§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
rose and said: Sir, as I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford means to oppose the resolution that this House resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House to consider the propriety of the removal of the disabilities now affecting a large portion of the inhabitants of this country, I feel myself compelled, before making that Motion, to state to the House the general grounds on which I propose the adoption of such a measure. I understand from my hon. Friend that if a majority of the House should agree to go into Committee, he does not mean to extend his opposition to negative the resolution which it will be necessary to adopt before I can introduce any measure upon the subject. That being the case, it will be as convenient to take the discussion at the present moment as to reserve it for the next stage, which is the more usual course, and which has been fol- 1235 lowed upon a former occasion. In bringing forward this subject, I feel that I cannot avail myself of many of those topics which those who have proposed the removal of disabilities on account of religious opinions have been enabled to appeal to for the purpose of inducing the House to agree to their proposition. I cannot, as when I proposed the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, state to the House that there are some three millions of our fellow-subjects affected by it; men actively engaged in the industry and trade of those cities and towns from the municipalities of which they are excluded; men of the highest moral characters; men unsurpassed in the discharge of their duties to the State and in their loyalty to the Crown. I cannot either, as a great man did who introduced the question of Catholic disabilities to the attention of Parliament, refer to the state and condition of a neighbouring country as a potent motive to induce the House to endeavour to remove that continued and well-founded cause of discontent among that large class of Her Majesty's subjects. I cannot, as he did, speak with indignation of a whole people kept in a state of degradation by those disabilities, and, like him, ask the House, as it values the peace and welfare of the country at large, to agree to this Motion. Sir, I feel this is a question which does not affect so large a portion of the population of this country, and the acceptance or rejection of which by this House does not involve such consequences. I am about, therefore, to address the House rather on the question of principle involved in it, than on the ground of political expediency—a question certainly involving the political and religious liabilities of a portion of our countrymen, but involving them, I admit, only as for about 40,000 individuals—involving the rights and liberties, political and religious, of a community not disposed, nor indeed able, if they were so disposed, to excite a clamour in the country in their behalf, to agitate the public mind in their favour, or to threaten the integrity of the empire with subversion if their demands are not complied with. But, Sir, feeling that I cannot use such a line of argument, I will, at the same time, take the liberty to advise this House that there may be a danger in refusing these demands, not affecting the welfare of the State, but the character of Parliament, involving as they do claims continually denied. It may be said, in such a case, that Parliament is unwilling 1236 to concede any claims, however just, until it is compelled—that Parliament has never practically adopted any just principles of equity for all classes of Her Majesty's subjects; that only when vast bodies of men, armed with wealth and the power of numbers threaten it, does Parliament yield to the just demands of these parties; but that when there is no opposition to its proceedings, when no danger menaces the country, and when no public inconvenience is likely to arise, Parliament adopts the principle of religious persecution, and proves that it was with unwillingness on its part that those large and liberal measures of civil and religious liberty formerly carried in the House, were on those occasions conceded. Such, Sir, I venture to say, will be the result—a result most injurious, I need not add, to the character of Parliament. There is, as I have said, no danger to be apprehended, one way or the other, from the rejection or acceptance of this measure which I now propose. One danger there was—a danger pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, when a similar measure was brought forward in 1830. On that occasion my hon. Friend took upon himself the character of a prophet, and he told the House, "You may depend upon it that if you admit the Jews to civil offices in the State, you will get the affairs of this country into such confusion that you will have a reform in Parliament within seven years." But, Sir, without any admission of the Jews to civil offices in the State—without any precursor in the shape of confusion predicted by my hon. Friend—that dreaded event happened, and within two years Reform was adopted. That danger is, therefore, at an end. I now, Sir, proceed to state to the House that I place this question on the simple, and as I think, solid ground, that every Englishman, born in the country, is entitled to all the honours and advantages of the British constitution. I state further, that religious opinions of themselves ought not to be any disqualification or bar to the enjoyment of those advantages. I found my Motion upon the declaration that the laws of England are the birthright of the people of England. I found it on a declaration made in the House of Lords during the discussions on the Conformity Bill:—The Lords think that an Englishman cannot be reduced to a more unhappy condition than to be put by law under an incapacity of serving his prince and country; and therefore nothing but a 1237 crime of the most detestable nature ought to put him under such a disability.I say that unless something can be proved to disqualify the Jews, that they stand in the position of persons born in this country, bearing all the burdens imposed by its laws, ready to serve their prince or their country in any capacity in which their services may be required, and therefore entitled to all the privileges which their fellow-subjects enjoy. Sir, I state this with confidence, and I will not attempt to ask your favour, by urging their peculiar merits, which I might do; but I think that it is not a matter of favour to them, and unless some strong ground of disqualification can be proved, I consider that it is a matter of right. I will not say—I will not urge on their behalf—that even those who are the most decidedly opposed to the claim of the Jews, admit them to be persons of a peaceable and moral character. I will not urge that they are governed by the same moral laws which we ourselves have adopted for our own guidance. I will not point out that very many of them have been distinguished for great talent and intellectual capacity. I will not show that in those offices to which they have already been admitted, they have proved themselves efficient and capable as civic officers and as magistrates. I will not observe that in the pursuits of literature and science they have justified by their sagacity and their intelligence their equality for any office which Her Majesty's subjects may aspire to. I say I will not urge any of these topics upon your consideration, because by so doing I might appear to make this which I claim on their behalf a matter of favour on the part of the House; and that it might seem rather an indulgence—the concession of that claim on account of the peculiar merits of the Jewish subjects of Her Majesty, rather than a matter of right, when, as I say, being born in the country, being subject to and bearing their due proportion of all the burdens of the State, and being ready to submit to all its duties, they have a claim in justice and in right to all its honours. I come, then, at once, without urging any peculiar merits on the part of the Jewish subjects of Her Majesty, to consider those objections which are urged in bar of their admission to the rights which I claim for them at the hands of the House. It is said in the very front of these objections, that by proposing to admit the Jews to seats in the Legislature, we propose to unchristianise this country—to take away 1238 from the Legislature its Christian character, and to admit, consequently, not only Jews, but infidels of every kind, to the highest offices of the State. My hon. Friend seems to admit that I have fairly stated this objection. Now, Sir, far be it from me to say for a single moment that the religion of a man should be a thing apart from his public or private life. I wish to state my opinion to be otherwise. And I think that in all the affairs of private life—in the daily occupations of men, in the pursuits of the several trades and business which they exercise—religion has influence, and ought to have influence. I shall say still more, when speaking of the Legislature, which has to dispose of and control the various interests, ecclesiastical and secular, of the country, that religion ought to influence and control the decisions of its members. I do not put the question on the ground of civil employment being totally apart from religion; but what I do contend for is, that it is an entire mistake to suppose that the words of an Act of Parliament—to suppose that the postscript of an oath—to suppose that the fag end of a declaration, can ensure religious motives in legislators, or religious legislation in Parliament. By these declarations I maintain that you do not take that security which you pretend; on the contrary, you shut out by their agency men who are conscientious in their motives, and deserving in their conduct—men who would execute their duties honestly and truthfully, and exercise their functions as legislators with all due regard for the country, while you admit those who throw off the obligations of religion altogether, and who, though they make the declaration you require at their hands, do not consider themselves in any sense bound to discharge the duties it imposes on them. I say, Sir, as opposed to that doctrine, that it must depend upon the general opinion of the country—upon the state of things that prevails in that country—upon the various religions existing in it, whether or not you are to have a Christian Legislature. Now, let me take, in illustration of this proposition, cases drawn from two very different times. In the reign of James I. and Charles I. there existed a very strong religious feeling in this country. Men were divided into different sects; but nothing was more remarkable than the strong religious fervour which pervaded them all. Sometimes that fervour was in favour of one, sometimes in favour of another; but they were, one and 1239 all, fervent believers. Suppose a legislative assembly composed from such men—Lord Falkland and Hollis Vane and others, all sincerely religious, but professing different forms of Christianity, would it be a test of greater security for that Legislature being a Christian Parliament, if those men came here and declared upon the faith of a Christian—would it have added to the security of Parliament, and have strengthened the belief in their Christianity, had they stated their faith at the end of a declaration? I take another period and another country—a period similar in some respects, not in others. Let us suppose, that towards the end of the last century, there were a Legislature in France, containing disciples of Voltaire, and of J. J. Rousseau, many of whom were found amongst the aristocracy, and amongst the democracy; and let us suppose, that Mirabeau, Condorcet, Robespierre, and men of that stamp, were also part of the assembly. Every one who knew the opinions of these men would say at once that that assembly was not bound by any obligation on the subject of religious opinions. Do you suppose that there would be any security if these men had declared they took the oath "on the faith of a Christian?" Would it be of the smallest advantage if they had done so? Would it have imposed on them any additional obligation? No, it would not. I will take another instance. It is said, that the Jews are revilers of Christianity—that they mock at the Christian religion—that they hold up its tenets to contempt; yet, Sir, I ask you, was there ever a man who sneered more thoroughly at Christianity than Mr. Gibbon? But Mr. Gibbon took this declaration "on the true faith of a Christian," and not alone sat in this House, but held an office under George III. He sat in this House, too, on the Treasury benches, under what may be considered more of a High Church Government than any that existed from the time of George I. in this country. Take also the case of Mr. Hume. Mr. Hume had not a seat in this House, but he held an office under Government, and represented for some time George III. at the Court of France. Can the hon. Member for the University of Oxford name any Jew in the last century who has written essays more calculated to undermine the belief in Christianity than Mr. Hume? And yet if he had been returned to Parliament, he would, no doubt, have subscribed the declaration on the true 1240 faith of a Christian, and that would not have prevented his admission to Parliament. I hold, Sir, that it is not by declarations such as I have referred to, that you can obtain security. But you say, that the Legislature ought to be a Christian Legislature, and that this Parliament ought to be a Christian Parliament. But we do not say that the nation is a Christian nation, and that the people are a Christian people, though we have 30,000 Jews in London; and in the same sense you will say, Parliament is a Christian Parliament, though six or eight of the Members out of 658 profess the Jewish religion. It appears to me, that no danger will arise from taking away those obstacles which have prevented Jews hitherto from entering Parliament. Parliament must not depend on such matters for its security; it must depend, as in former times, on the people at large, and on those who represent the people. Parliament must depend on the sentiment of the people, rather than on the continuance of seven words in an Act of Parliament for its Christian character. But, Sir, I have heard it said, although there might be such instances as that of Mr. Gibbon sitting in this House, and submitting himself to the requite declarations, that this Parliament has constantly been recorded as a Christian Parliament; that Christianity is acknowledged to be part and parcel of the law of the land; and that it would be a portentous innovation if we vacated this secure and safe ground. On that subject it appears to me that great mistakes are made by those who thus refer to the history of the country. In the early history of the country, the Jews were persecuted in every mode, and were subjected to every species of cruelty. At one time it will be found they were deprived of all their property; at another, thrown into prison, tortured, and banished the realm by a general Act of the Legislature. Such was formerly the treatment of the Jews. But, with respect to the theory under which this law was adopted, that theory was, not that the Legislature should be open to all classes of Christians, but that every member of it should belong to the Church which was then universal—the Roman Catholic Church. It is stated by Bracton, that the statute De Hœretico Comburendo was supposed to be as ancient as the common law itself. Every heretic was committed to the flames at once; and I will read to you the words of an ancient author (Lyndewode) to show what sort of a person a heretic was:— 1241Hæreticus est qui dubitat de fide Catholicâ, et qui negliget servare ea quæ Romana ecclesia statuit se servare decreverat.He taught that every man was a heretic who did not adhere to the Roman Catholic faith, or who departed in any particular from that faith. Such was the character of the law. It was not a general law in favour of Christianity, but it was a law in favour of that which then was the existing Church of the kingdom. But, in course of time, the Reformation came. Various sects arose—the Reformation, however, became triumphant. The Church of England was established—persecution of heretics still continued. In the reign of Elizabeth persons were sent to the flames on account of their religious professions not agreeing with the faith of the reformed Church. But at that time there arose a new distinction—a distinction not founded on religious, but on political grounds. The Roman Catholics of that day, thinking that they had no chance of supremacy under Elizabeth or James I., entered into repeated conspiracies with a view to change the succession of these realms. I am asking your attention on this point, because it was at that time that the words were introduced "on the true faith of a Christian." In the time of Elizabeth it was necessary that the oath of allegiance should be taken on the four evangelists, which the Jews, a despised and neglected race, could not take. But I will beg to read to you the preamble of an Act which is the first which I can discover, in which the words, "on the true faith of a Christian" were introduced, the Act 3 James I., c. 4, entitled, "An Act for the better Discovering and Repressing of Popish Recusants." The preamble states—Forasmuch as it is found by daily experience that many of His Majesty's subjects that adhere in their hearts to the Popish religion, by the infection drawn from thence and by the wicked and devilish counsel of Jesuits, Seminarists, and other like persons, dangerous to the Church and State, are so far perverted in the point of their loyalties and due allegiance unto the King's Majesty and the Crown of England, as they are ready to entertain and execute any treasonable conspiracies and practices, as evidently appears by that more than barbarous and horrible attempt to have blown up with gunpowder the King, Queen, Prince, Lords, and Commons, in the House of Parliament assembled, tending to the utter subversion of the whole State, lately undertaken by the instigation of Jesuits and Seminarists, and in advancement of their religion, by their scholars taught and instructed by them to that purpose, which attempt, by the only goodness of Almighty God, was discovered and defeated.1242 Section 15 prescribes the oath of obedience:—I swear from my heart, that notwithstanding any declaration or sentence of excommunication or deprivation made or granted, or to be made or granted, by the Pope or his successors, or by any authority derived or pretended to be derived from him or his see, against the said King, his heirs or his successors, or any absolution of the said subjects from their obedience, I will bear faith and true allegiance to His Majesty, his heirs and successors, and him and them will defend to the uttermost of my power against all conspiracies and attempts whatsoever which shall be made against his or their persons, their crown and dignity, by reason or colour of any such sentence or declaration, or otherwise, and will do my best to disclose and make known unto His Majesty, his heirs and successors, all treasons and traitorous conspiracies which I shall know or hear of to be against him or any of them. And I do further swear, that I do from my heart abhor, detest, aad abjure as impious and heretical this damnable doctrine and position that princes which be excommunicated, or deprived by the Pope, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or any other whatsoever. And I do believe, and in my conscience am resolved, that neither the Pope nor any other person whatsoever hath power to absolve me of this oath, or any part thereof, which I acknowledge, by good and full authority, to be lawfully ministered unto me, and do renounce all pardons and dispensations to the contrary. And all these things I do plainly and sincerely acknowledge and swear, according to these express words by me spoken, and according to the plain and common sense and understanding of the same words, without any equivocation, or mental evasion, or secret reservation whatsoever; and I do make this recognition and acknowledgment heartily, willingly, and truly, upon the true faith of a Christian.In the seventh year of James I. another Act was passed, by which Members of Parliament were required to take the oath of allegiance according to the oath in 3 Jac. 1., c. 4., s. 15, that is "upon the true faith of a Christian." Now, this shows clearly what the intention of Parliament was in inserting that declaration, "on the true faith of a Christian." It was intended to meet the cases of those Roman Catholics who bore true allegiance to the Crown of this realm, and to separate them from those who declared that their prince might lawfully be murdered. These words, "on the true faith of a Christian," were intended not to exclude either Jews or infidels, but to give a greater sanction to the oath which the Roman Catholic Christian took when he declared himself a faithful and true servant of the Crown. Now, I contend that the history of this declaration shows that it was intended only to give a security that those who were Roman Catholics, and who were admitted to office and to Parliament, were not men 1243 who had swerved from their allegiance: and that, being Christians, they were asked to make the declaration "on the true faith of a Christian." I have stated this for the purpose of showing that, so far as the Roman Catholics were concerned, and so far as any exclusion or disqualification was in view, the introduction of these words was founded upon what was supposed to be political differences. In the reign of Charles II. the same reasons prevailed. James II., and those who were with him, wished to overturn the laws of the country, and therefore political reasons, and not others, led to the continued obligation of the same form of oath. But there was another class who were likewise excluded from Parliament—I mean the Protestant Dissenters. Were they excluded on the ground that they differed in religious belief? By no means. The ground of their exclusion was most ably stated by Bishop Sherlock, then a young man, in a pamphlet which he wrote in defence of the Test and Corporation Acts. He declared that every Member of Parliament ought to be well affected to the Established Church of the realm, and that it was not enough for him to be well affected to the civil institutions of the country, but that he must also be a friend to the Church as established by law. These were the grounds upon which these disqualifications were placed. They were never placed by the most able of their supporters upon the ground that religious opinions were in themselves a reason for disqualification. In early times, no doubt, differences in religious opinion afforded grounds not only for disqualification, but for persecution—for capital punishment itself. But when the ground of political disqualification was taken, and persons were excluded thereon from Parliament and from office, it was either because as Roman Catholics they owed to another allegiance inconsistent with their allegiance to the monarch of these realms, or because as Protestant Dissenters they were so averse to the ecclesiastical constitution that the Church could not be pure unless they were excluded from office and from power. But, Sir, whatever these reasons may have been, in 1828 and 1829 we removed all those disqualifications. Parliament declared, in its wisdom, that the Roman Catholics should no longer be subjected to the imputation to which they had been exposed, that of infidelity to their Sovereign, and that they were as well qualified as, any other persons to hold office, 1244 with the exception of some offices connected with the ecclesiastical constitution of the kingdom. Parliament declared, likewise, that the Protestant Dissenters should not he subject to the disqualification which excluded from corporations and from office—for they were before eligible to Parliament—because disaffection to the Church Establishment was no sufficient ground for depriving them of the honours and rewards which were the right of every subject of these realms. I submit, then, to the House, that what is called the Christian character of our constitution, if it ever had any existence at all, has only existed from the years 1828 and 1829. Previous to that year your constitution excluded certain persons, but on the ground of their civil and political disability, to perform the duties of good subjects and good citizens. These disqualifications being removed, there remain only certain words connected with the oath of abjuration and the oath on taking office. Now as to the oath of abjuration. With regard to its expressions I have quoted an Act of James I., to show that they were intended not for the purpose of exclusion, but for the purpose of giving a superior sanction to the declaration. If they had been intended to exclude Jews, to signify and imply that their faith was so erroneous that it deprives them of the rights of British subjects, you would have something like the declaration against transubstantiation, some declaration of belief in the New Testament, or at all events some words expressly implying the exclusion of Jews. But you have no such words. You are merely required to make the declaration "on the true faith of a Christian." There are no direct words of exclusion; but you leave exclusion to be inferred. It is said, again, that Christianity is part and parcel of the law of the land. I have always understood the meaning of that statement to be, as I have heard it interpreted by several learned persons, that any writings reviling and blaspheming the Christian religion, the Scriptures being part of the law of the land, are illegal, and that those who so revile and blaspheme may be punished. But I never understood it to mean anything beyond that; and I think it would be quite a new interpretation of that doctrine to assert that, because Christianity is a part of the law of the land, every person is required, on taking the oath of office, to make that declaration "on the true faith of a Christian." I think now, then, that I have 1245 established that there is nothing in the law of the country which was intended to exclude Jews from sitting in this House. I have shown you that, so far as excluding infidels from sitting in Parliament goes, there is no security, because that declaration which the Jews refuse, which their scruples make them refuse, may be easily made by a man who believes still less, and who entertains still fewer conscientious objections. If such be the case, then, let us see further whether there be any reason, not founded on the constitution, not founded on the laws of the country, to exclude Jews from Parliament or office. Sir, one of the grounds which has been stated is that the Jews are a separate nation. But the Jews deny this allegation themselves. They say that they belong to this country, and that as the Jews of France belong to France, those of England belong to England, and that they are ready to perform their duty as good subjects against any nation with which this country may be at war. Again, if the Jews do not belong to this country, to what country do they belong? When you exclude a man from the advantages of citizenship because he is an alien, it is because there is another country to which his allegiance is owing. But to what country are those Jews who have lived for a century or a century and a half in our country, who possess in it their property, who are bound to it by domestic and family ties, whom language, whom connexions, whom everthing tends to knit to England—to what country, I say—to what state, or king, or commonwealth, are they to resort to proffer their allegiance. To none whatever. They belong to England, and no foreign Power can ask for that support from them which they will give to this their country. But then we are told—although, indeed, this is rather an insult than an argument—we are told to look to the condition of the Jews; and we shall find as the late Mr. Cobbett said, that the Jews never engage in laborious occupations, or follow those trades in which other classes employ themselves. But is there not a reason for that? Do you not by your own laws prevent them from holding land, and in many corporate towns from exercising retail trades. Then what right have we to say, having forbidden them to hold land, or to engage in retail trades, you are disqualified because you show no disposition for acquiring land, and no industry in plying retail trades. Is that justice? Is that sound argument? 1246 But there are other countries in which Jews have been admitted to all social privileges. In France they are competent to hold all the offices, to enjoy all the emoluments which the State has to give them; and it is the evidence of some of the most enlightened men in France—of Baron Dupin, for instance—that there the Jews show the same attachment to the possession of land, the same industry in the pursuit of trade, as may be looked for or seen in any portion of the community to whom the same advantages are open. Do not, therefore, rest on your former disqualifications and proscriptions, and argue that when these disqualifications and proscriptions are taken away you will not find Jews as ready to adopt the ordinary industries of life as other men. But against these unfortunate people other arguments hate been used. We have been told, in awful language, that not only on grounds of policy ought the Jews to be excluded, but that there are solemn denunciations in prophecy which ought to prevent you from ever granting them equal rights. Sir, it is obvious that if such be the meaning of prophecy, it is not for us to decide what shall be done, but Providence will accomplish its own purposes, and work out its own wise designs. But, Sir, I would ask, where is it that those who use this argument would draw the line? I have told you that in France Jews are allowed to hold all offices, are eligible for seats in the Chambers. In this country we have very much relaxed the old restrictions. A Jew has been a magistrate, a sheriff, and by a late law, proposed by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth when he was in power, a Jew can hold office in a corporation, by virtue of which it was but the other day that, by the consent of his fellow-citizens, a Jew was raised to the office of alderman. Now I ask you, what right or business have you to interpret the prophecies so as to draw a line between an alderman and a commissioner of customs—between a justice of the peace and the privilege of sitting here in Parliament. Who enabled you, or authorised you, to say that was the line intended by prophecy? Can you take upon yourselves to show that these are the limits which the Almighty intended to establish? That were toStrike from his hand the balance and the rod,Rejudge his justice, and be God of God!Sir, I trust that we shall manifest no such presumption—that we shall do that which we think our duty to our fellow-country- 1247 men—that we shall do our best for the interests of our land, and, having done so, put our trust with humble confidence in the power of the Almighty to accomplish his own purposes by means best known to his own wisdom. Still there remains that which, although I can scarcely call it an argument, still weighs more than almost any other consideration against those unfortunate people whose cause I have this night undertaken. Sir, there is a popular prejudice against the name of Jew—founded partially on various circumstances to which I need not allude—partially upon what I take to be an erroneous view of holy writ—and partially upon the mistrust with which men of one religion are apt to regard those of another. But, Sir, that popular prejudice which induced an Administration in 1753, after passing an Act for the naturalisation of Jews, to come hurriedly down to Parliament next year to ask for its repeal—that prejudice has, I believe, greatly subsided; and I have seen with my own eyes proof of it in the circumstances which so lately occurred in this metropolis. We know that a gentleman in the city of London, well known in that city from his extensive transactions, his great wealth, his great charity and liberality, was elected to sit in Parliament for that city by nearly seven thousand voices. I quote this, Sir, as a proof that this House would not be safe in falling back upon popular prejudice, in saying "Our opinion indeed is different; we are liberal, and we intend well to our Jewish fellow-countrymen, but there is such a prejudice abroad against them that it is not safe to legislate in their favour." I warn Gentlemen not to rely on that feeling. I believe the public to be fully as enlightened as are Members of this House. I believe the general feeling, and, as I conceive, the right and true feeling, to be that religious opinion ought not to bring with it any penalty or punishment; and, Sir, I believe that that right and true opinion is rapidly overbearing all prejudice. I have now, Sir, stated the reasons why I think that the objections which have been made against the admission of Jews to Parliament are futile and unfounded. If I am asked what are the prevailing reasons for the Motion which I have proposed, I appeal in the first place to the constitution of these realms. I appeal to that constitution which is intended to give to every man those rewards, that honour, that estimation to which his character and talent 1248 may entitle him. I appeal to that constitution which, by the abolition of laws existing a few years ago, has put an end even to those cases of exceptions which our ancestors thought, on grounds of imminent danger to State and Church, they were justified in imposing. I ask you in the name of that constitution to take away those last remnants of religious persecution to show that you are not influenced by those apprehensions—those horrors which might make that which was an act of political justice an act of political necessity. I ask you, in the name of the constitution, to admit Jews to all the privileges, all the rights of which those who are not excluded from them are so justly proud. And let me tell you, Sir, that you cannot judge of the feelings of those who are excluded by the number of those who might wish to occupy seats in Parliament, or who might aspire to office under the Crown. Many a man there is who would not seek either—who is content to pass his days in obscurity—studious only of the advantages and the comforts of private life, but who yet feels the degradation—the galling brand which is imposed upon him when he is told that all other classes of men, members of the Established Church—Protestant Dissenters—Roman Catholics—may all take their seats within these walls, and enjoy the advantages which these seats give them—but that he alone belongs to a sect which by the law and the constitution is utterly proscribed and degraded. But, Sir, I would make a still higher appeal—an appeal to the principles of Christianity, with which our laws are interwoven. I appeal to you in the name of that religion which is one of love and of charity, to do unto others as you would that others should do unto you. I ask you why it is that when we are taught by example and by parable how it is that we ought to love our neighbours—I ask you why it is, that it is neither the priest nor the Levite who is singled out for our instruction, our approbation, and our admiration, but a member of one of the proscribed sects, one who belonged to what the Jews accounted the very refuse of nations—I ask you how it is that such a man should be singled out, but to teach the lesson that all men are brethren, and that there is no part of the human race, however divided from us by feeling or by colour, which does not yet belong to the family of man, and who ought not to be received into one universal brotherhood I ask you then, in the name of that con- 1249 stitution, which is a constitution of liberty and of justice—I ask you in the name of that religion, which is a religion of peace and good-will towards men, to agree to the Motion which I have now the honour to make. The noble Lord moved—That the House will resolve itself into a Committee on the removal of the civil and political Disabilities affecting Her Majesty's Jewish Subjects.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
* The extraordinary attention with which the House has just listened to the speech of my noble Friend the First Lord of the Treasury, was due not more to his talents and temper—not more to his high position—than to the awful importance of the subject upon which he has addressed you. For myself, I will only say, that, while I feel deeply that importance, I trust that I shall nevertheless be enabled, in endeavouring to answer his arguments, to imitate the temper, at all events, which he has maintained in the discussion. In his prefatory remarks, the noble Lord observed, that, as he understood that an opposition would be offered on my part even to the first and almost formal Motion on the subject, (namely, to the Motion that you, Sir, do now leave the chair for the purpose of the House resolving itself into a Committee of the whole House—in which alone the resolution forming the groundwork of his proposed Bill can originate)—he felt it necessary, here at once, to explain the extent and principle of his intended measure. It becomes, therefore, my duty—at once, also—to say, that it is, as my noble Friend has assumed, my intention to take the sense of the House on the very first point raised in the course of the proceedings; and, accordingly, that it is my determination to oppose by a division the first step which tends to pledge the House to take such a measure even into its consideration; yet, if unhappily the division should be unfavourable to me, I will not—I am speaking, however, of course for myself alone—give the House any further trouble on the mere introduction of the Bill, whether to-night or to-morrow; but will allow it to be brought in and to be read a first time, without either formal debate or division; assuring my noble Friend, at the same time, that it is the fixed determination of many, as well as of myself, as it is our firm conviction of our bounden duty in the matter, to resist* From a corrected report published by Hatchard.1250 its further progress by every constitutional means which the law and practice of Parliament may place in our power. In the present instance, our course is clear. The question raised is one not of detail but of principle; and, therefore, when a similar proposition was made in 1830 by my late right hon. Friend, Sir Robert Grant, I resisted the very introduction of his measure; and on other occasions, I believe, I have opposed thus, in limine, a concession which seemed to admit that the House might consistently entertain the consideration of the subject. We followed, not unreasonably, a different line in respect to the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, which was brought in, without a division, two or three weeks ago, by the hon. Member for Youghal (Mr. Chisholm Anstey). There it was possible that there might be some proportion of good mixed up with the apparent evil of the measure; and under such circumstances, particularly as the question, though rejected by the last Parliament, was new to many in the present House of Commons, we did not refuse—at least we did not divide against—the Motion for leave to bring in such Bill, so that the existing House, like its predecessor, might see the proportion of good and of evil which possibly might be found involved in it. But in respect to the present measure, we are as fully acquainted—by the mere terms of the notice on our books—with its whole object and extent, as if we had read every line of the Bill in which it is to be embodied. To my apprehension and my conscience, that measure is unmixed evil—evil in itself and in its consequences; and, therefore, without a moment's hesitation, I refuse, so far as depends on me, any the slightest encouragement to its adoption by this House. The measure requires, indeed, little encouragement from any one else, when it has secured the support of the Prime Minister of England. It is sufficiently formidable from the fact that he introduces it. Without undervaluing the talent or the character of others by whom similar propositions have heretofore been made (and I refer especially to my lamented Friend, Sir Robert Grant, the original patron of the measure), it is evident that the present attempt is far more alarming. This is the first time in the history of the subject when it has been brought forward by a Prime Minister, or even by any Member of the Administration of the day. The constituents of the noble Lord, who appeared this day at our bar with their peti- 1251 tion, through one of the sheriffs of London, in favour of what they call the emancipation of their fellow-citizens, are fully aware of the advantage which the actual circumstances of the case secure to their object; and they use the prestige accordingly. They hail with especial joy the advocacy of the Prime Minister of England, one of their own representatives, in favour of another of their representatives, the organ of the Jews in England, as a signal augury of their approaching triumph. Yet while I fully admit—for no one is less willing than I am to depreciate either the talents or the character of the noble Mover—that the proposition which he has now adopted is far more formidable because he has adopted it, than it ever was in any other hands, even now my noble Friend is as yet, I trust, unprepared to state that he tenders his Bill on the part of a united Cabinet. Unless public rumour be more than usually incorrect, I do not think that my noble Friend can state that he is supported in his measure by all his Colleagues in both Houses; and, therefore, I indulge the hope that it may still be, even here, "an open question." At all events, the authority of the Crown has not yet been pledged in its favour; and the Speech from the Throne has been silent in respect to this great change in the constitution of the country. My noble Friend expatiates on the personal merits of the parties on whose behalf he pleads—he talks of their peaceful subjection to the laws, their industry, their benevolence to those of other creeds as well as to those of their own. It is not my object now—it never has been on any former occasion—to deny the merits of the Jews who are in England. I do not contradict the noble Lord's assertions; but I contend that these merits of the Jews in England are neither so exclusive or so predominating as to justify the claim which is made on their behalf. They may be in commerce, whether high or low, as honest and as industrious as our Christian brethren; they may bear as high a character for fair dealing—they may deserve it as justly; they may be as benevolent to all men as Christians ought to be—my single proposition is, that they are not more laborious, more charitable in proportion to their means, than many other classes, to whom, nevertheless, the existing constitution denies the right of sitting in this House, and, thereby, of forming a part of the governing power of England; and, therefore, that in fa- 1252 vour of these men, who are not the only-ones in England possessed of good characters, the Christian constitution of England ought not, necessarily and of right—for the sake of their personal and individual qualities—to be fundamentally sacrificed. Take, for instance, the property qualification: how many respectable men are there who have not 300l. a year, and thereby are not qualified to sit here as representatives of boroughs? How many more who have not 600l. a year, and, therefore, are not qualified to sit here as representatives of counties? And, therefore, when my noble Friend uses such language as this, which I took down from his lips this evening, "Every Englishman is entitled to every honour and advantage which his country can afford," he proves too much for his more immediate object in favour of the Jews; unless he be prepared to go much farther, and to remove, not merely all qualifications as to age, character, and property, in respect to a share in the government of England, but, as I shall hereafter endeavour to show, all the sanctions of oaths also. Again, my right hon. Friend, Mr. Macaulay, whom I regret to be allowed to name, inasmuch as I regret that he is not at present one of our number, used in my hearing on a former occasion the phrase, "All privation is punishment." Why, if such be so, why do you punish the copyholder? Why, if such be so, do you punish the freeholder of 39s. per annum? Another of my friends, one of the most learned and laborious of the constitutional antiquaries of England, tells me, that, in a free representative State, the absence of a share in the "capacity of representation" is disparagement; that any disparagement is degradation; and that all degradation is persecution. Alas! again I say, alas! for the copyholder;—alas! for the poorer freeeholder;—alas! for the honest man, whose labour is his only property; all disparaged, degraded, and persecuted by the constitution, even the reformed constitution, of England. The answer to all is easy. Power is no man's right: it is distributed by the State to each in conventional proportions, or denied to some altogether, and given largely to others, according to the discretion of some original supreme authority; and in our own country—from the first day of its constitutional existence to the present—opinions, as well as age and property, have been considered essential in respect to the capacity of governing Eng- 1253 land. It is not so much that the absence of power is "a disability," (of which any one has a right to complain,) as that the presence of such and such qualifications is the evidence of "the ability"—imperfect at the best, but still the constitutional ability—which the original supreme power of the State has required for the discharge of specific functions. So much, then, for the doctrine maintained by my noble Friend, that the negation of power is punishment. I deny it on general principles; I deny it on the practice of every civil society in the world; I deny it, emphatically, on the precedent and the authority of the constitution of England, which no more punishes Jews than it punishes copyholders. The real question at issue between us this day is not, however, whether a particular class, the Jews in the present instance, shall, or shall not, be admitted to a certain definite object of political power: the real question to-day is not between Christians and Jews; but between Christians and Non-christians; between those who hold our common Christianity on the one hand, and those on the other hand who in any form deny it, or to any extent execrate it; between those "who profess and call themselves Christians" on the one side, and Jews, Mahomedans, Bramins, Parsees on the other side—according to the doctrine of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) a few nights ago—" however ridiculous, absurd, or cruel their rites may be." These were his words; and I wish the noble Mover of the present resolution, when he talks of removing the disabilities of the Jews as "the last remnant of intolerance," and I wish the House, and I wish the country, to see to what extent the principle of his measure is legitimately to be carried. In plain English, the same principle on which the admission of the Jew is claimed to-day, will admit to-morrow every subject among the hundred and forty millions who own the Queen's authority, whatever he his creed, or no creed—if by any means he can induce any constituency in England to elect him. Why, the very gentleman whom we saw in his turban under the gallery three or four evenings ago, Rango Bapojee, the vakeel of the late Rajah of Sattara, might as fitly take his place amongst us as the Jew—or at all events the gentleman with the peaked cap, the Parsee from Bombay, Manochjee Cursetjee, whom we all remember in England two or three years ago, might claim to represent 1254 the shipping interest of his country, or the cotton interest, or the sugar interest; and as such might deal with the most precious deposit of the constitution of England, its Church and its Christianity, exactly as one who has, at all events, pledged himself on the Gospels to discharge his duty on the true faith of a Christian—might presume to do. If the House be prepared to sanction this principle, let the country know it; let our constituents be told that we throw to the winds all the securities which we possess for even the nominal profession of the Gospel among those to whom hereafter we entrust the chief government of England; and let the decision be fairly taken on the question—not whether, as has been said, some four, or five, or at the most six Jews shall take their places within the bar—all "honourable men"—but whether, by their admission—by altering our Christian oath for the sake of admitting them—we do not practically open the door to every other man who has money enough—since you still uphold the requirement of a property qualification, whatever else you abandon—to obtain within these walls a share in the government of the Christian people of England. All this is not merely the half-unwilling admission of many; it is the glory of some. The noble Lord's constituents, the Corporation of the city of London, whose petition was read at the table this afternoon, claim in substance a seat in this House for any one whom they may think fit to elect. "The choice of his fellow-citizens" is, according to their interpretation of the constitution, his only and all-sufficient qualification; and if any one can find a borough willing to send him, he is ipso facto fit to be sent. Now my answer to all this is—it may be right, or it may be wrong; but it is not the English constitution of to-day, nor is it consistent with the constitution as it existed at any time since England has been a nation. The same learned and estimable antiquary to whom I have already adverted, tells me, indeed, that this empire has no religion. He explains this doctrine, partly from certain acts within the last twenty years, and partly from the extension of the government of the Crown of England over so many millions who have no sympathy with our faith, and who either profess the creed of the False Prophet, or are idolaters in every conceivable form and fashion. My answer is, that so long as every person bearing any share in the government of this country, from the Queen on the Throne, 1255 down, through the two Houses, to the officers of Her Majesty's household, must all profess the faith of Christ, and testify it by an appeal to His Gospel, the religion of this country is "Christianity;" and we have not yet been ashamed of professing His faith. But whatever may be said of the theory of an abstract antiquary, the House ought to know how a Jew, writing at this moment as a partisan in favour of my noble Friend's measure, designates this country, and denies already its claim to the character of a Christian nation. I refer to a pamphlet sent to me this day, (and, I presume, sent equally to every other Member,) entitled, "Ought Baron de Rothschild to Sit in Parliament?" in which the author, a physician, Dr. Barnard Van Oven, coolly and deliberately asserts, (I am quoting his very words, in p. 25,) "This is not a Christian country; and Christianity is not a part and parcel of the constitution." Now, for the present, I postpone the consideration, how far, in abstract theory, his assertion may be admitted, with or without qualification—though I have already denied it, with as perfect a conviction of the truth of my own denial, in the existing state of English law, as I could deny any proved error in respect to the facts of the history of England—and I confine myself to the consideration, (and I implore the House faithfully to pause and to consider,) how far, if Christianity be dear to them, they will entrust any fraction of its future influence in this empire to the care of such a man, or of any of those who hold his unhappy abhorrence of the Gospel. Be it so that Christianity is not the religion of the nation; still if you, as the House of the Representatives of the United Kingdom, do, collectively, regard it to be true—if in your individual characters you still regard it as the only ground of your own hope of salvation, do not, I implore you, lessen the influence of the Gospel, by withdrawing the necessity of the national profession of that Gospel among us. For what is likely, I ask, to be the animus and spirit of the man, when he shall get into this House, who, even before entering it, and when he is a candidate for our good opinion, cannot refrain from making a statement which is an insult alike to our sense and our feelings? When admitted hero, will he not endeavour to give the fullest effect to his own declaration, and will he not labour to fetter and degrade the Christianity of England, and to check and neutralise the in- 1256 fluence of its Church? And do I blame him for this? No; he is consistent with his own conviction "that our faith is a falsehood;" but I blame you, who are willing to give him the power which he, and those of his misbelief, will, as you must know, so employ. The possession of the Gospel ought to be our glory, as it is our privilege: but the Redeemer God, in whom alone we trust, is, as this Jew will tell us, a "crucified impostor." I do not willingly introduce such a phrase, even to repudiate it with shame and indignation: but when a Jew publishes such a dialogue as that which Dr. Van Oven has circulated amongst us this morning, and when he already exults in the assertion that we are no longer "a Christian country," those, who feel that such a description is in fact the foundation of their national glory, may well pause before they recognise the contradiction of it to be true, and give any further encouragement to the Jew or to the infidel. The Jewish writer who, as I have already quoted, affirms that England is no longer "a Christian country," proceeds to defend his proposition on this ground already taken up by my unnamed antiquary; that is to say, that since the extension of the dominion of England—since England ceased, in other words, to be England proper—since England has acquired dominions over which the sun perpetually shines—England has ceased to be a Christian country, because, amongst the millions who are subject to her imperial Crown—" if they were to be sorted into religious classes, the Mahomedans or the Hindoos, I believe," (as says Dr. Van Oven, in his pamphlet of to-day), "would be the most numerous." According to that proposition, the religion of a country must be determined by that of the numerical majority subject to its sway: and the religion of England ought to be that of Bramah—a proposition so extravagantly absurd, that I ought perhaps to apologise to the House for even an allusion to it; nor should I, indeed, have alluded to it, if the grave author whom I have quoted had not brought it forward as his argument for denying that England is any longer a Christian country. The truth is, that the doctrine of Dr. Van Oven has received more encouragement, even in this House, than, I think, was intended; for, even in this House, and even in this night, phrases—in relation to this doctrine—have been uttered, which are incorrect in themselves, disparaging to the truth, and calculated to 1257 give a species of support to the Jew assertion which I have quoted; for did not the noble Lord the Prime Minister of England, when referring to the words which he proposed to expunge from our oath—in favour of any one who chooses to have them expunged—namely, the words "on the true faith of a Christian," (which words we regard as some evidence of the Christianity professed by our Legislature,) assert, that "the Christian character of our constitution has existed only since 1829;" as if, because those words were placed in their actual position in the particular oath at that time, the Christian character of the Legislature of England was then, for the first time, and in that way only, professed? Now, if it could be proved that the Christian character of the constitution and Government were not time-honoured, were not co-æval with our earliest history—were, on the contrary, not more than eighteen years old—were, in fact, almost of yesterday—I admit, that, though the proof would not in itself justify or even palliate the proposed alteration, it would deprive us of the right of saying, "you are taking from us the inheritance of our ancestors, and are sacrificing the Christian character which we claim for England since it bore that name." But the fact is not so; the very words "on the true faith of a Christian," appear, as my noble Friend himself quoted, in a statute (3 James I. c. iv.) nearly 250 years old; and, more than this, I assert fearlessly before every constitutional lawyer—and I challenge my noble Friend the Prime Minister, himself already distinguished as an historian, and I challenge our future historian, Mr. Macaulay, to deny the assertion, that, until the changes of the last two or thee years, never was office conferred in this country, or public duty undertaken, in cases where the sanction of an oath was required, unless such oath were taken in words applicable to Christians only, or upon symbols regarded as sacred by Christians exclusively. If this be so, if I can prove this, I am justified in saying, that, up to a recent period, all power, and, up to the present day, all the supreme power of legislation, has in this realm of England been confined to those who profess and call themselves Christians. I am not, for the moment, entering into the merits of this position; I am merely asserting the fact. And even if my noble Friend should have pigeon-holes full of constitutions for other parts of the world—if 1258 he should not be so sensible of the value of our own constitution as to be willing to establish it everywhere else—if he were dealing with any other country than our home, England—if he were dealing with Nova Zembla, or with Kamschatka—[An Hon. MEMBER: Or New Zealand.] I have cautiously abstained from an allusion to New Zealand; I believe that we shall not soon again have another constitution for New Zealand—if the Prime Minister were dealing with newly discovered countries, he might say, with less objection, though he would still, as I think, be very wrong in saying, "I will have perfect equality here among all forms of worship, and among those who have none—I will not have the Gospels as the book on which an oath is to be taken—I will have no Christian obligations; a man shall make a 'gentlemanlike' declaration, as in the Chamber of Deputies in France, without reference to God or Gospel, and still less without any reference to cross or crucifix, as in other parts of Europe, sanctifying an oath. I will be content with his saying, 'I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria;' and, whether he possesses property of 300l. a year, or of 600l. a year, or be a total bankrupt, he is in my judgment equally eligible for every trust of power." All this I can understand, however I might reprobate it, or deplore it, even in its application to a newly explored portion of the globe; but I resist it here; I deny your right to introduce these doctrines here: for here is Christian England—here we have a Christian constitution—here we all profess ourselves at least to be Christians; and, in the face of our country and the world, record it on the book of God's gospel. And I repeat it, that I defy the collected researches of the two historians, my noble and my right hon. Friends, to produce any instance in the annals of our country from the time of Alfred to that of Praise-God Barebones—from the time of Praise-God Barebones to the Revolution—from the Revolution to the present day—in which an oath of legislative power was ever taken except on some Christian symbol. By every such oath, then, the Jew was excluded; and by every such oath, power in this Christian land was confined to those who professed Christianity. In the time of Edward the Elder the oath was in these terms, "I swear by the Lord, before whom this relic is holy." In later but still very early days, the oath 1259 was, "Juro, tanctis sacrosanctis Christi Evangeliis," And, therefore, even if the precise words "on the true faith of a Christian" did not preclude the entrance of a Jew, or other unbeliever, within these walls, the hook of the Gospels, or some other symbol, applying to the conscience of a professing Christian, as such, equally excluded every professed enemy of the Gospel from bearing a part in the government of Christian England, or taking a share in the direction of the affairs of its Church. But, says my noble Friend, your Christian oaths did not exclude from office such a man as David Hume, or from this House such a man as Edward Gibbon; and, therefore, they are valueless as protecting the Christianity of England from the assaults of unbelievers. I admit his two facts with grief: he might have quoted a third, a man of higher political influence, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the same age, Sir Francis Dashwood; they lived in a period, in some respects, the worst in English history; but probably, even they never did or said anything in this House, which impugned the Christian character of the Legislature, as such: on the contrary, indeed, my noble Friend says, they belonged to a Government specially distinguished for its adherence to the doctrine of "Church and King." But because some few men, in the course of the last century, of whom it might perhaps be said that they were infidels in their lives and writings, had found seats in this House, was it reasonable to assert, as the practical conclusion, that, therefore, the national profession of Christianity on the part of the supreme Legislature of the country ought to be withdrawn? In a free representative constitution like that of England, out of some 558 in the last century, and 658 in the present, who in each new Parliament have entered this House (the aggregate number of all who in that period have had seats amounting probably to more than 6,000 individuals), it is too much to be feared that some have been elected, of whom it might be said that they were destitute alike of all public and private morality; but, admitting the fact in its fullest extent, is this a sufficient ground for blotting from the statutes of the realm the solemn declaration which every one on entering this House is still required to make, namely, that he will discharge his duties "on the true faith of a Christian?" The most solemn of our proceedings—that with 1260 which we commence the business of every day—is prayer; asking God's blessing on us, through Jesus Christ. In the words of the petition of the University of Oxford, which I had this evening the honour of presenting to the House, how can our new associates, if the noble Lord shall unhappily be able to introduce them, join us in these acts? Without judging my brethren, I should, I am sure, justly expose myself to ridicule, if I expressed my belief that any Jew could, without awful blasphemy towards God, or deliberate mockery towards his fellow-men, unite in those supplications, "Lord have mercy upon us, Christ have mercy upon us." I will not pursue this subject; it is enough for me to have called the attention of the House, thus passingly, to it; but I have said enough to justify me in pausing here, and asking the House whether, if such be the mode of admitting the Jews within these walls, and such be the first consequences of the measure, its counterbalancing advantages are worth the cost—even in the cooler judgment of its friends? The Prime Minister, indeed, has urged concession on the ground of liberality as well as of justice; and has said, "The Jews are only 30,000, or at most 40,000 in number; and what harm can it do you to admit such a fraction into an equality of civil rights with the rest of the nation?" He says, referring to the demonstrations of physical force made elsewhere by others to claim what they called their emancipapation, "These men, the Jews, are powerless in that respect; but do not, because they are powerless, refuse them their due share in the constitution of England; do not yield everything to fear, and nothing to justice." Let me answer at once, with me numbers have never constituted an element in the consideration of this class of questions. I would, as I stated at the time, have granted the Roman Catholic claims, if I had thought them founded in justice, though they had been urged by no more than ten poor men; I would have refused them, as I did endeavour to refuse them, believing them to be unfounded in justice, when they were demanded by millions. And, therefore, the fewness of the Jews is with me no more an argument now, in respect to the present measure, than the numbers of the Roman Catholics constituted my argument in their favour eighteen years ago; since in every constitution, the distribution of power, as I have already said, is discretional on the part of 1261 the supreme authority, and is given or withheld, in reference to the general interests of the whole State, without any individual subject having any original and independent right to a share. If this be so, though the amount of numbers would not enter into the question of justice or no justice, the amount of numbers did materially affect a question of expediency; and it might, or might not, be expedient to grant a privilege which would satisfy many, while it would dissatisfy a few; though, on the other hand, it would be very inexpedient to grant such privilege, when the result would be reversed, and the concession would dissatisfy, alienate, and exasperate many, while it would meet the wishes of few only. And this is the present case; you gratify a few, with the certainty of displeasing millions. I can assure the Government, that, though the measure has not as yet called forth that multitude of petitions which its importance will ultimately produce—while yet the two Universities and several influential bodies have nevertheless already expressed their strong convictions against it—there is a deep and growing feeling in the country of dislike and of resistance to the measure. The question at issue is a practical English question—How much of the existing profession of Christianity in this land you will abolish for the sake of—what?—the admission of a Jew into this House? Two or three years ago, I ventured to describe a Bill, then on our table, as "a Bill to enable David Salomons, Esq., to become an alderman of London"—the Bill which my noble Friend now desires to introduce might, in like manner, be entitled, "a Bill to enable the Baron Lionel de Rothschild to become a Member of this House." More than one Jew, indeed, would probably be gratified and privileged by the success of the noble Lord's proposition; but how small would be the proportion pleased or benefited, in proportion to the numbers disquieted and alarmed! If, indeed, we looked to the full extension of the principle now advocated, the numbers whom we might thus permit to legislate for the nation and Church of England, would not he few; but even limiting our consideration to the single proposition now before us, a small number, so introduced, might not be ineffective, even as to numbers, in the present state of the representation of England. At all events, and with reference to higher objects, you annihilate your present security for the open and unchal- 1262 lenged profession of Christianity within these walls, when you remove the solemn declaration, "I will discharge my duties as a Christian," from the engagement which every one at this day contracts when he enters this House as a representative of the people of England. My noble Friend says, "I remove but little; I remove only what is at the fag-end of the oath." I heard his words with pain: every part of every oath is bound together by the awful words which really form its close, namely, "So help me God:" and, though these words are few, yet, connected as they are, with the other words "on the true faith of a Christian," they have hitherto been held sufficient to prevent any open and irreverent non-Christian from touching our most sacred interests. Henceforth, if the proposed Bill shall unhappily pass, every one will be at liberty, so far as law is concerned, in using his privilege here to the open contempt of Christianity, however much for a time he may be withheld by the courtesies of civil life. I have already admitted in substance that the proposed measure is not actually a dethronement of the Christianity of England; but no man will venture to rise in his place and deny my position, that, henceforth, the Legislature will hold, as a principle of the theory of the national representation, "that it is a matter of public and national indifference, whether our rulers, or any portion of them, be Christians or non-Christians." This is enough for my argument; and far too much for my comfort, in looking at this proposition and its consequences. For, among its consequences, will too surely be the experiment never hitherto tried in this country—never tried in the great histories of the ancient world—never tried in modern Europe, till the experiment of the French Revolution—namely, whether you can safely bind a people and its sovereign and its legislature together without solemn oaths—without invoking God's blessing on the union and its obligations. I am quite aware that this does not touch, and has not for a long period touched, the question as to judicial oaths, especially in criminal proceedings, which, in every civilised nation, I believe, at present, have admitted—at least do now admit—every man to take an oath according to his own forms, that is, according to his own sense of its binding force; inasmuch as the peace and the security of society, in life and property, require this; but this has been little held 1263 in respect to the grant of privilege and power; and publicly, in respect to the fitness of the principle in the abstract, this, I think, is the first country in which, without a revolution, the change has ever been proposed. And for whom is it now proposed in England? For some thirty or forty thousand strangers! For some, whose very names and titles prove them to be un-English. For those, who, as I believe, never can be English. My noble Friend touched lightly upon this point, "that the Jews are a separate nation from ourselves, and from every other people on earth." I will soon proceed to notice this point more directly; but in the first instance I may assert, without fear of contradiction, that two centuries ago there was not one single Jew in this realm of England; that they came in, drop by drop, preserving their own inherent and insoluble character. Did we invite them?—did they come in for our convenience?—did they not come in for their own?—does any one injure them?—does any one insult them?—does any one now "spit on their gaberdine?"—do they not enjoy every social protection?—do they not live in all luxury?—does any one envy them the wealth which they gain among us? But, on the other hand, can they claim from us the sacrifice of the Christian character of our constitution, for the sake of admitting them to a share in governing us?—can they ever, as true Jews, be amalgamated with us?—are they not always, necessarily and intrinsically, a separate people? I remember in this House an expression from my right hon. and learned Friend, Dr. Lushington, recognising incidentally the prevading truth of the nationality—the mysterious nationality—of the Hebrew people. He observed, casually, "if a Jew be married according to the rites of his nation;" and when my late valued Friend, Sir Robert Grant, had advocated the case of the Jews in England before this House, he received as his reward—and, lest there be a mistake, I say his only reward—an address from Jews in Mannheim, in Heidelberg, and elsewhere, as citizens of one nation, thanking him for what he had done for Jews in England. I recollect the first sentence of the address of Mr. Hart, a Jew, which I have already, I think, quoted on a former occasion—"I feel myself called upon as a member of an ancient and oppressed people;"—at all events, I remember to have quoted, though not in the hearing of many in the present House of Commons, and, 1264 therefore, perhaps, I may be permitted to repeat it, a celebrated passage from the writings of the Rabbi Crooll—a great controversialist, let me add, against Christianity—who resided as a teacher of Hebrew in the University of Cambridge, and who published a dialogue between himself and one of the ambitious office-seeking Jews in England, in which is this passage:—Brother, you are mistaken greatly; you are no Englishman; though born in England, you are no more than a foreigner. You have no home in this land, nor in any other country. Are you not a Jew?My noble Friend the Prime Minister can hardly, I think, deny the force of this evidence to the still subsisting and indissoluble nationality of the Jews, and the unfitness of endeavouring to make them, while they continue Jews, the fellow-citizens of a Christian people, having indeed a share in a lordship over us; but at all events I can quote an opinion to the same effect, which my noble Friend, as the biographer as well as the descendant of the personage who uttered it, will not regard as entirely unworthy of the consideration of his country in any age. John, Duke of Bedford, the Minister Duke, spoke of the Jews, in 1753, as foreigners—Whose latest posterity, while they continue Jews, will continue to be, and will consider themselves, as a people quite distinct and separate from the ancient people of this island."*I need not ask, were the Jews the hereditary inhabitants of this our England? were they contemporary with the Saxon race, or with the Norman race, or did they come in with our Scottish brethren? No, Sir, I repeat it, the remostest ancestors of the present generation of Jews came into England less than 200 years ago; they came here for their own profit, for their own convenience; they sought protection, and they found it; they sought the means of wealth, and they obtained it; but they made no terms by which they then claimed, and we agreed to grant, that, for the sake of giving them political power, and a share in the government of England, we would alter the rules and forms of our social and civil institutions, and erase from our constitutional requirements the words "on the true faith of a Christian," to please them, or their children, or any other Jews in the world. I deny then, Sir, the abstract right of the Jews to claim the privileges which the noble Lord asks for them.* Parliamentary History, Vol. xv. p. 105.1265 I deny their conventional right. I see the evils which their admission may add to the evils already existing in the administration of Christian and Church affairs by our present mixed assembly; I foresee, with the congregation who have this evening addressed us in an excellent petition from St. Jude's at Liverpool, that Jew legislation in these walls will be a new argument for the separation of Church and State; I deprecate that separation: and, before you give even the least assent to the present proposition, I call upon you to pause. You are doing, by your vote in favour of the noble Lord's proposition, what you can to abolish the name of "Christian" from your proceedings; you are admitting to legislate for the Church of Christ here established one who not only is not a member of that Church—one who not only has no sympathy with it—but one who disbelieves in the very Christ on whom that Church is founded; that Christ, whom to name henceforth with honour in this House, will be to violate the feelings of some of our colleagues. Never since England was a nation has it ever been other than a Christian nation, making its acts and its oaths reflect a Christian character; imperfectly indeed, but still formally and publicly professing in its Legislature an allegiance to Christ. Here, then, again, I call upon you to pause; and do not, for the sake of a fractional portion of civil good, renounce so much of your highest obligations: ere it be too late, before you give your consent to the introduction of a measure fraught with such consequences, I implore you—for the sake of our common Christianity—to pause.
§ MR. W. J. FOX
According to the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, it would seem that the constitution of this country was Christian and exclusive. To him, those terms conveyed an utter contradiction, nor could he conceive how that constitution of which it could be with truth said that it was Christian, could be also said to be exclusive. Those great moral principles which were the glory of Christianity could not be exclusive, because they were in themselves more comprehensive and expansive than those of any other morality which had ever come upon the earth. The great law to which the noble Lord adverted, that "of doing to others as we would they should do unto us," was certainly not exclusive; but in its comprehensive scope taught us to bear in mind the civil disabilities which were imposed on our Jewish 1266 fellow-subjects; and would influence us, supposing we were in the minority instead of the majority, and in the performance of civil duties, most certainly to look for rights commensurate with those duties. Nor did he see in the constitution of the country itself, anything which could be set up as modifying the spirit of Christianity. What had been the whole current of their legislation of late years; and what had been its great and leading characteristic with respect to the diversity of religions and sects? Continually to open and extend the limits of the constitution, to spread it from one class over another. There was scarcely an instance for the last century and a half of anything like exclusion being the result of legislation. At one time, in the reign of Elizabeth, the religions professed in England might be said to be identical; but it was found impracticable as a permanent arrangement to attempt to enforce exclusion. The attempt renewed in after years produced the civil wars of Charles I.; and again it was found that toleration alone, and no universal identity of religion, must be the principle by which the Government of Great Britain should be regulated. The Toleration Act put an end to unity even in professions of religion. The orthodox Dissenters were let in, and then the persevering efforts of the Society of Friends obliged the Legislature to make similar concessions to them. The code was thus by degrees relaxed until the Unitarians, who had been excluded in previous concessions, were brought within the pale of the constitution. By the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, the barriers between Dissenters and the representation of the people were thrown down, though they had before that time managed to find their way into the House by means of annual Bills of indemnity. Then came the great measure by which Roman Catholics were admitted to share the representation of the country; and from that day up to the present time, the same principle of toleration and relaxation which dictated those measures prevailed in the Legislature. Where was the constitution of Great Britain to be found, if not in the characteristic features of legislative enactments continued through succeeding generations? They had no paper constitution, no pigeon-hole fabric of written documents. They must seek it in the great principles which evolved themselves in the history of our legislation. If they were to 1267 take the definition of a great lawyer, who, on being asked what was the constitution, replied, "It was whatever was constituted," they would find it a most fluctuating and unsteady guide. But if they looked for it where alone it could be found, they would see it as something—not made by acts or statutes, but a principle of vitality growing up and expanding by degrees into the recognition of religious freedom and equality, and which, developing and evolving itself through our legislation, declared itself to be the principle of the constitution. The hon. Baronet, it seemed, did not consider that exclusion was punishment. There might be a class of men and of circumstances in which the proposition held; but it was scarcely applicable to any class of men who had intelligence enough to obtain, and moral feeling sufficient to appreciate, the rights and privileges of citizenship. Whenever any class or body of men arrived at such a point, they felt the wrong of having nothing to do with the laws but to obey them; and against that wrong they would not cease to protest until they were placed on a level with their fellow-subjects, who thus became their fellow-citizens. But the argument of exclusiveness was one which could not be forced into detail without becoming suicidal. The hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford contended that the form of allegiance, or other affirmation, had been always administered on some Christian symbol; and to make out his case the hon. Baronet was obliged to look for his Christianity to certain "reliques," which at other times, and arguing on a different subject, the hon. Baronet would have treated with much less respect; and in which he would then have, most probably, seen a much closer connexion with paganism and superstition than with that which, in his conscience, he could not honour with the name of Christianity. But the question was not so much one concerning religious opinions, as one deeply connected with civil rights. It concerned much more nearly the civil disabilities of Christians, than it concerned the Jews. The Motion of the noble Lord would in effect go to remove a great Christian disability from the electoral body, and the constituencies of the country. The question really related to the partial disfranchisement of the city of London, and might be stated thus—"Have the electors a right freely to choose the person whom they would entrust with the defence of 1268 their interests in the House, or have they no such right, and are they mistaken in their attempts to exercise a free choice?" From the beginning of the present Parliament London had only had a portion of that share in the representation which had been awarded to her by the constitution, and which she had enjoyed through all preceding Parliaments. I cannot conceive (pursued the hon. Member) what other description can be applied than that of punishment to the fact that the city of London has not enjoyed its full share in the formation of those laws, the administration of which is so important to all classes of their fellow-subjects. And why? We are only continuing, you say, a form, but that form must come into collision with every class of the citizens of London; you are, therefore, by the continuation of that form, inflicting on them a punishment as much as if, instead of a negative act, it should be done by a positive proceeding, in the shape of a Bill of pains and penalties, brought in against the electors of the city of London, to force some particular individual on their choice. And although this diminution of their share in the privileges of the constitution has continued but for a short time, is it to supposed, if the House gives ear to the arguments lately addressed to it, and resolves to continue this restriction—is it to be supposed that the city of London will confess itself in the wrong, will retract its proceedings, will deny to Baron Rotchschild the honour it has awarded him, and will declare that he is not the person for their purpose, as they lately declared he was? I, Sir, do not understand the citizens of London if they will do any such thing; and I believe that the effect and the use of the forms and phrases by which that exclusion was accomplished, would only be to stimulate them to persist in electing and re-electing the man of their choice. I know the temper and spirit of this House too well to suppose that to speak of a collision with the city of London would in itself have much weight; and yet there has always been something very inexpedient in the controversies which have arisen between the representative body and the bodies represented. I do not think that those portions of the history of the House of Commons which relate to occurrences of this kind are such as its Members or its admirers can look back to with most pleasure. This House entered into a contest in the last century, not with the city of London, but with the county of 1269 Middlesex, in the celebrated case of Wilkes Mid Luttrell; and although the county of Middlesex was far from having so clear a cause to uphold or so worthy a champion to support as the city of London has now, yet it showed a determination which in the end proved somewhat embarrassing; and I believe that the proceedings of the House in that case have been obliterated from its journals. An Irish county, at a later period, threw down, as it were, its gauntlet to the Legislature by the return of the late Mr. O'Connell; and, although he was considered as still under the ban of exclusion, notwithstanding that election, yet we all know the result, and that soon the scene was changed from one Roman Catholic member excluded, to as large a number included in this House as the constituencies of Ireland or of England chose to return. And however little there may be to apprehend from it, I fear there would be some ground for apprehension as to the peace and quiet of the country, and that it is a good occasion for the exercise of a prudential foresight on the part of this House, not to give occasion for the stirring up of agitation from such a question as this, which would make an important portion of the country feel that its sentiments had not been duly attended to, and that its voice had not met with due consideration. It may be said, indeed, that they ought to keep within the limits prescribed by the constitution for their choice; they may be told, as other constituencies have been told, that there are checks and safeguards which run through our whole representative system; but the exclusion of the Jews is a very different thing from any other exclusions that operate in the return of Members to this House. There are oaths, it will be said. But in the allegiance they propose, what is there but what every honest man and good subject feels equally binding on his conscience, without those oaths as with them? What is there that he would not hold his social and political duty, had those oaths had no existence? There is no exclusion there. As to the pecuniary exclusion, its practical operation does not appear very narrowing, and it is one which every man, starting on an honourable career of life, may have the hope of overcoming by the effect of his own industry; or any constituency, finding, as it believes, political wisdom in a pauper, may gratify itself by removing his pauperism, and sending him, with all external qualifications, as it be- 1270 lieves him to have every internal qualification already. But the exclusion of the Jew is one of religion and of race. You fix on him an indelible brand. You cannot control his nature; you cannot legislate him into a profession of Christianity. His mind is not to be changed to these opinions; and as to his race, a Jew he is, and a Jew he must continue. He cannot un-Jew himself in order to get rid of his disability at the bar—of his exclusion, if it offers, from a seat in the Legislature. He might as well attempt to uncircumcise the corpses of his forefathers. I apprehend the hon. Baronet scarcely dealt very fairly in his appeal to Jewish authority regarding their claim of admission to the Legislature. I know no declaration which more bears the mark of truthfulness in its professions on this subject than that of Dr. Van Oven, who thus speaks:—But I must protest at once against the employment of the term nation. There is no such thing as the Jewish nation. It is long since the Jews have ceased to be a nation, and have been (in the words of the sacred Scriptures) 'scattered amongst the nations of the earth' (Deut. iv.) Born in England of English parents, I acknowledge no other land as my country; no other nation as my nation. I avow the fullest and most devoted allegiance to Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, and I claim to be placed on a just equality with Her other dutiful and affectionate subjects; and in this I express the feelings and sentiments of all persons professing the Jewish religion who have had the good fortune to be born Britons.He goes on to speak of Jews, natives of foreign countries of Europe and America; the identification of their feelings and interests with those of the foreign countries to which they belong, showing the spirit of nationality in each case, and sympathy with the laws and constitution of the country in which they were born, and with no reference to any bygone nationality of their own, or hope of its remote revival. There cannot be a better exemplification of this circumstance than that in the battle of Waterloo many hundred Jews fought and perished in the ranks of the Prussian army, fighting against the very man who, in 1807, had convoked the Sanhedrim of the French Jews to Paris, had put questions to it to obtain a statement of their opinions which might show whether they were fitted for the rights of citizenship in modern Europe, and had founded proceedings thereon which gave a powerful impulse to the extension of the civil privileges of the Jews through all the countries of Europe. Yet the nationality evinced during the contest 1271 showed nothing like an exclusive Jewish recollection of the privileges which had been conferred on that occasion, and which had led to the operation of a similar movement in other nations. I think another point had not justice done to it by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford. He referred to Dr. Van Oven's declaration that this was not a Christian nation, and drew from this the inference that those who felt with him might exercise political influence and legislative power, if they required it, in a manner hostile to Christianity. It is easy to construct an argument or illustration by taking a phrase in one sense, which, if we look at the spirit of the context, must obviously be taken in another. The hon. Baronet's sense of our being a Christian nation is, that we are Christians in faith, in feeling, in spirit; that this is the predominant religion. Dr. Van Oven simply meant to deny the fact, which the hon. Baronet would certainly not affirm, that all the individuals composing the British State are professors of Christianity; he states a matter of fact, certainly without the least indication of any emotion whatever of hostility. If we were now commencing instead of advancing to the completion of the great experiment of toleration, if we were now in such a state as that one faith and worship were professed all through the land, and we were disposed to try whether a different system would not work well, I know no class of men with whom it would be so safe to begin that experiment as the Jews. They are essentially a non-proselyting people; they are a people who cannot come, like a dissenting sect or the Roman Catholic Church, into collision with the Established Church of this country; they can wage none of that warfare which distracts the different sects of professing Christians. They are men of peace, studying and pursuing the arts of peace. They have no secret societies, no religious orders, that may be supposed capable of disturbing the good neighbourhood of those amongst whom they dwell. They are simply the representatives of a race whose nobility, if illustrious character constitutes nobility, boasts a higher order and antiquity than that of others—to which our Normans, or even those Italian nobles who find their ancestors in the days of the Catos and Caesars, are but things of yesterday. Their Bible is our Bible—their ancient saints and patriarchs are ours also; and if we ask where is the Jewish law of morals to be found, you 1272 may read it, not in the temple or synagogue merely, but in the tables of that law over the altars of our churches. Surely these are, of all people, those who may fairly claim to come first and foremost, instead of last, within the boundaries of the British constitution. I feel that, instead of hazarding the Christian character of the country by such a movement, we shall be asserting its Christian character; for every form in which that religion has blended itself with the deeds and with the glories of the country, has not been by the enforcement of opinions; has not been by the putting down of heresies; has not been even by magnificent efforts after extended proselytism. It has been in knocking off the fetters of the slave; it has been in respecting the rights of poverty and industry; it has been in measures which, by stimulating free and fair intercourse between different nations, bind them together in the bonds of peace. It has been not by exclusiveness, but by expansion; it has been, to use the words of a great poet, by England vindicating her ancient prerogative, of teaching the nations how to live. Such has been our national career, consistently pursued, which it remains for the Legislature to bring to its completion. And how much will it do towards that by removing every stigma, by abolishing the penalty, as must surely be considered, to men of honourable ambition, which prevents even the choice of constituencies like the city of London from taking their place within those walls, and declaring to them in a truly Christian spirit that the way in which we desire they should deal with us, is the way in which we shall deal with them—a nobler identification of Christianity with our constitution and laws than would be obtained by all the stern edicts, the fierce persecution, of the dark ages, however much they might succeed for a time in enforcing an apparent uniformity. I thank the House for the indulgence extended to me, which must be needed by any one who rises here for the first time, and beg to express my cordial thankfulness to the noble Lord at the head of the Government for the measure he has promised us.
§ LORD ASHLEY
said, that the question then under the consideration of the House seemed to him to be very much a matter connected with the feelings and habits of each individual. It appeared that very few of the arguments were drawn from the ordinary sources of Parliamentary debates—that there was nothing to hope 1273 either from success or defeat on either side—all seemed engaged in the assertion of a principle, without expecting that the event either way would be followed by expensive or immediate consequences. So far as he had been able to ascertain from his inquiries throughout the country, he should say that there were upon this question no intermediate opinions—that the feeling entertained was either one of great indifference or great earnestness—either a feeling very confirmed, or none at all. And here he begged to assure his noble Friend who brought forward this measure, that when he talked of the amount of prejudice entertained against the people in whose behalf he spoke, that the sentiments which prevailed at the present day had no resemblance whatever to the personal antipathy and contempt which were exhibited in the days of the Commonwealth, and in the debates of 1753. The Jews of the present day occupied a far higher position in public regard; and, he would add, in the affections of the community. The resistance to their claims was founded, not, as of old, upon personal objections to these remarkable people; but solely upon a conscientious adherence to a principle which they professed, and which they dared not surrender. He rejoiced at the tone, the temper, and the admirable spirit with which his noble Friend had introduced his Motion. He was fully convinced that it proceeded from deliberate conviction, and that his noble Friend's opinions and conduct were in strict harmony; he hoped, on the other hand, it would be conceded to the opponents of the measure that their opposition did not partake of a selfish or persecuting character—that their opposition rested upon the assertion of a principle which the advocates of the present measure said was too high for the administration of a free country. That was the point at issue between them; and he hoped that not only then, but during the whole course of the debate, there would be exhibited the forbearance and sobriety which became the consideration of that great subject. Now at the outset of his argument he must guard himself against a charge which might be made, and which had been made in writings and in preceding debates, and which had been somewhat indicated in the remarks of his noble Friend and in those of the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, of being a party to thrusting upon the House the consideration of theological subjects. He admitted that they ought to abstain from 1274 this as far as was possible; but he considered that some mention of theology was altogether inevitable. But the blame of this, if any, lay at the door of those who had introduced the measure, not of those who opposed it; and for this reason: the latter were standing upon a long established and ancient system—a system that till lately had never been disputed within doors or without. The former, on the contrary, were seeking to disturb an oath which had been taken at the table of that House for nearly 150 years, and they sought to do this upon the assertion that religion had nothing whatever to do with politics. Now, that statement put the opponents of that measure upon their mettle. They said that religion had a great deal to do with politics; and they said moreover that the advocates of the measure thought so. That they did think so was proved by their almost daily acts. That religion had to do with politics he might attempt to prove by reference to various quotations from the revealed word of God; but he wished to abstain from unnecessarily thrusting a variety of subjects of that kind upon the House. Upon this point he would only say that they were told most explicitly that "the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall utterly perish." He would say, moreover, that the condition of the people who were suppliants at the bar for admission to national and Parliamentary privileges, was the strongest possible proof that the truths of religion were actually identified with civil politics—because it was manifest that nothing but a departure from true religion was the cause of that their civil polity had been destroyed, and the people themselves dispersed over the face of the whole earth. But leaving this, he thought he could show by their own conduct that the advocates of this measure themselves thought that religion had a vast deal to do with politics. If it had not, why exact an oath at all at the table of that House? Why exact an oath from the Jews they were about to admit? Why did the Members of the Privy Council take an oath? Why make a reference to a superintending Providence in the Queen's Speeches, and in some of their Parliamentary enactments? Was it not perfectly clear that in doing these things they were recognising a moral Providence, a moral Governor of the world, who superintended, directed, and controlled human actions?—and, therefore, when they recognised a 1275 superintending Governor, and a moral Providence, it was perfectly clear that they also recognised the necessity of knowing and acting upon his will. That House, too, as he had already said, were, by their daily actions, constantly declaring that which they were now about to contradict. This was the language of one of the most distinguished writers of the present day, as well as one of the most distinguished advocates of this Bill, he meant Mr. Macaulay, whose absence from the House everybody deplored as the loss of one of the most striking geniuses of the age. Mr. Macaulay, in one of his essays, said, "Government is, by its essential and inherent character, interdicted from contemplating and incapable of accomplishing Christian ends." He recollected perfectly well also hearing, from the same eloquent lips, the following language delivered in that House, "Everything that tends to lower Christianity in public estimation is high treason against the civilisation of mankind." How was it possible that these two statements could co-exist? What could so much tend to lower Christianity in public estimation as the declaration that Christianity was not to be the pursuit of every Government—that its spirit was not required to be infused into every enactment—that the Christian standard was not to be the only standard of morals they would adopt; that it was not to be the rule whereby they were to regulate the intercourse of nation With nation—the rule by which great States were to carry on their intercourse with Weaker States? It was of no use to say these things were regulated by the law of nations; for he did not believe there was a single writer upon the law of nations who did not base his whole argument on Christian principles, and who did not strengthen his argument by instances drawn from the Scriptures themselves. If, therefore, the Legislature were to declare that Christianity was no longer essential to those who came there to make the laws of the land—that Christianity was no longer essential to those who held public situations, and made rules for public Government—he asked, could they do more to degrade Christianity in public estimation, and would they not be guilty of "high treason against the civilisation of mankind?" But the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Macauley) went still further. He said, in the same essay, "To talk of essentially Christian Government is about as wise to talk of essentially Protestant cook- 1276 ery, or essentially Christian horsemanship." Now the right hon. Gentleman, for the sake of a witticism, unworthy of his great genius and of his private and public personal character, had thought fit to use an expression which confounded the lower operations of the mind with the highest faculties of the soul, and reduced to the same level the spiritual and material nature of men. This was not the way in which this great subject should be handled. It was manifestly true, that there was no possibility of comparison between a Christian Government and Protestant cookery. They were no more capable of comparison than the steeple of Bow church and the 1st of July. Now, if Christianity could not do all this—if Christianity could not be admitted into public life, and could not be allowed to superintend and control public action and public principle—what was it that Christianity could do? His noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) had admitted that Christianity must prevail in private life—must rule in the domestic circle. [Lord J. RUSSELL: And in legislation.] He could not comprehend how Christianity could govern their legislation if a large proportion of the Members of the Legislature were persons who not only doubted, but whose very distinctive existence depended upon the continued, the conscientious, and persevering denial of the name of Christ, and the precepts of the great Author of Christianity. How was it possible that Christianity could be in the ascendant in the Legislature—how was it possible it could predominate and infuse its spirit into the Legislature, when there were parties in that House who rejoiced in the avowal that they would do all they could to resist its influence? That it must influence private life was clear; and if so, it must be brought into public life also. ["Hear, hear!"] Then why not manfully avow it at once, because he never could subscribe to the new form of morality which drew a distinction between the private and public character of a man—between private and public dishonesty. He knew that his noble Friend had said that all those measures were altogether useless, because, he said, that under a system of oaths, infidels of various kinds crept into that House; and that oaths could not prevent persons most inimical to the Christian religion sitting there and exercising influence. All that might be perfectly true: but it must be recollected that although Gibbon had sat 1277 in that House, and Hume might have sat there, they could only do so by coming to the table and professing their belief that Christianity was not only part and parcel of the law of the land, but the great principle which ought to govern and superintend human affairs. Nothing was gained in respect to the individual—for himself much loss—by such a profession; but he asked the noble Lord whether a nominal Christian was not better than an open professor of infidelity, and whether he would not say, in a parallel case, that the external observance of the laws of decency was far better than either obscenity or profaneness? The noble Lord had said, too, that the exclusion of the Jews savoured of persecution. Now he (Lord Ashley) could not see that it savoured of persecution, when the course which they (the opponents of the measure) took was not on account of any personal objection they entertained to those individuals, but simply and solely in reference to a principle from which they could not depart. The argument of the noble Lord from first to last went to this, that oaths were altogether unnecessary—that they produced no result whatever except to perjure the parties who took them. He must say that the argument of the noble Lord seemed to him extremely weak, because though it was perfectly true that they might have infidels coming to that table and taking the oath "on the true faith of a Christian"—was that any ground for abolishing the oath altogether? If so, transfer the argument to courts of justice. Had it never happened in courts of justice that persons were guilty of perjury; but was it ever proposed that therefore they should no longer take evidence under the sanction of an oath? Before summoning them to break down the barriers which excluded the Jews from Parliament, he thought that they ought to have been favoured with some statement of the absolute necessity for taking that course—some advantage that was to be gained by it, or some loss that was sustained without it—something, in short, to compensate for the great shock which would be given to the feelings and consciences of so many thousands of people. Now, he must say he had listened with great attention to the noble Lord; but he had not heard from him a statement of the advantages which the measure would secure—although he gathered from the noble Lord that he thought the honour of the country would be advanced by adopting his opinions. He confessed that if the 1278 noble Lord could have shown him that it was a case of justice, he would have been satisfied. This, however, he had not succeeded in doing. But supposing, for the sake of argument, that it was an injustice—was it a greater injustice to Jews than to the hundred other nations of every language and colour in the British dominions? At present their exclusion was considered no injustice by those parties to which he had just referred; but if the Legislature should declare that Christianity was no longer essential to their legislation in that House, the exclusion would become a real and substantial injustice. But perhaps his noble Friend intended to admit every body. Some years ago they stood out for a Protestant Parliament. They were perfectly right in doing so, but they were beaten. They now stood out for a Christian Parliament. They would next have to stand out for a white Parliament; and perhaps they would have a final struggle for a male Parliament. His noble Friend was too candid to conceal his ultimate intentions; but he would just ask him, before he proceeded much further, to consider that, according to the principle laid down by him, not only Jews would be admitted to Parliament, but Mussulmans, Hindoos, and men of every form of faith under the sun in the British dominions. [Cheers.] He (Lord Ashley) did not find fault with those cheers; because he thought they were the natural and necessary consequence of what they were now doing. But with reference to the justice of the case, he would read a quotation from the writings of a man who was a high authority in England, and particularly with the Gentlemen on the other side of the House. The following were the words of Dr. Arnold, in writing to the Archbishop of Dublin in 1836:—For the Jews I see no plea of justice whatever. They are voluntary strangers here, and have no claim to become citizens but by conforming to our moral law, which is the Gospel.—I would give the Jews the honorary citizenship which was so often given by the Romans, i. e., the private right of citizens—jus commercii, et jus connubii, but not the public rights, jus suffragii et jus honorum … Every member of Christ's Catholic Church is one with whom I may lawfully join in legislation, and whose ministry I may lawfully use as a judge or a magistrate; but a Jew, or a heathen, I cannot apply to voluntarily, but only obey him passively if he has the rule over me.Such was the opinion of Dr. Arnold, who certainly carried his opinions to the greatest possible extent. He believed he admitted no right whatever of imposing the smallest disability upon any professing believer of 1279 any kind of Christianity, and that he carried his notions of church government to such an extent as to shock a great number of persons, both in the Church and out of it; but upon the question of the Jews his opinions were what he had just read to the House. It could not be denied that this Bill, if passed, would be a legislative declaration that for all purposes of public government, and making laws, and administering affairs, Christianity, as such, was altogether needless. He would not say that it was probable, but it was possible, that in that Parliament there might be a majority of persons of the Hebrew nation, and that they might assume and retain the helm of affairs; but, whether that was so or not, it was perfectly clear that the course they were about to take would be a legislative declaration that for all great public purposes Christianity was altogether needless. It was probable he would be charged with inconsistency for not having opposed the Bill of 1845, for admitting Jews to corporate offices; but he thought he could establish a valid distinction between executive and legislative functions. The Jew, in taking an executive office, knew exactly the terms upon which he took it. He knew that it was delegated to him by a Christian head, and that it must be executed for Christian purposes; he knew that he was bound by the law, and that if he neglected to administer the law, or if he administered injustice, he was exposed to the responsibility to which all public men were subject. But the case of legislative functions was altogether different. He came into that House perfectly free; he might act according to his own notions; he might endeavour to repeal old laws or make new ones; he might infuse into those laws his own spirit, and direct them to his own objects. Nor did he do these things under great responsibility, except at a time of great public interest on some popular question. With respect to this oath, it was said that it was not originally framed to exclude the Jews. He believed that was perfectly true, although there never had been a period in the history of this country, except for a short time, during which it was possible for a Jew to have sat in that House. By the Act of Supremacy—the 1st of Elizabeth, c. 1.—the words of the oath were, "God so helping me and the contents of this book." It was quite clear that a Jew could have taken that oath. But by the 1st of William III., they were required to take the Oath of Abjuration, which had always ex- 1280 cluded the Jews. No doubt those oaths were not framed for excluding the Jews; and if the Jews were in that House at present—if they had always continued to sit there—he (Lord Ashley) would never have proposed a measure to turn him out. But there was a wide difference between proposing a measure to exclude them from the rights they now enjoyed, and repealing an oath that had been in force for so many years, and had been taken by all parties, and by the country at large, to convey to the world a declaration of Christianity on the part of the Legislature. He could not consent to abolish that oath, because in so doing he thought he should—he judged only for himself—be making a public declaration of the utter uselessness of Christianity for the government and superintendence of public affairs. And the noble Lord might rest assured that, turn it which way he would, and smooth it over as much as he liked, there were many thousands in this country who would view the Act in the same light. It might well be questioned whether it was taking a wise part, with a view to the happiness and the morality of our people, to declare by our acts, though we might attempt to qualify it by our words, that that great principle and doctrine was no longer to be predominant in the affairs of legislation. As far, then, as all these arguments went, he very much sympathised with the conscientious scruples of those who were opposed to this measure. There had been other arguments urged out of doors, to which the noble Lord had alluded, and he (Lord Ashley) would touch upon them only to say how little he concurred in them, and to show to those who were anxiously watching this debate that there was no line of argument which had not been considered. Many very conscientious persons objected to this measure, because they regarded the Jewish people as the authors of the crucifixion. Now, if it could be proved that the Jews now demanding admittance into that House were really the descendants of those who crucified our Lord, it would be matter of great doubt whether we had right or authority to take cognisance of that. But it could not be proved that these Jews in England were the decendants of those particular parties. Thousands of Jews never returned to Jerusalem after the captivity in Babylon; and the petitioners might be the descendants of those who were absent at the time of that great event. Now, he (Lord Ashley) hoped he had said nothing that could give offence to the Hebrew peo- 1281 ple, collectively or individually. Such an event he should most deeply deplore, for he was not ashamed to confess that he regarded the very poorest Israelite with feelings akin to reverence, as one of the descendants of the most remarkable nation that had ever yet appeared on the face of the earth—one of the forefathers of those who were yet to play the noblest part in the history of mankind. The Jews were looked upon by many as a degraded, illiterate, money-loving race, fit only for the Stock Exchange or to take care of orange stalls. One of their advocates, Professor Maurice, of King's College, wrote thus:—I have no doubt that a Jew has great disqualifications for the office of an English legislator ….; in the case of his being or his not being a hearty Jew, I cannot imagine that he will ever be a hearty Englishman. The strong passion will be an absorbing one. Whatever weakens it weakens his capacity for any national spirit. If, then, he has, as he is likely to have, a strong interest in the mere material prosperity of the country, he is almost certain to value that prosperity above the well-being of the creatures who compose it. Now if this be, as I believe it is, the mischievous tendency of all classes among us, of landowners and millowners, of Conservatives and Liberals, of Churchmen, Dissenters and infidels, we may reasonably seek to infuse some fresh and healthy blood into the system; we should not impregnate it with the habits of a race which, almost by the condition of its existence, must embody our present evils in their worst form.He (Lord Ashley) should say very nearly the reverse of this. The Jews were a people of very powerful intellect, of cultivated minds, and with habits of study that would defy the competition of the most indefatigable German. Their literature extended in an unbroken chain from the days of our Lord down to the present time. [Mr. DISRAELI: From far beyond that.] True, for the hon. Gentleman meant, no doubt, to throw into their literature the whole range of the historians and the prophets of the Old Testament. [Mr. DISRAELI: Hear, hear!] But he (Lord Ashley) was speaking, not of the old Jews in their palmy days, but of the Jews oppressed and despised in their days of dispersion. Even thus, their literature embraced every subject of science and learning, of secular and religious knowledge. As early as the ninth century they took the lead in grammar and lexicography; and towards the end of the twelfth their labours in this respect formed the basis of everything that had since been done by Christian doctors. They had a most abundant literature in 1282 French and German, but especially in Hebrew; and the Jews presented, he believed, in our day, in proportion to their numbers, a far larger list of men of genius and learning than could be exhibited by any Gentile country. Music, poetry, medicine, astronomy, occupied their attention, and in all they were more than a match for their competitors, But the most remarkable feature in the character of the Jews in the present day was this, that they had discarded very many of their extravagant and anti-social doctrines. Their hatreds and their suspicions were subdued, and undoubtedly they exhibited a greater desire and a greater fitness to re-enter the general family of mankind. He should be asked, then, why, with all this belief of their merit, he hesitated to adopt the present measure? He was fully prepared to make every concession that could contribute to their honour and comfort; he offered no opposition to their being admitted to corporate offices; but when he was summoned, in obedience to a principle which from his soul he repudiated, (the principle that religion had nothing to do with politics,) to strike out certain words from the oath that asserted the truth and maintained the supremacy of the Gospel, he must at once declare that he could not give his vote for the admission of anybody to the high and most solemn functions of legislating in the British Parliament unless he professed to do so on "the true faith of a Christian."
§ MR. GLADSTONE
, who rose along with one or two other hon. Members, said: I regret to stand in the way of any other Gentleman who may be desirous to address the House; but I am quite sure that I shall not appeal in vain to its indulgence, when I refer to the fact, that my hon. Friend and Colleague the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. H. Inglis) has to-night presented the petition of that learned body against the projected measure of the noble Lord, and when I state, with deep regret so far as regards my relation to that learned body, that, not without pain indeed, but after full consideration, and with firm conviction, it is my intention, because I feel it to be my duty, to support the measure which we are now assembled to discuss. I will first ask the permission of the House to say a very few words upon the relation in which I stand to my constituents. I think hon. Members will concur with me, that there is some- 1283 thing peculiar in that relation; that in ordinary cases of representation there is a palpable difference between the person who sits here and those who send him here; that he ought to be, and commonly is, their superior in mental cultivation and in opportunities of knowledge; and that it is an easy thing comparatively, under these circumstances, for him to act upon that which is undoubtedly the true principle of representation, namely, to follow the conscientious dictates of his own judgment, whether they happen to coincide in the particular case with the judgment of his constituency or not. But for me, Sir, the circumstances are very different. I have received the honour of being chosen to represent in this House a body, of which I gladly acknowledge that I must look upon the members of whom it is composed as being in ability, in knowledge, in all means of judgment which depend upon individual character, either superior, or, on the least favourable showing, equal to myself. But I am sure I shall be borne out by the concurrence of all who hear me, when I say, that fact will not absolve me in stifling the dictates of my own judgment and conscience, feeble as the first may be, with regard to what the principles of the constitution and the interests of the country may require. It greatly increases the responsibility attaching to error; but it does not in the slightest degree allow me to shift that responsibility by saying "it was your act, I did as you bid me." It leaves me bound, just as if occupying any other seat I should be bound, to take advantage of the position in which we are placed as Members of Parliament. I feel that here we have opportunities of judgment and of information in our own profession—for it may with some truth be called a profession—which others cannot have; and that I should be betraying my own plain duty to my constituents, if I were to succumb to their judgments in a case where I was conscientiously convinced that there was a better course to pursue. With regard to the positive arguments for the admission of Jews to Parliament, I shall be brief. The noble Lord has stated, and in terms satisfactory to me, nearly all that I think requires to be stated on this head. His doctrine with regard to the general fitness of the Jew for representation, and the hardship of refusing to qualified persons the right to sit in Parliament, has indeed been contested by the assertion that to withhold political privilege 1284 does not constitute a grievance. That is a proposition which I apprehend can neither be affirmed nor denied in universal terms; it must be judged by the circumstances of the case. We are bound to inquire whether there are substantial causes of disqualification, which oblige us to draw a distinction between one class of citizens and another class primâ facie entitled to occupy the same position. If there are strong and adequate causes incapacitating parties for the performance of certain duties, then to withhold from them political privileges does not constitute a grievance; but if the opponent can show no such powerful and substantive reasons—if it is admitted that the parties are competent for the duties which it is proposed that they should discharge—then, I say, in that case it is true, and it must be affirmed, and must be reiterated in the face of any abstract doctrine to the contrary, that to withhold political privilege does constitute a grievance. And further, after a presumptive case of general competency is shown, the burden of proof must lie entirely with those who seek to defeat the claim. Now, how stands the case of the Jew? How stands his case now, with regard to those points which tell in his favour? My noble Friend (Lord Ashley) has just delivered a speech, like all speeches which he delivers here, in which weight of character and weight of talent were remarkably combined; but when I listened to a part of that speech, in which, towards the close of it, he exposed the misapprehension that prevails with reference to the character of the Jews as a people, and described their remarkable qualities and their great capacities, I will not say that I asked myself whether my noble Friend was not involving himself in an inconsistency, but I could not fail to see—and he, I am sure, could not fail to see—that he was, at the least, greatly and powerfully adding to the force of the arguments, drawn from the considerations of civil right and of social justice, by which the admission of Jews to Parliament is recommended. He told us of their powerful intellect, of their cultivated minds, of their ancient and continuous literature, in every department, embracing every subject; he spoke of their indefatigable diligence, which outstrips even German assiduity; he said they had among them a greater proportion of men of genius than any other race; he stated that they had discarded many of their extravagant and antisocial 1285 doctrines, and had become much more fit to be incorporated in the framework of general society. He did not allude to another point, but it is one with which we are all familiar, namely, their intelligence, and activity, and success in many of the pursuits of commerce and of industry. Thus much then I say—that at least the civil and political argument in favour of the admission of the Jew, though I will not yet assume that it is to override every ether consideration, is as strong as the civil and political argument can be; and if you are obliged to withhold from him, on account of principles peculiar to you, those privileges to which he thinks that he has a claim, the grievance in his case will mount as high, according to the general principles applicable to such a subject, as it can mount in any case of a class excluded from general duties on partial grounds. Now, Sir, I must confess, that, when I consider my own position, as having the honour of representing the University of Oxford, with respect to this question as a question of giving or withholding certain civil privileges, I feel not a greater reluctance to give because I have that honour, but a greater reluctance to withhold. I feel a very great reluctance to be the instrument, even in my own small measure, of placing the University in conflict with the civil privileges and civil rights, if such they be, of any portion of my fellow-subjects. I do not scruple to confess a feeling which I deeply entertain: I think that we have too indiscriminately and too long pursued that policy; and, further, when I review the position in which we stand at the present moment, I, for one, am not satisfied with the practical results which it has produced. But I pass on to what I grant must be the cardinal and the overruling considerations in this case; I mean the considerations connected with religion. My noble Friend (Lord Ashley) has discarded—and justly too, as I think—the argument drawn from the supposition that the Jews are a separate nation in such a sense as to be disqualified from the performance of civil duties; he says—and he says justly—that he stands upon a conscientious adherence to principle, and that the principle of religion. And now let me consider the way in which my noble Friend has associated that adherence to principle with the vote which he proposes to give. He said, that he was about to contend for the maintenance of a long-established and an ancient system; but shortly after he had told us that the sys- 1286 tem for which he was about to contend was a long-established and an ancient one, he likewise told us—and told us, I think, with truth—that we have been for many generations in a state of perpetual conflict and of constant change, of progressive movement, all in one and the same direction. He told us that we had to contend, first for a Protestant Parliament, and now for a Christian Parliament. But I submit to him, that he ought to have begun earlier than that, because the first contest of all was a contest for a Church Parliament; and the battle for a Church Parliament, fought between the period of the Restoration, when in point of fact formal dissent began, and the period of the Hanoverian succession, or perhaps I should say of the Occasional Conformity Act, was as fierce a conflict as any of the others. Even after Nonconformity had received the sanction of the law by the Toleration Act, it was still attempted to dislodge or to exclude the Nonconformist from the possession of political power. It appears, then, that you first contended for a Church Parliament—you then contended for a Protestant Parliament; in both cases you were defeated. You were not defeated unawares; you were not defeated owing to accident. You were defeated, owing to profound and powerful and uniform tendencies, associated with the movement of the human mind—with the general course of events, perhaps I ought to say with the providential government of the world. And when we plead and argue upon the British laws and the British constitution, I really must ask with the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. W. J. Fox) what right have we to fix upon some one particular period, be it fifty, or one hundred, or two hundred years ago, and to say, "I will take the basis of that particular period, and I will say there begins, and there ends, the British constitution?" On the contrary, I say that the very same principle which makes me regard Magna Charta as a part of the British constitution, the same principle which makes me regard the Bill of Rights as a part of the British constitution, and the Act of Uniformity, and other Acts—I do not mean to say as all equally important in all their provisions, but all forming material parts of our constitutional system—by the same principle, I think, in general justice, whether I like them or not, independently in a degree of personal opinion, we who meet here in 1847 are bound to recognise to a great extent as facts those 1287 laws which have fully and deeply entered into the political system of the country, which hardly any one desires to change, which no one attempts to supersede, which we all on coming here profess to accept, and which I think we are bound to assume as data, as fixed points, in our discussions, and therefore to apply and develop in the spirit of fairness and justice. It appears, then, we have now arrived at a stage in which, after two or three generations had contended for a Church Parliament, and two or three generations more contended for a Protestant Parliament, each being in succession beaten, we are called upon to decide the question whether we shall contend for a Christian Parliament. And here I must say, that my noble Friend (Lord Ashley) has made assumptions, which, if he could establish, I, for one, should not be found voting against him; and, I may say, not I alone; since certainly, so far as I understood the noble Lord who opened this debate in an impressive address, the same may be said of him. I thought the assumptions of my noble Friend with regard to the views of the promoters of this measure entirely inconsistent with the statement of the noble Lord—I mean as they respect the relation between religion and politics. My noble Friend says, that we are asked to make a public declaration that for all purposes of government and the making of laws Christianity is needless. Certainly such was not the doctrine of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell); and I must say, without, of course, impeaching the candour of my noble Friend, that I think he has put an extreme and a strained construction on the sense and spirit of the measure itself. I do not think it amounts to what my noble Friend has said of it; I do not think it does establish a severance between politics and religion. I think it amounts to this—it amounts to a declaration on our part (if it shall pass), founded on the whole circumstances of the case, upon our view of the actual state of our laws and of the society in which we live, its composition, and its temper, that there is no necessity for our absolutely excluding the Jew, as such, from an assembly, with regard to which assembly every one of us in his own conscience feels perfectly sure—as sure as man may venture, without presumption, to feel upon what is future—that the vast and overwhelming majority will long, will, as we trust and pray, always, continue to be Christians. The discussion, therefore, 1288 in which we are engaged does not turn upon the question whether the Christian religion is needless for the work of government and of legislation. It must first of all be shown that the admission of an extremely small fraction of Jews into Parliament would paralyse and nullify the Christianity of all those who sit there. We may consistently affirm that Christianity is in the highest degree needful for our legislation, and yet decline to follow out that proposition to a conclusion so rigid as this, that every individual who is not a Christian should be excluded from the possibility of becoming a legislator. I think my noble Friend had a latent consciousness that these two ideas were entirely distinct, for he evidently conceived it to be necessary for the support of his argument that he should assume the case of a very large number of Jews in Parliament. How, he asked—for I took particular notice of his words—how can the principles of Christianity govern the Legislature if a large portion of it should be composed of Jews? and in another place he assumed the case of a Hebrew majority. But I say, that practically it is not the question what would follow from having either a Hebrew majority or a large number of Jews in Parliament; because none of us believes that, within any fairly calculable results of this measure, there will or can come any thing more than the admission of a few solitary Jews to Parliament, leaving the rest of that body exactly as it stands at present in respect to its religious profession. I believe, then, I may say that the connection between religion and politics is not only not denied by the noble Lord, but that he emphatically asserted it; that he asserted that there was no department of duty in which the motives of the fear and love of God ought not to govern; and that you could draw no distinction in that respect between domestic or private duties, and civil or political or public duties. But my noble Friend appeared to me, I confess, (though I am very anxious, like him, to avoid introducing into this discussion topics of a theological character), to attribute too much of substance, and of efficacy, I must say, to the bond which is constituted by a profession of the Christian name, defined by the individual to himself alone, not embodied in laws or in institutions, or in religious communion of any kind involving necessarily the avowal of any body of fixed truths—he appeared to attribute too much to a bond of that sort when he said, 1289 "I will take that nominal profession as my criterion and my standard, and I will affirm that all who profess that name are fit for the exercise of civil duties, and that every man who does not consent to bear it is unfit to be admitted into Parliament." I think that he laid greater stress upon such a test than it will bear, though I certainly would not undervalue it, or anything which tends in any manner to connect us with the profession of Christianity; still, I think that on religious grounds it would be very difficult for him to prove the unfitness of a Jew for the duties which it is proposed that he shall discharge here, without also proving, by pretty sure implication, that many of those who sit here already, not as individuals but as classes, are therefore unfit for those duties. If, therefore, I admit that we are called upon to give up the exclusively Christian character of the composition of Parliament, yet, in saying that, I perhaps make a larger concession to the opponents of the measure than should in strictness be made, because the only kind of Christian character which this measure requires us to surrender, is one depending on a title not defined except by the feelings of each individual for and to himself; it is one which implies little more than the most vague, and naked, and generalized acknowledgment. I am quite aware, indeed, that the question as I have now described it, the question whether we shall, under the circumstances of the present time, open the doors of Parliament to Jews, whom we expect to enter them not in mass but only by units; whether we shall dispense in their case with that reference to a Christian profession which, as we now have it, has no relation to any defined standard external to the individual mind; that even this is still a very important question, though it is different from that which we should have to decide if we could rationally anticipate as possible any large number of Jews in Parliament, and still more, from what it would be if the title with which in one sense we are now to part were a title indicating concurrence in a fixed body of revealed truths. Now, I can well believe that to many, and I freely allow that to myself, it is painful thus to part with even the title of an exclusive Christianity, inscribed upon the portals of the constitution. Yet to qualify this title as we are now asked to qualify it, to surrender it as an universal and exclusive title, is not to deprive ourselves of such substantial Christianity as we may 1290 really now possess. Advantage is not unfairly taken in debate of a word; but when it is said that we unchristianise the Parliament, while it may be true in name—and I would not deny it—I must ask is it true in substance? I could not help being struck, and I confess I could not altogether repress a smile, when, with indignation evidently the most unaffected, in an earlier part of this evening, my hon. Friend and Colleague (Sir R. Inglis) rebuked Dr. Van Oven for denying in the pamphlet which he has just published on this question that we were a Christian nation. Dr. Van Oven denies that we are a Christian nation because there a few Jews in the nation, and my hon. Colleague is very angry with him for denying it; and yet what is now proposed is to admit a few Jews into Parliament, all the rest of the body of Parliament remaining Christian; and I am afraid my hon. Colleague would be as much displeased with any one for asserting the Christianity of Parliament as he was with Dr. Van Oven for denying the Christianity of the nation. Yet the circumstances are exactly parallel. If we are now a Christian nation, we shall even after removing the disabilities of the Jews be a Christian Parliament: if it be true that we must then cease to be a Christian Parliament, it is also true that we are not now a Christian nation. Sir, I think that Parliament will continue to derive its character mainly from the personal character of those who elect and of those who compose it. And I must say, with regard to the speech of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), that when he spoke of oaths and declarations as affording insufficient securities, I certainly did not understand him to signify—and I trust he did not intend—that they were to be looked upon as altogether worthless, and to be discarded from our use, but that we were not to place upon them an exclusive reliance, and that we were to depend more, after all, upon the qualities of men than upon the letter of any regulations we could establish. [Lord J. RUSSELL: Hear!] But I confess I should perceive in this Motion a liability to very great and grave objections—indeed, it would even assume in my eyes the character of a practical grievance to us—if I thought that it was the intention of the noble Lord to propose that our position, the position of us who are now exclusively entitled to sit here, should be in any particular altered by the measure which he proposes to introduce. I hope his purpose is, that we shall con- 1291 tinue to discharge the very solemn duties committed to our care under the sanction of the very same oaths and declarations which we now take; that we who are Christians shall continue to give the greatest degree of solemnity that is possible to our entrance upon our public functions, by continuing to contract our obligations as now "upon the true faith of a Christian." I trust that nothing can be more idle than the anticipations of those—I have not heard them mentioned in this debate, but they are current out of doors—the anticipations of those who apprehend that, in consequence of the admission of some two, or three, or four, or six Jews into Parliament, that devout and seemly custom, whereby you, Sir, as our head and formally appointed representative, and all of our number who are present with you, at the moment, when you first enter this House, offer up your daily supplications to Almighty God for light and for guidance in our deliberations, is either to be abandoned, or its continuance in the slightest degree endangered. I must confess, I feel, for one, that if it were so, then this would become a question, not between considerations rather of an abstract character on the one hand, and practical grievance affecting the Jews on the other, but of practical grievance affecting a very small number of Jews on the one hand, and of practical grievance affecting a very large number of Christians—I mean all those who now sit here—on the other. I have, therefore, endeavoured to show, that the assumptions with regard to the real and constitutional meaning of the law which it is proposed that we should pass, are assumptions not duly founded in the true nature and character of the measure. But there are others who make objections to this measure in language much stronger than my noble Friend. If we have not yet been told, we must prepare to be told out of doors, and probably in this House, that this is an anti-Christian measure, and one which will draw down upon us the judgment of the Almighty. Now, with regard to such arguments, I admit the extreme difficulty of touching them at all, because one cannot deal with them with the reverence which is due to the awful name they seem to invoke against us, and at the same time with the freedom which belongs essentially to our common discussions. But this I do say, that if it be true that civil justice requires the admission of the Jew into Parliament, and if it be untrue that you can show any 1292 insuperable difficulty of a practical nature in the work of legislation, or any grievance to any other class of the community, as the consequence of his admission, then this question, so far from being, as I think that my hon. Colleague seemed to call it, a question of expediency, is, in the highest sense applicable to a political question, a question of principle as contradistinguished from one of mere expediency; and that in proceeding to render no more and no less than justice to any class of our fellow-subjects, be they called by what name they may, I can have no fear of drawing down upon our heads the vengeance of the Almighty; nay, on the contrary, I must entertain a very much more serious fear in that respect, if, because of the influence of prejudice on our own minds, or from the apprehension of clamour and the displeasure of others, to which my honourable Friend so emphatically referred, we refrain from doing that which we believe to be right. But again, Sir, I must proceed to observe, that even if we allow that under certain other circumstances such an argument could properly find place in the discussion, it is now too late for us to have recourse to it. If the concession of power to the Jews be, which I do not admit, an act involving us in such heavy guilt, we cannot be content with simply alleging this as a plea against the present measure; we must look back upon all which we have already done, and which, it may likewise be observed, no one proposes to undo. Perhaps it is more fit for me than for any other person to invite the House to this retrospect, because I have before urged upon its attention the close and indissoluble connection between the measures which you have already passed for the advantage of the Jew, and the measure which you are now invited to adopt in his favour. In the year 1841, opposing the Bill then introduced by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) for the admission of Jews to municipal offices, I argued, and I founded my opposition upon the principle, that no broad or clear line could be drawn between their eligibility for what was then in question, and their eligibility for Parliament. And now let us consider how far we are bound by the equitable consequences of what we have already done, or how far it leaves us free to employ the religious argument against the present measure. My noble Friend draws a distinction between executive and legislative functions, and I grant, in certain respects, a just distinction; but 1293 at the same time, although in this place we may commonly look upon the name of municipal office without any very lively sentiment of veneration, yet what does it involve? It involves the magistracy; it involves the performance of judicial duties; it involves the administration of laws which are Christian laws, founded upon and made conformable to the principles of Christianity; and I cannot find a breadth of standing ground for my foot which will enable me on the one hand to say that the Jew is fit for the solemn administration of those laws, and for the administration of Christian oaths to Christian men, and yet upon religious grounds is absolutely unfitted to enter this assembly. But further, the distinction of my noble Friend, though it was drawn with great force and ingenuity, I am of opinion will not sufficiently avail him, even if it be admitted without any restraint. Executive offices, he observes, and even judicial offices, are discharged under the strict observance of the public eye, and any abuse would be corrected by the operation of the power of public opinion; but I must call upon the House to remember that they are not executive offices only to which we have admitted the Jew. What have you to say with regard to the franchise? You refuse to admit the Jew to this House, because they who sit here are the makers of laws; but I ask who are they that make the makers of laws? It is from a periodical return to its mother earth, that this House derives its life and vigour. From thence are drawn the new materials that are to qualify or to replace the old. This House may be the chief organ of power, but it is undoubtedly not its fountain; it advises the Crown, it represents the people, and in the constituency must be sought the source of so much of the authority of the State as we possess. But to that constituency, to that primary function of electing, a function not executive, a function the least of all subject to responsibility in the sense of my noble Friend, Jews have already been admitted. And yet if we are asked whether the constituency of this country be a Christian constituency, I, for one, am ready to answer yes. It is composed generally of Christians; and no man, as a voter, is in any degree precluded from recognising the command of his Christian principles over him in the determination of his vote, because the Jew stands by his side. If his Christianity be worth anything at all, he must carry it with him to 1294 the hustings; in discharging his duty there, he must first have asked himself what his obligations to his God and Saviour require of him. I am certain my noble Friend will not argue that the constituency has ceased to be a Christian constituency, because there are here and there a few Jews interspersed through it; and unless he is prepared to argue thus, I trust that he will share in my consolatory belief that Parliament will not have ceased to be a Christian Parliament, because some few Jews may have been admitted into it. I certainly, after all that we have done for Jews outside the doors of Parliament, and for others within them, am content on the ground of policy, content on the ground of justice, to admit them, and for the future to trust the Christianity of the Legislature, under God, to the Christianity of the nation. Again, Sir, my noble Friend proceeded to quote the authority of Dr. Arnold, who entertained a strong opinion against the admission of Jews to Parliament. I cannot wonder that the opponents of the measure should seek support from such a quarter. There were few men who would address their minds to the consideration of any subject with greater energy than Dr. Arnold, or with greater or even equal sincerity of purpose. But I apprehend that his view of this particular question stood related not to the strength of his mind, but to its weakness. Most excellent and most able as he was, yet, like many other men of remarkable and rare ingenuity and of true enthusiasm, he had his own theory which he idolised, which it was the dream of his life to rear into actual existence, and with respect to which no experience could avail to undeceive him. He considered that in a Christian country the State and the Church ought to be regarded as one; the State belonging wholly to the Church, and the Church belonging wholly to the State. He viewed ministers of religion as officers of State, and officers of State as ministers of religion: and he held that there was no distinction between them, except the incidental one of the subject-matter upon which, they were respectively employed. But with this strict idea of the State as Christian he combined an idea of Christianity relaxed in such a manner that, according to him, certain general truths assumed to be common, and capable of separation from what is peculiar to different Christian persuasions, ought to be embodied in a living and working system. He was 1295 indeed perplexed, even in speculation, with certain exceptions which met him at the outset, such as the case of Unitarians on the one side, and of Roman Catholics on the other. Notwithstanding, however, flaws and discouragements such as these, he laboured, as Mr. Stanley has explained to us in that most interesting work, his Life of Dr. Arnold, to reduce to form the idea which he had conceived in his mind of a Christianity which should comprehend in one many of the now separated persuasions, and which should then be embodied as a principle, and as a test, in the constitution of the London University. He laboured, as may be easily believed, without success; but likewise, if I remember right, without despair, at least without the abandonment of his views; and his opinion, that the Jews should be excluded from Parliament, was an opinion entertained by him, not with regard to their separate case upon its own merits, but rather, I think, as necessary to the integrity of this favourite, but very peculiar and arbitrary theory. I, therefore, must be allowed to urge, that the weight of Dr. Arnold's opinion in this case must be measured by the practicability of this particular idea, and not by the authority generally belonging to his judgment, that is to say, upon questions where he had no special bias or notion to mislead him. There is, however, another point in the argument to which I must return, as I have only noticed it hitherto in general terms: whereas its bearing upon the present question is, in my view, of the very highest importance. It is alleged that we are now going to make a change in the constitution which involves the essence of Christianity; that what the constitution hitherto has required of us is not merely that we should denominate ourselves Christians, but should make our solemn declaration "upon the true faith of a Christian;" thus implying that each of those who so declare really embraces that faith, and that, therefore, according to the view of the constitution, all Members of Parliament are agreed in the recognition of a fixed body of revealed doctrine, distinctly indicated by those words. From the mere words as they stand, I at once admit, it is by no means evident that they were intended to include all persons that could simply call themselves Christians; nay, that they were not so intended, and did not include all such persons. But we must read the sense which the declaration now bears, in the light of subsequent 1296 history; we must observe what successive Parliaments have done, in order to adapt the law to the altering circumstances of successive periods, and must give to their measures their full breadth of meaning. After Nonconformity had taken a definite shape in this country, it obtained a legal toleration; Nonconformists entered into Parliament by a sufferance which gradually came to be all but a right, and which received full constitutional sanction as a right in the year 1828. Among those Nonconformists, almost from the first, there were Unitarians. True they had their whole civil existence for a long time by sufferance; only by slow degrees they too obtained a recognition; and I apprehend that from the year 1813 the law ceased, as practice had long before ceased, to draw any distinction between them personally and other Dissenters. I say personally, not entering into the inquiry what view the law may even now be thought to take of their creed, as distinct from the persons professing it. Now, Sir, as these concessions were not extorted by fraud, or surprise, or force, but were granted one after another by Parliament, with its eyes open to their significancy and their consequences, I cannot lay it as a charge against the conscience of the Unitarian, that he uses, in reference to his belief, the words which we too use at that table with regard to ours. Whatever may have been their original view and meaning, I think myself bound most unreservedly to admit, that Unitarians act according to the spirit and the intention of our laws, when they adopt those expressions for themselves, as applicable in their mouths to their own religious system. But if, as I think, the constitution, so to speak, is satisfied with the sense in which they are thus employed, then I conceive we cannot dispute that it has altogether ceased to require of us the recognition of any fixed standard or body of Christian truths as an indispensable element of fitness for legislative duties; that we are not now tied by it to hold anything which can in serious reflection be called by us unitedly "the true faith of a Christian;" and that therefore the measure of the noble Lord at the head of the Government is not open to the objection which would lie against it, if it could really be shown, that, in order to meet a case of limited extent, we were about to make a great substantial change in the religious character of the constitution, and in the capacity of the great mass of those who act under it. Passing on, 1297 Sir, from the objections which I think either unreal or at best inapplicable, I now come to one of which I admit the reality and the relevancy, though I do not admit its sufficiency to warrant the rejection of this proposal. I hope the House will bear with me while I touch for a short time upon the topic, in my view of very great importance, of which no notice has as yet been taken in this debate. I am most reluctant to introduce into it any element that can even appear to be foreign to its scope, or not remotely connected with it; but I am certain of the general assent of those who hear me when I say that, as being sent here jointly with my hon. Friend and Colleague (Sir R. H. Inglis) to represent an University, to represent a constituency so much connected with the national Church, and comprising so large a number of its ministers, I should betray my most especial and solemn duty, were I to give my assent to this measure without having endeavoured to consider very maturely its whole bearings upon the interests of that Church; I will add, without having satisfied my mind that its adoption ought not to work them injury. I say then, Sir, that there is at least one real difficulty attending the admission of the Jews into Parliament; that which arises from the mixed nature of the functions we are brought here to discharge. So long as many matters relating to the Church, and some also relating to the Christian religion in a more general sense, are liable to be discussed and decided here—so long as we continue to bear the character of political guardians of the Church—there is, as far as these facts extend, a real and practical difficulty attending the admission of Jews to Parliament. This being granted, I must ask myself what is the amount of that difficulty, and are there any means by which it can be obviated, short of that extreme resort, the rejection of this measure? And first, as to the amount of the difficulty, I confess that I have not any great apprehension of practical evils to arise from the actual interference of professors of the Jewish religion in such legislation as may directly or indirectly have to do with ours. Because I know that, in the first place, the good feeling of each individual as a judge of what is becoming or otherwise, for himself; and, in the next place, the influence of public opinion operating both within and without these walls, will do much to restrain any interposition in matters relating to the Church on the part of those who, on 1298 account of religious differences, can have no natural and sufficient interest in them. We have seen that feeling operate not unfrequently in this House since the Acts of 1828 and 1829. When a question of the internal affairs of the Church is under consideration here, it is not an uncommon thing to hear Gentlemen, who do not belong to her communion, say, that they do not look upon it as a matter for them to be concerned in, and that they think it more becoming to leave the discussion to those who may be supposed to feel a religious and an appropriate interest in it as members of the Church. And many act upon a rule of this kind without the formal expression of it. If this has been the case heretofore among us, constituted as we now are, it is reasonable to expect that it will be still more the practice if Jews should come to sit among us. While, therefore, I do not deny that a practical anomaly or difficulty presents itself, I also think that considerations of the class which I have mentioned, go a great way to diminish and reduce it. But at any rate I must look at the alternative; and, with the views I entertain of the strength of the political claim of the Jew, I find a much greater practical anomaly and difficulty to follow upon holding such language as this—that after all which has taken place, I will, because a certain portion of the duties of Parliament are directly related to the Christian religion, exclude the Jew from the performance of all those among its duties which are in their first aspect secular and civil. I am by no means of the opinion that differences of religion have no bearing upon the discharge of political duties of whatever class: I do not hold that all men, whatever their religious creeds, are equally qualified for those duties: I look upon a right religious belief as among the elements of competency for them. But this is in itself a question of degree, and as such the constitution regards it, because it has already recognised a sufficient competency in persons of various creeds for the duties of Parliament and of all offices; and also the competency of the Jew for every civil duty and privilege, except only seats in Parliament, and the holding of certain offices. Such then being the case, I have the utmost reluctance, upon the sole ground that the functions of Parliament are sometimes conversant with matters of religion, to exclude the Jew from any share in all those other functions that belong to the Legislature, and with which it is princi- 1299 pally occupied; such as relate to taxation and finance, to trade and industry, to the defence of the country, to the administration of justice, to humanity and philanthropy, to the redress of grievances, to external and colonial relations, and to all the multitude of subjects, defying complete classification, that are brought before us from time to time. But still, Sir, the question, as I have endeavoured to limit its practical bearings, the question how, under the successive changes already introduced, or likely to be introduced, in the religious composition of this House, the relations of the Church to the State are to be governed, is one which excites a great and increasing interest, a deep and just anxiety, among the clergy and the members of the Church of England. In illustration of what I have said, I may refer to a published letter which I have recently seen, addressed to the noble Lord, by the Rev. Mr. Trevor, a clergyman, I believe, of known abilities, and of no less indisputable moderation, who nevertheless it is evident feels keenly, as he also writes warmly, upon the difficulties in which the Church, and the clergy in particular, are placed under a course of legislation which successively infuses into the composition of Parliament new elements, having no sympathy with that body, and in no relations towards them, such as those which are created by identity of religious communion. I have a more recent result and token of this sentiment among the clergy, in my hand, in the shape of a petition which has been forwarded to me for presentation to this House by a dignitary of the Church, a person of high character, and of distinguished talents—I mean Archdeacon Wilberforce, whose brother occupies a yet higher station as Bishop of Oxford. In this petition, Archdeacon Wilberforce takes a summary view of the altered position of the Church in regard to the Legislature and to the expectations she may naturally entertain from it; and then he comes to the further alteration, which, as he had understood, the noble Lord opposite was to propose. He says that in the present state of public opinion, and having regard to all that has already been done, he is not prepared, whatever his own sentiments or predilections as an individual might be, to offer objection to the removal of the Jewish disabilities: but then he prays that before we take this new step onwards in the career which we have now for a long time been pursuing, we will pass 1300 a Bill for the repeal of the Statute of the 28th year of Henry VIII. chap. 17, relating to the election of bishops, inasmuch as he conceives that Parliament will, in consequence of such a measure as that now before us, cease to be a Christian Legislature. Now, Sir, it will have appeared from all that I have said, that I do not take the same view of the character and effects of this particular measure as Archdeacon Wilberforce: neither do I think that the anomaly which he points out, is one that we ought now to proceed to remove by the repeal of that Statute of Henry VIII. But I perceive the difficulty; and although I am reluctant to entertain the idea of meeting it in such a mode as the particular mode which he suggests, yet I refer to his petition as illustrating a sentiment which is widely spread, and which may spread yet more widely. Indeed, for myself, I cannot hesitate to say, that from the general course of events, and in particular from the changes which have been introduced, and which are now proposed in the constitution of the Legislature, a very great degree, an increased degree, of delicacy and caution has become necessary in the management of its relations with the Church; and that the want of that delicacy and caution, and of kindly and considerate feeling, would in all probability lead to very serious ulterior consequences; I mean that it would have the effect of producing throughout the country, among the clergy, and among all the more seriously attached members of the Church, a desire for what is termed organic change in the connection between the Church and the State. I use the phrase organic change to distinguish what I now have in view, from changes not cutting so deep, from practical and administrative improvements. Now I do not know whether there are any persons in this House—if so, they must be few and probably of extreme opinions—who contemplate and desire such organic change in the connection between Church and State. If there be such, I am not one of them: I am deeply anxious to obviate any demand for changes of that nature. Yet I feel that there is a great difficulty, pressing seriously upon the consciences both of lay members of the Church and of clergy, from their becoming more and more alive to a want of active sympathy between the Parliament and the Church, and to the slow and unsatisfactory mode in which the internal affairs of the Church are apt to be despatched amidst the pressure of our other 1301 engagements. The solution of this difficulty, which I should greatly prefer, is as follows: and in what I am about to say I beg most frankly to assure the noble Lord opposite, that I desire to convey no allusion to current events, for if I thought it right to introduce on this occasion any reference to them, I should not merely insinuate an opinion, but should state directly and broadly whatever I might have to urge: this, then, is what I desire, in the interest of my constituents, and in the interest of the Church, that as you continue from time to time to admit among you those who cannot justly be expected to hare sympathy with the laws and the spiritual purposes of the Church, you should likewise recognise and act upon the principle, that a consideration for the clergy and the other members of the Church as such, a disposition to attach weight to their feelings and views, a regard to them as a body, having like the members of other religious bodies conscientious convictions, and entitled to have those convictions respected, should influence Parliament in the exercise of its legislative powers as they bear upon the affairs of the Church, and should also influence the Ministers of the Crown in the exercise of those very important executive powers of patronage or otherwise, which fall to them in that capacity. I think myself entitled to believe, that Parliament is disinclined to extreme views, of whatever kind, in regard to the affairs of the Church. A time might possibly arrive when it might be otherwise. If there should be any rapid or violent movement of the popular mind, or in some season of temporary excitement—however improbable such contingencies may justly be considered—a majority of this House might possibly be disposed to pursue a severe and hostile policy towards the Church, and might also incline the Minister of the Crown to act in a similar spirit. I cannot but express it as my most solemn conviction, that the adoption of any jealous, aggressive or coercive policy of that kind towards the Church, would be attended with the most deplorable results. Throughout a great part of the last century, there was, not indeed an active or violent antagonism, but a fundamental want of harmony between our civil and our ecclesiastical institutions; political influence went one way, and the dispositions of the clergy, and of most persons who were zealous in the religion of the Church, the other. What was the consequence? It was a total relaxation of discipline; the ties of affec- 1302 tion which should unite bishops with their clergy, and pastors with their flocks, became more and more feeble; there was a rapid and perpetual decline of religious activity; and the scandals of the Church (which of course are not to be regarded as those of the clergy alone) became at length gross and notorious through the Christian world. When the French Revolution burst like a clap of thunder on Europe, then there began among the higher classes, as venerable witnesses, now and lately alive, have assured some among us, a revival of religious feeling. But shortly before that Revolution, the whole relations of the Church and the people appeared to be rapidly sinking into the condition of a mere form; they were too generally reduced to a skeleton of dry bones, without life, or heat, or movement; there were no warm and living bonds of love and of duty such as ought to connect a Christian people with their ministry. If Parliament were to be governed by a spirit of hostility and of jealousy to the Church, it might in certain periods produce again results like these. In a generation already verging towards indifference, it might plunge the Church more deeply into lethargy; for, in this free country, with the laws, tempers, and habits which happily prevail, you cannot make any class or body of men, be they clergymen, or be they laymen of whatever kind, discharge their duties cordially or efficaciously by measures of restriction and coercion, or by the mere exercise of authority. Especially in regard to the Church, from the very nature of its office, which depends so essentially on the affections of the people, you must infuse a genial and a kindly spirit into all your proceedings, unless you are prepared to take upon yourselves the responsibility of one or the other of two tremendous evils: either the evil which I have named, of paralysing all spiritual energies in an age of indifference; or in an age of religious warmth and excitement, and of rising faith within the Church, such as this, the evil of exasperating those energies, and of causing convulsions which might ultimately prove almost as detrimental to the civil as to the ecclesiastical institutions of the country. If, therefore, we desire to see what is called a working or an efficient Church—a clergy that will toil without remission until it has covered the whole space, now unhappily void, amongst the people with the life-giving ordinances of our religion, acting with zeal and love, as well as with a 1303 true moderation, in the spirit of that system of faith and discipline under which they are appointed to work—we cannot contribute to this purpose, though we may defeat it, by a policy of jealousy and repression; we may contribute towards it, if the duties of the State in Church affairs be discharged in a wise and considerate, I will say also in a genial and friendly, and something of a confiding temper. Such, then, is the mode in which, as it appears to me, it would not be difficult to provide sufficiently against the embarrassments which might otherwise arise out of the successive infusion of many new and alien ingredients into the composition of the Legislature. But I should think it a very great misfortune indeed, if there were no other mode of avoiding those embarrassments than to reject a measure like this, which has civil privileges for its subject-matter, and to announce to the Jew that, on account of the partially religious or ecclesiastical duties of Parliament, we shall now, after all we have done in relieving different classes from disability, and recognising their fitness for admission here, after all we have done for him in conferring upon him such functions as those of the magistracy and the franchise, apply as against him the exclusive rule in a manner, as I think, so partial and unequal, and take our stand upon a ground so very narrow as that lying between what we have already given, and what we are now asked to give. The opposition to this measure, in order to deserve respect, must be placed upon the ground of religion; but it could only attract respect, when placed upon that ground, if it could be shown that there is breadth in our distinctions, that there is some consistency in our policy, that our rules are impartially applied; conditions none of which I am able to realise in any opposition that can now be offered to the Motion of the noble Lord. Upon a general view, then, of the case, I cannot but feel that my noble Friend has misconceived the purport of this measure in its bearing on the religious character of the constitution, and has therefore greatly overrated as well as misjudged its effects. I am unable to detect any practical evil or inconvenience likely to flow from it, in any degree equal to the evils that would follow its rejection upon grounds that I take to be not only insufficient, but even false and dangerous. I rate highly the position of the Jews in the State; and I find their competency for civil duties asserted in the 1304 very largest terms, by one whose strenuous opposition to their claim does but add to the cogency of the witness he has borne in their favour. I cannot, then, but close with the appeal which the noble Lord opposite has made to us, and admit that in the measure he has proposed he is himself aspiring, and is inviting us to perform an of justice. But if it be such, then it is one worthy of a Christian Legislature to enact, for Christianity recognises no higher, no more comprehensive obligation. If we refuse it, I conceive that the wrong which on civil grounds we shall have done will be more acutely felt, and more pointedly shown, from year to year: if we adopt it, in spite of the prepossessions of others, and perhaps of our own, we shall have the consolation of finding that calm reflection will surely and speedily prevail. We shall have the consolation of believing that we have used the light that has been given us, not heedlessly, but to the best of our care and judgment; and having so done, may entertain the hope that it will guide us aright. Especially we may feel assured, that if the act we have done be indeed an act of civil and social justice, then, whatever be its first aspect, it can involve no disparagement to the religion we profess, can never lower Christianity, as my noble Friend has feared it would, in the public estimation, but must, on the contrary, tend to elevate the conception of Christianity in all considerate minds; for it will show either now, or at farthest when some years have passed, and when we can look back upon the differences of the present day with the aid of those lights which after events and experience will have thrown upon them, that the Christian religion, which we professed, was a religion that enabled us, when convinced, to do an act of justice in spite of prepossessions appealing to our liveliest and tenderest feeling—prepossessions which still attracted our sympathy and respect, almost our veneration—in the full belief that truth and right would vindicate themselves, and those who had desired to follow them.
§ MR. BANKES
said, that notwithstanding the observations and arguments of the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford, the real question at issue was, whether or not there should be any religion of the State. The right hon. Gentleman had affected to regard the admission of five or six Jews to Parliament as a matter of comparative indifference; but he had shut out from his view the broader ques- 1305 tion suggested by the hon. Baronet the other Member for the University of Oxford. The petition of Archdeacon Wilberforce put the difficulty in which the House was involved in a strong light. That venerable personage was willing to admit five or six Jews to Parliament; but he qualified his consent by requiring the repeal of the Act of Henry VIII., under the provisions of which the noble Lord at the head of the Government was at this moment enforcing the dean and chapter of the see of Hereford to make a particular election of a bishop. For that venerable personage no doubt contemplated, and contemplated with truth, that to admit Jews to Parliament, qualified as they were described to be, for the highest offices in the State, was to destroy all security that a Baron Rothschild might, at no distant day, become an influential counsellor or even First Minister of the Crown, and in that capacity issue his congé d'elire for the election of Christian bishops. The noble Lord had adverted to the circumstance of infidels holding seats in that House, notwithstanding the declaration on the true faith of a Christian, and he quoted the case of Mr. Gibbon; but he thought that the noble Lord had not acted very fairly in venturing to assume that Hume, had he enjoyed the opportunity, would not have hesitated to take his place under an oath to legislate on the true faith of a Christian. He (Mr. Bankes) entertained too high an opinion of the honesty and conscientiousness of Hume to believe that he would have done anything of the kind. Undoubtedly Gibbon did come under that obligation; but Mr. Gibbon never held a high position in that House. He was an Atheist, and was powerless. [Mr. DISRAELI: Deist.] Well, Deist. He was a Deist; but he was powerless in that House, and why? Because, being known as a Deist, he made the declaration on the true faith of a Christian in order to take his seat; and thus openly compromised his character for integrity. With regard to Lord Bolingbroke, it was true he did sit with considerable power in the House, although he was an unbeliever in the Christian revelation; but it was a fact that during the life of Lord Bolingbroke his real opinions on the subject of religion were not publicly known; and it was not till after his death that his infidelity became notorious, and blackened his posthumous fame. Had it been known, he would not have had the power he held, great 1306 as were his accomplishments and brilliant as his eloquence undoubtedly was. His opinion was, that if the House removed the barrier which excluded an unbeliever from the House, or, if it did not exclude him, operated to disarm him, they would perpetrate a mischief with regard to the religious character of the House, which could not be remedied. The right hon. Member (Mr. Gladstone) had said that the power of the House consisted in the character of its Members. It did so; and it was mainly on the religious character which belonged in an especial manner to those Members who, by a solemn asseveration, now all concurred in acknowledging the influence of divine revelation. By the rule of the House, some subjects which were considered to be of vital importance, could not be legislated upon without a Committee of the whole House, this being an indispensable preliminary. Among these subjects was religion; but if the House agreed to the present proposal, this would be the last time that such preliminary would be resorted to, because it was not true that the mere admission of the Jews was the only question: the real question was this—is religion to be considered essential to the legislative functions of that House? The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Fox) had laid particular stress upon the election of the city of London. He did not place weight upon such an occurrence as that. He did think that where a constituency knowingly and deliberately elected a person who was disqualified, no threat on the part of that constituency should induce the House to abandon a vital principle. The right hon. Member (Mr. Gladstone) had attached great weight to the continuance of the religious service in which the House engaged previous to commencing business; but what would be the consequence if, among those who attended that service, there should be Mahomedans, Hindoos, and other unbelievers? There was nothing to prevent such an occurrence if the present barrier was removed; and that which occurred a few years ago at Sudbury might serve as a warning to them. As to the recent and previous elections for the city of London, if report spoke true, money had great influence in turning the scales; and if, in the city of London, money could produce such results, what might not be apprehended in other parts of the country? Was it unreasonable to suppose that some wealthy Mahomedan, who had, perchance, 1307 a claim of some 100,000l. or 200,000l. or of much larger amount, against the Government, might think it worth his while to further his ends by corrupting the electors, and securing a seat in that House? He must ask his hon. Friend, who professed so much attachment to the Church, whether he would consider it a pleasing spectacle at the time of prayer, that a Mahomedan—a professed unbeliever—should be standing or kneeling among us? To those who asserted that that form was old, and ought not to be continued, he had no argument to offer; but it did seem to him that even this, if it stood alone, ought to have some weight with those who professed attachment to the Established Church. The representative of one of our Universities should recollect that the question at issue was not merely the introduction of five or six Jews into Parliament, but it was a question much more important and decisive in its character and consequences. Those arguments which the right hon. Member had adverted to as likely to be used, he was inclined to think, would not be appealed to here, namely, the religious impropriety of giving effect to the present Motion. He did not think that the ground was likely to be taken up. As a political question, a most important and vital principle was involved, as the hon. Gentleman himself had admitted when he said that religious considerations could not be separated from the discharge of legislative functions. He, therefore, hoped that the question would be considered in all its bearings, and not simply as one affecting the Jews. It was exceedingly unfair to brand the opponents of the Ministerial proposal as the enemies of the Jews. They acted from higher considerations, and resisted the measure because it involved a departure from that which was the avowed principle upon which the legislation of the country ought to be carried on according to the principles of our constitution. Whatever the result of the discussion might be, he was satisfied that the debate would have the effect of proving to the country that the real question at issue was much larger, and much more important, than it was generally represented to be. The noble Lord, in introducing his proposal, had spoken of the oath as of a few words added at the fag-end of a declaration. The noble Lord might remember that the binding terms of all oaths as administered in our courts of justice were but four, occurring at what he might 1308 term the fag-end of a declaration. In fact, the argument of the noble Lord amounted to this, that no oath taken in that House could exert any binding or salutary effect. If such were the case, then he thought it would be more candid to avow that the intention was to do away with oaths and declarations altogether. With regard to what had been said as to unfounded alarms being entertained on this subject, he certainly was one who had the misfortune of opposing, conscientiously he was sure, and with painful feelings, the propositions that were made for the admission of Roman Catholics into that House; and if he were now asked whether the fears of those who had opposed the measure had been visionary, or whether the promises held out had been fulfilled; he would remind the House how they were told that the admission of Roman Catholics into that House would entirely remove the troubles of Ireland—that it would disarm the Catholic priesthood of those powers which they illegally exercised at the altar. If they passed what was then entitled "emancipation," the evils of Ireland, all of which were atributed to its non-adoption by Parliament, would immediately cease, as the supporters of that measure assured them. But those promises had been unfortunately falsified, and the fears which he and others entertained of that measure had not proved themselves to be of so visionary a character as they had been represented. In making these observations, he by no means wished to give offence to the Roman Catholic Members of the House; but he could not but speak with fear on this question, as he had ventured to do on Catholic Emancipation. He felt that there was such a preponderance of evil over good in this measure, that the House would be justified in refusing their assent to it. It proposed to abrogate all notions whatsoever of religion having a presiding power, or any power whatsoever over their councils. He dreaded the passing of such a measure as this, not merely as one which gave admission to the Jew, but to all classes of infidels; and under these feelings he was bound to give even in that early stage a decided negative to the proposition of the noble Lord.
§ MR. ROMILLY
was anxious not to trespass long on the attention of the House whilst he stated his views on the Bill about to be introduced by the noble Lord. It had been well said, that that House ought to look on this proposition as 1309 a question of principle and justice. They had to consider whether a certain class of their fellow-subjects were not entitled to those rights and privileges which belonged to every other class of their fellow-subjects. It appeared to him, that the manner in which the question was put by the noble Lord was fair and just, and that the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford (Sir R. Inglis) mistook the principle which affected this case, and totally misconceived the proposition, which was, that every person born in this country possessed all the rights of a fellow-citizen. The hon. Baronet stated, that it would be necessary for him first to have the qualification which made it necessary to give him the means of obtaining those rights. He entirely dissented from that proposition. He contended, that it was utterly futile to attempt to hold that any one born within these realms was not entitled to all the rights and privileges of a citizen. The burden of the proof that any particular class or individual was not so entitled, lay upon those who denied this right to citizenship. It was for them to make out that those persons who were born in this country, in exactly the same situation in all other respects with the rest of their fellow-subjects, were not entitled to those rights and privileges, and to participate in those honours which belonged to, and were participated in, by the rest of their fellow-subjects. The only ground which was admitted on both sides of the House to be the most important was, whether, if this measure were carried, the Christian character of the Legislature would be abolished? He believed that the question was one not so much of substance as it was of name. He thought the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford had well stated the case with regard to the quotation made by his hon. Colleague (Sir R. H. Inglis) from the Jewish pamphlet, wherein the writer said that Christianity was not the religion of this country. He very properly ridiculed the idea, that, because two or three Jews might enter Parliament if this question were carried, it should thereupon be argued that the Legislature was not a Christian Legislature. He begged to call the attention of the House to what had taken place with respect to the Roman Catholic religion. He asked, whether this was not still called a Protestant country? Was not the Legislature a Protestant Legislature? ["No!"] Did they not, when they passed the Roman Catholic Bill, foretell that 1310 every species of disaster would follow the passing of that measure? And yet the fact was, that the country had still continued a Protestant country, and the Legislature was still a Protestant Legislature, in the truest and best sense of the word, Indeed, he believed that the Roman Catholic Bill rather increased than diminished the Protestant character of the country, because now every Roman Catholic was admitted to equal privileges with his Protestant fellow-subject. Now, why did they admit the Members of the Roman Catholic religion to an equal participation in all the rights and privileges of a Protestant subject of the realms? Was it a matter of less importance to preserve the Protestant religion of this country, than it was to preserve the Christianity of this country? It appeared to him to be equally necessary to preserve the Protestant as the Christian character of this country. They were essentially linked together; and he professed himself to have the greatest possible respect and esteem for the Protestant Church, both from hereditary association and from education and reflection; but had he been in that House at the time that the Roman Catholic Relief Bill was brought in, he should have given it his support, as he felt convinced that, by so doing, strength was added to that Church which he professed, and whose integrity and whose existence he hoped might be perpetually allowed to continue. He believed that such would be the result of such a course, because it would prevent persons who were hostile to the Church of England from endeavouring to overturn it. He did not think by any means that the exclusion of a few from Parliament, who primâ facie were entitled to sit there, was calculated to deprive the Legislature of its Protestant character. He did not think that a man should be deprived of the rights of citizenship because he happened to worship God in a particular way, which he thought was acceptable to him. Why did they admit the Roman Catholics into the Legislature? They did so as a matter of justice, because, as fellow-citizens and fellow-subjects, they had an equal right to participate in the rights of legislation with themselves. They consisted of nearly one-third of the whole population of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. They were very numerous, and very powerful. The arguments brought against the Roman Catholics was, they were disposed to make proselytes, and that they were disposed to be- 1311 come dominant. Let it not be said, that they admitted the just claims of a body of men, not because of the justice of their case, but of the powerfulness of their party. He hoped hon. Gentlemen would not, by their votes upon the question, act as if they were more anxious to preserve the Protestant than the Christian character of this country. He thought that Gentlemen who opposed this measure, formed but a poor estimate, not only of the vigour of the Church of England, but of the Christian religion, when they talked of its being likely to lead to the unchristianising of the country. He begged them to look at what was taking place throughout the world. They would find that the Christian religion was extending to all parts of the world with gigantic strides, wherever civilisation extended, and that it was manifest that, in the course of a short time, the Christian religion would become the prevailing and dominant religion throughout the world. No person, except somebody with a most fanciful or diseased imagination, could possibly imagine that the Jewish religion could become the dominant religion of this country. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down suggested this case: he supposed the case of the Baron Rothschild being introduced into that House and becoming Prime Minister, and sending congés d'élire for the election of persons to that House, and the possibility of his desiring parties to be returned who were in favour of the Jewish religion. Now let the House just look at the real state of the case. The Jews at this very moment might hold and did hold land in this country. At this moment they were possessed of ecclesiastical benefices, and the manner in which they disposed of their advowsons was highly creditable to them. It should be distinctly recollected that the Jews were not disposed to proselytise. It was admitted that it was totally contrary to their habits and dispositions to do so, and that they were in a great measure exclusive. It was therefore absurd to suppose that there was any danger of their making Jews of the people of this country when this measure was passed. If they rejected it, he believed that they would give great offence to a very large portion of the community. If, however, they adopted it, they would be more closely united with a large body of useful and influential fellow-subjects. If they passed this Bill, he believed that the Christian character of the country would 1312 remain, in spite of such measures as these, and notwithstanding the groundless fears of hon. Gentlemen. All that they were asked to do by the proposition of the noble Lord was to consent to such a modification of the oath as should admit Jews to sit in that House. Now, it was urged by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, and repeated by the noble Lord the Member for Bath, that if they passed this measure they would produce this evil, which was a very serious one—they would offend large masses of the community. But what would they do if they rejected the measure? They had the evidence already that 7,000 of their fellow-citizens had elected another fellow-citizen—a Jew—to represent their interests in Parliament. They had united their voices for the purpose of sending him there; and that evidence rested not upon mere bare speculation, but they had it in the clearest manner possible. It had been suggested by some persons that, though it might be true that the Jews were equal in point of moral conduct to any other class of their fellow-subjects, they were in danger of violating their morality if they took a seat in that House. But it had been well observed by the hon. Gentleman whose speech he listened to with great pleasure, that the Jews observed that primary precept upon which morality rested—that, in fact, the morality taught by the Jews was the same as that taught by the Christians. When he spoke of morality he spoke of it as distinct from any doctrines of religion. A high eulogium was passed upon the great morality and the great capacities of the Jews by the noble Lord the Member for Bath, who pointed out what valuable Members they would become in that House; but yet upon the mere notion that Christianity might be nominally, although not substantially, injured, he was prepared to deprive the House and the country of the valuable services of such men. The only other argument against the Jews could only be expressed by one word, antipathy. There was an undefined antipathy against the Jews having places in that House. Now, he thought that the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, and the noble Lord the Member for Bath, ought to do all in their power to remove the prejudice by voting for this measure. That very antipathy which existed among many persons, without any defined reason, against the Jews, was one of the surest tests that the House could have, that, if elected, the 1313 Jews would prove to be most useful Members of the Legislature. Because, first of all, what must take place? A Jew must not only have sufficient property to be elected, but he must be sufficiently qualified by talent and respectability in the opinion of his fellow-citizens to represent them in Parliament. They had therefore that security that distinguished persons would be elected: and the election of such men of the Jewish persuasion must have a tendency to remove, in a great measure, the prejudice which existed in the public mind against them. Could any body doubt that Baron Rothschild would have been returned for London long ago had it not been for his opinions upon the Jewish question? Was not that a proof that his talents and abilities ought to be sufficient to counterbalance all those objections which were urged against his taking a seat in that House? There was one observation made by the noble Lord the Member for Bath, as to an observation of Dr. Arnold's reasons for excluding the Jews. In reply to that he wished to ask whether the House could for a moment believe that because half-a-dozen Jews entered the House, the House and country would be Juadised? Had the House become a Roman Catholic House because some Members of that body had been admitted? Was there any likelihood of it becoming Independent, or Wesleyan, or Unitarian—and, by the by, it was with much pleasure that he had listened to the talented speech of the hon. Member for Oldham, who was of that persuasion—because a few of those bodies were Members? In France and other countries Jews were admitted to a share in legislation without any of those pernicious effects which some apprehended would be found to follow from the passing of this Bill. He hoped and believed that the old argument, founded upon the prophecies as to the Jews being a wandering and wretched people, without a nation, would not be again resorted to. The House of Commons had been forced by the city of London to consider this question; and were they to exclude from Parliament the choice of the wealthiest, the most influential, and the most intelligent constituency in the kingdom? The refusal to allow Baron Rothschild to sit, would be, in his mind, a great blow at the representative system, and would inflict a serious wound upon the feelings of a peaceable and well-disposed body of men. It was idle to talk about fears upon religious grounds. They ought 1314 to have sufficient confidence in their own, to prevent them from indulging in such idle fears. The time was come to make this concession; and he trusted the House of Commons would not be found wanting in recognising, to its full extent, the great principle of toleration.
§ MR. GOULBURN
said, it was not without a feeling of considerable pain that he addressed himself to the question before the House, for at no time was it agreeable to offer opposition to those who sought advantages from that House, and to feel compelled on principle to resist the claim which was so made. The pain of his situation was considerably increased when he knew that he differed from many of those around him with whom on questions of public policy he was in the habit of agreeing, and whose judgment he regarded with deference and respect. But, as the noble Lord the Member for Bath had stated, this was a question of principle; and as it was a question of principle, it was impossible to defer to individual feelings. It became necessary, therefore, however painful the discharge of the duty might be, to state the grounds on which he felt bound to oppose the Motion of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. He did not presume to resist the introduction of Jews to Parliament upon the ground said to actuate many. He did not, any more than the noble Lord at the head of the Government, attempt to give effect to the denunciations in the prophecies by persecuting that people—he did not cast any imputation on their character as men of ability and worth—he did not mean to say that they did not pursue their avocations with industry, and that they did not conduct themselves honestly and decorously—that they did not, in many respects, merit the approbation of their fellow-citizens. He rested his opposition to their claim on the grounds stated by the noble Lord the Member for Bath, namely, that it was inconsistent with their situation as a Christian Legislature to admit Jews into Parliament. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down considered that the House came to the discussion of this question under peculiarly favourable circumstances, namely, that the citizens of London had elected a Jew as their representative, and thus necessarily brought the subject under the consideration of Parliament. Now, even if he were not opposed to the admission of the Jews into the Legislature, he must say, that the circumstance which 1315 the hon. and learned Gentleman had stated, so far from inducing him to give their claims a favourable consideration, would lead him to oppose them more strenuously. Parliament would neglect its duty to the State if it encouraged any constituency to return to the House of Commons a person whom the laws of the country for the time being disqualified from sitting there. Nor did he think that the claims of the Jews to seats in Parliament ought to receive more attention because a Jew had been returned for the city of London in conjunction with the First Minister of the Crown. If changes of the law were to be forced upon the Legislature by the illegal proceedings of large bodies of men in the country, the functions and duties of Parliament would be necessarily superseded. If the House gave any weight to the peculiar circumstances under which the question was brought before it, they would not only be in error, but would give occasion for dangerous impressions on the minds of the people with respect to the mode of effecting further changes in the law. What did they see every day—and he viewed the fact with alarm and apprehension—but juries refusing to convict prisoners charged with capital offences because they were of opinion that the punishment of death ought not to be inflicted in any case? What difference was there between juries like those who sought by a violation of their oaths to compel the Legislature to abolish the punishment of death, and the citizens of London who in defiance of the law would force upon the House of Commons, as their Member, a person whom the law had disqualified? If there were parties desirous of forcing Parliament to adopt a course which Parliament had not considered it advisable to adopt, it was the duty of the House to view the attempt with increased jealousy. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down had told them that the question rested precisely on the same footing as that of Roman Catholic Emancipation. On that point he begged entirely to differ with the hon. and learned Gentleman. The difference was, not that the Roman Catholics were powerful, and that the Jews were weak—not that the Roman Catholics were dangerous, and that the Jews were powerless; but it was because, however the Protestant and the Roman Catholic might differ, there was the common bond of Christianity to unite them; and in that bond the Jew could not concur. He admitted that, generally 1316 and abstractedly speaking, every individual had a claim to be admitted to the enjoyment of every civil privilege; but surely the hon. and learned Gentleman must admit that there were cases in which considerations of general policy might require and enforce exclusion; and he contended, that the present was a case in which exclusion was required, to maintain the character of Parliament, and carry out those great objects which a Christian Legislature had to accomplish. The constitution of the country had required that Members of the Legislature should be subject to two obligations—one of allegiance to the Sovereign, the other of a belief in Christianity. It was true that the obligation to adhere to the Christian faith had been varied from time to time. But the principle acted upon had been the same, and assent to the Christian faith was deemed as material as allegiance to the Sovereign. The citizens of London said that a man who did not fulfil one of those two conditions was a proper person to be returned to that House. How soon might they not be told that a man who rejected the other, or owed no allegiance to the State, would make a valuable Member of Parliament? He knew something of the foreign merchants in the city of London; and if those qualities only were to be considered which would render a man a useful Member of the Legislature, they might easily find many who owed no allegiance to the Sovereign of this country, who yet were as competent to fulfil the duties of a Member of Parliament as the Baron Rothschild. He would do the noble Lord opposite the justice to say, that he had not maintained that ill-considered opinion that the Legislature of a country had nothing to do with religion. Those who entertained that opinion were but little read in the history of the country, and had but little knowledge of the functions of the Government. Every one of our institutions, and every one of the ordinary transactions of the public policy of this country, carried with it evidence that throughout we were actuated by religious principle. Allusion had already been made to the daily practice of the House in beginning their proceedings with a religious service. In periods of distress, who was it that publicly professed humiliation in order to obtain an alleviation of that distress—who, in times of prosperity, concurred in public thanksgivings for the blessings so received? Were they not pre-eminently the Houses of Parliament? 1317 The mere fact that they associated the Church with the State was evidence that they had never attempted to separate civil policy from religion. The noble Lord who opened that debate did not fail to avail himself of what had been used as an argument on other similar occasions, namely, the inefficiency of the declaration to keep out of Parliament those who, were disposed to enter it by a violation of their conscience. He allowed that it was easy for any Jew or Pagan to enter the House if he was disposed to take the oath. It was true that Mr. Gibbon, being as hostile as any Jew to the Christian religion, took the oaths and his seat in that House, swearing upon the faith of a Christian. But that was a bad argument for repealing the law. The fact only showed the inefficacy of human legislation as opposed to human depravity; but it gave no reason why they should forbear to exercise the power, and the only power they possessed, to ensure the Christianity of that assembly. It had been already observed, that if that were an argument for changing the law, they might with equal justice propose to abrogate oaths in courts of justice. Men who believed not in a Superior Being might take an oath without regard to its obligation; they might commit perjury, and influence the whole tide of justice by their neglect of that solemn obligation; but was it right on that account to have unsworn testimony, or was the instance of one or two perjured individuals sufficient to abrogate oaths altogether? This question of the admission of Jews into Parliament, was one mainly of principle. He rested his opposition on the effect which their assent to the admission of the Jews would have upon the character of the Legislature—he rested it on the shock it would give to the religious feelings of the country—and above all on the impediments it would interpose to the discharge of those high duties which he considered were imposed upon this country, and which it was the first duty of that House to take care should be properly discharged. It was not that he considered the number of Jews that might be admitted into the House would necessarily influence the majority—it was not that if they admitted Baron Rothschild, or some six or seven others, they would overturn the Church Establishment, or introduce measures for the abrogation of Christianity: quite the contrary; but what he looked at was the effect it would have upon the opinion the public 1318 would entertain of Parliament, and how that would operate to the prejudice of Christianity. If they had had from the first a Parliament that professed a total indifference to religion, their whole system of law and practice might have conformed to that state of things; and it might be a question whether it would be prudent to make an alteration. But the state of the case was very different: they had for centuries maintained the principles of Christianity, and, whatever difference of opinion might exist on other points, a belief in Christianity had been deemed necessary as a qualification for a seat in the House of Commons. If, therefore, they at the moment changed their whole course, and were prepared to abandon the solemn obligation heretofore required, and to admit persons who impugned Christianity and denied its truth, the impression on the public mind would necessarily be, that the Legislature had become indifferent to the concerns of religion; and it would give a blow to the best feelings of the people, from which it would be long before they recovered. Above all things it was important that the House should retain the confidence of the people; if that confidence were once shaken ft would indeed be difficult to retain the power they had of influencing the country. The people now trusted in the wisdom and Christianity of the Government for the rectitude of their measures, and in perfect reliance on the Christianity of the Legislature and the Government they had confidence that if the Government engaged in transactions with a foreign State, they would not pursue interests in opposition to the dictates of religion; that they would not act in a manner unbecoming a Christian community and a Christian Government; and in that confidence the people submitted without inquiry to what the Government undertook; but if once that confidence were shaken, it would never be regained. In his conscience he believed that if they repealed that declaration which required a Member of Parliament to profess his faith in Christianity, they would go far to diminish that confidence which the public now reposed in them, and create an opinion that they were indifferent to the cause of that religion which was cherished by the people. We were not dealing with the concerns of an insignificant or second-rate Power. This country possessed a very large population, immense wealth, 1319 and extensive empire; and with those advantages they had imposed upon them the high obligation of so making use of those blessings as would be most effectual for the purpose of general civilisation and improvement. The people of this country were in the main a sincerely religious people; and if there were amongst them large masses of ignorance and crime hitherto impervious to religious truths, there was in the higher and middle and lower orders of society, a body of religious feeling making continually aggressive movements on the vices of those masses, and endeavouring to reduce them to the acknowledgment of Christian principles. If, however, the public saw that the Houses of Parliament were indifferent to Christianity, and made no difference between the Christian and the Jew as to their legislative functions, it would either destroy all respect for the Legislature, or deprive the individuals who were engaged in reclaiming those masses of ignorance and vice, of the support which they now derived from the Christianity of Parliament. But the evils that would arise from the opinions entertained as to their change of character, would operate tenfold in the distant parts of the empire. There the benefit of British rule had been not merely the extension of civil privileges and improved laws, but the propagation of religious truth amongst the millions of heathens whom Providence had placed under their dominion. The excellent men who had undertaken that duty enforced upon them the superior truths of Christianity, and taught them that whilst those truths led to infinite happiness, the ignorance of or resistance to them led to infinite misery. But, if while they were preaching those doctrines abroad, it came to the knowledge of those whom they were teaching, that at home they had abolished the distinction between Christian and Hindoo with respect to legislative functions, the power they now possessed of bringing those millions within the pale of Christianity, would be greatly diminished. If they looked back to what had occurred in the distant parts of the empire, they would find that the greatest obstacle that had existed to the progress of religion in their colonies had been the inconsistent conduct of individuals sent from this country to reside there. For years had those engaged in the holy work found those obstacles opposed to them; and only in later years had more effective means been taken to surmount 1320 them by the improved religious habits of the colonists, If, then, Parliament now created in the minds of those people an opinion of their own inconsistency, or that they were not sincere in the professions they made, and that they observed no distinction between the faith of the Jew, Hindoo, and Christian, they would weaken the power they were at present acquiring of spreading the doctrines of Christianity amongst those over whom Providence had given them sway. There were sufficient difficulties in the present constitution of Parliament to oppose obstacles to those duties, for Parliament had declined, in a great measure to lend its exertions to any objects of that kind; but in proportion as Parliament had found itself disabled from coming actively forward for that purpose, individual exertions throughout the country had been great, and they would continue to be so until the object in view was achieved. But if the Legislature now created an impression of its own indifference—if it imposed a check upon those individual exertions which nothing else could counteract—the Legislature would reduce itself to the necessity either of taking that duty upon itself, or of abandoning all that had hitherto been effected. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford took a very different view of the question; but although he (Mr. Goulburn) admitted the force of his arguments, it seemed to him that at the close of his speech the right hon. Gentleman betrayed no small doubt as to the efficacy of this measure; for he told the House that if they admitted the Jews into Parliament, and still further increased the opposition to the interests of the Church that at present prevailed, it would be the bounden duty of Parliament to come actively forward in support of the Church, and to make more strenuous efforts than had hitherto been made to maintain its efficiency and power; and in confirmation of that the right hon. Gentleman had referred to the petition of Archdeacon Wilberforce, then lying on the table, in which he expressed his unwillingness to interfere with the admission of Jews to Parliament, but that if the House should so admit them, Parliament should take measures to give vigour to the Church by the re-establishment of Convocation, and by the other means which he recommends, so as leave the Church the most unfettered liberty of following out her own high designs. His noble Friend the Member for 1321 Bath (Lord Ashley) had with great propriety viewed and treated this as a question of religious principle. The decision, therefore, to which they would come would have an important influence upon the minds of the people; and, considering the subject in this light, he entirely concurred in that expression of opinion which he had communicated to the House as the sentiments of the learned body he represented. It was his belief that this was a measure calculated to shock the religious feelings of the country, and to act as an impediment to the progress of the happiness and prosperity of our people.
§ MR. PLUMPTRE
said, that this was simply a question whether they as a Christian Legislature, believing Christ to be their only Saviour and Redeemer, and having continually to consider subjects affecting the honour and glory of that Saviour, would invite among them into that House men who looked upon him as an impostor. He intended no insult to the Jews in asserting that they were unfit to legislate or interfere in the affairs of a Christian nation; and as he deemed the question to be one of principle and not of expediency, he should vote against the Motion of the noble Lord, and against the Bill when it was introduced. He admitted that a state of things was arriving which might be called practical infidelity; but he, for his part, would not violate the religious feelings of the community by taking a course which, as a sincere Christian, was forbidden him.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said: Sir, I observed that the noble Lord who introduced this question to our consideration to-night, introduced it to our consideration as a question of principle. I have just heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn) oppose that proposition in a very able speech; and he grounded that opposition also on the assertion that it is a question of principle. The principle of the noble Lord is the principle of religious liberty; the principle of the right hon. Gentleman is, I apprehend, the principle of religious truth. The noble Lord, in applying to the solution of this question the principle of religious liberty, has adopted a principle which, in relation to the subject on which we are now deliberating, is one of novel introduction into this country—a principle which in its application has effected very great ends and very great results—a principle which the noble Lord has a right, almost above all other men, from his descent and his 1322 personal exploits, to look up to with respect. It is not, Sir, for me on the present occasion to give any opinion upon the validity of that principle. I am not here to impugn its soundness; and I do not find it necessary to say anything in support of it. I am satisfied that a great body of Gentlemen in this House will allow their opinion on the present occasion to be decided by their belief in the principle of religious liberty. But I may say, for myself, that I am one of those who believe that there is something more excellent than religious liberty—and that more excellent thing is religious truth. I may be permitted to say, also, that religious conformity—religious truth taking the shape of religious conformity—is in my mind unquestionably a very great blessing; and though I am not here to impugn for a moment the validity of the principle on which the noble Lord has founded mainly his argument in support of this measure, at the same time I beg to state that it is not upon that principle that I shall be influenced in giving my vote this evening. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge has told us that this is a question of principle, and a question indeed whether this is to be a religious or a non-religious country; and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) is going to support the proposition of the noble Lord—although he declared frankly, and in a manner that did him, under the circumstances in which he spoke, the greatest honour, that he found it necessary to excuse the vote that he was giving from the character which that vote might assume from the more superficial circumstances of the case. The right hon. Gentleman gave us a philosophical description of the consecutive development of circumstances in this country, which rendered it, in his opinion, politic and even necessary to support the proposition of the noble Lord, though at the same time he seemed to conceive that a state of affairs might exist which would be more agreeable to his feelings, and more consentaneous to his wishes. The right hon. Gentleman confessed it was the progress of events that rendered it necessary for him to give that vote; and I apprehend I am not misinterpreting him, though he feared that the House and the country might misconceive the motives which induced him to give that vote, and the reasons which influenced him in coming to the resolution 1323 which he himself was enforcing. Now, Sir, I have arrived at a conclusion entirely contrary. I do not think that the vote which the noble Lord wishes us to support him with, is one which ought to give an impression to the country that there is any deficiency of religious feeling in this House. Because, what are the circumstances of the case? It affects those subjects of the Queen who profess the Jewish religion. They are not many in point of number—they are a people who do not hold monster meetings; they do not form themselves into societies to act against the law; but they are a people who come and make an appeal to this House, and who ask the House whether it be prepared—as I hope it will be prepared—to admit that appeal; and among other reasons on account of the religious associations connected with the subject, I agree with the noble Lord the Member for Bath (Lord Ashley) in considering this a religious question. For who are these persons professing the Jewish religion? They are persons who acknowledge the same God as the Christian people of this realm. They acknowledge the same divine revelation as yourselves. They are, humanly speaking, the authors of your religion. They are unquestionably those to whom you are indebted for no inconsiderable portion of your known religion, and for the whole of your divine knowledge. Well, then, Sir, there is primâ facie reason to suppose—looking at the question upon the surface with regards to its religious associations—that the representatives of a Christian community should not look with disfavour at such an appeal made by such persons. ["Oh, oh!"] Some Gentleman whom I do not know, and whom I cannot see, appears to express dissent. He probably is one of those who look with disfavour upon the appeal made by the Jewish people; but he appears to me to represent upon the present occasion a small minority; because I observed that may persons who have spoken against the proposition of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) have admitted the extraordinary claims of those who profess the Jewish religion to participate in the rights and privileges of a Christian society, and they have felt unable to get over that difficulty. The noble Lord the Member for Bath was a signal example of that position. I had the misfortune not to hear a portion of that which I will call the noble speech of the noble Lord the Member for Bath. But I had the gratifi- 1324 cation of listening to the last and much the larger portion of his address; and if I had not known anything about this House, I might have supposed him to be some person rising with the inspiration of his subject, and speaking with great authority, so irresistible was the noble Lord's argument and so rich his illustrations, had he not ended by opposing the Motion, and acknowledging more than once that he felt a great difficulty in assigning a distinct reason for that opposition. The Minister, when he introduced this question to-night, felt it necessary to glance with some obscurity to the only tangible reason which could influence them and other Governments in opposing the admission into Parliament of persons holding the Jewish religion. This reason was only partly adverted to by the Minister; but the noble Lord the Member for Bath, with the earnestness of his heart in the subject, told us that the real cause of the prejudice against the Jews is, that they are looked upon by the people of this country—by portions of them at least—as having incurred a penal retribution for the crucifixion of our Lord. The noble Lord (Lord Ashley) placed that question before the House; and it is only because he did so that I allude to the subject. But the strange feature in the case is, that the noble Lord stated at the same moment, that he gave no credit to that proposition; and that he could not bring his mind to believe that the existing Jewish population in this or any country were, in consequence of that mysterious and most important event in the annals of the world, liable to any such punishment. It is well known that long before that momentous event, the Jewish people had been dispersed through many lands, and that the Jews of this and other European countries may have sprung from those who had left Palestine long before that event. The noble Lord said, then, there was no ground for entertaining that belief. But if that is not the cause of the opposition to the present Motion—and that is the cause out of doors—what is the definite ground which you bring forward in opposition to the Jewish claims? I leave the question of religious freedom to work its own way; and I will not advert to that portion of the subject which the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell) has touched with the ability of a master. But I look to the opposition of Gentlemen on this side of the House who object to this Motion on the ground of religious truth; and I say that it is on that 1325 ground, as well as on the ground of religious freedom, that I feel bound to give my vote for the proposition of the Minister—for if faith is valued as a sanction of conduct, with what consistency can a Christian people say that those to whom they are indebted for the doctrines of their faith—who profess the religion which every Gentleman in this House professes—for every Gentleman here does profess the Jewish religion, and believes in Moses and the Prophets? ["Oh!"] I find that there are Gentlemen who, it seems, do not believe in Moses and the Prophets, and that gives some strength to the observation made tonight about Gibbon and Hume. But until I heard this scoff, I thought this was a position in the argument which might be regarded as established, and which was too clear to need refutation. Well, then I say that if religion is a security for righteous conduct, you have that security in the instance of the Jews who profess a true religion. It may not be in your more comprehensive form. I do not say it is the true religion; but although they do not profess all that we profess, all that they do profess is true. You must admit, then, that in men who are subject to the Divine revelations that you acknowledge—whose morals are founded on the sacred oracles to which we all bow—that as far as religion can be a security for their conduct—for their public morality and justice—you have in the religion of the Jews the best sanction in the world except that of our own Christianity. You will hardly say that the religion of the Jews is not a security for their moral conduct; but then you will say, that if you admit the Jews into this House on the principle advocated by the noble Lord, you will re-christianise the country, and the professors of other religions, not like the Jews, and which have not so great an affinity to that which we profess, may enter into the House. But the best evidence in the face of Europe of our Christian sincerity is, that we admit the Jews to the highest privileges of citizenship and to the highest offices of the State, without so admitting the professors of other religions. The very reason for admitting the Jews is because they can show so near an affinity to you. Where is your Christianity, if you do not believe in their Judaism? Do not mix up, then, the consideration of a question which is so intimately allied to your own faith, with the different considerations that would apply to the Pagan and the Mahomedan. I am 1326 prepared to lay down the broadest principles as to the importance of maintaining a Christian character in this House and in this country; and yet it is on this very ground you will found and find the best argument for the admission of the Jews. I deny that their case, to a Christian senate and people, depends on the same arguments and requires the same pleading as the case of the Pagan and the follower of Mahomet. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge says, that the very consequence of your admitting the Jews into this House is, that you are losing your hold on distant countries; that you are in fact destroying your power of conversion in distant lands by admitting them into Parliament; and that, in fact, you will no longer recognise the Christian religion. I ask you, on the other hand, to admit the Jews into this House, and into the enjoyment of every civic and social right, because I differ from the right hon. Gentleman, and regard the admission as a testimony to our own Christianity. Look at it as a religious case. Suppose this were, as it might have been, a Druidical assembly; suppose you had, as you might have had, a bench of Druids in another place; and supposing then that the Jews, a people numbering some 40,000 or 50,000, had claimed from you an entrance into this House, and demanded the full enjoyment of British citizenship. Then I apprehend that you might have said, "This is a question of high policy, whether we shall admit these persons, small in number, professing a religion of which we know nothing, and following perhaps habits of life which may be very dissonant with ours, to a full participation in our privileges, and allow them to sit in the national senate." But a Christian senate and community are placed, in reference to the Jews, in a position quite different, and must not for a moment be confounded with what their position would be in reference to a follower of Mahomet or a Pagan. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge appears to be alarmed lest our influence in foreign countries—our influence in the work of conversion in foreign countries—should be lessened by acceding to the proposition of the Minister. Sir, I have that faith in Christian principles, that I think they will make their own way, and must make their way, by their own essential power; and that he who preaches them will not exercise great influence in their diffusion, because, accor- 1327 ding to the view of the right hon. Gentleman, he can intimate to those whom he wishes to convert, that they will enjoy some advantages by acceding to the faith he wishes to propagate. The right hon. Gentleman was once Secretary of State, and Secretary of State for the Colonies; and when in that office he must have seen, in the West Indies and other places, colonies of ours governed by deliberative and representative assemblies in which Jews are seated, and not Jews only, but even Pagans. There are Buddhists even, who sit in the legislative chamber in the island of Ceylon. But I am not adducing these facts as precedents for the guidance of your decision. I place the present question upon the religious grounds on which it was based by the noble Lord the Member for Bath; and I mix it up neither with the principle of religious liberty, nor with those principles which other Gentlemen have advocated, that you should not look to faith, but admit all faiths alike. I dismiss all those considerations, and I say it is because this is a Christian assembly, and this is a Christian country, that the Jews ought to find a reception among you. So far as reason is concerned, I say that no reason one can grapple with—no precise and definite argument—has been adduced against the Motion of the noble Lord. There is one part of this question which has great influence in this country; and allusion has been made to the difficulty which would arise out of the position in which the Jews, if admitted here, would be placed in connexion with the Church of England. That is a question, as it appears to me, on which great misconception exists. I shall not dilate upon a point already referred to, remarking only, that the professors of the Jewish religion are not those who proselytise. So far as my argument is concerned, I place no weight upon that consideration. But observe, the Jew is necessarily a religious being. However he may have been persecuted—however he may have been degraded—however he may have been brutalised by the effect of those dark traditions which have really influenced that public opinion in relation to him to which I have referred, which never existed at the earlier periods of Christianity, but which are the product of the most benighted part of the feudal ages—he has been sustained by the divine law he obeys, and by the sublime morality he professes. The Jew has no thought of establishing his own Church; it is an idea fo- 1328 reign to his nature—foreign to the result of all his laws, of all his habits, and all his traditions. As such an object is both undesirable and impossible to him, it is his object to support the religious institutions of whatsoever country it may be in which he is permitted to enjoy the civil rights of a subject. In China, there is a large colony of Jews, descendants of Jews who probably left Palestine thousands of years before Christianity was established; and there they exist, a loyal, religious people, no doubt anxious, as they always are, to uphold the ecclesiastical institutions of the country. But in Europe—that Europe which you have baptised Christendom—how stands the Jew in relation to the Church of Christ? What possible object can the Jew have to oppose the Christian Church? Is it not the first business of the Christian Church to make the population whose minds she attempts to form, and whose morals she seeks to guide, acquainted with the history of the Jews? Has not the Church of Christ—the Christian Church, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant—made the history of the Jews the most celebrated history in the world? On every sacred day, you read to the people the exploits of Jewish heroes, the proofs of Jewish devotion, the brilliant annals of past Jewish magnificence. The Christian Church has covered every kingdom with sacred buildings, and over every altar, as we were properly reminded by the hon. Member for Oldham, we find the tables of the Jewish law. Every Sunday—every Lord's day—if you wish to express feelings of praise and thanksgiving to the Most High, or if you wish to find expressions of solace in grief, you find both in the words of the Jewish poets. It is in the Christian Church, which you persist in believing it must be the desire of the Jew to oppose, that you must, if he be not persecuted, behold that divine corporation which teaches to all the nations of the civilised world the sublime morality, the beautiful and devotional poetry of the Jew, and the true faith he professes. And I cannot but believe that a man owning all the traditions, all the habits, all the laws of a Jew—a man who wishes to maintain inviolate the religious institutions in every country in which he lives—must ever look upon the Catholic Church, whatever may be its form, with no other feelings than those of the deepest interest, and, as I think, with those of reverent affection. An hon. Gentleman has said, that if you wish 1329 to convert the Jews, it is no hard matter; the first step is to let them become acquainted with you. And it ought not to be a hard matter. All the early Christians were Jews. The Christian religion was first preached by men who had been Jews until they were converted; every man in the early ages of the Church, by whose power, or zeal, or genius, the Christian faith was propagated, was a Jew; and I cannot believe, if you are really anxious for the conversion of the Jews—[Interruption.] I am sorry Gentlemen are so impatient; but I feel that I am pleading a difficult cause, and I feel it my duty to speak without concealment of my real opinions. Nothing but a conviction of solemn duty has caused me to undertake a task which I assure the hon. Gentlemen is no agreeable one. I think, Sir, that if this question be discussed at all, it should be discussed with the most perfect frankness. I do think it is most advisable that we should discuss it with reference to what, after all, is the real point; and I, for one, thank the noble Lord the Member for Bath, for having put the case fairly before the House. If one could suppose that the arguments which we have heard—the arguments actually put forth—are the only arguments that influence the decision of this question, it would be impossible to conceive what is the reason of the Jews not being admitted to a full participation in the rights and duties of a Christian Legislature. In exact proportion to your faith ought to be your wish to do this great act of national justice. If you had not forgotten what you owe to this people—if you were grateful for that literature which for thousands of years has brought so much instruction and so much consolation to the sons of men, you as Christians would be only too ready to seize the first opportunity of meeting the claims of those who profess this religion. But you are influenced by the darkest superstitions of the darkest ages that ever existed in this country. It is this feeling that has been kept out of this debate; indeed, that has been kept secret in yourselves—enlightened as you are—and that is unknowingly influencing you as it is influencing others abroad. Why, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kent is a man who ought to be the foremost advocate of the claims of the Jews, unless he believes in what the noble Lord the Member for Bath calls the base calumny of the middle ages. The noble Member for Bath assigned irresistible reasons for not believing 1330 it; yet it is that dark calumny of the feudal times, founded on gross misrepresentations of history, geography, and theology, which is the origin of the prejudice against the ancient faith. It would be the most difficult task in the world to present these truths to any but a Christian assembly. I feel that the race are deficient in many of the qualities, as well as in numbers, which would make a statesman, for reasons of state, undertake the advocacy of their interests. It is entirely on religious grounds and on religious principles that I venture to recommend the subject to your notice. If I do so with earnestness, I hope I may be pardoned. This is not a subject which often comes under our consideration. I hope we shall not have occasion to consider it again. But it is a question on which men, whatever may be the consequences—on which at least I, whatever may be the consequences—must speak what I feel. I cannot sit in this House with any misconception of my opinion on the subject. Whatever may be the consequences on the seat I hold—and I should not have referred to such a consideration unless other Gentlemen had done so—I cannot, for one, give a vote which is not in deference to what I believe to be the true principles of religion. Yes, it is as a Christian that I will not take upon me the awful responsibility of excluding from the Legislature those who are of the religion in the bosom of which my Lord and Saviour was born. That is the consideration on which I place the question; and so confident am I of the sacred truth I have enunciated, that though sensible there may be a majority of the House who, however favourable to those claims, may decide upon the question on grounds of political justice, expediency, and truth, I will not decide upon it animated by those considerations. It is on the religious ground, on the religious principle alone, that I give my vote for the proposition of the Minister; and it is to those who have objected to it on that ground that I venture to address a statement of views which I hope they will accept, not from my words, but from the eternal truths on which they are based. [Calls of "Divide!"]
§ SIR T. ACLAND
said, that after the address which had just been directed against the able, manly, and generous sentiments of his noble Friend the Member for Bath, who had placed the matter in its true light, it really appeared to him that the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had either mistaken or passed over the en- 1331 tire gist of his noble Friend's arguments. He hoped that hon. Gentlemen would forgive him if he stated the convictions uppermost in his mind which made it impossible for him to follow his example, and why he would be compelled at once, upon principle, to refuse his assent to the proposal of the noble Lord who had brought the Motion forward. His answer to his hon. Friend's speech was an appeal to the constitution; and he did so because he did not believe this was a further development of the liberal policy which this country had witnessed in the decisions of Parliament with respect to the concession of civil privileges, but was a new principle for the first time brought into the Legislature of the country. With respect to opening the doors to Roman Catholics, it was but replacing them in the situations they occupied for several successive reigns, and from which they were displaced because it was feared that their influence would be detrimental to the religion and principles of those who cherished the national faith in those times. He rejoiced that he lived in the days when he was enabled to claim his part in calling back that valuable portion of our countrymen to take their share in the administration of public affairs. With respect to other Dissenters, it was erroneous to state that the Test and Corporation Acts even interfered with the right of any individual to represent his fellow-citizens in Parliament. This was important to the present inquiry, for there never was a period when admission to the House was restricted to those who professed the established faith of the country. It was true, as he before said, the Roman Catholics were excluded, but Protestant Dissenters never were excluded. It was said that religion and legislation had nothing to do with each other; but until they could entirely disunite them, it was vain to attempt to draw a broad line of demarcation between them. He warned the House how it proceeded to pass a measure which might tend to alienate the affections of the people from the constitution. They were not obliged to pass this measure; and they certainly ought not to introduce it until they had resolved themselves into a Committee of the whole House, to consider whether they ought to interfere in subjects of a religious character at all. They were about to take into their councils those who had no sympathy for Christianity, and to call upon such persons to co-operate with them in legislating for the country. If they did this, they might 1332 as well let in Mahomedans and Hindoos. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), had quoted from Archdeacon Wilberforce; but he warned the House how they attended to a proposition of that kind. In truth, it seemed to him as if the right hon. Gentleman was disclaiming organic change; but let him beware of the tendency which led to organic change. There was one fact he wished to adduce, and that was with reference to an Anglo-American bishop in the United States, who came to this country for the purpose of seeing the state of the maternal Church. Upon his return to America, speaking of the American Church, which was not fettered with Government chattels, he inquired whether it would be well for the English Church to follow the example of the American. But, on consideration, he found it would be impossible. His words were, "It would be impossible in England to sever the State from the Church without a convulsion which would uproot both, and so destroy the fairest fabric of social and religious happiness in the European world." These were words uttered twenty years ago, and in the present time they were not devoid of needful warning.
§ Debate adjourned.