HC Deb 07 May 1849 vol 104 cc1396-446

The Order of the Day for the Second Reading of this Bill having been read,

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


rose and said, he hardly thought it was quite consistent with the usual forms of that House to have the Order of the Day read for the second reading of a Bill introducing alterations into the constitution of England, without some statement of the alterations which it was calculated to effect. The measure, it was notorious, would never have been brought forward but for the purpose of the admission of a Jew into Parliament. The measure for relief of Jewish disabilities was first mooted soon after the election of a gentleman of the Hebrew faith for the city of London, as the colleague of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. It was rejected in the House of Lords. Immediately the noble Lord had reintroduced the measure under another name, "The Parliamentary Oaths Bill "—a course which, if not irregular, was hardly courteous to either House, and calculated to place the one in collision with the other. The measure, however, advanced no further than its mere announcement. Practically, the present measure was another "Jew Bill," altering, as it did, oaths hitherto thought essential, and which excluded Jews from that House. The alteration was suggested, too, without a single argument in its favour. He admitted the necessity of oaths being as short as pos- sible; but if one oath were substituted for another, that which was substituted ought to contain all the essential points of the other. Such, however, was not the case with the present Bill. It proposed to alter that oath of supremacy which had been in use during the last three centuries. As Members of a Protestant State, the Legislature of England had always considered it necessary and safe to insist upon its Members taking an oath abjuring that any foreign Prince or Potentate had a right to have any power in England. Although it was well known that the Pope did exercise a power over the minds of thousands of the people in this country, and of millions in Ireland, still he could exorcise no jurisdiction, either civil or ecclesiastical, in a manner known to the law; his orders could not be enforced in a legal manner; and he, for one, was not disposed to deprive his Sovereign of such protection as that afforded; it was a renunciation of power on the part of the Queen, without any equivalent, and for which there was no reason. It was proposed to omit the words— I will do my utmost endeavour to disclose and make known to Her Majesty and Her successors all treasons and conspiracies which may come to my knowledge;"— and there was no mention made in the oath proposed to be substituted by the Bill, to the Protestant character of the Sovereign. It was by their being Protestant that the Crown was limited to Her Majesty's illustrious family; it was as Protestants they were entitled to claim the Crown; it was as Protestants only they were entitled to the allegiance of the united kingdom. Yet the words "being Protestant" were omitted from the oath in this Bill. In introducing this Bill, his noble Friend had hoisted a neutral flag, in order to cover enemies' goods. The oath certainly referred to the Act of Succession; but it slurred over the essential distinction that the succession must necessarily be Protestant, and of the united Church of England and Ireland. His noble Friend at the head of the Government would permit him to say that this Bill, in so many words, took away from the Legislature of England its necessary and essentially Christian character. He had been told that the words, "upon the true faith of a Christian," had only been introduced within twenty years. He would admit that, so far as their present connexion; but the words themselves were introduced in the 3rd of James L; and if they were not specially introduced into the same class of oaths before, the oaths themselves were never taken, except upon the Gospel, the cross, or a relic, from the earliest times. Certainly no one had ever been permitted to take any part in the legislation of this country who did not solemnly, in some form or other, take upon him a Christian obligation; and from the first existence of England as a Christian nation, we had always required the legislative power to be in Christian hands. Last year his noble Friend referred to Hume and Gibbon being in Parliament, and asked why Jews should be excluded if they were admitted? Hume and Gibbon never felt themselves at liberty to do anything against Christianity, or against the Church of England; but what was the case with Jews? He meant to say nothing which could justly give pain; but whenever they were admitted into that House, they would form a nucleus for their own opinions, and there were many instances of a small compact body having a great effect upon the public deliberations. He was therefore unwilling to add a new source of danger or difficulty to those which unhappily existed already, to the public institutions of this country—institutions which he regarded as most sacred. He contended that the Jews had never been invited to this country. They had come here for their own personal aggrandisement, to "seek wealth and to find it;" and they had no right to expect the First Minister of the Crown, on their account, to move that the words "upon the true faith of a Christian," which ought to be our great distinction, should be expunged from our Parliamentary oaths. He trusted the day would never come when the House of Commons would consent to omit those words of security to our institutions. For the sake of a few, this Bill offended the scruples of many; for a small class, it offended the hearts and consciences of a vast majority of the people. If this were a question of justice, he would concede it at once; but believing it to be a question of that nature which could not be conceded without destroying the exclusively Christian character of the Legislature, he most earnestly urged the House to concur with him in resisting the further progress of the measure. The hon. Baronet concluded by moving the Amendment of which he had given notice.


seconded the Amendment. He considered the measure to be founded upon a principle which involved the national respect and deference to the Christian religion that was hound up with our institutions. It struck fatally and at once at principles upon which this Christian nation had ever acted, and from which we had derived the greatest national benefits. One great argument for the Bill was, that because the city of London had chosen a wealthy Jew for one of their representatives, the House of Commons was bound to alter the existing law in order to allow that Gentleman to participate in its deliberations. The concession of this point involved so many anomalies, that he did not think it would be insisted upon. Once grant it, and the right of legislation would be practically given to one city, which would override the wishes and opinions of the rest of the country. If the question were to be decided by the constituencies, he had no doubt there would be a majority of four to one against the proposition, and he would willingly abide by the result. The opinion of the city of London had been made too much of in this matter, for the Gentleman in question had been returned by but a small majority. The introduction of this Bill had been justified by a reference to the Roman Catholic Emancipation Act and the Reform Act. There was no analogy between those cases and the present. They were brought forward with the avowed purpose of guaranteeing rights to a large portion of our fellow-subjects of the same faith, and moreover there was considerable danger threatening; with regard to them; but could anybody say there were national objects in the present measure to make those precedents applicable? It might be a matter of personal ambition to represent the city of London; but would the rejection of this Bill bring any national danger, or any threatening calamity, applying as it did to men who belonged to a separate people, sojourners in the land—men who belonged as much to Germany as to England, and who firmly believed they belonged more to the land of Canaan than to either one or the other? For one, he would not consent to be a participator in what he believed to be a moral and political wrong; and he regretted that those whose first object should have been to foster the faith of the people had been the first to give offence to it.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."


would not have risen to address the House on that occasion were it not that he could confidently rely upon that indulgence which the House was ever disposed to extend to those who ventured to express their sentiments for the first time. [Cheers.] He stood the more in need of that indulgence, because he laboured under the disadvantage of following an hon. Baronet (Sir R. Inglis) in debate, whose station in that House, and whose high personal character, entitled him to the utmost respect; and because he had the misfortune to have arrived at a conclusion directly opposite to that which the hon. Baronet had drawn, from the facts and arguments which he had brought forward for their consideration. Having, then, come to the decision of giving his vote for the second reading of the Bill before the House—a Bill by which it was designed to remove the incapacities that attached to the Jewish subjects of the realm, and to no other class of their fellow-subjects—he was desirous to claim the forbearance of the House while he stated some of the grounds on which he had arrived at that conclusion. He thought it could not be denied that a strong presumption was made out in favour of the Jews upon the broad and fundamental I proposition that the privileges and capacities of the constitution ought of right to belong to every natural-born subject of the realm; they belonged to them, not because they were communicants of this or that religion, but because they were Englishmen, bearing the burdens and fulfilling the obligations that devolved upon them as English subjects. Parliament had itself so far recognised the constitutional rights of the Jews by conferring upon them gradually and by parts eligibility to almost all offices, whether civil, military, or judicial. As a magistrate, the Jew might administer the law judicially, and as a sheriff ministerially. Almost every office of trust and authority was open to him in every branch of civil and military administration. He had the right of voting, provided he possessed the requisite qualification; he was admissible to municipal privileges. There remained, however, this disqualification, that though a body of constituents elected him as their representative, and though the returning officer was bound to return him as a Member of Parliament, yet he could not take his seat and vote upon any question in the House of Commons. While this was wanting to him, therefore, his political status was incomplete. He confessed himself unable to discover, on political grounds, why the disqualification to sit and vote in Parliament should be persisted in, while the power to hold office, and the privilege of the electoral franchise, were freely awarded to him. True it was that hon. Gentlemen on former occasions had attempted to draw distinction between civil office and public franchise, from the degree of political power that attached to them respectively. They were told that civil employment involved merely on the part of persons holding it an instrumental administration of the law in being at the time; but that to a seat in Parliament the irresponsible power of passing new laws was incident. He would not take upon himself to pronounce whether such a distinction was well or ill founded; but he would humbly remind the House that the Test Act passed in the reign of Charles II. was based upon a different principle. Under this Act, and Acts supplementary to it, the Dissenter was barred from civil employment, while his right to sit and vote in that House was never called in question. Again, it was argued that the propriety of maintaining the disability might be supported on the same ground of public policy upon which rested other disabilities known to the law, and arising from age, sex, property, profession, and natural allegiance. He confessed, that to his mind, these cases appeared in nowise analogous to that of the Jews, because they were either temporary in point of duration, or universal in respect of their application, and in no case conferred any stigma or civil degradation, or implied a want of civil worth in the persons who fell within the several categories to which he had referred. So much for the fact of Jewish exclusion, and for the principle of political equality by which it was condemned. He would wish now to call the attention of the House to the manner in which the law operates to effect the exclusion of the Jew. Upon the discovery of the gunpowder plot, an Act was framed affecting the Roman Catholics exclusively, and empowering any magistrate to administer an oath to suspected parties, testing their religious persuasion. This oath was an oath of allegiance or abjuration, and ended with the words, then introduced for the first time, "on the true faith of a Christian." A few years later—he believed in the seventh year of the reign of James I.—it was provided that that oath should be taken by Members of the House of Commons previous to their entering that House. Nothing further was, he believed, done in this respect till the 30th year of the reign of Charles II., when a more stringent measure of the same tendency as the former was enacted. By this Act Members of both Houses of Parliament were required, in addition to the oath of allegiance, to take the oath of supremacy, and also to subscribe a declaration against transubstantiation. On the accession of William III. these oaths were repealed, and in lieu of them a now oath of supremacy was framed, and also a new oath of allegiance, which they all knew did not contain the words "on the true faith of a Christian," and, therefore, at that period the Jew was not disabled from taking a seat in Parliament, as far as any legislative impediments went. But towards the close of the reign of William III., Louis XIV. having recognised the Pretender, and the greater part of the Pretender's adherents in these countries being Roman Catholics, an Act was passed imposing on the Members of both Houses the obligation of qualifying themselves by taking an additional oath, declaring that King William had a lawful title to the throne of these realms, and that no other person whatever had any such right or title. But though the substance of this new oath of abjuration thus differed from that of the original one, it was directed against the same class of religionists as the former; it was framed on the same model, and concluded, like its original, with the words "on the true faith of a Christian." These were the three oaths, then—namely, of supremacy, allegiance, and abjuration (the declaration against transubstantiation being repealed in 1829)—that had been taken since the thirteenth year of William III.; and the concluding words of one of these oaths, that of abjuration, created an obstacle across the threshold of the House which no conscientious Jew could surmount. He had endeavoured to show, however, that this oath was not designed to exclude the Jew, but that it was intended for another class. It was never intended to insure a nominal profession of Christianity on the part of every Member of Parliament on his admission to either House; but the object was to exclude from Parliament one of the greatest divisions of professing Christians in the country. If he thought, therefore, that on political grounds the exclusion of the Jew was indefensible, how much more indefensible did it appear when he thought of the indirectness of the mode by which that exclusion had taken place? But that was not all. Some hon. Gentlemen might think that the substance of the oath of abjuration was in a political point of view of so much importance that it would not be safe to admit any man to Parliament whose conscience was not first bound with reference to it. If this were so, the Jew was quite willing to take the oath, if a different sanction were introduced. That he could bind his conscience as effectually as any Christian was not to be doubted. In no case was Christianity essential to an oath. It did not enter into the nature of an oath. The words "on the true faith of a Christian "were merely ceremonial—as purely ceremonial as the act of kissing the book. Their introduction into the form of the oath was, in all probability, as accidental as their effect had turned out to be; or, at the most, they were introduced to give greater significancy and solemnity to the taking of the oath, and to enforce more stringently the obligation of its observance upon the mind and conscience of a Christian. In support of this view of the nature of an oath, he might cite the example of the Legislature itself, for it had given to the oath, when taken by the Roman Catholic, a different form, in which these words were omitted, as having no necessary connexion with the oath of abjuration. Thus, if these words were omitted, the oath would be still as binding on the Jew as it was now binding on the Christian. Such an alteration as this would not, however, satisfy the opponents of this measure, because they admitted, and because it was admitted on all sides, that the oath of abjuration was an antiquated formula no longer necessary; and, in fact, so little faith was now placed in its utility, that the Roman Catholics, for whom it was originally expressly framed, were at present exempted from taking it. They maintained the oath, not for any value they set on the oath itself, for it was a dead letter, but for the sake of the excluding effect attached to certain words which formed part of the ceremony of the oath. He confessed, then, he could not see on what grounds they could justify the exclusion of the Jew, who professed his readiness to take the oath of allege- ance, and of supremacy—aye, and to take the oath of abjuration also, if it was permitted to him to take it under a different sanction. And he would ask, for every rational assurance of security to the established institutions of the country, what more ought to be required of any man as a qualification for the enjoyment of civil rights, than a solemn declaration of his readiness to stand by the existing order of things in Church and State? These conditions the Jew was willing to perform; but he protested against being made the victim of a fortuitous and accidental circumstance, and that through the medium of words that did not enter into the nature of an oath, but which were accidentally introduced into the external form which had been given to the oath. But it was upon the religious bearing of the question that the arguments of their opponents were found chiefly to rest, and he would now proceed to consider some of them. And here he would contend for a principle that was to be collected from our existing institutions, and which he thought ought to be as unrestricted in its application as it was unqualified in its terms; the principle was that of perfect religious equality before the law—the principle that a difference of religious persuasion ought not to constitute aground for civil disqualification. That it should do so could only find support upon the supposition of the closest alliance between the Church and the State, or rather, perhaps, he should say, upon those two expressions "Church" and "State" being convertible or identical terms, denoting the same community according to the temporal or spiritual nature of its concerns. It was on some theory of this kind that the State was once made subservient to the Church, and that the religion of the State was forced upon the people through the medium of incapacities and disabilities, which were at variance with the rights of the people under their civil or secular constitution. But dissent had grown up all the faster and stronger, and that theory was not now at least wrought in the practice of the State. Upon full consideration they had surrendered the principle that the communion of the Church of England ought to constitute the basis of their political organisation. They did so in a formal manner when they passed the Sacramental Test Repeal Act in 1828, and when they passed the Roman Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829. In such a case as this he could only reason on the data of the constitution, as he found them; and in giving his support to this measure he was guiding his conduct by the conciliatory precedents of recent times. He was acting in the spirit of that constitution, and carrying out its distinguishing principle—a principle replete with good sense, with constitutional law, and with the mild spirit of Christian charity, namely, that all our privileges were to be enjoyed without reference to religious belief. That was the principle which he now advocated, and on which he would support the measure before the House. But the principal strength of the argument on the religious bearing of the question, lay in dwelling upon the practical results that it was alleged would follow from the admission of the Jews to Parliament. And, first, the opponents of the measure represented it as another step taken towards overturning the Established Church. It had always been predicted, that every concession made to the Jews and other classes, would be attended with such consequences. Slow and progressive experience had taught them, however, that the evils anticipated had not come to pass. And he might reasonably assume that the apprehensions which were now entertained, relative to the consequences of this measure, would eventually prove to be equally imaginary and unreal. He would take, for example, the strength of this new element in the personal constitution of Parliament that was to work so much mischief. It was calculated that at the utmost not more than a limited number of Jews would be admitted to Parliament; and never, from that quarter, could anything threatening to our ecclesiastical establishment arise. The constituencies that returned them—a great majority of whom must ever remain Christians—would alone prevent it. Another argument of a religious expediency was, that the new influence which this Bill would introduce into the composition of Parliament, would unfit it for the discharge of that branch of its functions which concerned the interests of the Church. It could not be denied, he thought, that there was some incongruity in Parliament, constituted as it now is, dealing with the affairs of the Church. It should be borne in mind, however, at the same time, that Parliament dealt only with the temporal interests of the Church, and the relations of the ministers and mem- bers of the Church to themselves and the rest of the community in civil society. But the short answer to this objection appeared to him to be, that the incongruity already existed, and had existed ever since Parliament ceased to be composed entirely of members who were conformists to the Established Church. He would pass from this argument of religious expediency to one which was represented as involving a great principle. He referred to the value set upon the nominal profession of Christianity on the part of every Member of the Legislature. That outward profession was represented as part of the law and practice of Parliament and the constitution. But when was it that the oath of abjuration had been a guarantee for the Christianity of the Legislature? For a certain period Anglican Protestantism alone found admission to that House. Parliament was then Protestant in a different and limited sense of the term; all its Members were conformists to the National Church. When Dissent found a voice there, Parliament became Protestant without any qualification of the term. Upon the relief given to the Roman Catholics, Parliament became Christian in a comprehensive sense—in the sense that all denominations of Christians were eligible to a seat in it; and it was his firm conviction, that though they parted with the title to be exclusively Christian in profession, Parliament would still continue Christian in this sense, that the great and overwhelming majority of its Members would be Christian, and that their laws would still continue to breathe the spirit of Christian morality. But he should better understand the importance that Gentlemen attached to the retention of this oath, and their objection to its being repealed, if it could be shown that it operated as an impassable barrier against some sects whose characteristic dogmas were at variance with what they believed to be the essential and distinctive truths of Christianity. But such was not the case, because they had already admitted, for instance, persons professing Unitarian principles. He would ask, then, what value this nominal profession of Christianity could be, if it did not unite them also in the profession of what they held to be the true fundamentals of Christianity? But it might be said, that whatever may be the laxity of construction allowed in reference to the term "Christian," they had, at all events, the security of every Member before taking his seat in that House professing himself a Christian. But even that was not the case. He found that Roman Catholics, Quakers, and Moravians, were admitted without taking any oath or signing any declaration on the true faith of a Christian. Nor was it a sufficient answer to say that these were classes of religionists whom all admitted to be within the pale of Christianity, because that did not affect the argument as to their having a security in all cases that the Member, before taking his seat, should declare himself a Christian. It would be unbecoming in him, considering the forbearance with which the House had listened to him, to trespass at greater length upon their time. He would only say, that being unable to see any force or conclusiveness in the arguments that had been urged against the progress of the measure, he should follow in that direction which constitutional principle and precedent, precepts of Christianity, and considerations of public policy, invited him to take, and he should give his hearty and willing vote in support of the second reading of the Bill. Perhaps, however, he might be allowed to say one or two words with reference to the warning which the hon. Baronet (Sir R. Inglis), with great force of language, and with all the weight which attached to whatever fell from him, had addressed to Gentlemen who, like himself, supported the measure before the House, to beware how they shocked the religions sentiments of the people, and induced them to believe that, as political men, they were apt to overlook practical Christianity. He admitted freely that the religious sentiments of the people were entitled to the fullest consideration, and he should deeply regret an impression, even though an erroneous one, that they, as legislators, disregarded in the treatment of political questions the influence and the injunctions of Christianity. But they were bound, at the same time, to give due weight to the dictates of their own consciences; and if they honestly believed that special and exceptional exclusion from benefits that ought to be common to all, could not be justified on any grounds of public policy or public necessity; if, wanting that justification, it was irreconcileable with the principle of the existing constitution; if, above all, they believed that a mild and conciliatory course was more in harmony with the genius of Christianity than a harsh and exclusive one, then, however painful it might be to incur misconstruction, and the displeasure of those they respected, they must persist in the discharge of what they considered a great public duty. [Cheers.]


said, he felt that he laboured under a great disadvantage in having to address the House after the very able and eloquent speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down—a disadvantage which he felt more strongly, as he had the misfortune to differ from that hon. Gentleman in the arguments he had advanced on the present occasion. He (Mr. Turner) had given this question the most calm and dispassionate consideration. He had weighed it over and over again without any feeling of prejudice towards the Jews, and he must confess that he was quite unable to arrive at the conclusion at which the hon. Gentleman had arrived. As far as possible he should endeavour to avoid repeating the arguments which had already been laid before the House against the measure under discussion, though he by no means wished it to be understood that he dissented from those arguments; on the contrary, with the great majority of them he entirely concurred. The question had hitherto been considered simply as a question of the exclusion of the Jews; but they ought not to forget that the admission of one Member implied the exclusion of another—that the admission of a Jew was equivalent to the exclusion of a Christian. The question, therefore, was not one of exclusion, but of preference; and the true question was, whether they ought to vest in the constituencies of the country the power of excluding Christians, for the purpose of admitting Jews? The claims of the Jews had been urged on the ground of their contributions to the State. He would call upon those who advanced their claims upon that ground to account for the exclusion of aliens by birth. Aliens by birth contributed to the wants of the State. Alien merchants were capable of giving the best information on the trade of the country with the States to which they belonged; and yet they were excluded from Parliament—and why? Because questions might arise in which their feelings and their interests would be adverse to the interests of the country. The same principle applied to the Jews, who were aliens in religion. What was the first duty which Members of this House had to perform? Was it not to provide for the religious instruction of the people, and to extend and promote Christianity amongst them? Could the Jew participate in such a measure? Could he take any part in extending a religion which he believed to be a fable, and worse than a fable—to be founded on imposture and fraud? In proportion as the spiritual interests of the people were of infinitely greater importance than their temporal interests, in the same degree would a measure to admit aliens in religion to Parliament be an infinitely more prejudicial measure than to admit aliens by birth? He would try the measure by another test, and see how the admission of the Jews to Parliament would affect the people of this country. Suppose the case of a contested election, where a Jew was one of the candidates. He would not speak of the manner in which the two candidates might talk of each other, but he would ask what would be the language which the supporters of the candidate in opposition to the Jew would employ. Hon. Members must remember that they were not dealing with the language—the natural and proper language which was used with respect to Jews in this House, but they were dealing with the language and feeling of the common people of England; and he had no hesitation in expressing his conviction that if a Jew were a candidate in a contested election, the religion of the Jews would be the common taunt of the supporters of his opponent. He might be told that that would only affect the Jews themselves, but he had to consider what would be the consequences of these taunts. Would they not be met by counter taunts, impeaching the knowledge of Christianity on the part of those who reviled the Jews? And would not the truths of Christianity thus become the subject of discussion and dissension in places where such subjects ought never to be entered upon. What greater mischief could ensue? Whether, therefore, he looked to the direct or indirect consequences of this measure, he thought they would be equally prejudicial. There was another view of the question. However the feelings of parties might have varied in this country, it was still a fact that a Jew never did possess a seat in Parliament; and he was warranted, therefore, in saying that Christianity had hitherto been considered as a part of the qualification for a Member of this House. He would ask whether they would venture to disregard the religious qualification for Membership, and yet attempt to preserve the pecuniary one. Another view of the question, which de- served consideration was, how far the admission of Jews to the House would affect the freedom of debate. He did not mean to say one word disrespectful to the members of that body, and still loss to the Gentleman who had received the suffrages of the city of London; but the House must recollect that they were legislating for all future time, and that, if the Jews were admitted, there might hereafter be individuals who would speak in this House of Christianity and of Christians in terms of abuse. It was an offence against the law to publish any speech reviling Christianity. Was the House to be placed in such a position that newspapers would be obliged to report, on the subject of their debates, that the language used was such that they dared not put it forth. The hon. Gentleman who last spoke had referred to the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, as analogous to the present measure; but with all respect to the hon. Gentleman, he thought that argument involved a fallacy. The Roman Catholic Relief Bill only restored a privilege which had existed antecedent to the penal laws—which had been taken away for the temporary purpose of maintaining the Protestant faith—and which was necessarily restored when the Protestant faith was once firmly established. But they were not now called upon to restore a privilege which had ever existed, but rather to create a right which had never before been in being. He would only, in conclusion, call attention to the words of the provision by which it was proposed to admit the Jews to Parliament. It was proposed to omit from the oath which the Jew was to take the words "on the true faith of a Christian." He might misunderstand the effect of that omission, but it appeared to him that if they omitted these words, and retained the clause, "So help me God," the God who was appealed to was not the God of the Christians, but the God of the Jew. And on what principle could they stop there; how could they refuse to extend the same privilege to other subjects of the empire who believed in other gods? On these grounds—and believing the measure to be prejudicial to the best interests of Christianity—he should not hesitate to vote against it.


would be sorry to have such a weak opinion of the Christian religion as to suppose for a single moment that the introduction of the Jews into Parliament would weaken or affect it. It appeared to him that the fears for Chris- tianity expressed by the opponents of this measure from the introduction of Jews into the House was altogether groundless. It was clear that the Jews were not a proseltising race, and in confirmation of this he might mention the well-known historical anecdote, that when Lord George Gordon, the leader of the famous "No Popery" riots, wished afterwards to become a Jew, the Jews would not admit him among them. Besides, it was well known that there was a firm belief among the Jews, that it was by Christians they were to be restored at last to their own land. All classes in the country except Jews were now admissible to Parliament; and he hoped, by the second reading of the Bill to-night, the Jews also would be admitted.


remarked, that the term "alien" had been applied to the Jews by the hon. and learned Member for Coventry, and it was contended that because they were aliens they were not entitled to the same rights and privileges as other classes of our fellow-subjects. He denied that a Jew living in England was an alien. An alien, although residing in England, owed allegiance to a foreign Sovereign: an English Jew owed and rendered allegiance to our Queen. The foolish assertion that Jews were incapacitated by the nature of their religion from discharging the duties and obligations of legislators and governors was completely exploded in France, where, after a complete investigation of the whole matter, it was declared that there was nothing in the religion of a Jew which incapacitated or disqualified him from discharging all the duties of citizenship. Again, it was said that this was a Christian Legislature, and that we ought not to destroy its characteristic. But was it a Christian Legislature? Were they all Christians? Were Unitarians Christians? What did they mean by the term Christians? Did it not imply a belief in the doctrine of the Trinity, which Unitarians disbelieved? As far as the strict meaning of the word Christian was concerned, it was plain they might as well exclude unitarians as Jews. Well, but it was said, once admit the Jews, and you cannot refuse admission to the members of any persuasion. His opinion was that they ought not, and, as far as he was concerned, he would not exclude Mahometans or Hindoos. If a Mahometan or a Hindoo were to obtain the confidence of a British constituency, he certainly would not exclude him on account of his religion. There was no political reason why Jews should not be admitted. They were orderly, obedient to the laws, and always ready to give their aid in supporting authority. On the 10th of April last year, did not the Jew show just as much desire to preserve the peace as the Christian? [Cheers.] He confessed he could not see the force of that cheer. It was also objected that Jews were devoted to the acquisition of gain. He thought that an advantage, and, looking at the matter in a political view, he could see nothing more desirable than encouraging habits of thrift and prudence, and inducing men of capital to reside in this country, for abundant capital caused a low rate of interest and the increased employment of the labouring population. By excluding the Jews from the enjoyment of the highly and valued privilege which they now sought, they would make 40,000 of their fellow-subjects discontented and unhappy. He thought hon. Gentlemen opposite ought not to call upon them to throw out the Bill, unless they could show that it would weaken the securities or diminish the resources of the empire; but as, in his opinion, it would have the effect of attaching a class of our fellow-subjects still more strongly to our institutions, and binding them by the ties of gratitude, he would support the second reading of the Bill.


wished to explain the vote which he was about to give on this Bill. If the subject-matter of this Bill related only, as its title implied, to the revision of the oath of supremacy, he should have had no hesitation in supporting it. But it appeared that the revision of the oath was only a mask to cover the admission of the Jews into Parliament—a subject which was brought openly before them last year—which was then rejected—and which had now come before them again in the shape of an Oaths Alteration Bill; which, when it came to be debated, turned out to he the mere Jews Bill of last Session; for, except by the hon. Baronet who moved the Amendment, the subject of oaths had not been referred to by any hon. Member who took part in the debate. He would not oppose the alteration of the oaths; but, both as protesting against the emancipation of the Jews, to which he was strongly opposed, and against a course of legislation which was unworthy of the Government of a great country, he should oppose the second reading of the Bill.


supported the second reading. He did not think that the existence of Christianity in this country depended upon the exclusion of the Jews. On the contrary, he thought that their emancipation would conduce to its more perfect establishment. Believing that it was wrong to deprive any class of Her Majesty's subjects of their civil rights, he should support the measure.


said, that no one could accuse the hon. Member for Tavistock of religious bigotry, since he would admit not only Jews, but Hindoos and Mahometans to Parliament. The hon. Member might be a bigot to his opinions on political economy, but not on religion certainly: he seemed to agree with Voltaire, who urged, that because Jews and Christians made money together on the Exchange, therefore that there ought to be no restriction upon the admission of Jews into the Legislature. But was there no difference between the House of Commons and the Exchange? if the House of Commons and the Exchange were the same, there certainly would be no justice in the exclusion of the Jews from Parliament; but he had been brought up in a different school of belief. He had been taught to consider the House of Commons as the representatives of a great Christian country, assisting a Christian Sovereign in the discharge of her Christian duties; and he could not therefore look to this as the denial of a right of the Jews to sit in a Christian Parliament. The right to a seat in the Legislature was spoken of as a privilege; but he (Mr. Newdegate) considered a seat in that House not as a right or a privilege, but simply as a trust vested in the person elected by the public for the public good. He was of opinion, that no constituency, however large, had a right to force their views upon the other constituencies of the empire, by changing the nature of the assembly common to the representatives of all constituencies according to their fancy, in the election of their own representative. In reference to the speech of the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. F. Peel)—a speech which gave promise of high talent—if the arguments of that hon. Gentleman were pursued to their legitimate conclusion, they would lead to far other results than he had predicated. The hon. Gentleman had cited the period when the words "on the true faith of a Christian" were added to the oath taken by Members of Parliament, the period of the gunpowder plot, and the accession of William III.—as periods of unusual distrust. But did not that prove, that when the nation was considered to be in danger, it was felt that these words were the best test that could be framed for the religious and Christian conduct and good faith of the representatives of the people? It was said, that the State and the community were one; and that as the Jews formed a portion of the community, they were also entitled to form a portion of the State. But he (Mr. Newdegate) hoped this country still claimed to be a Christian community: 30,000 or 40,000 Jews, among 30,000,000 of Christians did not make it otherwise, or deprive it of its title to Christianity; and he (Mr. Newdegate) maintained, that it was true according to the actual condition of this country, that the community which formed the State in its political aspect, formed likewise the Church when viewed in its religious aspect, for the vast majority of the community were Christians, and the majority had a right to stamp the community with its religious as well as with its political character. Therefore, those who supported the measure should be prepared to deny the right of this country to be considered as a Christian community. The hon. Member said, the words in question were used as a sanction only, and to impress the sense of a deep responsibility in respect of religious duties upon Members of Parliament; but was it desired to remove that sense, or was it wished to revive the old law which had been annulled by the Christian dispensation; was it believed that the country would be happier if it were governed by the Jewish ritual than by the law of Christianity? If men believed that God judged men according to their acts hereafter, then there was clearer evidence to prove his visiting upon a nation the consequences of their misdeeds. That was the case with the Jews; and he who scoffed at this doctrine scoffed at the whole history of Scripture. A clause declaratory of the Queen's ecclesiastical supremacy, was introduced into the Diplomatic Relations with Rome Bill last year by the Duke of Wellington, and was supported by the Government. This clause passed the House of Lords without a dissentient voice, and was in the House of Commons supported by a majority of 77, against a minority of only 4, who voted against the declaration of Her Majesty's supremacy. Now, what had occurred since that event to induce the noble Lord to think that it was wise and necessary to remove the oath by which we bound ourselves to observe the declaration of the supremacy of Her Majesty? Last year it was notorious that the bull of the Pope In Cœna Domini, which absolved Roman Catholics from their allegiance to a Protestant Sovereign, and which excluded all from salvation who were not Roman Catholics, was read in this country. The noble Lord at the head of the Government knew that doubts existed in some quarters, whether the ecclesiastical supremacy which the Pope claimed in this country was not in force, and whether persons were not stating more than they ought to state when they asserted that the Pope had no jurisdiction here. Did the noble Lord wish to restore the Pope's jurisdiction? If he did not, it was a marvellous inconsistency to find a Minister in one Session voting for the passing of a law declaratory of the Queen's supremacy, and in another removing those oaths by which that supremacy was maintained. If Her Majesty's supremacy was to be maintained, why not continue to take the oath—if there was any virtue in an oath of allegiance or supremacy? It was only fair, before the House proceeded to remove those securities which guarded the supremacy of the Crown, that the great opponent of that supremacy should withdraw those edicts by which he claims the right to dictate to all other ecclesiastical powers. But, on the contrary, the Pope had authoritatively declared his adherence to those claims, for his allocution pronounced in the Consistory of December 17, 1847, expressly declared that he reserved and claimed for the See of Rome all that his predecessors claimed, and that he abandoned no whit of those pretensions. He would call attention to the exact words used by the Pope, because it had been professed and urged by Roman Catholics, and particularly by the Earl of Arundel and Surrey, that the non-publication of the bull In Cœna Domini rendered it invalid, and a mere brutum fulmen. This might be the belief of that noble Lord, but not that of other Roman Catholics. His Holiness the Pope, however, had set the matter at rest by declaring that neither the non-publication of the bull, nor the prevalence of any contrary custom, could in any way annul its effect. The Pope says— Meanwhile, venerable brethren, we wish to communicate to you the extreme surprise with which we were affected at receiving a document, written and published by a certain individual in vested with the ecclesiastical dignity; for this personage, treating in this document of certain doctrines, which he calls the traditions of the churches of his country, and which tend to restrict the rights of this Apostolic See, has not blushed to affirm that these traditions are held in estimation by us. Far be it from us, indeed, venerable brethren, the suspicion that we ever had the intention, or the least idea, to fall away from the institutions of our ancestors, or neglect to preserve and defend in all its integrity the authority of this holy see. Reiffenstuel, one of the highest authorities on the Roman Catholic law, had declared that the rights of the Roman See were properly enunciated in the bull In Cœna Domini, and that this bull was the chief pillar of the Roman See. This was what Reiffenstuel said— In the first place, because a custom against the liberty and immunity of the Church, even though it be an immemorial custom, is at all times invalid and inadmissible, as we have proved at largo from one and the other (canon and civil) law, lib. 1, tit. iv. De Consuetud., No. 61. But a custom against the bull Cœnœ would be exceedingly adverse to the liberty and immunity of the Church, forasmuch as it is for this object chiefly that the bull has been set forth, and as in fact it is the firmest and almost only pillar of it. No doubt the Pope's claims to supremacy remained unaltered, whether the bull was read here or not; and, after such a declaration, he would ask whether this was the time to remove the safeguards we possessed? There was another reason for viewing this Bill with deep distrust, the omission of that part of the present oath which abjured the Pope's ecclesiastical supremacy, and denied his power to absolve subjects from their allegiance, and to depose sovereigns, from the oath proposed for Protestants by the noble Lord. This rendered the proposed oath unobjectionable to Roman Catholics, who, by not avowing their religion, might take it instead of the oath prescribed for them by the Relief Act of 1829, which bound them not to attack or attempt to weaken the Protestant religion or Protestant Government, as by law established in these realms; which would both thereby be deprived of their present security. He would come back to the great question: would they, for the sake of admitting a Jew into that House, unchristianise the Legislature? In whose favour were we to depart from the Christian law? In favour of those who denied the divinity of Him in whom all the hopes of Christians centered. The Jews were not ignorant of the circumstances connected with the Christian religion—they had not that excuse to be alleged in their behalf; and they were to be admitted who, with the fullest knowledge and with the amplest information, refused to acknowledge the truth of the Christian religion. On the same plea it would be utter injustice to deny admission to any infidel. It was true that Her Majesty's Government still proposed to exact a profession of Christianity from the Christian Members; but then in their character of legislators they proposed to put them on the same level with infidels.


here moved that the House be counted.

The gallery was cleared, but there being more than forty Members present,


resumed: He was not surprised, considering what was passing in another place, that many of his hon. Friends had been listening to what was then passing in the House of Lords, for it was currently believed that the fate of the Ministry hung in the balance of that discussion. This might account for the thinness of the House. But it was something singular to notice that Her Majesty's Ministers had selected the same night for attempting to reverse the decision of the House of Lords against the Jew Bill, on which they were attempting to drive the House of Lords from deciding according to the dictates of their cooler judgment in the discussion then proceeding in the Upper House. The meaning of the present discussion on the Jews' Disabilities Bill, in the minds of Her Majesty's Ministers, was doubtless this: "You (the House of Lords) last year refused to pass this measure. You protected the Christian character of the Legislature, and you were responded to by the feeling of the country, but no matter, we have a tyrant majority in this House, and if you deal with the matter in question—if you differ from us, we will test your strength and endurance—we will render the House of Lords the mere record-office of the will of the House of Commons." But to return to the question: if they admitted the Jews, who denied Christianity on principle, they could not refuse admittance to the infidel. If they admitted the infidel to the same privileges and power as Christian Members, then it was an insult to those Christian Members to exact from them a profession of their faith. There was another view of the question: the Jews were a separate people by race and by religion. The religion of the Jews taught them to consider themselves as a separate people; they considered them- selves a standing memorial of the judgment of God. Rabbi Crool, Professor of Hebrew at Cambridge, one of the ablest of the Jewish professors, had expressed his astonishment at seeing how little the word of God was regarded in this House. The country was Christian: but if Baron Rothschild's claim was admitted, it was equal to a declaration that this country was no longer a Christian country. The admission of the Jews could only be granted on those terms, and therefore if the admission were resolved upon, he repeated, it was an insult to the Christian Members to retain the profession of Christianity on their part. He had already stated that the Jews were a separate people. The Mishna was written after the Jews were driven from Jerusalem, for the purpose of continuing the Jews as a separate people. It was found, as Rabbi Raphael had declared, that Christians observed many of the formulae of the Jewish laws, and could not be distinguished from Jews. The Mishna was, therefore, written to make the separation clear and complete. But the Jew was not only an alien by race and custom, but he was still more an alien by religion. The hon. Member for Leominster felt the force of this, for he said he regretted we must give up our Christian character if we admitted Jews. If the Jews were admitted, the Christian character of the country would be invalidated: they would thereby render it impossible for this country, as a Christian State, to adopt measures for spreading Christianity among other nations. If he were asked whether the country or the State would not be safe when the Legislature abandoned its religious functions, he would say—look at France—the French had admitted Jews to their Assembly in 1831; the Church of France shrank from contact with the State, which had repudiated its Christianity; gradually abandoned the Gallican principles it had maintained, and bound itself closer to Rome. He (Mr. Newdegate) had mentioned this on the second reading of the Jew Bill in December of last year, as an instance of the danger of alienating the religion of a people from the State, which the admission of Jews into the Legislature of France had entailed; and, strange to say, before the Jew Bill was read a third time in that House last May, the monarchy of France was rolling in the dust. He said this, that if the State of England repudiated its religious character, it ceased to secure to itself the sincere allegiance of its subjects. The true allegiance of the subject was this, that he obeyed, because to obey was right. He believed that as long as the authority of the Crown rested upon religion, as long as the Administration were Christian, as long as the Legislature was Christian, the security of the State rested on the Rock of Ages. He would therefore resist to the uttermost every attempt to deprive the State of its religious character.


imagined that the hon. Member for Warwickshire was speaking on the subject of diplomatic relations with Rome, rather than on the question of admitting Jews to a seat in the Legislature, for he had dwelt so much on matters connected with the Roman Catholic religion. Last year he (the Earl of Arundel and Surrey) had written a pamphlet to prove that the bull of the Pope In Cœna Domini, was obsolete. The hon. Member had said that it contained provisions for its continuance and annual publication, but he was of opinion that it was out of use. With regard to the allocution, many intricate questions were connected with the subject, and it could hardly he expected that he could without preparation deal with them, while it would be hardly safe to hazard an opinion on them. With regard to the present Bill, he had last year been strongly in favour of it, for he considered then, as he did now, that it was unjust to prevent any one being admitted into an assembly composed of so many mixed elements as that House presented. There was at least one consolation which he as a Catholic derived from the debates on the question. Before their admission to seats in the House they had been always called "idolaters," but now on every occasion they were regarded as forming a portion of the Christian community.


said, that his faith was, that national sins had ever met, and ever would meet, with national punishment; and though the noble Lord the Member for Arundel had said that Roman Catholics had been before their admission into that House described as idolaters, and had argued from thence that the opinions of Protestants were changed, he would state that his opinion was that the Roman Catholic had ever been an idolatrous Church—his opinion was that it still was an idolatrous Church—and his opinion had not altered in the slightest degree because Roman Catholics had been admitted into that House. He did not think the ques- tion had been argued on its proper bearings. The Jews were not excluded as citizens, but they were excluded from taking part in the counsels of that House, because the Sovereign and Parliament were bound to uphold the Christian religion. The question was, were they to be guided by Christian principles? If they admitted to their counsels a people not actuated by Christian principles, they gave up the Christian character of the great council of the nation, and must, if consistent, open their doors to persons of all creeds. If they opened their doors to the Jew, how could they stop the entrance of the professed infidel? He knew and regretted that there were many holding seats in that House who did not believe what he and others believed, and what their Sovereign was bound not only to believe but to maintain. That was their responsibility; but the House was only responsible that the representative assembly of a Christain country should profess to be guided by Christian principles. The hon. Member for Leominster had said that the Jews were not by the constitution excluded from Parliament; that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" were inserted in the oath for quite a different purpose than for the exclusion of Jews. If that hon. Member would refer to the speech delivered in that House by one whose authority the hon. Member would not impugn (the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, in the year 1830), he would find the exclusion of the Jews from Parliament argued upon strictly constitutional grounds. He (Mr. Spooner) wished the right hon. Baronet had been in his place, that the House might have had the advantage of hearing the right hon. Baronet state his present views upon that point. He would not dwell at any great length on the question as to the admission of the Jews, for it had often been before them, and he should only be repeating arguments which had been frequently used in former debates. He wished to call the attention of the noble Lord to one or two of the provisions of the new Bill. This did not, like the Bill of last year, expressly admit the Jews. By this Bill the Jews were to be admitted by accident—as it was said they had been excluded by accident. As to the oaths proposed to be taken by other Members, he strongly objected to the alteration of them. The oath at present contained a declaration that no foreign prince, prelate, or potentate had, or ought to have, any jurisdiction or power, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within these realms; and they were now called upon to leave that out. What would be the effect? Why, any man of common sense would say that they had altered their opinions, and that they no longer held that no foreign prince had any jurisdiction, power, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm: by omitting the words, the principle was abandoned. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had said it was not his intention to alter the Roman Catholic oath; but hon. Members were not asked whether they were Protestants or Roman Catholics, and any hon. Member, unless he chose to profess himself a Roman Catholic, might take the oath now proposed to be administered to Protestants; and if any hon. Member did so, it would be very difficult to bring him within the penalties supposed to apply to such a case. The question had already been so fully discussed that he would not trespass further upon the attention of the House: but he felt, as a Christian Member of that House, that he dared not give his consent to the passing of this Bill. He knew he should be charged with bigotry for the course he had taken; but every man was responsible to God for his conduct, and he believed that if he did anything to lower the character of that House as a Christian assembly, he should be guilty of a heinous sin. It was a great national sin to encourage idolatry on the one hand, or degrade Christianity on the other; and when he recollected that the Jew dealt with the Saviour of mankind as an impostor, and regarded the New Testament as a fraud, be could not give a silent vote on that question, for he was convinced that the time would come when they would all be obliged to confess that He whom the Jew regarded as an impostor was "King of kings, and Lord of lords. "


said, that there was something so inviting in the present state of the House, that he could not help saying a word or two on that question, in which he felt the deepest interest. There was something inviting in the present appearance of the House in another respect, because, giving full weight to the fears of hon. Gentlemen opposite, that that House and the country were about to be unchristianised, he could not help thinking that a great number of those who imagined that they were on the verge of that great calamity must have deceived themselves greatly as to the real state of their feelings, when fifteen or sixteen Members were all that felt it necessary to sanction by their presence these solemn warnings. He would address to the House, therefore, a few remarks upon the speeches of the two hon. Members for Warwickshire; and as to the fear just expressed by the hon. Member who had last spoken, lest Roman Catholics should come in the guise of Protestants, and take the Protestant oath, he thought that that was carrying one step further the absurdity which he had thought had been long ago abandoned. It was a fear so chimerical that it was hardly worth a reply. These oaths, however, were said to be the great barriers of Christianity in that House; but if so, the Christianity of that House must be of very modern date, for certainly they were not required to take oaths by the common law of the land: they dated only, at the earliest, from the time of the Reformation, and there was a much later period when the Christianity of that House had been suspended; for during the reign of William III., the words, "on the true faith of a Christian" were not used. But it had been said by the hon. Member for Warwickshire that the Jew, on purpose and with full knowledge, rejected the Saviour; but surely the Jew was merely presented to them in a relation, not less the subject of sorrow, but of far more respectful consideration, than he who, educated in Christianity, voluntarily abandoned that faith. The cradle of the Jew was surrounded by solemnities peculiar to his ancient race; wholly without the wish of proselyting he simply remained in the faith delivered to him from his fathers. The religion of the Jew was not antagonistic to that of the Christian; the Jew was only an imperfect Christian; his religion was only Christianity in its cradle; if at any time he should become a Christian, he had nothing to unlearn; he was only awakened to a sense which gave a noble significance to the symbols which belonged to him, and to that divine book of which he was the appointed guardian. The hon. Member for Warwickshire had described the Jew as an alien in religion, but he was not more an alien than the Samaritan was to the Jew; and yet our Lord was pleased to select a Samaritan as the one who should give to the Priest and the Levite an everlasting lesson of universal brotherhood, and had, by selecting that example, taught them that differences of religious opinion ought never to be an obstacle to the interchange of civil rights and brotherly affections. When it was said that it would be an insult to the Christian to require him to make a profession of his faith, which was not required of the Jew, he answered, that there was no pretence for saying that the oath was intended at all as a profession of faith. He denied that it was a test of faith; they went to the table to declare their allegiance to the Queen, and to swear that which the oath required; and to that declaration they added that which was the most solemn obligation known to them—that it was made on the true faith of a Christian; but that was a test of sincerity to be asked of a Christian, but not of a Jew. In the oaths themselves there was nothing which the Jew was not as ready to swear as the Christian; he was equally prepared to declare his allegiance to the Queen, for the Queen had no better subject; he was ready to abjure all foreign Powers, though perhaps he might think that unnecessary, as being involved in the former part of the oath; he was quite prepared to declare that he abhorred and detested as impious and heretical the damnable doctrine and position that princes excommunicated by the Pope might be dethroned or murdered by their subjects; although a smile might cross his face at being required to abjure a doctrine which no human being now held, and which no human being thought that any other human being held—nor would he object to the sort of galvanic existence given by the oath to that respected lady the Princess Sophia of Hanover. He was prepared to take that oath as it was, for the whole of it was involved in the simple oath of allegiance; but, of course, he could not be asked to attest his sincerity by an appeal to the true faith of a Christian. If they could restore the time when the Jew was an object of the most bitter cruelty and persecution—if they could bring back the days of Richard I., when the streets of York ran with the blood of Jews self-immolated to escape the horrors of a more dreaded persecution—if they could make the Jew again the wretched outcast that he had been—then indeed they might talk of the great change which was now proposed; but when all those persecutions and disabilities had been gradually removed—when the Jews could inherit land, and the land was not cursed—when the Jews were admitted into our corporations—and he did not know whether the hon. Member would say that our corporations had ceased to be Christian—when the Jews were permitted to choose Christian representatives—when that which remained of persecu- tion was powerless, or only powerful in its rust and decay to eat into the souls of a peaceful and unoffending race—when they were now about to crown a long succession of peaceful victories over oppression—now at last it was said that they were giving up their Christianity; that they were Christians to-day; but if they passed that Bill, to-morrow they would be Christians no longer. But was there not danger lest, in the warmth of their zeal, hon. Members should be led into mistake as to that course which was really and truly Christian? For his part, he believed that to be really and truly Christian was to do that which they on his side of the House desired to do; but which hon. Gentlemen opposed—to remove the last remnant of intolerance from their Statute-book and their forms; for by so doing they would be merely complying with the dictates of One who forgave them, and for the same reason—because, educated as they were, they really knew not what they did. By following that course, so far from calling down upon themselves the dispensations of Heaven, with which they had been threatened, they would be embodying its dearest precepts, and copying its holiest examples.


said, that the declaration made by the noble Lord at the head of the Government in introducing this measure, had been lost sight of by the noble Lord the Member for Arundel. The noble Lord the Prime Minister, when he moved for the introduction of a measure similar to the present, last year, had declared, with perfect frankness and candour, that the question now was not merely whether they should free from the religious test one sect small in number, and respectable in character, but whether hereafter they should have any religious test at all. That noble Lord, and another Member of the Government, now the Earl of Carlisle, had both acknowledged that if this Bill passed, it would no longer be possible to shut the door of the House against Mahometans, Hindoos, or professed unbelievers; the question, therefore, was much wider than it appeared at first sight, and the noble Lord the Member for Arundel was not justified in confining his argument to the Jews alone. But he (Lord Mahon) would pass from the observations of the Member for Arundel to those which the Member for Leominster had with so much ability brought forward that night in his first address. He (Lord Mahon) trusted that the great and well-merited success which had attended that first effort, would encourage his hon. Friend to take a frequent, and he was sure a conspicuous, part in their debates. But, now, as to the argument. The hon. Member for Leominster had given a narrative of the laws as affecting this question in the reign of James I. But when that hon. Member said that it was not intended to exclude the Jews, he surely did not mean to say that it was intended to admit them; the truth was, that the idea of excluding them was not entertained, only because the possibility of their being admitted was not at that time conceived. In early times, no doubt the constitutional idea was, that the Church and the State were coextensive, and that no man should hold office in the State who was not a member of the Church; but a long series of years had passed since that doctrine had been held by any individual. It had long since been departed from in practice with respect to the Protestant Dissenters. More recently it was abandoned with respect to the Roman Catholics. Now, since the admission of the Roman Catholics, our religious tests had been reduced to the simple declaration of the true faith of a Christian. In that declaration a great principle was involved, and to that principle he, for one, was determined to adhere. There was one argument in favour of the Bill which had been frequently urged, and had been put with great point by the hon. Member for Leominster. It was, that while an individual fulfilled all the obligations required of him by the State, it was unjust to shut him out from taking part in legislating for that State. Now, it seemed to him that those who used that argument took it for granted that the primary object of admitting any person to that House was the satisfaction and gratification of the person himself. He conceived, however, that we should look to higher grounds, and that the benefits to be conferred by the Legislature ought to be preferred to the gratification of the legislator. The real question was, how to render the representative body as good and as popular as possible, and the pleasure which individuals might feel from sitting in it was by no means to be held as of the same account. Though the point to which he had alluded had been urged with great eloquence by the hon. Member for Leominster, he thought that they had a higher duty to perform to the State, and that they had no right to violate a great principle, the maintenance of which was due to all, for the sake of removing any supposed grievance from a few. It was said that the number of Jews who could avail themselves of the privilege sought to be conferred upon them would be small—that they would be very few indeed in numbers; but it should be recollected that the question at issue was strictly one of principle, and he, for one, would take his stand against it. It was not a valid argument to say that the number of the violators of the principle would be but small, since by those who acknowledged and felt it as a principle, it should, at all hazards, be upheld. Now, he would ask hon. Gentlemen to consider what would be the effect of that Bill beyond the mere admission of the few persons it was said might obtain seats in that House? What, for instance, would be its effect in foreign climes, upon men who were labouring with all their heart and strength, and striving to extend the blessings of the Christian faith? Could it be doubted for one moment that one of its effects must be a heavy blow and great discouragement to the laborious and zealous efforts of our missionaries in foreign climes? How would it depress and grieve that noble army of missionaries which had succeeded the noble army of martyrs? What could be a greater grief and loss than to have it said amongst the unbelieving inhabitants of distant lands, that such were the opinions entertained in England respecting the doctrines of Christianity, that the British Parliament had solemnly declared that the test of the Christian faith might be dispensed with—altogether done away with, so far as admission into their Legislature was concerned? The construction which would inevitably be put upon such an enactment would be, that the British people themselves undervalued the doctrines they professed. It might be said that Parliament did not really mean what would thus be imputed to them—that they had no intention of undervaluing the Christian faith; but nothing would remove the impression, especially in foreign countries, that the adoption of the measure was a proof of the practical disregard of the Christian religion in this country. Even if benefit could be proved to accrue in particular instances, no such benefit could justify the violation of a general principle. Were there not also other instances in which individuals were excluded from sitting in that House for the sake of a general principle? He would take the case of a person in holy orders. Suppose, then, a man having entered holy orders, but having no cure of souls, were, on the death of an elder brother to come into possession of a large landed estate, from which he would derive great influence, and that his feelings were closely concurred in by his neighbours, that he resembled them in his principles and tastes, in his habits and pursuits— He's Knight o' the Shire, and represents them all! It might be expected that they should be glad to see him thus "Knight o' the Shire" indeed. It might appear natural that they should wish to return him to the Legislature, and, there being no cure of souls or benefice to claim his attention elsewhere, there would apparently be no disadvantage in his entering that House. Yet the rules of that House would exclude him, because, as a general principle, it was not thought desirable that clergymen should sit in the House, and they could not make exceptions in favour of especial eases. How, then, could they reconcile that case with the general principle so strenuously urged by the Member for Leominster, that if a man performed his duty to the State, he had a right to a share in the legislation for the State? By this case he had shown, that if that was a general principle by which admission to the House was to be guided, still it had exceptions. Now, he would take another case—one that had been before the House that Session, and in which they appeared to think that the parties in question ought to be excluded from the House—he alluded to insolvent Members of Parliament. Now, a man might not have failed in the performance of any of his obligations to the State, though he might have failed in meeting his private obligations. Nay more, there were many instances, as that of Sheridan for example, when the presence amongst them of a Member in such a situation as to his private affairs, might yet be an ornament to the House, and an advantage to the country. Here, then, by the votes of the present Session, the House appeared desirous of declaring that parties might be excluded from the House, although their presence would be honourable and advantageous, and although they had fulfilled all their duties to the State. It was plain, therefore, from these exceptions, that the general rule which had been laid down, and the arguments which had been founded upon it, of those who performed their duty to the State being entitled to be admitted to the Legislature, could not be held to be decisive. He considered, above all, that they had higher duties to perform than the fulfilment of that rule. For his own part he was disposed to place great value on a test of Christianity in which all classes of Christians could combine. He recollected that last Session they had been met by the Premier with a taunt, how little union or cordiality there now prevailed between the different classes of Christians in this country. He acknowledged the grounds for that taunt; but he trusted such grounds were not always to continue, and he looked forward with hope to the time when all classes of Christians, while still on all proper occasions pressing those points on which they differed, would yet take a pride in those points on which they concurred, so that the great principles of Christianity might be defended against the heathen and the sceptic. In that point of view—not looking at the present angry feelings which existed between them—but looking at the time when all classes of Christianity might be united for the promotion of its principles, he considered the possession of a common test of Christianity as a matter of no slight importance. For his part he conceived the resistance which he was disposed to give to this Bill, to be quite consistent with the support which in former years he had been disposed to give to the claims of the Roman Catholics. He thought that his resistance to the removal of a test of Christianity from the oath, ought not to be judged of as enforcing penalties against the Jews in consequence of their religion. He was sure that the resistance given by himself and his friends to the claims of the Jews to be admitted to the Legislature, was founded on upright motives, without the smallest taint of either personal rancour or religious intolerance.


Sir, I am anxious to state to the House the grounds upon which I shall give my vote against this Bill. The alteration of the oath taken by the Members of this House has little to do with the important point now under discussion, the alteration only being the means to an end of introducing the Jews into this House. I think it will be generally admitted by the Members of this House, though not perhaps by every one, that it is impossible to separate that subject from the discussion; and I think, also, that it will be admitted by a large portion of the House that it will be positively most injurious to admit the Jews into it. It is mainly on that ground, and having been taught from my earliest childhood that this is a Christian country, that I think it will not be right or prudent to pass this Bill. Sir, those with whom I act feel it their duty to oppose this measure on these grounds, and nothing that has been asserted by the hon. Members who support it has shaken their opinion, I think, as a constitutional question, the House ought to oppose the measure, and that it will be unwise and unbecoming in us to allow Jews to legislate for a Christian country and a Christian community. Now, Sir, I am aware that in resisting this Bill I shall lay myself open to the charge of persecuting the Jews, and visiting them with punishment for the sins of their forefathers. But, Sir, I think they have little right to make such a charge against my hon. Friends and myself because we oppose this measure. Sir, when I remember that the Jews, as a nation, have based their faith on the acts of their forefathers—when I remember that they refused to acknowledge the Founder of our faith—and when I remember that by the very enormity of the crime they committed they succeeded in fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament, it becomes with me a matter of principle to oppose their admission to the Legislature. But, Sir, in saying this, I must be also allowed to say that do not think that there is any man in this House, or any large body of Christians, animated by hostile feelings towards, or a resolve to persecute, the Jews. On the contrary, it is perfectly competent to us in the fullest manner to acknowledge the benefits which the Jews have conferred on the country—to acknowledge the individual worth of many Jews—to acknowledge the example which they have set by their conduct as citizens—to acknowledge their loyalty and their intelligence. It is perfectly competent to the House in the fullest manner to acknowledge all these qualifications as possessed by the Jews; and we have done so by admitting them to the enjoyment of every civil, municipal, and military appointment. And, Sir, while we have admitted them to all these employments, we have allowed them the freedom of worshipping God in their synagogues in their own fashion. Sir, while we have done all this we ought not to be exposed to the taunt of wishing to persecute the Jews if we say we can go no further. I consider we have a perfect right—nay, a duty to perform in saying so; and I believe that we dare not admit a Jew to legislate for this country. Now, Sir, it has been asserted that, as we have done so much for the Jews, we ought to go the whole length and admit them to the Legislature. That was asserted by the hon. and learned Member for Reading, and the hon. Member for Leominster, who made a very able speech on the question before us. I the more regret that that hon. Member should have made such an assertion, because, from the talent he has shown this evening, I think he is likely very frequently to address the House. I regret that the assertion should have been made, because if it is to be laid down as a principle that, because we proceed certain lengths, we are to go further; that because, hereafter, according to the varying circumstances of a case, it is rendered necessary to make certain alterations in our laws and institutions—if it is to be laid down as a principle that because we make certain reforms, we are therefore called upon, without reason, argument, or show of justice, as we have gone certain lengths, to go still further—it will make persons cautious how they take even the necessary stops on the way of those reforms which are required by the changing circumstances of the times. But, Sir, I think that while you are doing great injury to yourselves by this Bill, you are also doing great injury to the Jews themselves. I think, if the Jews are conscientious and honest in their religion—I think that the Jews, whose every principle of faith, instinct of mind, and peculiarity of race is opposed to the Christian religion—cannot, if they act up to their principles, enter the Legislature. And I think it is not fair to place them in that position that their principles may be in opposition to their duties to the State. Sir, there is another argument which I will now briefly touch upon—I allude to the argument, that because the number of the Jews is so small it is not of much consequence whether they are allowed to enter the House or not. Sir, in my opinion that argument has but little to do with the question; large or small, the principle is just the same. The great objection I have to the measure is not to the amount of mischief which it may inflict upon the House, but the effect which the acknowledgment of the principle may have upon the country—the danger which may result from its corroding influence on the constitution—and the disruption which will take place in society if the faith and confidence of the people in this House is shaken—since the want of confidence must lead to restlessness and change. Sir, looking at the question merely by the effect which the introduction of a small number of Jews into this House will produce, I think the danger is much underrated, and I will show that it will be very great. Sir, in order to do so, I will remind you of another argument which has been used on this question—that, do as we will, legislate as we may, impose what oaths we can, there will always he a certain number of professing Christians enter the House who are, in fact, infidels, and that no legislation can prevent it. Now, Sir, I answer to that, in the first place, if it is true there are such parties in this House—if it is true we cannot so legislate as to exclude infidels from the Legislature—that is no reason why we should admit those we are now able by the laws to exclude. While on this point I wish to call the attention of the House to the fact, that if the men who are admitted now to the House of Commons are not united, the greater will be the danger of admitting the Jews, and the greater their power according to their number. In conclusion, Sir, I have only to add my hope that, whilst we bestow on the Jews all respect, all kindness, and all sincerity, we shall take care that, in the sacred name of charity, we do not break through those barriers which have been wisely raised in former times to defend the Christian faith—a faith on which not only our hopes of salvation depend, but in the invaluable blessings of which we are led to hope even the Jew himself will eventually participate.


, as a Roman Catholic who had formerly been excluded from the House by the state of the law, must vote for this Bill on the principle of doing unto others that which he should wish them to do unto him. He thanked the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown for having brought in the Bill, which would be the crowning cap to the many triumphs which he had already achieved in the cause of civil and religious liberty. He was also pleased to find the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, who had also done good service to that cause, support the Bill; and he begged to congratulate the right hon. Baronet on the impression made upon the House by the hon. Member for Leominster, by his masterly speech. The Jews had always shown themselves a loyal and faithful people in every country in which they had been established, and the more so in those countries where the greatest liberties had been accorded them, and therefore they ought to be admitted to that House. He considered that the conduct of the Roman Catholics since their admission to that House was highly praiseworthy; for when a division was taken upon the Motion of the hon. Member for Bodmin, relative to the discipline of the Protestant Church, they had to a man absented themselves. H the Roman Catholics, against whom such prophecies had been denounced, had acted thus, might they not expect similar conduct upon the part of the Jews? The Jews were perfectly willing to take the oath of allegiance, if the words "upon the faith of a Christian "were omitted. The Jews had no desire for proselytism, and their admission to that House would not, therefore, be dangerous. The Protestant Members who took the oath that the Pope of Rome had no spiritual power in that realm, were guilty of loose swearing, for it was a patent fact that he had spiritual power. He further contended, since the passing of the Colleges and the Catholic Bequests Bill, that the Pope of Rome had temporal power also. He desired very much to see the form of the Catholic oath altered to a form which would be more congenial to the feelings of every conscientious man. The hon. Member for Warwickshire characterised the Roman Catholic religion as idolatrous, and was always accusing the 30 or 40 Roman Catholic Members of that House with a want of respect for an oath, though it was their respect for an oath which excluded them so long. The Jew elected a Member of that House must be so by a Christian or Protestant constituency, who would not return any one to injure their religion. Those useless forms which impeded the admission of representatives to that House ought to be abolished as speedily as possible.


could say, from the bottom of his heart, that he was not actuated by any bitter, hostile, or persecuting spirit towards the Jews, in giving the Bill his most strenuous opposition; and he believed he might say the same for those who acted with him. For his own part, he had anything but such a feeling; for he looked back to the past history of the Jews, and onward to their future history, with the greatest respect; he might add, with a feeling akin to veneration. The hon. and learned Member for Reading had stated that the Jew was not placed in antagonism to the Christian; and he (Mr. Plumptre) agreed with him, supposing the Jew were brought to receive the Christian religion, and to stand in the same relation to the Head of the Church that Christians occupied; but he must contend that the Jew was an antagonist to the Christian as long as he rejected Him after whom Christians were called. He (Mr. Plumptre) was opposed to the further progress of the present measure, because the Jew, as a Jew, rejected the only Saviour. That was the reason why he would not consent to admit the Jew, as a Jew, to take part in legislating for this Christian country; and from no bitter, no hostile, and no persecuting spirit. He believed that, as a Christian community, this country was bound to do all that in it lay to promote the honour and glory of the Saviour; and because the Jew refused to own Him as his Saviour, he did not think the Jew to be a fit person to take part in the deliberations and proceedings of a Christian Legislature.


deprecated the strain of argument in which the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had indulged. The question was not whether a man should be admitted into that House who should be chosen by any chance constituency, but whether a man of the highest station and character who had been elected to a seat in that House some two years ago by one of the most powerful and intelligent constituencies in the country, was, by the regulations of the House, to be debarred from taking his seat and joining in their deliberations—whether, in fact, that election was to be declared null and void? They could not come to a decision of that kind without declaring that the constituency of the metropolis had violated its electoral character. He was surprised that that view of the matter had not been more regarded in the course of the discussion. Following out the train of reasoning which it suggested, they would come to a sound and practical conclusion. He would recall to their consideration a matter which had not been sufficiently pressed upon their attention, namely, the end and object of the Bill before them, which was, that there should cease to be within the realm of Great Britain any one body of men excluded from participation in their legislation. They had passed upward step by step until they had included within admissibility to their Legislature every man whose education and pecuniary means offered no obstacle to his becoming a member of that body; and now they were about to complete that course of just policy. By widening the basis of the constitution, they were adopting the best means for its real security; for in these convulsed and difficult times there should be no body, however small its numbers, who should have reason to entertain feelings other than those of loyalty to the constitution. Let the present Bill pass, and there would not be within Britain one man who had a right to complain of exclusion from the full enjoyment of their institutions. It should be remembered that wherever the Jews were long established, they had gone along with the nation in which they dwelt—they never conspired against it—they became identified with it; and, when fairly treated, ended by becoming its most faithful citizens. The opponents of the measure, in order to justify their opposition, must show that the Jews could not become true Englishmen. He should certainly give his most cordial assent to the Bill.


admitted that the speech in the present debate which had produced the greatest effect was that of the hon. Member for Leominster. That speech was a condensation of all the arguments which had been used in favour of the measure. But he could not help thinking that it was not the weight of argument so much as the fervour with which it was delivered, that produced so strong an impression upon the House. It was said that the exclusion of Jews from the House was only a recent act of legislation, but that was a mere evasion of the fact. There was no need of passing an Act of Parliament to exclude Jews from a seat in the House, when they were denied those civil rights and privileges the concession of which had taken place at a comparatively recent date. In those times there was not only no probability of a Jew taking his seat in the Legislature, but there was no possibility of it, because a Jew was not naturalised. To propose, therefore, in the period to which he referred, that a Jew should not be allowed to sit in Parliament, would be as wanton, as useless, as absurd, and as superfluous a piece of legislation as could well be imagined. In the reign of William III. no Jew was allowed to hold freehold property in this realm—he had not the necessary qualification, and, therefore, what was the use of making an Act of Parliament to state that a disqualified person could not be a Member of that House? What was the use of the oath? Was it not a test of the fitness of men to sit in Parliament—was it not a guarantee of their having the proper dispositions and opinions for legislators? If not, why did they place a clause in the oath that men should not disturb the settlement of property? He did not dispute the utility of that test. He thought it was a useful provision. He thought it was right that the men who took a seat in that House should give some guarantee that they were disposed to maintain the settlement of property. Hon. Gentlemen opposite valued that qualification; but they were anxious to abolish a still more sacred and important one—namely, that which regarded the maintenance and security of the established religion of this country. He could very well understand Chartists and Socialists objecting to the oath, because they objected to all qualification whatever, pecuniary or religious; but he could not appreciate the objections of men who said you must have a property qualification—you must swear to maintain the settlement of property, but regarding religion we will have no test or qualification whatever. He disliked this Bill much more than the Bill of last Session; and if it were not considerably altered in Committee, the effect would be, not only to admit Jews into Parliament, but to admit Roman Catholics without any check whatever in regard to hostility to the Established Church, for if they maintained a form of oath for Roman Catholics where it implied an unworthy suspicion of that sect alone, and one, perhaps, which they did not deserve, and yet to abolish the provision, would be to dispense with another of the elements of the security of our institutions. The hon. Member for Leominster triumphantly alluded to the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, and the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, and asked what harm had those measures done? He (Mr. Bankes) was one of the last to ask for a revocation of a great act of the Legislature; but thus much he would say, in reply to the question of the hon. Gentleman, that he did perceive mischiefs resulting from the adoption of that policy, and that it was because he perceived those results that he now hesi- tated to persevere in it. He lamented to say that he did perceive a great change in the tone, feeling, and opinions of the Legislature since those measures had passed, and one not at all conducive to the discussion of measures of this kind in a proper spirit. He admitted that many of the Jews were highminded and honourable men, and an ornament to that high sphere of society in which they moved; but he could never think that a Jew, however high his moral qualities might be, was a fitting person to discuss matters affecting the Christian religion—matters such as were frequently discussed in that House; and he did not think it was the slightest reflection upon the Jew to say, "We do not think you a fit person to summon to our councils; and, though we admit you to be a good and loyal subject, yet, being a Jew, we cannot admit you as a member of our Legislature, because it is, and has been, a Christian assembly, and reflects the sentiments and religious opinions of a Christian community." The hon. Gentleman concluded by saying he must give his decided opposition to the second reading of the Bill.


Sir, as the House seems to desire that the division should now take place, I am ready, not having spoken at the commencement of the debate, to offer such answers as seem to me conclusive to the objections that have been made to the second reading of this Bill. I must lament, however, that in the course of this debate I have not had the advantage, as I had last year, of the assistance of the hon. Gentleman who sits opposite to me, the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, who, last year, with so much eloquence and so much force, argued in favour of the measure which I then proposed. But I trust that if he has forborne any arguments to-night, it is because he thinks that the arguments urged by his hon. Friends who sit near him were so entirely devoid of force that they did not merit the reply which his powerful eloquence could have given to them. But if I have been disappointed in that respect, I have been greatly gratified at hearing a speech from a Member who has not before addressed the House—from whom the House, knowing his name and lineage, were prepared to expect close argument, force, and eloquence. The hon. Member, therefore, had much to do to fulfil the expectations of this House; but I must say those expectations were more than realised. The hon. Gentleman went completely and accurately over the historical part of the question. I should not have alluded again to any part of that question were it not that the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down, seems to me to have fallen into an inaccuracy, which, from him, I should not have expected. The hon. and learned Gentleman hardly attempted to deny that the exclusion of the Jews was not direct, and the result of purpose; that it was an effect of the intention to impose the sanction of an oath, without any direct intention of exclusion. And alluding to that part of our history in the reign of William III., when these words, "upon the true faith of a Christian," were not contained in the oath, he said it seemed to be forgotten by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leominster that the Jews being at that time excluded from holding land, were excluded by the want of a freehold qualification, which Members were obliged to possess. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman, with his knowledge of the constitution, ought to have recollected it was not till the 9th of Anne that the property qualification was imposed.


I said, the Jews could not sit because they were not naturalised.


That is another part of the question. The objection which the hon. and learned Gentleman put, that they were obliged to hold freehold lands, was not a valid objection, because it was not until the 9th of Anne that that Bill passed—a proof of the jealousy, as I think, of the landed interest against the commercial interest, and a provision which, as far as regarded the cities and boroughs of this country, was totally opposed to the spirit of the constitution. This, therefore, is not a point in favour of the hon. and learned Gentleman's view, as far as relates to the constitutional argument. My hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, who commenced this debate, discussed the proposal which I have made with reference to one alteration of the oath; and he insisted that it was desirable still to keep that part of the oath by which the Protestant Members of this House deny that the Pope has any ecclesiastical or spiritual authority in this country. In bringing forward this question, I argued that that denial was intended as a security against the Roman Catholic, and that no Protestant was likely to promote the ecclesiastical and spiritual authority of the Pope, but that you had parted with that security as regarded the Roman Catholics, and as you did not require it against the Roman Catholics, of whom you might have some reason to be jealous, it was absurd to keep it with regard to those of whom you could have no complaint whatever. But my hon. Friend seemed to think there was some ecclesiastical and spiritual jurisdiction given to the Pope, because the Members of this House do not deny that it exists. I cannot imagine that any of our courts of law, because a Member of this House does not deny that it exists, would be in-inclined or disposed in any way to admit such an authority, when, by law, no such authority exists. In the same way, my hon. Friend said it was a loss of security, and that in referring to the Act of Succession to the Crown, I have not mentioned that the succession is limited to certain persons being Protestants. In framing an oath which binds those who take it to maintain the succession to the Crown, it is quite unnecessary to say more, because the Act Itself gives the Crown only to those who are Protestant; but my hon. Friend is so enamoured of oaths and declarations, that he thinks, where the thing is perfectly plain and settled by the law, an oath or a declaration is useful to add to the force of the obligation. If an hon. Member, on coming into this House, were obliged to say solemnly that two and two make four, the fact of his saying that two and two make four would not make it a bit more true than it was before. There would be the same force in that obvious truth that there is now—neither a bit more nor less; but my hon. Friend seems to think if we declare that the Crown is limited in this way to Protestants, we therefore add additional obligation to the Act of Parliament. Now, the Act of Parliament being perfectly good in itself, I submit, it requires no further declaration to add to the force of its obligations. My hon. Friend, and those who came after him, have, as I think unsuccessfully, endeavoured to show that some practical evils would arise from this Bill. They said it would do some injury to Christianity. How it could be an injury to Christianity they do not tell us. They said there might be some attempt to injure Parliament if Jews were introduced here. Now, only imagine three or four Jews, trusted by their countrymen, making some Motion in this House, hostile to Christianity, or attempting to carry some measure by which Christianity would be injured? Can any man think there would be the smallest chance of success for any such measures, or that any body of constituents in this country would assist Jews who were capable of making so insane an attempt? Then it is said if they did not attempt to pass such measures, they would use expressions reviling Christianity. We have in this, which happily is not a theological assembly, some persons who are Unitarians, and others are Roman Catholics; but we do not hear the Unitarian sneering at the doctrine of the Trinity, nor the Protestant calling in question the doctrine of transubstantiation, or any part of the creed and faith of the Roman Catholic. No more would the Jew ever think of reviling that which he knew to be the faith of the great majority of this House. They have, I believe, too much temper, and too much of that forbearance which is very properly called Christian charity, to attempt to offer such gross insults to persons who differ from them. Where is it, then, that all the danger occurs? My hon. Friend says it is a proof of the jealousy of Parliament against the Jews, that by a certain Act of Parliament, with which I am not acquainted, they were not admitted into Ireland. That may be the case, but I do not think that Ireland has been the gainer by their exclusion. Had it been the case that some rich Jews had disposed of their capital there, I do not think my hon. Friend would say Ireland would have been injured. Another hon. Gentleman, the gallant Member for Essex, used, as an argument against this Bill, the fact that we were not threatened with any dangerous proceedings on the part of the Jews. The Roman Catholics, who were considerable in numbers, might have been alienated from this constitution by any longer resistance to their claims; the Protestant Dissenters were so powerful, and so discontented at being excluded from the privileges of the constitution that they might have threatened the peace and welfare of the country. But here are the Jews, few in number, and not likely to make an insurrection; they have no great influence in promoting discontent, and they do not seem disposed to do it; they behave themselves equally well under grievances and disabilities; and as there is no danger, they are just the proper objects of exclusion and persecution—therefore let us exclude and persecute them. I say that is not the way to treat this question; and that the Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters having been admitted to the benefits of the constitution because they were somewhat threatening you with discontent, speaks well neither for your wisdom nor your liberality. My wish upon this whole subject is, that there should be no exclusion upon account of religion. A person's religion should be no matter for punishment or penalty; and I do not think, until the Jews are admitted, that you can say the principle of religious exclusion is not maintained. One hon. Gentleman argued that Roman Catholics might take advantage of this Bill in order to get rid of part of the obligation of their present oath; but, on looking into the Act, I find that Roman Catholics are admitted to all offices without taking the oaths at all—and, therefore, I cannot imagine what possible cases of evasion the hon. Member alludes to. But persons professing the Roman Catholic religion are not in the habit of concealing that profession. They are not in the habit of professing the Roman Catholic religion one day, and the next day leaving it doubtful what their religion is. We all recollect that for more than a century they were excluded from this House in consequence of their conscientious scruples to taking the oath required of them; and I can, therefore, never suppose that, by any paltry evasion under this Bill, they would seek to take an oath less stringent than that which they now take. We have been accustomed to hear, in the course of this debate, that the House is now Christian, and that it will cease to be so if Jews became once admissible. But, as it has been already admirably argued on this subject, we have deprived our corporations of their Christian character, our various offices in the State of their Christian character, by allowing Jews to be eligible to them. But an expression which fell from the hon. Member for Warwickshire shows that this amalgamation of Christian sects, which on this Bill, and on this Bill alone, we find so much dwelt upon, is not as much valued as we might at first be disposed to imagine, as he has told us that he will always maintain the idolatrous character of the Church of Rome. If that be so, what becomes of the Christianity of the House, if part of these Christians belong to a church that others believe to be idolatrous? Surely the hon. Gentleman cannot be so anxious as he pretends to maintain that peculiar religious character of the House, of which he maintains that a portion is idolatrous. But, on that point, I have to say that I do not believe the character of the House will be altered by the admission of some three or four Jews into Parliament. One hon. Gentleman denied with indignation that the presence of 40,000 Jews prevented this from being a Christian country; and if 40,000 Jews among the population be no reason why the country should not be called Christian, we may surely be entitled to call this a Christian Legislature, even though some three or four Jews should have seats among us. I trust that the House, disregarding the arguments that have been used against this Bill, and acting on those principles of charity which I believe are truly Christian principles, will admit the Jews into the bosom of this Legislature. That not denying, as we do not deny, that they have all the character of good subjects—that they are loyal and peaceable—that they are ready to defend the Sovereign of these realms against all attacks—and that they are faithful adherents of the constitution under which we live—I hope the House will not commit the injustice of depriving them of the rights and franchises that belong to them as British subjects.


said, that he would not trespass many minutes on the attention of the House. He had been anxious to hear some explanation from the noble Lord at the head of the Government to enable him clearly to understand the nature of the proposal; for this Bill was entirely different from that of last year; and he thought the House had a right to inquire upon what grounds the noble Lord, professing the same object, proposed an alteration which appeared to be as much misunderstood by the supporters as by the opponents of the Bill. Some hon. Gentlemen who were advocates of the Bill, spoke of it as the keystone of the arch, as the removal of all remaining disabilities and exclusions; that was very poetically stated by the hon. and learned Member for Reading, and perhaps it was the better poetry because it was quite inconsistent with the fact. This Bill got rid of no exclusion but one; it altered the oaths to be taken by Members of that House, which in their present state had been characterised as irrelevant and absurd; but if the Jew came into that House, and by his talent and ability proved himself qualified to fill high offices of the State, he must then take those very oaths which they said were so absurd. Why had the noble Lord continued that exclusion? The House also had a right to know why the noble Lord had made an alteration in the obligation under which last year he proposed that the Jews should be admitted; why he no longer required them to swear, as the Roman Catholics were required, that they would do nothing to the prejudice of the Established Church, or to disturb the settlement of property in the kingdom? And when the noble Lord talked of the absurdity of the oaths as they stood at present, he had not, apparently, read his own Bill with sufficient accuracy, for by that Bill he called upon the Protestant Members of Parliament to swear that they did not believe that any foreign Prince had any civil authority in this realm. To require the Protestant Members of that House to swear that they did not believe that the Emperor of Austria or the King of Prussia had any civil jurisdiction in this country, was, of all propositions, the most unnecessary. The one main object of the Bill was to introduce the Jews into Parliament, limiting the Bill to that; and if the noble Lord had called them persecutors for opposing this measure, he might in his turn, when the Jews had once been admitted, call upon them to say who were the persecutors then, and point to the noble Lord. The opinions on this subject which he had formerly expressed remained unchanged; and in coming to that opinion he was not actuated by the consideration that the Jews were wanting in personal qualifications, or that they would in any very considerable numbers obtain seats in that House; but so long as the House was called upon to deal with matters deeply affecting the Christian faith—so long as they had to enforce Christian obligations and duties, it was, in his opinion, essential, as far at all events as the public impression was concerned, that the Legislature should not declare it to be a matter of indifference whether its Members were or were not Christians. He trusted that at a future time they would have an explanation upon all these points. He could not allow an opportunity to pass without bringing them under the notice of the House.


said, he would not trouble the House long. He hoped the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge, would be a lesson to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, as he had told them that, if the noble Lord had brought in a Bill to admit everybody, he should have no objection to urge against it. ["Hear!"] That, at least, was the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman said, "I will show you that you are inconsistent with yourselves." But, unfortunately, they all knew that the House was obliged to be inconsistent with itself, in consequence of the variety of opinion within it. If any person brought in a general measure, he was met with so much opposition that he was obliged to give way to meet this, that, and the other objection, and he necessarily fell into that sort of contradiction which the right hon. Gentleman thought he had traced to the noble Lord. But it struck him that the inconsistency which the right hon. Gentleman seemed to trace in the Bill, did not exist. If the right hon. Gentleman would turn to the 5th Clause, he would find every person included, with the exception of the persons called Quakers, and every person now by law permitted to make a solemn declaration or affirmation instead of an oath. The Mahomedan, the Parsee, or the Hindoo, when he came to one of our courts of justice, was allowed to take that form of oath which was binding on his own conscience; and in the present Bill the words appeared to him to be as general as they well could be, and seemed of necessity to admit everybody; and if the noble Lord had intended to exclude anybody, he had, in his (Mr. Roebuck's) opinion, failed in his purpose. He was delighted to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he objected to the system of bit-by-bit legislation, which, he was sorry to say, attached to that House. The noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman were quite right in censuring oaths where the matter sworn to was as clear as that two and two make four; but he would wish to know from the noble Lord what it was that he took upon himself in administering an oath to anybody? When a Gentleman came to that table to be sworn, they could desire to do only two things: first, to have the sanction of religion to enforce upon him the performance of his duty; the other thing was, that they were about to lay a trap by which they could exclude a certain number of persons from that House. Now, he would take these propositions as they came. Did any oath, he would ask, add the sanction of religion to the performance of a Member's duty in that House? He utterly denied it. Was it to be said that any human being, by refusing to take an oath when about to perform his duty, divested himself of the obligation by which he had undertaken to perform that solemn duty? And if not, then was it in his power to say that the Almighty—for he felt obliged to use that great name, from the manner in which the debate had been carried on—would excuse him from that obligation if no oath were taken, and would cease from overlooking, forbidding, and punishing his disobedience? That Power was always ruling above; but the sanction of an oath ought not to be employed on any occasion where it did not add the sanction of religion to the obligation imposed on any man who undertook a particular duty. What was the practical conclusion to which this brought him? That every man who undertook a duty was not to say within his own breast that he should not submit himself to the sanctions which that duty imposed. There were various sanctions—the sanction of law—the sanction of public opinion—the sanction of religion—and he maintained that a man could not divest himself of them. When he undertook a duty, public opinion fixed itself upon him, and so did the law, and so did religion. But, supposing that oaths were binding in an especial manner, was not that obligation as binding in the case of the Jew as of anybody else? The Jew said, "I believe at least half of what you believe. I believe in the oath, in the sanction of that oath, and I am ready to give you that oath on the obligation and sanction of my religion." What was the reply of hon. Gentlemen in that House? "Oh, no, I do not want you to take the oath in the way that you think binding, but in the way that I choose to frame it. "In the courts of law they were too wise to do this. They there bound every man according to his conscience; but in that House, because they had another object in view, they had adopted another plan, and instead of the plain commonsense course, they sought by a shift, a side-wind, a hypocrisy, and a base proceeding, to exclude a party to whom they had not the courage to say to his face, "You shall not be here." He wanted to know why the Jews were not to be there? They eat with the Jews, they drank with the Jews, they dealt with the Jews; and when the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford came to deal with the Marriage Bill, next day, they would have him citing the Jew as a lawgiver. He would cite the Jew for anything and everything that he thought he could make use of him as an authority against common sense. He was ready to admit the claims of the Jew as a legislator some thousand years gone by, but he would not allow the Jew to sit there to make laws for him at the present day. It was quite clear that that very hook which the hon. Gentleman would be ready to cite to-morrow as an authority against any one who supported the Marriage Bill, was the book which the Jews believed, which the Jews handed down to them, and which contained the very precepts of morality that they daily and hourly taught to their children. He appealed to the common sense of the House and of the country, and he asked what there was in the man or in the men who believed in the great decalogue which they taught to their children, to prevent him or them from legislating for this country? They were not, as an hon. Gentleman scoffingly said, aliens. They were Englishmen professing the duties of Englishmen. In that character they were honourable men; in that character they possessed all the morality that Christians approved of and taught. But "oh," said the hon. Gentleman, "you are going to unchristianise the House." This was one of the meshes which caught the small flies, but which the large flies broke through. He would suppose the case of a man who had no religion coming to that table, looking on the paraphernalia before him as a matter of mere indiffrence—laying his hand on the book as though it were so much waste paper, curling his lip in scorn, while he remembers the mental reservation which he makes to himself—riding through their Act of Parliament, and laughing at their precautions. Had not all that been done? Were they all Christians in that House before Gibbon took the oaths? Or did any man believe that his example was not acted upon at the present day? It was true, they made Parliament consist of professing Christians; but what he wanted was, that they should fill the House with legislators who would best perform their duty to the country, and that selection could best be made by those who sent them there. They were not a people to be caught with a general plan, but taught by experience; they took only that step which their last experience justified; and he who asked them to take that step would win their confidence; while he (Mr. Roebuck) and others who asked them to take a wide and general step were called schemers, dreamers, and a vast number of other hard words—they would not be followed—they would not be obeyed—they would not be listened to. The noble Lord who, on this occasion, seemed to have learned a lesson from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, had taken the wise course of appealing to the common sense of his countrymen, and therefore he asked the House to affirm the measure.


said, the hon. and learned Gentleman had so totally misunderstood what fell from him—if the hon. and learned Gentleman would listen, he thought he would himself admit he had misunderstood him—that he hoped the House would allow him, in a sentence, to restate what he did say. He stated that those hon. Members who supported the Bill did not seem to understand its purport, because they spoke of it as the crowning arch of entire freedom to all persons in the State; and he said it was no such thing, because it only relaxed those oaths which related to entrance into Parliament; but it retained, in the oaths which must be taken by persons on being admitted to office, all those phrases which the Jew rejected, and all those absurdities of which the noble Lord wished to get rid. The Bill, therefore, would not satisfy the ambition of the Jew, nor would it accomplish all that the hon. and learned Member for Reading had in such poetic language described.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 278; Noes 185: Majority 93.

List of the AYES.
Abdy, T. N. Brotherton, J.
Adair, H. E. Brown, W.
Adair, R. A. S. Browne, R. D.
Adare, Visct. Bulkeley, Sir R. B. W.
Aglionby, H. A. Bunbury, E. H.
Alcock, T. Buxton, Sir E. N.
Anderson, A. Callaghan, D.
Anson, hon. Col. Cardwell, E.
Armstrong, Sir A. Carter, J. B.
Armstrong, R. B. Caulfeild, J. M.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Cavendish, hon. C. C.
Cavendish, W. G.
Bagshaw, J. Cayley, E. S.
Baines, M. T. Charteris, hon. F.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Cholmeley, Sir M.
Bass, M. T. Clay, J.
Bellew, R. M. Clay, Sir W.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Clements, hon. C. S.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Clifford, H. M.
Bernal, R. Cobden, R.
Birch, Sir T. B. Cockburn, A. J. E.
Blackall, S. W. Coke, hon. E. K.
Blake, M. J. Colobrooke, Sir T. E.
Blewitt, R. J. Collins, W.
Brand, T. Cowan, C.
Bright, J. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Brockman, E. D. Craig, W. G.
Crawford, W. S. Howard, Lord E.
Crowder, R. B. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Currie, R. Howard, Sir R.
Dalrymple, Capt. Hutt, W.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Jackson, W.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Jermyn, Earl
Denison, E. Jervis, Sir J.
Denison, W. J. Johnstone, Sir J.
Devereux, J. T. Keogh, W.
Disraeli, B. Keppel, hon. G. T.
Duff, G. S. Kershaw, J.
Duke, Sir J. King, hon. P. J. L.
Duncan, Visct. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Duncan, G. Langsten, J. H.
Dundas, Adm. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Dundas, Sir D. Lawless, hon. C.
Ebrington, Visct. Lemon, Sir C.
Ellice, E. Lennard, T. B.
Ellis, J. Lewis, G. C.
Elliott, hon. J. E. Lincoln, Earl of
Evans, Sir D. L. Loch, J.
Evans, W. Locke, J.
Ewart, W. Lushington, C.
Fagan, W. M'Cullagh, W. T.
Fergus, J. M'Gregor, J.
Ferguson, Col. Meagher, T.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Maitland, T.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Mangles, R. D.
Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W. Marshall, J. G.
Foley, J. H. H. Marshall, W.
Fordyce, A. D. Martin, C. W.
Forster, M. Martin, S.
Fortescue, C. Matheson, J.
Fortescue, hon. J. W. Matheson, Col.
Fox, R. M. Melgund, Visct.
Fox, W. J. Milner, W. M. E.
Freestun, Col. Milnes, R. M.
French, F. Milton, Visct.
Gaskell, J. M. Mitchell, T. A.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Moffatt, G.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E. Molesworth, Sir W.
Giyn, G. C. Monsell, W.
Grace, O. D. J. Morris, D.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Granger, T. C. Mowatt, F.
Greene, J. Mulgrave, Earl of
Grenfell, C. P. Muntz, G. F.
Grenfell, C. W. Norreys, Lord
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Grey, R. W. Nugent, Sir P.
Guest, Sir J. O'Brien, J.
Haggitt, F. R. 0'Connell, J.
Hallyburton, Lord J. F. O'Connor, F.
Hanmer, Sir J. O'Flaherty, A.
Hardcastle, J. A. Ogle, S. C. H.
Harris, R. Ord, W.
Hawes, B. Oswald, A.
Hay, Lord J. Owen, Sir J.
Hayter, rt. hon. W. G. Paget, Lord A.
Headlam, T. E. Paget, Lord C.
Heathcoat, J. Paget, Lord G.
Heneage, E. Palmer, R.
Henry, A. Palmerston, Visct.
Herbert, H. A. Parker, J.
Heywood, J. Pearson, C.
Heyworth, L. Peehell, Capt.
Hindley, C. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir. J. Peel, F.
Hobhouse, T. B. Perfect, R.
Hodges, T. L. Philips, Sir G. R.
Hogg, Sir J. W. Pigott, F.
Hollond, R. Pilkington, J.
Horsman, E. Pinney, W.
Power, N. Talbot, J. H.
Powlett, Lord W. Talfourd, Serj.
Pryse, P. Tancred, H. W.
Pusey, P. Tenison, E. K.
Rawdon, Col. Tonnent, R. J.
Reynolds, J. Thicknesse, R. A.
Ricardo, O. Thompson, Col.
Rice, E. R. Thompson, G.
Rich, H. Thornely, T.
Robartes, T. J. A. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Roebuck, J. A. Towneley, J.
Romilly, Sir J. Townley, R. G.
Russell, Lord J. Townshend, Capt.
Russell, hon. E. S. Traill, G.
Russell, F. C. H. Trelawny, J. S.
Rutherfurd, A. Urquhart, D.
Sadleir, J. Vane, Lord H.
Salwey, Col. Verncy, Sir H.
Sandars, G. Villiers, hon. C.
Scholefield, W. Vivian, J. H.
Scully, F. Wall, C. B.
Seymour, Sir H. Walmsley, Sir J.
Seymour, Lord Walter, J.
Shafto, R. D. Watkins, Col. L.
Sheil, rt. hon. R. L. Wawn, J. T.
Shelburne, Earl of Westhead, J. P.
Sheridan, R. B. Willcox, B. M.
Smith, rt. hon. R. V. Williams, J.
Smith, J. A. Willyams, H.
Smith, J. B. Williamson, Sir H.
Smythe, hon. G. Wilson, J.
Somers, J. P. Wilson, M.
Somerville, rt. hn. SirW. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Stansfield, W. R. C. Wood, W. P.
Stanton, W. H. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Staunton, Sir G. T. Wrightson, W. B.
Strickland, Sir G. Wyld, J.
Stuart, Lord D. TELLERS.
Stuart, Lord J. Tufnell, H.
Talbot, C. R. M. Hill, Lord M.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Burrell, Sir C. M.
Adderley, C. B. Burroughes, H. N.
Alexander, N. Chandes, Marq. of
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Chichester, Lord J. L.
Arkwright, G. Christopher, R. A.
Asbley, Lord Christy, S.
Bailey, J. Clive, hon. R. H.
Bailey, J., jun. Clive, H. B.
Baldock, E. H. Cobbold, J. C.
Bankes, G. Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.
Beckett, W. Codrington, Sir W.
Bennet, P. Cole, hon. H. A.
Bentinck, Lord H. Coles, H. B.
Bernard, Visct. Compton, H. C.
Blackstone, W. S. Conolly, T.
Blandford, Marq. of Corry, rt. hon. H. L.
Boldero, H. G. Cotton, hon. W. H. S.
Bourke, R. S. Deedes, W.
Brackley, Visct. Dod, J. W.
Bramston, T. W. Douro, Marq. of
Bremridge, R. Drumlanrig, Visct.
Brisco, M. Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.
Broadley, H. Duncombe, hon. A.
Bromley, R. Duncombe, hon. O.
Brooke, Lord Duncuft, J.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Du Pre, C. G.
Bruce, C. L. C. East, Sir J. B.
Buck, L. W. Edwards, H.
Bunbury, W. M. Egerton, Sir P.
Burghley, Lord Egerton, W. T.
Emlyn, Visct. Maxwell, hon. J. P.
Estcourt, J. B. B. Meux, Sir H.
Euston, Earl of Miles, P. W. S.
Farnham, E. B. Miles, W.
Farrer, J. Moody, C. A.
Fellowes, E. Morgan, O.
Filmer, Sir E. Mullings, J. R.
Floyer, J. Napier, J.
Forester, hon. G. C. W. Neeld, J.
Fox, S. W. L. Neeld, J.
Fuller, A. E. Newdegate, C. N.
Goddard, A. L. Noel, hon. G. J.
Gooch, E. S. Ossulston, Lord
Gordon, Adm. Packe, C. W.
Gore, W. R. O. Pakington, Sir J.
Goring, C. Palmer, R.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Peel, Col.
Granby, Marq. of Pennant, hon. Col.
Greene, T. Pigot, Sir R.
Grogan, E. Plowden, W. H. C.
Grosvenor, Earl Plumptre, J. P.
Gwyn, H. Portal, M.
Hale, R. B. Raphael, A.
Halford, Sir H. Reid, Col.
Hall, Col. Repton, G. W. J.
Halsey, T. P. Richards, R.
Hamilton, G. A. Rushout, Capt.
Harris, hon. Capt. Sandars, J.
Heneage, G. H. W. Seymer, H. K.
Henley, J. W. Shirley, E. J.
Hervey, Lord A. Sibthorp, Col.
Hildyard, R. C. Simeon, J.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Smyth, J. G.
Hodgson, W. N. Smollett, A.
Hood, Sir A. Somerset, Capt.
Hope, A. Spooner, R.
Hotham, Lord Stafford, A.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Stanley, hon. E. H.
Jones, Capt. Stephenson, R.
Kerrison, Sir E. Stuart, J.
Knightley, Sir C. Start, H. G.
Knox, Col. Taylor, T. E.
Lacy, H. C. Thesiger, Sir F.
Lascelles, hon. E. Thompson, Ald.
Law, hon. C. E. Thornhill, G.
Legh, G. C. Tollemache, J.
Lennox, Lord H. G. Trollope, Sir J.
Leslie, C. P. Turner, G. J.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Lockhart, A. E. Verner, Sir W.
Lockhart, W. Vesey, hon. T.
Long, W. Villiers, Visct.
Lopes, Sir R. Villiers, hon. F. W. C.
Lowther, hon. Col. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Lowther, H. Waddington, H. S.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Walpole, S. H.
Mackenzie, W. F. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Maenaghten, Sir E. Wellesley, Lord C.
Mahon, Visct. Williams, T. P.
Mandeville, Visct. Worcester, Marq. of
Manners, Lord C. S.
March, Earl of TELLERS.
Masterman, J. Inglis, R. H.
Maunsell, T. P. Beresford, Maj.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2o, and committed for Monday next.