposes of his motion, the argument, that in the time of Henry 8th, only two out of all the Irish prelates had conformed, and that all, save those two, had been banished from their sees, and stripped of their dignities and revenues, to make way for men appointed by the sovreign. But the hon. Gentleman had either overlooked, or had neglected to state, the whole facts of the case; he had forgotten to remind the House that the whole of the chieftains or kings of Ireland had conformed, and had elected Henry king, with all the privileges attached to that office—that they (the chieftains of Ireland), who possessed the nomination of bishops, had altogether abolished the inferior title of lord, previously the Irish title of the sovereigns of England, and had formally elected Henry king, yielding to him all their theretofore enjoyed and undoubted rights of sovereignty.The lords of English descent irritated by a too successful rivalry—the Irish still brooding over the original treachery of the church, and its bitter consequences to themselves, and both turbulent, eager for ascending and accustomed to refer everything to the arbitration of the sword, would naturally rejoice in the downfal of this arrogant order. Accordingly, when Henry 8th asserted his claim to the complete sovereignty of the island, all the nobles arrayed themselves on the side of the crown. They abolished the subordinate title of lord, the only one which the Pope had permitted to be assumed, and proclaimed him King of Ireland and supreme head of the church."—(130 Phelan.)Again, what said the indenture between the chiefs and Henry 8th?Indentured the 26th of September, 34 Henry 8th, between the Irish chiefs and Henry 8th: They will accept and hold his said Majesty and the Kings his successors as the supreme head on earth, immediately under Christ, of the church of England and Ireland.204 Again, they found, in Elizabeth's time, at the Parliament held in Dublin by the Earl of Essex, in 1560, out of nineteen Irish prelates who were present, only two refused to conform, those two being Walsh, the Bishop of Meath, and Leverus, Bishop of Kildare. Dr. Phelan, in his Policy of the Church of Rome in Ireland, p. 166, A.D. 1568, says—For eleven years her (Elizabeth's) measures were unmolested by the Papal government, and received without opposition by the great body of the Roman Catholics. The laity everywhere frequented the churches. Multitudes of the priests adopted the prescribed charges, and continued to officiate in their former cures, and the majority of the prelates, leading or following the popular opinion, retained their sees, and exercised their functions according to the reformed ritual.So far, then, whatever value may be contended for, as applying or ascribable to the line of succession in the prelacy, that value unquestionably attached to the bishops of the Church established in Ireland at the present day. In that Church the true line of episcopal succession had continued unbroken. But another argument had been brought forward—an argument of a very different character to that to which he had been soliciting attention, and an argument on which much reliance was now placed—that the established Church of a country ought to be the Church of the majority. Let him ask those who used that argument, and those who either lent a ready support, or seemed to yield an assent to that doctrine—whether they were prepared to carry it to its full extent—were they prepared to apply that doctrine to England? were they, indeed, prepared to hold forth to the dissenting community, of this country, that, if at any time the numerical majority of the English people should be found to be dissenters from the Church, that then the Established Church should fall? He supported the Protestant Church in Ireland on other and still higher grounds. He supported it, not only because it was the Church of the majority of the people of this united empire—not only because its establishment and security were solemnly guaranteed by the terms of the Union, and because it was essential to the maintenance of the Union itself; but above all, because he conscientiously believed that it was an institution absolutely necessary for the maintenance of true religion, and for the upholding of the civil and religious rights and liberties of all—Catholic as well as 205 Protestant subjects of the British throne. It was asserted that the revenues of the Protestant Church were exorbitant—enormous. Now, he believed that a greater fallacy than this had never existed—yet, had it been long continued, and though again and again exposed, it had been again and again perseveringly repeated. In 1787, the Bishop of Cloyne (Bishop Wordsworth) wrote a pamphlet to refute the false impressions on the subject of that day. More lately, Lord Althorp, when he brought forward the subject of Church Temporalities, had stated that he had, before close inquiry, laboured under great misapprehension on the subject. He (Lord Bernard) would not refer to the statement of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield, with regard to the amount of their revenues, which had been so ably refuted by the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland, but he trusted that the House would pardon him for trespassing for a few moments on their attention while he read a few statements with reference to the diocese in which he resided. In the diocese of Cork, during Bishop St. Lawrence's incumbency, ten unions were broken into twenty-two benefices, twenty-eight curates promoted, twenty-five new places of worship erected, eighty-one scriptural schools; additional resident clergymen—twenty rectors and twenty-three curates. Since 1831—in Cork, Cloyne, Ross—new churches, twelve; churches building, two; licensed places of worship from want of churches, forty-five; glebe-houses built by clergymen, the commissioners being unable to build them, which fact proved the fallacy of a surplus revenue. In Ireland in 1726 there were but 141 glebe-houses; in 1800, after nearly a century, but 295; in 1820, there were 68 glebe-houses, an increase of 473 in twenty years; in 1806, resident beneficed clergy, 693; curates, 560; in 1830, the number was nearly doubled, amounting to 1,200, with about 750 curates, about a total of 2,000; in 1843, the number of officiating clergy exceed 2,000, with Church property reduced 70,000l. per annum, and a quarter from the remainder. The reduction of clerical income since 1833, amounting to 40l. per cent. has prevented the dissolution of union and employment of additional curates. On the other hand, in his evidence before the Lords, Dr. Doyle stated the average income of the Roman Catholic clergy of Kildare and Leighlin amounted to 300l. per annum; the income of the Scottish clergy averaged 200l. per annum, exclusive of house and glebe. The 206 building of glebe-houses, except from private sources, had ceased since 1833. But as one of the most stringent arguments to show that not only were those revenues not exorbitant, but really insufficient for the demands which existed in Ireland, he need only refer to the fact, that an institution existed, supported by voluntary contributions, for supplying additional curates in that country, of which institution he was himself a member; and he could assure the House that, had that society the means at their disposal, they would be called on to supply ten times the number of curates which their present funds permitted. Let hon. Gentlemen remember that the Protestants of Ireland, that this House and the country, had, in 1829, received the strongest assurance, as far as solemn and oft-repeated pledge could go—as far as any solemn pledge could bind any party—that the Roman Catholics would be content if they got the civil privileges they then sought, and that there existed neither intention nor wish to injure or meddle with the rights and property of the Established Church in that country. But on that subject he would not now dwell. The hon. Member for Sheffield had spoken with severity of the errors committed in past times. He (Lord Bernard) had very little wish that the Established Church of Ireland should be judged by the times of Archbishop Beulter, and the unhappy defects that then existed. He deprecated such judgment—he regretted as strongly as any man could the unwise, and indeed ruinous policy that had been in those distant days adopted. He regretted that means had not been taken to instruct the Irish people in and through the Irish language; and he felt assured that if in the reign of Henry 8th, instead of the statute forbiding teaching and preaching in that language, the very contrary course had been pursued, far happier would have been the results. But, in speaking of distant times, they must not forget the labours of such men as Usher and Bedel. If the exertions of those great, learned, and pious men had been followed out by the Government of the country, at that time his firm belief was, that in the condition of Ireland there would have been no trouble at the present day. He came gladly forward to bear his humble testimony to the excellence and great worth of the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland. He had known much of learning and worth in England, but never, until he went to reside among the clergy of Ireland, did be know 207 what the true spirit of devotion could do. And as to the way in which the merits of those men were appreciated, he might be permitted to refer to an exalted authority—to the statements of one of the bright succession to the Protestant episcopal bench in Ireland, and one than whom none in that bright succession was more illustrious for learning and piety, the late Bishop of Limerick, Dr. Jebb. That eminent man stated, in his place in the House of Lords, that petitions had been presented from the Roman Catholic population of the county of Limerick and that neighbourhood, praying that more, and many more Protestant clergymen should be sent to reside among them. He (Lord Bernard) had known the Protestant clergy, and had seen their conduct in days of sore trial and affliction, when they were assailed by distress, when they were deserted by that Government, whose duty it was, and whose inclination it ought to have been, to have protected them when they were, from want of means, compelled to withdraw their children from their ordinary schools, when their families were denied not only the comforts to which their station entitled them, but even the necessaries of life were with difficulty obtained. Yet had he never known them to murmur. They had endured without complaining, and were willing to undergo all for the sake of their religion. If the hand of charity was to be extended among the people, either Catholic or Protestant, they were the first to contribute, in more than full proportion, to their means. At the bed of sickness, in the house of want, in the maintenance and management of fever hospitals, dispensaries, and every other institution that sought the alleviation of human suffering, there the Protestant clergy were ever found ready and faithful ministers of aid. And if, (which he believed was the real charge), their fault was that they had done their duty, and, by the discharge of that duty had produced a great effect on the minds of the Roman Catholic population, and that from the feelings so excited had sprung up a deep and spreading agitation of thought, surely this House could not—surely the country would not blame men, because they had faithfully acquitted themselves of solemn duties, because they had fulfilled the solemn vows they had undertaken. Let him read a few words from the observations of that eminent divine before alluded to (the late Bishop Jebb,) in his speech in 1824, in the House of Lords:— 208The great desideratum towards the internal improvement of Ireland is instrumentality, a link between the Government, between the Legislature, between the great landed proprietor, and the people. It were folly, however, to speak of instruments in a mere mechanical sense. A moral instrumentality alone will cement together the frame of society, and in a country, from unhappy circumstances much demoralised, moral instruments are infinitely needful. Such instruments we have in the Irish clergy, to say the least of her as a body (with rare individual exceptions), an educated, liberalised, and well-conducted body of men, stationed at proper intervals throughout the country, regimented, so to speak, under the authority of superiors. Now, in what manner could we supply the place occupied by these men? Parliaments cannot create—Parliaments are not competent to create materials, such as we possess, at this moment. Let Parliaments beware how they destroy. They will be altogether powerless to fill up the chasm. Take away the fabric of our Established Church, and you take away the teachers of our national improvement. A resident gentry we have not. A substantial yeomanry we have not. A body of capitalist manufacturers we have not. Humanly speaking, I do not see what it is in the least improved parts of Ireland we have to rest on except the clergy. Here is the only provision extant for disseminating through all quarters of the land—the wildest and most remote equally with the most cultivated and peopled—an educated, enlightened, and morally influential class.But not alone on Protestant testimony, however exalted and above suspicion, did the character of the Irish Protestant clergy rest. Dr. Doyle, an eminent prelate, and famous champion of the Roman Catholic Church, had, in reply to questions put to him on this subject, stated that they, the Protestant clergy, were characterised by the greatest benevolence to all persons of all creeds—that their wives and children were most beneficent and charitable; but, he added, their means were too small. He (Lord Bernard) felt that he should be acting wrong to trespass longer on the attention of the House at present. Perhaps he might be pardoned for slightly alluding to the testimony borne by a clergyman of the Established Church in Canada, who stated that those emigrants who had received the benefit of instruction from the Protestant clergy of Ireland, were far superior to any emigrants from any other country. He (Lord Bernard) asked hon. Gentlemen in England to bear in mind what would be the consequences, if such a motion as this were successful—they may 209 be assured the Churches of both countries must stand or fall together. They may talk of separating the Churches, and acting with regard to Ireland on principles differently from that of England, but they would find in this as in other matters of policy—Cœlum, non animum mutant, qui trans mare currunt.A small channel may divide the countries, but principle was the same in both. If they wished to maintain the Established Church in England, it was their policy as well as their duty to uphold the Church in Ireland. They had of late seen how easy it was to bring forward for England principles which had been applied to Ireland, particularly when the principles were false and bad. Let him now implore the House to come forward and reject this motion. He had confidence in her Majesty's Government; he had confidence in the decision which this House would come to; he had confidence in the Protestants of England. That those Protestant principles which had raised the country to a pinnacle of unexampled greatness, were not extinct; that they (the people of England) would feel that those principles for which their brethren in Ireland contended were those upon which their dearest liberties were based, the charter of their dearest right. But he had this higher and more abiding confidence—he had the confidence that if the Church of Ireland, true to her sacred trust, preserved within her bosom the undying flame of scriptural truth, that more than human arm, which had shielded he in the hour of trial and protected her it the time of sorrow, would preserve he: amidst the fiery furnace of affliction.
§ Mr. B. Cochrane
had been glad to hear the determination expressed by the Government to uphold the Established Church in Ireland. The hon. Member opposite had dwelt upon the Irish Church Establishment as the great grievance of Ireland. But his opinion was, that if the whole Church of Ireland were destroyed that the agitation would not be destroyed Let the House consider the conduct of the Roman Catholics of Ireland after the Relief Bill, the Municipal Bill, the Tithe Commutation Bill, and the various other bills that had been successively passed to remedy the grievances of Ireland. If the Protestant Church of Ireland were destroyed, he did not think that agitation would cease, unless the agitators were 210 put down. He considered the maintenance of the Established Church in Ireland as essential to the maintenance of the Union between the two countries. The articles of Union with Ireland laid down as a principle, the maintenance and preservation of the Protestant religion. But the hon. Gentleman said he did not wish to deprive the ministers of the Established Church of their resources without leaving them a sufficiency. That narrowed the question materially. Great exaggeration, he believed, prevailed as to the resources of the Established Church, which had, within the last ten years, been reduced more than one-third. The hon. Gentleman opposite quoted Mr. Canning as an authority that it was unwise to leave one link to show where the fetters had been. He fully concurred with the opinion of Mr. Canning, but he never beard that Mr. Canning ever proposed to escheat the temporalities of the Established Church in Ireland. It had been said, that Mr. Pitt and Lord Castlereagh were favourable to the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church; but that was a different question to taking so much money from the Protestant Church for that purpose, and he (Mr. Cochrane) was gratified to find that the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland had declined to give an opinion with respect to the ultimate desirability of endowing the Roman Catholic Church. What had been gained by the concession of temporalities (and it was a great concession) in 1833? What did the hon. Member for Sheffield say last night?The man who votes for this address (said the hon. Member), I say it distinctly, can hardly hope to stop afterwards within the limits of Church temporalities and appropriation clauses. They were all very well ten years ago, as a beginning—as a first step—towards a great national compromise of a difficult question; and if you had chosen at that time to act in the spirit of my resolutions of 1834—to adopt the changes proposed by the bills of 1835, 1836, I believe, that that compromise, accepted as it was by the majority of the Irish Members, would have been satisfactory.When he coupled this with the declaration of the hon. Member on another occasion, that "the acts of one Parliament do not bind another," he wished to know what guarantee there was against all the temporalities of the Irish Church being appropriated to purposes for which they were 211 not intended? The hon. Member had said, that—He considered the Protestant Church a type of degradation—that it was to be viewed as connected with the State only as a part of the political system.In fact, in no greater or higher point of consideration than the House of Commons. He believed there was a limit beyond which Parliament could not go, and that limit was to be found in public opinion and in public justice, and public opinion and public justice in England were unanimous in supporting a national Church. It had been said that the Irish clergy were wealthy, but they were not half so much so now as they were ten years ago. Even on the showing of the hon. Member for Sheffield there had been a great diminution. He (Mr. Cochrane) thought he could not do better than quote the opinion of the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies, That noble Lord, speaking in 1834, said,—I hold it the very essence of the principles of the Established Church to be that you shall furnish to every member of that Church, whether they reside in a densely-populated parish or whether they be thinly scattered, the means of the worship of Almighty God, according to the rules and practice of the favoured religion. I am unwilling to see the time when the Minister of the Crown shall come down to this House, and in raising the clergy estimates congratulate the House that the diminution of Protestantism in fifty parishes has enabled him to take 5,000l. per annum from the estimates of the year.In this opinion he fully concurred; he thought that the Protestant Church should be looked at as if the whole population might become Protestant. With respect to the character of the Irish clergy, he had never heard them accused of excesses, of luxury, of extravagance, or of the possession of wealth. He agreed in the opinion of the Bishop of Limerick, which had been referred to by an hon. Member, when he said of the Irish clergy,—That they may have been accused of extravagance and of expenditure. I know not in what it consists; if they have been extravagant in anything it has been in their charities to the poor.He could not quote a better authority with respect to the benevolence and charity of the clergy than the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies, because there was no one who was so remarkable for the ex- 212 ercise of those qualities as the noble Lord himself, and perhaps he might be permitted to quote what was said of the conduct of that noble Lord twenty years ago, in a work which he had lately met with. It said—He was on one of the estates of his grandfather, visiting, in person and alone, the cottages of the poor; seeing their condition with his own eyes, and leaving behind him a remembrance which will make his benevolence and condescension well known and loved with enthusiasm, even by the children of those to whose hearts he has imparted a hope to which they had long been strangers.The noble Lord said that—The charity of the clergy of Ireland was not only what it ought to be, but it was the chief support of the poor.And the right hon. Gentleman had said that they well supplied the places of the landlords. He denied that the Irish Church was unpopular. He looked for a proof of that assertion to the report of a committee in 1836, and, without one exception, the opinions stated to the committee were, that the Church was not unpopular, and there was even the authority of Mr. O'Connell himself to the same effect. The Irish Church had received many shocks, and although it might appear somewhat exaggerated, he would apply to its ministers, the beautiful language of a Member of the First General Assembly of France, on the question of dispossessing the secular clergy of their cures:—If (said he) you drive them from their homes, they will find shelter in the cottages of the poor, whom they have fed by their bounty—if you drive them from the land they have cultivated they will find refuge in uncultivated regions: they know that the first of Christian virtues is humility, and that the cross by which mankind was saved was of wood.He did not think that he deviated from consistency in that he entertained kind feelings to wards those of the Roman Catholic persuasion, and he gave others credit for the same good intentions which he claimed for himself. He would not go into the question whether, if the Roman Catholic Church was endowed, danger would accrue to the Protestant Church. Happily the days were gone by when the Catholic Church was associated in men's minds with the Spanish Inquisition. He believed there was no body of men so loyal or so devoted to their Sovereign as the Roman Catholics of Ireland. It had been 213 stated that their doctrines were to keep no faith with heretics, to believe the Pope infallible, that they were absolved from all moral obligations if hostile to the Church. Were there ever such absurd calumnies? Such opinions were only held in the middle ages, and would be unworthy of an enlightened nation. If he hesitated as to giving a decided opinion, whether the State should afford some endowment to the Roman Catholic Church, it was not because he was doubtful how far toleration allows of our enduring what we conscientiously consider erroneous doctrines, but because he considered the members of that Church the staunchest supporters of the State. He was indeed a strenuous supporter of the Church Establishment of Ireland, he regretted that it was ever meddled with, or that by tampering with it a great principle had been conceded. He believed that that Establishment was intimately blended with the Existence of the State, and that the one would not fall without the other being shaken; but because such were his sentiments—because he was opposed to the Church of Rome—was he on that account to deny to others the same credit for good intentions which he claimed for himself. He did feel, he thanked God, most kindly toward the Roman Catholic faith—that faith which, looking beyond worldly prudence, reared those glorious monuments which commanded out veneration, while they defied our imitation—a faith of practical and extensive benevolence, and which appealed to the sympathies and affections of men. Hon, Members opposite appeared to think that there was no kind feeling towards the Roman Catholics, that bitterness of feeling was entertained towards them by Members on his side of the House. He was grieved to say that some Members of that House might entertain such sentiments, hut he should be sorry to believe that the majority did so. At all events, it was not by those Members who had recently entered public life that such sentiments had been expressed. Look at the recent debate on the state of Ireland, and he would ask whether, on his side of the House, many did not frankly express the kindest feelings towards that Church, although they well knew how frequently such expressions were likely to be misinterpreted; but he regretted to observe that hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to arrogate to themselves a monopoly of kind 214 feeling towards Ireland. How were those speeches received? One hon. Member, the Member for Bath, with that jealousy and petty personality for which he was conspicuous, attributed motives to Gentlemen on that (Mr. Cochrane's) side of the House of so mean and contemptible a character, that his wishes could alone have been the fathers to his thoughts. Then there was another hon. Member who said, "Oh! we do not want your speeches, keep your sympathies to yourselves, we do not require them." He would say for himself, that if at any time he expressed opinions in accordance with those entertained by hon. Gentlemen opposite, it was not to win their cheers or rejoice in their support, but because, as a Member of that House, he conscientiously gave utterance to his feelings. In the late debate on Ireland, he (Mr. Cochrane) said, and he now again repeated it, that the Protestant Church of Ireland was not the great grievance—that it was not even opposed to the great body of the people—and in this opinion he was sure he had the honour of concurring with her Majesty's Government; but he also said, and he again repeated it, that he believed great evils do exist, and that those evils are to be found in the policy of that Government, and in their harassing, vexatious, unimportant, unsatisfactory measures. He had voted against the Government on the general question of Irish policy, and if the whole discussion was again raised, he should be prepared to repeat that vote. While uttering such opinions, he did not claim peculiar courtesy from the Government, but he did claim from the right hon. Baronet a nobler and more becoming tone of feeling towards those who found themselves compelled to differ from this measure of the Government, or to complain of its inertness. He said that it was unworthy the dignity of that House, unworthy the independence which it was assumed each Member brought to the discussion of every question, for any Minister of the Crown to rise and say, "You differ from us in opinion—you venture to express that difference—you do not quail under the awfulness of our frowns, or delight in the sunshine of our smiles—go over to the other side—non tali auxilio—we do not want your support, you are not worthy of our party." Party, he (Mr. Cochrane) did recognise—nay, more, he recognised the necessity of making sacrifices of detail in 215 the consideration of great principles; but he knew of no party to bind a man's conscience, or to compromise his independence. Let him for one moment quote the language of the right hon. Baronet in 1828. He said;—He never would consent to enter the service of the country, if the terms w ere, that he was completely to adopt the views of any Minister. Could it be supposed that an head of an Administration ought to expect, or would any one that acted with him consent that he should be permitted to lay down his own opinions as a formula to which every one about him was without opinion or objection to subscribe.Such were his feelings, and however much irritation the right hon. Gentleman might evince against those who ventured to differ with him in opinion, he should still, if it appeared to him necessary, submit to the odium of the right hon. Gentleman's disapprobation, for he would frankly say, that highly as he valued a seat in that House, if it was to be obtained only by blindly following the opinions of any man, he should leave it with feelings of even deeper satisfaction than he experienced when he entered it for the first time. The Session was about to close, and his earnest prayer was, that whatever fresh disasters might arise before the opening of the next, that which related to Ireland would be but a tale that had been told. This consummation, however, would not be obtained by a sacrifice of the temporalities of the Church, or even by a grant to the Roman Catholic Church, but it was to be obtained by energetic and determined policy, mingled with conciliation on the part of the Government, "regendo in bona auctoritate magis quam in vera," by evincing a spirit of kindness to her people's requirements, but the most determined opposition to all agitation. By such a course the Government would possess that noblest and best of strengths, not of majorities in that House, not even the strength of majorities out of doors, but the strength derived from the action and influence of the mind.
Mr. V. Stuart
said, that he had not intended to address the House that evening, having on so recent an occasion expressed his sentiments with regard to the affairs of Ireland; but finding that no other hon. Gentleman seemed disposed to rise, he could not avoid taking the opportunity of saying a very few words, in consequence of 216 what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman opposite at the conclusion of his speech. The hon. Gentleman said, that the Church establishment was no grievance to the Irish people. Now, in reply to such a position, he would beg the hon. Gentleman to transpose the case; to ask himself what would be the feelings of the people of England, if the Irish having conquered them, instead of England having conquered Ireland, had insisted upon imposing the Catholic religion upon the people of this country, and transferring all the Church revenues to the support of that religion? He asked the hon. Gentleman if he thought such an act of tyranny would have been endured by the English people; or whether they would not have struggled against it as warmly and as unceasingly as the Irish people had against the tyrannical imposition which we had endeavoured to inflict upon them? This was no isolated question. It should be looked upon as part of a system which had been pursued against Ireland from the beginning. It should be recollected, that the establishment of this Church in Ireland was accompanied by penal laws, which prevented Irishmen from being allowed to exercise the rites and ceremonies of their own religion, and deprived those who did not disavow their creed of all political rights. The effect of the existence of this establishment in Ireland was, that there was never a discussion of Irish affairs, whether with regard to corporation reform or the parliamentary franchise, in which the question of the claims of the Church was not mixed up. All the measures of Irish policy, all concessions towards her wishes, were restricted by the consideration of what would be consistent with the safety of the Church establishment; and in this there was no regard had to the religion of that Church, but merely to the property necessary to maintain it. It was, in fact, not a question of religion, but of money. He must say he had felt deep regret at hearing the speech of the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, last night. The noble Lord had said, that the question they had to consider was not what was the best Church which could be established in Ireland, but what was the compact which had been entered into between the Parliaments of the two countries at the time of the Union. He confessed, that when he considered what was the feeling of the Irish people upon the question of the Repeal of that Union, he could not conceive anything more dan- 217 gerous to the maintenance of that Union, than for a Minister of the Crown to rise in his place and argue a question of this kind upon such a basis. Did the noble Lord think that there was so little of sincerity in the call of the Irish people for the Repeal of the Union, that they would suffer questions of vital importance to the well-being of their country to be discussed, not upon their own merits, but upon the consideration of what might have been the opinion of a Parliament which existed forty-three years ago? Were they to be told, that questions of this importance were not to be discussed in relation to their own merits, but in reference to the opinion entertained of them in the year 1800, and the present Parliament was to be shackled by a compact entered into by a Parliament of that period? He felt that he should be neglecting his duty if he did not call earnestly upon the House to consider the grievances of Ireland upon their own merits, and upon their present foundations. He considered that all the miseries which afflicted Ireland arose out of the conflict which had for many centuries been going on between the Protestants and Catholics in that country; a strife for equality on the part of the one body, and for the maintenance of their superiority by the other. This it was, that had kept the Irish people poor and wretched; this it was which had prevented capital from finding its way amongst them to better their condition, by developing their industrial energies. The first thing, therefore, which this country had to do with regard to Ireland, was to place her upon an equality with every other part of the empire with regard to her religious institutions. In Scotland we had allowed the establishment of a Church, which was that of the majority; England enjoyed a Church which was that of the majority; and the same principle must be carried out in Ireland before we could hope for anything like prosperity and contentment in that country. He knew that what he said would have very little effect upon this House; but he thought it would be found, that the people of this country would be found to participate in the sentiment, and that they would not allow the Government of this country to continue that unjust policy towards Ireland, which it had hitherto pursued. Whatever might have been the hopes and promises with which that policy had been first undertaken, how ill had it succeeded! The Catholics had increased in number in Ireland; the Pro- 218 testants had decreased, and were decreasing; and the inevitable consequence of the struggle was, that a large standing army had to be kept up in that country, incurring great additional expense to the empire. It was by this policy, thus enforced towards Ireland, that England, instead of being the most powerful nation in the world, was become almost one of the weakest; Ireland, which ought under proper management to be the source of her strength, being the constant occasion of discomfort, anxiety, and impoverishment. In conclusion, he could only repeat the hope, that the time was not distant when the Government of this country would adopt a more just and liberal policy towards Ireland.
§ Mr. Hardy
said, that if the Church in Ireland was that monstrous grievance it was represented to be, it was very extraordinary that it had not been so considered by the prelates of the Catholic Church at the time of the Union; and that it was only in 1843 that it was discovered that the compact entered into at that period was unjust and intolerable. At the time of the Emancipation Act it would be recollected that so far from the Church being looked upon as a grievance, the framers of that measure solemnly provided for the security of the Established Church, and framed an oath by which every Roman Catholic who took a seat in Parliament swore "to maintain the Church of Ireland, as established by law." He contended that no one who had taken that oath could vote for the resolution now before the House for sequestering the revenues of that Church. He certainly thought that it was the duty of every Government to provide means for the education of the people. Religion was the foundation of all knowledge, and he thought that the Government of every state should be the authority to decide what religious instruction to offer to the people, He would not force that instruction upon them, but leave them to adopt it, if they thought proper. Instruction in the Protestant religion was offered to the people of Ireland; the priests prevented them from receiving it. Such was the arbitrary authority of the priests in Ireland, that if a man were known to have attended a Protestant place of worship, or to have read the Bible, he would be denounced from the altar as a black sheep, and his life and property would be immediately in danger. Was 219 this, he would ask, freedom of conscience? A man who was subpœon a trial at the assizes, was cautioned from the altar not to appear, and, on the evening of the Sunday, was found murdered;—so that he was effectually prevented from attending. It was not an uncommon thing for priests to denounce particular individuals from the altar exercising an odious tyranny which he would rather curtail than extend. As an instance of the arbitrary power of the Church, the hon. Member also mentioned the case of a Vicar-general, who was dismissed from his functions by the Pope, upon some charge, without any investigation by the Court of Rome. This fact was elicited from Dr. M'Hale, in the course of an examination at a trial at the assizes in Ireland; and that Rev, person fully admitted that such were the powers assumed by the Court of Rome. Now these powers, he did not wish to see increased, and therefore he was averse to any measures which should give the Roman Catholic religion a stronger footing than it had at present in Ireland.
§ An Hon. Member moved that the House be counted, and forty Members not being present, the House adjourned at eight o'clock.