§ MR. DILLWYN,
in rising to move—That, in the opinion of this House, the present position of the Irish Church Establishment is unsatisfactory, and calls for the early attention of Her Majesty's Government,said, there were in Ireland five millions of people for whom no religious provision had been made by the country. The revenue of the Irish Church amounted to £586,428, but this revenue was appropriated for the wants of a portion only of the community. Out of the 5,798,564 people shown by the last census to be in Ireland, 5,106,692 were left entirely without any religious provision. The sum, therefore, which he had mentioned, was devoted entirely to the wants of 662,072 persons of the whole number. This was a state of things which called for the active intervention of this country, because it was only by the power of this country that this injustice was perpetrated. Before entering on a discussion of the question he wished to clear the issue from all irrelevant matter, and particularly to dispel one error—that he brought the subject forward as an enemy of the Established Church in England, as it would lead to the same principle being applied to it. Some looked upon this Motion, in fact, as the insertion of the "thin edge of the wedge," or as "an attack upon the outworks" of the English Establishment. He distinctly stated, however, that he did not bring forward his Motion as an enemy of the English Church Establishment. He was 385 a member of that Church. He thought that that Church demanded sweeping reforms; and he had advocated such reforms, not as an enemy of the Church, but as a friend, being convinced that reforms were necessary for the purpose of rallying round her an increased support. He believed she needed reforms which would increase her vitality, which he sincerely wished to do, in evidence of which he might say that if he were to build a church he should endow it in the form of the English Establishment. But the English and Irish Churches rested on different foundations. The English Church rested on the consent and goodwill of the people. That was a perfectly good title, and would be strengthened by reforms. The Irish Church depended on a totally different foundation however. If she were to rest solely on the goodwill and consent of the people of Ireland she would collapse at once; but she really rested on the power, and, he might say, the bayonets, which were employed by this country. He was in favour of applying the same principle to both Churches—that was, resting both on the consent and goodwill of the people. He, for one, looked upon the Irish Church as a source of weakness to the English Church, and though the old commonplace cry, "The Church is in danger," had been raised, he had heard it so often raised without cause that he had grown thick-skinned in regard to it. The question, however, was what was the real utility of this establishment?—was there any solid foundation for its existence? It must be considered either as a Missionary or a National Church. In all countries the great bulk of the people were of some religious persuasion or other, and the most obvious definition of an Established Church would be that of an establishment by the general consent of the community for the administration of religion. That was not the position in which the Irish Church stood at the present moment. The Irish Church establishment was originally founded in 1172 by the consent of Pope Alexander II., and at the Synod of Cashel the country was divided into parishes, and other arrangements were made. For a number of years, with more or less success, it pursued its mission; it became so far a National Church that the great part of the people were converted to it, and were essentially Roman Catholic. In the reign of Henry VIII., when the 386 Reformation took place, an attempt was made to convert or force the Irish Church to follow that movement; but whatever might have been done by the bishops and clergy the great body of the people never joined the Reformation. It was said that the bishops did go over to the Reformation. But if they did, it should be remembered that the bishops and the clergymen were not the Church, but only the ministers of the Church. As a matter of fact, however, though some might have been lured over, it was not so sure that even the bishops and clergy generally joined the English Church. Bishop Mant, in his History of the Irish Church, (vol. I., p. 88), said that the bishops and the inferior clergy for the most part had remained attached to the Catholic religion. In the reign of Elizabeth he believed that many of them did go over to the English Church; but whether this were so or not, it was quite certain that their conduct was not such as to render their example a great authority, for he found Spencer, in the reign of Elizabeth, writing that some of the Protestant bishops in remote dioceses did not bestow their benefices on the clergy, but kept them in their own hands, or bestowed them on their servants. Bishop Burnett, in his Life of Bedel, also complained that the English Church had neglected the Irish as a nation; that the clergy scarcely considered the Irish as part of their charge, but left them in the hands of the priests, taking no further care of them than making them pay tithes. It was thus abundantly clear that the bulk of the Irish people had not gone over to the Protestant Church. Sir William Petty, in 1672, gave the total population of Ireland as 1,100,000; and of that number 800,000 were Catholics, and 300,000 Protestants, including Presbyterians and others. By a Return made for the purposes of hearth money in 1736, it appeared that the population of Ireland then numbered 1,979,810, of whom 1,417,000 were Roman Catholics, and only 562,000 Protestants. In 1834 there was a Royal Commission, and by their Report it appeared that out of a population of 7,954,000, the Roman Catholics numbered about 6,436,000, and the Protestants about 1,518,000. The last census showed that up to the present time the Established Church in Ireland was making no ground. It returned the total population at 5,728,000, of whom more than 4,000,000 were Catholics. In fact, the Church Establishment 387 in that country never had fulfilled its mission as a national Established Church. Prom figures given by an eminent dignitary of that Church, Archdeacon Stop-ford, who published a work the year before last on the subject of the Irish Church, he found that in an Irish vicarage two miles long and two miles wide, and containing 2,800 acres, out of a total population of 238 there were only seventeen Protestants. In another population of 410 only ten were Protestants, and so on. The newest of the pleas set up for this Church was that it was-a Missionary Church; but any one who knew anything of the history of Ireland must be aware that it was not deemed to be a Missionary Church by its own dignitaries in former times. One of these dignitaries—Dr. Murray, dean of Armagh—at a comparatively recent date was told by the then Bishop of Limerick that it was out of the sphere of his duty to address the Roman Catholics, as such a proceeding would not be attended with much good, but migh result in much mischief; and on a meeting of some hundreds of the clergy in Ireland being told that those rev. gentlemen ought to look to the spiritual wants of the Roman Catholics, there was a shudder of dissent, and the general remark was that such a course of proceeding would set the whole country in a flame. However, they were now told that the Irish Church was a Missionary Church. At the meeting of the Manchester Church Congress, in 1863, the Bishop of Oxford observed that he understood the whole idea of the Church of Ireland to be that it was a Missionary Church. He spoke, of course, from a report of the right rev. Prelate's observations, and without vouching for the accuracy of that report. Now let them see what the missionary success of the Irish Church had been. A Return which he had moved for two years ago, and which was presented on the 24th of March, 1863, showed that there had been a great decrease in the number of the members of the Established Church in Ireland between the years 1834 and 1861. In the former year they numbered 853,651; in the latter only 691,872. He knew it would be attempted to explain this falling off by the famine and the emigration; but it could scarcely be doubted that, as a consequence of the difference in the circumstances of the mass of each of the two religious persuasions, the famine and the emigration must have told much more 388 strongly against the Roman Catholics; and yet the decrease in the total numbers was proportionately much greater in the case of the members of the Established Church than in that of the Roman Catholics. The missionary system had been introduced by the Society for Irish Church Missions. It had been viewed with great jealousy and distrust by the members of the Established Church, and its efforts had been anything but honest. In 1830, a Mr. Bicheno, an able and honest man, published the result of his inquiries into the progress made in converting the Irish. He came to the conclusion that the success of which the Evangelical party boasted was greatly exaggerated; and that the converts were generally either the dependents of proselytizing landlords or persons of abandoned character. In December, 1843, the Rev. Mr. Webster, Chancellor of the diocese of Cork, brought a charge against the Irish missions, which he afterwards proved. Among other things, he stated that agents of the mission had paid persons for pretending to have been of a religion to which they had not belonged. He also said a quantity of bread was given away on Sundays to poor Roman Catholics on the condition that they should learn a verse of the Bible. They took the bread and went away cursing those who had thus tempted them. Again, a number of poor Roman Catholic children were collected together under various pretences, they were placed in a school-house for a few days, and they were then dignified with the name of "converts." These allegations were not made by him (Mr. Dillwyn), but by a clergyman of the Church of England high in office. Whether then they looked at the Irish establishment as a missionary institution, or whether they looked at it as a National Institution, it must be admitted to have been a failure in both respects. But it might be said that it was instituted in order to obtain influence over the people of the country, and so to facilitate government; but if it had failed in converting the people, it must necessarily prove not an assistance but a serious impediment in the way of the administration. Take a parish where there was a clergyman receiving £500 or £600 a year, and having a flock of not more than seventy or eighty persons; but where there were a thousand Roman Catholics, what could be more impossible than for such a state of things to encourage a feeling of good will amongst the people? The priest on the one hand would be ob- 389 liged to point out to his adherents that he was absolutely dependent upon their liberality, because all the revenues of the parish were appropriated by the small minority who belonged to the establishment. On the other hand, the clergyman would be obliged, in order to justify his anomalous position, to insist that his Roman Catholic parishioners were members of a dangerous and heretical communion. No doubt it was in this way that great part of that polemical bitterness which unhappily prevailed had arisen, and which could not fail seriously to militate with any efforts to secure the good government of the country. The only possible success that could attend an establishment like that in Ireland would be in the way of corruption in buying over political adversaries; and, for all he knew, it might have answered very well in that respect. His hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Scully) had called attention the other night to some facts that looked like it; for he showed that the Chief Secretary had given an Irish living to a clergyman connected with the English borough which he represented, and had passed over the heads of many old and deserving Irish incumbents. Again, he found it stated in the Londonderry Guardian of February 11, 1864, that, on a recent occasion, when a living in that county had fallen vacant, and when the clergy of the diocese were expecting an appointment to be made from amongst their own body, the bishop, with what was called "a precipitancy amounting to indecency," presented the Rev. Thomas Walker, a clergyman of Down, and a son-in-law of the right rev. Prelate. The rev. gentleman was stated to be the third son-in-law for whom the bishop had provided in this way. The number of communications, public and private, which he (Mr. Dillwyn) had received, showed an amount of nepotism, and he might say of corruption, amongst Irish ecclesiastical dignitaries, that was perfectly appalling. Although he trusted on some future occasion to bring those charges under the notice of the House, he did not consider them of sufficient relevance to the question under discussion to allude to them further on that occasion, and his only object in mentioning them was to show what abuses existed in the Church of Ireland under the present system. Before dismissing the subject, he must refer to the vast wealth of the bishops of that Church, who were immensely overpaid for 390 their ecclesiastical services. He would content himself by stating on this point that in the course of sixty-four years the Archbishop of Armagh had received the enormous sum of £887,900. When it was remembered how few were the number of Protestants in Ireland, he could not see upon what grounds the continuance of an Establishment drawing such an immense revenue could be justified. Many of the most eminent statesmen of the day had condemned it in the strongest terms, and that House had years ago passed Resolutions which clearly showed they felt the injustice of maintaining it, which would not have been done had not a strong case been made out. In 1825 a Resolution was passed by a majority of 205 to 182, declaring that ft was expedient that provision should be made by law for the maintenance and support of the secular Roman Catholic clergy. Another Resolution was passed in 1835 to this eifect—That this House will resolve itself into Committee of the whole House, in order to consider the present state of the Church Establishment of Ireland, with the view of applying any surplus revenues to the general purposes of education, without distinction of religion.He would ask what had been done to give effect to those Resolutions. Why, the Tithe Commutation Act, transferring the collection of tithes from the clergy to the landlords, and the Church Temporalities Act, of no benefit whatever to the Roman Catholics, the object of which was stated to be for the ease and security of the Church, and the advantage of the persons holding thereunder. A number of bishops were reduced, and certain sums were appointed to the augmentation fund for small livings. But these Acts were passed, and nothing had been done to remove the injustice the existence of which he complained of. In fact the latter Act—the 3 & 4 Will. IV. c. 37—had been denounced by Mr. Justice Shee in the strongest terms. The only measure which could be said to have been passed to give effect to these Resolutions was the Maynooth Act of 1845; but that was so trifling a matter as not to call for any very great gratitude from the Roman Catholics. His allegations as to the insufficiency of the Church of England in Ireland were further confirmed by the Amendments which had at various times been proposed upon the Resolutions which he had brought before the House. Two years ago, when he asked for restitution, the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Seymour) did not 391 dispute his statements, but proposed a measure of re-arrangement. His plan was that part of the revenues of the Established Church, in parishes in which the Roman Catholics largely exceeded the Protestants in number, should be withdrawn from those parishes, and expended in others where there were more Protestants. But the revenues of a parish belonged not to any general fund, nor to the Church as a great corporation, but to the parish itself, and ought to be expended within it. Last year again the hon. Member for Londonderry (Sir Frederick Heygate) did not deny the existence of the evils of which he complained, but proposed an Amendment declaring that the time was not suitable for making experimental changes in the endowments of the Established Church. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Whiteside) met him more directly, and endeavoured to show that the Roman Catholics did not care about the Established Church, and that his Motion upon the subject was entirely uncalled for. That assertion was answered by the large number of petitions which were presented last year, having upwards of 78,000 signatures, and by those which had been received during the present Session. The right hon. Gentleman had also referred to the religion of Ireland at different periods, but the real question is, not what was the religion of Ireland formerly, but what it is now. The right hon. Gentleman also said, that it was not the business of a private Member to take up this question. In that he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, and he now only proposed that the House should express its opinion that the subject demanded the early attention of Her Majesty's Government. The year before last the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies said that he would meet the argument with the practical answer that the Government of this country had attempted to carry out a reform of the Irish Church, but had found it impracticable. For his own part, he believed that Ireland had not been fairly dealt with in this matter. The appropriation clause and similar measures were agitated in order to obtain the support of the Roman Catholics to English reforms; but when those reforms were carried the Government threw over the Roman Catholics. It was hardly consistent with good government that a state of things should be allowed to continue of 392 which it had been said that the people were treated as though they belonged to a vile and alien race, that the Church could not be reconciled with propriety and justice, that the present state of things could not be permanent, and that the Church of Ireland was one in which the majority of the people felt no interest, but which they regarded as a badge of degradation. Yet those expressions had been used by the First Minister, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the Secretary for India, and the President of the Board of Trade. He believed that if the Government were to take up the question in earnest it would receive a large measure of support in this country and he hoped the House would, by acceding to his Resolution, show that they were actuated by a spirit of fair play, and a regard for the feelings of the Irish people as evinced by the number of petitions which had been laid on the table on the subject last year as well as in the present Session.
in seconding the Motion, said, he was glad it had been submitted to the House in an intelligible and unambiguous form. The hon. Gentleman asserted that the present position of the Established Church in Ireland was unsatisfactory, and that there was some ground for that assertion was proved by the fact that it was sustained by the opinion of more than 4,500,000 of the Irish people, by the united voices of Europe and America, and by the statements of a considerable number of the hon. Gentleman's own countrymen, including several leading Members of Her Majesty's Government. The question, however, raised by the Motion was one which it was difficult, if not impossible, to discuss without exciting angry feelings, yet few, he hoped, would on that account be found to maintain that it ought to be passed over in complete silence. People at the present day were not expected to submit to a great public grievance in order to accommodate the feelings of others; and the answer to the objection that the Motion was calculated to produce religious dissensions was, "Let the Irish people have religious equality, and religious dissensions will no longer be found to prevail." But while he was anxious that the question should be discussed as frequently as possible with a view to its being satisfactorily settled, he was equally anxious to refrain from saying or doing anything which might even appear to reflect invidiously upon the religious 393 opinions entertained by his Protestant fellow-countrymen. In considering the position occupied by the Irish Established Church, he drew a distinction between that Church and its revenues. The one was entirely independent of the other, and he took it for granted that if the Established Church were to-morrow deprived of its revenues it would still continue to exist. To assume the contrary would be offensive to the feelings of every sincere and ardent Protestant, while, no doubt, those who were desirous of obstructing the movement of the supporters of the present Resolution would seek to make it appear that they were endeavouring to attack the Protestant faith. It was, therefore, of importance to be explicit on that head; and he, for one, could assure the House that the opponents of the Established Church in Ireland had nothing to do with points of belief, and sought to raise no question as to the soundness or unsoundness of Protestant doctrine, or as to which was the true Church. The only question they were anxious to raise was, whether it was just and reasonable or in accordance with the usage of contemporary nations that the Ecclesiastical State revenues of Ireland should be monopolized by the Church of a small minority of the Irish people. That question he desired to keep clear of all other matters, especially all matters of a controversial character, so that all impartial men, irrespective of country or creed, might be enabled to form a just and impartial judgment on the merits of the case. In dealing with the subject there was a difficulty which every one, he thought, must feel, and that was that the maintenance of the Established Church in Ireland in its present condition had already been discussed with all the force, eloquence, wit, and logic which could be brought to bear upon it, and all to no purpose. It was under those circumstances hard to get rid of the impression that it was a mere waste of time to continue to recapitulate facts and arguments with which most hon. Members were as well acquainted as with their alphabet. That such was the state of things was to some matter for congratulation, because it led them to the conclusion that the Established Church was still holding the position which they wished to see her occupy. He did not, however, hesitate to say that the effect of so persistent a refusal to redress a crying and acknowledged grievance had been to impress the great mass of the people 394 of Ireland with the idea that there was no reliance to be placed on the action of Parliament, and to cause them to regard with suspicion the man who told them that they ought to have every confidence in the wisdom and justice of the House of Commons. And when the House reflected on the length of time during which the question of the Irish Church Establishment had been under the notice of the Legislature, without any remedy being provided, they must, he thought, admit that it was not unnatural the people of Ireland should come to that conclusion. So far back as the year 1834, when O'Connell had made a Motion in that House for a repeal of the Union, the Government of that day moved an Amendment to the effect that all the acknowledged grievances of Ireland should be redressed, and among those grievances the existence of the Established Church was named, but nothing, nevertheless, had since been done towards its removal. Were hon. Members not tired of hearing that Ireland was the only country in the world where the Ecclesiastical State revenues were enjoyed by the Church of the minority, that that anomaly was maintained in defiance of an overwhelming majority, and that in almost every city, town, and borough in Ireland, the Protestants constituted vastly the smaller number of the population, there being large districts in which there was not a single Protestant, and many Protestant clergymen who had in reality no parishioners. Was it not true that when Ireland was judged by the same rules as Spain and France and Belgium she must be held to be a Catholic country; that as a consequence a Protestant State Church in Ireland was altogether out of place, and that its maintenance there could not be supported on any plea of justice or necessity? Was it not also the fact that although that State Church had during a period of more than 300 years enjoyed all the influence arising out of the possession of great resources, it had been emphatically and finally rejected by the vast mass of the Irish people? It appeared to be impossible for the force of human ingenuity either to add to or diminish the weight of such arguments, and the fruitless repetition of them Session after Session only tended to strengthen the impression that there was no use in appealing to the House of Commons for a solution of the question. But though the House of Commons might have stood still 395 with regard to it, the same could not be said of public opinion out of doors, judging from the proceedings at public meetings and the general tone of the press. The present position of the Irish Church establishment had been already condemned by the most enlightened and influential portion of the English press, and it seemed to be generally admitted that it formed a fair subject for legislative interference. The arguments of those who supported the Established Church in its present position appeared to be of the most artificial and hotbed kind. Even the well prepared arguments used two years ago by the hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns) were, in some respects, feeble and pettifogging in the extreme. One of those arguments went this length—that if the House of Commons interfered with the ecclesiastical revenues of Ireland, the tenure of private property in that country would be insecure; as if the clergymen in the enjoyment of a church living and his expectant successor in that living stood towards each other in the same position as the owner of a private estate and his heir. Supposing it was true, as stated, that the tithes were paid by the Protestant landowners of Ireland, they had no more claim to them than they had to the unclaimed dividends in the Bank of England, and if the property itself changed hands through the medium of the Landed Estates Court, the tithes would be then, as they were now, the property of the country. It was of the utmost importance to know what course Her Majesty's Government intended to take on the present occasion—the noble Lord at the head of the Government (Viscount Palmerston), the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary (Sir George Grey), and the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Cardwell) having, in published speeches, given their adhesion in every essential particular to the first part of the Motion of the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn). If they agreed with the first portion how could they reject the latter? If they opposed it, he was anxious to hear what reasons they would give. If they said the time was not come for action, he would ask them was the time not always come for acting with justice. He hoped Her Majesty's Government upon the present occasion would show that they were not afraid to take a just course. If they acted in the spirit which had dictated their speeches, he was certain that not only 396 would they have a large gathering in that House, but their vote would commend itself to the great majority of the Irish people, and also to large numbers of persons in England. A vigorous, just, and prompt course taken at this particular moment would have a most beneficial effect, not only upon the state of Ireland, but, perhaps, upon the future prospects of the Empire.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, in the opinion of this House, the present position of the Irish Church Establishment is unsatisfactory, and calls for the early attention of Her Majesty's Government."—(Mr. Dillwyn.)
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
Owing to the terms of the Motion itself, and to the direct appeal which the hon. Gentlemen who moved and seconded it have made to Her Majesty's Government, I think it right at once to state that Her Majesty's Government deem it their duty not to give their assent to the Resolution proposed. Before stating the reasons which have governed their decison, let me express my entire agreement with the observation made by the hon. Member for Tralee (the O'Donoghue) at the commencement of his speech, that the discussion of this question does not involve any expression of opinion upon points of doctrine. My opposition to the Motion, therefore, will not be rested upon what I conscientiously believe to be the truth of the religion which I profess, and still less will I impugn the religion of those who differ from me. In discussing this question it would also, I think, be better to keep clear of incidental details, such as those relating to the exercise of patronage which the hon. Member referred to. In this country, I have no doubt parallel cases might be found, if they were narrowly sought for; our decision ought to rest upon much broader grounds. I regretted also that in the speech of my hon. Friend some reflections were cast upon a man so eminent as the late Primate of Ireland (the Archbishop of Armagh), who was utterly undeserving of reproach.
§ MR. DILLWYN
said, that he had not meant to convey anything prejudicial to the character of the late Primate.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
I accept the explanation of my hon. Friend, but I am sorry he thought it necessary to adopt the invidious course of calculating the total amount of income which the right rev. Prelate received during the years of his Episcopacy and Primacy. I can assure 397 him that the opinion of all who knew the late Primate was that there never existed a more munificent and benevolent prelate, a warmer friend to the clergy, or a truer supporter of the interests of the Church with which he was connected or one who expended more generously and usefully the income of his office. I come now to consider the Resolution, which consists of two parts. It asks the House, first, to declare that the present position of the Irish Church Establishment is not satisfactory, and then that it calls for the early attention of Her Majesty's Government. If the House were to consent to that Motion with the concurrence of the Government, it would, I apprehend, immediately, or at a very early period, be the duty of the Government to introduce a measure giving effect to that Resolution in the sense in which it was proposed. Now, what is the sense in which the Resolution is submitted to the House? And here I must differ from the hon. Member for Tralee, who held that the first part of the Motion had the merit of being free from all ambiguity. A more ambiguous Resolution I never saw. The wording is such that a person warmly attached to the Established Church, but wishing to see further changes made in the same direction as those carried into effect by the Act of 1833, might be led to vote for its adoption. At first sight, one might almost suppose that it would secure the vote of the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Seymour), who last year advocated changes which, at any rate, he honestly believed would promote the greater efficiency of the Church of Ireland. But I must say that the speeches of my hon. Friend who moved and the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion leave no doubt at all as to the real objects of the Motion. The hon. Gentleman does not ask for reform in the Irish Church; he draws a distinction between the Established Church in England and in Ireland; and while professing himself an attached member of the Church of England, and desirous only of sweeping reforms in it, he believes that sweeping reforms would do no good in Ireland. If changes such as those made by the Act of 1833 were carried further, and the number of bishops still further diminished, there is not the slightest intimation on the part of the hon. Gentleman that he would not again bring forward and press this very Motion. Two 398 years ago, when a similar Motion was brought forward, the hon. Member answered that the changes which had been made in the reduction of the number of bishops and in the abolition of church rates did not touch the real issue which he wished to raise. That real issue is not whether any part of the Establishment can be reformed, but whether it shall continue to have any existence whatever as an Established Church. That being the case, Her Majesty's Government have no hesitation in saying that they are not prepared to undertake the responsibility of proposing to Parliament a Bill calculated to effect that object. They believe that this object cannot be obtained except by means which must inflict great injury upon Ireland and involve the country in the risk of very great dangers. The object can only be effected by exciting the bitterest animosities in that country, by producing a conflict of opinion—and I do not say that matters would stop even there—which must throw back the improvement of Ireland to a great extent, and must retard to an indefinite time the arrival of the period that we are sometimes inclined to hope for, when Irishmen, irrespective of creed and politics, will combine together with unanimity and energy, to promote the moral, social, and material well-being of their country. If, as a mere abstract question, I were asked to say that the present position of the Irish Church is not satisfactory, I should probably not differ much from the hon. Gentleman. But when the hon. Gentleman refers to speeches made by myself and other Members of Her Majesty's Government, I must say that he does not do us justice when he detaches separate sentences from the context with which they were surrounded, and from the occasions on which the speeches were uttered. I have often said that I think the establishment of an endowed church in any country where that endowed church is the church of a comparatively small minority, no provision being made by law for religious worship in accordance with the views of the majority, is a course which, viewed as a theoretical and abstract question, cannot possibly be defended. If we were now for the first time considering what should be done, I should think it unwise to take such a course as that which was taken in Ireland, for I should think that it could only pro- 399 duce dissatisfaction and discontent among the people. But with reference to the existing state of things I differ from the hon. Gentleman. When, therefore, reference is made to speeches heretofore addressed to the House on this subject, the House must remember that they were made with reference to some definite object and scheme which was before Parliament at the time. We have been reminded of the Appropriation Clause, and my hon. Friend (Mr. Dillwyn) thinks it would have been easy to have carried that clause if the Government had exerted themselves and had shown themselves in earnest. I believe that my hon. Friend had not a seat in the House when that subject was discussed; but there are hon. Members now present who were in the House at the time, and I ask them whether the Government did not use every effort to induce Parliament to agree to the proposal then made—a proposal which was perfectly consistent with an intention to continue the existence of the Established Church in Ireland, but which provided some means of diminishing the dissatisfaction sure to be excited by an exclusive system. I say, the Government did their best to effect the object, but found insuperable obstacles in the way. Well, then, other speeches were made in 1844 or 1845 when Sir Robert Peel proposed the endowment of Maynooth. Nearly all those with whom I am connected cordially supported that measure. Our arguments were that there existed an exclusive Irish Church Establishment for the benefit of Protestants, and the existence of that Church made it necessary to do what would otherwise be neither necessary nor expedient—provide the means of education for the Irish priesthood. If the Irish Church were not in existence, no such provision for the education of the Roman Catholic clergy would have been expedient. It was because the Irish Protestant Church did exist, and would continue to exist as part of the United Church of England and Ireland, that I advocated the Maynooth Endowment Act, and I still think that that was the only justification of the measure. What we have to deal with is the existing state of things. I have stated my opinion on the abstract question. But am I at liberty to press that opinion without reference to all the consequences which it might entail? I think, on the contrary, we must look to the practical result of 400 such an opinion if it were reduced to practice. We have the Irish Protestant Church established as an existing institution in Ireland. It is not of recent creation; it rests upon the prescription of centuries; and, to use the expression of a distinguished Roman Catholic layman, it is rooted in our institutions. The firm belief of the Government is that it could not be subverted without revolution, with all the horrors that attend revolution. And for what object is this end sought? I have said that the creation of an Established Church for the benefit of only a small minority is theoretically indefensible. But how do we now stand with regard to this question in Ireland? Nothing has been said with regard to the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. But if I had not known the avowed opinions of the Roman Catholics, I should have inferred that the hon. Member for Tralee (the O'Donoghue) was anxious to transfer the revenues of the Established Church to his own Church; that his object and desire were to separate the revenues of the Established Church from the Church, and to give them to the bishops and the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church, who are looked up to by the great body of the people. ["No, no!"] If I had not heard a distinct disavowal from the hon. Member I should have understood that such was his meaning; but I know that that is contrary to the opinions of the Roman Catholic body. Now, my hon. Friend (Mr. Dillwyn) reminded us of a Resolution passed by this House in 1825, which expressed the opinion that endowments ought to be provided for the Roman Catholic clergy, and he seemed to taunt the Government for not acting upon the Resolution, and for not proposing to make some provision for the Roman Catholic Church. I sincerely regret that such a provision does not exist; that after the Union the measures which were contemplated by the authors of the Union were not carried into effect; that civil liberty was not at once given to the Roman Catholics as they were led to expect, and that some provision was not made for the endowment of the Roman Catholic priesthood. But would such a proposal now be listened to for a moment—I will not say by Parliament, but by the people of this country? Is there not a feeling in this country—I do not say it is a right feeling, but still it exists—which would make it impossible, with any chance of success, to 401 propose such a measure; and have we not, moreover, been told of repeated declarations by Roman Catholics that they would not accept such a provision even if it were made? What, then, is the practical grievance? We have in Ireland an Established Church resting upon long, unbroken prescription. It is all very well to say, "Give us religious equality and there will be religious harmony;" but we must bear in mind that this branch of the Church of England and Ireland is very dear to a large body of Protestants in Ireland, and they would not give it up without a struggle. The clergy of the Church enjoy, for the most part, moderate incomes. They live in the country—not absentees—and spend those incomes there for the good of the country. Speaking generally—for there are exceptions in every church—they perform their duties unobtrusively, with faithfulness, and with zeal; for the most part, too, they show charity towards their neighbours, and desire not to give any needless offence to the feelings of those around them. Side by side with them is the Roman Catholic Church, unendowed, but the Church of the great mass of the people. No one will deny that that Church enjoys the greatest possible amount of freedom, it is subject to no control from the State; no exercise of intolerance towards it can be alleged; and, moreover, we find this Church repudiating any desire to possess one shilling of the revenues of the Established Church, or any State endowment. No doubt, there was formerly a serious practical grievance. He could not agree with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dillwyn) in the light and disparaging terms in which he spoke of the Tithe Commutation Act. When tithes existed under the old system, and the Protestant clergy in collecting them were brought into hostile collision with the people, scenes took place which were disgraceful in any Christian country, and could not but produce the greatest possible prejudice against the religion which these clergymen taught. Still, they used the only means which the law gave them for enforcing the payment of those tithes. But, we now have none of these scenes; the Protestant clergy are no longer placed in a position of personal antagonism with those residing in their parishes. Tithes are now a rent-charge on the land. The land is bought and sold subject to the rent-charge; and it is admittedly paid for the most part by Protestant landlords. No one supposes that if these tithes were taken from the 402 Established Church they would be allowed to go into the pockets of the landowners. The tithes would be treated, no doubt, as national property; they would be applied in paying the police, or in defraying some of those charges to which the Consolidated Fund is now liable. As a matter of feeling, no doubt, there is a grievance. I am not surprised at discontent existing from the cause I have mentioned, and I should be glad to redress it. But it is impossible to do so without producing evils of far greater magnitude than those which now exist, and without involving the country in dissensions which would be totally destructive of peace and of progress. For these reasons, believing that the object avowed by those who have brought forward the Resolution is one which could not be attained without great mischief, being of opinion that no practical grievance exists, and that in attempting to redress the theoretical grievance, a great shock would be given to our laws and institutions, I can have no hesitation on the part of the Government in opposing the Motion.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
In taking part in the debate which has arisen on this important subject I trust that I shall follow the example which has been set by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey), and by the hon. Member (the O'Donoghue), and say nothing calculated to wound the feelings of anybody who may differ from me. At the same time I must speak, firmly and strongly, on behalf of those opinions which I hold with respect to the Irish Church, or rather that branch of the United Church of England and Ireland. Sir, it was said by Mr. Ward, when bringing forward this question, on more than one occasion, as has also been said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir George Grey), that this was a question which the strongest Government could not carry without disturbing the honest convictions of many, and wounding the feelings and sentiments of those whose sympathies are enlisted with the Irish Church. I am not surprised that the question has been raised. It is impossible to be surprised at it. Nor am I surprised at the quarter from which the movement comes. The hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn), with that candour which he always uses in this House, has shown us the objects he has in view, and the party with which he is acting; and we see at once that the hon. Member, though he may not be pre- 403 pared to go as far as those with whom he is acting, is advocating principles which inevitably lead to this result—that they would be fatal to the Church of Ireland, and eventually to the Church in this country. After the Census of 1851, much was heard in this House as to the conclusion at which we were bound to arrive with reference to the facts there detailed; and attack after attack was made upon the Church in England, in consequence of what were alleged to be the results obtained from that census. The census was carefully examined; the facts were inquired into; and they were found by no means to lead to the conclusion which those who relied upon them asserted. We were told that the members of the Church of England had become a minority, and that it was in a state of decline; but when we came to test the figures we found they did not bear out that conclusion—that they utterly failed to establish the proposition which the enemies of the Church had so confidently put forward. The attacks upon the Church of England declined. The Census of 1861 came; and those who had been attacking the Church of England refused to apply the test to 1861, which had been so imperfectly applied in 1851. Such was not the case in Ireland. The Churchmen of Ireland were ready to enter into an investigation. It was entered into; and the result was found lamentable, indeed, in its general bearings, showing that the country had gone through a period of deep suffering, as proved by the decline of population which had taken place. But it was also discovered that the figures showing this decline of population exhibited an increase among Churchmen as compared with other religious bodies in that country. When the hon. Member for Swansea speaks of the number that existed in the year 1834, and of the decline from 800,000 in 1834 to 691,000 in 1861 he omitted to state that in 1834 the Wesleyan Methodists—a body of considerable numbers in Ireland—were reckoned among the Churchmen, whereas in the year 1861 they were not so reckoned, and therefore the decline was by no means in the proportion which the hon. Member supposed. The figures show that there has been a relative increase of the Protestant population, as compared with the Roman Catholics and other bodies in that country. That being so, why is this question now raised? I believe that 404 at this moment, by emigration alone, which is still going on, the proportions between the different bodies are still being changed, and still being changed in favour of the Church. The hon. Member for Swansea has dealt with the question, as said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir George Grey), as if it were an abstract and theoretical question, upon which we could decide without trenching upon what I will not call the prejudices, but the deep-seated feelings of those connected with the Established Church, either in this country or Ireland. The hon. Member says that this state of things is unsatisfactory; but in the hon. Member's view the Church Establishment in Ireland has always been unsatisfactory, and therefore was unsatisfactory when by a solemn league and covenant between the two nations of England and Ireland it was made an essential compact that the Church in Ireland should be maintained as an establishment in conjunction with the Church of England. The hon. Member for Tralee says that this Church is a badge of national servitude. [The O'DONOGBTTE expressed dissent.] I am not quoting the exact words of the hon. Member, but perhaps I might use those terms, because the hon. Member took part in the National Association in Ireland, in which the expressions in question were made use of. [The O'DONOGHUE: I have taken no part in it.] Then I beg the hon. Member's pardon; but, at any rate, the hon. Member spoke of the Church Establishment as a degradation to Roman Catholics as being the majority. The hon. Member for Swansea talks of the foundation of the Irish Church as having taken place in 1172, whereas that Church was founded in Ireland in 432, and existed with bishops, priests, and deacons as an independent Church, knowing nothing up to the time of Henry II. of the rule of the Roman Pontiff. I believe that the real time when the badge of national servitude was fixed upon Ireland was when Henry II. compelled the Church to become a vassal of the Pope of Rome. I say, loooking back at the history of the Irish Church, beginning with the 5th century, it appears that she was only 400 years under the Roman Pontiff, and that during the remainder of the time—namely, for above 1,000 years, she has been free. The Church that is established in Ireland is a continuation of the Church that existed be- 405 fore Henry II. went there; and I feel that in defending that Church I am defending a Church that is holding the tenets and carrying out the views of the primitive Church. While I defend it upon these and other grounds, I also defend it upon the ground that I believe it to be true. Where is the degradation that is submitted to by the Roman Catholics in Ireland in connection with the Established Church? It was said in 1853 by Earl Russell that he could not agree with those who stated that there was that degradation. The noble Lord agreed that there was an ecclesiastical difference, but said there was no religious difference, adding, "You have perfect freedom for your religion, and with respect to social and political degradation it no longer exists." Then with regard to the ecclesiastical difference. We have heard from the right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey) that the Roman Catholic body have no wish to receive the revenues of the Church. We have heard that they have no wish to receive endowments from the State, and I think we may feel sure from their statements that they would not be inclined to give up any of their privileges in return for any emoluments they might receive from the State. They have, therefore, perfect religious freedom and equality in the true sense of the words. They have not the endowments which have been conferred upon another Church, but they have religious equality, and they do not ask for endowments to put them I upon an ecclesiastical equality. Is this Motion brought forward on the ground of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield), that there is no right for the existence of an Established Church in any country? If so, while combating the hon. Member for Swansea, I am fighting also with those who would destroy the Establishment not only in Ireland, but in England, in Scotland, and wherever else they might meet with it. That being so, am I not justified in saying that this degradation, which is one of feeling, and sentiment is one which must apply in a parish just as much as in a country. Suppose, for instance, in a parish in Wales there be a majority of Dissenters: they see the clergyman receiving his income for ministering to a minority of parishioners. Do they feel this ecclesiastical inequality? Do they feel this moral degradation? Do they feel this wrong? If the argument be put on the ground of ecclesiastical inequality, 406 then I am justified in saying that the hon. Member for Swansea while attacking the Church in Ireland is also attacking the Church in England. Well, is there any pecuniary pressure? The word tithes gives people the notion that there is a tenth of the produce of the land handed over to some person or other; but I venture to say that in Ireland the tithes are so reduced that they do not affect one-fiftieth part of the produce of the land. The pecuniary pressure is not felt. The peasantry have ceased to feel it, and the great majority of the landlords do not object to it, because they are in connection with this Church, and it is paid through them. It is not, however, taken from the landlords in reality, because it is something that never belonged to them but always belonged to the Church. The hon. Member for Tralee says that the property of the Church is a different kind of thing from the property held by landowners; but Lord Plunket laid it down in the strongest terms that in his opinion there was no difference between them. It seems to be thought that you would be conferring a great boon by preserving the life interests in Church property; but in doing this you do not touch the root of the matter, for the property is not for the clergy but for the Church, and the people have a vested right in it. The population who are or may be Churchmen in Ireland have rights in it; for they ought to be able to find in every parish and place a pastor and a church, and the means of grace in connection with the Established Church. The Churchmen in Ireland are not to be put on a different footing to those in England; for it was upon that basis that we obtained their assent to the Union, and it would be unreasonable and unfair now to turn round upon the Protestants of Ireland and tell them "you have entered into a league with us upon this understanding, but now that we have got the Union and you have lost your national Parliament, you shall not be treated as Churchmen in England are treated; but—as the hon. Member has said—there shall be a complete separation between one Church and the other, we will support one and overthrow the other, and that, too, upon grounds which equally existed at the time of the Union as after it." With respect to this question of property I cannot help observing that in connection with the wrongs arid grievances of Ireland, as put forward by those who assume to state them—the 407 Association to which I have referred—there is prominence given to the question of what is called tenant-right in connection with the question of the Established Church. There is this agitation with reference to the property of the landlord and the Church, and I say if either of them perform their duty inefficiently let it be proved, and let amendment take place; but I deny that you have any right to take the property of the landlord or of the Church to provide a remedy for these supposed evils. I quite admit that in the Resolutions of the National Association language is carefully framed, so as not to indicate any invasion of the rights of property; but although the leaders may be careful, what are we to say to those who are led? Is it possible to look at the tone used in reference to the question of tenant-right without saying that it goes farther than mere tenant-right, and aims at an unjust violation of the rights of property of the landlord. I say it is remarkable that these two things are connected together, and that when there is what we call in England a "dead set" made at the Church, there is also an attack by the same party upon the property in the land. England, as it seems to me, is materially concerned in this question, and it is for this reason that I venture to submit myself to the House at this early period in the debate. Churchmen in England feel deeply interested in the honour of the Established Church in England, which they feel is bound up in this question of the position of the Established Church in Ireland. I feel as deep an interest in the position of the Church in Ireland as in that in England. As branches of the United Church of England and Ireland, they stand upon grounds so similar that you cannot attack the one without materially injuring the other. I believe that the old proverb, "Those who would England win, must with Ireland first begin," describes truly the source of this agitation. It is remarkable how the attacks upon the Church in England have been withdrawn, whilst in the previous Session—a tolerably long one—the hon. Member (Mr. Dillwyn) kept his Motion in reference to the Irish Church before the public, though there were several occasions on which he could have brought it forward. ["No, no!"] The hon. Member says "No," but I may remark that there was an expectation that the previous Session might be the last of this 408 Parliament, and the hon. Member kept his Motion dangling before our eyes, and as the notion of it being the last Session disappeared, so disappeared the Resolution of the hon. Member. It has now re-appeared—I will not say in reference to future events—though it is probable that hon. Members may think it not undesirable to discuss that question with a view to influencing certain constituencies. I was saying that I view the Church in England and in Ireland as one Church, and that we are bound to maintain them upon the same grounds. The view of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Had-field), and of those who act with him is, that the supremacy of any one religion ought not to be tolerated; and I feel that this sentiment applies equally to England as to Ireland, and that therefore the interests of the two Churches are combined. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has made answer for the Government as to the view which they take of this question, and I do not find fault with him. The Motion of the hon. Member (Mr. Dillwyn) seems to me to be a trap to catch all that will fall into it. He says it is—The opinion of this House that the present position of the Irish Church Establishment is unsatisfactory and calls for the early attention of Her Majesty's Government.I have stated that of late years there has been no change except a change for the better in respect to the Irish Church, and that its relative numbers have increased; and this very question which it is said calls for early attention has been again and again brought before various Governments, and has been considered fully, carefully, and anxiously. It is one that requires the early attention of the House, yet has it not had minute attention from all the great statesmen who have sat in this House? In 1833, 1834, and 1835, there were full discussions upon it. Again, during the Government of Sir Robert Peel, when he was in power, Mr. Ward brought forward the question on several occasions, and it was then most fully discussed. The language used on those occasions by the present head of Her Majesty's Government (Viscount Palmerston) was not so much against the Established Church as in favour of the Endowment of the Roman Catholic priesthood. Language was then used which showed that if right hon. Gentlemen opposite had to begin again they would 409 not create such an institution as exists in Ireland. They used, no doubt, strong language in reference to the Establishment in Ireland; but what was mainly urged by the noble Lord was, that he had a great desire to see the Roman Catholic clergy furnished with glebes and glebe-houses, and other fit endowments. Much the same opinion was expressed by Earl Russell. A surplus was talked of in reference to the Appropriation Clause, but that surplus never was found, and never will be found; for the funds of the Church are totally inadequate to the wants of the clergy who are doing her work, and to the people who benefit by it. Moreover, Additional Curates Societies and voluntary contributions of all kinds are required to eke out the scanty revenues derived by the Church, not from endowments in the sense of receiving anything from the State, but from property which is her own. Indeed, her property has seldom been given to her by the State. It was mainly the gift of private individuals in earlier times; and I may mention for the information of the hon. Member for Swansea, who seems to imagine that the Irish Church only came into existence in A.D. 1172, that there are lands now belonging to the diocese of Meath which were granted, I believe, as long ago as the sixth century. The hon. Member, notwithstanding these considerations, seems to think that the question is one which has only to be thrown before the Government, and to become easy of solution. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite used the question against the Government of Sir Robert Peel; but a change began to take place when they came into Office, for nothing has been done by them in conformity with the speeches which had been made, and I do not blame them for it, for I believe that they found it impracticable to deal with the Church in the way in which, while in opposition, they had suggested. Speaking for the Government two years ago, on the Motion of the hon. Member for Liskeard (.Mr. Bernal Osborne), the present Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Cardwell), in that measured and guarded language which it is his habit to use, said it would be—To re-open that great question of Irish and British politics, which agitated Parliament, governed parties, and disorganized Ireland.….We ought not to disturb a question of this sort, touching the foundation of the moral, social, and political interests of the people, without grave cause, and without a well founded hope of bringing 410 it to a safe and satisfactory conclusion.……It is a very serious matter for those who are responsible, as Members of this House are, for the good government and the well-being of the country, to appoint a Committee to unsettle a question without a prospect of bringing it to a safe and satisfactory conclusion.…What he (Mr. Bernal Osborne) really means is an abstract Resolution of this House again condemning the Irish Church.…I believe this House will not surrender the principle of an Established Church, I believe it will not alienate the property of the Church from the ecclesiastical uses to which it has been devoted."—[3 Hansard, clxxi. 1583–1–5 & 6.]That was the conclusion at which, after long Parliamentary experience, the Colonial Secretary arrived. But in 1853, speaking upon the Motion of the then hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Moore), the noble Lord the present Foreign Secretary (Earl Russell) took still stronger ground, and recanted what he had formerly said as to the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church, feeling the difficulties which had arisen to be absolutely insuperable. That noble Lord said—Now, as I wish to speak with as much frankness as the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, let me not be misunderstood as saying that this character belongs generally to the lay members of the Roman Catholic Church. I am far from saying so. I am far from denying that there are many Members of this House, and many members of the Roman Catholic persuasion, both in this country and in Ireland, who are attached to the throne and to the liberties of this country; but what I am saying, and that of which I am convinced, is, that if the Roman Catholic clergy had increased power given to them, and if they, as ecclesiastics, were to exercise greater control and greater political influence than they do now, that power would not be exercised in accordance with the general freedom that prevails in this country; and that neither in respect to political circumstances nor upon other subjects would they favour that general freedom of discussion and that activity and energy of the human mind that belong to the spirit of the constitution of this country. I do not think that in that respect they are upon a par with the Presbyterians of Scotland. The Presbyterians of Scotland, the Wesleyans of this country, and the Established Church of this country and of Scotland, all, no doubt, exercise a certain influence over their congregations; but that influence which they thus exercise over their congregations must be compatible with a certain freedom of the mind—must be compatible with a certain spirit of inquiry, which the ministers of these churches do not dare to overstep, and, which, if they did overstep it, that influence would be destroyed. I am obliged, then, to conclude—most unwillingly to conclude, but most decidedly—that the endowment of the Roman Catholic religion in Ireland in the place of the endowment of the Protestant Church in that country, in connection with the State, is not an object which the Parliament of this country ought to adopt or to sanction. Sir, these opinions of mine may lead to 411 conclusions unpalatable to many who belong to the Roman Catholic Church. They may lead to a persistence in a state of things that I quite admit to be anomalous and unsatisfactory; but I am obliged as a Member of this Parliament to consider—and to consider most seriously in the present state of the worlds—that which is best adapted to maintain the freedom and permanence of our Institutions. I must look around me at what is passing elsewhere. I must see what is taking place in Belgium. I must see what is taking place in Sardinia and in various countries of Europe. I must regard the influence which, if not exercised, has been attempted to be exercised in the United Kingdom of late years. Seeing these things, I give my decided resistance to the proposal of the hon. Gentleman for the abolition of the Established Church in Ireland upon the principles which I have stated, and which appear to me to be conclusive against the Motion."—[3 Hansard, cxxvii. 945–6.]Now the noble Lord was one of those who had been most eager and earnest in 1843–4 to support the Motions of Mr. Ward to take the revenues of the Irish Church and apply them to the endowment, not of the Roman Catholics alone, but of all the creeds that existed in the country. I do not mean to say that those who supported the Motion were bound by the result which Mr. Ward was prepared to proceed to; but certainly they were prepared to take away the funds from the Established Church, and to bestow them in some way unconnected with that Establishment and its purposes. This being the case, it was afterwards found that the difficulties had become insuperable, and then the hon. Member (Mr. Dillwyn) calmly says that the Government must give their early attention to the question. Why, the question has been considered and studied by every Government, and it has been found impossible to deal with it without causing evils which would be much greater than those you think that you could cure. I do not believe in the discontent that is so much spoken of, for it is there as it is in this country, the agitation against the Church has come down from above, and does not rise up from below. The leaders tell the people that they have grievances which they do not feel. The peasantry of Ireland do not feel these grievances, for I believe that they have found their warmest and kindest friends in the beneficed clergymen. It has been proved over and over again that those who have emigrated send money for their families and friends far exceeding in amount the stipends of the clergymen to whom they remit it, and they send to them in preference to sending to the ministers 412 of their own religion. I do not say this out of any feeling of disrespect for the Roman Catholic priests, but this shows me that the Protestant clergymen have been the friends of all the people in their parishes, and not only of those of their own communion. And yet, when making comparisons, hon. Gentlemen are accustomed to say, "Oh, this man has only twenty or thirty persons to take charge of;" but in England they always added the Dissenters to the Churchmen, and estimate the whole population of the parish as under the charge of its clergyman. What I have mentioned shows me that the clergy in Ireland, as in England, have acted in all charity towards the people, as resident gentlemen and landlords ought to act, and as their tried friends, and that the people have shown that they appreciate this and repose trust in them. There may, indeed, be instances where the clergymen neglect their duty, as some men in all relations of life do, but it is hard to fix upon one or two cases and charge the facts against all, especially now, for there never was a time when the Irish clergy were doing their duty more effectually than at the present time. Now as to the position which the Irish Church occupies, I feel that I am to a certain extent upon delicate ground when I deal with religious subjects, but I am obliged to look at this country in the position she assumed for herself when she established the Church and the Crown upon the principles of the Reformation. This country is a country with a Reformed Church, and the Act of Settlement provides that its monarch must be a member of that Church. There are one or two great civil offices that are still reserved for members of the Church, and I must say that everything that has taken place has shown that in the main this country, while wishing to give absolute freedom to all other religions, desires her statesmen to maintain the principles of the Reformed Church. I cannot help looking at this question in that light. We have a Reformed Church not so much by a change of Church, for the people who had been in allegiance to the Pope ceased to own that allegiance, and remained members of the Church of England. The succession of bishops and pastors remained the same. In Ireland, there has not been the same change in the feelings of the population though at first there was. I wish to deal with the subject justly, and not 413 to blink anything in the discussion of the question, for it is one which will bear any amount of examination, and come out all the bettor at the close of it. In the beginning the Irish princes and chieftains accepted Henry VIII. and his supremacy almost universally; but when it came to the reign of Elizabeth things had clearly changed. Still the Church of Ireland has ever since remained in connection with the State as a Reformed Church. At the Union you adopted this principle, made the two Churches one, and thus consecrated it. But it was not a new union of the Churches in their spiritual character, for they had been in union in that sense long before. So early as 1172 there had been an interchange of pastors between them, and their clergymen passed from one country to the other. The Churches were completely united, and that is the answer to the observation of the hon. Member (Mr. Dillwyn) that the Act of Union did nothing as to the temporalities. It protected these Churches as established; and what is the meaning of this, unless it applies to their revenues and their connection with the State. Of both these you now wish to deprive that Church. No Parliamentary compact could unite Churches which were in religion disunited; but the English and Irish Churches were one in doctrine and discipline. I believe it was intended at the time of the Union to have endowed the Roman Catholic Church, but it was not intended to attach to it the revenues of the Church Establishment. On the contrary, it was contemplated to give the Irish Church even more than she had before, and to add to her dignity. I have found a passage, though in what connection I cannot now remember, in which Lord Grenville, who had taken an active part in the accomplishment of the Union, and knew well what was intended, said—The plans which were in contemplation included, in the first place, measures of considerable benefit to the Establishment, calculated to promote both its honour and its advantage, and to render it far more adequate than it now can be to the purposes for which it was provided.The Union, therefore, in reference to the Church was, it seems to me, one of the most solemn obligations that was ever entered into. They had a Protestant Parliament in Ireland, and it was with that Parliament that you negotiated, and at the same time there were negotiations with the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, and I believe that when their 414 assent was obtained they knew very much the terms of the arrangement. I believe that they expected to be endowed, and it is a question whether they might not have been then endowed in accordance with that view; but I question very much whether any such proposition could now be submitted to Parliament with any advantage. I quote from a speech of a most distinguished statesman, now no longer amongst us—Sir James Graham—made in 1834, to show that he was prepared to forego his political friendships—when he, in fact, abandoned the Government, and took his place in a different part of the House—rather than join in an attack upon the Irish Church. He said of a similar proposal to the present—I regret all these nostrums; they are incompatible with that preference which the Protestant State of England, as a fundamental principle, has decided on giving in favour of the Protestant Church Establishment. I stand upon the choice made by this country at the Reformation, sealed by the Act of Settlement, and ratified by the Act of Union. I hold that preference to be among the firmest foundations of our liberties.And again, in 1844, he said—It has been the object of the Government, and will continue to be its object, to remove all the abuses which exist in connection with the Irish Church, to purify it to the utmost; but, after having removed these abuses, and after having thus purified it, it is the intention of the Government to use its best efforts resolutely to maintain it as the Established Church of Ireland."—[3 Hansard, lxxv. 617–18.]If there be abuses let them be remedied; and I rejoice to say that the Primate of Ireland has stated in a recent charge, that no one is so ready to remedy them as the bishops of the Church of Ireland themselves. I believe that this is so. But many of these abuses have passed away, and for this reason it is that speeches of hon. Members opposite go back to a period that has long gone by, and turn our attention to things that no longer exist—to abuses that formerly caused anger and irritation in Ireland. I say that the Union was a compact of nations, and that you are bound to maintain it. I need not quote the evidence of bishops and eminent authorities in the Roman Catholic Church before Committees, or state how they repudiated the very notion of any desire to subvert or damage the Churches of England or Ireland. I need not state how Mr. Blake repudiated, in the strongest terms, such a course, and considered it would be a fatal one to adopt, dangerous to the general securities we possess for liberty, property, and order. What did Lord Plunket, the great advocate 415 of the Roman Catholic claims, say? Why, that no wrong so great could be inflicted upon Irishmen as to impute to them that they ever had such designs, or that they ever could entertain them. A passage to that effect was quoted by Sir Robert Peel in reference to the Act of 1829, when speaking on Mr. Ward's Motion in 1844; and Sir Robert Peel added that, "no national compact could have more binding force than that entered into at the time of the Union." Lord Plunket said, on the part of the Roman Catholics—There are many who really think, and some who affect to think, that great dangers may result from concession to the Establishment. I declare solemnly that if I could enter into that opinion—if I could see anything of peril to the Church or State—dear to my heart as are the interests of my fellow men, I would abandon these long-asserted claims, and range myself with their opponents.…….On the part of the Roman Catholics, I will be bold to say that they harbour no principle of hostility to our Establishment.……Every rational Roman Catholic feels himself no more at liberty to attempt the subversion of our Establishment than to entertain the unworthy purpose of depriving an individual of his property."—[2 Hansard, iv. 980–2 & 3.]Sir Robert Peel remarked on that expression of Lord Plunket's—I think I had a good right to conclude from the declared opinion of the chosen champion of the Roman Catholics themselves, speaking distinctly with their authority, that the removal of those disabilities was compatible with the maintenance of the Protestant Establishment, and that they did not regard the maintenance of that Establishment in the light either of an insult or an injury.……Then, with respect to the Union, I think there cannot be a doubt that Mr. Pitt intended to assure the Protestant mind in England and Ireland that the Protestant Establishment, as it then generally existed, should be thereafter maintained.….If ever public engagements were made for the maintenance of any public institution, those engagements were made at the time of the Union, when the Protestant Parliament of Ireland consented to the relinquishment of their independence as a Parliament; and I must say, as an actor in the great event of 1829, that I do believe it was the intention of the Government or of the Parliament of that day to create an impression in the Protestant mind of this country that the removal of the Roman Catholic disabilities was not only compatible with the maintenance of the integrity of the Church, but that the integrity of the Church should be maintained."—[3 Hansard, lxxv. 650–1 & 2.]Are these pledges unmeaning things? Are we to be told that the successors of these statesmen are not to be bound by these pledges? Think what an argument you are putting in the mouth of those who resist further concessions. You are making those who were called "bigoted 416 old Tories and intolerants," who were laughed at and scoffed at for predicting such things, turn out true prophets. I say, Sir, that the national compact made at the Union was confirmed by the Roman Catholics through their agents in 1829. It may be said that the people have arrived at a greater knowledge of liberty since that time, and now see grievances which they did not see before; but I have proved that the grievance is not one of political or social degradation, but one of feeling. It may be said that the Roman Catholics do not want these dignities and revenues themselves, but that they want to take them away from those who possess them. We are then called on by this Motion, for it goes to the root of the matter, to violate the fundamental principles established at four great eras. That is—to violate, first, the principles of the Reformation; secondly, of the Act of Settlement; thirdly, of the Union; and fourthly, of the Act of 1829. And for what? Is it to buy peace? We have been told so before, but it is not by surrendering principles that you can buy peace. The hon. Member for Swansea speaks of the Church of Ireland as being propped up by bayonets. Surely that is a fiction which can hardly exist even in the mind of the hon. Gentleman. The population of Ireland is at peace; life and property are secure; and crime was never at so low an ebb as at present. The peasantry of Ireland do not regard the Irish Church as a grievance, but look upon their pastors as friendly neighbours whom they can trust and who trust them. Is peace to be bought by treachery or dishonour—by violating pledges dear to one portion of Irishmen in order to conciliate another? You have given the Protestants of Ireland the security that this Established Church should be maintained. Do you think they have no feelings and no sentiments, or that feelings of animosity will not be excited by such a Motion as the present? Do you think you will not disturb the peace of the Roman Catholic peasantry by inviting them to a spoliation of the Church you have solemnly promised to maintain? And what will all this do? A debate occurred with respect to Ireland a few nights ago. We heard of her distresses. I grieved for them—my blood runs cold at the recollection of the sufferings she has undergone. No sufferings could be greater; but will you alleviate them by the abolition of the Church Estab- 417 lishment. Will carrying such a Motion alleviate the evils which exist in Ireland? Will it bring trade, agriculture, or commerce, or open the ports of the country? A former hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Miall) recommended that the money obtained from the spoliation of the Irish Church should be devoted to building lighthouses and public works. But if you abstract that money you will lose the money now granted from public revenue, and dry up its source. It was proposed by Mr. Miall, when in this House, to sell the tithes at ten years' purchase; but I trust the landlords too well understand their duty to receive any such bribe. Is absenteeism a great evil in Ireland? If so, you are proposing to remove a large number of resident gentlemen, who, if not in the character of clergymen, as educated gentlemen, are engaged in advancing civilization and administering charity with impartiality and fairness. And, in addition to that, you are still further increasing absenteeism; because, do you suppose that landlords will remain on their estates when they are deprived of the ministrations of their Church, and when the clergy, who are their neighbours and friends, are removed to a distance? There would be a loss to Ireland even in a money point of view. The endowment of the Roman Catholic Church might be set aside. It is said it would be refused. It would be impossible to give it from the funds of the country. But there would be a still greater difficulty, if the endowment were provided by the State by seizing the property of the establishment for the purpose; there would, indeed, be intolerable heart-burning if you took the endowment from the Protestants and attempted to confer it on the Roman Catholics. The hon. Member for Swansea says this Church is not a National Church, because it is not connected with the majority. I say that when it was united with the Church of England it became one united Church, and that after such union you have no more right to isolate Ireland than to isolate any particular parish in this country, or to isolate the principality of Wales. ["Scotland?"] The hon. Member speaks of Scotland; but Scotland has an Established Church of its own, and if I were an Episcopalian in Scotland, and owned property there, I should no more think of refusing to pay my dues to the Scotch Church than I should think of robbing the hon. Gentleman, who has interrupted 418 me, of the property which he possesses in his own right. I do not hesitate to avow that I think any Church is dead which has not an interest in spreading its religion. I am no advocate for buying proselytes—they are the worst gain—hut I am in favour of spreading my religion by fair and open argument. I am not ashamed to say that, in my opinion, the great number of those who have come over to be Churchmen in Ireland have, though low in station, formed their opinions on as high principles as if they had been the richest and proudest in the land. The pamphlet of Mr. Hume (pp. 42–3) has shown that in a district where missionary efforts have been made there has been an increase of 344 per cent of Churchmen; that is, the Church's population has nearly quadrupled. And here let me express my thanks to that gentleman and to Mr. Alfred Lee for their admirable pamphlets so full of interesting facts upon this subject. But are you not bound to protect the revenues of the Protestant Church independent of its missionary character? It has been proved beyond doubt that the revenues of the Irish Church are insufficient for the great purposes to which they are appropriated. To 1,510 benefices there are 2,280 clergymen, showing that there are an immense number of the clergy not receiving incomes from the endowments of the Church, but from private sources. Much has been done by the Church of the minority for the religion, the civilization, the health and comfort of the people in many ways, not shown by conversion or missionary exertion. The churches and the clergy have both increased, which would not have been the case had they not been required. What are the facts in this respect? In 1730 the numbers of the clergy were 800; in 1806 they were 1,253; in 1829 they were 1,950; and in 1863 they were 2,281. The increase in churches is as follows:—In 1730 they were 400; in 1800 they were 688; in 1829 they were 1,307; and in 1863 they were 1,632. Is the Church, then, doing nothing? At all events these figures show that she is doing her best to supply the wants of those who are dependent on her exertions. Who can pass over the question of the Church of Ireland without adverting to that munificent instance of liberality just afforded in the city of Dublin by a single individual? Who can advocate the interest of the Irish Church without saying at least that she can show what 419 faithful sons she has, when one single man has contributed £150,000 to put the metropolitan cathedral in a satisfactory state? That brings me to another question—What will you do, supposing this Motion is carried? What will you do with churches which Protestants have built, and the advowsons which Protestants hold? Since 1848 the sum of £67,000 has been paid to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by voluntary contributions for the assisting in the building of churches alone. [Ironical cheers from Mr. HADFIELD and others.] It may be said that if that could be done voluntarily more could be done. The cheer comes very well from the hon. Member for Sheffield, the professed hater of endowments; but Sir Robert Peel had stated that on the question of the Dissenting Chapels Bill, where a question of endowments arose between Dissenters un-established, he had seen more animosity between different Dissenting bodies than had ever existed between the Established Church and Roman Catholics in Ireland. Again, for Lady Hewley's Charities how eagerly did Dissenters contend for endowments? I wish to know why those who hate endowments are always endeavouring to obtain them at Oxford, and Cambridge, and elsewhere. If you do not like them why do you want to have them? Does it not prove that you oppose their present possessors because you want them for yourselves. It has been shown that endowments have their uses, and in no case can they be more useful than in that of the Irish Church. Sir, I have to apologize for detaining the House so long. If I have said one word which has given offence to any one I trust he will pardon me. I speak strongly for my own creed, but in no hostility to the creed of others. I speak in favour of the extension of my own creed, but I am sure when I see the Roman Catholics establishing mission-houses and chapels all over England, that they believe in the importance of spreading the religion which they hold. Be it so; but let us meet in a fair field; let us have a conflict without animosity, and let the best win. I believe that I hold the truth, and I believe that truth will prevail. I trust this Motion will receive, not from the Government alone, but from the House, a direct and emphatic negative. You will be violating first principles by carrying it. You will be damping and disturbing and destroying the energies of the clergy who are working in Ireland. 420 You are disturbing them by constant consideration of their political position. They never know what their position is through the constant attacks made upon their Church from different quarters. The attack on them in this case is made by an Englishman. I, as an Englishman, have ventured to stand up for them. I have feebly advocated their case; but as long as I have the honour of a seat in this House or, failing that, in any sphere in which I may be, I shall be a determined advocate for maintaining the Established Church of England and Ireland, which I believe may be maintained without injury or insult either to Roman Catholics or Dissenters, but which cannot be overthrown without detriment to the best interests of the country, and without violating the most cherished feelings of those who love us best in Ireland.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Hardy) has stated his views, as we must all have expected, with conspicuous ability. I am free to confess that there are points in his speech, and those neither few nor unimportant, in which I agree with the hon. Member, and there are some which will carry with them the almost universal concurrence of the House. For my part, the hon. Member's view of what I may call the ecclesiastical history of Ireland is, I think, more near the truth than that of my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn), who contended that until the latter part of the 11th century there was nothing that could be called a Church in Ireland. I agree, also, with the defence of the Irish Church which the hon. Gentleman has made, so far as it rests on the assertion that there is to be found no such amount of flagrant abuses as would of themselves justify a violent interference with its existence, or any licence of Parliamentary attack. My belief is that as far as abuses, in the common sense of the word, are concerned—that is, those which depend on the conduct of the bishops and clergy, and which are remediable by the wisdom and energy of the clerical body, or the purity of life of its lay members—it is my belief that the Irish Church is perfectly free from such abuses. We must all accord to that Church this praise; that her clergy are a body of zealous and devoted ministers, who give themselves to the high purposes of their sacerdotal functions in a degree not inferior to those of any Christian Church. With respect to her prelates, 421 there are many of them men of great learning, of the highest possible character, of extended charity both in act and opinion; and as to that one of her prelates who a few years ago was removed from among men—the late Primate of Ireland—I join in the regret that has been expressed that any single word should have been introduced into this debate which would seem for one moment to call in question the remarkable excellence of that character in which a princely munificence was united with a dignity and meekness rarely, if ever, exceeded by any bishop of any Church. There is great force, also, in what fell from the hon. Gentleman upon the cardinal question at issue with respect to the social influence and utility of the existence of the Irish clergy through all the districts of the country. It would be great presumption in me to found this opinion upon my own personal observation, but the general effect of evidence is that great social utility is exercised by the presence of a body of educated Christian gentlemen throughout the country; and if they are unhappily precluded from ministering to the wants of their neighbours in the highest functions for which they are specially set apart, yet in their moral, material, and social influence they render valuable services to the community. J5ut still, Sir, these propositions, important as they may be, do not touch the essence of the case, for the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leominster, if I understood him aright—and I do not cavil about words, but take it in its broader meaning and direct purpose—puts a negative not merely upon the Motion which my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea has put before the House, but also upon the proposition contained in that Motion—that the present position of the Irish Church is unsatisfactory. I am not going to fasten upon the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hardy) the assertion that there is nothing to cure and amend in the Irish Church; but I do say that the whole upshot and purport of his speech went to show that in regard to all the great, leading, cardinal conditions that determine the action of Parliament, we are so far from being called upon to assert that the condition of the Irish Church is unsatisfactory, that it ought to be regarded as directly the reverse. I am bound to take my share of the responsibility of the course which it has been announced by my right hon. Friend (Sir George Grey) the Government intend to pursue. We are not able to concur in the Motion of 422 my hon. Friend, and yet those who listened to the speech of my right hon. Friend will recollect that while he declined to affirm that the Motion ought to receive the assent of the House, he was not prepared to deny the abstract truth of a part, and what some may regard as the most important part of the Motion. The Motion before the House may be divided into two propositions—first, that in the opinion of the House the present position of the Irish Church Establishment is unsatisfactory; and secondly, that it calls for the early attention of Her Majesty's Government. And no one can consistently vote for my hon. Friend's Motion unless he is prepared to vote for both these propositions. For my part I confess that I cannot refuse to admit the truth of the first, and perhaps most important, of these propositions. With regard to the second, I think that I am not only not required by the fulfilment of duty, but that it would be a departure from duty on the part of Her Majesty's Government if they were to assent to the Motion, unless they were prepared to grapple with this great problem, of which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leominster has shown us the difficulty, and to bring this Session, or, if not this Session, still very soon before Parliament some plan for the purpose of removing that unsatisfactory character of the condition of the Irish Establishment which we should have joined in asserting. This is a question on which I do not think that the course adopted by the Government will be a very popular one. Nothing, I admit, can be more unsatisfactory to a deliberative Assembly than to hear admissions made in one portion of a speech and retracted, or, at all events, not followed out to their legitimate conclusions in another, and it is obvious that this must, on the first view, appear to be the conduct of Her Majesty's Government; but, for all this, nothing could excuse our declining to look the truth fully in the face. This, perhaps, is not so much a question for present as for future consideration. Those who now undertake the responsibility of delivering their opinions upon this question ought not to regard so much the satisfaction which they may give to their hearers at the present moment as to be careful in laying down principles founded in truth and justice—principles which cannot be affected by any change of time or circumstance. In the few observations which I desire to address to the House, I shall 423 endeavour to follow the example of most of those who have preceded me, and to avoid the use of a single word which by any possibility can give offence. My hon. Friend desires us to affirm that the present state of the Irish Church Establishment is unsatisfactory, and, following in the path set by my right hon. Friend, I should not be prepared to refuse my assent to his invitation, looking at it as an abstract pro position. Now, what is the position of the Irish Church Establishment? It is this—In a nation of between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000 people, about 600,000 or 700,000 have the exclusive possession of the ecclesiastical property of the country intended to be applied to the religious instruction of all. The amount of the ecclesiastical property has been stated at between £500,000 and £600,000 a year. It is not necessary to argue minutely upon details, but I imagine that these figures will hardly be contested. Over and above that amount one-fourth of the whole value of the tithes of the country was given to the landlords by an Act passed, I think, in 1838, under the plea of a consideration for collection, but, in fact, as an important political expedient for the purpose of inducing the landlords to place themselves between the people on the one side and the Protestant clergy on the other. The ecclesiastical property of Ireland, there fore, were it actually at our disposal, is considerably greater than the sum actually enjoyed by the Established Church. This being the relation between the members of the Established Church and the people at large, are there any other circumstances which tend to heighten the effect of this arrangement? Now, in my opinion, there is undoubtedly this important circum stance, that those to whose enjoyment the whole of this property is devoted form the wealthy class of the community. That is to say, they comprise the great bulk of the wealth of the community—the class, as must, of course, be observed, the best able to make provision for its own spiritual wants; whereas the most numerous portion of the population of Ireland have among them almost the entire poverty of the country. That is the position of those who by the conclusion to be drawn from the speech of my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) are satisfactorily provided for, but whose position, looking at the question in an abstract point of view, I cannot regard in the same light. The hon. Member has dwelt with great 424 force and with great ingenuity upon all the arguments which for a long period of time have been made available, and made available, I am bound to say, by persons of great authority, to prove that which he disclaims—and let him have the full benefit of the disclaimer—but that which I conceive to be the legitimate deduction to be drawn from his speech—namely, that after a due allowance for human imperfections, the position of the Irish Church is satisfactory. The hon. Gentleman says that this Motion is an attack upon the Established Church of England, and that the Irish Church is selected for this attack because it is an outwork of the English Establishment. I have, of course, no right to complain of the hon. Member, or of any one else, for employing such an argument if he thinks it will support his views, but those who look at this country as one enjoying free institutions, and those who believe that the institutions of this country have their most solid and most indisputable foundation in the general approval of the public, will be slow to assent to the argument employed by the hon. Gentleman. On the contrary, they might be disposed to say that that argument is capable of being inverted. I do not believe that the Church in England is in the slightest degree weakened by the existence of a different Church established in Scotland, although in the present case there is no question raised as to the existence of a rival Established Church, the only question before the House is whether the exclusive possession of the ecclesiastical property of the country by the Established Church of Ireland is satisfactory. I am bound to express my belief that the English Established Church is in a much stronger position than it would be if across the border there existed an Established Church precisely agreeing with it in every particular of doctrine, discipline, and government, yet representing the faith of only one-eighth or one-ninth of the population. I must, therefore, decline assenting to the belief entertained by the hon. Gentleman that an ulterior intention of attacking the Established Church of England is a fair or natural deduction to be drawn from a Resolution affirming only the unsatisfactory state of the Irish Established Church. Then the hon. Member falls back upon another argument, and asserts that the Act of Union is a perpetually binding contract. His doctrine is that by the Act of Union the Protestant people of England bound themselves to the 425 Protestant minority of Ireland perpetually to maintain the Established Church in that country, with a view to supplying the spiritual wants of that Protestant minority. I am bound to say that I must differ from the doctrine to which the hon. Member appears to incline—that the Protestants in Ireland or the members of the Established Church in any one of the three kingdoms—for I believe them to be all on the same footing—are solely entitled to have provision made for their spiritual wants without any regard being paid to the requirements of the remaining portion of the population. Neither our Constitution nor our history will warrant such a conclusion. There is not the slightest doubt that if the Church of England is a national church, and that if the conditions upon which the ecclesiastical endowments are held were altered at the Reformation, that alteration was made mainly with the view that those endowments should be intrusted to a body ministering to the wants of a great majority of the people. I am bound to add my belief that those who directed the government of this country in the reign of Queen Elizabeth acted on the firm conviction that that which had happened in England would happen in Ireland, and they would, probably, be hardly less surprised than is my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea if they could look down the vista of time and see that in the year 1864 the result of all their labours had been that, after 300 years, the Church which they endowed and established ministered to the religious wants of only one-eighth or one-ninth part of the community. Before quitting the Act of Union, I may say that I do not deny the importance of such great statutes. In one sense they may be regarded as the landmarks of our Constitution. The first responsibility of every Legislature in every age must be to adapt the laws and institutions of the country to the wants of the country which it governs, and it would indeed be a miserable excuse—nay, more, the hon. Member himself, I feel certain, would be the last man to urge it—if we were to say that, although we did not think an institution was beneficial, we thought it ought to be maintained, and we would maintain it because it was made by a Parliament of men now dead, who while alive were not gifted with second-sight, and who were unable to foretell the circum- 426 stances in which we should be placed. Sir, I admit it is very natural to say, "We must not be in a hurry in these matters, we must not expect the rapid wholesale conversion of a country." I think the hon. Member for Leominster considers the work of the Church of Ireland to be that of a Missionary Church. He distinctly intimated the opinion, and I confess I agree with him. That appears to me to be far more rational than the contrary opinion that the members of that Church are a privileged body, to be endowed, while all else are to be left to shift for themselves. But it is very material, after the lapse of so many generations and several centuries, that we should consider what progress has been made in this matter. In the latter part of the 17th century an estimate was made by Sir William Petty of the relative strength of Protestants and Roman Catholics in Ireland. I now take all classes of Protestants together for the purpose of more convenient comparison, and I find the result he arrived at was—Roman Catholics, 800,000; Protestants, 300,000. The date of that estimate was followed by a century of application of most rigid penal laws. There is not, I apprehend, the least doubt that as regards particular classes of society those penal laws to a certain extent did their work, but yet they failed to impress the mass of the population. And now we come to the year 1834, the first year of any trustworthy and accurate religious enumeration of the people of Ireland, and there we find that those who were represented in the time of Sir William Petty by 800,000 and 300,000, had come to be respectively 6,400,000 of Roman Catholics and 1,500,000 of Protestants of various denominations. If the proportion between Roman Catholics and Protestants that existed in the time of Sir William Petty had been maintained, the Protestants of 1834 ought not to have been 1,500,000, but 2,400,000. So far, therefore, under the operation of the system of law then established, although aided by the severest pressure of the power of the civil Government—so far were we from making progress in the direction which upon every religious ground we might desire, that much ground had actually been lost, and the proportion of Protestants to Roman Catholics was more unfavourable than it had been 150 years before. The hon. Member adverted to the Census of 1861, and he paid a compliment to the Churchmen of Ireland for 427 their readiness to have the real figures fairly stated and made known. I agree with him as to that. And undoubtedly we find that the proportion of Protestants to Roman Catholics in 1861 is somewhat less unfavourable than it had been in 1834, for now, while the Roman Catholics are 4,500,000, the Protestants are 1,300,000. But what has happened in the interval? A. famine of unequal and awful pressure has decimated the ranks of the majority of the nation, and simultaneously with that famine the vastly extended settlements of America opened the arms of that continent wider and wider to invite the poverty of Ireland across the Atlantic to partake of her abundance. Thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands year by year quitted the ports of this country in order to settle and establish themselves in America. Of these it cannot be for one moment doubted that the vast mass who had reduced the population of Ireland by something like one-third did not in any degree, as regards religious faith, represent the entire population of the country. It cannot be doubted but that it consisted, not altogether, indeed, but in an overwhelming proportion of the Roman Catholic population. It is a matter of opinion, but I am bound to say it does appear to me, when we take into view the immensely powerful operation, first of all, of the famine, and still more of the emigration, that it is impossible to believe that the slight change which took place between 1834 and 1861 in the proportions of the respective religious communities indicates any real advance of a definite or measurable kind of the Protestant population as compared with the Roman Catholics. I am bound to say that in the times in which we live it is not too hastily to be assumed that the exclusive and peculiar position of the Irish Established Church is to be regarded as necessarily useful to the progress of Protestantism. No doubt it relieves members of the Protestant Church in a great degree from the duty and business of making provision for their own spiritual requirements; but it is a mistake to suppose that the exclusive establishment of one religion is in all circumstances favourable to the progress of that religion. I am quite sure, if we could suppose such a thing as the establishment of the Roman Catholic religion at this moment in this country, that it would be anything but favourable to the progress of the Ro- 428 man Catholic religion here. The case in Ireland may not be so strong as in the rather violent supposition I have just made, but it may serve to illustrate my suggestion that we are incurring some degree of danger when we hastily assume that, under all circumstances, the aid of the civil Government, in addition to the endowments of the country, is favourable to the propagation of a particular form of religion irrespective of all the other circumstances of the country. In other times, and perhaps in other places, it has been said that the exclusive establishment of the Protestant Church in Ireland is necessary for the maintenance of loyalty and order in that country. We have not heared that argument to-night and I believe we shall not hear it. There can be no more fatal error on the part of those who are charged with the government of a country than to do acts or to make provisions which imply that loyalty to the laws, to the Throne, and to the institutions of the country is the particular and exclusive property of a small minority of the people. In my opinion, no more certain specific for the propagation of disloyalty can be suggested than the use of such language. Then the hon. Member says that there is no surplus available from the property of the Irish Established Church. I then ask myself how does the hon. Member measure a surplus? What is the criterion by which he arrives at it? Is it admitted that the provision for the Established Church in Scotland relatively to the number of its members, and the provision for the Established Church of England relatively to the number of its members are liberal provisions? I think it is. But this is beyond doubt—that the provision of the Established Church in Ireland, although the members of that Church represent a far greater average of wealth than the Church of England or the Church of Scotland, yet the provision of the Established Church of Ireland represents a larger average of public endowment for the members of that Church than do either of the other Churches. It is not necessary to descend to statistics, but not far short of £1 per head, I imagine, would be the quota given by the ecclesiastical properly of Ireland, without taking into consideration the 25 per cent, now in the hands of the landlords of Ireland; while I do not think any estimate fairly made of the property of the Established Church of England would give more, than something like 429 7s. or 8s. a head as the quota provided by endowments for the maintenance of the Church. But, unhappily, in the case of Ireland, we are also met with this difficulty. It is not upon the question of what the surplus would be if the endowments of the Church were distributed equally over the country. The hon. Member himself alluded to the immense disparity in that respect, the immense inequality which prevailed in different parts of Ireland. You have towns in Ireland presenting, perhaps not in the same degree, but still, I apprehend, to a certain degree, the same deficiencies in the means of spiritual instruction, as compared with the Church population, as is to be found in this country, and on the other hand you have large portions of the country in which there are equally large and liberal endowments, while the Church population can hardly be said to exist at all. It is sometimes the practice to call this an abuse, and to say there would be a remedy if you would adopt the principle of redistribution—if you would take all the tithes and estates of the Church in Ireland, throw them into hotch-potch, and then re-distribute them substantially according to the proportions in which the Church populations is distributed over the face of the country. I must confess it appears to me that there are the greatest difficulties not only in practice, but also in principle, to the application of any such remedy. I can hardly imagine that the population of Ireland—especially of the provinces of Munster and Connaught, where the Church population is about 5 per cent of the whole—would be content to see the tithes and endowments of those provinces abstracted in order that they might be carried into Ulster, where the Church has one-fifth of the population, or into Leinster, where it has one-eighth of the population. If that can be done, at least, I know of no Government that has ever yet been bold enough to propose such an act. Some steps, some slight steps, have been taken in that direction; but, in the main, the endowments and the tithes still remain locally applied, and I do not hesitate to say that I believe it would be not only inexpedient, but unjust, especially in the circumstances of Ireland, to interfere with the general application of the principle of local endowments. But if the principle of local distribution and enjoyment of endowments and tithes is sound, then the Church in its present exclusive possession 430 of endowments is doomed, I fear, to the perpetual exhibition of a painful anomaly. For what can be a greater anomaly than that of a clergy appointed to do the work of shepherds of souls, while in many parishes of Connaught and Munster their flocks are to be reckoned, not by tens, but by units, thus presenting a most painful contrast—painful to every feeling mind, painful, I am convinced, to those clergy themselves—the contrast between the actual state of things and a National church endowed for the spiritual wants of the country. The hon. Gentleman in his argument, I am bound to say, has not maintained the proposition that tithes are the property of the landlord. But that is a proposition that is commonly advanced. It is a proposition commonly maintained, that tithes are not paid by the cultivator of the soil, but are paid by the landlord, and therefore that entitles the tithes to be applied exclusively to the maintenance of the system which, in the great majority of cases, is the religion of the landlord. But I apprehend it to be perfectly clear that tithes while not the property of the agriculturalists are not the property of the landlord either, but that they are property subject to restraint and conditions, and for the right disposal of which the country and the Legislature of the country are responsible, and which considered as property, undoubtedly, if their hands were free, in any new case it would be their duty to apply for the spiritual benefit of the largest and the neediest portion of the community. All this appears to me to indicate in the present position of the Church of Ireland inherent elements which show that her difficulties cannot be surmounted by the wisdom of her rulers or by the piety and devotion of her clergy, but that they are essential elements of a false position. All this I say without in the slightest degree being able to point out, any more than hon. Gentlemen who have preceded me have pointed out, what ought to be done with respect to the Church of Ireland. I have spoken entirely with reference to her present position as the exclusive possessor of the largest endowments of the country, and I confess I am obliged to come to the conclusion to which the argument of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hardy) seems to me to lead, that this is an unsatisfactory state of things. My hon. Friend says that this unsatisfactory state of things calls for the early attention of the Government. What 431 is the meaning of these words? Now, we cannot take exception to them on the ground that they are obscure. No doubt the meaning of the first part of the Resolution may be obscure, for, of course, we are to read it according to its words, and not according to the speech of my hon. Friend; but there can be no doubt as to the meaning of the second part. It clearly says that within a very short period—if not in the dying days of this Parliament—the executive Government of the country ought to grapple with these anomalies and inequalities which subsist in the ecclesiastial state of Ireland, and propose a measure for the purpose of settling them. Is that so? What are the circumstances which determine the duty of a Government to grapple with a great national question of first-rate difficulty and importance? The hon. Member who preceded me stated, I think with great force, the many difficulties which we have here to encounter. But, above all, I dwell upon this fact, that neither the hon. Member who moved the Resolution nor the hon. Member for Tralee, who seconded it, while they described the existing evils in terms of a sufficiently strong nature, pointed out a remedy. The whole question is, what is the remedy? I must say, I thought there was the greatest force in what fell from the hon. Member for Leominster when he came to discuss the nature of the remedy. We no sooner come to look upon this question practically than we light upon a whole nest of problems of the utmost political difficulty. This is a subject not to be dealt with in schools or in the closets of philosophers. It is not to be dealt with in the debating societies of politicians. Abstract justice, irrespective of the circumstances of men, might dictate the adoption of measures which, upon the whole, would form, perhaps, as near an approximation of what was fair and equitable as human nature would permit us to adopt; but we live in a country where the course of policy is to be determined by the actual feelings of the country itself. And what are the circumstances under which the Government is to undertake the settlement of the question? Look at the success of those who have gone before us. The earliest dealing with this question was at the period of the Union, when it was the enlightened intention of Mr. Pitt to retain the Established Church in the possession of her privileges and 432 endowments, but to make suitable provision for the Roman Catholic clergy by the side of that Established Church. I cannot concur in the censures which have been passed on Mr. Pitt for the non-fulfilment of that intention. Why did he fail? Because it was beyond his power, because the views represented in the opinions of King George III., who both in his virtues and his errors was a king eminently national, and who represented the convictions of his countrymen—the views I say, of which King George was the centre, were too strong for Mr. Pitt to overcome. At a subsequent period the House of Commons showed its disposition to adopt mild and healing measures—without any interference with the temporal privileges of the Established Church—supplying a provision for the Roman Catholic clergy. But these propositions never received the sanction of Parliament, and it is fair to add that if they failed it was not on account of an opposition such as might, perhaps, have been expected from the vast bulk of those who opposed the concession of privileges to the Roman Catholics. Do not let us forget that we are not dealing with a question of money alone. The endowment of a church is undoubtedly accompanied with restraints—I will not say with burdens—and to those restraints objections have been made by the Roman Catholic clergy, and a doubt has arisen, and is gathering strength from year to year, as to the propriety of accepting any such endowment accompanied by its restraints. Nay, if we are rightly informed, these doubts have reached such a point that the Roman Catholic clergy not only do not desire but would reject and repudiate any share in the endowment of their Church. What, then, is a Government to do with respect to this question? My hon. Friend will not tell me that it will be consistent with the duty of the Government to frame a Bill and throw it on the table to take its chance, and say, "We have done our part; the responsibility rests with the House." That is not the mode in which we should proceed with such a question. But where are the materials with which my hon. Friend would proceed to work? I suppose him to be in the position of the Government, and to have introduced his Bill. What support does he think he would receive? Would the Presbyterians of Scotland readily support a measure which transferred the endowments 433 of Ireland to the Roman Catholic Clergy? Does he think the Nonconformists of England would support him? Were he on the Treasury Bench, what support does he think such a project would receive with the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Had-field) at his post? But it may be said there is another mode of proceeding: you may transfer these endowments from religious to secular purposes. I am bound to say that, in my belief, the mind of the country is against such a project, and I think my hon. Friend would find this a more difficult proposal still. Could he, by the force of his own influence and authority, undertake to heal all these wounds, and solve all these difficulties? He must have men, he must have representatives of the people, he must have the people out of doors. On what plan, by what mode of proceeding, does he expect to be able to unite such a force of public opinion as would enable him, I do not say to pursue this or that particular method of dealing with the question, but to substitute for the present state of things another which would be essentially better? But if he is not prepared to assist us to materials, I confidently expect his assent to my next proposition. Surely it is not consistent with the first elements of the duty of a Government to promote the agitation of a question in this country, and to rake up all the embers of former animosities. [An hon. MEMBER here made an observation across the table which did not reach the Galley.] What I am doing I can assure the hon. Member is simply performing my duty as a Member of this House, very imperfectly, no doubt, and giving my opinion on the Motion before us in common with other Gentlemen, and in such a manner, I hope, as does not offend the personal feelings of anyone. It is a serious thing for Governments to deal lightly with such questions. We are not without lessons from the history both of this and other questions of the same sort within the last twenty years. This question was taken up in 1834 and 1835 by the Liberal party of this country, then possessed of an ascendancy—the remains of the great triumph of the Reform Bill—such, perhaps, as it has enjoyed at no other period. Frankly, I must say, looking back to the proceedings of those days, and endeavouring to form an impartial judgment upon them, the Liberal party boldly cast in its lot with the fortunes of this question and with the feelings of the Irish, people, and 434 well and stoutly was the battle fought. But the result tended seriously to damage the power and strength of the Liberal party in this country. I do not say that that is a reason why the question should not be taken up; but the remembrance of one great repulse and of one signal defeat, for such it was, after a campaign of several years, is a serious warning to those who might be disposed prematurely to revive this question. The first question for a Government is whether what they can do will tend to the good of the people over whose interests they are in an especial manner appointed to watch. The answer to that question must govern their conduct; and it will not do for a Government to shape their conduct according to anything extraneous to that answer. If they could see their way with reasonable probability to the attainment of a satisfactory end it would be their duty to grapple with all the difficulties of the case. It would be their duty to consider—whether surplus or no surplus—what obligations of the Act of Union remain to be fulfilled, and how they ought to be performed. It would be their duty to consider whether in the event of any change, any modification, in the Established Church, the property of that Church ought to be applied in one way or another. But it is not their duty to consider these questions at all—it is not their duty to propagate one opinion or another on the subject, unless they see their way, by casting their influence into the scale, to bring about a state of things in consonance with the general principles of justice, the welfare of the whole community, and particularly with the feelings and happiness of the people of Ireland. The dictates of propriety and good sense must govern the proceedings of any Administration which means to do its duty to the country. These principles must govern us on this occasion, whether or not we may be able to deny the proposition of the hon. Gentleman with reference to the position of the Irish Church; and I, for one, am not able to deny it. We, therefore, feel that we ought to decline to follow him into the lobby, and declare that it is the duty of the Government to give their early attention to the subject; because, if we gave a vote to that effect, we should be committing one of the gravest offences of which a Government could be guilty—namely, giving a deliberate, a solemn, promise to the country, which promise it would be out of our power to fulfil.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
Sir, the speech which the right hon. Gentleman has just delivered was well deserving of our undivided attention. But there were one or two observations made by the hon. Gentleman who introduced this question, and one or two assertions made by him which I think demand our special notice. Now, the form and words of the hon. Gentleman's Resolution are of no importance whatever. The real object which we have, is to discover what is the purpose of the hon. Gentleman in making this Motion. The terms of this Motion, made from time to time, varied according to the failing fortunes of his party. A few years ago, on a summer night, I heard a Gentleman who then represented Rochdale (Mr. Edward Miall) make a Motion in a speech to which I listened with great interest, never having heard before the opinions of the English Puritan so thoroughly represented in Parliament. I was informed that the Gentleman in question was a leading Nonconformist in this country. He spoke with great calmness, and apparently with an air of philosophic candour. He temperately disposed of the Irish Church by consigning it to the Incumbered Estates Court to be 6old by auction, and proposed to appropriate the funds arising from it to the erection of lunatic asylums or some kindred establishments. Now that was the notion of the hon. Gentleman; and the question then arose as to who ought to be the first inmate of the lunatic asylum so to be erected. But there was a remarkable sentence, though a short one, uttered at the end of his revolutionary speech, to which I wish to call the attention of the House. When the hon. Gentleman had thus disposed of the Irish Church property, the glebes, its lands, and tithe rents, one question still remained for solution. What was to be done with the sacred edifices? The hon. Gentleman, in the spirit of a Christian, concluded his speech by saying perhaps the most satisfactory arrangement that could be made in regard to the sacred edifices would be to leave them to the believers in the Church. Now, among those who supported the Motion of the hon. Gentleman to whom I am referring, I find the name "Mr. Dillwyn." The hon. Member now brings forward a Motion which attacks in terms as indefinite as the Chancellor of the Exchequer could desire the Church of England in Ireland. There is certainly no peculiar point or meaning 436 to be attached to the Motion if it is only to be interpreted by the hon. Gentleman's language this evening; but if we interpret it by the vote which he gave on this question on the occasion to which I have referred, it means the spoliation and destruction of the Established Church in Ireland; with some doubt whether he would allow the Protestants in that country even one sacred edifice in which to worship. Soon after the hon. Gentleman who had represented Rochdale had made his speech upon this question I received a letter from a gentleman residing in Rochdale—the vicar of that place—with whom I was not then acquainted, but who intimated the opinion that that same hon. Member would not be allowed to repeat, in Parliament the speech which he had then made as Member for Rochdale. I doubt very much if the sagacious Gentleman who now represents Rochdale (Mr. Cobden) would deliver a speech in the revolutionary strain of the Gentleman whom he has succeeded. I have heard to-night the hon. Member for Swansea use the words spiritual corruption in the fact of a certain bishop appointing his own son or nephew rector of a parish in his diocese. Now, when the hon. Gentleman gives way to feelings of such virtuous indignation at such nepotism, I beg of him to expand his political vision, and to look around him at the conduct of certain Judges and Chancellors, to whom he gives his political support, before he begins to moralize in an affected tone of hypocritical lamentation upon the corruption of the Church in Ireland. The hon. Gentleman has been very properly rebuked by the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary, when he presumed to disparage the character of the late Primate of Ireland, and to speak of the enormous wealth of that eminent dignitary. Ah! but which of the nobility and gentry has disposed of their large incomes as well as he has done? In every action of his virtuous life he displayed a consciousness of his being answerable to a Higher Power, and in the performance of works of munificent charity, piety, and zeal, he spent a long and honoured life. When at length he had gone to receive his final reward his remains were followed by 600 gentlemen, amongst whom walked the head of the Church of Rome in Ireland as well of the head of the Church in Scotland in that country, who thus testified a respect to the Primate's memory in which I am afraid the hon. Member would not join. The 437 hon. Member for Swansea also said that various Resolutions upon this subject have been passed from time to time; nevertheless, nothing had ever been done to relieve the Roman Catholics of Ireland in regard to the property of the Church. Observe, it is immaterial for the purpose of my argument, but, I ask, is it true to say that the abolition of church rates was nothing, that the Church Temporalities Act was nothing, that the abolition of Church cess was nothing? Was it an accurate statement that the abolition of ministers' money was no relief to the Irish Catholics, particularly to those who resided in the South of Ireland? I remember quitting this House with a Roman Catholic gentleman on the night that the question of ministers' money was settled, when he said to me, "Your party seem angry with the Vote of to-night; but if you were wise you would rather rejoice, for this is the last practical grievance we can complain of before Parliament." Well, all these measures have been passed for the benefit of the Roman Catholics. The tithe has been changed into a rent-charge, and the burden has thus been shifted from the tenant to the landlord. The landlords certainly obtained a bonus, but I am happy to say that many of them have declined to accept of the 25 per cent, considering that it is too much for a collection that is so very easy. The University of Dublin refuses to receive it. Now, as to the Church lands, what cause of complaint have you? If there were a tenant of the Church lands outside the door, he would say to the hon. Gentleman, "I implore you to hold your tongues, for we are as happy as we could desire to be." They heard of Irish grievances—of landlords exterminating their tenants—of the want of tenant-right—of the difficulty of purchasing land in Ireland—and of the impossibility of the people obtaining leases. But the bishops have adopted a custom of renewing the leases of their tenants, which now amounts to an equitable title, and they enable the occupiers of the land to purchase ultimately the fee simple of their holdings through the medium of the Church Temporalities Act. More than two-thirds of the tenants of the Church in Ireland have succeeded in purchasing the fee simple of their land. The remainder will, no doubt, follow in course of time the good example set them, and then, indeed, I suppose you will have a political grievance to complain of—namely, 438 that the tenants of the Church lands are more comfortable, happy, and more prosperous than the tenants of any other landed proprietor in Ireland. And this is the case for immediate legislation—to relieve the suffering" tenants of Ireland! But to come to the principle of the Motion. Is it, I ask, true to say that nothing has been done for the Roman Catholics in Ireland? The Irish Parliament gave the munificent sum of £8,000 a year to the College of Maynooth, when the population of Ireland amounted to 8,000,000. The English Parliament gives £30,000 to the same institution, when the population is scarcely more than 5,000,000. The late celebrated Dr. Doyle merely asked for a grant of £25,000 a year for schools in Ireland. The British Government grants £300,000 a year for the education of the Irish youth, £240,000 of which sum, according to the Secretary of the Colonies (Mr. Cardwell), goes exclusively for the benefit of the Roman Catholics. The Roman Catholics are now permitted to send their chaplains into the workhouses, the army, and the prisons; and I venture to say, that since the Union the British Parliament has given no less than £300,000 a year to those who never had a single shilling before. Is it, then, true to say that nothing has been done for the Roman Catholics of Ireland? The hon. Member for Swansea said that the Motion of the hon. Member for Poole was merely one for a re-arrangement, but that his was for restitution. Restitution for what? restitution to whom? Now, if the hon. Gentleman's argument is at all intelligible, it means the spoliation of the Church and the handing over the plunder to those to whom it never belonged, and who never had any equitable or legal title to it. Then the hon. Gentleman is not satisfied with having given his own views upon Church property, but he actually ascended into a question of a spiritual character. I should not be surprised if Roman Catholics and Protestants combined to attack him. He says, speaking of the Roman Catholic Church, this is the Church which first took root in Ireland. The hon. Gentlemen has made the discovery that the Island of Saints was only Christianized in 1106. Now if the other arguments of the hon. Gentleman were equally true and applicable, he would be a most valuable instructor to us all. I hope, however, that the hon. Gentleman will do me the favour of reading the writings of some of my con- 439 stituents in the Irish language; for example, the Confession, or the Hymns of St. Patrick, which he will find in the library of this House. The hon. Gentleman, after perusing such works, would soon find what the old creeds of the old Catholic Church of Ireland were. We venerate that Church whilst speaking of it; and I can tell the hon. Gentleman that the last act of that same Primate, of whose character he spoke with such levity, was to dedicate a sum of money to the translation of the celebrated Book of Armagh, which was written in the Irish tongue in the 6th century, and which begins with a pure version of the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, for the instruction of those who, according to the hon. Gentleman's peculiar notions of history, never heard of Christianity until the commencement of the 12th century. Our arguments with regard to the Established Church are not to be forgotten, though I do not say it touches the question. Speaking of that Church with respect and veneration, as an ancient, primitive, and Apostolic Church, our argument is that every record that is brought to light and translated and published to the world, shows that the Church of England, as it now exists, does maintain the ancient truth as held by that Church. You may tell me that other things have since been developed; but we reject the theory of development and stand on our ancient faith. In reply to the arguments of the secession of the bishops—I listened to them in silence—I say that the bishops who sat in the House of Lords in Elizabeth's time were confessed and admitted to be the ancient Catholic Bishops of Ireland. They were learned men—well taught in their own profession—they believed in the changes that were then made, and I have a right to argue that those changes were consistent with the ancient primitive Catholic faith in Ireland. I believe that with the exception of one they adopted the change of faith, and sat in the House of Lords in Ireland to their lives end. Dr. Trench is the direct successor of that Archbishop of Dublin who witnessed the signature of the Charter at Runnymede by King John. Archbishop Wauchob, who was put into the picture of the Council of Trent, was no more the Archbishop of Armagh than I am. He was never in possession of the See, having merely been appointed in Rome as all antiquarians well know; but he was put in the show— 440 he was the representative at the Council. It was Dowdall who was the real Primate of Armagh, recognized as such by Queen Mary, and who sat as such in the House of Lords. The next time the hon. Member for Swansea makes a speech on the subject of the Irish Church I hope he will remember that our Christianity began before the 12th century. The hon. Member also says that many petitions have been presented in reference to the Established Church; and that brings me to a very important part of the subject—namely, to consider what has originated the present Motion. I certainly expected to have seen to-night the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) in his place, and I am grievously disappointed to find that he is not here to maintain in fair and manly debate the opinion which he propounds in letters to the chief magistrate of Dublin stimulating him to form with a Liberal party in this country—it is a mistake to believe in its existence—a combination, I might call it a confederation, to attack the established institutions of the country. Why is he not here, I ask, to maintain his views? He has recently written—that which I presume has led to the petitions spoken of by the hon. Member for Swansea—as remarkable a letter as ever was penned, in which he says, that if the Lord Mayor of Dublin and the people of that country were to join a certain Liberal party in this country, they will all act together for the destruction of the law of primogeniture and the Established Church. That was a very natural and logical course for the hon. Member for Birmingham to take, and if I held the same opinions as he does I would do the same thing, because an Established Church and pure democracy cannot co-exist. Therefore if I were the advocate of pure democracy, I would argue exactly as he has done, and say that, "As I do not look with approval upon the order of knighthood or nobility I will get rid of an Established Church, which is a standing opposition to the principle which I maintain. I must clear her out of the way in order to overthrow the law of primogeniture, and establish a new Constitution in England which may he manufactured in Birmingham but is never heard of elsewhere." This reads us an important lesson, as it shows us how the Church is bound up with the property of the country, and how we ought to understand, as the friends of the Established Church, our duty towards her as her 441 enemies know theirs when they attack the Established Church and the property of the country, under no matter what form of words. If we respect these two Institutions, it is our duty to resist this movement, no matter under what pretence, or under what excuse, or under what sophistry these attacks are covered or made. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Swansea concluded his speech without any plain or distinct idea of what he would suggest to the House to do. Having left us in the dark—not having said anything tangible on the real point he had to deal with—he east it on Her Majesty's Government to find out what ought to be done, and they have placed the important duty of suggesting what ought to be done upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has made as satisfactory a speech upon the subject as it was possible to imagine that he could deliver. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department has made a very manly and honourable statement, and I entirely agree in what he has said—namely, that to agree to the Motion in the sense of the Mover, it would directly tend to civil confusion—to the excitement of the worst feelings and passions in Ireland, and to the general disturbance of the country. Now, I believe that is as accurate a description of the consequences that would ensue from our carrying this Motion in the sense in which it is made as it is possible to conceive, and I think it reflects credit upon the right hon. Baronet that, entertaining that opinion, he has had the candour and the manliness to speak it in language that we can understand, and not to spoil it by hypocritical mystification. I thank the right hon. Baronet for having spoken the sense of the Government, for we ought to have some expression of opinion upon questions which touch the fundamental institutions of the country, and I take leave to say that when these institutions are in danger, if they have no established policy, no profound principles, or convictions upon such questions, they are not to be supplied by eloquence, however great, or ability however splendid. Those abilities might captivate and deceive, and that eloquence might mislead and delude, and nothing will atone for the want of clear and settled principles when great questions of this kind come directly before the House, and are in contest. I turn at once to the speech of the right hon. Gen- 442 tleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I ask the House to consider it and to ask themselves this question, what was the right hon. Gentleman's motive in making that extraordinary speech? The right hon. Gentleman censured my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster for saying that the condition of the Established Church in Ireland was not satisfactory. Now, my hon. Friend did not say it in the terms and in the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman has supposed; but I put the question to the right hon. Gentleman, is the Church in England satisfactory—is it satisfactory in London? What does the Bishop of London say upon that subject? Is it satisfactory in many of the parishes throughout the country? Is it satisfactory in Wales? Did not the gentleman who addressed an after-dinner assemblage at Swansea, given in honour of the county Member in proposing the health of the borough Member, state that as soon as the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Dillwyn) has disposed of the Established Church in Ireland he would be the better able to attack the Established Church in Wales? I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the Established Church in Wales is satisfactory? I demand, is it the proper mode of dealing with a great institution which is linked to the monarchy and planted in the soil—which is the mainstay of the monarchy, as I firmly believe—is it, I demand, the proper mode of dealing with the Established Church in this country to ask, as the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer commenced his speech by asking, whether the condition of the Established Church was satisfactory? Why, the condition of the Christian Church is scarcely satisfactory in any part of the world. It has still to contend against the vice, the follies, and the sins of mankind; and if it is sometimes baffled and defeated, he does not show himself, in my judgment, an exalted champion of the Established Church who relies on its comparative failure for its abolition. The right hon. Gentleman says that he votes for the first part of the Motion. The last time I had occasion to offer a feeble reply to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman it was on the subject of Parliamentary Reform. The right hon. Gentleman on that occasion made a speech in favour of the Motion of the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines), but he made it in such a manner—with so 443 many profuse safeguards and involutions—that the hon. Member, who expected his support, found at the conclusion of the speech that the right hon. Gentleman meant nothing practical. It appeared to me then, and I am confirmed in the opinion by his speech to-night, that his object was to lay the foundation of another scheme, a policy of another and not very distant day, when he might be able to say the time had come, and a change of feeling had been provoked out of doors that would enable him to do then what he fears to attempt to do now. This question the right hon. Gentleman says is not for the present but for the future, and the House will observe that principle, that conviction, has nothing to do with the matter. It is not for the present but for the future. Now what does that mean? "A speech has been delivered by the Secretary of State for the Home Department with which I cannot agree; it must be qualified, it must be explained away and evaded, and the best way to evade an honest policy such as that of the right hon. Baronet is to say that the time has not yet come when I can with safety sever the Irish from the English Church, and call upon the Protestants of Ireland to be loyal, dutiful, and respectful when Parliament shall be found insensible to the obligations which past Parliaments have incurred, and, forgetful of their duty as statesmen and men of honour, adopt the part of political swindlers." I shall not allow the right hon. Gentleman to escape by his argument upon the Act of Union. He shall not mention the names of Pitt and Castlereagh, and imagine that he can shuffle out of a great statute like that by such evasions and quibbles as he has resorted to to-night. Fundamental Acts of the Legislature are not to be got rid of in that manner any more than the fundamental institutions of the Empire are to be placed in danger, not indeed by any present Act, not by any present Motion, but by laying the foundation and sowing the seeds of that future policy which will be adopted when the noble Viscount is no longer at the head of the Government to restrain or to direct it. The right hon. Gentleman says that he cannot negative the first part of the Resolution. It seems to me to be the infirmity of a gifted mind such as he possesses to be unable, when a direct question is submitted to his understanding, to take a direct course in regard to it. He cannot deny 444 the Resolution, and the only way to act is to divide it into two halves, and having separated it into parts to say, "The first part of that Resolution will enable me to make a speech in which I can indicate a policy upon which I do not intend to act now, and I will resist the last part of it because I have no plan, because I have nothing to suggest. What is a Member of the Government to do under such circumstances except what I have done, to make as mischievous a speech as is possible. That I think is the course I ought to take." I am not complaining of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Resolution and his friends who are conscientiously opposed to the existence of an Established Church, but I do complain of a Minister who, himself the author of a book in defence of Church and State, when one branch of the Christian Church is attacked and in danger, delivers a speech every word of which is hostile to its existence when the right time comes for attacking it. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to make a statement as to the property of the Church. Was that honest? In the calculation which he gave he seemed to me to have included only the members of the Church in Ireland, but in England every parishioner and all the Dissenting body. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: No, no!] I think you did. That is my opinion. If it was worth my while to detain the House I could show by documents before me that the right hon. Gentleman has enormously exaggerated the property of the Church in Ireland. And why did he do so? Was it not for the purpose of exciting feelings against the Church? Was it in favour of the Church? Was it to protect it? Was it to preserve it? Was it not to draw by the hand of a master a picture of the poverty of the country and the wealth of the Church, and to leave for future consideration what should be done with the institution which, according to the terms of the speech, was condemned? I ask any one to consider what was the meaning of the picture which the right hon. Gentleman drew of the two provinces of Munster and Connaught. His argument, if I understand it, means this:—"The property there reserved for the Church is far beyond its necessities. It is far beyond the wants of the Church in that quarter. That being so, what are we to do with it? It is impossible for me to suggest what should be done with that property. That I leave to the councils of the future. I may 445 hereafter be called upon to say what is to be done with it, but I wish that my speech should be on record in Hansard,showing that my argument was that that property may be abstracted from the Church for some purpose or other, either for the Roman Catholic Church or for some other object; but it is not to remain the property of the Church." If the argument did not mean that, what did it mean? I have from the Bishop of Cork and his chaplain an account of that diocese—which I cannot stop to read—very different from that which the right hon. Gentleman has given—an account of churches built, of flourishing congregations, and of the restoration of the ancient cathedral, partly by the piety and munificence of those attached to the Church and partly by aid obtained from other quarters. Take, too, the case of Connaught. I have from Lord Plunket's son and chaplain an account of that diocese directly contrary to that which the right hon. Gentleman has given. There are now flourishing congregations where formerly there were none; there are twice the number of clergymen and three times the number of churches. "How many," said the right hon. Gentleman, "are there of one persuasion and how many of another?" A great statesman said formerly that it was an evil day for mankind when questions of government and policy were to be decided by a majority told by the head. The men who do most good in Connaught and Munster; the men who are most active there—and I have heard Mr. Guinness describe the people as honest, faithful, and docile—would not go there if they could not enjoy the ministrations of a Christian Church. Abolish the Church, and all the men who are most useful, all the men who stimulate and reward industry would quit the country where they were not allowed that worship. ["Oh! oh!"] You say, "No;" I say, "Yes." The question is, how is it to be proved? I venture to say that I know more of the feeling of these gentlemen than you do. Enlightened men may smile at the notion of persons being regardful of the ministries of the Christian Church, but you know nothing of the Protestants of Ireland if you think that this is a matter of indifference to them. This argument as to the property of the Church, coming from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, fills me with amazement. The Attorney General sits near him; I should like to know whether he will endorse it. The Church 446 is a corporation, and its property is vested in it as such. It got that property by no Act of Parliament. It got it at a period anterior to any Act of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman is under the delusion, which has been participated in by many, that the property of the Church was spoliated from Rome. I will not open this book (holding a volume in his hand), but it contains the Patent Rolls published under the direction of the Master of the Rolls, and any Gentleman who looks at it will see in Ulster, for instance, estate after estate given to the Church upon condition that they should be enclosed, planted, and built upon. They have been enclosed, planted, and built upon. They have been possessed for 300 years, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer seeks about for arguments to cast doubts upon such a title as that. That is not all. It is true that the fortunes of the Church in Ireland went with the monarchy. As Queen Elizabeth passed through Cheap-side the Lord Mayor presented her with a Bible. It was the principles of that book that she undertook to uphold, and those are the principles which the. Church of Ireland has upheld since. If that policy was a mistake then the great councillors, the famous lawyers and the wise statesmen of that reign were all wrong when they endeavoured to extend to Ireland the institutions of this country, and to plant among that people a Church with a sufficient number of laymen, who might by their industry and energy maintain and support it. At a period when Ireland was saturated with blood, and her plains were turned into a wilderness, the Institutions of England, and among them the English Church, were planted on the Irish soil, and is it fair to ask that those institutions should now be destroyed? I grapple with those who say that the Protestants have not accomplished their object. Who built the towns in Ulster? The Protestants. Who established manufactures there? They did, and while there were only about fifty Protestants in the Province. There are nearly a million now. There is not a Protestant sect in Ireland which wishes to overthrow the Irish Church. Do you, let me ask, imagine that the Wesleyan Methodists, or the members of the Church of Scotland, who side by side fought in the same breach, will turn against her to accomplish the designs of a few Scotch Radicals and English voluntaries? The right hon. Gentleman opposite does not 447 understand the feelings of those against whom this Motion is pointed. Whom does this flourishing Province of Ulster return to Parliament? Why, thirty Members, some of whom have sat in Parliament for two centuries. If hon. Gentlemen will read the list of representatives for Fermanagh in Parliament in the days of Oliver Cromwell they will find that it was then represented by Mr. John Cole, and Mr. John Cole is sitting here now. It is well you should understand that the principles and convictions which prevailed in that province in the reign of Elizabeth and James I. exist there still, and that on the day upon which the Church of the Protestants in Ireland is struck down the men by whom those convictions are maintained will be likely to become your deadly enemies. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says the argument derived from the Union is nothing, and has come to the conclusion that the Government of which he is a shining ornament can do nothing but sit where they are. But, says the right hon. Gentleman, "the time will come when your patience shall be rewarded if I can only induce you now to believe my mystical speech." That is the way in which I understand his argument; but what, I would ask, does he think of the Act of Settlement? When Charles II. was restored that great fundamental statute provided that the property of the Church, alienated from it in times of violence and confusion, should be restored. That was accordingly done, and I should like, therefore, to know how that Act of Parliament which settled the property of private individuals—including many of the highest of the Roman Catholic nobility and gentry, the Plunkets, the Gormanstowns, and the Taafes—as well as of the Church, is to be disposed of. But passing over the Act of Settlement we come to the Act of Union. I am not here to say what were the intentions of Mr. Pitt at that period. But it is well known that the influential Roman Catholics, more particularly the bishops, privately supported the proposal. Lord Castlereagh, in introducing that measure, pledged the faith of England to the principle that if Ireland assented to the Union there should be one law and one Church for both countries, and that there could be no question of a numerical majority against the Church, because, after the passing of the Union there would be only one Church, and that the members in the whole United Kingdom should be regarded 448 as being in a vast majority in favour of its protection. That principle is embodied in the fifth article of the Act of Union, which is declared to be fundamental, and Lord Lyndhurst, in speaking of it in a judicial judgment, pronounced it to be fundamental between the two nations. Yet we are told that it is in the power of the majority to overthrow this article of the Union. Now, all that I have to say to you is that the day you do so the Union is at an end. The evidence of Dr. Doyle went to show that, even according to the maxims of the Church of Rome itself, it would be impossible to meddle with the property of the Established Church thus settled, and the whole body of the Roman Catholic bishops signed a declaration to the same effect. That was the opinion of Mr. Blake, a distinguished Roman Catholic gentleman, and a friend of Lord Wellesley. I may also remind you that it was maintained by an eminent economist, who was at that time attached to the College of Maynooth, that according to the Roman canon law the Irish Church had acquired an indefeasible right to the property which it held. We now, however, gather from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the whole question is to be re-opened, and that not for the purpose of carrying out any definite plan, but of encouraging all that mischief which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department so graphically described. The speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is, I may add, calculated to separate him from the policy of the noble Viscount at the head of the Government, who stated in his conclusive reply to the Motion of Mr. Miall, to which I have already referred, in a manner worthy of the name he bears—for Sir James Temple was one of those who supported the Act which secured its property to the Church—that upon this question we must do with the Church property in England as in Ireland, and that that property cannot be diverted from the great purposes for which it was originally designed. I have no doubt the noble Lord will vindicate his consistency in this matter, and will not be induced to express approval of the ambiguous policy enunciated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It would be far more useful, far more beneficial for the Government to say plainly and unequivocally what they would do than to cause a question of this kind to agitate and vex the minds and feelings of all classes of the people of Ireland. The 449 speech of the right hon. Gentleman was calculated to produce those results, but its effect was no doubt counteracted to some extent by the speech of the Secretary for the Home Department; and I have no doubt that the noble Viscount, if he speaks, will maintain the principles he has ever expressed, and will not prove himself capable of being acted upon by the fascinating influence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This is a very plain and easy question, touching the fundamental institutions of the Empire. My argument is based, not upon the numbers we may happen to have in any parish—though we have a greater number in most of the parishes now than at any former period—my argument is that the property of the Church belongs to it as an ancient corporation, linked with the Crown and linked with the peerage in the common bond of our free Constitution. And I trust sincerely that this Church, the United Church—one and the same, indivisible—in England and Ireland may long continue endeared to the affections and cherished in the hearts of the people.
MR. GRANT DUFF
said, from the bottom of my heart I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea. If he does not carry his Motion, if he does not gain the present, he has, at least, gained the future. This debate will become historical, for in the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer I see the beginning of the end of the great Irish difficulty. The Chancellor of the Exchequer quite misconceived the object of my hon. Friend. His Motion points not at a Bill, but at an inquiry, and all the arguments directed against him on the supposition that he wished Government immediately to lay a measure upon the table are beside the mark. Turning, however, from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who substantially agrees with us, I address myself to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. The right hon. Gentleman called up the Union spectre, and alluded more especially to the 5th article. But, as has been pertinently asked—is the 5th article of the Union more sacred than the 4th? can it be so sacred, for did not the 4th article settle the proportion of power to be exercised by the two contracting parties in the Councils of the Empire? Well, then, has not the 4th article been altered? Did not the Tory predecessors of the right hon. Gentleman acquiesce in that altera- 450 tion. Nay, did not they try to alter it more than it was altered? But, really, is it possible for any sane man to maintain the theory of the Union on which the right hon. Gentleman's argument is based? It is idle to argue against such a wild dream as this. The Union exists for the United Kingdom, not the United Kingdom for the Union. There must be somewhere a supreme authority, if mere force is not to decide all questions in the last resort, and overall our national affairs Parliament is necessarily omnipotent. This exaggerated veneration for the Irish Union sounds strange in the ears of a Scotchman when he remembers how the Scottish Union fared. How? Is it possible to maintain that the temporalities of the Irish Church were considered more sacred at the time of the union with Ireland than the heritable jurisdictions at the time of the union with Scotland? And did not the heritable jurisdictions go the same road that we hope to see the Irish Establishment go? There are two views with regard to this institution prevailing amongst its adherents and friends. The one party thinks that it is to some extent at least a missionary Church; the other thinks that it has no missionary duties, but exists for the promotion of the religious weal of its own people. Well, let us accept the view that the Irish Church is a missionary Church. How has she succeeded in her missionary enterprises? This champion of Protestantism may boast that, at the end of three centuries of existence, she has created about 4½ millions of the most determined Catholics in the world. If you compare the Catholicism of Ireland with that of France, or even of Spain, you will find one great difference. The educated class in France sits very lightly by its Catholicism, and vast numbers of persons who make "a good end," as the phrase is, are Catholics merely in name. Even in Spain, where the exterior duties of religion are more practised, you will find below the surface an extraordinary amount of indif-ferentism. How is it, then, that Ireland is in a different position, and that the Catholicism of her educated class is so earnest as to be almost aggressive? It is simply because the sagacity of English statesmen took care that, even after the penal laws were abolished, there should remain one grievance, which should fulfil the proverbial functions of a moderate persecution in stimulating religious zeal. 451 But remember, that even this precious result, in bringing about which so many millions of public money have been sunk, has not been attained by the mere action of the Irish Church. She has had at her back an immense host of supporters in England who have supplemented her efforts by largesses of the most splendid kind. You have the Hibernian Bible Society, and the Irish Evangelical Society, and the Scriptures Readers' Society, and the Church Education Society, and the Irish Society, and the Irish Church Missions, and I know not how many others. And all this good money, and good enthusiasm has done, what? It has helped the Irish Church to make the Irish masses more Catholic than the Castiles. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Irish Church had taken for its ensign an open Bible. How could he make so astounding an assertion, when he knew as well as I do that the Irish Church allowed 120 years to pass by before she translated the Bible into the Irish language? And when the Bible was translated, by whom was it done? Was it by one of the wealthy prelates of whom we have heard in this debate? Was it by a Church dignitary? Not at all. The good work was done at the expense of a layman. Now, let us look at the Irish Establishment, not in its missionary capacity, but as existing for the benefit of its own adherents. Does it present those features which enlightened persons who conscientiously support Established Churches look for in institutions of that kind. First, then, is it a useful engine in the support of order by conciliating to the State the affections of the great body of the people? Far from it. It is the Church of 11 per cent only of the population; and it is the Church almost exclusively of those sections of the population which are, by their own interests, already attached to the existing order of things. Secondly, does it supply religious consolation to those classes on whom voluntary contributions in support of their teachers fall most heavily? By no means; it is the Church of the great landowners, the bankers, the merchants. It is, so far as I know, the only Church in Christendom of which it has been truly said that it takes for its motto, "I fill the rich, and the poor I send empty away." Thirdly, does the enormous apparatus for the religious instruction of the few produce any proportionate results? I submit that there is not a tittle of evidence that there 452 is a greater percentage of virtue amongst the members of the Irish Church than amongst the adherents of any of the English or Scotch Protestant Dissenting bodies. Again, the Irish Church is, and ever has been, remarkable for the scantiness of its learning. How few Irish clergymen at this moment whose names have ever crossed St. George's Channel, and there are still fewer which have crossed the Straits of Dover. Perhaps those who have done most for learning, amongst living Irish ecclesiastics, are antiquarians like Dr. Reeves and Dr. Todd, of whom I wish to speak with the greatest respect. But the merits of a handful of men cannot be allowed to outweigh the shortcomings of so large a body. Again, the Church of Ireland contrasts very unfavourably with the Church of England in the production of men of exemplary and exceptional piety—like George Herbert. I am quite ready to let our opponents make the most of the fact that the Roman Catholic population has decreased in the last thirty years by nearly two millions. They have fallen from 6,430,000 to 4,500,000. They are welcome, I say, to make the best of this, and to go through all those pretty juggling tricks with figures, of which figures are always susceptible. The broad, hopeless fact still continues, that the disproportion between the two sects is perfectly enormous, and that there is not the slightest chance of any change being worked in it, by any of the ordinary or extraordinary agencies known to history, during the next hundred years. The case to be made out for the Church from the population returns may be now a little better, now a little worse, but it can never be good enough to merit serious consideration from men who are not blinded by prejudice. The statistics of this subject have, however, been so much ventilated in this debate that I will say no more about them. During the last 300 years, you have had three policies in Ireland. From Queen Elizabeth to William III., there was a policy of persecution—that failed. From William III. down to Catholic Emancipation, there was a policy of ascendancy—that failed too. Then timidly and tentatively you turned towards general endowment, and in 1845 Sir Robert Peel took a considerable step in that direction. It soon became clear, however, that the country would not follow you on that road, and in 1851 the storm of the Papal aggression nearly 453 forced you to abandon your compromise. And if the Encyclical had been directed against this country in particular, instead of against civilization generally, the same difficulty might have occurred. Why not, then, try the only course you have not yet tried—general disendowment? I wish to know what explanation hon. M.P.'s opposite can give of the admitted failure of Protestantism in Ireland. Why has Protestantism not triumphed there? On my theory the explanation is quite simple. I say that your blundering legislation identified the sacred cause of Protestantism with a bad political system, and that the deserved odium which belonged to an engine of oppression made the good doctrines of the Reformation hateful to the Irish people. The Roman Catholic explanation is also intelligible enough, although wrong; but what is or can be the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends? But, if we adopt general disendowment, what shall we do with the money? I take it for granted that Ireland will have a right to the whole sum, and in Ireland the extension and completion of the already very good system of primary education will have the first claim; the creation of a good middle class education, of which hardly any vestiges at present exist in Ireland, will have the second claim; the third claim would be for the extension of the higher education; and the fourth for all those civilizing agencies which supplement the effect of education. The policy which I suggest will have incidentally the good effect of getting rid of many difficulties; for instance, if the Irish Protestant Church is disendowed, the grant to Maynooth, the Regium Donum, and the grant to the Belfast Theological Professors, would all come to an end. It is hardly necessary to say that we have no right to interfere with any vested interests. All these would, of course, be scrupulously respected, and it would only be when the last person pecuniarily interested in keeping up this great abuse had departed, that the Irish people would enter into the possession of the last remnant of their rightful heritage. We do not wish the Government to take any immediate action in this matter. My hon. Friend's Resolution desires only consideration, not action. He would, I am sure, be perfectly satisfied if the Government were to announce its adhesion to the views expressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but, if it make no such announcement, and leave it 454 to be understood that he speaks only as an individual Member of the Cabinet, while the Secretary for the Home Department represents the opinions of most of his Colleagues, I must advise my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea to divide the House.
§ MR. COGAN
said, the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Whiteside) had made an admission which was striking, and might be prophetic. He stated that the arguments of the Chancellor of the Exchequer were fatal to the existence of the Church. The proposition of the hon. Member for Swansea was divided into two heads. The first was, that the present state of the Irish Church was unsatisfactory; the second, that the Government ought to inquire into and remedy that unsatisfactory condition. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had dealt with both branches of the question. With regard to the unsatisfactory state of the Irish Church, the right hon. Gentleman had placed it before the House in such a conclusive way that it was unnecessary to pursue the question. The right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Whiteside) said that inquiry meant destruction. He believed that there was something in this view, seeing that inquiry would disclose such anomalies in the Irish Church, as would convince the country that it ought not to be endured. But what would the friends of the Church say to this? He (Mr. Cogan) was at a loss to understand how a friend of the Church could put forward such an argument. Considering that the Parliament was in its expiring days, would it not be desirable to leave out the last portion of the Motion, and simply declare that the state of the Irish Church was in an unsatisfactory state? He believed that an overwhelming majority would affirm this proposition. The Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed to think that, as they had been baffled in their last attempt to deal with the subject, they should hesitate before they made another such attempt. But the question was waiting solution; and on it the Ministry must stand or fall. The duty of the Minister was to advocate great principles, irrespective of being in office or out of office. It was great principles that bound party together, and if the Government were wise, they would endeavour to enlist the sympathies of the Liberal Irish representatives and ally with them that large phalanx of Irish Members 455 who had stood by them in every effort which had been made to promote the cause of civil and religious liberty. By doing so they would rally round them a strong party, but he would warn them that if they were not prepared to deal with important questions on great principles they could not expect to receive permanent support.
§ MR. POLLARD-URQUHART
said, that the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) had a short time ago stated that the Established Church in Ireland would not last long. He advised the Government to deal with the measure, to prevent those on the Opposition Benches from leaping over their heads in the matter.
said, the observation which he had made was that the question of the Irish Church would lead to considerable discussion.
§ MR. POLLARD-URQUHART
said, he concurred in the opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that every Government must be more or less guided by public opinion.
§ SIR FREDERICK HEYGATE
said, in reference to the statements made by the hon. Member for Swansea as to certain appointments in the Irish Church, and with regard to the Bishop of Derry, to whom the hon. Member attributed so large a revenue, that the late Mr. O'Connell resisted the reduction of that bishop's income, because he was the only prelate in the Irish Church who advocated religious liberty.
§ MR. GOSCHEN moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Goschen.)
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, that so far as the Government were concerned, they were quite willing to abide by the decision of the House. If the House thought an adjournment desirable, the Government had no objection.
§ Question put. The House divided:—Ayes 221; Noes 106: Majority 115.
§ Debate adjourned till Tuesday 2nd May.