§ MR. ESCOTT
, regretting the absence of the hon. Member for Kinsale (Mr. Watson), moved the second reading of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill. The object of this Bill was, to remove the evils still permitted to exist under the legislation by which, in darker ages, the rights of conscience had been invaded, and of which these remnants still disgraced the Statute-book of the United Kingdom. He acknowledged his deep sense of the honour conferred on him by those of his fellow subjects who had committed this work to his hands. Whatever objections might be taken to the Bill, he did not expect to hear it opposed on the ground that penalties on the free exercise of conscience in religious matters were necessary for the maintenance of the Established Church. The greatest danger, indeed, of that Church in these times was, that persons of high character and sincere piety should have room to say that the religion of the Establishment was only to be preserved by penalties for the sake of conscience, or that its edifice was still to be defaced by the legislative rubbish which 936 this Bill would sweep away. There were at the present moment two Bills which had been introduced into the different Houses of Parliament, both proceeding on the same principle, and both having the same object—the removal of religious disabilities. One had been presented in the other House by the noble Lord on the Woolsack. Had he to take his choice between the Bill of the Lord Chancellor and that of the hon. Member for Kinsale, he confessed he should prefer the former as more comprehensive, and as effecting more of general good. But there were provisions in this Bill which were not contained in the other, and provisions in the other which were not contained in this. The two Bills ought to be considered in conjunction, so that, by amalgamating them, the most perfect measure possible, in the present state of opinion on the subject, might be passed. Where they were defective, the only course Parliament could take to secure a full toleration, and, a total amnesty for all classes of Her Majesty's subjects—would be, to return to the old common law of the land. Those penalties were no part of the Constitution, but excrescences, or rather ill plants, grafted upon it by the bigotry of unhappy times. The common law of England recognised no penalties for nonconformity; and the time, he trusted, was fast approaching when no persons in the Empire would longer be excluded by any enactment or the imposition of any oath from privileges which their fellow subjects enjoyed. But it had been said, that, though these penal statutes were highly objectionable, were repugnant to the spirit of the times, and condemned by religious persons of all denominations, they created no practical grievance, and the Roman Catholics, whom it was sought by the present Bill to relieve, were not subjected to personal inconvenience. But how did the matter really stand? The Act 31st Geo. III., which was the work of Mr. Burke, though it did not repeal former penal statutes, yet it provided relief from the infliction of certain penalties on certain conditions. Neither did the Act of 10th Geo. IV., chap. 7, commonly called "The Catholic Emancipation Act," repeal the penal statutes; having merely substituted an oath, the taking of which oath was an equivalent for the obligations or conditions imposed by former statutes. He hoped to be permitted to call the attention of the House to a few instances to prove that practical grievance still existed. He 937 would, in the first place, take the case of a Catholic schoolmaster; and every one would admit that the Catholic population ought to have the assistance of Catholic schoolmasters to educate their children, so as to keep pace with the advance and enlightenment of the age. Now, every Catholic schoolmaster, preparatory to commencing the work of his vocation, was at present compelled to procure a license for teaching from the archbishop of the province or the bishop of the diocese. But as such bishops belonged to the Established Church, did not that requirement involve a twofold practical grievance? The Catholic schoolmaster was to apply for a license to teach to a Protestant archbishop or bishop: that every Roman Catholic must consider a grievance; and was it not an almost equal hardship for the archbishop or bishop to be obliged to examine into the qualifications of a Catholic schoolmaster, in order to ascertain whether the teacher was, in his judgment, competent to discharge the duties of an instructor of Catholic youth; thus throwing on him the disagreeable task of refusing, if in his judgment he were incompetent? What could be more annoying to a Protestant bishop than to have to inquire into the competency of a man who differed altogether from him in religious tenets and opinions? In the course of former debates it had often been stated that all education ought to be based on religious principle. Now he (Mr. Escott) admitted that argument to its fullest extent; but surely, if all education were to be based on religious principle, as the Catholic should not be the person to inquire into the qualifications of the Protestant teacher, neither should the Protestant be the person to examine into the fitness of the Catholic teacher. The examiner should be a competent judge of that into which he is set to examine. It was, therefore, a double grievance, equally oppressive on both parties: for the sake of conscience, and for the sake of both religions, such a requirement ought to be abolished. Let them look at the case of a person neglecting to take the oath when so required. A man educated for a Catholic schoolmaster who neglected to take the oath, was subject to ecclesiastical censure in our ecclesiastical courts. He might be prosecuted before those courts, and on proof of the offence he might be convicted, and mulcted in heavy costs; and even worse than that, he might be tortured by the infinity of delay inherent in the proceedings of those courts. There was a matter connected with those 938 courts to which he would now call their attention, as another hardship imposed by these penal laws. The office of proctor in those courts was totally unconnected with the faith of the persons so practising; yet no Roman Catholic could act as a proctor. He saw no reason why they should not be admitted to practise in those courts as well as Protestants; but, by the present state of the law, they were excluded from the office. There was another class of persons whose case he would mention to the House—a class of persons who were peculiarly subject to the grievances and hardships of those penal statutes which the Bill before the House sought to repeal. He alluded to a religious community called the "Christian Brothers;" they consisted of some thousands of individuals, scattered over the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland—they were admitted to be amongst the most able instructors of youth—they were men, as he was informed, and, as he believed, who kept to their vocations, who did not mix themselves up with the more energetic civil and religious proceedings of some Roman Catholics: keeping themselves aloof from civil discord, they devoted their lives to the pious and diligent instruction of the youths committed to their care. In Ireland, he was informed, that so highly were the qualifications of these men appreciated, that many zealous Protestants were anxious to encourage them on their estates, providing them with schoolhouses to instruct the youth, and with residences for their own personal accommodation. Numbers of those useful men were now engaged dispensing the blessings of a liberal education to tens of thousands of the rising generation, and who, in all probability, would otherwise remain destitute of instruction or moral culture. But how were those "Christian Brothers" circumstanced under the penal statutes? They were in one word legally outlawed. There was not one of those men who was not declared to be by the statute an outlaw, and subject to banishment if proceeded against before the proper authorities; and if any one of those men after having been banished from his native land returned again, he was liable to be transported for life. Would the most zealous Protestant in that House wish for the continuance of that state of things? He knew that in other countries it was not so; that in France, M. Guizot, who was himself a Pro- 939 testant, took the deepest interest in the success of the "Christian Brothers," and on a recent occasion had declared there was no class of persons he knew more eminently entitled to the gratitude of the people of that country. He would farther refer to those existing grievances. Under those statutes it was impossible that any wealthy or well-disposed person could give 1s. to any English College or University out of the United Kingdom—because the 2nd and 3rd William IV., chap. 15, called the Charters Act, especially confined such bequests to Great Britain. All persons acquainted at all with the subject of Catholic education must be aware, that, formerly, to obtain a sound instruction, it was necessary to send their youths to a foreign College or University; and such being, from necessity, the case, what was more natural than that those who had received the benefits of a liberal education abroad, should, in after years, be inclined to bequeath some money to those institutions existing in foreign lands, from which they had derived benefit and advantage. The law which prohibited that was surely neither just nor wise. It was stated respecting the oaths which it was incumbent on Catholics to take, that there was nothing in them which should excite the scruples of persons of that persuasion. But that was for them to determine. And surely if these laws were inoperative, they were useless, and ought to be repealed; if they were operative, they were unjust, and ought to be repealed. But if the House was not disposed to believe that pious persons felt a conscientious objection to take the oath, he could assure them they were very much misinformed, for he had heard within the last few days that there were in Catholic communities numbers of conscientious and honourable men, both at home and abroad, who had the strongest possible disinclination to take certain prescribed oaths. For instance, the present Archbishop of Rhodes could not sit in the Legislative Assembly of Malta, because he had an insuperable repugnance to the oath. Mr. Waterton, a Roman Catholic gentleman of the highest respectability, could not qualify as a magistrate, because of his repugnance to the oath. But these persons were left subject to all the penalties on Catholics convicted of recusancy—to all the penalties of premunire. The rev. Mr. Green, chaplain of Sir Clifford Constable, was another instance of a person who could not take the oaths prescribed by statute. 940 Such cases showed the practical grievance which arose from the provisions of the existing law where real scruples of conscience were felt; and for the relief of those persons, for the public interest, and for its own honour, it was for the House to remove the grievance. The measure before the House was far from being a trivial matter. Thousands, from the highest to the lowest estate, were anxiously awaiting the result, solicitous to know whether they were to be restored to rights of which they believed they never should have been deprived. Nor was that class of expectants confined to Her Majesty's subjects in the United Kingdom. There were millions in other countries awaiting the decision of the House as an example of a liberal spirit, and a just toleration; and he could not help thinking, to grant the indulgence sought would only be to do justice to the faith of the great majority of Christendom; for the House could not deny that the Roman Catholic faith was the faith of the greater number of people throughout Christendom. It should also be remembered that it was due to the interests of the Established Church; for, in his opinion, the worst insult that could be offered to the Established Church was to say that it could not be maintained without galling and teazing the consciences of those who differed in opinion from its doctrines and formularies. He would, therefore, submit to Parliament that it was time to put an end to these obstructions to a more diffusive and pious charity, and to repeal laws which were repulsive to the feelings of the wisest and best of men—alien to the Constitution under which they lived—and especially cruel to those against whom they were first enacted.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
said, that the experience he had had in the House justified him in saying that it was much more pleasant to make concessions than to resist them. Concession, however, he had not made, and was not prepared to make, on the present occasion. Whether it were to liberate the captive, or to aid our fellow subjects at the expense of the nation, or to remove obstructions to the enjoyment of certain civil privileges—in all these cases it was far pleasanter to give than to refuse; but he trusted he might be permitted to add this also, that whilst he admitted the pleasurableness of concession, he felt the higher duty of resistance on which he had hitherto acted, and was now prepared to act. His hon. and learned Friend had said that this measure was intended to 941 sweep away the rubbish from the Statute-book, and to remove Acts which disgraced the dark ages of English legislation. He asked his hon. Friend to look at the Bill of which he had moved the second reading, and say whether its provisions repealed Acts which had been passed in the dark ages. The very first Act which it was proposed to repeal was an Act passed in the golden or Augustan age of English minds and literature—viz., in the time of Queen Elizabeth—a time when this country possessed men greater in every branch of literature than even the hon. Member himself, or even than any of those distinguished persons describing themselves and others as the Young England party. The next period was the great era of civil liberty, when the Habeas Corpus Act was passed. The next was the reign of William III. Was that one of the dark ages? The next period was that of George III.; but he presumed that the dark age to which the hon. Gentleman particularly referred was the year 1829. He wished most sincerely that his hon. Friend, in removing the rubbish of the Statute-book, would remove the Act of that year—the Act which he included in the same category with the other statutes. [Mr. ESCOTT: No, no.] It would not do for his hon. and learned Friend now to turn round and deny the application of his language. The clauses of that Act which this Bill proposed to repeal, were considered by the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) at the time as essential to the success of the Emancipation Act, and tending to diminish the opposition to it; yet it was now, after sixteen years had elapsed, proposed to remove them. But, said the hon. and learned Member, good as that Bill was we must be prepared for something better; and he told us the Lord Chancellor had a measure more comprehensive than the present. Then those who resisted the present Bill would see more reason, from this statement, to resist the other. He grieved that it was so, but he believed it to be true that in many respects the other Bill was more comprehensive. His hon. and learned Friend had sometimes condescended to particularise. He had told us that a Roman Catholic could not practise as a proctor. Was it very extraordinary that a Roman Catholic might not practise in the Court of the Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Protestant Bishop of London, having reference to the ecclesiastical concerns of that very Establishment with which he had 942 thought the hon. and learned Member for Cork was one of the first to disclaim any desire to interfere? Be it a grievance or not a grievance, for that the Bill did not provide the shadow of a remedy. The hon. Gentleman had then told us that a Roman Catholic might not bequeath anything to a Roman Catholic College abroad, in token of his natural gratitude to the seminary by which he had been instructed. Why did not the hon. Member introduce a clause into his Bill to provide a remedy for the grievance which he said was so acute? Then, again, he said the Archbishop of Rhodes could not take his place in the Legislative Council of Malta, because he could not take the oath. He would not at present enter into the general system pursued towards Malta further than this—his doctrine was, that wheresoever the Sovereign of the country carried her flag, there she should also carry her Church. That, he repeated, was his deliberate opinion—one upon which he was ready to act, and upon which many wiser and better men than himself had acted for centuries; and till within the last few years that was the theory, unhappily not the rigid practice, of the Government of England. The Church of England was the recognised Church in every dependency of the Crown of England; and it was not till the liberalism of the last generation that any person would venture a doubt on the expediency and justice of the principle. Then, he said that our course in Malta ought to have been clear; we ought to have carried our religion as the predominant religion there, and have taken the great church of the Knights of Malta, which was a church of Rome, and made it the church of George III., and appropriated it to the service of the Church of England. Instead of that, we had been accommodating ourselves as much as possible to the language and religion of a people whom we had conquered. This was unlike the policy of the Romans, the French, or even of England herself, till within the last forty or fifty years. The case of Canada was no exception, because that was surrendered by a specific Treaty, in which provision was made for the maintenance of the Church, of Rome. He would now come to the general clauses of the Bill. What was the practical effect of the Bill? He would take up the clause with reference to schoolmasters; and he would ask whether any Roman Catholic had been prevented from exercising the function or avocations of a schoolmaster because he 943 had omitted to obtain a license from the Protestant bishop of the diocese in which he proposed to establish his school? In point of fact, they all knew that the slightest impediment did not exist to any Roman Catholic schoolmaster pursuing his avocations on such a ground. Some member of that Church would probably rise in the course of the present debate, and he should feel obliged to that hon. Member if he would state that he knew any instance in which any Roman Catholic teacher had been prevented from exercising his avocations because he had omitted to procure a license from the Protestant bishop of the diocese in which he might happen to be placed. He was willing to admit that there were on the Statute-book many provisions which, if really carried into effect, might occasion hardship; but the hon. and learned Member had not produced, for the last century and a half, a single instance of practical grievance. With respect to one or two of these instances they had been lately repealed under terms which did not originally apply to them. It was probably familiar to the hon. and learned Gentleman, and it was not unknown to many hon. Gentlemen, that, up to a certain period, the introduction of what was called the Agnus Dei was prohibited under the 13th Elizabeth. Perhaps his hon. Friend was not aware of the circumstances under which the repeal of the Statute was effected. The article was included among the items of a Customs' Duties Act; and, nine-tenths of the Members present not knowing what it meant, it was passed, and the importation of it permitted. Before they made any alteration in the Constitution of the country, they were bound to show that some practical grievance existed. The present Bill repealed the Act of Supremacy, at least it repealed its penalties. It also repealed the Act which expelled the Jesuits, and which prohibited a Roman Catholic bishop from assuming the title of a Protestant See, who might assume under the law, if he pleased, the title of Archbishop of Canterbury. The present Bill also repealed the clause in the Roman Catholic Repeal Act which prohibited Roman Catholic processions. When they had prohibited Protestant processions, were they prepared to legalize Roman Catholic processions? Were they prepared to admit, in the streets of London, the procession of Corpus Christi? Were they prepared to admit even the ordinary procession of the Host? If they were not, did not the Bill 944 permit that against which they contended? This Bill also repealed that clause of the Act of 1829 which prohibited any public functionary from going in his official robes to any place of worship. That clause, however, had not prevented a late chief functionary from going in his robes to the door of a Roman Catholic church; and, though he considered that was not intended to be allowed when the Act passed, yet, as the proceeding went unnoticed, he presumed it was not considered a violation of the law. When he proved, then, that there were no cases of grievance alleged as existing under the present law, which this Bill sought to remove; when he had shown that the provisions which this Bill might to repeal, were provisions which his right hon. Friend who moved the unhappy Bill of 1829 considered as necessary—was it not ungracious—there being no practical grievance which could not be obviated or evaded—to deprive the Members of the Church of England of the poor consolation that we had something which still prevented the growth of the Roman Catholic religion in this country, which prevented its extension and maintenance amongst us in the manner in which it existed three centuries ago? For these and many other reasons he felt that he should not discharge his duty unless he moved that this Bill be read a second time this day six months.
§ VISCOUNT MORPETH
As the hon. Member for the University of Oxford has anticipated that some Catholic Member will rise during the debate, I presume he has an expectation that some of his positions will be controverted. But as a Protestant Member of this House, I rise to express my regret that any attempt has been made in this stage of the Bill to resist a laudable endeavour to get rid of the last rags and remnants of bigotry and intolerance. The hon. Baronet objects to these enactments being styled relics of the dark ages; but at all events every liberal and well-constituted mind will admit that, if not contemporary with a very dark age, they evince a very dark spirit of bigotry. The hon. Baronet states that the object of the Bill is to repeal a series of measures that have been enacted ever since the Reformation. I suppose the hon. Baronet would confine the term "dark ages" to the years preceding the Reformation; but it is hardly to be expected that we should find these enactments of disabilities against Catholics at those periods when King, Government, and country were alike Roman Catholic. But, 945 I have no wish to cast a slur on the times or the men with whom these measures and statutes originated, or even on those by whom they have hitherto been, for the most part, maintained. The circumstances of the times, the operation of fear, the absence of sound views, may have been motives, if not strict reasons, for their original enactment, and even their temporary retention. But, although I may not be inclined to cast a slur on the motives of those by whom they were enacted, still, on looking back upon all history and experience, I cannot resist the conviction that of all the principles which have caused evil, multiplied wrongs, and heaped sorrow upon the human race, the principle of religious bigotry has been the most prolific and pernicious. Could I be guilty of the bad taste of calling the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford a bigoted partisan, I know he would receive the charge with a gentle but reproving smile; a gentle one, because in accordance with his nature—a reproving one, because I have no right to fling about such imputations. Hardly a day passes in which I do not detect in myself something like a spirit of bigotry; and it is a tendency against which we all cannot too much be upon our guard. The hon. Baronet has said, wherever the flag of the Queen of England is reared, there her Church ought to be planted. Now, I will not follow him into an inquiry how far this principle has been pursued or attained throughout our various dependencies and Colonies; but to me it seems as much to the purpose, wherever the flag of the Queen of England is planted, to inquire what is the Church of Her subjects, rather than what is Her own. But I do not see that the speech of the hon. Baronet in any way militates against the House acceding to the second reading of the Bill; when in Committee, if any special case can be made out for such a course, then the House will do well to consent to any exceptions. But I imagine the principle of the Bill to be, that all penalties manifestly and upon the face of them useless and ineffectual, should no longer be retained upon the Statute-book merely for the purpose of keeping up an offensive superiority, and inflicting an unmerited brand. Almost the first clause of the Bill repeals the penalty attached to preaching the doctrine that any foreign prince or potentate has any authority within this realm, the penalty being forfeiture of goods and chattels, and imprisonment for a 946 year. In thousands of pulpits every week that doctrine is put forth; and if the penalty is retained, it is a poor excuse to say it may be obviated or evaded. I contend that the retention of these enactments is a virtual connivance at falsehood. The hon. Baronet asks if any person has been visited with the penalty for exercising the vocation of a schoolmaster without a license from the bishop? But I think men are never safe under a dormant penalty which may at some time be awakened against them. Did not the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes) a year ago bring forward a case in which parties were proceeded against for not going to church? There is no security that such penalties may not some day, for a malicious purpose, be put in force. Then I really think the House should hardly proceed in company with the hon. Baronet in that crusade he proposes to carry on against bells, steeples, and even articles of the toilet. The hon. Baronet has great apprehensions of seeing processions of the Corpus Christi and the Host in the streets of London. I think he might safely rely on the customs of the country and the manners of the times; no prohibition against such processions exists in the United States, yet it must be long since such processions have been seen in the streets of the capitals of that country. The hon. Baronet truly observes, that the Bill relaxes the prohibition against the existence of the order of the Jesuits and other religious orders in this country; I believe that the apprehensions entertained of the Jesuits exist among many enlightened men. But let us not have toleration by bits. I am not myself—and I may, perhaps, be wrong from want of sufficient information—inclined to view with any particular favour either the principles or the doctrines of the Jesuits; but still, I would, in the attempt to conquer them, meet them with the weapons wielded by such men as Pascal, and Michelet, and Libri, rather than with penal enactments and legalized oppression. And when Roman Catholic Governments or other Governments banish the Jesuits from beyond their territories, let them find on our shores as ready a reception as is given to them in the United States—as any Polish or Italian refugee meets with here. I desire our soil to be as safe and inviolate an asylum for the proscribed in religion as for the proscribed in politics. Let us shut our ports against none but criminals; let us not seek vainly to raise barriers to opin- 947 ion. These are briefly my sentiments, and this is why I heartily wish for the success of the Bill. We have heard a good deal about protection of late; but surely none can hope that the House will sanction or keep up a system of protection which protects nobody and no principle—which only serves to stigmatize, irritate, and annoy.
§ MR. FINCH
did not wish to utter a single word that would be painful to the feelings of any Roman Catholic. He did not intend to go into the details of the Bill, because he was free to confess that some of the existing enactments required to be abolished; and he thought that remark would be applicable to the case complained of respecting schoolmasters. A great deal had been said in reference to the dark ages, and they had been told that the dogma of the supremacy of his Holiness the Pope had been confined to that remote period; but he entirely denied that such was the fact; for, however hon. Gentlemen in that House might repudiate any such principle, they had good reason to believe that it existed still in the minds of many. He could tell them where, as well as the authority he had for saying so. The late Charles Butler had informed them that that doctrine was entertained by every person residing within the Vatican and its immediate precincts. The late Cardinal Bellarmine had openly avowed that the Pope retained supreme temporal, as well as spiritual, power; and he, therefore, contended, that many persons of the Roman Catholic Church had the same opinion upon the subject. The hon. Member read from the 31st of George III. the words of the oath to be administered to Roman Catholics in reference to the subject of supremacy.
The Roman Catholics were not obliged to take any oath which contained such objectionable clauses as that which required Roman Catholics to swear that they would not be privy to the commission of murder.
§ MR. FINCH
said, that the copy of the oath had just been put into his hands; he was, therefore, not responsible for the error. But be the oath as it may, he objected to do away with all restrictions as to the doctrine of Catholic supremacy in temporal matters. He knew that the doctrine was disclaimed in every chapel where the Roman Catholic worship was performed; but a future period might arrive—and he could conceive the possibility of its arrival—when this doctrine of the temporal su- 948 premacy of the Pope might seriously interfere with the prerogative of the Protestant Crown; and he held that where there existed a sect which held principles contrary to the spirit of the Protestant Constitution of this country, that was not a case which came within the category of those things which were matters of conscience. Then, with respect to the religious orders; he thought that the laws restraining those monastic institutions were very salutary, especially as regarded women. Young persons were very often seduced into taking religious vows at an age when they were incapable of explaining what were their real feelings, and at a time when they were without any experience of the world. Instances must occur where these vows imposed most tyrannical fetters upon the youthful mind, from which they would be happy to be released. He considered religious vows to be contrary to reason, and to the spirit of a free Constitution. He thought it would be a very good enactment that all religious communities should be liable to be visited at certain periods by some authority or commission appointed by the Crown, and that they should have the power to examine the individuals, separately, belonging to those communities, to ascertain whether it was their wish to continue their vows or not. Supposing there were 10,000 religious persons belonging to these communities, and there was only one instance of a person being retained against his or her will—that instance would justify a system of examination by which the tyranny over the conscience of that individual should be suppressed. In making these remarks, he by no means contemplated the suppression of all religious orders. That would be absolutely impossible. The noble Lord the Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire (Lord Morpeth) had said, that he wished to meet the Jesuits by argument and reasoning—and he instanced the writings of Pascal as the kind of works which he would prefer to use against them—rather than by penal enactments. But what effect would such works have? Were not Jesuits employed to write against Pascal, and afterwards were not those works repudiated when it served the purpose? The idea, therefore, of excluding Jesuits and the other religious orders from this country was, he believed, impracticable. But there was some check capable of being imposed upon them; and on this subject he would prefer using, to any words of his 949 own, the emphatic language of the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Treasury, when introducing the Catholic Relief Bill in 1829, who said that "vows of celibacy, or of any religious community, had nothing to do with the institutions and laws of this country—the spirit of which was directly opposed to persons binding themselves by secret vows and oaths." [When was it said?] It was said in 1829, by the right hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill. He understood the meaning of that interrogatory. The right hon. Gentleman having since made a gyration, and left all his former opinions behind, it was thought no longer permissible to refer to Hansard; but these were constitutional principles, and not measures of mere policy. It was true that even in Roman Catholic countries the Jesuits had been suppressed. In Spain a great part of the religious orders been put down, and yet Spain was a very strict Roman Catholic country. It was a country where they objected to the circulation of the Bible, and where religious toleration was not permitted. If, therefore, in that country it was found necessary that religious orders should be put down, it did not seem to him inconsistent that in a Protestant country the Government should retain a power over those religious orders. There were many societies now rising up under various names: there was the order of the "Sisters of Mercy," and the "Brothers of Mercy." Tracts were also being-distributed at the private dwellings of the people, advocating the Roman Catholic doctrines. But with all these things Government did not interfere. No prosecutions were even thought of. But although this spirit of toleration might be wise and proper in the present day, yet circumstances might arise within a few years when it would be desirable that there should exist a power on the part of the Government to check these monastic orders, especially if they should be perverted from their legitimate purpose, and be changed into political institutions. Then with respect to religious rites and ceremonies. It was true, anything like public religious processions could hardly be expected to be attempted in this country. Yet there was no knowing how far religious zeal might go. There had been men who had already assumed somewhat of the splendour resembling the religious processions in Catholic countries. He, however, believed that the good sense of the Roman Catholics would refrain from exhibitions 950 which to them were of a holy character, when there was the risk of any such exhibition being treated by the general mass of the people with an absence of that veneration with which they themselves regarded it. The exhibition of the host, sacred as it might be regarded by Roman Catholics, might, by persons of bad taste, be treated with insult. He did not, therefore, apprehend that anything of this description would occur. Then with respect to the Roman Catholic bishops and archbishops assuming the titles of Protestant bishops and archbishops, he thought that to repeal the law as it now stood in respect to this point was most injudicious, for nothing could be more offensive to the Protestant hierarchy than that a Roman Catholic should take to himself, for instance, the Protestant title of the Archbishop of Canterbury, or that of the Bishop of London. These things had nothing to do with liberty of conscience, nor with the free exercise of religious opinion. He, therefore, thought the clause in the Bill which repealed that portion of the existing law ought to be struck out, because it was needlessly offensive. Admitting that some of the provisions of the Bill were good, still he objected to the spirit of it. He perceived that at the present day there prevailed, among a large section of the Protestant community, and even among the clergy of the Established Church, a strong desire to promote everything that was favourable to the advancement of the Roman Catholic polity. Seeing this, and seeing also the spirit in which this measure had been introduced, and observing that its object was to make an impression on the public mind more and more favourable towards the Roman Catholic religion—he for one should feel it his duty to give his most strenuous opposition to the second reading of the Bill.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
said: I will detain the House but a very short time in assigning the reasons which induce me to give to the proposed Bill my most decided support. I differ entirely from the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I support the second reading of this Bill because I am favourable to the spirit of it, because I believe that it is conceived in the spirit of toleration. I think the title of the Bill claims our support. The title declares it to be "for the repeal of Enactments imposing pains and penalties on Her Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects in consequence of their religion." Now, if there 951 be such pains and penalties, I for one am anxious carefully to investigate our Statute-book, and to see whether they cannot, without danger to the community, be repealed. The hon. Member for the University of Oxford has called the Act of 1829 an unhappy Act. I, on the contrary, regard it as one of the brightest pages in the Statute-hook of this country—as having been too long delayed, but as a consummation in which I am proud to have taken a humble part. And I conceive this Bill to be in conformity with that Act. It is quite true that in the other House of Parliament, on the responsibility of Government, a Bill, the provisions of which are nearly identical with this, has been introduced. My hon. and learned Friend who moved the second reading of this Bill has rightly stated that, in some respects, the measure I speak of goes further than that now under discussion. This Bill is limited to the giving relief to Roman Catholics; the Bill in the other House, and which I hope will soon come down here for consideration, does much more, inasmuch as it proposes to provide relief for all Dissenters. I do not wish to follow the hon. Member for the University of Oxford in all the topics which he has introduced. He has said that the great misfortune of the religion of George III. was, that it was not carried universally to the full extent of all our dominions and dependencies. Now, I entertain the profoundest respect and veneration for the religion of George III.; but I must say that the policy, with reference to his Roman Catholic subjects, which George III. pertinaciously maintained, was, in my opinion, a most unhappy policy. It went very nearly to deprive the British Crown of some of the most valuable portions of the British Empire. The religion I respect, but the policy, speaking sincerely, I must condemn. The hon. Member, while resisting a Bill of this nature, has made an important admission in saying that there are in existence many statutes which might occasion inconvenience and, in some cases, suffering to some of the persons professing the Roman Catholic religion, but they are not acted on. Why, if there be such statutes, I say it is our bounden duty at once to hunt them out, and, without delay, remove the disgrace. And then what is the state of the law with reference to schoolmasters who are Roman Catholics in this country? The hon. Member for the University of Oxford admits that there is a Statute—a Statute now sought to be re-pealed—which prohibits, absolutely, in any 952 part of this country—that is, in England, and in this advanced and enlightened age—and which renders illegal, the teaching of children by a Roman Catholic without a license from a Protestant bishop. The measure now before the House proposes to repeal that Statute; and yet the hon. Member for the University of Oxford positively objects to the second reading. I am most anxious that the principle of this Bill should be affirmed; but I am not prepared, on the part of the Crown, to pledge myself by assenting to the second reading to all the provisions of the Bill. On a former occasion, last year, I declared that in assenting to a second reading I reserved to myself the perfect right of discussing in Committee the policy and the various clauses of such a Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford said, some time ago, with reference to the Act of Supremacy, that the Bill of the Government sought to repeal that Act; and I believe that, with respect to this point, the provisions of the Bill under discussion are identical with those in the Bill introduced in the other House. But my hon. Friend has qualified his expression; he does not now say that the clauses of of the Bill repeal—he asserts only that they modify the Act of Supremacy. That is a correct description. I for one am not prepared to be a party to the repeal of the Oath of Supremacy, and that oath is not repealed by this Act. It is not contemplated by the Bill in the other House; but, limited to the extent to which that Bill goes, I think the partial repeal of the Act of Supremacy advisable and defensible. Considering the vast number of Her Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects in the United Kingdom, I do not think it should be any longer a matter of penalty or of permission by sufferance to affirm what they sincerely believe—the Pope's spiritual and ecclesiastical authority. But that is not now a matter for discussion: it is sufficient to say, that to the limited repeal of the Supremacy Act, as sought in this Bill, I do not object. I again say that so far from regarding the great settlement made in the year 1829 as a settlement to be regretted, I view it as one of the happiest, most politic, and wisest measures adopted in our time. To that settlement I am still disposed to adhere. Some clauses at the end of this Bill are intended to repeal an important portion of that Act; but I think it unwise at the present time to disturb that settlement. I certainly cannot assent to those particular clauses; but, with this reserve- 953 tion, I give my most unhesitating and cordial support to the second reading of this Bill.
§ MR. WYSE
would for his own part have rather left the introduction of such a measure as the present to the good sense and sound policy of the Protestant members of the House, than that any alteration in the existing law should have been proposed in consequence of any unworthy complaint on the part of the Roman Catholics themselves. He could not help thinking that for the sake of the honour and character of the Protestant members themselves, they should remove from the Statute-book the remnant of that disgraceful code which had already been condemned by the general opinion of Europe. He would appeal to the hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Inglis), putting his conscience and his opinions out of view, whether, having surrendered so much of toleration to the irresistible demands of justice, it was worth while to retain these miserable old fetters hanging upon our arms, serving only to remind us of the wrongs of the past, and doing no good, but rather preventing the cordial co-operation of all classes to advance the general improvement of the age. The hon. Baronet had somewhat mistaken the stage of the debate. The House was not now in Committee on the Bill. It was not a question as to this or that clause that they were now discussing. The real matter under discussion was a question of public policy; namely, whether it were wise that any barrier should exist between one portion of Her Majesty's subjects and another, and thereby preventing a union of interests and of feeling arising out of the common rights and common enjoyments of the whole community. If one single grievance enumerated in this Bill existed, he thought the hon. Baronet (Sir R. Inglis) was bound by his own admission to remove it; at all events, not to oppose the second reading of this measure. For the hon. Baronet had stated that there were several cases of practical suffering on the part of the Roman Catholics; and he mentioned, as an instance, the case of Roman Catholic schoolmasters. But the hon. Baronet paused in his admission, and called upon the Roman Catholic Members in that House to point out instances of injustice having actually occurred. But he would submit to the hon. Baronet that the question was not whether any grievance had really occurred, but whether any such grievance might occur. In fact, the ques- 954 tion limited itself to this: if these enactments were of no use, why retain them? If they were of use, and could be applied, then were they not grievances which ought to be removed? From this dilemma the hon. Baronet (Sir R. Inglis) could not escape. But the Roman Catholics had at length the authority of the Representative of the University of Oxford for a course of proceeding which, during the debates on the Catholic Relief Bill, in 1829, was made a matter of frequent and grave charge against the Roman Catholics themselves: for the hon. Baronet had said, that although he wished to retain these penal laws on the Statute-book, yet it was quite practicable for the Catholics to evade them. Thus the hon. Baronet was inculcating the very doctrine which was imputed to the Catholics as a matter of charge. It was said, during the debates he (Mr. Wyse) had referred to, that, make what laws the Legislature might, the ingenuity of the Catholics would be able to evade them under the guidance of their religious instructors; and that it was impossible to bind the consciences of Roman Catholics by enactments of a Protestant Parliament. But now the hon. Baronet held it to be wise to retain on the Statute-book enactments useless in themselves, because it was a very easy matter to evade them. This showed that in the estimation of the hon. Baronet the majesty of the law was a mere shadow and a delusion. Looking through the provisions of this Bill, it occurred to him that they might be very properly extended. He did not wish to confine the measure to Roman Catholics alone. His sincere desire was to extend it to every class and sect of Christians. The hon. Baronet seemed to entertain a peculiar veneration for Queen Elizabeth, whose reign he had characterized in the highest terms of praise. He (Mr. Wyse) would not deny that from her reign and from her statesmen many advantages had been derived to this country; but he could not be blind to the defects of her policy, or to the great errors of her statesmen. From their policy germinated in succeeding reigns that system of legislation which in its consummation produced what is called "the perfection of cruelty and impolicy—the penal code against the Roman Catholics of these realms." To show what absurd enactments passed in that reign, the Act of Uniformity required that the celebration of divine service should be in the Latin tongue; although the book of Common 955 Prayer was at that very time printed in English. This was in 1559. He (Mr. Wyse) presumed that such was the veneration of the hon. Baronet for everything done by Queen Elizabeth and her statesmen, that he would wish to retain this enactment, and require that every Protestant clergyman should perform divine service in the Latin language. The fact was that the whole of the Statute-book was filled with the most bigoted and persecuting enactments against the Roman Catholics; and the statesmen of the present day ought to rejoice at opportunities being given to them from time to time to remove what must be considered by all enlightened Christians bigotry and religious prejudice in the very worst sense of the words. With regard to what had been said by the hon. Member for Rutlandshire (Mr. Finch), he would beg to remark that it was desirable the hon. Member should be more adequately informed upon the subject before he ventured to express an opinion as to the sentiments of the Roman Catholics in respect to the power of the Pope. There was no such thing in the present day as the exercise of temporal power by the Pope, except in the States of Italy, of which he was the acknowledged temporal Sovereign. There did exist in the middle ages a temporal power on the part of the Pope beyond his own dominions; and those who read with a proper feeling the history of the middle ages—not confining their views to the reigns of an Elizabeth or of a William, but looking at the circumstances existing in Europe in those ages — would find that even that temporal power assumed by the Pope had its advantages, and that it was the source whence great general good to the European States flowed. But it was far from his wish to deny the principle of confining the temporal power of the Pope to his own territorial dominions. On the contrary, he joined in deprecating the extension of that power beyond the Papal States. Now, with respect to the monastic orders some observations had fallen from the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Finch), which somewhat surprised him. The hon. Gentleman had suggested as a means for suppressing the order of Jesuits, and of restricting other religious orders in this country that a sort of commission — a commission of lunacy possibly — should be appointed to inquire into any disorders that might take place in those communities, and that these commissioners should have the power of emancipating any young fe- 956 males from the hardships and oppressions under which they might be be placed in those societies. But did not the hon. Gentleman know that all those institutions afforded abundant opportunities to every person who entered them to consider well what they were about to do? If the objection of the hon. Gentleman was to the age of the individuals who entered those religious societies, why did he not propose to appoint a commission to inquire into the ages of persons who entered into the marriage contract — which was a bond as strong and irreversible as any vow connected with these religious orders? He did not think there was any power, or any statesman, who could devise a means by which to prevent the extension of these religious orders. The whole matter must be left to the good sense, observation, and feeling of the country. Any enactment of Parliament to impede these things must be futile in its operation. With reference to the assumption of titles by the Roman Catholic bishops, he might just observe that, in England, no Roman Catholic bishop took his title from any place within the kingdom; nor did he believe, that, were the statute prohibiting the assumption of such titles to be repealed to-morrow, would his holiness the Pope, in the exercise of his discretion, permit Roman Catholic bishops to take such titles. They had not done so since the period of the Reformation. There was a provision in the Catholic Relief Bill of 1829, forbidding Roman Catholic bishops assuming the titles of any Protestant bishop. When the Charitable Bequests Bill was under discussion, he contended for the policy of recognising the character and dignity of the archbishops and bishops of the Roman Catholic Church of Ireland; and the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel), after consideration, acceded to the wishes expressed by hon. Members on this (the Opposition) side of the House. The alteration had since taken place; and among the documents which had been laid on the Table he found the most Rev. Dr. Murray entitled his Grace, and the Rev. Dr. Croly was designated as Lord Bishop. There had been no assumption of any title by a Catholic archbishop which was borne by a Protestant archbishop. There was a Catholic archbishop of Tuam, but there was no Protestant archbishop of that title existing. But it was not a question of titles that the House had to discuss. It was whether the miserable dregs of a cruel and, he had 957 hoped, an obsolete code, should be kept up in order to fester in the minds of a large portion of Her Majesty's subjects. The question was, whether this remnant of intolerance was necessary to uphold a great Protestant Establishment? Really he should blush, were he a Member of the Church of England, at having it supposed that that Church did not depend for its maintenance upon the purity of its doctrines and the soundness of its faith, but upon those barbarous enactments which it was the object of this Bill to put an end to. He had confidence that the good sense of the House would second the feeling which had been expressed by Her Majesty's Government on this subject, and that the Bill now before them would meet with an almost unanimous reception. He could wish that every remnant of religious intolerance should be abrogated. He did not claim any special provision for Roman Catholics, though it had been their lot to be marked out for every sort of penalty and disgrace.
§ MR. COLQUHOUN
was anxious to explain the grounds upon which he should support the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford. He had not the slightest objection to those parts of the measure which repealed enactments that were characterized by bigotry, or that partook of the spirit of persecution. He did not agree with his hon. Friend that those enactments should remain on the Statute-book, in order that they might be evaded; which imposed penalties that were not practically enforced, because they were both unjust and impolitic. But he entertained some very strong objections to the Bill; nor did he think, because it might contain some wise provisions, that that was a sufficient reason, while entertaining those objections, that he should support its second reading. He thought the paramount part of the Bill—its purport and its design—was contrary to the spirit of the Constitution, and to that wise policy which ought to prevail, more especially at this time, in the legislative councils of the country. He would not go back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth, distinguished as it was. That reign could require no defence, for any man who valued his rights, and was a lover of liberty—any man who knew and read Spencer, or Shakspeare—any man who had studied Bacon, or the works of Coke, must feel that the reign of Elizabeth stood not in need of any defence. But his objection to this measure rested upon what he consi- 958 dered to be the paramount part of it—namely, that it modified the Act of Supremacy. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department, asked whether it was wise or just to prevent persons from affirming that which they in their consciences believed—namely, that the Pope of Rome did hold spiritual jurisdiction in this country? But there was a more serious question than that involved in the present measure. For he found on the very face of the Bill a repeal of the Act of Supremacy, which contained these words:—It is enacted, that if any person or persons dwelling or inhabiting within this your realm, or in any other your Highness's realms or dominions, of what estate, dignity, or degree soever he or they be, after the end of thirty days next after the determination of this Session of this present Parliament, shall, by writing, printing, teaching, preaching, express words, deed, or act, advisedly, maliciously, and directly affirm, hold, stand with, set forth, maintain, or defend, the authority, preeminence, power or jurisdiction, spiritual or ecclesiastical, of any foreign prince, prelate, person, state or potentate whatsoever, heretofore claimed, used, or usurped within this realm, or any dominion or country being within or under the power, dominion, or allegiance of your Highness, or shall advisedly, maliciously, and directly put in use or execute anything for the extolling, advancement, setting forth, maintenance, or defence of any such pretended or usurped jurisdiction, power, preeminence, and authority, or any part thereof, that then every such person," &c.What he conceived to be the manifest spirit of that law was this—that it was the principle of the Constitution that there should be in this country one sole constituted authority. That constituted authority rested in the two Houses of Parliament and in the Crown. But it required also that the Parliament should not, and must not, set forth by any act of its own any thing that should tend to subvert, undermine, or weaken that great authority which existed in the Crown and Parliament of this country. But he found that it was the avowed opinion of most respectable parties, that the power of the Church of Rome, the ecclesiastical power, should rule supreme over all ecclesiastical matters. They conceived that it was a doctrine asserted by their ablest writers, and it was with them every day's practice. Would the House assent to the proposition that a vote at an election was an ecclesiastical matter? Would hon. Gentlemen tell him that when he gave his vote at an election, he was not exercising a political act, for which he ought to be responsible to the State, by whose, authority be exercised 959 that vote, but that his responsibility was to the Church of Rome? Such was the doctrine of that church; not in letter, but in act. It told him that he was not to exercise that act unless he did it at the behest of the Church of Rome. ["No, no!"] He begged hon. Gentlemen not verbally to contradict but to disprove his statement. There was ample evidence taken before the Committee moved for by the hon. Member for Devonport, to prove that because an oath was taken at an election, that was considered by the Church of Rome a religious matter, and was therefore within the cognizance of the ecclesiastical authorities of that Church. [Mr. O'CONNELL: The authorities of the Church of Rome don't say it.] He looked not to words but to facts. He was dealing with the question as a politician, and was looking to the political safety of the country. He had nothing to do with words of denial, but with acts. He asked not what a man denied or affirmed, but what he did. It was his duty not to wage a war against the professions of men, but against the things which they constantly practised—practices which he deemed too formidable and dangerous to be passed by, and which he was prepared to meet and put down by all the authority of Parliament. He did not ask what the books said, or what the Roman code said. He would say, as M. Thiers said in the Legislature of France last year—when he declared that he did not look to professed opinions, but to the practices of the day. He trusted that the noble Lord opposite (Lord Morpeth) would allow him (Mr. Colquhoun) to quote the authority of M. Thiers, because he was allowed to be the most liberal and able statesman of France. [Mr. O'CONNELL: No!] Yes! but the hon. and learned man did not like that sort of liberalism. He did not like the liberalism which went to guard the rights and liberties of the subject against ecclesiastical power. But so long as he (Mr. Colquhoun) should possess a seat in that House, he should be prepared to grapple with the grasping power of ecclesiastical domination. He should always contend for the rights of conscience, free judgment, and for those great Protestant rights which were asserted at the Reformation, and which, it was his belief, the ecclesiastical authorities of Rome now sought to overthrow. Looking practically at this matter, as well as politically, M. Thiers had said that he had found a body of Jesuits in his country, and others, 960 who were fond of advocating the doctrine that ecclesiastical power ought to be supreme over the civil power, and that the civil power ought to take its commands from the ecclesiastical; and that eminent statesman called upon the Minister during the last year to take steps to confront those projects, and to remove the parties from the soil of France. Perhaps he might not agree with the policy of M. Thiers, it not being, in his judgment, the most likely means of effecting his object, because, though the Jesuits might be removed in name, yet he very much doubted whether they would be removed in fact. That was not the recommendation which he would venture to offer to the House, nor was it the course upon which he thought their policy should be based; but he did say that for men to assert the doctrine that the ecclesiastical power should overrule the civil power was so dangerous that it ought to be confronted by that House, He had no wish to maintain the religious opinions of a great establishment, such as existed in this country, by any intolerant law. He entirely disclaimed such law, as being subversive of that Protestant principle on which the Church rested. He must repudiate it when it was asserted. It was not the doctrine of the Church of England, which was a Church of the highest possible tolerance—a Church which maintained Protestant principles within its admirable discipline—a Church which, while it recognised the order of an establishment, equally recognised the freedom of human conscience and of human judgment. But he found that it was admitted on all sides that they were advancing to a period—a very important and critical period in the history of Europe—a period in which they were engaged in a great struggle between ecclesiastical authority and civil power. His hon. Friend the Member for Rutlandshire had alluded to that struggle as existing within our own Church. He would not deny that it was a danger of a very serious character, and when it should become so serious "politically" as to require the interposition of the Legislature, he, for one, should not shrink at the proper time and in a proper manner to encounter that danger. The hon. Gentleman then adverted to the construction put upon the oath of supremacy prescribed by the Bill of 1829, by the Roman Catholic bishops; and he stated that both the ecclesiastics of that Church and a large body of respectable Roman Catholic laymen entertained insuperable objections to the tak- 961 ing of that oath. It was upon this that he founded his opposition to the present measure, knowing there was a party in the Church of Rome who held that the authority of that Church was so supreme, that they could not take an oath of civil allegiance to the Sovereign of this country. He would not assist in giving countenance to any such doctrine. It was a principle fatal to the constitutional liberties of England—liberties settled and confirmed at a period to which the hon. Member for Waterford looked back with disdain, but which he regarded as establishing the constitutional principles of this country, and to which he looked with pride.
said, he could not help feeling some surprise when he beard the hon. Member opposite defend the oath of supremacy, although the oath had practically been repealed as regarded all persons who wished to avail themselves of that provision which, concerning that oath, had given relief to the Catholics. He likewise felt considerable surprise when he heard the hon. Member who last addressed the House, saying that he had resolved to oppose the present Bill. The general impression certainly was, that such opposition could hardly be considered consistent with the language held by the hon. Gentleman on former occasions. Perhaps the reports of his speeches were not correct; but he believed that the hon. Gentleman had been a supporter of the Free Church of Scotland. As the hon. Member did not contradict that statement, he concluded that there was no mistake in the matter. Now, it was well known that the Free Church asserted ecclesiastical supremacy in all matters ecclesiastical; and he could not avoid noticing the fact that a Gentleman who supported that principle should, nevertheless, he found voting against the present measure.
§ MR. COLQUHOUN
rose amidst cries of "Order." He said, he thought that he had some right to complain; while he sat silent an erroneous construction was put upon his silence, and when he attempted to speak he was assailed with a cry of "Order." He felt that he should be out of order if he interrupted the hon. and learned Member for Cork; but now that his silence was misconstrued, he begged to disclaim such sentiments as had been imputed to him. He had no connection with the Free Church of Scotland.
resumed: He expected that the hon. Member would have 962 risen to correct the statement he had made if it were erroneous. He wished to be corrected; and now, finding that the hon. Gentleman could not be charged with inconsistency, he should take the liberty of saying that if he had supported the Free Church of Scotland, he should in doing so have been co-operating with some of the most eminent of his countrymen. The Free Church of Scotland was supported by a large proportion of the most distinguished men in Scotland, and by a great number of the clergy. It was a fact indisputable, that the great mass of the people of Scotland had declared in favour of ecclesiastical supremacy. The Act which asserted civil supremacy in matters ecclesiastical, never had been introduced into Scotland; and, as far as he could judge, not only did the Free Church, but also did the Established Church of Scotland resist the interference of the civil power in ecclesiastical affairs. In one-third, therefore, of Her Majesty's dominions, all parties rejected that constitutional principle for which the hon. Gentleman so strenuously contended. His (Mr. O'Connell's) opinion on the subject was this, that in ecclesiastical matters the ecclesiastical authorities were supreme, that the civil power should enjoy perfect supremacy in civil affairs. In a word, he supported a complete severance of the Church from the State. In thus shortly stating his views of a subject respecting which he could not remain wholly silent, he wished it to be understood that he had no intention of following other speakers through the contradictory evidence that had been brought under the notice of the House; yet this at least he would say, that two-thirds of the observations which the House had heard might very well have been listened to in Committee, but they appeared to him to contain no reason whatever against going into Committee. There remained, then, another topic upon which he might address them, and that was public processions. He should certainly oppose any Act that authorized any processions, especially of the host, through the public streets. For his part, he condemned any public procession of the host. Those who thought as he did could not fail to regard the adorable sacrament with sentiments which rendered it impossible for them to be willing that it should be exposed to the ribaldry or cause the riots which might arise from the conduct or the language of those who differed from Catholics on religious subjects. It was well known that in Malta processions 963 of the kind to which he referred had taken place; it was well known that a captain of artillery refused to give orders for firing in the manner that was expected and wished for upon such occasions. That officer conscientiously refused to do so. The result was, that he lost his commission, and in a professional point of view was ruined. Whenever the case of that officer was brought before the House of Commons he (Mr. O'Connell) always voted in his favour; and he should continue to do so in the case of any other officer similarly circumstanced. The next subject upon which he had to say a few words was that of schools, but even into that subject he should not enter at any length. As the law at present stood, the bishop might refuse to license a school in any diocese of England; but in Ireland that restriction had many years ago been removed, at least so far as Catholics were concerned. He recollected that one of the first professional engagements which he had held was against the Bishop of Cork, for proceeding against a Catholic schoolmaster for not having a license. The law in Ireland should be the same as the law of England on the subject. As to the ecclesiastical courts, the practice of excluding Catholic proctors was a great grievance in Ireland as well as here. In Ireland a Catholic barrister might practise in their courts. The anomaly then existed that a Catholic barrister might practise in their courts, but a Catholic proctor could not. He could not sit down without saying a few words respecting the ecclesiastical orders. With respect to nuns, there was no law against them. The superior of a religious establishment could not keep a lady in it if she chose to leave. There was no power to detain her twenty-four hours. There was no instance of any one thus leaving a religious establishment; but there was no compulsion in them. The noble Lord seemed to have an impression on his mind unfavourable to the Jesuits. This was because he had not had the opportunity or inducement to consult or consider the history of that most illustrious order. He (Mr. O'Connell) had well considered it; and he was satisfied that there never existed a body of men who were greater benefactors to science and literature as well as to religion. That order had experienced more injurious treatment from Catholics than Protestants. He believed that their virtues were made crimes; and that the strict discipline which they enforced operated against them. He would 964 challenge any man to give him time and date, and state any circumstance disgraceful to the character of the Jesuits, which he was not able to refute. No man could be admitted a Jesuit until after twelve years of religious exercise and study, and devoting five years to the instruction of youth. Then at the expiration he might or might not be admitted into the order. It could not be disputed that many of the most distinguished men of science and literature belonged to this order, notwithstanding all that had been said against them. The authority of Pascal, although an elegant writer, was not of any great weight on this subject. This would be apparent to any one who would look into the facts of the case. His book turned merely on a crotchet. There was another person, however, who had recently made some atrocious attacks upon them. Michelet was not an author to be quoted as an authority either here or elsewhere. He was a writer of romances of the most atrocious nature against the Jesuits. How he succeeded in France was by drawing on his imagination instead of upon authorities. There was not one assertion of crime which he had alleged on the part of the Jesuits, which was not without foundation. The Jesuits were subject to the civil law, like other men; and if they were guilty of crimes, they could be punished. The truth was, that they had drawn persecution upon themselves in consequence of the purity of their lives. From what countries had they first been expelled and had suffered persecution? They had first been expelled from Portugal. He was sure no one would say that that was a most pure and enlightened country. They had then been expelled from Spain. He was sure no one would rise and say that that was a pure and enlightened country. But, thank God! they had revived again, and had diffused themselves over the face of the earth. They had sent, within a very short time, not less than fifty missionaries to Corea, Cochin-China, and Siam, and other places; and he had no doubt but that they would double the number next, year. This was the first time that he had said anything in that House in favour of the Jesuits; but he had done so now because he regarded them as the greatest benefactors of science and literature.
§ MR. PAKINGTON
said, he could not refuse his assent to the second reading of this Bill. He estimated the blessings of religion, freedom, and liberty of conscience, as highly as any one; but he thought it 965 perfectly consistent with those feelings, and with a sincere attachment to the Protestant Church, of which he was a member, to vote for the principle of this Bill; which was the removal from the Statute-book of enactments which had not only become perfectly extinct, but which had been long abandoned. He thought, with the hon. and learned Mover of the second reading, that the time had arrived when those Acts ought to be no longer continued; and that the Established Church of this country ought to rest on the affections and religious faith of the people. Still, he did not suppose that there was no security whatever in legal enactments; and while supporting the spirit of the Bill, he was not inclined to go to the extent of its details. He was not prepared to abandon the safeguards imposed by the Emancipation Act of 1829. He had always been disposed to make concessions which were in the spirit of the Constitution. He should have voted for the Emancipation Act in 1829; last year be voted for the Maynooth measure; and he was prepared to carry those concessions further, as far as could be done without injury to the Protestant Constitution. But be was not prepared to do this in favour of the Roman Catholics, to the exclusion of other denominations of Christians, both at home and in the Colonies. He thought a Bill of this kind was better in the hands of Government than of a private Member: he understood a similar Bill was before the other House, introduced by the Lord Chancellor, and he was rather disposed to wait till that Bill was before the House. While agreeing in the principle of this Bill, he did not go to the full extent of its provisions; and he should join other hon. Members, in Committee, in very much reducing its extent.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
merely rose for the purpose of saying, that he had had the happiness of spending several years in the early part of his life in the company of Jesuits, as he had been educated in the Jesuit College at Clongowes, and he had never heard a word or sentiment from them that was unworthy of a Christian, an enlightened gentleman, and a loyal subject.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that, in order to form a correct estimate of the principles of the Jesuits, the House ought to know something of their specific acts, and of their members, and where they existed. He could not agree in the eulogy which some hon. Members had passed on the Jesuits; that some credit might be due 966 to them he would not deny; but he could not admit anything like what had been attributed to them. They had been expelled from most of the countries of Europe; and he was surprised at hearing hon. Gentlemen opposite denominate Spain and Portugal, whence the Jesuits had been expelled, ignorant countries, which had been the very focus of the faith they professed. He could only say, that whenever the Roman Catholic religion was advocated as being every thing that was generous and estimable, he was surprised that he had not heard those countries quoted as evidence of its merits. The hon. Member for Cork congratulated the House on the increase of the order of Jesuits; but, looking at the amount of social happiness and welfare prevailing in that part of this Empire, Ireland, where their influence was most powerful, he did not consider it at all a recommendation of their principles. Their very existence involved a principle of secrecy, which was contrary to all the principles of our Constitution, If the object of this Bill were merely to remove obsolete Statutes, why had the last clause been introduced? He hoped the noble Lord the Member for London would act consistently with the principles he had avowed last year, in the discussions on the Maynooth Bill. It would afford him the highest satisfaction to see the noble Lord making a stand against this Bill. The most distinguished statesmen of this country had been opposed to the removal of the restrictions that existed upon the Jesuits, on account of their machinations in all countries in Europe. Judging by the exertions making elsewhere by this body, there was no doubt they were busily at work in this country. He felt it his duty, under the circumstances in which the country was placed, to support the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford.
§ LORD J. MANNERS
thought his hon. Friend near him had asked questions to which his own speech had given an answer. He said the penalties on the Statute-book were never enforced, that they were obsolete; and then asked why they should not be maintained? He would answer in the words of his hon. Friend, because they were inoperative and obsolete. His hon. Friend had spoken of these restrictions as safeguards; but he could not see what safety was in enactments never enforced, and if enforced, would be so grievous, that even his hon. Friend himself would consent 967 to their repeal. His hon. Friend who proposed the second reading, had found fault with certain penalties, and alluded to certain grievances, which the Bill, after all, would not affect. He instanced the case of bequests of property and money to Roman Catholic establishments. He said this Bill would not remove such disability; but his hon Friend would allow him to say that there was no law absolutely prohibitory of such bequests to Roman Catholic establishments. It was under an Act of Elizabeth, which he proposed to repeal, that they became invalid. But his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford said, they were not penalties which ought to be enforced; but what consolation could it afford to him, or to any member of the Church of England, to retain on the Statute-book measures which were only defensible because they could not be enforced. His hon. Friend said, he would remove them when some practical grievance resulted from their enforcement. He differed from his hon. Friend; for he believed in the old adage, that it was absurd to shut the stable door when the horse was stolen. He would wait until some evil-disposed person brought down the terrors of the law against the "Christian Brothers," or some other religious society, and then set about repealing the law by which the hardship was inflicted. In reference to what had been stated by the hon. Member for Rutland, that it would be impossible to affect the Jesuits, he would go further, and say, that he should rejoice to see the Jesuits and the other religious orders recognised, placed under the authority of the Crown, and visited by some responsible commission. He could not sympathize in the fears which had been expressed respecting the Jesuits and other religious orders. Hundreds of years ago the Templars were looked upon in the same light as the Jesuits were now. There was no monstrosity too horrible to be attributed to them then. There was no monstrosity too horrible to be attributed to the Jesuits at the present day. Such feelings had no foundation in fact. In a journal of great and deserved celebrity, The Spectator, there appeared, not long since, the following remarks:—There are two sets of Jesuits—the Jesuits of fact, and the Jesuits of fiction; and as there are more readers of romances than students of history, the latter are more familar to the public. The Jesuits of fiction will be admitted on all hands to be terrible fellows; but their proper place is in the circulating library, not in polemical and far 968 less in political discussions. The Jesuits of fact closely resemble all other respectable Romish clergymen, except in so far as their order has long supplied the most accomplished members of that body. In the history of every branch of science and literature, distinguished Jesuits are met with; the practice and theory of education are deeply indebted to their experiments; among the earliest and most ably planned missions to the heathen were those of the Jesuits.It should not be forgotten that our recent success, and the extension of our commerce to China, were in a great measure attributable to the Jesuits, who were the first to introduce the Christian religion and civilization into China. What that order had performed in the cause of religion and humanity ought not to be overlooked. The sort of alarm attempted to be raised about Jesuits at this time of day, was altogether absurd—the revival of an old prejudice unworthy of the age. With respect to the other religious orders, could anybody stand up in that House, and, looking at the state of the manufacturing districts and the ignorant demoralising condition of their inhabitants, say it was a time to put a stop to the exercise of charitable duties administered by religious bodies. By a return made by one of these religious institutions in Leicestershire, it appeared that—During the year 1845 we have given lodging to 2,758 poor distressed travellers and workmen. We have given portions of food to 18,887 in distress during the same year.Instead of putting down by penalties institutions of a similar nature, it would be well to take warning and example by what they did. Instead of punishing the Christian Brothers of Birmingham, or the Cistercians of Mount Melleray, it would be well to imitate their example. The present laws had proved inoperative in practice; and there was a strong feeling, in which he largely shared, that they were indefensible in argument. If, then, they were inoperative in practice and indefensible in argument, the time was come when they should cease to sully the dignity of the English Statute-book.
§ MR. ESTCOURT
could not consent to abrogate those safeguards for the faith of the country which the Act of 1829 established. It might be said, that those enactments were inoperative, but at the time when that Act was passed they were looked upon as being of very considerable importance; and during the discussions which took place upon the subject his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government dwelt very forcibly upon the offence which Protestants would justly feel at 969 the public and ostentatious assumption by officials of the Roman Catholic Church of those titles which rightfully belonged only to the dignitaries of the Established Church. The late Lord Tenterden also, whose opinion was deserving of much respect, had expressed his strong feeling against the assumption of such titles by the Roman Catholic bishops. When he coupled these considerations with the arguments which were heard relative to the necessity of a different disposition of the temporalities of the Irish Church, if it was the object of the Legislature to conciliate the Roman Catholics of that country, he could not but regard this Bill as replete with danger, and must therefore oppose it.
§ MR. BORTHWICK
said, he had risen to seek the Speaker's eye with an eagerness, he feared, disproportioned to the importance of anything he had to say. His object, mainly, in rising, was to explain a word by which he had, he hoped not discourteously, interrupted a part of the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyne. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Colquhoun) was at the time arguing from evidence given before a Committee of that House, that the Church of Rome authorized the interference, on spiritual grounds, of her clergy in the election of Members to that House. He believed, for his part, that such interference was contrary to the doctrines of the Church of Rome, as it was, indeed, to those of every other Christian church; but if it were sanctioned by the practices of priests in Ireland, he could only say that there was nothing in the present Bill which would either prevent or encourage it. The point was, therefore, irrelevant. Now, he would decidedly vote for the Motion before the House. He believed the Bill to be founded on that large and liberal charity which was the child of Christianity, and the mother of the Church of England. He believed he had correctly, though by a figure, expressed his view of the case. Christianity had introduced into the world a charity more universal and purer than was known to any other religion; and that charity had given birth to, as it sustained, the pure and reformed Establishment under which it was our happiness to live. But when he had said this, he had said all which he felt was likely to be very well received by the series of speakers who on either side had continued that debate. He liked liberality and charity; but he owned he was not partial to the somewhat illiberal—he would 970 say almost ferocious—assertion of these principles, to which they had that day listened. He did not, for example, think it was any answer to the arguments upon such subjects of his noble Friend the Member for Newark, that an hon. Gentleman fresh from the study of Shakspeare, recommended by the hon. Gentleman below (Mr. Colquhoun), should turn round upon his noble Friend (Lord John Manners) and say, "Get thee to a nunnery!" Nor could he, on the other hand, agree with the noble Lord opposite, the distinguished Knight of the Shire for the West Riding. That noble Lord had ridden into the lists armed cap-a-pie, and jauntily, with an air so simple and gracious that he reminded him of the knight in Chaucer, attacked the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford—In his port as meek as is a maid,He never yet ne villanie had saidIn all his life unto no manner wight,He was a very parfit gentle knight.But with all this gentleness, the noble Lord had not hesitated to call the opinions of those to whom he was opposed," the rags and remnants of bigotry." Such language, he thought, could aid no cause, and convinced him that there might be a bigotry even in liberality. He would say but one word more, and that upon the subject of the Jesuits. He sincerely trusted that whatever might be our various opinions on other subjects, the brilliant masses of nonsense which in the Juif Errant had been directed by Eugene Sue against the principles alike of morality and religion, might never become popular with the youth of this country. There was in those volumes more which was at variance with Christian morals and Christianity itself—more that was revolting to every well-constituted mind—than ever their worst enemies had alleged against the Jesuits.
§ MR. MILNES
said, that so far as he was concerned he should have preferred that the discussion had been taken on the Bill proposed by Her Majesty's Government, because the present measure might perhaps be regarded in a false light by some out of doors. He should, however, support the second reading of the Bill now before the House, which he thought would not promote Catholic interests exclusively, but would conduce to the benefit of the whole community, by giving a large measure of toleration to all Her Majesty's subjects. He had resided for many years in Catholic countries, and had attended at the celebration of the worship of the Es- 971 tablished Church of England, under the very walls of the Vatican. He was glad to find the spirit of mutual forbearance and Christian charity spreading throughout the various sects of religionists in Europe, and thought that if we removed these offensive enactments from our Statute-books it would have a good effect with the Catholic nations of the Continent. He could say this, that a few days since he had been assured that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government was a professed Jesuit. He could assure the House the observation was made to him in perfect good faith; and, indeed, the hon. Member for Rutlandshire seemed to carry his fears so far so as to admit the justice of the supposition. He hoped that they would eschew these absurd delusions about Jesuits, and remove for ever from the Statute-book these odious penalties and disabilities.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
could adopt, in reference to this measure, but one course, and that was the consistent course, and the same that he had pursued in reference to the grant to the College of Maynooth. He did hope that the hon. Member for Oxford would take a division on his Amendment. He would say that the Protestant Church was much indebted to the hon. Member for the great ability, great exertion, and consistency which he had evinced in defending it. With regard to this measure, he would support the suggestion of the hon. Member for Oxford, because he feared that, to leave the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet unsupported, would have the effect of undermining the Protestant religion in this country.
§ CAPTAIN HARRIS
thought that if any unpleasantness was attached to the subject of religion, it was entirely owing to the remissness of Government. The result of the Bill's being brought forward in its present form was, that extravagant encomiums had been passed by several hon. Gentlemen on the order of Jesuits. He did not think, however, that the Bill would pass the House of Lords.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
did not wish to enter into any further argument upon the Bill. He merely wished to make a few observations with regard to the penalties to which Roman Catholics had been subjected by former enactments. There was some doubt upon the question whether the penalties which formerly attached to the holding of any intercourse by subjects of these realms with the See of Rome had 972 been repealed. Many years ago, he had heard Mr. Canning state in that House, that he had taken the opinion of the law officers of the Crown, who were decided that no letter could be written to the Court of Rome without incurring a premunire. He had not read the Bill at present before the House, and he, therefore, did not know whether it repealed those penalties or not. But it appeared to him, that all such penalties should be repealed; and if the Bill were not so framed as to remove them, he should suggest the propriety of inserting a clause in Committee for the purpose.
§ MR. B. ESCOTT
said, that an opinion had been lately taken upon the subject mentioned by the noble Lord, and it appeared that those penalties could not be levied. However, if it should appear that such, were not the case, or that too much doubt existed upon the subject, he (Mr. Escott) should be happy to introduce in Committee a clause to effect their total repeal.
§ MR. P. HOWARD
wished to correct an hon. Member opposite, who was wrong in his idea of the existing law in France regarding the Jesuits. The law did not expel them; but each community was limited to twenty in number.
§ MR. B. ESCOTT
replied. He said that in this Act he wished to introduce a clause which would prevent Roman Catholic clergymen from celebrating any religious ceremony in any public place, and which would also prohibit any processions of Roman Catholics in any public street or way. He thanked the House most extremely for the manner in which the Bill had been generally received; and he also felt thankful to those hon. Gentlemen, particularly the Member for the University of Oxford, for the arguments which they had brought forward against it. Those hon. Gentlemen begun by saying that those Acts which were obsolete should be repealed; and then they said that if there were any statutes which were of serious inconvenience to any persuasion, they ought to be repealed. He fully agreed with them so far, and thought those penal statutes which were in existence were either obsolete or inconvenient, and therefore ought to be repealed. If they were obsolete, then they were of no use, and ought to be abolished; and if they were penal, then that was a still stronger reason for their repeal.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Lockhart, A. E.|
|Aldam, W.||Mackinnon, W. A.|
|Archbold, R.||M'Carthy, A.|
|Baine, W.||McGeachy, F. A.|
|Blake, M. J.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Borthwick, P.||Mitcalfe, H.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Morpeth, Visct.|
|Bridgeman, H.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Brotherton, J.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Browne, hon. W.||O'Connell, D.|
|Butler, hon. Col.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||O'Connell, J.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Pakington, J. S.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Pechell, Capt.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Dodd, G.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Duncombe, T.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Ellice, rt. hon. E.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Elphinstone, H.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Evans, W.||Thornely, T.|
|Ewart, W.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Fielden, J.||Tufnell, H.|
|Fitzgerald, R. A.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Forster, M.||Warburton, H.|
|Gibson, T. M.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Gisbornc, T.||White, S.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Williams, W.|
|Greene, T.||Wood, C.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Worsley, Lord|
|Hawes, B.||Wyse, T.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||TELLERS.|
|Howard, P. H.||Escott, B.|
|Lascelles, hon. W. S.||Manners, Lord J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Beresford, Major||Hope, Sir J.|
|Broadley, H.||Neeld, J.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Cole, hon. H. A.||Packe, C. W.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Rolleston, Col.|
|Duncombe, hon. 0.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Estcourt, T. G. B.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Finch, G.||Spooner, R.|
|Floyer, J.||Tollemache, J.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Harris, hon. Capt.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Hodgson, R.||Colquhoun, J.|