§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
§ SIR FREDERIC THESIGER
* Mr. Speaker, Sir, when this measure was originally introduced by the noble Lord, now some considerable time ago, I ventured, in a few observations which occurred to me at the moment, to point out to the House the important principles which it involved, promising that I would afford an opportunity for a full discussion upon this stage of the Bill. This has been long delayed, but certainly without any fault on my part; for it will be in your recollection that I have pressed the noble Lord so often to fix a day for the second reading of his Bill, as to excite the mirth of the House, happily so easily amused amidst its graver occupations. Upon one of these occasions, the noble Lord, with a confidence every way remarkable, appealed to my knowledge of his anxious desire to bring on the discussion, and assumed, rather than expected, my assent to the suggestion. If I had been permitted to express my own opinion, it would not have been in the sense which the noble Lord so coolly took for granted, for, whether rightly or wrongly, my own impression was, that he exhibited symptoms of great reluctance, as if he felt some misgivings as to the propriety of the course which he has pursued. And, certainly, if he is at all influenced by public opinion, he might well hesitate about the step which he has taken; for as far as petitions indicate the state of public feeling, the result is striking and remarkable. This day we have had, as might have been expected, a petition in favour of the Bill, presented with the usual ceremony, from the City of London; but up to Wednesday, the petitions in favour of an alteration of the oaths, but not in favour of the noble Lord's Bill, were only three in number, with 166 signatures; whilst the peti- 871 tions against the Bill amounted to 481, and contained no less than 60,171 signatures. The more I reflect, the more I am astonished, after the former professions and acts of the noble Lord, at the character of this measure. It furnishes another to many proofs of his boldness in allowing nothing to stand in his way to the accomplishment of any object which he has at heart. I am anxious, at the earliest period, to guard against an argument which may be used in favour of permitting the second reading of this Bill. One of the grounds on which the noble Lord founded the expediency of his measure was, the obsolete nature of part of the oath of abjuration, in consequence of there being no descendants of the Pretender in existence; and it may be urged that, as in this respect no one would desire to retain the oath in its present form, the necessity of an alteration must be conceded, and that we ought to go into Committee. I trust that no one will be so weak as to be caught by such a specious argument. We must remember that we are now discussing the principle of the Bill; that we cannot consent to its second reading without admitting that we are prepared to legislate upon the footing of having one common oath for all the Members of the House, and that this necessarily involves the weakening, if not the abandonment, of the recognition of the supremacy, and the surrender of the securities which were carefully provided at the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill. Let no one flatter himself that if he suffers this stage to pass, he can afterwards fashion the oath at his pleasure. This is the vantage ground on which the battle of principle can alone be securely fought; and if we allow ourselves to be drawn into the field which the enemy may select, we shall have nothing left but to surrender at discretion. I stated that this measure showed the determination evinced by the noble Lord in carrying any favourite object. When, some years back, he was returned for the City of London with Baron Rothschild, by one of those hasty pledges with which he is too apt to embarrass himself, he promised to use his utmost endeavours to remove the impediments to the Jews sitting in Parliament. No one will say that the noble Lord has not been as good as his word. From that time to the present, the question has been brought forward almost every Session in various shapes, and debates of the greatest interest and earnestness have taken place. In 872 1852, the noble Lord tried a new experiment; he introduced one of his post finality reform Bills, and proposed one common form of oath, which of course omitted the words "upon the true faith of a Christian." This was in the mouth of February—a very critical period of the noble Lord's Government, which terminated a few days after, and when conciliation of many sections of the House was the prudent policy. In 1853, the noble Lord returned to his original idea, and again brought in what is familiarly called a Jew Bill. These measures of the noble Lord were carried by decreasing majorities in the House of Commons, and defeated by increasing majorities in the House of Lords. But inflamed, rather than discouraged, by successful opposition, he now proposes to break down some of the defences of our Protestant Constitution, in order that he may be able to march over their ruins with the Jew by his side, and seat him in the Legislature. It is impossible to pass over without remark, the threat held out by the noble Lord when he introduced this measure, that if the law were not changed, it might be worthy of consideration whether the House would not be, at liberty to seat the Jew in Parliament by means of a Resolution. The words of the noble Lord are weighty words, and always significant, if not of a settled, at least of a dawning purpose, in his mind. But they must have been uttered on the present occasion in utter forgetfulness, or in hopes of the absence of memory of all that has previously passed on this subject. Why, in 1850, the present Vice Chancellor, Sir William Page Wood, then Member for Oxford, made a Motion on behalf of Baron Rothschild, that the seat for London was full, although in taking the oath of abjuration the Baron had omitted the words "on the trite faith of a Christian." Sir John Romilly, the noble Lord's Attorney General, expressed himself clearly of opinion that the words were of the substance of the oath, and that no Resolution of the House could enable them to dispense with an Act of Parliament. The noble Lord, in 1851, adverting to this argument, said, that it was evidently the intention of Parliament that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" should not be omitted. In July, 1851, Mr. Alderman Salomons having taken the oath of abjuration, omitting these words, the noble Lord himself moved, "That David Salomons, Esquire, is not 873 entitled to vote in this House, during any debate, until he shall take the oath of abjuration in the form appointed by law." My hon. and learned Friend the present Attorney General, said, upon that occasion,He confessed that when he looked at the history of the oath, and the object of the Statutes by which it was imposed, he could not bring himself to consider other than that the Legislature did intend that the words should form a substantial and essential part of the oath."—[3 Hansard, cxviii. 1334.]And the noble Lord carried his Motion by a majority of 148. Has anything since happened to change his views? Only what one would have supposed would have confirmed and strengthened them. Since these proceedings in the House, there have been two decisions of the Courts on the subject, one of the Court of Exchequer, in which there was one dissentient Judge, and the unanimous judgment of the Court of Exchequer Chamber, delivered by Lord Campbell, that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" are a substantial part of the oath itself, and not merely a part of the ceremony of administering the oath. So that the noble Lord seems to nourish the intention of contradicting all his prior declarations, of overruling the solemn decisions of the Courts, and of giving the Resolution of this House the force of an Act of Parliament at the first convenient opportunity. I cannot resist the temptation, while on this subject, of exhibiting a specimen of the noble Lord's consistency in the opinions he has expressed at different periods. It may be remembered, that when Mr. Pease, who is a Quaker, was returned to this House, a question arose, whether he could make his affirmation instead of taking the oaths, and upon a Committee being appointed, it was found that the Acts of Parliament permitting the Quaker to make his affirmation were so general and comprehensive in their terms, as to embrace every occasion upon which an oath was required to be taken; and upon the Report of the Committee, Mr. Pease, by a Resolution of the House, was allowed to take his seat. The noble Lord, in 1851, in the course of the debate to which I have already referred, said:—I have been unable to come to the conclusion which I should willingly do, that we can act here as the House did in the case of Mr. Pease, and say that these words, 'on the true faith of a Christian,' may be omitted.But upon introducing the present measure he said:— 874It may hereafter be a question for the House whether it should not prefer the course taken in the case of Mr. Pease to that which has been since taken with regard to gentlemen of the Jewish persuasion.Can it be believed that it was the same mind, and the same voice, that uttered these contradictory sentiments of 1851 and 1854? But the glimpse which the noble Lord has afforded us of his altered views, as to the mode of proceeding with regard to the Jew, is of great importance. It enables us to detect the real principle of the present Bill; it is evidently not for the immediate purpose of bringing the Jew into Parliament, though that may be its ultimate object, because the noble Lord now thinks that this may be accomplished without a Bill. For whose benefit, then, is this measure intended? Solely for the advantage of Roman Catholics, and of those Romanising Protestants who exhibit so much restlessness about the supremacy. The noble Lord seems bent upon retracing his steps, and atoning for his constitutional conduct in 1850 and 1851. Is there nothing in the present position of the noble Lord which may account for this extraordinary change? Can we forget that the noble Lord is now in a Cabinet, the most distinguished Members of which were the strongest opponents of his measures for repressing the Papal aggression? In the strange mixture of principles and parties which has since occurred, we find those who are still, perhaps, possessed with some lingering spirit of Conservatism, seated by the side of those who boldly and boastfully avow Radical principles, and the champion of Protestantism closely united with those who are anxious for the full development of the Roman Catholic Church. In such a state of things, compromise and mutual concession become a matter of necessity. Like the Roman Triumvirate, which Ferguson, the historian of the Republic, calls "the famous coalition," each, for the purpose of strengthening his party and disarming opposition, is ready to sacrifice his dearest friends to the antipathies or apprehensions of the others. The noble Lord's contributions to this proscription are the supremacy and the Protestant securities; and thus, by dint of mutual compliances, we at last arrive at the present coalition oath. Now the general character of the measure is, to provide one oath for all the Members. The pretence is to simplify; the necessary effect of Roman Catholics and Protestants taking the same oath must 875 be, to soften or abandon the recognition of the supremacy of the Crown. It is well known, that in the oaths at present taken by Members, the Protestant denies the ecclesiastical and spiritual jurisdiction of any foreign person, prelate, State, or potentate, within this realm; the Roman Catholic merely his temporal or civil jurisdiction. The noble Lord proposes to limit the denial by all to the temporal or civil jurisdiction. Now I confess that I would infinitely rather have no recognition of the supremacy at all, than such a qualified one as this, which would amount to a virtual admission of the ecclesiastical and spiritual jurisdiction of a foreign power. And I am fortified in this opinion by the high authority of Sir Robert Peel, who, in 1849, upon a similar suggested alteration of the oath, said—If he were to insert the words 'temporal and civil,' he would give rise to the presumption, that he recognised the existence, on the part of the Pope of Rome, of a spiritual and ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Therefore, he would rather that the words, calling upon them to disclaim the temporal and civil jurisdiction of the Pope, were omitted altogether, lest it should by his silence appear as if he recognised the other kind of authority."—[3 Hansard, cv. 457.]He ought to have said, "lost by denying one kind of authority he should be taken to have virtually admitted the other." I cannot help deeply regretting that the noble Lord should be reduced to the necessity of thus abandoning all his former principles and professions. For what was it which was most remarkable in his celebrated letter to the Bishop of Durham? Was it not the manliness of his assertion of the supremacy against the Roman Catholics, and the members of our own Church who denied it? As to the former, he said—There is an assuption of power in all the documents which have come from Rome, a pretension to supremacy over the realm of England, and a claim to sole and undivided sway, which is inconsistent with the Queen's supremacy, with the rights of our bishops and clergy, and with the spiritual independence of the nation, even in Roman Catholic times.And as to the members of our own Church, who maintained doctrines contrary to the principles of the Reformation, he writes—There is a danger, however, which alarms me much more than any aggression of a foreign sovereign. Clergymen of our own Church, who have subscribed the Thirty-nine Articles, and acknowledged in explicit terms the Queen's supremacy, have been the most forward in leading their flocks, step by step, to the very verge of the precipice.876 He then asks—What is the danger to be apprehended from a foreign prince of no great power, compared to the danger within the gates from the unworthy sons of the Church of England itself.And we all remember how the noble Lord, on introducing the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, and adverting to the arrogant tone of authority which the documents from Rome assumed, and which was excused upon the ground of its being in accordance with customary form, electrified the House with his noble declaration—There is another form with which I have been acquainted; it is, Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen.It is lamentable to think that the noble Lord is now the author of a measure which can only be fee the benefit of the Roman Catholics, and of the unworthy sons of the Church of England, whom he so recently denounced, and which must tend to the weakening of the supremacy which he so vigorously asserted. Remembering what he did, and where he now is, I am forcibly reminded of the leaders of the great companies, the military condottieri of Italy in the fourteenth century—men of great courage and military skill, but not very scrupulous as to the cause for which they drew the sword, and who were ready at the shortest notice to transfer themselves and their followers to the service of the very State against which their valour and arms had been before directed. Are we, who fought under the banners of the noble Lord in a cause which we at least had at heart, ready to follow him when he ranges himself on the side of our former enemies? Consider all that is involved in this step before we consent to take it! It is a mistake to suppose that the supremacy of the Crown was first established in the reign of Henry VIII. On the contrary, according to the opinion of persons best acquainted with constitutional law, it was part of the common law of the land. This might be established by proofs derived even from times anterior to the Reformation; but, perhaps, it may be sufficient for me to refer to the high authority of Lord Lyndhurst on this point. He said—There was no man who ever turned his attention to the subject of the supremacy, who placed it on so narrow a foundation as the Act of Parliament. It was a part of the constitution of this country, because the supremacy of the Crown in ecclesiastical matters was part of the common law 877 of the realm. It had been declared to be so over and over again, and the sagest professors of the law were of this opinion. It had been set forth in ancient Acts of Parliament, and in the reign of Henry VIII. this ancient doctrine was enforced.In the reign of Elizabeth, the seal was happily set to the Reformation, and the supremacy was definitively settled by a statutable recognition. The object of asserting the doctrine in a more explicit and authoritative manner, was to bind completely the Reformed Protestant Church established by law into one compact, independent body, of which the Sovereign was to be the undoubted head. Though the Act of Parliament asserted no new principle, it has always been regarded us one of the main links of the Anglican Church with the temporal Constitution, and as the keystone of the arch of the Protestant reformed religion established in this country; we cannot, therefore, view anything which tends to weaken it without the greatest suspicion. The doctrine itself is carefully guarded, by making its maintenance a part of the oath to be taken at the coronation:—upon this solemn occasion, when the catechism of the Constitution is, as it were, rehearsed, and its essential principles consecrated, the archbishop asks the Sovereign, "Will you, to the utmost of your power, maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel, and the Protestant reformed religion established by law?" And the answer is, "All this I promise to do." And by the Act of Union with Scotland, provision is made for securing this sanction to the inherent doctrine of the Constitution, by requiring that—Every King and Queen succeeding to the Government of Great Britain, at his or her coronation shall take and subscribe an oath, to maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, and discipline thereof, as by law established.Can any one doubt that this settlement of the Church of England includes in its essence the ecclesiastical and spiritual supremacy? So that, by the proposed mutilation of the oath, the noble Lord would make the oath of the Sovereign the only one which would recognise the Constitution in its integrity, would insulate her from her subjects, and deprive her of the support arising from their being bound in one common obligation. Has the noble Lord assigned any reasons for this alteration? Let us carefully consider them. The noble Lord objects to the part 878 of the Roman Catholic's oath, in which he declares that he abhors, detests, and abjures the opinion, that princes excommunicated, or deprived by the Pope, or any other authority of the See of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects, and says that it is insulting to the Roman Catholics to suppose that they hold any such opinion. He stated that these words were introduced into the oath, in consequence of the work of Mariana, the Jesuit, in which he expressed his approbation of the murder of Henry III. of France, by Jaques Clement. [The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) intimated that he had been misapprehended.] It is as well, however, that there should be no mistake upon this point. The assassination of Henry was in 1589. The first oath of supremacy was in 1558, and it did not contain the clause in question. It was inserted in consequence of the Gunpowder plot, in the third year of the reign of James I., and then in an oath of allegiance and obedience, and not of supremacy, and was first placed in the oath of supremacy, strictly so called, in the reign of William and Mary. I feel that the question of the retention of these words must be handled with delicacy. At the time of the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill their insertion in the proposed oath was objected to, and it was said," That no high-minded Roman Catholic could take this part of the oath without being pained at his being supposed capable of an opinion which he could never entertain;" to which the Lord Chancellor answered. "That the words were in the Act of 1791, and had been taken by Roman Catholics for forty years without objection." To this period twenty-five years more must now be added, during the whole of which time not the least complaint on the subject has ever been heard. It was accepted by the Roman Catholics at the time of the passing of the Relief Bill, and so little did the noble Lord think it insulting to them, that in the year 1852 he actually proposed to continue it in the oath which formed part of his intended measure of reform. I am persuaded that no right-minded Roman Catholic of the present day holds this doctrine; but I would venture to appeal to the candour of such an one to admit to me, that this was once the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, and to ask him whether it was not endeavoured to be practically applied in the bull of Pius V. against Queen Elizabeth, and 879 whether it has ever been openly and distinctly renounced or disavowed by the heads of the Church? And if the answers to these questions are such as I anticipate, why should we be called on now to strike out a portion of the oath which has its practical application, which was agreed to at the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, and which has been acquiesced in for nearly seventy years without the slightest suggestion that it ought to he regarded as an insult. The noble Lord has also contended that the oath of supremacy is unnecessary, and cites the authority of Lord Eldon, that it is contained in the oath of allegiance. This was undoubtedly the opinion expressed by Lord Eldon in 1820 on the question whether the oath of supremacy should be dispensed with in the case of the Earl Marshal, and this opinion was quoted with approbation by Lord Campbell in the House of Lords in 1853; but although this is perfectly true in the sense which I have endeavoured to explain, it is no argument at all for dispensing with the oath of supremacy. I will not stop to inquire whether, with reference to the constitutional maxim, the oath which was provided for Roman Catholics in 1829 was not an infraction of the principles of the Constitution; but it is quite clear that they cannot be supposed, in taking the oath of allegiance, to admit the ecclesiastical and spiritual supremacy of the Crown. To remove any doubt upon this subject, they are only required to deny any foreign temporal or civil jurisdiction; and how their position, with respect to their oath, is regarded by themselves, may be best understood by the terms of the declaration of the Roman Catholic laity of England upon the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, "in which they declare that, by their religious principles as Catholics, they are bound, and by their rights as Englishmen they are entitled to maintain, the spiritual and ecclesiastical supremacy of the Holy Father the Pope over the Catholic Church." The objection to tampering with the oath of supremacy is not merely a formal one. The proposed oath is not to be confined to Members of Parliament; it is to apply to all cases in which the oaths of allegiance, supremacy, and abjuration are now by law required to be taken. The clergy of our Establishment, amongst others, will have it administered to them. Is there not the greatest danger that some of those un- 880 worthy sons of the Church, whom the noble Lord formerly denounced, will be more than ever disposed to subscribe the 37th Article in a non-natural sense, and will be ready to apply the oath which he proposes as their legalised interpreter? I feel how delicate it is to discuss these subjects in an assembly composed of men of different religious opinions. I am aware that those who are to be benefited by the measure will listen with impatience to my observations. I know that there are in the House members of Dissenting bodies, men of great weight and influence. I can, of course, expect from them no sympathy with the Established Church, and, therefore, if the contest were between us and them, I know that I should appeal to them in vain. But I put it to their calm and serious reflection, whether, in any movement in favour of the Roman Catholic Church, it is prudent to weaken the Establishment for their benefit? Whether they must not admit that the Established Church is one of the firmest barriers against the encroachments of Popery? And if they allow it to be broken down, and Roman Catholic ascendancy to be established on its ruins, whether they will not be likely soon to find "the little finger of Rome heavier than the loins of Lambeth." But whatever opinion may be formed about the supremacy, all who feel reason to dread the advance of Roman Catholic influence (no unreasonable apprehension) must look with anxiety at the proposal made by the noble Lord to abolish the distinctive oath now taken by their members. It is now just twenty-five years since the Roman Catholic Relief Bill was passed. Every precaution was taken at the time to prevent any mischief arising from it to the Established Church. In the Speech from the Throne, which ushered in this measure—His Majesty recommended that Parliament should review the laws which impose civil disabilities on His Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects, and consider whether the removal of those disabilities can be effected consistently with the full and perfect security of our establishments in Church and State, and with the maintenance of the Reformed Religion established by law, and of the rights and privileges of the Bishops and of the Clergy of this Realm, and of the Churches committed to their charge.These latter words are significant, as they are designedly taken from the coronation oath. Amongst other securities, which the care of the statesmen who introduced 881 and carried this great measure provided for the occasion, was the oath which has been since taken without the least scruple by the Roman Catholic Members. It is an oath to which (as Sir Robert Peel said) the Roman Catholics can have no valid or conscientious objection, and which gives us every security which an oath can give, that the difference in religious faith will not affect their allegiance to the King, or their capacity for civil service. It is an oath which has been acquiesced in for forty years. It is one which, with the other precautions taken against the consequences of the emancipation, was entirely approved of by the friends of the Roman Catholic Church. In the pastoral letter of the archbishops and bishops, after the Relief Bill passed, they observe—Since we last addressed you, a great and beneficial and healing measure has been enacted by the Legislature for your relief. And then they ask whether that Legislature which raised you up from your prostrate condition, and gave to you, without reserve, all the privileges you desired, is not entitled to your reverence and love? We trust (they say) that your feelings on this subject are in unison with our own, and that a steady attachment to the constitution and laws of your country, as well as to the person and Government of your gracious Sovereign, will be manifest in your entire conduct. We united our efforts with those of the laity in seeking to attain their just rights, and to attain them without a compromise of the freedom of our Church.So that, by the admission of those best able to understand the matter, the measures of precaution taken, and amongst them this oath, did not keep back any of the privileges which they desired, nor interfere with the freedom of their Church. This oath the noble Lord has since at different times refused to relax or alter. In 1849, in answer to a proposition for the purpose by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Vernon Smith), who proposed a short declaration, which the Roman Catholics, as well as other persons, should take, the noble Lord said—Be did not think it would be wise to disturb a settlement which had been made after so many conflicts and so much consideration, and which, as he understood, the Roman Catholics had supported as a full and complete admission of their claim to sit in Parliament."—[3 Hansard, cv. 439.]Again, in the same year, the noble Lord said—He had only to repeat the explanation which he had given on a previous occasion, namely, that he did not think it expedient to alter the Roman Catholic oath, which was settled in 1829, when the great question of the Roman Catholic disabilities was disposed of. Many hon. Gentlemen 882 thought that the oath did give security to the Protestant Church, and he therefore did not think there was sufficient cause to induce him to propose an alteration of it. He did not see the expediency of raising a great question when there was no necessity for doing so."—[3 Hansard, cii. 1190.]What necessity is there in 1854, which did not exist in 1849, except the hard necessity to which the noble Lord is reduced by his altered position and his new alliances? But the noble Lord is never without reasons for every change which he exhibits; and, therefore, on the present occasion, we must attend for a moment to those which he has urged in justification of his measure. He treats that part of the oath which binds the Roman Catholic to defend the settlement of property as established by the laws, as utterly insignificant. He says, "I see no need whatever to take an oath to preserve the settlement of property. That rests on the security of the law; and if any one wishes to disturb the settlement of property, the oath will not prevent him." Of course, it will not prevent any one who is careless about the violation of an oath; but the noble Lord appears to have entirely forgotten the reasons for the introduction of these words. They were most fully and clearly explained by Sir Robert Peel, in one of the debates on the proposed alteration of oaths.The words 'the settlement of property' (he said) had a special meaning. They had reference to a declaration made by Charles II. in 1660, shortly after his restoration, in which he made a settlement of the forfeited estates, adjusted various conflicting claims to landed property in Ireland, and gave back to the Protestant Church the properties in the possession of which the Church had been disturbed during the rebellion of 1641 and the troubled times that followed. In 1662, the Parliament of Ireland confirmed the declaration made by Charles II. in 1660, by an Act which was called the Act of Settlement That Act of Settlement constituted the title to large masses of Irish property. The Roman Catholic, on being relieved from certain civil disabilities, was required to give an assurance that he would acquiesce in the settlement of property as made in 1602, and not attempt to disturb it. When, therefore, the Roman Catholic oath was inserted in the Act of 1829, the words relating to the settlement of property were continued from the Acts of 1793 and 1795, and the Roman Catholic repeated the assurance that he would acquiesce in the settlement of property which had taken place after the restoration of Charles II. Such was the immediate cause of the introduction into the oath of the words 'the settlement of property.' He thought the noble Lord had acted wisely in not disturbing the Roman Catholic oath of 1829."—[3 Hansard, cv. 455.]We can gather from these words what that great man, if he were still amongst us, 883 would have thought of the wisdom of the noble Lord on the present occasion. He might also have received a warning from the known adherence of the Roman Catholics to claims which have been at any time asserted by them, and which no one was more disposed to press against them at a former period than himself. On the introduction of the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, he quoted, with approbation, from Dupin on the liberties of the Gallican State in respect to the Church, the following passage—Though Rome has for the present relaxed many of her pretensions, she never entirely loses sight of them. She is a power which has forgotten nothing and learned much. She is a power which has neither infancy nor widowhood; hence she can struggle with temporal States at all times with means of which these temporal States often are not possessed; therefore, it requires the utmost vigilance and the utmost attention to watch against the aggressions of the Church of Rome, and to preserve the temporal liberties of any country with which she is connected.Looking to the course of the noble Lord, I cannot refrain from applying the converse of the antithesis in this passage to him, and observing that he has learned nothing and forgotten much upon this subject. But the noble Lord objects to that portion of the oath which requires the Roman Catholic to disclaim any intention of subverting the present Church Establishment, or of exercising any privilege to disturb or weaken the Protestant religion or Protestant Government in the United Kingdom; and he says—The oath does not prevent the point being a question of doubt, there being some Roman Catholic Members who conceived themselves debarred by the terms of the oath from interfering in such a subject, and others who maintain that they are not so prevented, and that they may, in perfect consistency with their oath, propose any change with respect to the temporal establishment of the Church.The noble Lord admits, then, that men of scrupulous consciences, in other words, men who are bound by the obligation of an oath, feel that very restraint which was intended to be imposed. And, if others have doubts upon the subject, their very doubts imply that the oath has some influence over their minds. Why, then, should we be called upon to abandon even this slender security? Again and again, let me ask, why are we to disturb a settlement which was the result of a deliberate compact? Why to remove from the Roman Catholic those obligations which were the condition of his admission to the Legislature? Why is all this formidable machi- 884 nery to be provided to unite persons of different feelings and faith in one common cause against the Protestant religion and establishment? To the Romanising pseudo-Protestant the noble Lord tosses the supremacy—to the Roman Catholic he abandons the Protestant securities; and all this is done that he may ultimately be able to offer to those who fight under the banners of civil and religious liberty, the sacrifice of the Christian character of the Legislature. The noble Lord, in dealing with these deeply cherished principles, has contrived to realise the compendious idea of Caligula; he has given them, by his Bill, one neck, that he may be able to despatch them by a single blow. What excuse does he offer for this alarming measure? Has anything occurred since the noble Lord stood forward, the self armed champion against Papal aggression, which leads him to the belief that the Roman Catholics have altered minds and intentions towards Protestantism, and that their recent moderation and forbearance claim new concessions? Has the party in the Church which the noble Lord so severely and properly stigmatised, since done homage to the doctrines and principles of the Reformation? Under what influence does he now propose a measure only beneficial to parties who are separated by so thin a wall of partition, and dangerous to the Establishment? However deplorable the desertion of the noble Lord—however formidable to see him in the opposing ranks, we will not fear! Our course is protective, and not aggressive. It is the noble Lord who is the assailant—who has directed his attack against one portion of our bulwarks, which he hopes to find feebly defended, or thinks to gather force enough to overcome resistance. We commit ourselves fearlessly to the trial. I have ventured to place myself at the head of the defending party, feeling that there are behind me men of stout heart and good courage, who, if I fail, are ready to step forward in my place. And I cannot think so ill of my Protestant fellow Members of the House, as to believe that any of them can be wanting to us at such a moment. I trust that there will be found sufficient to defend the barriers of our Protestant Constitution, and to beat back the assault of the noble Lord on the supremacy of the Sovereign, the established religion of our country, and our common Christianity. I move that this Bill be read a second time this day six months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words upon this day Six Months.'
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I cannot help thinking that my hon. and learned Friend who has just sat down has introduced into this discussion a good deal of matter connected with religious controversies which might advantageously have been spared, and which tends much more I should say, judging from experience, to darken and taint the atmosphere of this House, and to blind and bewilder the judgments of its Members, than to assist them in elucidating any difficulty connected with the law and the Constitution. My hon. and learned Friend has treated this measure in reference to three classes of persons—first, the Jews; secondly, those whom he designates Romanising Protestants; and thirdly, a class whom I think he appears to hold in worse odour even than the other two, namely, the Roman Catholics. Sir, I will endeavour to follow him with reference to each of these three classes; but as he bore very lightly upon the case of the Jews, I also am content to touch but lightly upon that part of the subject. My hon. and learned Friend referred to them, as it appeared to me, mainly for the purpose of assailing the consistency, and not only the consistency, but, I thought, the single-minded view, the integrity, and the motives of my noble Friend and Colleague the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell). Sir, it is an easy thing for me to say—it is a proposition which will not be disputed in this House, I think, by any man of candid mind, whatever his opinion may be upon the questions which are commonly termed questions of religious liberty—it is an easy thing for me to say that the reputation of my noble Friend for his conscientious attachment to those principles is a reputation that will be handed down to posterity through many generations, and that wants no vindication from his own lips or the lips of his Colleagues. I say that, Sir, as an impartial witness, because it has been my lot, on various occasions, and in various senses, to differ from my noble Friend upon particular questions connected with the subject of religious liberty; but the testimony which I now render is a testimony so manifestly due and just that I am quite sure the hon. and learned Mem- 886 ber himself, unless in the heat of debate, would not for a moment question it. If it be necessary, however, to go to particulars, nothing can be more easy than to confute the assertion of my hon. and learned Friend when he states that the connection between my noble Friend and the question of Jewish emancipation dates from the period of the political connection between the City of London and Baron Rothschild. Unless I am much mistaken, in the year 1840 I myself heard the noble Lord forcibly dilate upon the question of Jewish emancipation in precisely the same manner in which, throughout his political career, he has ever dealt with such questions. In 1845 the noble Lord spoke exactly in the same sense, and in 1847, being then challenged upon this matter, my noble Friend put upon record a declaration in this House which I must say ought to have closed the lips of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite. In 1847, the same charge having been made, my noble Friend distinctly spoke in these words—As to the statement that, in consequence of that election (the election of Baron Rothschild), I have undertaken to bring forward this measure, the hon. and learned Gentleman is likewise in error. It so happens that, for a long series of years, whenever there has been a question for removing religious disabilities before Parliament, I have always given my vote, and on several occasions have spoken, in favour of the proposition. As soon as I came into office in 1846, a deputation of Jews waited upon me to ask me if I was prepared to bring in a measure relieving them from their remaining disabilities. I said I would not pledge myself as to the terms of the measure I would introduce, nor as to the particular time of introducing it; but I assured them that, if they would be content with my choosing the terms I thought best, and the time I thought most expedient, I would be ready to declare at once that I would introduce such a measure."—[3 Hansard, xcv. 1396–7.]The pledge, therefore, of my noble Friend to become the author of a measure in favour of the Jews was given in 1846. Now, it was not until 1847 that the name of Baron Rothschild was connected with the representation of the City of London. Sir, such is all I have to say in vindication of my noble Friend, and yet it may be thought that in saying so much I have wasted the time of the House, because I have expended some five minutes in replying to a charge which might have been passed over in silence, us requiring no vindication. But, Sir, my hon. and learned Friend opposite was not satisfied with assailing the noble Lord for inconsistency, but, having laid before the House imagi- 887 nary facts, he must likewise proceed to suggest for them imaginary causes. The imaginary causes to which my hon. and learned Friend referred were the peculiar position of the noble Lord, the compromises which must necessarily follow upon differences of opinion and divergences of principle between the noble Lord and his Colleagues on various questions, and more particularly religious ones, and the necessary embarrassments which must flow from such differences and divergences. Sir, I must confess, recollecting the career of my hon. and learned Friend himself—remembering the various political connections in which he has stood—I did not think that that portion of his speech was as unexceptionable and as elevated in point of taste and feeling as I am bound to say his speeches in this House almost uniformly are; and if I did not think it elevated in point of taste and feeling, still less, I must confess, did I think it felicitous as a piece of Parliamentary tactics, because my hon. and learned Friend, finding fault as lie did with the Government, who are perfectly united in regard to the question of Jewish disabilities, for their supposed differences, himself spoke in front and within three feet of a right hon. Gentleman under whom he served as the leader of the Government of Lord Derby in the House of Commons, and who differs from him on the subject of Jewish disabilities; and when, at the close of his speech, my hon. and learned Friend said that, though he might fail in his endeavours to establish his opinions, yet behind him there were many stout and able-bodied persons who would gladly come forward to supply his deficiencies, I could not help thinking of the effect which would be produced if the deficiencies of my hon. and learned Friend were to be supplied by two persons whom I should certainly cite as, in my mind, the most stout and able-bodied in debate of those who sit opposite—namely, one of them the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), and the other the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley). I believe, Sir, I may advert to a still tenderer and more affectionate relationship, for nothing can be closer than the brotherhood of lawyers, and I am informed that the eloquent and profound Gentleman (Sir F. Kelly), who served as Solicitor General under the Attorney Generalship of my hon. and learned Friend in the Government of Lord Derby, is likewise in the same unfortunate pre- 888 dicament of being at daggers-drawn with my hon. and learned Friend upon the question of the Jewish disabilities. So there are three stout and valorous champions of the Christianity of the Legislature to whom my hon. Friend has appealed to make up his deficiencies, in case of need, and if every one of the three rises to speak upon the present occasion, they will not fail to give my hon. and learned Friend such blows in the back, as—to say nothing of the stabs which he may receive in front—will go far to maim and mutilate him as much as he says my noble Friend has maimed and mutilated the supremacy of the Crown.
Sir, my hon. and learned Friend, as I have said, did not dwell upon the question of the Jews, and I must say that is a matter which I think has been already adequately debated in this House. Under the circumstances, therefore, I think it fair to pass on to those points which my hon. and learned Friend made the prominent and salient points in his able statement, especially those which are connected with the other two classes, what he called the Romanising Protestants, and they who are called Roman Catholics. Now, Sir, the doctrine of my hon. and learned Friend was stated in various ways in different parts of his speech; but I think I shall represent the upshot of it fairly if I say, as regards what he terms the Romanising Protestants, that my hon. and learned Friend charges the noble Lord with having made a present to them of the supremacy of the Crown—[Sir F. THESIGER: Not of the whole supremacy.] I understand, then, that my hon. and learned Friend recognises in this Bill what he terms a maimed and mutilated acknowledgment of the supremacy. Now, I did not expect to have to find fault with my hon. and learned Friend for too much liberality; but I must confess I think he concedes a great deal too much to the noble Lord, when he states that this Bill contains a maimed and mutilated acknowledgment of the supremacy, for I think it would baffle the wit of any lawyer less eminent than my hon. and learned Friend to find an acknowledgment of the supremacy in any portion of the proposed oath. I believe my hon. and learned Friend means to allude to the closing words of the oath, but they refer only to the temporal and civil, and not to the ecclesiastical and spiritual, supremacy of the Crown. If those words are the only qualification which the oath contains, I am afraid I may at 889 once confess, on the part of my noble Colleague, that he cannot pretend to make good any portion of his case, or do anything to deprecate the wrath of my hon. and learned Friend, if he relies upon this oath as a recognition of the ecclesiastical and spiritual supremacy of the Crown. The alteration in the oath of supremacy is that which my hon. and learned Friend means to designate when he states that my noble Friend makes a present of it to the Romanising Protestants. I must confess that on the first occasion when my hon. and learned Friend dilated on this subject in this House, I was astonished at the inaccuracy of impression he appeared to have of the wording of the oath of supremacy. Now, if a Gentleman possessed of that legal acumen and undoubted ability of my hon. and learned Friend could fall into the errors which he evidently has done with respect to the nature of this oath, it might reasonably be supposed that many other hon. Members might also be similarly misled. Unless it happens that the terms of that oath are fresh in the recollection of hon. Members, I dare say many in this House are weak enough to believe that the oath of supremacy contains something about supremacy. It may be pardonable in hon. Gentlemen who have not been giving very close attention to this subject to have that impression; but those who have been giving attention to it know, however singular it may be, that the oath of supremacy contains nothing whatever on the subject of the supremacy of the Crown. [Mr. J. G. PHILLIMORE: It states the Queen is head of the Church.] That is the oath of allegiance. If that be the depth of darkness in which we find a distinguished member of the legal profession, what more than Cimmerian obscurity must cover other Members of this House. The hon. and learned Gentleman interrupts me by stating something in the oath of allegiance which is quite a different matter. I beg his pardon. I should say, something which is not in the oath of allegiance, because there is nothing about the Queen being the head of the Church in the oath of allegiance. I will even go further, and say, my hon. and learned Friend will find it very difficult to show that the term head of the Church is applicable to Her Majesty by any law of the country. [Mr. J. G. PHILLIMORE: Supreme governor.] We are getting on by slow degrees, and perhaps after fifty or a hundred steps we may make some approximation to the truth. I had better 890 not discuss it with my hon. and learned Friend, but refer to the thing as it stands. Let it be remembered, then, that the oath of supremacy does not declare the supremacy of the Crown. The oath of supremacy contains two propositions; the first is the abjuration of the deposing doctrine, and the second is the abjuration of the power and jurisdiction of the Pope within these realms. There is a distinct declaration, as far as words can make it, that excludes the jurisdiction of the Pope in these realms. That is a denial of the authority of the Pope. But it is not an assertion of the authority of the Crown. The assertion of the authority of the Crown is to be sought from other sources. The hon. and learned Gentleman really dwells on the title of the oath, and entirely overlooks the substance of the oath. What is the fact? The term oath of supremacy attaches to it from the time it was first enacted in the reign of Queen Elizabeth; and when it was first enacted in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, then, no doubt, it was very well entitled the oath of supremacy, beginning, as it did—I, A. B., do utterly declare the Queen's Highness to be the only Governor of this Realm in all matters as well spiritual and ecclesiastical as temporal—.There is a phrase which is perfectly intelligible. That is really an oath of supremacy; but that was altered, and my hon. and learned Friend (Sir F. Thesiger) seems to think the alteration implies an abandonment of the Protestantism of the country. On the contrary, it was altered just at the moment when the Constitution of the country had become eminently Protestant, because it was not until the Revolution of 1688, in the first year of the reign of William and Mary, that the declaration in the oath was altered. The clause of supremacy was omitted from the oath. The title of the oath remained, but the substance of the oath is completely altered. It is now most inaccurately described as an oath of supremacy, for it contains only two propositions—the abnegation of the deposing doctrine and the abnegation of the jurisdiction of the Pope. Will my hon. and learned Friend say—perhaps he may—that I am refining upon the matter. [Sir F. THESIGER: Hear, hear!] The hon. and learned Gentleman says I am refining, and I suppose I am to understand that, with my unfortunate "subtle art of reasoning," which some hon. Members are so ready in a spirit of playfulness or a vein 891 of sarcasm to lay to my door, I am drawing a distinction between two things which are identical—between the oath of abnegation of Papal power and the oath of supremacy. So far from that being a refinement, it is a broad, clear, palpable proposition. It is not only a constitutional truth, but almost a constitutional truism, because the supremacy of the Crown, which is acknowledged by the Church of England, is not acknowledged by other Gentlemen, of whom I see a portion in this House, no more than by Roman Catholics. Those Gentlemen are perfectly willing to concur in an oath which denounces and repudiates the authority of the Pope in this realm, but they are no more willing than the Roman Catholics to concur with us in an oath which asserts the supremacy of the Crown. ["Hear, hear!"] Who are those Gentlemen? Some of them I hear assenting to what I say behind me. [Ironical cheers from the Opposition.] I really must say that to make the assent of those Gentlemen to what I ventured to state the subject of ill-timed and unmeaning jeers and laughter is utterly inconsistent with the relations which ought to prevail between Members of this House, because I apprehend those who sit here for the purpose of discharging the grave responsibilities which attach to the House of Commons ought to sit here on terms of equality, and it is not for hon. Gentlemen to attempt to circumscribe, by contemptuous signs or expressions, the liberty of opinion. I thought it was notorious, not requiring subtilty or argument of any kind, that gentlemen belonging to bodies of Dissenters do very generally refuse to admit, and on every occasion repudiate, the spiritual supremacy of the Crown. Is that true or not? It is not only true, but notorious and palpable; and if that is notorious and palpable, what becomes of the argument that to deny the jurisdiction of the Pope is to assert the supremacy of the Crown? But I see many Gentlemen in this House entitled to hold higher language, and indignantly protest against any curtailment of the liberty of opinion—those Gentlemen who are members of the Presbyterian Established Church of Scotland. Am I to be told that the members of the Presbyterian Established Church of Scotland are bound to admit the supremacy of the Crown? If you think fit—which you have no right to do—to taunt Protestant Dissenters because, when they take the oath of supremacy, they confine themselves to the terms, and do not adopt 892 the Church of England doctrine of supremacy, at all events you cannot assume that liberty with a class of Members who sit here under rights just as well defined and recognised as your own. Because those who come from Scotland are presumed by law to represent the religious faith of Scotland, and at the time of the Union the law presumed them to be members of that which was the only fully recognised form of religion in Scotland. Those Gentlemen come, not only by mere toleration, but as Presbyterians, with the opinions and principles of Presbyterians. They come and take the oath of supremacy in their character of Presbyterians. I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman does he assent to that proposition? If he does, I wish him now to tell me that the oath which denies the jurisdiction of the Pope in the realm of England is the same thing with the oath which asserts the supremacy of the Crown. I think that by reference to the oath itself, by reference to the known and notorious opinions of Gentlemen who sit in this House, with as good and valid right and as clear consciences as any member of the Church of England, I have proved the hon. and learned Gentleman to be totally in error in his description of the oath of supremacy. That oath does not contain the doctrine of the supremacy of the Crown. The doctrine of the supremacy of the Crown is part of those religious doctrines or opinions which the Church of England holds, and is firmly embedded in the authorised religious documents of the Church of England. It is to those documents you must go when you wish to find out what it is the hon. and learned Gentleman has described, for the hon. and learned Gentleman, with all his acuteness, will wear the eyes out of his head by searching before he will find it in the oath of supremacy. That being the case, I think the charge of the hon. and learned Gentleman against my noble Friend, that he is making a present of the oath of supremacy to those who hold Romanising doctrines, falls to the ground, for this simple reason, that this doctrine of supremacy which he prizes, and justly prizes, as the great safeguard of the Church of England, which he would carefully defend, both in the law of the Church of England and of the State of England, is a doctrine existing elsewhere, but not existing in the oath of supremacy. The hon. and learned Gentleman, in the course of his speech, used ex- 893 pressions calculated to raise some prejudices by observing that this was an alteration of the oath of supremacy, not applicable to this House alone, but applicable to all other occasions on which that oath is enjoined to be taken. With respect to that matter, what I must point out to the hon. and learned Gentleman is this:—I do not know whether his legal construction is sound or not, but whether sound or not is perfectly immaterial so far as the classes to whom this question is really material are concerned. For this reason—who are those classes that you think it a matter of good policy to tie up and bind by a distinct declaration on the doctrine of supremacy? Of course, in the first instance, the clergy of the country—they, and, perhaps, the members of the Universities. Well, Sir, the obligations of the members of the Universities, whether effected by the oath of supremacy or not, will remain in substance exactly as they are; because the House ought to know (and as the words are not many, perhaps I may he allowed to quote out of the Prayer Book) where it is this doctrine of supremacy is contained. It is contained in the 37th Article, and there both the positive part and the negative part are to be found. The positive part declares very forcibly the duty of the clergy towards the Church and Sovereign. Here is the real doctrine of supremacy—The Queen's Majesty hath chief power in this realm of England, and other her dominions, unto whom the chief government of all estates of this realm, whether they be ecclesiastical or civil, it all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought not to be, subject to any foreign jurisdiction.Then follows a long paragraph, which I need not quote, of an explanatory character. It goes on to deal specifically with the case of the Bishop of Rome in words which I think admirable for their simplicity and clearness, and very decidedly superior to those in what is incorrectly called the oath of supremacy, "The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England." I do not think the wit of man could invent words going more directly to their purpose than those words. But then my hon. and learned Friend says, "Articles are interpreted in a non-natural sense." I must confess, with regard to those words, I never heard any person say they were in the slightest degree ambiguous. Can you say so of the oath of supremacy? The hon. and learned Gentleman describes it in vague and gene- 894 ral terms, as if it contained something which it does not contain. In his opinion, it is the palladium of the Constitution. I think I heard him say it has received a judicial construction; but I never heard him say what is that oath. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman is not correct in saying it has received a judicial construction. He certainly is not correct if he says the oath of supremacy is not subject to very considerable difficulties of construction and varieties of description. I have read various authorities which discuss the oath of supremacy and the mode of reconciling those terms with the open and palpable exercise of power in various ways by Roman Catholic ecclesiastics—some, especially the act of marriage and the bestowal of holy orders, distinctly recognised by the law of England. I think it possible to give a fair and just construction to the terms of the oath of supremacy, but at the same time the hon. and learned Gentleman is not justified in speaking of this oath of supremacy as if it were formed of terms so happy, so clear, so simple, so direct, that it was calculated to baffle the wiles and deceits of those who were seeking the means of evasion. On the contrary, the words in the article do bind men's opinions. But, I ask, how can you bind them when you adopt a multitude of words subject to a variety of constructions, as in the oath of supremacy; and whatever may be said of that oath, I do not think it a happy choice to be placing reliance upon that as one of the securities of the Constitution? But, be that as it may, I wish the House to dwell on this fact. The main proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman is, that this Bill is making a present of the substance of the oath of supremacy to that class which he calls Romanising Protestants. On the contrary, the House will now bear in mind that the oath of supremacy contains not one word about supremacy, and asserts nothing about the authority of the Crown with respect to ecclesiastical matters. And not only so. If the oath could be so construed as to make an assertion of the powers of the Queen in matters ecclesiastical, the effect of that would he—and perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman would rejoice at it—a new law of exclusion against large classes—a narrowing of the pale of the Constitution, and taking away civil rights from those who now enjoy them.
So much for the charge with respect to the oath of supremacy. Another point is 895 the change proposed by my noble Friend, as it affects the Roman Catholics; and here I think I understood my hon. and learned Friend to adopt various forms of objection. He objects to our ceasing to require Roman Catholics to abjure the opinion that princes may be deposed and murdered by the authority of the Pope, and he says that, in the Reform Act of 1832, my noble Friend still contrived to retain that declaration. If my noble Friend had contrived to retain that declaration, the argument, as a mere argumentum ad hominem, would not be very valuable; but my hon. and learned Friend is quite incorrect with respect to the main and principal term, which my noble Friend said would be an insult to ask a Roman Catholic to say that he does not hold the opinion that a prince "might be deposed and murdered by the authority of the See of Rome." I do not think that my noble Friend was very far from the mark in giving utterance to that sentiment. It does, I confess, seem to me rather extraordinary to ask any man to say, he thinks no one should be murdered, and the phrase implies that it is thought princes may be murdered by authority of the See of Rome. No doubt the deposing doctrine is held in the Church of Rome by large and powerful parties, and likewise contested by large and powerful parties; but I say the hon. and learned Gentleman, in charging my noble Friend with inconsistency, has moved the point of my noble Friend's observation—that it is absurd, and more than, absurd, it is contumelious, asking a man to declare he will not do a thing, when the word implies the action he forswears is an action of the deepest guilt. It is asking him to say, whether or not he is totally devoid of all moral obligations. I cannot say I attach the slightest use to the retention of these words; and I cannot help observing that my hon. and learned Friend himself, while, as I have pointed out, he carefully abstains from giving any construction to this oath, on this occasion very ingeniously admits he thinks there is not much efficacy in these terms. He says, "Let us stand by them to the last, however feeble they may be."
§ SIR FREDERIC THESIGER
was understood to say, what he contended for was the importance of the declaration to abide by the settlement of property.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
It appears, then, I have given too wide a construction to what fell front my hon. and learned Friend. I must then, 896 for myself, say, I think it is much to be regretted that the House should attach weight and value to declarations of this kind which they do not carry in themselves. We have no security by this declaration of the renunciation of a particular opinion. Our strength lies in the attachment and fidelity of the people of this country, and that attachment is best promoted by what unites class with class and man with man. So far as this House is concerned I am well convinced, front experience, its harmony, its unity, its usefulness, for the great purposes for which it exists, is best promoted by the exclusion and avoidance, as far as may be, of these unhappy topics of religious controversy, and the more we can reduce our law to a state of correspondence with those opinions, the more we can put out from that law that which, without being of weight and efficacy of itself, becomes the cause of strife among us, and the cause of great soreness to the tender consciences of our fellow-Christians or fellow-men, the better we shall discharge the duties committed to us on behalf of the Crown and the people of England. My hon. and learned Friend went on to observe on the surrender of the declaration by Roman Catholics contained in the oath of Roman Catholics:—I do swear that I will defend to the utmost of my power the settlement of property within this Realm as established by the laws.He seems to think great value belongs to a retention of these words. It would hardly be respectful if I said it is a pitiable sight; but, without using so strong a word, it is a sight which cannot but stir the mind, to see a gentleman of a masculine and powerful intellect and deserved eminence attaching value to such words as these, which I have just quoted from the oath of Roman Catholics. I want to know what is the judicial construction of those words—"I will defend the settlement of property as established by the laws." I cannot understand that the construction depends on the meaning which the whim or freak of any person may attach to words like those. Some meaning must attach to them, and it is perfectly well known they were introduced with the object of meeting au apprehension which existed before 1829 with reference to opinions supposed still to linger among the people of Ireland, in favour of a reversal of the arrangement of property under Charles II. But I must say, if it was sought to give value and effect to the 897 prevention of the reversal of that settlement, the words ought to have been made at the very least intelligible. It was not enough that Sir Robert Peel, however great, should stand up and say, words were introduced with such an object. Sir Robert Peel had no authority to construe an Act of Parliament—to give its meaning. What I say is, words, if they are to bind consciences, should be clear, plain, and intelligible; but these words have no reference now to the object supposed to be attained. They stand now as a recognition of the general obligation to obey the laws with respect to property, but for nothing more. Do you really strengthen your social system; do you increase the respect due to the law; do you help to bind classes together; do you strengthen social obligations by calling on men to contract obligations with regard to a portion of their duty as citizens, selected arbitrarily, culled, picked out from the rest, and leaving all the rest unnoticed? It seems to me such a practice is dangerous. As respects the maintenance of property, it is part of the duty of every citizen, and if any do not mean to perform it, you ought to have laws and courts calling them effectually to account; but to call upon any one to say, "I will recognise the rights of property," may, if the person is disposed to go wrong, lead to the belief that he is not bound to recognise other rights just as sacred as the rights of property. Suppose you were to take a part of the profession of Christianity, and call upon men by a solemn contract to observe that particular duty; might it not have a deleterious effect, by weakening the sense of obligation to observe all the duties of Christianity? Though these particular words might be pertinent at the moment and under the circumstances in which the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel acted in 1829, if the opportunity arises and if this be a desirable opportunity, ought we not to get rid of words which encumber the body of the oath and tend to weaken rather than strengthen the bonds of social and Christian obligation? I come now to the last objection of my hon. and learned Friend, which was to the removal of the words—And I do hereby disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure any intention to subvert the present Church Establishment as settled by law within this realm; and I do solemnly swear that I never will exercise any privilege to which I am or may become entitled to disturb or weaken the Protestant religion or Protestant Government in the 898 United Kingdom; and I do solemnly, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare that I do make this declaration, and every part thereof, in the plain and ordinary sense of the words of this oath, without any evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation whatsoever. So help me God.I fully grant that the question of the alteration of the oath of 1829 is a serious matter, and ought not to be entered on lightly. It is part of a great constitutional settlement, and we ought not to interfere, except upon material and solid grounds, with any portion of that settlement. But, Sir, I must confess that I have for many years been of opinion, founded on experience and observation of the working of this oath, that although a question of this kind is open to a great deal of consideration as to time and place, it will be very well, when a declaration of this kind with regard to the property of the Church can be removed from our Statute-book. Again, I say I do not think any good is produced by this declaration. But even if it had the effect of limiting the action of some one or two or three gentlemen who give a very large construction to these words, I should still have to ask myself, is that small and minute, and I must say insignificant and trumpery, amount of defence at all comparable to the mischief done by keeping up a cause of heart-burning in the minds of large classes of our fellow-countrymen? Now, Sir, I want to know this—is a Roman Catholic entitled, or is he not, to sit in this House on terms of equality? If you choose to say, "In 1829 we admitted him, it is true, to the franchises of the Constitution, but we only authorised him to exercise them in a restricted sense. We allowed him to come within our doors, but still said to him, by the voice of the law there are subjects which we alone can handle, and are too sacred for you to touch." If that was your doctrine, I grant you would be justified in maintaining these words. But I must say for myself that I do not believe it was with any such intentions that the Duke of Wellington or Sir Robert Peel were parties to the framing of this oath. My hon. and learned Friend said this oath was received with acclamation by the Roman Catholics and their friends. As far as the Roman Catholics themselves are concerned, I am not surprised at all that they should receive it and not see any objection. Both from motives of prudence, and still more from motives of gratitude to those who were making great exertions and sacrifices to relieve them of their disabilities, they were, no doubt, un- 899 willing to throw difficulties in the way, and were apt to put the most liberal construction upon that which was proposed to them in the shape of an oath. But my hon. and learned Friend is quite in error when he states it was received with acclamation by the friends of the Roman Catholics. On the contrary, I am warranted in the statement, because there are living witnesses to support me, that the oath was acquiesced in with the greatest doubt and difficulty by those friends, and it was only the fear of prolonging the frightful evils connected with the unsettled state of the Catholic question, that induced them to accept that oath as the condition of the triumph of Catholic emancipation. But I cannot consent to stand on any ground narrower than this. I hold the Roman Catholics are entitled to the same liberty in this House as any men of this House. It is upon that broad principle that I wish to found my own adoption of the opinion that the sooner we are rid of the terms contained in this oath the better. In times preceding the Catholic emancipation the House will do well to recollect that the property of the Church was, in Parliamentary spheres, regarded as almost consecrated property. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), or some particularly audacious Radical of those days, entertained contrary notions. Perhaps they did. I doubt much whether they made any Motion on the subject. Perhaps occasionally Motions were made, and those opinions were stated, but they were looked on as the individual opinions of a small section. At that time there were no large recognised parties in this House, no great breadth and depth of opinion, of persons prepared to deal freely with Church property; and I do not wonder, in that state of things, when it was considered incumbent on Protestants, though it was not expressed, to keep their hands off the property of the Church, I do not wonder that, under those circumstances, it was thought warrantable to say, that which is presumed on the part of the Protestants we will require of the Catholics in express terms. That is not inconsistent with the view of Catholic and Protestant being on an equal footing in this House. How does the notice stand now? Do Gentlemen who are Protestants feel themselves precluded from giving votes. which affect the property of the Church? This is Thursday. What happened on Tuesday night? On Tuesday night a majority of this House, including 900 some Gentlemen who sit opposite, declared their intention, in the most emphatic manner, to deal with the property of the Church, by a process most sweeping—the process of extinction. That vote was given on Tuesday. I regret it; but, however, the vote was given. I want to know whether that was a lawful vote for Protestant Members to give? [Mr. DRUMMOND: No.] My hon. Friend the Member for West Surrey says no, but I apprehend, in the opinion of the 129 Gentlemen who outvoted the hon. Member, it was a lawful vote. I want to know, if it was within the competence of Protestants so to vote, whether the Roman Catholics were not competent to vote upon that occasion? That is a most serious question. That is a great deal too serious a question to be treated as a mere matter of party dispute. I do not mean to say that it is not perfectly intelligible to say the Roman Catholics ought not to deal with property affecting the Church. That doctrine is held by many in this House. I consider it a most dangerous doctrine, though it is the only doctrine which can justify the support of the terms of the oath. But it is a most dangerous doctrine; I repudiate it—I protest against it. I am convinced the adoption of it by the Legislature would lead to consequences never to be too sufficiently deplored. On that broad ground I think my noble Friend has done well in inviting us to clear away this portion of the Roman Catholic oath. But I also say this—the nature of the oath recommends on the whole the proposition by my noble Friend. I know there are some Gentlemen here who think we should come to the discharge of our duties without any oath. I do not happen to be one of that opinion. I revere the principle of the oath. I think it tends to maintain that serious, reverential temper with which men ought to address themselves to solemn duties; but I say this, if you want to gain the real and substantial objects of the oath, you ought to frame it in a manner that should adapt it to those objects. Our oaths ought to be brief—ought to be simple. They ought to be the same for all—they ought to go directly to the point; they ought to be divested of all needless and useless words, in order that the words we use by solemn sanction in the presence of God may be used with a sense of the presence of God, and in a temper which befits men doing a solemn act. If there are oaths, that is the spirit in which they should be taken. If so 901 taken, oaths ought to be short and simple. They ought, above all, to avoid the use of ambiguous language, which serves to trap consciences, I must use that phrase without censuring the framers of the oath under these circumstances, and the circumstances of the time. I cannot but say that this clause, which relates to the maintenance of property, is neither more nor less than a trap for consciences. I feel that my Roman Catholic fellow-citizens have a claim to my sympathy and relief. I cannot tell how, if I were a Roman Catholic, I should be able to take that oath. I should be placed in a situation of pain and difficulty, between the obligations I felt I owed my constituents and my country, and the primâ facie ostensible meaning of the words of the oath. ["Hear, hear!"] Gentlemen may differ from me in that respect; but if I have that feeling, and I think I may say it is shared by many Gentlemen in this House, no one can be surprised that I, for one, should think it desirable to get rid of words so vexatious and ambiguous in their character, and so useless and worthless in supporting the institutions of the country.
I am obliged to the House for its indulgence, and I have only one word more to say. My hon. and learned Friend complained of my noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) for having, if I understood him rightly, gathered a multitude of different obligations into one neck, as he called it, that he might dispose of them all at once. I believe my hon. and learned Friend was so severe as to compare my noble Friend in this process to the Emperor Caligula. [Sir F. MESMER: To his idea.] I doubt whether he is correct in ascribing to the Emperor Caligula the saying upon which that observation was founded. I believe it was a greater monster—a much more savage monster than even the Emperor Caligula—who made use of that expression. The Emperor Nero, I believe, did say, that it would be a very good thing if the people of Rome had only one neck, in order that he might destroy them all at once; and my noble Friend compares the destruction these oaths to this destruction of the people of Rome. The vitality of the Constitution, much of it, he thinks, depends on that. I confess that I am very thankful to my noble Friend for having given but one neck to these oaths. I think that the desire that the lives of human beings might be all bundled up together in order that they might be de- 902 stroyed at one blow was very horrible and very wicked. But when we are speaking of a set of needless, useless, mischievous, entangling, and perplexing obligations, which do nothing but give occasions of offence and heartburning, which make pitfalls for tender consciences, and encourage bolder men, perhaps, to despise their conscientious obligations—I do think, Sir, that in dealing with matters of that kind, my noble Friend, in bundling them all up together, and presenting them at once to the axe of the executioner, has rendered a valuable and conspicuous service to the country.
§ MR. NAPIER
Mr. Speaker, I will not profane the feeling with which I would desire to discuss this question, by descending to personalities; but I must take leave to say, that the insinuation of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that my hon. and learned Friend (Sir F. Thesiger) was acting on the present Motion inconsistently with his political antecedents, is rather unexpected and altogether unfounded in fact. In the many years I have known my learned Friend, both in and out of Parliament, I never knew him to make a statement nor record a vote, in any respect unworthy of an honourable and upright man. I agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that oaths ought to be explicit and intelligible, but I cannot agree that these oaths which we all have taken are not capable of being easily understood by plain minds, according to the plain and ordinary meaning of the words in which they are expressed. I own I am not casuist enough to stir up doubts as to their obvious meaning. They are in plain English, and intended to be taken according to their obvious and ordinary meaning. Are we to be told that none of us clearly understood what we have thus deliberately and solemnly sworn to observe?
The question now before us is on the principle of the Bill introduced by the noble Lord. This is one of that class of bills which should be dealt with exactly as it stands, for it was introduced in a very special manner, by a preliminary Resolution deliberately framed, and therefore we are not now to treat it as admitting of changes in Committee to meet objections; but we are to take it as now modelled in its complete shape for our sentence upon it. We must therefore consider the merits of the new form of oath which is proposed as a substitute for the oaths of allegiance, 903 supremacy, and abjuration, and the oath for Roman Catholics in the Act of 1829. On former occasions the noble Lord made express provision for the Jew, and refused to alter the Roman Catholic oath, but now this policy is abandoned; and I understood my hon. and learned Friend not to charge the noble Lord with any inconsistency in advocating the cause of the Jew, but that in the mode of dealing with the question at present, he had suffered from his new alliance, and that the real authors of the Bill must be those who are disquieted by the constitutional doctrine of the Queen's supremacy; those who are anxious to separate the spiritual and temporal in public policy, in order to unfetter ecclesiastical authority; and those who wish to be relieved from the restrictions of the Act of 1829.
The oaths which we now take have been largely derived from the sacred sources of the common law, declared by the Act of Elizabeth and embodied in the Bill of Rights and Act of Settlement; and therefore constitute the most solemn record of the fundamental and permanent principles of our Constitution. These are to be put aside; and the noble Lord would then invite the Jew burglariously to enter. The Jew is not even once named, he is merely enabled to sneak in, when the great barriers are first removed by this rash and perilous proposal, which tampers with the very foundations of the Throne and the Constitution. When a proposal is made to alter the Bill of Rights, in any part of that great monument of the wisdom of Somers and the other patriots of the Revolution, the reasons ought to be solid and substantial, and the argument conclusive, for the necessity of such alteration. The oath of supremacy is virtually included in the oath of allegiance. This I fully admit. The noble Lord, with a different object, referred to the opinion of Lord Eldon, to this effect; but what Lord Eldon said was on the occasion of a debate on a protest against the passing of the Bill to relieve the Earl Marshal from taking the oath of supremacy; and what Lord Eldon urged was this, that as he had still to take the oath of allegiance, in which the oath of supremacy was virtually included, he would not be really relieved from the constitutional obligation. On another occasion, in 1821, Lord Eldon said, "The common law recognises an allegiance expressed by oath. By the common law allegiance is undivided; and the supremacy of the 904 Crown is indivisible." Again, he says, "I am mistaken if we had not an Ecclesia Anglicana with the King its supreme head, before the Pope of Rome could be said to have endeavoured to obtain any footing in this island." The oath of supremacy is, in fact, but an exposition and expansion of, and not an addition to, the oath of allegiance, and all this is in exact accordance with the fundamental principles of the Constitution, from the earliest times. It was not framed as a test of opinion, but as a solemn protest against the aggression of the Papacy; as a barrier by counter demonstration against foreign power; and so long as the assumption of Papal authority is maintained, so long should the protest in the oath be preserved. The question then comes to this, has the aggressive power of Rome ceased to encroach? It is not a question of theology or religious opinion, but of Papal policy; yet it is not to be forgotten that the Papacy is both a state assuming dominion over independent kingdoms throughout the world, and a church assuming jurisdiction over the consciences of all baptized Christians. It must be opposed in both capacities—as a State, we must encounter by our State policy and the power of Parliament; as a Church, by a free press, right reason, and the fearless appeal to the pure Word of God. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says, that all our defence must consist in our own union, in moral resistance and right feeling nurtured amongst ourselves; but did the right hon. Gentleman mean to urge, that all the barriers set up by the wise and able statesmen in the time of Elizabeth, or the framers of the Bill of Rights, nay, even the more recent measure of the noble Lord, the only value of which was the power of so great a protest against an insolent and bold aggression, are all these to be displaced and thrown aside as lumber, on the principle now pressed upon us by the right hon. Gentleman?
Elizabeth was a wise and vigorous princess; her councillors were grave and profound statesmen. The oath of supremacy was prepared in the first year of her reign, to testify solemnly against Papal usurpation. She claimed no new title, she asserted no other right but what belonged to her by the early Constitution and common law of England. This nation is an independent State; the monarch is the source of jurisdiction both in civil and ecclesiastical matters, and no foreign Power 905 has a right to interfere with the internal concerns of this great kingdom. The Pope had at various times attempted to gain authority in England, by usurping jurisdiction; it was vigorously repelled by Parliament and the people; the independence of England and the supremacy of the Sovereign were faithfully maintained. Before the time of Elizabeth, it was a controversy between the civil power of England and the Papacy, but in the time of Elizabeth the religious element entered into the controversy. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has endeavoured to involve in this discussion the question of the headship of the Church; and to entrap the Scotch Members into the notion that this Bill reduces the title of the Sovereign to its true limits. The supremacy asserted by Elizabeth, and now recognised by ourselves, was not the headship claimed by Henry VIII. The Statute by which Henry VIII. asserted his headship was repealed in the reign of Mary, and, in Ireland, at least, it was not revived by the subsequent Act of Elizabeth. His was a Popish headship; and I would agree with the Members from Scotland in repudiating it as unscriptural. But in my opinion, sufficient justice has not been done to the memory of Queen Elizabeth upon this very matter. She disclaimed the title of Head of the Church; she said emphatically and most truly, "Christ was the Head of the Church," and she was, under Him, the supreme governor of all estates, civil and ecclesiastical, within the realm. She explicitly so expounded the meaning of the oath of supremacy, and in the very Statute which first requires this oath to be taken by Members of this House (the 5 Eliz. c. 1) there will be found in the 14th section a declaratory exposition of the oath, in accordance with the plain and unambiguous language of the 37th Article to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has referred, which, I agree with him, is expressed in the clearest and plainest words, and therefore, there cannot be any pretext for any further mystification of this matter. Out of the very bowels of the Statute which requires the oath to be taken, I obtain a comment establishing its plain sense in plain English. It refutes that vulgar sophistry which is sometimes traded on, by which it is suggested that the Sovereign is, as it were, a Pope over the episcopal Church of England and Ireland. But the Sovereign has no more of the power of order than I have; no more authority to 906 make a bishop or vary a doctrine; the power of the Sovereign is simply that of jurisdiction, limited by the fixed principles and fundamental laws of the Constitution of England. The Scotch Members, therefore, and myself can have no difference on this question of headship or supremacy. We agree in the weightier matters of doctrine, in the great and eternal truths which are the glory and life of the Reformation; our differences in matters of discipline are altogether secondary and subordinate. But I cannot think they can sympathise with those who are unwilling to submit themselves to the Queen as supreme, who would allow Papal usurpation for others in exchange for ecclesiastical authority for themselves. What is the exposition of the oath of supremacy given by Sir Matthew Hale? He may assuredly be trusted by the Scotch Members, and the noble Lord has already appealed to his great authority. He was a good man and a genuine Christian, who feared God and honoured the King. He says that "the supremacy of the Crown in matters ecclesiastical is a most unquestionable right of the Crown of England; that there had been encroachments made by the Papacy under that loose pretence in ordine ad spiritualia, and these had gained great strength, notwithstanding the security which the Crown had by the oath of fealty and allegiance, and required to be unriveted by the power of Parliament;" and to this I may add the clear exposition of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Ellen-borough, in 1805. "The declaration contained in the oath of supremacy is but the affirmance of a proposition which is logically and politically true as an essential principle of independent sovereignty." Thus we have our Sovereign, the supreme head on earth, in reference to all jurisdiction; and this is made the basis of a solemn protest against foreign usurpation. It is not to control the free opinion of any portion of the laity, but to resist the interference of the Papacy. It is quite a fallacy to argue this as an interference with private opinion; it is against a foreign system, antagonistic to our free Constitution, and subversive of the liberty which that Constitution secures for all the Queen's subjects—against this we solemnly protest.
There is no difficulty with Dissenters, who do not divide their allegiance by acknowledging foreign authority, nor would there be much trouble with the laity of the Church of Rome if this foreign Power 907 were not aggressive, and ever attempting to wrest away the proper authority of the Constitution over all who are entitled to share in its protection and privileges. The great difficulty has been occasioned by this claim and assertion of Papal authority, and the question is, whether it is not a duty we owe to our Sovereign, to the country, and ourselves, to maintain the defences set up by our wise and faithful ancestors, at a time when the love of England, attachment to freedom and truth, were deep and solid; and these safeguards were erected to preserve in its integrity the independence and permanence of the Constitution.
At that time there was a reformation in England, and another in the Papal system. With us the State was first restored to its complete independence, and then the Church, purified and reformed by the only true standard of faith and morals, the Word of God. The first fruit of the Reformation beautifully connected civil with religious liberty; for in the reign of Edward VI. a Statute was passed, 1 Edw. VI. c. 12, and by the third section all Acts and Statutes touching or concerning religion or opinions, including the famous Statute of Henry VIII., "The Six Articles," and all Acts concerning doctrine or matters of religion, and all penalties, forfeitures, and so forth, were repealed. The State was restored to its independent sovereignty, religion in the Church to its scriptural standard, and the Church itself relieved from anti-scriptural errors, whilst freedom of opinion was publicly secured for every subject of this free State. Parallel with this was the Papal Reformation; it was almost contemporaneous. The Council of Trent overlaid the faith with ecclesiastical figments embodied in the creed of Pope Pius IV., and by the power of an oath of blind obedience to the Pope as the Vicar of Christ, and of unqualified acceptance of the canons and decrees accredited by this Council, a confederacy was organised to enslave opinion, to coerce conscience, to constrain conduct, and thus, by the exercise of an assumed spiritual jurisdiction, to acquire a plenary dominion in temporal things. Thus the collision between England and Rome assumed a new aspect. The right of private judgment, freedom of Conscience, and a free appeal to the Word of God, are essential to the true enjoyment of the blessings of the Reformation and the civil liberty of England; subjection to the Papacy, submission to its hierarchy, 908 surrender of individual liberty, are necessary to the full development of the policy of Rome. In 1564 the creed and oath of Pope Pius was published; about the same time the oath of supremacy was required to be taken by Members of this House. The Papal policy requires our grave attention; we cannot grapple as we ought with this formidable organisation, unless we understand thoroughly its mode of action. It is a power which, in my judgment, we must be prepared to encounter with resolute determination, and it is most unwise to underrate its strength. Its power is exercised by its hierarchy, its canons, its bulls, and reserved cases; it can afford to disclaim civil or temporal power; its real power is a spiritual power in temporal things. Tins is a power not to be conciliated; to be subdued, it must be changed. The wise statesmen of Elizabeth pointed the oath altogether against this spiritual power, and the ecclesiastical organisation which had been compacted, thus going to the very root of the matter; but the wide Lord would blot out the vigorous and exact language which gave life and power to this oath, and he would substitute the weak and impotent denial of "civil or temporal" power. What says their great authority, Bellarmine, on this very matter?—The power of the Pontiff properly, directly, and in itself, is spiritual; but by it he can dispose of the temporal things of all Christians, when such a measure is necessary to the end of his spiritual power, to which the ends of all temporal power are subordinate. He has no power merely temporal, and yet in order to a spiritual good he has the supreme power of disposing of temporal things.Thus it appears that the denial of the civil and temporal power does not touch the jurisdiction assumed and exercised in temporal things by this usurping power in carrying out its aggressive policy; and the change proposed will not merely admit, but would invite increased aggression, by our abandoning the true protest against it, and substituting a disclaimer consistent with the unrestrained exercise of spiritual power in temporals. There is another authority of another member of the Church of Rome to which the noble Lord may pay some deference—I mean the late Thomas Moore. He published a letter on the veto, and although it is not in the noble Lord's edition of Moore's letters, it is not unworthy of a place in any new edition. He says—With respect to the distinction between spiritual and temporal power, by which you endea- 909 vour to reconcile your submission to the Pope with the free discharge of your duties as subjects and citizens, it is a security which the history of all the religions in the world too fully justifies a Legislature in refusing to trust too implicitly. And, therefore, refine away as you will the spiritual authority of the Pope, there will still remain combined with it in its purest state many gross particles of temporal power, which it is the duty of a wise Government to counteract by every effort consistent with the consciences of its subjects.The fact is, that as a temporal Prince the Pope has no temporal power out of his territory; his claim is spiritual and ecclesiastical, and against this must be the protest. In the debates on the Quebec Act, between 1771 and 1774, both Lord Chatham and Lord Camden maintained that the oath of supremacy was as fundamental as the Great Charter or the Bill of Rights. Lord Chatham also said, that "the series of laws from the supremacy, first re-vindicated under Henry VIII., down to this day, constituted a clear compact that all establishments by law are to be Protestant." In the Diplomatic Relations Bill of 1848, the late Duke of Wellington, with the instinctive caution and practical wisdom which peculiarly distinguished that great and illustrious man, introduced this proviso,—Provided always, that nothing herein contained shall weaken or affect, &c., any laws or Statutes now in force for preserving or upholding the supremacy of our Lady the Queen in all matters civil and ecclesiastical within this Realm, all which laws and Statutes ought for ever to be maintained for the dignity of the Crown and the good of the subject.These are the fundamental laws which we are bound by the oaths heretofore taken, but now proposed to be abolished—solemnly bound—to maintain and perpetuate. Is it not humiliating to have here to appeal to the noble Lord, and beseech him to leave unmolested the labours of Lord Somers, and the provisions of the Bill of Rights? I stood by the noble Lord in his manly defence of the Constitution in 1850; I would stand by him again, unto the death, in repelling the usurpation of Rome on the independence of this kingdom. I implore the noble Lord, by the constitutional yearnings of his nature, to pause in this rash and reckless project of destroying the securities which have been confided to our care and keeping—they are guarantees for the civil and religious liberties of this empire. These oaths remind us of great truths, and admonish us as to our duty in preserving them. It is remarked by the 910 late Sydney Smith, that "men do not so much require to be taught new truths, as to be reminded of those which it is their wisdom to remember, but their weakness to forget." Each Member solemnly sworn is made a party to the great compact in all its integrity; the oath connects the living with the dead, and both with generations yet unborn, to whom we are bound by the most sacred obligation to hand down unimpaired what we ourselves have received. In the preamble of the Act 13 Will. III. c. 6, after reciting the Act of Settlement, and referring to the Acts defining the Protestant succession, it is said—In which Acts the safety of the King's Royal person and Government, the continuance of the monarchy of England, the preservation of the Protestant religion, the maintenance of the Church of England as by law established, the security of the ancient and undoubted rights and liberties, and the future peace and tranquillity of this kingdom, did (under God) entirely depend, to the intent, therefore, that the said Acts may for ever be inviolably preserved;"—it provides the oath of abjuration.
But the noble Lord asserted that these securities, however good when they were first set up, were now obsolete. The noble Lord would not maintain that the protest should be altogether abandoned by doing away with all oaths of this kind, but contended that they should be modified to meet the real and remaining pretences of the Papacy. Does the noble Lord assert or suppose that anything can be obsolete with the Papacy? Does he, with his great knowledge of history, and especially in connection with civil and religious liberty, mean to assert that he really believes any claim or pretension is ever obsolete with Rome? Why, at the present day, independent of what the noble Lord ought to remember of the aggression on England which he so vigorously denounced, we have in Ireland a republication of their bulls, canons, and a fresh collection of their Statutes. I hold in my hand the Statutes of Thurles, formally confirmed at Rome, and officially remitted to Ireland for the use of the Papal hierarchy; there is full provision made for the complete working of the system. There is in this book the oath of Pope Pius's creed, in which blind submission to the Pope, to canons, and decretals, especially of Trent, is exacted, the Word of God carefully postponed to absolute Church dictation, and the Pope exalted to the headship of a great confederacy, by which civil and religious liberty may be systematically 911 crushed. The bishops swear this unqualified obedience; they pledge themselves to inculcate and enforce these edicts on their subjects in their dioceses (for so they are described), and so we have the very agency as it was completed in 1564, reproduced in 1852, and in full action here in 1854. This book is printed in Latin; it is diligently excluded from public observation, and only by very special exertion has this copy been obtained. There is another book which I would recommend to the notice of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for its authenticity has been vouched by his own University, but still more formally by the Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University. It is a report on the books and documents on the Papacy, deposited in the libraries of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin. It was published by Partridge and Oakey in 1852, and ought to be in the hands of every one desirous to know the system with which we have now to grapple. This will show the machinery for working out spiritual power in temporal things by the canon law of Rome. Nothing here is obsolete, and yet the oaths which protest against what is here to be found in full life and vigour are to be cast aside as antiquated and useless, at the suggestion of the noble Lord. How could a system which pretends to infallibility admit either change or progress; if it claims to be infallible, then it must insist on being unchangeable; and if it affects to be unchangeable, it must of necessity be intolerant. But see how it works the system. We have the evidence of Dr. Stevin, the professor of canon law at Maynooth, and also the evidence of Dr. Higgins, that a bull or canon published and not reclaimed against is treated as accepted in the country and becomes obligatory, and it is assumed that where the system ought to be known, that only is objectionable which is publicly repudiated. Hence the wisdom of these solemn public protests, devised by those who thoroughly understood the system of the Papacy. A part of this system consists of the reserved cases, by which the Pope secures an absolute and special control over the consciences and conduct of the members of his communion. These are regulated by the Bulla Cænœ Domini, of which the late Dr. Doyle has said, "If it were in force, there would be scarcely anything at rest amongst the Catholic States of Europe." But, moreover, in the appendix to the Report of Sir John 912 Cox Hippesley's Committee of 1816, p. 341, there is the copy of a note from Cardinal Erskine, in 1793, to Sir John himself. In this he says of this very bull—That although the formality of its publication is now omitted, it is nevertheless implicitly in vigour in all its extension, and is likewise observed in all cases where there is no impediment to the exertion of the Pope's authority, therefore it must legally be looked upon as a public declaration to preserve his rights.I have here the priests' Directory for the Conferences of the year 1852, and one of the leading questions to be discussed is this very question of the reserved cases. The Statutes of Thurles command conferences for practical purposes; the case of disobedience to the Court of Rome is, by the publication now discovered to have been issued in 1832, reserved to the Pope; the Bulla Cænœ Domini is the great standard of reserved cases, and so, as in the Homeric description of Jupiter swinging from a chain the inferior deities at his will and pleasure, the Pope holds the bishops, the priests, and the people, by one great principle of ecclesiastical absolutism, by which the Papacy wields a spiritual supremacy in temporal things. What is obsolete, when all is here at hand for practical purposes? Why, I was at first struck with the observations of the noble Lord as to the oath of abjuration, that a part of it might be properly omitted or modified. I agree that nothing should be insisted on which we can safely admit to be now superfluous, as having survived the claim against which it protests. But I have been startled to find an edition of the Bullarium published in 1841 at Rome, in which a selection of bulls has been made and published by Dr. Cullen, then director of the press for the Propaganda, but now an Archbishop of the Church of Rome in Ireland; in this the bulls are selected—For the purpose of having in readiness for the use of the Propaganda those documents which can conduce to a right and expeditious consideration of affairs, the necessity or opportunity of consulting which might easily occur in the course of matters frequently to be investigated by the Sacred Council.Out of sixty-six documents in the folio Bullarium, Dr. Cullen selects eight; of these eight there is one in the last year of George II., another after the accession of George III.; in both the title of the House of Hanover to the throne is ignored, and the rightful title of the House of Stuart asserted. I saw the volumes myself, and 913 I have extracts from them, and I own I am not ready to throw away our dusty shield, whilst these rusty swords are unsheathed in the reign of our present Queen, by those who best know what is obsolete and what is effective in the Papal system. The preface of this work, which was prepared by Dr. Cullen, refers to the Apostolical letters which have been promulgated from 1745 to the time at which he wrote, and amongst these are several bulls treating the House of Stuart as lawfully entitled to the throne of Great Britain. These are not dealt with as obsolete records, but selected for special and present use. Let the noble Lord pause and understand what he is really doing before he cuts down the oath of abjuration. Let him be sure that he is safe, and let there be a preamble distinctly reciting the facts and reasons sufficient to justify any deliberate change. Let him read the Papal line of Succession to the Throne, as it is given in the Hibernia Dominicana, p. 148, and let him ask this further question, did Rome treat an oath as valueless, when, in the synod holden in 1852, where Dr. Cullen presided as the Papal Legate, each bishop swore, according to the oath fashioned in 1564, to yield true obedience to the Pope as Vicar of Christ, and submission to all the canons and decretals, especially of the Council of Trent. There is, moreover, the special and solemn vow and swearing of each as to "his subjects," and the formal conclusion, "So help me God, and these Holy Gospels."
Against this the noble Lord would simply set up a disclaimer of the Pope's civil or temporal power, and leave the consciences and conduct of weak or ignorant men to the terrible spiritual thraldom of this great ecclesiastical organisation.
I now come to the question of the alteration of the oath, for members of the Church of Rome, which was embodied in the Act of 1829. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says, that the security provided by this oath ought never to have been exacted. This is at least an intelligible ground for its removal. The]ate Mr. O'Connell, in 1834, made an attempt to alter this oath, but was obliged to abandon it at once. Sir Robert Peel then stated that it was a part of the compact of emancipation, "which ought to be morally conclusive." He added, "that if, in 1829, such an attempt had been anticipated, the difficulty of passing the Act of 1829 would have been greatly, perhaps insuperably, increased." But the Chancellor of the Exche- 914 quer suggests doubts as to the meaning of this oath, which the party swears that he takes according to its plain and ordinary sense, without equivocation or mental reservation. Thus on every occasion a kind of seraphic smoke is raised, after the fashion of a magician, by which our common sense and plain interpretation of plain English are to be bewildered and mystified. A Roman Catholic gentleman, Mr. Æneas M'Donnell, has published a most useful little book on this oath. He quotes the documents which show it was framed and proposed by Roman Catholics themselves, and is stated to be a "part of their religion." When the argument for their exclusion from civil privileges was based on the danger to the established Constitution, vitally connected as it is with the maintenance of the Reformed faith, the Protestant institutions, and Protestant Government of this empire—this oath was offered both as a solemn and conclusive record of the conditions on which emancipation was given and accepted, and a pledge of the fulfilment of these conditions on the part of all who should avail themselves of the privilege conferred. Each man who takes this oath becomes a party to these conditions, under the most solemn obligation. He is not at liberty to put a private interpretation on the oath; he is bound to take it, according to its authorised and obvious meaning. In 1849, the noble Lord brought in a Bill to alter the Parliamentary oaths, but only for persons not professing the Roman Catholic religion. The noble Lord first omitted the words "ecclesiastical or spiritual," and substituted "civil or temporal," but on the remonstrance of Sir Robert Peel as to the danger of such a change, this part of the oath was altogether omitted, and the noble Lord himself proposed, in Committee, the omission of the whole of this part of the oath. But he had in this Bill of 1849 an express section, providing that the oath of the Act of 1829 should remain undisturbed and in full vigour. The noble Lord, on several occasions on the discussion of this Bill, strenuously argued that this oath should not be disturbed. He said it had been settled with difficulty, and after great consideration; that it had substantially accomplished the object proposed, and that it would be unwise and inexpedient to disturb it. Sir Robert Peel said, that in this course the noble Lord was acting wisely in not disturbing this oath. The late Member for Dundalk, Mr. M'Cullagh, moved 915 the omission of the clause which provided against the alteration of this oath, and the noble Lord, with the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, the two sponsors for the Bill now before the House, both voted against the omission, in company with other Members and supporters of the present Government. In the list which I have before me, I see in the majority the name of one who had as generous a spirit, as truly liberal and frank as any man I ever knew—the late Mr. Justice Talfourd; he, too, recorded his opinion against this tampering with the oath of 1829.
Now, is the noble Lord prepared to reopen the question of 1829? If he touches a letter of this oath, I tell him the whole question of our securities must be reconsidered. The Roman Catholics did not profess to demand an unrestricted licence for the full dominion and development of the Papacy—but a participation in the privileges of the established Constitution. I fancy they know full well that they enjoy a far larger share of liberty under that Constitution, than they could expect in any other country in the world, even under the direct control of the Pope in all the assumed plenitude of his power. These securities are to protect the Constitution against the foreign element which would weaken its power of protection. Lord Plunket once said of King William, in reference to Ireland, that he had conquered it into a state of freedom; and a high authority, sent by the late Dr. Murray specially to Rome, declared that there was no country in Europe where so much freedom was enjoyed by the members of the Church of Rome. The oaths which preserve that freedom protect the members of this very Church against its own spiritual despotism—it throws over them the protection of the Constitution, which repudiated all foreign interference—this oath of 1829, which the noble Lord so strenuously upheld in 1849, is now to be rejected as an unwise and superfluous restriction on the free action of the Papacy. I know there are those in this country—some in this House—who think that all Churches should be let loose and free, so as to have uncontrolled liberty of action and full swing in their several spheres. My humble belief is that ecclesiastical power, not controlled by the State, must become too powerful for the State, and civil liberty cannot coexist with the ecclesiastical despotism of any Church whatever. Let the noble Lord 916 beware of this tampering with the Act of 1829. In 1832 a complete code of the canon law was secretly published in Ireland. In 1845 the law as to intercourse with Rome began to be touched as if it might be abandoned, and immediately at Rome the plan of the Papal aggression was prepared. This has since been disclosed. Rome had its eye upon every movement in this land; indeed upon every part of the world. The law, as it afterwards appeared, was unsettled and weakened in 1846; the bull was then prepared at Rome; in 1848, the Diplomatic Relations Bill is passed; in 1849, the noble Lord begins to tamper with the oath of supremacy; in 1850, the aggression takes place, which roused the indignation—or, I might rather say, provoked the instinct—the Protestant instinct—of self-preservation, which is one of the great defences of our independence, which God has bestowed upon this free and noble nation.
The law was found so disturbed, that the law officers were afraid to proceed upon it, and Parliament had to declare the law after the wrong had been inflicted. I know what a power we have to encounter in grappling with the Papacy; but this house represents a far more mighty power, with greater and more enduring resources, the intelligence, the moral energy, the reformed religion, the independent sovereignty of a powerful and free people. It is no child's play to encounter this aggressive and formidable foe; but do not confound a protest and a warfare against the ambition and aggression of the Papacy with any unfair restriction on the consciences or the privileges of the Roman Catholic subjects of the Queen. In protesting against this great system of spiritual intolerance, we are protecting every class entitled to share in the benefits of our common Constitution. It is an idle fallacy to suggest that we are insulting any man by asking him to join in a common protest against this foreign aggression. Indeed, I may observe, that in 1821, when the late Lord Plunket brought forward the subject of Roman Catholic emancipation, he did not even propose to omit the words "ecclesiastical or spiritual," but only required that they should be explained according to the 37th Article of the Church. I have here both the Resolutions he carried in Committee, and the Bill which he afterwards introduced, founded on the Resolutions. The security of the Protestant Church was most strin- 917 gently provided for; and the Oath of Supremacy so far modified as to embody the exposition of the 37th Article. It is remarkable that this is the very exposition originally provided in the Statute of Elizabeth which requires us to take this oath; and Roman Catholics took it, in the reign of Elizabeth, after this explanation. This shows the view taken by loyal Roman Catholics, both in the days of Elizabeth and in 1821. Lord Plunket was their eloquent and powerful advocate; he then filled the post which I now humbly occupy—he was my predecessor in representing the University of Dublin; he was, I believe, the last of that group of illustrious men who once shed so great a lustre upon Ireland. The noble Lord referred to this speech of 1821, but its argument and its eloquence overwhelm the noble Lord in his attempt to misapply it. It sought to incorporate the Roman Catholics as partakers of the Constitution which they agreed to defend and perpetuate; but the most ample and stringent security was provided against domestic or foreign hostility. It was said that by the proposed alteration of the oaths the Jew would be admitted. This has been declared by the noble Lord as the only thing wanting to complete the edifice of religious liberty. But I will not take the materials from the foundation to complete the superstructure; nor can I believe that the Jew would consent to obtain this privilege at the price of breaking down the sacred barriers, which have fenced us round against Papal encroachment and usurpation. With respect to the omission of the words "On the true faith of a Christian," they were not omitted by the noble Lord in the oath for Protestants, in the Bill of 1849. It has been said that they were introduced for a very different purpose than the exclusion of Jews. This is true; but they assume that at that time every Member of the House was a professed Christian. But are they not now of real value? What did the Chancellor of the Exchequer say in 1849, in reference to the retention of these very words? He "frankly owned that lie was glad the noble Lord retained these words in respect to all Christian Members of the House, considering the solemn duties which we are called upon to perform. He thought the noble Lord had acted wisely in declining to reduce that high standard which we have fixed for ourselves." In this recent declaration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer I entirely concur; but I would ask him—I would 918 ask the noble Lord—are our duties now less solemn? nay, does not this very day on which we commemorate the great and crowning fact of the Ascension of our blessed Lord, does it not specially remind us of the solemn sanctions of our true Christian faith? If our Lord be risen indeed; if He be King of Kings and Lord of Lords; if, in fact—and Dr. Chalmers has well remarked, that Christianity is essentially a religion of facts—if, in fact, He reign supreme; if He has sent his true and only vicar, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to breathe into the Church on earth the life of heaven; then will I stand fast in the liberty wherewith He has made us free; then will I adhere to the simple but solemn recognition of the truth of that pure and holy faith, which neither here nor elsewhere will I knowingly enable any to corrupt or to deny—that faith revealed, which has the sure promise of the life that now is and that which is to come.
§ MR. J. G. PHILLIMORE
said, he must complain that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had distorted an interjection he (Mr. Phillimore) had made during the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and, with that ready sophistry which he had never shown himself a more complete master of than that night, had made that interjection a foundation for most fallacious reasoning. He admitted that the oath was called the oath of supremacy, because it meant to renounce the supremacy of the Pope, and nothing could be more frivolous than to discuss whether it was properly called an oath of supremacy or not. So completely was it considered in the light he had mentioned that, in order to remove any fears that might exist on the point, the oath was published in Somers' Tracts, and it was expressly declared that in it nothing was given to the Sovereign but that which was due in ancient times to the Imperial Crown of the realm. He rose, however, not to occupy the time of the House by correcting the misrepresentations the right hon. Gentleman had made, which he had adapted to his purpose with his usual astuteness in the very able speech he had delivered, but to call their attention to an objection which he thought must have escaped the attention of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell). He (Mr. Phillimore) was not prepared to join in many of the arguments he had heard against the Bill; but the measure, as it now stood, completely relieved every beneficed clergyman from 919 taking the oath of supremacy. That was what he could not consent to; if it were confined to Members of the House of Parliament, he would not object; but if it were applicable to those who wished to combine the opinions of Rome with the emoluments of the Church of England—a class of gentlemen which the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford might imagine did not exist—he had the strongest objections to it. He would seriously ask, whether it was wise at the present moment to remove so great an obstacle to such gentlemen? He might be told that they signed the Articles, but who knew the construction they put upon them? As the law now stood, every beneficed clergyman, before he entered on his office, must take the oath of supremacy, and so renounce the spiritual authority of any foreign potentate. He hoped he should not be exposing himself to the imputation of bigotry, when he said that this was not the time when the House of Commons could afford to part with these protections. For these reasons, unless some exceptions were made which would overcome his objections, he could not conscientiously vote for this clause—a clause which he believed had been introduced into the Bill without the noble Lord's knowledge, but which he also believed had not been introduced without the knowledge of other persons. Unless some alterations were made so as to confine the measure to Members of Parliament, his view of the Bill would undergo a material change.
MR. H. T. LIDDELL
said, that this question had been argued with so much ability by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier), that he was afraid he might be charged with presumption in rising so soon after his right hon. and learned Friend to state his views on this matter. He would endeavour to treat this question in a manner not so technical nor so professional as it had been discussed. He was called upon to give his assent to the second reading of a Bill of a most unusual and extraordinary character. The measure had been brought forward for a particular end by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London. He looked upon it as having a threefold object, and being threefold in its operation. The first object seemed to be to simplify those oaths which were taken by the Protestant Members of that House. And here, in- 920 deed, the noble Lord starts with some advantage, for he was following the example of a distinguished Peer in the other House of Parliament who had brought forward the same question last year. That measure proposed to abolish certain alleged superfluous and ambiguous declarations, especially in the oath of abjuration taken by Members of this House. The second object proposed by the Bill was to modify and to alter the oath taken by Roman Catholic Members of the House; and the third object of the Bill was the substitution of one oath for the various oaths that were now taken, to facilitate, as it were, by a side door, the admission of Jews into the Commons' House of Parliament. [Lord J. RUSSELL: No; by the front door.] The noble Lord says, he wants to admit the Jews by the front door. This was, no doubt, a favourite and darling object of the noble Lord; but this Bill was intended to effect that object in an indirect manner which the noble Lord had heretofore failed in accomplishing. In respect to the first object of the Bill, he (Mr. Liddell) might have no very great objection, provided fair reasons were given in the preamble for such a measure. With regard to the alteration of that oath which formed the great compact between Protestants and Roman Catholics, when the latter were admitted to the full advantages of the constitution in 1829, he must declare his most unqualified opposition. He would not, upon any pretence, consent to any change whatever in the oath which was at that time established. When we remember the long and powerful struggle that took place before that great and crowning Act was accomplished—when we remember that for about half a century before the country was agitated by constant appeals in both Houses of Parliament—when we consider at what sacrifices that concession was made; at what an expense of character and sacrifice of interests that concession was made by the Minister who carried that measure—he, for one, would not consent to shake the compact then entered into, and thus to give a chance of reviving in any way those religious animosities and struggles which he believed had then terminated. Much had been said of the unchanged and unchangeable nature of that mighty power of Rome. Upon this subject he would take leave to refer to a passage taken from a distinguished writer in a Roman Catholic country. The work to which ho would refer was not 921 written to meet the present contest, or the existing circumstances of the country. It was written about a century ago; and all who hear this passage will find it equally applicable to everything that has taken place within our own recollection. The passage relates to the chapter on Rome, her power, and her policy. The work was written in the French language, but he would undertake to say that the translation of the extract he was about to read was literal and faithful. In speaking of the spiritual authority of Rome, what were the words which the author used? And the writer was one of the closest observers of human nature. He stated—Her spiritual authority, always rather mixed up with temporal, is destroyed and hated in one-half of Christendom, and if in the other half she is regarded as a parent, she has children who sometimes resist her with reason and with success. The maxim of France is, to regard her as a personage, sacred, but aggressive (entreprenante), of whom she must kiss the feet, but sometimes tie the hands.He then referred to the difficult question of divided allegance:—To take an oath to any other than his Sovereign is a crime of 'leze majesté' in a layman; in the cloister it is an act of religion. The difficulty of knowing to what extent one ought to obey this foreign Sovereign, the facility of allowing oneself to be seduced, the pleasure of shaking off a natural yoke to take one which is self-imposed, the spirit of trouble, the misfortune of the times, have too often carried away whole religious orders to serve Rome against their native country.The writer then goes on to say:—These advantages, regarded by many as the suite of greater abuses, by others as the remnant of the most sacred rights, are always sustained with art. Rome manages her credit with as much policy as the Roman Republic employed in conquering half the known world. No court ever knew better how to conduct itself according to the character of men and times. The most part of our writers have raised their voice, with reason, against the ambition of this court; but I do not see any who have rendered sufficient justice to its prudence. I know not if any other nation could have preserved so long a time in Europe so many prerogatives, always combated.Every other would have perhaps lost them either by its haughtiness, or by its feebleness, or by its slowness, or by its vivacity; but Rome, employing, almost always at the right moment, firmness or suppleness, has preserved all that she has been able humanly to keep. Some rights, many pretensions, policy, and patience—these are what remain to this day to Rome of that ancient Power which six centuries before had wished to submit the Empire and Europe to the Tiara.Those words were to be found in Voltaire's "History of Louis XIV." This language was written about 100 years ago, and re- 922 ferred, again, to a state of things existing about 100 years before that period. He declared, however, that there was not one of those observations that were not as applicable to the conduct, pretensions, and character of Rome at this day as it was at the time at which they were written; and, as he believed, they would be at all times and at all seasons, Why did he quote that passage? Because he said that it was applicable to a system that was unchanged and unchangeable—a system that had always excited so much trouble in our. own country. A solemn compact was entered into at the period of Catholic Emancipation, in 1829, and he would never consent to see it tampered with, or shaken in the slightest degree, by any change in the oaths of that House. When the late Sir Robert Peel proposed the great measure of 1829, he treated of the question of securities. The noble Lord opposite would remember how many various securities were started at different times, in order to reconcile the people of England to that act of justice and of policy. Sir Robert Peel, having considered the subject, declared that he was not prepared to demand anything in the shape of positive securities; that he would grant the measure as a generous and unconditional boon to the Roman Catholics, and would trust to their honour and good faith for their recognition of our Protestant institutions. No opposition had ever been offered since to the measure of 1829, nor had any effort been ever made to disturb that settlement. He thought that it was an act of great rashness, of great political importance, and of great temerity, for the noble Lord now to attempt to disturb this compact, by proposing to repeal those oaths, for the purpose of substituting any other words with a view to the admission of Jews into that House. He knew how those great communities with which he was connected felt upon this subject. He knew how attached they were to the constitution, and with what regret they would view any change in the oaths taken by the Members of that House, because, in point of fact, they considered those oaths as the only security which this country possessed against the possible dangers of the Church of Rome. He stated that there was another object connected with this Bill. It was admitted that the main object of the Bill, which induced the noble Lord to run the risk of changing the oaths of the House, was to admit the Jews into Parliament. 923 He had frequently voted upon this subject, but he had never yet spoken upon it. He had never been able to give a vote in favour of the admission of the Jews. He was a Member of that House in 1829, when the question was brought forward with great ability by Mr. Robert Grant. He had opposed, on the first occasion of the subject being brought before the House, the admission of the Jews. Since that time the subject had been frequently discussed in that House, and in point of fact everything had probably been said upon both sides that could well be advanced upon the subject. But there was still a point to which he might be permitted to advert, which confirmed him in his intention to vote against the Bill. He was looking at a well-known essay of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay), who was admitted by all persons to be the most brilliant and able essayist that perhaps had ever written. He believed it was in one of those essays that the right hon. Gentleman argues this subject of the eligibility of Jews to serve as representatives in Parliament; but he thought that the right hon. Gentleman treated the subject with more of ridicule than of that solemnity with which it should be discussed. In thus treating the question in a spirit of ridicule the right hon. Gentleman committed an error of logic as well as of taste. He talks of a Christian Government with a degree of mockery, as if it were as essential to insist upon Christian cookery. The right hon. Gentleman then goes on to argue that we might as reasonably talk of compelling our cobblers to take the oath "upon the true faith. of a Christian" as to require our representatives in that House to take such an oath. Now, with all clue deference to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Macaulay), he thought that there was a very wide difference between a Member entering that House to maintain certain principles that were recognised by our constitution, and the position of a cobbler employed to make our shoes. If there be any ridicule imparted to this argument, it must attach to the right hon. Gentleman who was the original author of it. It was an ancient and reverent custom in that House to offer up prayers every day to the Supreme Being in the name of our common Redeemer. if persons went to that House who professed not to be Christians, and who thought that the Redeemer was an impostor and a cheat, he should not be surprised at seeing such 924 persons protesting against those prayers as being offensive to their feelings and their consciences. He could not conceive a greater offence to the religious feelings of the members and of the community generally than such a contingency as that arising. He might be told that this was impossible. He, however, said that nothing was impossible in reference to religious feelings and conscientious scruples. He had seen those conscientious scruples carried to a very menacing extent, and so constantly brought forward that he protested he thought nothing would be more probable than to see their prayers objected to from conscientious scruples if Jews were permitted to take part in the proceedings of Parliament. There were other circumstances connected with this question which equally demanded some observations, and which still further induced him to object to the abolition of the words in the oath "upon the true faith of a Christian." Still more did he object to such a change in the oaths as was proposed under the pretence of making the one oath applicable to all. He admitted that primâ facie it might be desirable to effect this object, but, in his opinion, the proposition was fraught with the most clangorous consequences. Inasmuch, then, as there had not been sufficient grounds shown for making the change proposed, he must vote for the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Stamford.
§ SIR JOSHUA WALMSLEY
said, there was one, and only one, of the sentiments uttered by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liverpool, who had just resumed his seat, in which he could concur, which was, that the Bill under consideration was mainly intended to enable the Jews to sit in Parliament, and thus to give to the people the opportunity of selecting those they deemed most fit to represent their interest in that House, whether Jew or Gentile. If this were the main purpose of the Bill, there was another equally important, that of placing every Member of the House on a perfect equality in respect to their religious creed when they had obtained a seat in the House. But there was a still greater benefit to be gathered from the Bill, the removal of that anomaly which was a means of offence to so large a portion of our fellow-subjects, by forcing Protestants to give the lie to the creed of their Roman Catholic fellow Christians in the oath which they took at the table of the House. He 925 thought that religious discussions ought to be avoided in that House, and if this were a purely religious question, he should not be found uttering a word upon it. He was persuaded that nothing could be worse than the continual introduction of religious controversy. It was alike destructive of good feeling and detrimental to the interests of the community. He had heard from both sides of the House that this was a great constitutional question, and he fully concurred in that view of the subject. If it were such it was most desirable that it should be viewed in a constitutional light. Hitherto it had not been so treated. Four times had the people returned a Jew to Parliament as their representative, and as often had that House refused to acknowledge his eligibility. In deference to the House of Lords that House had refused to proceed by Resolution, and admit Jews at once, as he believed they ought to have done. They had introduced four separate Bills on this subject. Now what had been the fate of those Bills? They had passed that House with large majorities. In the year 1848, in a House of 407 Members, the majority for the third reading was sixty-one; it was thrown out in the Lords. In 1849, another Bill was passed in the House of Commons by a majority of sixty-six. This Bill was also rejected in the Lords. In 1851 a similar fate overtook a Bill sent up to that House, although it passed the third reading in the Commons without a division. Again, last year, in a House of 518, there was a majority of fifty-eight in the Commons, but the Bill was again rejected in the Lords. If this were the great constitutional question which it was represented to be, he ventured to ask why the Government did not proceed to make it a Cabinet question and stake the fate of the Administration upon it? Were they to continue in such a course, and if so, to what length was courtesy to be carried? He was persuaded that if the Government would take the bold and manly course they would be supported by the people and sustained in that which he believed to be a just, expedient, and constitutional proceeding.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
* said, that the hon. Member for Leicester (Sir J. Walmsley), who had last spoken, had raised the fundamental issue involved in the present discussion, the real primary object of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, and of this Bill, and that was the admission of Jews into the Legislature of 926 this Christian country. The hon. Member invited the House to take this matter into its own hands, to legislate upon its own constitution by resolution, to ignore the House of Lords and the Crown, in short, to arrogate to itself an arbitrary power above the law. Such a power as this had never been assumed except by the Long Parliament, and that afforded a precedent which few would wish to see revived. Perhaps, professing the democratic views which the hon. Member was well known to hold, the hon. Gentleman might view such a precedent with less apprehension. But that the noble Lord the Member for London should have been tempted into a threat, that he would advise the House to break through all constitutional precedents, and to arrogate to itself an arbitrary authority, was indeed surprising. If, however, such a proposal were made, he was confident that there would be found, even upon the noble Lord's side of the House, too much constitutional feeling to admit of such a violation of the Constitution. The real question at issue was, whether the Parliament of this country shall retain its Christian character or not. This measure was another illustration of the inconsistency which had marked the public career of the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell), on all subjects connected with the Protestantism of the Constitution, ever since he seriously contemplated his now often-repeated attack upon the Christian character of the State. It had been amply shown to-night that, at different periods, the noble Lord had distinctly refused to alter the oaths in the most important particulars in which he now proposed to change them. He had been seen to guard the oath of supremacy. He had been known to refuse to alter the oath of abjuration. He had been heard to defend the oath taken by Roman Catholic Members, in the form in which it stood upon the Statute-book, at once the record and the result of the great compact by which individuals of that persuasion were allowed to participate in the legislation of the country. All this the noble Lord had been known to do; yet, to the surprise of every one, he now proposes to effect changes in these oaths, fraught with the utmost danger to our Protestant institutions. And why? Because he had been defeated in his successive attempts to induce the House of Lords to break through the Christian character of Parliament. The noble Lord, if he were not actually 927 conscious of the fact, must have a shrewd suspicion at least that in their determination to maintain the Christian character of the Legislature, the House of Lords was backed by the opinion of the country at large. If there were anything like a strong or general feeling on the part of the public in favour of the admission of Jews to seats in the Legislature, it would have found expression in public meetings and in petitions, but no such movement had rewarded the exertions of the Jewish partisans, though they had laboured for it these seven years. On the contrary, the people of England had manifested their distinct though tacit acquiescence in the righteous judgment of the House of Lords. He (Mr. Newdegate) could not help adverting to some of the inconsistencies into which the noble Lord had fallen since the year 1846, the date to which the noble Lord himself assigned his first having entertained this Jewish question; inconsistencies which were the inevitable result of the attempt to deprive the State of its Christian character, and of the pretence that this was compatible with the maintenance of the Protestant Constitution of this country; for Protestantism without Christianity was a mere negation. The Protestantism, whether it were that of an individual, of an assembly, or of a State, that was not Christian, was the mere denial of certain errors in a religion itself not believed; and thus, if not simply nugatory, tended to infidelity; for Protestantism was simply Christianity purified front the errors and corruptions of Popery. Let the House for a moment consider some of the inconsistencies and wanderings from the defence of the Protestant Constitution of this country, the real guarantee of the liberties of the people, into which his connection with this assault upon the Christian character of Parliament had led the noble Lord the Member for the City of Loudon (Lord J. Russell). In the year 1846, the noble Lord declared, much to the gratification as well as surprise of the Roman Catholic Members of that House, that it was perfectly absurd to refuse to Roman Catholic bishops the assumption of any titles or jurisdiction over any districts which they might be pleased to adopt. He did not wonder, therefore, that Roman Catholic Members should be surprised, and that the Court of Rome should feel itself deceived, when, in February, 1851, they found the noble Lord coming down to the House of Commons, after writing his 928 memorable epistle to the Bishop of Durham, to propose the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, and using these expressions—I certainly concluded, weakly it may be, that the Government of Rome, being a friendly Government, not being in hostility to this country, would never think it possible to create archbishops and bishops in this country, and to divide it into dioceses, without communicating at least the project to the Government of England. I did not believe it could be intended to insult the Queen. I may have been like the foolish Italian shepherd, who said—'Urbem, quam dicunt Roman, Melibœe, putavi,Stultus ego, huic nostræ similem.'I may have thought, most trustingly and imprudently, that the Court of Rome would observe such relations, such discretion, such courtesy in her conduct with the State of England, as all other States which are friendly observe towards each other, and as she herself has observed towards every other State of Europe."—[3 Hansard, cxiv. 193.]On that occasion the noble Lord made a speech which those who entertained the opinions he (Mr. Newdegate) professed, heartily rejoiced in; a speech fraught with sound constitutional principle, rife with a firm Protestant spirit, and the House responded to the appeal of the noble Lord by enacting the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill. Well, the noble Lord proceeded somewhat in the same course for some time. But at the commencement of the present Session he came down to the House, and proposed this measure in direct violation of the principles of the Ecclesiastical Titles Act, for the mere sake, as he (Mr. Newdegate) believed, of inducing the House to omit from the end of the oath the words, "on the true faith of a Christian," to which the Jew objected, but which were of the very essence of the oath, as an exposition of the doctrine that this Legislature was a Christian Legislature, and the representative of a Christian people, the basis of whose laws had been Christianity and Christian morality from time immemorial. He thought the House must be convinced, after the admirable speeches of the hon. and learned Member for Stamford (Sir F. Thesiger), and the hon. and learned Member for Dublin University (Mr. Napier), how extensive were the alterations now proposed to be made in the oaths, what great constitutional questions were thereby opened, and to what serious dangers these changes would, if adopted, expose the Protestant institutions of the country. It was said by some hon. Members that they 929 desired a uniform oath in order to put an end to religious discussions in that House. But, surely, if that House were the representatives of the opinions of the people, the popular opinion would find expression here upon every subject that created an interest out of doors, whether the oath was a uniform one or not. There could not be a more shallow view of human nature than to suppose that it was possible to rule or legislate for mankind without reference to religion. Man was not a mere animal; no, there was within him an immortal soul, and that immortal soul craved for religion, and would have a religion of some kind or other. If it had not true religion, it will make itself an idol, as did the nations of old. Religious differences were just as rife, aye, more rife, among these idolators than they are among Christians; they were far more bitter and more deadly, for they were not tempered by the mild spirit of true religion. Mankind will have religion, and will have religious differences, owing to the different constitution of their minds. The attempts of pseudo-philosophers to ignore religion and religious differences in legislation were as idle, and as futile, as had been the attempts of the Papacy for ages, by arbitrary power and cruelty, to crush the expression of these differences as to religion. It was idle, then, to suppose that by doing away with these safeguards they would suppress religious discussions within the walls of Parliament, unless, indeed, it was presumed that the constitution of the House was so to be changed that the feelings of the people were no longer to be represented there. He could not consider the Bill in any other light than that of a proposal calculated and intended to break down those Protestant safeguards of the Constitution, the citadel of our freedom, both religious and civil. A Sovereign of this country once made the following declaration, and it contained principles upon which some hon. Members probably desired that Her Most Gracious Majesty should act. He begged the attention of the House for a few moments to the language of that declaration—Our conduct," said the Sovereign, "has been such in all times as ought to have persuaded the world that we are firm and constant to our resolutions; yet, that easy people may not be abused by the malice of crafty, wicked men, we think fit to declare that our intentions are not changed since the 4th of April, 1687, when we issued out 930 our declaration for liberty of conscience in the following terms:—'HIS MAJESTY'S GRACIOUS DECLARATION TO ALL HIS LOVING SUBJECTS FOR LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE.'It having pleased Almighty God, not only to bring us to the Imperial Crowns of these kingdoms * * * We cannot but heartily wish, as it will easily be believed, that the people of our dominions were members of the Catholic Church. Yet we humbly thank Almighty God, it is, and long time bath been, our constant sense and opinion (which upon divers occasions we have declared), that conscience ought not to be constrained, nor people forced in matters of mere religion. It has ever been directly contrary to our inclination, as we think it is to the interest of Government, which it destroys by spoiling trade, depopulating countries, and discouraging strangers, and, finally, that it never obtained the end for which it was employed. * * * We, therefore, out of our princely care and affection unto all our loving subjects, that they may live at ease and quiet, and for the increase of trade, and the encouragement of strangers, have thought fit, by virtue of our Royal prerogative, to issue forth this our declaration of indulgence, making no doubt of the concurrence of our two Houses of Parliament, when we shall think it convenient for them to meet. * * * And forasmuch as we are desirous to have the benefit of the service of all our loving subjects, which, by the law of nature, is inseparably annexed to and inherent in our Royal person, and that none of our subjects may for the future be under any discouragement or disability (who are otherwise well inclined and fit to serve us), by reason of some oaths or tests that have been usually administered on such occasions, we do hereby further declare, that it is our Royal will and pleasure that the oaths commonly called the Oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance, and also the several tests and declarations mentioned in the Acts of Parliament made in the 25th and 30th years of the reign of our late Royal brother King Charles IL, shall not at any time hereafter be required to be taken, declared, or subscribed by any person or persons whatsoever, who is, or shall be, employed in any office or place of trust, either civil or military, under us or in our Government; and we do further declare it to be our pleasure and intention, from time to time hereafter, to grant our Royal dispensation under our Great Seal to all our loyal subjects so to be employed, who shall not take the said oaths or subscribe or declare the tests or declarations in the above-mentioned Acts, and every of them.'"—[A. Compleat Collection of State Tryals.—London, MDCCNIX., vol. iii. p. 742.]The friends of the abolition of all tests and the removal of all oaths could not, if they had invented it themselves; have a declaration more satisfactory to them than this. Let the House remember the circumstances under which this declaration was made, by whom it was made, and what were the consequences of making it. This was the declaration of King James II., the last Sovereign of these realms, who, being himself a Roman Catholic, dared openly to 931 avow his desire to bring back upon Protestant England the Papal tyranny, from which she had freed herself. For not reading this very declaration in the churches of this realm the seven bishops were brought to trial, in violation and contempt of the laws and the Constitution of the land. What was the result? James II. attempted to enforce the principles enunciated in his declaration, to break down the Christian and Protestant safeguards of the country, and to remove those very oaths: and James II. became a wandering exile from his home, and himself and his descendants proscribed, within little more than a year from the date of this declaration. What was the feeling which pervaded the country at that momentous period? Why, such was the feeling of the audience who heard the verdict of "not guilty" pronounced by the jury who tried the bishops, that it broke through the rules of that solemn court of justice in loud and hearty cheers. Those cheers were caught up from street to street, until they were echoed in the camp at Hounslow, where the King was dining in the midst of his officers and soldiers, of whom Marlborough was one. The King asked what that noise meant, and was told that it was nothing—only the soldiers cheering because the bishops were acquitted. "Call ye that nothing?" exclaimed the King; and good reason had he for thinking that no trifling circumstance, for the spirit which he had aroused, and which found expression in those cheers, sealed his doom as Sovereign of these realms, and sent him a wanderer and an exile from his native land. He (Mr. Newdegate) believed the people of England were of the same temper now, and that their silent acquiescence in the decision of the House of Lords against the repeated assaults of the noble Lord and his partisans, proved that they were contented that that assembly should stand before the world, as they had hitherto stood in this matter, the representative of the soundest, the best, the most religious, and, he thanked God, he believed the most powerful and influential portion of the community. The policy of which the Bill upon the table formed a part—this determination to tamper with and destroy the Christian and Protestant safeguards of the Constitution—was analogous to the policy which had been pursued by James II.; and if it should be persevered in, the consequences, it might fairly be presumed, would, though 932 perhaps not immediately, yet in the event prove not dissimilar. There was no fitting analogy in the history of this country, for the policy of those who formed the present Government in these matters, but with that of James II. James tampered with the Court of Rome, and tried to introduce a Papal Nuncio into this kingdom. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London had done the same, though the attempt was defeated by the opposition it encountered at the hands of the Duke of Wellington. James attempted to coerce the corporate freedom of the Universities; and his every Act in this respect was but too exactly reflected in the policy which characterised the present Government. Taking the policy of the present Government in these matters as a whole, he (Mr. Newdegate) believed that it was as repugnant to the people as was the policy of King James. He thought the House might judge how unacceptable was the present attempt to break through the Christian character of Parliament by the fact that, although the noble Lord had been seven years labouring to obtain popular support on this question, he had notoriously failed; whilst the House of Lords stood in the position of being the real representative of public opinion on the question, and so he believed that House would continue to be, as long as their Lordships had the good sense and courage to persevere in their defence of the Christian and Protestant character of our institutions. He trusted, therefore, that the House of Commons would not he misled into giving its support to the Bill of the noble Lord. It was a measure for which the noble Lord could not plead even the excuse of a pressure from without. It was a gratuitous insult to the Christian and Protestant people of England; they resented it deeply, though they were content to remain silent under the security which was afforded them by the House of Lords.
§ MR. MIALL
said, he was reminded by the present discussion of an anecdote of the Rev. Robert Hall, of whom it was said that he had piled so many books upon his head that his brain could not move. He thought that the House had had far too much legal and historical lore poured forth upon this subject. The Bill had caused him to ask himself this question: Would the doing away with the oaths in any way injure the Protestantism or Christianity of this country, and could they be regarded as 933 any security for what was called the Protestant and Christian character of the people? The Members of the House professing Dissenting opinions had been earnestly appealed to by the hon. and learned Member for Stamford (Sir F. Thesiger), who said that they should beware of following the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) on this occasion, and should consider whether the movement was not intended for the benefit of the Roman Catholics, and those members of the English Church who were separated from Roman Catholicism but by a thin wall of partition. But the support of the Dissenters depended entirely upon the question whether the proposition was or was not a reasonable and just one. If it were considered by them a reasonable one, and if it fell in with their sense of justice, it was not because it would be one of relief to the Roman Catholics or to Jews, or even to those "who were separated from Roman Catholicism but by a thin wall of partition," that they could refuse to agree to it. The Dissenters might have—indeed they had—very great differences of opinion respecting doctrine and ecclesiastical discipline with both these bodies; but that difference would not prevent them from doing an act of justice, or extending to other religionists relief where it ought to be granted. These oaths had been referred to by the hon. and learned Member for Stamford; he said that they constituted the essential defence of the Protestant institutions of the country, and he called them the bulwarks of our Protestant Constitution. The course the argument had taken on the other side would seem to indicate that our Protestant Constitution was in danger from the aggressions of the Pope of Rome, and that these oaths constituted the only security against them. Now, if there were any such danger, if the spiritual influence of the Roman Pontiff were upon the increase in this country, which he (Mr. Miall) did not believe, that danger would not be averted by the agency of political restrictions. The exaction of discriminating oaths at the table of that House appeared to him to be a very clumsy mode of obstructing spiritual influence. They might as well attempt to guard themselves against temptation and the suggestions of the evil one by shutting all their doors and windows; or to prevent their thoughts from wandering by placing themselves under a glass case. The essential and vital principle of Protestantism, as he understood it, 934 was the right of private judgment, and it was difficult to believe that the power, the potency, and the spiritual worth of that right could be best exemplified or secured by putting it in fetters, and by restricting its exercise within the narrow limits of an oath. He contended, further, that in resorting to such means of defence against Papal aggression, and for the security of Protestantism, they were not only adopting a proceeding which was idle and ineffective, but which was calculated to aggravate and intensify the very mischief they were designed to guard against. Not two centuries ago, the people of this country believed in witchcraft, and Church and State exerted their utmost power to crush it; but so long as they levelled against it the penalties of law, it was not too much to say that it was rendered a malignant and deadly power, and exercised a terrible influence over men's imaginations. The very remedies, such as Statutes, faggots and fires, incantations, and horse-shoes, in which our forefathers so long trusted for protection against witchcraft, kept up in men's minds a false idea of the evil they had to guard against. Now, in his (Mr. Miall's) conscience he believed that all the political efforts made by that House to resist Popery produced precisely the same results. Why should Protestants be so constantly fearful of their own religion? The Pope of Rome had no stronger auxiliary in this country than the terrified imaginations of weak-minded Protestants themselves. What had a healthy and manly Protestantism to fear from Roman Catholicism receiving a fair stage and no favour in this country? Abolish their restrictions and men's excitable minds would calm down on this subject. The anti-Popery furor which swept occasionally across the land, and blasted to the very roots all the kindlier charities of life and of religion, was a factitious excitement. It generally originated with some clergyman or preacher of distempered brain, who turned his thoughts and imagination to the study of unfulfilled prophecy, and the natural result of this was that he became light-headed, and seemed to descry evils as impending which no rational man could anticipate. The dark prognostic proved a good instrument in the hands of some political party, and newspapers and other publications on the subject were issued, which circulated largely among ladies' maids and aged gentlewomen. A clamour was thus got up and fed when any liberal 935 and comprehensive measure was brought before Parliament, and a cry was raised that our Protestant institutions were in danger. We were always falling back upon our own morbid fears and idle apprehensions, and even sensible men were bored and drilled into the half belief that the Pope would regain his ascendancy and the fires of Smithfield be relighted. It was high time for that House to withhold all encouragement from the raising of such miserable chimeras and phantoms. Were we afraid to trust our Protestantism and our Christianity to the deep convictions and earnest affections of the people of this country, or were we not? If we were not afraid, then why continue political restrictions in the shape of oaths? If we were afraid, and afraid with justice, too, then of what use would these oaths be? The House was now asked to relieve the consciences of men who were sent there to represent a portion of the population, in order that they might be able, freely and uncrippled, to exercise their powers to the best of their ability in making the laws of the country; and he said we had no right, from any apprehensions they entertained respecting this creed or that, to impose religious restrictions hurtful to the consciences of these representatives. On these grounds, he should give his most earnest and unqualified assent to the second reading of this Bill. He did not always agree with Her Majesty's Government respecting their ecclesiastical policy; but of this Bill every portion commended itself to his judgment, and he could contemplate all the consequences which hon. Gentlemen opposite to him had referred to as likely to result from it with perfect calmness and tranquillity.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
* said, it was a singular thing to hear it asserted, in the present day, that they were feeble-minded Protestants who framed the oaths then under discussion. If all persons were equally enlightened as the hon. Member who had just spoken, then the restrictions imposed by oaths might be unnecessary; but while human nature continued as it now existed, lie was satisfied that the general abstractions in which the hon. Gentleman indulged could not aid the House in arriving at a sound conclusion on the subject of their debate. In reference to the oath contained in the Emancipation Act of 1829, the noble Lord had declared, that whosoever should 936 propose its abolition would propose to remove the foundations of that measure. Therefore the noble Lord the Member for London, in proposing the Bill before the House, had reopened the largest questions which the House could be called upon to discuss—he had reopened a mighty question which had been discussed at the Reformation—he had opened questions which had been discussed at the Revolution—he had opened questions which had been settled at the period of Catholic emancipation. He wished to present to the House two sets of oaths, which ought to be considered in contrast, It would be impossible, otherwise, rightly to understand the principle at issue. Originally the Church of Rome did not exact oaths from its priests. In the eighth century an oath was first framed for the Romish clergy, and it was to the effect that they would preserve the unity of the Church by the purity of their lives, and would by that means exhibit the perfection of the Catholic religion. The Rev. Dr. O'Conor, author of the Life of Columbanus, and Librarian at Stowe, thus described the oath of the clergy at that early period. There was little objection to it. But, when Rome grew powerful, she also became political, and grasped at universal dominion. She well understood the effect of an oath upon the consciences of men—she well understood the effect, as Lord Bacon expressed it, of erecting a chair of state in the human mind; and she, therefore, endeavoured through the spiritual to rule the temporal. Dr. O'Conor attests that Thomas a'Becket first introduced into this country secretly the oath framed by Gregory VII. This oath he (Mr. Whiteside) would read, and then it would be for the House to say whether the oath framed to meet it ought to be repealed. Dr. O'Conor said that the Papal oath was not enforced upon ecclesiastics in Ireland until the reign of Elizabeth. He (Mr. Whiteside) would read it to the House, and they would see that it was a feudal obligation—an oath of fealty—an oath, in fact, which another Roman Catholic authority said had no equal in the annals of despotism. He would read it, filling in the blanks with the name of living ecclesiastics—I, John M'Hale, Archbishop elect of the Church of—,will be obedient to the See of St. Peter, the Holy Roman Church, and to our Lord, Pius IX., and is successors.937 It would be seen that it was an oath of fealty; the oath of allegiance to a Sovereign was taken in similar words. The next passage was—I will neither advise, consent, or do anything that they may lose life or member, or that their persons may be seized, or hands anywise laid on them, or injuries offered to them under any pretence whatsoever. The counsel which they shall entrust me withal, by themselves, their messengers, or letters, I will not knowingly reveal to any to their prejudice. I will help them to defend and keep the Roman Papacy and the royalties of St. Peter, saving my order, against all men.He (Mr. Whiteside) had read much upon the subject of the royalties of St. Peter; but it would require, not only a very learned man, but a great casuist also—he wished the Chancellor of the Exchequer were present—to explain what they meant. The oath proceeded—The Legate of the Apostolic See, going and coming, I will honourably treat and help in his necessities. The rights, honours, privileges, and authority of the Holy Roman Church, of our Lord the Pope, and his foresaid successors, I will endeavour to preserve, defend, increase, and advance. I will not be in any counsel, action, or treaty, in which shall be plotted against our said Lord, and the said Roman Church, anything to the hurt or prejudice of their persons, right, honour, state, or power; and if I shall know any such thing to be treated or agitated by any whatsoever, I will hinder it to my power, and as soon as I can will signify it to our said Lord, or to some other by whom it may come to his knowledge. The rules of the holy fathers, the apostolic decrees, ordinances, or disposals, reservations, provisions, and mandates, I will observe with all my might, and cause to be observed by others. I will come to a council when I am called, unless I be hindered by a canonical impediment. I will, by myself in person, visit the threshold of the apostles every ten years, and give an account to our Lord and his aforesaid successors of all my pastoral office, and of all things anywise belonging to the state of my church, to the discipline of my clergy and people, and, lastly, to the salvation of souls committed to my trust; and will, in like manner, humbly receive and diligently execute the apostolic commands. And if I be detained by a lawful impediment I will perform all the things aforesaid by a certain messenger hereto specially empowered—a member of my chapter, or some other in ecclesiastical dignity, or else having a parsonage, or, in default of these, by a priest of the diocese, or, in default of one of the clergy (of the diocese), by some other secular or regular priest of approved integrity and religion, fully instructed in all things above mentioned.That oath Henry VIII. discovered; but the Roman Catholic prelates had since then got expunged from it the words pledging them to the persecution of schismatics, heretics, and rebels to the Church.
938 The history of that omission was this2—a Russian bishop, elected Bishop of Mohilow, in 1785, who was a Christian as well as an ecclesiastic, came to read over this oath, and stopped short at the passage in question. He brought it under the notice of the Empress, and communications were immediately forwarded to Rome on this subject. The result was the omission of the persecuting passage. Such was the oath—the oath taken to a feudal superior—which the Act of Supremacy was framed to meet. Since then a curious passage had been added to it as a varnish, to this effect—And such impediment I will make out, by lawful proofs, to be transmitted by the foresaid messenger to the cardinal proponent of the Holy Roman Church in the congregation of the Sacred Council. The possessions belonging to my table I will neither sell nor give away, nor mortgage, nor grant anew in fee, nor anywise alienate—no, not even with the consent of the chapter of my church, without consulting the Roman Pontiff. All and every of these things I will observe the more inviolably, as being certain that nothing is contained in them which can interfere with the fidelity I owe to the most Serene King of Great Britain and Ireland, and to his successors to the Throne. So help me God, &c.The Pope had dictated that oath; the Pope had dictated also that final passage. What happened on its introduction to this country? Dr. Walsh said that this oath had been communicated to Henry VIII. by Dr. Cromwell. Now Henry VIII. had a legal mind—The secret of this oath (says Father Walsh)—for by the bishops themselves it was a long time kept secret, lest their respective Princes might be startled at it—being discovered by Dr. Cromwell to Henry VIII., was the first grand occasion that resolute Prince took to fall heavily on the clergy of his dominions, and by degrees lessen their dependence on the Pope, till at last he utterly cut it off root and branch.This account agrees with the King's own words to the Speaker, as given by Bishop Burnet—He found upon inquiry that all the prelates, whom he had looked upon as wholly his subjects, were but half subjects; for at their consecration they swore an oath quite contrary to the oath they swore to the Crown; so that it seemed they were the Pope's subjects rather than his, which he referred to the cure of the Commons, that such order might be taken in it that the King might not be deluded.Now, the word in the oath of supremacy that he desired to press upon the notice of the House, and which appeared to puzzle the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) 939 most, was the word "jurisdiction." The Pope asserted ecclesiastical jurisdiction within the realm—we denied it—impliedly by the oath of allegiance, which meant undivided allegiance—expressly by the oath of supremacy, which was consequently the just exposition of the oath of allegiance. The oath taken by the Roman Catholic prelates to the Pope was in conflict with our solemn obligations. What were the sentiments of Sir J. Throckmorton, a lay Roman Catholic, concerning the oath imposed on the prelates of his Church? This gentleman, of an ancient and honourable Roman Catholic family, has spoken freely and wisely upon the subject—In regard," he says, "to the fealty or allegiance which, at his consecration, each bishop promises to the Pope, if it mean anything, it means too much; if nothing, it is absurd, and degrades a solemn ceremony. This episcopal oath, as it is called, found its way into the Church in feudal times, when the Roman bishops, in imitation of other Princes, viewed themselves as Sovereign Lords, and all churchmen as their vassals. The bishop, therefore, did homage in the hands of the consecrator, the supposed representative of His Holiness; but as the days of feudal slavery have passed away, why has not this oath passed with them? Its language evidently denotes its feudal origin. Let there be no more of this. The whole oath gives umbrage to every thinking man, and should, therefore, be expunged; words void of meaning dishonour the lips that utter them. It should not, however, be concealed that the Court of Rome views them in another light, and will surrender no more of this feudal oath unless urged to it by the irresistible demands of Government.And if the British Government desired to give satisfaction to the British people, the first duty of that Government ought to have been to have required an abandonment of what binds the consciences, actions, and conduct of the entire body of Roman Catholic prelates in this country to the Pope, and not to abolish the security which was adopted as a defensive measure against that feudal oath. Now what was the oath of the priest? Let it be observed the archbishops and bishops were bound to the Pope—the priests were bound to the bishops, and the whole system was moved, and capable of being moved, by one word of the Pope. This was the oath of the priest—I acknowledge that the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Rome is the mother and mistress of all Churches, and do promise true obedience to the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, the vicar of Christ, and to all things defined and declared by the holy canons.Those were the expressions of the oath, 940 and being so, what did they find? Did the Pope of Rome claim jurisdiction over this country? Though the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Miall) and others might deride the usurpation, the House was bound to look to facts. In the State Trials it was proved that a priest had affixed a bull of Pope Pius V. to the gates of the palace of the Bishop of London, excommunicating Queen Elizabeth; and was it to be wondered, therefore, that their ancestors should devise securities to repel Papal usurpation, and preserve to the Sovereign of England complete and undisputed sway in her dominions? The noble Lord argued that the oath of supremacy was included in the oath of allegiance. The noble Lord said that was the natural exposition of the words of the oath—the oath of allegiance meaning, as he said, undivided allegiance, would exclude the temporal and spiritual authority of the Pope. If this were so, why should any loyal man refuse to take the oath of supremacy? The right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), addressing the Presbyterians, asked them to agree with him in his extraordinary reading of this oath. Now, at the time of the Revolution, the oath was altered for the purpose of satisfying the consciences of the Presbyterian body, and also of the Dissenting body, the King's advisers saying, that no good subject would object to deny that any foreign Potentate or Prelate had jurisdiction in these realms. The very objection taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his mysterious speech was the strongest argument in favour of retaining the oath of supremacy, and he did not think the right hon. Gentleman could count on the vote of a constitutional Whig on the question of abolishing this oath, when it was known that the oath was altered to suit the consciences of all honest men, and that it was recorded solemnly on the Bill of Rights. If the noble Lord could prove that what he would call the ridiculous pretensions of the Papacy were laid aside, and that the Pope no longer claimed jurisdiction over these realms, then a plausible case would have been made out for the abolition of the oath. Let them read the history of Ireland. Let them see what were the pretensions of the Pope in Ireland, and then seriously ask themselves if those pretensions were laid aside. Did the Pope lay aside his pretensions in the times of George I., George II., and George III.? Were 941 those pretensions not asserted undeviatingly? And even when the last of the Stuarts died did not a tomb in the Vatican record that he died King of England, and thus deny that the then lawful Sovereign was King of England? Therefore, it would he seen the Popes claimed, to the last, jurisdiction—they asserted that jurisdiction at the Revolution, and they assert it still. But let them look to smaller things—let them look at the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill—a Bill which he did not admire, but valued as a protest against the Pope's pretensions. If it meant anything, it meant to deny the Pope's jurisdiction, although the right hon. Gentleman (the First Lord of the Admiralty) affirmed at the time, that the noble Lord's Bill was a declaration of war against the Roman Catholic community in this country. But now the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord had apparently accommodated their differences, and were found ranged on the same side in support of the attempt to remove the oath of supremacy, which was, in fact, a perpetual protest against all acts of Papal aggression—a general, constant, and standing protest on the part of this Protestant country against the assertion that the Pope "hath, or ever had, or ought to have, any jurisdiction in these realms." He insisted that the Pope never had the jurisdiction he laid claim to. It was a singular thing that there was no copy of Coke's writings in the library, but from Coke's Reports he would quote an example to prove that the Pope never had jurisdiction in these realms. In the reign of Edward I., a subject was tried for high treason, and sentenced to be hanged, and very properly so, for publishing a bull of the Pope's excommunicating another subject of the realm, and this was a crime by the ancient common law of England. The Lord Treasurer interfered in his favour, on the ground of his ignorance of the law that it was an offence to publish in this country bulls or mandates of the Pope sought to be enforced against subjects of these realms. Now, what did the noble Lord think of the jurisdiction recently exercised by the Pope in Ireland, with reference to the provincial colleges? The British Parliament passed an Act establishing those colleges. The Pope of Rome declared against them, and the hon. Member for Meath pronounced a sensible comment on that proceeding. The hon. Member for Meath said the 942 Act of Parliament in opposition to a Papal decree was not worth a tenpenny nail; thus, the House had no jurisdiction to pass such an Act because the Pope had said so, and the Pope was infallible in the exercise of his jurisdiction. There was a book written by a professor in Maynooth College, Dr. Murray, in which he found this distinction was taken. Dr. Murray says—The civil power is restricted, first, by the law of nature; secondly, by the positive Divine law. By the Divine law. Hence a Bill of divorce quoad vinculum, on the ground of adultery, is so far invalid, and of no effect. Hence also a prohibition against the introduction of bulls or other documents emanating from the Holy See, on purely spiritual matters, would be invalid. For the Sovereign Pontiff has, by Divine right, authority to teach the faithful everywhere, and to legislate for them.Apply this doctrine to the clauses in the Emancipation Act, in which the Legislature condemns and expels the order of Jesuits: a Papal Bull establishes them. The Statute is void; the Papal Bull is to prevail. Where, when, or how had the Pope abandoned his claim of jurisdiction? The noble Lord stated that those reasons, originally of force, no longer applied. The noble Lord, however, did not venture to give them a reason within his power—namely, on the subject of education. Now, on that subject, in which the House took so much interest, what were the sentiments of the same learned professor? He puts the case of the Queen's Colleges in Ireland. Having stated the circumstances of their origin, he asks "whether the system can be simply accepted or submitted to, or accepted conditionally, or for a time?"The answer to this question (he writes) will be collected from, or rather contained in, the specific and distinct decision of the Sovereign Pontiff, if any such decision should have emanated from the Holy See. The right of the Church to decide on such a question is, as I shall also show hereafter, certain, supreme, and exclusive.It was thus distinctly asserted that Parliament had no jurisdiction on the subject of education. The Pope claimed that jurisdiction. That he proved, not by reference to old books of musty divinity, but by the authority of documents fresh from the Papal mint—by modern declarations and by acts. If, then, the Papal power still maintained its claim of jurisdiction, be wished to hear why we should abandon our protest against that jurisdiction—why a principle which had existed 943 for centuries, which was established at the Reformation, which was confirmed at the Revolution, and was the charter of our liberties up to this present hour, should now be abandoned? He would next apply himself to another part of this curious Bill—that part which dealt with the Roman Catholic oath. The noble Lord said that oath was the foundation of the Act of 1829. He (Mr. Whiteside) would admit the importance of the question of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who asked, ought Roman Catholics to be limited or controlled in any way in the exercise of their rights as Members of that House? What did that question raise? It raised the whole question of Roman Catholic emancipation. Now, he warned Ministers, whatever might be their Opinion, that this great question could not and would not be determined by fluctuating majorities of that House. If the people of this Protestant country were told there was no security for the fulfilment of those conditions which Sir Robert Peel and the Duke of Wellington had imposed—if they were told likewise that the oath of supremacy was to be abolished by the agency of Her Majesty's Government, then they might be sure that the people of England would give, and would have a right to give, a decided opinion on the expediency of such perilous innovations. It was quite mournful to hear the question debated as a question of political morality. In one of the petitions for emancipation it was stated by the Roman Catholic petitioners, grant us but the privileges we ask, and we will give you every security that can be given by man. The House should remember the arguments of Plunket, Grattan, and others. They reasoned over each clause of the Roman Catholic oath in the Act 33 Geo. III.—they told the House that Roman Catholics respected oaths, and that the Protestants of England might grant emancipation to them, as they would faithfully keep the oaths they took. The Roman Catholics did not seek to be admitted to Parliament otherwise than to a Parliament under a Protestant Constitution. They said, frame oaths in that spirit and we will keep them. It had been said in that House that Sir Robert Peel was the author of Catholic emancipation. He denied it. That statesman sat unmoved by the brilliant eloquence of Grattan and the triumphant logic of Plunket. It was Mr. O'Connell that terrified Sir Robert Peel into passing the Bill. To the misfortune of his country, 944 Sir Robert Peel refused to listen to the warning voices, and to adopt the well-considered suggestions of Grenville, Grattan, and of Plunket. Sir Robert Peel drew a Bill that was to give peace. He framed an oath to give security—an oath which his followers, who profess to revere his memory, without a blush were now ready to repeal. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) appeared to be only consistent in inconsistency. The right hon. Gentleman at one time spoke against the Jew's Bill because it did away with the words of the oath, "on the faith of a Christian." Now, the right hon. Gentleman was going to vote for the abolition of those words and of the oath of supremacy, and, in doing so, would descend from the lofty pedestal on which he had placed himself, with dignity and grace. The right hon. Gentleman also said the Roman Catholic oath was absurd; and, in saying that, the right hon. Gentleman asserted that his great master, Sir Robert Peel, was an incapable politician. But this was incorrect. Sir Robert Peel framed the oath, and it was wisely and considerately framed, and, in condemning it, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had not done justice to his own sound Protestant feeling.
The right hon. Gentleman declared that the words of the Roman Catholic oath framed by Sir Robert Peel were inconsistent—were unmeaning. It followed that the oath was a great mark of Sir Robert Peel's incapacity; for surely that eminent statesman never meant treachery by the Protestants of England. In his (Mr. Whiteside's) opinion, the oath was framed with consummate ability. As the oath was first framed, the Roman Catholic was called upon to swear that he would not pull down the Protestant Establishment, in order to set up the Roman Catholic in its stead. But when Sir Robert Peel came to reflect upon the terms of that oath, he saw that the words would not restrain the Roman Catholic from attempting to pull down the Protestant Establishment, if only he did not endeavour to erect a Roman Catholic Establishment in its stead; and, therefore, he framed the oath in positive terms, calling upon the Roman Catholics to swear that they would not subvert the present Church Establishment as settled by law within this realm. What could be more plain than this oath, which left opinion free, but which bound the conduct? Yet this was the oath which the right hon. Gentleman declared 945 he could not understand. He did not know what was meant by the settlement of property—the Church established by law—the Protestant institutions and the Protestant Government of the country. I trust that speech of the right hon. Gentleman will be remembered by the people of England. It was a speech which, from the beginning to the end, was based upon the assumption that the oath of supremacy was not intelligible—that oath which was framed by as able, as patriotic, and as noble-minded men as ever wielded the destinies of England. But they had no skill in that science in which the right hon. Gentleman is so eminently versed. The right hon. Gentleman said he did not know what it was argued that Sir Robert Peel meant by the settlement of property. Did he know what the Church Establishment meant? Did he know what the Protestant Government of this country meant? Was it possible that his illustrious Friend (Sir Robert Peel) should have framed an oath that was absolutely worthless—so worthless that the right hon. Gentleman threw contempt upon the understanding of any man who attempted to give a rational interpretation to that oath? He (Mr. Whiteside) once heard a very curious sermon. It was delivered on the Quirinal, in the presence of the Pope and the College of Cardinals, and the preacher sketched the prospects of the Church of Rome in various countries. When he came to England, he pronounced a high eulogium upon the University of Oxford. He said that in that University there were men of great learning, and of eminent ability; but what was still more, they were devoted in their adherence to the Papacy. He said they had done more by their speeches and by their writings for the spread of opinions favourable to the re-establishment of the Roman Catholic religion in England, than had been done since the horrible period of the Reformation. Now he so far agreed with that sermon, that he had no trust in the school to which the right hon. Gentleman belonged, and he would tell him plainly why. The right hon. Gentleman derided the oaths which were framed for the preservation and the protection of the Constitution—which were established at the Reformation, and confirmed at the Revolution. The right hon. Gentleman was for abolishing all these oaths, because he said they were of no use; thus proving the correctness of the estimate formed by 946 the preacher to whom he had referred. The same argument would hold good for abolishing the oath of allegiance, and the coronation oath, because, if a man were a rebel in his heart, of what use would an oath be to bind him to the Sovereign, or the Sovereign to him? What follows from all this? Sanctioned by the high authority of the right hon. Gentleman, he saw no reason why the Roman Catholic Members of this House might not stand up and say, we are released from the obligations which once restrained us, and we shall vote away the Church Establishment. He would now come to the question as it regarded the Jews. He believed that was a very small part of the present debate. His own opinion was that the noble Lord had dragged their case into this Bill to ensure its defeat. He would ask, if this Bill passed, might not Baron Rothschild become Prime Minister of England? If so, might he not give away the bishoprics of the Protestant Church? Might he not become Lord Chancellor? If so, might he not give away the livings of the Church? Might he not become a Judge in the Ecclesiastical Courts? And, if so, might he not sit in judgment, and decide upon questions connected with the faith and discipline of the Protestant Church? The Bill of last year excluded the Jew from certain political offices, and from being appointed Judge of Ecclesiastical Courts, and from advising the Sovereign in the disposal of the patronage of the Church. This Bill contained no such restrictions, and he believed it was never intended by the Ministry to pass. In voting against the Jew, he would do it with regret; but, with his present convictions, he must decide against him. But he had no prejudice against the distinguished person who naturally desired the honour of a seat in this House. His objection was, that according to his reading of the Constitution of this country, Christianity was the law, the law was Christianity. It had been so held by men as able and as gifted as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He (Mr. Whiteside) could not yield up what he had been taught by the wisdom of Fortescue, by the learning of Coke, by the deep thoughts of Hale, even to the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman. But, as he said, he had no ill will to the hon. Gentleman who was seeking a seat in this House. That Gentleman belonged to a race, ancient, indestructible, intellectual, and he could not believe that 947 they were to be for ever alienated from the faith of God. He trusted that the hon. Gentleman would yet sit in the House as a Christian; and happy would he be to see him amongst them, maintaining those safeguards of liberty, those admirable provisions for the safety of the Church, the Protestant religion, and our national independence, which it was the object of the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), and the present Ministry, without reason to destroy.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, I have certainly beheld to-night a somewhat novel spectacle, considering that the House is engaged in a discussion on the subject of the admission of Jews to take a seat in Parliament. The part which I have taken in this matter is simply this—the House of Lords having several times rejected Bills which have passed this House for the purpose of the admission of Jews into Parliament, I thought it might be as well to put together the various provisions of those Bills—[Laughter]—and to propose that the House should enact that, without any religious disability whatever, persons elected by the electors of this country should take their seats by taking an oath framed in conformity with the principles of religious liberty. [Cheers.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to think that this is a very ridiculous thing. Such, however, has been the simple course which I have felt it my duty to pursue. This, however, is at least apparent, that on every former debate we have heard that Christians are united, and that there is one character which pervades all denominations of Christians, while the Jews are a totally separate race, and are so much divided from all Christians that it is impossible to admit them to take a seat in this House. The character of Christianity, it used to be said, was broad and simple, and that that character was to be found in all the Members of this House. But instead of such language having been held on the present occasion, what I have seen has been this—that the very name of Jew has been almost entirely omitted from the debate, and that, instead thereof, the differences prevailing between Protestant and Catholic have formed the whole staple of the speeches which have been delivered by hon. Gentlemen to-night. Now, if facts and history did not support me, I should be deterred from asking the House to confirm the second reading of the Bill by the denunciations which have been uttered by 948 the hon. and learned Member for Stamford (Sir F. Thesiger) and by the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier). The hon. and learned Member for Stamford says, here is an Act passed in the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth—that wise Princess—containing an oath framed for the security of Protestantism; and he then asks, is it possible that that oath, so sacred, and one which more than three centuries ago was enacted by the wisdom of that great Princess, surrounded and aided by the many able statesmen of the age, who formed her councillors, can be abrogated? Well, Sir, I might, I say, have felt some hesitation—alarmed at the hon. and learned Gentleman's denunciations touching that oath, had I not the consolation of knowing that that oath was totally defeated by an Act of Parliament passed at the time of the Revolution, so that I cannot be guilty of altering that oath, because another set of our wise ancestors—namely, William III. and his councillors—thought proper totally and entirely to repeal that oath which had been enacted by Queen Elizabeth and her Parliament. Then came the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin, and he says—"Here is an oath enacted by the wisdom of King William III. and Lord Somers,—surely you will not attempt to alter that." The reasons so strongly urged by the right hon. and learned Gentleman might have induced me to hesitate and pause, were it not that, in the time of George IV., in the tenth year of that King's reign, that oath, so enacted by the wisdom of William III. and his statesmen, was entirely altered, and that those very persons whom it was intended by that oath to exclude from Parliament were admitted to Parliament by the said Act of George IV. So that the two Acts which I am accused of touching with an irreverent hand—the Act of Elizabeth, that wise Princess, and the Act of William III. and his wise councillors—are Acts that are dead, and do not now exist on the Statute-book; so that, having been slain already, it is impossible for me to kill them a second time. Now, Sir, this last piece of legislation—the admission of Roman Catholics to Parliament by the 10th of George IV.—does seem to me either to answer the arguments of hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite, or to place the debate upon a totally different foundation. They say, is it possible that, consistently with the Act of King William, 949 Roman Catholics can be admitted to Parliament? Here, say they, is the security of that oath by which ecclesiastical and spiritual jurisdiction is denied to any foreign prince or potentate; well, that was intended to exclude Roman Catholics. But, Sir, the Act of Parliament to which I have referred—the Catholic Emancipation Act—exempts Roman Catholics from those provisions; and those words, "ecclesiastical and spiritual," for their sakes, for their benefit, and in indulgence to their scruples, are omitted in the oath. Why, Sir, one of two consequences must follow—either all the declamation which I have been listening to for hours must be totally out of place, or else this consequence must follow,—that hon. Gentlemen opposite are now disposed to reverse the policy of the Emancipation Act, and are prepared to affirm that no person ought to be permitted to take a seat in this House unless he has taken the oath prescribed by the Act of King William III., and that Roman Catholics ought to be excluded. Indeed, the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin has actually said that if a person does not conform to the oaths which are enacted by the Bill of Rights he has no business to a seat in this House. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman mean by his allusion to the Bill of Rights these oaths? Does he mean the oath of supremacy? If he does mean that, then he must necessarily mean to deny the right of a Roman Catholic to a seat in this House. But if he does not mean that, then his argument has no bearing on the subject of this debate. Now mark what it is that I am accused of doing. We have heard from the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down that the oath of 1829 was framed with consummate ability. Now, what have I done? I have taken the very words which are applied to Roman Catholics by the Act of 1829, and I have put them into the oath which I have inserted in this my Bill. The oath of supremacy was altered for the purpose I have stated. Well, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Stamford (Sir F. Thesiger) calls those words "a lame and mutilated declaration," while the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier) calls them "weak and washy words." So that at one moment those words were framed with consummate ability, according to the reading of the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside), 950 and do great honour to the wisdom of Sir Robert Peel, and the next moment they are termed "lame and mutilated," "weak and washy," and it is exceedingly wrong in me to adopt them. What I have proposed to do is to take words which all Members of this House could adopt. The persons against whom these words were particularly framed, against whom they were intended to be a bar and a security, were the Roman Catholics; but you have admitted the Roman Catholics. Why, then, should you not take the words which you have allowed to be sufficient for the Roman Catholics, and let the Protestants, against whom you do not wish for a security, be admitted by those same words? You do not want a security against Protestants. These words "ecclesiastical or spiritual" were intended as a security against Roman Catholics; and yet you say you are ready to give up these words as far as regards those persons against whom you wish for a security; but, with regard to men against whom you do not want a security, you will keep the words as a great safeguard of the Constitution. Consider what the Protestants of this country are as a community. They do not want to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Pope—they do not want to have the tribunals of the Pope in this country—they do not defer to the authority of the Pope with regard to marriage, or to any other transaction of civil life, and therefore it is quite unnecessary, in addition to all the security you have in their daily life, in their worship upon every Sunday, in their social practice upon every week-day, to ask for any security from them that they are ready to protest against a foreign interference. They show that no such security is wanted. Here are a set of persons whom you did not admit, against whom you thought it right to take bail—to take security—because you said they were not to be trusted. Well, now, you find that those persons are to be trusted, your suspicions, whether they were well founded or not, are at any rate over; you no longer require to take bail against those persons, but you say with regard to all the rest of the community, "I will take bail against them, and if suspected persons are not to be subjected to any restraint, it will, at least, be a great satisfaction to me to put that restraint upon those who are not suspected." The arguments which have been used have turned so much upon the various proposals that I have made, that I am obliged to 951 speak somewhat upon the general purposes which I have had in view. Now, it appears to me that an oath is a very solemn proceeding. I cannot think that it ought to be taken lightly—I cannot think that Judges, and Bishops, and Members of the House of Lords and of the House of Commons ought to declare, in the presence of God, that which is a futile and unnecessary declaration. That seems to me to be a degree of levity which ought not to be permitted. But what is this declaration—what is this oath? It is in these words—I do solemnly and sincerely declare that I do believe in my conscience that not any of the descendants of the person who pretended to be Prince of Wales during the life of the late King James II., and since his decease pretended to be, and took upon himself the style and title of King of England, by the name of James III., or of Scotland, by the name of James VIII., or the style and title of King of Great Britain, hath any right or title whatsoever to the crown of this realm, or any other the dominions thereunto belonging; and I do renounce, refuse, and abjure any allegiance or obedience to any of them. So help me God.At the end of this oath you say, "So help me God." You make use of the solemn form of an oath to renounce your allegiance to a certain person, when every one of you knows perfectly well that there is no such person in existence to claim that allegiance from any one in this country. Then, as if in order to complete the absurdity, the hon. and learned Gentleman who last spoke said he had seen at Rome the tomb where the last of the Stuarts was buried—which, I believe, was put up at the expense of His late Majesty George IV.—and yet he thinks that the person who is buried there is a most formidable pretender, to guard against whom we ought to keep up this solemn form of oath. Can we not allow this oath to be buried in that very tomb in which the last of the Stuarts has been placed? The Stuarts were a very false, a very treacherous, a very tyrannical race; I am very glad that they were ejected from these realms; I am very glad that none of the descendants of James II. ever came back to claim any right to the government of this country. But, really, now that they are all departed, it is not necessary that every Bishop, every Judge, every Peer, every Member of the House of Commons should go through the form of taking this oath. Then, we go on to the oath which is taken by Roman Catholics. I will come afterwards to the question as to the oath of supremacy. The person taking that oath declares— 952That it is not an article of my faith, and that I denounce, reject, and abjure the opinion, that Princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope, or any other authority of the See of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or by any person whatsoever.The hon. and learned Gentleman said that I left these words in the Bill of 1852, the Bill for amending the representation of the people. I did leave those words in the Bill, with the exception of the word "murdered," which I thought was very insulting; but I really do not think that this paragraph is of any use when we are framing what I hope will be a very simple oath, which every Member of this House, whatever may be his religious persuasion, will be able to take. I do not think it is worth while to keep up any reference to those doctrines, which, whatever the hon. and learned Gentleman may say, I do not believe at this time form part of the Roman Catholic religion. The oath then goes on to say—I do swear that I will defend to the utmost of my power the settlement of property within this realm, as established by the laws.Upon that part of the subject I will not attempt to add anything to what was said by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the eloquent speech which he to-night addressed to the House, and which I trust, as the hon. and learned Gentleman who last spoke has said, will receive that attention throughout the country which it is so well calculated to create. But then we come to these words—And I do hereby disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure any intention to subvert the present Church Establishment as settled by law within this realm.Now, these words were, no doubt, inserted in 1829 with the view of their forming a security for the Protestant Church Establishment; but let us consider a little in what sense oaths of this kind ever give you any security at all. When men are disposed to do a certain act, when they feel that there is an obligation upon them which they may fairly be called upon to perform, the enforcing of an oath, the taking God to witness to the truth of what they are about to say, and to their willingness to perform a certain act, no doubt gives a very solemn sanction to what they declare, and does, I think, give a security which the community has a right to ask and upon which it may depend. For instance, a man relating some transactions which may afterwards become the subject of a criminal process among his friends, or 953 at a dinner table, may state the circumstances loosely and carelessly, he may mix up with what he has himself seen and knows perfectly well other circumstances which he believes from having heard them, but for which he has no very solemn authority. That same man, when he is summoned into a court of justice as a witness upon a criminal trial, will properly be called upon to swear that he will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and under that obligation, and in that presence, he will take care to relate only that which he is sure that he has seen and that be knows to be true, and he will disregard those circumstances which in a careless moment he had introduced into a narrative related among friends. Thereby you gain the great object for which you imposed an oath upon him. So likewise with regard to the duty of allegiance, which all Members of Parliament, and others who are required to take this oath, feel themselves, as I trust, called upon to perform, this duty being solemnly called to their mind, the taking of an oath by them gives an additional security for the performance of it; but it is a very different thing when you ask men to undertake a duty which is contrary to an obligation that they believe is imposed on them by some other duty, and which, under those circumstances, they may find themselves unable to perform. Now, Sir, in looking at this Act, a remarkable circumstance occurs to me, which is an illustration of what I have just said. In the beginning of the reign of Charles II. our ancestors thought they would frame some provision by which an insurrection, such as that which had distinguished the civil war, should be prevented, by which men should bind themselves not to take arms against the Sovereign, and not to use, as the leaders of the popular party had done in the time of Charles I., the name of the Sovereign against his person; and, accordingly, an oath was framed which underwent, I think, seventeen days' debate in the House of Lords, in these words—I, A. B., declare that it is not lawful upon any pretence whatsoever to take arms against the king, and that I do abhor that traitorous position of taking arms by his authority against his person, or against those who are commissioned by him.The terms of this oath were very much debated, and, during the debates upon it, Lord Halifax, with his usual point and 954 wit, said what never has been, and, I think, never can be, answered. He said—An oath of this kind will give you no security; if every man in this town had taken a solemn oath not to break into his neighbour's house and not to commit robbery, no man, for that reason, would leave his doors unbolted.This was the saying of Lord Halifax, as able and witty a man, perhaps, as any of those who took part in the debates at that period. Now what followed? The oath was enacted, the first clause of the Bill was framed by a majority of those who at that time governed, and it provided that it was not lawful upon any pretence whatever to take arms against the King. James II., in the opinion of all the people of this country, of Whigs as well as of Tories, violated the conditions upon which alone he ought to be allowed to reign. Both parties took arms against him, this oath was totally disregarded; by means of the arms which they had taken against him they dethroned him, and one of the first Acts of William III. contains a clause by which the oath was totally repealed. Such is the security of an oath against that which men feel to be their duty. The men of that day felt it to be their duty to oppose James II. by arms, they felt it to be their duty to dethrone him, and they were not deterred from doing their duty even by an oath which had been framed with such infinite care after seventeen days' debate in the House of Lords. Much the same thing is applicable to this oath with regard to the Church Establishment in Ireland. I do not know how Roman Catholics in general understand it, but this I know, that with one or two exceptions of Roman Catholic Members, who thought it was their duty to abstain from every vote whatever in which ecclesiastical questions might be involved, all the Roman Catholic Members who have thought it would be for the benefit of Ireland, that the revenues of the Church Establishment in that country should be entirely taken away, have had no scruple or hesitation in giving their votes accordingly. How they understood the oath it is not for me to say. I remember that, upon one occasion, Mr. O'Connell explained that he did not mean to apply the oath to the revenues, but to the doctrine, discipline, and government of the Church, and that he did not wish to interfere with its doctrine, discipline, or government. In the first place, I know that this oath gives you no security against 955 those who are disposed to vote away the revenues of the Established Church of Ireland. I remember further, that Lord Stanley, the present Earl of Derby, rose in his place at that time, I believe upon this side of the House, and read the terms of the oath to which I just adverted, together with a few words a little further on with respect to the Protestant religion, and asked whether Gentlemen who had taken that oath would vote for the Motion which was at that time before the House? I do say that it is a great evil, a great mischief, when a political question is before the House—a question whether a Church Establishment should have certain revenues or not—a question upon which Members of the House of Commons generally ought to be free to vote as their sense of the welfare of the country demands—that there should be a certain set of Members sitting in this House against whom a Member can get up and tell them that they cannot vote in a certain way on that question without violating their oath. You may say that the Roman Catholic Members have not asked for a change of this oath; but they may have considered that it was a compact at the time, and that they are bound not to ask for a change. I say, however, that, without any suggestion from them—without knowing whether they wish for an alteration of the oath—we, for the sake of our proceedings—for the sake of giving to every Member of this House that freedom which he ought to have—for the sake of not obliging any man to give a vote, which if it be one way, may lead to his being accused of the violation of a solemn oath, and if it be the other way, may occasion him to be accused by nearly the whole body of his constituents of deserting the interests of his country and betraying the trust which has been committed to him—I say that you ought not to put Members of this House in such a situation, but that you should, by the terms of your oath, leave every man to vote upon one political question as he would upon another. He ought to be free to vote upon questions of every kind—be it church rates, or be it any other question with regard to the Church Establishment—whatever his opinion may be, he ought to be able to give effect to that opinion as much as he could upon a question with respect to the malt tax or to Exchequer bonds.
Now, Sir, I am told that this was a solemn settlement made in the year 1829, and that it ought not to be disturbed. My 956 right hon. Friend near me has answered that argument; but I certainly can bear witness, after about twenty-five years of discussion, when the country had been kept in agitation by the difficulty of settling this question—when one year there was a majority of five one way, and the next year, perhaps, a majority of ten the other—when the Cabinet had been for years divided upon the question—that we who had no concern in the Government at that time, but who were prepared to lend our aid to the settlement of a question which we had long thought stood in the way of the peace and tranquillity of Ireland, and of the rights of a great portion of our fellow-subjects—I say that I can bear witness that we were ready to lend our aid to anything which appeared to be a tolerable settlement of this question. I remember perfectly well, and my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir J. Graham) remembers also, a meeting at Sir Francis Burdett's of some of the friends of the Roman Catholic question, where we discussed the merits of the proposed scheme and the objections to it, when we discussed the hardship of disfranchising the forty shilling freeholders, the injustice, when Roman Catholics were admitted, of excluding Mr. O'Connell, and the terms of the oath which we are now considering. The result of that meeting was, that we wished to support the Government in carrying that measure, but that there were some alterations which we were desirous to have made. Lord Althorp was the bearer of our wishes to Sir Robert Peel, and I remember perfectly well his saying that he was informed by Sir Robert Peel that the measure, as he had introduced it, was the best measure which he thought he should be able to carry, and that the success of that measure would be endangered if the friends of the Roman Catholics insisted upon any of those alterations. With that declaration we were content, and we supported Sir Robert Peel in all the divisions upon the subject without interposing Amendments; but, Sir, I do think that at the end of a quarter of a century it is allowable to take into consideration some of the terms of the oath then proposed, to consider whether there are not some of those terms which bring on unpleasant and harsh discussions between Members of this House, whether there are not other parts which are totally unnecessary, and some almost absurd in the oath which is taken 957 by Members of Parliament. I own, Sir, I do not think that the terms of this oath are to be removed from the deliberation of Parliament. I think that it is a fair subject for deliberation, if we go into Committee, whether we should keep this oath as it stands, whether we should take the oath in the Bill, or whether any other terms should be adopted? But this I must say, that I do not think it expedient—I do not think it fair—to keep up as part of the oath a declaration which places men under the imputation of having violated their oath—if they vote one particular way upon political subjects.
Now, Sir, I come to the question which has been so much argued, and in which it is said that no alteration ought to be made—I mean the negative declaration—that no foreign prince, person, prelate, State, or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm.I have already alluded to the form in which I propose to alter that oath. I cannot think that the obligation to take that oath at all alters the law of this country, and the law of this country—the common law of this country—denies to any foreign prince or potentate jurisdiction or authority within this realm. If there are any persons against whom you wish to guard, it is the Roman Catholic body; but, with respect to them, you have parted with the security which you had. In the year 1829 that question was settled, so far as regards the Roman Catholics. With regard to Protestants you need no security; but even with regard to Protestants the question is not so perfectly clear and plain as the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier), seems to think. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that Lord Somers found that oath perfectly plain. I have no doubt that Lord Somers found it perfectly plain, because he understood it as excluding Roman Catholics, and when it was the law that Roman Catholics were excluded nothing could be easier than to take that oath, which denied that there was any jurisdiction or power on the part of Roman Catholics, the whole tendency of the law being to deny them any power or jurisdiction whatsoever. But, Sir, since that time very great changes have been made. What do you say to the law of 1791, which permits the performance of their religious functions by priests of the Roman Catholic community? Those priests receive their power from a bishop, and that 958 bishop receives his jurisdiction with the consent of the Pope of Rome. The acts of that priest are acknowledged in performing the ceremony of marriage. Can you say that it is quite clear that there is no jurisdiction or authority whatever exercised by a foreign prince? You may say that it is not by the direct authority and consent of the law; but that there is no such thing, I think it is very difficult to aver. Let me remind the House of what occurred in the case of the Sussex peerage in the House of Lords. When the case of that peerage was before the House of Lords—before the learned Lord Lyndhurst and other law Lords—Dr. Wiseman was examined as to his functions and his knowledge with regard to the law of marriage in Rome. He said that he had considerable knowledge. They then asked how he obtained it; and he replied that he was a Judge acting under an authority given him by the Pope. He said, indeed, that his authority was entirely spiritual, but he stated that he separated persons whom he did not think to be lawfully married; that those persons, if they did not act upon his decision, were debarred from the use of the rites of the Church, and that therefore, under that apprehension, they remained separated. Thus, a very considerable civil consequence ensued. After he had given at some length his opinion upon matters of marriage, declaring that he went by the decrees of the Council of Trent, and that his decisions might be overthrown at Rome, the Lord Chancellor declared that he was a good witness, coming within the description of a person having his knowledge virtute officii; and Lord Langdale said that he was a witness of importance, engaged in the performance of important and responsible public duties, and that, connected with them, and in order to discharge them properly, he was bound to make himself acquainted with the subject of the law of marriage. Now, this person so declared by Lord Langdale in the House of Lords to be engaged in discharging important public ditties, was a Roman Catholic priest, carrying into effect the decision of the Pope of Rome upon the important subject of marriage. Well, it is true that he has no temporal authority in this country, and that his decrees have no civil effect; but although we may say that he had no spiritual authority, I cannot think the matter so totally clear and manifest as some hon. Gentlemen have chosen to describe it. I think that now 959 you have admitted Roman Catholics to this House, it is much better that you should insert in the oath words which we can all take, and with respect to which there should be no ambiguity. One hon. Gentleman has found fault with the words "temporal and civil," and has declared that he would rather have no such words in the oath relating to supremacy. I do not know that those words are essential to the oath; but I rather introduced them, because, being words taken by part of the Members of this House which were considered as one of the securities of the Act of 1829, I supposed that it might be thought desirable for security that Roman Catholics should continue to take them. Another hon. Gentleman has spoken of the obligation of persons who receive a benefice in this country to take the oath of supremacy, and has asked whether I would confine this Bill to Members of Parliament. Well, I was taunted one year by an hon. Gentleman because I confined my Bill to Members of Parliament; but I have no objection to confine it to Members of Parliament and to all persons holding office, because that would attain the object which I have in view. I believe that I have now gone through the different parts of the oath, and I have, therefore, only to say a very few words with respect to the general effect of the Bill, by which Jews will be admitted to seats in this House and to offices under the Crown. I have no new argument to use upon this subject; but it appears to me that the only argument which was ever used against this proposition is, that they differ widely and entirely from us on the subject of religion. If the principle which the House wishes to adopt is, that persons who differ from the majority in religious opinions should be excluded from this House, they will be quite right in maintaining the present exclusion; but if, as in the case of Roman Catholics, and as in the case of Protestant Dissenters, you admit that differences and varieties of religious opinion are not a bar to the performance of legislative and civil functions, I then say that the Jewish body are a body well affected to the Crown, good citizens of the State, and, if elected as Members of Parliament, as able to give you advice upon all matters that concern the State as any other subject of Her Majesty who might be elected to this House. I call upon you, then, in this respect, to remove one remaining bar, and the only bar which now exists. I call upon you the more to re- 960 move it, because you must all be sensible that it was the political influence of the Protestant Dissenters which enabled them to establish their claim to the abolition of the Test and Corporation Act, and that it was the formidable attitude of the Roman Catholics of Ireland which induced you to remove the disabilities which prevented them from sitting in this House or occupying office. If the Jews are equally trustworthy as subjects with any other part of the people of Her Majesty, I call upon you not to exercise an act of religious intolerance because they are few in number and have not the political influence of the Protestant Dissenters, or the formidable attitude which the Roman Catholics assumed in 1829. I call upon you to assent to this measure upon all the grounds of justice and religious liberty, and thus to provide an oath on the admission of Members to this House which shall be at once simple, without making odious distinctions between the members of different religions, and without the endeavour which has been made on the part of the opposers of this Bill to-night to brand a portion of our fellow-subjects as unable to take part in the legislation of this country.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, in rising at this late hour I have no intention to trespass at any length on the patience of the House, but I hope that they will be so indulgent as to feel that I may have some claim to be heard while I attempt to express the reasons for the vote I shall give to-night. We have before us, Sir, a Bill which is to substitute one oath for the various oaths that have hitherto been taken by us when we approach the table of this House. On this occasion a variety of issues have been placed before the House, which were never before mooted when the subject that is mainly in the mind of the noble Lord has been under our consideration. It bag been said that there are three objects to be attained by this Bill. By the omission of certain words at the end of one oath, a Jew may be admitted into Parliament; by the alteration of another oath the views of the Romanising Protestants are to be advanced; and by the change and reconstruction of a third oath, the objects of the Roman Catholics themselves are to be promoted. The House will see, therefore, that we have to consider three issues, which are in themselves of a different nature. The noble Lord, Sir, has been taunted in the course of this debate with 961 having undertaken the Jewish claims in consequence of an accidental political connection. Such a taunt, I am sure, the noble Lord will not hear from me. I know well that the noble Lord has, during a long and eminent career, consistently connected his name with the advocacy of the principle of religious liberty, and it was, I am sure, in deference to that principle that he felt it his duty to become the advocate of the Jewish claims to political emancipation. I have myself, on many occasions, supported—at least by my vote—the noble Lord in these efforts, though on the only occasion on which I ever presumed to offer my opinions to the House, I claimed for myself another ground for the course which I took, and another reason for sympathy in the object which both the noble Lord and myself wished to attain. I respect the principle of religions liberty, as every gentleman, no doubt, with more or less qualification does who sits in this House, but I cannot say that it was on the ground of the principle of religious liberty that, in obedience to an overwhelming conviction, I felt it my duty to advocate the political emancipation of those of Her Majesty's subjects who profess the Jewish religion. I have, Sir, always upheld that opinion because I believed that the Jewish race was that one to which the human family in general has been under the greatest obligation, and when I am told, as I have often been, and as I have heard to-night, that by admitting Jews into Parliament we are endangering the Christian character of this assembly and of the community, I must say it does appear to me that it is because we are a Christian assembly and a Christian community that the claim of the Jews to enjoy all civil and political privileges is irresistible. Sir, when I remember for how much we are indebted to that people, of what ineffable blessings they have been the human agents—when I remember that by their history, their poetry, their laws, our lives are instructed, solaced, and regulated—when I recall other considerations and memories more solemn and reverential, I confess that I cannot as a Christian oppose the claims of those to whom Christianity is under so great obligations.
If I look to modern history and the claims they have on the kindness of the House of Commons, it is my belief that if the Bible had not been translated and printed, there would not have been an English House of Commons at this mo- 962 ment; and I would remind the Members who represent Scottish constituencies how much the liberties of Scotland are indebted to the Jews, and that their freedom is owing to "the sword of the Lord and of Gideon." Remembering these circumstances, the claims of the Jews to political emancipation have not, in my mind, been met by any arguments that have yet reached me. But there is another reason why I particularly wish that the grant of these immunities, by which the English Jews will be put on a level with their fellow-subjects in every respect, should not be denied or delayed. I cannot conceal from myself that there is no country in which the Hebrew race has been persecuted which has not suffered, whose energies have not been withered, whose political power has not decayed, and where there have not been evident proofs that the Divine favour has been withdrawn from the land. The instances of Spain, and Portugal, and Italy are obvious. More northern ones may perhaps be mentioned. In England an accusation of this kind cannot be made with any justice. The Jews of this country have not long been settled here, and never were here in great numbers; yet at memorable periods of our history they have been treated by eminent statesmen with favour. The Lord Protector himself was a decided favourer of the Jews—he appreciated their character and position, and his religious feelings assisted him in that appreciation; but in more modern times, during the most aristocratic period of our Government, in the middle of the eighteenth century, under the administration of Mr. Pelham, measures were introduced and passed in favour of the Jews which I think did credit to the discrimination and genuine piety of that eminent statesman. I need not, therefore, say that the noble Lord, so far as regards his persisting in the course he has pursued for obtaining the political emancipation of the Jews, would have always found in me an humble but faithful supporter; and, I must say, that when I look at what has been the effect of the efforts already made in their behalf, I can see no ground why the noble Lord should complain of want of encouragement to his exertions. This question of the political emancipation of the Jews, though it may have been formally introduced to the notice of the House more than twenty years ago, has been really and seriously discussed in Parliament only 963 within the last seven or eight years. And how has it been received? The noble Lord has succeeded on many occasions in carrying the question in this House by a decided majority, whilst in the other House the measure, if not carried, has at least been supported by large numbers and by men of great distinction and weight in the country. The Jewish claims have been received with much more favour than were those of the Roman Catholics; certainly the agitation in favour of the Roman Catholic claims at the end of seven years did not obtain the success achieved by the noble Lord in the much briefer time in which he has brought the claims of the Jews under the notice of Parliament.
If we for a moment leave the sphere of Parliament, and attempt to ascertain the temper of public opinion with regard to these claims and the general condition of the English Jews, I should say that the opinion of the public out of doors was even more favourable to them, and more progressive, than that of Parliament. No man can pretend that the present position of the Jews in England is for It moment to be compared with what it was twenty or even ten years ago. They are infinitely more considered, the prejudices of which they were the victims have rapidly and considerably diminished, the discussions and debates of Parliament and the efforts of literary men out of the House have thrown much light on a question, which was at first complicated and involved from the unhappy confusion which existed as to their general condition; and I think that it is no exaggeration to say that there never was a body of men, who have been subjected to prejudices and political disqualifications who have in so short a time inclined public opinion to their favour, or made such considerable advances to the ultimate object to which they wished to attain. Taking—and taking naturally—a deep interest in this question, I have ever felt confident that the course of time and of discussion, and the humanising influences of literary research and public debate, would bring opinion about in favour of the English Jews, remembering that they belong to a religious country deeply interested in their religious creed; and that, between the Jew and the Christian, there must be intimate relations of sympathy and pious sentiment. Feeling, then, that the question was advancing in a legitimate way, and approaching, as I thought, a satisfactory issue, 964 I did lament that the noble Lord should have mixed it up with others which appeared to me greatly to embarrass it and impede the solution he had at heart, and which apparently so far as I can form an opinion, may postpone and throw back the accomplishment of the purpose he wished to achieve. We must remember that the race for whom the noble Lord is peculiarly interested is not a race which cannot afford to wait. They are not a new people who have just got into notice, and who, if you do not recognise their claims, may disappear. They are an ancient people, a famous people, an enduring people, and a people who in the end have generally attained their objects. I hope Parliament may endure for ever, and sometimes I think it will; but I cannot help remembering that the Jews have outlived Assyrian Kings, Egyptian Pharaohs, Roman Cæsars, and Arabian Caliphs, and, therefore, I think we need not precipitate their claims, to their ultimate prejudice, and against public feeling, but that we may freely leave them to their own course, sure that argument and fair discussion will facilitate and accomplish them.
But let us see what the noble Lord has done. Here is a Bill in which the word "Jew" never appears, in which a person not versed in our political tactics could not for a moment divine that the object of the noble Lord lay concealed in it. Prom the debate that has arisen to-night, we find that the noble Lord has made propositions which have excited great controversy and very acrimonious feeling. Why has the noble Lord prejudiced the Jewish claims, which, though objected to, were only objected to by a minority, and which were objected to on single and simple grounds, which we might meet by argument, and master by time—why has the noble Lord, I say, prejudiced those claims by mixing them with subjects that to the people of this country must appear of infinitely greater importance, and which involve us in the consideration of some of the most difficult political problems of the present day? I deeply regret that the noble Lord has taken that course. I am afraid that he has thrown back those claims. I cannot think the noble Lord with regard to these claims has ever taken a course of which I entirely approve; but I felt he had very great difficulties to deal with, and that it was not for me to cavil with him, considering the great purpose he had in view. I would rather that the noble Lord from the first had made a plain, 965 straightforward appeal for the object which he wished to attain. I could not have expected that the noble Lord would have made that appeal on the grounds which would have influenced me in dealing with this question. But it would have been better if the noble Lord had, on the principle of religious liberty, which he represents, recommended the repeal of the Jewish disqualifications, than that he should have attempted that repeal by proposing the omission of a few words at the end of an oath. Now what are these words, "On the true faith of a Christian?" In my mind, additional odium has been created against the Jews by their cause being associated with this matter of the oaths, and by their introduction into this House being sought through the omission of the words in question. I do not see why the words "on the true faith of a Christian" should not be retained in our general Parliamentary oath. I can conceive no nobler words, nor words which a man coming to the table of this House to be sworn to the performance of his duty as a Member of this House could more appropriately use. Why was it necessary to effect the emancipation of the Jews by the omission of these words? On the contrary, if their emancipation had been sought on the broad principle of religious liberty, I think the case would have been much simplified, and would have been divested of much unnecessary prejudice that has been excited against it. I was glad to find the noble Lord speak with more reverence of an oath than has been the fashion of late in this House. Perhaps one ought not to be surprised at the feeling which would imply that an oath is less binding with us than it would have been with our ancestors, when we remember how much oaths have been multiplied for fiscal and other kindred purposes. But surely, Sir, the sanctity of an oath cannot be more properly invoked than at the time when a man comes forward in this House, and in the face of his Creator vows that he will do his duty to his country and his Sovereign. I hope to see the day arrive when, by the free will of Parliament, a Jew may take his seat in this House, and take it, not by the odious omission of the words "on the true faith of a Christian" from one general oath, but by the free declaration of a creed of which be ought on every account to be proud.
Having touched on this subject—the first issue raised by this Bill—I now approach the two important ones which 966 are also raised by the peculiar plan which the noble Lord has adopted. The noble Lord—whether to attain his purpose with respect to the Jews, or for any other—has dealt with the whole subject of Parliamentary oaths. I must look for a moment to the nature of those oaths and to the circumstances and the period at which he proposes this startling change. With regard to the oath of supremacy, I would say with respect to this projected alteration, avoiding verbal criticism, that I do not think it prudent and statesmanlike at this moment to propose an alteration of that oath. It is very difficult to take up an ancient document of any kind, and subject it to the analysis of verbal criticisms, without making out a case that, if it were the oath which you bad originally to frame, it would not be the form you would propose. But we must consider the associations of a country with political oaths. We should remember that the oath of supremacy in its present form does not merely denote that which its expressions may legally and strictly import, but is associated in the minds of the people of this country with one of those great political facts which they look upon as among the fundamental elements of their political constitution; and the very fact that Parliament is altering the oath of supremacy when there has been no necessity to moot the point whatever is, in my mind, an indiscreet and an imprudent act. Unquestionably, it will be associated everywhere with a limited though influential class of the community who have particularly directed their efforts against the oath of supremacy. I have no particular sympathy with those individuals, but I can conceive nothing more unwise at the present moment, even for their sakes, than to revive those dissensions that happily seem somewhat mitigated and allayed. But all the objections that have been taken to this projected alteration of the oath of supremacy sink into insignificance when compared with the objection which I have to the alteration of what is called the Roman Catholic oath. I object, Sir, to that alteration, in the first place, because it appears to me that no course could be pursued by a Minister at this moment more calculated to aggravate animosity, or more calculated to revive and strengthen those politico-religious dissensions which have been too prevalent in this country, than the course which the noble Lord has recommended to-night. But, Sir, there are 967 other considerations of a graver nature connected with the alteration of the Roman Catholic oath. It is but three or four years ago that, on one of the most solemn occasions of the meeting of the British Parliament, the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), the Prime Minister of this country, came down, and informed the most crowded House that I ever recollect Within these walls, that it was his opinion that there existed, and had existed for some time, a vast conspiracy on the part of the Papacy against Protestantism in general and tins country in particular. [Lord JOHN RUSSELL: Hear, hear!] The noble Lord says, "Hear, hear," and nods assent, because, of course, he would not have made a declaration of that kind without due and deep consideration. It must have been no common information, obtained by no common means, and from no limited circle, that could have induced an English Minister to have made such a declaration. Do you believe, Sir, that the Roman Papacy is a Power that commences great conspiracies and gives them up? What right have we to believe that that great Power has renounced the object which the noble Lord, in his duty to his Sovereign and to his country, informed her Parliament that her watchful Minister had discovered and denounced? Do you think that the Papacy is a Power as changeable in its opinions or its policy as an English Minister? That was the most important political declaration that has been made for many years, and nothing that the noble Lord has done or said since, or can do or say, can remove the impression of that declaration, not only throughout this country, but throughout Europe.
And what, Sir, is happening at the present moment? Are not the events of the present moment such as justify the opinion of the noble Lord which he communicated to Parliament three or four years ago? Has the Papacy changed its tactics or become decrepit? Has it renounced its ancient and energetic ambition? Look at the present position of Sardinia! We find there the ambition and the ability of the feudal ages, and the Papacy exercising an authority, before which every influence of the State seems to bow. Sir, this is not the time when you should publicly intimate that you are ready to relax the securities you already possess, and weaken the bulwarks of the religion we profess to venerate and are sworn to pro- 968 tect. The noble Lord takes the Roman Catholic oath and analyses it, like an historical grammarian. He says, "Here is a reference to historical personages that are defunct; and here another passage which is quite ungentlemanlike, and which my Lord Halifax, who was a wit, scoffed at as idle and unnecessary." But I do not think that wits are the best judges of oaths; and with due deference to Lord Halifax, who was a most charming and brilliant personage, I do not think he was a statesman peculiarly adapted to the present age. We must look upon this question in a graver manner. Here is an English Minister proposing to Parliament to relax and renounce those securities which Sir Robert Peel and the Duke of Wellington devised at the time of the Roman Catholic emancipation in 1829. What do the noble Lord and his Colleagues think will be the effect of the news when it reaches the Vatican? They will say, "This is another great surrender, another great movement of this mysterious Oxford party. It is quite clear," they will say, because they will not examine the question like grammarians or critics, "that the British Parliament has relinquished its Protestant securities." But this policy would be attended with another effect. By adopting this course, you are not only exciting, and falsely exciting, the passions and prospects of Rome, but you are inflaming the Protestant fears of your own fellow-subjects. You are creating as much alarm in England as anticipatory triumph at Rome, and while you are making the Papacy believe that it has increased advantages for renewed assaults, you are causing between the Roman Catholics and Protestants of Great Britain feelings of disgust and dislike by the very course which you are pursuing to conciliate and blend them in unison. The House may believe them to be only phrases of debate, when I declare that I never took a course which gave me more pain than that which I take on this occasion, and which I feel it my duty to take; but I can assure the House that I never spoke with more sincerity or with so much pain on any subject. Disagreeing on general principles with tile noble Lord, I might have left the House; I might have said, "I am in favour of the political emancipation of the Jews, and indirectly this Bill may effect that object, and I am justified so far in supporting it; while, on the other hand, I think, both for the sake of my Roman 969 Catholic as for my Protestant fellow-subjects, nothing can be more unwise than the general course which the Government are taking with respect to oaths:" and as I could not support the Bill, I might have absented myself from the House. But I have felt it my duty to be present, and, with the kind indulgence of the House, very imperfectly, at this late hour, to express my general views on the question. If the noble Lord will retrace his steps, and go on with a subject which I thought he had near his heart, I shall follow the course which have uniformly taken, and give the noble Lord my earnest support. The noble Lord has on previous occasions taunted me with being silent in debate when the question has been fore the House; but as my feelings were peculiar on the subject, I had no wish to obtrude them upon the House. I have never been false to the principle involved. Not merely in this House, but by other modes, even at great sacrifices, I have endeavoured to advance that which I believed to be a sacred cause. I trust the House will not set down to egotism these expressions, but as there have been unfair insinuations of attempted influence on my conduct in respect to this subject at various times by those political friends with whom it is my happiness to act, I may be permitted to add, Sir, that at no time, and under no circumstances, has a single word ever escaped from any Gentleman near me which would tend to control or influence my conduct in that respect. They knew from the first, and all must have known it who would have condescended to inquire into my opinions, how profound and fervent were my convictions on this great question. They knew that at all sacrifices I would uphold that cause, and though I deeply regret the course which the noble Lord has taken—though I believe it to be one in which he will not only increase the difficulty with which the Jews have to contend, but will create in this country between considerable classes of Her Majesty's subjects misunderstandings which at a time like the present should have certainly been avoided—still it is my conviction, as certain as I am now addressing you, Sir, that the time will come when the Jews will receive in this country full and complete emancipation. The noble Lord believes they will receive it, because he has confidence in the principle of religious liberty. I, too, Sir, respect that principle, but, so far as the Jews are concerned, I have faith in that Al- 970 mighty Being who has never deserted them.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, that he should vote against the Motion for the second reading of the Bill, although he had uniformly voted with the noble Lord in his attempts to remove the disabilities from the Jews, and would be always ready to do so whenever it was attempted in a straightforward manner. If the noble Lord would bring in a Bill to admit the Jews, and frame such an oath for them as should be binding on their conscience, he should have his most cordial support, but he could not subscribe to a measure which, like the present, proposed to alter the oaths agreed to at the settlement of 1829, and to break the compact then entered into, which was considered satisfactory by all parties.
§ MR. GOULBURN
said, that he was the only Member in the House who was a Member of the Duke of Wellington's Cabinet in 1829, and who was a party with the late Duke in framing the oath which now stood in the Roman Catholic Relief Bill. When the measure was proposed by the noble Duke, it was more ample and freer from restrictions than any which the friends of the Roman Catholics had previously proposed to the House, and all the restrictions previously sanctioned by Plunket and Grattan were studiously omitted from the Bill, the Duke of Wellington being willing—relying upon the good faith and honour of the Roman Catholics—to waive all objections felt to their entering the house, so long as they swore to the form of oath then proposed. From that time to the present, he had, in common with the late Sir Robert Peel, and with all the Members of the Wellington Cabinet, distinctly refused to concur in any measure which should interfere with that great compact which was then entered into. He warned the House, and above all his fellow-countrymen of the Roman Catholic persuasion, to beware bow they lent their efforts to the introduction of the first step towards the violation of the compact then entered into. Such a course Would, he thought, tend to inflame the passions of the people, and possibly endanger the substantial provisions of that Bill of 1829 which had been found to be so beneficial to the country at large, and produce such an amount of religious discord throughout the country as it would be vain to attempt to repress. Upon these grounds, although his opinion with regard to the emancipation of the Jews remained the same, he could not re- 971 concile it to himself to rote for the Bill as it now stood.
§ Question put; the House divided:—Ayes 247; Noes 251: Majority 4.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adair, H. E.||Fagan, W.|
|Alcock, T.||Feilden, M. J.|
|Anderson, Sir J.||Fergus, J.|
|Atherton, W.||Ferguson, Sir R.|
|Bagshaw, J.||FitzGerald, Sir J.|
|Bailey, C.||Fitzgerald, J. D.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Fitzroy, hon. H.|
|Baring, H. B.||Foley, J. H. H.|
|Barnes, T.||Forster, C.|
|Bass, M. T.||Forster, J.|
|Beamish, F. B.||Fortescue, C. S.|
|Bell, J.||Fox, R. M.|
|Bellew, T. A.||Fox, W. J.|
|Berkeley, Adm.||Freestun, Col.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Gardner, R.|
|Berkeley, C. L. G.||Geach, C.|
|Bethell, Sir R.||Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.|
|Blackett, J. F. B.||Gladstone, rt. hon. W.|
|Blake, M. J.||Glyn, G. C.|
|Bland, L. H.||Goderich, Visct.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Goodman, Sir G.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Gower, hon. F. L.|
|Bowyer, G.||Grace, O. D. J.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Brady, J.||Greene, J.|
|Brand, hon. H.||Gregson, S.|
|Bright, J.||Grenfell, C. W.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Greville, Col. F.|
|Brotherton, J.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Brown, H.||Grey, R. W.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Hadfield, G.|
|Bruce, H. A.||Hall, Sir B.|
|Burke, Sir T. J.||Hankey, T.|
|Byng, hon, G. H. C.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Harcourt, G. G.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Hastie, Alex.|
|Cavendish, hon. G.||Headlam, T. E.|
|Cheetham, J.||Beard, J. I.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Heathcote, J.|
|Clifford, H. M.||Henchy, D. O.|
|Clinton, Lord R.||Heneage, G. F.|
|Cobden, R.||Herbert, H. A.|
|Cockburn, Sir A. J. E.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Coffin, W.||Heywood, J.|
|Cogan, W. H. F.||Heyworth, L.|
|Corbally, M. E.||Higgins, G. G. O.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Hindley, C.|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||Hogg, Sir J. W.|
|Crook, J.||Horsman, E.|
|Crossley, F.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Currie, R.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Dalrymple, Visct.||Hutchins, E. J.|
|Dashwood, Sir G. H.||Hutt, W.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Ingham, R.|
|Denison, J. E.||Jackson, W.|
|Dent, J. D.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Divett, E.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Duff, G. S,||Keating, T.|
|Duff, J.||Kennedy, T.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Keogh, W.|
|Duncombe, T.||Kershaw, J.|
|Elcho, Lord||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Ellice, rt. hon. E.||Kirk, W.|
|Ellice, E.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Laing, S.|
|Ewart, W.||Langston, J. H.|
|Lawley, hon. F. C.||Ricardo, J. L.|
|Layard, A. H.||Ricardo, O.|
|Lee, W.||Rice, E. R.|
|Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F.||Rich, H.|
|Lindsay, W. S.||Richardson, J. J.|
|Locke, J.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Lowe, R.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Lucas, F.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Luce, T.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|M'Cann, J.||Russell, F. W.|
|M'Taggart, Sir J.||Sadleir, Jas.|
|Maguire, J. F.||Sadleir, John|
|Mangles, R. D.||Scully, V.|
|Marjoribanks, D. C.||Seymour, Lord|
|Marshall, W.||Seymour, W. D.|
|Martin, J.||Seymour, W. D.|
|Massey, W. N.||Shafto, R. D.|
|Matheson, A.||Shee, W.|
|Miall, E.||Shelburne, Earl of|
|Milligan, R.||Shelley, Sir J. V.|
|Milner, W. M. E.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Milnes, R. M.||Smith, J. A.|
|Michell, W.||Smith, J. B.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Smith, M. T.|
|Moffatt, G.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Molesworth, rt. hn. Sir W.||Stafford, Marq. of|
|Monck, Visct.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Moncreiff, J.||Strutt, rt. hon. E.|
|Monsell, W.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Mostyn, hon. T. E. M. L.||Sutton, J. H. M.|
|Mure, Col.||Swift, R.|
|Newport, Visct.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Norreys, Lord||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|North, F.||Thompson, G.|
|O'Brien, C.||Thornely, T.|
|O'Connell, D.||Townshend, Capt.|
|O'Connell, J.||Traill, G.|
|O'Flaherty, A.||Uxbridge, Earl of|
|Osborne, R.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Otway, A. J.||Vernon, G. E. H.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Paget, Lord G.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Palmer, Round.||Warner, E.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Waterpark, Lord|
|Pechell, Sir G. B.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Peel, F.||Wells, W.|
|Pellatt, A.||Whitbread, S.|
|Perry, Sir T. E.||Wickham, H. W.|
|Phillimore, J. G.||Wilkinson, W. A.|
|Phillimore, R. J.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Phinn, T.||Williams, W.|
|Pilkington, J.||Wilson, J.|
|Pollard-Urquhart, W.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Ponsonby, hon. A. G. J.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Portman, hon. W. H. B.||Wyvill, M.|
|Potter, R.||Young, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Price, Sir R.||TELLERS.|
|Price, W. P.||Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.|
|Ramsden, Sir J. W.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|List of the NOES.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Beckett, W.|
|Alexander, J.||Bective, Earl of|
|Arbuthnott, hon. Gen.||Bennet, P.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Bentinck, Lord H.|
|Arkwright, G.||Bentinck, G. W. P.|
|Bailey, Sir J.||Beresford, rt. hon. W.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Bernard, Visct.|
|Bankes, rt. hon. G.||Blair, Col.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Blandford, Marq. of|
|Barrow, W. H.||Boldero, Col.|
|Bateson, T.||Booker, T. W.|
|Beach, Sir M. H. H.||Booth, Sir R. G.|
|Bramston T. W.||Gore, W. O.|
|Brooke, Sir A. B.||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Bruce, C. L. C.||Graham, Lord M. W.|
|Buck, L. W.||Granby, Marq. of|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Greaves, E.|
|Bunbury, W. B. M.||Greenall, G.|
|Burghley, Lord||Greene, T.|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Grogan, E.|
|Butt, G. M.||Gwyn, H.|
|Butt, I.||Hale, R. B.|
|Cabbell, B. B.||Halford, Sir H.|
|Cairns, H. M.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Campbell, Sir A. I.||Hamilton, J. H.|
|Carnac, Sir J. R.||Hanbury, hon. C. S. B.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Harcourt, Col.|
|Cecil, Lord R.||Hastie, Arch.|
|Chambers, M.||Hawkins, W. W.|
|Chambers, T.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Chaplin, W. J.||Heathcote, Sir W.|
|Chelsea, Visct.||Heneage, G. H. W.|
|Child, S.||Henley, rt. hon. J. W.|
|Christopher, rt. hn. R. A.||Herbert, Sir T.|
|Christy, S.||Hill, Lord A. E.|
|Clinton, Lord C. P.||Horsfall, T. B.|
|Clive, R.||Hotham, Lord|
|Cocks, T. S.||Hudson, G.|
|Codrington, Sir W.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Coles, H. B.||Hume, W. F.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Irton, S.|
|Compton, H. C.||Jones, Capt.|
|Conolly, T.||Jones, D.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Kelly, Sir F.|
|Cotton, hon. W. H. S.||King, J. K.|
|Cowan, C.||Kinnaird, hon. A. F.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Knatchbull, W. F.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Knightley, R.|
|Davison, R.||Knox, Col.|
|Deedes, W.||Knox, hon. W. S.|
|Dering, Sir E.||Lacon, Sir E.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Langton, W. G.|
|Drummond, H.||Langton, H. G.|
|Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.||Laslett, W.|
|Duncan, G.||Legh, G. C.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Lennox, Lord A. F.|
|Duncombe, hon. O.||Lennox, Lord H. G.|
|Duncombe, hon. W. E.||Leslie, C. P.|
|Dundas, G.||Liddell, H. G.|
|Dunlop, A. M.||Liddell, hon. H. T.|
|Dunne, Col.||Lindsay, hon. Col.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Lisburne, Earl of|
|East, Sir J. B.||Lockhart, A. E.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Lockhart, W.|
|Egerton, E. C.||Long, W.|
|Elmley, Visct.||Lowther, Capt.|
|Emlyn, Visct.||Lytton, Sir G. E. L. B.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Macartney, G.|
|Farrer, J.||Mackie, J.|
|Fellowes, E.||MacGregor, Jas.|
|Ferguson, J.||Maddock, Sir H.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Malins, R.|
|Fitzgerald, W. R. S.||Mandeville, Visct.|
|Follett, B. S.||Manners, Lord G.|
|Forbes, W.||March, Earl of|
|Forester, rt. hon. Col.||Masterman, J.|
|Forster, Sir G.||Maunsell, T. P.|
|Franklyn, G. W.||Meux, Sir H.|
|Frewen, C. H.||Miles, W.|
|Galway, Visct.||Montgomery, H. L.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Montgomery, Sir G.|
|George, J.||Moody, C. A.|
|Gilpin, Col.||Morgan, O.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Morris, D.|
|Goddard, A. L.||Mowbray, J. R.|
|Mullings, J. R.||Stafford, A.|
|Mundy, W.||Stanhope, J. B.|
|Muntz, G. F.||Starkie, Le G. N.|
|Naas, Lord||Stephenson, R.|
|Napier, rt. hon. J.||Stirling, W.|
|Neeld, John||Stuart, H.|
|Neeld, Jos.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Newark, Visct.||Taylor, Col.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Tollemache, J.|
|Noel, hon. G. J.||Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|North, Col.||Tudway, R. C.|
|Oakes, J. H. P.||Tyler, Sir G.|
|Ossulston, Lord||Vance, J.|
|Packe, C. W.||Vane, Lord A.|
|Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.||Vansittart, G. H.|
|Palk, L.||Villiers, hon. F.|
|Palmer, Rob.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Parker, R. T.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Patten, J. W.||Vyvyan, Sir R. R.|
|Peel, Col.||Vyse, Col.|
|Pennant, hon. Col.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Percy, hon. J. W.||Walcott, Adm.|
|Philipps, J. H.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Pigott, F.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Portal, M.||Welby, Sir G. E.|
|Powlett, Lord W.||Whiteside, J.|
|Pritchard, J.||Whitmore, H.|
|Pugh, D.||Wigram, L. T.|
|Repton, G. W. J.||Williams, T. P.|
|Robertson, P. F.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Rolt, P.||Wise, A.|
|Sandars, G.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Sawle, C. B. G.||Woodd, B. T.|
|Scobell, Capt.||Wyndham, Gen.|
|Scott, hon. F.||Wyndham, H.|
|Seymer, H. K.||Wynn, Major H. W. W.|
|Smijth, Sir W.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Smith, W. M.||Wynne, W. W. E.|
|Smith, A.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Somerset, Capt.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Sotheron, T. H. S.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
§ Words added; Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to; Bill put off for six months.
§ The house adjourned at a quarter before Two o'clock.