§ MR. T. CHAMBERS
In rising to move for leave to bring in the Bill of which I have given notice, I can assure the House that I feel inconveniently and even painfully the difficulties under the pressure of which I proceed to discharge the duty which I have undertaken. Some of those difficulties attach to myself personally—some are inherent in the subject to be brought under discussion. It is a serious though an incidental aggravation of the difficulties in my way that, with an exception too inconsiderable to be mentioned, I rise now for the first time to claim the attention and indulgence of the House, oppressed as every novice must be, and embarrassed by the novelty of my position; but as far as these circumstances are concerned, I am very sensible that hon. Members will listen with forbearance to what I shall say, and that in trusting to their patience and kindness, I shall only share the common experience of all my predecessors, every one of whom has had the same ordeal to pass, and every one of whom has felt that the irksomeness of his task has been diminished by the consideration and indulgence accorded him by the House. Sir, the subject I rise to discuss is one not only of the gravest importance to the people of this country, but one which touches incidentally their most serious convictions and feelings. I am, and I say it unfeignedly, most anxious so to introduce this topic into debate that it may be discussed without sectarian and polemical rancour. I desire that no man's religious sensibilities should be wounded, or even his prejudices rudely and wantonly assailed, but, reserving to myself always that freedom in the expression of my own views which the purposes of debate demand, and the rules of it permit, I would abstain as far as possible from everything that could be deemed offensive or even distasteful to any Gentleman in any quarter of this House.
80 But, whilst I desire to respect every man's religious opinions and creed, and would not unnecessarily wound their susceptibilities on any subject, and whilst I am anxious to avoid, as far as possible, a theological discussion, it is essential to the object which I have in view that I should state with that candour which befits a Member of Parliament, and with that fidelity which becomes an Englishman and a Protestant, the grounds on which I ask the House to interfere in a case in which legislative interference is loudly called for, and in which I believe that interference must, sooner or later, take place. Having detained the House so long with preliminary matters, let me now crave their patience whilst I state briefly the case which seems to me to call for legislative redress, and the nature and extent of the remedy which I propose. Hon. Members will have learnt from the terms of my notice that it is apprehended by many persons that there are individuals in this country subject to an undue and improper species of coercion and restraint, and that the existing law does not afford them adequate means of relief. Sir, that impression does prevail; it prevails increasingly; and, if I may be permitted to say so, it prevails in the country to a degree which is not adequately conceived of, or represented, by the Members of this House. Now, I affirm nothing at present with respect to the truth and justice of this popular impression; I merely assert its existence, and its universal prevalence; and if it is not within the personal knowledge of every hon. Member who hears me, and if any one doubts the accuracy of my assertion, I cite in confirmation of my statement, the numerous petitions I have this evening presented, coming from every province and district in the kingdom, and signed by so many thousand persons. Sir, it is not an apprehension only, but a deep conviction in the minds of thousands—and those the most thoughtful, careful, and benevolent persons—that the evil alluded to exists, and increases, on every side of us; that institutions alien from the free spirit of our constitution, and for centuries almost unknown among us, are springing up in every quarter, and are gathering, and secluding, and restraining from liberty and from society, those who desire and who deserve to enjoy both: That within the walls of these establishments the rigours of ascetic discipline, and the burdensome rites of a ceremonial religion, are wearing away the reason and the lives of those who are 81 entitled to be free and happy, but who are suffering miseries the nature of which is imperfectly understood, enduring penances and priestly inflictions to an extent which the mystery surrounding them only serves to exaggerate, and in the midst of a free country and a free population, are shut out from the light of the constitution—[Cries of "Oh, oh!"] Yes, for not a single pencil of the universal radiance penetrates the darkened windows of a convent—and placed practically beyond the protection of the laws. It is thought to be time that the law should step in with a view of protecting those who are beyond the reach of the enactments already in existence, and of placing such persons on the same footing on which we have placed others; to interfere for their relief, as we have interfered for the relief of others who have been called to suffer what they thought hardships, restraint, and violence.
Now, Sir, my case does not depend on the reasonableness and justice of the public suspicion, but on their existence and their prevalence; they may be greatly exaggerated—probably they are—they may be false and inaccurate in many particulars, but they exist, they prevail extensively, they are rapidly multiplying. Nor are they entertained only by the ignorant and unenlightened. On the contrary, the press, the platform, and the pulpit all bear witness to the fact, that the thoughtful, the intelligent, the philanthropic, largely share them. Is Parliament, then, unworthily employed in attempting to devise and to apply an effectual remedy for such an excited and inflamed condition of popular feeling?
I do not wish to conceal from the House—in fact, it is impossible to conceal it—that the Bill I am about to introduce is more especially directed against conventual and monastic establishments. There is nothing novel in the introduction of a measure contemplating such an object. There is a provision in the Roman Catholic Relief Act itself which is directed specifically against monastic institutions. That enactment is now in existence on the Statute-book, is nominally in full force, but actually is a dead letter; and similar measures to those which were adopted before, with good reason, may be passed now with a view of meeting the new evil which has arisen since that enactment was framed.
I know perfectly well that those who support monastic institutions, and favour them, are in the habit of describing them as places of calm retreat and seclusion, 82 where ladies may retire from the world and enjoy a degree of tranquillity and peace which they could not secure amidst the anxious and busy scenes of life.
But the people of this country do not believe that the description given by Roman Catholics of nunneries is universally true, nor that all these ladies are in a voluntary and happy seclusion, and there are certain grounds for their disbelief with which I would shortly trouble the House; and although my arguments will be derived chiefly from the literature, the laws, and the annals of the Roman Catholic Church, yet I wish to observe that my Motion is pointed against all monastic institutions, whether Roman Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, Mormonite, or Agapemonite: but as the Papal Church is the only church sanctioning such institutions which has a history, a code of laws, and a literature, it is thence chiefly that I must draw the illustrations of my arguments.
There are certain reasons, then, why the public do not believe that conventual establishments contain only contented people; and if it be urged that the discontented are the exceptions, my reply is, it is precisely those exceptions of which we are in quest, and to which the proposed Bill is directed.
Now, the first reason which induces the people of England to desire an alteration of the law is (and though it is not by any means conclusive, yet it is one which naturally strikes the popular mind), that all convents are built like prisons, bolted and I barred, with grated windows and lofty walls, and a porter day and night at the gale; and there is no admission for anybody, and all the architectural arrangements externally seem only to be designed with a view to safe custody. So, internally, there are not only cells, and refectories, and chapels, but, if report be true, there are dungeons also. This is one reason which makes the public think that these places are not exclusively devoted to the retreat of the contented. ["Hear, hear!" and ironical laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen are perfectly at liberty to smile at my arguments, but this was stated when the subject was discussed before, on the testimony of credible witnesses, and no explanation was offered. As Paley has said, "Who can refute a sneer?" The argument is not put as conclusive, but only as one of the reasons which make the public suspect that such buildings are not erected merely to be the abode of contented and 83 happy inmates, but rather with a view of keeping those who had been once entrapped.
There is another reason why the public distrust the character of these institutions. They know that the Council of Trent has denounced the most severe anathemas against those who either induced or compelled a nun to enter a convent against her will, and they have more faith in the existence of the evil against which this church legislation was directed, than in the efficiency of that legislation to correct it; for even church laws may be broken for church objects, and absolution be easily obtained for breaches of the law committed for the benefit of the church, the motive converting the crime into a merit. Hence it is that the people of England distrust the assertion that the seclusion of nuns is always voluntary. The existence of the crime may be far more conclusively inferred from the law which appears on the Statute-book, than its suppression can be inferred from the fact of the precept and of the penalties having been directed against it. As the law passed to punish sheep-stealing attests the prevalence of the offence, I grant that this argument is not conclusive, but it is one which influences the public mind.
Again, the people of England know that the canon law denounces severe penalties against a nun who forsakes a convent after having once taken religious vows, and they think it impossible that such denunciations should have been uttered unless there had been in some cases a desire to escape from bondage. The Church of Rome holds religious vows to be of sacred obligation, and, therefore, naturally enough, enacts penalties against those who presume to violate them; but the British constitution knows nothing of their imperious obligation, and such bonds are broken with as much case as Samson snapped the green with is which bound him, the moment a nun invokes the aid of British law. This may not be a conclusive argument, though I think it is pretty nearly so; but I am now about to state one to which the ingenuity of hon. Members who represent Ireland will be taxed to find an answer.
The next reason which induces the British public to doubt the perfect contentment of religious recluses is, that page after page of Roman Catholic sacred literature is employed in exhorting and denouncing nuns who desire to escape, and describing the heavy penalties they would 84 incur, and the enormous sin they would commit, in seeking to be released from their vows. The most florid and vehement rhetoric is exhausted in laying before them the advantages to be secured by remaining within the walls of a convent, however unwillingly, and the dangers and perils incurred by a sinful endeavour to escape. Now, the argumentative value of this admission cannot possibly be overstated or over-estimated. Is it possible, after this, to say that there were no such persons as discontented nuns? This was not an inadvertent admission, casually made without thought of the consequences, or one forced from the reluctant grasp of a controvertist by an acute and remorseless adversary; nor was it a categorical assertion of the existing state of things, as though the public needed to be informed of it; but it was a state of things assumed as existing, as well known, and as a crying evil in the Church, creating the greatest scandal, and requiring a prompt application of legislative and other remedies. Here, then, was a class of nuns treated as discontented—exhorted, warned, remonstrated with, and denounced as such. It may be said that these were, after all, only exceptions; but then these exceptions were just what they were desirous of reaching. It is not desired to liberate those who are contented and happy in their seclusion; we do not want to enter a nunnery and discharge from monastic vows any lady who is desirous of remaining under them; but if we find a class whom learned doctors in former times exhorted, entreated, and anathematised, these are the persons whom we are looking for, and to whom the British constitution will say, "You are free." No, it does not say that completely yet; but I confidently predict that, if not in this Session, yet at no distant period, this act of obvious justice will be done in this country, as it is done already in every other enlightened country in the world.
It may be said that these denunciations were written for a class of persons existing a long time ago, and in other and distant countries; but time and place are utterly immaterial to the argument, for so long as the Roman Catholic system and the human nature subject to it continue the same, the same evils may be looked for, and similar remedies will be required. I put this, therefore, as a conclusive argument.
I will now state to the House what is the law in the most important countries in Europe, in reference to this question. It 85 will be found that in nearly every other country where convents exist, there are legal provisions for the liberation of the dissatisfied nuns. It will not do to argue that we have nothing to do with other countries, and cannot be influenced by their example, for history is not written for the mere gratification of an elegant leisure, but for instruction and guidance in matters of legislation and government. Nor can it be said that there is any overwhelming prejudice against conventual institutions in those countries, or ignorance respecting them, for they are Roman Catholic countries, and as such they must necessarily know these matters better than we do. In fact, the mere existence of such legal provisions as I shall proceed to notice, is the plainest proof of their necessity. In Prussia, no novice can take the veil without having been first examined by the civil authorities, as to the sufficiency and propriety of her motives for taking such a step. In Russia, no convent can receive a nun without first addressing the synod at Moscow on the subject, and sending an affidavit of the postulant, that it is her own wish and free will to enter on a religious life; and the synod then grant or refuse the application, as to them appears right. In Bavaria, vows are not allowed by law for more than three years, besides which, there is a quarterly visitation of all the convents by the civil authorities, for the purpose of ascertaining not only their fiscal condition, but for the purpose of restoring to the world and to society every nun who desires to relinquish the seclusion of the convent. In Austria, the inmates of these institutions may, at any time, privately address the civil Government, stating their desire to leave the convent; and that application will be attended to, and they are permitted to leave or not, according to the reasons assigned, and the circumstances of the case. In the convents in France, in many of them at least, the vows are only temporary, and there is a power in the maire of the arrondissiment, accompanied by the authorities, to visit them without notice, whenever he thought it desirable or necessary to do so.
Now, the existence of a strong public feeling upon the subject in this country, is alone, I think, a reason for doing something; whilst the justice of that feeling is proved on the several grounds which I have mentioned. On the ground of the external and the internal character of the buildings; of the jealous vigilance observed in 86 them; of the fact that ingress is never followed by egress; by the decree of the Council of Trent, denouncing the crime of coaxing or compelling reluctant persons to enter a convent; by the canon law which curses discontented nuns; by the rhetoric employed and exhausted by the doctors of the Church upon repentant and turbulent inmates of these establishments; and, finally, by the law and practice of all the enlightened countries of the Continent in relation to the institutions.
But certain objections will be stated against the proposition submitted to the House; and to the most prominent of those' objections a few observations must be devoted. And, first, it may be said, your object is to invade religious liberty. To that argument my answer is, we seek not to invade religious liberty, but to protect civil liberty. The whole question is, not whether religious liberty is to be secured, but whether civil liberty is to be invaded. Whether against the law, and in violation of the constitutional rights of Englishmen and Englishwomen, individuals are not immured within stone walls, deprived of all communication with their friends, and consequently of all the blessings of social intercourse. If the fact of a restraint from civil liberty be not made out, there should be no legislative interference at all. From some observations which I have heard, I suspect that there is a great want of information abroad upon this subject among those who are hostile to my proposal. Hon. Members are perhaps aware that in the Roman Catholic Relief Act, there is a provision making it in plain terms illegal to establish any monastic institution for males in this country; but there is a saving clause exempting convents for women from the penalties imposed, which at the time of the passing of the Act did not much exceed a dozen. But now if we look to the Roman Catholic Directory for 1853, we shall find that there are no less than seventy-five convents in England and Wales: this is in itself an important fact in this Protestant country; but though the actual number is considerable, it becomes momentous when compared with the returns of former years. In 1851, there were fifty-three nunneries; but, as was stated in the former discussion, nineteen of these had been added during the four previous years, or fewer than five each year. But how has the number increased, since 1851, when there were fifty-three nunneries in England and Wales? In 1852 there were sixty-two, or an addition of nine; and in 1853, there are 87 seventy-five, being a further addition of thirteen. The additions, therefore, go on rapidly increasing from year to year. [Cries of "Hear, hear!"from Irish Members.] Hon. Gentlemen near me rejoice, and naturally so, in this fact, for their religious views lead them to believe that these establishments are calculated to spread religion. No doubt Roman Catholic gentlemen are perfectly at liberty to multiply conventual I institutions, and to rejoice at their success; but surely they will not consider it an unreasonable request, that young females should not be compelled to be happy in them against their will. But with respect to this alleged uninterrupted happiness, I would refer those gentlemen to the pages of Roman Catholic divines, who complain constantly of the turbulence of convents, and the great scandal that arose to the Church, in consequence. Surely we cannot infer unbroken tranquillity, when disturbance is so often confessed, or unmixed happiness when resignation is so often counselled with the most forcible rhetoric. To attempt to detain persons in a happy seclusion by threats and anathemas, is very much like finding it necessary to fence round Paradise with a chevaux de frise of curses.
I have mentioned the Roman Catholic nunneries; but there is another class of conventual establishments, namely, the Anglo-Catholic, which equally demand supervision. Of these we have unfortunately no return at all; but perhaps the whole number, both Romish and Protestant, will not be over-estimated at 100; and supposing each to contain thirty inmates, this will give an aggregate of 3,000 nuns for England and Wales—a number sufficiantly large to excite attention in this House. For though the ceremony of a young lady taking the veil may be looked upon as a very trifling and insignificant circumstance, yet it should be recollected that there is nothing analogous to it in the institutions of this country; in fact, there is nothing at all like it except dying, for when a young woman takes the veil, she passes away entirely, not only from the public view but from the society of her most intimate friend. ["Oh, oh!"] I have read nothing on the subject but from Roman Catholic books, whence it seems certain, that nuns cannnot see their friends except in the presence of the superior, or of some member of the convent; and how absurd is it to suppose such infrequent and constrained interviews to be any substitute for the constant and kindly inter- 88 course of kindred and society! It is, to use a trite phrase, adding insult to injury, to call that the privilege of seeing one's friends. In entering a convent, the nun is lost to the country as a citizen, and she passes at once from the control of the law and from the protection of the constitution. Within the convent there can be neither communication nor correspondence with the external world. Out of the light of the constitution—out of the reach of the law—out of the hearing of her friends, the poor nun, if discontented with her way of life, is perfectly unprotected and helpless: no ear can hear her complaint, no arm can bring her redress. This is the case practically, although not theoretically, for the law stands helpless at the porch of a nunnery, as the emperor of old did at the gate of the Papal palace at Rome. It is not possible to make the law of England available in such cases, and it is only done in foreign countries, by provisions framed specially for the purpose. The ordinary laws on the Continent have been as certained to be not strong enough, and hence, in most Catholic countries, special provisions have been enacted far stronger than those which when proposed two years ago as necessary in this country were denounced as monstrous infringements of personal rights.
Now, it may be asked, what proof have you that the inmates of these convents are unhappy? One sufficient reason for believing this is, that a nunnery is ostensibly a place of restraint and infliction, where females are held in strict bondage, and are under absolute power, in irresponsible hands, exercised in impenetrable secrecy. This, at least, it is impossible to deny. What, then, is the necessary inference? It is, that the law should be more vigilant in protecting the rights of parties placed in such a situation, and in preventing any abuse of authority for which there is such an opportunity. It is said, also, that there is, no need to pass a special law, and that any such law would be unconstitutional; but let the House remember that they have special laws for the protection of idiots and lunatics, and many other classes. Yet, in my opinion, there never was a case in which Parliament has interfered specially for the protection of the subject, half so strong as the one I am now bringing under their notice. In the case of lunatics there is no mystery or concealment, and they may have lucid intervals during which they may seek redress for any undue restraint; but what interval or chance for making 89 complaint has the poor nun? She may be happy, it is true; but if she is wronged and wretched, what opportunity has she, or power, of appealing to British law for redress? We have passed laws for the protection of factory boys and girls, interfering for that purpose even with the authority of their own parents, and with the freedom of trade. No such inconvenience or objection arises in the present case. Again, we have passed acts which follow the sailor boy over the world, and give him justice; and it is only a short time since that the right honourable Gentleman at the head of the Poor Law Board brought in his measure for the protection of parish apprentices, under which the parochial authorities are empowered and required to visit the masters of the children several times in the year, for the purpose of ascertaining that no wrong is done to them, and no cruelty inflicted upon them. And although those apprentices may be removed to a distance from the union whose guardians bound them, yet the law follows them, and requires the overseers of the parish in which they may be living to exercise the same vigilant oversight in respect of them. If these special provisions have been found necessary in such a case, surely there is still stronger reason for interference to be found in the nature of the restraints imposed upon the inmates of conventual establishments.
But there is one feature of these institutions especially deserving of notice, and that is that convents existing in this country are affiliated with institutions of a similar kind on the Continent; and, hence, a person may be deported at any moment or under any circumstances—in fact, transported for life, and it will be impossible for the officers of justice to trace the direction in which the exile had been sent. I have said that there is nothing analogous to these institutions in England; and I call upon my honourable friends representing Irish constituencies to name, if they can, any other institutions at all resembling them in principle. Here is imprisonment for life seclusion from all social intercourse; severance from all domestic ties; and utter deprivation of the protection of the law. In addition to all this there is the risk of transportation for life without offence and without trial, and without the slightest chance of protection from the constituted authorities.
But it will be said, "You only make general statements, and have not given 90 one example." In my judgment my case does not rest on single instances, nor can it do so with half the stability with which it is sustained by the general arguments which I have adduced. Those arguments have a better foundation than single instances, which, had I quoted, it would have been said that a single example of wretchedness only served to prove the general rule of contentment. Besides, one ground of our complaint is, that we cannot get the facts, and that the absence of facts is a proof of the secrecy and success of the system. We charge it upon you that your system of wrong succeeds so perfectly that we cannot detect the instances in which the wrong has been committed. If the country were covered with refugee nuns escaping on every side, it might be said there is no need for the interference of the law, as the system of compulsory seclusion evidently failed, and the discontented escaped. That argument has been used on a former occasion; but, after two years' consideration, I shall be astonished if I hear any hon. Member repeat it now. On this part of my subject, however, I will give one or two instances by way of illustration, and feel that my case is much strengthened by what occurred last night in another place, where a most rev. Prelate and a right rev. Prelate had cited examples of the evils now existing in conventual institutions. The Archbishop of Dublin said—He would take the liberty of mentioning a case which had come within his own knowledge, and for the accuracy of which he could vouch. There was a boy in the service of a certain institution in Dublin, who resided in the institution. He fortunately had a father and mother alive, and occasionally went home to see his parents. Not having visited them, however, for some time, they became alarmed, and inquired for him at the institution, but they were put off with evasive answers. At last, becoming very much alarmed, they demanded him at the head of a body of police, when he was reluctantly produced, but in so frightfully emaciated a state that it made one's blood curdle to hear of the cruelties which had been inflicted on the poor boy. If be had not had a father and mother alive, he would leave their Lordships to guess what chance he would ever have had of being released.Another instance had also come to his knowledge:—There was a Protestant lady in Dublin, most of whose relatives were Roman Catholics, and she had formerly been of that Church; she had, however, for many years been a member of the Protestant Church, and was bringing up her children as Protestants. She was frequently assailed, and offers of pecuniary assistance (she being in narrow circumstances) were made to her if she 91 would return into the bosom of the Church of Home. That might be all fair enough; but he would not have done it, for he would rather not have converts obtained in that way. This poor woman was thus assailed constantly, and her Protestant friends (for relatives she had none) procured for her a situation in England, and they had even engaged a passage for her, when just at that time she disappeared, and had never been seen by any of them since. They had inquired earnestly after her, and had traced her from one house to another, and at last had ascertained where she was admitted to be; but they could only get messages from her, saying that she had returned to the Church of Rome, and wished to have no further intercourse with her friends. This might be true; bat it would have been more satisfactory if she had been produced, and such a statement had come from her own lips. A letter was at last produced purporting to be written by her, but her friends all agreed it was not in her handwriting. From that time to the present she had not been seen.["Hear, hear!" and cries of "Name!" from the Roman Catholic Members.] I believe the facts cannot be denied; but, at all events, hon. Members may have plenty of opportunity for investigation. I do not believe the statement is the Archbishop of Dublin's invention, and [can assure the House it is not mine.
The Bishop of Norwich stated the following case:—He would mention a case which came under his observation two years ago. He was residing in the neighbourhood of Dublin when an application was made to him by a Roman Catholic mother, who asked him to obtain information as to the particular nunnery to which her child had been removed, She thought him to be a Roman Catholic priest, and he felt bound at once to undeceive her, or he might have heard more of her story he advised her to apply to the late Dr. Murray, then Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dunlin.Now, it is clear, that a Roman Catholic mother is entitled to the custody of her daughter, and is not only authorised but bound to know where she is; but all that a benevolent prelate could do in this case was to recommend her to the Roman Catholic Primate of Ireland, who was very unlikely to know anything about the matter.
A more recent case has occurred in France, which has attracted a great deal of notice, and full particulars of which are detailed in two late numbers of the Christian Times. A superior and eight nuns of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Paris, had become convinced that the Roman Catholic was not the true religion, and had determined to renounce it and become Protestants. The superior was only under temporary vows, which expired 92 on the 29th of last October; but the vows of the nuns were not to terminate till after some considerable period had elapsed. Their change of principles and intentions were discovered. The superior had made an appointment to meet her friends at a particular house in the city, but she has not made her appearance to this hour; the other nuns were at the same sent away a hundred or more miles to some affiliated institution, where neither the law nor their friends could follow them. They were to have written, but no letter has been received. A profound, silence has followed, and their friends will never hear of them unless the civil authorities be put on their tract. One of them has indeed happily escaped from her persecutors, for she is dead. Now, these are facts which it is idle to deny. They rest for the most part on Catholic authorities. They have been laughed at, but never refuted. They have been long denied, but are now universally believed, and the time is gone by for contradicting them. Indeed, I would recommend my opponents who are disposed still to deny them, to adopt a more candid and perchance a more successful course—to admit and to justify them. To use the language of the law, it is idle any longer to plead the general issue; you had better confess and avoid.
I will now with the permission of the House anticipate a few of the prominent objections that are likely to be taken to the course I propose. First, it may be said that the measure suggested will be an invasion of religious liberty. It is difficult fully to understand this objection, and therefore to answer it—for we are not going to compel a Roman Catholic lady to abandon her vows, or to interfere with and break up communities of religious females living in conventual institutions, who derive comfort from such a mode of life, or who believe they do. Nothing could be more wrong than to adopt such a course, and I have no intention of taking it. I do not desire to interfere in those cases; but where a person is not satisfied—where the system instead of operating to afford a religious asylum, proves a perfect civil tyranny of mind and body, person and property, and becomes a bold invasion of religious liberty itself—it is proper for the law to interpose. This is not a religious question. It is not even an ecclesiastical question; for it is to be remembered that these institutions form no part of the Roman Catholic Church, but have often been persecuted and de- 93 nounced, though afterwards taken into favour. It was always optional whether or no the Church should admit them into connexion with itself, and hence whilst no person's religious feelings will be wounded by the result of this Motion, it is not even necessarily in conflict with ecclesiastical sentiments.
It may be said that this proposal will be a rude interference with the secluded life of ladies of high character and station. Now if that objection is to be urged, I beg of hon. Members to bear in mind that it is utterly frivolous, and cannot be sustained for a moment. If no wrong exists, there is no reason for the Bill; but, on the other hand, if wrong is done, and such wrong as is suggested, who will presume to balance the inconvenience of an occasional visit of two gentlemen to a convent, against the evils sought to be redressed? We are not to compliment away the lives and liberties of the Queen's subjects, lest a few ladies of high station should perchance be disturbed over their tea; or allow helpless women to be imprisoned for life at the hands of irresponsible authority, lest the privacy of conventual institutions should in any instance be invaded in an attempt to rescue them. I care not how dexterous is the hand which holds the scales: it is impossible to make a trivial inconvenience such as that suggested, outweigh the grievous injustice alleged to be inflicted.
Again, it may be said that this Bill violates the maxim of British law, that a man's house is his castle. It is far too late in the day to urge this objection, for it must not be forgotten that the law violated that sanctuary every day and in numberless instances. An Englishman's house is his castle. What protection, let me ask, does the maxim afford against a custom-house officer who suspects that contraband goods are secreted in the house? Why, if such an officer catches scent of a box of cigars in the hatcase of a traveller, or a pound of pigtail through the keyhole of a door, straightway every personal right by statute or at common law is forthwith suspended; no notions of personal liberty will prevent the traveller from being detained and searched, and no bolts and bars be strong enough to prevent the dwelling from being entered. How, then, can this objection be sustained when the principle is violated in innumerable instances lest the revenue should be defrauded of a few shillings? There is no nice delicacy in 94 such a case—no reluctance—no hesitation—no diffidence—no refinements as to men's personal rights—no quibbling about castles and inviolability, and so forth; the scent of tobacco overpowers all such frivolous argumentation.
Again, the law has interfered in a manner similar to that now proposed for the protection of parish apprentices and factory children. Is a parish apprentice whipped too severely, or fed too sparingly?—a public officer is ready to restrain his master's rod, and to revise his dietary. Is a factory girl detained an extra half hour in a mill, or is the fender round a revolving piece of machinery too low by an inch?—official persons are ready to rush into the mill by day or by night, and mulct the proprietor in vindictive penalties. How idle, then, in the case which we have brought forward, to be scrupulous and reluctant; sacrificing the substance of freedom to a superstitious veneration of its forms; allowing a helpless woman to be imprisoned for life, and to be tortured till she rests in the grave, because an Englishman's house is his castle, and a nunnery porch may not be passed by an officer of the law! It is too late to press such an argument: you have overruled it too often to urge it successfully now, unless you mean seriously to contend that it is liable to exception where the Exchequer may lose a few pounds, but not when the State loses a citizen; when a fraud on finance is threatened, not when an outrage on humanity is perpetrated.
But it may be said we have the habeas corpus, and this leads me to state briefly the remedy which I propose. My first anxiety has been to do as little as may be necessary, and to satisfy the public demand with the smallest possible sacrifice of private feeling. I propose, therefore, that the Secretary of State for the Home Department should have power to appoint one or more persons, and that these persons, having reasonable and probable grounds for believing that any improper coercion or restraint is exercised on any female in any house or building, shall have power to go to that locality and select a justice of the peace for the county, a respectable person suited for the purpose, with whom he may proceed to the house and ascertain the facts. If, on investigation his suspicions are removed, the proceedings will drop; but if they are confirmed, then, upon his return he may sue out a writ of habeas corpus. This, then, is the whole 95 power which the Bill seeks to obtain. If there he sufficient ground for complaint, the convent will be visited by the duly appointed officer, who will not be authorised to set the nun at liberty, but will merely have power to put the ordinary process of law into operation for her relief; and an annual return of these visits will be made to Parliament in order that any improper exercise of this authority may be detected.
I appeal, therefore, to the House to afford protection to these helpless women, who are in the hands of persons exercising a secret, an absolute, and irresponsible authority over them. The law is strong enough, and what is desired is, to remove the mystery which exists. I believe that that mystery magnifies the popular apprehensions; but wherever there is mystery there is always ground for suspicion. The only inconvenience inflicted by the Bill, will be that ladies who have not been accustomed to see any gentleman but their priest or their bishop, may be required to see the gentleman, appointed by the Secretary of State. But who will balance the inconvenience of such a visit against the result which that visit is intended to secure? This measure is necessary if only to dispel the popular impressions which prevail on the subject, and which will be daily aggravated if some steps are not taken to place these institutions under the supervision of the law.
I appeal also to hon. Members who are in favour of these establishments, if they wish to vindicate the character of these institutions, to support the measure which I have proposed, if they consider that there is no truth in the representations which have been made of them. The only vindication which they can make is to declare that they are not afraid of being supervised because they have nothing to conceal, and that they are ready for their own sakes to place these institutions on the same footing with all others in the country under the eye of the law, and the control of public opinion. I beg to move for leave to bring a Bill to facilitate the recovery of personal liberty in certain cases.
§ MR. CRAVEN BERKELEY
seconded the Motion. He said he was at a loss to understand why this country should stand alone, with the exception of Spain and Italy, as regarded the present subject. The law of this country in reference to nunneries was the same at the present moment as it was at the time of the Council of Trent. What was the order issued by the 96 Council of Trent in respect to nunneries? It decreed that "they should be kept carefully closed, and all egress forbidden to the nuns, without episcopal licence, under pain of excommunication in this world, and eternal damnation hereafter." And yet that law was in force at this moment in England. The hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced this Motion had referred to the laws affecting nunneries in other countries. But there were two countries which had been omitted. For instance, in Mexico—a Roman Catholic country—there was a law authorising the frequent visitation of nunneries. The agents of the law arrived unexpectedly, and questioned the nuns as to whether they had any cause of complaint, or desire to leave the conventual establishment;—but there was nothing of that sort in this country. Not only was it the fact that, in the convents of England, a lady, having once taken the veil, was prevented from seeing her friends unless in the presence of the superior or lady abbess—[Mr. BOWYER: No, no!] The hon. and learned Gentleman might cry "No, no;" but no amount of contradiction could alter a fact of which he (Mr. C. Berkeley) had personal cognisance. It had happened to himself, in his own person, to be refused an interview, except under such circumstances as he was stating. He had been refused permission to see his nearest and dearest relative in a convent, unless in presence of the superioress. That was not alone the case with ladies who had taken the veil, but also with postulants, or persons who took the white veil before taking the black. If hon. Gentlemen knew as much as he did how education was conducted in convents, they would find little hesitation in giving a vote for the Bill that evening. The young, the confiding, and unsuspecting were placed at an early age in these convents. If entitled to fortunes, the moment the black veil covered their shoulders, everything they possessed became the property of the convent. It was useless to repine—to wish for the liberty once enjoyed; for once the black veil enveloped the postulant, repining and complaint were useless; nothing but death could relieve them from their situation.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to facilitate the recovery of personal liberty in certain cases.
§ MR. BOWYER
said, he would not follow the hon. Gentleman who had just re- 97 sumed his seat through the vague generalities which he had addressed to the House. The case he had alluded to in which he was refused admission to a relative of his own in a convent, was simply a case of "not at home," the fact being that the lady in question did not desire an interview. What the hon. Gentleman supposed, could not have occurred in that case, for the lady in question was only a postulant. The hon. Gentleman was quite mistaken as to the position of a postulant, and the treatment awarded to her. A postulant was not a nun, nor even a novice, but a lay person, who was at liberty to come and go just as she pleased, being bound neither by vow nor promise. It was clear, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman was mistaken with regard to every fact on which he had sought to found his argument. With respect to the hon. and learned Member who had brought forward this Motion, it was difficult to know how to deal with him, for he regarded the fact that there were no runaways from convents as an argument in favour of the notion that the discipline and restraint which prevailed in such establishments must be intolerable. He (Mr. Bowyer) would be disposed to place a totally different construction on the fact. He would now refer to what had been stated in the House of Lords by a most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of Dublin), in respect, not to a nun, but to a boy, whose name, however, was not mentioned. They all knew what strange stories got abroad; and, for his part, he would not believe the tale about the boy without more evidence than had been adduced. It was said that the relatives of the boy, with the aid of the police, had forced their way into a convent, where they found the boy, in a state of laceration. If so, why were not legal proceedings taken? Was it credible that, if the story were true, the relatives of the sufferer took no further steps to punish the offenders? Why did not the police take measures to bring the parties committing such an outrage to justice? The absence of any such proceeding appeared to him satisfactorily to dispose of that case. He must say, that whenever a case had occurred in which it was attempted to be shown that these institutions were badly managed, on investigation it always turned out to be what was called a "mare's nest." They all remembered the case of a young person who complained before a magistrate of being treated with cruelty in a convent, about 98 two years ago. The magistrate, however, dismissed the case as unproved; and he (Mr. Bowyer) had seen that same girl afterwards in the same convent, the "Good Shepherd," at Hammersmith, she having been taken back from motives of humanity by the very ladies against whom she had uttered such slanders and calumnies. The popular feeling, if any, on the subject of convents was created not by facts, but by Exeter-hall speeches, virulent pamphlets, and rancorous newspaper articles, by which it was attempted to inflame the imagination of the people against the Catholic Church. It was possible there might be discontented nuns now as in former times; but he had yet to learn amongst what class of human beings discontent did not to some extent prevail. His belief was, that if the same spirit which existed in convents existed elsewhere, they would not now be engaged in any such discussion as the present. It was his conviction that whenever it might suit the purpose of persons to bring forward cases of a prejudicial nature, such as had been adverted to to-night, they would, on investigation, vanish into thin air, and the result would redound to the credit of the convent the character of which had been attacked. The hon. and learned Member for Hertford (Mr. T. Chambers) had referred to the popular feeling on this subject; but there was no difficulty in accounting for that, when they saw the means used to excite it. By way of strengthening his claim to be empowered to inspect these nunneries, the hon. Gentleman referred to the cases of lunatic asylums, factories, and workhouses, where inspection was allowed. But the answer to that argument was, that all those were places where persons were kept under the authority which the law gave; and, the law giving that authority, it was quite right that the same power should see that that authority was properly exercised. But what was the case of a convent? A convent was a "private house. The persons there had no legal authority to detain any one. In some countries a legal authority was given, and in some of those cases there was a power of inspection. He begged the House to consider what the effect of the Bill proposed to be introduced by the hon. and learned Member would be. It would resolve itself into this question—whether convents were to exist at all in this country or not; because there was no question that an inspection by a person appointed by the Government of the day would have the 99 effect of suppressing nunneries in this country. For who knew what that Government might be? For aught any one knew, it might be an Orange No Popery Government. Then, again, the inspector was to be attended by a magistrate of the county. Who knew who that magistrate might be who should have authority to call the ladies of the convent before him, and interrogate them as to the internal management of the institution under their control? His opinion was, that a law conferring any such power would be destructive of those establishments. And what would be the effect of that? The House, perhaps, was not aware that the education of the Catholic ladies was conducted chiefly by those establishments, and that the lower classes more or less resorted to them for instruction. How would this inquisitorial inspection operate? The consequence would be that the Catholic ladies would go abroad for instruction, and, instead of receiving an English education, they would receive a foreign education, and the great body of the Catholic ladies would be educated as foreigners. But what would be the effect on the lower classes in Ireland? It would be most serious. At present there were attached to the convents in these countries schools, where the children of the poor received an admirable education. In the town which he had the honour to represent (Dundalk), the nuns educated no less than 550 poor girls, and as many as 700 were educated by the nuns in Drogheda. This would be put an end to by such a measure as that now proposed, for it would be utterly impossible that any convent could exist if it were to be subject to public inspection; and the fear of such an inquisitorial power would drive them out of the country. The notions of the hon. Gentleman were founded on an entire ignorance of the nature of convents. There were two species of convents—one of contemplative orders, and one of active orders. There were only four houses in all England of the contemplative orders. As to the active orders, the persons placed in those establishments went out, and might be met daily in the discharge of their Christian duties. Every convent had a school attached to it. With regard to the supposed seclusion of the convents, he could give the hon and learned Gentleman means of seeing any of the convents that he chose. The hon. and learned Gentleman might go to the convents and ask any question he pleased; to which he would receive the most open and unreserved an- 100 swer. It, perhaps, might not be known to the hon. Gentleman, but he could assure him that there were scarcely any Catholic ladies who did not pass some portion of the year in some religious house or other; and there was no convent in which many ladies were not constant guests, and perfectly acquainted with all its internal management. There was no private house of an individual, the ways of which were so well known as those of the convents. This being the case, he would ask, was it possible that those strange things stated by the hon. and learned Member could have occurred? As to the government of the convents, they were, in point of fact, so many republics. No lady could be admitted as a member of a convent without three ballots—in which one black ball would exclude. They elected their superiors and all their officers annually, and even the bishop could not interfere with the freedom of their elections. It was not probable that they would elect officers who would coerce and tyrannise over the inmates of the convent. Some people supposed that in a convent a priest had absolute authority. This was not so, for the priest was a mere chaplain. The priest had no authority over the nuns; he merely attended to perform his duty in celebrating the religious service. Every nun had power, by the authority of the Church, of writing, under her own seal, whatever she pleased, to the bishop, and that letter must be delivered to him. It was very strange that, with all these precautions, the hon. and learned Gentleman should harbour such suspicions as he had expressed—suspicions and notions which could have no foundation but in his own imagination.
§ MR. SERJEANT MURPHY
said, he believed that the hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced the Motion had done so in perfect sincerity; but if he reflected, he would find that the popular opinion out of doors on the subject of convents was not gleaned from facts, but was based upon idle rumours, unsupported calumnies, and testimony upon which men could place no credence in a court of justice. He had been much pained to find the extent of misrepresentation which was made with reference to this subject. He had heard a clergyman of the Church of England at Liverpool addressing a meeting, composed for the most part of ladies of the upper classes, make use of the most flippant observations with reference to the conduct of nunneries, stating that they were places 101 where none but priests had access, and that the priests were generally young men likely to find favour in the eyes of women. Did the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Chambers) mean to impugn the purity of those establishments? No; but he had argued on the inconvenience of restricting the liberty of the inmates. He remembered, on his own circuit some twelve years ago, that a clergyman of the Church of England was indicted for having maligned a nunnery at Stockton, in the north of England, by stating that there were secret passages from it communicating with the residence of the priests, and that the most disgraceful connexions had taken place between the inmates of the two establishments. For this slanderous accusation he was tried upon a criminal information, found guilty, and sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment; but at the expiration of his sentence, the bishop of his diocese presented him with a living valued in the Queen's Books at 1,750l. per annum, which he now enjoyed. With such instances before their eyes, was it wonderful that popular opinion should be excited against these establishments? He knew the name of the man, and could mention it if any hon. Gentleman wished. A Bill similar to the present had been introduced into the House two years ago, and was repudiated by it as an insult to a large portion of the public. On that occasion the hon. Gentleman the Member for Berkshire (Mr. Palmer) had risen in his place and stated, as a magistrate and an English gentleman, that he, for one, would never consent to discharge the thankless office of a petty spy. He hoped that feeling would find an echo in the heart of every English gentleman who respected the privacy of his own hearth, and who would resent anything like an insult offered to the character of his female relatives. He denied there was any want of liberty in the convents in this country. On the occasion of the last debate upon this subject, he had read a letter from Dr. Ullathorne, Catholic bishop of the Birmingham district, in which he stated that no prohibition whatever existed as to egress from any convent in the kingdom. Certain hours were allotted to the visitings of friends; and he (Mr. Serjeant Murphy) could say that it was his greatest pride that three near relatives of his own were inmates of convents, and that he had always liberty to see them alone, and to share their unreserved confidence upon any subject which might press upon their minds. 102 It was, he thought, impossible to overestimate the services of those convents in the diffusion of education and morality. When travelling on the Continent a few years ago, he had been informed that there were 6,000 nuns in the Low Countries, and that no instance had ever occurred of one of them endeavouring to escape. But the law in this country was quite sufficiently powerful to give redress, for the inmate of a nunnery might apply to her relatives, and she could at once be removed by a writ of habeas corpus. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dundalk had stated a fact worthy of consideration, and that was the balance of convenience or inconvenience which would be felt by banishing those ladies from the country. He had himself presented a petition two years age from the inmates of a nunnery, stating that George III. had given them protection and a shelter when they fled from the revolution in France, and that if the inquiry threatened by Mr. Lacy's Bill were sanctioned, they would have to throw themselves upon the protection of France or of some other foreign country. There was hardly a single Roman Catholic lady in Ireland who did not owe her education to these establishments in one or other of the three kingdoms; and, again, there was a class of nuns, called the Presentation Order, who conducted the education of almost the entire female population of the humbler classes in Ireland. If, therefore, the House adopted this inquisitorial and unnecessary system, he believed in his conscience that it would put to flight every one of these communities, and reduce the education of the humbler classes of Roman Catholics in the sister country to a degree of destitution which it was lamentable to contemplate. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Chambers) had adduced one of the oddest reasons that could be conceived for legislating on this subject, when he said that there were no cases to be found of fugative nuns flying in the night and concealing themselves behind every hedge in order to escape from those who wished to detain them in forced confinement. He recollected a prurient publication, fell of all manner of calumnious malignity, being once issued under the name of the History of Maria Monk, who was alleged to have been starved, ill-used, and beaten in a convent in Canada; and it was curious to observe that when a case of oppression had to be brought forward, it was necessary to go to some remote part 103 of the world in order to find it. But this case was investigated, and it was discovered to be a tissue of the grossest falsehoods and calumnies that had ever been concocted. He appealed to Her Majesty's Government, and especially to the noble Lord the Home Secretary, who was peculiarly charged with the guardianship of the peace of the country, and he asked him would he needlessly give his sanction to the introduction of a Bill conveying an insult that would rankle in the breast of every Roman Catholic in the kingdom? He, for one, must candidly declare that should Her Majesty's Government be unwise enough to lend their countenance to this mischievous measure, however humble might be his own personal influence in supporting their Administration, he would fling that influence to the winds rather than see his religion insulted by such legislation.
§ MR. FREWEN
said, he could instance a case that had recently come under his own observation, where a person had been confined against her will in a convent. She had called upon him, and he told her he was a Protestant magistrate. She said she had escaped from a convent, and was a Protestant. It appeared that her father was a Roman Catholic; but she went to reside with her aunt, who was a Protestant, and had become one, having had an opportunity of seeing the errors of her former religion. Her father had placed her in the convent, but she resolved to take the earliest opportunity of escaping, and had succeeded, after having been there a short time, in doing so. He mentioned the fact to show that these things did sometimes occur, and because he did not think the authorities of that convent had any right to detain persons against their will. For these reasons, he thought there ought to be a law to enable properly appointed persons to visit these convents from time to time, and ascertain who the inmates were.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he could not help admiring the extreme dexterity with which hon. Gentlemen interested in the promotion of the interests of the Papacy had conducted the debate. No one could have managed the debate with more ability or authority than the hon. Member for Dundalk, who, during the Papal aggression discussions had acted as Cardinal Wiseman's secretary—
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he must apologise for having attributed to the hon. 104 Member an authority which it appeared he did not possess. He understood the hon. Gentleman had given a denial to the statement that relatives were not admitted to unrestricted communication with the inmates of these conventual establishments; and said that he hoped the House would not give credence to vague generalities. Did the hon. Gentleman suppose that the House would be misled into considering such statements as had been made by the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. C. Berkeley) with regard to a near relative of his own—statements made on his own knowledge of facts—as vague generalities? The course pursued by the opponents of this Bill was to deny every statement made by its advocates, to assert the reverse, and then declare that they were the only persons conversant with the facts of the case. Why, it was that very circumstance that made the advocates of this Bill suspicious: these flat denials of all facts raised the presumption that there were some facts connected with convents which their advocates wished to conceal. If the effect of the measure should be to drive the inmates of these establishments out of the country, he was prepared to run that risk rather than leave convents open to the abuses which it was believed the system admitted of. The highest authorities—those like Ligouri, whose works were published under the authority of Cardinal Wiseman—contemplated as a known fact and system the detention of nuns against their will. He would, with the permission of the House, read a short extract from the writings of Ligouri, which described the state of an unhappy nun, who wished to abandon her convent:—I add; grant that what you state is true; now that you are professed in a convent, and that it is impossible for you to leave it, tell me what do you wish to do? If you have entered religion against your inclinations, you must now remain with cheerfulness. If you abandon yourself to melancholy, you shall lead a life of misery, and will expose yourself to great danger and suffering—a hell here, and another hereafter. You must then make a virtue of necessity.I have been accustomed to say that a religious in her convent enjoys a foretaste of Paradise, or suffers an anticipation of hell. To endure the pains of hell, is to be separated from God; to be forced, against the inclinations of nature, to do the will of others; to be distrusted, despised, reproved, and chastised by those with whom we live; to be shut up in a place of confinement, from which it is impossible to escape; in a word, it is to be in continual torture without a moment's peace. Such is the miserable condition of a bad religious; and, therefore, she suffers on earth an anticipation of the torments of hell,105 Now he (Mr. Newdegate) told the representatives of the ultramontane policy of Rome in this House, that the people of this country were determined that they should neither establish nor maintain "hells upon carth," such as Ligouri described the convents to be to the unwilling inmates of them, within the confines of this free country. The hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. Serjeant Murphy), spoke as if there had been no suffering in these convents. But that had been proved in the courts of law, and he need only remind the hon. and learned Gentleman and the House of the case of "Fullam v. M'Carthy." In that case a gentleman had died in 1843, leaving a large family and property to the amount of 90,000l. Two of his daughters had become nuns. The father gave with each 1,000l. as her portion on entering the convent, which was the sum required of persons of their station; and as they were to be nuns for life, the father considered that they could have no further claim upon, indeed no further need of, any greater portion of his property. After the father's death, much to the surprise of their relatives, it was found that these ladies had been induced to sign a deed preferring claims to larger portions of their father's estate, with the purpose of making such additional portion over to the convent. The brother's testimony was, that he had great difficulty in seeing his sisters. Mr. M'Carthy deposed upon oath, that when he saw his sister Maria, she told him that she had been compelled to sign a deed by which she claimed a right to her late father's property for the convent—that she had cried and wept long after signing it—that the pen with which she signed it "might as well have been put into the hands of a corpse"—that he could have no idea of the mental discipline to which she had been subjected which required her to sign the deed, as if she did it voluntarily, and of her own free will? She also told her brother that he could not see her sister Catharine that day, because she was undergoing punishment. So much for the statement that there was no suffering endured, and no compulsion exercised in these establishments. He objected to young females being permitted to enter these convents when under age, because their property was then seized by the authorities in these convents. It was not a more question of education or religion, but it was a serious consideration whether they should allow Cardinal Wiseman and the Pope to 106 draw large funds from the money given to those convents, in order to promote the Roman Catholic religion. The terms of admission to these establishments were, that a certain sum should be paid down with each nun on her entrance, the interest of which would be sufficient to maintain the inmate, so that the capital accrued undiminished to the superior of the convent, and from the superior was transferred to Cardinal Wiseman or Legate Cullen, for use at their discretion, or for transmission to Rome. In addition to this, it was the object of the Papal agents to have any further sums that could be obtained after the fashion attempted in the M'Carthy case, vested in trustees for the use of the convent; and these sums came equally under the command of the Cardinal and of the Legate, as representatives of, and invested with, plenary powers by the Court of Rome. He warned the House that while this free country conferred many privileges, there were also responsibilities to be considered; and he was sorry to see hon. Gentleman setting themselves against the explanations the House required. He would remind them that in the United States, about eight years ago, there was a convent near Boston, in Massachusetts. There were strong rumours of evil proceedings taking place therein, with regard to which no explanations were given. One night, about twelve o'clock, the abbess was knocked up by a party of 200 men with their faces blackened, who peremptorily ordered her and her nuns to get up, pack up their clothes, and leave the convent. These men then lighted their lucifer matches, and the convent was burned to the ground. That was a summary proceeding, and it might be supposed that there was a legal remedy. But what was the fact? Was anybody punished? No, not a single person; but he believed a sum of 50,000 dollars was paid by the State as compensation. There was no legal inspection of convents in the United States, but the people took the law into their own hands—a system he did not wish to see adopted in this country. The inference he drew from this was, that in America Lynch law stood in the place of common law in England. He had no wish to see Lynch law prevail in England; but if the people believed that oppression was left unredressed by the common law, they might look towards the American alternative. He had been told by coroners that inquests could never be held in con- 107 vents, as no evidence could ever be obtained; and that fact was a strong plea in favour of this Bill. As regarded the Roman Catholic Members of that House, they dared not vote for the Bill of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Chambers), as they would be in such case under the anathema of the Church—under a most painful curse. Cardinal Wiseman, on receiving a nun, pronounced the following words:—By the authority of Almighty God, and his holy Apostles Peter and Paul, we solemnly forbid, under pain of anathema, that any one draw away these present virgins or holy nuns from the Divine service to which they have devoted themselves under the banner of chastity; or that anyone purloin their goods, or hinder their possessing them unmolested; but if any one shall dare to attempt such a thing, let him be accursed at home and abroad; accursed in the city and in the field; accursed in waking and sleeping; accursed in eating and drinking; accursed in walking and sitting; cursed be his flesh and his bones, and from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head let him have no soundness. Let come upon him the malediction, which by Moses, in the law, the Lord hath laid on the sons of iniquity. Let his name be blotted out from the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. Let his portion and inheritance be with Cain, the fratricide; with Dathan and Abiram, with Ananias and Sapphira, with Simon, the sorcerer; and with Judas, the traitor; and with those who have said to God, 'Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.' Let him perish in the day of judgment, and let everlasting fire devour him, with the devil and his angels, unless he make restitution, and come to amendment.No member of the Roman Catholic religion who believed in the full power of the curses of his Church, could give his support to such a Bill as the present. And that was why many of them refrained from giving their support to a measure which, in all probability, their better judgment and better feelings sanctioned. The Protestant Members had a duty to perform towards their Roman Catholic fellow subjects by establishing the protection of the law around the inmates of convents—a duty which the Roman Catholics could not perform for themselves, but which it was the duty of Protestants to perform for them. He fully agreed with the arguments of the hon. and learned Member who introduced this measure, and was convinced of its necessity from actual experience. There were two convents in his (Mr. Newdegate's) neighbourhood, under one of which, he had been informed, cells were constructed for the detention of the refractory. In the other convent it was rumoured that attempts at escape had 108 been made, and had failed; and whether these rumours were true or not, it was a fact that fifteen cwt. of iron stanchions were used soon after the escape had been attempted, and every window barred as closely as the strongest prison. Surely, such precaution, it might be fairly assumed could not arise from the perfect satisfaction of the nuns with their residence. These restraints tallied with the doctrine of Liguori, which inculcated the forcible retention of unwilling nuns. There had been other instances alluded to by the hon. Member for East Sussex (Mr. Frewen), and the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. C. Berkeley); and however deluded they might be deemed, the Protestants of this country felt that the time was come for action upon their part. They did not desire to take this course in order to annoy their Catholic fellow countrymen, but from a sense of duty towards those who would be helpless without their assistance, in order to secure to every individual, however feeble and unprotected, the benefits of the British constitution. Under these circumstances, he hoped that the Government would allow the hon. and learned Gentleman leave to bring in his Bill, and that he would persevere with it.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, I greatly regret that this question has been brought before the House. A Bill on this same subject was introduced about two years ago, I think, and the House, having then considered the subject, thought proper to reject the Bill. It appears to me that there ought to be very strong grounds indeed for introducing a new Bill on the same subject; for, in the first place, we must consider that this is a country in which we boast of our personal liberty—in which we believe that we have provisions by law by which that personal liberty is secured—and secured, not only against the Government, not only against those who by means of authority would attempt to confine persons illegally, but secured against those who, by any forcible means, would detain a British subject against his will. Well, then, the real question is, whether there is a certain class of persons with respect to whom we should say that these securities of personal liberty are not sufficient—that the law of habeas corpus, and the other Acts which have been passed in order to make that law effectual, are totally inadequate—and that in such cases we ought to have separate legislation for their special benefit. I own, Sir, I should 109 be sorry to come to that conclusion, because I cannot but think that if such is the case our laws must be generally insufficient, and that we should be obliged to provide, not only for such cases as those which have been referred to, but in other respects greater securities for personal liberty than we at present enjoy. We should be obliged to admit that our boasted laws, upon which depends the liberty of the British subject, are insufficient for the purpose for which they were framed. Well, then, let us see the special case which the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Chambers) has made out for the introduction of his Bill. We are told that there are certain ladies of the Roman Catholic persuasion who have taken vows upon them, and who live in communities in certain private houses both in Great Britain and Ireland. It is confessed that there are no special laws in order to enforce their residence there; that there is no special protection given to the rules and canons of the Roman Catholic Church with regard to those establishments. Many of these ladies, I believe, have entered these houses from a spirit of sincere and deep devotion. They pass their lives in devout contemplation, soothing to themselves, and in performing what they believe to be their duty to God—if not in a way which we think wisely chosen, yet with great purity of intention, and in a spirit which no man ought to speak of without respect. And, Sir, let me here say, that it is more natural to females than to our own sex to entertain deep feelings of devotion, and to believe that by retirement and contemplation, by prayer and self-denial, they are doing what is grateful to the Almighty. There are others of those ladies who devote themselves to more active duties; and if we are called upon to respect the pious intentions of the one class, we cannot but regard with approbation the practical services rendered to the human race by the other. I mean those ladies, one part of whom devote themselves to the work of education, as has been stated by the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. Serjeant Murphy), who preside over large institutions of young girls, and who take care to teach them not only their religious duties, but to instruct them in useful arts, by which they become valuable members of society. I say that ladies who devote themselves to such a task cannot but deserve approbation, and I should be sorry to think that there were any Members of this House who would not 110 express approbation of such conduct. There are other ladies who take vows, perhaps of a special nature, and who devote themselves to the most painful, and sometimes to the most disgusting, duties of attendance upon the sick, who watch night and day for the purpose of alleviating the pains of disease, and who become thus the best assistants to the physician and surgeon. Well, such being the case, I am asked, not whether I approve of these institutions, because upon that subject I should certainly exercise my Protestant judgment, but I am asked whether we should interfere by law in order to put special restrictrictions on, and submit to special examination, the houses in which those ladies have chosen to live. The hon. Gentleman who last spoke has pointed out one great defect, and I, as a Protestant, agree with him—a defect which not only attaches to, but which I say is inseparable from, institutions of this kind. It cannot but happen that young women who, in the enthusiasm of youth, from their own ardent and devotional dispositions, or perhaps the persuasions of their near relations (in other countries, I know, such persuasions have been used)—it cannot but happen, I say, that young women who have embraced a life of monastic retirement, should sometimes find that their dispositions are but ill suited to that life of monotony and restriction, and who have, consequently, many regrets after the world which they have left—who are discontented with the vocation which they have chosen, and who often wish that they had not bound themselves by the solemn vows which they have taken. We would wish, of course, that such persons had not taken such vows, and had not so bound themselves, or that they did not remain dissatisfied with themselves and with all around them in the houses to which they belong. But, Sir, when the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Newdegate) says that we ought not to permit, in a free country, such things to take place, he goes far beyond the remedy which is proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman who brings forward this Bill; and, as I will presently show him, the remedy which he proposes is of a totally different nature; because when he quotes from the writings of Alphouse Liguori, and from other works, the exhortations, almost the threats, which are used towards nuns who repent of their vocation, it is evident that such arguments are used, not for the purpose of confining them by fetters and manacles, or by the dungeons to which he 111 has alluded, under ground, but that they are addressed to the sensitive minds and feelings of those nuns, who are told that, having bound themselves by such solemn engagements, they have no right lightly to violate those engagements. I certainly agree with the hon. Gentleman that those arguments are hardly likely to reconcile such persons as he has described to the life with which they have become discontented—that the pangs of conscience and the mental struggles which are undergone in such cases must often be painful in the extreme; and if he were to argue, as a general question, that these institutions are often very injurious in their consequences, as a Protestant I could not but agree with him; but when I am asked to assent to a new law upon this subject, and when he tells me that in a free country we ought not to permit such things existing, I must tell him that the only law which would prevent such things existing is a law forbidding the existence of convents altogether. Because the chances are, that the persons who go to those convents are persons who would, in the first place, refuse to give the inspectors any explanation; that a lady having those feelings to which I have referred, would probably object to state her feelings and the struggles of her conscience to the inspector; and that if she was told, "The doors of the convent are thrown open to you; you may go into the world if you think proper; you may go to-morrow and live in the metropolis of England if you please;" the probability is, she would answer, "You are totally mistaken in my case. It is not the doors of the convent; it is not the bolts and the bars and the locks which confine me; it is my sense of obligation; it is the thought that I have taken a vow which I must keep, and that I will commit a great sin if I violate that vow." How would the hon. and learned Gentleman's Bill apply to such a case as that? In what way would it meet it? It must be evident that it would be utterly inefficient. And it must be evident, further, that, unless you cease to permit the existence of convents altogether in this country, you cannot reach the evils which the hon. and learned Gentleman has pointed out. But we have hitherto agreed to allow of convents existing in this country; hitherto, the law has not forbidden the consolations which convents afford to one class of females, or the practical uses to which they are applied in other cases, and I confess I am disposed to leave the question to 112 the opinions and sense of the Roman Catholics themselves, and not to forbid the existence of those institutions. Well, then, we come to the more intelligible evil which the hon. and learned Gentleman who brought forward the Motion has placed before the House, and that is the evil of persons being actually confined in convents against their own will, and forced by physical means to remain in these institutions. I must say, in the first place, that with respect to evidence of such cases we have none. The hon. and learned Gentleman who brought forward the Motion stated some cases, and others have stated three or four; but these are all cases without positive names attached to them—without particulars being given—without those cross-examinations without which cases of this kind are very little worth, and without those positive proofs which I think this House ought to require before they attempt any legislation on the subject. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. C. Berkeley) has stated that he was not allowed to see a near relation of his except in the presence of the superior. Now, as far as I can make out, that was not a case depending on any general law with respect to those (Roman Catholic) communities. That case, it seems to me, was entirely of a private and domestic nature; and it might have happened that a young lady, being a Protestant, had gone to her aunt or other friend, and that one of her nearest relations was not allowed to see her except in the presence of the lady in whose house she lived. It does not appear to me that that is a case which is inseparably connected with the institution of convents. But, Sir, there is a further reason—and it appears to me an unanswerable one—why we ought not to come to the conclusion to which the hon. Gentleman asks us to come. The hon. Gentleman says that the ladies are confined by force—that their personal liberty is denied them—and that the whole power of the British Parliament is required in order to set them free from the bonds by which they are detained. Now, if it is true that we live in a free country, don't tell me that the Roman Catholic gentry of Great Britain and Ireland are utterly dead to those feelings of political freedom which animate the subjects of this kingdom in general. Don't tell me, above all, that they are so destitute of the common affections of humanity that they would willingly see the laws of freedom set at nought, and the doctrines of 113 slavery acted on towards their nearest relations, and that they have not the heart to stand up in this House and denounce that tyranny, and ask our assistance to take off their fetters. I cannot believe that if the evil referred to had existed to any extent, the Roman Catholic gentlemen of this country would not themselves have come to this House and asked us to pass a law in order to establish the freedom of their own near relations. For these reasons, Sir, I should be sorry to consent to the introduction of a Bill on this subject. But is that all the objection? Does the objection end with that statement? No; I think the objection goes a great deal further than this. It is not only that the persons of the Roman Catholic persuasion do not come and ask us to interfere on behalf of their female relatives, said to be detained in prison, but it is evident that they would feel it as a serious injury, and somewhat of an insult, if we were to attempt the passing of such a law. If we are to have any law on the subject—if any remedy is required, let it be a remedy that will apply to the whole nation. Let the Habeas Corpus Act be made more complete—let there be fitter means for all persons, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, who are confined against their will, obtaining the interposition of a court of justice; but such is not the remedy which this Bill proposes. When such a remedy is proposed, it will be time enough for the House of Commons to consider its necessity. But it is proposed that application should be made to the Executive Government of the country—that the authority of the Secretary of State should be interposed, and that he should asked to send down to those houses containing nuns, an inspector, armed with the power of investigation, if required. Well, I say that a remedy like this, differing from the ordinary laws of the land, and put in force by a Secretary of State, who may be called upon by the House to interfere in any case which may be got up by a popular gust of passion in the country—such Secretary of State belonging to a party who may possibly be favourable to Roman Catholics, but who, on the other hand, may possibly be hostile to them—I say, that such a power could hardly be used without exciting feelings of great indignation on the part of Roman Catholics that their religious institutions were unduly interfered with, and that not for any purpose of public policy, still less for any purpose of public necessity. You 114 have heard some symptoms of those feelings in the declaration made by two hon. Members to-night, that if such inspection were authorised by Parliament, those who belonged to those institutions would immediately quit both this country and Ireland, and would establish themselves in other countries where they would not be liable to that inspection. I cannot conceive such an event happening—I cannot conceive the sisters and near relations of the Roman Catholic gentry of these two countries leaving this kingdom, without exciting the strongest feelings of resentment on the part of the gentry and middle orders both of this country and of Ireland. And I cannot conceive those who have conducted the education—those who have attended the hospitals and institutions for the sick—all at once going out as exiles from this country, without producing in the minds of the lower classes who have received the benefit of their ministration the strongest feeling that they are suffering a grievance at the hand of the Parliament of this country. Sir, I believe that our interference on this subject is likely to produce bad effects. I can see no sufficient reason for saying that the general law of this country is not ample for the protection of the personal liberty of all the subjects of this country. I see no reason to think so ill of our Roman Catholic fellow countrymen as to believe that they would behold without complaint their near relations immured against their will, or confined in contravention of the law, and to the destruction of their health and comfort. So feeling, Sir, upon this subject—having had before in this House a very similar Bill—seeing no likelihood that the present Bill would be at all more satisfactory to me than the Bill against which I voted two years ago—I must refuse my assent to the introduction of this measure.
§ LORD EDWARD F. HOWARD
said, he was so much at a loss to conceive the object of the hon. Gentleman who had introduced this Motion, that he believed hardly any but themselves and those who happened to be in the secret with them, could have conceived that a Bill of this nature was about to be introduced. His reason, however, for obtruding himself at that time on the attention of the House, was to be found in the allusion which had been made by several hon. Members. One of them had quoted the case of a near and dear relation of his own—a much nearer and dearer relation was she of his (Lord E. 115 Howard's) own. Upon that point he should first meet the observation made by the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. C. Berkeley). He (Lord E. Howard) did not know, he had not had time to ask, and if he had, he did not know whether he should have asked the lady in question, whether she was prevented from seeing the hon. Gentleman alone, while she was an inmate of the convent; but this he could say, that she had no wish to see him alone. He was obliged to the hon. Member for Cork (Serjeant Murphy) for the kind way in which he had adverted to these circumstances, and also to the hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. Bowyer). The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), however, took upon him to say that it was against her will that the person alluded to had been in a convent at all; and whether he mentioned that on his own authority, or upon the authority of the hon. Member for Cheltenham, he did not know.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
I would not have said such a thing for the world. I relied upon the statements of the hon. Member for Cheltenham, and upon the correspondence which appeared in the newspapers.
§ LORD E. HOWARD
said, he was not aware that any correspondence had appeared in the newspapers to that effect. Certainly he (Lord E. Howard) was by no means a bad authority, and he said that she had not been detained there against her will; and she had frequently referred not only to the period of her own experience, but also to the peace of mind and happiness which she had witnessed in those who live in such an abode; and so little did she regret her connexion with it, that she still carried on—oh it is disgraceful in English gentlemen to bring forward these private matters. I say it is disgraceful that I am obliged to bring forward the personal affairs of my own household to rebut these false accusations I was going to say that she still carries on communication with many dear and esteemed inmates of that place. So far, he (Lord Edward Howard) thought, he had taken away a portion of the ground upon which hon. Gentlemen had based their arguments to show the necessity for this Bill. For the sake of these Gentlemen themselves, he wished they had stronger ground than that which he had been dealing with. A few other cases had been introduced by other hon. Members, who, if he might say so, ought to take great care to investigate the truth of the story, in each case, before they 116 made use of it as evidence. He knew not what might have followed if he had not met at the outset the observations made upon his own case; and many examples had been quoted of the same kind—fictitious stories, like that of Maria Monk, which were fabricated and put into the hands of persons but too credulous and too much disposed to listen to them. If the House would pardon him, he might say a word or two further. For instance, the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), began with a detailed conversation, which, when he heard it, he might have thought he was listening to one of the imaginary conversations of Landor, about great quantities of iron that had been ordered for a convent. He might be allowed to remind him, that iron useful for keeping people in the house, might be as useful for keeping others out of it. Although there was nothing like riches or property to tempt intruders in their search after wealth into these houses, yet when they were aware, as they had heard, that these places were called "hells upon earth"—and aware of the statements put forth in papers of the National Club, and other humbugs, coupled with statements spread abroad, as the hon. Member had done, of what was transacted in America by Lynch law, and the like—added to the spirited exertions of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Spooner) near him, par nobile fratrum, at Exeterhall—the friends of these houses might not be without a reason for making them safe against assault. He trusted the hon. Gentleman who introduced this Motion did not go the length of entertaining those views. They were ready enough to take up anything that seemed to make for their case; but let them attend to what was said on the other side. He trusted he would be allowed, as a humble Member of that House, and a Roman Catholic, to thank the noble Lord, if he would permit him to call him, his right hon. Friend (Lord J. Russell), for a speech that stood out prominent from the narrow bigotry which the House had been obliged to hear expressed, and for giving credit to those ladies for the motives which actuated them, and for the works of mercy which they lived to perform—retaining no wish, and, having divested themselves of the means of passing a life of luxury, and fearing no infection, contented to spend themselves and their time in the houses of the poor and the sick. If the hon. and learned Gentleman 117 who had brought in this Bill, who was well travelled in Acts of Parliament, had traveiled only across the water, he would have seen these sisters of charity at large in the streets—and yet he talked of nuns being confined; he would have seen on the Continent thousands abroad engaged in acts of charity, wherever the need of charity was to be found, so that if they wished to run away, surely the greatest facilities were offered them for doing so. Oh, shame upon such nonsense! He begged pardon of the hon. Gentleman, with whom he had no acquaintance; he might be an amiable person—he had no doubt that both he and those who acted with him were amiable people—but such persons were liable to have their minds perverted, and consequences might follow from this course other than they had wished. He knew in this very town an institution in which a few poor nuns took charge of the most wretched and oldest of the poor—who nursed and attended those who otherwise would be without solace or comfort upon their deathbeds. Those poor nuns did not even eat other things than were left after providing for the sustenance of those under their care; and that which they obtained in the first instance were but the odds and ends obtained from the kitchens of the rich and the charitably disposed. These were cases which, he thought, entitled these ladies to some credit at least. He thanked the House for the kindness with which they had heard him. He was not accustomed to intrude upon the House; and if he had said anything in a more vehement way than the occasion called for, he begged pardon: he did not regret the sense of what he had said, but only the manner in which he might have said it. But he must say that, knowing what he did, and seeing the efforts which were made to throw discountenance upon charitable institutions, and to bring into a false light things which were not susceptible of such an interpretation, it certainly made him feel very warmly upon the subject.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
said, his chief objection to this Bill was, that it would be, like the Bill introduced two years ago, utterly inefficacious. He did not believe in the power of any legislation by that House to make any amelioration of the system against which this measure was directed, or to separate that which was good from that which was bad in monastic institutions. He could not go the whole length many hon. Gentlemen did in blaming them, 118 for he had seen the advantages of the Sisters of Charity, and other orders of that kind, abroad. He knew how much the recovery of the sick and wounded in foreign hospitals was owing to these ladies, and he knew how much the recovery of the sick and maimed in this country was retarded from the want of those who would nurse them for motives of charity instead of gain. Besides this, as he had previously stated, he did not think that any legislation on the subject would be effective—the case was so full of difficulty. When they brought in the Emancipation Act they made clauses as strong as they could against Jesuits and against monasteries; and yet they were increasing every year, and laughing in our faces. His objection to these institutions was not made on exclusively Protestant or exclusively Catholic grounds. He did not look at them from a religious point of view, as things relating either to sects or to Christianity; but he laid down this abstract doctrine, that it never could be right to lock up a number of women in a house, with bolts and bars, and then to give the key of it to any one man, Catholic or Protestant, layman or priest. That was what he objected to; but hon. Gentlemen would turn round and say, there are no such chains and locks in this country. He would simply say that was the case, because in this country they had not their own way at present; but the establishment of these institutions was intended as a step towards their having their own way. There was a difficulty in proving cases here; there would be none if they would accept cases from foreign countries—from any place where the power of the priesthood was predominant. Hon. Gentlemen opposite might dissent from that opinion; the power of denial in some hon. Gentlemen was most marvellous; and the only way in which he could account for it was by supposing that Dr. Wiseman was correct, when he stated in a recent number of the Dublin Review that Catholic laymen knew very much better than to read books they had no business to read. They were not allowed to know anything about the matter—not allowed—not allowed. [Laughter.] He must not be interrupted by Gentlemen sent there by a particular order. He thought it wrong, he said, that there should be anywhere a number of the Queen's subjects who could not appeal to Her for protection—he cared not by what means, through the police, the constable, the magistrates, or others. He thought that their being prevented from so 119 doing by any machinery whatever was a great evil. The affections had been spoken of, as if the affection of friends were a sufficient safeguard for the inmates of nunneries. But even the affections were not always to be relied on. What was more sacred than parental affection? And yet did they not see daily from the police reports that there were many parents so dead to parental affection as to misuse their children, to starve them, to produce their death by systematic cruelty, even to put them to death, in order to gain the burial fee? And did they think that parental affection was stronger among the higher classes than among the lower? That might happen here which he had seen in other countries; and abroad he had seen parents force some of their daughters into convents, that other favourite daughters might have larger jointures, and might be better provided for in the world. He believed there were many such instances; and he said there ought to be some remedy for them. As to a mere inspection of convents, it would be only diversion to the inmates for a month afterwards. But he would tell the House something of what went on even in the countries where there was some danger of exposure to Protestant eyes. This was a statement made to him by a priest who had left the Roman Catholic Church. ["Oh, oh!"] He admitted it was suspicious. But this was what he wrote:—I had been a curate officiating in the Roman Catholic chapel of—My niece was a hoarder or pensioner in the school of the nunnery of—from the age of four years to that of eighteen. As her personal guardian under her father's will, the duty devolved on me to ascertain from that young lady her intentions relative to her future state of life. I accordingly invited her to breakfast at my lodging in the chapel-house of that chapel, and put the question to her, 'Do you intend retiring into a nunnery or living in the world?' 'Nunneries,' she replied, 'are not such good places as you imagine. I would not pass my life in one of them for any consideration. As to the nuns, they are continually in a state of strife with each other; and the crimes committed by the young ladies, the boarders, are too shocking to relate. I assure you that such things are frequent among them.' I accordingly, with her approbation, placed her at a boarding school of high reputation in Dublin, where she remained until she married.They were, in fact, useful as one great means by which the Popish treasury was kept supplied; that was the reason of their being kept up; not a bit for the sake of having ladies passing their lives in devotion. There was no grist behind that mill. Another document would explain 120 another case. This was from a person whose name he could not give:—Some time after the death of our young friend in Martinique we received a letter from an old and esteemed correspondent there, informing us that he had received a letter from the lady in the convent, expressing her gratitude to him for all that he had done for her and various members of his deceased partner's family, and further stating that there was a sum of 300l. due by that gentleman, her departed relative, to a family in Cork, who had suffered a great reverse of circumstances; adding, that she was sure if he had lived it would not have been allowed to remain unpaid; that, if she had not disposed herself of all her property, she would gladly discharge the debt, and entreating him, as an act of the greatest charity, to pay the amount. Our friend reminded us of the many sums he had previously paid, and of the fact of his having no assets of his late partner's applicable to the purpose; but he added, that such was his respect for the family and for the lady in the convent, that, provided he felt satisfied after an interview with her, that the facts were as she supposed, he authorised our paying the money. On receipt of this letter my brother went to the convent and saw the lady. He stated that our friend had requested us to make inquiries touching the family she had named to him. She expressed her great surprise, and declared she knew nothing whatever of any such family. My brother then told her all the circumstances mentioned in our friend's letter, when she seemed confused, but still declared she knew nothing of the family, nor of these circumstances. My brother, on his return to our counting-house, told all this with very great surprise to us, and we wrote off at once to our friend, supposing that forgery and fraud had been practised upon him. In a few days after, or it may be the next day, we received a note from the convent in the same handwriting as usual, requesting Mr. C—would call upon the writer, which my brother did, and found the lady alone waiting to receive him, in a state of considerable agitation. The first question was, 'Mr. C—did you write to Martinique?' My brother replied, 'I did.' The lady then said in almost an agony which astonished my brother, 'What shall I do? pray write off at once and say that the facts are all true, and that it was a silly mistake on my part.' My brother replied, 'How can this be, Miss? Is it true that you wrote the letter you told me you did not write; or is it possible that you knew the family of whom you told me you knew nothing?' This seemed to throw her into almost a state of frenzy, and she replied, 'I suppose I must tell you all the fact is I never put pen to paper since I entered this convent; one of our sisters manages all correspondence, who is appointed for that purpose. She knows all the facts, and that is quite the same as my knowing them, so do pray write and tell our friend that it is all true.' It was in vain that my brother told her that such an explanation would never satisfy our friend. She only repeated, it is all true, and pray write to tell him so. My brother left her in this state, and on his return repeated the conversation in utter astonishment to us, and we wrote the whole as it occurred to our friend, who, in reply, thanked us for the course we had taken to protect him from the fraud intended, and stated that as he was then becoming an old many it had been his intention to give up 121 all his business affairs, and to return to his native country to end his days there, but that he was so shocked at what he had thus discovered, that he resolved to return to Europe, and end his days without returning to Ireland, which he accordingly did, and we corresponded with him in Paris until his death.These were the sort of things that were taught in these institutions, and these institutions their promoters would cling to, because they were one of the means by which they hoped to establish Popery here. Now, he had no doubt the country was not prepared for the only thing that was proper—the entire suppression of monastic institutions. As to this Bill, he thought it wholly inefficacious. The question was a much wider one, as hon. Gentlemen opposite would admit. On the one hand it was determined to establish the canon law; on the other it was determined that it should never be established. Let them give each other credit for sincerity, and, stating the true question, deal with it, when the time came, on its merits.
§ MR. LUCAS
said, he wished to express his acknowledgments to the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) for his extremely generous and able speech, which he thought must have perfectly settled the question in the minds of every impartial and rational person in that House. The case had completely fallen through; they had been asked to legislate, and no ground had been shown for legislation; no case had been proved, no attempt had been made to prove one, to warrant their interposition. Nay, the hon. and learned Gentleman who brought forward the Motion had told them he was destitute of proof, and that it was because he was destitute of proof that he wanted Commissioners to be appointed to go into the convents and obtain evidence. Where were the pretended, the imagined, the supposed facts that had been laid before thorn? There was the case given by the hon. Member for East Sussex (Mr. Frewen) of a young lady put to the school of a convent by her own father, who ran away from school. Ran away from school! A case that did certainly sometimes happen in the world, but did not seem to him to require special legislation There were other cases mentioned "in another place"—one that of a boy, the other that of a young lady living in the world, and there was that mentioned by the Bishop of Norwich, which, however, bore no relation to this question. As to the statements made by the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond), the hon. Member had read them, and they only 122 needed to be read to be thought no more of. Where, then, was the case for legislation? If they could show him that—if they could prove that they had a basis for their proceedings—that there was tyranny practised within convict walls—that there was any breach of the law there—he would cordially join with them in their efforts for the removal of such evils. But they had no proof to offer—nothing but "cock-and-bull" stories—he begged pardon for such a low word, but the subject required one expressive of utter contempt—upon which to found their exceptional legislation. It was not necessary that a man should be Catholic or Protestant to form his opinion upon this question, for all must be of one mind when legislation was asked for, and no facts: nothing but anonymous statements were proffered as its groundwork. It was not for want of favourable circumstances they had not made out their case, for, for the last fourteen or fifteen years that he had carefully watched what was passing in the Catholic community, no year had passed without some case of alleged cruelty, mismanagement, or hardship being dragged before the world; but the moment it was investigated, it was found there was nothing in it, that it was a tissue of falsehood, and that the parties to the narrative were degraded and discreditable impostors. A crop of these facts came up every year. Persons of degraded and debased imaginations lived upon the filthy and abominable suspicions which formed the stock in trade of a certain class of so called religious agitators, who made up a kind of spurious public opinion, which endeavoured to thrust itself upon that House. He had great respect for anything in the shape of English public opinion; but for that monstrous, and unnatural, and debased opinion which was represented out of doors by the Motions made on these subjects in the House, he had no respect whatever, but he regarded it with the greatest contempt. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) had expressed his wish to protect the Roman Catholics from Lynch law; but he (Mr. Lucas) would meet any proposal to protect them against Lynch law by legislation of this kind with the regard which its obvious seriousness demanded. He was sure that candid, rational, calm-judging Members on both sides would unite in putting an extinguisher upon an attempt at legislation which, if it were successful, would do no credit to the character of that assembly.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had expressed himself in a very manly and frank manner, and that he (Mr. Whiteside) would treat the question as an enlightened Roman Catholic, as that hon. Gentleman had treated it as a Protestant. He objected to the Bill, that it treated in a very narrow way a very large subject. There were, however, two main questions to be considered: one as to how the system affected the transmission of property; the other as it regarded personal liberty. The hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Lucas) said there was no case. He admitted that there was no strong case put before them. But was the House aware that the predecessor of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Pagan) had been obliged to bring before the courts in Ireland the whole history of the interior of a convent in Cork, in reference to the obtaining from a young lady of a most respectable Roman Catholic family a deed against her will? That was a case which went to the question of property, as affected by these institutions; and he, who had read the whole of the depositions, said that it was impossible for any man in a free assembly to tell them that a greater act of tyranny ever was practised, or could be practised, on a young woman than had been in that case. Well, that which was not to be exceeded by any records of the law, took place in the family of the late Member for Cork, Mr. M'Carthy. The young lady signed a deed against her will; and the late Lord Chancellor said she, having so signed, must be considered as a corpse, and that her hand must be considered as that of a corpse moved by a will which was not its own. Her affections were with her family, and she wished to transfer a considerable sum to her brothers and sisters; but the bishop and the sisters of the convent interfered, and she was made to give up her property to that institution. He wished to ask the hon. Member for Meath, and the noble Lord the Member for Arundel (Lord E. Howard), whether that was right? A married man, by the law of England, was not allowed to obtain from his wife the assignment of her property without her being examined apart by Commissioners for that purpose, from fear that the influence of the husband, or her affection, might make her do that which was contrary to her real interest. Could hon. Gentlemen then maintain that deeds of assignment, attested by nuns and priests, and lady abbesses, ought to be tolerated by 124 a law which would not allow a married woman to make a deed of settlement in favour of her husband even, without a separate examination? Here, then, was a question which must be inquired into. They had four or five cases on the books in Ireland of assignments, in which the deed was no more the act of the party assigning than if it had been that of a dead body. He had heard the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) quote the history and laws of other countries; for his part, he would not quote Russia or Austria, Spain or Portugal. He thought bigotry and tyranny pervaded those countries, and he hated both. But he had had the good fortune at one time to read the laws of Leopold the Tuscan, one of the best men that ever lived, who was the first sovereign that dismissed his standing army—because, he said, one who ruled for the good of his people could not require the support of bayonets—who, long before the voice of Romilly was ever heard, or the Code Napoleon thought of, enacted the most merciful code of criminal law that, up to that period, had existed in Europe. Roman Catholics, he said, might justly point to the Government of Tuscany under that enlightened man, to show the Protestants of this country how mercifully and equitably he governed his people. And what were his laws?—As Leopold the Reformer discovered that parents sacrificed the happiness of their children to get rid of them, he ordained that girls should not be placed in the public schools till ten years of age, and that they should not be clothed in the dress of any convent before twenty, and not professed until liberated from the convent for sis months; and even then not until after strict examination to ascertain their real inclination.It was said of Leopold that he found Tuscany a wilderness, and left it a paradise, he having succeeded the last of the Medici, a worthless person. In 1780—the former ordinance was in 1775—Leopold suppressed more than fifty convents. In those which remained, a female was not henceforward allowed to take the veil till she had reached thirty years of age. Inspectors of convents were appointed, their libraries were examined, and the monks were forbidden to read in their refectories any other books than the sacred Scriptures in the vulgar tongue; and they were bound to study theology in books sanctioned by the Government. Priests were submitted to a severe examination, not in forms, but in learning, and their income was increased.He admitted that this great reformer suppressed a number of convents, but reminded those who would value the admission, that he did so with the perfect assent of 125 the people by whom he was worshipped. His last law on the subject of convents, it would seem, did not allow females to take the veil till they were thirty years of age; and that was a fair age in Italy at which a lady might take the veil. It also subjected conventual establishments to inspection; but he did not wish to take undue advantage of that, admitting, as he did, the difference between appointing Roman Catholics as inspectors, and appointing Protestant gentlemen to perform the same duty. He did not think this Bill would be efficacious, but was quite sure that the entire question of the relation of these establishments to the State, in reference not merely to personal liberty, but also to the passing of property, ought to be carefully and comprehensively considered by the Legislature.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman was mistaken in supposing that he had referred to the laws of other European countries with regard to conventual establishments.
§ MR. FAGAN
said, he had not intended to address the House on this most painful question, but as he had been pointedly alluded to by the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen. (Mr. Whiteside) in reference to a subject nearly connected with some relatives of his own, he could not refrain from making a few observations. The hon. and learned Gentleman had alluded to the case of the Macarthys, which had been brought before the Court of Chancery in Ireland. As the parties in that suit were near relatives of his own, he was intimately acquainted with all the facts of the case. A near relative of his, being possessed of a large personal estate, died intestate, leaving a large family, two being daughters in a convent, and, as such, entitled to share in their father's personal effects. Their rights formed the subject of investigation before the Court of Chancery in Ireland, and the Lord Chancellor decided, inasmuch as those daughters were nuns in a convent, and as the law of England in Catholic times did not permit such to inherit, that notwithstanding the difference in the law, the law in Catholic times was the law which would regulate his conduct and influence his decision. He had had communication with those two ladies subsequently to that decision, and he could assure the House that nothing like coercion had been brought to hear on them in their anxiety to obtain a fair share of their father's property, and to which he considered they were justly entitled. He had held communication with 126 them in private, in the absence of the superioress, though it had been stated to-night that no one was permitted to speak with the inmates of a convent without the presence of one of those in authority there; and he could state that they had earnestly pressed him to use whatever influence he possessed to obtain for them their rights. He could bear testimony to the poignant anguish felt by those ladies when they found their names were so ruthlessly dragged before the public; and any person who was acquainted with their sentiments would hesitate before he joined in the statements of the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen. He could state on behalf of these ladies that it was not only their desire but their anxiety that their share in their father's property should be applied to charitable purposes, even if it had been ten times the amount. Having stated this much, he hoped he might be allowed to refer to another subject. His own—his only daughter was educated at the convent of Clifton, and had the greatest respect for the excellent ladies who conducted that institution, and he could not allow a taunt to be uttered against them without standing up in his place to refute it. He could state that the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. C. Berkeley) was refused an interview with the lady alluded to in the course of the debate, because she had objected to see him unless she was accompanied by the superioress. He had the authority of the superioress for stating, that no one seeking an interview with any lady in the establishment, whether postulant or nun, would be refused. He could not but express his regret that the hon. and learned Gentleman, who had exhibited so much talent, learning, and mildness, in bringing forward this Motion, should have commenced his career in that House on such a subject. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell) had come forward in a manner to be expected from his antecedents. He had shown both spirit and determination in resisting an encroachment on civil liberty, for what was the tendency of the Motion but an infringement on the sanctity of private life? The only argument used by the hon. and learned Gentleman, who had introduced this Motion in support of his views, was, that the prejudices of the people of this country were in favour of legislation; but he had given no proofs, he had shown no reason why there should be legislation. What was the description of legislation recommended by the hon. and learned Gen- 127 tleman? That private houses, in which some ten or twenty ladies might find shelter, should be visited by inspectors who would have no respect for the religious feelings of the community. If the Bill were countenanced by the House, it would be, as far as Ireland was concerned, the tocsin for religious feuds and discord. He hoped that such a measure was now brought forward for the last time, and that this evening would sec the last attempt to introduce a Bill calculated to awaken religious animosities, and to renew those discords which he hoped to see at rest for ever. Such being his sentiments, he should give his decided opposition to the Motion.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, he thought it was to be regretted that the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Pagan) did not make his statement of that evening with regard to the Blackrock convent at the time when the question was before the courts—because the whole of the press throughout the United Kingdom had dwelt upon the remarkable case to which the hon. Member had referred, at considerable length, and every particular in connexion with it had been fully canvassed. Had the honourable Member, at the time, made the statement he had now reserved for several years, he could have been cross-examined, and the matter thoroughly sifted. After a long public trial, the universal opinion was, that a case of oppression and coercion was fully established. And what brought the case before the public? The trial was certainly not a Protestant conspiracy; for it was the Roman Catholic relatives of the young ladies who complained of a breach of civil liberty. And there was no ground for supposing that it had its origin in feelings of religious hostility. He should, however, pass from the hon. Member for Cork to the observations which had fallen that evening from the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell). He regretted extremely that the noble Lord should have felt it his duty to state that he would not concede to the hon. and learned Gentleman who had made the Motion upon which they were then speaking, the privilege of being allowed to push this measure through even its earliest stages, so that it might be printed and placed in the hands of hon. Members without delay. He regretted the course which the noble Lord had deemed it advisable to take; the more because he felt that the question under discussion related to a subject which had taken hold of the public 128 mind, and one with respect to which no inconsiderable amount of interest prevailed throughout the country; and the public would not be contented with the denial of those who were in favour of such establishments. There was a widely spread opinion entertained amongst all classes of people that unfair proceedings were sometimes resorted to within the walls of monastic institutions, and that the inmates of those establishments were, in a great degree, without the pale of the British constitution. The public having the subject impressed upon their mind, would not rest satisfied with the present state of the law, unless it were shown that the opinions they had formed were without foundation. The noble Lord had told them that they ought to trust to the love of liberty in the minds of Roman Catholics. He (Lord C. Hamilton) could not accept, as the exponent of civil and religious liberty, the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Lucas), who, with that boldness and explicitness which characterised all his addresses, had declared that he looked upon the Roman Catholic bishops and clergy as the constituencies who ought to return the Members for Ireland. Notwithstanding the noble Lord's remarks on that subject, he thought civil and religious liberty would not be very safe in such custody. But he would remind the House that most of the objections raised to the introduction of this measure, were not derived from the very able speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced this subject. It had been said, that if any such system of inspection were enforced, it would have the immediate effect of closing all these establishments in this country, and, forcing the inmates to flit across the Channel, to avoid this odious ordeal. Well, this was the threat. But what became of their statement when it was demonstrated that when these scared inmates had crossed the Channel, and left their native land, they would find in full force the very system of civil inspection which was declared to be so intolerable here? In France, in the Rhenish provinces of Prussia, in Bavaria, and in other Roman Catholic countries, a system of inspection of conventual establishments by civil authorities had long been in practice; and there were other restrictions as to the age of the parties forming these engagements, and the term for which they were allowed to be in force, which it had been found necessary, in these Roman Catholic countries, to enforce by law. These regulations were not the result of 129 Exeterhall, or the result of Protestant bigotry, so often quoted by certain persons in this House; but arise from the abuses which occur in the absence of such restrictions. Such being the case on the Continent, this threatened migration may be treated as a bugbear unworthy of notice. He now wished to point out that the hon. mover of this question had not stated that he wished to have exclusively Protestant inspectors. He carefully avoided anything likely to create religious irritation—he proposed to leave the selection in the hands of a public Minister, high in the Councils of Her Majesty, and responsible to Parliament and the nation for the manner in which he exercised the power thus vested in him. Why, then, should it be assumed that these inspectors must necessarily be Protestants? We have Roman Catholic inspectors of Maynooth. These objections only increased his desire to see the Bill by which the hon. and learned Member proposed to carry out his views. None who heard his masterly speech—alike distinguished by research, ability, and moderation—could doubt that he was eminently qualified to got over all difficulties that might beset the subject, and avoid the evils that were so liberally suggested. On these grounds, he sincerely hoped the House would concede to the hon. and learned Member an opportunity of laying his proposed Bill before the House, so that the public might be able to judge of the expediency of the method by which he desired to attain the objects be had in view. In conclusion, he must he permitted, on his own behalf, and in the name of his constituents, who took a deep interest in this question, to tender his sincere thanks to the hon. and learned Member for the able manner in which he had taken up this subject, and expounded his views to the House, and to express his admiration of the ability which he had brought to bear on this subject, which was so vitally important to the best interests of society.
§ SIR ROBERT H. INGLIS
said, he entertained too sincere a respect for the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Fagan) to pursue further that portion of the subject in which the hon. Member took a personal interest; but he must be allowed to advert for a few moments to the observations 'of the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Lucas). The hon. Member had assured the House that this Bill would be rejected by the union of all the candid. honest, and disinterested Members of which it was com- 130 posed, thus assuming that only those who coincided in his views were possessed of honesty, candour, and disinterestedness. Now he (Sir R. H. Inglis) had been long enough in that House to know that every one supposed his own views to be honest and candid and disinterested, and therefore the hon. Gentleman was not entitled to assign such attributes to those only and exclusively who happened to support him in this question. But he must complain that the noble Lord the Member for the City of London had adroitly omitted all consideration of the reasons on which the hon. and learned Member who had moved the introduction of the Bill had founded his proposition. It was not true that history was an old almanack—it was a living and salient source of counsels and examples; and although it might not be very easy to justify this Bill by reference to individual cases falling under our own observation, it was not the less true that history proved that, from one end of Europe to the other, a necessity had at various periods arisen, and at this moment existed, for the adoption of some measure analogous to that now under the consideration of the House. Surely the people of England were entitled to as large a measure of protection under the law of their country, as the inhabitants of Bavaria or of Russia. This was not a question of the violation of religious liberty; it was a question, as it had been ably proved by the hon. and learned Member for Hertford, of the violation of civil liberty. If it were necessary in other countries to secure the religious and civil rights of the subject, it was equally necessary in this. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) objected to this Bill, because it did not meet all the exigencies of the case. Now, although he himself would prefer a more comprehensive measure, yet he was of this opinion, that when a measure was proposed which offered a certain amount of good, he could not refuse his sanction because it did not grapple with all the evils. He would take all the good he could, and he would in this case call upon the House to give their favourable consideration to the Bill, so as to allow it to be brought in, reminding them at the same time that a similar measure had been introduced two years ago, and that they ought to extertain a proposition brought forward with so much talent and temper as the hon. and learned Member for Hertford had displayed.
§ MR. T. CHAMBERS
then replied. He 131 said he must say his Motion had been met by the most systematic evasions he had ever hoard. His case was, that civil liberty might be infringed in conventual establishments. Up rose the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Fagan), and vindicated the purity of such places, which had not been called in question at all. That was the first instance of evasion. The question was one of liberty, not one of purity. He was told that his system was one of inspection, whereas, in fact, it was not. The hon. Member for Heath (Mr. Lucas) said that what he proposed was exceptional and insulting. He maintained it was not exceptional, and therefore not insulting. None of the opponents had ventured to combat any one of the reasons which he assigned. The fault to be found with the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) was, that he had omitted to do what the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) supposed he had done; well knowing everything about the Continent, he had avoided referring to it in the least. The noble Lord himself furnished him with an instance of evasion. The greater part of his speech was occupied in complimenting devout nuns who led a life of retirement, and active nuns who were so often seen moving about the streets. He (Mr. T. Chambers) had impugned the conduct of neither of these classes. It was said that inspection would drive all these institutions to the Continent. An hon. Member for one of the divisions of Essex had just informed him that for twenty years his father, being a magistrate of Sussex, visited a nunnery constantly twice a year, the reason of this being that the nunnery received a certain sum of money from abroad on the condition that the nuns were proved to be there; and it appeared that they were all reviewed by the hon. Member's father, and counted by him, to use his own expression, as they passed through a door, like sheep coming out of a fold. That neither frightened them, nor did them any harm. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had described, in most felicitous terms, what a Bill for this purpose should be. The noble Lord said the proper Bill would be one to amend the habeas corpus. Now, that was precisely the object of his Bill. The noble Lord further said that if the common law could not meet this case it would not meet any. But this was a special case, as was that of factory children. [Cries of "Divide!"] He would not further detain the House.
§ SIR JOHN TYRELL
said, he should support the Bill. He confessed he could see no reasonable objection to the measure. His father had for many years visited the convent of Newall, under a provision in a will, which left to that establishment a certain annuity on condition that a neighbouring magistrate should certify that a number of nuns resided in it. In compliance with that provision the ladies of the convent had annually passed before his father, and no complaints had ever been made of that arrangement. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London had pronounced a high panegyric on those establishments; and the impression on his (Sir J. Tyrell's) mind was, that the noble Lord wished his speech of that evening to be put as a set-off against his introduction of the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill. The noble Lord had, in fact, seemed to have been anxious to regain the favour of the Roman Catholic portion of the Irish Members, which he had lost to so great an extent during the last few years.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 138; Noes 115: Majority 23.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Davies, D. A. S.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Drummond, H.|
|Alcock, T.||Duncan, G.|
|Anderson, Sir J.||Dunlop, A. M.|
|Bailey, Sir J.||East, Sir J. B.|
|Bailey, C.||Elliot, hon. J. E.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Emlyn, Visct.|
|Bateson, T.||Evans, W.|
|Beckett, W.||Evelyn, W. J.|
|Bentinck, G. W. P.||Ewart, W.|
|Biddulph, R. M.||Farrer, J.|
|Blair, Col.||Fergus, J.|
|Boldero, Col.||Ferguson, J.|
|Booker, T. W.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Forbes, W.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Forester, rt. hon. Col.|
|Brand, hon. H.||Galway, Visct.|
|Brisco, M.||George, J.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Greenall, G.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Gwyn, H.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||Halford, Sir H.|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Chambers, M.||Harcourt, Col.|
|Child, S.||Hastie, A.|
|Cholmondeley, Lord H.||Hastie, A.|
|Clive, R.||Heywood, J.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Hindley, C.|
|Codrington, Sir W.||Hume, W. F.|
|Collier, R. P.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Irton, S.|
|Compton, H. C.||Johnstone, J.|
|Cowan, C,||Jones, Capt.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Kendall, N.|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||Ker, D. S.|
|Crossley, F.||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Dashwood, Sir G. H.||King, J. K.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Kingscote, R. N. F.|
|Kinnaird, hon. A. F.||Smith, W. M.|
|Knight, F. W.||Smyth, R. J.|
|Knox, hon. W. S.||Somerset, Capt.|
|Langton, H. G.||Spooner, R.|
|Langton, W. G.||Stafford, A.|
|Lewisham, Visct.||Stafford, Marq. of|
|Lockhart, A. E.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Loveden, P.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Macartney, G.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|MacGregor, J.||Thompson, G.|
|M'Taggart, Sir J.||Tollemache, J.|
|Malins, R.||Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Mandeville, Visct.||Turner, C.|
|Maule, hon. Col.||Tyler, Sir G.|
|Michell, W.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Moore, R. S.||Vance, J.|
|Moreton, Lord||Vane, Lord A.|
|Morgan, O.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Morris, D.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Muntz, G. F.||Vivyan, Sir R. R.|
|Neeld, J.||Vyse, Capt. H.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Walcott, Adm.|
|North, Col.||Warner, E.|
|Oakes, J. H. P.||West, F. R.|
|Pritchard, J,||Whitbread, S.|
|Push, D.||Woodd, B. T.|
|Repton, G. W. J.||Wyndham, Gen.|
|Robartes, T. J. A.||Wynn, H. W. W.|
|Robertson, P. F.||Wynne, Sir W. W.|
|Sawle, C. B. G.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Scrope, G. P.||TELLERS.|
|Seaham, Visct.||Chambers, T.|
|Smijth, Sir W. B.||Berkeley, C. F.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Atherton, W.||Greene, J.|
|Ball, J.||Gregson, S.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Grenfell, C. W.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Greville, Col. F.|
|Bellew, Capt.||Hadfield, G.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Bethell, R.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Bland, L. H.||Headlam, T. E.|
|Brady, J.||Heard, J. I.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Henchy, D. O.|
|Bright, J.||Herbert, H. A.|
|Brotherton, J.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Brown, H.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Browne, V. A.||Heyworth, L.|
|Byng, hon. G. H. C.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Charteris, hon. F.||Hume, J.|
|Cobden, R.||Hutchins, E. J.|
|Cockburn, Sir A. J, E.||Hutt, W.|
|Cocks, T. S.||Keating, R.|
|Corbally, M. E.||Kennedy, T.|
|Crook, J.||Keogh, W.|
|Crowder, R. B.||Langston, J. H.|
|Devereux, J. T.||Lascelles, hon. E.|
|Duffy, C. G.||Lawless, hon. C.|
|Fagan, W.||Lucas, F.|
|Fitzgerald, Sir J. F.||Mackie, J.|
|Forster, C.||M'Cann, J.|
|Fortescue, C.||Massey, W. N.|
|Fox, W. J.||Meagher, T.|
|Freestun, Col.||Miall, E.|
|French, F.||Milner, W. M. E.|
|Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E.||Molesworth, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Monck, Visct.|
|Goderich, Visct.||Monsell, W.|
|Goodman, Sir G.||Moore, G. H.|
|Grace, O. D. J.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Murrough, J. P.|
|O'Brien, C.||Scholefield, W.|
|O'Brien, P.||Scully, F.|
|O'Brien, Sir T.||Scully, V.|
|O'Connell, M.||Seymour, W. D.|
|O'Flaherty, A.||Shee, W.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Strutt, rt. hon. E.|
|Pechell, Sir G. B.||Sullivan, M.|
|Peel, F.||Swift, R.|
|Phillimore, R. J.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Phinn, T.||Towneley, C.|
|Pilkington, J.||Vernon, G. E. H.|
|Pollard-Urquhart, W.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Portal, M.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Potter, R.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Power, N.||Wickham, H. W.|
|Price, W. P.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Ricardo, O.||Williams, W.|
|Rolt, P.||Wilson, J.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Young, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Russell, F. C. H.||TELLERS.|
|Russell, F. W.||Bowyer, G.|
|Sadleir, J.||Murphy, Mr. Serjt.|
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Thomas Chambers and Sir Robert Harry Inglis.