The MARQUESS of KILDARE
rose and said: Sir, in rising to move the presentation of an humble Address to Her Majesty, in answer to the gracious Speech She has this day made from the Throne, I know that the House will extend to me that indulgence which they always show to persons unaccustomed to address them, whilst I make a few observations on the topics alluded to by Her Majesty in that Speech. It is a matter of great and sincere congratulation for this House and the country that Her Majesty continues to 53 receive assurances of friendship and goodwill from the sovereigns of foreign States. It is most gratifying at this present moment that peace should be restored to the Continent; and it is a source of still greater satisfaction, that whilst there have been wars throughout a great portion of that continent, this country has happily escaped disturbance, and has been for many years enjoying a profound and uninterrupted peace. It is also, Sir, a subject of deep congratulation, that the peace which has been restored to Europe should be in a great part owing to the exertions of Her Majesty's Government, so that it may reasonably be anticipated that we shall reap the reward of our good offices in enhanced respect and esteem on the part of Foreign Powers. The next subject to which I will allude is that which refers to the measures taken by the Court of Brazil, and which, I trust, will prove more efficacious than any that have hitherto been adopted to put down the horrible iniquities of the slave trade. It is also a source of great congratulation that, notwithstanding the great reduction that has lately taken place in the public taxation, the revenue of the country still presents a flourishing and prosperous condition. Sir, the next subject alluded to by Her Majesty is one on which I cannot congratulate the House or the country. I allude to that depression under which the landed interests of this country still suffer. I trust, however, that this depression will be of brief duration; and that, as the other classes in the country are more or less in a prosperous state, the landed interests will in a short period progress to improvement. The next topic to which I shall allude is also one of a painful nature, inasmuch as it refers to a late most unjustifiable aggression on the part of a foreign Sovereign against this State. It is the duty of this House, whilst allowing full religious liberty to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects, to consider what measures may be most prudent to be brought forward to aid Her Majesty in upholding Her supremacy, and protecting the religious liberty of the people of this country. The next topic referred to by Her Majesty in Her Speech from the Throne, is the contemplated reform in the High Court of Chancery, and the institution of a system for the registration of deeds. I consider that to be a measure of most necessary reform, and fully required by the exigencies of the times. Before concluding, I 54 cannot help referring to that portion of the empire with which I am more immediately connected, and which is such as to hold out good hopes for the future. I feel that after years of famine her condition is improving. In the absence of agitation the minds of her people are turning towards industrial pursuits, and the development of her natural resources. And this beneficial change will, I trust, with the blessing of Providence, raise and improve the general condition of my country. The noble Marquess concluded by moving—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to convey to Her Majesty the dutiful Thanks of this House for Her Most gracious Speech from the Throne:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for the assurance of Her great satisfaction in again meeting Her Parliament, and resorting to our advice and assistance in the consideration of measures which affect the welfare of our country:Humbly to express the satisfaction with which we learn that Her Majesty continues to maintain the relations of Peace and Amity with Foreign Powers:To thank Her Majesty for informing us that it has been Her endeavour to induce the States of Germany to carry into full effect the provisions of the Treaty with Denmark, which was concluded at Berlin in the month of July of last year; and to assure Her Majesty that we participate in the gratification which Her Majesty has been pleased to express in being able to inform us, that the German Confederation and the Government of Denmark are now engaged in fulfilling the stipulations of that Treaty, and thereby putting an end to hostilities which at one time appeared full of danger to the Peace of Europe:Humbly to assure Her Majesty, that we participate in the hope which Her Majesty has been pleased to express, that the affairs of Germany may be arranged by mutual agreement in such a manner as to preserve the strength of the Confederation, and to maintain the freedom of its separate States:To thank Her Majesty for informing us, that Her Majesty has concluded with the King of Sardinia Articles additional to the Treaty of September, 1841, and for having directed that those Articles shall be laid before us:That we rejoice to learn that the Government of Brazil has taken new, and, as Her Majesty hopes, efficient measures for the suppression of the atrocious traffic in Slaves:55To thank Her Majesty for having directed the Estimates of the year to be prepared and laid before us without delay, and for acquainting us that they have been framed with a duo regard to economy, and to the necessities of the Public Service:To thank Her Majesty for informing us that, notwithstanding the large reductions of Taxation which have been effected in late years, the receipts of the Revenue have been satisfactory:That we learn with satisfaction that the state of the Commerce and Manufactures of the United Kingdom has been such as to afford general employment to the Labouring Classes:That we concur with Her Majesty in lamenting the difficulties which are still felt by that important body among Her people who are Owners and Occupiers of Land; but that we unite with Her Majesty in the confident hope that the prosperous condition of other classes of Her subjects will have a favourable effect in diminishing those difficulties and promoting the interests of Agriculture:Humbly to state to Her Majesty, that we have observed that the recent assumption of certain Ecclesiastical Titles conferred by a Foreign Power has excited strong feelings in this Country, and that we thank Her Majesty for informing us that large bodies of Her subjects have presented Addresses to Her Majesty, expressing attachment to the Throne, and praying that assumptions should be resisted: That we rejoice to learn that Her Majesty has assured them of Her resolution to maintain the rights of Her Crown and the independence of the Nation against all encroachment from whatever quarter it may proceed: That we also learn with satisfaction that Her Majesty has, at the same time, expressed Her earnest desire and firm determination, under God's blessing, to maintain unimpaired the Religious Liberty which is so justly prized by the people of this Country:That we beg leave to assure Her Majesty, that we will devote our best consideration to the measure which will be laid before us on this subject:Humbly to state to Her Majesty, that it will be our duty to give our serious attention to the administration of justice in the several departments of Law and Equity; and to thank Her Majesty for the confidence which Her Majesty feels, that the measures which may be submitted with a view of improving that administration will be discussed with that mature deliberation which important changes in the highest Courts of Judicature in the Kingdom imperatively demand:56To thank Her Majesty for acquainting us that a measure will be laid before us, providing for the establishment of a system of Registration of Deeds and Instruments relating to the transfer of property, and for informing us that this measure is the result of inquiries which Her Majesty has caused to be made into the practicability of adopting a system of registration calculated to give security to titles, to diminish causes of litigation to which they have hitherto been liable, and to reduce the cost of transfers:To thank Her Majesty, for the confidence which Her Majesty has been pleased to express that it will be Her constant care to combine the progress of improvement with the stability of our institutions; and that we unite with Her Majesty in the conviction that we may esteem ourselves fortunate that we can pursue without disturbance the course of calm and peaceable amelioration; and to assure Her Majesty, that we feel we have every cause to be thankful to Almighty God for the measure of tranquillity and happiness which has been vouchsafed to us.
§ MR. PETO
Sir, before I venture on the topics which the occasion, and the gracious Speech from the Throne, naturally suggest, I must throw myself on the kind and never-failing indulgence of the House, and state at once my great anxiety that no word shall escape my lips which shall court debate or suggest a difference, when the House will naturally desire to respond with unanimity in the adoption of the Address which I have the honour to second.
Her Majesty congratulates Her assembled Parliament on the continuance of peace; and when we reflect how much the prosperity of the country is stimulated by peace with foreign States—how much misery is averted—we must rejoice in the fact that the conviction is generally and deeply felt that peace should be preserved at the risk of everything but good faith and national honour. Nor can I resist the pleasure of stating my own deep conviction that human skill and ingenuity are largely contributing to its permanent continuance. The great mechanical power of the age—that important agent of civilisation, steam—by uniting the distant portions of Europe, and consequently binding in ties of friendship and friendly communication distant States, will render them naturally more desirous of peace; while the terrible impetus it gives to the destructive power of 57 armaments, renders their use more infrequent and dreaded.
Her Majesty has graciously stated Her conviction that recent treaties with Brazil render more hopeful the extinction of the slave trade.
Whatever may be the difference of opinion amongst hon. Members as to the mode in which this will be ultimately effected, in this I take it we are all agreed, that we earnestly desire the utter abolition of this accursed traffic, and that we shall all rejoice when it shall be read of only in the history of the past.
Her Majesty also congratulates Her assembled Parliament that, notwithstanding the large reductions in taxation, the revenue will be satisfactory; and also on the state of commerce and manufactures, and the consequent general employment afforded to the working classes.
Results are the sole tests of legislative measures in the long run—last year duties I were repealed or reduced to the extent of about a million and a half. It is true they did not affect the revenue until part of the year had expired; but still they caused, at I the least, a reduction of a million. Yet, despite of this, the national revenue has suffered no reduction—it has even exceeded that of the last year; and the I Chancellor of the Exchequer is in the happy position of having a surplus at his: command. Now the question arises why I has not the revenue proportionately decreased? I apprehend there can be but one answer. The prosperous condition of the people, and consequent increase of consumption, has swelled the receipts. I take one item as strongly elucidating this position. The duty on sugar was reduced is. per cwt.; the consequent loss to the revenue, taking the consumption of the preceding year, should have been 311,454l.; but it resulted in a loss of 9,180l. only—a good practical reason for reducing I other items of large consumption, where the duty presses heavily, and one which I doubt not will have its due effect in future fiscal arrangements.
In a few days the returns of the Board of Trade for the whole year will be issued: the returns of the first eleven months of 1850 will enable us to anticipate the result. The exports for the first eleven mouths of
In what did this increase consist prici- 58 pally? In British manufactures—cottons, woollens, linens, silks, and hardware. This increase has taken place, too, under most unfavourable circumstances. The great staple is cotton—at least, the great employing article is cotton; but in the cotton-producing States of America last year there was a short crop; and a rise of price of full 75 per cent over the price of the early part of the preceding year was the consequence. For instance: Orleans cotton was in January 1849, 4½d.; 1850, 7⅛d. It is well known that a rise in the price of cotton rapidly diminishes consumption: it did so considerably in this instance; but, owing to two circumstances, the effect was much mitigated: First, when the material is dear, the best quality is always run upon by manufacturers, as, for a smaller quantity in weight, they get the higher price. Our skill in the application of machinery, and the high character of the machinery itself, has enabled us in finer fabrics to surpass all competition; and the consequence was, that with all our disadvantages, we partially shut up the American mills, and gave our people full employment. Secondly, full employment secured good wages; and good wages and cheap food enabled the industrial classes to dress well. The foreign market and homo consumption kept the mills going, and I find 50,000 more hands employed in the factories in 1850 than in 1847, the gross numbers being—1847, 544,876–1850, 596,028. It may be said that the high price of fabrics helped to swell the amount of exports; but in point of fact, quantity was in excess in reference to cloth, while in yarn there was not only a decrease in quantity, but in value—the increased value being principally in labour. I have the statistics to refer to, but I will not weary the House by doing so. Now, if our manufacturers have accomplished a result so gratifying under unfavourable circumstances, what might we not have expected had the cotton crop been a full one, and had the price of raw material continued low? Instead of fifty thousand additional hands, we should have employed three times that number: the low price of cotton carried us through the year 1847—the high price of cotton acted adversely in 1850. And here I must pause for a moment, and ask, how important is it that we should be energetic in our endeavours to get the railway communications of continental India executed? We are depending on one quarter of the world only for the means of 59 employing our operatives in the cotton factories, when we should be Messing our fellow-subjects by the activities of commerce; and have a fresh market to depend upon, and that, too, the House will recollect, with the employment of free labour only. I desire also to advert to the gratifying fact, that the increase of factory hands to which I have referred, has not been obtained at the sacrifice of infantile energy. There has been a decrease since 1834 of 20 per cent in the children employed, and an increase of 81 per cent in the adults. I think it cannot be denied that the poor of every class are better fed and clothed than they have ever been: if I refer to the poor-law records, I find that the number of ablebodied paupers has largely decreased during the year, and that the amount of general relief has been largely lessened; true, some of the agricultural districts are exceptions, and to which I shall be called on presently to speak. If I refer to our criminal records, I find the facts to be equally gratifying: in the city of Manchester, the returns of persons apprehended for crime in the three last years, are—1848, 6,587; 1849, 6,277; 1850, 4,687. The West Riding of Yorkshire, in its criminal prosecutions, shows a similar result.
1848 were £44,407,912 1849 … 54,089,809 1850 … 60,400,525
I now come to another result of the policy of the present and the last Ministry.
Two years since, London was crowded with deputations ardent in deprecating any interference in the navigation laws: fortunately for themselves and the country, their entreaties did not avail; they returned to their localities to rejoice in the increase of the shipping trade, rather than to mourn its final extinction. It is very true the entrance and clearing of foreign shipping has largely increased, but it is equally true British ships have also largely increased. I will omit all details of ships and tonnage which I have before me for the first eleven months of 1848, 1849, and 1850, and give you the gross increase of tonnage of the first eleven months of 1849 and 1850.
I have taken the returns of vessels cleared outwards, because I think that is the best evidence of work done; the returns of vessels entering may be affected in a variety of ways apart from the evidence of 60 work done within the period specified. I must also very briefly call the attention of hon. Members to the fact, that the repeal of the navigation laws has not yet affected either the value of shipping or the demand. The shipbuilding of the Clyde—the Tyne—the Mersey—and the Thames—is fully equal in its activity to any preceding period, and within the last few days an eminent shipbuilder informed me, the orders for ships and steamers on his books exceeded 400,000l.. If I refer to the circulars of firms engaged in the sale of ships, I find the same activity of trade indicated. One of the largest firms in England so engaged, and whose place of business is Liverpool, thus writes—
INCREASE OF TONNAGE OF 1849 over 1848. 1850 over 1849. British 226,207 British 162,843 Foreign 215,650 Foreign 248,531It gives us pleasure to state, that the amount of tonnage sold in 1850 in Liverpool, exceeds that sold in 1849, being 81,028 tons against 78,212, showing an increase of 1850 over 1849 of 3–6 per cent.Now as to the price of shipping, the same circular states—New British ships have fully maintained our last quotation—indeed, we have felt the want of a larger supply of good vessels.And as to the ships built in the Mersey, their circular shows an excess of tonnage in 1850 over 1849 of 4,609 tons. I have made careful inquiries as to prices ruling at New York, on all the items affecting the price at which ships can be built there. I have failed to find any reason for alarm—their prices of labour exceed ours by more than 50 per cent, while the average of the cost of materials used is quite equal to their cost with us. A great revolution is now taking place in the shipping trade, and which revolution was in progress when the navigation laws were repealed: that measure helped to anticipate the result—a result, I believe, which the retention of protection would have rendered utterly disastrous to us. The old mode of shipbuilding, it is admitted on all hands, will no longer do. Capacity, without speed, is the very reverse of recommendation in a ship; but what the American shipbuilders effected, the Scotch have surpassed—and the result of the trial between the Scotch-built ships and steamers, and the United States, shows us we have nothing to apprehend, but much to gain, if British skill and enterprise be but relieved from all impediments. The merchants and traders of Liverpool are generally considered to be well and practically acquainted with all 61 circumstances which regulate commerce. I have several of their annual circulars before me, and I am struck with the unanimity of their testimony: one of the most eminent says—The present year opens under circumstances of great encouragement. Money is abundant—food of every kind is cheap—general trade is active and remunerative, finding ample employment for the industry of the country.With all that is so encouraging at home, there are evident symptoms of the general prevalence in foreign countries of sounder principles of international commerce: they are learning the lesson that it is better to buy economically than to manufacture expensively—they are learning that the merchants of England are the best customers in every market, and that our manufacturers are surpassed by none in skill and ingenuity. To illustrate the perfect certainty that such must be in the course of events the policy of every State, let us take France and her iron trade. Her protective iron duties are now so high, and of such comparative amount, that she pays every five years the full value of purchase of every iron work in the kingdom in her own home consumption only. Is it not self-evident that it would be far more the policy of her people to receive our iron-for us in treaty to take her light wines on lower duties, and yielding to our own Exchequer larger revenue than from our present limited consumption, resulting from the almost prohibitive duties of the present tariff?
I now pass to the next point in the Address.
But Her Majesty expresses at the same time the sympathy She feels for the owners and occupiers of land in the difficulties which now affect them, and a hope that the prosperity of the manufacturing and commercial interests will soon be productive of beneficial effect to the agricultural body.
And here I trust I may fairly ask the question—If such is the state of the commercial, manufacturing, and shipping interests, can it be supposed that the agricultural is the only interest not destined to share in the general prosperity? Is land exempt from the great law of progression? It is true that it is impossible for wheat to fall from 7s. to 5s. per bushel, without causing great anxiety to owners and occupiers of land; but no one can doubt that commerce has its ever- 62 growing connexion with the soil, and that by the substantial ties of property—and that the interests of all are identified, and also that the fact of distress existing calls for every practical sympathy to be shown—and that by the removing of every unequal burden which the friends of agriculture can show to press unfairly on its interests; and while rejoicing in the fact of the alteration of the law, I cannot hesitate to express my wish that more time had been allowed to adjust the interests which had, under the old and vicious system, been placed in a false position. It is easy to say that this adjustment is entirely an affair of landlord and tenant. It is so; but when we reflect that no good tenant can farm without imparting value to the land which it takes years to abstract, a revaluation at present prices is simply giving to the landlord a rental arising from value imparted by the expenditure of capital by the tenant. I believe it to be our duty, Sir, not only to carry out abstract principles of right, but, where they affect large interests by extensive alteration in the laws, that time should be given for the adjustment of the interests to the new and altered state of things. But while I make this admission, I believe that the good wishes to which Her Majesty has given utterance in Her gracious Speech, will be speedily realised; though in the transition we must be prepared for difficulty and loss, especially to parties who are slow in adjusting their course of business to the altered state of things.
It has, Sir, always appeared to me that we have looked to the price of wheat too much as a criterion of distress or prosperity. It is calculated that we have about 19,000,000 of acres arable, and 18,000,000 of pasture and meadow; while of the 19,000,000 acres, less than 4,000,000 are employed in growing wheat; agriculturists, it is therefore obvious, derive a large portion of their income from stock, and to them, therefore, the prosperity of trade and manufactures is a positive benefit, and source of profit. And we find, that although the price of wheat has declined, the price of meat has declined very little, and that it was cheaper during many years of protection than it has averaged since. And I need not point out to the House that this has arisen entirely from the larger consumption of meat by the labouring classes, a circumstance at which we may well rejoice. The working men of this country dine now as work- 63 ing men should dine, on edibles furnished by the butcher.
We have unfortunately in this country no means of estimating the annual produce and consumption of food, and we must, therefore, content ourselves with an approximation to facts. I collect from the best sources that there were slaughtered in England, in 1850, 60,000 more beasts than in 1849; and we have local returns which give value to these calculations. The largest cattle salesmen in Liverpool give the following returns of sales for the past year:—In 1849, there were 109,287 oxen; in the year 1850, 123,213 ditto. They also state in their circular—Our imports of sheep have been on a less extensive scale from Ireland, and we are now witnessing, to us, the novel feature that store beasts have lately been sent into that country.I find the prices of meat the last six months, and the six months of (corresponding) 1849, have been nearly the same; and I find, too, that the increase of consumption in England is but the counterpart of Scotland. The City Chamber lain of Glasgow makes the following re turn of animals slaughtered in that city:—1848, 132,150; 1849, 161,527; 1850, 185,255. The increased consumption has fully kept up prices, too, in Scotland. I have now before me the prices current of Smithfield, Glasgow, and Liverpool; but I need only refer the House to Mr. Porter's admirable work just published, and there it will be found stated, on unquestionable authority, that beef and mutton are dearer now than they were in 1843, 1844, and 1845, which were years of protection. I have also before me the statistics, with which I will not weary the House, of the meat and stock carried by the principal lines of railway, which proves most unquestionably that our own farmers have the last three years produced much larger quantities of stock. I have shown the con sumption is larger than ever; and I ask, then, if there is not solid ground for the belief that though there must be suffering in the transition, yet that agricultural in terests will be based on a solid substantive foundation, and that it will hereafter depend on legitimate sources of prosperity, and that agriculturists will carry out all their engagements with the sympathy of every class of the community with no fear of distrust taking the place of mutual confidence, but with such a union of all the interests of the country as shall be the 64 best guarantee of commercial greatness and domestic strength.
If I am not trespassing too much on the time of the House, I desire to call its attention for a few moments to the cheering prospects of progression in Ireland, which, I doubt not, will eventually be a source of strength, and contribute her quota to the general welfare. Her comparative advance in industrial pursuits in the last sixteen years has been much greater than in the sister portions of the kingdom, Scotland and England. The number of persons engaged in cotton, silk, and woollen factories, I find have increased in that time 158 per cent; while in Scotland it has been 51 per cent, and in England 67 per cent. I find her cotton and flax manufactories alone give employment to 350,000 persons at the present time, and that 300,000 females are engaged on "sewed muslins," the cost of which is almost entirely labour and profit. On turning to agriculture, I find the prospects are even more cheering—capital is flowing into the country—land is being rapidly consolidated from the old and vicious state of conacre to farms of from 100 to 200 acres. In proof of this, I need only refer to Captain Larcom's returns. Large breadths of land are being sown with cereals. The value of stock is increased; and that too much neglected but most valuable link between the agriculturist and the manufacturer—flax, is being more extensively and profitably cultivated; and I note with hearty pleasure the eagerness of the people to establish packet stations and manufactories, as evidencing the desire which is always the precursor of success. We see also in Ireland the railways making its natural capabilities available, and rapidly opening up its resources. Soon will its most distant parts be placed in ready communication with England; and here, Sir, I cannot but regret that the advice of an illustrious statesman, whose untimely loss we deplored near the end of the last Session, has not been more extensively carried out; and especially that the city of London, to whom we look for the initiative in this matter, has not prosecuted her intention beyond a public meeting. That corporation holds very large estates there by the favour of former Sovereigns: they possess, therefore, a personal interest in the country, and I had hoped to have seen large tracts of country pass by purchase to them, and to other corporate bodies who could invest capital largely; and who, while blessing 65 their common country by the enterprise, would have left a valuable investment to their successors, and an enduring monument of their patriotism and public spirit, I cannot but point with admiration to the conduct of a brother of the noble Lord the Member for Evesham. He has turned a desert into a garden—a large estate from which no rental was derived into a remunerative property; he deserves well of has country, and his conduct is worthy of imitation. There are, Sir, most false impressions abroad as to the Irish character. I know from personal experience that if you pay the Irish labourer well—show him your care for him, and he is the most faithful and hardworking creature in existence; but if you find him in one part of his native country working for 4d. per day, and that paid in potatoes or meal, and that where most of the misery exists—can we wonder that the results are as we find them; but give him legitimate occupation—remunerate him for his services—show him you appreciate those services, and you may be sure you put an end to all agitation. He will be your faithful servant, and the loyal subject of his sovereign.
I trust I have, Sir, been able to show, though inefficiently, that the tone of trade in the whole country is healthy, sound, and rational—the manufacturing interest, busy and prudent—the people better fed and clothed than ever—that the agricultural interest must share in the general prosperity; and with the earnest desire that all the wishes of our most gracious and much-loved Sovereign may be fully realised, I turn briefly to one or two other points in the Address, asking the House to permit me, before I pass to the next subject, to congratulate it, and through it the nation which it represents, on the satisfaction with which we can look forward to the visit of the world to our metropolis; we cannot show our visitors that which some other nations could have shown them. The treasures of art are not ours pre-eminently. In much that would have gratified and refined taste, we are deficient. But, Sir, we are by no means deficient in those things which constitute the well-being of a nation. We abound in evidences of substantial greatness—of permanent prosperity—of genuine freedom—of the Sovereign's generous sympathy with the people—and of the people's intelligent devotion to the Throne—and, commercially, while we fear no competition, we court reciprocity, and I believe this great meeting, while it tends to 66 our well-being as a nation, will conduce to the peace and happiness of the world.
Her Majesty, in Her gracious Speech, next refers to the assumption of certain ecclesiastical titles, and to a Bill to be hereafter laid on the table of the House.
And on this point I trust that the wording of the Address will commend itself to all. No hon. Member, by giving his assent to this Address, is bound to any subsequent course of action. Nor can I think that hon. Members professing the Roman Catholic faith are by it committed to any course of proceeding until the Bill to which it refers is laid on the table of the House. Her Majesty refers to a fact patent to all; and, while we all feel bound by every tie to protect the civil and religious liberty of the subject to the utmost, we are all equally bound by our devoted loyalty and love to the Sovereign to protect Her prerogative from aggression of every kind also—and that to the utmost.
We are not called on, Sir, to any reactionary course. The antecedents of the First Minister of the Crown are a pledge more than sufficient to the most timid mind, that while he will constitutionally preserve every right of the Crown and Her Majesty's civil supremacy; and, while he will oppose determinedly the introduction of a code of laws alike opposed to the rights of the Queen and the civil liberty of the subject—he will not sully his fair reputation by any course which shall be inconsistent with that love of true religious liberty which he has ever shown. And here, Sir, I must ask permission of the House to read a short extract from a speech of that noble Lord in introducing the repeal of the Test Act, in 1828, that noble Lord being then in opposition:—I now tome to the great principle involved in the numerous petitions before the House-petitions signed by the whole body of Dissenters, by Roman Catholics, and by many members of the Established Church. That principle is, that every man ought to be allowed to form his religious opinions by the impressions on his own mind, and that when so formed he should be at liberty to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience, without being subjected to any penalty or disqualification whatever. Every restraint or restriction imposed on any man on account of his religious creed is in the nature of persecution, and is at once an offence to God and an injury to man. This is the first and noble principle on which the Dissenters claim the repeal of the test laws; but will fairly admit that there may be an exception to its application, and I will illustrate it by reference to the general principle of non-interference by one State in the internal affairs of another. It may be stated that 67 one State would not generally be justified in interfering in the internal concerns of another; but if some of the internal regulations or political institutions of one State are of such a nature as to lead directly to the injury of another, then the interference properly commences on the part of the State making such regulations, and not on the part of the State which complains of them. I will say the same of religion; if the religion of any body of men be found to contain political principles hostile to the State, or militating against that allegiance which is due from every subject of I the Crown, in that case the question ceases to be a religions question, and you have a right to interfere and impose such restrictions as you may deem necessary, because you do not impose them I on religious opinions, you impose them only on I political doctrines."—Hansard, N.S. vol. xviii. pp. 678–9.Having read this extract, I trust we shall all feel we may reserve ourselves with perfect confidence till we see the Bill introduced; but if it he doubted as to the propriety of any Bill at all being brought in, I point to Roman Catholic Peers of the highest standing who have publicly declared, that allegiance to the canon law is incompatible with allegiance to the Sovereign. If so, we see good reason for the introduction of some measure for our consideration. Not, Sir, that those noble Lords are recreant to their religious principles in thus resenting the Papal rescript, or that, through the indirect influence of Protestantism, they have adopted views which, in other times, they would have abhorred. Nothing like it. That Papal rescript would have been resented in the palmiest days of the Roman Catholic religion in this country. Why, Sir, our earliest national history is full of instances in which the people, the Parliament, and the Barons of England, Catholics as they all were, indignantly declaimed against such intrusions on the part of the Roman Pontiff. The canon law, for example, has always been hateful to Englishmen; and I do trust that, in the measures to be taken, its operation in this country will be rendered null and void, otherwise we shall be embroiled in interminable intestine disputes incompatible with the safety, the honour, and the welfare of our Sovereign and her dominions. I trust all hon. Members will feel they can concur in the terms of the Address; and I hope we shall postpone any debate on a subject so exciting until the matter is substantively before us.
Her Majesty also speaks of certain changes in the courts of equity and law, and the registration of deeds relating to real property.
All hon. Members who represent large 68 constituencies must be alike familiar with the general and urgent wish which exists for law reform; and, much as they would desire a temperate and well-considered extension of the suffrage, I am sure they will feel that Her Majesty's Ministers, in deferring that until another Session, and taking up the great question of reform in our courts of equity and law, have exercised a sound discretion. The establishment and extension of the county courts has, so far as it goes, introduced a sweeping change in pleading practice and evidence; but the change of law in the United States of America has made the people of this country feel more alive than ever to the necessity of great changes in every department of our legal administration. I can only hope, Sir, that it will be undertaken in the spirit which the following short extract from an eminent author demonstrates. He says—Let us not be deterred by a clamour against innovation from abrogating what is useless—simplifying what is complex; nor attempt to stave off an immediate pressing difficulty by a patch, work scheme of modifications and suspensions; but let us consult for posterity in the comprehensive spirit of legal philosophy.It is not necessary I should point out to the House the great benefits which must accrue from a registration of deeds of real property: all the inconvenience, annoyance, and expense, together with the delay which arises from the want of it, is familiar to all; and any Government which will originate and carry out a well-digested simple plan, by which the transfer of real estate can he rendered more easy and inexpensive, will add to the value of property, and deserve the hearty thanks of the landed interest. It now, Sir, only remains for me to thank the House for its indulgence; and I do, Sir, most earnestly desire that Divine Providence will illuminate our common path, guide all our counsels, and so direct all our efforts, that our legislation may be eminently practical, equal, and promotive of the best interests of the united kingdom. With this expression, Sir, I earnestly commend, by a unanimous vote, the adoption of the Address to Her Majesty.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, that never since he had had the honour of a seat in that House had he risen with so much pain as on the present occasion; and, when he said so, he wished it to be understood that it was no mere commonplace expression at the commencement of a speech that he employed; 69 he truly meant what he said when he told them that he never had pain equal to that which he now felt in rising' to address them. The reason of that pain was that now, for the first time since he had occupied a seat in that House, he found a liberal Administration—headed by one who had gained the honour and distinction of being the Prime Minister of a great liberal party—taking the first step backward; that among' a nation, and at a time when onward progress was the distinctive mark by which on every occasion that nation held itself honoured, by that Administration and that Prime Minister the first actual backward step was attempted to be taken. Looking, said the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Address, at the antecedents of the noble Lord, there was to be found there a sufficient guarantee for his conduct on this question. Last year he (Mr. Roebuck) would have said the same thing, but not now. Last year he would have said that the antecedents of the noble Lord were a sure guarantee that it was impossible lie could be the first actual opponent of civil and religious liberty since 1829. What wore the real antecedents of the noble Lord? The question of the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts was the special business of the noble Lord. That was a step taken in favour of civil and religious liberty, and he was tin first to bring it forward in that House. He (Mr. Roebuck) had heard a remark made by a great Minister on that question, and he requested the consideration of the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Address to the observation. He urged, as the real objection to the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, that it would relieve the Dissenters from disabilities, and, thus relieving Protestants from the yoke which Protestants imposed on each other, it would enable them to unite their Protestant prejudices against the Roman Catholics. That was an observation by one who was not only learned in name, but who knew what the human mind truly was—Mr. Canning. Beware, he said, of what you are doing, for so soon as you relieve the Dissenters of this country from the disabilities under which they labour, you will find them then your bitterest opponents in seeking to remove the disabilities of the Catholics. He now found in the hon. Member for Norwich an apt illustration of that remark. There were no longer disabilities lying on Protestants; and they had now one united Protestant cry against 70 the Roman Catholics. He was remarking, however, not so much on the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Address, as on the conduct of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. When was it that the noble Lord had chosen to take this backward step? It was at a time when, through the Royal Speech, he was able to congratulate the House and the country on the great physical improvement of the people, and on the increased happiness enjoyed by the labouring classes. It was after long experience of the evils inflicted by restrictive laws upon the industry of the people, and when sufficient proof had been given to the world of the folly of such restrictions by the prosperity that had since been created—it was at the very time that he was putting into the mouth of the Sovereign congratulations upon these things, and calling upon the House of Commons to be thankful to Providence for the happiness and prosperity we enjoyed, that the noble Lord asked them to go forward in the peculiar line of legislation which he had pointed out. On that important occasion, when Catholic emancipation was passed, the great Parliamentary leader whoso death they all deplored, and whose loss they that day felt, yielded to the pressure of circumstances in Ireland; and the Duke of Wellington, who had seen more years of war than almost any man of his time, and most of these civil wars—what were his words on the same occasion? He said—I am one of those who have probably passed; longer period of my life engaged in war than most men, and principally, I may say, in civil war; and I must say this—that, if I could avoid, by any sacrifice whatever, even one month of civil war in the country to which I am attached, I would sacrifice my life in order to do it.Peel and Wellington know that it was civil war or emancipation, and those great nun, taking' up the principle of emancipation, acted upon it very frankly. Sir Robert Peel directly stated, when it was suggested to him to pay the Roman Catholic clergy, that he had weighed that question—that it was one worthy of all consideration; but that he could not include it, though proposed by Pitt and sanctioned by Castlereagh, and therefore he would not interfere with the internal polity of the Catholics any more than with that of the Wesleyans. The noble Lord and his party felt great pain, he might say great jealousy, that these enemies of all liberality, these enemies of Catholic emanci- 71 pation, should have come in at that time and swept away the honour for which they had so long contended; and it was the complaint of the party to which the noble Lord belonged, and of the noble Lord himself, that the honour belonged to them, for that they had fought the battle of emancipation through all its difficulties and trials, and that it did not belong to the party by whom emancipation was granted. They nevertheless expressed themselves do-lighted to see all their principles with regard to the Catholics carried out, and that they were no longer to have civil disabilities imposed on them on account of their religious belief. Now, when such was the state of the case, when such was the onward progress of the nation, what did the noble Lord propose to do? He told them—for the Speech delivered by the Queen was in reality his speech—through Her Majesty, that She had received many addresses from large bodies of Her subjects respecting certain ecclesiastical titles conferred by a foreign Power; and the noble Lord himself had that evening given notice that he would bring in a Bill against the enjoyment or possession of any honour which might be conferred, not by a sovereign, let it be observed, but religious distinctions granted by a bishop who was called the Pope of Rome. That was in reality what the noble Lord meant. If it was against the sovereign of some principality that his measure was directed, why had the noble Lord picked out the weakest Power in Europe to make his attack upon? The noble Lord had always shown himself to be a frank-dealing man, and, if it was really against the Bi-shop of Rome, and not a sovereign Prince, that his Bill was directed, why did he not say so? Now, who was the Bishop of Rome? Regarded by the Catholics, the Bishop of Rome was not a sovereign Prince. He might be out of Rome tomorrow, for that matter. He was the Bishop of Rome, the head of the Catholic religion, from whom and through whom it derived spiritual power. He was the very essence of the Catholic religion, and to say that you should not believe in the Pope of Rome was to say you should not be a Catholic; while to say that no bishop should derive his power from the Pope, was to say that the Catholics should not have the spiritual comforts of their religion. In other words it was gross persecution. But he was to be met with the word "aggression," encroachment upon Her Majesty's 72 prerogative, Papal aggression, territorial aggression, and so on. Now, our American brethren had introduced a phrase which he thought exceedingly applicable here; it was the phrase "attaining political capital," and he could not help thinking that the noble Lord at the present moment hoped to attain political capital. The noble Lord spoke of territorial aggression. He (Mr. Roebuck) charged the noble Lord to deal frankly, and he now accused him of dealing falsely with the people of this country. This Roman Catholic aggression of which he now complained was no new thing. The noble Lord had been aware of it for years, and he (Mr. Roebuck) would prove to the satisfaction of any unprejudiced person that it began years ago, and had been sanctioned by the noble Lord himself. England, said the noble Lord, had been parcelled out by a foreign Power, the Pope of Rome. But when? Oh, the other day, when a bull was introduced, and Cardinal Wiseman was appointed Archbishop of Westminster. But was this the first territorial aggression? Was this the first partition of England? Certainly not. He would take one example. Bishop Baines, who was called Bishop of Siga, had a district which included all the west of England, and he was, in reality Bishop of Bath, deriving his power directly from the Pope. He was consecrated by the Pope, and all the pecluiar powers of a bishop he exercised under the authority of the Pope. He was also, he suspected, a vicar-apostolic. Now, what did that mean? for it would appear, that so far from the Pope having lately acquired great power, he had divested himself of it. So far from it being an aggression it was a retrogression, and so far from invading Her Majesty's prerogative, he had only given the Catholics the power of governing themselves. A vicar-apostolic had no person above him in England; he was like a legate e latere, and he referred everything to the Pope, so that the Pope might be said to be the one Bishop of England, having vicars-apostolic acting for him. Through the various vicars-apostolic the Pope governed this country entirely, so far as the Catholics were concerned. He created a hierarchy, however, and the bishops now would be elected by persons in England. Oh, but he would be told, there were men who were to be called Archbishops of Westminster, and Bishop Baines would, for example, no longer he called Bishop of Siga, or a bishop in partibus infidelium, but be called by an Eng- 73 lish title. So that all this question of aggression turned upon the fact that Dr. Wiseman was to be termed Archbishop of Westminster instead of Melipotamus. Now, what was the real meaning of this word "aggression?" He had read much on the subject, and he had glanced his eve over columns on columns of rubbishing talk. But it was one of the glorious privileges of that House that as a Member of it he could say what he felt, he could say that which he could not utter in the midst of a body of roaring sectaries. However humble an individual, lot him but speak, having an anxiety to do so, with reason, and that House would hear him; and so confident was he in the simple statement of the truth made there, that he was satisfied his countrymen would yet be ashamed both of the combustion and the persons who had stirred it up. What, then, was the meaning of this word "aggression?" He asked the noble Lord where was the aggression on the Royal prerogative, merely because Dr. Wiseman called himself a cardinal, dressed himself in a large hat, put on a pair of red stockings, and, in addition, styled himself "Archbishop of Westminster?" Why, one could not state the case without making it ludicrous. Then, as to loyalty to the Sovereign, was he less loyal than others because he laughed at this matter? Did any one believe that the Catholics of England, among the most peaceful, the most submissive—he would say, too, humble—of all the classes of Her Majesty's subjects, wore to be accused of making inroads on Her Majesty's prerogative because Dr. Wiseman had been made a Cardinal and an Archbishop of Westminster? But how was this power gained? He would answer that question out of the noble Lord's own lips. Some time in the year 1848, the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, on the second reading of the Diplomatic Relations with the Pope of Rome Bill, put certain questions to the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government on the subject of the recognition by the Irish Government of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Ireland. While alluding to that hon. Baronet, he (Mr. Roebuck) would say that to him the hon. Baronet appeared to be the most consistent man among them all. He had been consistent from the beginning, for he had always said that they were wrong in 1820, and that they ought to have kept the Catholics down, and had no business to make those advances to them which they had 74 done by the Act of 1829. And in discussing the Diplomatic Relations Bill in 1848, which the noble Lord had said was carrying out the principle of the Bill of 1829, the hon. Baronet reproached the noble Lord with what the Government had recently done in Ireland, in recognising the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and said "Look at the consequences of your first act; this is the legitimate result of what you did in 1829." Now, what he (Mr. Roebuck) complained of on the part of the noble Lord was, that after all the experience he had had of the measure of 1829, he should come down with the great authority he had derived from that experience, and announce that the principle which he established in 1829 was a wrong one. He (Mr. Roebuck) complained that it should have been reserved to the year 1851 for the noble Lord to discover what was the true principle. The noble Lord had, in fact, become the partisan of the hon. Baronet opposite, though not so consistent. He was not quite sure that the hon. Baronet's humanity did not prevent him from being quite consistent; for real consistency required that you should coerce belief, and that if you would not do that, you should eradicate the individual—a process which it would tax the ingenuity of any one fully to carry out. But in the course of the debate on the Diplomatic Relations Bill, the noble Lord said—For my own part, I am not disposed to think it would be for the advantage of this country, or that it would be agreeable to the Roman Catholics, that we should have an agreement with the Pope, by which their religious arrangements should be regulated."—[Hansard, Third Series, vol. ci. p. 220.]He (Mr. Roebuck) must, however, read the preceding passage. The noble Lord also said—You must either give certain advantages to the Roman Catholic religion, and obtain from the Pope certain other advantages in return, among which you must stipulate that the Pope shall not create any dioceses in England without the consent of the Queen; or, on the other hand, you must say that you will have nothing to do with arrangements of that kind—that you will not consent, in any way, to give any authority to the Roman Catholic religion in England. But, then, you must leave the spiritual authority of the Pope entirely unfettered. You cannot bind the Pope's spiritual influence unless you have some agreement."—Ib.And then the noble Lord went on to say—For my own part, I am not disposed to think that it would be for the advantage of this country, or that it would be agreeable to the Roman 75 Catholics, that we should have an agreement with the Pope, by which their religious arrangements should be regulated. But, although you may prevent any spiritual authority from being exercised by the Pope by law, yet there is no provision, no law, my hon. Friend could frame that would deprive the Pope of that influence which is merely exercised over the mind, or that would preclude him from giving advice to those who choose to attend to such advice.That was a wise declaration; that was distinctly stating that you could not coerce the Pope's spiritual power; that, although you might anathematise the whole Papal people, and give them up to pains and disabilities, yet you could not exercise any control over their minds. If anybody had come to that House and asked the noble Lord to bring in a Bill to acknowledge Cardinal Wiseman, and recognise his right to parcel out England, and to give him such pre-eminence as he, by that power, would necessarily possess, then he (Mr. Roebuck) should consider the answer of the noble Lord to be perfectly consistent, that he could not consent to adopt any such line of conduct, as it would be opposed to the prerogative of the Sovereign. But now, when Cardinal Wiseman came in calm and humble guise, as a poor and powerless priest, without one single particle of influence except the spiritual influence the noble Lord and the Legislature had already given to him, with no power but the power which he possessed over the mind;—a man not surrounded by guards—not brought here by any feat of arms, but coming here in the simple garb of a priest, and addressing himself to the minds of the people, and appealing to their spiritual aspirations and to their conceptions of what they deemed to be truth;—considering that in all this there was no coercion, no assault upon anybody, but was the free exercise of mind, in which consisted the very essence of English liberty, and that without any attempt at concealing the truth, or of imposing manacles on human thought—for the noble Lord to oppose, oppress, and coerce such a man was gross persecution, and what he trusted the British Parliament would never sanction. But the House must know the meaning of this word "aggression." It consisted (and he defied the noble Lord to put any other interpretation upon the word), it consisted wholly in the spiritual influence of the Pope upon those who were the members of his Church. Now, he suspected that in the three kingdoms there could not be found a person less subject to spiritual dominion than the 76 individual who was then addressing the House. It seemed to him one of those grave and mysterious phenomena for which the human mind in vain sought a solution, that any body of men should bow to any such dominion. But because that to him was a mystery, and because he himself looked upon the Catholics who bowed to the Pope, and upon the Methodists who bowed to the Conference, and upon the Episcopalians who, if they bowed to anybody, bowed to that House, for eventually that House governed the Church—they might talk, indeed, of the Queen's supremacy, but it meant the supremacy of the Minister; and the supremacy of the Minister meant the supremacy of the House of Commons-—but because he looked upon these things as a mystery, yet he did not arrogate to himself that he alone was the judge of the truth; much less did he presume to arrogate the right of persecuting his fellow-subjects because they differed from him. And here he begged to caution his Dissenting brethren that they had better be careful, for they themselves were not yet out of the wood, and they might find, if this principle should be introduced in respect to the Catholics, it might be ultimately applied to their own case; and he must say, that if there were a man who would rejoice at seeing the infliction it would be himself. But, he had to ask, was there any excuse for the Catholics on this occasion? Had they done anything at all which ought to have subjected them to the iusult to which, as a religious body, they had been subjected during the last few months? Was the noble Lord, up to the time when he wrote his famous letter, in total darkness with respect to what the Catholics were doing? The noble Lord could hardly say so. Certain he (Mr. Roebuck) was, that the Earl of Clarendon was not ignorant of it; neither was the noble Lord's Colleague the Secretary of State for the Colonies. That noble Lord might have mistaken the Act of Parliament (which he certainly did); but still, taking it as he supposed it to he, he knew there was such an Act, and he believed there were certain stipulations in it. It was said, that some of these Catholics had called themselves "bishops," and that one of them had called himself a "cardinal," and they alleged that they had got a power from the Pope to do so. Now, without troubling the House with any lengthened quotations, he would ask, were not the Catholics right in believing that they might do so without 77 giving any offence? That was the way to put the question. Was there anything which led them to believe that they could do what they had done without giving any offence? There could be no doubt that, in pursuance of the Charitable Donations and Bequests Act, there was a commission appointed under Her Majesty's letters patent, in which archbishops and bishops of the Catholic Church were acknowledged as such; and from year to year they were known to the Administration to be so acknowledged. The third report of those Commissioners gave an account of the meetings held by them; and in the report of one of those meetings the names of the commissioners assembled wore given. There was the right hon. Sir John Perrin, then the Chief Baron; after him came his Grace the Lord Primate, who was the Protestant Primate; then his Grace the Archbishop of Dublin, who was a Protestant archbishop; and after these names came his Grace the Lord Archbishop, Daniel Murray, not saying of what place he was archbishop. Now, that the whole of this uproar should be made, because suddenly this person should choose to call himself Lord Archbishop of some particular place, was truly lamentable. But was this the first time that these titles had been given to these persons? It was on record that they were constantly addressed by persons in authority, as well as by others, as archbishops and bishops of particular places. There was the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, and the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. In a document which had been handed to him, it was stated that Her Majesty had been pleased to desire that the following persons should have the entrée at the Castle, and then came a statement of what the Queen had a right to do. She had a right to say in what order people should walk in procession, and after mentioning the Lord Primate and the Archbishop of Dublin, she then named the Roman Catholic Primate of Armagh, who came before many Protestant bishops; and then came the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, who was especially named because there was also a Protestant Archbishop of Dublin. Here, then, they had it openly acknowledged by the Queen's special prerogative and authority, in the teeth of an Act of Parliament, that there was a Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. Mark what that in reality was. There existed an Act of Parliament against something being done. The Queen neverthe- 78 less did that something, for, though it was in the exercise of her prerogative, still it must be deemed to have been done by her Minister. He believed the right hon. Secretary of State for the Home Department was responsible for that act. [Sir G. GREY denied that he was responsible.] Somebody must be answerable for it however; but what he wished to press upon the House was, that the Catholics, seeing such proceedings solemnly enacted in a document of so public and grave a character, and relating to a matter which by some people was deemed so important, might most implicitly, and in the utmost candour and good faith, believe that there was really no objection on the part of anybody (always excepting the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford) to their assuming those titles. Why, the whole history of all this was well known. The plan had been contemplated for some years, at all events as long ago as 1847. In the Roman Catholic Directory and Almanack for 1848 the name of the Most Reverend Dr. Wiseman, D.D., was inserted, to which was attached the title of Archbishop of Westminster. If he were told that Dr. Wiseman was not Archbishop of Westminster in 1848, he would admit the fact; but why was he not? That the Pope intended to make him such was well known in the Catholic world, and that which was to happen was, by anticipation, published in the Directory; but a revolution took place in Rome, the Pope left his seat of government, and nothing was done at that time; but the moment the Pope returned to Rome he did what he had originally intended to do, and what the British Minister on the spot must very well have known was to be done—for, in spite of an Act of Parliament, England had a Minister at the Court of Rome. And here he could not but observe, when they were talking about the violation of an Act of Parliament, and of infringing the Queen's prerogative, he thought it might be as well on the part of those who thus regarded the breach of an Act of Parliament by the Roman Catholics, to recollect that they themselves were rather in danger of that mysterious law of prœmunire for sending a Minister to Rome. It might be said, perhaps, that the noble Lord was not accredited; but that would be mere paltering with the House. One short word would most expressively describe such an assertion; but its use would hardly be Parliamentary, and therefore, resorting to a periphrasis, he would call it 79 "saying the thing that is not." It was then said that this was an aggression he-cause it was a parcelling out of England. Sir Robert Peel said in 1829 that he would no more interfere with the internal arrangement of the Catholics than with that of the Wesleyan Methodists. Now, in the Wesleyan Methodists' Directory he found the heads of the districts of that body called superintendents, which word was the same as that of bishop, one being a Greek, and the other a Latin, word; and he also found John Beecham, D.D., described as President of the Conference; there being exactly the same parcelling of the country by both parties. And for what purpose? For a spiritual purpose, and which was perfectly legal for them to do. He might himself to-morrow parcel out the kingdom if he could get any one to join him, and call himself D.D. or A.S.S., if he pleased; as well as the Episcopalians, the Independents, the Baptists, or any other of the half-hundred denominations into which the Protestants of this country were divided. He would ask the House seriously whether it was worth while, after all the inquiry they had had with respect to the Catholics, to run this risk? There were in Great Britain and Ireland 8,000,000 of Catholics; and was this the time, when spiritual bigotry was disappearing, when kindness and goodwill were superseding all ancient hatreds and religious feuds, when they met one another as brethren in that House and in society, and when they were becoming an united people—was it worthy of the noble Lord, so long the advocate of religious as well as civil liberty, to aid a feeling which had its source in religious hatred, which took the name and sanction of Her Majesty's prerogative to cover a most detestable thing? The noble Lord was forgetting his past history, and was thinking only of a fleeting popularity. He was lending the sanction of a great name to cover a great vice. Why, it was nothing more than the puritanical bigotry of England lurking out in the nineteenth century. It was to him marvellous that such means should have been resorted to. He regretted that as there was nothing in the main portions of the Address to which any objection could be taken, that that unfortunate reference had been introduced to prevent the House being entirely unanimous.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for 80 Sheffield, with all the force of his talents, had made an attack upon Her Majesty's Ministers, and had endeavoured with more than even his usual power of sarcasm, to throw ridicule upon the way in which the recent aggressive conduct of the Pope had been received by them, and by the people of England. When the hon. and learned Gentleman asked what was the meaning of this Papal aggression; let him ask the hon. and learned Gentleman whether it were not the intrusion of a foreign Power in the internal concerns of this land, and whether, if such a proceeding as had lately taken place in this country had been attempted in any other, it would not have been met by an equal burst of indignant feeling as it had received here? Would not that have been the natural and inevitable result? Did the hon. and learned Gentleman not know that there was not a nation in Europe, the smallest or the greatest, in which such a measure as this could have been hazarded without rousing the strongest feelings of indignation and resentment? Would the Pope have dared to do in the dominions of any one of the four other great Powers of Europe what he had dared to do in this kingdom? With reference to what the hon. and learned Member had said of the analogy of this attempt with what had been done by the Wesleyans, did he mean to state that that, or any other sect of Protestant Dissenters, ever claimed any jurisdiction such as that attempted by the Papacy? Why, the Pope had treated England as if every individual in it, save those who belonged to his own communion, were heathen. He had—to use a now popular term—ignored the existence of the Crown and of the Church of England; and assumed that we were as much a pagan people as the inhabitants of Otaheite before the arrival of the Missionaries. Let him ask even the Roman Catholic Members of that House whether such an aggression as had been practised towards this country could have been attempted in Russia? He could have wished nothing more than that the Pope should have tried the same course with that great empire; soon would we have found that every available ship of the Russian fleet, from the Baltic and the Black Sea, would have made its appearance at Civita Vecchia; and that the Pope would have been compelled to eat his words; aye, the very parchment on which he had dared to inscribe them. There was a King of England, too, in former days— 81 he meant that great Sovereign, William the Third—that highminded man—who, the more his character was investigated, the more it was shown that he had ever proved himself fit for the high duties of Ins station—if such an aggression on the honour and integrity of the Crown, on the rights of the Church, on the security of Protestantism, and on the independence of the people, had occurred in his day, would not have hesitated or been found wanting in his duty. Yet, notwithstanding the little which had been done, or at least which appeared to have been done on the part of Her Majesty's Ministers, and notwithstanding the little which had been placed on this subject in the Queen's Speech, he (Sir R. Inglis) looked upon the letter of the noble Lord at the head of the Government to the Bishop of Durham as the text of the Speech of the Throne; and on that Speech, as the comment or sermon on that text, I but governed by it. He trusted that the writer of that text would be found equal I to the emergency, and that he would maintain the language which he had originally used. [Cheers, and cries of "Oh!"] The hon. and learned Gentle1man had been cheered by some of his friends behind him when he detailed in his own peculiar way the history of the recent aggression; but he would refer the I hon. and learned Gentleman to the able and satisfactory work of Dr. Twiss, which it was evident he had not yet read; but in that work, though he (Sir R. Inglis) could not concur in some of its admissions, Dr. Twiss had shown that in no State of Europe, without the consent of the Sovereign, could such an attempt have been made to portion out the country and create I territorial titles, with rank and jurisdiction, The same conclusion was supplied by the evidence in the celebrated Report of the year 1816, on the regulation of Roman Catholic subjects in foreign States. He regretted to say that the observations of the hon. and learned Gentleman were far too true, and painfully true, when he called to the recollection of Her Majesty's Government that they had encouraged the Papacy in its present aggressive movement. Look at their conduct during the last five years, in Ireland, at home, and in the colonies. The hon. and learned Gentleman had brought forward precedents of what; had been done in Ireland, in which a recognition had been given by the Government to the Church of Rome in the person of more than one of its Archbishops; but, 82 even admitting that a similar construction might be drawn from a private and local Act of Parliament, which he (Sir R. Inglis) did not admit, lie believed there was no recognition at all of that party as Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, but simply as exercising the functions of an archbishop in loco. The legal acumen of the hon. and learned Gentleman would readily enable him to understand the distinction. If such a man as the late Mr. Perceval—and in referring to that name, he could not but acknowledge the obligations which the cause of Protestantism, and of the Church of England owed in the present day to Mr. Dudley Perceval, a man worthy to bear the name of his great father—if such a man as the late Spencer Perceval had been at the head of affairs he felt satisfied that such an aggression would not have been permitted—he would at once have vindicated the rights and the honour of the Crown, and the independence of the nation—he would not have shrunk back, and left nothing done for a period of three months, like Her Majesty's present Ministers. He also, like the Russian Sovereign of to-day, or the English Sovereign a hundred and fifty years ago. would have sent a fleet to Civita Vecchia, and have compelled the "triple tyrant" to renounce his insolent pretension. The hon. and learned Member had taunted the hon. Gentleman who had seconded the Address, with the support which the hon. Member had, as a Dissenter, given to the measure to be brought forward against this act of Papal aggression; but let him ask the hon. Member for Norwich, whether his own knowledge of history did not satisfy him, that wherever the Church of Rome had power, there was no peace or place for the Dissenter? His own impression was that if the Government, instead of introducing an Act, limited as the present measure appeared to be, had gone as far as Ins (Sir R. Inglis') own wishes went, the people of England would—all but unanimously—have rallied round them. He was gratified to find that in the course of the late demonstration in England there had been exhibited a fund of latent talent and feeling which had hitherto been unsuspected, and with it a depth and extent of Protestant feeling and Protestant principle that augured well for the future well-being of the country. Her Majesty had been advised in the Speech from the Throne to say that the language of the addresses presented to Her breathed 83 attachment to the Throne. Why, he apprehended that his noble Friend at the head of the Government, and more particularly his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, to whose care these addresses were confided, would have seen that those addresses expressed something more than mere attachment to the Throne. They expressed the strongest attachment to the Protestant religion and the Church Establishment; and one of the great grievances of which they complained was, that the interests of that Church had been assailed by the conduct of the Pope. And yet the hon. and learned Gentleman told them that the Pope had committed no offence; and that none but bigots thought there was any offence in the late proceedings. The letter of the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown to the Bishop of Durham had better characterised that proceeding, and it had stirred up such a fire in the heart of England as would, he trusted, under God's blessing, secure her Protestantism and her Church from all open or insidious attacks. Her Majesty's subjects of every calling and class had spoken out upon it; and one of the earliest and most important and remarkable documents which this act of aggression had called forth was the address of that profession to which the hon. and learned Gentleman himself belonged, headed as it was by the names of Her Majesty's Attorney General and the leaders of the different circuits, and expressing their resolution to defend the Church and the Protestantism of England, and the independence of the Throne, against the assault that was now made upon them. The two Universities, the greatest municipality in the empire, almost every city and borough in England, almost every religious body in the country, almost every county from Flint, one of the smallest, to Yorkshire for the greatest—he mentioned these two because Lord Shrewsbury had specially noticed them—all had addressed the Throne in defence of the Church, in support of the spiritual liberties of the realm, and in maintenance of the rights of the Crown and the independence of the country. The same appeal was now repeated to this House. He must be permitted, before he concluded, to say that much and important as was the information on statistical matters in the speech of the hon. Member for Norwich, the hon. Gentleman had, he regretted to find, left all but untouched the recent aggression of 84 the Papacy—that great question which had agitated the country, and in which he ventured to say none were more interested than the Dissenters. He knew that they received protection and support from the Establishment in all that was essential to the freedom of religion. He would justify the vote he was about to give in favour of the Address by the consideration that the Government was held down by the letter of the Prime Minister, and that they would secure to the Bishops of the Established Church that rightful protection which by the law and custom of England they had for centuries enjoyed. He need not remind the House that the Church was not a sect; it was the first and essential element in the constitution of England, it was the first estate of the realm, and had always been so, since the first dawn of the Constitution, and whatever injury the Church received affected injuriously the Protestantism of the country, weakened and impaired what, under God's blessing, constituted the glory and the greatness of their country; because so long as that Protestantism, under God's blessing, should continue, so long would that country grow in all the elements of prosperity which, under God's Providence, had already combined more intellectual energy, more social comfort, more extended liberty, and more spiritual privileges than are enjoyed by any other nation.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
thanked the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, in the name of his Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, and of every friend of religious liberty, for the speech which he had delivered that evening, and expressed his satisfaction, as a Roman Catholic, that they were not under the necessity of moving any Amendment on the Address in reply to the Speech of Her Majesty, who might be assured of the loyalty and attachment of Her Catholic subjects. If any bitterness had been thrown into the discussion, he must say that it had not been introduced by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, but by the hon. Gentleman who had seconded the Address, who had made remarks upon what he had called the prosperity of Ireland, which were as ill-timed and irrelevant as they well could be. There had certainly been a partial revival of trade in that country, but that was all. With respect to the attempt to establish a Catholic hierarchy in England, the spread of Catholicity in that country had rendered the appointment 85 of vicars-apostolic necessary. It was said that the present was the only instance in which the Pope had presumed to appoint a hierarchy without the consent of the Government of the country. Even if this were so, was it not rather a credit to England that what was considered requisite for a church, not the Church of the State, could yet he settled without subjecting her members to any penal proceedings. The hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford had cited the example of Russia, but could scarcely wish it followed. And had the hon. Baronet forgotten the case of Ireland, scarce seventy years since, under the penal laws, in which case the very course now objected to was pursued, of appointing a hierarchy without the consent of the Crown. No doubt, whenever it was practicable, the Pope endeavoured to obtain the assent of the temporal power to such a measure; for it had never been the policy of the Popedom—whatever might be the calumnies of English historians—to attempt to weaken or impair the legitimate rights of the constituted authorities. But the Pope might reasonably enough despair of receiving the assent of the Government in England. It was said that the Papal letters treated the people of this country as infidels. This, however, was not at all so. It was true, indeed, that the Holy See did not, and could not, recognise the Church established in this country as a Church, seeing that it was a principle of the Catholic faith that there could be but one Church, with one and the same visible head. But it was not true that the Pope had stigmatised the members of the Established Church as infidels; on the contrary, it would be repugnant to Catholic theology to use such a horrible accusation towards fellow-Christians of any class. It was melancholy to think that the noble Lord at the head of the Government should have excited the spirit of religious bitterness when it was about to subside. But still more discreditable was the sequel. After the noble Lord's letter, in which he had so grossly insulted the faith of the Catholics, it was naturally expected that, having thus expressed bigotry in words, he would have had the manhood at least to attempt to carry it out in acts, instead of which ho had shrunk from so doing, and so had earned the contempt not only of the Catholics, but of all friends of civil and religious liberty, for what was now apparent had been as wanton and useless 86 as it had been an unjustifiable outrage upon the religion of so large a portion of the people.
MR. A. J. B. HOPE
said, he should be sorry, for the sake of the character for consistency of his side of the House, if the only expression of its opinions were to be that of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, who seemed not to have considered the subject in its double aspect, affecting the Church on the one hand, and the body politic on the other. As a member of the Church of England he agreed with the hon. Baronet in the expression of strong indignation (indeed no one could feel more indignant) at the way in which the publications of the Roman Catholics had spoken of the recent aggression; alluding as they did to "the gentleman who claimed to fill the extinct see of Canterbury,'' and the manner in which they had "ignored" the Church of England, as a member of which he was ready to fight to the utmost against the aggression. But the House should remember that they sat not there as members of the Church of England. They sat simply as representatives of the citizens of England—of that country which, pre-eminent as it was in civilisation, and intellect, and enlightenment, was most of all pre-eminent in its enunciation of the great doctrine of "civil and religious liberty." The hon. Baronet had referred to the precedents which he called (comparatively) old—as that of William III.; but although there were questions of law, or of the forms of Parliament, which had remained unchanged since those times, and on which this appeal might be proper—could it be so on a question of the treatment of members of another denomination since then set free? To be sure, the period might be appealed to upon shreds and patches of the question; but, to be consistent, they must be content to take the whole tone and spirit—the whole length, depth, and breadth of the Elizabethan era, and of the Stuart and the Tudor ideas about "liberty of conscience," under which, undoubtedly, the Cardinal would have been hurried to the stake, and the seconder of the Address would have had his ears cropped. The first step towards liberty of conscience was the repeal of those barbarous laws. The second was the measure (for which, as a member of the Church of England, he thanked the noble Lord opposite) by which was abolished the abominable Test and Corporation Act, which prostituted the most sacred mysteries of 87 religion to any one who might have conscience (or lack of conscience) enough to abjure for a time his religious convictions, in order to acquire that share of civil power which the State deprived him of in his true character. Such were the first two steps towards a more enlightened view of the relations between a man and his soul, on the one hand, and between a man and the body politic, on the other. The next was the Bill of 1829, since which various measures had been passed to consolidate the great foundation then laid—the only foundation on which a body politic of Anglo-Saxon race could in these times ever subsist; and now, because one of the religious bodies then emancipated had actually had the audacity to conceive that what was then given was bonâ fide and freely; when, with open eyes, Parliament had decreed that the Roman Catholic body should not, on account of holding Roman Catholic tenets, be debarred from the enjoyment of the full privileges of citizenship; one of their tenets being (as the Legislature all the while well knew), that they must look for spiritual rule to certain individuals holding territorial titles, and having a dependence upon another individual—a prelate, who happened to be also a petty Italian prince. Everything, indeed, that they now knew, they knew (or ought to have known) in 1829, and ought to have provided against. Provision, in fact, was made, and the Roman Catholic prelates were debarred from taking the titles of twenty-six towns mentioned in the Act. They had not taken those names; and now the great, the magnanimous British nation, came down upon them with penal enactments, because they had attempted to act up to the letter of the charter of their emancipation; and what was called the spirit of the Emancipation Act was appealed to, by which it was sought to be shown that when an Act prohibited taking the titles of 26 towns, those of the 15,000 places within England and Wales were also within prohibition. This might suit the "spirit" of the day; but if all statutes were construed in such a way, the country would not be so well ruled. It was said that the "liberties of Englishmen" had been "endangered," and that the Magna Charta of Protestantism had been violated. He had thought that the liberties of England were built upon a firmer basis; and that the established religion of England had something to appeal to beyond the protection of the Act of 1829; and that it had truth and Scripture upon its side. 88 But now it seemed this was not so, for that though Dr. Wiseman might exercise all his episcopal powers in London as Bishop of Melipotamus, and the Church of England would still remain firmly founded upon Scripture and truth; yet if he exercised those powers as Archbishop of Westminster, then forsooth the people were all about to be made Papists whether they would or not. This was then the mainstay of the reformed religion, of which he had always imagined the appeal was to truth and reason; and which was to be rejected or refused upon those principles alone. For some time unhappily the principles of religious toleration had not been understood in England. But they had now come to understand them better, and year after year men had come round to the opinion, to which he did not yet altogether despair of seeing his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford a convert—that it was best to let different forms of faith or claims of truth contend with each other, without any interference on the part of the State. Having for his own part begun with rather exalted ideas as to the duty of the State to enforce its religion, he had become more and more emancipated from them; while at the same time he felt more and more attachment to the Church of England, not because she was established, but because she was, as he believed, founded upon truth, and strong enough in herself to resist all the machinations or aggressions of cardinals or archbishops, whether of Melipotamus or of Westminster. A State, if it happened to get hold of the truth, was the great benefactor of the human race; but there was a great likelihood of its not getting hold of that truth, and then it became the greatest curse. He could not, therefore, but look upon the whole course of the late meetings, and the notice which the Secretary for the Treasury had given, and the speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, as among the greatest blows ever inflicted upon the Church of England. The members of that Church had been taunted with being members of a mere "Act of Parliament Church," and the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, in a speech, the greater part of which he (Mr. Hope) had heartily concurred with, had repeated the accusation, and declared that he could give no better definition of a member of the Church of England than that of a man who, in religious matters, bowed to the authority of that House. Now, although he (Mr. Hope) 89 bowed to the authority of that House "on many questions, he certainly could not, did not, and always would not," bow to its authority on the subject of religion. Such, however, was the accusation. And how had it been answered by this agitation? Because a foreign Prelate, the weakest prince in Europe, had sent hither thirteen men with certain names—men poor in circumstances, and comparatively unknown beyond the places where they lived, and from which those names were given them-—this great House of Parliament—this Imperial Legislature—this representative of the greatest Power of the world, was all excitement, and announced that our liberties, our lives, our religion, were all in danger. And why? Because this foreign prince, who was taunted by everybody with his weakness, in the same time that they showed their fears of the aggression, had sent thirteen men, and distinguished them by the names of the towns in which they resided, and by which they would be continued to be designated by those over whom they ruled, in spite of all legislation by that House. If this were not humiliating and degrading for a great empire like this, he did not know what was humiliating, and degrading, and disgusting, on the one hand, and what was great and magnanimous on the other. It was said the prerogative of the Crown had been insulted, and that something must be done to vindicate its dignity, and show that these titles were illegal. There was one obvious way of doing this; and that was to "ignore" them. The Roman Catholics had been emancipated, although it was known at the time that the first tenet of their religion was, that they must be governed by territorial bishops. The law had been laid down that the exercise of those tenets was not inconsistent with the duties of citizenship; and the Roman Catholics had exercised those tenets, and had appointed bishops with territorial titles. As a member of the Church of England, no doubt he felt this annoying, It, was annoying that, in the great city of Westminster, teeming with souls under the care of the Church of England, the opportunity should have been allowed (through a niggardly parsimony) to pass by for giving to the noble abbey its proper represcntatiee—a bishop of the Church of England, who would, among the "slums" of that city, search out the lost sheep of his flock. It was annoying that another, and an antagonistic, body should have seized the op- 90 portunity thus neglected by the Church of England. He regretted this, but could not conceive it wise or statesmanlike to remedy the evil by imposing penalties. The House, however, were not assembled there as members of the Church of England, but as citizens of the British empire, in which all religions had the rewards of citizenship equally free and unrestricted. The Cardinal's title, like that of the "President of the Conference" with the Wesleyans, might not be recognised by law, except that in a suit evidence might be given that he exercised a certain authority over Roman Catholics. The nation might, if it pleased, "ignore" the title, and refuse the Roman Catholic hierarchy admission at Court. Private individuals might, if they liked, have the had taste to address the Cardinal as Mr. Wiseman, or Nicholas Wiseman. This would be offensive enough, but this was just what the nation as a body was going to do. But would this course be worthy of a great nation? Would it be creditable to imitate the discourtesy which would be considered discreditable among private individuals. This great nation, by acting as it did, confessed its own weakness; but he (Mr. Hope) repudiated the idea altogether that any bull from the Pope, or any pastoral letter issued from the Flaminian Gate, could pull down the Crown or the religion of England. Let those who thought so be fearful if they chose; but, for his part, he had greater faith in the stability of the Crown of England, and far greater faith in the Church of England.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
said, he would certainly have moved an Amendment and divided the House upon it, had he thought, as some hon. Members appeared to think, that the Address pledged him to any line of conduct opposed to liberty of conscience. But though he did not, conceive that the Address at all embodied the spirit of persecution, he was of opinion that those Members who considered that it did, should show their sincerity and consistency by proposing an Amendment. He did not find cither in the Speech or in the Address any such "principle laid down, nor any allusion to it, nor a single syllable to which, as a member of the Church of Rome (but not of the Court of Rome), he could not heartily subscribe. It had been erroneously imagined that all Protestants were against the Papal measure, and ail Catholics in favour of it. That all Protestants were not against it, had been shown by the speeches of the 91 hon. Members for Sheffield and Maidstone; and that all Catholics did not approve of it, he was there to bear testimony. Nor did he hesitate to call it an aggression—not for the reasons which had been assigned by the hon. Member for the University of Oxford, but for reasons of a totally different and independent character. There was a distinction between the English and the Irish Roman Catholic Churches which should not be lost sight of. The Church of Rome in Ireland was governed by canon laws, not derived from the Pope, but from herself, and under which she had been happy enough to be placed ever since the days of St. Patrick. But the Roman Catholic Church in England had long been in a most anomalous position. Ever since the removal of the restraints imposed by the Elizabethan and Stuart codes upon the exercise of Roman Catholic discipline in this country, there had been raging a fierce and unseemly contest between the prelates on the one hand, and the second order of clergy and likewise the laity on the other, the point in dispute being the management of the endowments and temporalities of their church. The whole difficulty was occasioned by the doubt which had arisen here—but never in Ireland—whether or not the Protestant reformation had abrogated the rights which belonged to clergymen and laymen under the ancient canon law. Of course the prelates maintained that it had, and their opponents that it had not: and therefore each party was equally solicitous to have the doubt—for it was nothing more—resolved in its own favour. This was to be done only with the concurrence of Rome. Accordingly, for many years past, there had been petitions and counter-petitions to the Holy See—the prelates petitioning in one sense,—the clergy, monks, Jesuits, and laity, in the other. The prelates sought to maintain over their clergy and spiritual subjects an unreserved and unfettered jurisdiction—a jurisdiction not restrained by canon law—an ecclesiastical jurisdiction, that is to say, one which included temporal things as well as spiritual things belonging to the Church. Their opponents endeavoured to obtain at Rome the denial of a subjection so galling. It was, therefore, true, as his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield had stated, that the Roman Catholics here had petitioned the Pope for a hierarchy of their own election; but it was equally true that they had been met by counter-petitions on the part of the bishops, 92 praying that no hierarchy, to be elected by the clergy, should be granted to England; that the canon law of the Church should not be applied to the clergy of the second order, or laity; and that, instead of it, an absolute authority should be vested in the bishops. Owing to this conflict of opinion, the Pope held his hand, and for many years did nothing. He (Mr. Anstey) was now speaking not merely to a matter of history, but to a matter in which he himself had been an actor. In 1839, for example, he had been instrumental in forwarding one of these petitions to Rome on the part of the laity, and to that petition some of the most distinguished names amongst the Roman Catholics of this country were subscribed. But the question had been especially agitated in 1837; and he held in his hand a document of that date, issued by Pope Gregory the Sixteenth, professedly founded on the petitions of the inferior clergy and laity of the English Roman Catholics. It was entitled Statuta Proposita, and it proposed the establishment of a hierarchy here on the basis of canon law and free election. But; it expressly denied the bishops the right to territorial titles, on the ground that the state of things here did not call for such. The clergy unanimously approved of and adopted these proposed statutes. The laity were delighted with them. The bishops alone objected to them, and their objection was unanimous to a measure which would for ever have deprived them of the desired privileges of self election and uncontrolled power over as well the temporalities as the spiritualities of the church. The statuta proposita were, therefore, withdrawn, and the disgraceful contest continued down to the recent appointment of Cardinal Wiseman—an appointment which had taken by surprise all but his own immediate adherents—and was believed to have been obtained from the Pope by an entire misrepresentation of Roman Catholic opinion in this country. In this manner was a hierarchy now established—without election—without law—and invested with arbitrary power over all clergymen, secular, regular, and Jesuit, and also over the temporal and spiritual affairs of the laity themselves under the name of government ecclesiastical. All vested rights, all previous canons, all existing usages, were swept away, and in this place the Cardinal and his bishops were to make what ecclesiastical ordinances they would. To understand the effect of 93 this edict, let them suppose the case of a Roman Catholic heir of the founder of a Roman Catholic chapel; and, as such, having the jus patronatus by canon law over it. That canon law being now repealed, let him attempt to exercise the right of patronage—exercised, perhaps, for centuries by his forefathers, and his bishop will for the first time be in a position to defeat it; and, according to the practice of our courts, to call in the civil power to compel the ex-patron to obey; for Lord Mansfield had plainly laid it down that a protected religion was an established religion, and entitled, as such, to the assistance of the courts of justice in enforcing its own by-laws and its own discipline. Now, without going further, was the edict not a manifest aggression, in this respect, upon the prerogative of Her Majesty, and the rights of Her Roman Catholic subjects? They were bound to restrain it. He believed that the existing law was sufficient for the purpose; but, if not, they must legislate. Interfere in some way they must. Otherwise, speaking deliberately, and as a lawyer, he warned them that the Pope's letter, unannulled by competent authority, would become law, or quasi-law for the Roman Catholics; and so far for the courts of this country, that they would be bound to take notice of it in legal suits, as in the administration, for instance, of charity funds, by the Court of Chancery: for by the course of that court, which was part of the law of the land, all Papal briefs and bulls are to be recognised as the by-laws or ordinances of the Catholics, by which they regulated their ecclesiastical affairs. It would be an extraordinary spectacle to behold the Queen's Court of Chancery occupied in enforcing a Papal edict against Her Roman Catholic subjects, and compelling them to surrender the temporal rights in obedience to its mandate; for this would be precisely the case with a Roman Catholic patron attempting, as he had just now supposed, to exercise his right of nomination. Not only could he no longer enforce his right, but the bishop would be henceforth entitled to the Queen's writ of injunction, and the whole prerogative process of Her Chancery to prevent its exercise. Surely this matter was one of great importance. Surely the ecclesiastical and temporal interests of some million and a half of persons—for such the numerical strength of the Roman Catholics in England and Wales was estimated at, were 94 worthy of their consideration; and all that the proposed Address assured the Crown was, that they would consider them. We have no choice in this matter—we must interfere. If we do not annul the bull, we acquiesce in it, and determine to enforce it, or else we propose to regulate its action. It is therefore absolutely necessary for us to consider the matter, and advise Her Majesty. There is scarce an ancient Roman Catholic congregation, whose endowment is not of sufficient magnitude to give Her Court of Chancery the jurisdiction to entertain a suit for the administration of its trusts; and in such a suit it is the spirituality that is the principal concern, as drawing the temporality after it. It is thus that under colour of ecclesiastical affairs those of a purely temporal nature are affected by this hull, and that this hull, unless annulled or restrained in some manner now, will bind the temporal courts hereafter. In the case of a dissenting charity, it was well observed by Lord Mansfield (and it was equally true of Roman Catholic charities), that the spiritual function is the principal, and that the temporalities follow it, even as the gold chain of office follows the function of mayor. There remained but one other fallacy for him to answer. It was said, that this was at most a question affecting Roman Catholics themselves, whose fault it solely was, if they chose to submit to the tyranny of their own prelates; and that it was not for Parliament to emancipate them from that undue influence. The objection was specious, but unsound, and moreover came too late. Had they not over and over again legislated in order to keep down undue influence? On what ground did they pass the statute of mortmain? On what ground did they defeat testaments when obtained under circumstances surrounded with suspicion? How frequently had it been held by the court a sufficient evidence of fraud when a legacy has been left to the physician, or solicitor, or clergyman, who attended the dying moments of the testator; and yet how natural does not a bequest of such a kind appear If there was any force in the objection, why did they interfere between the labourer and the master—between the millowner and the factory child? They were told then that the parties were free agents—that they were contracting parties, and that it was to be presumed that there was no undue weight of influence on one side or the other. But they answered to that, 95 that there were concessions which power and wealth always wring from poverty and weakness. It was impossible, spiritually speaking, for the Roman Catholics of these countries, unless they passed temporal obstacles in the way of this Papal assumption, to escape the consequences of this bull. Submit they must sooner or later. It was not in human nature to bear the denial of the sacrament, the exclusion from those rights and privileges which the Church accorded to her members, and which exclusion would be the penalty of disobedience. It has always been the policy of the Court of Rome—a wise and humane policy—to take external difficulties—and especially those created by municipal law—into consideration. Where these are of magnitude, obedience to her mandates are not strictly enforced. If the House took this matter into consideration in the spirit which Her Majesty's Government had called on them to consider it, they would do well not to confine themselves to the barren and dull question of title. It would be for them to pass under review those securities which were guaranteed on the Relief Act, involving as they did the whole question of the status of the Roman Catholic, his rights and his duties, the position of the members of that communion to one another, and towards the State; and when they had done this, they would be able to deal with things, and not with names. But whatever legislation you may adopt not based upon those principles, will be futile to effect the objects which you contemplate. He would apologise to the House if he entered upon a matter somewhat personal to himself. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield had said that in 1848 it was understood that an Archbishop of Westminster was going to be appointed, and that it was well known that no protest had been made against it. Now, a protest had been made against it by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, upon the occasion when he (Mr. Anstey) introduced a Bill to repeal the Roman Catholic disabilities, and then he made a statement which he had still no doubt was true at the time, but which subsequent events had falsified. He stated, that before there could be an Archbishop of Westminster there should be an hierarchy, and that there could be no hierarchy without clerical election, and a defined canon law; and that upon those points such dissensions and difficulties had arisen, that the whole matter, which he understood had been in contemplation, 96 had been postponed sine die. That, he even now believed, had been the Pope's determination at that time; but unfortunately the Roman revolution occurred, and the flight to Gacta, and the other deplorable circumstances connected with those events. Maintaining, as he hoped he should always maintain, the deepest respect for the person and office of the Pope, he must say that there had been a most unfavourable and unfortunate change in his subsequent policy. He thought it was a lamentable thing that the great reformer of 1846 and 1847, utterly unmindful of his former glories, should place himself at the head of the contemptible and reactionary camarilla of reactionaries who now occupied the capital of the Christian world. He thought he could defend the noble Lord at the head of the Government from the charge that this intended creation bad been notified to him or to Lord Minto, and no remonstrance had been made. He believed that, far from Lord Minto being made acquainted in 1848 with this fatal resolution of the Pope, it was not until Cardinal Wiseman went to Rome last summer that it was finally decided upon. There was no doubt, in fact, that it was then left to his own choice whether he would come hack vicar-apostolic or cardinal-archbishop. He (Mr. Anstey) had never missed an opportunity of recording his sentiments in favour of civil and religious liberty, and it was not likely that he should begin the trade of persecution upon his own person and upon those of the professors of his own religion. If the Ministers proposed to the House a Bill which was equal to the occasion, he cared not what might be the personal consequences arising from those of his own faith, and affecting his position—he would give them the humble benefit of his vote. But if the Bill was reduced to the barren question of title, he would not support it, neither would he support any portion of the Bill which might relate to Ireland—a country the position of which was so widely different from that of England—a country which had never lost its hierarchy, or accepted a new one from a foreign Power—a country which had never submitted to the imposition of canon law from the hands of any pope or bishop or vicar-apostolic, but which had been so fortunate as to retain its ancient usages, its jus canonicum, which originated in the days of St. Patrick. If there were to be any division, he would give his vote that night in favour of the Address, and in 97 opposition to any Roman Catholic Amendment.
§ MR. PLUMPTRE
agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, as to the opinion he had expressed respecting the present position of affairs. He never remembered, during the whole course of a long public life, anything which had excited so lively, so deep, and so indignant a feeling in the breasts of the people as the Papal assumption. He must say, and he did so with some regret, that he was afraid that the feeling which had been so loudly and, as he thought, so justly expressed by the country, had not been met with sufficient strength, and in the manner that had been expected, in the Speech from the Throne. He was not anxious to go further on this point; but he was willing to wait, and he hoped the Protestant people of this country would wait, until they saw the Bill that the noble Lord at the head of the Government would propose. He hoped it would be calculated to meet the case. He must tell the noble Lord that if the Bill were not such as had been calculated upon, that feeling which had been already expressed so strongly, would show itself with redoubled energy, and he thought it ought to be so. He told the noble Lord that he might depend upon it that the Protestant people of this country felt themselves in no ordinary situation; they were influenced by no ordinary feelings; they considered that their highest, their best, their holiest interests were at stake. He believed that to a man the Protestant people would show themselves determined to act in a legitimate and constitutional manner; and he hoped, with the blessing of God, that they would be able to maintain those interests that were most dear to them. He trusted, then, to find the noble Lord act in accordance with those professions which were to be found in his letter addressed to the Bishop of Durham. Let the noble Lord be faithful to the infinitely important trust placed in his hands, and the country would go with him. It had been rumoured that some of his colleagues were not agreed with him on this subject; but if he might be permitted to advise the noble Lord, he would say, "Get rid of those colleagues." The country had no desire to part with the noble Lord, but there might be one or two of his colleagues whom the country would not he sorry to part with, if they impeded his views. He could assure the noble Lord that the feeling that now prevailed was not 98 one that could be at all regarded as evanescent. It was one that would show itself again and again, and he trusted that it would not he manifested in vain.
The EARL of ARUNDEL AND SURREY
said, he quite agreed with the hon. Member who had preceded him that it would be better to refrain from any remarks until the Bill of which notice had been given, came regularly before them for discussion; but this he desired to say, that, come from whatever quarter it might, any attack made upon the liberties of the Roman Catholic Church, he in his place in Parliament would to the best of his power oppose. He would do his utmost to repel any such attack. If the measure that was now in preparation should be carried through Parliament—for the opponents of the Catholics were strong, the Catholics themselves wore weak—then, he said, in that case he trusted that the Catholics would show how they could suffer with dignity.
expressed his entire disapprobation of the speech which had just been delivered by the hon. and learned Member for Youghal. That hon. and learned Gentleman enjoyed the deserved reputation of being a great constitutional lawyer, and one who had applied himself much to ecclesiastical law; but notwithstanding his attainments in this respect, he (Mr. Fagan) differed in toto from him in the view which he had taken of this question. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said that he was not a member of the Court, but of the Church, of Rome. This was a distinction which he did not understand, and as a Roman Catholic he repudiated it altogether. The hon. and learned Gentleman had also said that there was a marked distinction between the Roman Catholic Church in England and in Ireland—that the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland was not an endowed Church, and that the Roman Catholic Church in England was endowed. This was the first time that he had beard of the Catholic Church in England being endowed. Neither of the churches were endowed, and this fact was the principal reason which induced him to resist the proposition of the Government, for, as neither Church was endowed, the Government had no right to interfere in their affairs. The hon. and learned Gentleman had also said that the canon law existed in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, but not in the Roman Catholic Church in England. The Catholics of Ireland we governed by an 99 hierarchy, and that hierarchy had never been disturbed; but, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the Roman Catholic hierarchy in England had been abolished, and, consequently, there could be no canon law. The principal object of the re-establishment of the hierarchy in England was to introduce the canon law. The hon. and learned Gentleman had also informed the House that for years past there had been conflicts going on between the Roman Catholic bishops and the secondary clergy; but the cause of those conflicts was to be traced to the circumstance that the clergy were under the control of bishops without any canonical institutions and regulations. It appeared to him that the hon. and learned Gentleman had not made out any case for resisting the re-establishment of the hierarchy in England. He (Mr. Fagan) had been given to understand that the Roman Catholic clergy were to have those rights and privileges conferred upon them which the other clergy enjoyed, and that nothing but the prevailing excitement in the public mind had prevented Archbishop Wiseman from summoning a meeting of the various bishops for that purpose. The hon. Gentleman who had seconded the Address had asked the Roman Catholic Members of the House not to enter upon a discussion of the question upon the present occasion. He, for one, would have been perfectly willing to follow that advice, as he knew the prejudice which existed in the country, and probably in the House, against Roman Catholics; but, whilst the hon. Seconder of the Address gave this pacific advice, he was himself the person to throw the apple of discord among them, so that it became impossible for Roman Catholic Members to pass over the subject in silence. He was not satisfied that the Address should pass without an amendment being proposed. He could not separate the Address from the notice of Motion which had been given by the noble Lord. The noble Lord had expressed his intention to introduce a penal measure, directed against religious liberty; and connecting that notice of Motion with the Address, he could not allow the debate to pass without an expression of opinion on the part of the liberal and Catholic Members of the House. The notice of Motion which the noble Lord had given was totally inconsistent with his oft-repeated declarations that it was no longer possible to refuse the recognition of titles to Roman Catholic dignitaries. He (Mr. Fagan) did not ap- 100 prehend that the measure of the noble Lord would be anything but an impotent conclusion; but at the same time it could not be regarded in any other light than as an attack upon civil and religious liberty. He regretted that the noble Lord, who had devoted a long life to the maintenance of civil and religious liberty, should permit a bigoted outcry to be the foundation for coercive measures. The Roman Catholics as a body denied that the present movement was to be traced to any foreign interference whatever. The Pope, although the sovereign of the Roman States, only claimed a spiritual power in other countries; and it had been admitted over and over by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and also by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, that it was necessary that the spiritual head of the Catholic Church should be independent of all other Powers, on account of the spiritual supremacy which he exercised over the subjects of so many foreign States. He regretted that some strong measure had not been adopted by the Roman Catholic Members of the House to show that they were not consenting parties to the Address.
§ MR. HUME
said, that if a stranger entered the House he would be sure to imagine that they were a set of ecclesiastics met to discuss some Church question. No notice had been taken of any other matter. It appeared to him, from the discussion, and from the difference of opinion expressed by Roman Catholics themselves, that they were not in a position to offer any opinion on what the measure was. He perfectly agreed with the sentiments which had been expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, and he believed that thousands in this country, when they came to reflect on the true state of the question, would wonder how they could have been so led away. He maintained that not one argument used by his hon. and learned Friend, had been met by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, or the Member for East Kent. Nor had any one asserted that he had taken an erroneous view of the question. If he were to judge from the Speech of Her Majesty, no danger would arise from the proposed measure:—I have, at the same time, expressed my earnest desire and firm determination, under God's blessing, to maintain unimpaired the religious liberty which is so justly prized by the people of this country.He took that to be the ground on which 101 the Motion of the noble Lord would be founded. They had 38 bishops and 18,000 clergymen to maintain the faith, besides 14,000 belonging to dissenting institutions; and what ought to be the danger if those men did their duty? He must concur in the opinion of the hon. Member for Maidstone, that there was no necessity for the power of the State being called upon to support the Protestant religion. If it could not be maintained without the power of the State, it must be weak indeed in argument, and its foundations could not be solid. When he referred to the power which the Protestant Church had in this country, to the number of its advocates, and to the amount of its funds—for that was an important point—it did appear to him that the present outcry placed the country in a humiliating position. He would, however, postpone any further observations upon this subject till he had the pleasure of hearing the provisions of the measure which the noble Lord intended to bring forward, being firmly determined, at the same time, to do all that was in his power to resist every measure which savoured of persecution. But he could not believe that the noble Lord, whom he had followed for years as the great advocate and champion of religious liberty—he could not believe that at this time lie would so far sully his character as to introduce any measure which would be of a persecuting nature; and, be it remembered, that any measure of coercion, however trifling it might be, would be a measure of persecution. There were one or two other paragraphs in the Speech, to which he would refer, as well as one or two omissions, of which, he thought, he had good right to complain. And first, he must say, that he observed with regret fully one-third of the Speech was taken up with the affairs of foreign countries. He was afraid that the Members of the Cabinet were occupying their time more with the affairs of foreign countries than with their own; and it would be much better if their time and their talents were more taken up with domestic affairs. There was one expression in the Speech in which he certainly could not agree. It was this—I am much gratified in being able to inform you that the German Confederation and the Government of Denmark are now engaged in fulfilling the stipulations of that treaty, and thereby putting an end to hostilities which at one time appeared full of danger to the peace of Europe.Now, was there any man in England who 102 would tell him that he was satisfied to see Austria in possession of the free town of I Hamburg—a town which had enjoyed its I freedom for more than three centuries—against the protest of its inhabitants. Yet they had allowed Austria, supported by Russia, to do this; and the English Minister, by signing the protocol to which the Speech referred, had confirmed that oppression, and had given force to those united Powers to overwhelm the liberties of Germany, while the protests of Hanover and of Hamburg were held to be of no use or value whatever. He trusted that Her Majesty's Government would, as speedily as possible, lay all the correspondence on this subject before them, that they might be able to judge of the character of the whole transactions. If he were rightly informed, Prussia complained that she had been sacrificed by England to the interests of Austria. He granted that there might be certain portions of the claims of Denmark which deserved our assistance; but, looking at the results—seeing that the Austrians were in possession of Hamburg, and that the liberties of continental Europe were in danger—he could not say that there were any reasons for congratulation upon the subject. There was another subject which had given him more satisfaction—he referred to the paragraph which promised a reform in the administration of justice. Much as he advocated the necessity of a reduction in taxation, he was one of those who considered that the Court of Chancery inflicted heavier taxation than that which was required by the taxation of the country. The amount of the one they knew, but the extent of the oppression of the other was unknown. The amount of property that was sacrificed, the number of individuals who were sacrificed, or who lingered out their miserable lives in the expectation of justice which never came, was beyond all computation. They might learn, if they would, from those offshoots of their empire, the United States, how to deal with this question. They had had the good sense to abolish the Court of Chancery altogether; and that measure promised to be attended with the most beneficial effects. There were other measures, of which ho highly approved, such as a system of registration, by which a transfer of property would be more easily effected. But he regretted that nothing was said on the subject of taxation. They had been led to believe that they were lo find relief from some of their most oppressive 103 taxes; but he found no such hopes held out either by the mover or the seconder of the Address. Then with regard to reform, there was nothing said, though he gave the noble Lord credit for being willing to introduce a measure of reform in the representation of the House, which he said he was prepared to do last Session. It was stated in the Speech that the working classes of the country were well employed. He supposed Her Majesty's Government meant the manufacturing classes, for he could state that that remark did not apply to the agricultural classes. He knew that in the county of Norfolk the average wages of the agricultural labourers were from seven shillings to eight shillings per week; and he believed that in Wilts and Dorset and other counties it was even below that sum. But he admitted that the manufacturing classes were well employed; and he urged that now while they were so, and while there was a lull in political agitation, the House and the Government ought to consider whether they did not owe a measure of justice to those intelligent bodies, the artisans and workmen in these towns, to consider whether such men had not been deprived of the rights which the constitution gave them, and whether the time was not now come when they ought to extend the suffrage to them, and afford them that participation in the control of the affairs of the country which, by the constitution, they were entitled to. Only one-sixth of the male inhabitants of the country elected the Members of the House, which imposed taxation not only upon their own constituents, but upon the remaining five-sixths who were the main sources of the country's wealth—who were most interested in good government, and who, therefore, ought to have a larger share than others in the management of the country, instead of which they had no share at all. Was that justice? Did it become a people who claimed to be the most wise and enlightened on the face of the earth, that they should continue a system which had been condemned in every other part of the world? for there was not a portion of Europe which had not established a wide and liberal system of suffrage, till the brute force of Austria and Russia was brought to bear upon them. He entreated the noble Lord to consider this question. Allusion had been made to difficulties existing in the Cabinet. He, for his part, cared not who the Members of the Cabinet might be, but he wished 104 the noble Lord to redeem the pledges which he gave the country in 1830. On the occasion of bringing forward the Reform Bill, the noble Lord stated, that if that measure did not secure a fair representation of the country, he would bring forward other measures that would do so. Now, he would ask the noble Lord, were they much better than they were before? There was another matter to which he would refer—the Bible monopoly, which he considered was disgraceful to this country. Her Majesty, in answer to the addresses which some time ago were presented to Her, desired Her people to consult their Bibles as their surest safeguard against Popery; while, all the time, Her Majesty, by Her Royal patent, limited the printing of the Bibles to certain individuals and public bodies that were interested in keeping up the price of the Bible. Could anything be more inconsistent than that? Then, again, he wished they had some assurances that the colonial system would be revised. Last year he gave the noble Lord credit for the able, manly, and constitutional speech he had made on the subject of the colonies, and this year they heard nothing whatever of the subject. Why was this? Were the complaints of the colonists less loud, or were they loss founded in justice? Was there a single colony that was not complaining? And yet there was not a word said upon this subject. He consoled himself, however, for this and other omissions with the concluding paragraph in Her Majesty's Speech, which seemed to him to be capable of containing all that he was asking for. Her Majesty said—To combine the progress of improvement with the stability of our institutions, will, I am confident, be your constant care.That was all he asked for. He wished reform to be carried out in a quiet and temperate manner, as he was satisfied that the result would be more beneficial to all parties, and that they would never be required, as in some other countries, to try back in their reform. The Speech went on—We may esteem ourselves fortunate that we can pursue, without disturbance, the course of calm and peaceable amelioration.If that were so, why not extend the suffrage—why not remove the injustice that was now inflicted upon such large numbers of their fellow-men? He trusted that, under these words, the noble Lord meant to 105 bring forward some measure of progress which would meet his expectations. The Speech concluded—We have every cause to be thankful to Almighty God for the measure of tranquility and happiness which has been vouchsafed to us.He also thought they had cause to be thankful, and he trusted that their gratitude would find expression in doing justice to their fellow-subjects, which would have the effect of making them satisfied with the Government, ready to appreciate every valuable measure, and to repudiate and put down everything that was dangerous to the safety of the State. In that case they would not require a standing army of 100,000 men. On this subject he wished Her Majesty would recall to mind the answer of Queen Elizabeth, who, when asked where were her forces to resist the Spanish Armada, answered, that her subjects were her guards; on them she depended, and to them she looked for support. Let Her Majesty act in the same spirit, and the half of the present unnecessary and useless establishments might be disbanded, which would be for the advantage of all classes in the country.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
said, he regretted to have heard one of his hon. Friends from the county of Kent state that he did not wish to get rid of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. Now, he begged to say that he was of opinion that that was not the expression of the general feeling of the country. For his own part he heartily desired to get rid of the noble Lord, as well as the whole of his colleagues. One scabbed sheep spoiled the whole flock, and therefore the sooner they were all of them swept off the Treasury benches the better. He imputed all that had happened in reference to the Papal aggression to those who were, he might say, under the noble Lord's command—he alluded to Earl Minto, the Earl of Clarendon, and others. The noble Lord had talked of his alarm and indignation, and that alarm and indignation had extended to the country at large—but who was the cause of it? Why, the noble Lord himself and his party! Her Majesty's Speech was full of hopes and premises with regard to the condition and prospects of the manufacturing and agricultural interests; but they reminded him of the old saying, that while the grass was growing the cow might starve. Well, he (Colonel Sibthorp) had recently come from an important county, where he had made himself;
106 acquainted with the opinions, feeling, and sufferings of that great and important body—the agricultural interest—the owners, occupiers, and ill-paid tillers of the soil. But there was scarcely a word in the Speech about that suffering interest. The fact was, that the Speech was not the Speech of Her Majesty, but of the Minister, and that Minister one of the Russell family, one whose ancestors had thought everything of agriculture, and encouraged it. But he was sorry that, in their descendants, they had left a miserable remnant. When the Speech should go down into the agricultural districts, it would occasion no disappointment, for they had never entertained hopes of what such a man as the noble Lord would do: they agreed with him (Colonel Sibthorp) that the sooner they could get rid of him the bettor it would be for every interest. With regard to the flourishing state of trade and manufactures, let them go down to the city he had just left, and they would soon find what was thought there of free trade, and of that which he did most strenuously condemn-that fraud upon the public called a "Glass House"—the "Crystal Palace"—that accursed building, erected to encourage the foreigner at the expense of the already grievously-distressed English artisan. Would to God—he had often wished it—that a heavy hailstorm or a visitation of lightning would but a stop to the further progress of that work ! Their property, their wives and families would be at the mercy of pickpockets and whoremongers from every part of the earth. Oh, it would be a beautiful sight! There was a charming building, and there would be the most entertaining recreation provided. This was another specimen of the encouragement of free trade. How much money had been fooled away upon this experiment he did not know; but he apprehended that his right hon. Relation the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not feel very comfortable upon the subject at the present moment. The noble Lord had given notice of a Bill with regard to the Papal aggression; but he (Colonel Sibthorp) anticipated very little good from that. He believed it would prove a mere flash in the pair; that the noble Lord meant to do nothing, and that his intention was to succumb to that party without whose aid he could not retain office another week. There were the humble observations which he had to offer. He would not oppose the Address; but let it "go off." He venerated his Sovereign, 107 but upon Her Ministers he looked with supreme contempt.
§ MR. GRANTLEY BERKELEY
said, that with respect to the paragraph in Her Majesty's Speech respecting the Papal aggression, he should reserve his observations upon that subject until he had heard what was the nature of the measure which Her Majesty's Ministers proposed to introduce. He should then, as a true Protestant, vigilantly watch it, and jealously observe it on account both of Protestant Dissenters and Roman Catholics; for he greatly feared the interests of civil and religious liberty might again come under discussion in that House. Passing from that topic, he came next to a portion of Her Majesty's Speech which was also of vital importance; it was in these words: "The state of the commerce and manufactures of the united kingdom has been such as to afford general employment to the labouring classes." Now, if this were meant to include the agricultural labourers, he (Mr. G. Berkeley) must take upon himself to say that he differed from the assurance it conveyed: for he perfectly well knew that there was a dearth of employment, and the greatest possible distress experienced at this moment throughout the counties of England. The hon. Member who seconded the Address had congratulated them upon the flourishing state of trade, and the prospects of agriculture. Now he (Mr. G. Berkeley) happened to hold in his hand a letter from a great and important county, Suffolk, and from a locality in that county to which he called the attention of the House last Session, when he stated that great distress prevailed therein, and that he believed it was increasing. On that occasion he was met with cries of disbelief from the Ministerial side of the House. But what was the state of the agricultural population in that district now? He spoke of the union of Bosmere and Claydon. It appeared that in 1849 the inmates of the union numbered 267; in 1850, 333; and in 185.1, 480; whilst there were 60 additional applications for admittance to the union house within the last week. He drew the attention of the House to this statement, because it came from a district where, if agriculture were prosperous at all, a good sample of that prosperity would be found. He regretted that, under these circumstances, the Speech of Her Majesty contained no reference to the state of the tenant-farmer—the suffering condition in which he now was, and the oppression to which he was sub- 108 jected through the application to him of the income tax. There could be no doubt that the state of the tenant-farmer did call for the earliest attention of Her Majesty's Government; provided that they did not intend to throw the agricultural interest completely overboard, in the present Session as they did in the past. One other topic to which he would allude was that mentioned by the hon. Member for Montrose—namely, the situation of the colonies. He trusted, before the Session was over, that that also would come under the consideration of the House; for he believed there was not a class of Her Majesty's subjects who had borne so much wrong, and that so patiently, as Her Majesty's subjects in the colonies.
§ MR. GRATTAN
said, the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Address, congratulated the people of the country upon the improved prospect of agriculture and manufactures. Now he happened to live in Ireland in a manufacturing district, and the only improvement that had taken place in that branch of industry, was the building of a chimney 150 feet high, which would vitiate and corrupt the air of the neighbourhood. The improvement in agriculture consisted in the depression of his tenants and those of other proprietors. Thousands of poor were constantly leaving their native land; his servants, his tenants, his very maid-servants, had left the country: in fact, nobody who had either talent, beauty, or ability, would stay at home. In the Cellbridge Union the number of paupers was increased from 1,500 to 2,400, and there was a general demand for the increase of workhouse accommodation for the helpless and utterly indigent, which vastly increased the rates. With such a state of things they had no great reason to congratulate the united kingdom upon its growing prosperity. He agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, that if such a Bill as that proposed to be introduced were passed, that it would be a disgraceful proceeding. He was at a loss to understand how a nation could be so confused and shaken of its wisdom, as to believe that a great body of people would tamely submit to be prevented from the free choice of their religion—to think that the Roman Catholics could be scattered about like chaff as they pleased. It was said that Roman Catholics were tolerated; and one Gentleman, a Member of that House, recently used that phrase, and this additional one, that the 109 Roman Catholics had better take care that they were not driven out of Ireland. The Roman Catholics, and he amongst the number, would rather give up all their property, and lose their lives, than that the Bill should be extended to Ireland. Thank God the people of Ireland had outgrown chicanery, and exhibited no want of Christianity or of religion. They would never submit to penal laws, and this was not the age for an experiment such as that proposed upon their intellect or passions. The Act of 1829 was intended as a settlement of a great question, and he saw no reason why they should move in a retrograde direction. He could only characterise the letter of the noble Lord at the head of the Government as an after-dinner effusion. He should like to know how any man had any right to wantonly criticise and abuse the religion of his neighbour as the noble Lord had done. Could they with any decency tell the Catholics of Ireland, when they came over to the great Exhibition, that they were idolaters, and deserved to be stigmatised and reprobated? The noble Lord in his letter denounced the Catholic rites as mummeries of superstition—that was not a charge against English, Irish, or Scottish Catholics only, but against Catholics throughout the world. When the noble Lord talked of Catholicism contracting the mind and enslaving the soul, he ought to have called to mind the productions of Fenelon, Metastasio, and an hundred other great writers who belonged to the Catholic Church. Was it in their works that such doctrines could be found? Why, he had always thought that the great complaint was that the Catholic religion extended the mind, and prevented it, therefore, from being enslaved. It was impossible that it could enslave the soul, because the soul was an essence. The noble Marquess who moved the Address alluded to civil and religious liberty; but of what use was such allusion, if they undermined that liberty by their acts—if they sent a firebrand from one end of the kingdom to the other? He would ask whether Roman Catholics did not live in peace, comfort, and happiness before this agitation arose? Were they to have that peace now destroyed? If the people were to be continually insulted by letters and penal laws, the Government could never expect peace in the country, and, for his own part, be hoped in God, while such things lasted, they never would and never should. On Friday, the 110 7th February, the noble Lord at the head of the Government intended to bring in a Bill to prevent the assumption of certain ecclesiastical titles in respect of places in the united kingdom. The hon. Member would give the noble Lord notice, that he would move that the words "united kingdom" be erased from the Bill, and the I words "England and Scotland," inserted in their place; and he would also express his determination to divide the House on every stage of the Bill, if necessary, for that purpose.
§ MR. BANKES
said, that, before the debate concluded, there were passages of Her Majesty's Speech upon which the representatives of the agricultural interests of the kingdom must feel it to be their duty to make some remarks. In respect to the great subject of excitement at the present moment throughout the united kingdom, the House had been told that, on Friday next, a Bill was to be introduced which was to have particular reference to that question. He, for his own part, was willing to reserve his opinion until then. But he, for one, could not blame the head of the Government for bringing the subject prominently forward for discussion, with a view to early legislation, which he thought was so necessary in reference to that important subject. He would offer no remarks in opposition to the hon. Member who had last spoken; but he must be allowed to toll him, that this was not a question between Catholic and Protestant, because some of the most eminent of the Roman Catholic Peers had taken exactly the same view which the noble Lord at the head of the Government had taken. We had been before this aware of the respected names of the Duke of Norfolk and Lord Beaumont.; and if the hon. Gentleman had been with him in another place that evening, he would have heard another Roman Catholic Peer, with great eloquence and great effect, taking the same side of the question. This question he (Mr. Bankes) admitted, when applied to Ireland, must be viewed as having the effect of an ex post facto law. But still it was not one in which it could fairly be viewed as Protestant arrayed against Catholic. He would feel a difficulty in voting upon this question, especially as regarded Ireland, if he thought it could only be viewed as Protestant against Catholic; but conscious that such was not the position in which the matter was placed, he would have no difficulty in taking that part 111 that was conformable to the opinions of many respectable Catholics in this country and in Ireland. He now wished to allude to another subject, and to afford to the noble Lord an opportunity of explaining what the Government intended to do in respect to that portion of the community which he (Mr. Bankes) more particularly represented, and in respect to whom the noble Lord had a second time advised Her Majesty to refer, as being still distressed, and of being still deserving of the earnest attention of the House. It was observable that when the subject of agricultural distress was last mentioned by Her Majesty, there were many who took exception to the mode in which that distress was referred to; for Her Majesty was then advised to state that with regret she heard of complaints from the agricultural portion of Her Majesty's subjects. It was thought by some that the advice was not very good or kind which induced Her Majesty, at a time when it was known that the distress was real and not frivolous, to speak no otherwise than in those terms to which he had alluded. But he gave the Government credit in then believing that this distress was only of a temporary character, and that, perhaps, it was magnified by the fears, rather than the real feelings, of that portion of Her Majesty's people. But, after a lapse of twelve months, he again listened to a Royal Speech from the Throne, and heard that same distress alluded to, and no longer passed over in the expression of words that seemed somewhat contemptuous. That distress was spoken of now as real, though the noble Lord did not think it necessary, by the adoption of any measure, to assuage it. He asked the noble Lord to put himself in the position of those who for more than twelve months had been under the pressure of difficulties and distresses, and then, when we were again commencing another career of twelve months, with the same appearance of difficulties and of distress, to say whether he was content to sit on the seat which he now occupied, and to put off those whose interests were thus compromised with no better assurance than his hopes, which it appeared were founded solely on the prosperity of other classes. It was not to be doubted that the prosperity of other classes in the community was very intimately connected with our own; but that connexion was not of the same intimate character as it was under the influence of those laws 112 which that House had thought fit to abrogate. It was, then, the inevitable consequence of the prosperity of other classes of the community that the agricultural interest should flourish also. The prosperity of the manufacturing interest would, no doubt, operate upon those who were to supply them with their food; but if that supply of food, instead of being drawn from the labourers of our own country, as under former laws, was derived from foreigners, the case became widely different, and the hope could not be so reasonably indulged that the prosperity of the manufacturing classes would lead soon, or even ultimately, to that of the agricultural class. The paragraphs in Her Majesty's Speech relative to agricultural distress were as follows:—I have to lament, however, the difficulties which are still felt by that important body among my people who are owners and occupiers of land. But it is my confident hope that the prosperous condition of other classes of my subjects will have a favourable effect in diminishing those difficulties, and promoting the interests of agriculture.Now no representative of the agricultural interest ever denied that the prosperity of the one class was connected with the other. What they said was, that the connexion between agriculture and commerce was now no longer on the same footing on which it stood before the corn laws were repealed. The noble Lord at the head of the Government would not complain of his (Mr. Bankes) now obtruding the complaints of those classes, which the noble Lord himself felt the necessity of introducing into Her Majesty's Speech a second time after the lapse of twelve months, during which every one of the prophecies of Her Majesty Ministers had failed—every one of those convictions on which they ventured to tell the House that they should rest their hopes and confidence on the measures of Government. The agricultural Members were content, perhaps too much so, to listen to those prophecies, if not with hope, at least with patience. They were told last year, that the country was in an experimental condition, and that they had had no right to come to conclusions before the experiment had been fully tested. They were obliged to satisfy those whom they represented as well as they could; they tested, he thought not with any unreasonable pertinacity, the feelings of the House on some fitting occasions, and finding that they were in a minority they did not obstruct the course of business, 113 but, indeed throughout the whole Session, subjected themselves to some degree of obloquy as being inattentive to those interests that they were sent to that House more peculiarly to watch over. They did not entertain the hopes which Her Majesty's Ministers cherished, but they gave them credit for themselves believing that they had reasons for that confidence, and waited patiently for the result. That result was another Speech from Her Majesty, admitting in stronger terms, not the distress, but, the difficulties of the agricultural interest. He asked the Government whether they thought it becoming in them to wait another twelve months to see whether those difficulties would become distresses; and if they should, whether they would wait another twelve months then to see whether those difficulties and distresses would become ruin. In some parts of the kingdom he believed that it was not far from that at present. The harvest had been very unequal through the kingdom; in the particular part of the kingdom which he represented, he believed the harvest was by no means a bad one, and those engaged in agriculture were not then in a state of utter ruin, nor were the labourers in a very bad condition; but were they to wait till utter ruin befell the yeomanry and labourers? Those classes were in the highest degree desponding and alarmed, and there was nothing in the Speech now delivered which tended to lessen that feeling. He had no doubt that Her Majesty's Government did regret these difficulties; he believed there was no warmer friend to the agricultural interest than the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and that he would be most happy if it were in his power to give that fixed duty which he once proposed, and which he somewhat unjustly accused Members on that side of the House of rejecting. Depend upon it that the time was not far distant when we must have it, for the agricultural interest were now in that condition that some relief must be afforded to them, and he did not know how it could be so effectually afforded in any other way as by an import duty. He called upon the noble Lord to tell them what was the remedy that he was prepared to offer to the agricultural interest. There was a surplus in the revenue: all other classes were said to be prosperous. This important interest is acknowledged to be in depression and distress—from this surplus then, if other remedies were not permitted, he claimed relief, and 114 he assured the noble Lord that from his hands it would be gratefully received.
§ LORD. J. RUSSELL
Mr. Speaker, I am rejoiced to find that we are not likely to have a division on the question of the Address, and that that Address is likely to be passed by the House, if not unanimously, at least with very general consent, and without any Amendment, being proposed. I will, however, endeavour to address myself to the various topics which have been touched upon by hon. Gentlemen who have spoken, and I will take the order in which the topics have been mentioned in the Queen's Speech for the sake of convenience. My hon. Friend the Member for Montrose began by regretting that it had been thought necessary to advise Her Majesty to make so much reference to our relations with foreign Powers. With reference to the principal topic that is there mentioned, it cannot be unknown to us that the hostilities between Denmark and Germany that have for some time been carried on in Schleswig-Holstein were of the greatest importance, not only as threatening danger to the peace of Europe, but as also interfering materially with the commerce of this country; and I cannot think that my hon. Friend has to learn that those differences that have subsisted are in fair course of adjustment, and that at least the danger of hostility which hung over us is likely to be averted. I cannot but rejoice myself that such should be the case, and I hope that the endeavours that were made by my noble Friend near mo to represent to the contending parties-—to the one not to enter into hostilities or to continue those hostilities, and to the other, to adopt measures of conciliation, have not been abortive, and that the danger of hostilities which so long hung over us is likely to be removed. But my hon. Friend went on to say that this country should not have permitted Austria to undertake certain measures—should not have allowed her to occupy Hamburg with her troops, and to act in a manner contrary to the freedom of Europe. I really think that complaint is most inconsistent with the former complaint. The first complaint was, that Her Majesty's Government had interfered between foreign Powers; but if Her Majesty's Ministers had listened to the latter complaint, we should now have been engaged in a war with some of the principal Powers in Europe. Our course has not agreed with either of these proposals; we have used our influence in the manner 115 which we thought might tend to preserve the peace of Europe, both in these and in other cases, and very important they were. With respect to the interests of the various States of Germany, we have not thought it our duty to interfere in any way; but at the same time we cannot but feel that the settlement of the affairs of Germany, as being the maintenance of a great Power in the centre of Europe, and the maintenance of harmony there, is of the utmost importance; and we do hope that while that great empire maintains its power, the various States that form the confederacy may not only preserve those constitutional liberties which they have now held for a long period of years, but that their institutions may be rendered still more favourable to liberty. Such is our wish and our prayer for the welfare of Germany; but we do not consider ourselves bound to interfere in the concerns of 40,000,000 of people. We feel satisfied that they will obtain that freedom and power to govern themselves which they seek. The next topic to which I shall advert is that in respect to which the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down has spoken; but though I agree in the sympathy which he has expressed for the agricultural interest, and have advised Her Majesty to use those expressions to which he has adverted, I fear I must widely differ in the conclusions to which he has come. Sir, I hold so far with his views, but I am afraid it is but a little way, that I should have wished the transition with respect to the corn laws, the transition from an extremely vigorous and exclusive system to one of complete freedom of imports, had been less abrupt than it is. I believe, myself, that if in 1840 or 1841 this House had adopted either the measure which we proposed then, or a measure similar to that which we adopted in 1846, that either of those measures continuing the duty for some years would have prepared the agricultural interest for that complete free trade which now subsists. Sir, I certainly feel for the difficulties and distresses under which the agricultural interest now suffers, for it is an interest which must always be one of the main sources of the prosperity or adversity of the country; but while I say thus much I should be deceiving the hon. and learned Gentleman if I were to say that I think that the adoption of these measures in 1840 or 1841 would have laid the foundation of a system of permanent duties on agricultural produce. I believe 116 that the progress of opinion, and the increase of the commercial and manufacturing classes, would have led, perhaps before this time, to some such law as we now have. But, be that as it may, my opinion decidedly is, that, with respect to corn, you have adopted a system which is consonant with the great interests of the country, which tends to the material happiness of the country, and that will add to its political and moral tranquillity. I believe that if, instead of proposing in 1846 the abrogation of the corn laws, the Government of that day had endeavoured to maintain to the last hour the continuance of these laws, that they would have failed in that object, and that whatever advantage the agricultural interest might derive, or might be supposed to derive, from the system which then prevailed, they would have failed to retain, but in losing it they would likewise have lost to the Government and the Parliament of this country a great portion of the attachment of the nation; and that it have would have been not only a loss of the corn laws to the agricultural interest, but that it would also have been a loss to the authorities of this country of much of that respect and regard which they ought to possess. I therefore cannot think that we have adopted a plan which is at variance with the interests of the country. I have never pretended to say—though others thought that they had reason sufficient, which certainly I never thought that I had, to say—that a particular price of wheat would prevail at a particular month or year. There always seemed to me to be too many circumstances, too many elements, to, enter into that question of price for anybody even to pretend to perceive, certainly for some years to come, what would be the particular price of any article. I have never founded the course which I have taken on any other consideration than this —that if there is a great manufacturing and a great commercial population in a very thriving condition, and a population accustomed to consume great quantities of food, and if they can obtain it, and more especially meat and the more costly articles of food, that those who are close at hand, those who are cultivating the soil as the next neighbours, and in the immediate vicinity of those who make this demand, cannot fail ultimately to prosper from the continuance of that prosperity. I cannot think that the agricultural interest is totally to depend, as I think the corn laws induced 117 them to depend, chiefly on the immediate price of wheat in any particular month or any particular year. It may be perhaps that the continuance of these laws induced the farmers of this country, and the owners of land in this country, and especially in particular parts of it, to look too much to the wheat crop as the source of their remuneration. Now these great changes in the laws cannot fail to be accompanied by great changes in habits and manners; and in the adaptation of different soils and climates, no doubt great changes will take place with respect to agriculture; but it is impossible not to see, as my hon. Friend who has seconded the Address to-night has shown you, that with this large population well employed, you would increase the demand for meat. My hon. Friend has told you that, at Glasgow I think it was, some 30,000 more oxen went to market in one year, than had gone one or two years before. That is merely a sample, which will show you that agricultural productions must be in increased demand, if you can by your laws, or rather by the removal of laws of prohibition and monopoly, obtain a satisfactory and prosperous state of the manufacturing and commercial interest. The hon. and learned Gentleman talks of this being the second year in which the difficulties of the landed interest have been mentioned. But, if I am not mistaken, in 1836, and again in 1837, there was a low price of wheat—a price as low as the prices that have lately prevailed—and I think that on both those occasions mention was made in the Speech, or immediately afterwards, of the distress of the agricultural interest. Therefore I cannot believe that any law you could pass, or any such measure as the hon. and learned Gentleman hinted at, would secure the agricultural interest from prices being occasionally too low to be remunerative. But there are two circumstances which at the present time influence prices. It has always happened that when there has been a great dearth of any article, and when there have been very high prices at particular times, that those high prices have always caused a very increased production, and that increased production has again produced cheapness. Cheapness has again produced increased demand, and the price has thus again returned to something like its usual rate. Now in this country, in 1847, we were suffering very much, and France was likewise suffering from a very high price of food; although we had a good harvest in 118 this country, in France the harvest was extremely deficient; and we know, both from the accounts of the French wheat and flour that came to this country, and from the complaints of the farmers, that they with their protective system were in a state of great and unexampled depression. But the system that we have adopted must be considered as a whole. It must be considered as affecting very many articles of manufactures, and many articles of agriculture; and Parliament must he prepared to decide, if the question should be brought before them, whether that system is founded on sound principles or not. I remember some quarter of a century ago, when Mr. Huskisson was introducing practically, and therefore somewhat timidly, changes with respect to certain articles of manufactures, he took the article of gloves, and for a long while nothing was more frequent in this House than complaints that the manufacturers of gloves could not make gloves so good or so cheap as the French manufacturers; that they must be totally ruined, and we were implored to wear bad gloves, and dear gloves, in order to maintain the manufacturers of Yeovil and other places. Mr. Huskisson did not listen to these complaints; and it happened, fortunately enough, that the glove interest was not so powerful an interest as to induce this House to depart from its resolution. Well, no doubt there was dissatisfaction for a time. There is no reason to suspect that the complaints then made were ill-founded; but what do I hear at the present day, some twenty-five years after that law came into effect? Why, I hear from trustworthy persons, from persons resident in that part of the country, that the manufacture never was so flourishing as now at Yeovil; that the country people eight or ten miles round are asked to furnish labourers and members of their families to be employed in the glove trade; and that these gloves that we were told could not be made as good or as cheap as the French gloves, are now exported to France, and find a ready sale in that country. This may be a small example; but I hope it may be some comfort to the hon. and learned Gentleman, and some assurance that the system which we have adopted is founded on sound principles, and is one to which we shall adhere. I certainly cannot hold out to the hon. and learned Gentleman any expectation that a 5s. duty is likely to be established either on the proposition of this or any 119 other Government. I am quite sure, putting aside any opinions of the Members of the present Government, that any Members of a Government sitting on these benches, when they came to investigate the question—when they came to inquire into the opinions and dispositions of the people of this country—would shrink from imposing any duty on the import of corn. I do not believe that a 5s. duty would be valued by the farmers, who still cling to protection, in any other way than that it was a symptom of a return to a system of protection, and that a larger duty or a sliding scale would therefore be imposed. But that very expectation on the part of the friends of protection would alarm all those who have enjoyed the benefits of the present system, and I must say that every account which I hear (although it refers to the dissatisfaction among the occupiers of land) shows that in the agricultural districts, as well as in the manufacturing districts, the great mass of the labouring people never had such command over the necessaries of life as they have now. From some calculations at which I was looking to-day, I find that those who had 12s. a week, and now have 10s., with their 12s. could command sixteen loaves weekly, and with their 10s. they can command twenty-four loaves; that those who had 10s. formerly, and now have 8s., with their 10s. could command thirteen loaves weekly, and that they can now command nineteen. This I believe to be a very true sample of what is the general state of the labouring population of this country. There are exceptions in certain counties, but I believe that such is the general state of the country. I believe that the poor now obtain a greater quantity of bread, and that they have at the same time a greater remainder from their wages with which to purchase sugar at the diminished price, and to purchase various other articles which are comforts of life, and "which they could not obtain before. I believe that many of the labouring families now have fresh meat, which for many years scarcely was at their table. If this is the case, will the hon. and learned Member really consider what the Government would have to do who said to the great mass of the people of this country, "You are now in the enjoyment of a larger command over the necessaries and comforts of life than you ever had before, but the system is entirely wrong, and you must revert to another system, under 120 which your privations were great." What chance would that Government have, I will not say of carrying such a measure, but of carrying with them the convictions and esteem of the people, even if they had success in carrying such a measure through Parliament? I believe, Sir, although the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman has induced me to go into these illustrations, that a great part of those who were favourable to protection, although they may not have changed their opinions, though they think that the system of protection was a wise one for this country, have come to the opinion that it would not be wise in any Government to attempt to revert to that system. I pass now to another question, upon which a great part of this debate has turned, and upon which there has been much discussion in the country for the last few months. And in doing so I must, of course, refer to the opinions of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, who began this debate, and who blamed the Government, and blamed me more especially, for the part that I had taken. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that he approached this question with great pain, and that it was not merely from compliance with custom that he used these words, but that he really felt great pain on this subject. Now, allow me to suggest to the hon. and learned Gentleman that I think his pain would be diminished if he would not fall into that way of supposing that some mean motives have always actuated parties, and the leaders of parties, in this country; and if he would admit that, though they may differ in opinion, and may be utterly mistaken, they may have somewhat higher motives for their conduct than he at present seems willing to ascribe to them. It really must be painful to be thinking that none but very low motives actuate public men; and that whether the country is governed by men of one party or another, a mean jealousy or a hope of fleeting popularity guides them; and that they have no other or better motives for the course which they pursue. It appears, according to the hon. and learned Gentleman's statement, that when Sir Robert Peel proposed to relieve the Roman Catholics from their disabilities, that a great jealousy immediately arose on the part of those who had been always friendly to that measure. Now, that is a gratuitous assumption on the part of the hon. and learned Gentleman. The fact is, that we 121 gave at that time the utmost support to that eminent statesman now deceased, who was taking a course which we thought greatly for the benefit of this country, and he expressed his grateful sense of the support which he received from us, I remember, during one of the debates on that measure, some Member of this House taunting others for having changed their opinions, and I said that I hoped during the whole of the discussions that took place on the Bill—the Bill of 1829, there would be none of those reproaches for change of opinion which the Members who had spoken seemed to be inclined to indulge in. When we saw that which we had always thought a great benefit to the country proposed, and that which we thought necessary for the peace of Ireland about to be accomplished, our course was not one dictated by jealousy that it was not proposed by ourselves. We did eel claim credit for any extraordinary pitch of heroic virtue, but we had that feeling that we were anxious for the welfare of the country, and we were glad to see it proposed. So with respect to that letter which I wrote to the Bishop of Durham, it was not to make political capital that I wrote that letter, but because I entertained the sentiments that I then expressed; and, rightly or wrongly, I could not refrain from giving expression to them, or from giving publicity to those expressions. Well, then, perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman may in future save himself some of that pain which he has felt, if lie will take a rather more charitable view of others, and thus he will not expose himself to the retort which I have sometimes been accustomed to make to those who throw out these reproaches, namely, an observation that was made by the great Prince of Condé when he read some pamphlets that had been written against himself and tin. Cardinal de Retz. He said, "These gentlemen make us act as they would themselves act if they were in our places." Well, now, Sir, with respect to that question, which every one must admit has occupied the attention of the public during the last three months to a very great degree, I must say that I cannot at all take the view which the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield takes of it, and which I have no doubt that he most sincerely takes, that this was a mere use of a title—that it was a matter of perfect indifference—and that it might have been left unnoticed. I own I do not agree with him that it implies any 122 ignorance of history that I should have taken a different view. On the contrary, I consider that history teaches that whatever may be the opinions of the Roman Catholics in different countries, that the Court of Rome—properly distinguished from the Church of Rome by the hon. and learned Gentleman that, I say. the Court of Rome has for ever watched opportunities of making aggressions, and of making aggressions not on the spiritual conscience, but on the temporal interests of the kingdoms with which it was concerned. This history teaches, and I do find that some of the greatest friends of liberty—Sir John Eliot (from whom the Earl of St. Germans is descended), Pym, Hampden. Lord Somers, and John Locke—all of these men, friends of liberty as they were, bad a great distrust of Papal assumption and of Papal aggression. Well, Sir, what was the condition of the Roman Catholics in this country? For it has been represented as if we, the Protestants of this country, and I among the foremost of them, were all suddenly seized with a rage for persecution, and could not refrain from raising a cry of bigotry and tyranny against our Roman Catholic fellow-men. Now, what is the true state of the case? In 1791, the priests of the Roman Catholic religion and the Roman Catholics were allowed complete freedom in the exercise of their religion, in 1829, they obtained complete freedom to sit in Parliament, and have all civil employments, with trifling exceptions. Since that, year, on various occasions, alterations have been made, and innovations introduced, with respect to our laws, favourable to the Roman Catholics. With respect to the actual enjoyment of the privileges granted in 1829, the present Government, at least, cannot be blamed by the Roman Catholics; for, whether in the Queen's household or the civil administration, or on the bench of justice, the talents of the Roman Catholics have been acknowledged and admitted as fully as those of any Protestants, or of any persons holding the opinions of the Established Church, and having offices of civil employment. At this moment, of the three chief judges of the courts of law in Ireland, two are Roman Catholic. With respect to other instances, we have been blamed rather for giving to Roman Catholics precedence and titles which Gentlemen think they were not entitled to. One instance has been cited by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, I which certainly occurred, but of which, till 123 lately, I did not know the history, namely, that, in the Lord Chamberlain's department, it was stated that the Roman Catholic Primate and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin had precedence at the entrée at the Castle; but this was found to be the act of a subordinate in the Lord Chamberlain's department, and it was entered in the Gazette quite unusually, and during the hurry of Her Majesty's visit; and I am not prepared to defend the giving to Roman Catholics honours to which they were not entitled. With regard to other cases, I am prepared to avow and to defend the various instances in which Roman Catholics have received more honour and more favour than some Gentlemen consider they could fairly claim. But what I am contending for now is, that there was really no reason to complain, on the part of the Roman Catholics. With the full and free exercise of their religion—with all the civil privileges they enjoy quite as much as Protestants—what right have they to complain of their situation? Well, it is in the midst of these occurrences, there having been vicars-apostolic in this country for 300 years—having had vicars-apostolic, and nothing but vicars-apostolic, during the reign of James II., when every one of the principal councillors of the King was a Roman Catholic; the feeling seized the Court of Rome to issue a sort of edict, saying that this country was to be divided into an archbishopric and bishoprics. And the chief person created by these orders an archbishop—and Archbishop of Westminster, of all other places!—in his letters immediately proclaimed to all the people of this country, "We govern, and shall continue to govern, the counties of Middlesex, Essex, and Hertfordshire!" Sir, was that a spiritual change? "The counties of Essex and Hertfordshire!" I see the hon. Gentlemen the Representatives of these counties opposite to me. Were these counties merely bodies of Roman Catholics? It must be—indeed, the whole wording and construction of the documents appeared to be a pretension to rule those counties, and all the counties of England, under the whole sway of this new hierarchy of bishops. I might have been mistaken in this, but there was a person of great eminence, of great learning, of great talents, whom we all have to deplore as having ever left the Protestant Church and joined the Church of Rome—I mean Mr. Newman. And Mr. Newman said 124 there was scarcely ever an instance that had happened before of a nation which had entirely abandoned the Church of Rome returning again to its communion; but he was happy to say that that example had occurred in England, and he said that the English people had now returned in obedience to the Holy See. Why, what does that mean? If the Queen had come down to Parliament, as Queen Mary came to Parliament, and had declared that the time was come when the nation should return to the faith and to the obedience of the See of Rome, and the House of Lords and the House of Commons concurred with Her Majesty, and had passed an Act for that purpose, there could hardly have been a declaration going further than the declaration of Mr. Newman must be understood to mean. But beyond this, the usual organs in this country and in France, not of the Roman Catholic party, but of the party of ultramontane Roman Catholics—their organs proclaimed that this was an act of great significance, not merely for one archbishop and twelve bishops to be in England, but to take the place of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, and all the existing bishops in England. I say it did appear to me that we could not pass in silence over such a pretension. Now I ask the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, if it had been passed over in silence by the people of England, whether we should not have had some other step immediately following? We can easily imagine that step. It is not necessary to state what it would be now. But I believe that the opinion which has been given so generally, nearly so universally, on the part of the Church of England, and on the part of the great majority of Protestant Dissenters, I believe it will have convinced not only the Roman Catholics in England, who I really believe wish no such step to be taken, but also will have convinced the Court of Rome that this country of England is clearly not a Roman Catholic but a Protestant country, and that, at all events, in fact, however erroneous Protestantism may be—the great body of the people of England are Protestants. Well, if such be the case, and such be the effect of the Address now proposed to be passed, by this declaration of itself we shall have saved ourselves from many attempts of the Court of Rome that would lead to an interference with the independence of this country. But I said that the Roman Catholics in 125 England, generally, did not wish this step to be taken. In looking at the Papal documents, I always find that the vicars-apostolic are put forward, and that the vicars-apostolic wished to be bishops with titles taken from sees in this country; and it appeared that certain advantages, certain powers over endowments, and certain privileges which do not belong to vicars-apostolic would have belonged to them if they could establish themselves over the Roman Catholics as bishops in these sees—a very good reason why the vicars-apostolic should wish to claim those titles. But I believe that, generally speaking, the lay Roman Catholics of this country, although when the measure was taken they could hardly repudiate it—they in general neither wish nor approve of it at the present time. I have been assured so, not by Protestants, but by Roman Catholics and Roman Catholic priests; and I believe that we stand now, at all events, in a position in which we can take measures which not only may be satisfactory to the Protestants, but which will be satisfactory to the loyal Roman Catholics who wish to preserve their allegiance to the Crown undiminished and unimpaired, and who dread the prevalence of ultramontane doctrines, which in every country in Europe have been formidable to Roman Catholics who have any regard for freedom and independence. Well, Sir, such, I believe, then, is the cause of the strong fooling engendered and excited in tin's country, and such, I believe, is the present opinion of Protestants as well as Roman Catholics. The hon. Gentleman the Member for East Kent has warned me that in dealing with this subject I should beware of the very strong sentiments which are entertained upon it, and that I should not fail short of the expectations of the people of this country. Now, Sir, I am ready to state that I shall be prepared to propose measures as strong as my own convictions lead me to consider necessary. I shall not yield to any one in that respect, and I shall not shrink from performing any part that I think right. But I cannot, on the other hand, introduce measures which I think at all go beyond the occasion, or which would in any way trench on what I think due to the religious liberty of all classes of Her Majesty's subjects. I shall endeavour to meet the present emergency. I shall not deem it necessary', on this occasion, to say more on this topic than that I consider the present authority possessed by Parliament is fully sufficient to 126 deal with the whole of these transactions, and the questions arising out of them. I believe that the specific measure I shall on a future day propose for the adoption of this House, will be found to tend to the establishment of harmony and good feeling among all the various classes and professions of Christians in this country. But, Sir, I shall not attempt to go beyond what is needed. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick has said that I have grossly insulted the faith of the Roman Catholics. Now, I beg, Sir, to deny that I ever have insulted the faith of Roman Catholics. I did make observations which I thought justified with respect to a party of the Church to which I belong. I do not think, whether those observations were right or wrong, that I am to be precluded from making any remarks which I think just with respect to a part of my own Church, because Roman Catholics may say that these observations are applicable to them. It is for them to decide whether they think those observations to be applicable to them. It is sufficient for me to say that I applied them to those who belonged to my own Church, and I did not speak in manner or words any stronger than the bishop of the diocese in which I reside. With respect to the present condition of this grave question, I shall be prepared to state on Friday next what that condition appears to us to be, and what is the nature of the remedies wherewith we shall propose to meet it. That measure will be general in its application to the whole united kingdom. I know it has been doubted whether, after what has taken place, this would be so. I know it has been surmised that one portion of the united kingdom would be excluded from it. But such is not the fact. It never has been in the contemplation of Government to observe any such limitation. We have never doubted that the best security against such aggressions as have been attempted was to be found in the loyal and religious feeling of the whole community of the united kingdom; and that Parliament would feel it to be its imperative duty to provide for the protection and requirements of those principles of civil and religious liberty which are so happily established among us; and I believe, if there is anything which at Rome they disapprove, it is that very fact of the civil and religious liberty of this country. It is that of winch they disapprove; it is that which they see hero that they most 127 loathe to endure. I confess I was at a loss to understand why, when the position of the Roman Catholics in this country was so advantageous as I have stated it to be, and as I think it cannot be denied to have been—why the Court of Home should have taken this course. I should be the last person to attribute it to any personal ill-will towards this country on the part of the Court of Borne. I stated, speaking last year of the revolution by which the Sovereign of the Roman States was overthrown, that I lamented that a man of such benevolent intentions should have had the affliction of seeing his Minister assassinated as he was passing from the Legislative Council, and obliged himself to leave the seat of his Government. I really felt compassion at such a result. I believe that he has not entertained any ill-will towards this country. But I must own that the difficulty I had felt to account for the part he had subsequently adopted in reference to this country was, I think, a little lessened, and in some degree explained, by a letter afterwards addressed to myself by a very eminent Roman Catholic nobleman, and a person better qualified than most men in England to speak with authority on such a matter. I allude, Sir, to the Earl of Shrewsbury. In one passage of the letter he says—"There is, I believe, a party in Rome who are the declared enemies of England, and that party is all-powerful in the councils of the Roman Court." This being the sentiment of so high and qualified an authority, goes far to explain the difficulty which I have stated at first had arisen in my mind to account for the proceedings of the Pope. I trust that these feelings of ill-will, and the designs to which they have led, will now be obviated. But I do trust, whatever may be the case, and however much we may have to complain of in the present posture of the affairs we are now called upon to consider—I do trust, I say, that whatever may be the wrongs we have justly to complain of in this matter—and I feel it right at once to declare this conviction—that Parliament will not listen to what I hold to be at once unwise and almost impossible; namely, the proposition that has been mooted by a certain party in this country for the arrangement of these affairs by such a treaty as they denominate a "concordat." I am firmly persuaded that we have already, in our own public feeling, our own polity, our own public discussion, and in the existing 128 law and authority of Parliament, sufficient to protect the integrity of that civil and religious freedom that all classes of Her Majesty's subjects are so earnest to maintain against all aggressions of this kind that may be attempted upon them. After all that has arisen to call forth the expression of that feeling, it is upon that feeling that I rely with the greatest confidence. It is on the attachment of the people to those institutions, on their deep and earnest feeling for all that regards their welfare and integrity, that I look for the surest protection of this kingdom from the machinations and aggressions of the Court of Rome, or of any other foreign Power, spiritual or temporal, whatever.
§ MR. DISRAELI
In the disposition of the House not to offer any amendment to the Address, I should not have ventured to trouble the House at all, had I not feared that my silence might, perhaps, be considered as assenting to those views which the noble Lord has taken of public affairs. I think the Government are fully authorised in calling upon the House to congratulate Her Majesty upon the discontinuance of hostile operations in Schleswig-Holstein, not merely because, as the noble Lord has stated, peace has been preserved, or even because a vexatious interference with commerce has been removed, but because, as the House will always do well to recollect, we are bound by treaty to interfere in the affairs of that country, and therefore we ought to congratulate ourselves that a duty is probably now fulfilled which might, under other circumstances, have led to consequences very serious to this country. Sir, I come now to the observations made by the noble Lord on that part of the Royal Speech which refers to the difficulties which prevail among an important body among Her Majesty's subjects. Sir, the noble Lord, when he addressed us, and when he admitted the extreme difficulties now experienced by that important class—the agricultural body—the noble Lord seemed to me to be offering almost an apology to the House for not proposing that fixed duty which my hon. Friend near me somewhat unexpectedly introduced into the discussion. But while the noble Lord deplored the distress which he did not foresee, and the continuance of which he acknowledges surprises him, I am really astonished that it did not occur to the noble Lord and his colleagues to make at least this inquiry—to ask themselves how 129 it is that a body of men distinguished by so much industry, so much energy, and so much enterprise as the British farmers—for certainly no one can deny that they have succeeded in producing from the soil a greater quantity of produce than any farmers in any other country have—I am surprised that the noble Lord and his colleagues, in some of those councils in which probably they have pondered over the continued distress of the agricultural interest—I am surprised that they did not ask themselves, "What is the reason that when all other classes of the country are to our belief flourishing, that this class, so numerous, so wealthy, so industrious, and so intelligent, should be experiencing this constant and continuous depression?" It might then, perhaps, have occurred to them that there must be sonic deep causes in the system of this country which produced such exceptional but such particular results; and if the noble Lord had remembered that we have had in England a financial system which has been built up upon the energies and resources of one class of the country in particular, and that that class has permitted its energies and resources to be thus taxed because you thought fit by an artificial system of legislation to secure to it a market, and, on the average, a certain remunerative return, I wonder it did not occur to them that probably that peculiar system of finance, when the artificial compensation was withdrawn, might have occasioned this depression which has now continued so long, that even Ministers are astonished, and is producing effects which must ultimately, I am convinced, be injurious to all classes of the community. Now, Sir, this is the point which I would wish to press upon the noble Lord; for what is the case of Her Majesty's Ministers? They say, all classes but one important class are flourishing; but we will not inquire what is the reason this particular class is depressed. We cannot penetrate—perhaps we wish not to penetrate—the cause; for the cause may be this, that this class is contributing the capital by which all other classes are at this moment flourishing. Under all circumstances, and at any time, we should have thought that that was a happy conjuncture when a Minister could come forward and say, "We have a rich exchequer, we have a community generally prosperous, one class alone is suffering, but that is an important class, on whose resources we have been mostly thrown, and, Sir, it is the first duty of the Government to inquire 130 whether we can relieve that class." I have given a notice, since the House met, the object of which is to ask the House dispassionately re consider whether it is not in our power to terminate this mysterious and continued depression of the agricultural interest, and therefore will not to-night touch upon that subject further. Last year the Government noticed the complaints of the agriculturists: this year they acknowledge their difficulties. We get on: this is the age of progress; for next Session remains the recognition of oar ruin. But Her Majesty is counselled to express her confident hope that the prosperous condition of other classes of Her subjects will have the effect of diminishing those evils. Is that language for a Minister to use. If a Minister came forward and declared a confident belief that those difficulties would be remedied and pass away, it would be at least the opinion of the Government; it would be the test of their sagacity, and might be the measure of their judgment; but the Ministry only expresses a "confident hope," which is, at the best, but the language of amiable despair. They don't even venture to express a "belief," as they did last year, that those difficulties will pass away; all the Government have to say to the agricultural interest is, that they hope these difficulties will pass away. I leave the House to judge if that is language that ought to be addressed to Parliament. Last year, when the subject was brought before the consideration of the House, the Government, in the month of February, said that about the end of March agricultural distress would not be heard of. They said there were indications that induced them to believe that before a mouth was passed, "prices," as they called them, would rise considerably. The organ of the Government in the other House spoke with the greatest positiveness on the subject. He laughed at the idea that any continued depression could take place—he even announced, in a sort of prophecy of political economy, that no further importations could occur. I am not at this moment placing this question on the price of any article; what I intend to do with the permission of the House next Tuesday, if I have the opportunity, is, to ask the House in inquire into the relation of the agricultural interest to our whole system of taxation, to inquire if you have not gradually established in this 131 country a system, fiscal and otherwise, which has raised an immense revenue mainly from the energies and resources of one class of the productive population of this country—whether they have not been enabled to endure that burden because, by artificial laws, you supported them in the great struggle; whether you have not rashly, precipitately, without due consideration and preparation, destroyed the artificial system, and left the artificial burdens. I will, with the permission of the House, view the question in a complete and comprehensive aspect; and if I don't succeed in discovering the cause of this mysterious and continued depression of agricultural industry, and if I do not indicate the remedies that ought naturally to result from that investigation—remedies demanded by justice and counselled by policy—then I will never attempt again to support that interest to which I am indebted for the seat I hold. It is on that point I mainly rose to address you; but I would, with the permission of the House, make one observation on the interesting subject with which the noble Lord closed his observations. The noble Lord made to-night what I will classically—not in vulgar language—designate the apology for that letter which I hold in my hand, and which I suppose other hon. Members hold in their hands. I confess the observations of the noble Lord did not seem to be entirely consistent with what has transpired. This letter I consider the manifesto of a Cabinet. I take the paragraph in the Queen's Speech in connexion with this letter; for I look upon it as the manifesto of the Cabinet—as the matured manifesto of the Cabinet—because I feel convinced that no individual, occupying the most eminent position in this country, could, in a moment of levity, have signed his name to a document of such surpassing interest and awful responsibility. The noble Lord was, of course, perfectly acquainted with the opinions and feelings of all his colleagues on this great subject, even if they were not at his elbow when he signed his name to the letter. I say, "this great subject," because I cannot bring myself, I will not say to believe, but to comprehend, that the appointment of Dr. Wiseman to a pseudo—or, not to use an offensive phrase—to a titular archbisopric in England, could have produced the convulsion this letter occasioned. I will not say that, because I remember, not at a very remote period, the noble Lord, gratuitously 132 and uncalled-for, informed the House of Commons and the Protestant people of England that he saw no reason why Roman Catholic priests should not he called by episcopal titles taken from any city or town in the kingdom. That I, of course, believe was also a mature opinion, for I cannot imagine that the noble Lord would make a haphazard observation on so delicate a topic, without the subject having engaged his long and serious reflection. That was the opinion of the noble Lord a very few years ago, and therefore I cannot comprehend why the appointment of Dr. Wiseman to the titular archbishopric of Westminster should be the sole cause of this letter, in which the noble Lord states that the late aggression of the Pope is insolent and insidious. Now, Sir, I am bound to state my opinion, which I have stated elsewhere, that I don't think the aggression of the Pope was at any rate insidious; I think it was a frank aggression, frank almost to indiscretion. I never knew a proceeding more free from the appearance of subtlety and covin. What is more, we all knew that the step he took was expected. I don't think it was insolent or insidious to do that which the First Minister of the Crown had only a little while before said he saw no harm in the Pope's doing; and, therefore, when the noble Lord wrote this letter I think he meant a great deal more than merely to prevent Dr. Wiseman from being called Archbishop of Westminster. This is the tone and these are the terms in which the noble Lord describes what has occurred, or is occurring, through the agency of the Pope of Rome:—There is an assumption of power in all the documents which have come from Rome—a pretension to supremacy over the realm of England, and a claim to sole and undivided sway, which is inconsistent with the Queen's supremacy, with the rights of our bishops and clergy, and with the spiritual independence of the nation.That is a great subject to deal with, and, Sir, I do not think, when the noble Lord said he had to deal with anything so important as that, he was thinking merely of the Roman Catholic priest, who in England did that which the Roman Catholic priest was daily doing in Ireland with the consent of, and with honours paid to him by, the Government of the noble Lord himself. No, I think the noble Lord thought the time had arrived, from information which no doubt had reached his ear, and from thoughts which had long occupied his mind, that a 133 very great change was taking place in the relations which must hereafter subsist between the Crown of England and the Pope of Rome, and the noble Lord took the occasion of this last drop in the cup to adopt the policy which probably he had long meditated. The noble Lord has determined to solve the most difficult of political problems. He and his Government are proposing to reconcile the due observance of the civil and religious liberties of the Roman Catholic subjects of the Queen, which liberties I, for one, trust will not be impugned—he is about to solve this problem, whether, as a statesman, he can reconcile the due observance and respect of those civil and religious liberties with the Queen's supremacy, the rights of our bishops and clergy, and the spiritual independence of the nation. That is a problem that may not be incapable of solution, but it will tax the noble Lord's power of statesmanship to the utmost. I cannot suppose that the noble Lord only contemplates to bring in a Bill merely to prevent Roman Catholics from styling "themselves bishops or archbishops of any of the towns or cities in the Queen's dominions; he cannot be about to bring in any such measure as that, because then he would not have been justified in stirring up the passions of a might people—in exciting their highest and holiest feelings—and in raising in this country a spirit of controversy and polemical dispute which recalls the days of the Stuarts, and the end of which none of us may live to witness. The noble Lord, as a wise and sagacious man, must have weighed the consequences, and determined to introduce a measure to meet the evils that have been produced. This is the sort of measure. I for one, expect from him; but if he only brings in an insignificant measure like that referred to, it would be better to do nothing, and even at this last hour to endeavour, by doing nothing, to appease the excited feelings of some portion of the people. But if the noble Lord is prepared to do a great deal—if he be prepared to attempt to solve the great political problem that may not be incapable of solution, but which no Minister has yet solved—then, indeed, he may have been justified in the course he has taken—then indeed he may lay claim to the reputation of the character of a great Minister. Such is the measure he must bring in to authorise the course be has taken—such is the measure I, for one, would humbly support—such is the measure I believe the country expects: and if it does 134 not receive it I believe the opinions of Protestants and Roman Catholics on one point will be unanimous—that the conduct of the noble Lord cannot be justified. Resolved accordingly.
§ Committee appointed "to draw up an Address to be presented to Her Majesty upon the said Resolution."
§ Queen's Speech referred.
§ The House adjourned at a quarter after Twelve o'clock.