HC Deb 21 July 1858 vol 151 cc1879-902

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [20th July] "That the Bill be now read the third time."

Question again proposed.


Sir, I purpose to intrude for a few minutes only upon the indulgence of the House while I state the grounds of my unconquerable repugnance to the provisions of this Bill. I have to thank the noble Lord the Member for London for the ready courtesy and kindness with which he met my application to him last night, that he would not proceed with the Bill at a late hour; but I was taken by surprise when at an early hour this Morning I found that, by what appeared to me, I own, something like a little management in a quarter not far from me, the intentions of the noble Lord were nearly frustrated, and might have been so, had not a number of hon. Members on this side the House resolved that the matter should not be huddled up in a corner, and the Bill passed in so discreditable a manner. Sir, nothing that I have ever heard since I had the honour of a seat in this House, has satisfied me that the fundamental principle of this Bill is one to which a Member of a Christian Legislature can possibly give his assent. This Bill which has been sent down from the House of Lords, comes to us under circumstances so extraordinary and so utterly unprecedented that everybody must have been taken by surprise. It is a conclusion in which nothing is concluded. It is a concession in which nothing is conceded. It is a settlement in which nothing is settled. And I do believe in my conscience that every Member of this House, on both sides, whatever his views on the great question before us, really entertains that opinion. The noble Lord the Member for London is deservedly a great constitutional authority, and has much experience as a Member of the Legislature; but he has not one syllable to say in favour of this extraordinary production of the wisdom of the upper House,—of which I desire to speak with unfeigned respect and deference,—except that he receives it simply because he cannot get any- thing better, and that at all events it is, in his view, a step in what he considers the right direction. We have several of the occupants of the front bench on this side of the House in favour of the Bill, yet we have had no explanation from any of them of the nature of its precious provisions; whilst there seems to be on the part of the House generally a sullen acquiescence in the passing of the Bill. It is considered as bad a Bill as can be; but, as the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Gilpin) said the other night, bad as it was, it would be accepted by him, because he saw at present no chance of getting anything better. If this Bill does involve a great principle, and the country believe it does, is it, I ask, consistent with the dignity of this House to pass it in the manner—the furtive manner, in which it was attempted to be passed at an early hour this morning? not, certainly, by the noble Lord the Member for London, to whom I again tender my thanks for the readiness with which he consented to give us the opportunity of deliberately expressing our opinions. In the name of those friends with whom I am acting, I would also thank hon. Gentlemen opposite for the promptness with which they responded to the appeal addressed to them on the same occasion by the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. Hope). Sir, I know it is utterly in vain for me to move, as I am moving, an Amendment that the Bill be read a third time this day three months. I have no doubt that within twenty minutes or three quarters of an hour from the time at which I am speaking, the Bill will have received the formal and final sanction of this House; but that is no reason why the Members should not listen with patience for a few minutes to one of those who have often taken part in this great contest, especially as the present is the last occasion upon which I shall open my lips upon the subject. For that very reason, then, I ask the House to favour me with their indulgence, whilst as a Member of this Christian Legislature I protest against the passing of the Bill. The other branch of the Legislature very recently, within a few weeks, appeared to justify the confidence of the country that it was firm in its determination to uphold the Christian character of Parliament. The Bill which was sent up to their Lordships by the House of Commons they rejected by an overwhelming majority; but at length, in the very hour of triumph, as we thought, a scheme was propounded by a noble Earl which resulted in the Bill now before us, and placed us in a totally different position with regard to this important and harassing question. The Bill provides that one co-ordinate branch of the Legislature may receive as an element—as one of its Members—a person whom the other co-ordinate branch of the Legislature solemnly pronounces to be morally unfit to legislate for a Christian country. Now I think that that is a wholly unprecedented course—a course which is calculated to lower the Legislature in the estimation of the country; and that those who have been parties to this so-called compromise, will find that it turns out to be nothing but a sham, or in the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge, a piece of patchwork legislation. And here I beg to thank my right hon. Friend, for the noble part he took the other night, in coming forward and unhesitatingly committing himself to that view of the question. I follow humbly and at a distance in his steps, and I say that if it were possible for anything to raise him in the estimation of the country, in the estimation of the educated, the thinking, the religious classes of the community, and the great and distinguished constituency which have done themselves the honour to elect him as their representative, it would be the fearless conduct of my right hon. Friend in differing from so many of his colleagues on that occasion. But, bear in mind that it is by no means all smooth sailing in respect to this Bill; for I find, upon looking at the division list, that on the Motion for the second reading, not fewer than twelve Members of Her Majesty's Government in this House went into the lobby with the opponents of the Bill, of whom four were Cabinet Ministers. And I do entirely concur with my right hon. Friend, that, if this important step is to be taken, of admitting the Jews to seats in this House; if the great principle, in opposition to which we on this side have so long, so anxiously, and consistently laboured, is to be established, it ought to be done in a direct and straightforward manner, in a manner worthy of the dignity and character of the British Legislature. Let both branches of the Legislature concur in submitting to Her Majesty a Bill which she shall have the satisfaction of knowing is the production of the united efforts of the two Houses with a view to future united action upon it. But, with reference to this Bill, nothing of the kind has taken place. I repeat that the Bill is presented to us under false colours. It is not a compromise; for the case is not one for a compromise in the opinion of the conscientious Members of the Legislature. It is not a concession; for it is a case in which no concession can be made, except by those who unhesitatingly range themselves under the banner of expediency, as opposed to that of principle; and I shall never be tired of enunciating the truth, which I so deeply feel, that that which is morally wrong can never be really expedient, however it may appear so to shallow, shortsighted, and selfish politicians. About a century ago another Jew Bill was submitted to the Legislature. In the year 1753 a Bill was brought forward in the other House of Parliament, and sent down to this, and passed, after much opposition, for the purpose of enabling Jews to be naturalized without first partaking of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. I am alluding to the Act 26 Geo. II, cap. 26, and it recites—and the recital is particularly significant in reference to the present case—the Act of the 7th James I., which required that every person, before being naturalized, should have taken the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper one month before the Bill for naturalization was presented to the Houses of Parliament. It then goes on to say, that "Thereby many persons of considerable substance, professing the Jewish religion, are prevented from being naturalized." On that ground the Legislature was prevailed upon hastily to pass that Act—the 26th Geo. II.—and so "certain persons of considerable substance, professing the Jewish religion," were entitled to be naturalized as such, without receiving the Sacrament, or giving evidence of their being members of the Established religion of the country. But what became of that Act? Why, it was repealed in the very next year—the year 1754—because of the strong indignation which it had excited throughout the length and breadth of the land; and on that occasion an ancestor of a noble Friend of mine in "an other place" particularly distinguished himself by the spirit and power with which he contributed to that result. The Earl of Egmont said, that if the Act of 1753 were a proper measure it ought not to have passed into law until the coun- try had had an opportunity given it of pronouncing an opinion on the measure; and he declared in his place in Parliament that if on the general election then pending, any Member of the House should be found supporting it before the people of these realms, he would be there to oppose him in order to mark the sense he entertained of the surrender of principle involved in the acceptance of the Bill. Now, I cannot help thinking that much of what was then said is especially applicable to the present case. Rather more than a century has since elapsed. That Act of 1753 was repealed in 1754; and it was not until the year 1830 that the question of the admission of the Jews into the British Legislature was brought forward by certainly an excellent person (Sir Robert Grant). Ever since that time the struggle has been maintained to the present moment, and only a few weeks ago the country, as I have already said, supposed that the matter had been set at rest, at least for another year, by what had just taken place in the other House of Parliament, when, to their and our 'astonishment, a sudden change of opinion was announced on the part of that House. Sir, I say I cannot help thinking that the measure we have now before us ought not to be passed into law until the country shall have had an opportunity given them of answering a specific and direct appeal as to whether the admission of Jews, as such, to seats in this House is consistent with their sense of duty as a Christian community; and if an affirmative answer were returned, everybody must give way to the public opinion of the country so expressed. Whilst I still retained my own conscientious convictions and opinions upon the subject, I should, nevertheless, say, that the Legislature was bound to give effect to that public opinion, as it has already done on several memorable occasions. But if we this day set our seal to the extraordinary Bill before us, we are at once declaring that in this House we are ready to receive a person whom the other House declares to be morally unfit for entrance into either House; that although their Lordships will not receive such a person there, we may, if we choose, receive him here. I hold that that is a position of things derogatory alike to the character and dignity of this House—nay, to the whole Parliament—and equally offensive to the feelings of members of the Jewish persuasion, whom the Bill vouchsafes to give us an opportu- nity of seating in the House if we think fit. In whatever light I regard the measure, I protest I see nothing but irresistible reasons for persevering in my opposition to the principle on which it is founded. And I ask the House why they should give it a third reading, when there is not a single Member of the House who will rise in his place and say that it has his cordial approval? Is that a fitting position for the House to occupy before this great country? Shall we be conciliating the respect of that country, by passing a Bill effecting an organic change in the constitution of Parliament, of such vast moment in the opinion of three fourths or four-fifths of the most enlightened and pious members of the community, in the way in which we are challenged to pass this? Sir, I am not one of those who regard the assertion of Christian principle, or the maintenance of Christian supremacy in a Christian legislature, as a mere counter with which heartless politicians may play the selfish game of politics. I believe Christianity to be the vital source, the very mainspring of the welfare and prosperity of the country, and that it is only by submitting ourselves to its injunctions, obeying its principles and practising its precepts, that we can promote the happiness of our species, advance the interests of this mighty empire, and commend our selves to the blessing and favour of Almighty God. I know that there are French philosophers, so called, in the present day who speak of Christianity as a decaying superstition, a form of religion nearly effete, though still useful to statesmen and politicians to further the ends they think expedient, so long as any considerable number of persons are found believing in an expiring faith. But, if they were to be the last words I have to utter in this House, I would with indignation and horror repudiate all such doctrines. I would say that, as members of a Christian Legislature, we are bound to assert the supremacy of Christianity in principle, in practice, in our public, and in our individual capacity; and that he is a traitor to Christianity, he is false to his own convictions, and lost to a sense of his duty, as a member of a Christian Legislature, who is, for an instant lukewarm or backward in expressing his opinions upon a matter of such unspeakable moment as that involved in the present discussion. If a flagrant dereliction of principle is involved in the Bill introduced, but. in a straightforward manner by the noble Lord the Member for London, the present Bill varies from his only by its greater departure from principle, and the unsatisfactory and discreditable grounds upon which it is based. The noble Lord the Member for London occupies a worthy place in the history of his country; and I tell him here to his face that I know he is really ashamed to have his name connected with the passing of such a Bill as this through the House of Commons. It is true that the noble Lord, who has been throughout his career the sincere, the dignified, the temperate, the conciliatory, the constitutional promoter of the great but, in my view, unhappy change now impending over us, may say that he accepts this wretched Bill as an instalment—that he regards it as a step in the right direction, and in a guarded and stern spirit, not acknowledging it to have any good in itself, except so far as it gets in the thin end of the wedge, and will enable him to secure the final triumph of the principle for which he has so long contended. But has the House well considered the statement which a very few years ago fell from the lips of my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, himself one of the most brilliant and successful defenders of the measure against which we contend? He, nevertheless, was obliged to admit that if a Bill for admitting Jews to Parliament should become the law of the land, it would undoubtedly tend directly to the separation of Church and State. I ask the House, is it prepared to sanction a change of that description—a change, moreover, presented to us, at last, in so anomalous and discreditable a form as it is by the Bill upon the table? Sir, 1 belong, and have always belonged, to a party which is called Conservative; and if the principle upon which we have from the first resisted the admission of Jews to Parliament, and which as I have shown involves as many other momentous changes, is sacrificed, I, as a Member of the Conservative party, do not see what there is really left that is worth fighting about. The next thing to be surrendered is that exponent of the union between Church and State, which is to be found in the maintenance of church rates. The enemies of the Established Church—all who contend for the unqualified and unconditional abolition of church rates—will find their hands strengthened, and the path before them cleared, by the enactment of the Bill now under consideration. For many of the occupants of the front bench below me, Sir, I entertain feelings of the warmest regard and personal and political confidence, and especially for the noble Earl at the head of the Government, at whose hands, unsolicited, I have received a great and proud academical distinction. I will not attempt, therefore, to disguise with what pain and reluctance I feel it my imperative duty to stand up in my place and protest against any Bill sent down to us with the noble Earl's sanction. I should hardly have ventured to take the part I now do if I did not believe that, in yielding reluctantly to a pressure of circumstances constituting an exquisite—I may say an excruciating embarrassment which all must appreciate—the noble Earl is really acting contrary to Ids better judgment. Nay, I go further and say, that to pass this Bill with the sanction of Her Majesty's Government, will inflict a very deep wound upon that great Conservative party, the Members of which constitute the most attached and faithful supporters of the noble Earl and of those Members of the Government, not few, thank God! in number, who have shown themselves entitled to the confidence of the Conservative party in the country. That party is greatly shocked and deeply hurt by the step which has been now taken. It is not a noisy, it is not an agitating party; but I shall be very much surprised, indeed, if unlooked-for results do not follow the adoption of this measure. It may even lead, for aught I know, to new political combinations, and effect not only temporary but permanent changes in the relations of parties, which are not contemplated by those who have so unexpectedly sanctioned the introduction of this Bill to the House. Dr. Paley has some admirable remarks in his Chapter on Government, one of which is this. He says, that in politics the most important and permanent effects have for the most part been incidental and unforeseen, a proposition, he continues, inculcated for the caution which teaches that changes ought not to be adventured upon, without a comprehensive discernment of the consequences, without a knowledge as well of the remote tendency as of the immediate design. He gives various striking instances which are familiar, I have no doubt, to many Members of this House. But I follow this matter no further. As for the structure of this Bill, brief as it is, I think I may challenge the acutest intellects in the House to say that they can make sense, especially of one of the sections. But I pass on. The House of Lords have not only sent us down this Bill, but returned that which a majority of this House had sent up to them, and have accompanied that latter Bill with their Reasons for not agreeing to it; and I must take leave to say that in all the records of our constitutional history and of our Parliamentary annals I do not know of any thing approaching, in inconsistency, and, if one must speak out, in utter absurdity—the course of procedure which is now forced upon us. I appeal not only to those friends with whom it is my pride and pleasure to act on all occasions, not only to the friends and adherents of the great Conservative party in this House; but I fearlessly appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite, whether in their opinion also we are not called upon to enact a derogatory legislative absurdity. But I have now done. Sir, the members of the House of Lords are privileged to exercise a function which we are not. Peers who dissent from the majority, may place upon the journals of that House their reasons, in the form of a protest, and some of these protests contain the loftiest sentiments and noblest expressions of wisdom and patriotism that the annals of mankind can furnish. We have no such privilege entrusted to us by the Constitution. We speak only by our votes, and by those discussions which precede and govern our votes; by those debates which instantly find their way to every quarter of the country—of the world indeed—and by which the nation, so vitally affected by our proceedings, acquires an opportunity of knowing what were the premises from which its representatives deduced the inferences eventuating in the contents of our statute-book. But, with the leave of the House, I will sum up these remarks, some of which I have made with no small pain anti reluctance, by reading the grounds upon which I protest, to the last, against this, or any Bill admitting Jews into either House of Parliament. Several of those reasons, I am sure, must commend themselves to the judgment of even hon. Gentlemen opposite, who are so near the hour of triumph that they may well—as I am sure they will—be forbearing and patient. I Protest, then, against the passing of this Bill, because—I. In language used in "another place," a Jew, demanding admission, as such into the Legislature of this Christian country—and that for such purpose the profession of Christianity required from other members of the Legislature be dispensed with—is a man repudiating HIM, who is the central point of the whole Christian Revelation, and declaring HIM to be an impostor. The Jew must, therefore, in the whole tone of his thoughts, and in the whole series of his principles, be so at variance with the principles and tone of thought of a Christian community, that he cannot safely be trusted with the discretionary, power of making laws for that Christian community. 2. That it is reasonable and just that none but Christians should be Members of the Legislature of a Christian country, whose laws are, and have for ages been, professedly Christian. 3. That the Object specified in the summons to Parliament being to consult "for the state and defence of this kingdom, and the Church," it is a mockery to summon a Jew to take part in such deliberations. 4. That a Jew cannot, as such, join in the prayers with which both Houses of Parliament have from time immemorial commenced their daily deliberations, one of such prayers concluding with a supplication that "the result of all our counsels may be the uniting and knitting together of the hearts of all persons and estates within the realm, in true Christian love and charity one towards another, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour." Such prayers a Jew must treat with derision, or recoil from them with horror. 5. That the greatness or smallness of the number of Jews who may be admitted into this hitherto Christian Legislature, is immaterial, the principle contended for by the opponents of the Bill being finally and completely surrendered by the admission of a single Jew, as such, and of right. 6. That the fundamental principle of the Bill is one which, when formally adopted and promulgated by the Legislature, will tend directly to lower the influence of Christianity upon public opinion, and promote indifference to Christianity and unbelief. 7. That the formal and deliberate surrender of the exclusively Christian character of the Legislature, is fearfully inauspicious at the moment of inaugurating a new system of Government for India; and is calculated to entail disastrous consequences on legislative and executive action when made known to the many millions of the Queen's subjects in India. 8. That the admission of Jews into the Legislature is opposed to public opinion and the wishes of the people, which ought to be distinctly ascertained by means of a general election before taking a step so seriously affecting the constitution of the Legislature.—And here I beg leave to pause for one instant, to point out that I have found the signatures to petitions presented during this Session against the Jewish claims to be 14,500 in number, and those in favour of them only between 300 and 400. 9. That the Bill now before the House empowers one of two co-ordinate branches of the Legislature to admit into its number those whom the other has solemnly declared to it that they are "in a state of moral unfitness to take part in the legislation of a professedly Christian country;" and from such an anomalous and incongruous organization, no safe or advantageous legislation for the highest interests of the country can proceed. 10. That the Bill before the House is, in the above and other respects, without precedent in our legislation; opposed to the genius and spirit of the Constitution; offensive to the Jew; derogatory to the dignity of this House; provocative of disunion and collision between the two Houses; and violates equally the principles of both parties to this unhappy contest. Lastly. That the admission or rejection of the Jew as a member of the Legislature is either morally right or morally wrong; and, as such, cannot legitimately form the subject of concession or compromise.

I most sincerely and respectfully thank the House for having listened with such patience to one who, upon this question, may be said to be in extremis. Henceforth my lips are sealed, so far as this matter is concerned. When this Bill has passed into a law, no doubt a Resolution will be submitted to the House for the practical carrying into effect the objects of the Bill. That Resolution will doubtless be agreed to with acclamations by the majority; the usual organs will announce to the country and the world at large that the result was received with vehement cheering; but from that moment I believe will date the decline of the moral and religious influence of the House of Commons. Sir, I have no quarrel whatever with any Member of the Jewish persuasion. With regard to the particular gentleman whom the City of London has returned as its Member, who takes his place so frequently under that gallery, and is so soon—it would seem—to find himself on the floor of the House, and sit on its benches, I have only to say that I cannot anticipate, without emotion, the moment when he will stand at that table;—when a new volume will be presented to him for the first time in the annals of the House; when he will put on his hat, and take an oath which is utterly different to, and irreconcilable with, the oath which all other Members of the House have taken, and must take before they can occupy a seat in this House. Well, Sir, if such be the will and pleasure of the House, then there is of course nothing left for the minority but to submit; but to submit with a solemn protest against the entire proceeding. I now beg to move the Amendment, of which I have given notice, that the Bill be read a third time this day three months.

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


, in seconding the Amendment said, that it was a bold assertion to make; but if the Bill passed in its present shape, he believed they must of necessity exclude the Jew from Parliament. By the first clause any Member professing the Jewish religion, and coming to this house to be sworn was not compelled to use the words "on the true faith of a Christian;" but, according to the second clause, it was provided that, "in all other cases, except for a seat in Parliament, the words "I make this declaration on the true faith of a Christian" should be omitted. He really should like to have an explanation of that. He had pointed out the seeming discrepancy to his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Adderley) who had addressed the House, the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education, and a great supporter of the Bill opposite, the hon. Member for Sandwich (Mr. Hugessen), and none of them was able to give a satisfactory explanation of the matter; in fact, they could not understand it. What, then, he wished to know, was the use of passing a Bill which few cared for, everybody despised, and nobody could understand? He thought the clauses were contradictory in the extreme; for whilst the first admitted the Jew, the second excluded him; and he believed that if, after the passing of the Bill, a Jew were to present himself and take the oath, omitting the words "on the true faith of a Christian," any hon. Mem- ber could move that the Act had not been complied with. He would take the liberty, therefore, of suggesting to the noble Lord the Member for London, that his better course would be to withdraw the Bill, and next Session introduce a measure that should be a little more intelligible and consistent with itself.


observed that Dogberry, in a fit of virtuous indignation, wished that somebody would write him down an ass; but the House of Lords, unlike Dogberry, without calling for extraneous aid, had done that piece of business for themselves. A more remarkable proceeding never occurred in the annals of Parliament, for the Lords, after stating that a Jew was morally unfit to sit in Parliament, sent down a Bill by which the Jews might be admitted to Parliament. He accepted the Bill, but his opinion of the wisdom of the Lords was not increased. But it was not surprising, as the House of Lords was always doing the same thing. He recollected that the measure to do away with the Test and Corporation Act was described by the Lords as the destruction of the constitution; but they passed it nevertheless. Then, again, it was said by the Lords, that Catholic emancipation would destroy the Protestant constitution of the country, but the Lords passed that also. Then came the measure for amending the representation of the people, and the Lords nearly drove the country into revolution by opposition to that Bill; but, in spite of their strong feeling that the British constitution was about to be destroyed, they assented to that Bill likewise. Then the English and Irish Municipal Corporations Acts were both destructions of the constitution, according to the Lords, but the Lords passed them both. At last came that measure, which was to destroy, not the English constitution alone, but the English people—namely, the abolition of the Corn Laws. The Lords were in fits about that matter, and thought ruin was coming on the country headlong. Well, the Lords passed that measure, and now the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Warren) was thoroughly astounded at what the Lords had just done. The truth was, they had done a good thing in a foolish manner. If the Lords had passed the Bill of the noble Lord the Member for London, they would then have done in a straightforward and candid way what they bad now done, for the sake of saving their dignity, as they fancied, in a paltry, piti- ful, and disgraceful way. The House of Lords had cut a remarkable antic on this occasion. It had attempted to maintain its own dignity, and, in so doing, it had covered itself with dirt. He congratulated the House of Lords upon its feat, and he congratulated the country upon having obtained a right, even from the folly of the House of Lords.


said, he felt greatly honoured that the vote he had given on the last occasion had been thought worthy of the remarks which had been made, not only in that House, but in those public organs to which they were indebted generally for very accurate accounts of their proceedings; with reference, however, to that vote, he wished to set himself right with the House and with the public. It had been stated that his vote was given under a mistake. Now he wished to say that it was given under no mistake at all. It was given advisedly, and with a full conviction that it was a right vote. His vote on that occasion had nothing whatever to do with the merits or demerits of the Bill. If the question had been that the House should resolve itself into Committee on that day three months, he would have unhesitatingly supported such a Motion; but what was the fact? Every hon. Member who had spoken against the Bill in the course of the debate, recommended that no division should take place on that occasion, and he concurred in that opinion. A division was, however, suddenly challenged by sonic two or three hon. Gentlemen who sat behind him, and who did not assign any reason for the course they adopted. The effect of negativing the Motion before the House would simply have been to occasion great inconvenience to hon. Members, because the Speaker could not have left the chair, and the only result would have been the loss of a day, and at such an advanced period of the Session, he for one was not prepared to make such a sacrifice. He wished it to be understood, therefore, that he had neither given his vote by mistake nor had he changed his opinions. He had acted advisedly; and if his opinions with reference to the Jew question had undergone any change, he would have frankly stated the fact. He would not have followed the example of many others in proclaiming that he retained his opinions while he reversed his vote. He hoped this explanation would satisfy those who were under the impression that he had given his vote either by mistake or in consequence of a change of opinion. He had been informed that the noble Lord the Member for London had charged certain members of the Conservative party in that House with want of respect towards the noble Earl at the head of the Government. Now, he begged to tell the noble Lord that he entertained very great respect for the Earl of Derby; he also felt great respect for the noble Lord himself; but, however deep that respect, nothing should restrain him, so long as he had the honour of a seat in that House, from exercising that freedom of speech which the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair always claimed for the House at the opening of every Parliament, or muzzle him in the expression of his views upon any measure which came before the House, no matter the quarter in which it might have originated. With regard to the Bill itself, he agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst (Mr. Warren) that the ingenuity of man could not have devised a measure more calculated to degrade the House of Lords, to drive the House of Commons into the commission of an absurdity, and to insult the very persons to whom the Bill professed to afford relief—for any person of the Jewish persuasion taking his seat under the provisions of that Bill, took it also under the ban contained in the "Reasons" sent down from the other House for being morally unfit to legislate in a Christian house and for a Christian community. He believed this measure would by no means settle the question, and he would give his vote for the Amendment.


said, that it was not for him to defend any inconsistencies of the House of Lords, or to palliate any absurdities of the present Prime Minister; but when he heard it asserted by hon. Gentlemen opposite that this Bill was an absurd measure, which every one despised and nobody could understand, he would venture to state that, in his opinion, the Bill would effect the purpose for which it had been proposed, and that it would not hereafter prove a despicable measure, although it had come from the House of Lords. Indeed, he had no right to cavil at the Bill, for the fact was that the measure was simply the Resolution of which he gave notice in December last, wrapped up in the form of a Bill. When the noble Member for the City of London introduced his Bill on this subject in December, he (Mr. Duncombe) had said of it that it seemed as if it was framed for the purpose of tempting the pruning-knife with regard to one of its clauses, and that had been the case; for when it was sent back by the House of Lords on the 30th of April, the clauses relating to the Jews were omitted. On the 11th of May the House placed a Jewish member upon a Select Committee, and sent him to confer with the Lords as to their reasons for rejecting the clauses relating to the Jews. That step placed the House of Lords and the Prime Minister in a new position. It was very well known that in the House of Lords a great deal of bigotry, prejudice, and intolerance existed on this question, but the noble Lord at the Head of the Government was rescued from his difficulties by the intervention of the Earl of Lucan, who brought forward the Bill now under consideration. Lord Brougham truly stated at the time of these occurrences, that the moment the House of Commons placed a Jewish member, who lied not taken the oaths, upon a Select Committee, and sent him to a conference with their Lordships, the contest as to the admission of Jews into the House of Commons was at an end. It was said that a compromise had been made on this question, but there had been no compromise so far as that House was concerned. The fact was that the House of Lords had made a concession, because they found such concession was necessary. He only wished the concession had been made in a more noble and generous spirit by assenting to the Bill of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), with the restitution of the clauses which had been struck out in the House of Lords. The noble Earl who brought in this Bill had stated that he was aware that by the Resolution of the House of Commons a Jewish Member had been placed upon the Select Committee, and he expressed his hope that that hon. Gentleman did not attend the conference because it would have been an insult to their Lordships. The noble Lord might, however, easily have ascertained from Lord Eversley, or the Bishop of Carlisle, or any other member of the conference, that Baron Rothschild attended and voted upon the Committee, and that he was also present at the conference, He (Mr. Duncombe was convinced that by such a proceeding, neither that House nor Baron Rothschild intended to offer any insult to the House of Lords, and he did not believe that any of the Peers who conducted the conference felt themselves insulted by the presence of a Jewish member. Baron Rothschild asked his (Mr. Duncombe's) advice as to whether he should attend the Committee and the conference, and he told him by all means to do so, as then was the moment to prove himself the champion of a great principle. That step did much to settle this question. He saw at that moment an hon. Gentleman, a member of the Jewish persuasion, who had been returned to that House by the city of London on five different occasions, sitting, as it were, by favour, among strangers below the bar, while he ought by right to be seated within the precincts of the House. [The hon. gentleman referred to Baron Rothschild, who was sitting on the benches allotted to Peers beneath the Speaker's gallery.] It was disgraceful and discreditable to a reformed Parliament of the 19th century that any man should be excluded from that House on account of his religious opinions, but he rejoiced that this exclusion would speedily be removed by the present Bill, which he did not regard, therefore, as so despicable a measure as it had been represented to be. It had been said that the feeling of the country was opposed to the admission of Jews to Parliament, but he thought that statement was unjustifiable, for a member of the Jewish religion had been repeatedly returned to that House by large majorities, and year after year they had seen the representatives of important constituencies voting in favour of the object which would be accomplished by the Bill before the House. The struggle upon the question of the admission of the Jews to Parliament, which was now about to terminate, was not likely to be soon forgotten, but he trusted that the acrimonious language which had been used in the course of the discussion would; and that without reference to the religious opinions of any party or sect whatever they would hereafter meet only for the purpose of consulting for and promoting the rights, welfare, and the happiness of all classes of Her Majesty's subjects.


Sir, the hon. Member for Finsbury has appeared in the character of the apologist general, for the measure before the House. He has apologized for the House of Lords; he has apologized for Lord Derby; he has apologized for the nature of the measure itself. He has endeavoured to reconcile this House to this measure, which I humbly centend is most vicious in principle. Very different was the tone of the hon. Member for Sheffield: he declared that the House of Lords has written itself down an ass, because that House has declared its reluctance to having this measure forced upon it. He says also that their Lordships have at different times, of late years, unwillingly passed measures which they considered dangerous to the constitution of the country, and condemns the House of Lords for having entertained these scruples. Now, I wish the hon. Member would some day state to the House what he understands to be the constitution of the country. I have been in the House with the hon. Member for some years, and I have heard him support changes of many kinds as being consistent with the constitution of the country. I should be glad therefore to know what is his impression, not only of what the constitution is, but what it ought to be. It appears to me that the hon. Member, and those who think with him, accept every concession to their demands with contumely, and are for ever assailing the House of Lords for not yielding implicit obedience in a spirit of sufficient humility. I deeply lament this Bill. I understand it as a concession wrung from the House of Lords contrary to their own opinion against the admission of Jews to Parliament. I do not defend the House of Lords in the course which they have taken, because if this is a measure contrary to their judgment they ought to have rejected it. I do not defend the conduct of Lord Derby, who has agreed to a measure contrary to his principles, because I think he ought to have appealed to the country. I see, in the form of this measure, that it is the intention of its framers to give this House time to reflect, which, in reality, is a recognition of the fact that the country ought to have been appealed to. I cannot say anything in condemnation of the principle of this Bill, and of its tendency to destroy the Christian character of this House, that I have not already ventured to state; but when the conduct of Lord Derby is assailed, I cannot bear all the imputations which are heaped upon him, without calling attention to the difficulties of his position. Now, who has been the main promoter of this infraction of the Christian character of Parliament on this side of the House? Why, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer—himself of Jewish extraction—fosters towards the Jewish race feelings which one can trace in almost every work of fiction which he has written. Especially do we find that feeling honestly and frankly declared in the chapter which he has interpolated in his biography of Lord George Bentinck. He claims as the right of the Jewish race the government of the other races of mankind, and claims for them this supremacy, whilst they remain in the present state of rebellion against their own true King. He endeavourd favourably to contrast Judaism with Christianity, and he tells us plainly that our blessed Lord came to expiate, not to teach. Perverting the fact that the doctrines of the New Testament are substantially the same as those of the Old Testament, he arrives at the false assumption that Judaism is the religion of the Old Testament, and, consistently with that false assumption, justifies the crucifixion. When, therefore, I see sitting on these benches, and taking a leading part among the members of this party, one holding these opinions, who has declared them, and uses his influence to carry them into effect, I will not hear Lord Derby's difficulties underrated in regard to this question. I have seen several leading Members of the Conservative party brought over to his opinions by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. And when the noble Lord at the head of the India Board seceded from his noble father's opinions on this question, and joined the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I felt that Lord Derby's position, sooner or later, might become intolerable, and that there was great danger that by degrees he would be forced from the high position which he has held for many years, as leader of the great party whose pride it still is to be the defenders of the Christian character of Parliament and of the State. In my anger I will have justice—I will not hear Lord Derby's difficulties undervalued; and although I lament that he has succumbed, I see in this a manifestation of a weakness, which is natural, however much it is to be deplored. The House knows that I am sincere on this subject. I thank the House for the patience with which they have heard me upon this, as well as upon former occasions. I trust that liberal Members opposite will pardon me if, when I see them urged forward in a course of which this measure is only one of the steps, I venture to address to them a few words of warning against the danger of the course upon which they are entering. There are many hon. Members opposite who value as highly as I do the Protestant Christianity of this country, who value the freedom of our constitution, who would not willingly retrograde from the great principles upon which the Revolution of 1688 was based—who are, in short, still Whigs at heart, and attached to the great principles upon which that party was formed. I beg them to consider this—they are exposed to the machinations of an enemy who is now powerful throughout almost the whole of continental Europe, who is making constant advances, and whose power is felt more and more, until it threatens the constitutional freedom of these islands. I mean the Jesuit confederation, which is now all-powerful at Rome. It was only a year or two since in Holland, our nearest Protestant neighbour, when the Roman Catholic bishops in that country had forced upon them the dogma of the immaculate conception, that these Dutch Roman Catholic Bishops protested emphatically against the reception of that doctrine, and attributed the enunciation of it to the Jesuits, whom they declared to be all-powerful at Rome. I allude to this circumstance, because so strange are the machinations of that order that they have persuaded many actually to ignore their existence as an order, and thus to favour the secrecy of their operations. Now, Sir, I warn the Liberal party in this House and out of it that the Jesuits use them for the objects of their order. The Jesuit knows how to profess himself a Liberal. I do not ask you to believe this on my statement, but I refer you to the works of the fautors of the Jesuits, to those who proclaim and desire the accomplishment of their objects—to the works of Lammenais, of De Maistre, of Montalembert. The latter writer shows in his work, The Political Future of England, that this system of using Liberalism for their own purposes was first put into operation by the Jesuits in England 200 years ago. The first instance was what Count Montalembert cites in 1632, when this system was tested in the constitution of Maryland, then one of the dependencies of the British Crown; but I will be content with referring you to the Proclamation of James II., in 1687, which was based upon the principles on which the Liberal party are now acting. That Proclamation was identical in principle with the measure before the House, and for refusing to read that Proclamation in the churches of this country seven Bishops of the Church of Eng- land were sent to the Tower; their imprisonment was the culminating point of the policy which led to the Revolution of 1688, and the termination of the Stuart dynasty. The Proclamation upon which the Bishops of the Church of England refused to act was drawn in precisely the spirit in which you are now legislating; it virtually abolished every religious test, and declared practically that religion has nothing to do with either civil or political administration; that Proclamation was issued at the instigation of Jesuit councillors. Trace the operation of the Jesuits in every free country, and you will find that its tendency is almost invariably to turn liberty into license, and to break every safeguard of freedom, whether it be civil or whether it be religious, for the Jesuits know that they are bound together by a most wonderful organization, by means of which they operate against freedom, and, wherever freedom is undefended by adequate institutions, with every prospect of succeeding in its overthrow. I do not ask the House to accept these statements on my mere assertion, but to look to the works of those writers who are the supporters of the Jesuits, who boast of the success of their system, and who, like the Count de Montalembert, show how they make use of Liberals and Liberalism, for the establishment of their own tyranny, who land the policy by which the Jesuits strive in every free State to create a legislative equality as to religion, with a view to establish their own ascendancy. Hon. Members opposite proclaim that every safeguard for the preservation of the constitution is an absurdity. I beg them to read the history of their own country and of the Jesuit Confederation, and not obstinately to ignore the effects of the iron hand of this wonderful confederation abroad. The persons to whom I refer boast of the success of the Jesuits in this country, and consider the late Mr. D. O'Connell their most efficient minister. Mr. O'Connell went to Rome and died, and who pronounced his funeral oration? [A laugh.] The circumstance may seem trivial, but I think it an incident worth recording, that it was a Jesuit who pronounced the funeral oration over the remains of O'Connell, and that this was done by the Jesuit Ventura, the very man who first appears to have fostered the Republic of Rome, and afterwards to have betrayed the city to his master, at Gaeta. It is my firm belief that in this fatal measure you are taking the first step in a course that the Jesuits will most heartily rejoice to see you pursue, which they seem almost to dictate to you. By adopting this course, you are in reality playing the game of the Jesuits against the freedom of England, and are introducing into the constitution and government of this country the very principles which were effectually resisted by our ancestors in the Revolution of 1688. I shall not detain the House any longer. I thank them for having allowed me to attract their attention to these circumstances. I am firmly convinced, that every step you take in this course of pseudo Liberalism is injurious to the constitution of this country, and that by adopting such a course you are doing the work of the Jesuits, and sacrificing that freedom which deservedly you value so highly, but which you imperil by exaggerating the liberty which you enjoy.


said, it was from no feeling of indifference that he had not hitherto taken any part in the debate on this all-important subject, because, looking to its consequences, both religious and political, he was of opinion that the dangers which were likely to result from it, had not, and could not, be exaggerated; but as these dangers had been so ably and fully urged upon the House by other hon. Members with great ability, he preferred sparing the time of the House, and recording his agreement in the reasons thus given by his vote. However, as the debate had been so protracted, he desired not so much on his own account, as from a feeling of what was due to those whom he represented, and who were conscientiously opposed to this measure, to say that in a relative point of view he regarded it with great sorrow and apprehension. He could not agree with those hon. Members who defended the course which had been pursued by the House of Lords, as he believed it was most inconsistent and unfortunate to send down to this House a proposition accompanied with, perhaps, the strongest reasons that had anywhere been urged against its morality and propriety; and yet, on the other hand, he did not think it was his duty to join with those who expressed themselves with great bitterness against the course pursued by that House. Upon the Lords must rest the discredit, whatever it was, of sending to this House those Reasons under such circumstances. With respect to the observations of the hon. Member for Finsbury as to the results to be expected, and the acerbity which he had said had been shown by some hon. Members who had spoken, he (Mr. Lefroy) might add that he had not rendered himself liable to such a charge, nor would he, looking back to the history of the Jews with solemnity and pain, and forward to the future destinies of that people with hope, after this measure had passed, view with any jealousy a Jew taking his scat in this House, or apprehend that, as an individual, he would attempt to injure the Church or constitution; but he would now rather indulge the hope that as those who with him had conscientiously opposed this great change in our constitution had been defeated, their failure might be overruled for good.


said, that believing that the House of Commons ought to have the power of modifying the oaths, he rejoiced that the House of Lords had passed this Bill, and trusted that it was a prelude to the establishment of one oath for all its Members.


said, it might be difficult to defend the conduct of the Lords on the ground of consistency, but he did not consider the rejection of the Oaths Bill at all unfortunate. He infinitely preferred the present measure to the one passed by this House, and should have no objection to see a difference in the proceedings and practice of the two branches of the Legislature on the subject. Indeed, he believed the deliberate opinion of the House had always been limited to the admission of Jews into the House of Commons, and that they had never desired to interfere with the proceedings in that respect of the other House.


Sir, in reference to the Bill on the table of the House, I will endeavour (seeing that the debate has been exhausted), to condense my observations into the smallest possible compass. I cannot admit the principle of the Bill, and I regard with a deep-rooted objection its ultimate consequences. If passed, that form of oath which gives us the assurance of Christianity will be abolished. Now, the Jew, in whose favour this Bill is principally introduced, is not degraded by his exclusion from this House. He is simply regarded as a foreigner, and so is debarred from certain privileges. For the sake of a few thousand persons it is proposed to set aside what had hitherto been a fundamental law of our constitution, and thus wound the consciences of millions. For a slender benefit to individuals—virtually aliens in religious habits and wishes—we are desired to slight that sacred claim upon this country which a religion professed for centuries had inculcated—a faith which is the foundation of our monarchy, our laws, our social happiness, and the ground of our hope hereafter. I cannot be a party to any such proposition.

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

The House divided:—Ayes 129; Noes 55: Majority 74.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 3o and passed.