§ Order of the Day read for going into Committee upon the appropriation to be made from the Consolidated Fund for the College of Maynooth.
§ On the Question that the Speaker do leave the Chair,
§ Mr. Ward
said, that they had now reached the stage of the Bill at which, in concurrence, he believed, with the wishes of a large number of his political friends, and in perfect accordance with those principles which, as a party, they had advocated for the last ten years in that House, it became his duty to place on record—not their hostility to the Government plan, because in every measure of concession of Roman Catholic rights—in every expression of justice or of kindness which had fallen from the other side of the House towards those whom they, at least, were proud to call fellow-countrymen and fellow Christians—they cordially, and entirely, participated; but their views as to the mode in which the measure contemplated for their benefit might be 1125 carried out, with the greatest prospect of permanency and satisfaction to the country. And he must beg to remind hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House, as well as on the other, that they had a double duty to perform on this occasion. They had to look not only to their natural desire to soothe and conciliate Ireland, by making some amends for the wrongs of the last three centuries, but they must look to England too. They could not repair one injustice by committing another; and they must beware of counter balancing the good which they all hoped to do in Ireland by sowing the seeds of just discontent in this country. He remembered, when the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies came forward in this House with a great measure of Catholic relief, by taking off the vestry cess in Ireland, he did not propose to charge that upon the Consolidated Fund. He designated the vestry cess as a galling blister to the Catholics; but he said that the Irish Church, which would benefit most largely by the removal of this cause of discontent, ought to hear the whole charge. He (Mr. Ward) wished to act now upon similar principles. He wished to amend this Bill by engrafting on it the principle included in his Amendment, and not to throw it out; and he had given some proof of his sincerity, by submitting to the obloquy which he had incurred by refusing to concur in a movement, the object of which was to get rid of the Bill on the second reading, the success of which was unquestionable; for, as had been said by a right hon. Friend of his, the Member for Edinburgh, it was clearly in the power of the Opposition to decide the fate of the Government measure. A Member of Parliament had, in these times, quite enough to do to answer charges against him founded upon truth, without submitting to misrepresentation. He had been accused, by implication at least, of having betrayed a cause in which he never embarked. He had had a long acquaintance with an hon. Baronet (Sir Culling Smith) who had taken a very active part on the Anti-Maynooth Committee, and who placed himself, at a very early period, in communication with him; in fact, as soon as his intention to interfere with the Bill was announced. That hon. Baronet suggested various alterations in the form of his present Motion, so as to make it more palatable to those who acted with him; but he declined to 1126 accede to them, assuring him, that the Motion he intended to make had no reference to those religious grounds on which the Anti-Maynooth Committee placed its reliance. The hon. Gentleman then, begged him to be a party, at all events, to urging the Government to allow more time for the country to express its opinions; but he told him that he entirely concurred in the opinion of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, and in that of his noble Friend the Member for the city of London upon this subject; and on the score of old familiarity he added, that if the matter depended upon himself, he would not give one half an hour more than the forms of the House absolutely required, because he considered that during the time which had necessarily elapsed since the introduction of the measure, the parties who opposed the Bill had succeeded in lighting up a flame equally dangerous and discreditable to the country. He could not imagine how anybody could after that take into his head to write to the Times to express "the grief and astonishment of the Anti-Maynooth Committee when, upon their arrival at the House of Commons on the evening of the Thursday on which he announced his determination, they ascertained that the Whig leaders, to avoid the peril to which Sir Robert Peel's Government was exposed by Mr. Ward's Motion, had—or now his noble Friend could add—caused its withdrawal."—"Had that Motion been put as an Amendment to the second reading, the nefarious measure would have been defeated by the combined votes of the true Protestants who opposed the first reading, of many who were absent on that occasion, and of the regular adherents of the Whig party." He had the greatest respect for his noble Friend (Lord John Russell); but he feared that if he wanted a character, that noble Lord would say that he was not among the most obsequious of his followers. When he had differed from that noble Lord, he had taken his own line; but on this question his views certainly concurred with those of the noble Lord, and with that of every other Gentleman on that side of the House, whose judgment he most valued. His course therefore was quite clear; and if it were to be done again to-morrow, he should act precisely as he had done; and when the Anti-Maynooth Committee said, "Between the two great political parties, 1127 the Protestantism of our country seems going to ruin, unless God in his merciful providence, by the instrumentality of the national voice, shall deter our infatuated rulers from pursuing their reckless course;" he could not help thinking what a miserable, emasculated thing this English Protestantism must be, if, with the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and Trinity College, Dublin, at its back—with all the revenues of the richest Church in the world in its exclusive possession and the Bench of Bishops in the House of Lords to watch over its peculiar interests, it came trembling and whining to Parliament for assistance, upon the ground that the sum of 26,000l. was about to be voted to a Catholic Seminary. He dismissed this part of the question at once; and he thought he had got rid of the charge of anything like bad faith. His principles had been too long before the world to render it likely that such a charge could be maintained against him. He had never taken the low tone of treating concession to Catholicism in Ireland as a matter of grace or favour. With him it was a matter of right. He had always considered that as the Catholics were the majority in the sister country, they had just as good a right to a Catholic Church Establishment as we had to a Protestant Episcopalian Establishment on the south of the Tweed, or the hon. Member for Elgin—who had spoken, as he thought, so unadvisedly the other night—to a Presbyterian Establishment on the north of it. Truth was not the basis of either; for if religious endowment were the test of truth, we had two truths in this island. His truth was not our truth—his Church not our Church; but 300 years ago, when our ancestors separated from the common fold of Christianity, this happened to be the version of Scriptural truth that best suited the majority in each country. Time and habit had endeared it to us; and as we should resist the establishment of the Presbyterian religion, or as our Scotch countrymen would resist an Episcopal Church in Scotland—the Catholics in Ireland had a right to resist our intrusive Church as a monument of England's conquest and their own degradation. How could they deny to the Catholic that right of private judgment upon which their own religion was founded! But there was too much of this lopsided liberality. There were the widest sympathies for what the 1128 right hon. Member for Newark called that undefinable thing "Protestantism;" but the Catholic was viewed as the common enemy, and had been called so even by such men as Swift, Burnett, and William III. Now, Archbishop Whately, in the remarkable book published by him, had the following passage:—And among the important facts which we can collect and fully ascertain from the sacred historians, scanty and irregular and imperfect as are their records of particulars, one of the most important is, that very scantiness and incompleteness in the detail—that absence of any full and systematic description of the formation and regulation of Christian communities, that has been just noticed. For we may plainly infer, from this very circumstance, the design of the Holy Spirit, that those details, concerning which no precise directions, accompanied with strict injunctions, are to be found in Scripture, were meant to be left to the regulation of each Church, in each age and country. On any point in which it was designed that all Christians should be, every where, and at all times, bound as strictly as the Jews were to the Levitical law, we may fairly conclude they would have received directions no less precise, and descriptions no less minute, than had been afforded to the Jews.These were his principles. He could honour the men who first asserted the rights of mind against the Papal power; but he could honour those equally, who, in spite of three centuries of persecution and penal laws, in spite of revolutions by which the whole land of Ireland, according to Lord Clare, had been three times forfeited, still remained faithful to the religion of their ancestors. To tell him that these men were not equal in worth to ourselves—to tell him, as the hon. Member for Elgin said the other night (and he must almost consider this as an adjourned debate, for one could not lose sight of what had occurred so recently) that the Duke of Wellington might, at the present day, say of the Catholics, as the Duke of Ormond said 200 years ago, "that for the twenty years he had had to do with the Roman Catholic bishops, he had never found any one of them either to speak the truth or hold a promise:"—he could only say he heard such sentiments with abhorrence and disgust. They made our legislation ridiculous, and our Empire weak. It was time to discard such foul prejudices—for he could not style them otherwise; but when they did discard them, let them, in altering their course, take a right one. Let them not embark 1129 in an erroneous policy. As to the fact that Parliament was about to adopt a new course, there never was a point, he thought, upon which there was such conclusive evidence. The noble Lord the Member for London, the right hon. Members for Coventry and Devonport, the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, and the right hon. the First Lord of the Treasury, all concurred in this. There was, it was true, some little discrepancy between the two right hon. Gentlemen. The Secretary for the Home Department told the House that this was the first of a series of measures for the amelioration of Ireland; while the First Lord of the Treasury said, that this was a measure which must stand or fall singly and exclusively upon its own merits. The hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford, too, as strongly as any one else, maintained that this was a new course, and argued that it was that which imparted so much of interest and importance to the discussion. The only man who negatived that proposition was the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He ought to be the most cautious man in the House, whereas he was the most incautious. He was the Louis XV. of the Treasury Bench; "Après nous le Déluge," was his motto. He said that it was not of the slighest importance by what new measures this might be followed by some dreamer in another century; that we might leave posterity to legislate for itself, but that the Gentlemen who constituted the present Parliament had only to consider the present measure. The right hon. Gentleman must excuse him if while he admired his courage, he could not applaud his sagacity. If they took this step at all, they ought to be prepared for all its consequences. A trumpery grant of 17,000l. to Maynooth might have been included in the Miscellaneous Estimates—but the question was how best to settle, "once for all," as Grattan said in 1793, the just claims of the Irish Catholics, and how best to reconcile the Protestants of England and Scotland to doing that which they believed to be right and necessary. And it was on that account that he proposed to do what the House was about to do, in a way to remove the legitimate objections that might be taken to it by large sections of their fellow countrymen, because this Bill did in fact involve several of the most important principles 1130 that a Government could propound, or a Parliament deal with. It involved the question of endowment, as contradistinguished from the voluntary principle—the question of endowment as connected with religious truth—and the question of endowment out of the general funds of the country, on the ground that the particular funds properly applicable to the purpose were, under the authority of Parliament, applied otherwise—he would not on this occasion use the word "misapplied." As to the objection founded on the voluntary principle, he might well leave that to the noble Lord the Member for London, and his right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh. The supporters of that doctrine held that religion was never so healthy and vigorous, or truth so strong, as when unconnected with State endowments; and alleged that their resistance to an invasion of that principle implied nothing offensive to the Catholic religion or to Catholic rights. He admitted that that was a great principle. It was his principle two years ago, when, in making a Motion connected with this subject, he said that the object of legislation in such a case ought to be "equality," and that to obtain that end we ought to pay all or to pay nobody. But how was he to obtain equality in this way? and must he go on year after year without any attempt to lessen the anomalies of the present system of endowment in Ireland? Must he continue to see the Church, one-eighth of the people, in the exclusive possession of the funds devoted to ecclesiastical purposes; another eighth moderately, but adequately, provided for by the Regium Donum; and nothing at all done for the other six eighths, because they were Roman Catholics. Why did not the advocates of the voluntary principle agitate against the Regium Donum, as they did against Maynooth? This appeared to him a sort of lopsided liberality again. Besides, had the voluntary principle been sufficiently tried? Was the world ripe for it? In England, indeed, it might succeed, because England was differently circumstanced from any other country. It was a country of great wealth, the people were of settled habits, and a great love of order generally prevailed amongst them and those clergymen; who depended upon the voluntary principle were free from the degrading necessity of pandering to the passions of their flocks in order to secure 1131 a maintenance. It was well known that the religious denominations which asserted that principle had produced some of the most learned and distinguished men that ever did honour to any Church. But how had it worked in Ireland, or in the United States? He always referred with pleasure to the speech made by his noble Friend the Member for the city of London on the Motion which he (Mr. Ward) brought forward last year, when that noble Lord dealt with this question in that high philosophic spirit which he considered to be almost peculiar to him in that House. He said—In the United States of America—the slave states of America—there are teachers belonging to every religious sect, which we in this country, have most admired for their strict adherence to their conscientious opinions, and yet we find that that accursed institution of slavery is there palliated, defended, upheld, by the teachers of religion. Why is this? It appears to me that it necessarily so results, because those teachers are dependent upon the popular voice for the maintenance of their position, and therefore that they do not as fearlessly pronounce the words of truth, that they do not as fearlessly defend the great cause of liberty and human freedom, and the subjection of us all to an immortal power, as they would if they felt more independent.The noble Lord then went on to say—That it would be of immense importance if the Roman Catholic clergy could be made, with regard to a part at least of their revenues, independent of popular passions; and that although their political conduct was entirely free and independent—if every appointment was left entirely unshackled, it was of importance they should have some independence of opinion.In these sentiments he entirely concurred with his noble Friend, and he thought the experience of what had occured in Ireland during the last twelve months bore them out. What was the first fruit of the Catholic Bequests Act passed last Session? Dr. Murray, when he consented to become one of the Commissioners under the Bill, was exposed to the most violent hostility and assaults from those who had formerly been his warmest admirers. He was a man of great virtue and high standing in the Catholic Church; but notwithstanding that, the result of that struggle would have been doubtful if Mr. O'Connell had not seen that by protracting it, he would have given rise to an irreparable schism in the Church of 1132 which he was a member. But was it prudent, or wise, or safe, to allow men with not a tithe of Dr. Murray's standing or character, to have always to choose between their duty and their interest? He quite understood the distinction drawn by his noble Friend between independence of the State, and independence of popular passions, and he believed that would be a wise and salutary policy for this country to adopt in the present instance. He now came to the question which the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford constantly put forward, the question of endowment as connected with religious truth. That question appeared to him to be a great source of popular passion, and also of popular error. He believed the principle to be false, and its consequences fatal if an attempt were made to work it out honestly; but he admitted, and indeed no man could doubt after what had occured within the last six weeks, that it had a strong hold of the English mind, and upon the Scotch mind he was afraid a still stronger; and that it so perverted and warped that natural love of justice which was the characteristic of Englishmen, as to make them insensible of the wrongs they did in their desire to maintain it. The rule which was thus sought to be applied to Ireland, would, if extended to the whole Empire, destroy it. The hon. Baronet himself admitted this. He acknowledged that he could not apply in Canada or Malta the principle which he endeavoured to enforce in Ireland. But then he said, that they were bound by "compact" in this matter. They were bound by something higher than compact—they were bound by common sense—by common prudence—by common justice. They knew—they must know—that civil utility was the object of every establishment, not religious truth. That was laid down years ago by some of the best authorities that they had amongst their own divines. They stated his argument in the strongest and clearest light. Paley said—A religious Establishment is no part of Christianity. It is only a means of inculcating it. Its authority is founded upon its utility.Again, Warburton said—The alliance between the Church and the State subsists just so long as the Church thereby established maintains its superiority of extent.Could they say that such was a correct 1133 description of the Church of Ireland? Could they say that it had realized Hallam's beautiful definition of what a Church should be, "that it had existed by, and with, and for the Irish people?" There were dioceses in which the members of the Established Church were one per cent. of the total population; and yet every attempt at change and conciliation—every approximation to justice—for they were not pretending to do anything beyond approximating to it now—was met by the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford by an appeal to the principles of George III. and Mr. Perceval. He held a pamphlet in his hand, published by Dudley M. Perceval, Esq., which treated of the Maynooth Grant and the Jew Bill, and was intended as an illustration of the views of his father, Mr. Perceval, on the Roman Catholic question in 1807. This work, for which he (Mr. Ward) was indebted to the courtesy of the author, was very properly dedicatedTo Sir R. H. Inglis, Bart.—the man whose public and private character most nearly resembles, at the present day, the character of that statesman whose prophetic foresight these pages illustrate.What was the argument of that pamphlet? He (Mr. Ward) was inclined to believe that when he stated it, it would appear just as offensive to the hon. Member for Elgin (Mr. C. Bruce) as it must appear to the Catholics of Ireland. The argument went to prove that there was only one true Christianity, and one true Church, of which the common and statute laws of England were intended to be the guardians. If that argument was to pass current, he could only say that Mr. Perceval's ghost was more formidable than was the living statesman himself. Mr. Perceval was, in 1807, in a Parliament returned, he (Mr. Ward) might say, on a "No-Popery" cry, and which was the first which had a majority in favour of Catholic Emancipation. Mr. Perceval, in that pamphlet, stated, thatIt is in vain to defend the Church Establishment, or to expect it to be permanently supported in England, or for any length of time endured in Ireland, if the very principle upon which that Establishment rests be cut from under it—the principle that this Kingdom is a Christian Kingdom, that Christianity is the common law of the land—part and parcel of the law in one sense, but the very law and condition of the land in a higher sense still.1134 Such was Christianity, as it pleased Mr. Perceval himself to define it. He says further, that—On these principles the Church Establishment may be defended by reasonable and irrefragable argument, even in the sadly anomalous case of Ireland"—For Mr. Perceval admits the case of Ireland to be an anomalous one—Without these, no exclusive Church Establishment can be defended at all. It becomes a mere question of local and temporary expediency.He (the author) then appealed to certain notes which his father had drawn up at an earlier period. He (Mr. Ward) was happy to see that even so far back as 1807, Mr. Perceval recognised the fact that, though numbers made nothing as to the right to education and religious instruction, numbers did as to the policy of it. Considering from whom this came, this was an important admission. Was it extraordinary that, after the lapse of forty years—after carrying Emancipation, after tasting the bitter fruits of long and infatuated resistance to the just claims of the sister country—almost every man now-a-days of character, or of any high standing as a statesman, with the single exception, perhaps, of the hon. Baronet (Sir R. H. Inglis) himself, seemed to have come to the conclusion that what might have satisfied Ireland forty years ago, was not by any means what was required in the present case? The noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire (Lord Ashley), who, he must beg leave to say, made certainly, without casting any imputation upon any other hon. Gentleman, the most statesmanlike speech which was made on his side of the question—a speech perfectly unexceptionable, both in principle and in tone, was not less remarkable for the largeness of his admissions. What did the noble Lord say in that speech? His admissions were immense. He said—The measure was most important for good or for evil. If it work well, it will quiet Ireland." . . "The whole history of that country excites in my mind not merely sympathy, but repentance." … "If the Catholic Church be neither religiously nor politically dangerous, why resist a reconstruction of the Establishment?The noble Lord, by his own showing, should vote for his (Mr. Ward's) Amendment, because he could prove to him 1135 (Lord Ashley) that it pointed out the safest mode of doing that which he seemed to feel to be just, and admitted to be inevitable. He believed this feeling to be very general amongst Conservatives out of that House, and that if he were now talking to any Gentleman on the opposite side who had turned his attention to the affairs of this country for the last twenty years, he would say without hesitation that there were not fifty men amongst them who would not admit that the Irish Church was a millstone round their necks, and that they would be most happy to see the question connected with it settled, if it could be done without forfeiting their own consistency, and without contradicting their former votes. What stood in the way of that reconstruction to which the noble Lord (Lord Ashley) alluded? It was the existence of a feeling out of doors, to which he was happy to say no man had dared to give utterance in that House. No man had attempted, no man had presumed to give utterance to it, because every man there had a sufficient knowledge of human affairs, and of the business of life, to know that the utterance of such disgusting sentiments would go far to justify a revolution in Ireland. Was this feeling worthy of the respect which, by some, was claimed for it? The hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford told them the other night that there was not a harsh word, or expression, to be found in the petitions which had been presented to the House; not one, at least, which had not the sanction of the liturgy and homilies of the Church of England, or which might not be traced to some such source. He did not think that that was a wise admission. There were some parts of the liturgy of the Church of England which contained expressions and passages so harsh in treating of the rival system of Christianity, that the greatest lover of vituperation might be satisfied with them. His hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury was right in defending the clergy of the three denominations against the attack made upon them by his right hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvon (Mr. Sheil). It so happened that the Dissenters of the three denominations, as they were called, were those whose views were the soundest, and whose language had been the most moderate during these painful discussions. But was that the case with the petitions generally—those petitions 1136 which, according to the hon. Member for Oxford, did not contain a single harsh word? He had been reading over some of them, the other day, and found, in a petition presented to the House by the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool, (Lord Sandon) thatThe petitioners think that this measure is eminently calculated to bring down the judgment of God upon a Protestant country.There was a petition from Whitby, which said of the Maynooth College, that it wasA nursery of superstition, bigotry, sedition, and discord, and especially detrimental to the welfare of the Irish people.There was a petition from Lancaster, presented by the Chairman of their Committees (Mr. Green) which stated thatNo past concessions ever have, and the proposed concession never will, satisfy our Romanist fellow-countrymen.There was another petition from Southwark, presented by the hon. Member for Kent (Mr. Plumptre), in which he found these words:—The peculiar tenets of the Church of Rome, as defined by the Council of Trent, are anti-Christian, anti-social, and idolatrous, and utterly incapable of being reconciled with the genuine doctrines of the Gospel; and that those heresies have been solemnly repudiated by this country for many generations, during which the blessing of Almighty God has descended upon the land in a marked and unprecedented manner.A petition from Elgin stated—That signs of the withdrawal of heavenly favour from this country have not been wanting since the passing of the Act of 1829, and that the petitioners regard it as high treason against Heaven to apply the revenues of a Protestant people to the education of a Popish priesthood.He would venture to ask, in what other country it was possible to conceive that one half of the population would venture to apply such language as this to the religion of the other half? and if they did see it happen anywhere else, would they not instantly predict that it would only end as the same divisions and dissensions had recently unhappily ended in Switzerland? The language of parties in Switzerland, previous to the recent disturbances, was not one whit more unchristian, one whit more uncharitable, than that which the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford 1137 told them had come recommended to that House by the sanction of the English Church. [Sir R. H. Inglis: Sanctioned by the liturgy, articles and homilies of the Church.] By the liturgy, articles, and homilies of the Church! If such sentiments as these could be so sanctioned, he must say that the Church of England could not be a great blessing to the people of England. If the right hon. Member for Dungarvon wanted specimens of fanaticism and absurdity, he must not look hereafter to the three denominations for them. He must look not to the meetings of the Dissenters, but to some of those provincial assemblies, where the leaders of the Protestant Associations had been holding their saturnalia—for he could call them nothing less—and mixing up their own foolish fancies about the Book of Revelations, with the most atrocious libels upon the Catholic character and religion. They must go to Mr. M'Neile, whom, he thought, the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies (Lord Stanley) had once talked of as the very model of a Christian minister. What did he say in his most recent speech—not in the speech quoted a few nights ago by the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Roebuck), but in one since delivered? He told the Protestant Conservative Operatives of Liverpool—for it was them he was addressing on the occasion—thatThose who support the grant to Maynooth might as well found a College for the promotion of theft and adultery.He said further, thatNo improvement was desirable or possible, because the difference between the Maynooth priest and the highly educated and polished Jesuit, is just that between the highwayman and the pickpocket.He found similar sentiments, in a speech delivered but yesterday, by the Rev. J. S. Robinson, rector of St. Andrew's, Holborn, at Exeter Hall, at a meeting over which he saw, with deep regret, that the Marquess of Breadalbane presided, and at which his right hon. Friend the Member for Perth (Mr. Fox Maule) moved a vote of thanks to the chairman, although he had had the prudence not to commit himself to any of the detestable resolutions which received the sanction of that meeting. Mr. Robinson held precisely the same language as Mr. M'Neile. The following was from the Report of his speech:— 1138It was said that the proposed measure was intended to raise the intellectual standard of the Roman Catholic priesthood. It was only that very day that a brother clergyman who advocated the measure advanced that as his reason; and he said to him, as he now said to the meeting, what was knowledge without principle? He thought it was with knowledge as with courage—although it practically, perhaps, might make a good man better, it would most certainly make a bad man worse. He did not mean to say that his conscientious Roman Catholic fellow-subjects were bad men, but that, with that bias upon their feelings which belonged to Popish instruction, every acquisition of knowledge must tend to make them more mischievous to society.The Rev. C. J. Goodhart, of St. Mary's Chapel, Reading, speaking of the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel), said,—That he could not understand how Sir R. Peel could stand beside his Sovereign, with the Bible in one hand and the Maynooth Bill in the other, and feel that he was acting towards that Sovereign with proper allegiance. He cared not a straw for the principles of that man who would take any less foundation, or attempt to build on any less established authority than the Bible.This was at Exeter Hall; but Exeter Hall, unfortunately, had no longer a monopoly of bigotry and folly. The Rev. Mr. Bickersteth, at a meeting recently held at Hertford, distinctly said, adopting the old Roman Catholic motto—at least, the motto which we (the Protestants) had imputed to the Catholics in their dealings towards us—that no faith was to be kept with heretics,—That no compact for the continuance of this grant could be produced, the alleged compact was all a fiction; but supposing that a compact had ever existed it was void, because there was nothing that could bind them to do that which was contrary to God's word.He then proceeded to compare the fifty years' sanction of the grant to Maynooth by that House, with the fact thatHerod's oath had led him to commit the crime of murder. But that oath was valueless, because there was a prior obligation to obey the commandment of God, 'Thou shalt do no murder.'Such sentiments, proceeding from the mouth of a Christian minister, he (Mr. Ward) must stigmatize as the "abomination of abominations." He was disgusted and horrified when he heard the Book of Revelations quoted, upon the same occasion, by the Hertfordshire Protestant 1139 Association, whose address, signed by the Rev. Mr. Bickersteth, and Rev. Mr. Faithful, of Hatfield affirms that—He who assents to it (to the Maynooth grant), worships the beast, and supports that clearly predicted apostacy, which opens its mouth in blasphemy against God, has ever been at war with the saints, and crucifies afresh our Lord and Saviour.Was, he would ask, such disgusting blasphemy as this permitted to be uttered before a large assembly of intelligent and Christian people at the present day? Then, again, there was a Rev. Dr. Cumming, who also took the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) in hand. That Rev. Gentleman had found a scriptural picture peculiarly apposite to the situation of the right hon Baronet. He said—He was forcibly reminded of a description in sacred writ by the position of Sir Robert Peel, 'And behold there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtle of heart, [Laughter.] So she caught him, and kissed him [renewed laughter], and with an impudent face, said to him, I have peace offerings with me, this day have I paid my vows; and with her much fair speech she caused him to yield [renewed bursts of laughter], with the flattering of her lips she forced him.'[Shouts of laughter, in which the right hon. Baronet heartily joined.] This he (Mr. Ward) regarded as the climax of obscene and indecent absurdity. Such disgusting obscenities were certainly never uttered before in the presence of an assembly of Christians. He observed, and with the deepest humiliation, that although Members of that House committed themselves to such abominable sentiments as these within that House, where they might be exposed and ridiculed as they deserved to be, yet that there were Members of that House who did not scruple to take the chair at meetings out of doors where such atrocious language was held, and such blasphemies inculcated; and at this very meeting the hon. Member for Hertford was in the chair at the time when the language just quoted was uttered. He (Mr. Ward) was sorry to find a Gentleman, distinguished as was the hon. Member for the amiabilities of his private character, and for many virtues, which endeared him to his Friends, lending himself to those discreditable exhibitions, and giving his sanction to such disgraceful delusions, for such they certainly were. They, in that House, knew well, that they could not reason on the Book of Daniel—they 1140 could not legislate on the Apocalypse. But it gave a sort of sanction to those pernicious doctrines, some of which he had just cited, when men of high standing and influential position, lent themselves to such absurdities, and took the chair at public meetings, without expressing their dissent from doctrines which they could not in their hearts approve of. He could only account for this unhappy state of feeling by ascribing it to the pains which had been taken, for the last fifty years, to pervert and delude the public mind on every question connected with Ireland. Every source of information had been poisoned in this country by political and polemical differences. Men of mind had lent themselves, he was sorry to say, to this, and had put forward the most unfounded statements, when heated by party disputes, with a recklessness of which they must have repented in later years. They had all heard the speech of the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyne (Mr. Colquhoun), the other night. The hon. Gentleman had taken the lead in the opposition to this Bill. Nothing could be more mild and gentlemanlike than the mode in which he had delivered his sentiments on the floor of that House; nothing could be more unexceptionable in so far as their tone and spirit were concerned, than those sentiments themselves. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman appeared so lukewarm, that many doubted his sincerity. But there was another speech of this same hon. Gentleman, delivered in Exeter Hall, and which was on record, of a very contrary character, and which was now reprinted by the Anti-Maynooth Association, and published in the pamphlet of Mr. Lord, and in the Churchman's Monthly Review and Chronicle, and commented upon as a text of infallible authority, because the author of the speech was a Member of that House. If people out of doors only knew them in that House as well as they knew one another, they would not be long in being convinced that there was nothing infallible in the statements of hon. Gentlemen. He (Mr. Ward) was aware that every allowance should be made for the atmosphere (Exeter Hall) in which the speech was delivered, and for its age, for it was delivered in 1836. He should not now have alluded to it, if it had not met him at every turn—if it had not been republished in the Monthly Review for the month of February, 1141 1845. [Mr. Colquhoun: It was not published by me.] He was quite aware that it was not published by the hon. Gentleman; but if the hon. Gentleman had seen reason to repent of what he had said, he should have stated so, and not have permitted it to be revived and put forth anew to the world as containing the sentiments on such question of a Member of that House. He had told the hon. Gentleman the first time he had met with that speech, that it contained the grossest perversions of Irish facts and history which it had ever fallen to his (Mr. Ward's) lot to peruse; and if this were so, the hon. Gentleman should have withdrawn the statements thus made by him, instead of allowing them to be circulated through the country. For, what were those statements? That at the moment when the College of Maynooth was founded, Drs. Troy and O'Reilly were actually in the closest connexion with Wolfe Tone, and labouring jointly with him to revolutionise Ireland with the help of the French Jacobins. Their loyalty was a mask assumed to deceive Mr. Pitt.It might be laid down as a fact that the Roman Catholic bishops never made a manifesto of loyalty, except when a political end was to be compassed by it; or when they wished to cover some secret treason against England which was not ripe for explosion. The object of these declarations and manifestoes is now apparent enough. They were intended to mislead the Government of the day, and hoodwink Mr. Pitt with regard to the unconstitutional and dangerous character of the boon they were requiring at his hands, and thus induce him to accede to their proposal. There can be no question as to the reception which ought to have been given to it; a proposition so detestable ought, undoubtedly, to have met with the scorn and detestation it merited. Pitt was a real lover of his country. Every pulse of his noble heart glowed with the purest patriotism—he would have laid down his life for his country—ay, a thousand, if he had them—and his motives on this occasion were, doubtless, patriotic.And now it was impossible to conceive a more extraordinary tissue of misrepresentation than was to be found in this passage. Dr. Troy was one of the most faithful and devoted friends of the alliance between this country and Ireland. In 1793 the Catholic bishops were in a state of terror. Their greatest anxiety was to prevent the torrent of the French Revolution from extending itself to Ireland; and of the whole Catholic clergy of that time only 1142 about twenty joined the rebellion of 1798. That rebellion was cradled in the north. It was the work of the Presbyterians, not of the Catholics. The south only joined it when goaded into insurrection by the tyranny of the Government party. That sort of appeal should not be made to the popular feelings by men of standing, and men who ought to know better. If there had been any breach of faith at all at the time of the Union, it was certainly on our side. The Union could not have been carried without the aid of the Catholics; and they were induced to co-operate with the Government by a promise made them by Mr. Pitt and Lord Cornwallis that it should be followed by emancipation, and the payment of their priests. And there was the largest mass of historical evidence ever before collected upon one subject to prove that the sole bar to the carrying out of these promises was the alienation of the King's mind. Papers, which duty and delicacy alike forbade Lord Eldon's heirs to publish, for they contained letters from the Queen and the Princess Elizabeth which never ought to have appeared while the granddaughter of George III. was upon the Throne, had been made public to the world; and from these they learnt that such was the sole bar that stood in the way. They had every thing before them which tended to lay naked the whole transaction; and the more they read, the more they would be convinced that the sole bar to the fulfilment of the pledges given in 1800, when the Union took place, was the insanity of the King. In 1799, there was little or no anti-Catholic spirit abroad. If they took up the debates of that time, they would find, as to this, an almost perfect unanimity amongst public men. Lord Malmesbury, who was in the habit of taking down with diplomatic accuracy what passed in his presence, says distinctly that the Duke of Portland told him—That the intention was to substitute an Oath of Allegiance for the Oath of Supremacy, to make several alterations in the Church Establishment, and to pay the Catholic clergy. Mr. Pitt neglected to mention this ministerially to the King; but others took care that it should reach him in the way most likely to displease him.In reference to the King's first illness, the same authority says there were two parties to blame:—Those who secretly, and unknown to the 1143 Ministry, practised on the King's religion, and disposed him to resist the intended measure of Catholic Emancipation; and the Ministers themselves, who, after having neglected to prepare His Majesty for it, considered themselves ill-treated, and resigned.The first he describes—As the most consummate political villains that ever existed. They ought to be held in execration by the country, and their names handed down to posterity with infamy, for they will have been the cause of the destruction of the life or intellect of a Sovereign, to whose kingly virtues this country owes the preservation of its liberties.The same author then went into some details about the King's insanity. The idea always uppermost with him was the Church. "I am better now; but I will be true to the Church." At Windsor, it appeared, he was constantly reading the Coronation Oath to his family, and exclaiming—"If I have violated it, I am no longer legal Sovereign of this country." He (Mr. Ward) would like to know if the Queen, since the passing of the Emancipation Act, did not hold her Throne and title by a more fixed and devoted loyalty on the part of Her subjects than any King or Queen who had reigned before the passing of that Act? But when the King recovered, how came the question to be dropped? Lord Malmesbury also told them how that came about. Almost the first instance of returning reason on the part of the King, was the message which be sent to Mr. Pitt by Dr. Willis. In that message he said:—Tell him I am now quite well; but what has he not to answer for, who is the cause of my having been ill at all?"—"This affected Mr. Pitt so deeply, that he pledged himself to give up the Catholic question during the King's life." (Vol. iv. p. 32.)And when he was forced back into power in 1804, by the general sense of Mr. Addition's incapacity, he said to Lord Malmesbury:—If the event cannot be brought about without affecting, in the smallest degree, the King's health and tranquillity, it shall not happen at all. To feel and say this, is little more than feeling and speaking like a gentleman.Up to the year 1810, the King's feelings and health were the sole bar to concession to the Catholics. After that, the habit of injustice created others. Men's minds became poisoned by the debates which 1144 took place in Parliament, and their characters committed. Protestantism became a party cry—and not of the less value as a party cry, because it had the effect of excluding one party from power, and seating another permanently on the Ministerial benches. And thus it was, that all the benefits of the Union were lost; and now, when they had come back to the same point which they had attained forty-five years ago, when the best men on both sides of the House were approximating towards each other—when he saw every man who had any pretensions to the character of a statesman, anxious to do justice to the Catholics of Ireland, if he possibly could—they were thwarted in the first honest attempt to enter upon a new course, by the pestilent prejudices engendered by this long party strife. He held in his hand a remarkable work, published by a gentleman of politics opposite to his own—"Past and Present Policy of England towards Ireland." That gentleman was called a Tory. His Toryism was not that of Lord Eldon or Mr. Perceval, but the Toryism of an earlier day—the Toryism of Mr. Pitt. He alluded to Mr. Grenville, whom he found making use of the following words:—If the Union had been carried out according to the intention of the great Minister who accomplished it, in all human probability the foundation of peace and tranquillity—of political and social improvement—would have been then laid, and we should now be enjoying the vast benefits of his sagacious and healing policy; but as it was, little or nothing was done for effecting what Mr. Pitt had declared to be his main object, namely, to tranquillize Ireland, and to attach it to this country. George III., himself in a state bordering on insanity, invoked to his aid all the prejudices of his people, and successfully resisted the policy which was recommended by Mr. Pitt, and supported by every man—Whig or Tory—who deserved to be called a statesman. It is impossible to conceive anything more lamentable, and—if it were not so lamentable—more ridiculous and contemptible than this transaction. Mr. Pitt resigned; Lord Grenville, Mr. Wyndham, and Mr. Dundas retired with him; and Mr. Addington formed a No-Popery Government out of the dregs of the Cabinet.Now, what was the Church, about which they were still disputing, and to which, according to Mr. Grenville, all the benefits of the Union had been sacrificed? And how could they best induce the people of England and Scotland to do what was 1145 necessary in order to conciliate the Catholics of Ireland with the least expenditure of the public money? What were they attempting to do now? He had spoken of the religious argument, some hon. Gentlemen might think, perhaps, somewhat irreverentially. He saw no force whatever in the religious question which was attempted to be raised. The paramount object which a people should have in view was, to look to their own security—to look to their tranquillity at home, and their power abroad; and leave Establishments to take care of themselves. Instead of this, they seemed to think the whole Empire made for the Church. But there were other things to be considered before dealing with this measure in the way which the Government proposed. It was held by a large class of their fellow-countrymen as a direct infringement of their rights; and he did not know anything more dangerous than to connect the conscience with the pocket. Religious scruples and money payments were generally very dangerous allies. He wished to avoid such an alliance, if possible. There was a large body of the people, in this country and in Scotland, who told the House that they paid their own clergy, built their own churches, supported their own schools; and that it was an act of gross injustice on the part of Parliament, in order to tranquillize Ireland, to tax them for the benefit of a second Church to which they did not belong. He (Mr. Ward) could not gainsay this argument. The House could not, in reality, controvert it. They could not deny that there was a great deal of force and justice in it. He had taken pains to ascertain what was the real number of Nonconformist bodies in England and Wales. He found amongst the Presbyterians, Orthodox and Unitarian, 450 places of worship; amongst the Independents, 2,950; the Baptists, 1,584; the Wesleyan Methodists, 3,000; the Minor Methodists, 1,760; and the Calvinistic Methodists, 600: making a total of 9,984. This, in addition to 1,264 places of worship unconnected with the Establishment in Scotland, makes a grand total of 11,248 places of worship supported entirely on the voluntary principle. He was told to take the average of congregations at 300. That he thought above the mark. In that case, the number attending all these places of worship 1146 would be 3,374,000: in other words, that was the number of Dissenters in this country. It would, perhaps, be a more correct standard to say two millions and a half, certainly not exceeding three millions. The expenditure of each man and woman who attended these places of worship was estimated at 1l. per head. In addition to their churches, the Independents had twelve Colleges—the Baptists seven, and the Wesleyans two—supported at an annual expense of 24,000l. Now, how were they to deal with this people? The noble Lord the Member for Liverpool had talked the other night of the great principle of "restitution." That might be fair if the only parties were Catholics and Episcopalians. In that case, there might be equal fairness and force in the principle of restitution; but then the noble Lord forgot the scriptural precept as to restitution—that where men had been wronged, that which had been taken should be returned fourfold. Instead of any such scriptural mode of proceeding, the noble Lord proposed that they should give back one-twenty-sixth part of that which was annually taken from the Irish Catholics for the Irish Established Church, and this without any regard to the usurpation that had been enforced for three hundred years. He had heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Home Department, which had been delivered in that House a few evenings ago. It was a speech as wise as it was honourable and manly; and the only thing that astonished him in it was, the conclusion to which the right hon. Gentleman had come; for he had pledged himself again to stand by the Established Church—he had said that the only point of difference between him and those on the Opposition benches, was the Established Church. As to other parts of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, he must say he had never heard anything with greater pleasure than the language he had made use of. He had withdrawn the offensive expressions formerly used, with a frankness and a manliness that made it almost worth while to commit a mistake for the purpose of repairing it with so much magnanimity. It was, however, he conceived, a blunder of the right hon. Gentleman again to pledge himself to the old principle of 1834—the integrity of the Irish Church. He believed that the effect of this would only be mischievous, and that it would 1147 not abate, in the slightest degree, the resistance to the present measure. On the contrary, he believed that the resistance would be less if the measure had been larger, and if they had founded it on such a principle as to afford a reasonable hope of settling the whole question in a statesmanlike manner. They did not do this; they unsettled everything, and settled nothing—they disturbed the old title, and yet made no arrangement that could be permanent—they admitted a principle, and they did not carry it out—they threw a burden upon this country which it ought not to bear, and they left untouched in Ireland funds which might be legitimately appropriated to the same object. In all this he was convinced the right hon. Gentleman was just as wrong now as when he gave up his seat in Lord Grey's Cabinet, when he (Mr. Ward) launched the Appropriation principle eleven years ago. The whole sum now required, was less than the surplus created by the Whig Tithe Bill of 1835, brought in by Lord Morpeth, by simply suppressing all livings in which there were less than fifty Protestants, whilst means were provided for their spiritual instruction in some other way. The revenues of the Established Church were very large in comparison with its duties. He did not then mean to enter into a recapitulation of all the facts and details connected with this subject. He admitted the correctness of the figures given him by his noble Friend the late Secretary for Ireland (Lord Eliot), which were the result of the last investigation by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. According to these, the actual amount received by the Irish Church, after deducting the rent charge, was 650,753l. The whole income of the Scotch Church was not above 200,000l., and in Scotland there were about 3,000,000 of persons in communion with that Church previous to the late secession. In Ireland, the total number of Episcopalian Protestants was 800,000; so that about 18s. a head was allotted for their spiritual instruction. In Ireland, there were connected with the Established Church two archbishops, ten bishops, and 2,200 clergymen: in Ireland, there was one bishop for 118 benefices, and in England, one bishop to 412 benefices. Would the right hon. Gentleman tell him that, with this extraordinary discrepancy between the clergymen in the two countries, 1148 it was not possible for him to make provision for such an object as the present out of the funds of the Church? He had never denied that a great improvement had taken place in the Irish Church; but when did that improvement date from?—for this was by no means an unimportant item for their consideration. He liked to prove his case out of the mouths of those opposed to him. He found the noble Lord the Member for Bandon (Lord Bernard) stating, as a matter of indisputable fact, that from the time of the Reformation to 1726, there were only 141 glebe houses in all Ireland; and Primate Boulter complained that no legal facilities could induce the clergy to build glebe houses, for fear of being forced to reside in them afterwards. In 1800, there were only 295 glebe houses; in 1820, there were 620 glebe houses, being an increase of 473 in twenty years. He had proved by a Parliamentary Return, that in 1814 there had been in Ireland 644 resident clergymen, and 543 non-resident clergymen; in 1817, the resident clergymen were 765, the non-residents 544; in 1819, the resident clergymen were 1,758, non-residents 531;—so that all the wonderful ameliorations which had taken place in the Church were of a very recent date. The Recorder of Dublin (Mr. Shaw), stated in his speech of last year, that fifty sinecures had been abolished; but they were abolished since 1833. The right hon. Gentleman had also stated that fifty-three pluralities had dropped, and that there were only eighty-one now existing in all Ireland. He had also stated that there were only 381 non-residents in 1837. Out of 345, who in 1835 were reported by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the right hon. Gentleman said that in 1844 there were only 105 non-residents. Of fifty clergymen out of 180 who were reported to be non-residents in the dioceses of Ossory, Ferns, and Leighlin, there were said to be only twelve or seven, last year; and at the same time it was declared that abuses of other kinds were in "rapid progress of annihilation." He readily admitted that annihilations had taken place within the last ten years; and he believed that he himself might claim credit for a great many of them. They all certainly came within the sphere of the hon. Member for Montrose's useful labours. It was only since that time that bishops had been found to enforce residence, 1149 and that clergymen had shown a proper zeal in attending to their spiritual duties. He put complete faith in the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw) that "abuses were in a rapid progress of annihilation," and he believed that when the time came—as come it must—when, by common consent, the Irish Church was declared a nuisance that must be got rid of, that it would be in a purer state than it has been from the time of the Reformation. At present, notwithstanding; all the efforts that had been made, the anomaly still remained of parishes without members of the Established Church—of shepherds without a flock—of a cure of souls without a single Protestant. In 1835 there were, according to the Report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, 151 parishes in Ireland in which there was not a single Protestant; 194 parishes with less than ten Protestants; 198, with less than twenty Protestants; 133, with less than thirty Protestants; 107, with less than forty Protestants; seventy-seven, with less than fifty Protestants, making a total of 860 parishes in Ireland, in which, on the aggregate, there were less than fifty Protestants. Now, the amount of the entire demand for Maynooth, including that for new buildings, was 56,000l., and the income derived from these parishes by the Established Church was 58,000l.. There were thus not only funds available, but an addition of 2,000l. for Maynooth, without inflicting the injustice of a new tax upon the Dissenters. There were other things connected with the Established Church in Ireland for which this House was responsible. He alluded particularly to the bishops' lands in Ireland. Nothing, in his opinion, was ever more disgraceful than the manner in which they had permitted that fund to be frittered away by those who were the trustees of it. In the history of the world, there had been no such instance of mismanagement and dilapidation. Bishops' lands had been leased away for the benefit of sons, and nephews, and sons-in-law of the trustees. He knew that there was no use in his now going into that. He was aware that a new title had been given under the Act of 1833; but this they must be conscious of, that if the bishops' lands had been dealt with as the Crown lands were by Mr. Pitt, an ample fund for the religious wants of all classes might have been provided. The 1150 value of the Crown lands in the reign of Queen Anne was 16,000l. a year, and at that sum they had continued to the time of Mr. Pitt, who adopted a different plan with them in 1793, and the result was, that they had risen from 16,000l. to 250,000l. a year. The House, he conceived, was deeply responsible for having allowed a fund to be dissipated and dilapidated, which, if attended to, as the Crown lands had been would have afforded an ample resource for all purposes. But why not deal with what remained of those funds in the way that he had ventured to propose by his Amendment? The opposition of the Dissenters would be entirely neutralized if they took that course. He had himself presented some petitions on this subject. One of these, from Derby, said, that the petitionersView, with alarm the endowment, but expressed their conviction that the revenues of the Irish Established Church, being money drawn from the mass of the Irish people for purposes which the necessity for the present grant shows that the Church has failed signally to accomplish, ought to be the source out of which provision should be made for it.In another petition, from Bishops' Stortford, the petitioners said—They were in favour of the voluntary principle; but, seeing that the country is not prepared for its adoption, that a State Church exists, and that even Dissenters accept of assistance from the State in the shape of a Regium Dounm, they pray that the Catholics alone may not be excluded, amounting as they do to 7,000,000 of people, but that the grant to them may be provided for by a better distribution of existing ecclesiastical property.It was with great pleasure he had heard the sentiments contained in the petition that had been presented that night by his noble Friend (Lord John Russell) from the Protestant Dissenters of the Presbyterian denomination, and that was agreed to by them at a meeting held the day before yesterday. The fifth resolution adopted by that meeting was this:—That while thus approving the proposed grant, this deputation at the same time must express its opinion that the ample ecclesiastical revenues of Ireland would furnish the source from which the funds for this purpose might with the greatest justice be supplied.He again asked what was the obstacle to this? They used to hear a great deal about the Fifth Article of the Act of Union; but the right hon. Gentleman the 1151 First Lord of the Treasury had put an e[...]id to that last year. The right hon. Gentleman shook his head as dissenting from that opinion; but the right hon. Gentleman, as he understood, had said, "that compact and authority were not conclusive, if the social welfare of Ireland required an alteration of the law." Then was it to be "the principle that placed the House of Brunswick upon the Throne?" Why that was the principle of "Protestant ascendancy?" of which the Secretary for the Home Department had taken his leave the other night, in terms too conclusive to be re-echoed. And what did the House of Brunswick do, when at home? What was the practice of the present King of Hanover? In this country he was one of the most furious of fanatics. He was the Grand Master of the Orange lodges. He had here stood in the way of the emancipation of the Irish Catholics from the beginning of the present century. But what did the same personage do in Hanover? He paid his Catholic bishop 4,000 dollars a year, besides a handsome allowance for his table—he paid the Catholic clergy — he endowed Catholic seminaries—and he had an ambassador at Rome, who at the time that the two Crowns were joined, did not merely the business of the Sovereign of Hanover, but also that of his master here. Why was it that they adopted a rule in Ireland, at variance with that which they followed everywhere else? The hon. Baronet (Sir R. Inglis) said, that their conduct towards the Colonies was not a case in point. He said that we were bound to respect existing rights, and to fulfil compacts: but what compact was there in Australia, where they paid the Catholic chaplains, and provided churches for all sects out of the public funds? The English, Scotch, and Romish churches were expressly recognised there as in a state of perfect equality. There was no compact whatever binding them to do this; and in Upper Canada, where there was also no compact, they had fifty-six endowed Rectories of the Established Church, thirty-five Presbyterian, and thirty Roman Catholic, all paid by the State. How did they deal with the clergy reserves in Canada? In 1840, the notion of appropriating these reserves exclusively to the Protestant clergy, was scouted even in the House of Lords. A portion of these lands was set apart for the religious instruction 1152 of others, and the power of distributing them was left to the Governor and Council. This was not expressed in the Act of Parliament; but equality had been practically established. Their acts, to use the expression of the right hon. Gentleman, had been better than their words. The funds had been distributed with perfect equality, and perfect satisfaction had been the result. If this were wrong—if the opposite principle were sound—why not follow it out everywhere else, as they did in Ireland? Why, if the hon. Baronet's principle was good, it ought to be universal? Why not carry it into effect in India? Because, if they did, they would destroy their power in India. They knew that they could not have an English rector for each street in Calcutta, or an archbishop of Juggernaut! But why did they enforce the principle in Ireland? Because, up to the present time, they fancied that they might do so with impunity. He thought, however, that the right hon. Gentleman had told them justly and plainly the other night, that the time for impunity was past. He had heard, almost with pain, that passage in the right hon. Gentleman's speech which coupled Ireland with America. However wise and necessary the concessions the right hon. Gentleman might feel it to be his duty to make, yet they would have come with a better grace from a British Minister if they had been made to that portion of their Irish fellow-countrymen who still clung to the Union, and discharged their duties in that House, instead of being yielded to the agitators in Conciliation-hall. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he had felt great comfort when expressing the sentiments which he felt it to be his duty to express with respect to the American President's speech, because he had on the previous night sent a message of peace to Ireland. He (Mr. Ward) was one who felt very curious about Irish affairs; and he was anxious to see what effect had been produced in Ireland by a speech which had nearly produced perfect unanimity here, for all party differences were sunk in dealing with it, and all with confidence left the honour of the country in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman. He had consulted a paper published in Ireland, a paper having great circulation and influence (The Nation), to see how it regarded that on which all here were unanimous. It began thus:— 1153Our secession from the policy and feelings of the Empire is beginning to be felt. America has acted on it; she has defied England. She has annexed Texas against England's interest and wishes. She occupies and states her intention to annex Oregon—a part, says England, of the British Empire; a part of the States, says Mr. Polk. A more direct defiance was never offered, a more serious hurt has not happened to a great Power these thirty years.It then proceeded to say,—Here is Ireland's position, and let all the world know it that likes, and resent it that can. We court, and are most grateful for, the sympathy of America. We expect from her policy that opportunity which shall not be bargained away for concessions, formal or substantial. We shall resume our liberty as a right, not as a concession. We shall owe England nothing for its recovery; and, least of all, shall we pay her for her reluctant submission to our power, by becoming the tools of her ambition.He was not afraid of this. He thought he knew how to draw the distinction between empty bluster and bold resolve. Men who meant these things would not talk of them; but then they were giving encouragement to those who put forth those things, when they proclaimed that what Ireland could not expect from their justice, she might obtain from their fears. It seemed to him that they were working out that principle which Grattan had laid down in 1782, "That England's weakness was Ireland's strength." Was it not lamentable that sixty-five years should have made no difference in the truth of that maxim? Nay, that France might say, to this day, without the possibility of contradiction, what Napoleon had said of Ireland forty years ago,—"C'est un pays, dont le sort a dépendu d'une nuit propice"—"It is a country, the fate of which had depended on one propitious night." Why were such opinions entertained? Because they were not one united Empire, as they might be, and as he trusted they should be, if they at once proceeded with that series of measures which were destined to bind the two countries together. He trusted that there would at length be the commencement of a policy which would bind together their common sympathies, unite their common interests, and dispose them to defend their common rights against a common enemy. But the first step towards this, must be to get rid of those odious prejudices which separated Oxford from Dublin, and produced a wider chasm between 1154 the natives of Kent and Kildare, than between the Catholics of Ireland and those of any other country. He wanted to see England embark on a new course; and for the commencement of such a course he believed his Motion would be the best means of testifying her sincerity. He was not to be met, he hoped, upon technical grounds. He was not to be told that his proposition might be very good, if there were a large fund at the disposal of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He said he did not want the money. What he wished, was to see the principle affirmed. He wanted the House to declare that there should be a reconstruction of the Ecclesiastical system in Ireland, and he was ready upon those terms to give Ministers any credit they might wish for. He did not mean to pledge other Gentlemen; but he stated this broadly, and he did not see any necessity for shrinking from it. He knew that great principles could not be established without great sacrifices; and he, for one, was ready to make every allowance and every concession that could reasonably be asked, and to couple the proposed change with the most scrupulous regard for all existing rights. What he wanted was a distinct and intelligible pledge that the principle of a reconstruction of the Irish Established Church was to be entertained. The moment was propitious. They had upon the Throne a Queen whose opinions upon the particular question before the House it would be presumption in him to pretend to conjecture, but whose past conduct had shown that she would never allow her personal feelings to stand in the way of any measure of justice or relief to Ireland, which the boldest of Her Ministers dared to suggest. This gave a reality, a practicability, to the change which, he recommended, which former Ministers had not possessed. The right hon. Gentleman had the advantage, too, of having the aid of an Opposition who were ready to share with him the odium of his present measure; but what was desired was a plan which afforded a better prospect of permanency—a plan of a larger grasp, and founded on more comprehensive and intelligible principles. Here they laid down and affirmed a principle which they did not clearly carry out. It was the interest and the duty of the House to consider this. It was of the deepest importance that they should do what they all wished to do, in such a way as to lessen 1155 the objections, by rational men, to their policy, and to serve as an indication of their future course. He believed that his Amendment would do this; and with this conviction he should move—That it is the opinion of this House that any provision to be made for the purposes of the present Bill, ought to be taken from the Funds already applicable to Ecclesiastical purposes in Ireland.
was well aware that on such a great question as the proposed grant to Maynooth, by which the public mind was so excited, as appeared by the numerous petitions to the House on the subject, that it was generally considered neither manly nor straightforward conduct to refrain from giving a vote one way or the other; and, generally speaking, he was ready to admit the truth of this remark. Nevertheless he had refrained from voting on the grant as proposed by the right hon. Baronet opposite, because although as anxious, under the circumstances of the case and our relations with Ireland, that an increased grant should be made, he objected upon principle, and upon principle that had hitherto guided his conduct. From a large body of his constituency he received a petition, requesting to know if he would support the prayer of it. His answer was, although he approved of many of the sentiments contained in the petition, he could not support it as a whole—in objecting to any increase of the grant whatever. The very same reason prevented his giving his vote to the proposition of the right hon. Baronet; he could not support it as a whole, and he had no means of dividing the unobjectionable from the objectionable. However he might desire this boon for Ireland, he would not seek to obtain that which was serviceable, by means of which he entirely disapproved, more especially as he conceived that other means were to be found more politic, more just, and calculated to be received by the Irish people as a still greater boon. He was unwilling to impose a fresh burden on the people; to increase their burdens was contrary to justice and reason; and impolitic, as engendering the worst feelings amongst those professing different religious opinions. Let them look to the manner in which the Irish had been treated with reference to the Established Church in that country. So far back as the times of Bishop Bedell, that zealous and pious Protestant says, that— 1156The English had all along neglected the Irish as a nation, not only conquered, but undisciplinable, and that the clergy had scarce considered them as a part of their charge, but had left them wholly in the hands of their own priests without taking any care of them, but the making them pay their tithes.They found that the Irish Established Church was the monster grievance of Ireland. Mr. O'Connell, in 1840, in the Report to the National Association of Ireland says—Your Committee beg leave to report, that they are unanimously of opinion that the most afflicting beyond comparison of all the grievances which the people of Ireland sustain, is to be found in the misappropriation of the ecclesiastical revenues of Ireland.And in another part he goes on to say—England does not support the Church of the minority, but that Ireland, on the contrary, suffers this giant, this monster evil.He would remind the right hon. Gentleman opposite of an expression which he had once used. He asked if it were in human nature to bear the wrongs imposed; if they were Irishmen, would they bear it? And yet what was the opinion of Dr. Arnold as to Ireland, and what should be done with respect to it?—the calumnies that had been promulgated respecting it, and the impediments they had created in the way of pacification? Dr. Arnold says—Good Protestants and bad Christians have talked nonsense, and more than nonsense, so long, about Popery, and the Beast, and Antichrist, that the simple, just, and charitable measure of establishing the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland seems removed by common consent.He wished to say one word as to the effect of good government upon the Irish people. He had in his hand the copy of an address presented to Lord Normanby, when he was Lord Lieutenant of that country, from nearly 100,000 Roman Catholics of the county of Mallow, in which they stated—We stand before you in number amounting to above 100,000; the greatest part of us own ourselves as having belonged to that party in this country who advocated the Repeal of the Union. We thought the only remedy for such evils was a recurrence to a domestic legislature. But the experience we have had of your Excellency's wise, just, and paternal Government, has taught us otherwise; and we tender to your Excellency our solemn abjurations of the question of the Repeal of the 1157 Legislative Union, and of any other question calculated to produce an alienation of feeling between the inhabitants of Great Britain and Ireland.But how could the present Government talk of conciliating Ireland when they appointed those to the chief Government of Ireland who acted upon principles directly contrary to those of Lord Normanby? Could they, he would ask, produce such a certificate from the Irish people in favour of any one of their Lords Lieutenant as that which Lord Normanby had obtained? In seconding the Motion of his hon. Friend, and giving it his hearty support, he begged to disclaim any intention or desire to lower or do injury to the Protestant Established Church, of which he was a Member, and to which he was as sincerely attached as any hon. Gentleman who heard him. He trusted no one would impute to him such motives, but should any do so, he would say to them, "Judge not lest ye be judged." He begged leave to second the Motion.
§ Sir T. Fremantle
, in rising to oppose the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sheffield, felt called upon to testify his respect for the consistency with which, through good report and through evil report, he had adhered to the principle of his Motion. Whether as a supporter of Ministers in whose policy he agreed, or opposing Ministers from whose political principles he dissented, it could not be denied that the hon. Member had lost no opportunity of bringing forward this Motion, and urging it upon the attention of the House, with that great ability for which he was so justly distinguished. While bearing this due tribute to the hon. Gentleman's consistency and zeal, he must, however, be permitted to say that, in the present instance, the opportunity selected by the hon. Gentleman for proposing his Amendment was most inopportune. He thought so great a principle as that involved in the hon. Member's Motion ought not to have been brought forward incidentally as an Amendment upon a question for the payment of 26,000l. to the College of Maynooth, and attached to a Bill of this nature. But let it not be supposed that he was in any way complaining of the hon. Member's conduct in so doing: he was sensible of the courtesy shown by the hon. Member on a previous occasion, in not interposing his Amendment on the second reading—he was quite aware of the 1158 anxiety shown by the hon. Member to avoid doing anything that would endanger the success of the Government measure; but he must say, nevertheless, in regard to the question itself, that the occasion chosen this year for bringing it forward was not the most proper one, either in justice to that question itself, or to the measure to which it was sought to attach it. It was probable, for instance, that many hon. Gentlemen who agreed in the abstract with the Amendment, might yet feel themselves precluded from voting for it by the terms of the original proposition; while, on the other hand, many hon. Gentlemen who were anxious to do all they could to oppose and resist the measure of the Government altogether, would take advantage of the forms of the House, and vote in favour of the Amendment, in order to throw over the Bill. Therefore, the decision of to-night and the division which would be taken, would not by any means be a fair or correct test of the amount of support which would be given to the principle laid down by the hon. Gentleman, or form any criterion of the state of parties on the question. Therefore he said, the hon. Gentleman had not chosen the most fitting occasion for bringing forward a question of such magnitude as was involved in the Amendment he had proposed. Suppose the hon. Gentleman's Motion was carried, and that it was proposed to reconstruct the property of the Established Church in Ireland, and to make the surplus revenues available for this or any other purpose—it would be equally necessary to go into Committee, for there was no consolidated fund of Church property from which the required money could be voted. At present, there was no fund out of which the money necessary could be voted; and the hon. Gentleman himself anticipated that objection when he said, if the House would only agree to his proposal, he would support the Government in a vote as large as they pleased out of the Consolidated Fund. He, however, was not to be bought by such a bribe. He was not prepared, for the sake of the hon. Gentleman's support to any vote, to sacrifice so great a principle as would be involved, did he accede to the hon. Gentleman's Motion. With regard to the surplus Church revenues, which the hon. Gentleman said existed, and which he contended might be made available for Roman Catholic purposes, he had not on this occasion gone into any detail to prove its amount; and as he believed his statement 1159 was generally correct, it was not necessary that he should go into detail in reply. The whole amount of the Church property in Ireland the hon. Member had stated to be 650,000l. But from that must be deducted the large sums expended by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for repairing churches and providing for the performance or divine worship, in consequence of the vestry cess having been thrown on those funds. He should say, therefore, that as the deductions for those purposes—and they were truly ecclesiastical purposes — amounted to 70,000l., the net revenue should be put down at 580,000l., and not 650,000l. Then, again, as to the hon. Member's calculation as to the average income of each living. Taking the curates with the parochial clergy, the average income of each living would not be more, he thought, than 200l. or 220l. a year. It was true the hon. Gentleman had not rested his case to any extent on his statements in these respects; but as he (Sir T. Fremantle) considered those statements a little overcharged, he had felt it necessary to say that he did not altogether concur in them. Looking at the nature of the question proposed by the hon. Gentleman, he thought it not out of place to take a short review of what had passed with regard to it since it was first brought forward up to the present time. And he would ask the House—he would ask the hon. Gentleman—whether he considered he had made much progress in the propagation of his principle since that fatal period, as the hon. Gentleman had himself called it, viz., the year 1834, when it was first propounded? It had been productive of great political events, no doubt. Ministry after Ministry had been overthrown by it; but did the measure now stand in a better position in the country or in Parliament, in reference to the amount of support it received, than when it was first proposed? In 1834, the hon. Gentleman had a majority of the House of Commons in favour of the Appropriation question. During the years 1836 and 1837, no Tithe Bill for Ireland could be carried because of the Appropriation Clause; but in 1838, the friends of the appropriation principle found it necessary to abandon it altogether; and a Bill settling the Irish Tithe question was carried without the objectionable Appropriation Clause. He did not accuse the hon. Member for Sheffield of any inconsistency in the matter; on the contrary, he had been consistent throughout; for in 1160 1838, he proposed that the Appropriation Clause should be inserted in the Bill, notwithstanding its abandonment by the Government. But what was the proposition now upon which the hon. Gentleman devised to fix his appropriation principle? The Government had introduced a Bill for improving and extending the College of Maynooth; and they had proposed it free from the question of appropriation; and, surely, if the Government of 1838 were justified in passing a Tithe Bill without the Appropriation Clause, the present Government were justified in passing a Maynooth Bill without involving in it the appropriation principle. He called then upon those hon. Members who voted against the Motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield in 1838 for engrafting the principle upon the Tithe Bill, to vote against him now when he sought to engraft it upon the Maynooth Bill. As the arguments used against the hon. Member's Motion of 1838, in the very able speech of Lord Morpeth, were equally applicable as against his Motion now, he would, with the permission of the House, quote them. Lord Morpeth, on the 2nd of July, 1838, said,—He and those with whom he acted had struggled hard for the principle of appropriation. Three times they had endeavoured to scale the perilous breach, and three times they suffered repulse; three times they had battled to carry the principle, and three times they had been defeated; and he could not shut his eyes to the fact, that in the present state of affairs and of parties the chance of success in the present year was not, to say the least, one whit more promising. Feeling this, they had thought it their duty to bring forward a Bill which did not compromise the principle of appropriation; and he equally felt that it was their duty, having taken this step according to the best of their judgment, and with a sincere view of doing what they thought would most benefit the country and secure the peace of that part which was mainly interested—viz. Ireland; having brought forward a Bill which did not compromise the principle of appropriation, he felt called upon to resist the Resolution now moved by the hon. Member for Sheffield.He thought those arguments were even stronger now. On the same occasion the noble Lord the Member for London said,—Again, they had been reproached for not following up the Appropriation Clause for the benefit of all classes in Ireland who would receive religious instruction. That course might, no doubt, have been adopted by Government; 1161 but would any of those Gentlemen who reproached him for not taking that course venture to say that he thought a Bill containing that clause was likely to be passed, or was likely to attain the object of establishing that principle in the Statute book? The question was between doing nothing whatever—not moving a single step towards removing the evils that existed in Ireland on this subject of tithes—and adopting a Bill to which the Legislature might be brought to agree.He said also, that if the House were now unwisely to agree to the proposition of the hon. Member, and tack the Appropriation Clause to this Bill, they would do that which would be fatal to the measure. Continuing the history of this Appropriation Clause, the House would recollect the mishap that occurred to it in 1843, when the House was counted out while the question was before it, and no division was taken; but in the last Session it did succeed in going to a division, and what was the result? It was defeated by a majority of ninety-five. He trusted the House was not now prepared to sanction the principle, in reference to this Bill, which they had so often and so recently negatived when brought forward as a substantive proposition. Sufficient for the day was the evil thereof; and on the present occasion there was no necessity for bringing forward the question. What he meant was that the principle of appropriation was inapplicable to the present occasion and the present question. That principle, as advocated by the hon. Gentleman, involved the appropriation of the whole church property of Ireland; for, if they admitted the principle of the Amendment, and took 26,000l. as a surplus for this purpose of Maynooth or any other, they violated the principles upon which the property of the Church stood, and left it as a question open for future consideration how much more of those revenues they would take for any other purpose. But the hon. Member was not content with that, for he called upon Parliament altogether to reconstruct the properly of the Established Church in Ireland; and two years ago he had told the House what his views of that reconstruction were. He then said,—He believed the total amount of the Church property in Ireland was 512,000l., and he proposed to apportion it in this way; he would give 70,000l. to the Protestants, to the Presbyterians and the Wesleyans another 70,000l., and the remaining 372,000l. to the Roman Catholics.This was the reconstruction the hon. Gentleman 1162 suggested. The question as now brought forward by the hon. Member, was not merely one of amount, and if they took from these revenues of the Church 26,000l. this year to relieve the Consolidated Fund, they would come forward with new claims upon those revenues in the next. And if they relieved the Consolidated Fund from this charge for Maynooth, why should they not relieve it equally of the charge for education? Why did not the hon. Gentleman, if he thought the revenues of the Established Church in Ireland ought to bear this charge, propose, in like manner, to take the Education Vote from the same source? The question for the House to consider was this—should they deal with the whole property of the Established Church in Ireland—reconstruct it, and dispose of it in different ways—in fact, should they confiscate the whole of the Church property in Ireland? Were they justified in making such appropriation? Were they justified, looking at all the circumstances that had passed in regard to that Church and its establishment, in making such an appropriation? The hon. Gentleman had dealt very slightly with the subject of the Union, and had said his (Sir T. Fremantle's) right hon. Friend (Sir R. Peel) had rejected the 5th Article of the Union in his speech of last year. Upon looking at that speech, he could not find anything to bear out that statement of the hon. Member's. His right hon. Friend admitted there was a compact entered into at the Union; he would not read the words his right hon. Friend used, but he would say that no one could read them without being satisfied that what his right hon. Friend meant to convey was, that it would be a breach of a solemn engagement if by any act Parliament were to confiscate the property of the Established Church of Ireland. They must consider fairly the circumstances under which the Union was passed. They must consider what were the impressions and what was the understanding of the contracting parties to the agreement; and he would ask, was it not the fact, that the Parliament, both of England and Ireland, looked upon the Act of Union, and entered into it, as an additional security for the maintenance of the Protestant Church Establishment in Ireland in all its integrity? They had been taunted with saying that there was also a contract entered into at the Union to maintain the College of Maynooth. He did not urge it as a contract, but as an implied understanding, to which, 1163 in honour and good faith this country was bound, and which Parliament would not, therefore, be justified in breaking; and if the Government were justified in using that argument as to the maintenance of Maynooth, they were doubly justified in using it in regard to the maintenance of the Protestant Established Church. Again, in the Catholic Emancipation Act, the same understanding as to the security of the Church was entered into. He did not believe that Act would ever have been passed if it had not been accompanied by an understanding—an understanding on both sides—that the property of the Protestant Church in Ireland should be maintained inviolate. Indeed, there were words in the Act itself which, if they did not declare that understanding in express words, could not be taken but as implying it. It could not be forgotten that the 24th section of that Act stated—And whereas the Protestant Episcopal Church of England and Ireland, and the doctrine, discipline, and government thereof, and likewise the Protestant Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and the doctrine, discipline, and government thereof, are by the respective Acts of Union of England and Scotland, and of Great Britain and Ireland, established permanently and inviolably.What was the meaning of the Protestant Episcopal Church of England and Ireland, and its doctrines, discipline, and government, as here referred to, unless it were looked upon as a tangible authority, guaranteeing the maintenance of that Church and revenues? He contended that this did expressly guarantee the inviolability of the property of that Church. And if Parliament were to concur with the hon. Member for Sheffield, and violate the engagement entered into by Parliament as to Church property, what did they suppose would be the effect on other descriptions of property? This property of the Church, be it remembered, was guaranteed by the prescription of 300 years, as well as by enactment; and if they now interfered with a title so devised, let them consider what the consequence would be upon all other property. Look at the forfeited estates. Would these hon. Gentlemen who proposed thus to deal with the property of the Church be prepared to say, with regard to those forfeited estates, we are open to admit that the Government and Parliament of former days may have taken a different view of such questions from that 1164 we take, but we think it was by an act of spoliation and violence that the ancestors of the present possessors of those estates came into possession of them some three or four hundred years ago, and we are now prepared to re-open the title by which they have been so long held, and to apportion them, and dispose of them, as we may think fit. He said if they so dealt with the property of the Church, they would shake the foundation of all such property as he referred to. There would be no certainty; every species of property would be liable to constant change, and no decision of a court of law given fifty years back, no length of possession would be held binding as giving a title to its present possessors. Many Acts of Parliament might on this same principle be considered unjust. Look at the National Debt. Suppose it was objected that that debt was contracted, not by us, but by our forefathers—we had nothing to do with contracting it, yet we are called upon to pay it; we are poor, and this 800,000,000l. of debt weighs heavy upon us. Why what a case might be made out! The honour of the people of this country rendered it impossible for them to take such a course with regard to the National Debt; and he contended that the Church property ought to be looked upon in the same light. He contended that if they took the course suggested by the hon. Member for Sheffield, they would lower the authority of Parliament—they would lessen the influence and the credit of the Government, and check the confidence of the country to a very great extent. Upon this point he had the evidence of an hon. Gentleman, who was well qualified to speak of Irish affairs, and whose authority, he believed, would not be disputed by the other side—he meant Mr. Blake, who, in his evidence given before a Parliamentary Committee, said,—I consider the Protestant Establishment of Ireland a main link in the connexion between Great Britain and Ireland. The Protestant Church of Ireland is rooted in the Constitution. It is established by the fundamental laws of the realm; it is rendered, as far as the most solemn Acts of the Legislature can render any institution, fundamental and perpetual; it is declared so by the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. I think it could not now be disturbed without danger to the general securities we possess for liberty, property, and order, and without danger to all the blessings we derive under a lawful Government and a free Constitution.He (Sir T. Fremantle) supported the Established 1165 Church on higher grounds. He thought it was the duty of the State to maintain a religious Establishment; by that he meant that some form of Christianity should be maintained. And he went further, and said that he considered that established religion and that Church should be in connexion with the State, and subject in certain respects to its control and regulation. Now, the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland did not comply with the condition which the Protestant Establishment did. And when he found that the Protestant Church both in England and Ireland, and that alone, had been established and guaranteed by Parliament, he thought it ought to be maintained inviolate; and as a consistent Protestant he could not give his consent for its subversion. But supposing the opposite principle were admitted, what course were they to take? Were they to adopt the voluntary principle? Were they to endow all religious sects? By adopting the proposal of the hon. Gentleman, it was evident they would throw every thing in Ireland into a state of the most complete and inexplicable confusion. Much stress had been laid as to what would be the probable result of this Maynooth Bill—whether it would be received by the people of Ireland with satisfaction, and as settling a great question, or whether it would not necessitate other and larger concessions. But what would be the inevitable consequence of adopting the hon. Member's appropriation principle to the extent to which the hon. Gentleman would carry it? Did they suppose that the abstraction of this 26,000l. or more from the revenues of the Church would prove a final, a satisfactory, or a conclusive measure? On the contrary, the almost immediate effect would be to lay the grounds for applying to Parliament for much more. The Table of the House would be loaded with petitions; Motions would be brought forward day after day, and the appetite would be whetted for fresh spoliations. Instead of proving an act of kindness and conciliation, it would become a bone of contention, for which the Irish people would not cease to fight for many a year to come, and excite discontent and religious animosity in that country to an extent far beyond that to which they had been hitherto carried. It would become a contest not for power only, but for money. The Irish Roman Catholics would say this is but a petty miserable instalment of what we ought to have, and they would consider themselves as aggrieved 1166 parties. If the principle of the hon. Member were admitted for a moment, he would say far better go the whole length, and hand over to the Roman Catholics the whole Church revenues of Ireland, then stop short with such a miserable concession as this. But what would the Protestant party in Ireland say in that case? Were their feelings not to be consulted? He thought the result would be a strong feeling against the Imperial Government at home on the part of the Irish Protestants. Then what would be the effect on the Repeal question? Did any hon. Member think it would convert the Repealers to good and stanch supporters of the Union? That was not his opinion. He did not think that those who were now agitating for a national Irish Parliament in Dublin, would be diverted from their purpose by such a concession as that proposed by the hon. Member. It was true there might be one item less in their catalogue of grievances, real or imaginary; but the Repeal agitation would not be stopped or allayed, while the Protestants, to whom they must look for the maintenance of the Union, would not be much disposed, he thought, to continue their attachment to the United Parliament; and they would find, ere long, that our best supporters would become our most deadly enemies. He would refer to a work entitled, Ireland and its Rulers; the production of a writer who appeared to be well acquainted with his subject generally, and who had brought together much useful information; and though, perhaps, in some few instances, it might not be altogether to be relied on, there was undoubtedly much that was valuable in the work. The writer, in speaking of the Irish Church, said,—By abolishing the Irish Protestant Church, you will cut away the strongest link that binds the upper nation with England.This was the writer's expression, not his (Sir T. Fremantle's).It is difficult enough to govern Ireland, with the lower nation aspiring to self-government; but how is Ireland to be kept, if the hold on both nations be lost? The Church is far more dear to the upper nation in Ireland than its sister Establishment is to any of the English people. It is connected with all that the upper Irish nation holds most venerable and dear. Whatever of historic pride—whatever of transmitted associations—whatever of inspiring recollections are common to the Irish Protestants—are clustered around the Establishment. 1167 It is the proudest boast of their Imperialism, and is the chief object of their political prejudices. Next to their monarch they give their political affections to their Church. Take that Church away, and what reasons would the Protestants have for remaining Imperialists? If the British Parliament will confiscate the Irish Church, what else will it have done but given a speaking lesson to the Irish of the normal law of reprisal and spoliation—of destruction and political dilapidation which is unfolded throughout the political career of Ireland? Such conduct would familiarise the mind of Ireland with the notion that the Union was not a permanent measure; that it could easily be set aside; that'A breath could make it, as a breath has made.'These views were strongly stated, but he believed them to be true; and the same author said,—The abolition of the Protestant Establishment would give a shock of a moral nature to the Union. Such a measure as the destruction of the Church would be visibly proclaiming to universal Ireland that England made very light of the Act of Union; that she considered it of no binding force; that it was not to be considered as a solemn Treaty, but merely as a trumpery Act of Parliament, in itself not more entitled to respect than a local Bill concerning a turnpike trust. The Act of Union may externally, or taken merely in its instrumental sense, not be more than any other Act of Parliament. Its wax and parchment are not of themselves more venerable than those of the Act of Settlement, or of any other Act of Parliament; but the Union between the two countries was a moral transaction, involving the highest national considerations; and if the English Legislature sets no value on its essential and almost fundamental agreement, that the Church of Ireland continue established by law, how can the Union itself be entitled to any consideration, any reverence, or respect from any portion of the Irish people? If the Solemn contrivances to exact regulations of the Union be disregarded by England, why should the institution of political incorporation be considered as valid?He believed, that if this important Article of the Union was not upheld, a great blow would be struck at the maintenance of the Union itself; and the effect on the Protestant mind of England would be as great as on the Protestant mind of Ireland. And after the petitions they had had on the effect of this proposal for an additional grant on the people of England, they ought not to throw this altogether out of their consideration. It had been stated that the Established Church of Ireland was an insult and an injury to the Roman Catholics; that it 1168 was the monster grievance; and until the axe be laid at its root, there would be no contentment in that country. He denied that the Established Church was the great evil, or an insult, though of late years it had suited the leaders of political parties in Ireland to lay down that proposition. He admitted that unequal laws, and penal Statutes, and legal and civil disqualifications, were an insult, and implied degradation; but he could not understand how the possession of property by one party instead of another, could be justly considered as an insult or injury. They must look at the circumstances attending the possession of property, as well in corporations as in private individuals; and if by an arrangement made 300 years ago they found that the Church had this property, they should consider it rather as an accidental circumstance, that could not imply insult or injury to those who were excluded. And when they remembered the connexion between England and Ireland, the Union between the Churches as well as the Parliaments of the two countries, and the strong Protestant feeling that existed in England, it could not be considered that the Roman Catholics were degraded, because the possessions of the Church were in the hands of the small minority of the whole population of Ireland. And it was quite clear too, that this notion was new. It was not till very recently that such notions had been put forth. The language of the Roman Catholics, when applying to Parliament for relief from civil disabilities, or when giving evidence before Parliamentary Committees, had always been to disclaim any desire to interfere with the property of the Church Establishment in Ireland; and they had, on more occasions than one, solemnly denied that they entertained any such idea. He might refer over and over again to quotations from evidence, to prove that in their petitions and in their evidence they disclaimed any such idea; that the existence of the Irish Protestant Church Establishment was an insult or injury to them. In 1792 a petition was presented to the Irish Parliament from the Roman Catholics, in which they said,—With regard to the constitution of the Church, we are indeed inviolably attached to our own: first, because we believe it to be true; and, next, because, beyond belief, we know that its principles are calculated to make us, and have made us, good men and citizens. But as we find it answers to us, individually, 1169 all the useful ends of religion, we solemnly and conscientiously declare that we are satisfied with the present condition of our ecclesiastical policy. With satisfaction we acquiesce in the establishment of the National Church; we neither repine at its possessions, nor envy its dignities; we are ready upon this point to give every assurance that is binding upon man.If the Church were then considered a monster grievance, was it to be supposed that they would have come forward and said, they acquiesced with satisfaction in its establishment, and did not repine at its possessions. Then there was the petition from the Roman Catholic body, presented in 1808. What did that petition set forth? It staled,—Your petitioners most solemnly declare, that they do not seek or wish in any way to injure or encroach upon the rights, privileges, possessions, or revenues appertaining to the bishops and clergy of the Protestant religion as by law established, or to the churches committed to their charge, or any of them; the extent of their humble application being, that they be governed by the same laws, and rendered capable of the same civil and military offices, franchises, rewards, and honours, as their fellow subjects of every other religious denomination.Let the House also recollect the remarkable evidence given by Dr. Doyle upon the subject. The right rev. Gentleman was asked,—Do you conceive that there exists a desire on the pint of the Catholic Church generally, or of many individuals in it, supposing the arrangements referred to in a former question to be made or not, to possess themselves of any part of the revenues of the Church of England? Whether such arrangements were made or not made, I never discovered in others, nor have I entertained myself, any disposition whatever to be put into possession of any portion at all of the revenues or property belonging to the Established Church. I will add, that if any portion of that property were offered to me. I would not accept of it; that if it were proposed to grant the stipend at present spoken of out of the tithes received by the clergy of the Establishment, I would not be induced to accept of it.—Without meaning to doubt that which you have stated, were it possible to suppose such a disposition to exist on the part of the Roman Catholic Church, is it one that would find any countenance or favour on the part of the Roman Catholic laity? Unquestionably not; they would be more averse to it than the Roman Catholic clergy, if more averse to it they could be.1170 Let them add to this testimony that afforded by the petition of 1826. That document stated as follows:—The petitioners consider it due, not more to themselves than to their fellow subjects in Great Britain, to declare their conscientious impression that many, if not all, of the prejudices still retained against their claims, result from an ignorance of their actual condition, their principles, and their objects. The petitioners seek not the destruction, but the enjoyment of the Constitution, and in the pursuit of that desire, they do not by any means solicit, or expect, or wish, that a single individual of their Protestant fellow-subjects should be deprived of any right, liberty, privilege, or immunity, of which he is at present possessed. The petitioners, in praying for the restoration of their rights, seek not, nor do they wish to burden the State with, any provision or pension for the ministers of their religion, nor do they seek, nor have they sought, to deprive any class of His Majesty's subjects of any right, privilege, or franchise whatsoever.The right hon. Gentleman continued. If these were the sentiments held by the Catholic body in Ireland, it was certainly a proof that, at least up to a very recent period, the existence of the Protestant Church of that country was not considered so grievous an injury as it had of late been found convenient to represent it. When they saw, as by the evidence he had quoted they had an opportunity of seeing, the Catholics themselves representing that they had no wish to appropriate the revenues of the Established Church, he could not see upon what principle that Church could be placed in the light in which its opponents had seen fit to represent it. As to its existence producing a sense of insult, a feeling of degradation, without the abolition of which nothing could be effected for the amelioration of the condition of Ireland—as to taking up this proposition, he contended that it was a line of argument perfectly untenable, and perfectly unjustifiable. He maintained that the Protestant Church of Ireland was justified in maintaining the rights which it at present possessed. At the same time he was prepared to admit that property had its duties as well as its rights, and that Irish Church property should not be used in a manner offensive or injurious to the Catholic portion of the community. And in that sense, without advocating the principle of restitution, but considering that they maintained on one hand the rights of the property of the Established Church, he contended that it was consistent with justice 1171 to act, so far as they could, with liberality towards others; and if they could, consistently with their principles, make a grant of the nature before the House, that they were not only justified in adopting that course, but bound to take it. He hoped that the House, acting upon this principle, would negative the Motion submitted to it.
§ Sir Walter James
saw many objections to the particular Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield. It would be insulting to the Irish Establishment and to the Irish Protestants to introduce into the Committee considerations with regard to the Act of Union, in respect of a Bill which simply had for its object to endow the College of Maynooth. But, when he stated this, when he stated that in his opinion there were grave technical as well as constitutional difficulties in the way of the Motion, he must say that he did think that the subject of the Irish Church must, before many years elapsed, be seriously brought under the consideration of Parliament. He said so, grieving that such a course should become necessary; for he deeply respected the Establishment—he admired its creed; he was warmly devoted to its clergy, and to everything which ever had or which ever would belong to it. He had been urged by his constituents to oppose the increased endowment to Maynooth; but he would be ashamed of himself had he given any countenance to those representations. His family had always supported Catholic Emancipation, and this Bill he considered as its necessary consequence. He believed also it was the intention of Mr. Pitt to have accompanied the Act of Union with a measure for the payment of the Roman Catholic priesthood in Ireland. Among those who had made representations to him on this subject there was one body for which he must profess his sincere respect—the Wesleyan Methodists. This class of religionists somewhat resembled the Roman Catholic priesthood in their pious labours among the poor. They visited mines and collieries to impart the light of the gospel to those who were without spiritual instruction. He felt bound to give that body his sincere though humble tribute of respect; but he could not agree with the views which had been urged upon him on the subject under discussion. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the right hon. Gentleman 1172 the Secretary for Ireland, considered this was only a trivial and small measure, and merely concerned the increase of the vote of 9,000l. to 26,000l. He confessed that after the conclusive speeches of the right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay) and the noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire (Lord Ashley), he could not consider the measure to be so confined in its nature; and for his part he thought that the measure ought to be looked at in its large, broad, clear sense—that the principle involved ought to be considered, as well as the results to which it would lead. He would ask the House to look at the conciliatory manner in which the measure had been received in Ireland; and then he wished them to declare whether they would not be disposed to say that they regarded the measure as one of a series, rather than as a single measure. The fact had been clearly put in the Cork Reporter, and he would trouble the House by reading an extract from that journal. The hon. Member here read from the newspaper an extract to the effect that as the Roman Catholics of Ireland had not a sufficient number of priests, and were unable to supply the deficiency from their own sources, that they had a right to look to other channels. The writer was of opinion that small glebes, paid for by the State, would be beneficial to the Irish Roman Catholic clergy. He (Sir W. James) believed that the Irish Catholic clergy would be willing to accept such endowments, provided they were given in a good spirit, and in the spirit of kindliness. But if this were done, where, he asked, was the money to come from? He thought the proposition was very fair; but then where was Government to get the money to effect that happy event—the conciliation of the people of Ireland, by attaching to themselves the Roman Catholic priesthood? He was anxious to deny justice to no class of his fellow Christians. The Church he was attached to was benefited by its connexion with the State; and he asked that his fellow subjects of a different religion should participate in the same advantages. If a sense of injustice was created in the minds of any portion of our fellow countrymen against the Established Church, Government could not give a heavier blow or greater discouragement to that Church, which rested on the affections of the people, and which indeed was its best prop and support, than by refusing to do justice 1173 by removing the cause of discontent Every sect of Christians believed its peculiar creed was the true one. But they were told that it was not their duty to propagate error. What was error? An error might be comparatively so small and mixed up with so large a proportion of truth, that it was, perhaps, impossible for the best Christian to say, "My creed is entirely faultless." But on the other hand, an error might be so great, so glaring, so preponderating, that a person might come justly forward and say, "The propagation of this I withstand." It was a question of conscience. If his hon. Friend near him (Sir R. H. Inglis) entertained the latter opinion of Catholicism—if he believed the Church of Rome to be an enemy to Christianity—to be anti-Christian—if he adopted the bigoted expressions of the petitions which had been poured in upon them, then the hon Baronet was, no doubt, doing his duty in opposing the measure. But he had been brought up in a different way, and entertained very different opinions. He believed that there was in the Church of Rome something to admire, and yet much to deplore; but he did not think that he was bound to consider that Church otherwise than as a Christian Church. He would go further—he would say that if he could conceive the Church of Rome to be as idolatrous, as anti-Christian, and as abominable as his hon. Friend considered it, he did not know any one proposition which would be more likely to sap the foundations of his own religious belief altogether. He could not, without distrust of his own creed, own that these appellations could be justly applied to the Church of his ancestors. But this was a painful part of the subject to him—and how much more painful must it be to their Roman Catholic fellow countrymen? What must be their feelings, when coming over here and approaching the House, they encountered a string of a score of ragamuffins encased in placards, denouncing the endowment of Popery? What must be their feelings, when approaching still nearer, they saw Westminster Abbey, with its grey gaunt form, reared by their forefathers, contrasted by the way with Barry's fillagree work. What, he asked, must be the feelings, the associations which all these objects were fitted to call up in the Catholic mind? He thought that before they launched such false accusations against 1174 the Roman Catholic Church as they had lately hurled, they were bound to consider what, under similar circumstances, their own feelings would have been. He was prepared to maintain two propositions: first, that there was nothing in the doctrines of the Church of Rome which ought to prevent him from giving his assent to their promulgation; and, secondly, that by this grant they did not invest the Catholic with any additional power in proselytising from the Protestant Church. When they recollected that there were 150 parishes in Ireland without a single Protestant, the consideration came upon his mind with overpowering force, that such a state of things could not last much longer. He felt certain that measures to which he had pointed must soon press upon the consideration of Parliament—that sound policy required, that justice demanded, and that religious principle did not forbid it. In looking over a Return made upon the subject the other day, he was struck by finding, that while the Episcopal Church in Ireland had received 1,700,000l. from the Imperial purse, quite exclusive of its ordinary revenues and taxes—while the Presbyterian congregations in Ireland, numbering perhaps about as many members as did the Episcopal communion, had received upwards of 865,000l.; the Roman Catholic Church since the Union had only received the small sum of 365,000l., being nothing more nor less than this very grant to Maynooth College. Now, when a people found that the religion in which they believed, and in which they trusted, was put upon this footing, was endowed but with this miserable pittance, could they wonder that animosity, that rancour, that a sore feeling of injustice done, of oppression suffered, should prevail from one end of Ireland to the other? He regretted sincerely the opposition to the grant so generally prevalent; but he believed that when this frenzy of bigotry had passed away—when this puerile cry had become extinct—when this violent feeling had gone down, that there would arise in every breast a still small voice to tell them, in the same accents in which it spoke in the olden time—in the same gentle words—to tell them, to do justice—to learn mercy—to walk humbly—not as Protestant ascendancy men—not as violent and bigoted zealots—but humbly — nay, penitently, before their common God.
§ Mr. Milner Gibson
was glad to observe that the hon. Baronet who had just sat down appeared to see further into the future than the right hon. Secretary for Ireland. He rejoiced to have heard that hon. Gentleman acknowledge that the day was not far distant when it would be necessary for Parliament to take into their consideration the question of the constitution of the Irish Church — meaning thereby not its religion, but its property. He owned that he had been surprised at the doctrines laid down by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland. He talked of the property of the Irish Church as having something like a divine origin or safeguard. The right hon. Gentleman stated that, although there were not even a single individual Protestant in Ireland, still it would be wrong to meddle with the revenues of the Irish Church. But if so, he (Mr. M. Gibson) wished to know how they were to explain having allowed 25 per cent. of these revenues to slip into the rental of Irish landlords, and be thus diverted from their purpose of aiding in the spiritual instruction of the Irish people? And how, again, were they to explain having permitted the church cess and other taxes to be taken from the land, and paid from those funds of this Protestant Established Church which they had left for Ecclesiastical Commissioners to administer. As to the proposition of his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, it would be right that he should first admit the propriety of endowing Maynooth at all, before he could consent to do it from the funds to which his hon. Friend had pointed. It was only upon the grounds that there were State funds, and that the fee simple of the Irish Church was in the State, that he would be justified in appropriating its property to the endowment of Maynooth. On the second reading of the Bill he had had no opportunity of stating his views upon the Government scheme. He would, however, take this opportunity of saying, that he quite agreed with the view set forth by his hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Mr. Cobden) — when he said that this was no theological or religious question. He viewed it as an educational question; and he felt himself justified in assisting the College of Maynooth upon the very grounds upon which many of the petitioners who had deluged the House with their objections, opposed the measure. He justified his assistance 1176 upon the ground that civil government should not concern itself in matters of religion. And, therefore, to make the religion of Maynooth the ground of refusal to aid it, was, in point of fact, to adopt the principle that the civil government of a country was to make the religion of a community the ground for granting or refusing certain civil advantages. He contended that the State had an interest in the education of all men. Priests were men, and therefore the State had an interest in the education of priests. They were told to be logical, and he should like to know whether that were not logical. They did not provide theological education for these priests. They simply supplied the funds for their general education and mental training, and he thought that this was an application of the public funds of which the public had the benefit—namely, the elevation of the moral standard of a portion of Her Majesty's subjects. When it was stated that it was wrong to say that no man should pay for the religion of another, he admitted that the argument would be a forcible one, if he could forget the popular opinion as to education generally. Why, in all schools some form of religious instruction was connected with general education; so that if they gave money for education in any form, they were taxing one portion of the people for the education of another. Why, they taxed themselves to teach almost every religion under the sun. Every schoolmaster was a religious teacher. The British and Foreign Schools, for instance, although they did not teach doctrinal religion, at all events taught general Christianity; and therefore, in the vote which they gave to the British and Foreign Schools, they taxed the Jew for the teaching of Christianity. As long as people did insist that all school teaching should be connected with religious instruction, it was quite impossible to vote any money from the public funds for educational purposes without involving themselves in the position of taxing one portion of the community to teach the religion of the other. With regard to the particular proposition of his hon. Friend, he was of opinion that it was a just and proper appropriation of the funds of the Irish Church. He conceived that we were entitled to deal with the property of the Protestant Church in Ireland as property to supply public uses, and it was for 1177 them to consider what were the best uses to which it could be put. He contended, then, that employing it for educational purposes was employing it in a very legitimate manner; and if the funds of the Church were far more than sufficient to supply spiritual instruction to the Protestant population, he could not understand what objections there could be to applying such a surplus to general purposes. It was all nonsense to talk of the requirements of the Irish Church. Although they might make a show of Protestant clergymen residing in their parishes, yet they could not show that they had provided congregations for them, They could not show that the Protestant population in Ireland was increasing. On the contrary, he believed that the Catholic population was increasing faster, and was every year bearing a larger ratio to the Protestant community than it did the year before. He believed that many who were called Protestants were in reality Roman Catholics. He had heard of a parish in Ireland where there were no Protestants; but when the bishop came down to visit it the clergyman took the precaution to borrow the congregation of his neighbour the Catholic priest, and then asserted that he had a Protestant congregation sufficiently numerous to occupy the time of the Protestant minister. Do what they would for Ireland, so long as the Establishment remained there it must be looked on by the bulk of the population as a badge of conquest and of degradation. He was ready to admit that the Bill lately introduced by the Government was an intimation of a wiser and a better policy being about to be adopted; but the Irish question was not yet solved. The Secretary of State for the Home Department said in the late debate that Protestant ascendancy in the old sense of the word could not be continued. He (Mr. Gibson) said that it should not be continued in any sense of the word. Ascendancy of one portion of a people meant the degradation of the other. How could they expect peace or harmony when they deliberately degraded a large portion of the people? There must be religious equality. They must get rid of the system of "concessions and favours and boons," and there must be a recognition of equal right. They must not talk of granting this favour or that under the influence of intimidation; but of doing that to which the Irish people had a claim— 1178 equality of civil and religious privileges; and in his conscience he believed, if they adopted that principle of legislation, they would amalgamate England with Ireland until they became one whole—a happy and united Kingdom.
§ Sir J. Walsh
said he was an advocate for Church Establishments, considering them to be for the promotion of true religion, and therefore he should oppose the Motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield. He believed, that the success of that Motion would be a fatal blow to existing Establishments, especially to the Established Church in Ireland. The Protestants of Ireland were not to be considered merely in reference to their numbers, but also in reference to their wealth and intelligence. Gentlemen opposite argued as if all Ireland were composed of Roman Catholics, and as if there were no considerable portion of Protestants in that country. It was against that most erroneous and most important delusion he wished to guard the House. Ireland was divided into two important parties. The great difference that existed between the two great classes of Irish society unfortunately led to differences among them. Unfortunately it was the case in that country more than in any other country in the world, that religion was made the watchword of dissension. In legislating for Ireland the object should be, that they should not legislate for one party at the expense of the other. He should say, that at the present moment it was most unwise that any attempt should be made to mar the effect of the boon about to be conferred on one class of the people of Ireland by pressing on the feelings of another class. He regretted that the hon. Member for Sheffield had taken this opportunity to bring forward his Motion, and he thought that he would have acted more judiciously if he had reserved it for some totally different occasion. If they wished to provide in the best way for the peace and tranquillity of Ireland, they should always wish so to act as to reconcile the two great parties in that country to one another. He asked, what must be the probable effect on the Protestant community in Ireland of the success of the Motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield? He admitted at once all that he had urged as to the anomaly of the Irish Church; but it must be recollected that the state of society in Ireland was just as anomalous as the state of the 1179 Irish Church. They must consider the peculiar situation of that country, and recollect the peculiar situation in which the Established Church was placed; and they must recollect that that Church was more adapted than they supposed to the peculiar circumstances of that country. He thought that it should also be borne in mind, that with reference to circumstances of this kind, the Protestants of Ireland looked to their legislation with a great amount of suspicion. The object of the Legislature should be to show, that whilst it was their wish to conciliate the Roman Catholics, that they were determined to maintain and support the interests of the Irish Protestant Church. The hon. Member for Sheffield, in his speech, had appeared to suppose that the right hon. Gentleman had abandoned the ground of compact altogether. [Mr. Ward had not said that the question of compact had been abandoned, but it was not considered an insuperable barrier.] He thought it clear that there was a compact notwithstanding—everything that could characterize a national compact. However, he would not rely upon that ground alone. He had gone to the library to refer to the right hon. Baronet's speech, but he found that the volume which contained it had vanished, and was most probably referred to by the right hon. Gentleman himself. He must say that he thought the present Motion had been brought forward on a most inappropriate occasion, and he did not think that the present was an occasion which would justify the Irish Roman Catholic Members in supporting it. When the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government came forward, at the risk of a great amount of odium and unpopularity, to confer a boon upon the Irish population, he thought it rather an unfortunate occasion for the hon. Member to interpose a Motion of this kind. He thought it much better that the hon. Member would accept the boon in the spirit in which it was offered, rather than attempt to mix it up with other questions. He was sure that any measure calculated to endanger the Protestant Church in Ireland, instead of contributing to promote the peace and tranquillity of Ireland, would have a contrary effect. He hoped, however, that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government would consider himself bound to maintain the Protestant Church in Ireland, and that in any measures he might take for the conciliation 1180 of Ireland, he would take care to do nothing that could in any way shake the stability or impair the interests of that Church.
§ Mr. Macaulay
I was desirous Sir, to catch your eye this evening, because it happens that I have never yet found an opportunity of fully explaining my views on the important subject of the Irish Church. Indeed, I was not in this country when that subject for a time threw every other into the shade, disturbed the whole political world, produced a schism in the Administration of Lord Grey, and overthrew the short Administration of the right hon. Baronet opposite. The Motion now before us opens, I conceive, the whole question. My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, indeed, asks us only to transfer 26,000l. a year from the Established Church of Ireland to the College of Maynooth. But his Motion, I think, resembles an action of ejectment brought for a single farm, with the view of trying the title to a large estate. Whoever refuses to assent to what is now proposed, must be considered as holding the opinion that the property of the Irish Church ought to be held inviolate: and I can scarcely think that any person will vote for what is now proposed, who is not prepared to go very much farther. The point at issue, I take, therefore, to be this—whether the Irish Church, as now constituted, shall be maintained or not? Now, Sir, when a legislator is called upon to decide whether an institution shall be maintained or not, it seems to me that he ought in the first place to examine whether it be a good or a bad institution. This may sound like a truism; but if I am to judge by the speeches which on this and former occasions have been made by Gentlemen opposite, it is no truism, but an exceedingly recondite truth. I, Sir, think the Established Church of Ireland a bad institution. I will go farther. I am not speaking in anger, or with any wish to excite anger in others; I am not speaking with rhetorical exaggeration—I am calmly and deliberately expressing in the only appropriate terms an opinion which I formed many years ago; which all my observations and reflections have confirmed; and which I am prepared to support by reasons—when I say that of all the institutions now existing in the civilized world, the Established Church of Ireland seems to me the most absurd. I cannot help thinking that the speeches of those who defend this Church, suffice of themselves 1181 to prove that my views are just. For who ever heard anybody defend it on its merits? Has any Gentleman to-night defended it on its merits? We are told of the Roman Catholic oath, as if that oath, whatever be its construction, whatever be the extent of the obligation which it lays on the consciences of those who take it, could possibly prove this Church to be a good thing. We are told that Catholics of note, both laymen and divines, fifty years ago, declared that, if they were relieved from the disabilities under which they then lay, they should willingly see the Church of Ireland in possession of all its endowments; as if anything that anybody said fifty years ago could absolve us from the plain duty of doing what is now best for the country. We are told of the Fifth Article of Union; as if the Fifth Article of Union were more sacred than the Fourth. Surely, if there be any Article of the Union which ought to be regarded as inviolable, it is the Fourth, which settles the number of Members whom Great Britain and Ireland respectively are to send to Parliament. Yet the provisions of the Fourth Article have been altered with the almost unanimous assent of all parties in the State. The change was proposed by the noble Lord who is now Secretary for the Colonies. It was supported by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, and by other Members of the present Administration. And so far were the opponents of the Reform Bill from objecting to this infraction of the Treaty of Union, that they were disposed to go still farther. I well remember the night on which we debated the question, whether Members should be given to Finsbury, Marylebone, Lambeth, and the Tower Hamlets. On that occasion, the Tories attempted to seduce the Irish Reformers from us, by promising that Ireland should have a share of the plunder of the metropolitan districts. After this, Sir, I must think it childish in Gentlemen opposite to appeal to the Fifth Article of Union. With still greater surprise, did I hear the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland say, that if we adopt this Amendment, we shall make all landed and funded property insecure. I am really ashamed to answer such an argument. Nobody proposes to touch any vested interest; and surely it cannot be necessary for me to point out to the right hon. Gentleman the distinction between property in which some person has a vested interest, and property in which no person has a vested 1182 interest. That distinction is part of the very rudiments of political science. Then the right hon. Gentleman quarrels with the form of the Amendment. Why, Sir, perhaps a more convenient form might have been adopted. But is it by cavils like these that a great institution should be defended? And who ever heard the Established Church of Ireland defended except by cavils like these? Who ever heard any of her advocates take the manly, the statesmanlike course? Who ever heard any of her advocates say—"I defend this institution because it is a good institution: the ends for which an Established Church exists are such and such: and I will show you that this Church attains those ends?" Nobody says this. Nobody has the hardihood to say it. What divine, what political speculator, who has written in defence of ecclesiastical establishments, ever defended such establishments on grounds which will support the Church of Ireland? What panegyric has ever been pronounced on the Churches of England and Scotland, which is not a satire on the Church of Ireland? What traveller comes among us, who is not moved to wonder and derision by the Church of Ireland? What foreign writer on British affairs, whether European or American, whether Protestant or Catholic, whether Conservative or Liberal, whether partial to England or prejudiced against England, ever mentions the Church of Ireland, without expressing his amazement that such an establishment should exist among reasonable men? And those who speak thus of it speak justly. Is there anything else like it? Was there ever anything else like it? The world is full of ecclesiastical establishments. But such a portent as this Church of Ireland, is nowhere to be found. Look round the Continent of Europe. Ecclesiastical establishments from the White Sea to the Mediterranean; ecclesiastical establishments from the Wolga to the Atlantic: but nowhere the Church of a small minority enjoying exclusive establishment. Look at America. There you have all forms of Christianity, from Mormonism, if you call Mormonism Christianity, to Romanism. In some places you have have the voluntary system. In some you have several religions connected with the State. In some you have the solitary ascendancy of a single Church. But nowhere from the Arctic Circle to Cape Horn, do you find the church of a small minority exclusively established. Look round our own Empire. We have an 1183 Established Church in England; it is the Church of the majority. There is an Established Church in Scotland. When it was set up it was the church of the majority. A few months ago it was the church of the majority. I am not sure that even, after the late unhappy disruption, it is the Church of the minority. In our Colonies the State does much for the support of religion; but in no Colony, I believe, do we give exclusive support to the religion of the minority. Nay, even in those parts of the Empire where the great body of the population is attached to absurd and immoral superstitions, you have not been guilty of the folly and injustice of calling on them to pay for a Church which they do not want. We have not portioned out Bengal and the Carnatic into parishes, and scattered Christian rectors with stipends and glebes among millions of Pagans and Mahometans. We keep, indeed, a small Christian establishment, or rather three small Christian establishments, Anglican, Presbyterian, and Catholic. But we keep them only for the Christians in our civil and military services; and we leave untouched the revenues of the mosques and temples. In one country alone is to be seen the spectacle of a community of 8,000,000 of human beings, with a Church which is the Church of only 800,000. It has been often said, and has been repeated to-night by the hon. Member for Radnor, that this Church, though it includes only a tenth part of the population, has more than half the wealth of Ireland. But is that an argument in favour of the present system? Is it not the strongest argument that can be urged in favour of an entire change? It is true that there are many cases in which it is fit that property should prevail over number. Those cases may, I think, be all arranged in two classes. One class consists of those cases in which the preservation or improvement of property is the object in view. Thus in a railway company, nothing can be more reasonable than that one proprietor who holds 500 shares should have more power than five proprietors who hold one share each. The other class of cases in which property may justly confer privileges is where superior intelligence is required. Property is indeed but a very imperfect test of intelligence. But, when we are legislating on a large scale, it is perhaps the best which we can apply. For where there is no property, there can very seldom be any mental cultivation. It is on this principle that special jurors who have 1184 to try causes of peculiar nicety are taken from a wealthier order than that which furnishes common jurors. But there cannot be a more false analogy than to reason from these cases to the case of an Established Church. So far is it from being true that in establishing a Church we ought to pay more regard to one rich man than to five poor men, that the direct reverse is the sound rule. We ought to pay more regard to one poor man than to five rich men. For in the first place, the public ordinances of religion are of far more importance to the poor man than to the rich man. I do not mean to say that a rich man may not be the better for hearing sermons and joining in public prayers. But these things are not indispensable to him; and if he is so situated that he cannot have them, he may find substitutes. He has money to buy books, time to study them, understanding to comprehend them. Every day he may commune with the minds of Hooker, Leighton, and Barrow. He therefore stands less in need of the oral instruction of a divine than a peasant who cannot read, or who, if he can read, has no money to procure books, or leisure to peruse them. Such a peasant, unless instructed by word of mouth, can know no more of Christianity than a wild Hottentot. Nor is this all. The poor man not only needs the help of a minister of religion more than the rich man, but is also less able to procure it. If there were no Established Church, people in our rank of life would always be provided with preachers to their mind at an expense which they would scarcely feel. But, when a poor man who can hardly give his children their fill of potatoes, has to sell his pig in order to pay something to his priest, the burden is a heavy one. This is, in fact, the strongest reason for having an established Church in any country. It is the one reason which prevents me from joining with the partisans of the voluntary system. I should think their arguments unanswerable, if the question regarded the upper and middle classes only. If I would keep up the Established Church of England, it is not for the sake of lords, and baronets, and country gentlemen of 5,000l. a year, and rich bankers in the city. I know that such people will always have churches, aye, and cathedrals, and organs, and rich communion plate. The person about whom I am uneasy is the working man; the man who would find it difficult to pay even 5s. or 10s. a year out of his small earnings for the ministrations of religion. What is to 1185 become of him under the voluntary system? Is he to go without religious instruction altogether? That we should all think a great evil to himself and a great evil to society. Is he to pay for it out of his slender means? That would be a heavy tax. Is he to be dependent on the liberality of others. That is a somewhat precarious and a somewhat humiliating dependence. I prefer, I own, that system under which there is, in the rudest and most secluded districts, a house of God, where public worship is performed after a fashion acceptable to the great majority of the community, and where the poorest may partake of the ordinances of religion, not as an alms, but as a right. But does this argument apply to a Church like the Church of Ireland? It is not necessary on this occasion to decide whether the arguments in favour of ecclesiastical establishments, or the arguments in favour of the voluntary system, be the stronger. There are weighty considerations on both sides. Balancing them as well as I can, I think that, as respects England, the preponderance is on the side of the Establishment. But, as respects Ireland, there is no balancing. All the weights are in one scale. All the arguments which incline us against the Church of England, and all those arguments which incline us in favour of the Church of England, are alike arguments against the Church of Ireland; against the Church of the few, against the Church of the wealthy, against the Church which, reversing every principle on which a Christian Church should be founded, fills the rich with its good things, and sends the hungry empty away. One view which has repeatedly, both in this House and out of it, been taken of the Church of Ireland, seems to deserve notice. It is admitted, as indeed it could not well be denied, that this Church does not perform the functions which are everywhere else expected from similar institutions; that it does not instruct the body of the people; that it does not administer religious consolation to the body of the people. But, it is said, we must regard this Church as an aggressive Church, a proselytizing Church, a Church militant among spiritual enemies. Its office is to spread Protestantism over Munster and Connaught. I remember well that, eleven years ago, when Lord Grey's Government proposed to reduce the number of Irish bishoprics, this language was held. It was acknowledged that there were more bishops than the number of persons then in 1186 communion with the Established Church required. But that number, we were assured, would not be stationary; and the hierarchy, therefore, ought to be constituted with a view to the millions of converts who would soon require the care of Protestant pastors. I well remember the strong expression which was then used by my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford. We must, he said, make allowance for the expansive force of Protestantism. A few nights ago a noble Lord for whom I, in common with the whole House, feel the greatest respect, the Member for Dorsetshire, spoke of the missionary character of the Church of Ireland. Now, Sir, if such language had been held at the Council Board of Queen Elizabeth when the constitution of this Church was first debated there, there would have been no cause for wonder. Sir William Cecil or Sir Nicholas Bacon might very naturally have said, "There are few Protestants now in Ireland, it is true. But when we consider how rapidly the Protestant theology has spread, when we remember that it is little more than forty years since Martin Luther began to preach against indulgences, and when we see that one half of Europe is now emancipated from the old superstition, we may reasonably expect that the Irish will soon follow the example of the other nations which have embraced the doctrines of the Reformation." Cecil, I say, and his colleagues might naturally entertain this expectation, and might without absurdity make preparations for an event which they regarded as in the highest degree probable. But we who have seen this system in full operation from the year 1560 to the year 1845, ought to have been taught better, unless indeed we are past all teaching. Two hundred and eighty-five years has this Church been at work. What could have been done for it in the way of authority, privileges, endowments, which has not been done? Did any other set of bishops and priests in the world ever receive so much for doing so little? Nay, did any other set of bishops and priests in the world ever receive half as much for doing twice as much? And what have we to show for all this lavish expenditure? What but the most zealous Roman Catholic population on the face of the earth? Where you were 100 years ago, where you were 200 years ago, there you are still, not victorious over the domain of the old faith, but painfully and with dubious success defending 1187 your own frontier, your own English pale. Sometimes a deserter leaves you. Sometimes a deserter steals over to you. Whether your gains or losses of this sort be the greater I do not know, nor is it worth while to inquire. On the great solid mass; of the Roman Catholic population you have made no impression whatever. There they are, as they were ages ago, ten to one, against the members of your Established Church. Explain this to me. I speak to you, the zealous Protestants on the other side of the House. Explain this to me on Protestant principles. If I were a Roman Catholic, I could easily account for the phenomena. If I were a Roman Catholic, I should content myself with saying that the; mighty hand and the outstretched arm had been put forth according to the promise in defence of the unchangeable Church; that he who in the old time turned into blessings the curses of Balaam, and smote the host of Sennacherib, had signally confounded the arts and the power of heretic statesmen. But what is a Protestant to say? He holds that, through the whole of this long conflict during which ten generations of men have been born and have died, reason and Scripture have been on the side of the Established Clergy. Tell us then what we are to say of this strange war, in which reason and Scripture, backed by wealth, by dignity, by the help of the civil power, have been found no match for oppressed and destitute error? The fuller our conviction that our doctrines are right, the fuller, if we are rational men, must be our conviction that our tactics have been wrong, and that we have been encumbering the cause which we meant to aid. Observe, it is not only the comparative number of Roman Catholics and Protestants that may justly furnish us with matter for serious reflection. The quality as well as the quantity of Irish Romanism deserves to be considered. Is there any other country inhabited by a mixed population of Catholics and Protestants, any other country in which Protestant doctrines have long been freely promulgated from the press and from the pulpit, where the Roman Catholic spirit is so strong as in Ireland? I believe not. The Belgians are generally considered as very stubborn and zealous Roman Catholics. But I do not believe that in either stubbornness or zeal they equal the Irish. And this is the fruit of three centuries of Protestant archbishops, bishops, archdeacons, deans, and rectors. And yet where is the wonder? 1188 Is this a miracle that we should stand aghast at it? Not at all. It is a result which human prudence ought to have long ago foreseen and long ago averted. It is the natural succession of effect to cause. If you do not understand it, it is because you do not understand what the nature and operation of a Church is. There are parts of the machinery of Government which may be just as efficient when they are hated as when they are loved. An army, a navy, a preventive service, a police force, may do their work whether the public feeling be with them or against them. Whether we dislike the corn laws or not, your custom-houses and your coast-guard keep out foreign corn. The multitude at Manchester were not the less effectually dispersed by the yeomanry, because the interference of the yeomanry excited the bitterest indignation. There the object was to produce a material effect; the material means were sufficient; and nothing more was required. But a Church exists for moral ends. A Church exists to be loved, to be reverenced, to be heard with docility, to reign in the understandings and hearts of men. A Church which is abhorred, is useless or worse than useless; and to quarter a hostile Church on a conquered people, as you would quarter a soldiery, is therefore the most absurd of mistakes. This mistake our ancestors committed. They posted a Church in Ireland just as they posted garrisons in Ireland. The garrisons did their work. They were disliked. But that mattered not. They had their forts and their arms, and they kept down the aboriginal race. But the Church did not do its work. For to that work the love and confidence of the people were essential. I may remark in passing, that, even under more favourable circumstances, a parochial priesthood is not a good engine for the purpose of making proselytes. The Church of Rome, which, whatever we may think of her ends, has shown no want of sagacity in the choice of means, knows this well. When she makes a great aggressive movement—and many such movements she has made with signal success—she employs not her parochial clergy, but a very different machinery. The business of her parish priests is to defend and govern what has been won. It is by the religious orders, and especially by the Jesuits, that the great acquisitions have been made. In Ireland your parochial clergy lay under two great disadvantages. They were endowed, and they were hated; so 1189 richly endowed that few among them cared to turn missionaries; so bitterly hated that those few had but little success. They long contented themselves with receiving the emoluments arising from their benefices, and neglected all those means to which, in other parts of Europe, Protestantism had owed its victory. It is well known that of all the means employed by the Reformers of Germany, of England, and of Scotland, for the purpose of moving the public mind, the most powerful was the Bible translated into vernacular tongues. In Ireland the Protestant Church had been established near half a century before the New Testament was printed in Erse. The whole Bible was not printed in Erse till this Church had existed more than 120 years. Nor did the publication at last take place under the patronage of the lazy and wealthy hierarchy. The expense was defrayed by a layman, the illustrious Robert Boyle. So things went on century after century. Swift, more than 100 years ago, describes the prelates of his country as men gorged with wealth and sunk in indolence, whose chief business was to bow and [...]ob at the Castle. The only spiritual function, he says, which they performed was ordination; and when he saw what persons they ordained, he doubted whether it would not be better that they should neglect that function as they neglected every other. Those, Sir, are now living who can well remember how the revenues of the richest see in Ireland were squandered on the shores of the Mediterranean by a bishop, whose epistles, very different compositions from the epistles of St. Peter and St. John, may be found in the correspondence of Lady Hamilton. Such abuses as these called forth no complaint, no reprimand. And all this time the true pastors of the people—meanly fed and meanly clothed, frowned upon by the law, exposed to the insults of every petty squire who gloried in the name of Protestant, were to be found in miserable cabins, amidst filth, and famine, and contagion, instructing the young, consoling the miserable, holding up the crucifix before the eyes of the dying. Is it strange that, under such circumstances, the Roman Catholic religion should have been constantly becoming dearer and dearer to an ardent and sensitive people, and that your Established Church should have been constantly sinking lower and lower in their estimation? I do not of course hold the living clergy of the Irish Church answerable for the faults of their predecessors. 1190 God forbid! To do so would be the most flagitious injustice. I know that a salutary change has taken place. I have no reason to doubt that in learning and regularity of life the Protestant clergy of Ireland are on a level with the clergy of England. But in the way of making proselytes they do as little as those who preceded them. An enmity of 300 years separates the nation from those who should be its teachers. In short, it is plain that the mind of Ireland has taken its ply, and is not to be bent in a different direction, or, at all events, is not to be so bent by your present machinery. Well, then, this Church is inefficient as a missionary Church. But there is yet another end which, in the opinion of some eminent men, a church is meant to serve. That end has been often in the minds of practical politicians. But the first speculative politician who distinctly pointed it out was Mr. Hume. Mr. Hume, as might have been expected from his known opinions, treated the question merely as it related to the temporal happiness of mankind; and, perhaps, it may be doubted whether he took quite a just view of the manner in which even the temporal happiness of mankind is affected by the restraints and consolations of religion. He reasoned thus:—It is dangerous to the peace of society that the public mind should be violently excited on religious subjects. If you adopt the voluntary system, the public mind will always be so excited. For every preacher, knowing that his bread depends on his popularity, seasons his doctrine high, and practises every art for the purpose of obtaining an ascendancy over his hearers. But when the Government pays the minister of religion, he has no pressing motive to inflame the zeal of his congregation. He will probably go through his duties in a somewhat perfunctory manner. His power will not be very formidable; and such as it is, it will be employed in support of that order of things under which he finds himself so comfortable. Now, Sir, it is not necessary to inquire whether Mr. Hume's doctrine be sound or unsound. For, sound or unsound, it furnishes no ground on which you can rest the defence of the institution which we are now considering. It is evident that by establishing in Ireland the Church of the minority in connexion with the State, you have produced, in the very highest degree, all those evils which Mr. Hume considered as inseparable from the voluntary system. You may go all 1191 over the world without finding another country where religious differences take a form so dangerous to the peace of society; where the common people are so much under the influence of their priests; or where the priests who teach the common people are so completely estranged from the civil Government. And now, Sir, I will sum up what I have said. For what end does the Church of Ireland exist? Is that end the instruction and solace of the great body of the people? You must admit that the Church of Ireland has not attained that end? Is the end which you have in view the conversion of the great body of the people from the Roman Catholic religion to a purer form of Christianity? You must admit that the Church of Ireland has not attained that end. Or do you propose to yourselves the end contemplated by Mr. Hume, the peace and security of civil society? You must admit that the Church of Ireland has not attained that end? In the name of common sense, then, tell us what good end this Church has attained; or suffer us to conclude, as I am forced to conclude, that it is emphatically a bad institution. It does not, I know, necessarily follow that, because an institution is bad, it is therefore to be immediately destroyed. Sometimes a bad institution takes a strong hold on the hearts of mankind, intertwines its roots with the very foundations of society, and is not to be removed without serious peril to order, law, and property. For example, I hold polygamy to be one of the most pernicious practices that exist in the world. But if the Legislative Council of India were to puss an Act prohibiting polygamy, I should think that they were out of their senses. Such a measure would bring down the vast fabric of your Indian Empire with one crash. But is there any similar reason for dealing tenderly with the Established Church of Ireland? That Church, Sir, is not one of those bad institutions which ought to be spared because they are popular, and because their fall would injure good institutions. It is, on the contrary, so odious, and its vicinage so much endangers valuable parts of our polity, that even if it were in itself a good institution, there would be strong reasons for giving it up. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last told us that we cannot touch this Church without endangering the Legislative Union. Sir, I have given my best attention to this important point, and have arrived at a very different conclusion. The question to be determined is this—What is the best way of preserving 1192 political union between countries in which different religions prevail? With respect to this question we have, I think, all the light which history can give us. There is no sort of experiment described by Lord Bacon which we have not tried. Inductive philosophy is of no value if we cannot trust to the lessons derived from the experience of more than 200 years. England has long been closely connected with two countries less powerful than herself, and differing from herself in religion. The Scottish people are Presbyterians; the Irish people are Roman Catholics. We determined to force the Anglican system on both countries. In both countries great discontent was the result. At length Scotland rebelled. Then Ireland rebelled. The Scotch and Irish rebellions, taking place at a time when the public mind of England was greatly and justly excited, produced the Great Rebellion here, and the downfal of the Monarchy, of the Church, and of the Aristocracy. After the Restoration we again tried the old system. During twenty-eight years we persisted in the attempt to force Prelacy on the Scotch; and the consequence was, during those twenty-eight years Scotland exhibited a frightful spectacle of misery and depravity. The history of that period is made up of oppression and resistance, of insurrections, barbarous punishments, and assassinations. One day a crowd of zealous rustics stand desperately on their defence, and repel the dragoons. Next day the dragoons scatter and hew down the flying peasantry. One day the knee-bones of a wretched Covenanter are beaten flat in that accursed boot. Next day the Lord Primate is dragged out of his carriage by a band of raving fanatics, and, while screaming for mercy, is butchered at the feet of his own daughter. So things went on, till at last we remembered that institutions are made for men, and not men for institutions. A wise Government desisted from the vain attempt to maintain an Episcopal Establishment in a Presbyterian nation. From that moment the connexion between England and Scotland became every year closer and closer. There were still, it is true, many causes of animosity. There was an old antipathy between the nations, the effect of many blows given and received on both sides. All the greatest calamities that had befallen Scotland had been inflicted by England. The proudest events in Scottish history were victories obtained over England. Yet all angry feelings died 1193 rapidly away. The union of the nations became complete. The oldest man living does not remember to have heard any demagogue breathe a wish for separation. Do you believe that this would have happened if England had, after the Revolution, persisted in attempting to force the surplice and the Prayer Book on the Scotch? I tell you that if you had adhered to the mad scheme of producing a religious union with Scotland, you never would have had a cordial political union with her. At this very day you would have had monster meetings on the north of the Tweed, and another Conciliation Hall, and another repeal button, with the motto, "Nemo me impune lacessit." In fact, England never would have become the great power that she is. For Scotland would have been not an addition to the effective strength of the Empire, but a deduction from it. As often as there was a war with France or Spain, there would have been an insurrection in Scotland. Our country would have sunk into a kingdom of the second class. One such Church as that about which we are now debating is a serious encumbrance to the greatest empire. Two such churches no empire could bear. You continued to govern Ireland during many generations as you had governed Scotland in the days of Lauderdale and Dundee. And see the results. Ireland has remained, indeed, a part of your Empire. But you know her to be a source of weakness rather than of strength. Her misery is a reproach to you. Her discontent doubles the dangers of war. Can you, with such facts before you, doubt about the course which you ought to take? Imagine a physician with two patients, both afflicted with the same disease. He applies the same sharp remedies to both. Both become worse and worse with the same inflammatory symptoms. Then he changes his treatment of one case, and gives cordials. The sufferer revives, grows better day by day, and is at length restored to perfect health. The other patient is still subjected to the old treatment, and becomes constantly more and more disordered. How would a physician act in such a case? And are not the principles of experimental philosophy the same in politics as in medicine? Therefore, Sir, I am fully prepared to take strong measures with regard to the Established Church of Ireland. It is not necessary for me to say precisely how far I would go. I am aware that it may be necessary, in this as in other cases, to consent to a compromise. But the more 1194 complete the reform which may be proposed, provided always that vested rights be, as I am sure they will be, held strictly sacred, the more cordially shall I support it. That some reform is at hand I cannot doubt. In a very short time we shall see the evils which I have described mitigated, if not entirely removed. A Liberal Administration would make this concession to Ireland from a sense of justice. A Conservative Administration will make it from a sense of danger. The right hon. Baronet has given the Irish a lesson which will bear fruit. It is a lesson which rulers ought to be slow to teach; for it is one which nations are not slow to learn. We have repeatedly been told by acts—we are now told almost in express words—that agitation and intimidation are the means which ought to be employed by those who wish for redress of grievances from the party now in power. Such, indeed, has too long been the policy of England towards Ireland; but it was surely never before avowed with such indiscreet frankness. Every epoch which is remembered with pleasure on the other side of St. George's Channel, coincides with some epoch which we here consider as disastrous and perilous. To the American war and the volunteers the Irish Parliament owed its independence. To the French revolutionary war the Irish Roman Catholics owed the elective franchise. It was in, vain that all the great orators and statesmen of two generations exerted themselves to remove the Roman Catholic disabilities—Burke, Fox, Pitt, Windham, Grenville, Grey, Plunkett, Wellesley, Grattan, Canning, Wilberforce—argument and expostulation were fruitless. At length pressure of a stronger kind was boldly and skilfully applied; and soon all difficulties gave way. The Catholic Association—the Clare election—the dread of civil war, produced the Emancipation Act. Again, the cry of No Popery was raised. That cry succeeded. A faction which had reviled in the bitterest terms the mild administration of Whig Viceroys, and which was pledged to the wholesale disfranchisement of the Roman Catholics, rose to power. One leading member of that faction had drawn forth loud cheers by declaiming against the minions of Popery. Another had designated 6,000,000 of Irish Catholics as aliens. A third had publicly declared his conviction, that a time was at hand when all Protestants of every persuasion would find it necessary to combine firmly against the 1195 encroachments of Romanism. From such men we expected nothing but oppression and intolerance. We are agreeably disappointed to find that a series of conciliatory measures is brought before us. But, in the midst of our delight, we cannot refrain from asking for some explanation of so extraordinary a change. We are told in reply, that the monster meetings of 1843 were very formidable, and that our relations with America are in a very unsatisfactory state. The public opinions of Ireland are to be consulted—the religion of Ireland is to be treated with respect, not because equity and humanity plainly enjoin that course—for equity and humanity enjoined that course as plainly when you were calumniating Lord Normanby, and hurrying forward your Registration Bill; but because Mr. O'Connell and Mr. Polk have between them made you very uneasy. Sir, it is with shame, with sorrow, and, I will add, with dismay, that I listen to such language. I have hitherto disapproved of the monster meetings of 1843. I have disapproved of the way in which Mr. O'Connell and some other Irish Representatives have seceded from this House. I should not have chosen to apply to those Gentlemen the precise words which were used on a former occasion by the hon. and learned Member for Bath. But I agreed with him in substance. I thought it highly to the honour of my right hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvon, and of my hon. Friends the Members for Kildare, for Roscommon, and for the city of Water-ford, that they had the moral courage to attend the service of this House, and to give us the very valuable assistance which they are, in various ways, so well qualified to afford. But what am I to say now? How can I any longer deny that the place where an Irish Gentleman may best serve his country is Conciliation Hall? How can I expect that any Irish Unman Catholic can be very sorry to learn that our foreign relations are in an alarming state, or can rejoice to hear that all danger of war has blown over? I appeal to the Conservative Members of this House. I ask them whither we are hastening? I ask them what is to be the end of a policy of which it is the principle to give nothing to justice, and everything to fear? We have been accused of truckling to Irish agitators. But I defy you to show us that we ever made or are now making to Ireland a single concession which was not in strict conformity with our known principles. You 1196 may therefore trust us, when we tell you that there is a point where we will stop. Our language to the Irish is this:—"You asked for emancipation: it was agreeable to our principles that you should have it; and we assisted you to obtain it. You wished for a municipal system, as popular as that which exists in England: we thought your wish reasonable, and did all in our power to gratify it. This grant to Maynooth is, in our opinion, proper; and we will do our best to obtain it for you, though it should cost us our popularity and our seats in Parliament. The Established Church in your island as now constituted, is a grievance of which you justly complain. We will strive to redress that grievance. The Repeal of the Union we regard as fatal to the Empire: and we never will consent to it; never, though the country should be surrounded by dangers as great as those which threatened her when her American Colonies, and France, and Spain, and Holland, were leagued against her, and when the armed neutrality of the Baltic disputed her maritime rights; never, though another Bonaparte should pitch his camp in sight of Dover Castle; never till all has been staked and lost; never till the four quarters of the world have been convulsed by the last struggle of the great English people for their place among the nations." This, Sir, is the true policy. When you give, give frankly. When you withhold, withhold resolutely. Then what you give is received with gratitude; and, as for what you withhold, men, seeing that to wrest it from you is no safe or easy enterprise, cease to hope for it, and, in time, cease to wish for it. But there is a way of so withholding as merely to excite desire, and of so giving as merely to excite contempt; and that way the present Ministry has discovered. Is it possible for me to doubt that in a few months the same machinery which extorted the Emancipation Act, and which has extorted the Bill before us, will again be put in motion. Who shall say what will be the next sacrifice? For my own part I firmly believe that, if the present Ministers remain in power five years longer, and if we should have—which God avert!—a war with France or America, the Established Church of Ireland will be given up. The right hon. Baronet will come down to make a proposition conceived in the very spirit of the Motions which have repeatedly been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield. He will again be deserted 1197 by his followers—he will again be dragged through his difficulties by his opponents. Some honest Lord of the Treasury may determine to quit his office rather than belie all the professions of a life. But there will be little difficulty in finding a successor ready to change all his opinions at twelve hours' warning. I may, perhaps, while cordially supporting the Bill, again venture to say something about consistency, and about the importance of maintaining a high standard of political morality. The right hon. Baronet will again tell me, that he is anxious only for the success of his measure, and that he does not choose to reply to taunts. And the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer will produce Hansard, will read to the House my speech of this night, and will most logically argue that I ought not to reproach the Ministers with their inconsistency; seeing that I had, from my knowledge of their temper and principles, predicted to a tittle the nature and extent of that inconsistency. Sir, I have thought it my duty to brand with strong terms of reprehension the practice of conceding in time of public danger, what is obstinately withheld in time of public security. I am prepared, and have long been prepared, to grant much, very much, to Ireland. But if the Repeal Association were to dissolve itself to-morrow—and if the next steamer were to bring news that all our differences with the United States were adjusted in the most honourable and friendly manner—I would grant to Ireland neither more nor less than I would grant if we were on the eve of a rebellion like that of 1798; if war were raging all along the Canadian frontier; and if thirty French sail of the line were confronting our fleet in St. George's Channel. I give my vote from my heart and soul for the Amendment of my hon. Friend. He calls on us to make to Ireland a concession, which ought in justice to have been made long ago, and which may be made with grace and dignity even now. I well know that you will refuse to make it now. I know as well, that you will make it hereafter. You will make it as every concession to Ireland has been made. You will make it when its effect will be not to appease, but to stimulate agitation. You will make it when it will be regarded, not as a great act of national justice, but as a confession of national weakness. You will make it in such a way, and at such a time, that there will be but too much reason to doubt whether more mischief has 1198 been done by your long refusal, or by your tardy and enforced compliance.
§ Sir J. Graham
If, Sir, I could have consulted with propriety my own feelings, or thought it consistent with my duty, I should have wished upon the present occasion not to obtrude myself upon the House. In reference to this subject, I have upon former occasions spoken frequently and at great length; and I have now to offer very little that is new upon this subject. It is, therefore, with very great reluctance that I now obtrude myself on the House, and I should have been well content to continue silent; but the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has taken his seat, and the attack he has made on the Government of which I am a Member, render it necessary that I should offer some observations to the House. And, in the first place, I cannot fail at once to address myself to the concluding topics touched upon by the right hon. Gentleman. On a former occasion when the right hon. Gentleman spoke with respect to the present measure of Her Majesty's Government, he said he approved of it—that he did not undervalue its importance—that he admitted the exigency of the circumstances under which it was proposed—and that the measure itself would conduce to the general interests of the Empire. I confess that I was surprised that he should have mingled with the defence of the measure itself so much of party bitterness; but, considering that the right hon. Gentleman is a prominent Member of the party opposite, I did not think, upon the whole, that the public interests were seriously damaged by the course which the right hon. Gentleman took. The speech, however, which the right hon. Gentleman has addressed to the House this night bears, in my mind, another complexion. It was a speech giving utterance, no doubt, to feelings which the right hon. Gentleman seriously entertains; but, coming from a person of his authority and high station, it appears to me that, in the present aspect of affairs, it is pregnant with evil to the public interests. I must say, with reference to the right hon. Gentleman's remarks on the Repeal of the Union, that in every sentiment he uttered, I, for my own part, most cordially agree. I believe that I am speaking the unanimous sense of the House—I am certainly speaking the resolve of Her Majesty's present Government, and I believe also the resolve of any party that may be entrusted with the conduct of public affairs in this country—I 1199 believe it to be the resolve of this House, speaking the sentiments of the people of Great Britain, and I believe also of the majority of the Irish nation—to oppose, as the right hon. Gentleman said, to the last extremity the Repeal of the Union, although by that resolve the foundations of this great Empire may in a convulsive struggle be shaken, and its stability endangered. In those sentiments of the right hon. Gentleman I cordially agree; but Her Majesty's Government have opened this conciliatory measure because they deem it conducive to the public interests, and especially applicable to the evils of Ireland. I agree also with the right hon. Gentleman, that the rule of Government ought to be frankly to give, or resolutely to oppose what they mean to resist. Now, the right hon. Gentleman says that this measure is extorted from the fears, and does not receive the assent, of Her Majesty's Government. How different were the sentiments of the hon. Gentleman the venerable Member for Middlesex (Mr. Byng), who said that he would not have come down to support this measure if he could have believed that it was extorted from the fears of Her Majesty's Government. I repeat, however, and I know the evidence of the fact is irresistible, that this measure, so far from being extorted from Her Majesty's Government at a recent period, and so far from recent events having led to the determination of the Government—that the measure was announced by them long before, as forming part of their policy for the government of Ireland. I put it to the right hon. Gentleman himself whether he is not aware that, during the last Session of Parliament, my right hon. Friend did announce some such measure as this? Nor is this all. There are persons not politically connected with Her Majesty's Government who were informed of it. I do not hesitate to name them, because it would have been highly impolitic and imprudent in a matter affecting the Roman Catholic hierarchy and the Roman Catholic religion, both as to doctrine and discipline, if Her Majesty's Government had matured their measure without consulting that hierarchy. I distinctly and boldly, because I can with perfect truth, assert that the measure, in its present shape, was so communicated before the end of November, as I think, to the authority to which I have referred. This measure, therefore, was prepared and matured without any reference to the circumstances 1200 to which the right hon. Gentleman has alluded. Nor is that all. The right hon. Gentleman says, whatever may be the state of our foreign relations, this measure is extorted by agitation and by the proceedings of Conciliation Hall. Before the dangerous proceedings of the year 1843 were confronted and overcome by Her Majesty's Government, no inducement whatever would have led us to bring forward this measure; but I say, that the monster meetings have been put down; the persons conducting them were submitted by Her Majesty's Government to the ordinary process of the law. I admit that upon a point of form, but I deny that upon the merits, that conviction was set aside; although the conviction was set aside, the moral effect of the proceedings was not lost. The meetings were not repeated, and law and order have since prevailed in Ireland. Whatever the right hon. Gentleman may state, he has put a false construction upon the feelings which actuated Her Majesty's Government. He has also misunderstood my right hon. Friend, and the terms of his statement, when he announced here, at the end of the former debate, that he was prepared to defend to the utmost British rights unjustly assailed, and that he rejoiced at having sent on the previous night a message of peace to Ireland. I entertain the most confident hopes that no such serious results as the right hon. Gentleman alludes to will arise; but the measure was not introduced with any such view; and I cannot too positively or too peremptorily deny that any such question entered into the consideration of Her Majesty's Government when they proposed this measure. If I have succeeded in proving that the right hon. Gentleman is not authorized in the imputations he has thus cast upon us, I may then appeal to the patriotism of this House, even in the midst of our party divisions, whether this measure of peace, from which the best results may be expected, is to be blasted by the strong expressions and excitement of party feeling in which the right hon. Gentleman has indulged? I do not deny that such appeals may succeed; but I do not envy the feelings of the right hon. Gentleman which could induce him to adopt, on this occasion, such means to obtain a party triumph. Sir, I am bound to acknowledge that it is with great regret that I observe the course taken by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield upon this occasion. What says the hon. Gentleman 1201 upon this question? The hon. Gentleman says that the measure which we have brought forward is a good measure; he says that it is a measure which, upon the whole, he is disposed to support; and yet what is the course which he has now taken? It is, to offer a decided obstruction to the progress of the measure; and may I also be permitted to observe to him, that the course which he has pursued appears to be quite inconsistent with his own sense of propriety? The hon. Gentleman tells us that he had been requested by his own constituents to obstruct the progress of this measure; and what was the answer which he says he gave to that request? Why, he said that he would not be a party to any proceeding which might lead to a waste of the time of this House, and to the lighting up of a flame which might be fatal to the present measure. Now, with respect to a waste of the time of this House, I must say, that I do not see how the hon. Gentleman can hope that the course he has taken will lead to any other result; and with respect to lighting up a flame, it appears to me, after the heat which our proposal has created — and which, as I think, the nature of that proposal does not in any way justify—it appears to me that if the hon. Gentleman were to succeed in his Motion, such a flame would be lighted up in England as would utterly destroy the Government measure. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, have placed the matter now at issue most broadly and fairly before the House. The hon. Member says that the Protestant Church in Ireland is an obtrusive Church—thist it is a badge of conquest on the one hand, and of slavery on the other and the right hon. Gentleman says that the question is not whether you will take from that Church 26,000l. a year, but the real matter now under consideration is no less than this—Is the Protestant Church a nuisance which ought to be abated?—is it so bad in itself that it is no longer to be tolerated? The right hon. Gentleman says that it would be very desirable that some point should be ascertained beyond which Her Majesty's Government, consistently with principle, are not to go. Now I believe that I speak the sentiments of my Colleagues — I am quite sure that I speak my own—when I declare, that neither any consideration of policy, nor any change of opinion, nor any effect produced upon my reason by the 1202 arguments I have heard, can induce me to admit for one moment that the Irish Church is an evil in itself, and that it ought to be abated as a nuisance, or destroyed as a wrong. On the contrary, I am bound to confess, that after all the consideration which I have been able to give to this subject—after all the anxious deliberation which I have bestowed upon it — I am bound to confess, whatever may be the taunts as to inferiority of intellect, and as to religious bigotry, to which that confession may expose me — that all the consideration and deliberation I have bestowed upon the subject, have confirmed me in the opinion that it is the duty of this country to maintain the Protestant Establishment in Ireland. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield observed, that religious scruples and the dislike of a money payment formed a very dangerous combination. But let me be allowed to put it to him and to the House, whether there is no danger in a Parliamentary pledge coupled with a purpose of stripping a national institution of its properly? I do not wish to argue this question simply upon the basis of a compact. I may observe, however, that all that has been urged respecting an implied compact to maintain the College of Maynooth, is weak and indefensible in comparison with the compact under the 5th Article of the Act of Union to maintain the Irish Church. I agree, however, with the hon. Gentleman, and with my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, that, strong as this compact is, there might be circumstances which would render it the imperative duty of the Legislature to deal with the question of the Established Church in Ireland apart from the stipulations of the most solemn compact. But are there not circumstances connected with the passing of that compact which Parliament should seriously take into its consideration in deliberating upon this question? It will be my duty to bring these circumstances, though they have been touched upon by others, very shortly under the recollection of the House. It must be remembered that at the time of the passing of the Act of Union, both Houses of Parliament in Ireland were exclusively Protestant. In forming the compact entered into by the Act of Union, the feelings of those parties were in consequence predominant. Much has been said with regard to historical facts which led to this: I attach great importance to those historical facts. I admit that at the time of the passing of the Act of Union, expectations 1203 had been held out to the Roman Catholics which until a much later period had not been fulfilled; and this circumstance had always great influence on my mind with respect to the necessity of yielding to our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects an equality of civil privileges. I am also bound to state that, at the same period, expectations were held out with respect to the maintenance of the Roman Catholic clergy which it is important that we should not forget. But, on the other hand, it must be remembered that with respect to the maintenance of the Protestant Church in Ireland the promises were express—the declarations were unqualified. The Executive Government of that day, feeling all the weight of that truth which has been stated this evening by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, that the established religion in Ireland was the religion of a minority, had used to the Protestant body in that country this strong argument for the purpose of inducing them to consent to the Union—that their Church would then be incorporated with the Church of England, and that by that incorporation of the two Churches, the Irish Church, which was in itself the Church of a minority, would be greatly strengthened, inasmuch as it would become the Church of a majority of the people of England and of Ireland. Now I really do not wish, in a matter of this kind, to address any taunt to hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. I must say, that I quite agree with the hon. Member for Sheffield that there is, perhaps, no Member of this House who discusses great political questions, such as that which we are now discussing, with more philosophical deliberation — with more marks of an understanding enlightened by practical experience and great historical knowledge—than the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell). I say that un-feignedly; and to his opinion on a matter of this sort, even when I differ from him, I always listen with respect. But the right Gentleman who is now sitting next to him, the Member for Edinburgh, has stated distinctly that the great question we are at present to determine, and which he challenges us to meet, is, not whether we will take something more or less from the Protestant Church in Ireland, but whether it is right or wrong that that Church should be maintained. Now, I know not what may be the present opinion of the noble Lord the Member for London upon that 1204 point; but so late as the year 1838, he gave a deliberate opinion with regard to the maintenance of the Protestant Establishment in Ireland. It appears that up to the year 1838—I know not whether he has since expressed any opinion upon the subject, but it appears that up to the year 1838—the noble Lord was not prepared to go the length of overthrowing the Protestant Church in that country. I shall proceed to read to the House the language used by the noble Lord at the period I have stated. He said,—In Ireland, a vast proportion of the property, and of the members of the learned professions, whose importance cannot be denied, are attached to the Protestant Church; and anything tending to overturn that Church would be looked upon by me as placing them in a state of political inferiority to their fellow-countrymen. We must also remember that the Act of Union made the Irish Church a part of the Establishment of England.Such was the language of the noble Lord; and I have not heard one syllable from him as yet, and I hope I shall never hear one, which could lead me to believe that he is a party to the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, that the Irish Church is an evil which ought to be removed, and that its maintenance can no longer form a part of the policy of this country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh has appealed to the example of America, where there is no establishment whatever; and he has also appealed to the example of many other countries, where there is more than one establishment. But I do not think he can produce a case except the case of America, where the voluntary principle, to which he is himself opposed, prevails, and where there is no establishment for the religion of 800,000 persons, who, from an anomaly if you will, but still from an existing anomaly, are actually in possession of the great bulk of the landed property of the country, and who, as the noble Lord said, comprise much of what is eminent in the learned professions, and who also possess great influence. The right hon. Gentleman is opposed to the voluntary system. The right hon. Gentleman quoted the language of Mr. Hume, although he did not venture to say that he approved of it—that it might be wise to pension a clergy, in the hope of thereby making them lazy; and it appears, upon the whole, that it is the exclusive establishment of the Protestant Church in Ireland which, in the 1205 opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, is wholly indefensible. I do not contend that that Church should alone receive assistance from the State; but what I contend is, that there is no proposition that could be made which would render any other arrangement so impracticable or so impossible as the proposition now made by the hon. Member for Sheffield, that whatever should be given to the Roman Catholic clergy in any shape, whether as a grant to Maynooth or otherwise, must be taken from the Protestant Church. I have always felt that the difficulty of any such arrangement might, by the very assertion of that proposition, be made an impracticability. In 1834, when the hon. Gentleman first mooted his proposition, it was as an abstract resolution; he did not venture to connect it with any practical measure—he moved it only as a proposition, which might be developed at any future time in a practical measure. So in 1835, when the noble Lord moved what has been termed the Appropriation Resolution, it was an abstract resolution, not connected with any practical measure. [Mr. Ward: It was proposed as a part of the Tithe Commutation Act.] I am reminded that it was connected with the Tithe Bill, but that only illustrates my meaning—that the best measure, the most useful and necessary measure, in itself the most desirable, if hampered with this principle, which is repudiated by the great body of the members of the Established Church in England, is so vitiated as to be rendered, in their estimation, utterly inadmissible. What was the course taken with regard to the Tithe Bill? In 1835, on the overthrow of the Government of my right hon. Friend, the noble Lord and his Colleagues succeeded to power under the Administration of Lord Melbourne. In the Government of Lord Grey we had felt the danger and the extreme evil of the tithe system of Ireland, which levied from the occupiers in small sums the annual payment on which the Protestant Church depended for its maintenance; it was felt to be of primary importance that that burden should be removed from the occupier and borne by the owner of the land. No person could be more deeply impressed with this than the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell). In consistency with the abstract principle which he had mooted and carried by a considerable majority, for two years, though most desirous of effecting this great public good, which he believed indispensable for the peace of Ireland, he in 1206 vain endeavoured to carry his Commutation Act; and, in despair, at last, in 1838, notwithstanding all the taunts in which many who acted with him indulged (and I think the hon. Member for Sheffield was not sparing on the occasion), a sense of public duty and public necessity compelled that noble Lord to abandon the appropriation principle, and pass the Tithe Bill without the obstruction of this obnoxious principle ["Hear, hear."] Sir, there may be Members more competent from local personal knowledge to speak to the point, but I must say I thought it not very apt, when the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Macaulay) referred to the conduct of the Protestant clergy in Ireland, to go back to Swift's time, and indulge in vituperation with reference to other days. I believe it is admitted on all hands, though you may object to the maintenance of this Church of the minority, that upon the whole the ministers of that Church do perform their sacred duties in a manner most exemplary, and that they will bear comparison with the clergy of any Church even in circumstances less trying than their own. The right hon. Gentleman asks, is it our object to give religious consolation to the great body of the people? I admit with him, that it is the object of a Church Establishment not so much to minister to the consolation of the rich as to the wants of the poor; but although I am not prepared to deny that there are many parishes in Ireland in which the number of Protest-ants is very small, yet if you are to have a Church established and in connexion with the State, I say that the first characteristic of that establishment is its ubiquity throughout the whole face of the country; and however small the number of the poor in a particular locality, they are entitled to the consolation of the religion favoured by the State, without payment and without inconvenience. But it is asked, is it a missionary Church? I do not wish to dwell upon that point; I will not press it on the attention of the House as a missionary Church; and considering the circumstances in which I am placed, I am not an advocate of that eager zeal for Protestantism, which might not be quite consistent with the peace of that country. But, on the other hand, I do say, that while you uphold that Church, it is only right that it should have a fair opportunity of propagating itself, being brought in juxtaposition with that which is not favoured by the State. Sir, I can understand perfectly the policy of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. 1207 Macaulay), who is prepared to overthrow this Crunch; I dissent from that policy altogether; but I can understand the policy of abolishing the Protestant Establishment in Ireland, and transferring its revenues entirely to the Church of the majority, although I totally dissent from it; but that the noble Lord should think that on the whole it is wise and right to uphold the Protestant Church, and at the same time be a party to a measure to hamper and reduce its means of extending its usefulness and its influence, does appear to me a policy quite unintelligible. To the opinions I have heretofore expressed I decidedly adhere; I cannot imagine any circumstances which would justify the extreme measure advocated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh; and certainly to the proposition now before the House I am distinctly opposed. But I must recall to the recollection of the House one or two facts which are not unimportant. This is the first time within my memory (though this matter has been debated for the last eleven years) that a proposition has been distinctly made to transfer from the Protestant Church any portion of its revenues in aid of the Roman Catholic Church. This proposition has not been positively made before; but at the present time that object has been most unequivocally stated. I heard, in 1834, the most solemn declarations after I had deserted my Colleagues in the Government of Lord Grey, on the part of the noble Earl, that he had never contemplated such a plan; and Lord Brougham also, then the Lord Chancellor of that Government, denied in the most solemn manner any such intention, or any possibility of such a proposition being entertained. I know not whether my right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry is in his place, but he, in 1834, most seriously disclaimed the proposition of the hon. Member for Sheffield. I might, indeed, refer to similar declarations made by other hon. and right hon. Gentlemen. I frankly admit to the right hon. Gentleman that these declarations were made many years ago, under circumstances which may be considered as not absolutely binding. Lord Plunket, the Irish Lord Chancellor of Lord Melbourne's Government, considered the Protestant Church of Ireland as the strongest bond of union between the two countries, and that it would be fatal to the Union to touch that Church. True, changes of opinion may naturally ensue from changes of circumstances; but 1208 I wish not to make any taunt upon that ground. I foresaw indeed, or thought I foresaw, that whatever their intentions might be, this ultimately must be the consequence, at which we are now arrived for the first time. Have I misrepresented in any respect what fell from the right hon. Member for Coventry? I certainly understood him in 1834, upon the question of my hon. Friend for the appropriation of the funds of the Protestant Church in Ireland to the purposes of the Roman Catholic Church there, most unequivocally to deny that he agreed with it. I repeat, I always foresaw, in the event of the support of the Motion of the hon. Gentleman, and much more in the adoption of it, that it must lead to the point at which we are now arrived, that of a direct proposition for a grant to be made out of the funds of the Protestant Church for the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. Subsequent considerations led me more and more to think that such would be the result. I do not wish to carry this argument further; but I conceive, as in the Tithe Question, that this measure is one for the better assurance of the Protestant Church. I consider that the Protestant Church in Ireland should be governed on the same principle as property left in trust for a specific use. I conceive that the use in this case is the spiritual instruction of the Protestant inhabitants of Ireland. I conceive that the property is placed in trust for that purpose. I have not changed my opinion on that point. I adhere confidently, sincerely, and honestly to the opinions I have hitherto expressed; but I wish to promote the most indulgent and the kindest consideration for the wants of my Roman Catholic fellow-subjects. I am most anxious that their spiritual wants should be supplied, and that their priests should be educated so as to be properly qualified for their office. But to perform that task it is not necessary to take the course proposed by the hon. Member for Sheffield, to which I am decidedly opposed.
§ Mr. Roebuck
When a person of the known ability of the right hon. Gentleman undertook to answer a speech of the character and class such as that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, it was expected by the House and the world at large that something like an attempt should have been made to answer the arguments adduced by the right hon. Gentleman. But it did not strike him (Mr. Roebuck), and he did not think it 1209 would strike any one, that the right hon. Gentleman had at all attempted to answer the arguments of the right hon. Member. The speech of the right hon. Baronet was an utter failure. The weakness of the argument which he had to support was so great, and the cause which he had to advocate was so bad, that he found it utterly crumble and fall before the powerful reasoning of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the city of Edinburgh. That right hon. Gentleman stated that the Irish Protestant Church at this time was admitted to be a bad institution, because it was supported by property set apart for purposes which at this time were entirely without value. It was property set apart for the purposes of a Protestant Church, which Protestant Church, in a large portion of Ireland, did not exist. It was necessary the House should on this occasion understand the meaning of the word Church. People generally combined the word with the idea of a Church Establishment; others combined it with ideas of the payment of a clergy, and with their giving the spiritual consolation to a congregation. Others combined it with the idea of united congregations, constituting a Church in unison with the pastors who were appointed to give that religious consolation; but in Ireland it was notorious that in a large number of the parishes there was no Protestant congregation; and under these circumstances, it now came to be considered, as the right hon. Gentleman had said, that this property was set apart for Protestant uses, and the uses in this case having entirely failed, how were they best to apply the property which was in their hands? What was the Government doing? The Government said that it was a matter of the highest importance (and he should apply himself to that point presently) that this grant should be made. The question raised by the hon. Member for Sheffield was, whence should the proceeds come by which this grant should be supplied? Was it to come from the pockets of the hardworking people of England, or was it to come from that large portion of property which we had in our hands, arising from the fact that its original appropriation for Protestant uses had entirely failed? Me (Mr. Roebuck) would not talk of religious feelings. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he did not wish to introduce any religious feelings into this discussion. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman ought to 1210 be the last person to excite Protestant animosities in this matter. But what did the right hon. Gentleman do? He turned round upon those on the Opposition side of the House who had supported him, finding that that support had secured him and his party, and said—"Ay, now you are coming to touch the Protestants of England—you are about to excite a Protestant feeling," and then the right hon. Gentleman himself blew the bellows to bring up the flame. He attempted to frighten them from mooting the question, they having supported him throughout the whole proceeding at a great risk to themselves, and to the great party to which they belonged. This was certainly a strange return for the support they had given the right hon. Gentleman and his friends. Protestant Establishment! What was the present Protestant Establishment in Ireland? Had it not been faithfully described by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Macaulay), and had the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) attempted to answer that description? Was it not at the present time the great ecclesiastical enormity of Europe? Was it not a Church, the best paid for the least service in the world? Was that description answered by the right hon. Baronet? Not at all. What was his reply? With a faint murmur he said, "Beware lest you arouse the Protestant hostility of England." How came it that the right hon. Gentleman raised that question upon this grant to Maynooth? They were prepared to meet all that was wrong—all that was bigoted—all that was unjust in the Protestant feeling in England; but they were not prepared to support the strong feeling of justice in the English people, who required that that portion of justice which was done to Ireland should be done at the least expense of suffering to the great body of the community. This was the grand distinguishing mark between the two courses of policy on the two different sides of the House. It was the shuffling, wavering, paltering policy (he had authority for the use of that word), it was the policy of exigency on the one side, while, on the other, it was a policy founded on feelings of kindness and conciliation towards the people of Ireland, and a love of freedom, and a spirit of liberality—feelings which had induced him, and those on his side of the House, to give their cordial support to this measure. He wanted to know what answer he had himself received? 1211 On one occasion he had thought proper to remark on the absence of Irish Members; and a reply had been attempted by the right hon Member for Dungarvon (Mr. Sheil), pointed, brilliant, eloquent, but not effective. The language of the hon. and learned Member for Cork had always been, "Agitate; make the Government fear you. Do not go to England. Agitate—come with me to monster meetings—frighten the Prime Minister—and let the shadow of a shade of war be perceptible in any part of the world, and Ireland will have justice done to her." Such had been the constant language of the hon. and learned Member for Cork; and what had the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) done but almost to reiterate the expressions, and as it were cast himself down in a state of prostration in the mud and mire of abject humility? The way to obtain anything from a Conservative Minister was not to show him what was just, not to point out a conciliatory remedy for previous maladministration, but to coerce him, to create discontent, to prove that State exigency made it dangerous for him to refuse; and then the moment a small cloud, no bigger than one's hand, appeared in the horizon, but concession followed as a matter of course. He and others felt that on this occasion great injustice had been done to the people of England; he had hoped that the Minister was not yielding to terror or to intimidation, but proceeding upon the great principles of justice and fairness. What, however, appeared to be the truth? That from the time of the State prosecutions, if not before, they had been basely submitting to fears. Out of those prosecutions they had escaped by a lucky turn in another place; but the Government was in state of greater trepidation than ever, and now made the grant to Maynooth as a sop to the Cerberus of Cork. [Cheers.] He was not using his own terms, but those of the right hon. Baronet. If he had not descried the small cloud of war in the west, he would not yet have made the concession. This was the fair interpretation of the language of the right hon. Baronet. He was afraid of a war with America: that was the plain English of the matter. Being frightened by a possible rebellion in Ireland, and a possible war with the United States, the right hon. Baronet had said to his Colleagues, "Don't you think it better that we should give the Irish a sop?" ["No, no."] Again, he said that these were not his words; he was merely putting a fair gloss 1212 upon the language or the Prime Minister. What had the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department done to-night? He had added to the mischief. To what principle had he appealed? To the Protestant feelings of the people of England. He had said, "I know it ought to be done: the education of the inhabitants of Ireland ought to be provided for, but do not touch the Church Establishment of that country; for the Protestant people of England, with true Protestant feeling, of which I am the exponent, never will allow you to invade it." He was prepared to assert that the Protestant Church of Ireland would not be in the slightest degree injured by the proposal of the hon. Member for Sheffield. The terms Protestant Church of Ireland meant simply the congregations, not the clergy or the revenues. Depend upon it that was the accurate explanation. What had been the argument used by the right hon. Member for Edinburgh? He had applied the celebrated argument of David Hume to the question. He said, "You have small and few Protestant congregations, and a large number of overpaid Protestant priests; and what proof have you that you are supporting the Protestant Church by overpaying the Protestant priesthood?" Was it not indisputable that nine-tenths of the people were Roman Catholic, and that the Protestant congregations were almost solitary in the midst of the Roman Catholics? ["No, no."] Was any Gentleman who cried "No," prepared to let his person be seen at the same time? It was very easy to cry "No," with impunity in the midst of a line of faces, but would any Member stand forward and dispute what he had advanced? Ninth-tenths of the congregations in Ireland were not Protestant, and parish after parish might be pointed out in which there was no Protestant congregation. From the Roman Catholics was raised the revenue for maintaining what was called the Protestant Church. The Protestant Church! No such thing—for maintaining the sinecure Protestant parsons. What was the proposition of the hon. Member for Sheffield? In order that no harm might be done to any human being, he suggested that, when a Protestant clergyman was gathered to his fathers—had lived out a life of uselessness—had done, receiving a large income for doing, nothing, and when the revenue, therefore, came, as it were, into the hands of Parliament, instead of reinstating some other person in his invidious position, the 1213 sum should be applied to the education of the Roman Catholics. The answer of the right hon. Baronet had been only one of the weakest appeals to the violent prejudices of the Protestants it had ever been his misfortune to hear. This was the real ground of resistance—this the true reason why that dominion was to be kept up, which the Prime Minister, only a few nights ago, had admitted force could no longer maintain. And what was that domination but the domination of the Protestant minority? And the most offensive form it could assume was that of the Irish Church Establishment. However Ministers might stand out for it at present, they would soon give way: a little more pressure would produce more concession. They had yielded bit by bit, and too late on every occasion. Whether it regarded England or Ireland, bit by bit concession had been the damning peculiarity of their legislation. They had thus created enemies, while they had done their country no good, and had been perpetually haunting the paths of their predecessors, because they had not the courage to do right of themselves. He had never hitherto expressed hostility to the present Government, but upon broad principles of difference; but after the declaration of the other night it was hopeless to expect anything good from them—but upon compulsion. They would do no justice until they were threatened, and make no concession until it was extorted by terror. Only let the hon. and learned Member for Cork frighten them a little more, and they would grant a little more, and then would be done tardily what ought to have been done speedily. What was wished was not the destruction of the Irish Church, but a fair adjustment of its property to ecclesiastical purposes without injury to a human being. By whom, he should like to know, had the property of the Irish Church been given? It was originally dedicated to Roman Catholic uses, and it had been diverted by Protestants to Protestant purposes, which Protestant purposes had failed. Had it been a trust in law, the Lord Chancellor would have been called upon to apply the money, and why should not Parliament act on the same principle? The Protestant use had died out, and the revenue ought to be devoted to the service of the Irish people. A long endeavour had been made to coerce the right hon. Gentlemen opposite: that struggle commenced about the year 1833, and when out of office the 1214 right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had headed a movement opposed to all concessions of justice and liberality. The Home Secretary had quitted the Government of Lord Grey on the Appropriation Clause; and he (Mr. Roebuck) begged now to ask, what was the difference between the proposition of the Prime Minister and the Appropriation Clause? Was it Protestant principle. What had the right hon. Baronet said a few minutes ago? He had complained that the Motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield would divert from Protestant purposes to exclusively Catholic purposes a portion of the property of the Establishment. That was what the constituency had said of the measure of the Prime Minister, who was quite ready that the money should be wrung from the hard hands of English peasants, if it were not taken from that fictitious entity, the diminution of whose revenue could injure no human being. Now, however, the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) raised the Protestant cry, and those who had supported him only a few nights ago were to be exposed to the fire of the constituency, while he sheltered himself behind cotton bags. If he had said wool bags, it would perhaps have been more appropriate; but whether the one or the other, the Opposition was to bear the brunt of the danger. It became their duty to knock down this screen, and not only to let in the light but the bullets, that those who deceived the people might suffer the consequences. Either this was a great question of principle, or it was not; if it were, it meant this—that an attempt was to be made to educate the people of Ireland in order to render them a component, quiet, and assisting part of this great Empire; for this purpose means were to be used, furnished by the people at large, and instead of that plan the hon. Member for Sheffield showed that there was a portion of the now funds of the Church which, without danger, could be applied to the object, and which might be applied to it if the supporters of the Motion were not turned round by some poor and paltry appeal to religious bigotry, and shifted off evasively by the false pretence that it was an attack upon Protestant principle.
§ Sir Robert Peel
I am very unwilling that the House should separate to-night without my protest against the gross misapprehension and misconstruction of what 1215 fell from me on a former night. When I addressed hon. Members on that occasion, I altogether abstained from party crimination. Having brought forward this measure on the part of Her Majesty's Government, and seeing the manner in which it was received in Ireland, the satisfaction with which it was hailed, I certainly did and do deprecate, with the utmost anxiety, the failure of the proposal. I know perfectly well that it depended upon hon. Gentlemen opposite whether that proposal should or should not be successful; and I think I did, I am sure I ought to have done, and meant to do, ample justice to the motives by which they were influenced. I know perfectly well that it is impossible that many of them could give their support to a measure brought forward by their opponents, without encountering the risk of displeasing their constituents. I think I said on that occasion that there were on that side of the House most honourable examples of men actuated purely by disinterested and public-spirited motives, who without reference to the quarter from which this measure proceeded, were prepared to forfeit now and for ever their seats, rather than contribute to its defeat. I think I made that statement. I do not attempt to arrogate to this Government the credit of this measure. I said, I recollect perfectly well, that it might perhaps be much better that this measure should have proceeded from those who have been the constant and uniform friends of the Roman Catholics. I am prepared for the consequences of the displeasure which has been manifested on this side of the House, on account of having proposed it. Let that displeasure be visited upon die Ministers; but considering the measure which had been proposed, looking at the feeling with which it had been received, I said, do not permit your displeasure to fall on the measure itself. And, Sir, it would be base indeed if we were to attempt, after the support with which this measure has been received, to expose those who have supported it to any indignation of Protestant feeling on account of that support. And I must repudiate, on the part of my right hon. Friend (Sir James Graham), in the strongest manner, the slightest intention to question the motives of hon. Gentlemen opposite, or subject them to any disapprobation from others on account of the support they have given to us on the 1216 present occasion. I certainly was surprised at the tone of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, and the manner in which he commented on the speech of my right hon. Friend. The Bill received the support of the hon. Member on the second reading—he was then perfectly aware of the nature of the measure. I explained fully that it was intended to provide for the increased grant to Maynooth out of the public Revenue when I brought the measure forward. I never led him to suppose it was possible that we should consent to the revenue of the Established Church being interfered with. It was distinctly stated by me that the funds necessary for the improvement of Maynooth were to be taken from the Consolidated Fund. I never encouraged the impression that during any stage of these proceedings we should consent to the appropriation of the funds of the Established Church. Therefore the hon. and learned Gentleman, on the second reading, was as well aware of the principle and details of the proposal as he is at the present moment. Influenced by those motives for which I gave him entire credit, knowing from the feelings which prevailed in the city which he represents, that he was incurring the risk which others were ready to incur—yet still when he supported this Bill on the second reading, he must allow me to say that he was perfectly aware of the nature of the proposal, and could not have supposed that we should consent to any appropriation of ecclesiastical revenues. The hon. and learned Gentleman says that I stated that this measure had been brought in in deference to the opinion, or in consequence of the agitation of Mr. O'Connell. I stated directly the reverse. I stated that during the prevalence of agitation we met it and combated it by law; that we succeeded, in Ireland at least, in our appeal to the law, in consequence of which there was a suppression of agitation, at least so far as the suspension of those immense meetings which disturbed the public peace was concerned. After the manifestations of our determination to vindicate the law, was the past experience of those meetings to prevent us from considering whether any other measures could be adopted which were likely to prevent further agitation than physical force? When last year, as I stated the other night, we proposed the measure for providing for the better superintendence of 1217 charitable endowments, it received the general support of this House. Were we, when we brought in that measure, influenced by intimidation?—were we not encouraged to proceed? were we not told that it was a wise course? were we taunted by insinuations that we were yielding to physical force? No; we were opposed by a few Roman Catholic Members on the second reading; but on the whole we were supported by the most cordial consent of this House. We were supported in the execution of that act by the ecclesiastical authorities of the Roman Catholic Church who opposed themselves to agitation. Did I not refer to their conduct, and to the support which we met with from men who had never joined Repeal, as an encouragement to proceed in the same course? Mr. O'Connell never asked for the endowment of Maynooth. Conciliation Hall never demanded it; but there was a great body of Roman Catholic clergy and laity, who, seeing the temper and spirit of the Government, from passing the Endowment Act, and from the manner in which we executed it, were inclined to support the Government, in pursuing the same course. And it was much more in deference to their opinions than to any threats or agitation, that we did proceed in this course, and brought forward this measure. And when did I give notice of this measure of Maynooth? Did I give notice of it in consequence of the threatening aspect of the United States? Did I not give notice (in order that the country might not be taken by surprise)—did I not give notice during a period of calm—of suspension of agitation—of discontinuance of meetings—did I not voluntarily, without any necessity—without any call for it, run the risk of exciting the Protestant feeling of this country, by a distinct declaration during the last Session, that the subject of academical education should undergo the consideration of the Government, and that the College of Maynooth should be included in that consideration? Did I not add, at that time, that that consideration should be conducted not in an adverse but in a friendly view? Did I not lead every man who heard me to inter that it was the intention of the Government to improve the institution of Maynooth, and increase the vote? We fulfilled the pledges which were given, and brought forward this measure. I have been taunted to-night 1218 with not having noticed on a former occasion the observation of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Macaulay). I did abstain from noticing the attack of the right hon. Gentleman, and he seems very much disappointed that I did. He taunts me with having passed it over. I did not know that I was less inclined than others to notice these things, but I assigned to the right hon. Gentleman my reason. I know the success of this measure was dependent on the support of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Was it fitting in me to alienate that support by party attacks—was it not much more consistent with my duty (being, as I said, perfectly ready to take all the consequences of success or failure, yet feeling deeply satisfied that after the proposal of this measure, the public interest required that it should be passed)—was it not, I say, more becoming, in my position, that I should concentrate my efforts to ensure the passing of this measure, rather than provoke party attacks, or indulge in party recrimination? Sir, powerful as is the right hon. Gentleman—great as are his abilities, yet I do assure him it was not a fear of the conflict with him that induced my forbearance. It was that sense of public duty with reference to the importance of this measure, and to the effect upon Ireland of its failure, that led me resolutely to follow the course by which I can best secure its success. But, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman, in spite of my wishes, compels me to notice his observations. The right hon. Gentleman says, is it not very humiliating that you should have to propose this measure? Sir, I feel no humiliation in the discharge of a public duty. I should feel humiliated if, believing this measure to be of importance to the welfare of Ireland, I shrunk from proposing it for fear I should be charged with inconsistency. Then I should indeed think I was acting an unworthy part. But if I believe it to be a measure calculated to produce good in Ireland, to assuage the bitter feeling between the two countries—if I honestly think that it would have that result, so far from feeling any humiliation in proposing it, I own to the right hon. Gentleman that I should feel perfectly satisfied both with the motives and with the act. The part which I should feel to be humiliating would be to shrink from the performance of a public duty, for fear the right hon. 1219 Gentleman should point out some passage in my life in order to charge me with inconsistency. Now as to the vote to Maynooth. I gave my support to it all the time I was in office. I voted for it in 1840. I voted with the right hon. Gentleman. I spoke in favour of it when he was silent. I objected to the withdrawal of the vote, when it was endeavoured to obtain its discontinuance; and in office, seeing that I objected to the discontinuance of the vote, supporting that violation of principle with which it is charged, where is the inconsistency, instead of continuing an imperfect system of education by a vote of 9,000l. a year, that I now advocate an improvement of the building—that I wish to elevate the character of the education, to improve the position of the proressors—to give a decent allowance for the education of the youth—where, I say, is the inconsistency of this, when I had previously voted for the continuance of the grant? And who was it that said he could not conceive the mind so frivolous that would vote for 9,000l. a year, and object to a fair and sufficient endowment? Who was it said that some men would be reconciled to the maintenance of professors, provided they could starve them? Why, it was the right hon. Gentleman himself, who, wishing to convince his constituents that he was not violating any principle, by supporting the increased grant, made that defence of his own conduct; and then turned round on the Government and said, "we were violating our principles," not because we proposed to take it from the revenues of the Church, but because we proposed to transform it from an annual vote, which it had been for fifty years, into a permanent grant, and increase the amount. I did not make any comment on the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, because I followed the noble Lord, who appeared to me in a generous spirit to fulfil that which I thought was at least a virtual engagement, namely, that if we would propose measures likely to conduce to the welfare of Ireland, without reference to party feelings or interests, we knew where there was a party to be found on whose support we could rely. Well, we did propose measures of this character, and then the right hon. Gentleman comes down here bursting with indignation. I never saw a man who appeared so dissatisfied with a proposal, and the manner in which it has been received. He would 1220 appear to consider Irish discontent to be a particular dominion of his own. Now, what was the language held in the course of the last year? A Motion was made by a noble Lord, who must have the confidence of the right hon. Gentleman, on the subject of Maynooth, in another place, and observe what were the declarations made in the last Session of Parliament. Lord Monteagle, a Member of the late Government said—The present was just the moment when the Government, after taking strong measures to enforce their own opinions, and to put down views adverse to their own, the present was the moment when they could most favourably introduce measures really tending to improve the character and condition of the Irish people.There was not a word then of agitation extorting such measures from us:—A measure of the kind he had now proposed would, above all others, have the highly beneficial effect of showing the people of that country that Parliament and the Government sympathized with them on a subject upon which it had hitherto been considered that Government was either apathetic, most unwilling, or most adverse. The Government might thus show that they truly desired to promote at once the spiritual and the temporal advancement of the people. The establishment of Maynooth ought immediately to be placed upon a higher fooling, so as to fit it for the reception and education of the better classes.That was the language of the party opposed to me in the course of the last Session. If we had done nothing—if we had trusted to measures of coercion—if we had proposed the annual vote for Maynooth, I am sure I see many hon. Gentlemen opposite who would not have taken such a course. But might not the right hon. Gentleman, actuated by the spirit which he has exhibited to-night—might he not have been the man to say, "See the encouragement that hon. Gentlemen of the party opposed to you generously gave you last year? They saw a calm in Ireland—they saw that a period had arrived when you might bring forward measures calculated to have a powerful effect upon Ireland. You have no cause for your apathy; we encouraged you to proceed—we gave you notice that you should have our support, and we now charge you with having abandoned a duty which you might easily have performed, consistent with your own principles, and in the performance of which you knew, from our assurances, you would have our support." We took a 1221 liberal course; we improved the institution and increased the vote; and then the right hon. Gentleman comes forward and charges us with inconsistency and want of principle, and encourages, as much as he can, an attempt to defeat us in the measure which we have proposed—at least to extract from it every party advantage, although he cannot withhold his support from it. I must say, Sir, that such conduct is unworthy of his position in this House. I deeply regret that the renewed attacks of the right hon. Gentleman have obliged me to make this reference to him, because while I make it I am anxious to do justice to the course which has been pursued by the noble Lord and the party who support him. I do not want to take the gratitude of the Irish from those who have been their constant friends. We propose this measure from a belief that it will be conducive to the welfare of Ireland; but it is not right on account of this temporary measure that the obligations which the Roman Catholics owe to those who have been their constant friends should be transferred from them to us. Be the measure what it may, we want to derive no other advantage from it than the conscientious conviction that we have done our duty in proposing it. When the right hon. Gentleman talks of the supporters of the measure being opposed to the Protestant feeling of the country, I would ask who were so likely to suffer from that feeling as ourselves? Can he assign any reason for the proposal of this measure other than our belief that it would be beneficial to Ireland? What could have been easier for us than to have proposed the old vote, and to have resisted an increase by a large majority? We are told that no one asked for this measure. The argument of some of my hon. Friends on this side of the House is, "You have proposed something that no one called for—there was no necessity for it—there was no emergency." Why, that is just what I have said. I say it is a contrast to the series of past concessions. So far from its being the result of agitation, it is the spontaneous, the voluntary act of Her Majesty's Government. And let me tell you that is the cause why it is producing such an effect in Ireland; why it is producing there a feeling of contentment and gratitude. It is much more appreciated by those who have abstained from joining the ranks of Repeal, and 1222 who have kept aloof from high feeling. It is felt by them that the Government have been influenced by feelings of kindness and conciliation to them. It is brought forward in the spirit with which the Endowment Act was introduced last Session. We are now actuated by the same feeling, by the same motives. But it seems that the fear of America has had some effect. If I used an equivocal expression on a former occasion, do not the facts speak for themselves? Have we altered this measure in the slightest degree in consequence of the message of the President? Has not my right hon. Friend (Sir James Graham) correctly stated that the outline of this measure was prepared in November last, when we were led to believe that the discussion on the subject of the Oregon territory would soon be brought to a close? Did not the late President refuse to present the Papers to the Senate, because he said he was of opinion that the negotiations would soon be brought to a successful termination? It was at that period that this measure was prepared. The Speech of the present President did not induce us to add one shilling to the grant, or alter the measure in any way that would be likely to make it more acceptable to the people of Ireland. But seeing the temper with which it was received in Ireland after it had been proposed, was it not natural for me to say that I did rejoice, after having been compelled to use the expressions which I did, in consequence of the Motion of the noble Lord—was it not, I ask, natural that I should say I rejoiced to see the altered feeling which prevailed in Ireland, satisfied as I was that this measure was likely to prove a message of peace? But can the right hon. Gentleman infer from that that the fear of America had any reference to our proposal of this measure? Sir, this measure has not been extorted from us by agitation. We showed a resolution to contend against agitation with such means as the law of the land afforded us without desiring to apply to Parliament for any increased powers; and with regard to the threatenings of the President of the United States, I have only to observe that his language had no influence whatever on our conduct towards Ireland. So much for the construction that has been put upon the speech which I made the other night. Sir, I certainly will not enter on the present occasion 1223 and at the present hour, into the great question to which the hon. Member has by Motion directed the attention of the House. I think it would have been infinitely better for the hon. Gentleman to have brought forward a substantive Motion on this subject, rather than to have confined himself to a proposal for taking some 26,000l. from the revenues of the Established Church for the endowment of Maynooth. I gave my opinion fully last Session on the subject of the Irish Church. I did not, on that occasion, state, as the hon. Gentleman has alleged, I disregarded the compact. The hon. Gentleman said, I threw that compact overboard; but so far from that being the case, I distinctly stated at that time, that so far as a compact had weight in such a matter, that compact weighed fully with me in regard to the Established Church. But I added that I would not rest the defence of the Established Church in Ireland merely on that compact—that I thought it would be unwise to rest the defence of the Church merely on a compact—but that I considered it would be wise to show, and I thought it could be shown, that the Establishment generally would justify the maintenance of that Church, and that I did not therefore wish to rest it on the ground of compact alone. If the hon. Gentleman on some other occasion brings forward a substantive Motion on this subject, I shall be perfectly willing to meet him, and to show the grounds on which I have come to the same conclusion with Burke, with Sir John Newport, with Mr. Grattan, with Lord Plunkett, and with some of the most distinguished of the Roman Catholics themselves, as well as with their most tried friends, with regard to the maintenance of the Established Church in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh says, that all those who vote against the Motion of the hon. Gentleman must be in favour of the Established Church in Ireland, and that all those who support that Motion must be in favour of the total destruction of the establishment. I must say, that I do not think the right hon. Gentleman was justified in putting the question in that position, considering the peculiar nature of the vote which is required to be given — and earnestly as the present measure has been proposed, so earnestly do I hope that it may not be encumbered with such a proposal as that made by the hon. Gentleman. 1224 How has the measure been received in Ireland? Contrast the feelings in Ireland with the feelings that have been manifested in this country. When I proposed this measure, I certainly did not look, as the sole advantage to be derived from it, to the fait of some 26,000l. a year being given to Maynooth. I believed that the measure would be considered satisfactory to the Roman Catholics, and that it would be received by them—as in point of fact it has been received by them—not as a concession, not as a boon, but as an indication of kindly feelings towards them and towards Ireland by the Government and the Legislature. I confess I thought also that the measure would have been favourably received by the Protestants, and that it would have a tendency to promote a better feeling between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. Sir, it has had that effect. How few are the petitions that have been received from Ireland against the measure! In fact, I doubt whether there have not been as many petitions from Ireland in favour of the measure as against it. I do think it most honourable to the Protestant feeling in Ireland that so many Members of the Established Church have come forward, forgetting their past animosities, forgetting their former causes of difference, advising you to pass this measure, and rejoicing in an act of liberality, and, as they consider it, of justice, towards their Roman Catholic fellow subjects. I do think that the passing of the Act in the spirit in which it has been proposed will have that desirable effect. But it should not be forgotten that the Protestants who have petitioned in favour of the measure expected, when they did so, that it would be passed in the manner in which it had been brought forward. They certainly did not contemplate that the House would take the funds that were proposed to be given for the support of Maynooth from the revenues of the Established Church. They rejoice in the measure as an act of liberality — not that they care for the money, or attached any great importance to a vote of 26,000l., but they rejoice in it as a proof of the kindly feelings that are entertained by the Government and the Legislature towards their Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen. I do not say that the right hon. Gentleman intends to interrupt this kindly feeling. I entirely repudiate on the part of the right hon. Gentleman 1225 any such dishonourable views; but still I think that if we are now to announce to the Protestants of Ireland that we mean to alter the character of the measure, and are prepared to take this grant for the endowment of Maynooth out of the revenues of the Established Church, the kindly feeling that now manifests itself on their part in favour of the grant will cease, and we may expect to find opposition instead of countenance from them. Sir, I rose, however, less to expatiate on such topics than to deny utterly the justice of that construction which was put upon my words; and if I have been diverted from the course which I meant to pursue, if I have said one word throwing impediments in the way of any Gentleman on the opposite side of the House giving his support to this measure on account of any reference to the language which has been mentioned—I deeply regret that circumstance; but at the same time I felt that I had no alternative, after the repetition of the taunt of the right hon. Gentleman, but to satisfy him by noticing his attacks. But, Sir, while I give hon. Gentlemen opposite entire credit for the motives which induce them to support this Motion, and while I am quite willing to transfer to them, on account of their uniform advocacy of Roman Catholic claims, all the merit which is due to our proposal, and all the gratitude of the Roman Catholics arising from it, still my anxiety remains unabated, that in the present state of public feeling in Ireland, this measure may receive the sanction of the House. I hope, therefore, the hon. Gentleman will not succeed in his Motion. I also hope that other Motions in opposition to this measure may be equally unsuccessful. The Motion of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge, in particular, seems expressly fitted to meet the wishes of those who are willing that the funds for the support of the College of Maynooth should be taken out of the revenues of the Established Church. It was perfectly open to my hon. Friend to take, as the ground of his Amendment, the principle that the vote ought to be annual instead of permanent; or my hon. Friend might have objected to any increase of the vote at all; but instead of adopting either of these courses, he has given notice of the Motion which will compel hon. Members who wish to fee the funds for the purpose of this grant taken out of the revenues of the Established 1226 Church, and not out of the Consolidated Fund, or by an annual vote of Parliament, to vote with him. [Mr. Law expressed his dissent.] Surely my hon. Friend does not mean to deny the accuracy of the view which I have taken of his Amendment. The Motion of my hon. Friend is, that the fund necessary for the support of Maynooth shall not be taken out of the Consolidated Fund. It is not that it shall be voted annually by Parliament, but that it shall not be taken in the particular manner proposed by the Government. [Mr. Law: Read the terms of the Motion.] The Notice stands thus in the book—Mr. Law—On the Motion for going into Committee on Maynooth College Bill, to move that it is the opinion of this House, that the several sums of Money proposed to be payable by this Bill, and the Schedule thereto annexed, shall not be charged upon or payable by the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury, out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.The terms of the Motion are—not that the amount shall be voted annually by Parliament, but simply that it shall not be taken out of the Consolidated Fund. Now I want to know, how can any hon. Gentleman refuse to vote for that Motion who wishes to see the amount taken from the funds of the Established Church; or whether my hon. Friend would not appear to be satisfied if he can, by a combination of parties of extremely opposite views, succeed in defeating this measure? I wish to see those who desire to defeat this measure divide on the principle upon which it is founded. I do think it is perfectly consistent that hon. Friends of mine who dissent from the measure, or wish for its withdrawal, to object altogether to the grant, or to take the sense of the House on the propriety of increasing it. I think it perfectly fair for hon. Gentlemen opposite, who consider that the revenues of the Established Church ought to supply the funds proposed to be given to Maynooth College, to make a Motion to that effect, though at the same time I trust there are many hon. Gentlemen who, agreeing in the principle contended for by the hon. Gentleman, yet consider it, on the whole, better, having regard to the state of public feeling in Ireland since the measure has been proposed, to forego their peculiar principles, in order to insure the passing of the measure rather than see it defeated. But I do not believe that any permanent good can 1227 be derived to any party from the defeat of the measure by a combination of men of opposite feelings and principles. I do hope, therefore, that if there be a majority of the House who do not agree entirely in this measure, but who consider that some better plan might be proposed, yet, on the whole, preferring that it should pass to its failure, will give Her Majesty's Government, their support on the present occasion; and when the Bill is disposed of, if you are then inclined to censure our conduct — if you think that measures of this kind had better be proposed by those who consistently supported the Catholic claims, then take your course, and we are perfectly prepared to abide by the result. But believing this measure to be necessary, and knowing that it would meet with opposition, we thought it a more manly, more honourable, course towards the House, towards hon. Members of the opposite party, as well as towards our own friends, and also towards the people of Ireland, that we should encounter the stream of public indignation, rather than that we should shrink from the discharge of our public duty, and, from a fear of being taunted with inconsistency, refuse to take the course which we thought required by the public interest.
§ Lord John Russell
I do not wish to interpose to prevent the adjournment of the debate, or to detain the House by any long argument on this question; but I am anxious, before the House separates, to state, as briefly as I can, the course which I intend to take with respect to the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield. It is my intention to support that Motion. I shall give my vote in favour of the Motion of my hon. Friend; but when the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for the University of Cambridge comes before the Committee, I shall be prepared to give it my decided negative. I will go further and say, that if the House is not prepared to concur with the proposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, I do not know that there is any other Amendment which can be subsequently moved in the progress of the measure to which I shall give my support; and I shall then consider it to be my duty to advance this Bill to she best of my power—believing, as I do, that its adoption will be attended with the advantages attributed to it by the Government. The reason why I give 1228 my vote for the present Motion is, because I think that if that Motion were not supported by those who have an opinion similar to mine on this question, we should stand in an unsatisfactory position. We have always represented, that to have an exclusive Church in Ireland for the Protestants, and to have no Establishment of any kind for the Roman Catholics, is to have a state of things which can never give satisfaction in that country. I can understand, that as the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department said, when you have an Establishment agreeable with the religious opinions of the people, that these must be divided into subordinate subdivisions, such as parishes, with a minister devoted and attached to each, it might happen without much mischief that there were very few persons belonging to the Establishment in some of the divisions. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman took this view of the question from a work of Paley's; but then it had reference to a case where a great majority of the people accorded in opinion with the Established religion. But when I find that in Ireland, in parish after parish, and district after district, there are no Protestants having a minister allotted to each, while there is no minister so provided for congregations of 3,000 or 4,000 Roman Catholics in each of these parishes, the inconsistency appears to be so great that I cannot reconcile it to my feeling of propriety and justice. The right hon. Gentleman said, that this would be the case after the present Bill passed, and that, as I understood the case which he put, if you pass this Bill for Maynooth, we are to have no further change. I therefore must express my discontent with this state of things; and I should not be satisfied, after this measure passed, by continuing this injustice. The right hon. Secretary for the Home Department said, that if we voted for this proposition of my hon. Friend, we voted for the destruction of the Protestant Church of Ireland. I agree to no such inference. My opinion is, as I have expressed it on former occasions, that there should be a Church Establishment for the Protestants of Ireland; and I think that this is not only a matter upon which the Act of Union bears decidedly, but I believe that the practical and actual union of the two countries is favoured by the maintenance of a Protestant Established 1229 Church in Ireland. But what I wish to see is, a Church Establishment suited to the number of the Protestants of that kingdom: and also an Establishment suited to the Roman Catholic people of that country. How this is to be brought about is a question too large to enter upon at present. I believe that there would be great and serious objections to granting out of the public Revenue a large revenue of 300,000l. or 400,000l. a year to the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland. I believe that the funds for the maintenance of any such Establishment should be furnished by Ireland. As England supports the Church Establishment of England, and as Scotland supports the Church Establishment of Scotland, so I conceive Ireland should support any such Church Establishment. But before adopting any arrangement for that purpose, I should consider whether there be not a superfluous revenue belonging to the Church existing in that country, or whether some steps might not be taken for annexing glebes to each Catholic cure. I therefore, without attaching any great importance as to whether this Vote of 26,000l. is to be taken out of the Consolidated Fund, or from the revenues of the Church of Ireland, I wish to show by my vote, that with regard to the settlement of the question respecting the Church of Ireland, the mere grant of 26,000l. for the education of the Catholic clergy of Ireland, will not accomplish that object; and I am far from adopting an opinion that nothing more is to be done for the Catholics of Ireland. I do not now wish to enter into the question of party which was introduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh; but if I do not, it is not in consequence of my disagreeing in opinion from my right hon. Friend — for in all that he has stated on a former night, as well as on the present occasion, I entirely concur. And whether there will be any future discussion on the subject I know not, but if there should be, and the matter be brought forward by my right hon. Friend, or any one else, I shall feel it to be my duty to take the opportunity of contrasting the conduct of Gentlemen opposite from 1836 to 1841, and their conduct from 1841 to 1843, with their present conduct and proceedings, and with the course they are now pursuing; and in doing so I feel that I must come to this 1230 conclusion, that there was either great political blindness and want of foresight on their part from 1836 to 1841, and again from 1841 to 1843, and I, therefore, can have no confidence in their ability to administer the affairs of this Empire satisfactorily; there has been such a want of capacity on their part as regards Ireland for so long a time; or if on the other hand, Her Majesty's Ministers possess such ability and capacity, I cannot give them credit for having acted with sincerity in Opposition, or for having supported measures which they supposed were calculated to promote the best interests of the country. With these few words, I will only say, that I shall vote for the Motion of my hon. Friend, and if that be negatived, I shall afterwards give my constant and earnest support to the Bill in its subsequent stages.
§ Debate adjourned.
§ House adjourned at one o'clock.