§ Order for Committee read.
§ House in Committee.
§ Clause 1 (Oath to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance, Supremacy, and Abjuration).
said that, in rising to move the Amendment which stood in his name, he had no wish to obstruct the progress of this Bill, or to prevent the Jewish subjects of Her Majesty from being relieved from the civil disabilities under which they now laboured. He was actuated solely by a sense of the duty which he owed to the Church to which he belonged, and to the constituents whom he represented. The case was short and simple, and he trusted he should not take up much of the time of the House in stating it. He also hoped to be able to lay it before them without provoking any angry or acrimonious discussion. The object of his Amendment was simply to alter the form of the oath contained in this Bill in such a manner as to enable that oath to be taken as well by the Roman Catholic subjects of Her Majesty as by every other denomination of their fellow-countrymen. He trusted the time had arrived when they would all assent to the principle, that as there was but one title to admission to that House, so there should henceforward be but one test of admissibility—namely, the bearing true allegiance to Her Majesty and promising to continue that allegiance in the line of succession pointed out by the Act of Settlement, and that they should no more see the unseemly spectacle of one set of Members standing on one side of the table, and another on the other side, taking different oaths. It seemed to him that the principle of the Bill, in the form which it had assumed under the guidance of the noble Lord, rendered it incumbent on the House to adopt his Amendment, for he took it to be the principle of the Bill to abolish all distinctive tests founded on differences of religious belief, and to provide that, when an hon. Member who had been duly elected came to the table of that House, he should not be asked by the clerk to what Church 1760 he belonged, but that all should be permitted to take their seat and exercise their privileges by subscribing one and the same test, and swearing to one and the same oath. The noble Lord who had introduced this Bill proposed to abrogate the distinction which had heretofore existed between the Jew and the Christian. He (Mr. Deasy) asked them to go further, and to abrogate the distinction which heretofore existed between the Protestant and the Roman Catholic. He asked, on behalf of the oldest and greatest of Christian Churches, that it should not henceforth be placed in an inferior position to those who, whatever might be their claims or their merits, had the misfortune of being unbelievers in our common Christianity. He meant not the slightest disrespect to the members of a community which he was most anxious to see relieved from the disabilities to which they had been, as he thought, unjustly exposed, when he said that those whose cause he advocated that night were equally as well entitled to the confidence of the Legislature and the favourable consideration of that House. He admitted they had not, as the noble Lord has said of the Jews, assisted the Chancellor of the Exchequer when it had been his duty to go to the money-market in order to raise loans for the service of the Queen; but they have contributed, and would, he was sure, again contribute, that amount of raw material—if he might so term their blood, their sinews, their courage, and fidelity—to her fleets and armies without which all the treasures of the Rothschilds would be vain and worthless. The shape and form of this measure rendered it peculiarly incumbent on the House, in justice to the Roman Catholics, to adopt the Amendment of which he had given notice. It would be remembered that the noble Lord, in seeking to admit the Jews, did not prescribe a separate test for the members of that persuasion, which might be taken by them without violence to their religious feelings. He not only struck out the passage to which the Jews conscientiously objected, but he proposed to alter or rather omit from the oaths hitherto taken by Protestant Members of the Legislature two important passages, which he, nevertheless, intended to retain in the oaths administered to Roman Catholic Members. In one of those passages the hon. Member taking the oath renounced and abjured the doctrine that Sovereigns deposed or excommunicated by 1761 the Pope or the see of Rome could be deposed or murthered by their subjects; and the noble Lord said, and said truly, that to exact any such declaration from a Protestant Member of that House was unnecessary and offensive. The noble Lord also proposed to expunge the passage in which a Member swore that he took the oath in the ordinary sense of the language and without any mental reservation or equivocation whatever. This the noble Lord rightly said was also unnecessary, and therefore offensive. But if it were unnecessary and offensive to exact these stipulations from a Protestant Member of that House, why was it not equally unnecessary and offensive to exact them from a Roman Catholic Member? The noble Lord at the head of the Government had said that the oaths in which these passages were contained ought not to be administered to Protestant Members, because they implied a mistrust in the loyalty and good faith of those to whom they were administered; but did not those portions of the oaths which were offensive to Protestant Members, and which were also inserted in the Roman Catholic oath, equally imply a mistrust in the loyalty and good faith of the Roman Catholic Members to whom they were administered? The noble Lord rightly reposed confidence in the loyalty and good faith of the Protestant Members of the Legislature, and he (Mr. Deasy) asked on behalf of those whom the noble Lord proposed to exclude from the benefit of this measure, whether he did not repose similar confidence in their loyalty and good faith? He was sure that the noble Lord would not draw any distinction in that respect between Roman Catholic Members and those belonging to a different persuasion; but he would call the attention of the noble Lord, and of the House, to the position in which the Roman Catholic subjects of the Crown would be placed if, unfortunately, the measure should be passed in its present shape. As long as the objectionable clauses of the oaths were exacted from all Members of the Legislature indiscriminately, so long the Roman Catholic Members had no reason to complain; but, if Protestant Members alone should be relieved from these clauses upon the ground stated by the noble Lord, the Bill passed in that shape would amount to a legislative declaration, by that and the other House of Parliament, that Roman Catholics were not entitled equally with Protestants to be regarded as men of loyalty and good 1762 faith. On behalf of Roman Catholic generally, he (Mr. Deasy) earnestly protested against any such distinction. It was not the Catholics who had originated this discussion about the form of the Parliamentary oaths, but the noble Lord himself who had proposed an innovation. Expediency required that a further alteration should be engrafted upon the alteration which had been proposed by the noble Lord. He (Mr. Deasy) sought to strike out of the Bill the exception which the Government proposed to engraft upon it. He sought to place all the subjects of Her Majesty on an equal footing—all Members of the Legislature on the same terms—and to exact from all one test, and one test only—namely, a promise of allegiance to Her Majesty, and to continue that allegiance in the line specified by the existing oath of allegiance. He did not anticipate any objection on the part of any hon. Member to the Amendment which he was about to propose. He was sure that no one thought that the throne of Her Majesty required any such security as was sought to be given to it by the retention of the objectionable clauses of the Roman Catholic oath. If the thrones of Sovereigns in our times were in danger, that danger did not proceed from Rome, but from a very different quarter. He knew it would be said that some compact was made at the time of the passing of the Emancipation Act, which prevented Roman Catholics from seeking an alteration of the oath under which they obtained admission to the Legislature. He had searched the debates of the Legislature of that period, and the history of those times, but he had looked in vain for any traces of such a compact. Sir R. Peel distinctly stated that neither he, nor the Government of which he was a member, had had any communication, direct or indirect, with any one on behalf of the Roman Catholic body, as to the form which his measure should assume, or as to the conditions or terms which were to be imposed. With whom, then, could such compact have been entered into? Not, surely, with the Whig or Liberal party in that House, who were always the advocates of emancipation, and certainly not with the opponents of emancipation. No such terms or conditions could have been imposed; and this was the first time that a most invidious distinction was attempted to be made between the Protestant and Roman Catholic subjects of Her Majesty. As long as the oaths remained 1763 as they were settled at that period, the Roman Catholics did not originate any proposal; but now that a proposal had been made by the noble Lord, the head of a Protestant Government, to alter the terms of a Protestant oath, he (Mr. Deasy) hoped the House would see the justice and expediency of acceding to the proposition now made on behalf of the Roman Catholics. There was another passage in the Roman Catholic oath, to the omission of which he thought there could be no reasonable objection; he meant that clause which related to the settlement of property within the realm. That clause was introduced by the Irish Parliament in 1793, obviously with the intention of guarding against the danger of Roman Catholics proposing a repeal of the Act of Settlement, which was passed in the reign of Charles II., and which regulated the distribution of landed property after the convulsion of the civil war. Every one knew that, at that time, there was a real danger of such a proposition. An attempt had been made during the reign of King James to repeal that Act, and that attempt made so deep and lasting an effect upon the minds of the Protestants of Ireland, that the Protestant Legislature, in 1793, thought it necessary to enact a special security against a renewal of it. But, was it necessary in 1857 to retain that security? Was not a repeal of the Act of Settlement as chimerical a danger as a restoration of the House of Stuart? The property which Roman Catholics inherited or had acquired was held by the same tenure, and depended upon the same title and the same laws, as those which guarded the property of any other classes of Her Majesty's subjects. He could not help thinking, therefore, that with respect to that portion of the oath, there would be no objection on the part of any hon. Member to admit the alterations he proposed. There was, however, a clause with regard to which, in all probability, the same unanimity would not prevail. He meant that clause which related to the property of the Established Church. He knew it was said and believed by a great many whose opinions were entitled to great respect, that that clause was inserted by Sir Robert Peel at the time when Parliament passed the Emancipation Act for the purpose of preventing or restricting Roman Catholic Members of that House from proposing or voting for any alteration of the temporalities of the Established Church, and that that was in fact 1764 one of the securities provided by the Legislature in 1829 to guard against the dangers which it was supposed would be incurred by admitting Roman Catholic Members into that House. If that were so, he (Mr. Deasy) would be unwilling to ask the House (having obtained an admission into that House by virtue of that Act) to consent to any relaxation of that security. But he had satisfied himself, and he hoped that he should satisfy the House, that no such thing was contemplated either by the statesman who framed that measure or by the Legislature which passed it. In point of fact, that clause, like the other to which he had referred, was adopted from the Act which was passed by the Irish Parliament in 1793, when Roman Catholics were not admissible into Parliament. He had, however, a most authentic record of the views of Sir Robert Peel on that subject, contained in that statesman's memorials recently published. In page 191 of the first volume of those memoirs (published under the editorship of Mr. Cardwell and Lord Mahon) Sir Robert Peel said—I think of the two proposals above mentioned the limitation of Members is much less open to objection than the other, by which the discretion of a Member of Parliament is to be fettered, or rather taken away, on certain and not very intelligible subjects.And again in page 353,The move I considered the subject the more I was disposed to abandon all thoughts of legislative securities, of imposing restrictions—for instance, on the number of Roman Catholics admissible to Parliament, or of maintaining distinctions of any kind in respect to the capacity for power or the exercise of power, legislative or official, between Protestant and Roman Catholic.That distinguished statesman was equally explicit in a speech which he made on introducing that measure to the House for the first time. He said—The Bill will, therefore, expressly provide for the admission of the Roman Catholics to seats in the two Houses of Parliament. It has been proposed to limit the numbers so admissible; but I doubt the practicability and expediency of affixing any precise limitation to the numbers. I would admit them, therefore, on the same footing, the same principle of equality, on which we now admit the Dissenter from the Church of England. Another proposal has been made by a right hon. Friend of mine (Mr. Wilmot Horton), made from the best motives, and supported with an ingenuity, ability, and research worthy of the motives and of the character of its author. My right hon. Friend has proposed, with a view to calm the suspicions and fears of those who object to the admission of Roman Catholics to Parliament, that the Roman Catholic Member should be disqualified by law from voting on matters relating directly or indirectly to the interests of the Established Church. There appears to me numerous 1765 and cogent objections to this proposal. In the first place, it is dangerous to establish the precedent of limiting by law the discretion by which the duties and functions of a Member of Parliament are to be exercised. In the second, it is difficult to define beforehand what are the questions which affect the interests of the Church. A question which has no immediate apparent connection with the Church might have a practical bearing upon its welfare ten times more important than another question which might appear directly to concern it. Thirdly, by excluding the Roman Catholic from giving his individual vote you do little to diminish his real influence; if you leave him the power of speaking, of biassing the judgment of others on the question on which he is not himself to vote; and if, by a jealous and distrusting, but ineffectual, precaution, you tempt him to exercise to your prejudice the remaining power of which you cannot or do not propose to deprive him. I believe there is more of real security in confidence than in avowed mistrust and suspicion, unaccompanied by effectual guards. For these reasons, I am unwilling to deprive the Roman Catholic Member of either House of Parliament of any privilege of free discussion and free exercise of judgment which belongs to other Members of the Legislature."—[2 Hansard, xx. 757.]That the oath was so understood by the House of Commons of that day was clear from the speech of Sir Charles Wetherell, who, in the course of the discussion, said—Now, Sir, I would wish that some senior optime from Oxford, or some senior wrangler from Cambridge, would explain how this Bill is to bind a Roman Catholic in his legislative capacity, in the discharge of his Parliamentary duties. Sir, there are hon. Members in this House, and Protestants too, such as an hon. Member who must be absent from his place on this night through indisposition alone—I mean the hon. Member for Montrose—who think that the revenue of the Church is national property; that it may be dealt with as a State fund, to be distributed by Parliament as Parliament shall think proper; in short, as a sort of strong box or till, into which the Minister may put his hand whenever the public necessities require it. There are other hon. Members, too, such as the hon. Member for Colchester, who think—what that hon. Member candidly acknowledged—that the property of the Church was an encumbrance to her, and that the sooner she was disburdened of it the purer she would become as a religion. Now, suppose the hon. Member for Colchester to rise and move the appropriation of the Church property to other than their present objects, and the hon. Member for Montrose to second that Motion, do you mean to tell me the Catholic would be acting against his Parliamentary oath if he sanctioned such a measure so moved and seconded by Protestants, and probably supported, too, by sixty or seventy other Protestants in this House? Would the Catholic be restricted from supporting that vote by the oath in the Bill? Answer that. Let the casuists from Oxford or Cambridge answer that if they can. I was asked the question; I answered it; and now, in my turn, I ask, I invite, I challenge any man in the House to stand up in his place and answer my question. I ask, do you or do you not, when you give the Roman Catholic legislative power, re- 1766 strain and restrict him from acting in his legislative capacity as he pleases? Satisfy me that the Roman Catholic, when admitted by this Bill into Parliament, will be restricted and shackled as to his power to injure the Church Establishment, and that the Protestant will still remain free to vote according to his conscience; do that, and I will instantly concede that you will have taken the poison out of the measure under your consideration. But if you will leave to the Roman Catholic this legislative power to injure the Protestant institutions of the State, then, I say, I can never believe any man who tells me that there is no danger to the Church in the admission of Roman Catholics into Parliament."—[2 Hansard, xx. 1573.]Now, no one took up that challenge. Sir R. Peel, who followed Sir Charles Wetherell in the course of that debate, did not express the slightest difference of opinion as to the construction of the oath; and nothing appeared to him (Mr. Deasy) plainer than that these two eminent person, as well as Parliament generally, did not conceive or intend that this oath should operate in the manner in which it was now understood by others. Even, however, if the oath were provided as a security for the Established Church, he would respectfully ask the friends of that Church, whether it was requisite to retain it any longer, or whether the Establishment had derived any benefit from its existence? The dangers apprehended at the time of the Catholic Emancipation Act had proved altogether visionary. The formidable enemies of the Established Church were not the Roman Catholic Members, who were few in number and weak in influence, and against whom might be arrayed at any moment the religious prejudices of England and of Scotland, which, indeed, they were warned would be aroused by their present proceedings. The really formidable enemies of the Established Church were the hon. Gentlemen who sat on the back benches—the representatives of the English Dissenters, the descendants of the Puritans, the hereditary foes of all religious endowments. These hon. Gentlemen could found newspapers, collect subscriptions, distribute tracts, and set in motion all that machinery of popular agitation by which such striking results had in our day been achieved, and yet from them no security was exacted, and upon them no restrictions were imposed. And he thought that he asked for nothing unreasonable, when he asked the House to admit the Roman Catholic Members on the same terms as Dissenters from the Established Church, and even from Christianity itself. The real security of the Establish- 1767 ment lay in the affection of the people. It would last so long as it was sanctioned by public opinion, and no longer; but, if that opinion should pass over to the side of its enemies, its fall would not be averted by any such safeguard as this. If, however, Parliament intended that this oath should be imposed as a restriction upon the free action of the Roman Catholic Members of the Legislature, then he would say that it was the duty of the House to express that intention in plain unequivocal and unambiguous language to define in distinct terms, so that there could be no misapprehension, the class of subjects to which such a restriction should apply, and the limits within which that restriction was to operate. It was inconsistent with the sanctity of an oath that it should be framed so as to be open to an ambiguous construction. What said the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University, in the debate upon this subject in 1854?—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 taken, oaths ought to be short and simple. They ought, above all, to avoid the use of ambiguous language, which serves to trap consciences."—[3 Hansard, cxxxiii. 899.]He hoped the House would carry out the principles so clearly expressed by the right hon. Gentleman, whoso support he trusted he should have on this occasion. He should now show how ambiguous the language of this oath was considered among Catholics to be. The point was much discussed in the House of Commons during 1848, upon which occasion three Roman Catholic Members who took part in that debate expressed three different opinions as to the construction of the oath. The present Duke of Norfolk, then Earl of Arundel and Surrey, and a Member of this House, thought he was precluded by it from voting on any question affecting the temporal interests of the Church. Mr. Sheil considered himself perfectly at liberty to vote for any reasonable reduction in the temporalities of the Church, and for such measures as would reduce them within what he looked upon as the limits requisite for the spiritual wants of the Irish Protestants. Mr. John O'Connell, again, believed that he was at liberty to vote for the complete secularization of the revenues of the Church. Here 1768 were three as honourable men as ever sat in the House of Commons, each adopting a different construction of this oath. Now, he would ask, whether such a state of things was befitting the dignity of Parliament, and whether they should allow it to continue? Upon this subject he could enlist in his support a very high authority—a right hon. Gentleman whom he was glad to see in his place on the Treasury bench—the President of the Board of Control (Mr. V. Smith). The right hon. Gentleman thus expressed himself in the debate of 1848, and he (Mr. Deasy) hoped to hear him express himself in similar language that evening—With regard to the Roman Catholic Members, nothing could be more unseemly than the position in which they were put by the oath they were called on to take. The right hon. Gentleman the Master of the Mint (Mr. Sheil), the hon. Member for Limerick, and the noble Lord the Member for Arundel, each following his own view of the oath, put a different construction on it. An hon. Member of that House on another occasion taunted the Roman Catholic Members with the non-observance of their oath. Was it right that such scenes should continue in that House? It was thought that the words in the Roman Catholic oath gave some security to the Established Church. On looking over the debates in Hansard at the time of the passing of the Emancipation Act he did not find any one hon. Member stating that he assented to the Bill owing to that security.This, he thought, furnished a complete answer to the allegation that the Act was assented to owing to the security which the oath afforded to the Established Church, and that therefore it was not now open to Catholics to object to the terms upon which they obtained admission into Parliament. The difference of opinion as to the construction of the oath to which he had alluded was not confined to Members of former Parliaments. It existed still. Upon a recent occasion, when the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) taunted his hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Fagan) with voting in favour of Mr. Miall's Motion respecting the Irish Church, his hon. Friend replied that he had really abstained from voting, believing himself precluded by the oath from so doing. On the other hand, however, there were Catholic Members who maintained different opinions and acted upon those opinions, considering, notwithstanding the terms of the oath, that they were at perfect liberty to vote as they thought proper upon any question which might be submitted to the House, whether it related to the temporalities of the Established Church or not. Such, also, appeared to be the opinion of 1769 Sir R. Peel and Sir Charles Wetherell; and, seeing that the oath was thus unintelligible and indefinite, and did not state to what extent the restriction, if any were intended, should apply, he thought it the bounden duty of the House either to define precisely the sense in which they imposed it, or, if they could not agree upon that (and he believed it would be impossible to get the present Parliament to agree to any particular construction of the oath), then they ought to do what he now proposed they should do—abrogate the oath, place all hon. Members of this House upon a similar footing, and no longer maintain such "a trap for consciences" and a topic of irritating debate. From all these difficulties there was but one escape—the adoption of an uniform test; and in the words of the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford, he said, "Let it be brief, let it be simple, let it be the same for all." With this view he had taken the liberty of proposing this Amendment. If the Committee should agree to them, there would henceforward be no religious distinctions between the different Members of that House in the exercise of their legislative functions, and in their mode of obtaining admission within its walls. The Jew, the Protestant, and the Catholic would then all stand upon the same footing, and he thought that those hon. Members who were for the admission of Jews into Parliament could not consistently oppose the assimilation of the oaths to be taken by Protestants and Catholics. He trusted that in the remarks which he had addressed to the Committee he had succeeded in avoiding the introduction of all irritating topics, for there was nothing that he should more earnestly deprecate than the revival of religious controversies, And now he appealed to the noble Lord at the head of the Government to avail himself of the present opportunity of settling this question, and settling it satisfactorily. He had an opportunity of doing so which might never occur again. He possessed a power which no Minister of the Crown had for a long time enjoyed; possessing, as he did, the confidence of the great majority of the House, he might succeed now in encountering any difficulties which might be interposed, and he might, by settling this question now, finally, upon a satisfactory basis, add another title to those which he already possessed to the gratitude and the confidence of the country. But whatever decision the, noble Lord 1770 might come to, he (Mr. Deasy) would appeal to the Members of all parties and of all persuasions in that House, and he would ask them on the score of justice, of policy, and of consistency to adopt the principle which he had propounded, and to sanction the Amendment which he had proposed. If they should concur in doing so, he believed that they would promote the dignity of that House itself, that they would not impair in any appreciable degree the security of the Established Church, and that they would gratify the feelings and indulge the wishes of millions of their fellow-countrymen. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Amendment.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 11, to leave out the words "ecclesiastical or spiritual."
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I shall endeavour in the few observations which I deem, it my duty to make to the Committee, to imitate the temperate tone of the hon. and learned Member who has just sat down; and I hope that those who nay take part in the discussion, whether it be long or short, to which his Amendment may lead, will studiously avoid entering into those religious disquisitions which have unfortunately too often and too much envenomed some of our former debates. I should be sorry indeed if the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman were to lead to a revival of the Maynooth discussions; for I think the question rests upon broad grounds which render it totally unnecessary for those who may support his Amendment, or for those who may oppose it, to enter into topics which might excite painful feelings in the breast of any hon. Member present. I entirely agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman in the proposition with which he began his speech—that it would be desirable, if practicable, that there should be but one form of oath to be taken by all the hon. Members of this House, and that it is undesirable—that it is an evil that there should be distinctions established between hon. Members by a difference of the form of the oath which they are called upon to take at the table of this House. It is one thing, however, to regret that which happens to be established, and it is another thing to choose the moment and the mode in which an inconvenience should be remedied. I also agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman in this, that, although I think that there is nothing in the Catholic oath which; any man of honour, however scrupulous 1771 his conscience may be, could reasonably object to take; although I think that there is nothing in the oath which could do violence to the feelings or to the conscience of any man, yet I am ready to agree with the hon. and learned Member that there are parts of that oath, which, if I had the power to frame an oath, and the power of my own will to enforce it, I should certainly not think it necessary to include. But we are now called upon to determine whether we will pass a measure the object of which is to free the oath which is taken by Protestant Members from portions which are repugnant to the common sense of those who take it. We are not now determining whether by so doing we will place Catholics on a footing of equality and uniformity, as the hon. and learned Member represents it, with those who are now excluded; but whether we will, while we relieve Protestants from declarations which are superfluous and unnecessary, at the same time admit into this House a section of our fellow-countrymen who are now suffering under that exclusion from Parliament, to which they have been subjected for so many years, and from which the Roman Catholics have been relieved. The hon. and learned Member, speaking on behalf of the members of his own religious persuasion, and I am sure I can perfectly appreciate his feelings, wishes to couple the measure which I now propose with a proposition which would alter the oath at present taken by Catholic Members, and which would release them from parts of it which they think unnecessary; but I would suggest to the hon. and learned Gentleman, and to those whom he represents, that they ought to consider this as a question of prudence as well as of principle. I do not quarrel with them for the opinions which they entertain, or for their desire to take advantage of this opportunity to carry the change which they wish to accomplish; but I would venture humbly to submit to them that a perseverance in the attempt which the hon. and learned Gentleman is making would necessarily fail to accomplish the purpose which they have in view; or that, if it succeeded in accomplishing that purpose, and in altering the oath in the manner proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman, such a change would inevitably cause the entire failure of the aggregate measure. The hon. and learned Gentleman says that the oath which is now taken by Catholics was not part of a 1772 general arrangement at the time of the Catholic Emancipation Act; and, in support of his opinion, he quotes passages from the letters of the late Sir R. Peel, showing that Sir R. Peel himself did not think that some portions of the oath as it now stands were necessary or desirable. Why, Sir, the stronger the evidence which the hon. and learned Gentleman can produce to show that Sir R. Peel himself did not attach value to what are called the "securities" which that oath contains—the stronger the evidence which he can adduce to show that those portions of the oath to which he objects were not in conformity with the personal opinions of Sir R. Peel, the clearer seems to me to be the inference that the oath as now framed was part of a compact between Sir R. Peel and those who opposed him; because why should he have proposed to Parliament an oath which was inconsistent with his own opinions unless it were thereby to disarm hostility and opposition to the measure which he was endeavouring to carry? We cannot disguise from ourselves, I think, that that oath was considered by many who opposed the measure as a bridge by which they might pass over to its support, or, at all events, as an arrangement which would at least justify them in abstaining from further resistance to it. It was undoubtedly part of an arrangement for the settlement of a great question come to between those who urgently recommended it on the one hand and those who conscientiously and systematically opposed it on the other; and I must say that I think it would be undesirable at the present moment to endeavour to disturb that settlement, because I am quite sure that any measure based upon such an attempt would fail in its passage through the two Houses of Parliament, and that so far from relieving the Catholics from portions of the oath to which they now object we should only insure the total failure of the Bill now before the Committee. I therefore, without entering into a discussion of the particular portions of the oath to which the hon. and learned Member has adverted—placing my opposition to his Amendment upon the broad ground that it is mixing up in one debate two subjects which are different in their nature, and that an attempt to alter the Catholic oath at this time would only end in the failure of the measure which we have now under consideration—contenting myself with resting my objection 1773 on that broad ground, I should hope, in the first place, that the hon. and learned Gentleman will not persevere in taking the sense of the Committee upon the question. But if, nevertheless, he feels it to be his duty to do so, I should hope that the Committee will not acquiesce in the Amendment which he has proposed. At the same time, I would add that those who vote against his proposition do not thereby pronounce an opinion that the Catholic oath is exactly and in all respects such as they would wish it to be; for I am sure that there must be many who think with me that there are things undoubtedly in that oath which are unnecessary, but that this is not the time for disturbing the settlement which was made in 1829. I repeat that I am quite satisfied that any attempt to do so would result, not only in the failure of that attempt, but that it would involve in the same failure a measure which I think is deserving of the favour and support of Parliament.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
said, he was disposed to pay more deference to the sentiments of the noble Lord who had just sat down than to those of any other hon. Member in the House; but he must confess that he was somewhat astonished that the noble Lord should reproach the Roman Catholic Members by saying that this was not the fit time for bringing forward the question to which the hon. and learned Gentleman had called the attention of the House. When the noble Lord was stirring up the whole question of oaths, and authoritatively declaring that the great object was to have one oath for all, he could not understand why the noble Lord should think that this was not the time, when the good sense or sound judgment of the Roman Catholic Members would be displayed in bringing forward this question. Did the noble Lord mean to say unless he had stirred up the question of oaths himself that it would be possible for them to bring-forward the question at all? It seemed to him that if they let slip this opportunity they would let slip the only opportunity they were likely to have. He should endeavour to imitate the admirable judgment of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Deasy) as well as the tone and manner in which he had brought forward the question. Still he hoped hon. Members would allow him to tell them a few truths. He was addressing himself specially to those hon. Gentlemen from the north who felt more warmly than wisely, he thought, on this subject. 1774 He believed that there was no person in that House who did not put faith in the word and promise of any Roman Catholic Gentleman just as freely as in the word of any Protestant; but the Members of that House were not making an oath merely for hon. Gentlemen whom they knew and liked. They were making an oath for a class which might come hereafter, and the real difficulty of the question was here, for "another king might arise who knew not Joseph," and under him might arise the necessity for very different oaths and opinions. But what did the present oath amount to if the Roman Catholic entertained a mental reservation when he took it? If it were contended that in consequence of their mental reservation the Roman Catholics were not to be trusted, then they should in consistency get rid of all oaths imposed on the Roman Catholics; but they knew, in point of fact, that, notwithstanding the teaching of priests throughout Europe, there was a moral force somewhere or other that set that teaching of the priests at defiance, and that the Roman Catholic Members were as much to be trusted as the Protestant. Then, why not, as Sir Robert Peel said, try the effects of confidence? There was a part of the oath to which he had as strong objections as the hon. and learned Member. He had strong objections to the House presuming to limit anything under the name of "spiritual." They had power over what was "temporal and civil," but what was "spiritual" they could not control. What the House had to do with was the assumption of spiritual power by those priests; and he believed the Roman Catholic gentlemen of England and Ireland would be as strongly opposed to that power as the Protestants, and that none of them would submit to that sort of thing. The Roman Catholic laity should stand up and teach those priests their place—teach them that they had no rights whatever beyond those which the laity possessed, whatever might be their privileges. He thought the proposed Amendment ought to be agreed to, and he thought the time had come when an end should be put to the distinction of oaths now existing, the First Minister of the Crown having himself forced the question on the attention of the House.
§ MR. STAPLETON
said, that he concurred with the hon. and learned Member in thinking that there was much in the old oath of the Roman Catholics which was 1775 objectionable, and those objections would become much stronger if this Bill passed. The Roman Catholics would be placed in a false position if they were required to make a declaration which was not called for from any other Member, whether he were a Member of the Church of England, a Dissenter, an Unitarian, a member of the Society of Friends, or even a member of the Jewish persuasion. Therefore he concurred with the hon. and learned Member in his view; and he thought that this was the opportunity for bringing forward this Amendment. But it appeared to him the Amendment was not well framed for carrying out the hon. and learned Member's purpose. The first portion of the oath was one that might be taken by any hon. Gentleman, Protestant or Roman Catholic; but the latter portion of the oath could clearly have no effect, except the effect of preventing Roman Catholics from taking it. It appeared to him, therefore, that the proper course was to move that the latter portion of the oath be omitted altogether. Instead of that, the hon. and learned Member proposed to retain it, but with the alteration of two words. He proposed to strike out the words "ecclesiastical and spiritual," and to insert the words "temporal or civil." The Roman Catholics, in 1829, were allowed to take the oath in the proposed form: but altering the new oath in the mode proposed by implication acknowledged the ecclesiastical and spiritual supremacy of the Pope in this kingdom. He did not see how any Protestant Member of that House could acknowledge it; and therefore he was compelled to vote against the Amendment.
§ MR. WALPOLE
Sir, I shall only say a few words on the question now before the House. I shall vote against the Amendment, because I think it cannot be sustained on any tenable ground. I agree entirely with the observation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, quoted by the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. Deasy), that the oath to be taken by Members of this House should be short, simple, and unambiguous; and for that reason I think that, in this respect, there is a great improvement in the oath proposed by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, to be substituted for that now taken; but I think that improvement would not be attained unless you retained in the one oath all the principles which are at present contained in the three. If the Committee 1776 will bear with me for a moment I shall explain what I mean by that. There was first, the simple oath of allegiance to the Queen—"I will bear true allegiance to Her Majesty." That oath remained for some time the only oath taken by Members of Parliament. In the course of time there appeared to be a divided allegiance, and the oath of supremacy was then introduced, in order that there might be no mistake on this point—that no foreign prince or potentate, whether lay or ecclesiastical, should have any authority in this realm. Remember, therefore, that the second oath is an oath of undivided allegiance. When you come to the third oath you find that it was introduced in the reign of William III., because attacks on our liberties and our religion had been made, which ended in the abdication of James II. The third oath was then framed and subscribed to, declaring that the undivided allegiance provided by the second should be an allegiance to the heirs of a particular person in a particular line of succession. There are, therefore, three principles in the present oaths—allegiance, undivided allegiance, and allegiance to a particular course of descent. All these principles are in the oath proposed by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and therefore I shall support the measure as far as it goes. But so far also as it strikes out superfluous words it is likewise an improvement, for the more simple and more short an oath is the more solemn is it likely to be also. But the noble Lord says that he resists the substitution of the words "temporal and civil" for the words "spiritual and ecclesiastical," solely, as I understood, because this is not, in his opinion, the mode in which, or the moment when, a proposal for such an alteration in the oath prescribed for Roman Catholics should be made. Now, there is no doubt that those words which now stand in the oath were, at the time they were put into the oath, intended as a security against any danger to the constitution that might result from the admission of Roman Catholics into this House; yet the only ground on which the noble Lord resists their removal is not that the security should still be maintained, but because this is not the time—this is not the moment for the alteration proposed. The noble Viscount has expressed his hope that there may not be introduced into this discussion any topics which may lead to angry feelings arising 1777 from religious differences; but, Sir, unless the words of the noble Viscount are more guarded than they have been, I think they will lead to discussions not friendly to the preservation of that temper which would prevent any manifestation of such feelings as those which the noble Lord refers to. I think that considerable distrust will be felt by the people of this country in the policy of the noble Lord if it be understood that he founds his opposition to an Amendment such as that now before the House merely on the ground that it is brought forward at an inconvenient time. I am, with the noble Lord, opposed to the Amendment, but in the reasons assigned by him as the ground of opposition I cannot at all concur. I believe that the adoption of this Amendment will necessarily provoke religious discussions, and therefore I cannot give it my support.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
, in explanation, said, the right hon. Gentleman assumed that he had rested his objection to the Amendment simply upon the ground that this was not the time for making or discussing any alteration in the Roman Catholic oath. That was the sole ground upon which he (Lord Palmerston) proposed to the House to discuss and deal with the Motion under consideration, but he said distinctly that it was because he thought that ground broad enough for the present occasion, that he would therefore abstain from entering into any discussion as to the merits of the Roman Catholic oath, some parts of which he believed to be unnecessary, while there were others with regard to which he might entertain a different opinion.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, that in the course of this discussion it has been observed that the qualifications of the oath were, that it should be both simple and short. In his opinion there was another qualification which an oath should contain, and which seemed to have entirely escaped attention—namely, truth. Now, he wished to know whether the oath proposed by the noble Lord was true. The oath declared that no foreign Potentate hath any power, authority, or pre-eminence, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within these realms. Now, was that true? No foreign Potentate had any power over him; but he wished to know—it was useless to hide names—whether the Pope had not power, both ecclesiastical and spiritual, in England, He was called upon in that House, and 1778 he had been called upon some twenty times in the course of his life, to swear to an actual lie. It was a fact. There was not a man in that House who did not know that the Pope exercised ecclesiastical and spiritual dominion in this realm. Had not the Pope partitioned this kingdom, into bishoprics? Had not Parliament passed a law which was no law—which they dared not enforce—against the authority of the Pope of Rome? They knew that at that hour there were persons in that very city who, under foreign authority—that of the Pope—exercised ecclesiastical dominion therein. Then, with regard to spiritual dominion, it had lately been declared by the Pope of Rome that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was to be believed by Roman Catholics, contrary to the religion of this country as established by the State. Was not that belief imposed upon all Roman Catholics in this country? Was not that spiritual dominion? If it were not he (Mr. Roebuck) did not know what was. If, then, he knew that the Pope exercised such dominion, and he was called upon to take an oath declaring that he did not, was not he (Mr. Roebuck) swearing to a lie, knowing it to be a lie? He contended that it was the duty of the House to relieve its Members from lying in this manner, and, as he very much disliked such a formal mode of lying, he would give his vote for the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Cork.
§ SIR FREDERIC THESIGER
observed, that his hon. and learned Friend had put a construction upon the oaths which certainly somewhat astonished him, for his hon. and learned Friend had said he considered that any person taking the oaths would swear to a lie, his hon. and learned Friend having himself taken the oaths. He (Sir F. Thesiger) regretted that the slightest asperity should have marked the discussion, for the hon. and learned Member for Cork had advocated his Amendment with a calmness and temper to which no exception could be taken. The only complaint he had to make against the hon. and learned Gentleman was that, having addressed himself to the various objections which, in his opinion, might be urged against the Roman Catholic oath, he had never adverted to the reasons which he thought justified his own Amendment for the omission of the words "ecclesiastical and spiritual." He (Sir F. Thesiger) had hoped that when the noble Lord at the 1779 head of the Government rose for the purpose of answering the hon. and learned Member for Cork, he would have explained why he objected to the Amendment. The noble Lord must know perfectly well that the hon. and learned Member for Cork proposed the omission of the words "ecclesiastical and spiritual" in order to render the oath such as Roman Catholics might be enabled to take. For as long as those words remained, it was quite clear that Roman Catholics could not take it. Roman Catholics did not deny "that the Pope hath or ought to have jurisdiction, power, pre-eminence, and authority, ecclesiastical and spiritual, within these realms," and in order to have one form of oath which might be taken by Roman Catholics as well as Protestants, or any other Members of the House, it was necessary to divest the form of the words which the hon. and learned Member proposed to omit, those words involving a recognition of the supremacy of the Crown, which was denied by the Roman Catholics. Let them consider what was involved in that question, which might become a very serious one indeed. His hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Roebuck) contended that it was a lie to say that the Pope had not spiritual jurisdiction within these realms, and in support of his assertion he adverted to the Papal Aggression Act, which was passed some time ago when the Pope endeavoured to parcel out the dominions of the Crown into various ecclesiastical jurisdictions. It appeared to him that his hon. and learned Friend had entirely mistaken the object and effect of the oath, which was introduced in the very first year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, for the purpose of guarding the supremacy of the Crown,—then declared in the most explicit and authoritative manner,—from invasion or usurpation by any foreign Power. The provisions introduced for the purpose of establishing this supremacy gave a character and construction to the oath which he thought could not be mistaken. The Act distinctly stated that the object of introducing the oath was—To the intent that all usurped and foreign power and authority, spiritual and temporal, may for ever be extinguished and never used in this realm, be it enacted, That no foreign prince, person, &c., shall use, enjoy, or exercise any manner of power, jurisdiction, superiority, authority, pre-eminence, or privilege, spiritual or ecclesiastical, within this realm.The Act further declared the QueenSupreme Governor, as well on all spiritual and ecclesiastical things or causes as temporal," and proceeded to declare, "that no foreign prince, 1780 person, &c., hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, &c., ecclesiastical or spiritual within this realm.This was an explicit declaration of the supremacy of the Crown, which was not then established for the first time, because he might venture to say, upon the highest authority, that that supremacy was an essential part of the constitution of this country from the earliest ages. The declaration was made in order explicitly and authoritatively to prevent invasion or encroachment upon that supremacy on the part of any foreign Power; and following upon that declaration came the oath of supremacy, which delared the Queen the supreme Governor in all spiritual and ecclesiastical as well as in all temporal causes,And that no foreign prince, person, prelate, State, or potentate, hath, or ought to have, any jurisdiction, power, pre-eminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm.Now, what were the fair understanding and construction of an oath framed in that particular language and at that particular time? Did it mean to declare a fact or to assert a legal right? Did it mean that de facto the Pope had no jurisdiction, pre-eminence, or authority, or that by right, and according to the constitution, he had no such power, and that his authority was not a legal authority? So far from his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Roebuck) having put a correct construction upon this oath, he (Sir F. Thesiger) was happy to be able to relieve his conscience—if it would be relieved—from the painful impression that he had knowingly sworn to a lie, because he believed this oath embodied a truth which was at the very foundation of the constitution, and which was authoritatively declared by an Act passed when the Reformation was consummated in this country, that no foreign prince or prelate, State or potentate, had legally or rightly any authority or jurisdiction, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Cork, without any explanation or reason, proposed to omit the words "ecclesiastical and spiritual;" but he (Sir F. Thesiger) should appeal to the Protestant Members of the Committee, not with the view of exciting any unpleasant religious feeling, but because he regarded the declaration of religious supremacy to be the keystone of that arch upon which rested the Protestant religion in this country,—he should, he repeated, appeal to the Committee to say whether they would be disposed to mutilate the oath, and thereby bring about 1781 that which would be but an imperfect recognition of the Queen's supremacy as established by law. That, however, was not the worst. The hon. and learned Gentleman did not merely propose to leave out the words "ecclesiastical and spiritual." That would not answer his purpose; because if the oath were left without these additional words—"ecclesiastical and spiritual"—the remaining words would include all power, jurisdiction, and authority, whether ecclesiastical or spiritual, Accordingly the hon. and learned Gentleman proposed to insert the words "temporal and civil," instead of the words "ecclesiastical and spiritual." Now, let the Committee observe what the effect of that proposition, if it were adopted, would be. By omitting the words "ecclesiastical and spiritual," they would be admitting that Parliament could not maintain the ground which it had assumed at the time of the Reformation. But if, in addition to that, the words "civil and temporal" were allowed to be introduced, and the oath were thus qualified, they would by implication, in setting forth that "no foreign prince, power, or potentate had any civil or temporal power within these realms," virtually be recognising the existence of an ecclesiastical and spiritual authority in these kingdoms upon the part of the Pope; because, in specifying a particular description of authority, they would, in accordance with a well-known rule, be excluding every other. Such was the opinion which had been expressed by that great statesman the late Sir R. Peel, in the year 1849, when it had been proposed by the noble Lord, the Member for the City of London, to introduce the words "temporal and civil" into the oath to be taken by Roman Catholic Members, and to exclude from it the words "ecclesiastical and spiritual." Sir R. Peel upon that occasion, said:—If he were to insert the words 'temporal and civil' he would give rise to the presumption that he recognized the existence, on the part of the Pope of Rome, of a spiritual and ecclesiastical jurisdiction.He added:—The oath is one to which the Roman Catholics can have no valid or conscientious objection, and which gives us every security which an oath can give that the difference on religious faith would not affect their allegiance to the King or their capacity for civil service.Those were the words of Sir R. Peel; and he (Sir F. Thesiger) would ask those Protestant Members of that House who were not prepared to abandon the recognition 1782 of the complete supremacy of the Crown by omitting the words "ecclesiastical and spiritual," whether they were disposed so far to favour the views of which the hon. and learned Member for Cork was the advocate, as to compromise the question by assenting to the substitution of the words "civil and temporal." The point was one which involved a direct invasion of the supremacy of the Crown, and he must, with very great deference to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, complain that upon such a question he did not refer somewhat more minutely to the importance of its bearing upon that supremacy. Now, taking it for granted that the Protestant Members of that House were not disposed to give up that portion of the oath, let him ask whether there was any reason why the Roman Catholics should demand that the settlement which had taken place in 1829 should in the slightest degree be interfered with? He did not wish to stir up any unpleasant discussion in connection with the subject, but it appeared to him to be perfectly clear that the Roman Catholic oath was intended as one of the securities framed at the time of the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Act, and one to which, as Sir R. Peel said, "the Roman Catholics could have no valid or conscientious objection." And what did the Roman Catholic archbishops and bishops state in their pastorals after the passing of the Act in question? He believed that their authority in those matters had been disavowed, but, at all events, he thought he was correct in saying that no one had ever heard at the time of the passing of the Act that the slightest objection had been made upon their part to the manner in which the oath was framed, which, as he had shown, was certainly intended as a security against the apprehended aggressions of the Roman Catholic body upon the institutions of the country. The Roman Catholic archbishops and bishops said:—Since we last addressed you a great and beneficial and healing measure has been enacted by the Legislature for your relief. We trust 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 obtain their just rights, and to obtain them without compromising the freedom of the ChurchNow, it was perfectly clear that in 1829 everybody seemed to be satisfied with all 1783 that had been done in the way of framing the Roman Catholic Relief Act so as to bring about that tranquillity and give that security which it was intended to afford. At a subsequent period the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control (Mr. V. Smith) had proposed the adoption of a form of oath adapted, as he thought, to be taken without objection by every hon. Member in that House. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London, commenting upon that proposition:—Declared that it would be unwise 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.Such was the language of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London; but, passing from the noble Lord to the speech of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield, he should ask if the circumstances which had occurred since the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Act, and to which his hon. and learned Friend had adverted, rendered it desirable that any of those securities should be relaxed which had been provided by the Bill of 1829. His hon. and learned Friend had stated that there had been upon the occasion to which he alluded an assumption of ecclesiastical and spiritual, if not of temporal authority upon the part of the Pope in dividing this country into bishoprics and appointing ecclesiastical authorities to preside over them. Now, it was quite true, as his hon. and learned Friend had remarked, that the operation of the measure which had been passed for the purpose of repressing that encroachment upon the authority of the Sovereign of these realms was not perfectly satisfactory. It had, however, had some effect in checking that encroachment, if it had not gone the whole length which his hon. and learned Friend desired. But, be that as it might, he should, at all events, like to know what would be their position if they were to assent to the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Cork, and to strike out of the oath the words "ecclesiastical and spiritual." If they were to do so, would it not be a moral, if not a legal acknowledgment upon their part that the Pope had been justified in doing all that he had done upon the occasion to which he referred? He had no intention when he rose to address the Committee at such length, but he was most anxious that the 1784 question under their notice should be considered in all its important bearing, and it was impossible that the discussion could be left where it stood after the speech of his hon. and learned Friend. He was most decidedly opposed to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Cork, upon the ground, in the first place, that it would interfere with the supremacy of the Crown; in the next place, that it would amount to a virtual admission of the papal supremacy; and, lastly, because it would to some extent operate as a sanction and a justification of the encroachments on the part of the Pope to which he had called the attention of the Committee, and against which they had endeavoured to guard.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, that while professing no particular enthusiasm for the Jews, he felt inclined to look upon their appeal for admission into the Legislature as a matter of dry necessity, and as a mathematical demand of justice. He had hoped that a measure would have been proposed by the noble Lord at the head of the Government which would have for ever sealed up that miserable chapter of religious dissension which reflected so little credit upon that House; but in that hope he had been disappointed, inasmuch as the Bill under their notice had been brought forward in a shape he could not altogether approve. He looked upon the question involved in the Bill in a manner in which it had not been treated by any one else in that House. He looked upon it in a light in which, as a sincere member of the Established Church, he had a right to view it, and he must say that the noble Viscount at the head of the Government had paid a very poor compliment to the Protestants of England in coupling members of the Established Church with Jews and Turks, who might all enter Parliament under one form of oath, while Roman Catholics alone were admitted under another. The new oath, indeed, reminded him of the inscription which was written over the gates of Bandon:—Jew, Turk, infidel or atheist,May enter here, but not a Papist.At the time the Roman Catholic oath was adopted the Roman Catholics themselves were no consenting parties to it. They were forced to take the oath, or not enter Parliament at all. Yet now, when the question had come before Parliament again, and the Roman Catholic Members were invited to be consenting parties to that oath, they were called upon to accept 1785 it with the additional sting that the obnoxious portions were to be removed from the residuary oath hereafter to be imposed on the other Members of the House. As such he considered the measure was a retrograde one—a reactionary measure from that Act of Toleration which in 1829, when the principle of religious liberty was imperfectly understood, had been extorted by fear and not conceded from conviction—which was passed from fear that Ireland might break out into rebellion, and not from a sense of the justice due to Ireland; for it was saying that if these Roman Catholics would not take the oath thus octroyé to them, they should not enter at all. If through the Bill one or two Jews found their way into the House, it would be at the expense of an injury inflicted upon the consciences of those millions of their fellow-countrymen, who are Roman Catholics. The harm the Bill would do, in short, would be greater than the benefit. It was opposed to civil freedom, and to that toleration which, as a churchman, he had at heart. The cause of religious toleration would not be benefited, but rather thrown back by this Bill; and, if it passed, the question would only recur year after year with greater aggravation and acerbity.
§ MR. G. H. MOORE
said, the formidable difference of opinion between the hon. and learned Members for Sheffield and Stamford made a pretty quarrel as it stood, with which it would be utter presumption in him to interfere. But hon. Members should accept it as a warning against being too dogmatic, in their interpretation of the oaths taken by others when they were obliged to resort to such refined casuistry as that of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir F. Thesiger) to defend their interpretation of that taken by themselves. The insult and injustic to Roman Catholics of having a special oath imposed upon them affected him lightly. If the Parliament of England declared that Jews and Protestants might record their religious attestation by one common and mutually convenient formula, and that Roman Catholics should take a separate oath, he, as a Roman Catholic, accepted the difference as a distinction. In that case, the only additional favour he should be inclined to ask would be that, when they had discarded the concluding words of the oath, they would permit him the exclusive privilege of making his attestion on "the true faith of 1786 a Christian." With regard to retaining the passage about mental reservation as a portion of the Roman Catholic oath, he would say with equal sincerity that if Protestants chose to put upon record that they entertained the suspicions of the good faith and honour of their fellow-Christians, he envied them not the enjoyment of this religious pleasure, and that when the oath was read at the table it was not Roman Catholics who had reason to be ashamed of it. There was nothing more clear than that in a final settlement of the oaths to be taken by hon. Members of that House the meaning and intention of these oaths ought to be set at rest, so that there should be no room for equivocation, and that the sinister intention of saying one thing and meaning another should no longer be imputed to any class of hon. Members. There could be nothing more indecent than that oaths should be so framed—and the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) had insinuated that this oath had been expressly so framed—as to bear two significations, so that, while honourable and conscientious men took it in the sense they believed to be true, it was left open to men of coarse and ungenerous minds to impute it to them that they were indifferent to the obligations that they had solemnly promised to fulfil. If he thought it relevant to the question, and had not the matter been already exhausted by the hon. and learned Member opposite (Mr. Deasy) he could prove to the satisfaction of the House—to the satisfaction alike of the most scrupulous and the most inveterate, from the hon. Member for Cork, who drew the line at ministers' money, to the hon. Member for Warwickshire, who would probably carry it to Maynooth—that there was nothing whatever in the Roman Catholic oath which restricted any hon. Member, who took it, in the fair exercise of his legislative functions upon all matters which concerned the interests of the people and the honour of the Crown. The noble Lord said that the oath was a matter of settlement between the two parties. Perhaps that was so; but it was no less true that the Roman Catholics believed that they took the oath in a different sense from that in which it was subsequently declared to be understood by other parties. The same oath, so settled for the Roman Catholic Members, was also appointed to be taken by the students and professors of Maynooth. As it would be absurd to assume that it was the intention 1787 of the Legislature that Catholic Priests should swear not to weaken the Protestant religion in the legitimate exercise of the functions of their order, so it would be equally absurd to assume that there was anything in the same oath to restrict the Roman Catholics in that House from the performance of what they believed to be in accordance with the interests of their country. Others, however, thought differently, and so early as 1834 or 1835, Mr. O'Connell moved for the appointment of a Committee of the House to inquire into the meaning of the oath. Adopting this view of the noble Lord, that the oath was a settlement between two parties, there was nothing more clear than that it was invidious to make a settlement the professed intention of which was to clear away all obnoxious matter, and yet at the same time to permit an unseemly misunderstanding as to the meaning of the oath to continue to exist. The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) had not the excuse of a weak Government. He was at the head of a Government as strong as that of 1841, and yet he condescended to shifts worthy of the tottering Administration of 1850. The noble Lord undertook to deal with the question in the spirit of a great statesman, but he resorted to the shifts of a petty trickster. He tried to work out religious freedom by pandering to the smallest religious intolerance. He undertook to raise one class of his fellow-subjects, and yet he said he was not able to do so without inflicting humiliation upon another, and then he told them that his Bill would tend to promote some arrangements in another place which the Amendment would set aside. But the noble Lord would find that his Low Church Bishop scheme, like the Durham letter scheme, to which it was analogous in spirit, would lead to similar results, and that while he was getting round Lord Shaftesbury in the other House he would find himself confronted by public opinion. The noble Lord would be taught, as other statesmen had been taught before him, that it was not safe to concentrate the energy of a people who had never found the want of making themselves formidable whenever the occasion required.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
When a well-trained actor so simulated a part and imitated truth as to wring from every one the acknowledgment, "How like unto truth it is," people admired the actor and wondered at the simulation, but were not taken in by 1788 the attempt. His hon. and learned Friend (Sir F. Thesiger) wondered at the interpretation he had put upon the oath, but he would bring to the recollection of his hon. and learned Friend a circumstance which had occurred within his own knowledge. Did he not recollect a very learned and celebrated advocate who, on being made a Queen's Counsel, sent in his patent, and claimed to take his seat as a bencher without taking this oath? That celebrated Queen's Counsel took the very objection that I have taken to the words of this oath. He said, "I cannot declare that the Pope has no jurisdiction, ecclesiastical or spiritual, in this realm;" and he appealed to the benchers of the Inner Temple to allow him to take his seat as a bencher thereof without taking this oath; and they admitted him. On the election of every Roman Catholic Bishop within this kingdom three names were sent to Rome, and one of them was chosen by the Pope. The person so chosen had power as a bishop in England or in Ireland, and was recognized there. Who, then, could say that the Pope, as a matter of fact, had no ecclesiastical dominion in England? Again, as to spiritual jurisdiction. Transubstantiation was a tenet of the Roman Catholic Church, and if the Pope commanded that doctrine to be believed in by the members of his communion in this country, was not that exercising a spiritual jurisdiction? Did not this oath, then, call on every hon. Member of that House to swear that the Pope had not that which they knew in their hearts that he had. He (Mr. Roebuck) perfectly understood the sneers of the hon. and learned Gentleman—he knew what that meant; but why should they be called on to swear that the Pope had no ecclesiastical and spiritual jurisdiction in these realms when they all knew that he had? In the Roman Catholic oath these words were not used, but "civil and temporal" were substituted for them. Therefore he (Mr. Roebuck) owed a debt of gratitude to the hon. Member for Cork for putting him on the same footing as the Roman Catholic Members. If those hon. Members were not called on to swear this, why should he be? In the name of the truth-loving people of England, in the name of the Gentlemen of that House, he appealed to them not to allow these words to be retained.
said, he wished to remind the Committee and the hon. Member for 1789 Sheffield that he himself had within the last month taken the oath which contained the words to which he had objected, at the table of the House, and in opposition to the opinion of the hon. and learned Member, he begged to deny that any Roman Catholic Bishop had, or ought to have, jurisdiction in Ireland, or that he had any jurisdiction which could lawfully proceed only from the Crown itself. True, the Pope could send over a Bishop there, and the people might accept his offices. But jurisdiction and orders were quite different things, and what rule could a Roman Catholic Bishop enforce which was not in accordance with the law of the land? None whatever. Therefore, no foreign prelate, prince, or potentate had jurisdiction or authority. He had sworn it, and he believed it. The objection of the hon. and learned Member had been taken by two Members of the House of Lords. But Lord Clancarty, and another noble Lord who entertained a similar impression, put it in a different way. Unlike the hon. and learned Member, then, they made their objection before they took the oath, for they came and had his (Mr. Napier's) formal opinion upon it. He (Mr. Napier) had the good fortune to allay their scruples and to completely satisfy them upon the subject, and those noble Lords had since taken the oath as Members of the other House. One word as to the observation which had fallen from his hon. Friend (Mr. Moore) with regard to the meaning of another oath which was said to be taken in the plain and ordinary sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservation. Now, some minds were so constituted that no language could make it plain to them. But the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. Deasy) understood the language of this oath; the Duke of Norfolk understood it; and Sir R. Peel also understood it. When Mr. O'Connell brought forward his Motion in 1834; what did Sir R. Peel say? He distinctly said that it was a compact morally binding by the Act of 1829, and Mr. O'Connell withdrew his Motion. In 1849 it was debated again. Sir Robert Peel again took the same position, and said that the thing was plain—that it was a solemn compact, plainly understood, for the obvious reason that witnesses were examined who had stated on oath that the apprehensions of Protestants were unfounded; that no attacks were intended to be made on the property of the Church; and that for this 1790 they were ready to give security. That security was given, and it stood in the words of the oath. Let hon. Gentlemen, therefore, take it in its plain and ordinary meaning. He must also protest against any attempt to get rid of the Oath of Supremacy. Archdeacon Wilberforce, in a pamphlet which he published in 1854, stated that the Oath of Supremacy was the national sin of England, because it was an embodiment of private judgment, set up against the authority of the Church. And what was that authority? The Bishops and the Papacy. What was our protest? A protest against papal usurpation. We set up our national protest against it, and declared by the Articles of the Church, the Acts of 1846 and 1848, and the oath, as explained by his hon. and learned Friend, that the Pope had not, neither ought to have jurisdiction, pre-eminence, power, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, directly or indirectly, within these realms. He hoped the Committee would stand to these words, for upon them the whole fabric of the constitution might be said to stand.
§ SIR FREDERIC THESIGER
wished to make a slight addition to the statement made by his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Roebuck). The learned Gentleman to whom his hon. and learned Friend had referred was not, indeed, at the time he objected to the oath, a member of the Roman Catholic Church, although he very shortly afterwards joined that Church. He certainly took objection to the oath in the way described by his hon. and learned Friend. The benchers on the occasion discovered that they were the only society which imposed the oath. They entertained very considerable doubts as to their right to offer the oath to a bencher, and in consequence the objection was allowed and the oath had been discontinued from that time. It was not taken by the learned bencher alluded to, nor had it been taken by any bencher since.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 373; Noes 83: Majority 290.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adair, H. E.||Arbuthnott, hon. Gen.|
|Adams, W. H.||Archdall, Capt. M.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Ashley, Lord|
|Adeane, H. J.||Bailey, C.|
|Althorp, Visct.||Baines, rt. hon. M. T.|
|Anderson, Sir J.||Ball, E.|
|Annesley, hon. H.||Baring, rt. hon. Sir F.T.|
|Antrobus. E.||Baring, T. G.|
|Barnard, T.||Dod, J. W.|
|Bernard, hon. W. S.||Dodson, J. G.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Du Cane, C.|
|Bathurst, A. A.||Dunbar, Sir W.|
|Baxter, W. E.||Duncan, Visct.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Duncombe, hon. A.|
|Beale, S.||Dundas, G.|
|Bentinck, G. W. P.||Dundas, F.|
|Beresford, rt. hon. W.||Dunlop, A. M.|
|Bethell, Sir R.||Dutton, hon. R. H.|
|Black, A.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Blackburn, P.||Egerton, W. T.|
|Blakemore, T. W. B.||Egerton, E. C.|
|Blandford, Marq. of||Ellice, E.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Elmley, Visct.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Elphinstone, Sir J.|
|Bouverie, rt. hn. E. P.||Estcourt, T. H. S.|
|Bouverie, hon. P. P.||Euston, Earl of|
|Bovill, W.||Evans, T. W.|
|Bramley-Moore, J.||Ewart, W.|
|Brand, hon. H.||Farquhar, Sir W. M.|
|Bridges, Sir B. W.||Fergus, J.|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Ferguson, Col.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Ferguson, Sir R.|
|Brown, J.||Fife, Earl of|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Finlay, A. S.|
|Bruen, H.||FitzGerald, W. R. S.|
|Buchanan, W.||Fitzwilliam, hn. C.W.W.|
|Buckley, Gen.||Foljambe, F. J. S.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Forster, Sir G.|
|Buller, J. W.||Foster, W. O.|
|Burghley, Lord||Fortescue, hon. F. D.|
|Butler, C. S.||Freestun, Col.|
|Caird, J.||Gallwey, Sir W. P.|
|Cairns, H. M'C.||Galway, Visct.|
|Calcraft, J. H.||Gard, R. S.|
|Campbell, R. J. R.||Garnett, W. J.|
|Carden, Sir R. W.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Carnac, Sir J. R.||Gifford, Earl of|
|Cavendish, Lord||Gilpin, Col.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Glover, E. A.|
|Cavendish, hon. G.||Glyn, G. C.|
|Cholmeley, Sir M. J.||Glyn, G. G.|
|Clark, J. J.||Greaves, E.|
|Clay, J.||Greenwood, J.|
|Clifford, H. M.||Grenfell, C. P.|
|Clive, G.||Grenfell, C. W.|
|Cobbett, J. M.||Gray, Capt.|
|Codrington, Sir W.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Codrington, Gen.||Grey, R. W.|
|Cole, hon. H. A.||Griffith, C. D.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Grogan, E.|
|Collier, R. P.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Grosvenor, Earl|
|Cooper, E. J.||Gurdon, C. B.|
|Coote, Sir C. H.||Gurney, S.|
|Coningham, W.||Hackblock, W.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Haddo, Lord|
|Cowan, C.||Hall, Gen.|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Cross, R. A.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Cubitt, Mr. Ald.||Hamilton, J. H.|
|Curzon, Visct.||Hanbury, R.|
|Dalgleish, R.||Handley, J.|
|Damer, L. D.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Davey, R.||Hardcastle, J. A.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Hardy, G.|
|Davison, R.||Harris, J. D.|
|Dering, Sir E. C.||Hay, Lord J.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Headlam, T. E.|
|Divett, E.||Heathcote, Sir W.|
|Dobbs, W. C.||Heathcote, hon. G. H.|
|Heneage, G. F.||Montgomery, Sir G.|
|Henley, rt. hon. J. W.||Moody, C. A.|
|Henniker, Lord||Morgan, O.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Morris, D.|
|Herbert, Col.||Mostyn, hon. T. E. M. L.|
|Hildyard, R. C.||Mowbray, J. R.|
|Hill, Lord E.||Mullings, J. R.|
|Hodgson, W. N.||Naas, Lord|
|Holford, R. S.||Napier, rt. hon. J.|
|Holland, E.||Newark, Visct.|
|Hopwood, J. T.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Horsfall, T. B.||Nisbet, R, P.|
|Horsman, rt. hon. E.||Noel, hon. G. J.|
|Hotham, Lord||Norris, J. T.|
|Hudson, G.||North, Col.|
|Hutt, W.||North, F.|
|Ingham, R.||Ogilvy, Sir J.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Osborne, R.|
|Jervoice, Sir J. C.||Ossulston, Lord|
|Johnstone, hon. H. B.||Paget, C.|
|Johnstone, J. J. H.||Paget, Lord A,|
|Johnstone, Sir J.||Pakington, rt. hon. J.|
|Keating, H. S.||Palk, L.|
|Kelly, Sir F.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Kerrison, Sir E. C.||Patten, Col. W.|
|King, J. K.||Paull, H.|
|King, E. B.||Pease, H.|
|Kinglake, A. W.||Peel, Sir R.|
|Kinglake, J. A.||Pennant, hon. Col.|
|Kingscote, R. N. F.||Pevensey, Visct.|
|Kinnaird, hon. A. F.||Philips, R. N.|
|Knatchbull, W. F.||Philipps, J. H.|
|Knightley, R.||Portman, hon. W. H. B.|
|Knox, Col.||Potter, Sir J.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Powell, F. S.|
|Langton, W. G.||Pryse, E. L.|
|Langton, H. G.||Puller, C. W.|
|Laslett, W.||Ramsden, Sir J. W.|
|Lennox, Lord A. F.||Ramsay, Sir A.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Rebow, J. G.|
|Leslie, C. P.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Lewis, rt. hn. Sir G. C.||Ricardo, O.|
|Liddell, hon. H. G.||Ridley, G.|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Locke, Jos.||Robertson, P. F.|
|Locke, Jno.||Rolt, J.|
|Long, W.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Lopes, Sir M.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Lowe, rt. hon, R.||Rust, J.|
|Luce, T.||Schneider, H. W.|
|Macaulay, K.||Sclater, G.|
|Mackie, J.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Mainwaring, T.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Malins, R.||Seymour, H. D.|
|Mangles, R. D.||Shelley, Sir J. V.|
|Mangles, C. E.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Manners, Lord J.||Sheridan, H. B.|
|Marjoribanks, D. C.||Sibthorp, Maj.|
|Martin, C. W.||Smith, J. A.|
|Martin, P. W.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Martin, J.||Smith, A.|
|Massey, W. N.||Smith, Sir F.|
|Matheson, Alex.||Smyth, Col.|
|Maxwell, hon. Col.||Smollett, A.|
|Melgund, Visct.||Somerset, Col.|
|Merry, J.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Miller, T. J.||Spooner, R.|
|Miller, S. B.||Stafford, A.|
|Mills, A.||Stanhope, J. B.|
|Mills, T.||Stanley, Lord|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Stapleton, J.|
|Moncreiff, rt. hon. J.||Steel, J.|
|Stephenson, R.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Stirling, W.||Weguelin, T. M.|
|Steuart, A.||Welby, W. E.|
|Stewart, Sir M. R. S.||Western, S.|
|Sturt, H. G.||Westhead, J. P. B.|
|Sturt, C. N.||Whatman, J.|
|Sykes, Col. W. H.||White, J.|
|Talbot, C. R. M.||Whiteside, J.|
|Taylor, Col.||Wickham, H. W.|
|Taylor, S. W.||Wigram, L. T.|
|Thesiger, Sir F.||Willcox, B. M'G.|
|Thompson, Gen.||Williams, M.|
|Thornely, T.||Williams, Col.|
|Thornhill, W. P.||Williams, W.|
|Tollemache, J.||Williams, Sir W. F.|
|Traill, G.||Willyams, E.W. B.|
|Trefusis, hon. C. H. R.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.||Willoughby, J. p.|
|Trueman, C.||Wilson, J.|
|Turner, J. A.||Wingfield, R. B.|
|Vance, J.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Vane, Lord H.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Vansittart, G. H.||Woodd, B. T.|
|Vansittart, W.||Woods, H.|
|Verner, Sir W.||Worsley, Lord|
|Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.||Wortley, Maj.|
|Vivian, H. H.||Wyld, J.|
|Vivian, hon. J. C. W.||Wyndham, Gen.|
|Waddington, H. S.||Wynn, Col.|
|Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Warre, J. A.||TELLERS.|
|Warren, S.||Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.|
|Watkin, E. W.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|List of the NOES.|
|Akroyd, E.||Greer, S. M'C.|
|Ayrton, A. S.||Gregory, W. H.|
|Bagwell, J.||Greville, Col. F.|
|Bass, M. T.||Hadfield, G.|
|Beamish, F. B.||Hankey, T.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Hassard, M.|
|Bowyer, G.||Hatchell, J.|
|Brady, J.||Heard, J. I.|
|Bruce, H. A.||Henchy, D. O'C.|
|Burke, Sir T. J.||Hodgson, K. D.|
|Bury, Visct.||Hope, A. J. B. B.|
|Buxton, C.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Calcutt, F. M.||Kirk, W.|
|Christy, S.||Levinge, Sir R.|
|Clifford, C. C.||Lindsay, W. S.|
|Cogan, W. H. F.||Lygon, hon. F.|
|Collins, T.||Macarthy, A.|
|Corbally, M. E.||M'Cann, J.|
|Cox, W.||MacEvoy, E.|
|Crawford, R. W.||M'Mahon, P.|
|Crook, J.||Magan, W. H.|
|Crossley, F.||Maguire, J. F.|
|Denison, hon. W. H. F.||Monsell, rt. hon. W.|
|De Vere, S. E.||Moore, G. H.|
|Drummond, H.||Neate, C.|
|Ellis, hon. L. A.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Elton, Sir A. H.||O'Brien, P.|
|Ennis, J.||O'Brien, J.|
|Esmonde, J.||O'Connell, Capt. D.|
|Fagan, W.||O'Donaghoe, The|
|French, Col.||Pechell, Sir G. B.|
|Gilpin, C.||PilKington, J.|
|Goderich, Visct.||Platt, J.|
|Grace, 0. D. J.||Power, N.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Russell, F. W.|
|Greene, J.||Salisbury, E. G.|
|Scholefield, W.||Waldron, L.|
|Somers, J. P.||Warburton, G. D.|
|Sullivan, M.||Whitmore, H.|
|Tempest, Lord A. V.||Wyvill, M.|
|Townshend, J.||Deasy, R.|
|Trelawny, Sir J. S.||Roebuck, J. A.|
§ MR. ROEBUCK
then moved to insert the words "by law" after the word "spiritual" in the same clause. The hon. and learned Gentleman observed that as no foreign prince, potentate, or prelate had by law any ecclesiastical or spiritual authority in these realms, it would be as well to insert the words "by law" to make the meaning clearer.
§ Amendment proposed, in the same line, after the word "spiritual," to insert the words "by law."
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 68; Noes 243: Majority 175.
§ SIR FREDERIC THESIGER
then rose to propose the Amendment of which he had given notice—namely, upon page 2, line 12, after the word "realm" to insert the words, "And I do make this promise, renunciation, and declaration, heartily, willingly, and truly, on the true faith of a Christian," and said, that he was sure that he need not solicit from the Committee an attention to the argument which he was about to submit to their consideration commensurate with its importance, more especially since in its terms it was perfectly plain and intelligible. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had proposed a new form of oath as a substitute for those which had been hitherto taken by Members of Parliament, and which in his (Sir F. Thesiger's) opinion was a very considerable improvement on the old form; and so far, therefore, he was disposed to adopt it. But as the noble Lord proposed to abandon a profession of faith which had been taken for 250 years without objection or scruple by the Christian Members of the House, he (Sir F. Thesiger), considering that part of the oath to be vital and essential, desired to retain it, and his Amendment proposed to retain it accordingly, If the times had not sadly changed, he should have anticipated support to his Amendment, not only from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) but even from the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord John Russell), because, in the year 1849, when the 1795 noble Lord introduced one of those numerous Bills which he had offered for acceptance for the purpose of admitting the Jews to Parliament, the noble Lord framed an oath for the Christian Members of the House which contained precisely those words which he (Sir F. Thesiger) now proposed to add to the oath of the noble Lord at the head of the Government; and the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford said that he rejoiced at the form of the oath so proposed, and frankly owned that he was glad that the noble Lord had retained those words with respect to all Christian Members; for "considering the solemn duties which they were called upon to perform," the right hon. Gentleman "thought that the noble Lord had acted wisely and well in declining to reduce the high standard which they had fixed for themselves."
Now he (Sir F. Thesiger) could not help feeling that there were many Christian Members of that House who, though they desired to see the Jew admitted to Parliament, yet would be unwilling to renounce the profession of their faith—who would still wish to profess and call themselves Christians, at the same time that they thought that the question of the admission of the Jew to Parliament ought to be discussed and settled as a distinct and separate measure.
In the former discussions upon this subject the advocates of the admission of the Jew to Parliament had used the fallacy which was ordinarily called "begging the question." They had supposed that the native-born Jew had an inherent right to sit in the Legislature, and they had called upon those who were the opponents of that proposition to establish and justify his exclusion. But, in general, when persons supported a long established course of things they had a right to call upon those who were desirous of disturbing it to bring forth their reasons. Those who supported existing institutions had usually nothing to do but to maintain their ground; but it was asserted that there was an exception to that rule in the case of the Jew, because it was alleged that he was excluded merely by the accidental insertion of certain words in an Act of Parliament, which were directed to a totally different object and to other parties; and then they had repeated to them the history of Sir Francis Tresham, of the Treatise on Equivocation, of the Jesuit Garnett, and of the Gunpowder Plot. It was a 1796 very great mistake to suppose, however, that those who were opposed to the admission of the Jew to Parliament had ever contended that those words in the Act to which allusion was made were intended at all to be levelled against the Jew, because they were satisfied that at that time there was scarcely one, if there were one, Jew in this country. But, on the other hand, they did think they had a right to contend that by the insertion of those words the strongest proof was given that no person could be a Member of the Legislature unless he held the faith of a Christian. The Legislature had been "hemmed in," if he might use the expression, with Christian ceremonies and Christian observances; the oaths which they were required to take were taken upon the Gospels; they began their daily labours with prayers offered up in that name which only could render them acceptable; they were compelled to observe certain Christian festivals and fasts, and they could turn in no direction without being reminded that they performed all their functions under the sanction and seal of Christianity. It was true that, by legislative interference in other directions, persons were now enabled to take an oath upon any occasion in the form which was most binding upon their consciences; but those words, "on the true faith of a Christian," had remained in the oath of Members of Parliament to testify that they were a Christian Legislature, and that no person who was not a Christian had a right to a seat among them. It seemed to him to be perfectly idle in the presence of any person who was acquainted with history and the position of the Jews in this country, to contend that it was only by the accidental insertion of those words in the Act of Parliament that the Jew was excluded from that House. Banished in the reign of Edward I., and returning to this country after the restoration, they were received, not as citizens, but as aliens. An endeavour was made by William III. to relieve the Jews from an alien duty which was imposed on them in the receipt of customs; but he was compelled by the remonstrance of the merchants to restore that duty in the following year, and it remained upon them for a very considerable time after that period. Again, they all knew, that in the reign of George II., a Bill was introduced for the purpose of enabling Jews to prefer Bills of naturalization without taking the as- 1797 crament; but the Act created so much clamour that, although passed, it was repealed the following year. Subsequently, in the year 1836, a measure was introduced into the House, under the direction of Mr. Robert Grant—(the first of that long series of Bills that had been framed for the relief of the Jews) in whose speech we have a description of the disabilities under which they Laboured down to that period, from which it appeared that they were excluded from all offices, civil and military, and from all corporations, and from first to last on the ground that they were infidels and aliens. How was it possible, under these circumstances, to seriously maintain that it was by reason of these words, inserted in an Act of James I., "on the true faith of a Christian," that the Jew was prevented from becoming a Member of Parliament? It was clear, therefore, that the onus of establishing the right of the Jews to sit in the House of Commons would be upon those who sought to obtain their admission to the Legislature.
The Christian character of the Legislature had been established and continued uninterruptedly down to the present time, and it was necessary for those who thought that persons not Christians should be entitled to the honour of a seat in the House to prove by arguments either that the forms of the House offered no impediment to their admission, or that the time was come when all these distinctions should be swept away. Those who advocated the admission of Jews to Parliament had undertaken the task of offering arguments in support of their views; but, as it appeared to him had never approached the vital part of this question. They had contended, in the first place, that the Jew, as a native-born subject, had an unquestionable right of admission to all the offices and all the authority of the State, but he thought that they were under a misapprehension. That the Jew, like every subject of this realm, was entitled to equality of civil rights no one ever denied; but political power and authority were the creatures of the State, and no one could be entitled to authority but he on whom the State conferred it. No one would deny that it was competent to the State to declare, that no person should be a legislator who was not a Christian; and it would be difficult to dispute that the Legislature had so declared. Well, if that was the relation in which people stood to the Legislature of the 1798 country, a person who was not a Christian might complain of his condition and might seek to have it altered, but he could have no antecedent right to what was prohibited by the law of the State. Again, it was said, that the opinion of so large and respectable a constituency as that of the citizens of London, who had returned a Jew to Parliament, should be respected. That was an argument very much of the same character as the one he had just adverted to, and appeared to him to be equally untenable. The citizens of London knew perfectly well, that by law the Jew could not be admitted to take his seat in that House. Nevertheless, they chose to elect one as their representative, and then endeavoured to urge that circumstance, unreasonably, as he submitted, for the purpose of procuring an alteration of the law in his favour. It appeared to him that the citizens would have shown more deference to the institutions of the country if they had first endeavoured in every available manner to change the constitution of that House; but they had no right to elect a person disqualified by law, and then to insist on forcing him into the Legislature by means of on alteration in the oaths. It was a bad example to other constituencies of the country. Another constituency might have a preference to some other disqualified person; they might, in the same way, elect him as their representative, and then peremptorily insist, as the citizens of London had, that we should change the law, in order to secure his admission to that House. The citizens of London had shown that they were determined to pursue a course which he ventured to think perfectly unconstitutional. At the same time, from having chosen a Jew for now a period of ten years as one of their representatives they had probably suggested to the noble Lord at the head of the Government—and the noble Lord might attend to that suggestion in bringing forward his measure on reform—that three Members for the City of London were, by the confession of the electors themselves, quite sufficient.
The other arguments which were usually urged on this subject were something in the nature of arguments ad hominem. It was said, that the Jew had been admitted to exercise the elective franchise, and how then could he be refused a seat in the Legislature? [Cheers.] He observed from the cheers that some hon. Gentlemen seemed to consider that a powerful 1799 and conclusive argument. He, however, begged to submit to their consideration the distinction between a person having an infinitesimal fraction of the right of electing a Christian as a Member of that House, and himself having a seat in the Legislature and being able to make the law. He did not know if the distinction was satisfactory to those hon. Gentlemen who considered the argument a powerful one; if it was not, he was much afraid that anything which he could say would not make the slightest impression on them. Another argument used was of the same nature. It was said, that the Jew had been admitted to be a magistrate, sheriff, and alderman. The Legislature having advanced so far, how, it was asked, could it exclude the Jew from taking part in the framing of those laws which he was permitted to administer? That argument, he was afraid, had been adopted without reflection, for there appeared to be a clear and marked distinction between permitting a person not a Christian to exercise a subordinate office under the law, all his acts and conduct being governed and regulated by that law, and allowing him, on the responsibility of his own conscience alone, to be one of those who should make the laws which were to regulate a Christian community. It had always appeared to him, however, even if the question of admission were put upon the lower ground of citizenship, in contradistinction to the higher ground, which, he was free to admit, pressed upon him so strongly, that there were peculiarities in the Jew and in his relations to the nations among which he dwelt, which rendered him quite unfit to be a member of the national governing assembly. The prophecy pronounced on him so many years ago—"Lo! this people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations"—had been wonderfully fulfilled in the whole course of their marvellous history. Scattered over the face of the earth, distinguished from the people among whom they dwelt, separated from them by customs, habits, and by the unsocial character of their faith, they had formed no part of the nations among whom they lived, but had always been separate and distinct from them, and must inevitably so remain. He could not help reading to the House an eloquent description of their position, which he found the other day in a work familiar, probably, to most hon. Members of that House:—For where is the other country in the world, 1800 and in what quarter of it, which lies so vacant, so thinly occupied, while its proper race are to be seen every where else, they and it divided, a solitary soil and a displaced, distracted population, abounding anywhere rather than in their own land? In that divided state they remain, present in all countries and with a home in none, intermixed and yet separated, and neither amalgamated nor lost, but, like those mountain streams which are said to pass through lakes of another kind of water and keep a native quality to repel commixture, they hold communication without union, and may be traced as rivers without banks in the alien clement which surrounds them.There was something in their habits, in their exclusive character, in the nature of their institutions, and in their very holydays, which appeared to him to incapacitate them for taking a complete part in the councils of a Christian assembly. It seemed to him, therefore, that all these arguments were mere skirmishes outside the barrier of the constitution. Those who contended for the admission of the Jew must either maintain that it was a mistake to suppose that the House of Commons possessed a Christian character, or that the time had arrived for sweeping away all these distinctions. Now, it was impossible to contend for the first proposition, because the very words proposed to be omitted from the oath clearly indicated the Christian character of the House of Commons, and it was therefore necessary for those who advocated the admission of Jews to Parliament to maintain that the time had arrived when the House ought no longer to retain this profession of faith. Upon that ground it was asserted by those who contended for the admission of Jews that the Legislature had nothing whatever to do with religion. It was on that ground that they found the self-styled advocates of civil and religious liberty, the Roman Catholics, and those members of the Established Church who were anxious for the separation of Church and State, united together for the purpose of accomplishing a common end—the destruction of the Establishment—a result towards which this measure would be the first step. He did not mean to assert that all who joined in that combination were of opinion that religion had nothing whatever to do with the councils and business of that House. He had no doubt that many of them agreed in the opinion which had been expressed by Burke on the subject:—Religion is so far, in my opinion, from being out of the duty and province of a Christian magistrate that it is, and it ought to be, not only his care, but the principal thing on his care, because it is one of the great bonds of human society, 1801 and its object the supreme good—the ultimate end and object of man himself.Dr. Whewell, who, he believed, entertained notions which were accounted liberal, and who was a man of very powerful mind, said,—The tenet of the separation of Church and State divests the nation of its religious character, to which, as we hold, it is its highest business to aspire. We cannot assent to any view which reduces the objects of the State to the low level which represents it as having no concern with anything higher than the gross material interests of the people, the preservation of person and property. The part of Government which attends to them is not polity, only police. A State which has no aims beyond these is only in the first stage of national progress.The opinions of Dr. Arnold on this subject were well known. The noble Member for the City of London (Lord John Russell) was generally disposed to bow to the high authority of that learned man, but unfortunately upon this question their views differed. Archbishop Whately, who had been a sincere and consistent advocate for the admission of Jews to Parliament, found himself very much perplexed when he considered the case of a person having a seat in an assembly which was called upon to deal with a religion to which such person was hostile; he being at the same time perfectly competent to the transaction of all the other business of the assembly. The most rev. Prelate said that such a case resembled that of a man who had a right to a room in a house, but no right to any other part of the edifice, or that of a person claiming a right to land upon which there was a building, but having no property in the building itself; and the Archbishop observed that the question had never been satisfactorily decided, He (Sir F. Thesiger) contended that a man was incapacitated for a seat in the Legislature by the circumstance that he did not agree with that sanction by which the whole course of legislation ought to be governed and guided. Such was the opinion of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) himself, for he said:—I shall state more when speaking of the Legislature which he has to dispose of and to control the various interests, ecclesiastical and secular, of the country. Religion ought to influence and control the decision of the Members.Lord JOHN RUSSELL: Hear, hear!] If that were so, how was it possible that a person who was an unbeliever in the religion which constituted the sanction of all their proceedings and measures could properly be admitted to any part in the legislation 1802 of that House? Hon. Gentlemen who believed that the Legislature had nothing to do with religion would at least admit that it had to do with morality; that communities were established for the purpose of promoting the morality as well as the happiness of the people; and that Christian communities had been in the habit of considering that Christian morality was the best security for the peace and happiness of society. But Christian morality was founded upon Christian faith, and both together constituted Christian religion. If that religion must depend entirely upon the truth of the person and office of the Saviour, how could those who believed that he was an impostor, and who regarded him with derision, consider that they could be called upon to enforce the morality which he inculcated, notwithstanding its sublimity? Would they not rather turn to what was said by them of old time, and choose an inferior standard for themselves? He maintained, therefore, that it was impossible to abandon that bulwark of the constitution—the Christian character of the Legislature of this country. It might be said that his objection was the result of an intolerant and persecuting spirit. ["Hear, hear!"] He supposed he must accept that cheer as an indication that he was regarded by some hon. Members as evincing a disposition to be persecuting and intolerant. But he confessed that in his view they might as justly call it persecution to refuse a man admission to a citadel because he had not the password, as to refuse a man admission to that House because he had not the necessary passport. The words, "upon the true faith of a Christian," were the wedding garment which denoted that a person had a right to sit in that Assembly; and he earnestly entreated hon. Members to give this subject most careful consideration before they abandoned that which for 250 years had consecrated the Legislature to their duties, and before they proclaimed openly either that they had been mistaken in supposing that this was a Christian Assembly, or that they had been taught by the wisdom of the world that it was time such a distinction should be entirely abandoned. He earnestly implored hon. Gentlemen to "hold the profession of their faith without wavering," and to acknowledge that they were performing their important functions under the highest sanction by which their consciences could be enlightened and guided. The hon. and 1803 learned Gentleman concluded by moving that the following words be inserted after the word "realm,"—"And I do make this promise, renunciation, abjuration, and declaration, heartily, willingly, and truly, on the true faith of a Christian."
§ MR. J. BANKS STANHOPE
* said, that in seconding the Amendment, as the present appeared to be the last occasion on which they would be called upon to discuss the question of the admission of the Jews to seats in Parliament, he might perhaps be permitted briefly to allude to some of those points which had already been discussed, though with far greater ability than he could command. He objected to the omission of the words "upon the true faith of a Christian," on three grounds. The first, that the Jews had no right or claim to seats in the Legislature; the second, that they ought to be excluded for political reasons, using that term in its widest sense; and the third was, that it was important to maintain the Christian character of the Legislature. The words "upon the true faith of a Christian," when first inserted in the oath, were, he admitted, intended to apply to another party, the Jews not at that time being in England; but when they returned to this country, they did so with the full knowledge that as long as those words were retained, they would be regarded as a marked and peculiar people; and that they could not be placed in the same position as English citizens. If, then, they had no right and no claim to seats in the Legislature, it followed not only that they had no reason to complain of intolerance in excluding them, but that they committed an outrage upon the religious feelings of the country in advancing such a claim. He objected to the admission of the Jews, moreover, because he believed them to be a separate and distinct nation. Their peculiar nationality and individuality of character would always operate to prevent them from amalgamating with any other race, and although they might be useful members of society, loyal subjects, and even brave defenders of the country in which they lived, yet they could never entertain those national and patriotic feelings which are of slow growth, and which animate the breast of the humblest Englishman. Upon the religious part of the question, he fully agreed with what had been so well said by his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Stamford (Sir F. Thesiger.) He thought there was a great 1804 difference between the question of admitting the Jews to seats in Parliament, and the questions which were raised in former times, of admitting either Protestants or Roman Catholics; and that the same arguments which were then used, did not fairly apply on the present occasion. Though they might feel that the peculiar opinions professed by Roman Catholics were such as they could not agree with, and though they differed from Protestant Dissenters upon many most important points, yet there was always one great bond of connection between them, one great plea which could always be urged,—that though they differed upon these points, yet the belief in one Saviour, the Redeemer of mankind, was common to them all. He would not detain the House longer, for there were many other gentlemen who would take up the subject in a much more able manner than he could pretend to do. He could not, however, allow this occasion to pass over without expressing shortly and sincerely, he hoped courteously, and he was certain without any feelings of bigotry, the strong objections which he entertained to the admission of Jews to seats in Parliament.Amendment proposed, in line 12, after the word "Realm," to insert the words "and I do make this promise, renunciation, abjuration, and declaration, heartily, willingly, and truly, on the true faith of a Christian.
MR. SERJEANT KINGLAKE
craved that indulgence which was always extended to a Member who addressed the House for the first time, and remarked that the observations which he intended to make, with the exception of a few comments on the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Stamford, would be applied, not to the old-contested point involved in the Jew Bill, but to the new phase of the question opened up by the Amendment before the House. He did not question some of the positions laid down by the hon. and learned Member for Stamford. He did not think we were bound to admit Jews to Parliament because the City of London had thought fit to elect a Jew as one of its representatives, and still less did he found himself upon the argument that we were bound to admit Jews because some of that people were already electors, and entitled to perform other civil duties. He admitted it was perfectly competent for them to exclude from political power any class or denomination of men, and that it might be right to do so if it were necessary for the safety of the State. 1805 It was competent for the State to say, "You shall obey the law, and we will make the law; you shall pay the taxes and we will impose the taxes;" but that was not the question. The question was, whether you ought to trample out the political rights of men without a State necessity. What was the State necessity which had been alleged by the hon. and learned Member for Stamford for the exclusion of the Jews? He had told them that Christianity established a higher standard of morality than any other form of religion, and then, with a fallacy which appeared strange in one so learned and ingenious, he went on to assume that this test "on the true faith of a Christian" had a tendency to give us, as Members, not only persons who called themselves Christians, but good Christians. It was there that all the difference lay. He happened to be locally connected with a part of the country in which a singular sect had established themselves. They were, to all intents and purposes, a Christian sect. Their doctrine was, that our Saviour was Divine, but that He founded a tabernacle, as they term it, in the body of one now living. They professed a faith shocking almost to all who heard it, yet there was not one of them who could not come to the table, and take the oath in the form which the hon. and learned Member for Stamford proposed. Again, the hon. and learned Gentleman, with the view of influencing the debate, had adverted to the prophecy in which the Jews were represented as a people who should not be reckoned among the nations. Was that an argument which ought to be addressed to the House of Commons at the present day, for could they be expected to deal with the question whether Jews were or were not, upon the ground of an ancient prophecy, to be placed under the ban of the world? Approaching the new question opened up by the Amendment before the House, he might venture to say that he differed a little from the hon. and learned Member for Stamford in the historical part of his speech. The hon. and learned Gentleman had told them, that more than 200 years ago the oath was originally framed, and had ever since been used, as a profession of faith. Now, as he read history, the words of asseveration annexed to the oath of abjuration were inserted there for the purpose of testing the sincerity of a particular sect—not the Jews, but the Roman Catholics. The words had continued, and we had them, as it were, adhering to the 1806 oath. It was competent to hon. Gentlemen opposite to take advantage of words introduced for another purpose, in order to effect what they believed to be a good object; but did not the Amendment suggest to the House and the country a totally new view of the principles on which certain persons had been admitted to the Legislature? We might, or we might not, have an Established Church—we might, or we might not, apply a religious test to those claiming to sit in Parliament. Those who agreed with him said they would be content to continue the oath with the words, "So help me, God!" avoiding altogether any religious test. Those who took the opposite side of the question said there ought to be a religions test, and yet, having an Established Church, they took no counsel from that Church as to the way in which the religious test should be framed. How was it possible that a state of things so alarming and so inconsistent with the dignity of the Established Church could coexist with the possession of the revenues which it enjoyed? If the words of the hon. and learned Gentleman were accepted, an Unitarian might well say he was a member of the Church established by the State. Surely, if there were one function of a Church more important than another, it was that of determining what test should be applied to those who came to take seats in Parliament, and if the test were determined without counsel of the Church in the manner proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman, an Unitarian might say they had deliberately settled what should be regarded as the true religion for political purposes, and within that definition he was a member of the Church. In what a position would the Established Church be placed? They would leave it in the enjoyment of its revenues, and decline to take its counsels.
§ MR. WIGRAM,
* said, that he was not one of those who regarded this measure with any deep anxiety, so far as it was likely to affect the constitution of that House and the Legislature, because he did not believe that it would practically have any material operation. Whilst the prejudice which for 1,800 years had been entertained towards the descendants of Israel remains what it was, he did not believe that the Christian constituencies of this country would often elect Jews as their representatives, so long as they could find equally fitting Christian candidates. But though he did not regard the measure 1807 with much anxiety with reference to its immediate consequences, he looked upon it with serious apprehension as respected its ulterior results. Hitherto, nothing had more honourably marked the character of the English people than their consistent and practical recognition of the value and importance of Christian principles and Christian institutions. In that view it was that Christianity had always been regarded and treated as part and parcel of the law of England. In that view, the constitution of the country had made provision for the dissemination and teaching of Christian principles throughout the land; in that view it had provided places of worship amongst them in which the poor and the rich might join in the worship of God; in that same view it had, conformably with Christian practice, set aside the first day of the week as a day of rest for all classes, and in the same view it was that that House had always been Christian in its profession and principles. Now they were asked to alter this, to make a complete alteration in the Christian character of that House. Let them not forget when they were asked to do this, that all the Christian institutions of the country had in turn been attacked and assailed in former seasons by no friendly hands; and that if Parliament should pass this measure in its present form, it must and would be regarded as a great act of disparagement on the part of Parliament of the value and importance of Christian institutions. They knew how mankind were ever influenced by example, and it was only reasonable to suppose that if such an example was set by Parliament, that example would have its natural effect, and step by step they would have every one of the Christian institutions of the country assailed—and assailed with renewed force—until they were undermined and brought down. Therefore on the issue of the question they were now discussing on the maintenance of the Christian character of Parliament, he most sincerely believed depended the maintenance of those Christian institutions which were their most valuable inheritance, and upon which, under Divine Providence, all the liberty and prosperity and well-being of this nation, as he believed, depended. He said then, that this question was one which deeply affected the best interests of this country. But in supporting the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend, he was not influenced only by his apprehensions 1808 of ulterior results; he believed that his Amendment was in principle right, and on this point he would content himself with stating one consideration, which he thought completely justified the statement that the existing state of the law was consistent with right and justice, and that the alteration proposed by this Bill in its present form, would be opposed to right and justice. By our own constitution the constituencies return representatives to Parliament, and from the necessity of the case, the majority in each constituency imposed upon the minority a representative. But this representative was to represent the whole constituency. Now they should bear in mind that there was not a single constituency in the kingdom in which, if not a majority, there was a very large minority who would strongly object to the election of a Jew as their representative. The question then was—was it consistent with right and justice to permit a majority to impose upon the minority a person who did not even profess those Christian principles which they justly considered essential to guide men's conduct in all the relations of life? He looked at the existing state of the law as a protection rightly given to the minority against a tyrannical and capricious exercise of the power of the majority. If it was reasonable to say that the majority should not elect a minor, or that they should not elect a foreigner, surely it was equally consistent with right and with reason to say, that in choosing the representative for the whole constituency, the majority should not have the right to impose on the minority a representative who did not profess those great principles which they, the minority, recognize as the only true guide for the conduct of man in this world. On a former occasion the noble Lord the Member for London attempted to throw a mist around this question by asking what we should say if lawyers were not permitted to sit as representatives in that House. He accepted the illustration, and he said, if it were proposed to exclude lawyers or to exclude lords, he would try the question by the same rules, if it could be predicated of lawyers or of lords, that a reasonable objection could be taken by a minority of the constituent body against them. If there were anything in their position, principles, profession, or order, that made them unsuitable representatives, he would say in that case, let lawyers and lords share the fate of minors, foreigners, 1809 and Jews; and let it not be competent for the majority in any constituency to impose lawyers or lords upon the electoral body as their representative. All he contended for was that the majority should not impose upon the minority a man to whom they objected on a really sound principle—and this was sufficient to show that there was a valid and just reason for maintaining the existing law. It may be quite true, as the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Kinglake) had said, that they could not make sure that those who took the oaths were sincere Christians; but they took care that they should at all events profess Christianity; they took the best security the case admitted, and practically it did answer its purpose. All the arguments urged in favour of this Bill they had heard in former Sessions; and they really appeared all to resolve themselves into two. First it was said that the bar which existed to the admission of the Jews was of an accidental character. Whether the barrier be accidental or not, if the Jews ought to be excluded, the fact of its being accidental would be no reason for removing it. But nothing could be more false than to represent the barrier as an accident. Why did the words. "on the true faith of a Christian," exist in the oath?—merely because the Parliament of this country had always been Christian. Inasmuch as the Parliament was Christian, it framed the oath in a Christian form. It was a natural fruit and consequence; and it would be as reasonable to say that an oak produced the acorn by accident as to say that it was accident that led a Christian Parliament so to frame its oath as to contain a test of the Christian profession of its Members. The other argument which was always being urged in these discussions was the trite saying that religious belief ought not to bar a man from the enjoyment of civil office. Well, in the general statement of that axiom he concurred, but had it any application to the present case? He thought it had not, and simply for this reason—it was applicable to the case of magistrates, and to ordinary ministerial offices; but he denied its application to the case of representative members. In the case of representatives it would be a mistake and wrong to look at all to the interests of the Members who were to be elected; their duty in this case was to look exclusively to the interest and rights of the constituency whom the Member is to represent. And 1810 they were to look, not to the rights and interests of a part only of those constituencies, but they were to look to the rights of the minority as well as the majority; and they ought to require the majority, in the exercise of their powers, to exercise them in a manner consistent with justice, and require them to choose a man who, in respect of age and of character should be qualified to represent the whole constituency. Upon the ground, therefore, of right and justice, he contended that the existing law ought to be maintained. Any innovation or interference with that law would, as he believed, inevitably lead to consequences which the country will have cause to deplore. He would not detain the Committee by entering further into the discussion of a question which had been so often and so fully argued. With reference to the suggestion so freely thrown out—the taunt of bigotry which has been so often cast in the teeth of those who held similar views to his own—he would make only one remark—that those who prefer a charge of that kind would do well to consider whether the imputation which they cast upon those who differed from them did not indicate that they were themselves in precisely that state of mind which they so loudly condemned. He must say that there was no man in the world with whom he would be more content to be called a bigot than Dr. Arnold; for he believed if there was a man whose conduct was guided by large and liberal principles and a regard to what he thought just and right, it was Dr. Arnold; he therefore was perfectly willing to sail in the same boat with that eminent person. The opinous which he entertained on this subject he held to be quite sufficient to clear any man who agreed with him from the charge of bigotry. With one further remark he would conclude. They were asked to sanction a form of oath which omitted the words "on, the true faith of a Christian," words Which recall feelings of the most solemn land that could influence man. If the noble Lord wished to admit the Jews, why did he not make a straight road for them to come in? why did he not, leaving the oath as it was for Christian Members, introduce a clause providing that any person elected as a Member of that House, and who, on coming to the table to be sworn, should declare himself to be a Jew, should be at liberty to omit the words "on the true faith of a Christian." That 1811 would at least, be an intelligible course. He trusted the House would not consent to the omission of words from the oath taken by Members generally, which he was persuaded many Christian Members must think it suitable to retain, as adding solemnity to the oath which he took.
said, as a new Member he bad been somewhat struck, when the Bill was introduced, at the apparent intention of hon. Gentlemen opposite to oppose the second reading of a Bill in the principle of which they all agreed, and he therefore thought that the hon. and learned Member for Stamford (Sir F. Thesiger) had done wisely in consenting to the second reading, and in proposing to alter the oath in Committee. Consequently, he had come down to the House with considerable anxiety and expectation to hear the hon. and learned Member state the grounds on which he proposed the Amendment now under their consideration. He had expected to hear from the hon. and learned Gentleman some very strong reasons for opposing the Bill introduced by the noble Lord at the bead of the Government, for he (Mr. Evans) had all along considered that this was one of the very few subjects on which the argument lay on one side, and to a very small extent on the other. He must say, however, he had been greatly disappointed. It was true the hon. and learned Gentleman had expressed himself with all the force and clearness which invariably characterized his speeches in public; but he had, nevertheless, left the main arguments in the case wholly untouched. He (Mr. Evans) could well understand that if a proposal had been made to admit the Jews to Parliament some 200 years ago the Motion would have been utterly scouted, and that the man who had had the temerity to suggest it would, in all probability, have been sent to the Tower. He also admitted, that the House of Commons bad a right to say whom they would admit to seats in that House, and whom they would exclude. They exercised the right of exclusion in the case of the Roman Catholics, until they saw that it would be dangerous longer to insist on that exclusion, and that no public mischief would be likely to arise from their admission. But he should have thought that in this free country and in these times it would hardly have occurred to any man to think of excluding any class of his fellow subjects from political rights on account of their religion, unless there was some great 1812 reason of State or some imminent public danger for such a procedure. He contended that it lay on the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir F. Thesiger) to show that some such State reason or public danger existed in this case. If the hon. and learned Gentleman could show, for example, that the Jews were likely to become a majority in this country, and to attempt to overturn the Established Church or the established religion of the kingdom, the House would in that case do perfectly right to sanction his proposal. But it was absurd to suppose there could be the slightest apprehension of such a result, and the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Wigram) who supported that proposal had admitted as much. When William III. came to the Throne, various Acts were passed which removed some of the restrictions which pressed heavily on Dissenters; but those Acts did not apply to the Roman Catholics, because at that time a great State necessity and an imminent danger, such as he had alluded to, existed to justify their exclusion. But he thought it would hardly be contended at this day that there was anything in the position or pretensions of the Jews which could warrant the House in following the course of policy which circumstances rendered necessary with respect to Roman Catholics in the reign of that monarch. The hon. and learned Gentleman, when the Bill was introduced, went into a history of the measures for the emancipation of the Jews, and urged that it had all been done on account of a few persons; he allowed that the Jews had for a long time been treated as aliens and foreigners, and that it was only in 1836 that their claims had begun to be recognized, and that measures for their admission to Parliament had always passed the House of Commons. He (Mr. Evans) thought this last circumstance was the strongest argument in favour of the Bill; and as the House of Commons had always hitherto accepted measures of this kind, he hoped the Committee would now follow the same course they had taken before, by making another attempt to do away with this last piece of intolerance, since it was not the fault of that House that such a blot remained upon the constitution of this country.
§ MR. WARREN
* said, although he could not hope, by anything he could advance, to revive the interest in a discussion which had been already so much exhausted, he 1813 trusted, nevertheless, that the Committee would listen to him for a short time as to one who felt a very deep interest in the question at issue, while he endeavoured to express sincerely the convictions he entertained in regard to it. In one respect the measure was presented to them on this occasion in somewhat a new aspect, inasmuch as it was now forced upon their attention, not by any pressure from without, but solely by the weight and power of the Queen's Government. And he must admit, judging from the tone the discussion had taken, that that aspect was an ominous one as regarded the opposition to the Bill. He must, nevertheless, ask the indulgence of the House while he stated his own opinions, and how deeply from his heart and soul he lamented the course which Her Majesty's Government had taken. He well remembered, when the Bill was introduced, the noble Viscount, the leader of that House, and the noble Lord, the Member for London, both stated that they had never heard any arguments brought forward of the least weight against the admission of Jews to scats in that House—that they had heard no arguments worthy of attention as showing that there would be danger to the constitution in their being so admitted. And the noble Lord the Member for the City of London said also that the objections to the measure had much more to do with feeling than argument. But, with every respect for the noble Lord, he would beg leave to ask him, was that not the case with religion itself? Did not religion, after all, depend much more upon faith than upon reason? Was it not a matter that much more intimately concerned the heart than the head of mankind? Had they not been expressly told this by the Divine Author of our faith himself? Therefore he begged leave respectfully to submit to the House that the very existence of such a feeling constituted in itself a strong argument against the Bill. Since, then, feeling could be as right as argument could be sound, both ought to be considered, and Parliament ought no more to entertain any measure that ran counter to the conscientious feelings of the country, than it was justified in adopting any proposition that would not stand the test of argument and reason. The Government had no right to do violence to either the heart or the head of the nation. But he verily believed that this Bill did outrage to the religious feelings of a vast majority of the 1814 people of this country; nor did he believe that the sedulous, skilful, and, he might almost say, scientific agitation that had been brought to bear on the subject had had the least effect in changing the feeling of the country, or enlisting it in favour of this measure. He admitted that there did appear a certain apathy existing out of doors on the subject at the present moment, so far as they could gather the state of the public mind, from the absence of numerous petitions against the measure; but he believed that that apathy springs from the conviction, whether well or ill founded the event would show, that such a measure never could become the law of the land. It appeared to him somewhat curious to observe the way in which the friends of this measure dealt with its opponents. At first they said how ridiculous to suppose that it could really affect the Christian character of the Legislature! But when hard pressed by argument—clearly tending to show that it would have that effect, and must necessarily have that effect—then they turned round and told us that the Legislature had no Christian character at all! He (Mr. Warren), however, must insist that it had a Christian character, and moreover, that it would lose that character if this measure should pass into a law. He perceived, and he was sorry for it, that the House throughout this discussion was disinclined to listen to and answer the arguments against the measure, however powerfully they might be urged upon them. [Cheers.] He begged pardon, but he was alluding more especially to the powerful arguments which had been advanced by his hon. and learned Friend who introduced the question that evening. And he begged to say that he was prepared to second every word he had uttered, to show that Christianity was absolutely and inextricably interwoven in all the institutions of this land. It had been the great pride and glory of our country that its very vocation—its sublime mission—was to spread Christianity like a radiant tide over the face of the whole earth; and yet, at this moment, what was it that the Legislature was called upon to do? To disturb the very centre of such glorious operations—to poison the very source of our action and power—to derange the very mainspring of our whole social system in all its complex machinery, by formally introducing into the very essence of the Legislature, of the Sovereignty, of a Christian State, a distinctive element of 1815 disbelief in that Christianity which was its very foundation, and without which it must crumble away and sink into nothingness. Could anything tend more to cheek and to paralyze the energies of this country in promoting the cause of civilization throughout the world—the only true pioneer of civilization being Christianity.
What would be the feelings generated in the minds of those who obeyed the sceptre of the Queen of England in distant lands, when told that men who discard all belief in those glorious truths upon which our institutions are based were henceforward to be admitted as Members of our Legislature, and that no law was hereafter to be made for England to which there were not consenting parties who believed, that He whom we regard as the Divine Head of our church—the Author and Finisher of our faith—was simply a crucified impostor? And beyond those who were governed by the sceptre of England, what would be the effect upon foreign nations which were influenced and guided by this country in the development of their social and moral systems? It would be said by those countries, and by all classes abroad, that legislation from such a source must bear upon it a cancerous taint, or that it was altogether a matter of indifference with us whether religion had or had not any bearing upon our legislation—that it was of no consequence with us whether our legislation be Christian in its character or not; and the result would be, in this country, to produce a deadly indifference to the principles of Christianity as applied to the greatest relations of life, which would go far to dissolve the elements of our social system. If it be asked—how is it that this is a Christian Legislature? he answered, first of all, that every Member who entered that House, by the oath he took, or rather by the words which the noble Viscount now proposed to admit, was estopped from denying it, and pledged himself that he is a Christian. ["No, no."] Yes! he either took the oath in that form, or was relieved from it solely because of his conscientious obedience to what he reverently believes the literal command of his Redeemer—"Swear not at all." Therefore he said, that every Member of that House had given to the country at large the only security which it was in its power to exact, or in his power to give, namely, the open profession of his faith as a Christian—that he will exercise his functions as a legislator in accordance 1816 with the doctrines of Christianity, and in conformity with that declaration. That is what he called a Christian Legislature, and what he meant by being a member of a Christian Legislature.
In the celebrated case of Miller v. Salomons, Lord Wensleydale, then Mr. Baron Parke, made use of these expressions—How can we say that it is a flagrant violation of natural justice and a manifest wrong, that the Legislature should make laws, the effect of which would be to prevent any but Christians becoming Members of the Legislature of a Christian country.And the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), made use of this frank and remarkable admission in a speech in which he advocated the admission of Jews to Parliament—But I must admit that if we pass this measure to admit the Jews, we must be content for ever to give up the Christian character of the complexion of Parliament.He (Mr. Warren) submitted that that was an admission which from any statesman would carry weight, but which coming from a man of such high standing was entitled to the greatest consideration. He felt that the words with which he began were peculiarly applicable to the present state of this question—that it was very hard indeed to inspire interest in a cause, in reference to which every one here came to the discussion with a pregone conclusion. At the same time, while he believed the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) may very probably have a majority, still their sense of strength should be the source of their forbearance to their opponents. He hoped that every Member who might feel it his duty to offer any remarks upon what he supposed he must call the unpopular side of the question, would receive that attention to forbearance which in his own case he begged gratefully to acknowledge. But, before he sat down, let him say, that however little of interest the subject might excite in that House, and however inadequate, speaking for himself, they might be to deal with it, out of doors it was invested with enormous interest; and thousands of Christians, our fellow-subjects—who believe that in the Christian character of the Legislature was involved that Christian character in all its social relations—were waiting with intense anxiety and interest to learn the arguments which might be advanced to-night against this proposition, and the result to which they might come. He firmly believed that 1817 Providence had raised up this nation to its present altitude, not for its own aggrandizement—any merely temporal purpose that would end with the life of man or the existence of a nation—but for far higher and grander objects; that God had made our strict adherence to the Christian faith in all our national as well as in all our individual acts the title to His guardianship and distinction; and that, on the other hand, the moment we disregarded that sacred duty He had specially imposed upon us, of standing full before the world as an example of Christian faith and light, His protection would be withdrawn, and we may write "Ichabod! the glory is departed!" We might depend upon it that if we abandoned our Christian principles, then, even as the veil was still on the heart of Israel, the sceptre would fall from our hands, and in this chamber of the Legislature, the centre of influence over all the civilized races of mankind, we might see, as was fearfully seen of old, with dismay and consternation, the figure of a hand writing upon the wall, "Mene; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it." He did sincerely hope that every Christian Member of that House, who voted in the division that night, would remember not only his own individual responsibility, but the claims of the Christian constituency which sent him to that House.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, often as I have been present in this House during these discussions, I stand in the same position as my hon. and learned Friend who has just sat down, in having never addressed the House on this subject. I now address the House under circumstances which are extremely painful to myself, and which may possibly inflict some pain upon those with whom I am connected by the closest ties of friendship, and with whom I have generally been accustomed to act. Hitherto I have given a silent but not unhesitating vote in support of the principle embodied in the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stamford, but I have been led by circumstances, into which I need not enter, to give to this subject more study and more anxious reflection than I have yet given to it, and the result is that I cannot conscientiously repeat the vote which I have hitherto given for the excluding the Jews from a seat in this House. Sir, having arrived at this conclusion, I cannot think, considering the position which this question has now assumed, 1818 that I am at liberty to shape my vote according to the particular manner in which this question has been brought before us. At the same time, I must say, that I deeply regret the manner in which Her Majesty's Government have brought this subject before the House. I think it desirable to retain the words "on the true faith of a Christian," for those who do not object to them. They give additional solemnity to an oath to which it is most desirable to impart as much solemnity as possible. I am sorry that the Government have decided to change the shape of the oath in that respect, and I think they would have adopted a far wiser course if they had allowed Christians to take the oath and to conclude it with that solemn form of words to which we have been so long accustomed, and had proceeded to effect the emancipation of the Jews by a Bill similar in principle to that by which the Roman Catholics were formerly emancipated, which might have gone direct to its object of admitting the Jews to a seat in this House, while at the same time the Jews, like the Roman Catholics, might have been restricted from holding those higher offices of the State, the holder of which is brought into direct connection with the Established Church. If the Government had adopted this course we should have been spared that scene, and a very painful one it was, which we witnessed to-night, of Roman Catholic Members protesting against being placed in an invidious position in being compelled to stand apart and take a different form of oath from that of other hon. Members. As, however, the Government have decided upon proceeding in this way, and as I have made up my mind that I can no longer conscientiously continue to oppose the admission of the Jews, it only remains for me—and I do it with regret—to support that form of proceeding upon which the Government have decided. I will not detain the House by referring to the higher religious objections to the admission of the Jews to political power. There are still persons who think that by extending political power to the Jews we are acting in opposition to the Divine will, and contravening the direct injunctions of Holy Writ. If this be so, the subject is at an end, and we are not at liberty, as religious men, to enter upon the question. But I am bound to say that my hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Stamford, acting in this question with that perfect fairness 1819 and candour which he displays on all questions, has never taken this ground of argument. If I remember aright, he has declared that it is absurd, and worse than absurd, to suppose that we, the poor inhabitants of this lower world, can by any conduct of ours, influence or control the decrees of Providence, or affect that marvellous fulfilment of the prophecies regarding the Jews which constitutes one of the strongest proofs of the truth of our religion. As my hon. and learned Friend has always avoided this subject, I will not advert to it, and there only remains the argument, of which we have heard a good deal to-night, and which has been referred to by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Wigram), and the Member for Midhurst (Mr. Warren), that if we admit the Jews to seats in this House, we shall thereby unchristianize the Legislature. In answer to that objection I am prepared to advance two distinct opinions. The first is, that by admitting the Jews we shall not unchristianize the Legislature; and the other is, that in the sense in which that argument is used by the opponents of the claims of the Jews, this House is unchristianized already. Taking the first branch of this argument, I will not altogether trust to a query which I remember to have been put by a right rev. Prelate who was arguing in favour of the admission of the Jews. He said it had been advanced by the opponents of had been advanced by the opponents of the Jews that if Baron Rothschild took his seat in the House of Commons the Legislature would be unchristianized, and he asked, supposing that in the next Parliament he should lose his seat, and that no other Jews should enter the House, whether the Legislature, which had been unchristianized while he was in the House, would become a Christian Legislature again when he was no longer a member of the House of Commons. That seems to be a reductio ad absurdum; but I will not now dwell upon it—let it be taken for what it is worth. The right rev. Prelate dwelt with more force upon another argument, to which I am disposed to attach more weight—namely, that the true definition of a Christian Legislature is a body of representatives elected by Christian constituencies. If I remember rightly, the noble Lord the Member for the City of London upon a former occasion declared that a representative assembly could only derive its character and its complexion from its 1820 constituencies. The true way to preserve a Christian character for the Legislature is to promote religion and Christianity among the people, and so long as we are here the representatives of a Christian land, elected by Christian constituencies, I cannot bring myself to believe that the admission of Jews to seats in this House will deprive this House of the character which it has so long had of being in its best and widest sense a Christian House of Commons. In the sense in which it is said that the admission of the Jews would unchristianize the Legislature, I think the Legislature is unchristianized already. I would not intentionally give offence to any hon. Gentleman, but I think that the true construction and real meaning of those who use this argument in this manner is, that no person ought to be admitted to a seat in this House who does not admit the divinity of the Saviour. This was directly the argument of my hon. and learned Friend this evening. But is it not a notorious fact that there are hon. Gentlemen in this House who belong to the sect of Unitarians, and was it not equally a notorious fact that that sect does not admit the divinity of our Saviour? Therefore, taking the argument of my hon. and learned Friend in its strictest sense, the unqualified and avowed admission of the Unitarian to this House does, in their acceptation of it, destroy the Christian character of the Legislature. Again, let me remind the House that, although you debar the Jew from a seat, there is no extravagance of religious belief which, provided it founded on a nominal Christianity, will exclude its professors from Parliament. The hon. and learned Member for Bridge water (Mr. Kinglake), whom he had the pleasure of hearing to-night for the first time, has already alluded to the establishment of which we have doubtless all read—namely, the Agapemone; and I ask the House what is there to prevent the Mormonite from taking his seat in this House? If you look at the creed of the Mormonite you will find that the very first article in it is a professed belief in the Trinity and in the Divinity of the Saviour. The Mormonite would there fore come to your table and take the oath as it now stands. In the sense, then, in which my hon. and learned Friend speaks of maintaining the Christianity of this House I think I have demonstrated that in the first place you now admit those who deny Divinity of the Saviour, and next that, 1821 while you shut out the Jew, the state of your law is such that it would let in the follower of Joseph Smith or the adherent of any other form of belief, no matter how extravagant. If the House were to sanction the view of my hon. Friends near me in regard to the maintenance of the Christian character of Parliament, they ought not to content themselves with retaining a few words accidentally occurring at the end of this oath, but should fairly and explicitly legislate against the Jew in the manner now adopted in one part of Europe, but in one part only as far as I know. In Denmark Proper the Jew is perfectly free to be chosen a member of the Chamber, or to rise to any political office; but in the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein there is a very strong law against his admission to Parliament. But how is his proscription managed? Not in the indirect and chancework mode resorted to by us, but by express legal enactment, to the effect that no man shall be competent to sit in the Legislature of those Duchies unless he professes the Christian faith. Upon these grounds, then, I cannot concur in the argument which is founded on the fear of unchristianizing the Legislature; nor can I subscribe to that other argument, to which I confess I was at one time disposed to attach more weight, and which has been adverted to to-night,—namely, the nationality of the Jews. The Jew, it is said, is an alien—he is among us, but not of us—he belongs to a separate nation,—in a word, he is not an Englishman, but a man who looks forward to his restoration to another land. Here, again, I hope I shall not be understood as intending to say anything that can give pain to any man; but perhaps we cannot have a stronger illustration of this argument than that presented by the Rothschild family. When that celebrated brotherhood went forth from the gabled house in Frankfort, and one of its members settled in one European capital, and another in another, doubtless they were a peculiar family, hardly belonging to any one nation. But it is impossible to draw a general conclusion from an isolated case of that kind, and to apply that reasoning to an entire section of He Majesty's subjects, more especially as when once that family become rooted in a country they remain there and acquire property and all the various interests which attach to the residents and citizens of that State. And what is now their position? Is not the Jew a recognized subject of the Queen? 1822 Is he not, by general consent, a loyal subject? Does he not pay taxes? Does he not hold property? Do you not permit him to fill every office in the State excepting those which confer political power? Is he not a magistrate and an alderman? Have we not lately seen one of the most respected and most efficient Lord Mayors who ever presided over the City of London in the person of a Jew? Is there anything, then, in the argument based on the nationality of the Jew to justify us in telling him, "You shall have no voice in imposing the taxes which we make you pay, or in constituting the laws which we trust you to administer." I confess that I think there is not. It is said the Jew has no inherent right to political power from the fact of his being born a citizen of this country. I quite admit that; it cannot be contravened: but, on the oilier hand, though there is no legal right to the possession of political power, I hold that every Englishman has a moral right to all the privileges enjoyed by others who are similarly qualified to himself, unless there is some State necessity to the contrary, and that if you are to debar him from those rights by reason of his religious opinions, you are bound to show that there is something in the nature of his creed which renders the imposition of such a disability imperative. One point, which has been but little adverted to in this debate, cannot, I think, be wholly excluded from our consideration: I mean the state of the law on this subject in the other Christian nations of Europe, some of which are in the enjoyment of constitutional government. What do we find to be the political condition of the Jews in other parts of Europe? I have already told you that in the Danish monarchy the Jew is perfectly free to sit, if elected, in the Representative Chamber, and to enjoy political power. In France the Jew is in the same position: and observe, I refer now to both Roman Catholic and Protestant countries. In France the Jew is free to be elected to the Chamber, and to hold political power. In Belgium he is equally free; in Holland he is equally free; in Prussia he possesses the same privileges. I do not say the British House of Commons is bound to take its rule from the practice of other countries; but it is impossible on such a question not to feel that some weight is due to the fact that the other nations of Europe are dealing with it in a more liberal and generous spirit than we do. I may appeal to very 1823 high authorities, not on the other (the Ministerial) side of the House only, but among the statesmen who have been connected with the party to which I myself belong. This, in my opinion, is not a party question, but one on which hon. Gentlemen sitting on both sides, and acting together, may—as is now the case—fairly entertain different sentiments. Among those, however, to whom I have been accustomed to look up with respect in political affairs, I may appeal to the eminent names of Lord Lyndhurst, Sir R. Peel, Lord Ellesmere, Lord George Bentinck, and many other distinguished gentlemen now or formerly connected with the party with which I generally act, all of whom have uniformly advocated the admission of the Jews to seats in this House. But I confess I think this a subject on which a man's own conscience is a better guide than any authority, however venerable. I can only say I have studied this question to the best of my poor ability. I have regarded it in relation to my duty in this House, and in relation also to my duty as a Protestant Christian. I have examined it as a political question, and as a religious question, and the result has been that while, as a matter of feeling and sentiment, I might, perhaps, myself prefer that the Jews should not have seats in this Assembly, I do not think I should be justified in depriving, by any vote of mine, a considerable, a loyal, and a respectable portion of my fellow-subjects, of the enjoyment of the full privileges of the constitution under which they live.
* said, that he too had so far followed the example of his right hon. Friend, that he had over and over again fully considered this subject, and, with all due respect to the judgment of his right hon. Friend, he must say that he had always come to the same conclusion as that at which his right hon. Friend and himself had heretofore arrived. He had endeavoured in every way to divest himself of any party feelings in connection with the subject, because the question was too solemn to admit of the influence of party. Their only object should be to get at the truth of the matter. There was a right principle on either side; and if it were right constitutionally and religiously to admit the Jews, it was most important that we should come to that conclusion. On the other hand, it seemed to him of deep and vital importance to adhere to the Christian constitution of the Legislature. 1824 He scarcely knew anything more momentous than the matter they were now discussing. The question they had to consider was, not with what object the words "upon the true faith of a Christian" were originally introduced into the oath, but for what object were they now to be expunged from the oath. And put it as they might, and turn it as they would, it came to this; they had been giving reasons for every part of the oath which they retained and for the exclusion of the part which they had agreed to omit; but when they came down to the solemn words "upon the true faith of a Christian," they said if you retain these words you will exclude those who deny "the true faith of a Christian." And, therefore, you blot them out for the purpose of admitting unbelievers into the Legislature. And then he was told that we are not unchristianizing the Legislature. He had listened with deep anxiety and sincere regret to the views which had been put forward by his right hon. Friend, for as he has changed his opinion, he (Mr. Napier) had supposed that he should hear perhaps the weightiest reasons that could be offered in support of the measure. And what were the arguments of his right hon. Friend? He said "you have unchristianized the Legislature already." And why? "Because," said he, "it is notorious that there are persons in the House who hold peculiar views with which the great body of us do not exactly agree." He might as well have said, get rid of the oath altogether, because private constructions may be put upon it by some minds, and peculiar views of it may be taken by others. But he forgot that there was one broad constitutional exposition of it, and this was the sense in which they must assume it to be taken. He might as well have said, get rid of the words, because by private interpretation we may so far differ as not to put a uniform construction upon them. But the constitution of the country has placed a known construction upon the words "the true faith of a Christian," and it wisely and comprehensively expounded them in all their largeness. An hon. Gentleman opposite, who address the House in the early part of the evening pressed it as an argument against those who oppose the Bill, that they do not insist upon the special construction of the Established Church. Now he (Mr. Napier) thought that would not be consistent with the spirit of the constitution. They all met together as Christians—as fellow-Christians. 1825 That had been so from the earliest times. Their national Christianity had expanded itself to meet the exigencies of the time, and to embrace all. Now, observe; in the constitution of that House, ought anything to be retained in its essential forms in which they might not all agree? They began their proceedings with prayer. Could the Jew pray with us? The great poet makes the Jew say, "I will neither cat with you nor pray with you." The Jew would not pray with them. Then were they prepared to blot out the form of prayer? Look, again, at their solemn festivals. They kept close solemn festivals which celebrate the great facts of Christianity. They had their Christmas, their Easter, their Whitsuntide recess. These were public festivals. The Church had other festivals that were connected more especially with doctrines. Suppose he came to the Easter festival. If there were Jews in that House, they were bound when they admitted them to treat them with respect and deference. There must be some deference to the private opinions which they knew they held. When they come to their Easter festival, it might be asked—why are you separated? What is the event you are about to celebrate? The crucifixion of our blessed Lord. Well, then, if this custom be continued, what may the Jew say? If the Jew get up and said, "This is an insult to my faith," how were they to meet him? He could then assume the true Christian faith, He must argue it, because between the Jew and the Christian would then be made an open question; and in the absence of any test of the profession of Christianity, which was now exacted from all the Members of the Legislature, how was that objection of the Jew to be met? They would then have introduced into the councils of the State an element of disunion which did not at present exist. And when his right hon. Friend said you do not un-unchristianize the Legislature, he (Mr. Napier) said that if they take away the overruling principles of Christianity, its sacred influence, and its morals, they were setting aside, as the Duke of Wellington once said, "that on which our constitution is based, the Christian dispensation generally." They took it in its largeness,—the great fundamentals on which the Christian world was agreed. Look at the case of the Roman Catholic. He went with them to a certain extent on the facts and the great doctrines of Christianity. 1826 They differed in additional matters, with which his Church overlaid these facts and doctrines. Did not they all agree in the Divine authority of the Old and the New Testaments? Did not they all agree in the precepts of the Gospel? He had met here, at prayers, gentlemen of every leading section of the Christian community; Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, and some who he believed belonged to the Unitarian body—they had all joined in the impressive prayers of this House. But the Jew could not do so. Could there be a better test of unity than this joining in common prayer, and asking a blessing on their labours? Well, it was proposed to encroach upon that test of unity. Now, he asked, was there to be such a thing as a Christian State? Was the State to consist merely of a number of individuals casually assembled together, or was it to be an organization? What was to be its principle? Was it to be Christianity? The moment they introduced the Jew, they expelled this principle; and yet he was told this was not unchristianizing the Legislature. Authorities had been referred to. They all appeal to Dr. Arnold. The late Duke of Wellington he had referred to, as entertaining the same views; a man of great practical wisdom. He might mention the name of the late Archdeacon Hare, one of the most candid and conscientious men of his day—a man of rare talent. What were his views? Why, that the admission of the Jews would unchristianize the Legislature. There was another authority not less influential; a, man well-known to some Members of this House, Mr. Holmes, the father of the Irish bar, a man of sound judgment, peculiarly distinguished for liberal views, and connected with the liberal party. He told him (Mr. Napier) that he thought it inconsistent with all principle that any man, who was not a professed Christian, should be a Member of a Legislature that had to make laws for a Christian country. Such a man as Mr. Holmes Could not be accused of bigotry. There was this principle which could not be got over. The State was the depository of too power and authority of the country; it was invested with supreme sovereignty. Every Member of the House had the power, more or less, over the life, liberty, and property of the people of the realm. Now he (Mr. Napier) asked whether a body which had this sovereignty ought not to be directly responsible to God for the exercise of its powers, 1827 and whether they ought not to recognize the Christian faith? Look at the questions connected with the religion of the country, with which they had frequently to deal—the Education Question, for instance—the Sabbath Question—Reformatory Schools—Marriage and Divorce, and other similar matters, which from time to time might engage their attention. Every day they found questions arising which were becoming more and more charged with Christian principles. Then, he asked, ought a man to be admitted a Member of that House, who would not consent to legislate on these questions on a broad Christian foundation? He wished to look at the matter in the largest and the most comprehensive way. He had often been struck with the passage—the House would forgive him for alluding to it—in which the Apostle Paul, speaking of the centre of unity amongst Christians, the love of the Saviour, says—"As many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them." So long as we cluster around that great centre we may find unity, without disturbing special convictions. What was that great centre of our hopes? Our Lord Jesus Christ. What would be the effect of admitting the Jew into this House? He may come here and say, "Here are those who profess to worship, to believe in the person, the offices, the existence of the Messiah. They would not suffer the admission of any one into this House who did not swear allegiance to the Sovereign. They exact allegiance to the Sovereign, the earthly monarch—but could he really think that they believed in Him, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, when they had expunged all profession of faith with regard to Him?" He (Mr. Napier) would not be so presumptuous as to step forward to execute any punishment on the Jew.Let not this weak and erring hand,Presume thy bolts to throw.He was not to take upon himself to execute punishment on the Jew by helping forward his affliction; his history and his hopes were surrounded with a heavenly grandeur. But why were they still a scattered people? Why, for eighteen hundred years had they been dispersed over the face of the earth? Because of their rejection of the Messiah. Was there no parallel between England under the new dispensation, and the Jews under the old? If they were blotting out these words, which testified in all practical largeness, with a Scriptural latitude, "the true faith of a Christian," as the overruling 1828 principle of legislation—if they now deliberately blotted out these words, in order to introduce into the Legislature those who deny the very name of Him whom they believe to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords—was there no warning to us, reading the history and destiny of the Jews? They were to be restored to the Divine favour. But when would that be? When they believed upon Him whom they had rejected. If they desire to benefit the Jews, let them endeavour to hasten that event—let them adhere to the great truths and principles of our holy religion. Let them deal with them generously, as far as they could, and admit them to the exercise of civil privileges as far as they ought to go; but let them not give them authority to make laws for the people, or entrust to them that power for the proper use of which we were ourselves directly responsible to God. Let them deal with them in a spirit of kindness and to the utmost love, but let them as a Christian State adhere, without compromise, to those principles upon which its title to Divine favour depended, and which, with God's blessing, he would to the last moment of his life humbly but heartily defend.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, that the opposition to the proposal of the Government had been conducted by four of the most able and eminent lawyers in that House—gentlemen well versed in constitutional law, and yet not one of them had treated the question as a constitutional, a political, or a legal question, but had dealt with it as a simple question of theology. The subject was one which had been so much debated, and the issue was so simple, that he should have thought that it would have been beyond the power of the most ingenious controversialist to impart a new interest or give a new character to the present discussion. The hon. and learned Member for Stamford, however, had endeavoured, by the conduct he had pursued with reference to the second reading of the Bill, and the speech he had made that evening, to place the House in a somewhat new and startling position. The hon. and learned Gentleman had on previous occasions contended for the continuance of the oath as it at present stood, but he was now prepared to abolish that oath, and, while constructing another more suited, as he said, to the times in which they lived, to ask the House of Commons to do in 1857 that which at no period of its history it had. ever ventured to do— 1829 namely, by the insertion of special words for the purpose to make religious belief, quâ religious belief, without reference to the conduct of the individual, a sufficient justification for deprivation from civil office. The argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman was that, even admitting the right of a Jew to obtain certain privileges, still the State had an equal right to give or to withhold those privileges; but there was no political axiom more sacred than that the State could only deal with a man's opinions in so far as they operated as n rule of conduct and not as a rule of faith, because in the one instance they affected society at large, while in the other they affected only his own conscience as between himself and his Maker. To exclude a man from political privileges, not upon the ground of public conduct, but of private belief, unless that belief encouraged conduct dangerous to the State, was necessarily persecution; and although it was well known that fanaticism had been frequently at the root of English legislation, yet the worst minister in the worst of times had ever been careful to disguise such legislation under the plea of political exigency. Nevertheless, although the challenge had been repeatedly thrown down to them, as he had before said, all those learned Gentlemen who opposed the measure upon the present occasion had abandoned all questions of political necessity and had taken refuge in a question of theology. He could understand the course which had been adopted last year. He could understand the hon. and learned Member for Stamford then saying that there were acknowledged objections to the old oath. but that he advocated its continuance upon special grounds. He could understand him saying that the oath was anomalous, but that he wished to preserve it in order to exclude Jews from Parliament, because the party with which he acted was not strong enough to accomplish that object by other means, and if he consented to its abolition he might not be able to substitute another which would carry out his views. Such a course would have been consistent, and what perhaps, some hon. Gentlemen thought more of, conservative; but the hon. and learned Gentleman had abandoned that course, and now came forward to agree to the abolition of the old oath, and to propose in his character of a reformer for the first time in that House, that Parliament should legislate, not upon a political, but upon a religious 1830 basis, and should commit itself to the policy of punishing abstract opinions—a principle for which no precedent could be found in the Legislature of any civilized community. Strange, however, as such a course might be, it was the only one which was left open to the hon. and learned Gentleman, for it was the inevitable result of the anterior proceedings which had taken place with regard to the question. Any one who remembered the discussion of last year upon the same subject would see that if the hon. and learned Gentleman had not adopted such a course he would have been compelled to abandon all opposition to the Bill. Those who disapproved the old oath had found when it came to be analysed in the discussion of last year, that in substance the hon. and learned Gentleman entertained an identity of opinion with themselves, All were then agreed to retain the oath of allegiance to the Queen and to maintain the Protestant succession, and also that the oath of abjuration of the Pretender was unnecessary. Then came the words "on the true faith of a Christian." The hon. and learned Gentleman had then admitted that those words were not originally intended to apply to Jews, and that so far from that having been the case they had been introduced by the professors of one class of Christians as a security against another class. There then appeared to be the anomaly that while the Christians against whom those words were directed were now relieved from the obligation of using them, the Jews, against whom they were never directed, were the only persons at present under its operation. The hon. and learned Gentleman, while he admitted that those words were never intended to be applied to Jews, and that they were not excluded by any special enactment, had said that the reason of that was that the Legislature never contemplated the possibility of Jews being elected to serve in Parliament, and then he added, "But if I admit that the exclusion of Jews, by reason of these words, is accidental, I am entitled to the admission that their non-exclusion by special provision has been accidental also." This rejoinder, though there might appear to be some truth in it, in reality cut the ground from under the feet of the hon. and learned Gentleman, because, if the Jew bad been excluded he would have fallen under the operation of the same law which excluded Dissenters and Roman Catholics, not on account of their particular belief, because that was 1831 a minor and insignificant question, but because they were beyond the pale of the Established Church. Most unfortunate it was for the Jew that he was not excluded by a special law, because, had he been included in the penalty, he would no doubt have been included in the relief. The cause of the Jew was the same as that of the Dissenter. The Dissenter had year after year to fight the battle of his religious freedom. The same cry was raised as now—that the Church was in danger; but reason and good sense at length prevailed, and the Dissenter won his rights. Then came the battle of the Roman Catholic. Our Protestant monarchy, our Protestant institutions, our Protestant Church were declared to be in danger; and none of them, it was said, would survive the admission of the Roman Catholic to his political rights. This cry was raised honestly by some, but by more it was dishonestly used for party purposes. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said that this oath was the wedding garment of the Constitution; certainly this cry, which had been prostituted to so many purposes, could not be called the cloak of chastity. At length Dissenters and Catholics were admitted to Parliament, and had any of the disastrous consequences which were foretold followed their admission? Had any Roman Catholic proposed to change the Protestant succession? Had any Dissenter moved that the revenues of the Established Church should be appropriated to the payment of the National Debt? Nothing of the kind had occurred. On the contrary, he believed that the result had been to strengthen immensely both the Throne and the religion of these realms. He believed that in the Roman Catholic the Queen would find the best defenders of Her Throne; and, in the Dissenters the best defenders of the national religion. The same cry was, however, now raised against the Jew. The hon. and learned Member for Stamford had, with singular infelicity, reminded the House of the Jew Bill of 1754. In the year 1753 the Government of the clay introduced a Bill to relieve Jews who took out letters of naturalization from the obligation to receive the sacrament. It was stated that in the previous reign some Jews had, in order to obtain the privileges of British subjects, received the sacrament, and it was urged by the Government that, although in the Jew who did not acknowledge the sanctity of our sacrament 1832 this might be no crime, that in the Christian who compelled him to take the sacrament it was a heinous profanation of a most sacred rite. The party who at that time held the opinions now inherited by the hon. and learned Gentleman and his friends insisted that the Christianity of the country should be saved by the Jews receiving the sacrament, and they used the very arguments to which his hon. Friend behind him had referred as impossible. They said that the Jews were so rich that if once allowed to settle in England they would monopolize the trade of London, would obtain possession of all the land in England, would thus be enabled to return the Members to Parliament, and would ultimately be returned themselves; and then the whole population would be converted, and Christianity would be at an end. Monstrous and preposterous as it might appear, these were the arguments which were used alike by noble Dukes, by the first Commoners of England, and by the Corporation of the City on London, which was heard by counsel. The Bill was passed, but so much were the people of England excited that on the first night of the next Session the Government proposed its repeal, in order to appease the public mind. The concessions made to the Jews from time to time had been resisted by the same cry: "The Church is in danger," and that cry was still raised against them. But we had survived the lesser concessions which had been made. They had been recognised as electors, as magistrates, as municipal officers, and yet the adoption of those measures had been followed by none of the evil consequences; which had been foretold. Now, however, the old argument was revived for the hundredth time, and we were told that if Jews were admitted to Parliament the Christianity of the country would receive a blow which it would not survive. This was not a question personal to Baron Rothschild and the Jewish community. It involved a principle to which the honour and character of this country were committed, and upon which the Legislature agreed to the abolition of the disabilities of Roman Catholics and Dissenters—the principle that in matters of belief conscience should be free; and so far from the leaders of the movement of that day recognizing any distinction between Jew and Catholic he was certain that they would have spurned such terms, and would not allow the banner of religious liberty to be inscribed with 1833 such a qualification. This question also was one which involved our relations with foreign States. The most despotic Governments of the Continent put our liberality to shame on this question. Hon. Gentlemen frequently appealed to the Minister to obtain protection for Protestants in Austria. To such an appeal Austria might reply, "Look at home. If you, the very enlightened Government of England, are not strong enough to do an act of justice to a handful of harmless Jews, how can you complain that we do not support that Protestant freedom of thought which you yourselves say is fatal to our system?" Admitting, as we now did, that no political danger was to be apprehended from the Jews, that their loyalty was unquestioned, that their morality was unimpeachable, if we still branded them with the deprivation of their civil privileges, merely on account of their faith, we should pursue a course which was inconsistent with our past actions and at variance with our religious professions, and should really do that which was a reproach to us as a Christian Legislature, and degrading to us as a Christian nation.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
*: Sir, I do not in the least complain of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I think with him, that the question is one of momentous importance. The right hon. Gentleman has criticised with severity the course which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stamford (Sir F. Thesiger) has pursued. At the same time, however, he stated that my hon. and learned Friend had taken the only course which was open to him; and if that be so, my hon. and learned Friend could have taken no other, and therefore this criticism is somewhat out of place. I hold that the course taken by my hon. and learned Friend is as judicious as I hope it will be thought by the House wise and discreet; because, while he is willing to omit from the oath whatever is no longer necessary or material to retain, like a true Conservative reformer, he insists on retaining what is vital and fundamental. The right hon. Gentleman said, and it has been assumed by more than one speaker tonight, that the Jew—for I grant it is not the question of Baron Rothschild alone, but a large national question—is excluded from a seat in Parliament by accidental words in an antiquated oath; but that the principles of the constitution are in favour 1834 of his admission. Why, judging by the language I have heard in this debate, I begin to think that the constitution of England was founded, not for Christians, but for Jews. Indeed, one would suppose from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, that whether we looked to antiquity, to the opinions of the great framers of our laws, or of those who laid the foundations of that monarchy under which it is our happiness to live, the principles then asserted were the principles of Judaism and not the principles of an exclusive Christianity. I say there is not a Gentleman in this House who ought not to vote at once against the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend, if he has arrived at the conclusion that the Jew is only excluded by accidental words in the oath, and not by the laws and jurisprudence of the country from the earliest times, and the practice of the constitution for 1,000 years.
Will the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down tell me how, or on what principle, the early founders of this state proceeded? My argument against the Jew is this; that Christianity was intertwined with all the institutions of England from the very beginning—that it was connected with the landed property of the country, with the composition of this House of Parliament, with the constitution of the House of Peers, with the Monarchy itself; and I defy a microscopic eye, surveying the stately fabric of our constitution, to detect an opening for the Jew to enter in. Now I have said that Christianity was, from the first, connected with the State. Is that true? An hon. Member who spoke to-night seemed to say that, much that was written in the old time was written unadvisedly; but I say to that hon. Gentleman, the Member for South Derbyshire (Mr. Evans), that when I close the books written by the great men of the time when the original of this oath was framed, I close them sometimes with delight, but always with despair. The capacity of those old writers was great; their knowledge of the constitution profound; their knowledge of the laws of their country has never been equalled; and however their authority may now be departed from, it ought not to be slighted. Then, again, the hon. Gentleman did not urge a very good argument when he said it would be right for Parliament to interpose, if a great number of Jews were likely to be 1835 elected, but it would not be right to interpose if only a few Jews were elected. That is certainly a strange mode of ascertaining or applying the true principles of the constitution. I have said that, from the very first, Christianity was connected with the State. In old times, before a man in this country could devise an acre of land to whomsoever he wished, by the ancient common law he had power to set apart a portion of his property for the maintenance of the Christian religion. That, it was said, was done in order that the ministrations of the Church might follow the inhabitant of this Christian country from his cradle to his grave. It has sometimes been asked how bishops found their way into the other House of Parliament. Lord Coke said, that they sat in the Upper House by virtue of their baronies. But Lord Hale says, they sat there in the old Anglo-Saxon times, not by virtue of their baronies, but to defend the Church, and to direct the course of legislation in a Christian land. That was the true ground on which they sat in the other House of Parliament; and that House is older in point of date than this. If I were to pursue this subject in all its ramifications, it would occupy too much of the time of the House. I will come, therefore, to the Crown. The oath taken by Her Majesty is, that She will maintain the true profession of the Gospel. That is the catechism of the constitution, administered to the Sovereign at Her coronation. She is likewise to maintain the Protestant reformed religion. Of course, it is only by acting through her constitutional advisers, her Ministers, that She can carry out this profession. And yet, if the oath were altered, as it is proposed to alter it, the profession of the Christian religion is to be carried out in all departments of the State, though the next prime minister might be Baron Rothschild, whose more illustrious Colleague has already filled that high office. Why, how is it possible for the Sovereign to perform Her duty towards the Christian Church, acting on the advice of a conscientious Jew? I defy the right hon. Gentleman to point me out a single instance at any time, from the earliest period, in which a man who openly avowed his disbelief in Christianity in general, has sat within the walls of Parliament. Let him do so, and I will at once abandon the argument. I will not refer to the statute law on this part of the question, because 1836 I should perhaps be told that the statutes were the work of intolerant men. But take the common law from the earliest times; you will find it to hold that whosoever ventures publicly to denounce Christianity, or to write in open denial of the mission of our Saviour, and the fact of His resurrection, to gaol he must go. I do not wish to alarm gentlemen of Baron Rothschild's opinions and persuasion, but this has been the law from time immemorial, that Christianity is intertwined with all the institutions of the State; and it would be absured to lay down the principle that whoever wrote or spoke against Christianity wrote or spoke in subversion of the law, unless the men who write and publish the opinions which Baron Rothschild may be supposed to entertain were liable to the penalties of the law. ["Oh, oh !"] Yes, and it has been the practice for 200 years past. The thing was tested fully on the trial of the publisher of the works of Tom Paine. I beg his pardon—I should say the works of "Mr. Thomas Paine." Here was a clever unbelieving man, an infidel, who had the folly to think, when he sat in the French Assembly, that he could overturn Christianity, set up the Goddess of Reason in its place, and yet not subvert society. The French people cut off the head of their king, and were near cutting off Mr. Paine's head also, which would not perhaps have mattered much. At all events, he had a very narrow escape. Then he wrote a book against the Christian religion. Then he escaped to America. His unhappy publisher was brought to trial, and Mr. Erskine prosecuted him. What a famous specimen of true, masculine, constitutional eloquence was the speech of Erskine on that occasion. It is a speech of which the Whigs may well be proud. He insisted that the defendant ought to be convicted, because he had published a book which denied the New Testament, and openly and daringly impeached the mission and existence of the Being whom we adore; and he said it was impossible to allow such doctrines to be disseminated with impunity in a country whose government and constitution rest for their very foundations upon the truths of the Christian religion.
Such was the language of a distinguished Whig of other days; but Whigs are recreant now. I hope Erskine was sincere in what he said. The speech, at all events, was reported by himself; and there is not 1837 extant a more splendid argument in favour of the view I take of this question. What became of the publisher of one of Paine's books? He was convicted, sent to gaol for eighteen months, and sentenced to stand once. a month in the pillory. Then Tom Paine published a second volume of ribald attacks upon the Christian religion, and the publisher in that case, too, was tried and imprisoned, because our Judges, Hale—not old Coke, whom you call narrow-minded and intolerant—Kenyon, Ellenborough, and Tenterden, luminous expositors of the common law, one and all say that the law of the country rests on Christianity; and whosoever impeaches Christianity, subverts the law. When Lord Denman was at the bar, he endeavoured to defend Carlisle on his trial, and he defended him in this way. He said, they passed a law in the reign of William III., who was not an intolerant king, that whomsoever by advised speaking impugned the New Testament, should, for the first offence, be deprived of any office under the Crown; and for the second, suffer imprisonment. That, said Mr. Denman, abrogates the common; law. No, answered the Judges; it is in confirmation of the common law; that Act was passed to exclude from political power and office any man who avowed his disbelief in the New Testament; the common law guards the morals of the people; the statute was passed to protect the Government and the Crown. And this is the law to the present day. You may disapprove of it; but I have not in the minutest particular misstated that law. I have many authorities beside me, but it is impossible even to refer to them at this period of the night. No lawyer, however, on the opposite benches, will venture to deny what I have asserted.
If my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General had a spare moment from prosecuting the British Bank delinquents, and if Baron Rothschild, of whom I desire to speak with all respect, not so much as a native Englishman as a citizen of the world, were to write deliberately a short exposition of the. doctrines he conscientiously holds, and to publish it, my hon. and learned Friend, with his bag full of cases and authorities which Lord Campbell would act upon, might appear in the Queen's Bench and prosecute him. Why? Because every man who impeaches the Christian religion, according to the old Judges, but good lawyers, whom I have mentioned, not only attacks the monarchy, and the constitution, 1838 but subverts the law. For Christianity is the law, and the law is Christianity; and we will not suffer either to be impugned. Hon. Members may ask, have you nothing in your hooks about the Jew? Very little indeed, is my answer; and why should there be much? All our customs and usages—all our principles are directly antagonistic to the principles of the Jew. But something has been written in our law-books concerning the residence of the Jews in this country. Lord Coke and Mr. Barrington both wrote commentaries on the statute De Judaismo in the time of Edward I., not for the expulsion of the Jews (Coke says that it was a mistake so to assert, for they banished themselves), but to put down usury. Usury was their business. Yes, and I do not say so disrespectfully. But that is the fact. "The Jews fleeced the nation," says Madox, in his history of the Exchequer, "and the King fleeced them." That explains pretty clearly their position; and it is rather too much for a right hon. Gentleman to attempt to persuade an assembly of Gentlemen well read in the law and constitution of their country, that the Jews had political rights under our system of Government, and that the principles of the constitution were favourable to them. Why, as Mr. Macaulay, once a brilliant ornament of this House, says, it was with some difficulty they could keep their teeth in their heads.
Lord Coke writes, that when our noble King Edward found that it was impossible to put down usury by any moderate measures, he prevailed upon the Parliament to pass a law to put it down altogether. What happened? The "infidel, impious Jews"—these are Lord Coke's own words—to the number of fifteen thousand and three score, then resolved to quit the country. And how did they retire? By getting a safe conduct from the King; and Lord Coke has preserved the writ which was issued to the sheriffs to ensure their safe conduct out of England. "Thus," says he, in conclusion, "we got rid of these infidels, and from that time that nation never returned again into this realm." Now, he was a great lawyer, and his authority will be respected as long as the English language lasts and English laws remain. Yet the right hon. Gentleman opposite wants to persuade the House that the Jews have political rights. Who was it that framed the oath of abjuration in the time of James I.? This same Lord Coke, who 1839 has expressed himself so emphatically against Judaism and the Jews, he framed it. And yet it is argued that it could not have been the intent of the framer of that oath to exclude the Jews from the legislature, when I have shown that he thought it right to expel them from the country! And when the matter was discussed in the case of Miller v. Salomons in the Court of Exchequer, and an attempt was made to convince the Judges that the words in the oath were accidental, and that Lord Coke never meant to exclude the Jews, the answer was, that if the subject had been brought under his notice he would have done more than exclude them from the legislature. The words, "on the true faith of a Christian," are of the substance of the oath, and cannot be separated from it. Could any man translate the oath thus, "I, A. B., on the true faith of a Jew," or "I, A. B., on the true faith of a Mormonite, do promise" so and so? The object of Lord Coke, no doubt, was to meet the case of persons equivocating, though probably the Jesuit in the end has been more than a match for the lawyer. But the same words which he put into that oath the Judges have held to be the exposition of that ancient common law, every line and letter of which is an affirmation of Christianity, and an exclusion of everything antagonistic to it.
I may conclude what I have to say on this part of the question by a passage from the judgment of the late Baron Alderson:—It is, then, contended that the sole object of the legislature in directing this oath to be taken was to affect Roman Catholic subjects of the realm, not to exclude Jews, and therefore that the enactments ought to he so construed as not to apply to them, which would be effected by holding the last words to be a part of the formula of administration only. It is, indeed, true, as a matter of history, that the occasion of prescribing this particular form of words was the danger which Parliament apprehended from a particular class of Christians whose loyalty they doubted, and whose sincerity they suspected, and therefore directed this oath to be taken in a manner which afforded a more perfect test of both, and a superior sanction to one in a less stringent form. But it is a fallacy to argue that, because the immediate object of the legislature was to give a more binding effect to a Christian oath, not to exclude the Jew, and others than Christians, therefore they meant all such to be admitted, and consequently that the terms of the oath ought to be modified so as to carry that object into effect, and to permit all not of the Christian faith to take the oath in a form binding on their conscience; nothing was further from the contemplation of the legislature. The truth is, they never supposed that any but Christians would form a part of either House of Parliament. 1840 The possibility that persons of the Jewish persuasion should be Peers, or be elected Members of Parliament, probably entered into their contemplation as little as that of the Mahomedans or Pagans being placed in either category. Both of these arc in effect on precisely the same footing in this respect as the Jews, and the argument applies equally to them all.That is the history of the oath.
I do not think the attention of the House has been sufficiently drawn to the extraordinary course of legislation which has been attempted by the noble Lord, the Member for the City of London, and by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who sometimes appear in conjunction, and sometimes shine in solitary splendour. It is instructive to contrast the former Bills introduced by these noble Lords on the subject of Jewish disabilities with the present, and to observe the steps by which they have proceeded. Logic and consistency are not at all necessary for the noble Lord at the head of the Government; it is enough for him to have votes. There was logic in the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. Deasy), but not one word of argument did the noble Lord offer to that speech in reply. He treated the principle of the oath as of no consequence, and contented himself with simply intimating that on some future occasion it might be possible to bring in a measure that would meet the hon. and learned Member's views; just the same as if the matter at issue was nothing more than a turnpike or an inclosure Bill. To the Bill of 1849, I observe the names of the noble Lord the Member for London, and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir G. Grey) attached. On that occasion the noble Lord began by legislating for all persons not professing the Roman Catholic religion. His Bill provided that they should take an oath declaring that the Pope had not, nor ought to have, civil or temporal jurisdiction, authority, or power within this realm, and concluded with the words, "on the true faith of a Christian." To say that the Pope had no civil or temporal power is what, I presume, nobody would object to—not even Roman Catholic Gentlemen themselves; but, of course the words "on the true faith of a Christian" excluded the Jew. A separate clause in the Bill, however, provided that whenever a person professing the Jewish religion came forward to be sworn, the words "on the true faith of a Christian" should be omitted; but then came the proviso, that nothing in this Act contained 1841 shall affect the Roman Catholics, or the oath to be taken by them. Singular enough, the first part of the oath in that Bill might have been taken by Roman Catholics, because it omitted the words "ecclesiastical or spiritual;" yet the Bill provided that nothing therein contained should permit a Roman Catholic to take the oath which he felt he could take. That was the first Bill. What was the second? A valuable Bill—a treasure was this Bill !
The noble Lord, the Member for London, has a tolerable knowledge of the constitution of the country, and his life has been devoted to the consideration of perhaps some of the largest questions that ever occupied the mind of a statesman. When he brought in the second Bill, I will not say that he knew as much then as he does now; though he understood the constitution quite as well. This time, however, he was associated with the noble Lord who is now at the head of the Government, and everybody knows what either of them can do singly; but when combined, the result is great indeed ! This Bill was unique in one respect, that it was what it professed to be, which none of the others were. The other Bills were deceptive. This was a Bill, the declared object of which was to remove Jewish disabilities; and its framework was admirable for that purpose. If I were asked to choose between that Bill and the measure now before the House, I should certainly prefer the former. It began by reciting that certain of Her Majesty's subjects professing the Jewish religion were at present unable conscientiously to take the oaths prescribed by law, and it then went on to provide specially for the Jew separately taking an oath of abjuration. But, besides being an enabling, it was also a disabling Bill; and here I answer the right hon. Gentleman by referring him to the recorded opinions of the noble Lord. By that Bill the noble Lord said, that there were certain offices in the State which the Jew ought not to fill consistently with the constitution of the country; and the noble Lord never spoke or wrote a stricter truth than that, and that amongst those offices were those of Regent of the realm, Lord Keeper, Lord Chancellor, and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The Bill excluded the Jew from every office connected with the Church of England and Ireland; and from exercising any jurisdiction over the Church of Scotland, 1842 and made him indictable for a misdemeanour if, being an adviser of the Crown, he should presume to advise Her Majesty with reference to the appointment of bishops or clergy in that Christian Church which is his abhorrence. That was the Bill of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, himself a Prime Minister, who has occasionally been inconsistent, and in that measure he had the support of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. What, then, has happened since March, 1853—what change has taken place in the Jewish nation, or in the character of the Jews, which warrants their admission to offices which the noble Lord's Bill then declared none but Christians should fill?—The scene shifts.
The noble Lord the Member for London having cast off the noble Lord at the head of the Government, takes for his adviser the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham), and they together produced the next Bill, which differs very materially from the previous one. This is what I should call a Radical Bill, the other was a Conservative Whig Bill. This is the Bill of one who certainly does not appear to me to have cared very much for the oath of supremacy, or the oath of abjuration, as they existed in former times, and is a more general and sweeping measure than any except the last. It is dated 1854, and it was the first time, in consequence of the communications with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, that a, measure of this nature had interfered with the settlement of the Catholic Emancipation Act. It did everything that the Roman Catholic Gentlemen in this House could desire. While professing to relieve the Jews, it struck a deadly blow at the securities, as they are called, of the Emancipation Act, and abolished the oath prescribed by the 10th of George the Fourth. And it not only did this; but whilst retaining the words "civil and temporal," it omitted the words "spiritual and ecclesiastical." It did not say, "we object to you Roman Catholics because yon believe too much," but "we admit you Jews because you believe nothing."
But one Bill remains, and that is the last, and of course the worst. The noble Lord at the head of the Government having to draw it, went to work curiously enough, and restored to the oath the words which the noble Lord the Member for London and the right hon. Gentleman the 1843 Member for Carlisle had omitted. I suppose that the noble Lord, having escaped from the contagion of the principles of his former colleague the Member for London, fell hack upon his ancient Protestantism, and therefore introduced the words which would maintain the Protestant constitution of this Protestant realm. Accordingly I find that the oath now contains the words "ecclesiastical and spiritual," and in that form it is to be taken by a Jew. But there is in this a mockery, an absurdity, a folly inconceivable, to suppose that the words of an oath which, in any sense, could only be rationally put to a Christian, could properly be administered to a Jew, when he despises equally the Pope, the Church of England, and the Church of Rome: he has just the same opinion of one as the other, and therefore the thing is a solemn mockery. But then the noble Lord takes care to omit the clause as to the Roman Catholic Emancipation Act, and re-enacts that Bill. And while the noble Lord is doing this, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Deasy), a lawyer, intelligent, acute, and sly, takes this Bill and compares it with the former one, omits from the present Bill the same words which the noble Lord the Member for London and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle omitted from their Bill, and makes a smooth measure of it by his Amendments, which he presents for acceptance to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who, though he had himself previously introduced a similar measure, now rejects it indignantly on account of the Protestantism of the empire. The noble Lord is full of fire for the maintenance of that Protestantism which he has found so useful to him. He refuses to accept the Amendment, and insists upon making a distinction between the Jew and the Roman Catholic. I have thus described the attempts at legislation on the subject of Jewish disabilities, but I ask the Committee whether it would not be rational and consistent, if you are disposed to legislate for the Jew, that you should deal by him as you have done by the Roman Catholic? There never was such a blunder committed by a statesman as not to adopt that course; for had that been done the Roman Catholics could not complain of having been singled out for a disagreeable isolation, neither could the question have been raised upon the oath as framed by the noble Lord the Member for London, in his first and second Bills.
1844 But while I admit one of the Bills of the noble Lord the Member for London was infinitely less objectionable than the present measure, yet I assert that it rested on a false principle—namely, that the general business of legislation can be safely conducted by excluding from particular offices the Jews, and by a hope or a conjecture that the Jew would not venture in this House to express openly his hatred or contempt of Christianity. A more narrow or mistaken view of the duties of a legislator under this constitution it is impossible to conceive. It is not to do the business of the Stock Exchange that Baron Rothschild should enter this House. It is to aid in the whole government of the empire on a principle in harmony with our laws, our monarchy, our jurisprudence; and that predominating principle of legislation should be a Christian principle. That principle is not to be now asserted, then to be abandoned, now to be forgotten, then to be remembered; it should pervade all our laws, influence all our policy, as it should operate on all our actions. Our domestic administration calls this pervading principle into operation, not every Session, but almost every night of every Session, Our criminal law and jurisprudence, our endowed schools, our colleges, our Universities, our Church, our whole system of popular education, the increase of the Christian religion at home, abroad, in our colonial empire, our peerage, our monarchy, all are to be maintained, conducted, strengthened, and purified by legislation, on Christian principles. Does the Jew come here to make laws to advance Christ's kingdom? He comes here to repudiate, deny, and abjure, in the face of the nation, that Christianity, on which the whole system of our laws, monarchy, and constitution, depends. He cannot aid us, therefore, as a Christian legislator, and, consequently, the more wealthy the more dangerous, the more powerful from his influence and his connections the more mischievous will his Rabbinism make him.
Baron Rothschild would enter this House as a representative in the character of a trustee for this Christian kingdom. He would become clothed with a sacred trust to legislate for the good of that nation of which he is a representative; and for the good of that nation he cannot legislate unless he labour heartily to promote the Christian religion. That trust reposed in the representative embraces the world in its comprehensiveness, in its blessed 1845 and unbounded benevolence. That Baron Rothschild cannot believe in the everlasting truth of the Gospel is an overwhelming reason against his legislating for Christian men, who believe that, in exact proportion as the Christian religion is upheld, promoted, and obeyed, individuals and nations become great, free, and happy; and in exact proportion as it is retarded and opposed by unbelieving lawgivers or daring enemies, men and nations become enfeebled, contemptible, and enslaved.
What! are we here debating whether Christianity should be the exclusive religion of the Senate? Fourteen hundred years ago and more, a mighty question was discussed in the Roman Senate, whether the religion of Christ should be professed exclusively to be the religion of that Senate. What a debate ! On the one side, Symmachus, the believer in the ancient faith, poured forth his indignant complaints, and urged his views in splendid declamations; on the other side, argued Ambrose, with the sublime eloquence of truth:—Behold,'' said the believer in the old religion, "what that religion did for Rome. Look back on her wonderful and glorious history, on the conquests she made, the battles she won, the kingdoms she governed. Behold the results of her ancient faith in the splendour of her literature, the genius of her orators, the skill of her generals, the inspiration of her poets, the fame of her philosophers, the felicity of her fortunes. Can the old religion be so bad that has produced such grand results? We cannot forsake the old faith; we cannot embrace your novelties; we do not understand Christianity, but we do not seek to expel it or you from the Senate? Why are you so obstinate? Why so exclusive? Must every senator be a Christian? We make a fair proposal. Let us divide the political power, and pay equal honour to the old faith and to the new. We will place the statue of your Christ beside the statue of our Apollo."— The battles you boast of, Ambrose replied, were won by the valour of the legions, not by the favour of your gods. Your proposal is insulting, for it assumes that Christianity and heathenism are alike to be respected. The question is not what, you admire, but what is truth? If Christianity be true, if it be a sublime religion, if it be the hope of the world, if it be inconsistent with your ancient superstition, one or other must be supreme. One system must be acknowledged by the Senate; not two systems, each antagonistic to the other. Therefore, choose between Christ and Jupiter.The Senate voted that Christianity should thenceforth be exclusively the religion of their body. The temples of voluptuous heathenism were overthrown, the statues of the false gods were shivered, and Christianity became, as it was acknowledged, the religion of the Senate and of the 1846 empire. From that epoch the progress of Christianity has been triumphant; retarded it has been, sometimes baffled, sometimes abused, sometimes perverted; but its true mission is to humanize, to civilize, to exalt, to redeem mankind. It is said in our old law-books that the destiny of the Saxon race is to spread Christianity over the earth. Can they realise this grand prediction if they abandon the principle of Government which they have maintained for ages? Their ideas, their institutions, are all drawn from, or dependent on, Christianity. Could they safely combine with them the ideas and institutions of Judaism? The Reformation irradiated the world with the light of truth, but that light was darkness to the Jew. The results of that mighty change produce no impression on his stubborn nature. The belief which satisfied the reason of Newton, of Pascal, of Locke, cannot affect his understanding. The divine song which Milton sang cannot touch his heart. The magnificent composition of Bacon, his Christian's Creed, finds the Jew unmoved. The recommendation of Baron Rothschild to the Senate is, that no amount of evidence, no degree of testimony, not the united judgment of the greatest wits the world ever saw, not the growth of nations under the benign influence of Christianity in morals humanity, in the practice of truth and justice, in the acquisition of wealth and freedom, not the evidence of his senses, could convince him. Though the sun were darkened, though the earth did quake, though the rocks were rent, though the grave gave back the bodies of saints which slept, to testify to their Creator's triumph over sin and death, unlike the centurion, Baron Rothschild would not believe. Wonderful man! Open wide for him the doors of this Christian Senate. Who so fit to advise a Christian Sovereign?—who so fit to govern a Christian Church!—who so fit to legislate for a Christian State? He comes to triumph over our ancient faith, over our Christian monarchy, over our Christian jurisprudence, and, adding insult to victory, he announces that no man hereafter, shall, in his awful presence, utter the words, "on the true faith of a Christian." It was not alone that Baron Rothschild would not adopt these words himself, but no other was to be permitted to do so.
If, indeed, the noble Lord at the head of the Government could economise the public treasure, amend our confused and 1847 complicated laws, quicken the course of justice, reform the crying evils of our social system, and lay the foundation of his fame in brilliant and enduring measures, then should join his flatterers, who exclaim—No such Minister ever has arisen! —no such Minister ever will again arise! But, evading every difficulty, shelving every measure worthy a great capacity to undertake and a great nation to approve, the noble Lord, having reaped a harvest in the field of glory in China, rests his fame on a Bill like this. But as the example of the Senate must influence the nation, when the Senate decides that Christianity is no longer to be preferred, that avowed unbelief is no longer to be excluded, the people may think that what was good for the State—that is, daring unbelief—may be equally so for the subject. Terrible may be the results. We, however, who hold Conservative opinions, cannot abandon our cherished convictions. When an assault is made on the constitution of the country, whether it be an attack on the frame of the constitution in the one House of Parliament, or on the Christian character of the other, it is equally our duty to resist. The Conservative party may be assailed for not yielding to every new wind of doctrine, but in every State which boasts the blessings of freedom and religion, the Conservative must be the true party after all; that is, wherever there is anything to love, to reverence, and to save. The fortunes of the true Conservative are inseparably interwoven with the fortunes of his country. He is jealous of her glory, conservative of her honour as he is conservative of the principles and of the faith which made England free, and of the noble institutions which have kept her happy. Let us, therefore, have some fixed opinions, let us have some unalterable convictions, and let these opinions and convictions teach us to maintain, here and elsewhere—in private, in public, in the closet, in the Senate—to the exclusion, if we can, of fatal unbelief, the supremacy of that faith revealed from above, to establish which in its purest form amongst us, immortal patriots laboured, and blessed martyrs perished.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Had it not been for the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down, I should not have intruded myself upon the patience of the House at this late stage of the discussion. It appeared to me, hearing the debate as it went along, that the 1848 arguments used on behalf of the Bill of the noble Lord at the head of the Government were so superior in weight to those urged against it that the House might fairly have been left to come to a decision upon a comparison of the merits of those arguments. But the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down—confounding things that are totally dissimilar, speaking apparently on behalf of principles which we should all approve, but speaking actually on behalf of principles we should nearly all condemn—has placed the question on such a footing that, being anxious for the success of the Bill before the House, I cannot refrain from offering some remarks in opposition to him. I cannot do so, however, without first expressing my satisfaction that, although the hon. and learned Member has expressed his opinions on behalf of the Conservative party, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) has this night, in a speech replete with reason and argument, shown that he has been convinced that the claims of the Jews can no longer be withheld. I do not mean to go again over the arguments which have been detailed to the House. The hon. and learned Member for Stamford (Sir F. Thesiger) says, and says truly, that it is for a State to decide what shall be the conditions on which power is held or office given in that State; but, conceding to him that proposition, he is very far indeed from maintaining by it the validity of the exclusion which affects the Jews. For example, it is part of the law that no one can sit in this House unless he is twenty-one years of age; but to any young man of eighteen or twenty who claims a seat in this House, the answer must be obvious, that there are good and sufficient reasons why a certain age should be deemed necessary for the fulfilment of functions so important as those that are fulfilled by its Members; that the exclusion is only temporary; that it affects him along with all others, whatever their faith might be, and that the time will come when he will be admitted to be fully qualified to take a seat in the House. That is a totally different thing from saying, that a man should be excluded on account of his religious creed. It is necessary before you resolve on positive exclusion from a seat in this House, that you should show good reasons affecting the State why that Resolution should be maintained. Now, I say, in the first place, as has been observed over and over again, that the exclusion 1849 which is caused by the words, "on the true faith of a Christian," cannot be shown historically to have been intended. On the contrary, the oath of abjuration his for its object not to ascertain the faith of the party taking it, but the exclusion of the Stuart family, or any other pretenders to the throne; and it is merely to give greater sanction and solemnity to the oath that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" are added. And when the oath of allegiance is taken, or the oath of supremacy, those words are not added. But, supposing the mode of taking the oath of abjuration was a good mode, what is the object you seek to attain by it? You cannot pretend, in this age, that you intend to ascertain the soundness of the religious faith of the persons taking that oath. If you want to do that, you must resort to very different means—some such means as those taken at the ordination of clergymen. The mere use of the words, "on the true faith of a Christian," cannot do that, for they not only include all sects of Christians, but, as an hon. Gentleman has shown, they do not exclude the Mormonites. Not only that, but we know that those have come to the table and used the words "on the true faith of a Christian" who were not so, and with as much readiness as others; so that if your object is to ascertain the soundness of a man's faith, your means are not sufficient for your purpose. But what is it that you really wish? You ought to wish, undoubtedly, that the great majority of the Members of this House should be influenced by Christian principles in their conduct and votes in this House—a security which I have never denied to be most desirable; but we know on the highest authority, that those who say they will not do and yet go and do, are superior to these who say they will do, and yet do it not; and I confess I would rather see a Jew in this House who was animated by the principle of his religion, who drew all his moral principles from the Old Testament, and believed with ourselves that those principles have the sanction of the Divine law and authority. I would rather trust that man than the proudest Christian who has abandoned every precept of Christianity, and who wholly disregards the laws, on which his faith is based. It is not by any oath or affirmation made at that table, that the influence of religion is to be brought to bear upon the minds of the Members of this House, or that the spirit of our legislation is to be 1850 affected. Now let me observe that the hon. and learned Gentleman, while he concealed the object of it, showed the influences which lead to the establishment of the oath, or else why make reference to all those examples of intolerance which have occurred in times that are past, and which I think are totally unsuited to the present age. What was that reference to persons writing against Christianity being sent to prison, but a reference to the time when persons were punished for not holding the faith of the Established Church—a reference to the times when Roman Catholics before the Reformation, as the Church of England in the reign of Charles II., inflicted penalties on men for not conforming to their views? The hon. and learned Gentleman was not satisfied with that, but went back to the time when the Senate of Rome declared in favour of Christianity. But what happened then? In a learned work, not very long published, by the Dean of St. Paul's, it is shown that, as soon as Christianity was declared to be the religion of the State, the persecutions that had taken place against the Christians ceased as against Christians, but that the spirit of persecution remained, and those who wore not Christians were either imprisoned or lost their goods, and sometimes suffered capital punishment. That is an example which I should not like to see followed in this country. I believe we have come to a better period, and that we understand more fully what Christianity is than either those, who, in the Senate of Rome began those cruel persecutions, or those, of our ancestors, who punished men by fine and imprisonment for not following the exact faith to which they themselves adhered. I entirely differ from the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just spoken, and believe that, if we open wide our doors for the admission of the Jews, so far from injuring Christianity, we shall prove that a Christian spirit really animates us. I believe that it is in that general religious liberty and that toleration of opinion that Christianity is sure to flourish. I think we should go back to one of the earliest sayings we read of after Christianity was proclaimed, that if it was of God it would stand. I think we may rely on that belief and admit the Jew, depending on those means—which are now used, I am happy to say, with greater activity and in greater diffusion than ever before—to teach the Christian faith and precepts to the people of this kingdom and through 1851 out the world. My belief is, that it is not by intolerance or by those absurd notions to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Stroud alluded, to the effect that you must shut out the Jew, because he would have the whole property of the country in his hands; it is not by imprisonment, and still less by capital punishment, that the Christian religion is to be promoted, but by every kind of discussion upon it, which does not descend to the nature of scoffing or ridicule. I believe that if you open your doors wide, and the Jew is permitted to come into the House, the greatness and glory of Christianity would be more truly seen, and that you would do more to diffuse a Christian spirit and induce others to respect and follow Christianity, than by acting upon the intolerant laws of a former time. I, therefore, am of opinion, that to refer to those former examples is leading the House entirely astray, and I trust that the House by its decision to-night will show that it is guided by better examples and better precepts than those which have been cited by the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
*Sir, if any proof were required of the convincing character of the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Enniskillen, it is to be found in the reply of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London. I never heard a speech from a man of his natural power and acquired ability which manifested so strongly the fact, that the speaker had been overcome by the force of argument. What were the miserable replies, for so I must be permitted to call them, which the noble Lord gave to the speech of my hon. and learned Friend? He tells us that when Christianity became dominant at Rome, the jurisprudence of that country was stained by persecution. Are we, then, to draw the inference that the Spirit of Christianity is a spirit of persecution? What justification was there in the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Enniskillen when he cited obsolete enactments of laws in England which have been repealed, as inconsistent with the spirit of Christianity, for the noble Lord's assumption that he approved those enactments. My hon. and learned Friend spoke not one word that could justify the noble Lord's assumption. The noble Lord himself treats with persevering indifference the religious feelings of the great majority of the people 1852 of the country with respect to this measure; I have said before, and I repeat, that he, and not my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Enniskillen, is intolerant. Let the House remember that this is no simple Jew Bill. It is a Bill to admit not only the Jew, but the Mahomedan, the Hindoo, the avowed infidel, to the Legislature of this country. The noble Lord cites certain acts of persecution which stained the administration during the prevalence of Christianity in the government of Rome; but stops short at that point, and forgets to mention that portion of history which immediately follows, and records what befell Rome when she became apostate. The Emperor Julian was a successful soldier, a man of learning and ability, a great man. He was the chosen of his people. But he became an apostate, and Rome became also apostate under his influence. And from that hour dates the decline of that mighty empire. We have minor instances of apostasy in this House. I, for one do not think it becoming that men holding positions such as that of the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington), after having held defined opinions on grave questions for ten years, should turn round and condemn those opinions with no alteration of circumstances to justify their change. But to revert to matters of history; I was speaking of the Emperor Julian and his apostasy, and stated that those nations which have apostatised from Christian principles of government, have thence dated their decline or difficulties. France has been alluded to. Whence in modern history does the noble Lord the member for the City get his principle of rejecting all religious qualifications for those who are to join in legislation, and to hold high office in the state? From the French Revolution, in 1791, this principle, which you call "religious liberty," was adopted in France. It was declared by the decree of the National Assembly in 1791, that no religious qualification should be required of those who took part in legislation, or of those who held high office. What was the consequence? That measure was resolved upon during the limited monarchy; and in two years afterwards that monarchy fell, and its fall was sealed with the blood of the king who had assented to that fatal decree. Refer again to the history of France. From 1814 to the year 1830, a safer form of Government was established; 1853 but in 1831, again, the French Government and Legislature adopted the fatal principle of the equality of all religions—of religious indifference; and in 1848, whilst this subject now before the House was being debated here, the monarchy of France which had assented to that fatal principle, again fell, and the king who had given his sanction to it was a refugee in this island. The principle, then, is a revolutionary principle, an irreligious principle, a principle which has proved destructive to every country enjoying free institutions which has adopted it. Holland has been cited; and what an instance! for no other country in Europe has had its dominions rent in twain since the Peace of i814. Belgium, too, has been cited. Are there no clouds in the political horizon of Belgium at this moment which seem to portend disaster? But be that as it may, what is Belgium? Is Belgium really independent? Is not her existence rather preserved by external power for the general convenience of the other nations of Europe? Belgium cannot be said to exist by her own intrinsic power. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich has referred to Prussia; but he is certainly mistaken as to that state. During the revolutionary year of 1848 this fatal principle, the rejection of all religious profession as a qualification for legislation, the rejection of all religious qualifications for high office, was forced upon the states of Germany; but since that year those states, as they emerged from the flood of revolution, have retraced their steps and recoiled from this principle. A different order of things has been established by them; they recognize as a fact that there is an Almighty disposer of events who governs the universe, and that they know Him; that Christianity is the prime element of safety and of order, and that under it only they can find security. In Prussia a subsequent appeal was made on behalf of the Jews for political power under the cry of "equal burdens, equal rights," in 1850. What did the Parliament of Prussia? They tendered to the Jews this test as a qualification for admission to the Legislature, "will you, as a Jew, abjure the antisocial and immoral doctrines of the Talmud, and of the Rabbins as the doctrines of men who had not the fear of God before their eyes?" The Jews rejected that test. They adhered to those traditions which have been transmitted to them from the 1854 Pharisees of the time of Christ, and which traditions of the Pharisees constitute the religion of the Jews of this day. The Jews refused to abandon those traditions which the blessed Author of our salvation declared had made the law of God of "none effect," and which do so still, and remain excluded from the Prussian Parliament. As a humble but sincere Member of this House, I appeal to hon. Gentlemen to reject the present measure as dangerous to the estimation in which Parliament and the laws it frames are held by the people of this country, as dangerous to the relation in which this House stands to the other branch of this Legislature, as inconsistent with the character of Parliament as a Christian assembly, as dangerous to the Christian constitution of this country. I pray this House to maintain its Christian profession, connected as it is with all that is glorious and great in the history of the country. The profession of Christianity is a duty incumbent upon nations as well as upon individuals, a Christian duty, incumbent upon every Member of this House, and upon the House collectively. Such is my clear conviction. If it is not, then, to my mind, God's dealings with the Jews has been recorded in the Old Testament in vain. Then have the Prophets prophesied in vain. Then has the voice of one crying in the wilderness been heard in vain. Then has the blessed Author of our redemption declared himself and died in vain. Then have the Evangelists written in vain. Then have the Martyrs suffered in vain. Then is the faith of eighteen hundred years a fallacy and your wisdom is consummate.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said: I wish, in the first place, before I make the very few observations which I deem it my duty to make upon the matter immediately under our consideration, to offer my tribute of admiration to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich for the honourable course which he has pursued on the present occasion. It is honourable to a man when he steadfastly adheres to opinions which he continues to think right, but it is still more honourable if, when his opinions are changed by the force of reasoning and long experience, he has the boldness to avow that change regardless of the taunts of those who still wander in the regions of error, and regardless of the allusions which may be made to distinguished persons in ancient history. In common with my right hon. Friend the 1855 Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), I could understand the argument of those who maintain you ought not to touch these oaths which have been so long administered to Members of this House; I could understand those who might say that although those oaths contained much that was repugnant to our feeling and to our sense, yet they possessed a sanctity arising from their antiquity, and that therefore they should not be meddled with, although even such meddling might lead to improvement; but I am at a loss to understand the reasoning of those who oppose the present Motion and support the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite,—who admit that the oath which we now propose is an improvement upon the existing oaths, who accept it as a change for the better, but who then turn round and want to make a new exclusion, instead of the indirect and accidental exclusion contained in the terms of the old oath. Sir! the words "on the true faith of a Christian" were not intended to exclude the Jews, but only to make more emphatic the declarations contained in that oath; but the hon. and learned Gentleman, in proposing the insertion of those words in this new oath, endeavours to persuade the House to create deliberately and purposely a ground of exclusion which never before existed as a matter of intention. We are told this is a Christian country, that this is a Christian assembly, and therefore we ought not to admit Jews within these walls. Well, Sir, this is a Christian country, and this is a Christian assembly, inasmuch as it represents a nation which adheres to that creed; but does the hon. and learned Gentleman maintain that this is a religious assembly? This is a political assembly, chosen for political purposes; and I say with my right hon. Friend the Member for Stroud that you are not entitled to exclude Members of this House by reason solely of their religious opinions. You are not entitled to inquire what a man's religious opinions may be, except so far as to how those opinions may influence and sway his political conduct. That is the only principle upon which religious tests can be justified, but it does not apply to the Motion which we are now discussing. I will not follow the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Whiteside) into all the parts of his brilliant speech, much of which we must all have listened to with pleasure, as a display of talent. I shall not follow him to those 1856 ancient examples which he quoted, but I must say his arguments lead much further than the Amendment which he advocates. Why, Sir, according to his argument—if it be worth anything—we ought to go back to those periods, to expel the Jews from this country. If his argument be worth any thing, it implies that Jews should not he permitted to live in this land, or, if by great indulgence and liberality they should be permitted to dwell within these realms, they ought to be excluded from all municipal offices, from every position in which they could exercise an influence on the affairs of this country; and it is not consistent when you permit them to hold land, to fill municipal offices in this country, to insist, forsooth, that the existence of the Christian religion depends on the exclusion of half-a-dozen Jews from the Legislature. Such argument fairly breaks down and fails. It is preposterous, and I am sure the country will concur in thinking so—to fancy that the admission of a few Jews to this House will alter the religious character of the country. The effect of maintaining the present state of things will be to cast a slur upon Christianity by coupling the maintenance of the Christian character of the nation with the maintenance of odious exclusions of intolerance and of moral persecution. We have of late years made much progress in the application of the principles of civil and religious liberty; this matter still remains, in which those principles may and ought to be applied, and I cannot persuade myself that this House of Commons, a large majority of whose Members have been elected upon the principles of civil and religious liberty—this House, in which I see Catholic Members who of late years have been allowed to break through the trammels with which prejudice and intolerance formerly surrounded them—this House in which I see so many Dissenters, who by the application of the principles of civil and religions liberty have been freed from the restrictions which so long pressed unjustly upon them,—I cannot persuade myself that this House, which fairly represents the opinions of the country, will accept the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman, which now for the first time deliberately enacts the exclusion which the terms of the old oath only accidentally created. I shall go fearlessly to a division, convinced that this House will by a large majority affirm those principles of civil and religious liberty which I contend 1857 are the true spirit of our constitution, and which if ever we lose sight of we must cease to boast of our free institutions, for the vital spirit by which those institutions are maintained will be deadened and will cease to animate our political action.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted,"
§ The Committee divided:— Ayes 201; Noes 341: Majority 140.
|List of the AYES,|
|Adams, W. H.||Egerton, Sir P. G.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Egerton, W. T.|
|Adeane, H. J.||Egerton, E. C.|
|Alexander, J.||Emlyn, Visct.|
|Annesley, hon. H.||Farnham, E. B.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Farquhar, Sir M.|
|Bailey, H. J.||FitzGerald, W. R. S.|
|Bernard, hon. W. S.||Forde, Col.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Forester, rt. hon. Col.|
|Bathurst, A. A.||Forster, Sir G.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Fraser, Sir W. A.|
|Bective, Earl of||Gallwey, Sir W. P.|
|Bentinck, G. W. P.||Galway, Visct.|
|Beresford, rt. hon. W.||Gard, R. S.|
|Blackburn, P.||Gilpin, Col.|
|Blakemore, T. W. B.||Goddard, A. L.|
|Blandford, Marq. of||Greenwood, J.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Grogan, E.|
|Bovill, W.||Haddo, Lord|
|Bramley-Moore, J.||Hall, Gen.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Bridges, Sir B. W.||Hamilton, J. H.|
|Bruen, H.||Hardy, G.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Hassard, M.|
|Bunbury, W. B. M'C.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Burghley, Lord||Heathcote, Sir W.|
|Cairns, H. M'C.||Henley, rt. hon. J. W.|
|Carden, Sir R. W.||Herbert, Col.|
|Carnae, Sir J. R.||Hildyard, R. C.|
|Cecil, Lord R.||Hill, Lord E.|
|Charlesworth, J. C. D.||Hill, hon. R. C.|
|Child, S.||Hodgson, W. N.|
|Christy, S.||Holford, R. S.|
|Clark, J. J.||Hopwod, J. T.|
|Clive, hon. R. W.||Hotham, Lord|
|Cobbett, J. M.||Ingestre, Visct.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Johnstone, hon. H. B.|
|Codrington, Sir W.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Cole, hon. H. A.||Jones, D.|
|Collins, T.||Kendall, N.|
|Conolly, T.||Kerrison, Sir E. C.|
|Cooper, E. J.||King, J. K.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Knatchbull, W. F.|
|Cross, R. A.||Knight, F. W.|
|Curzon, Visct.||knightley, R.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Knox, Col.|
|Damer, L. D,||Knox, hon. W. S.|
|Davison, R.||Langton, W. G.|
|Dobbs, W. C.||Legh, G. C.|
|Dod, J. W.||Lennox, Lord A. F.|
|Drummond, H.||Leslie, C. P.|
|Du Cane, C.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Lisburne, Earl of|
|Duncombe, hon. Col.||Lockhart, A. E.|
|Dundas, G.||Long, W.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Lopes, Sir M.|
|Dutton, hon. R. H.||Lovaine, Lord|
|East, Sir J. B.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Lowther, Capt.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Lygon, hon. F.||Shirley, E. P.|
|Lytton, Sir G. E. L. B.||Smollett, A.|
|Macartney, G.||Somerset, Col.|
|Macaulay, K.||Spooner, R.|
|Mackie, J.||Stafford, A.|
|Mainwaring, T.||Stephenson, R.|
|Malins, R.||Steuart, A.|
|Manners, Lord J.||Stewart, Sir M. R. S.|
|March, Earl of||Sturt, H. G.|
|Maxwell, hon. Col.||Sturt, C. N.|
|Miles, W.||Taylor, Col.|
|Miller, T. J.||Taylor, S. W.|
|Miller, S. B.||Tempest, Lord A. V.|
|Mills, A.||Tollemache, J.|
|Montgomery, Sir G.||Trefusis, hon. C. H. R.|
|Moody, C. A.||Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J|
|Morgan, O.||Vance, J.|
|Mowbray, J. R.||Vansittart, G. H.|
|Mullings, J. R.||Vansittart, W.|
|Naas, Lord||Verner, Sir W.|
|Napier, rt. hon. J.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Newark. Visct.||Walcott, Adm.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Nisbet, R. P.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Noel, hon. G. J.||Warren, S.|
|North, Col.||Welby, W. E.|
|Ossulston, Lord||Whiteside, J.|
|Packe, C. W.||Whitmore, H.|
|Pakenham, Col.||Wigram, L. T.|
|Palk, L.||Williams, Col.|
|Palmer, R. W.||Willoughby, J. P.|
|Patten, Col. W.||Willson, A.|
|Paull, H.||Woodd, B. T.|
|Peel, Gen.||Wortley, Maj.|
|Pennant, hon. Col.||Wyndham, Gen.|
|Pevensey, Visct.||Wyndham, H.|
|Philipps, J. H.||Wynn, Col.|
|Repton, G. W. J.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Robertson, P. F.||Wynne, W. W. E.|
|Rolt, J.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Scalter, G.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Scott, hon. F.||Stanhope, J. B.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Adair, H. E.||Bland, L. H.|
|Akroyd, E.||Bonham-Carter, J.|
|Alcock, T.||Botfield, B.|
|Althorp, Visct.||Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P.|
|Anderson, Sir, J.||Bouverie, hon. P. P.|
|Antrobus, F.||Bowyer, G.|
|Ashley, Lord||Brady, J.|
|Atherton, W.||Brand, hon. H.|
|Ayrton, A. S.||Briscoe, J. I.|
|Bagwell, J.||Brocklehurst, J.|
|Bailey, C.||Brown, J.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Bruce, H. A.|
|Ball, E.||Buchanan, W.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Buckley, Gen.|
|Baring, T. G.||Bulkeley, Sir R.|
|Barnard, T.||Buller, J. W.|
|Bass, M. T.||Burke, Sir T. J.|
|Baxter, W. E.||Bury, Visct.|
|Beale, S.||Butler, C. S.|
|Beamish, F. B.||Buxton, C.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Buxton, Sir E. N.|
|Beecroft, G. S.||Caird, J.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Campbell, R. J. R.|
|Berkeley, F. W. F.||Castlerosse, Visct.|
|Bethell, Sir R.||Cavendish, Lord|
|Black, A.||Cavendish, hon. C. C.|
|Cavendish, hon. G.||Glover, E. A.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Glyn, G. C.|
|Cholmeley, Sir M. J.||Glyn, G. G.|
|Clay, J.||Goderich, Visct.|
|Clifford, C. C.||Grace, O. D. J.|
|Clifford, H. M.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Clinton, Lord R.||Greene, J.|
|Clive, G.||Greer, S. M'C.|
|Codrington, Gen.||Gregson, S.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Grcnfell, C. P.|
|Collier, R. P.||Grenfell, C. W.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Gray, Capt.|
|Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Coote, Sir C. H.||Grey, R. W.|
|Coningham, W.||Griffith, C. D.|
|Conyngham, Lord F.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Cotterell, Sir H. G.||Gurdon, B.|
|Cowan, C.||Gurney, S.|
|Cox, W.||Hackblock, W.|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||Hadfield, G.|
|Crawford, R. W.||Hall, rt. hon. Sir B.|
|Crook, J.||Hanbury, R.|
|Crossley, F.||Handley, J.|
|Cubitt, Mr. Ald.||Hankey, T.|
|Dalgleish, R.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Dashwood, Sir G. H.||Harcourt, G. G.|
|Davey, R.||Hardcastle, J. A.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Harris, J. D.|
|Denison, hon. W. H. F.||Hatchell, J.|
|Dering, Sir E.||Hay, Lord J.|
|De Vere, S. E.||Headlam, T. E.|
|Dilwyn, L. L.||Heard, J. I.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Henchy, D. O'C.|
|Divett, E.||Heneage, G. F.|
|Dodson, J. G.||Henniker, Lord|
|Duke, Sir J.||Herbert, H. A.|
|Dunbar, Sir W.||Hindley, C.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Hodgson, K. D.|
|Dundas, F.||Holland, E.|
|Dunlop, A. M.||Hornby, W. H.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Horsman, rt. hon. E.|
|Elcho, Lord||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Ellice, rt. hon. E.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Ellice, E.||Hudson, G.|
|Elphinstone, Sir J.||Hutt, W.|
|Elton, Sir A. H.||Ingham, R.|
|Ennis, J.||Ingram, H.|
|Esmonde, J.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Evans, Sir De L.||Jervoise, Sir J. C.|
|Evans, T. W.||Johnstone, J. J. H.|
|Ewart, W.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Ewart, J. C.||Keating, H. S.|
|Fagan, W.||Kelly, Sir F.|
|Fenwick, H.||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Fergus, J.||Kinglake, A. W.|
|Ferguson, Col.||Kinglake, J. A.|
|Ferguson, Sir R.||Kingscote, R. N. F.|
|Fife, Earl of||Kinnaird, hon. A. F,|
|Finlay, A. S.||Kirk, W.|
|FitzGerald, rt. hon. J. D.||Knatchbull-Hugessen, E|
|Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Fitzwilliam, hn. C. W. W.||Langston, J. H.|
|Foljambe, F. J. S.||Langton, H. G.|
|Forster, C.||Laslett, W.|
|Foster, W. O.||Laurie, J.|
|Fortescue, hon. F. D.||Lewis, rt. hon. Sir G. C.|
|Fortescue, C. S.||Liddell, hon. H. G.|
|Freestun, Col.||Lindsay, W. S.|
|French, Col.||Locke, Jos.|
|Garnett, W. J.||Locke, Jno.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Lowe, rt. hon. R.|
|Gifford, Earl of||Luce, T.|
|Gilpin, C.||M'Cann, J|
|Mackinnon, W. A.||Scrope, G. P.|
|M'Cullagh, W. T.||Seymour, H. B.|
|Mnguire, J. F.||Shafto, R. D.|
|Mangles, R. D.||Shelley, Sir J. V.|
|Mangles, C. E.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Marjoribanks, D. C.||Sheridan, H. B.|
|Marsh, M. H.||Sibthorp, Maj.|
|Martin, C. W.||Slaney, R. A.|
|Martin, P. W.||Smith, J. A.|
|Martin, J.||Smith, J. B.|
|Massey, W. N.||Smith, M. T.|
|Matheson, A.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Matheson, Sir J.||Smith, A.|
|Melgund, Visct.||Smith, Sir F.|
|Merry, J.||Somers, J. P.|
|Mills, T.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Milnes, R. M.||Stanley, Lord|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Stapleton, J.|
|Moffatt, G.||Steel, J.|
|Moncreiff, rt. hon. J.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Monsell, rt. hon. W.||Stuart, Col.|
|Morris, D.||Sykes, Col. W. H.|
|Mostyn, hn. T. E. M. L.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Napier, Sir C.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Neate, C.||Thompson, Gen.|
|Nicoll, D.||Thornely, T.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.||Thornhill, W. P.|
|Norris, J. T.||Tite, W.|
|North, F.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|O' Brien, J.||Townsend, J.|
|O'Connell, Capt. D.||Traill, G.|
|Ogilvy, Sir J.||Trelawny, Sir J. S.|
|Osborne, R.||Trueman, C.|
|Paget, C.||Turner, J. A.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Paget, Lord C.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Pakington, rt. hon. Sir J.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Paxton, Sir J.||Vivian, hon. J. C. W.|
|Pease, H.||Waldron, L.|
|Pechell, Sir G. B.||Walter, J.|
|Peel, Sir R.||Warburton, G. D.|
|Perry, Sir T. E.||Warre, J. A.|
|Philips, R. N.||Watkin, E. W.|
|Pigott, F.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Pilkington, J.||Weguelin, T. M.|
|Pinney, Col.||Western, S.|
|Platt, J.||Westhead, J. P. B.|
|Portman, hon. W. H. B.||Whatman, J.|
|Potter, Sir J.||Whitbread, S.|
|Powell, F. S.||White, J.|
|Power, N.||White, H.|
|Price, W. P.||Wickham, H. W.|
|Pryse, E. L.||Willcox, B. M'G.|
|Puller, C. W.||Williams, M.|
|Ramsden, Sir J. W.||Williams, W.|
|Ramsay, Sir A.||Williams, Sir W. F.|
|Raynham, Visct.||Willyams, E. W. B.|
|Rebow, J. G.||Wilson, J.|
|Ricardo, J. L.||Wingfield, R. B.|
|Ricardo, O.||Winningston, Sir T. E.|
|Rich, H.||Wise, J. A.|
|Ridley, G.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Robartes, T. J. A.||Wood, W.|
|Roebuck, J. A.||Woods, H.|
|Roupell, W.||Worsley, Lord|
|Russell, Lord J.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Russell, H.||Wyld, J.|
|Russell, F. W.||Windham, Gen.|
|Russell, Sir W.||Wyvill, M.|
|Salisbury, E. G.||TELLERS.|
|Schneider, H. W.||Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.|
|Scholefield, W.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
§ On the Question that the Clause stand part of the Bill,
§ MR. WALPOLE
Before we assent to this clause I wish, particularly after the discussion we have had to night on the Amendment moved by the hon. and learned Member for Cork, and the very powerful argument addressed to the House by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Enniskillen, to ask whether it is intended that this Bill should stand as it is drawn—in fact, as it stands at this moment. If it is intended to leave the Bill in its present shape, the consequence will be that Jews and Roman Catholics will be placed upon a different footing. Now, what I wish to ask of the Government is, whether those clauses which were mentioned by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Enniskillen as having been introduced into a former measure by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, restraining Jews from holding such offices as Roman Catholics cannot fill, will or will not be inserted in this Bill? I am the more anxious to ask this question, first, because when the Roman Catholic Relief Bill passed through this House it was not understood, as it seems now to be argued, what the nature of the securities would be which were then intended to be taken; and, secondly, because I see by a report in the public journals that the noble Viscount at the head of the Government told a deputation, which waited upon him a few days ago, that this Bill was intended to be only a step in advance, and that the time would come when the Roman Catholics would have their turn. Now, before we pass even this clause. I think we ought to come to a distinct understanding as to what is to be the nature and operation of the Bill; and, with regard to the points I have mentioned, I hope the noble Viscount will, even this evening, be pleased to give us some explanation.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Her Majesty's Government have no intention of making any alteration in the Bill as it now stands. With respect to any report which may have appeared in the newspapers of what passed between mo and the deputation to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, all I can say is, that it was not seen by me before it was published. I certainly stated to the deputation that I thought it would be very unwise in them to oppose this measure, which I considered to be a step in advance, I told them that 1862 it would not impede any change which they might at any future time persuade Parliament to make; that it was a step in advance in the cause of civil and religious liberty, and that it was therefore a measure which ought to receive their support.
§ MR. MAINWARING
hoped that as Her Majesty's Ministers had now done what they deemed an act of justice to the Jews, they would not refuse to give greater freedom of action to the Christian Church.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
trusted that at that late hour the further consideration of the Bill would be postponed. As the measure stood at present there was nothing to prevent a member of the Jewish persuasion from holding the office of Prime Minister and appointing a bishop. He might even be the keeper of the Queen's conscience. Now, before they were asked to proceed further they ought to have a little time for consideration; and, with all respect to the enormous majority which had just rejected the Amendment of his hon. and learned Colleague, he thought the minority ought to have an opportunity of registering some distinct protest against a measure fraught with such consequences as those he had indicated. He therefore begged to move, that the Chairman report progress and ask leave to sit again.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
really hoped that the House would not agree to this Motion. The policy evidently was to defeat, by delay, that which the House had positively affirmed by the division that had just taken place. No notice had been given of any other Amendments; the Bill was exceedingly short and simple, and he hoped, therefore, that the House would go through with it.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
asked whether it was really intended by Government that, under pretence of being admitted to Parliament, Jews were to have the giving away of Bishoprics? If such was their intention, he must say that a fraud and a trick had been practised upon the country. The conduct of Ministers had not been straightforward and open, and the opponents of the Bill would not tamely submit to such treatment.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do report progress; and ask leave to sit again."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 142; Noes 278: Majority 136.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he could assure 1863 the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) that there were hon. Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House who were determined, if it were in their power, to obtain it by constitutional means, to have a distinct and straightforward answer from him on the point so clearly and forcibly put by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stamford (Sir F. Thesiger) and the hon. Member for Surrey (Mr. H. Drummond). What they wanted to know was, whether it was the object of this Bill, and whether it were the noble Lord's intention, that Jews should be eligible to the high offices already named—the offices of Lord Chancellor and Prime Minister, and, therefore, to be in a position to appoint the dignitaries of the Church. He hoped they would have a distinct answer to that question, and upon the answer would depend the course which they would take.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, this Bill is not a Bill of disqualification—it is a Bill to alter an oath. Undoubtedly the Bill, as it stands, would not prevent the appointments named from being held by Jews. Of course the appointment of Prime Minister and the appointment of Lord Chancellor depend not simply upon the will of the Government of the day or of the Sovereign, but upon the support of this House. I should hope the House will agree to this clause, which is the clause containing the oath. If hon. Gentlemen wish to raise a discussion upon the other question to which the hon. Member has alluded, although I must say they have Lave had the Bill in their hands for some time without giving the notice which they might have been expected to give—if they have felt strongly on the subject—if, I say, hon. Gentlemen wish to raise that question, I shall have no objection to the Chairman's reporting progress after the Committee shall have adopted the first clause, which has no relation to that point, but relates to the oath, and that will give them an opportunity of raising the question on a future occasion by giving notice.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, it was true the Bill had been for some time in the hands of hon. Members, but until they knew that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" were not to be in the Bill, it was impossible for them to consider the ulterior consequences. They might consider those consequences, but they could not take them for granted, and, therefore, no notice of such an Amendment as had been referred 1864 to could have been given. The Catholic Relief Act was not a measure of disqualification, but of emancipation, and to that Act such provisoes were added. In his opinion it was out of the question that any Amendment of the kind should come from the Opposition. They did not assume, especially after the discussion which had taken place to-night, that the Jews would be admitted. But they felt bound to point out the anomalous and contradictory consequences which might follow, in order to afford the Government an opportunity of putting the Bill in the form in which the noble Lord the Member for the City of London had originally proposed it; and he maintained that no blame could be attached to the Opposition for taking that course. As to reporting progress after passing this clause, the view he took of that was, that after the statement made by the noble Viscount, he (Mr. Walpole) and those who acted with him on that side of the House considered they had done their duty in pointing out the consequences that might ensue from the Bill as it stood, and they would not be parties to any Motion started merely for the purpose of delay.
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clause 2.
MR. SEYMOUR FITZGERALD
said, he regretted to hear what had fallen from the noble Viscount, and he could not believe that he spoke the sentiment of the majority. As the noble Viscount had said he was perfectly willing that the Chairman should report progress, and he Mr. FitzGerald thought it was well that that course should be taken, in order to allow hon. Gentlemen who sat on his side of the House time to consider what steps they ought to take in reference to the point started by the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord R. Cecil), he would therefore move that the Chairman report progress.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
What I stated was that if any hon. Member wished to give notice of an Amendment, I should of course feel it my duty to offer no resistance to the Chairman reporting progress, but if no hon. Member desires to give notice of an Amendment it would only be a waste of time for the Chairman now to report progress.
§ MR. MALINS
said, they had had a very full discussion of the Bill, and the question had been decided by a large majority. If there were any prospect of 1865 doing any good he would support the Motion, but he thought that to renew the discussion when their patience was exhausted and when the question had been decided as it had been, would be useless. Under the circumstances he would really appeal to his hon. Friend not to press his Motion.
§ MR. MOWBRAY
said, it was true there had been a full discussion, but the question now raised had only just been introduced. He should like to know whether, before hearing the question of the noble Lord the Member for Stamford, the Government contemplated the consequence to which he referred, of passing the Bill as it stood. He did not think the noble Viscount was entitled to call upon them (the Opposition) at that hour, nearly one o'clock, to state what Amendment they meant to propose.
said, he likewise would suggest to his hon. Friend (Mr. S. FitzGerald) the propriety of withdrawing his Motion. The question had been decidedly asked of the noble Lord at the head of the Government whether he had taken the point brought under his notice by the noble Lord the Member for Stamford into consideration, and whether he intended to make any alteration in the Bill of the kind suggested, and the noble Viscount's answer, given emphatically, was that he did not intend to make any such alteration. If his (Mr. Miles's) recollection did not fail him, he believed that in one of the Bills brought in by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London for the admission of the Jews, and to which the name of the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) was attached, certain securities were taken like those suggested by the noble Lord the Member for Stamford with respect to the Bill now under consideration; therefore, the matter in question must have been previously under the consideration of the noble Viscount at the head of the Government. The noble Viscount had now stated that he did not think any such securities necessary, but they on his (Mr. Miles's) side of the House would see whether another House might not think them necessary. It was not now for a minority to interfere between the noble Viscount and his Bill, but it was open to that minority to let those in another place know what its sentiments were on the subject under debate.
MR. SEYMOUR FITZGERALD
said, he did not understand the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) to say that if an Amendment of the kind suggested by the noble Lord the Member for Stamford were introduced it would be an Amendment which would decidedly not meet with the concurrence of the Government. He did not think that the words which had fallen from the noble Viscount would lead to such a conclusion. But, however that might be, he (Mr. S. FitzGerald) did not think it would be a becoming course on the part of those who sat on his side of the House to say they would not, to the extent of their power, use every means to carry out what they believed to be right, in order that, by not raising the question, they might ensure the rejection of the Bill in another place. He did not think that would be a straightforward course. With reference to the question under consideration, he might say that up to that very evening he himself had never given a vote adverse to the admission of his Jewish fellow-subjects to that House. That night, however, he had felt it was incumbent on him to give that vote, because he, for one, could not consent that a Bill that was introduced by the Government on the ground of religious toleration should, in fact, do that which he believed to be an insult and an injury to a very large class of their fellow-Christians. It was not only in the Roman Catholic Emancipation Act that the peculiar safeguards, as they had been called, existed, but he believed they were scrupulously inserted by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London into every Bill which he had introduced for the admission of Jews to seats in that House. He (Mr. Fitz-Gerald) thought they were bound in justice to a large class of their fellow-countrymen not to place them in a disadvantage, which they certainly would do if they passed the Bill in its present shape. What did the ruble Viscount propose? Why, that men who believed our religion to be false, and that the great Author of it was an impostor, should have it in their power to promote persons to the very highest offices in the Christian church. He (Mr. Fitz-Gerald) could not conceive that such a principle would ever be conceded by that House. He believed it to be necessary under present circumstances that there should be time given for the consideration of the question by members on his side of the House, and he should therefore persist in pressing his Motion.
said, he had not yet learnt from any Member of the Government that they had contemplated that results such as those suggested by the noble Lord the Member for Stamford might occur under the Bill as it stood; and he desired to know from the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) whether it was within the knowledge of the Government before the introduction of the measure that the effect of it might be to place ecclesiastical patronage in the hands of people belonging to the Jewish persuasion?
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) had stated that if no Amendment was intended to be moved, it would not be desirable for the Chairman to report progress; but he would remind the noble Lord that an Amendment upon a question of that importance was not to be drawn up in a moment, and that it was necessary that time should be given for the purpose, nor could any Amendment be fairly discussed except in Committee If, therefore, the Bill were suffered to go through Committee now, the Amendment could only be introduced on some future stage, when very little time could be afforded to discuss this most important point.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
observed that there could be no Report, and under the alteration made in the Standing Order last Session, no Amendment could be proposed on third readings, and therefore unless the noble Viscount consented to a adjournment, there would be no further opportunity of raising the question which had been introduced.
§ MR. BOOKER-BLAKEMORE
asked the noble Viscount whether he had fully considered the question of the possible effect of the measure with respect to the Church; and if he had, how could the trammel the Crown with respect to the oath taken at the Coronation? That was a consideration which ought to influence the noble Viscount, and induce him to give proper time for consideration.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, it was a mistake of the noble Lord to suppose there would be no Report, for he meant to strike out the last clause, which fixed the date, in order that the operation of the Bill should take place from the passing of the Act. There would, therefore, be a Report; and it would be competent for any hon. Member to move an Amendment on the bringing up of the Report.
said, he wished to remind 1868 the Committee that the question they had decided by the vote of that night was, that Jews should have seats in that House, and that during its discussion a fresh question had been raised by the noble Lord the Member for Stamford.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, it appeared to him that hon. Members upon his side of the House had entered their strongest protest against the principle of the Bill as well as against its details, and he should therefore appeal to his hon. Friend the Member for Horsham not to press his Motion for reporting progress.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, it was quite plain the feeling of the House was against the Motion for reporting progress. If any hon. Member wished to propose an Amendment upon the clause, it would be perfectly competent for him to do so when the Report was brought up, and he should take care that the bringing up of the Report should be fixed for such a day as to afford hon. Members time to prepare any Amendments they may deem it expedient to introduce.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
also suggested to the hon. Member for Horsham the propriety of withdrawing his Motion. The noble Lord at the head of the Government, he might add, stood in the position of having been the framer of a clause making it an indictable offence upon the part of a Jew to give any advice to the Sovereign respecting preferments in the Church, and also of being the author of the Bill under discussion.
§ Motion negatived.
§ Clause agreed to; as were the remaining clauses.
§ The House resumed.
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered on Friday.
§ House adjourned at half-after One o'clock.