HC Deb 11 March 1853 vol 125 cc71-122

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."


said, the part he had taken in the former debates upon this subject, and his known sentiments upon it, might perhaps excuse him in taking his present course in opposition to the second reading of this Bill. He could assure the House that he did so with very great reluctance, because the question had been so often discussed, and the arguments on both sides had been so entirely exhausted, that it was impossible that he could expect the attention of the House from the promise of any novelty he could introduce on that occasion. This, however, ought not to be made a ground of complaint against the opponents of the Bill, because the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), with all his great ability, and his constant reflection upon this question, had not, so far as he (Sir F. Thesiger) had been able to discover, struck out any new light, or brought forward any new argument, in favour of this measure. Inasmuch, then, as the noble Lord had adhered to the ground which he originally assumed, his opponents were compelled to meet him there, and encounter him with the same weapons they had formerly used. In justice to the noble Lord, he must admit, however much he might differ from him upon this and upon other questions, that the noble Lord had invariably dealt with the greatest possible fairness in presenting this question to the House, and bad always disdained to take any indirect course in order to arrive at the object which he (Sir F. Thesiger) was bound to believe the noble Lord had at heart. When an attempt was made last Session to cut short all discussion upon this subject by inducing the House to adopt a Resolution that the words in the oath, "upon the true faith of a Christian," formed no substantial and essential part of it, the noble Lord refused to accept that easy mode of cutting he knot of his difficulties, and maintained fairly and justly that the words in question were an absolutely essential part of the oath. Now, if he might make a single remark with respect to the conduct of the noble Lord, he would venture to say that he had only committed one mistake in the course of the discussion which took place, and that arose from his having given his countenance to Baron Rothschild taking the oaths of allegiance and supremacy upon the Old Testament, it being perfectly clear that the three oaths were an essential preliminary to any Member taking his seat in that House, and that none but professing Christians could take the third oath; and inasmuch as there could be no proper qualification without the three oaths being taken, that it must have been the intention of the Legislature that they should be taken with Christian solemnity, because they could alone be taken by a Christian. He thought the course taken by the House on that occasion did not redound very much to the wisdom of their proceedings; but he would pass that by, together with the ill-advised and injudicious course taken by another Gentleman, not returned to the present Parliament, in endeavouring either to obtain a Resolution of the House as to his right to take his seat in respect to the mode in which he proposed to take the oaths, or to obtain a decision of the Courts of Law upon the subject, which might have had seine influence upon the decision of that House. He thought that if anything were calculated to prejudice the claim made by the gentlemen of the Jewish persuasion, it was the course taken upon that occasion. He hoped, however, that this question would not be decided upon any prejudice whatever, but solely with a regard to its merits. He would endeavour as closely as possible to adhere to the real question before the House, and he trusted that nothing would fall from him in the observations he had to make which would create the slightest irritation, or produce unpleasant feelings in the mind of any one. There was a difficulty in anybody addressing himself to this question, arising from there being really no common ground upon which the opposing parties could meet. On the one hand, the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) and the supporters of this measure rested their case upon social and civil grounds, apart from all religious considerations; while, on the other hand, those who opposed the measure thought that the religious question was the one which was of vital importance in the case, and which must ultimately decide it. The consequence was that, each keeping to his own field, the two parties were really not aiming blows at each other, but were beating the air, and in this contest he must acknowledge the noble Lord had a very con- siderable advantage against his opponents, because he could appeal with great warmth and fervour of expression to the principles of civil and religious liberty—heartstirring expressions, which found an echo in every generous mind, and with many passed for an argument; while, on the other hand, those who were influenced by high and sacred feelings and sentiments necessarily were compelled to impose a restraint upon the expression of that very feeling, inasmuch as a popular assembly of this kind was hardly a proper arena for sentiments of that description, and they were reluctant to express themselves strongly, from fear of obtaining the character of enthusiasts and bigots. With all these disadvantages, however, he should proceed to consider this question, and in some degree endeavour to meet the different arguments which had been urged by the noble Lord; he would endeavour to show that there were peculiar circumstances which did not render those arguments so strongly applicable to the case of the Jews as to any other of Her Majesty's subjects; and he should in this manner meet the noble Lord even upon that ground which he had taken up on the present occasion as the foundation of his measure. In discussing this subject, those who opposed the measure might, without any detriment to their case, admit that the exclusion of the Jews from Parliament at the present day did not arise from any intention expressed by the Legislature upon the face of any of its enactments. He agreed with what had been said by the noble Lord, that the 7th of James I., which for the first time contained the words "upon the true faith of a Christian," was not at all directed against the Jew; that there was no intention whatever by the introduction of these words to exclude him from Parliament; nor was he in the slightest degree in the mind of the Legislature when that Act was passed. The noble Lord had stated, and stated correctly, that these words had been inserted in the oath in consequence of the description of the Treatise on Equivocation found in the chamber of Francis Tresham, who was one of the conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot. This treatise was corrected by the hand of the Jesuit Garnet, and, in consequence of the doctrines it contained, these words, "upon the true faith of a Christian," were introduced, as it was considered they would be binding if they were made part of the oath. At the same time, although this admission was made on the part of the opponents of the measure, the noble Lord must concede to him that when the 7th of James I. passed, there was not a single Jew in England. They had been banished in the reign of Edward I., and they did not return to this country certainly till the reign of Charles II. [An Hon. MEMBER: They were admitted during the Protectorate.] No; he must beg that hon. Gentleman's pardon. During the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell a petition was presented on the subject of the return of the Jews, but it was not successful; and in the year 1663, he believed it would be found by searching the national records, as they were called, of the Jews, that there were no more than twelve Jews in England at that time. It was quite impossible, therefore, that the Legislature could have meant to exclude the Jews when they introduced the words "upon the true faith of a Christian," because they never contemplated the possibility of Jews forming a part of a Christian Legislature. On this subject he thought he could not do better than quote a passage in the judgment of Mr. Baron Parke:— But it is a fallacy to argue that because the immediate object of the Legislature was to give a more binding effect to a Christian oath, not to exclude the Jews and others than Christians, therefore they meant all such to be admitted, and consequently, that the terms of the oath ought to be modified so as to carry that object into effect, and to permit all not of the Christian faith to take the oath in a form binding on their consciences. Nothing was further from the contemplation of the Legislature. The truth is they never supposed that any but Christians would form a part of either House of Parliament. The possibility that persons of the Jewish persuasion should be peers, or be elected Members of Parliament, probably entered their contemplation as little as that of Mahomedans or Pagans being placed in either category. Both of these are, in effect, on precisely the same footing in this respect as the Jews, and the argument applies equally to them all. In enacting a provision aimed at a peculiar class only of Christians, the Legislature have in most positive terms required an oath from every Member of the Legislature which none but a Christian can take; and this enactment must have the effect of closing both Houses of Parliament against every one but a Christian. Now, it had been asserted in the course of the debates which had taken place on former occasions in that House, that from the 1st of William and Mary down to the 13th of William and Mary no ground whatever existed why a Jew should not be admitted to a place in that House, in consequence of the omission of the words "upon the true faith of a Christian" in any Act of the Legislature between those periods. But it appeared to him that such an assertion was made with an utter forgetfulness of the history of the Jews during that time. He had mentioned that they were so few in number in the beginning of the reign of Charles II., that there were then only twelve Jews in this country. When at last they did return to England, they were for a long time treated and considered as aliens. He knew that this had been denied over and over again in that House, but with what propriety he would leave the House themselves to judge. It was perfectly notorious that, upon their return to this country, the alien duty was imposed upon them, and the House would find that that alien duty, so far as the export of commodities was concerned, was remitted by James II.; but, upon the petition and remonstrance of the merchants, that duty was reimposed in 1690; and, therefore, that being in the reign of William III., it did seem to him rather an extravagant idea to suppose that, because the words "on the true faith of a Christian" had been omitted out of the Act 1st of William and Mary, therefore the Jews, who were not only regarded as aliens, but were actually treated so, should have had the opportunity during that intervening period of obtaining seats in that House. How long the Jews continued to be regarded in this light, and how long an alien duty continued to be imposed, he was unable to trace; but he was satisfied that the Act about which so much excitement prevailed at the time, 26th of George II., which was an Act for the naturalisation of Jews without the necessity of their taking the sacrament, was an Act not, as had been asserted, for the naturalisation of foreign Jews, but one to give facilities for the naturalisation of all Jews resident in England, and who, he was satisfied, up to that time, and later than that time, were regarded as aliens, for he could never imagine there could have been such a ferment created in respect to this Act (which it would be remembered was repealed in the following year), if its only object had been to give facilities to the foreign Jews who might come to this country, and who, he would remind the House, had to reside here three years before they could obtain their naturalisation. The state in which the Jews continued down to the year 1830 was, he thought, as strong a proof as anything could be, not that they were excluded from Parliament by the accidental insertion of words in the oath, but that they were never regarded as persons who could be entitled to sit in the Legislature; and the House would find these disabilities summed up in the speech of Mr. Robert Grant, at the time when he moved for their repeal. He said— They couldn't hold any office, civil or military; they couldn't be schoolmasters or ushers; they couldn't be serjeants-at-law, barristers, solicitors, pleaders, conveyancers, attorneys, or clerks; they couldn't be Members of Parliament, nor could they vote for the return of Members, if anybody chose to enforce the oath; and, finally, they were excluded from all corporation offices. Now, was it possible, regard being had to all these circumstances, and to the state of disability in which the Jews stood in 1830, to assert that their exclusion from Parliament arose from the accidental insertion of certain words in the oath of abjuration? Well, then, in what position did the House stand with respect to this oath? They found it was the intention of the Legislature that none but Christians should be admitted to sit in Parliament. They found themselves under existing circumstances in the position of what might be considered as a barrier against the intrusion into Parliament of persons opposed to the Christian faith. The opponents of the present measure were not particularly wedded to the present form of the oath of abjuration. They might be disposed to admit that the subject of that oath had become obsolete, but it served still to denote the Christian character of the Legislature; and he, for one, would not consent to relinquish it unless something of equal force, and what was equally available, were substituted in its place. But then the noble Lord said all persons who were subjects of Her Majesty were entitled to an equality of civil rights; and no religious faith, whatever it might be, ought to be a ground for exclusion from those rights and privileges which belonged to every subject in this country. [Cheers.] Hon. Members cheered the expression of that proposition; but he was quite sure they would allow him to call their attention to what he considered an ambiguity in the language of the noble Lord with reference to this subject. The noble Lord had not drawn the distinction which he ought to have done between civil and political rights. He conceded to the noble Lord that every subject in this country was entitled to equality of civil rights; and what were those civil rights? They were summed up by our great commentator upon the English laws under three heads—the right of personal security, the right of personal liberty, and the right of private property; and these were comprehensive enough to embrace every description of claim which Englishmen could enjoy under the constitution of this country. These rights were for the benefit of all, and each individual was entitled to them; but political rights it belonged to the State only to confer. No person was entitled to political rights unless they were given him by the State, and if the noble Lord meant to include political in the term "civil rights," he (Sir F. Thesiger) was ready to join issue with him upon that point, and to say that every subject of this realm was not entitled to equality of political rights. If they were so entitled, he should like to know what would become of all our qualifications and disqualifications, and how it was possible they could be justified, for unquestionably they were vitally opposed to that principle for which the noble Lord contended. He need not advert to the qualifification for the suffrage, and the qualification for Parliament, all of which might be considered arbitrary and artificial; but, if the noble Lord were correct, even universal suffrage would not satisfy the extent of his proposition, because, by even extending the suffrage to every male, you would not give that extent of political right which was comprehended in the maxim upon which the noble Lord had acted. But the noble Lord had said— At no time in the history of our country, when legislative disabilities have been imposed, have they been grounded on a difference of religious faith. Now, he did not exactly understand what the noble Lord meant by "legislative disabilities." If he meant disabilities imposed by the Legislature, then he (Sir F. Thesiger) would refer him for an answer to the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, the provisions of which contained an exclusion from certain offices. That was a legislative disability. The noble Lord might say this was entirely upon political, and not upon religious, grounds. But he would venture to ask, whether it was not in consequence of the peculiar character of the religion of the individuals to whom the Act applied, that they were considered improper persons to be intrusted with those particular rights? He trusted, however, that he had now satisfied hon. Members who had cheered, a few minutes since, the expression he had quoted, that at all events the point was not so clear as it at first appeared, and that it was a subject deserving of very serious consideration. Then, again, the noble Lord said— That we had, in point of fact, conferred political power and authority upon the Jews, because, by giving them the elective franchise, we had enabled them to choose Members to the Legislature, and in that manner had given them a part in the legislation of the country. Now, he really did think that argument was much more subtle than satisfactory. Theoretically—he had almost said metaphysically—it might be perfectly true, but practically it amounted to what he must be forgiven for calling an absurdity, because the infinitesimal proportion of a share in the legislation of the country which a party derived from being one of many thousands to choose the Legislature, was scarcely perceivable, and for all practical purposes it was of no utility whatever. Again, it must be remembered that in the present state of the law, if the Jew exercise the elective franchise he could only choose a Christian. He could only send into that House a person of the Christian faith, and he apprehended there was a very material difference between voting for a Christian legislator, and a Jew himself coming into that House and becoming a legislator. But it had been said that political power was given to the Jews when they were enabled to become barristers, and magistrates, and aldermen. But there was a very great distinction between allowing persons to exercise powers or enjoy subordinate offices of that kind, and making them part of the governing body of the county. As magistrates they were called on to execute the laws which were made for them by a Christian Legislature; they were subordinate to those laws; they must obey them, or they were punished for their disobedience. But a Member of the Legislature was superior to all law. [Cries of"Hear!" and "Oh!"] Yes; hon. Members must pardon him for saying so. A person was superior to all law in his character of legislator; he was answerable to no one; he was amenable to nothing but that moral constraint and control which must influence the greatest as well as the meanest in the land; and therefore it seemed to him that to use the fact of Jews being allowed to take on themselves the office of magistrates as an argument for our going further and admitting them to become a part of the Legislature, was utterly without foundation in reason or principle. But even if there appeared no reason in all this to persons not of the Jewish religion which might make them pause before they assumed they were right in such an unqualified way, he never could forget there were peculiar circumstances connected with the character and position of the Jew which rendered all these objections not merely applicable in his case, but afforded them additional strength. He would venture to refer every hon. Member in that House to his own reflections on this subject, when he regarded the position of the Jew as he existed in all the countries to which he had been dispersed; and he would ask them whether they did not feel that the Jews were separate and distinguished from the nations in which they lived—that they were among them, but not of them—that from their peculiar customs and habits, and institutions and religion, they formed no alliance with these nations—that they lived among themselves—and that they were nowhere incorporated with the great body of the people? Nor did the Jews, if they were sincere in their professions, consider that any nation in which they lived was their abiding home. Whether they interpreted the prophecies rightly or not, there could be no question about it that they were looking to another country than that in which they lived, and that they expected at some indefinite period to be restored to the land of their forefathers—that "there their treasure is, and there their hearts must be also." And in reference to this part of the subject he would for one moment draw the attention of the House to a passage which he had met in a very interesting work:— There is a restless desire always vibrating amid the Jewish population in Europe to emigrate to Palestine. This arises from their religious principles and hopes. It is also an inheritance of feeling from their cradles, for, as Jews, they are born in countries to which they do not belong. The home of their nation is Syria; to that place their eyes, their hopes, their hearts are always turned. If protected, it is no dream to say that 100,000 persons would move from different countries in Europe to the shores of Palestine. He said, then, there was something peculiar in the position of the Jew, which rendered him an unfit person to be a member of a national Legislature. But even on an inferior ground his religious tenets would prevent his efficiently performing his duty to his constituents if he was returned to the House, and he wished to call their attention to this circumstance. Suppose the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) should think it necessary, in consequence of some important business which he thought required the attendance of all Members, to move for another call of the House, and that the call happened to take place on a Friday evening—was the House prepared to say that respect for the Sabbath of the Jews would induce them to accept an excuse from a member of the Jewish persuasion if summoned to attend in his place? Take another case. Suppose an hon. Member of the Jewish persuasion should be chosen on an Election Committee; they all knew that, by the Act, those Committees sat from day to day, with the exception of Sunday, Christmas-day, and Good Friday—days, be it observed in passing, which the Jews utterly scorned and disliked. And suppose the Sabbath of the Jews should arrive and find him on that Committee, what would the House do under the circumstances? Would they introduce an Act of Parliament for the sake of excusing the Jews from attendance and serving on Election Committees; or would they adopt the course of allowing them to take the chance of the Election Committees falling on their Sabbath? These might appear very trifling circumstances, but they were the peculiar circumstances which affected the Jews, and which made them, as it seemed to him, more unfit to become Members of that House than any other class of Her Majesty's subjects. Now, there was another argument to which he must refer—it had been frequently used in that House—and it was that with respect to the deference which ought to be paid to the selection of a large constituency like that of the City of London of Baron Rothschild as a Member of that House. He found that Archbishop Whately rested his opinion in support of the measure on the last occasion on this ground altogether. He said— The question was not whether Jews should sit in Parliament, but whether in this free and enlightened age the Christian electors of this Christian nation should have the right to choose whom they liked as their representative, or whether their hands were to be tied in this respect. Now, it appeared to him that nothing more unconstitutional than any opinion of this kind could hardly be imagined. It seemed to suppose that constituencies, if they were only large enough, were, at their own free will and pleasure, to make choice of whomsoever they pleased, and that, if they were only powerful enough, their selection was to give the law, and that they could in effect remove all impediments to the man they chose to enter the Legislature by the mere force of their will. Now, he really wished that those hon. Members who were so fond of contrasting invidiously the representatives of large with those of small constituencies, would turn to the pages of Burke and consider his sentiments on the subject. He said— Parliament is not a Congress of ambassadors from different and hostile countries, each maintaining as an agent the interests of those who sent him against the agents of other bodies; but Parliament is a deliberative assembly, with one interest of the whole nation, not with local purposes or local prejudices for their guide, but the general good as the result of the general reason of the whole. You choose a Member indeed; but when you have chosen him he is not a Member of Bristol—he is a Member of Parliament. He ventured on that high authority to think, therefore, that no constituency, however large, was entitled to choose any person, but that they must choose a person whom the law qualified for admission into the Legislature; and that not they alone, but the entire nation, had an interest in the person chosen, and had a right to determine if he was duly and properly qualified to sit in Parliament. It would be a very dangerous and unconstitutional precedent to establish if the City of London, at its mere whim and caprice, was to choose whomever they liked—they might choose an alien, a clergyman, or the returning officer—and then to give them leave to say, "Is it our will and pleasure that this should be so, and we will have him as our Member." He had rested his case on this ground to show that there was not such undoubted and unquestionable right in the Jews on this subject as was maintained by the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) for any person to become a Member of the Legislature of this country, and he turned now from it to that which really was, as he considered, the strong and overruling objection to the admission of the Jews into Parliament, and which rested entirely on religious grounds. He felt, when he approached this part of the question, under a conscientious obligation not to express any sentiments which he did not sincerely feel and believe. Now, he never could forget that, if this Bill passed into a law, it would be the first legislative declaration avowedly and designedly made, by which the enemies of our faith were admitted to a seat in this Christian Legislature; and when the noble Lord said his object was to complete the edifice of religious liberty, he (Sir F. Thesiger), and those who felt with him, certainly could not help entertaining the opinion that the noble Lord was taking away from the religious foundations of our constitution. He was not at all disposed to pursue the objections on those high grounds on which he knew many of his hon. Friends felt disposed to place them; he did not think that by consenting to admit the Jews into Parliament they would in the slightest degree interfere with the Divine will. It was true there were the strongest prophetic denunciations with respect to the fate of the Jews, who were to be "scattered through every land, and to cease to be a nation;" but it appeared to him to be rather presumptuous to think that anything they could do would advance or retard the designs of the Almighty, or that there could be any necessity for the assistance of man in fulfilling His ways. On this subject he was disposed to say with the poet— Let not my weak unknowing hand Presume thy bolts to throw. He felt the greatest possible respect for the conscientious opinions of hon. Members who thought otherwise on this subject; but he did not think they could safely place their arguments on such high and mysterious ground. There was a lower and, as appeared to him, a safer position which they could assume, and on which he would venture to ask for some attention to his arguments. He thought there could be no doubt that the framework of our legislative system was formed on Christian views and principles. They commenced their proceedings by invoking the blessing of God through the intercession of the Redeemer. They were compelled, as the law at present stood, to take an oath which made them at least professing Christians, and they were required to observe certain days which were consecrated to the observance of Christianity. All these circumstances showed that the Christian principle was the vital and essential, and fundamental principle of our system, and they would entirely destroy that system, they would violate that sacred principle, by deliberately admitting one single enemy of our faith, which they were all bound to acknowledge, with respect, to form part of this, our—at present—Christian assembly. Now, objection had been made to the term, occa- sionally used in speaking on this subject, of "un-Christianising the Legislature." It might, perhaps, be liable to some misconstruction; but it was quite clear that if he was right, and if his view of the essential principles on which the Legislature was founded were correct, the admission of a single Jew was such a violation of those principles that they might, using very solemn words in no light spirit, say—"A little leaven leaveneth the whole." There was no doubt at all that Christianity was a part of the law of the land, and at all events that maxim must be understood in this sense—that our laws were made with reference to and in accordance with this Christian rule and principle. He would not stop to consider whether the important functions of the Legislature embraced the spiritual as well as the temporal welfare of those committed to their charge. But if he was right in saying our laws were made with reference to the standard of Christianity, then they would debase and lower that standard by admitting there should be no solemn declaration that the persons who were to assist in making those laws were to be Christians, but that persons who certainly adopted a lower standard than that of Christianity should be admitted to make them, and to reduce everything, therefore, to a lower level. Now, the laws which proceeded from so high and sacred a source were the laws which governed this country, and in their character they would necessarily infuse something of their sacredness into the character of the people. A person opposed to the faith of a Christian might well desire to be a member of a society governed by Christian laws; and he (Sir F. Thesiger) was ready to admit him to the rights and privileges of that society so far as respected the equal enjoyment of all civil rights, as he had already stated; but if he desired to become a part of the governing body, he must ask first whether that man was a friend to the system under which the laws of that society were made, or if he was opposed to it; and if he was opposed to that system, he, for one, would not admit him to the governing body. These were the sentiments he entertained on the subject, and which he expressed to the House sincerely and conscientiously, believing they were right. On that subject he would read a passage from an authority whose views on the subject were supposed not be orthodox by hon. Members opposite, be- cause he did not agree with them on this, though he did on most other subjects. The Archbishop of Dublin said: "If a man believes that he is bound to refuse obedience to the law of Christianity, and will not pledge himself to regard it as paramount to all human legislation, he cannot properly be a member of a society which regulates its proceedings according to that law." But then it was said, "If you exclude the Jews from the Legislature, you are guilty of persecution." Now, with very great deference, he must say that this was an abuse of terms. "Persecution" he understood to be the infliction of some pain or disability unjustly, either as a penalty for religious opinions, or for the purpose of inducing persons to abandon them; but there was no such object in the exclusion of the Jews from the Legislature. The sole object they had in that exclusion was self-defence, not in the low sense of defence against danger, but in that of security against the violation of a sacred principle; and they might just as well call bolts and bars which have the effect of stopping the entrance into a house of a person who was likely to do mischief there, persecution, as to apply the term to the exclusion on such grounds of the Jews from Parliament. If the House took this fatal step, he believed they would do the greatest violence to the religious sentiments and feelings of the nation. There was a strong and growing feeling upon this subject, which was sufficiently indicated by the petitions presented against this measure. And anything more mischievous and fatal at the present moment than the idea that the House of Commons was indifferent to religion, could hardly be imagined. God forbid he should suppose that the supporters of the Bill were indifferent to religion! but in such a matter as this, to seem and to be would have the same unhappy influence upon the country. When the noble Lord got rid of the words "on the true faith of a Christian," why should he not go a step further, and say that persons professing no religion at all should be qualified to sit in that House? There were in this county a great number of conscientious Deists, perhaps a larger number of Deists than of Jews. They might not desire, like Bolingbroke and Gibbon, to take their seats under false pretences, and they would come to the noble Lord and say—" We do not wish to enter the House of Commons with lying lips and a deceitful tongue; we are anxious to avow our disbelief in Christianity, and to take our seats upon the natural religion that guides and governs mankind." Was the noble Lord prepared to give way to such representations, and to admit Deists? The Jewish religion was but Deism. [Mr. BETHELL: Revealed Deism]. It was revealed religion, he heard it said; and he had heard it contended that as the Jewish religion was the forerunner of Christianity, the Jews had a claim upon those who professed Christianity for admission to that House. But he was sure his hon. and learned Friend who had kindly suggested the remark, would agree with him that half a truth frequently amounted to absolute falsehood, and this was one of those cases. Nor did he know why the noble Lord, having admitted the Jews and the Deists, should refuse admission to the "fool who says in his heart, There is no God." Such a person might say, "Away with the mockery of all forms of religion! every subject of this realm is entitled to all the privileges of a citizen." [Cheers.] He understood from that cheer that hon. Gentlemen opposite did not wish the noble Lord to stop at the Jews, and that he was to make everything smooth for the admission of persons of all religions and no religion. [Cheers.] Those cheers furnished him with an additional reason for opposing a course which would be attended with the most mischievous and fatal consequences. It was clear now, and the noble Lord must have seen it, that he could not stop short in the course he had now begun, and that he must give up, one by one, all that consecrated the Members of that House to their duties—that, in completing the edifice of civil liberty, he would give so much liberty as to lose all the semblance of religion; that he would abandon everything that gave grace and dignity to their functions, and everything that gave solemnity to the proceedings of that House. Entertaining these feelings, he had to move that the measure before the House be read a second time that day six months.


in seconding the Motion, said, he wished to call the attention of the House to the manner in which this question would affect the two important questions, the education of the people, and the relation between Church and State. With regard to the first topic, the House was aware that there was a great difference of opinion on the question whether education ought to be secular, or whether it ought to be combined with religion. He believed the majority—he might say, the large majority—of that House were opposed to merely secular education; but he would ask, how could they insist upon religious education after declaring by their votes that it was immaterial whether the Legislature was founded on Christianity or not? If it was, indeed, unimportant whether a man was a Christian or not, he thought they would be deprived of their strongest argument in favour of religious education. How can you teach a child that this is a great Christian country, that all her institutions are founded on Christianity, and then turn round upon him and tell him that it is perfectly unnecessary that the persons who are to legislate for this great Christian country, who are to mould and adapt and alter all her institutions, should be obliged to profess Christianity? What inference could the youthful mind draw from this fact, but that it was immaterial what a man believed or disbelieved, whether he is an idolater or a Christian? The next argument was, what the effect would be on the relations between Church and State. This was a delicate subject, and one of which the solution became more difficult every year; but it was impossible not to perceive that persons of very opposite principles were converging towards the same point—the separation between Church and State. He was an advocate for that union, not only for the sake of the Church, but also for the interest of the State. He thought it was no mean consideration that on some important question a Minister might be placed in such a position, that the Jews, if once admitted, might turn the balance either for evil or for good. They had heard of a party which was denominated an Irish Brigade; they might yet live to see a Jew brigade, and the interests of Church and State might be sacrificed to a Jewish minority. Under these circumstances, he seriously appealed to all true friends of the Church to say, if the admission of unbelievers to Parliament was calculated to facilitate legislation on this difficult and delicate subject; bearing in mind that the same principle will force us to admit, if occasion should arise, the representatives of the most degrading forms of Indian idolatry. They had already had the question of the clergy reserves debated in the House, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer defended the measure for their confiscation in a speech of great eloquence. That, in a chosen defender of the Church, was certainly surprising—in a representative for the University of Oxford it was still more wonderful; but he supposed the right hon. Gentleman, having tried his "'prentice hand" on the Church of Canada, would be prepared, with still fewer scruples, to deal with the Church of Ireland. No doubt that object would be greatly facilitated by the admission of additional unbelievers into that House—persons ready to vote away all religious endowments—persons who utterly scorned and denied all that that House held most sacred, who by their faith and law were bound to keep themselves separate and distinct—a nation within a nation, whose firmest hope and dearest belief must be bound up in the destruction of the Christian faith, and the annihilation of all that Christians held most sacred and most dear.

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


said, however much he might differ with the major part of the propositions laid down by the hon. and learned Memher for Stamford (Sir F. Thesiger), he concurred fully in the observations with which the hon. and learned Member commenced his speech, when he said it was totally impossible to produce any novelty on this most exhausted subject. At any rate, the hon. and learned Gentleman deserved credit for having introced a novelty into the debate, for he had given a new reading of history, from what, at least, he (Mr. Osborne) had ever read before, when the hon. and learned Gentleman said there were no Jews in this country until the time of Charles II. If he had read history aright, there were many Jews in this country in the time of Oliver Cromwell; and if the hon. and learned Gentleman had displayed his researches in history as much as he had in law, he would have known of a very remarkable offer made in the time of Oliver Cromwell—no less than an offer to purchase St. Paul's Cathedral, to turn it into a Jewish synagogue.


I said there were only twelve Jews here in 1663.


The hon. and learned Gentleman did say there were no Jews in this country until the time of Charles II., and he ought not to try to throw impediments in the way when his error was being exposed. He maintained that if the hon. and learned Gentleman had been as correct in his history as he ought, occupying the position which he did, he would have told the House that in the time of Oliver Cromwell the Jews were so numerous and so rich that they made an offer for the purchase of St. Paul's Cathedral; and in remarking upon the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman that there were no Jews in England until the reign of Charles II., he was merely giving him credit for having introduced into the debate a novelty for which he was sure the House felt grateful. He confessed he addressed himself to the question with feelings, if not of despair, at least of despondency. It was no very consoling reflection to the advocates of religious equality to consider that for upwards of twenty years this question had been advocated. He believed it was in 1830 that Mr. Grant—all honour to his name!—first introduced it to the House. It had since then been frequently discussed; the principle had always been acknowledged by large majorities of that House, and the leading and most distinguished men on both sides of the House, differing on all other subjects, had echoed one another's sentiments, and had agreed upon this. The power and eloquence of Mackintosh and Macaulay had been responded to by the late Lord George Bentinck and the present right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire Mr. Disraeli. Therefore he said it was not a consoling reflection to the advocates of religious liberty that in 1853 this question was still dragging its slow length along, and the same arguments were used for excluding the Jews from Parliament which possibly were used in the thirteenth century as reasons for banishing the Jews the Kingdom, in the same intolerant spirit, and with some little of the ignorance which might have been displayed in the middle ages. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Stamford had used almost the same terms and the same arguments which another great light of the legal profession used on doing away with the writ de heretico comburendo. The great arguments for burning heretics were advanced in the same terms and in the same manner by Lord Coke; but he little thought to hear, in the year 1853, another great luminary of the law repeat those arguments for preventing Jews taking their seats in Parliament. The hon. and learned Gentleman adopted the statement of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. H. Inglis)—that the admission of Jews would unchristianise the nation. He must ask the hon. and learned Gentleman, was he really serious in making that statement? If the nation would be unchristianised, really it was unchristianised already; it was unchristianised when the Crown admitted Jews to be magistrates and to be sheriffs. Nay, more—London and Greenwich must have been unchristianised when they returned Jewish Members to that House; and the Parliament of England had made great progress in this heathenising process, by voting, as they had done for the last twenty-three years, that Jews ought to be admitted to seats in the Legislature. Could any man believe in his heart that by admitting Jews to that House they actually unchristianised the Legislature? Could hon. Gentlemen be sincere in that argument? If so, they were bound to admit that this country was not a Christian country. If the argument were carried to its legitimate conclusion, there were only two Christian countries in Europe—Spain and Portugal. And they were Christian because they allowed no toleration of any other worship. The House would recollect the question by a right hon. Gentleman as to persecutions in Spain for nonconformity to the religion of that country. If toleration was unchristian, he said there were only two Christian countries in Europe, Spain and Portugal, because there but one sect of religion was allowed. But in this country, where all sects were tolerated, where all modes of religious worship were protected, it was an absolute offence to common sense to say that the admission of the Jews to the Legislature would unchristianise the country. The hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say that it was necessary to have a declaration of Christianity by every Member entering that House. If the hon. and learned Gentleman thought that, why was he content to leave the declaration at the fag end of an oath which a portion of the Members—Roman Catholics and Quakers—did not take at all? If the hon. and learned Gentleman was sincere, why did he not come down and put a notice on the books of the House that the declaration of Christianity should be made by every Member, not at the tail of a worn-out oath, which he wished to see done away with, but preceding all oaths. He conceived no more solemn farce could be enacted in that House than to see hon. Members led up to that table, and abjuring with a sort of sluggish, desponding manner, knowing the folly they were about to commit—[Cries of "No, no!"] He would not dispute with the hon. Member who had interrupted him, because the hon. Member was, no doubt, not aware that there was no survivor of this Pretender—none of his descendants were in existence. Hon. Members were positively led up to the table to abjure fidelity to a man who had left no descendants, and which they all knew to be a positive absurdity. He, for one, considered that this question ought not to be discussed, as the hon. and learned Member for Stamford had discussed it, on religious grounds, but simply on its political bearings. If the tenets of the Jews or their ecclesiastical polity were dangerous to the State—if they tended to disorganise the institutions of the country—he admitted a case would be made out for their exclusion from the Legislature. But then he said they were bound to submit a Motion upon that subject, and declare that no Jew was qualified to appear on the hustings or to canvass for the suffrages of his fellow-countrymen, and not by a side wind, the result of accidental combination, to debar their taking seats in that House. He never would assent to the proposition that it was necessary to make a religious declaration to pay due regard to civil duties. The hon. and learned Member for Stamford had adverted to the position in which the Archbishop of Dublin had placed this question. He, for one, fully joined in the admiration of the talents of that right rev. Prelate. He did not think, however, it was a question of Jewish disabilities, but rather a question of Christian claims. The question was, were constituencies to be debarred from selecting such men to be their representatives as they might think fit, provided they did not entertain sentiments dangerous to the institutions of the country? Three times had one of the most important constituencies in the country, the City of London, sent an hon. Gentleman to represent them in Parliament. This branch of the Legislature had never denied the claim of the constituency to make that choice; still that hon. Gentleman was not allowed to take his seat, and the constituency was virtually disfranchised by Baron Rothschild not being allowed to take his seat. The question was not so much the claims of the Jew as the rights of the Christian, and by excluding the Jew they were debarring the Christians of their political rights. He turned now, with some pain, to notice the remarks on a previous occasion of the hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir R. Peel). Whenever the hon. Member spoke he would be listened to with attention, if only on account of the name he bore. He entertained high feelings of regard for the late right hon. Baronet; and he could not help saying that he heard the speech of the hon. Member for Tamworth with great regret. He thought the hon. Member endeavoured to lower a great question of public principle to a private attack on individuals. With the merits of Baron Rothschild that House had nothing whatever to do. He did not intend to offer one word of observation as to the virtues of Baron Rothschild; but this he would undertake to say—adopting an expression of the hon. and learned Member for Stamford—that when the hon. Member for Tamworth made use of that invidious reflection on the house of Rothschild making loans to foreign countries at usurious interest, he only stated one-half the truth, and what that was they had heard defined by the hon. and learned Member for Stamford. The hon. Member for Tamworth had not only stated but half the truth, but seemed totally ignorant of one-half the case; he came down to that House with the modern cry of religious liberty upon his lips, but with the old feeling of penal restrictions in his heart. The hon. Baronet had referred to the report and evidence of the Juvenile Offenders Committee, in support of his statement that the Jews were more than usually addicted to crime; but when he came to search through that Report he could find no mention of the crimes attributed to the Jews, save an isolated fact spoken to by Mr. Serjeant Adams, that certain Jews were receivers of stolen goods—there was nothing to show that the Jews were remarkable for their bad morals in this country. The hon. Baronet should recollect the name he held, and not condescend to make sweeping assertions without due inquiry; least of all should he sneer at that wealth which was accumulated by the exercise of honest industry. He would turn from the eccentric sallies of the son, to the matured wisdom of the father. What was the opinion of the late Sir Robert Peel? He would quote the words in answer to the argument of the hon. and learned Member for Stamford, that religious disabilities were not in the nature of penalties. In 1848 the late Sir Robert Peel said— I cannot admit the right of the Legislature to inflict a penalty for mere religious error, because I hold that civil disability partakes of the nature of a penalty. I speak of religious error simply and abstractedly. If you can certainly infer from that religious error dangerous political opinions, and if you have no other mode of guarding against those political opinions except by the administration of a test for the purpose of ascertaining the religious opinions, in that case you may have a right to impose the penalty of exclusion from certain trusts."—[3 Hansard, xcvi. 520.] Would any one tell him that keeping men from attaining the highest object of their ambition was not in the nature of persecution—that it was not as much a torture as burning? It differed in degree, but in principle it was essentially the same. If they carried out that principle to its legitimate conclusion, wherein, he would ask, was it a less species of persecution than the putting on the yellow badge which Jews in former times were compelled to wear? The yellow badge still remained, and it was for that House to remove that badge by admitting the Jews to all their civil rights. The hon. and learned Member for Stamford had quoted a pamphlet by Hollingsworth to support the statement that the Jews were all intent on going in a body to Palestine. They all knew that emigration was very rife at the present moment, but the last to emigrate were the Jews. Let them remember how the question was treated by foreign States. Unfortunately there were now only three constitutional countries in Europe—Belgium, Sardinia, and Holland—and in all those the Jews had seats in the Legislature the same as Christians. In France and Austria there were no disabilities on account of their religious convictions. And when the hon. and learned Gentleman said the Jews were men of a different nation, who never amalgamated with another people, he was as wrong as he was in his history with regard to Oliver Cromwell. What was the evidence on that point? The Minister of Public Instruction in France (M. Merilhon), in 1830, wrote thus:— Since the Constituent Assembly placed the Israelites on a footing with other citizens, they have partaken of our glory and misfortunes. Their blood has flowed on the same fields of battle. Their children have been brought up in the same schools. They have become imbued with the same principles, adopted the same habits, and become the most deserving citizens. That was the testimony of France; and what was the case in regard to Prussia? Prince Hardenburgh, in an official letter to the Prussian Consul at Hamburgh, dated 1814, bore the highest testimony to the merits of the Jews—the people who the hon. and learned Gentleman said were a separate nation, and were all to go to Palestine. Prince Hardenburgh said— The history of the last war against France has proved that, by the most faithful attachment they have rendered themselves worthy of the State which has incorporated them in its bosom. The youth of the Israelite confession have been the brethren in arms of their Christian fellow-citizens. They have also afforded examples of true heroism, of a glorious contempt for the perils of war; and the other Israelite inhabitants, especially the women, have rivalled Christians whenever it was necessary to make sacrifices for their common country. Such was the evidence against vague declarations and quotations from a pamphlet which he believed no one ever heard of before. The hon. and learned Gentleman also quoted the judgment of Baron Parke in Mr. Salomon's case. He wished he had quoted the judgment of Baron Alderson, who said in effect that it was impossible that the law could be allowed to remain as it was at present. The House, however, should not rest on his testimony. The words were few, and he would read them, leaving the House to put what Baron Alderson said on the subject, though giving a judgment adverse to the rights of Mr. Salomon's, against what the hon. and learned Member for Stamford had quoted:— I think it would be more worthy of this country and the Legislature, if they intend to exclude the Jews, to exclude them from privileges, if they are to be excluded at all, by direct enactment, and not merely by the casual operation of a clause intended apparently in its object and origin to apply to an entirely different class of subjects. Surely when they considered the origin of this phrase—when they considered the pamphlet written by the Jesuit Garnet—


I said corrected by the hand of the Jesuit Garnet.


Mr. Baron Alderson quoted it as written by the Jesuit Garnet.


No; you are mistaken.


Granting that it was corrected by the hand of the Jesuit Garnet, and not written by him, but he believed he (Mr. Osborne) was right, he said so far from the House taking advantage of this pamphlet, corrected by the hand of the Jesuit Garnet, so far from taking advantage of a phrase, intended, not as a weapon against the Jews, but as a defence against Jesuit professors—so far from taking advantage of that phrase, and excluding their Jewish fellow-countrymen from a seat in Parliament—it would be more becoming and more worthy of that House to move a direct enactment, and test the sense of that House and the country on that point. He had not that overweening respect for the Parliaments of George I. and George II. that he thought they should cling to obsolete prejudices and unreasoning phrases. He thought they ought at once to simplify these oaths; they ought to carry out the recommendations of the Commission which sat in 1845 on religious disabilities, and not to seek to split up the House into theological brigades. The noble Lord the Member for Grantham (Lord W. Graham) seemed horrified at the idea of a Jewish brigade; but this was not the way to avoid it. He held that allegiance to their Queen and the interests of their common country, should be their ruling principle, and that the House should not be split up into theological or causistical sections. If they were Christians, they were bound to do as they would be done by; and when the hon. and learned Member for Stamford quoted Hollingsworth and other obscure writers, he would take the liberty to quote Bishop Newton, who said, "It is more fitting to strive to be the dispensers of the mercies of heaven, rather than the executioners of the cruelty of man." That was a noble sentiment, worthy of a Christian Prelate, and he hoped the House would echo that sentiment, and that they would pass this Bill by no miserable majority, but by a majority worthy of them and worthy of the times in which they lived.


said, the speech of his hon. Friend who had just sat down was not so sound as that by which the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) introduced this subject, and in which he said that it was impossible to separate religion from politics. They could not leave their religion with their great coat in the lobby, and be political when they came into that House; and then go back to the lobby again and there assume their religion. He admitted that on political grounds there was not one single argument to be brought against the Bill. There was no fear of the Jews forming any foreign allegiance. They cared not one rush for any Christian community. They would not be at the trouble of supporting any one Protestant sect or of pulling down another. He was speaking of those who were faithful among them. They were looking forward to the time when they should trample upon the Gentiles like ashes under the soles of their feet. They cared very little about principle, but a great deal about interest. There was not a single point that he knew about them which would make their entrance into that House a subject of the slightest political importance. But, in the first place, Parliament was a high Christian court. It was said, indeed, that this was a religious question, and therefore unfit to be discussed in that House. Then, if it was a religious question, and if the House was not fit to entertain a discussion upon it, the question itself was not fit to be introduced into that House. This question was essentially a religious question, and they could not upon any grounds separate a religious character from it. He said this upon the highest Christian authority—the Pope. ["Hear, hear!"] He was the highest Christian authority, whether they acknowledged him or not. The Pope said that he was the vicar of Christ. He is right. So is every bishop. So is the Sovereign of this country, teste the Pope himself. One of the earliest popes who ever wrote to an English Sovereign counsels him to take care that his people, meaning the laity, should be taught the Scriptures, "out of which," he says, "take your law, and therewith, by the permission of God, govern your kingdom of England, for therein you are Christ's Vicar—vicarius Christi." In a subsequent letter to the same Sovereign, he uses the same words. Now, not only is a Sovereign the Vicar of Christ, but so is the head of every family, which is the meaning of the words of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir F. Thesiger), who said there was none over the legislator, and there is none over the Sovereign in his Kingdom, nor over the head of any private family which is consecrated by the sacrament of marriage. Hear, then, what the law of the Church says to those who are in this high position. It declares concerning the conduct to be pursued towards the Jew—and it is the universal Christian law—not the middle ages, but the young ages—from the earliest time the Church declares that you shall not live in the same house with them, you shall not dine or take tea with them—and a dozen other prohibitions, which are all put down, but which I need not trouble the House with; and it is added, in these said recited cases, to communicate with the Jew seems to be mortal sin. The Sovereign of this country dare not, among his counsellors, take any one who will not bow the knee to Him to whom every knee shall bow; and whether this House pass it or not, it is the duty of the Sovereign to refuse to give his assent. But you turn round and say that every man has a right to worship God as he pleases. He denied it—["Hear, hear!"]—he denied it point blank. He was glad of that cry of "Hear" from hon. Gentlemen opposite. The declaration generally came from gentlemen who were called Bible Christians. Now, he should like to know where they found in the Bible authority for the statement that a man was sent into the world to worship God as he himself pleased. From his small knowledge of the Scriptures, he knew that the way in which a man should worship God was accurately prescribed, and that no Christian dare worship Him but in that one way. Moreover, he found that the first gentleman who took his own way in this matter, and was what might be called an Independent or Free Churchman—was Cain. It was very fine to talk of the universal equality of man; but this was mere unsanctified benevolence. He had been struck by a passage he read not long ago, in which it was said that the time was when the nations of the earth were bound together in unity with Rome for their universal centre, while the talisman which bound them was credo. All this was changed. True, we were still bound together, but our centre was the Stock Exchange, and the talisman which governed us was not credo, but credit. It, is not credo—no one says I believe in anything; but credit, he believes some one else. The Bill before the House originated in these circumstances:—The rabble of London, partly out of the love of mischief, partly from contempt of the House of Commons, and partly from a desire to give a slap in the face of Christianity, elected a Jew. If you can with safe consciences admit him, do so; he, with a safe conscience, could not and would not.


said, that he believed he was doing that which was most in accord- ance with the Christian doctrines, and was most calculated to do God's work, when he supported this Bill. He could not agree with an hon. Member who said that it was not persecution to keep a Jew out of that House; for he considered that it was just as much persecution to withhold from any man that which was his due, as to take from him that which he had. No class of persons, compared with their numbers, had done so much to advance this country in wealth, in commercial and monetary transcendence, and in all that constituted national greatness, as the Jews had done; and they had, therefore, as strong a claim as any other portion of our people to share our national privileges. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had addressed the House first that night, said that the atheist was also excluded by this oath. But that was not the fact; for while the atheist, without any misgiving of conscience or fear of God, took the oath and was admitted, the more conscientious Jew was alone excluded. Inferences unfavourable to the Jewish claims had been drawn from the occupations followed by portions of that people. But the fact was, that Christians had oppressed the Jews, prevented their trafficking like other men, deprived them of their municipal rights, and had thus driven them to resort to cunning, craft, and subtlety, and to exercise the ingenuity which they possessed above other men in doing what was disreputable. It was said, again, that the admission of Jews to that House would unchristianise it. But if that were so, then every time that a Jew went into a jury-box, took his seat as an alderman, or voted as an elector, he unchristianised the body in whose deliberations or actions he took part. It had been well remarked by an able writer, that it was the hard fate of Jews to be persecuted alike by infidels and Christians; they were hated by Voltaire and Gibbon because they were living evidence of the truth of the Old Testament; and they were detested by Christians because of their (the Christians') faith in the New Testament. He was told that they were God's people, and that we ought not to interfere with his dispensations towards them; he admitted that, but he did not find that he was anywhere appointed to carry out these dispensations. After giving this subject the best consideration possible, he believed that he should best carry out the principles of Christianity, and act in a manner the most acceptable to God, by supporting the measure before the House.


said, that he would adduce as an authority in favour of the vote he should give on this occasion, the work of Mr. Gladstone, entitled, The Church in its Relations to the State—a less exalted person, but a more consistent politician, than the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone). In that book it was declared that "conformity to the religion of the State was an indispensable qualification for office;" and one reason why it was so was stated to be, because otherwise they could not join in a supplication to God for guidance in the task imposed upon them. He felt the more called upon to make this statement, because the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. B. Osborne) had said that the oath taken by a Member of Parliament was a solemn farce. He did not consider it so when he took it, and he believed that the hon. Member, in the opinion he had expressed, occupied a very isolated position. They had had an example of the value of these oaths only the other day, when, after the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Lucas) was pleased to indulge in language towards the Church of England such as no Member who had taken the oath was warranted in doing, the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Serjeant Shee) got up and said that, so long as the necessity for taking that oath existed, he could not join in the expression of such sentiments towards the National Church. In the Bill now before the House it was proposed that the oath which had acted in this manner as a check upon this hon. Member, should be taken away. It had been said that the Jew had a right to come into the Legislature; but this was answered in a few words by the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier) in 1848, when he said that a Jew could not be a citizen of England, pledged to sustain its interests as paramount, without forfeiting the noblest expectations of a restored nationality. The Jew, not being an Englishman, had no right to a seat in the English Legislature. It was, indeed, said that, being admitted to act as jurors and magistrates, they should also be allowed to take their seats as Members of Parliament; but was there no difference between framing laws and carrying them out? Why were they asked now to alter the oaths of Members of Parliament? It was formerly said that the reason was to be found in the fact of the connexion of the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell) with the City of London, which had three times returned a Jew to that House. But it was no longer a question personal to that noble Lord; it had become a Cabinet question; he supposed because, as members of every religious denomination were in the present Cabinet, they thought it right that the Jews should be represented there, too. On a former occasion the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had appealed to Gentlemen on that side of the House, and had begged them to consider what they were, and what they were about to vote for. He might, were it becoming in him to do so, make similar appeals, with Hansard and bygone division lists in his hands, to hon. Members on the other side of that House, and noble Lords in the other, by whom it was said that this measure was to be carried. He trusted that Gentlemen returned by Protestant constituencies to uphold the Protestant constitutions of the country, would not be led away by specious and subtle arguments to support a Bill whose real effect would be to unchristianise a Legislature which had existed up to the present time on Christian principles.


Sir, I am anxious to make some few observations to the House, in consequence of the speech which has been addressed to it by my hon. and learned Friend who opened this discussion. Now it is not my wish to go into that part of the question to which he alluded with regard to the history of these oaths, the intention with which they were originally devised, and the changes in the mode of their application which have since resulted. That question has been decided by a Court of Law. In the case of Mr. Alderman Salomons, the whole question was set at rest. We have now to decide, not whether under the existing oath the Member for the City of London can take his seat, but upon the question of policy, whether this, the one sole and last restriction upon religious liberty, is any longer to be retained. If, therefore, I make any allusion to the history of the oath, I would do it merely to call the attention of the House to the state of confusion in which this question has got, through the changes which have been made from time to time in the oaths administered at this table, and the distinction made in these oaths with respect to the religious profession of the persons taking them. What says my hon. and learned Friend (Sir F. Thesiger)? He says that in the Act 7 James I., "for the better discovery of Popish recusants," the words at the end of the oath were added, as they were considered to be more binding than any others, and to have strengthened that part of the oath in which all mental reservation was disowned, by the addition, "I take it heartily, on the true faith of a Christian." That portion of the oath, which has been decided to be the substance of the oath, and not merely its form, has now passed entirely to the oath put to Protestants, and does not occur at all in the oath put to Catholics. There sits, under the gallery, an eminent merchant of the City of London, returned three times by upwards of 7,000 voters—by persons whom I will not designate as the rabble of the City of London—but by persons accustomed to exercise their franchises in favour of men of no small eminence, and who have on several occasions sent him to Parliament in defiance of those restrictions. And the proposal of my noble Friend (Lord John Russell), and of the Government, is not what was stated just now by the noble Lord who has just resumed his seat (Lord A. Vane), and by my hon. and learned Friend (Sir F. Thesiger), who, on this occasion, no doubt unwittingly, but still grossly, misstated an argument of Archbishop Whately. We do not propose that, in consequence of that election, the existing law should be broken through and set aside; but we take it as evidence of a state of feeling and of public opinion that makes it prudent in this House to take this question into consideration, with a view to alter a law that presses upon a large portion of our fellow-subjects. Archbishop Whately never said that if a constituency elected a person not qualified, that therefore he should sit. Although a legislator, he does not yet consider himself above the law, and he would not propose any such infraction of our law. What Archbishop Whately said was, that the law as it stood was a restriction on the power of the electors who were Christians to choose what man they desired, and that therefore the law should be altered. It was admitted, I think almost even by my hon. and learned Friend, that the exclusion of the Jews by this oath was accidental. He urged, indeed, and I think with truth, that at that time the Jews were admissible, not because the Legislature wished to admit them, but be- cause it never took cognisance of the question. But, still, the exclusion is now accidental; that is, it was directed against others; but now, by the change of circumstances, it excludes them. The Earl of Shaftesbury himself admitted that, and even went further, for he said that, if that accidental exclusion did not exist, if the bar was not there, he, for one, would not propose to rear it against the Jews. Well, but if it is a question of principle, why should we shrink from the course? If it is right that the Jew should not be admitted to Parliament, why should not a barrier be erected against him supposing that it did not now exist. In the year 1678 Mr. Penn was called before a Committee of the House of Commons for refusing to take the oaths, and in the course of the discussion he used these words, which are worth reading, because there is a similarity between his position then, and the position of the Jews now:— We think it hard that, though we deny, in common with you, those doctrines of Rome so zealously protested against, yet that we should be so unhappy as to suffer, and that with extreme severity, by laws made only against the maintenance of those doctrines which we do so deny. I apprehend the Jews do that to an extent to satisfy the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate). We choose no suffering, for God knows what we have already suffered, and how many sufficient and trading families have been reduced to great poverty by it. We think ourselves a useful people; we are sure we are a peaceful people; yet, if we must suffer, let us not suffer as Popish recusants, but as Protestant Dissenters. The grievance, so far as the Quakers were concerned, has been long since removed—not, however, so long since, for I can recollect the occasion of its being done; but with regard to the exclusion of those other persons, which is equally accidental, the full effect of the oath is maintained. At this moment it has given rise to a case of grievance in the metropolis of the Empire; and if you continue to be deaf to the entreaties of those classes of religionists, and if you refuse to remove the disabilities under which they labour, depend upon it that you will have more cases of the same description. You will have more cases of the election of Jews than you would have if the Jews were admitted to Parliament, because the persons who are enthusiastic advocates of religious liberty will elect Jews to Parliament; and simply as a protest against the degradation that is placed upon that portion of society. It was said by the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) that if this were merely a question of policy, there would not be one word of argument to be urged against it. I will not enter into the religious grounds to which he referred, and as to the arguments I confess I am unable to understand them; but with regard to the question of policy, I ask, Is it for creed you exclude the Jew? I think not, because I observe that hon. Members are unwilling to pledge themselves to the opinion or to the principle that you have a right to exclude men simply on account of their religious belief; but then you say that you exclude the Jew on account of his nationality. You admit that no Englishman can be excluded on the ground of religious belief; but then you say the Jew is not an Englishman. But if a man professing the Jewish creed is not an Englishman, to what country does he belong? He may become naturalised—he may be an Englishman born and bred—and where can you point out the flaw in his title to be called an Englishman? You refuse no service from him. You raise taxes from him. You not only admit of, but insist on, his acceptance of civic office. You exclude him, you say, on account of his nationality, his origin, and his race; but if that be true, and if you say there is an inherent nationality about the Jew—about his race and about his origin—why do you not exclude a converted Jew? His race, his origin, and his blood are the same; and on what principle did you allow a converted Jew to sit in Parliament for several years? You admit in this debate that the Jew can be naturalised—that he may be an Englishman born and bred—and you attempt to prove that he has another nationality; but there is no such thing as a Jewish nation—and I say you have given no proof of the assertion, that although he may be formally and legally naturalised—that although he may be an Englishman, and although you may exact English duties from him, he is only "amongst us," but not "with us," and that he has no sympathy for the nation in which he lives. Is it the fact, is it true, that the Jew has never been absorbed into the people of the nation amongst whom he lives? How have we treated the Jews? Have we welcomed them when they came to us from the different countries of Europe, so as to make them sympathise warmly with the practices of this country? What is the history of the Jew in this country? It is a history of persecution. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] It is a history of fine, imprisonment, and persecution. [Cries of "No, no!"] No, not now; but you have no right to claim upon your side of the argument the merit of the relaxations which have been made in his favour, because they were not made with your sanction. You must recollect that for many years the Jews were in a state of degradation, not only in this country, but throughout Europe; and has there been no change in their conduct, or in the Jews' character, since the laws against them were relaxed? Has there not been a better appreciation, on the part of the Jew, of the lights of Christianity, in consequence of the altered arrangements between him and the Government and Legislature under which he lives? Is it not admitted that the Jews have cast off many of those antisocial doctrines that they formerly maintained? The English Jews have shown their wish to be absorbed into the country in which they live; to bear their part of the public burdens, and to give their services in return for the privileges to which British subjects are entitled; but at the same time have we done all that is necessary on our part? It is true that you have admitted the Jews to civic offices; and I do not know on what principle my hon. and learned Friend opposite does not move for the repeal of the Act by which they are enabled to fill those civic offices. He laid down as his opinion that you should admit the Jews to civil rights; he said that you ought to give him personal liberty, and the rights of possessing personal property; but if that is to be all you are to give, will you be giving him the full rights of citizenship? Hear the opinion of another lawyer on the subject; here is what Lord Bacon says:— It seemeth admirable unto me to consider with what a measured hand and with how true proportions our law doth impart and confer the several degrees of this benefit. The degrees are four. The first degree of persons, as to this purpose, that the law takes knowledge of, is an alien enemy; that is, such a one as is born under the obeisance of a prince or State that is in hostility with the King of England. … The second person is an alien friend, that is, such a one as is born under the obeisance of such a king or State as is confederate with the King of England, or at least not in war with him. … The third person is a denizen, using the word properly, for sometimes it is confounded with a natural-born subject. … The fourth and last degree is a natural-born subject, which is evermore by birth, or by Act of Parliament, and he is complete and entire. For in the law of England there is nil ultra, there is no more subdivision or more subtle division beyond these: and therein it seemeth to me that the wisdom of the law, as I said, is to be admired both ways, both because it distinguisheth so far, and because it doth not distinguish farther. For I know that other laws do admit more curious distinction of this privilege; for the Romans had, besides jus civitis, which answereth to naturalisation, jus suffragii. For, although a man were naturalised to take lands and inheritance, yet he was not enabled to have a voice at passing of laws, or at election of officers. And yet, farther, they have jus petitions or jus honorum. For, though a man had voice, yet he was not capable of honour and office. But these be the devices commonly of popular or free estates, which are jealous whom they take into their number, and are unfit for monarchies; but by the law of England, the subject that is natural born hath a capacity or ability to all benefits whatsoever. But even supposing you are right—which I do not admit—I want to know on what principle you can justify the admission of Jews to the offices they now hold. Surely there may be more danger to the State in admitting a Jew to a position where he is employed in administering an executive office—where the decision he makes affects the rights of Christians—where he administers oaths to Christians, and can act by his own will, untempered by the contemporaneous action of any other man on the subject, than in admitting him into this House. Compare that with the position of a gentleman of the Jewish persuasion in this House. Is Parliament to be told that his presence will unchristanise the Legislature and the Nation? Is it not idle to suppose that the presence of two or three gentlemen of that persuasion could make any difference in this House? My hon. and learned Friend says there are offices from which they should be excluded; but what does my hon. and learned Friend mean by saying that he would limit their rights to the possession of personal property, and the right of personal liberty, and nothing else?—


I said, civil rights.


We are advancing in the argument then; for once admit their fitness and right to possess those rights, and you have no right to use the argument that they should not be admitted to a share in the legislation of the country. I am willing to admit that those who maintain the policy of admitting the Jews to Parliament, labour under a great disadvantage; there are religious prejudices arrayed against us, while we have only ab- stract right to sustain us. We cannot make an impression upon the Legislature by influences that are brought to bear upon them on other occasions. Their numbers are few and insignificant; we cannot talk of them as Lord Plunkett did of the Roman Catholics; we cannot threaten you with the ira leonum vincla recusandum; the Jews cannot say, as Mr. O'Connell used to say, "we are eight millions." There is no necessity, if our foreign relations should become unsettled, of sending "a message of peace" to the Jews. Those who entertain this question, are therefore bound to consider it more generously than they would otherwise do. You have the whole force and weight of prejudice in your favour, but that will ultimately fail. At present what happens? The most eminent men at your own side, one by one, leave you on this question. Lord George Bentinck, who was never afraid of defending his extreme opinions, left you on this subject, and voted against you: the most successful and brilliant orator you have is on this question altogether against you; and the young man of greatest promise amongst your ranks has now for the first time opposed you on this subject. That is not all—yesterday there was a meeting of Convocation in Oxford to address to this House a petition against the Bill of my noble Friend; and for the first time in the House of Convocation there was resistance to such a proposition. ["Oh, oh!"] It would appear that the hon. Gentlemen opposite have a worse opinion of the University of Oxford than it deserves. They thought that the University was impervious to truth or justice; but I am happy to inform them it is not the case, for yesterday, when this petition was moved in Convocation, a discussion took place, and thirty-one voted in the minority against seventy-three—the minority including seven of the Hebdomadal Board. I am so far from thinking that religion has nothing to do with politics that I believe unless religion be the animating spirit to guide us in all our measures—unless we infuse into our measures the real spirit of Christianity, our legislation will be nothing worth, and the prosperity of the country will pass away. But when you talk of religion, there is another principle which you are constantly confounding with it, I mean sectarianism. But if Parliament is to be a representation of the whole mass of the community, then I say that in a free country like this, with great licence in matters of reli- gious debate, in a country in which religious bodies are divided into innumerable sects, this House must reflect their different opinions, or it is not an accurate representation of the country. You do not say that you unchristianise the Bar, or that you unchristianise the Bench, by admitting Jews, and you cannot say that the nation is unchristianised by their existence in it; and the great truth which, after all our changes of constitution, has now became an axiom is, that no British-born subject should be excluded from his political rights on account of his religion. My hon. and learned Friend says that, for his part, he does not attach any importance to the argument which has been frequently used in this House, that by doing away with the restrictions on the Jews we are setting ourselves against the intentions of the Divine power. I think almost everybody will agree with me that, whatever we intend to do, we cannot affect to be the instruments of Divine power. We have no right to call ourselves the instruments of those great dispensations which are effected by means which are unknown and incomprehensible—still less have we a right to arrogate such a position to ourselves, for the purpose of protracting the severities or punishments which the Almighty may have decreed against our fellow creatures. I should lament if any Gentleman in this House, from such a principle as that, chose to set himself up as a systematic persecutor of the Jews. I know many Gentlemen object to the word "persecution" being used in consequence of the refusal of political rights, and it is said to be an exaggeration of the term; but it is not, for you still persecute, though in a different manner from that formerly adopted. I believe there is a more enlightened spirit abroad; but, at the same time, I cannot conceal from myself the fact that it is owing to changed manners, and a certain squeamishness on this point, that we are obliged to substitute political disabilities for burnings, and so on—just as we have substituted a more cautious and less destructive method of resenting an insult than our forefathers did, who ran a man through the body, or shot him with a pistol because he took the wall of him. It is the change of manners that has made us more scrupulous and nice on these points; but we must not in our optimism think we have entirely lost the spirit that animated them. It is true that we cannot carry out our wishes in the same manner, and must confine ourselves to small restrictions and petty annoyances; but there is not less of the sign of an intention to persecute, and it is not the less accepted as the declaration of a desire to do so. An hon. Member has objected to the Bill, because he says it will remove from the oaths we take the profession of Christianity. I don't doubt that he has formed that opinion from observing that a large number of the petitions lately presented to this House on the subject are all identically to the same effect, and bear the same character. Not far from this House there is a democratic club formed with a view to influence the decisions of the House by external agitation, and they have issued a petition signed by a number of persons, now amounting to about 10,000, in which it is stated that Her Majesty's Government are about to remove the profession of Christianity from the oath taken by Members of Parliament before they take their seats. Now, in the first place, the profession of Christianity is not required in every case before a Member takes his seat. It is not made by the Roman Catholic Members; and if you read the Roman Catholic oath, you will see there is no profession of Christianity required by it. I say there is no intention by this Bill to annul the profession in the oath we take. I would wish to see those oaths greatly simplified; but in the morbid state of feeling on this subject, who would be the man bold enough to encounter the amount of prejudice that would be levelled at his head if he attempted to do so? It was only the other day that the oath we take staggered a noble Lord in the House of Lords, who refused for some time to take his seat in that House because he could not conscientiously swear to a particular statement laid down in that oath; and he was obliged to have recourse to the subtilty of the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin to relieve his conscience. The petition to which I have referred prays, "that the House will not consent to sacrifice the Christian character of this Christian nation." If that is to be done by omitting the profession of Christianity, it does not exist already in one of the oaths that is not attempted to be touched, and I think that an argument founded upon a statement of such little accuracy cannot long take hold of the public mind. I do not believe the tendency of this measure is in the slightest degree to weaken Christianity in this House or in the country. If I thought so for one moment, God knows I Would not give my consent to it; but I support it because, on the contrary, I believe that by passing this measure we shall set an example to all the countries of the world that our profession of Christianity is not a mere theory we hold, but a practice we apply; that we do not seek to use it as a means of annoyance or disturbance to others, but, on the contrary, that we are impressed with the true spirit of religion, from which freedom is deducible as a dogma, and that we believe that, so far from religion and liberty being antagonistic, they are united; and in this country, professing, as the great majority does, the Protestant faith—a faith which, I maintain, has a political signification as well as a religious, and that political signification is liberty of conscience—I say we will show to all the nations of the earth that we do not look upon religion merely as a weapon to be used against those who differ from us in theology, but that we are determined to carry out in our legislation the spirit of the Gospel, which is a spirit of mercy and of love, and of good will amongst men.


said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman had done great injustice to the hon. and learned Member who had opened this debate (Sir F. Thesiger); who certainly had not made those charges of indifference to religion against those with whom he did not agree in opinion, which had been freely indulged in by the right hon. Gentleman. The arguments of the right hon. Gentleman were couched in mild language, and were set off by a gentle manner, but they were intended to convey imputations against others of as grave a character as could well be supposed. If the right hon. Gentleman thought that the people of this country held those opinions as matters of principle, why did the right hon. Gentleman denounce that principle as a religious prejudice? That was not a very likely mode of changing the convictions of Gentlemen who were as conscientious as himself. The right hon. Gentleman also went on to designate the religion of the Members of that House as sectarianism; but if they were to admit persons of every faith into that House, be they Jews, Mahommedans, atheists, or anything else, what was to become of their common Christianity, and where were they to derive the principles which were to form the basis of the legislation of that House? The right hon. Gentleman had asserted that public opinion was changing upon this question, and instanced several Members of that House upon that (the Opposition) side, who had either always held the same opinions upon this subject, or had changed their original opinions upon it. But were the views of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to this measure making progress as concerned the votes of that House? Why, the last Parliament supported a measure of this kind by a larger majority than the noble Lord had succeeded in obtaining upon the introduction of this Bill. But the right hon. Gentleman took them for evidence of this growth of public opinion to the University of Oxford. Now, it was not very remarkable, considering the opinions held by one of the representatives of that learned body, that an attempt should have been made to create a diversion in favour of this Bill at the late meeting of the Convocation of the University; and the right hon. Gentleman surely did not derive any very great force from the fact that it was impossible to get thirty-one gentlemen to vote in a different manner from the seventy-three other members of the Convocation. Therefore he was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have called that witness into the box, seeing how little the testimony was worth. The right hon. Gentleman had thought it worthy of him to affix the term (which was, perhaps, quite complimentary on his own side of the House)—the term "democratic" upon a society which he said congregated somewhere in that neighbourhood, and circulated petitions upon this matter. He (Mr. Henley) did not exactly know to what the right hon. Gentleman alluded; but if any society circulated petitions they would not be signed if people did not approve of them; and it came rather ill from the right hon. Gentleman, considering with whom he was now associated, to talk of the circulation of petitions, for his own side of the House were much greater adepts at the trade of getting up petitions than the other side claimed to be. But what were the real merits of this question? It had been argued on the other side as if every man had an abstract right to enter that House without any qualification whatever; and it had been charged upon those who said in broad language that the qualification of being or professing to be a Christian was necessary to enable a Member to take his seat in that House, that they showed a persecuting spirit. The right hon. Gentleman, in his studied peroration, did not hesitate to say that the opponents of this Bill, were it not for the change that had taken place in the manners of the times, would be ready to go back to the fires of Smithfield, and would burn people on account of their religion. The right hon. Gentleman also said that the profession of Christianity was not required from the Roman Catholic Members of that House on taking their seats. Now, he (Mr. Henley) very much doubted the accuracy of that statement. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that a Roman Catholic did not call himself a Christian? Was that the right hon. Gentleman's enlarged Christianity? The right hon. Gentleman knew that every Gentleman presenting himself at that table could not take the Roman Catholic oath unless he declared himself to be a Roman Catholic, nor could he take that oath except upon the New Testament. He (Mr. Henley) did not regard this as a political but as a religious question. The right hon. Gentleman might call that prejudice if he liked, but such was his opinion. If anything more than another completely refuted all the arguments of the other side, it was this very Bill itself; because how could it be consistently maintained that a person not being a Christian was competent to enter that House, and to make laws affecting the Church and the religion of this country, and yet that he was not competent to advise the Crown upon such matters? The restraint which this Bill imposed upon a Jew from giving advice to the Crown, in certain specified instances, was, in his (Mr. Henley's) mind, just as great an exclusion and as great a persecution as was the refusal to admit the Jew into that House. Surely the making of laws that were to bind the whole community, and to bind the persons who had to give advice to the Crown, was a much more solemn and more important function than the office of giving advice to the Crown, which might or might not be followed. And when it was said that they permitted the Jews to hold the office of magistrate, his answer was that a magistrate had only to administer the law, and if he did wrong there was a tribunal which might be appealed to to set him right; whereas those who were entrusted with the power of making laws were subject to no control but their own conscience, and hence the necessity of imposing these oaths. Having, therefore, seen no reason to change the opinions he had formerly en- tertained upon this subject, he must still vote against the second reading of this Bill.


Sir, after two nights of debate upon a Motion which I had the honour to introduce, I trust the House will allow me to give some answer to the arguments which have been used against the proposition which I then brought forward. Before doing so I may be allowed to mention a matter which is certainly personal to myself. It was raised in the discussion which took place upon the last night of debate with regard to my position in respect to this question. It was represented by an hon. Member—following, I have no doubt, what he had learnt out of doors—that I had introduced this question solely from a regard for the constituents whom I represent, who have elected a Jew for the purpose of sitting in this House. Sir, it so happens that before there was any question of the election of Baron Rothschild, I was solicited by the Jews to undertake this question; and if I am asked why they so solicited me, I can only say that I had always taken a part upon questions of this kind—that I had spoken upon the second reading of a Bill which was introduced to this House by Sir Robert Grant, as far back as the year 1833 or 1834—and it so happened, likewise, that I had spoken upon a question of a similar nature a little before the time (I believe in the year 1846) when the members of the Jewish persuasion requested me undertake this subject. Sir, in a similar manner, many years ago, I was asked by the Protestant Dissenters to undertake to bring forward a Bill for the removal of the disabilities which were imposed upon them by the Test and Corporation Act. I imagine that the Protestant Dissenters thus applied to me for the same reason. I had no personal interest in that question, any more than I have a personal interest in this; but feeling a very strong regard for any class of persons who are excluded by what I think unjust restrictions, when called upon by those who were suffering under such a grievance to undertake the advocacy of their cause, I could not refuse to do so. Sir, with respect to the argument upon this question, in reference to one point at least, I think, we have now pretty nearly come to a unanimous agreement; so that only one point now remains to be touched upon. We are all pretty nearly agreed upon the historical question as to the introduction of the oath we are now considering. The hon. and learned Gentleman op- posite (Sir F. Thesiger) concurs with me that the excluding words in the oath were not introduced for the purpose of shutting out the Jews, but for another and a different purpose, namely, that of putting a more stringent test upon the Roman Catholics. I am quite willing to concede, on the other hand, that if it had been proposed at that time to admit the Jews into Parliament, the Parliament of that day would not have permitted them to take their seats in this House. But I think the ground that would have been then taken to justify their exclusion would not have been a religious ground, but would have been the objection that they were aliens—the objection which was afterwards taken so late as the reign of William III., as the hon. and learned Gentleman has stated. I do not contend, then, that the Parliament of that day, if this question had been brought before them, would not have excluded the Jews. What I contend for is this, that in point of fact Parliament never did introduce any declaration or test to set up a religious bar for the exclusion of the Jews. Therefore, it remains for us to consider now, not whether we shall remove a bar which has been deliberately set up in order to exclude the Jews from Parliament, but whether we shall remove a bar that was established for a different purpose, and which now by accident, as it were, tends to the exclusion of the Jew. That, I believe, is the whole of the historical branch of the question, upon which there is now very little difference of opinion. Well, then, Sir, if I were to take the opinions of those who oppose this Motion—such as the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond)—I should say, also, that I think there can be very little difference between us upon the political grounds of this question; because the hon. Gentleman admits that there are no political reasons whatever to warrant the exclusion of the Jew. Upon this point I think the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last, taking a ground much weaker than that of the hon. Member for West Surrey, totally failed to show that upon political considerations you can exclude the Jew, because all the arguments which the right hon. Gentleman urged upon this part of the subject go much more in favour of the exclusion of other persons belonging to the denominations dissenting from the Established Church, than for the exclusion of the Jews, because the class of questions to which he refers are much more likely to meet with opposition in this House from those who differ from the Established Church than from the Jews. Take the Union with Scotland, which introduced the Presbyterians into this House. All questions with regard to episcopacy and episcopal authorities are matters upon which, according to the principles of the right hon. Gentleman, the Presbyterians are not fit to decide—they are opposed to episcopacy altogether, and, according to his argument, they ought not to be allowed to sit in this House. Then take the case of questions affecting the maintenance of the Protestant Church or the Protestant religion; the Roman Catholic Members of this House have no sympathy with any Bills or any Motions that may be introduced into this House on that subject, nor even with the maintenance of the law as it now exists, and the argument, if it be good for anything, would go to the exclusion of the Roman Catholics. But when we come to the case of the Jews, there are but very few questions indeed upon which they would feel an interest contrary to that of the majority of the country. The question of the observance of the Sabbath has been referred to—that is the only question on which the Jews might be opposed to Christian institutions; but I hardly think it is one that would ever lead to discussion in this House, and I cannot see that they could make any great progress if they introduced any Bill upon the subject of the observance of the Sabbath. Well, then, the question is simply reduced to this, that there is a difference of religious opinion—it is on account of the religious error of the Jews that we are asked to maintain their exclusion from this House. Now, Sir, upon that question I feel that it is too late in the day to argue. The proposition that on the ground of their religious opinions on account of the wide difference between them and the Christians, the Jews ought to be excluded by a Christian Legislature, proceeds upon a principle upon which I cannot any longer argue, and towards which I certainly have the strongest antipathy. My belief is, that the imposing of a penalty, the imposing of a disability upon a man because he is of a different religion, is in principle exactly the same as imposing further penalties—the same as imposing fine and imprisonment, and even inflicting the punishment of death itself. There is a great difference in point of severity, no doubt; but my right hon. Friend (Mr. Sidney Herbert) pointed out, in his admirable speech, that there is no difference in principle between the persecutions that prevailed in former centuries, and a disability like the present. In point of principle, those who condemn the Madiai to imprisonment on account of their religious faith are not doing otherwise, nor acting upon any other principle, than those who exclude the Jews from Parliament. This is undoubtedly—as the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last said—this is a question of principle. I admit that there is a principle in opposition to this measure, but it is a principle which, for my own part, I cannot distinguish from the principle of religious persecution. Well then, I say, here are two principles opposed to each other; and hon. Gentlemen must take their stand upon either the one or the other. If they take their stand upon the one principle, it is the principle upon which all persecution has been justified, upon which all penalties have been imposed, and which has led to the dreadful scenes of civil war, of dissension, and of desolation, which have been witnessed from the earliest history of the world down to the present time. The other principle is the principle which has gradually grown as civilisation has extended, which tends to peace, which tends to make men love one another, which induces them to live harmoniously in their families, which induces them to live in concord with the State, which leaves every man in the possession and independent exercise of his own religious convictions; and which thereby removing all penalties, removing all disabilities, removing all punishment from the profession of faith, does, I believe, conduce more than the severest inflictions, more than the fire and the rack, more than the most solemn oaths and declarations, to the diffusion of just opinion, and to the prevalence and supremacy of truth. It is because I glory in those opinions—it is because I am not indifferent to the triumphs of Christianity, but because I believe that Christianity will triumph in the greatest liberty and amidst diversity of opinions, it is upon these grounds that I hope that that triumph will be aided by the removal of the last of those disabilities.


said, that as one who had long taken a deep interest in the subject, and who conscientiously opposed the measure submitted to the House, he could not sit silent under the imputation cast by the noble Lord, who, deliberately reaffirming the opinion of his Colleague who preceded him, had accused of per secution every man who would maintain the profession of Christianity as a qualification for that House. The noble Lord had assumed as the basis of his argument, that no peculiarity of religious opinion ought to disqualify any man for any civil or political office or function, and said that this was a religious question, and that those who voted against this measure would be guilty of religious persecution. But if so, how would the noble Lord justify the restrictions he proposed in this Bill—the exclusion of every Jew, however eminent, from the "office of Guardian, or Justice, or Regent of the United Kingdom," or Lord High Chancellor? That was "persecution," according to the noble Lord's own definition. Why did the noble Lord propose to forbid a Jew to be Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, or High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland? Why did the noble Lord, by the provisions of his Bill, forbid a Jew to hold any office in the Ecclesiastical Courts, or take part in the administration of the Universities? The noble Lord had condemned all such exclusions as "persecution." The noble Lord had either condemned the provisions of his own Bill, or his own Bill condemned the speech of the noble Lord. The noble Lord had been for five years proposing Bills for the admission of the Jews, not only to that House, but to these very offices; and if it took him five years to discover that they were unfit for admission to these offices—that their admission to these offices would be dangerous to our institutions, why were Members now to take his opinion in preference to their own conscientious convictions that it was dangerous to the interests of the State that laws should be made by Jews for a Christian country? The Secretary at War referred to the case of Mr. Pease, as though the claims of the Quakers, who had been admitted to the House, were analogous to those of the Jews; but Mr. Pease declared that he held all the doctrines of the Church of England, except on matters of discipline. Mr. Pease made that declaration in his evidence before the Committee on Oaths, which sat in 1850; to which he begged to refer hon. Members who doubted that assertion. There could therefore be no analogy between the cases of Mr. Pease and of Baron Rothschild, for the former had declared himself emphatically a Chris- tian, and the latter avowed himself no less honestly a Jew. The Secretary at War said that the exclusion of the avowed unbeliever in Christ was the last miserable remnant of religious intolerance upon the Statute-book. It was the barrier between the Christianity of the House and the introduction of down-right atheism; for when the hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the rejection of this Bill said that if the Jew was admitted, there was no principle on which the atheist could be excluded, he was met by responsive cheers from the other side of the House. But would the House tell the people of England that it had provided that the atheism of the country should be represented? Hon. Members opposite had asserted that as the principle of this Bill early in the evening. If the principle was just that all opinions should be represented without restriction, why not atheism? And if all opinions—that term includes all virtues—why not all vices? There was no limit if this barrier was broken down. The noble Lord had alluded to the persecution of Francisco and Rosa Madiai; and had ventured to assert that those who would maintain the profession of Christianity as a necessary qualification for admission to that House, were actuated by the same spirit as the persecutors of Francesco and Rosa Madiai. He (Mr. Newdegate) was surprised that the noble Lord had ventured to allude to that case. Did he think it would be any consolation or encouragement to those faithful Christians, who had given up everything rather than abandon the profession of their faith—their Protestant Christianity—to hear that the Legislature of Protestant England had cast from it the profession of Christianity? Would not the ultramontane priests, at whose instance they had been cast into the Tuscan dungeons, if this measure were to pass, seek them in the solitude of what the Member for Meath (Mr. Lucas) called "their comfortable prisons," and say, "We told you there was no difference between Protestantism and infidelity? What need have you of further proof? Protestant England has rejected Christianity, as the characteristic of her Parliament." Would not the efforts of our missionaries be crippled throughout the world, and the sincerity of a country be doubted which called itself Protestant, and was willing that its legislation should be no longer Christian? Would the Jewish gentleman himself, who was so sincere in his rejection of Christianity as to give up the object of his ambition rather than abandon the profession of his faith, respect our sincerity? It was useless to argue that every man who might harmlessly exercise subordinate and ministerial functions, was therefore fit to legislate. Legislatorial functions were very different from magisterial. There was no guarantee that the tolerant spirit of Christianity should pervade our laws but the Christian character of those who framed them. This Bill would make the profession of Judaism a qualification for admission to Parliament equivalent to that of Christianity;—and what was Judaism? A religion lamentably intolerant in its doctrines. Let not hon. Members imagine that by passing this measure they would get rid of religious discussion. This measure would not get rid of religious discussion; it would but send it to the hustings, where coarse voices would be found to cry—" Vote for the Jew!" "Out with the Christian!" "Judaism is as good as Christianity!" "Christianity is no better than infidelity!"


said, that if the House would indulge him for the short space of two minutes, he would undertake to reciprocate its kindness by confining his observations within the time he had limitted himself to. He could not allow that debate to conclude without some Irish Catholic Member rising, to express that he gave his cordial support to the present Bill. He had the honour to represent the largest Catholic constituency in the Empire, comprising four bishops, some hundreds of clergy, and half-a-million of inhabitants; and he believed, he expressed the unanimous sentiments of those prelates, priests, and people in voting for this measure. The false imputations so freely cast upon Roman Catholics in connexion with the case of the Madiais, peculiarly entitled one of their body to be heard on this occasion. Those imputations were entirely unfounded. Whatever might be the opinion of Roman Catholics in regard to the correspondence which had taken place on the Madiai matter, he had never heard any Catholic, cither in or out of that House, express approbation of the Tuscan law, under which those persons had been condemned. But if the hon. and learned Member for Stamford (Sir F. Thesiger) was right in his argument, that there is no persecution in using bolts and bars for the purpose of excluding persons from particular places, merely because their religion differs from that of the English State, it would equally follow that there was also no persecution in using bolts and bars to prevent the Madiais from preselytising persons from the religion of the Tuscan State. He believed that persecution was equally involved in both those processes, and he could not concur with those who regarded the present as raising a religious question apart from persecution for conscience sake. Obscure pamphleteers had been referred to on the other side; but he would quote the words of an illustrious Irishman, whose authority had always carried great weight in that House. The late Duke of Wellington, when moving the second reading of the Maynooth Endowment Act, in the year 1845, concluded his speech with some impressive words, which appeared peculiarly applicable in the present case. In reply to arguments similar to those now urged against the present measure, that distinguished Irishman, emphatically stated— There is no religious principle involved in this question. But there is a great Christian principle involved in it—the principle of abstaining from persecution. And if you are strong, it is your duty not to persecute the weak. It is your duty not even to appear to persecute the weak, and I entreat of you to stand by me in enforcing that principle, and to give your unanimous assent to this Bill." [3 Hansard, lxxx. 1174.]

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

The House divided:—Ayes 263; Noes 212: Majority 51.

List of the AYES.
Adair, H. E. Brockman, E. D.
Alcock, T. Brotherton, J.
Anderson, Sir J. Brown, W.
Anson, hon. Gen. Browne, V. A.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Bruce, H. A.
Ball, E. Bulkeley, Sir R. B. W.
Ball, J. Butler, C. S.
Baring, H. B. Byng, hon. G. H. C.
Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T Cardwell, rt. hon. E.
Barnes, T. Caulfeild, Col. J. M.
Bass, M. T. Cavendish, hon. C. C.
Beaumont, W. B. Cavendish, hon. G.
Bell, J. Cayley, E. S.
Berkeley, Adm. Challis, Ald.
Berkeley, hon. C. F. Chambers, M.
Bethell, R. Chambers, T.
Biggs, W. Charteris, hon. F.
Blackett, J. F. B. Cheetham, J.
Blake, M. J. Clay, Sir W.
Bonham-Carter, J. Clifford, H. M.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Clinton, Lord R.
Bowyer, G. Cobden, R.
Boyle, hon. Col. Cockburn, Sir A. J. E.
Brady, J. Coffin, W.
Brand, hon. H. Cogan, W. H. F.
Bright, J. Cowan, C.
Brocklehurst, J. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Hume, J.
Crook, J. Hutchins, E. J.
Crossley, F. Hutt, W.
Cubitt, Ald. Ingham, R.
Currie, R. Jackson, W.
Dalrymple, Visct. Keating, R.
Dashwood, Sir G. H. Keating, H. S.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Kennedy, T.
Denison, J. E. Kershaw, J.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. King, hon. P. J. L.
Drumlanrig, Visct. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Duff, G. S. Kirk, W.
Duff, J. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Duffy, C. G. Laing, S.
Duke, Sir J. Langston, J. H.
Duncan, G. Langton, H. G.
Duncombe, T. Laslett, W.
Dundas, F. Lawley, hon. F. C.
Dunlop, A. M. Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F.
Ellice, rt. hon. E. Locke, J.
Ellice, E. Loveden, P.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Lowe, R.
Esmonde, J. Lucas, F.
Evans, Sir De L. M'Cann, J.
Evans, W. M'Gregor, J.
Ewart, W. M'Taggart, Sir J.
Fagan, W. Maguire, J. F.
Ferguson, Sir R. Mangles, R. D.
Ferguson, J. Marshall, W.
Fitzgerald, J. D. Martin, J.
Fitzgerald, Sir J. F. Massey, W. N.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Matheson, A.
Forster, M. Matheson, Sir J.
Forster, C. Maule, hon. Col.
Fortescue, C. Meagher, T.
Fox, W. J. Miall, E.
Freestun, Col. Milligan, R.
French, F. Mills, T.
Gardner, R. Milner, W. M. E.
Gaskell, J. M. Milnes, R. M.
Geach, C. Michell, W.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Mitchell, T. A.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. Moffatt, G.
Glyn, G. C. Molesworth, rt. hn. Sir W.
Goodman, Sir G. Monck, Visct.
Gower, hon. F. L. Moncreiff, J.
Grace, O. D. J. Monsell, W.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Morris, D.
Greene, J. Mulgrave, Earl of
Gregson, S. Murphy, F. S.
Grenfell, C. W. Murrough, J. P.
Greville, Col. F. Norreys, Lord
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. O'Brien, P.
Grosvenor, Lord R. O'Brien, Sir T.
Hadfield, G. O'Connell, M.
Hall, Sir B. Oliveira, B.
Hanmer, Sir J. Osborne, R.
Harcourt, G. G. Otway, A. J.
Hastie, A. Owen, Sir J.
Hastie, A. Paget, Lord A.
Headlam, T. E. Paget, Lord G.
Heathcoat, J. Palmerston, Visct.
Heneage, G. F. Pechell, Sir G. B.
Herbert, H. A. Peel, F.
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Pellatt, A.
Heywood, J. Peto, S. M.
Heyworth, L. Phillimore, J. G.
Higgins, G. G. O. Phillimore, R. J.
Hindley, C. Pigott, F.
Hogg, Sir J. W. Pilkington, J.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Ponsonby, hon. A. G. J.
Howard, Lord E. Potter, R.
Hudson, G. Price, W. P.
Ricardo, J. L. Sullivan, M.
Ricardo, O. Swift, R.
Rich, H. Talbot, C. R. M.
Robartes, T. J. A. Tancred, H. W.
Russell, Lord J. Thicknesse, R. A.
Russell, F. C. H. Thompson, G.
Russell, F. W. Thornely, T.
Sadleir, J. Towneley, C.
Sandars, G. Townshend, Capt.
Sawle, C. B. G. Traill, G.
Scholefield, W. Tufnell, rt. hon. H.
Scobell, Capt. Vane, Lord H.
Scrope, G. P. Vernon, G. E. H.
Scully, F. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Scully, V. Vivian, H. H.
Seymour, Lord Wall, C. B.
Seymour, H. D. Walmsley, Sir J.
Shafto, R. D. Walter, J.
Shee, W. Warner, E.
Shelburne, Earl of Whalley, G. H.
Shelley, Sir J. V. Wickham, H. W.
Sheridan, R. B. Wilkinson, W. A.
Smith, J. A. Willcox, B. M.
Smith, J. B. Williams, W.
Smith, M. T. Wilson, J.
Smith, rt. hon. R. V. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Stanley, Lord Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Stanley, hon. W. O. Wrightson, W. B.
Stansfield, W. R. C. Wyvill, M.
Stapleton, J. Young, rt. hon. Sir J.
Strickland, Sir G. TELLERS.
Strutt, rt. hon. E. Hayter, W. G.
Stuart, Lord D. Berkeley, C. G.
List of the Noes.
Acland, Sir T. D. Cholmondeley, Lord H.
A'Court, C. H. W. Christopher, rt. hn. R.A.
Adderley, C. B. Christy, S.
Annesley, Earl of Clinton, Lord C. P.
Arbuthnott, hon. Gen. Clive, R.
Arkwright, G. Cobbett, J. M.
Bagge, W. Cobbold, J. C.
Bailey, Sir J. Cocks, T. S.
Baillie, H. J. Codrington, Sir W.
Baldock, E. H. Coles, H. B.
Bankes, rt. hon. G. Colvile, C. R.
Barrington, Visct. Compton, H. C.
Barrow, W. H. Cotton, hon. W. H. S.
Beckett, W. Davies, D. A. S.
Bentinck, G. P. Davison, R.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Dering, Sir E.
Blair, Col. Dod, J. W.
Boldero, Col. Drummond, H.
Booker, T. W. Du Cane, C.
Booth, Sir R. G. Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.
Bramston, T. W. Duncombe, hon. A.
Bremridge, R. Duncombe, hon. O.
Brisco, M. Dundas, G.
Brooke, Lord East, Sir J. B.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Egerton, Sir P.
Bruce, C. L. C. Egerton, W. T.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Egerton, E. C.
Burghley, Lord Elmley, Visct.
Burroughes, H. N. Emlyn, Visct.
Butt, L Farnham, E. B.
Cabbell, B. B. Farrer, J.
Cairns, H. M. Fellowes, E.
Campbell, Sir A. I. Filmer, Sir E.
Carnac, Sir J. R. Floyer, J.
Chandos, Marq. of Forbes, W.
Chelsea, Visct. Forester, rt. hon. Col.
Child, S. Forster, Sir G.
Fraser, Sir W. A. Naas, Lord
Freshfield, J. W. Napier, rt. hon. J.
Frewen, C. H. Neeld, J.
Gallwey, Sir W. P. Neeld, J.
Gladstone, Capt. Newark, Visct.
Goddard, A. L. Newdegate, C. N.
Gooch, Sir E. S. Noel, hon. G. J.
Gordon, Adm. North, Col.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Oakes, J. H. P.
Graham, Lord M. W. Ossulston, Lord
Granby, Marq. of Packe, C. W.
Grogan, E. Pakenham, Capt.
Gwyn, H. Pakington, rt. hon. Sir J.
Hale, R. B. Palmer, R.
Halford, Sir H. Peel, Col.
Hall, Col. Percy, hon. J. W
Halsey, T. P. Portal, M.
Hamilton, G. A. Prime, R.
Hamilton, J. H. Pugh, D.
Harcourt, Col. Repton, G. W. J.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Robertson, P. F.
Herbert, Sir T. Rolt, P.
Hildyard, R. C. Scott, hon. F.
Hotham, Lord Seaham, Visct.
Hume, W. F. Seymer, H. K.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Sibthorp, Col.
Irton, S. Smijth, Sir W.
Johnstone, J. Smith, W. M.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Smyth, J. G.
Jones, D. Somerset, Capt.
Kendall, N. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Ker, D. S. Spooner, R.
King, J. K. Stafford, A.
Knatchbull, W. F. Stanhope, J. B.
Knight, F. W. Stephenson, R.
Knightley, R. Stuart, H.
Knox, Col. Sturt, H. G.
Knox, hon. W. S. Thesiger, Sir F.
Laffan, R. M. Thompson, Ald.
Langton, W. G. Tollemache, J.
Lascelles, hon. E. Tudway, R. C.
Lennox, Lord A. F. Turner, C.
Lennox, Lord H. G. Tyler, Sir G.
Leslie, C. P. Vance, J.
Lewisham, Visct. Vane, Lord A.
Liddell, H. G. Vansittart, G. H.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Verner, Sir W.
Lockhart, A. E. Villiers, hon. F.
Lockhart, W. Vivian, J. E.
Lovaine, Lord Vyse, Col.
Lowther, Capt. Waddington, H. S.
Mackie, J. Walcott, Adm.
MacGregor, J. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Maddock, Sir H. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Malins, R. Wellesley, Lord C.
Mandeville, Visct. West, F. R.
Manners, Lord J. Whiteside, J.
March, Earl of Whitmore, H.
Mare, C. J. Wigram, L. T.
Masterman, J. Willoughby, Sir H.
Maunsell, T. P. Wodehouse, E.
Meux, Sir H. Worcester, Marq. of
Miles, W. Wyndham, Gen.
Miller, T. J. Wyndham, W.
Mills, A. Wynn, H. W. W.
Montgomery, H. L. Wynne, W. W. E.
Montgomery, Sir G. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Moody, C. A.
Morgan, O. TELLERS.
Mullings, J. R. Mackenzie, W. F.
Mundy, W. Taylor, Col.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2°.

The House adjourned at a quarter after Twelve o'clock till Monday next.