HC Deb 30 May 1865 vol 179 cc1051-99

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [19th May], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

Question again proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

Debate resumed.


* Sir, on the last occasion on which this Bill was before the House, I was unable, through indisposition, to offer to the House one or two observations, which I trust you will pardon me for now attempting to submit to your consideration. I heard and have carefully read through the only debate which has yet taken place on this measure, and I confess that, with the exception of the able speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin, it does not appear to me that any speaker entered into the subject-matter of this Bill with anything like the comprehensiveness which it deserves, or to have given the attention which is requisite to the due understanding of that, which is really a very wide question. It appeared to me that the House was about to proceed, and it still appears to me that the House is proceeding, upon the Motion of an individual Member of the House, and without any previous inquiry, to deal with an essential part of the Act of the 10th of George the Fourth, under the provisions of which Roman Catholics have been admitted to seats in this House, and to various, many of them, high offices in the State. Now, Sir, I regard this Bill as the first attempt which has been sanctioned by the House to make any grave and serious alteration in the compact, and I use the word advisedly, the compact of 1829. I know that attempts have been made to dispute the fact that the measure of 1829 was a compact. Sir, that Act was a complement to the Act of Union, and any man who will take the trouble of searching the records of this House and of the House of Lords will find that that Act was preceded by careful inquiries both in 1825 and 1826, in the latter year especially, and that the whole subject-matter of the relations of Roman Catholics to the Papacy and to the Government of this country were fully investigated. The Act, therefore, which you are now asked to disturb was based upon an elaborate inquiry, though I am sorry to say that the anticipations which were based upon the results of that inquiry have, to a great extent, been falsified by subsequent experience. Still, there was inquiry, grave inquiry, before that Act was passed; and I conceive that it is the duty of this House again to institute an inquiry before it proceeds to infringe that Act. Two Committees have since been appointed to consider the oaths taken by Members of this House. I have looked through the Reports and proceedings of both; one of them sat in 1850 and the other in 1858; but neither of them went into the subject-matter of this particular oath, for it appears to have been assumed, that so strong was the feeling of the House not to per- mit any alteration in this oath, that inquiry would have been useless. And I beg to refer the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary, and I beg to refer other Members of the House to the proceedings of those Committees, where they will find that, although a careful inquiry was instituted into the subject-matter of the oaths taken by Protestants, which were altered by the Act of 1858, there was no inquiry—at least, no adequate inquiry—into the substance of this oath, or as to the manner in which it ought to be altered, It appears to roe, then, that the House is proceeding carelessly in this matter, and, if I wanted proof of that, I think the notice paper of to-day supplies it. Every one feels that this is a subject which ought to have been dealt with upon the responsibility of the Government, that is, supposing any change to be necessary. The Government invite us to go into Committee on this Bill, yet there is not a single notice on the paper that gives us the slightest indication of the nature of the alterations in the oath, which the Government are disposed to sanction, or of the portions of the Bill which they would wish us to reject. Nevertheless we have had an announcement from the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, that he is not prepared to go the whole length of the Bill. I feel, therefore, that I am justified in resisting the further progress of the Bill until the Government have done us the grace and favour of acquainting us in some formal manner what course they really mean to adopt, when they get into Committee. The House will forgive me if I endeavour to justify in some measure the assertion I have made, that there is an apparent carelessness in the proceedings in this matter. The object of this Bill has been proposed before in this House. In the year 1857 Mr. Deasy proposed an alteration of the oath taken by Roman Catholics. That proposal was to adopt the oath, which was then suggested for the admission of the Jews, as more convenient for Roman Catholics. And what was the determination manifested by the House on that occasion? What was the decision of the House? On the 15th of April, 1857, there were present in the House 456 Members. Those who objected to the proposal of Mr. Deasy were 373, and those who supported his Motion for an alteration of the oath were 83, so that there was a clear majority of 290 against the alteration of this oath. Again, in the year 1858, it was proposed by the hon. Member for Kildare (Mr. Cogan) that an alteration of the oath should be made. I will not go into the particulars; but to a certain extent the object was the same as that of the present Bill, The number present in the House, and who voted on that occasion, were 411 Members; those who opposed the proposal to alter the oath were 373; those who sanctioned the proposal to alter the oath were 66: thus, there was a clear majority against any alteration of 279. Now, we come to the year 1865, and with no apparent change of circumstances to justify an alteration, or rather when many circumstances have occurred that should forbid our tampering with the oath at the present time, occurring not only in this country but throughout the Continent, we find that in a House of 328 Members the second reading of this Bill was carried by a majority of 56. The House will forgive me if I say that this change of opinion does not appear to have been the result of any inquiry that has brought to light circumstances that ^have occurred between the year 1858 and the present year, such as to justify Parliament in making the alterations in the oath that are proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick. And, Sir, I may further be permitted to say that I think this proposal would have come with better grace from any other Member of this House than from one who belongs to the Roman Catholic persuasion. The oath now sought to be disposed of is the record of a compact, of an act of good will on the part of the Protestants of the United Kingdom towards their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects. And I think that, after that manifestation of good-will, after the continual removal of everything in the sense of penal legislation which has marked our era, the Roman Catholic Members of this House would have appeared before it with a better grace had they committed their case and this proposal to some Protestant Member of the House, instead of coming here and claiming in their own persons that the engagements under which they have entered and sat in this House should be cancelled—cancelled, and that on their own suggestion. I have said that there are particular circumstances at this time which I think do not invite us to tamper with this oath. Let the House, moreover, remember that one of the bitterest sneers which have been directed against the House for its conduct of late years has been, that the House of Commons conducts itself like a rich man's club; that hon. Members consult their own convenience; that they are anxious to relieve themselves of whatever binds them to inconvenient duties; that, in short, they appear to forget, to a certain extent, the high functions of the House, that it holds a large share of the Imperial power of the country; and that every Member of the House has hitherto entered upon his duties, bound by the obligation of an oath, reciting in the most solemn form the conditions of the allegiance, which, as a free people, we tender to a constitutional Sovereign, Before I go further into the matter of the oath, I wish to show that, in the interim between the year 1858, when the last alteration in the oaths was made, and the present time, there has been a temper manifested among certain Roman Catholic ecclesiastics and others which ought to warn us against relieving their representatives from reciting at that table their abjuration of some of those vicious doctrines which, whether accepted by the great body of the Roman Catholics or not—and, I thank God, I believe they never were accepted by the great body of the Roman Catholics of this country—were in former years, and are still propagated, especially by the Jesuits under the sanction of the Papacy, and have led to repeated attempts upon the lives of Sovereigns, as well as to an attempt to destroy the Legislature, and fostering a spirit which has rendered necessary for long periods the imposition upon the Roman Catholic body of a penal legislation, which could by no other cause have been justified than by the existence of that malignant spirit. When hon. Members tell me that they are insulted, because they are asked to repudiate at that table those vicious doctrines, I say, that all we invite them to do is to assure us that they come here to act in the same spirit as that which influences the great body of the Roman Catholics of Italy, to act in the same spirit as that which influences the great body of the Roman Catholics of France, to act in the same spirit which guided the Roman Catholics of Spain when they rejected from their properties in that country and from the country itself the propagators of those vicious doctrines. For my part I cannot understand how any hon. Member of this House should consider it an insult to be required to declare, upon his entrance into it, that he repudiates doctrines which were at one time repudiated by the Papacy itself; which have been repudiated at different times by every Roman Catholic Government in the world; which have been repudiated by all those members of the Roman Catholic Church whose conduct commends itself to the respect and admiration of Christians throughout the world, to whatever denomination they may belong. I feel, therefore, that I am not desiring to perpetuate an insult. I merely ask the Roman Catholic Members of the House to assure us at the table that they will act in the same sense as their Roman Catholic ancestors, who continually repressed the approaches of this vicious spirit, even in the Roman Catholic times previous to the Reformation; who, when attempts were made upon the life of Queen Elizabeth, petitioned the Pope to withdraw his emissaries, who were bringing them into odium among their fellow-countrymen. I ask them to act in the spirit of those loyal Roman Catholics, who, throughout all the troubles of the Stuart reign, manifested at once their attachment to their country and their attachment to the freedom, which it guarantees, in opposition to those base, those cruel, those deceitful councils which—I say it advisedly—brought Charles the First to the miserable death which he suffered which prompted this nation to the commission of that crime, and which, as the whole world knows, induced James the Second to adopt a policy, that was as insufferable to the people of this country as the policy of the Neapolitan Bourbons has proved to the people of Southern Italy; these Sovereigns were all actuated by the Fame Jesuitical advice, and were detested by their people in consequence of adopting that policy. Sir John Gray, a leading politican in Dublin, asked, in a recent speech, this question—Can any one show that any section of Roman Catholic people has ever brought a sovereign to his grave? Can any one show that any section of Roman Catholic people has ever caused the deposition of a sovereign? Well, let any man, who is at all conversant with the history of this country, turn to the troubled period which preceded the death of Charles the First, and inform himself who were the advisers of that king, and who exercised influence over him through his unhappy queen. Let him inform himself, also, who were the advisers of James the Second. Who but the Jesuits? James the Second died a Jesuit in exile, and with characteristic gratitude the Jesuits pro- claimed him a fool! I feel hound to recall these events to the recollection of the House, because, unless the promoters of this Bill can show that the opinions, against which the clauses of the oath, which it is now sought to expunge, are directed, have ceased to be operative, unless they can show that they are repudiated by the Papacy, I say there is no case made out why this House should not require its Roman Catholic Members to disavow the opinion, that the Pope possesses the power to depose excommunicated sovereigns, the right to raise their subjects in insurrection against them, and the right to compass the death of such sovereigns. Why, Sir, look at the recent history of Poland. Will any man deny, now that the trials have taken place, that passions are calmed, and that full information is in the hands of the Russian Government—will any man deny, I say, that the late bloody insurrection in Poland, that the murders in Poland, which were perpetrated by the so-called National Government, and that the use of poisoned weapons were not the work of the Ultramontane faction? No man can pretend to say that these outrages have not received countenance and support from the Papal Chair. Will any man deny these facts? And unless he can do so, he cannot show that the vicious opinions against which the clauses of this oath are directed have ceased to exist or have ceased to operate throughout Europe; and, if they are found to be in operation in various parts of Europe, there is nothing to prove that they may not also have operation here. No man can have watched the course of proceedings in Ireland of late years—the repeated attempts at agitation, and the frequent use of seditious language—without seeing that among a minority of the Roman Catholic body, and I thank God that they are a minority, the virus still exists, which the oath we are called upon to abandon requires the Roman Catholic Members of this House to promise that they will discourage and repress. Sir, the repression of those vile opinions is, I should have thought, a task, of which all loyal Roman Catholics ought to be proud, instead of regarding it as an insult, that they are called upon to undertake such an engagement to their fellow-countrymen. ["Hear, hear!"] I repeat it. I say that the repression of these opinions is essential to the freedom of the Roman Catholic body itself, for these opinions meet with too much favour at Rome. Look at the pamphlet which has but recently been published by the Duke de Persigny. In it the writer declares there is a party now dominant at Rome, who are bitterly adverse to the form of Government existing in Franco, who condemn all forms of Government that are not subject to the immediate control and influence of the Papacy, as revolutionary. That is the spirit which is at this moment shedding blood by assassination; and if that spirit has too much influence at present in the Papal Court, then, Sir, I say that it is not for the freedom of our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects that we should remove the counteracting influence of the State under which they live, or accept them here otherwise than as the declared opponents of those Jesuit opinions and of that Ultramontane virus which, we learn from the Duke de Persigny and from every reliable source, is now dominant at Rome.

Sir, I hope the Liberal Members of this House will excuse me if I show them that it is not so very long since there was an admission on the part of a very influential organ of public opinion that, instead of recent events justifying the abandonment of this last security, there is great doubt, whether with a view to the real freedom of our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, we have not already gone too far in removing those restrictions upon their action, which are, in fact, a protection to them against influences that we cannot wish to see extended, and which are brought to bear upon them by any extreme section of their Church. The House will forgive me for dwelling a little upon this point. I do not venture to make assertions without proof, and in this matter I speak the opinions of those who cannot be accused of bigotry or prejudice. I know it has been the fashion in former times to say that I was actuated by a bigoted and intolerant spirit. I am happy to say, and I rejoice in the fact, that that impression is worn out, and that the Roman Catholic Members of this House, though I do not expect them to avow it, recognize this fact in me, that if I am what is called a strong Protestant, it is because I am a determined Catholic. It is because I am Catholic by conviction and by faith; it is because I would resist that spirit which has corrupted and defaced the Church of Rome; it is because I would resist that which I consider heretical, schismatical, and corrupt, that I take the part I am now taking in defending the Constitution of this country, which, though called by the name of Protestant, is still founded on those Catholic principles which were developed in Magna Charta, and found expression in the ancient laws of Richard the Second, vindicating for the Roman Catholics of this country the right to regulate their own Church and their own religious worship, accepting only the spiritual advice and counsel of the Papacy, but rejecting every attempt to enforce upon them the temporal usurpation of the Roman See. But I was about to quote a passage from the leading organ of Liberal opinion to which I have referred. It was written so recently as the year 1859, and it says— It is only due to the memory of men who underwent much obloquy for the time, and were even treated with a peculiar and galling kind of contempt, not usual in English political warfare, to ask ourselves, after an experience of just thirty years, which side was in the right? Have the results [that is to say, the results of the Act which you are now asked to alter—the Act of 1829] been in accordance with the sanguine anticipations of Canning, of Macintosh, of Grey, and of Brougham; or has the measure turned out as was predicted by Lord Eldon, 'that hater of all that was liberal and pleasant,' and by Lord Winchilsea, at whose tirades we have all laughed so heartily? There is, unhappily, no doubt about it; the genius, the liberality, and the eloquence were wrong; the narrowness, the bigotry, and the prejudice were right. Ever since the day of deliverance, the conduct of the Roman Catholics has more and more confirmed the predictions of their enemies, more and more disappointed the anticipations of their friends. Now, I hold that statement to be unjust towards the great body of Roman Catholics, though not unjust to the Jesuit faction, against whom it is specially directed. But to continue the passage. The writer proceeds— Let any one read the speech of Dr. Moriarty, at Killarney, or the disgraceful scene which occurred at the meeting in Cork (that was in 1859), and then ask himself whether such things are the result of British institutions, and whether he can recognize in them any one of those characteristics which, in spite of all their political differences, distinguish Englishmen from the rest of mankind. Where but in a Roman Catholic meeting, presided over by a bishop and harangued by deans and canons, could the name of the Queen be received with a burst of disapprobation, which rendered the speaker inaudible, from the very voices which yelled out a determination to fight for the Pope? From whom but a Roman Catholic Bishop could one hear it laid down, that it was the duty of a constituency in these islands to exercise their influence on their representatives in order to induce the Government of this country to put down a rebellion in a foreign State, not on any ground of public policy, in which the interests of England are concerned, but only because that tyrannical Sovereign was the head of their Church, and they had, therefore, a vested interest in perpetuating his tyranny and corruption? There is no divided allegiance, as was apprehended. The allegiance is wholly given to one person, and nothing is left for the Queen but yells of disapprobation and the accusation of having starved two millions of Her subjects. Non hœc mea verba: this is the language used by The Times, a paper that is accepted by the Liberal party as above all the most able and most powerful exponent of their opinions. Now, Sir, we ought to be cautious, to look about us in this debate, unless some previous inquiry be instituted, such as was preliminary to the passing of the Act which we are now asked to alter—I say we must look a little into the circumstances of the Roman Catholic body in England. The late ecclesiastical chief of that body, Cardinal Wiseman, is no more. And by whom has he been succeeded? By the Rev. Dr. Manning. And what have been the characteristics of that reverend person? Has he shown himself to be a Roman Catholic of moderate opinions? Once a clergyman of the Church of England, do his opinions seem to be of a temperate character? So far from that, it seems to have become rather a maxim at Rome, that those who have been most recently converted to her communion are of all her sons the most zealous and the most extravagant in the opinions they profess. I wish, Sir, to show the House what is the nature of the opinions with which Dr. Manning has favoured the public, and that within no distant period. The House will excuse me if I read a very short passage written by Dr. Manning, and which appeared in The Tablet, a Roman Catholic newspaper, on the 6th of August, 1859. He says— If ever there was a land in which work is to be done, and perhaps much to suffer [speaking of those with whom he intended to act], it is here. I shall not say too much if I say that we have to subjugate and subdue, to conquer, and to rule an Imperial race. We have to do with a will, which reigns throughout the world, as the will of old Rome reigned once. We have to bend or break that will, which nations and kingdoms have found invincible and inflexible. Mark this passage— Were heresy conquered in England, it would be conquered throughout the world. All its lines meet here, and therefore the Church of God [meaning the Papal Church] must be gathered in its strength. I ask the House to consider the meaning and purport of those words. I will, moreover, show the House that on the 18th of August last, in the county which I have the honour to represent, Dr. Manning preached a sermon, at the opening of a church at Leamington, which was thoroughly in accordance with the opinions enunciated in the passage I have just read. In Warwickshire we were very much struck with that sermon. The substance of it was published in The Leamington Courier and other newspapers, and its accuracy has never been disputed, although it was freely and extensively commented upon by the local journals. I must, therefore, assume that the words which I am about to quote were really spoken by Dr. Manning. He had been speaking of the Church of which he is a member, and of that which, in his opinion, should be required of Roman Catholics as matter of faith. He says— The Church of God was of Divine creation, rested on Divine rules; and [mark the concluding words of the sentence] was administered by Divine persons. Now, that word "Divine" is capable of a double interpretation, but I will give Dr. Manning's own interpretation of it— The doctrine of faith, of the Immaculate Conception, of the eternal Word, of eternal life, and of eternal death, were truths which surpassed human conception, and could only be received by Divine faith and teaching. It might be said, can this be the simple doctrine of Christianity? And [continued Dr. Manning] they were to believe it, and to believe that the teacher who delivered those doctrines was God, and that his voice was divine. Now, I ask, whether these are not the extreme opinions with regard to religious truth, upon which have been founded those mischievous assumptions, of which the Jesuits have always been the exponents in matters temporal and civil; and whether those words in the sermon delivered last year, coupled with the expressions used by Dr. Manning and published in 1859, do not give us reason to believe that many of the moderate Roman Catholics, many of the old English Roman Catholics, such as the late Duke of Norfolk, the grandfather of the present Duke, and the late Lord Beaumont, whose friendship, I am happy to say, I always enjoyed—are justified in the feelings of uneasiness, which I am told they entertain (I speak only from rumour) at the appointment of Dr. Maiming to the supreme control of matters ecclesiastical, connected with their Church; knowing, as we do, from the recent Encyclical issued by the Pope, that this ecclesiastical control, as it is called, at Rome is intended to extend from the spiritual sphere to direct interference with the arrangements of property and with the conduct of politics, until, in Dr. Manning's words, this "Imperial race," the free people of England, have been "subjugated and subdued" to the rule of the Papacy, which it is the avowed object of Dr. Manning to establish in this country? I ask any hon. Member, then, whether, carrying our eye back through history, and finding in the terms of this oath a record of the means by which our Roman Catholic as well as our Protestant ancestors deemed it necessary to guard the freedom of both communions from century to century against the encroachments of the Papacy—I ask those who do not pretend to be ignorant of these historical facts, whether they think it unreasonable in us to object to proceeding with the alteration of this oath, until, as was the case when the oath of the Protestant Members was altered in 1858, some preliminary inquiry has been instituted either by the Government or by a Committee of this House, or of the other House of Parliament, into the present circumstances of the Roman Catholic body in this country, as those circumstances are affected by the recent attempts to organize the English and the Irish Roman Catholics, as a separate community, governed by a hierarchy, nominated and appointed from Rome; into the circumstances of the Roman Catholics, as affected by recent occurrences on the Continent, and by the character of those who pretend to he placed in authority over them in Ireland and in England? I have heard it said, and I have seen it written, that the increase in this country of the monastic orders of the Church of Rome, to which I not long since drew the attention of the House, is a matter which is totally irrelevant to the subject now under consideration. ["Hear, hear!" from Irish Members.]—Well, some hon. Members appear to think so. But I cannot treat the Act of 1829–10 Geo. IV.—otherwise than as a whole. Now, that Act contains the oath which it is proposed to alter by this Bill. It also contains clauses restricting the monastic orders. But it has been said, "Oh, these were mere concessions to the crotchets and prejudices of the age." In his speech delivered at Dublin, Sir John Gray especially said that those clauses, restrictive of the monastic orders, were painful to the great mind of the late Sir Robert Peel, and unworthy of the extensive Continental knowledge of the late Duke of Wellington, and that they were miserable concessions to a wretched bigotry, which these great men were obliged to make in order to conciliate the ignorance of their benighted followers. Let us see how far this representation is true? With the permission of the House I will read a few words from the speech of the Duke of Wellington, in introducing the clauses with respect to the monastic orders on the 20th of April, 1829. The Duke said— The measure which I now propose for your Lordships' adoption will prevent the increase of such establishments [meaning monastic institutions], and, without oppression to any individuals, without injury to any body of men, will gradually put an end to those which have been already formed. There is no man more convinced than I am of the absolute necessity of carrying into execution that part of the present measure [that is, the Act of 1829], which has for its object the extinction of monastic orders in this country. I entertain no doubts whatever that if that part of the measure be not carried into execution, your lordships will soon see this country and Ireland inundated by Jesuits and regular monastic clergy, with means to establish themselves within His Majesty's dominions. Thus, Sir, the result of the experience of the Duke of Wellington, so long versed in Continental matters, led him to guard against the action of this avowedly Papal agency by the introduction of clauses in the Act of 1829. Evidently he did not contemplate the increase of the monastic orders in England and Ireland, as likely to conduce to the happiness of the Roman Catholic body, to their freedom, or to the welfare of society; and if the House has not forgotten the historical and other evidence, which it permitted me to adduce with regard to the increase and action of those orders and of these establishments within the United Kingdom, I think it will agree with me that that increase has within the last few years been ominous. Is not this a circumstance, then, which should make you cautious how you part with the safeguards against the abuse of that Papal power, which it is notoriously the primary function of those regular orders of the Church of Rome lo enforce? Why, every man who knows anything of the history of the Jesuits knows, that their order was especially formed to establish, to extend, and to enforce the temporal power of the Pope. It was but the other day that I was reading in Burnet the account of their early appearance in this country. Just before the persecutions in the reign of Philip and Mary, the Jesuits came to Cardinal Pole, an ecclesiastic of whom I shall ever speak with respect; for I believe that if it had rested with Cardinal Pole the faggots would not have flamed in Smithfield and throughout the country, as they did. And I am sure of this, that he stretched his powers in order to ratify the settlement of property in this country—that settlement of property which you would relieve the Roman Catholic Members of this House from engaging to defend. He exceeded his powers; he actually went beyond the Brief, under which he held authority from the Pope, in order to facilitate the settlement of property in this country. But, as I said, the Jesuits came to him and tendered their services in an opposite sense; and Cardinal Pole—I speak from Dr. Burnet's history, but I might quote other authorities if necessary—rejected their assistance. He seemed to think of that body as did Dr. Brown, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Dublin, in 1551, that they promised to be an element of disturbance in every country where they might obtain establishment. And I appeal to the page of history—I appeal to the modern history of Europe—whether the judgment, formed by these Roman Catholic ecclesiastics, with regard to the Jesuit Order, has not been verified to the letter? And let the House remember it is against the doctrines especially propagated by that Order, that the terms of the oath are directed, which the House is now asked to expunge, and this in the teeth of a fact, which is notorious, that, after not venturing to appear in public for about two centuries, these agents of the Papacy now proclaim their presence in this country through the public prints, and advertize in the services of their churches; take an active part, as far as they dare, and as far as the English people will permit them, in every political arrangement, in every civil establishment, and—this is a characteristic of the Order—in every domestic establishment into which they can, by hook or by crook, thrust themselves, for the purpose of carrying out the spirit which found a voice in the passage from the writings of Dr. Manning, in 1859, that I have quoted to the House. I hope the House will forgive me for speaking at some length, but the subject is a very wide one. The fact is this: the liberality of this House has removed almost every restriction from the Roman Catholics, until, in the terms of this oath, remains the only valid security still existing for the Constitution of this country, I wish hon. Members would consider for a moment what is the meaning of an oath taken at this table. An oath is valuable as a security for the veracity of a witness, a guarantee for the fidelity of an officer, who undertakes certain functions, and for the conduct of trustees, inasmuch as it brings to bear upon the mind apprehensions of the wrath of the Deity, if the juror violates his engagement. That is the operation of an oath upon the conscience. And further, an oath is valuable in the case of a witness, inasmuch as, in addition to the apprehensions of conscience, which might be excited by a violation of the engagement, it imports the penalties of perjury. But I set aside these two elements, its operation upon the conscience of the juror, and the penalties on perjury in this ease, and I still trust to the power of publicity; I still believe that every Member who takes this oath does so with the intention to abide by the conditions of that oath; but whether he does, or whether he does not, he publicly, and as a representative, by the terms of that oath, abjures the deposing power of the Pope, and binds himself to defend the settlement of property, including the quondam ecclesiastical and monastic property, the title to which, remember, the Papacy has never confirmed. I have here a curious original paper which I have compared with Burnet's History, and I find that though Cardinal Pole engaged that the Papacy should ratify the settlement of property under Philip and Mary, the Papacy never did ratify it. The Pope Julius, who accredited Cardinal Pole, died. So did his successor, Marcellus; and the next Pope plainly declared to the Ambassador of Philip and Mary, that to sanction the title to property, which had once belonged to monastic establishments, was contrary to his oath; and, so far from sanctioning the alienation made by the Parliament of this country, he declared it to be sacrilegious, and he required from the Ambassador of our bigoted Queen an acknowledgment that she held Ireland in fief from the Papacy. You may tell me that it does not matter whether the Pope has sanctioned the title to this property or not—the property held by the great house of Bedford, property held by myself, property distributed throughout the whole country, and amounting to nearly one-fourth of the whole property of England; you may tell me that it does not matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick says, "What is the use of an oath to defend the settlement, under which we Roman Catholics hold property in Ireland?" Sir, I will show him what may be the danger of removing this oath. I have here some curious letters, which I found among some old pamphlets and printed letters in my library, and from which Bishop Burnet evidently derived his information in writing his chapter on the History of 1555. The writer of these letters and Bishop Burnet both declare that it might matter little to a Protestant owner whether the Papacy had confirmed the title to his lands or not; but to a Roman Catholic family it matters very much, because the Papacy maintains, and I see by his recent Encyclical that the present Pope still maintains, that the tenure is sacrilegious. And whenever the owner and possessor of that property is drawing near to the close of life, when the breath comes hard, when the eyes are dim, and the passage between the present and future state is but a short span, why, the priest will be apt to remind him, "During your whole life you have held property in sacrilege," and then will ask him, "Will you not make some restitution?" And, Sir, it was the apprehension of this that actuated the Parliament of Queen Mary—the very Parliament which consented to the reconciliation of this country to the Papacy—in passing a stringent Act which, in defiance of all Papal claims, established, so far as the power of this country could, the title to property thus alienated from the monastic orders. But has the Papacy ever consented to this alienation? Produce your proof. You cannot. There has been no such consent; and every Roman Catholic possessor of such property is liable to be disturbed, and the best security he can have is this, that the Roman Catholic Members of this House shall, in the name of the constituencies they represent, declare at this table that they adhere to the decision of the Roman Catholic Parliament of Queen Mary, that this property is duly settled, and settled against the pretensions of the Papacy, pretensions which have never been abandoned.

Sir, I am fully conscious that others will follow me in this debate who will argue with more ability the propriety of continuing the recognition of that portion of the compact of 1829 which secures the establishment of the Church of England in Ireland and in this country. I see no reason, there has been no valid cause shown, why the Roman Catholic Members of this House should ask to be relieved from that obligation. Do they desire to uproot the Church establishment in Ireland? At present they stand as Members of this House pledged not to compass such an object. But do they not know that there is a considerable body, forming an association in Ireland for the purpose of effecting the dis-establishment of that Church? Why, Sir John Gray, who made the speech in Dublin to which I have before adverted, is a member of that very association. Do hon. Members not know that the Pope, in his recent Encyclical, has formally declared his condemnation of the 37th proposition of the Syllabus, that any Church can be held to be duly established which is separated from the See of Rome? Do hon. Members not know that that is the last version of the Papal doctrine? And if they do know it, why do Roman Catholic Members ask the House to relieve them from the obligation of declaring at this table that they accept their seats here on the understanding that they will not be the exponents of that doctrine in this House, or use their influence for the purpose of disturbing the established institutions of the country? I ask them why do they desire to be relieved? We all know that the assault is contemplated by a certain faction among the Roman Catholics, joined, I am sorry to say, with some Protestants, who have no great attachment to the form of government under which they live. Well, if you have no intention of countenancing this movement, you ought to feel a relief in the fact that you sit in this House on the condition of having solemnly asseverated that you will not take any part in this House in what, I must say, under the circumstances, is an unworthy enter-prize. Why, it is for your own freedom that you recognize this compact with the State. I hold this, because I judge from the state of Italy, I judge from the correspondence which has taken place with France, I judge from the actions of the Emperor of the French himself, that, in the present temper of the Papacy, the great body of Roman Catholics must look to the authority of the States, within whose dominions they live, for protection against those who would force them into the adoption of opinions which, I am happy to believe, are alien to their better judgment. I now, Sir, venture to move the postponement of the further consideration of this Bill until some inquiry has been made into the circumstances to which I have alluded; until some such inquiry has been instituted, as that which preceded the alteration of the other oath in 1858, and until we have upon the notice paper of the House some definite proposals from Her Majesty's Government, showing to what extent they are prepared to sanction the provisions of this Bill; and I make this proposal for delay with the full consciousness that I am performing my duty, because I believe that it is the general opinion of the House—an opinion in which I fully share—that no men who deserve to be treated as Her Majesty's Ministers, no Government purporting to serve Her Majesty, ought lightly or carelessly to promote a Bill, affecting the terms of allegiance upon which certain Members of this House are admitted to their seats. It is, I repeat, contrary to the duty of the advisers of Her Majesty to permit any such alteration to be made except by themselves, or, at all events, until they have had the decency to show that the subject has received their deep and earnest consideration?


seconded the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day six months, resolve itself into the said Committee,"—(Mr. Newdegate,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, he was extremely puzzled to know what Dr. Manning's appointment, the sermons which he had preached, or the extension of monastic institutions, had to do with the repeal of the oath under discussion; and equally at a loss to understand what argument had been adduced which could induce a hundred hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House—twelve of whom were Members of the late Government, and many of whom were Irish representatives—to go out into the lobby in opposition to a measure of the commonest decency and justice. It would be illiberal and unjust to attribute the opposition to the Bill to anything resembling the spirit of the Pharisee; to a desire for superiority of caste; to a feeling of great thankfulness to Providence that we were not as other men are, that we do not require special oaths to enforce our loyalty; and that we are not obnoxious to the stigma of evasions and mental reservations. He was ready to admit that his hon. Friend who had just spoken, and those who agreed with him, might, and probably did, honestly entertain the belief that the repeal of the present Roman Catholic oath would tend to subvert the rule of Her Gracious Majesty, to the restoration of the Papal domination in this country, the re-distribution of forfeited estates, and to the overthrow of the Protestant Establishment and religion in this country. That appeared to be the prevalent idea in the minds of some. But was it, be would ask, justified by experience? Was it not, on the contrary, the fact that every restriction removed had turned out to be an element of strength rather than of weakness to the Church? Had the Irish and Church Temporalities Acts Tithe of 1832, or the Bill doing away with Ministers' Money in 1858, operated to the injury of the Church? Are the English Dissenters more inflamed with rancour against the Church since tests have been abolished and other concessions granted, every one of which at the time, according to the opponents of relaxations, involved the Church of England in ruin. Nothing of the kind. The pages of Hansard were the best proof, and nothing could be more striking than the increased tone of gentleness and respect manifested towards the Church, precisely in the ratio of those concessions being granted which the self-styled friends of the Church pronounced to be the sentence of her overthrow. His hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire would have Roman Catholics still called upon to declare that they renounced the doctrine that princes excommunicated by the Pope might be dethroned and murdered by their subjects. Now upon that point the Chancellor of the Exchequer had, upon a former occasion, when the subject was discussed in that House, used a few words which he thought were most apposite. The right hon. Gentleman said it seemed to him very extraordinary to ask any man to say that he thinks anyone should not be murdered. It was absurd, and more than absurd, it was contumelious, asking a man to declare he will not do a thing when the word implied that the action he foreswears is an action of the darkest guilt. It is asking him to say whether or not he is totally devoid of all moral obligations. Now, if such absence of all sense of moral obligation existed in the case of Roman Catholic Members, how, he should like to know, were they to be purged of their deficiency in that respect by the administration of the oath which was now imposed upon them? But his hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire had quoted from various writers in the Middle Ages to prove that monarchs might be deposed or murdered by their subjects at the instigation of the Pope. Now, admitting that such doctrines were promulgated in those un-crupulous and bloody ages, were there not, he would ask, persons in this country who had written to somewhat the same effect, who were neither Roman Catholics nor schoolmen? Were there not most eminent men among the Presbyterians who did not scruple to write and preach that an idolatrous Queen might be deposed and murdered by her subjects? Was it not true that both Buchanan and John Knox had compared Mary Queen of Scots to Jezebel, declaring that she and persons like her might be deposed and murdered? That was a Presbyterian doctrine. And again, had we not Poynet, the Protestant Bishop of Winchester, using, in reference to Queen Mary, language just as bloody and unscrupulous as any made use of by members of the Roman Catholic Church, when he said that "manifold and continual examples of the deposition of Kings and the killing of tyrants do most certainly confirm it to be most true, just, and consonant to God's judgment." So much for the writers of these deeds. And now as to the doers of these deeds. He should like to know who brought about the death of Mary Queen of Scots? The Protestants of England. Who led Charles I. to the scaffold? The Puritans of England. Who deposed James II.? The Protestants of England. Why not, then, impose the oath taken by Roman Catholics on the Protestants and Dissenters of this country, as well? And what had been the conduct of members of the Roman Catholic persuasion, who it was said were so completely under the foot of the Vatican, on occasions of trying emergency? When the Armada sailed from Spain—the greatest effort at conquest the Papacy ever made—bearing a banner blessed by the Pope, who were the first to rally round a Protestant Queen? Was it not the venerable Lord Montague, who was present at Tilbury Fort with his son and grandson, at the head of a troop of his own horse. Who commanded the English fleet which shattered the Armada, and destroyed with it every chance of a charge of dynasty and religion? Lord Howard of Effingham, a Roman Catholic. Now, they would have to believe one of two things—either that Lords Montague and Howard had received a secret dispensation from the Pope permitting them to resist his mandates, to command the fleets of an excommunicated heretic, and to shatter those he had bidden go forth to carry out the greatest projects ever prompted by the Vatican—they must believe this mass of impossibilities, or else they must believe that the allegiance of Roman Catholics to their Sovereign in national matters was not influenced by the spiritual authority of the Pope? He must say that the argument of the hon. Gentleman on that point fell to the ground. The next point of the hon. Member for Warwickshire referred to the re-settlement of property, and he said he spoke as much for Roman Catholics themselves as for Protestants. But his right hon. Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell) was a Roman Catholic, and he had as much reason to dread a re-settlement as any one, for he was a holder of confiscated property—indeed, some of the very largest holdings of confiscated properties in Ireland were held by Roman Catholics, It would be impossible to trace land back to its first owner. Confiscation had followed confiscation. The number of confiscated acres was 14,566,000, but the whole area of Ireland consisted of only 10,000,000 acres, and therefore the Roman Catholic landowners were as much interested in the present settlement as Protestants. In respect to his next point the hon. Gentleman seemed to think that if this oath were repealed the Roman Catholics, and the Roman Catholic Association to which he alluded, would become so strong and all-powerful that the Protestant Establishment of this country would be in danger. He (Mr. Gregory) had never heard an argument more humiliating to Protestants than that or more pitiful. If they considered their Church was based on this miserable quicksand of oaths instead of on the affection and esteem of the people, then of all men Protestants were the most weak and miserable. The advocates for the retention of this oath seem to argue that in a Protestant Assembly of 650 Members it was necessary to tie up the hands of some thirty Roman Catholics; and, by this absurd course, the world was shown the amazing spectacle of the strong imposing oaths on the weak, pledging the weak not to overthrow the strong and de- spoil him, and yet there was high authority for saying that "no man entereth a strong man's house and spoils his goods except he first bind the strong man, and then he may spoil his goods." But the anomaly becomes still greater when it is seen that it is only the Roman Catholic you are in dread of, while no restriction is imposed on the Dissenter and the Jew. Surely, they must have quite as great hostility to the Establishment as any Roman Catholic. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks introduced his Reform Bill, he argued in favour of the retention of small boroughs. Arundel was the battle-horse. "See," said he, "all that this little Arundel represents, nothing less than 900,000 Roman Catholics;" but he (Mr. Gregory) thought at the time that these 900,000 Roman Catholics had no great reason to be pleased that their only representative should be sent into that House with one foot and one hand tied, not be allowed to vote on subjects in which they took the greatest interest, and with a Parliamentary imputation upon his honour and honesty. He would also remark that the oath was one with regard to the interpretation of which great uncertainty existed, some Roman Catholics being of opinion that it did not debar them from voting on questions in which the Protestant Establishment was concerned, while others entertained a contrary opinion. Their constituencies, however, had no such scruples, and they naturally chose the man who would do their bidding, leaving him to settle matters as best he could with his own conscience afterwards. Thus it happened that some men felt themselves precluded, owing to a nice sense of honour, from entering the House of Commons. Was it right, he would ask, to prevent constituencies from choosing for their representatives men to whom they might be anxious to confide their interests? But did the Roman Catholics stand alone in putting different constructions upon the oath? The Protestant authorities themselves differed as to their value. The late Sir Robert Peel acknowledged that Members of that persuasion were entitled to vote on all questions affecting the status and discipline and emoluments of the Church. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Whiteside), in speaking a few days ago of the opinion which Justice Shee held on the subject, said he approved of the view which he took, which was to the effect that Roman Catholics were debarred by the terms of their oath from abolishing the Church; but then the right hon. Gentleman seemed to forget that the opinion of Justice Shee did not extend to the prohibition of interference with the emoluments of the Church. Roman Catholics were not now-a-days called perjurers and such like epithets, but incidents have occurred in that House to the unpleasantness of which no representative should be subjected. There were many persons present who had not forgotten the celebrated debate on the State of Ireland in 1844, when Lord Derby, then Lord Stanley, was replying to the arguments of Mr. Shiel—who alleged the Established Church of Ireland to be one of the grievances which maintained permanent irritation in that country. Although twenty years had passed away, he (Mr. Gregory) well remembered that memorable occasion. He remembered the noble Lord pausing in the midst of his fierce, rapid, and unsparing eloquence. He called on the Clerk of the House to hand to him the Roman Catholic Oath, and, amid a silence in which a pin might have been heard to drop, he read slowly and solemnly, he read in fact as none but he can read—the words of the abjuration; and then he argued from the declarations of the Roman Catholics in 1757, in 1782, in 1808, in 1826, and on other occasions, expressing themselves satisfied with the Protestant Establishment, that there could he but one interpretation of the oath, and the House might form its opinion of those who construed it differently. At the very same moment, however, Sir Robert Peel, who was of opinion that a different construction might be put upon the oath, was sitting beside the noble Lord; so that the whole question of its interpretation was clearly one of perfect uncertainty. That uncertainty alone condemned it. It irritated and wounded, but it gave no strength. He regretted, for those reasons, the course which hon. Gentlemen opposite had thought fit to pursue. Instead of being willing to get rid of all imputations upon the honour and loyalty of the hon. Gentlemen in that House who were Roman Catholics, they had moved an Amendment, which, if carried, would defeat the measure. He confessed he was surprised that so many as a hundred hon. Members on the other side, many of them living among the people of Ireland, should have declared that they would not consent to relieve their Catholic fellow-subjects from most useless and senseless imputations on their loyalty, their honour, and their veracity.


Sir, whatever may be thought of the merits of the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, there can be no doubt that the Bill which he has introduced involves a principle of the greatest importance, affecting the strongest feelings and deepest convictions of the population of this country. It is, moreover, a proposition which cannot be got rid of by hard words; and I, therefore, regret the tone which the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken (Mr. Gregory) has adopted, and will endeavour to address myself to the question before us in a different spirit. I wish to state the course which I think it desirable to take upon this question as it stands, and upon the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire. Let me say that I deeply regret the time and manner in which this Bill comes before us. It is a measure virtually to repeal one of the arrangements which were adopted in 1829 as a security for our Protestant institutions, to be adopted simultaneously with the great measure of Catholic Emancipation. And I will say further, that there is imminent danger that the attempt now made to get rid of a portion of these securities will revive the angry feelings between Roman Catholics and Protestants, which are at all times to be deprecated, but never more so than at the present time. If we are to have a discussion on the Roman Catholic oath forced upon us, it ought to be introduced at a moment when it can be discussed with the utmost calmness and the greatest fairness; and totally free from any of those considerations that have got mixed up with it, and with no feeling and no desire but to do right and justice to Roman Catholics on the one hand and Protestants on the other. In the next place it appears to me that if this measure is introduced at all, it ought to be as a measure promoted by Her Majesty's Government. Whether the change proposed be right or wrong, it is a most important change in a constitutional arrangement of this country. Such a measure ought not to be in the hands of a private Member, but should be introduced with the sanction of the Government, and at a moment when the House is fully at liberty to discuss it, not only calmly, but in the deliberate manner and with that ample measure of time which the constitutional changes involved in it so imperatively require. I say, therefore, with respect to the measure brought in by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell) that I regret to see it in private hands. I submit, moreover, if this Bill is to be brought forward by an individual Member, it ought to have been with two conditions. In the first place, I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to have brought forward this Bill at the beginning of the Session. [Mr. MONSELL: I did.] When I appealed to him last night to postpone the Motion for going into Committee to-day, in consequence of the illness of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli) who was most anxious to address the House upon it, and who himself suggested this morning sitting, what was the right hon. Gentleman's answer? He said, and with truth, that the period of the Session at which we have arrived was such that he could not afford to lose a day for the progress of the Bill. [Mr. MONSELL: That was not the whole of my answer.] That was a portion of the right hon. Gentleman's answer, and I have already admitted the truth of his statement. He has no time to spare. But I say that this great change in the securities agreed to in 1829 ought to be discussed deliberately and calmly, and not at a time when the right hon. Gentleman can with justice complain that he has not a day to throw away if the Bill is to be passed this Session. I will also say that I most sincerely regret that this measure, so exciting to the feelings of Roman Catholics and Protestants, should be enforced upon us at the eve of a general election. ["Hear, hear!"] I understand the meaning of the cheers of hon. Gentlemen opposite, I have repeatedly said that we should discuss a Bill of this nature solely upon its merits, and not at a moment when whatever course we may take may expose us to a suspicion that those who promote this Bill and those who oppose it are animated quite as much by the coming elections as by the bearings of the measure on the best interests of the country. But the Bill is before us. It has received the sanction and support of Her Majesty's Government. I also entirely admit the temperate and generous spirit in which this measure has been discussed on both sides of the House. I do not wish to depart from that spirit; but I wish to put it calmly but strongly to the House whether this is quite the time to urge the abandonment of any part of the securities provided by the Act of 1829. What was uniformly the language of Sir Robert Peel on this subject? He always regarded this oath as a part of a compact—as part of a settlement and arrangement. To the hour of the death of that lamented statesman, although he always acted with the greatest generosity and in the most conciliatory spirit towards his Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, he always adhered to the opinion that the settlement of 1829 was a final compact and arrangement, and one that, to the best of his judgment, ought not to be lightly, if at all, departed from. What is the object and nature of the Roman Catholic oath as it stands? It consists of many parts, but it substantially aims at one thing, and that is the requirement that when the Roman Catholics were admitted to the full privileges of the British Constitution only on one condition should their disabilities be removed—namely, that they should not exercise the constitutional power given to them by that Act to the injury of the Protestant institutions so much valued by the people of this country. That I think is not an unfair description of the oath. Well, has it had that effect? We all recognize the honourable manner in which the Roman Catholic body have acted since the Emancipation Act. That oath has, no doubt, acted as a restraint, and has had its effect on the honourable minds of Roman Catholic Gentlemen in this House, and has deterred them from taking any course with regard to various matters connected with the Protestant institutions of the country which they considered inconsistent with the obligations they contracted under that oath. May I not ask, if we consent to the abrogation of that part of the security so enacted by the Act of 1829, would it be possible to do so without exciting feelings of alarm and apprehension among the great body of the Protestants of England and Ireland, inspiring in their minds the idea that there is a feeling of inconstancy on the part of the British Parliament, and that we are now not only disposed, as we always have been, to treat the Roman Catholics in a most generous spirit, but that we are ready to abandon that protection to the Protestant interests of this country that has always been dear to them? If we look abroad at the signs of the times, can it be said that this is a prudent moment for the abrogation of the Protestant security that is enacted by the Roman Catholic oath? What is the state of affairs immediately around us at home? What are the facts forced upon the attention of the House? On a very recent day an attempt was made in this House to undermine and destroy, I may say without exaggeration, the Protestant Church in Ireland. What is going on in Dublin at this moment? The House will permit me to read a letter which was adverted to by my right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Whiteside) on a former debate. An Association has been formed in Dublin, called the National Association, for particular objects, and with the concurrence, sanction, and support of Archbishop Cullen, of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. The letter in question was written by the Secretary of that Association, and addressed to an Irish journal— Sir,—The Irish Timesof this day contains an announcement that 'the Established Church has been withdrawn from the programme of the National Association, and the questions to which it will confine its attention will be tenant right and education.' I beg to inform you that there is no foundation for the above statement, and the intentions of the Association in relation to the Irish Church Establishment have undergone no modification, and that the gentlemen with whom rests the direction of the policy of the association are unanimous in their determination to have no compromise with the Establishment or its advocates, and to spare no effort for its overthrow. Well, Sir, from all I have heard, I believe that, although Archbishop Cullen may give his countenance to this Association, it is sanctioned and supported by very few members of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. I cannot, however, too strongly express my regret that any portion of the Roman Catholics of Ireland should be thus assuming an aggressive attitude against Protestant institutions in that country. But such is the fact; and I ask is this a moment for us to go out of our way to remove any of those securities that were enacted for the protection of the Protestant Church of Ireland? What is the feeling of this House and the general feeling of the country in regard to the Protestant Establishment of Ireland? I do not believe there is any large portion of this House, or of the public, who are disposed to join in a hostile attack upon the Protestant Church of Ireland. It is true that on a late occasion the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a speech which certainly did lead the Roman Catholics of Ireland to suppose that he was enlisted among the enemies of the Protes- tant Church in that country, just as a year ago he made a speech which led the Radical Reformers of England to suppose that he had enlisted among their ranks. How far, however, the right hon. Gentleman may realize the expectations he has raised in either of those quarters it is not for me to say. But, notwithstanding his apparent adherence to the attack on the Protestant Church in Ireland, I repeat my belief that there is no large portion either of the statesmen of this country, or the Members of this House, or the public generally, who desire to attack or undermine that branch of the Protestant Church of this country. For these reasons it does appear to me that this is not the moment to adopt in its entirety the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Monsell). I will now beg leave to state, on the other hand, the view which I take of the proposal as a whole. The Roman Catholic oath may be practically divided into two parts. One portion of the oath was intended for the security of our Protestant institutions. It is, at all events, accepted by a large body of the Protestant public as giving that security, and the Protestant public will feel aggrieved if the House were to relax it. On the other hand, on looking carefully through the terms of the oath, there are portions of it of far less importance with regard to its essential substance, and which the Roman Catholic gentry of England and Ireland may not unreasonably consider offensive to their feelings. I am glad to be able to make this admission, because I can with great sincerity assure the Roman Catholic Members of this House that it is to me a most painful thing to be compelled by a sense of public duty to hold language which may even appear to be of an intolerant character. I am broadly the advocate of religious liberty and perfect toleration. [An hon. MEMBER: Equality, not toleration!] I am speaking my sincere convictions, which through a long political life have been in favour of the most perfect religious liberty and toleration, and my wish is to admit my Roman Catholic fellow subjects to the full enjoyment of all the privileges of the British Constitution. I think I have given proofs of that desire. I might refer to a very recent occasion, on which it was my misfortune to differ from a number of those with whom I usually act—I mean the Prison Ministers' Bill. I had no hesitation then in supporting the fair and legitimate claims of the Roman Catholics; I would do so again, and I am quite free to say that the Bill ought to be carried to a point further than it now stands. I will now state the practical course which I should like to see taken, and which appears to me the most just, conciliatory, and desirable with regard to the specific Motion of the right hon. Gentleman. The Roman Catholic oath, as regards the question now before us, may be divided into four parts. I will advert to those parts of the oath which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to omit. The first is— And I do further declare, that is is not an article of my faith, and that I do renounce, reject, and abjure the opinion that Princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope, or any other authority of the See of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or by any person whatsoever. I at once say that I for one have no objection to omit these words from the Roman Catholic oath. I have no wish to impute to the Roman Catholic gentry of England and Ireland that they think at this time of day that a Prince excommunicated by the Pope may be murdered. I do think that such an imputation is offering an affront to those gentlemen, and I am willing to consent to the omission of those words from the oath. Upon the next part of the oath the right hon. Gentleman makes a change, but it is not one that appears to me very considerable or important. The oath is— And I do declare, that I do not believe that the Pope of Rome, or any other foreign Prince, Prelate, Person, State, or Potentate hath or ought to have any temporal or civil jurisdiction, power, superiority, or pre-eminence, directly, or indirectly, within this realm; Well, he alters these words by leaving out "the Pope of Rome or any other," and the right hon. Gentleman makes the oath read— That no foreign Prince, &c, hath or ought to have any temporal or civil jurisdiction, power, superiority, or pre-eminence, directly or indirectly, within this realm. And I make this declaration upon the true faith of a Christian. Well, as far as I am concerned, I have no objection to that alteration. I now come to the third part of the oath— And I do solemnly, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, that I do make this declaration, and every part thereof, in the plain and ordinary sense of the words of this oath, without any evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation whatsoever. I am perfectly willing to admit that these words may be naturally considered offensive to Roman Catholic gentlemen. Whe- ther or not, after a settlement made thirty or forty years ago, after having deliberately accepted this oath, it is worth while to raise this question may be a subject of doubt. But the right hon. Gentleman has raised this question, and, as an English gentleman, I cannot deny that if I were a Roman Catholic I should consider this particular part of the oath as offensive and insulting, since it would impute to me that in taking the oath there was a possibility of equivocation or mental reservation on my part. A man of honour and truth never could take the oath with this equivocation or mental reservation, and with regard to him who is not a man of honour and truth no oath would ever bind him. Well, Sir, I now come to the fourth part of the oath, and I am sorry to say that with regard to it I cannot use the same language. The fourth part is as follows:— I do swear that I will defend to the utmost of my power the settlement of property within this realm as established by the laws; and I do hereby disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure any intention to subvert the present Church Establishment as settled by law within this realm; and I do solemnly swear that I never will exercise any privilege to which I am or may become entitled to disturb or weaken the Protestant religion or Protestant Government in this Kingdom. This passage contains two parts, the first of which relates to the settlement of property, and here I beg leave to quote a few words from the speech of Sir Robert Peel on the Oaths Bill introduced by Lord John Russell in 1849. Sir Robert Peel said that— The Roman Catholic repeated the assurance that he would acquiesce in the settlement of property which had taken place after the restoration of Charles II. He thought the noble Lord had acted wisely in not disturbing the Roman Catholic oath in the Act of 1829."—[3 Hansard, cv. 455.] Here we have the most distinct statement of the opinion of Sir Robert Peel that, for the reasons mentioned, those words relating to the settlement of property ought not to be omitted; and, after giving the most anxious consideration to the question how far I could reconcile my views of right with the wishes of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, I am disposed to adopt the statement of Sir Robert Peel, and say that I cannot consent to relax that part of the oath. Still less can I relax that other part, wherein the Roman Catholic disclaims, disavows, and solemnly abjures any intention to use the power granted him by the Act of 1829 to the injury of our Pro- testant Establishment. I am sorry—very sorry—that the Roman Catholics should wish to relax the terms of an oath which formed the solemn condition upon which they were placed upon an equality with the rest of their fellow-countrymen. As they esteem their own religion, so they have no right to doubt that we are anxious for the protection of ours. There was a deliberate settlement and compact entered into, and all we ask, as I have said before, is that it be adhered to. If you analyze the oath you will find that there is one object which pervades the whole. You make only one condition—that the Catholics will not exorcise the power conferred on them by the Act in order to injure your Protestant institutions. I do think, on the one hand, that this is a power which the Roman Catholics themselves ought not to desire; and, on the other, that it is a power which the Protestant Parliament of England ought not to concede. Sir, these are the views with which I approach the consideration of this question. The vote which I may give upon going to a division must depend upon the answer which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell) may be disposed to return to the question which I now venture to put—namely, whether, in the event of our going into Committee upon this Bill on the understanding, so far as I have a right to intimate it, that those three portions of the oath to which I have adverted shall be struck out in order to conciliate the Roman Catholic body and to consult their views, he would consent to the reintroduction of those words which I have just read, and which relate to the security of the Protestant interests of this country. If the right, hon. Gentleman is willing to go into Committee upon that understanding I am prepared to vote for the proposal which will, I believe, be made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns). On the other hand, if he tells me—which I am sure he will frankly do if he cannot consent—that he is not willing to accept that arrangement, then I shall, though with reluctance, feel it my duty to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire.


Sir, the question which has just been put by the right hon. Gentleman spoils, I am sorry to say, both the spirit and character of a very excellent speech. That question is nothing more or less than this—whether, Parliament having for a certain number of years been advancing in the path of a wiser policy and sounder principles, and establishing upon a broader basis those principles of civil and religious liberty which have been growing more and more upon the convictions and affections of the people of this country, my right hon. Friend the Member for Limerick will now consent to make a retrograde movement and re-enact the penalties or disabilities which Parliament deliberately expunged from the statute book seven years ago. Sir, I must express my profound regret that the rumoured arrangement which might have met on both sides of the House with a general concurrence has been found to be impracticable. Of late years we have had no discussions in this House so embarrassing and painful as those respecting the oaths which we take at that table, and the only comfort to be derived from those discussions is that at last they have brought with them a wholesome and very desirable change in the opinion of Parliament, which I believe will never consent to recede from the position which lately it has deliberately taken up. My hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire has treated this as a question I merely affecting the Roman Catholics; but I think it is a question affecting Protestants and all believers in the revealed religion in which my hon. Friend and myself are as much interested as any of our Catholic fellow-subjects. My right hon. Friend who has just sat down (Sir John Pakington) has dwelt very much upon this oath being a Protestant's security, and he has spoken of it as being a settlement and a compact. But I have listened in vain, during these discussions, with a view to learn wherein that security consists. And, let me ask, what is the nature of that settlement and compact? Sir, every Act of Parliament that is passed is a settlement of some question for the time being. We have in the course of every year a hundred settlements, which remain as settlements until they are disturbed by subsequent Acts of Parliament. And as to a compact, you may talk of a compact between two co-equal Powers, but when you talk of a compact between a Government and a portion of its subjects, you talk of a compact between a strong majority and a weak minority, the one dictating in its strength what the other in its weakness is compelled to accept. And when there has been a change in the relative strength of those two parties, either by an increase in the numbers of the weaker or a growing sympathy throughout the nation with their cause, then the weaker party may ask for a revision of the terms imposed upon them in a time of weakness, and the other party must consent to that revision which they would have resisted when their strength was undiminished. Sir, an admission was made by my right hon. Friend opposite which lies at the bottom of the whole question, when he said that the Act of Emancipation established, and was intended to establish, equality between Roman Catholics and Protestants. I thank my right hon. Friend for that admission. My objection to this oath is that it establishes a distinction between Catholics and Protestants, between two classes of Members, between the Catholic and every other Member of the House. Be he a Churchman, a Dissenter, a Quaker, or a Jew, his creed is admitted to be one that is consistent with morality and allegiance, and he is invested with full powers to deal with every legislative question which may be submitted to Parliament. But the Roman Catholic oath is framed on the assumption that his creed is one which inculcates immorality and a questionable allegiance. You restrict his powers, you narrow his functions, and you exclude him from that large branch of legislation which falls under the title of ecclesiastical. And we know, as my right hon. Friend said, that there have been conscientious Catholics who have felt themselves debarred by the oath from taking part in discussions on the temporalities of the Church, and he wishes to re-impose upon them that portion of the oath which acts as a restriction. But what about the English Dissenters? Are they not avowed enemies of the Establishment? And do you attempt to place any restriction upon them They have formed a very powerful organization for the express purpose of overthrowing the Establishment; and do not they tell us that they hope that organization will be successful? But do you try to restrain them or blame them? Is it not the duty of a man who believes that the separation of Church and State will promote religion and be beneficial to the State to strain every nerve to effect that separation? Well, then, why not apply that principle to Catholics? And the more sincere and devout the Roman Catholic, the more earnestly must he desire to convert the State to his opinions, and to re-establish by peaceful and moral means his Church in place of the one which he is now sworn not to subvert. But now, let me ask, what security does this oath really give? If the Catholics become powerful enough to subvert the Establishment, will not the first thing they will do be to repeal the oath? The Church Establishment is the creature of law, the law is the child of opinion, and as opinion changes the law must change. And, Sir, I am happy to say that we do see of late years changes of opinion, changes rapid and decisive, which lead to a wiser policy, a policy from which this House, I trust, will never turn away. We know there was a time when the law said that every member of the Legislature must be of one religion, and that there were good men, and wise men, and bold men, who sought to repeal that law, and were met year by year, and step by step, by the cries of intolerance. When it was first proposed to admit Dissenters to Parliament, intolerance raised a cry and said, "If you admit Dissenters, the Church will be in danger." Then when the proposal to admit the Catholics was made, intolerance shifted its ground, and raised another cry, "If you admit Catholics, Protestantism will be in danger." But the good sense and advancing justice of the nation prevailed over that cry also, and the Catholics were admitted. And when, after a long interval, it was proposed to admit the Jews, intolerance once more shifted its ground and cried, "If you admit the Jew, Christianity will be in danger." Well, the Dissenter was admitted, the Catholic was admitted, the Jew was admitted, and now every successive year accumulates evidence upon us that the Protestantism of the nation has not been weakened but strengthened, that the Christianity of Parliament has not been lowered but exalted by the application of the Christian principles of charity and justice; and yet a new cry of intolerant bigotry is still raised when, in a modified form, we are asked to forbear to perpetuate a vexatious and offensive oath upon our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects. ["No, no!"] My hon. Friend (Mr. Newdegate) takes great exception to the phrase "intolerant bigotry." Well, I assure him that it escaped me unintentionally. But at all events we are now asked to perpetuate a vexatious and tormenting form of oath, which, I may be permitted to say, is a relic of a dark age; which is powerless as a security, but mischievous as a stigma and an offence. Now, I say that with regard to the Catholic Members. But now, speaking as a Protestant, I beg to draw my right hon. Friend's attention to a question which affects both him and me equally as Protestants. If we go into Committee on this Bill, I do so for the purpose of voting for an Amendment, of which notice has been given, to revise all the oaths taken by Members of this House. Well, now, what is our position? My hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire and I at the beginning of Parliament take an oath at that table. We ask Catholic Members to take an oath and to swear that the Pope has no spiritual jurisdiction in this country. ["No, no!"] I beg pardon—there is a distinction, the word "spiritual" is omitted from the oath taken by the Catholic. But my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire and I swear that the Pope has no spiritual jurisdiction in these realms. Do not we? Very well. We swear he has no spiritual power or jurisdiction, but is that true? [Mr. KER: I think not.] I hope my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire will not be offended if I put a question to him which I have often put to myself, and it is this—Is the oath which he, and I, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin take that the Pope has no spiritual jurisdiction within these realms true? [Mr. WHITESIDE: Yes, it is. My hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire cannot say that, because he over and over again has got up in this House and complained of that jurisdiction, and he has warned us of the increasing dangers to be apprehended from it.


The House will permit me to explain what I have sworn, and what I meant by so swearing. I swore that the Pope held by law no jurisdiction, and I have never spoken of the influence which he exercised otherwise than as illegal.


I must again re-mind my hon. Friend, when he tells us what he has sworn, that he has sworn nothing but what I have myself sworn, and therefore I cannot intend to throw any imputation upon him. But when he puts in a word which is very significant, and says, "I meant that the Pope has no legal jurisdiction," I must remind him of this, that we call upon Roman Catholics to swear "in the plain but ordinary sense of the word, without any evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation whatsoever." And I may add that this is a difficulty which I myself have often felt. I know what I have meant to swear, but they are not the words which I do swear, and therefore when I call upon Catholics Members to swear "without evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation," I feel bound to ask myself whether I take the oath in that sense, and do not mean to swear in any other. But then the lawyers give us a salve for our conscience, and tell us that the Pope has no legal jurisdiction. [Mr. WHITESIDE: Jurisdiction!] They say he has no legal jurisdiction. Well, I confess that with my Friend opposite (Mr. Newdegate), I follow the multitude; I accept that interpretation, and I take the oath, but under a species of coercion, because the alternative is exclusion from this House. But lot me now test my hon. Friend's definition of "legal" jurisdiction. Now, what is legal jurisdiction? There is a legality of two kinds, a legality which is established by law; and a legality which is recognized and suffered by law. I am sure my hon. Friend, the Member for North Warwickshire, knows Bishop Ullathorne. Bishop Ullathorne has a jurisdiction which he exercises in Warwickshire under the mandate of the Pope. That jurisdiction may not be established by law, the law ignores its exercise, but my hon. Friend would not propose to prosecute Dr. Ullathorne for his exercise of that jurisdiction? Then there are the Irish bishops. We know for a long time past the Pope has appointed bishops in Ireland, with spiritual jurisdiction and territorial titles, which have been recognized by Acts of Parliament assented to by the Crown. I confess that when I know that this jurisdiction has been recognized by Acts of Parliament, in which those bishops have been acknowledged by their titles, and that those Acts of Parliament have been sanctioned by the Crown, I should find some difficulty in any other assembly in clearing myself from the charge of casuistry, when I affirmed that their jurisdiction was illegal. But whether it be legal or not, as a Protestant I should feel it a great boon if I was never required to take the oath at that table; for, turn and twist it as we may, we take it in a sense in which there is far more of casuistry than of truth, and yet we are Protestants. Well, Sir, in the question now before us there are at all events certain points of agreement. I think we must all be agreed that all unnecessary oaths are objectionable, that oaths of doubtful construction are immoral, and no one can deny, who has studied the question, that restrictive oaths, limiting the power of one class of Members, while that very power is given to another class, must be unconstitutional. I may ask the House to go one step further with me, and say that criminatory oaths, which cast a suspicion and reproach on the creed of a large portion of our fellow-subjects, must be an injustice, an impolicy, and an offence. I shall go into Committee with the intention of supporting the Amendment that we shall have one uniform oath, and the great recommendation of such an oath will be its simplicity. I should wish to see no oath sworn at that table but the oath of allegiance. That is an oath which every man can take, and which may suffice for every purpose. Why, Sir, the loyalty of the nation is the best and only security for any of its institutions, and that oath taken by every man in this House puts us all upon an equality, and joins us together in one great bond of national sympathy and brotherhood, without distinction of creed or class. There is one point which has been urged by hon. Gentlemen opposite in which I entirely agree, and that is that the question should have been brought forward upon the responsibility of the Government. At the same time we have to deal with the circumstances before us. An independent Member of this House, in the exercise of his undoubted discretion, has brought forward this measure upon its merits. I shall be very glad when we come out of Committee if the charge of the Bill be transferred from my right hon. Friend to Her Majesty's Government. I think that would be a proper change, taking into consideration both the nature of the subject and the lateness of the Session. I think it is not right that we should leave it to a Catholic Member of this House to propose a change which implies that there is merely a Catholic grievance. Sir, this question affects the character of the House and the principle upon which legislation proceeds, and therefore I should like to see all the weight of the Government brought to bear in order to accomplish a change which is equally dictated by policy and by justice.


Sir, before we go to a division on this Motion, I should be glad, with the indulgence of the House, to state very briefly the grounds on which I for one shall give my vote. And first, I desire to clear the case from some topics introduced into it by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Hors-man), which seem to me to be irrelevant. This is not a question of the imposition of a new oath for the first time on any class of Members. If it were, a great many of the arguments which he adduced might have had much more force and weight than I take leave to think they have in the present discussion. Neither is this an occasion on which, with any kind of propriety, we can discuss the oath taken by the Protestant Members of this House. The right hon. Gentleman says he intends to go into Committee with the view of voting for a uniform oath for all Members of Parliament. But that is not the title of this Bill, and that is not the proposal which the right hon. Gentleman who introduced this measure asked us to adopt. When it is thought desirable, either on the part of Her Majesty's Government or on the part of any individual Member, to bring in a measure for that purpose, it will be done by a Bill expressly framed for the purpose, and upon that Bill, on the second reading, will the House pronounce its opinion—Aye or No—whether one uniform oath for all Members is or is not desirable. I beg the House now to consider the very different avowed purposes and objects for which hon. Members belonging to the Roman Catholic faith ask that the present form of the oath which they have been in the habit of taking should be altered. Let me remind the House of what really are the three different parts of that oath. The first part which it is desired to alter is this— I do further declare that it is not an article of my faith, and that I do renounce, reject, and abjure the opinion that Princes ex-communicated or deprived by the Pope, or any other authority of the See of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or by any person whatsoever. What is the purpose for which and the reason why it is proposed to alter that part of the oath? Is it because the right hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell) wishes to be free and all the Roman Catholic Members wish to be free from the obligation which that part of the oath imposes? Do they say, "We desire to be free from any obligation that would restrain us from doing the things pointed at by that part of the oath?" Nothing of the kind. I should be sorry to understand the case of the Roman Catholic Members to be otherwise than this—that they have no such tenet in their faith, that they never had, that they disavow it, and that it is ridiculous to ask them every time they take their seats in Parliament to abjure it, That being the reason why it is proposed to alter that part of the oath, I am bound to say that I agree with the reason, that I do not believe it is a tenet of the Roman Catholic faith. I have not the slightest desire to impose on the conscience and feelings of the Roman Catholic Members the repetition of an abjuration and disavowal which I believe to be not only unnecessary, but almost absurd. I agree, therefore, not only to the alteration of that part of the oath but also to the reason assigned for it. In like manner I deal with the last part of the oath—namely— And I do solemnly in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, that I do make this declaration, and every part thereof, in the plain and ordinary sense of the words of this oath, without any evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation whatsoever. Why is it sought to alter that? Is it because Roman Catholic Members wish to be free from the obligation against equivocation? Nothing of the kind. They say, "We have no intention to equivocate or exercise mental reservation, and we feel it an affront to suppose that we have." Then I say again I agree with the alteration proposed and with the reason for it; because that reason is that the oath is unnecessary, professing to cover that which is no danger, and being useless, and at the same time hurtful to the feelings of those to whom it i3 administered. But the moment we come to the other portion of the oath which it is proposed to alter there arises a great and substantial question; and I beg the House to consider how very different are the language and the motives expressed by those who ask for its alteration—I mean the part which says— I do swear that I will defend to the utmost of my power the settlement of property within this realm, as established by the laws. And I do hereby disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure any intention to subvert the present Church Establishment as settled by law within this realm; and I do solemnly swear that I never will exercise any privilege to which I am or may become entitled to disturb or weaken the Protestant religion or Protestant Government in this Kingdom. Observe how different is the case when we come to this part of the oath. Do hon. Members who seek for an alteration here rise and say, "We ask that this part may he altered because it is offensive in its wording?" Nobody has said that, and it could not be so contended. But do they say, "It is idle and useless to make us take this part, because we have no inten- tion of subverting the Church Establishment or of using any privilege we may have to disturb the settlement of Church property, and no desire to weaken the Protestant religion or the Protestant Government of the kingdom? "I am obliged to answer that I understand the language of the Roman Catholic Members to be altogether different from that. The right hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell) will correct me if I am wrong, but I understand their language to be that they desire to be free—perfectly free—to subvert the Church Establishment if they please and if they can, and that it is because they find this oath to be an impediment in their way that they wish to be released from its obligation. Am I right or am I wrong in that? I find that, in some observations in regard to this Bill attributed to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Monsell) in some of the usual organs of public information, he was represented as having said, that, in the introduction of the measure, he had no desire to interfere with the Church Establishment. And what did the right hon. Gentleman do? If I mistake not he wrote to the journal which had made that statement begging leave to contradict it, and saying that with respect to the Establishment in England he had no wish to disturb it as long as the English people liked it, but implying or expressing that in regard to the Irish branch of the Establishment, the case was altogether different; and he renounced—if I may use the term with perfect respect—the idea that he did not wish to subvert it. ["Hear, hear!" from the Ministerial side.] I am glad, then, to have it so far avowed that the object here is to get rid of this part of the oath, not because it is idle or useless, but because it has a meaning and an operation, and is an obstacle in the way of that which they desire. Well, it is a remarkable fact that at this particular juncture an Association has been formed within the last few months in Dublin, and is either presided over or patronized by a number of prelates of the Roman Catholic Church, which has made no secret as to what its object is—namely, the complete subversion of the Established Church in Ireland. Am I right or am I wrong there? A journal in Dublin made some statements as to the object of that Association, implying that it understood the Association had relinquished any idea of agitating for the disturbance of the Established Church; but the organ of the Association wrote to say that the gentle- men with whom it rested to direct the policy of the body—including, remember, the archbishops and bishops of the Roman Catholic Church—"are unanimous in the determination to have no compromise with the Establishment or its advocates, and to spare no efforts for its overthrow." We have here, at all events, the frank confession on the part of the right hon. Gentleman and also of the members of his own faith in the sister country, that their intention at the present moment is—first, to insure, if they can, the overthrow of the Established Church; and secondly, to get rid of this oath because it is an obstacle in the way of the promotion of that overthrow. Then I must ask myself this question-That being the avowed object of those who promote this Bill, is this oath any safeguard—has it proved by practical experience any safeguard—to the Established Church against attack, any impediment in the way of proceedings taken for its subversion? Upon that point, how stand the facts? In the first place, I shall be justified in saying that I want no other proof than that the members of the Roman Catholic faith think it worth while to agitate for the repeal of this part of the oath in the sense of and with the motives avowed by the right hon. Member for Limerick. But what has been the effect of the oath as regards the purposes for which it was introduced? Nobody can deny that it was introduced as a safeguard for the Protestant institutions of the country. It may have been wise or unwise, but that was its original purpose. And what has been its effect? We had it stated to us on a former occasion by the Secretary of State that a noble Duke when he had a seat in this House (the Duke of Norfolk), and another relative of his who now has a seat in this House, both Members of the Roman Catholic Church, had both felt—and I cannot conceive how they could have felt otherwise—that this oath was of that efficiency and that stringency that it would be improper for them, in the face of its obligations, to concur in any attacks upon the Protestant institutions of the country. Then take a learned person for whom I have a high respect—I mean Mr. Justice Shee. The hon. Member for Gal-way (Mr. Gregory) appeared to think that Mr. Justice Shee, in his interpretation of the oath, admitted great latitude as to its construction, and intimated an opinion that, in point of fact, consistently with this oath, you might vote for everything but the total destruction of the Established Church. Now Mr. Justice Shee said this— I have a clear conviction that Catholic Members, however strong may be their impression as to its expediency, ought not to vote so long as a solemn abjuration of all intention to subvert the Church Establishment, and a solemn promise not to exercise any privilege to which they are or may become entitled to disturb or weaken the Protestant religion, continue to be among the conditions on which they are admitted to seats in Parliament. The faith plighted by those words has been hitherto preserved inviolate.… Having made that abjuration they are committed by it to a loyal acquiescence in the retention by the Protestant Episcopal Church of a temporal provision adequate to secure its efficiency and the maintenance of its Bishops and clergy in competence and honour. This is the opinion of that learned Judge—and I venture to say it is a sound and proper opinion—as to the stringency of the oath. But we have also the opinion of Mr. Lucas, lately a Member of this House, who spoke in the most solemn way of the binding effect of the oath on his conscience, and said that, having taken it, he could not join in any attacks on the Established Church. But, further, I have the greatest reason to believe that there sit at this moment in this House Members professing the Roman Catholic faith—not one, two, or three, but many Members—who feel that this oath does bind their consciences according to the full effect and meaning of the words, and that they are precluded by it from joining in any attack, if attack should be made, on the Established Church or the Protestant institutions of the country. Then if this be so—if this oath was intended at the time of its introduction to be one of the safeguards of our Protestant institutions—if it has operated in the manner I have described for a period of at least thirty-five years—what I want to know is this:—We have the Protestant population of this country, if not altogether, yet almost unanimously relying on the effect of this oath and satisfied with the operation of it, as far as we can see; and I ask what right have we, the Protestant Members of this House—and I appeal to all those Members who hear me—what right have we to surrender that which was introduced as a safeguard for our Protestant institutions, and which, however, ineffectively, has proved one of those safeguards? The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last said there was no arrangement or compact, or if there was it was of that kind where the stronger party imposed terms on the weaker, and the weaker had nothing to do but to consent to them. I can test that part of the right hon. Gentleman's observations. Did that Roman Catholic Archbishop, Dr. Murray, speak of terms imposed by a stronger party on a weaker? Nothing of the kind. lie was asked by a Committee of this House— Have you any reason to think that in the minds of any part of the Roman Catholic clergy there exists any hope or any wish to interfere with the temporal possessions of the Established Church? His answer was— Not the least; there is no wish on the part of the Roman Catholic clergy to disturb the present Establishment, or to partake of any part of the wealth it enjoys. Question—Nor any objection to give the most full and entire assurance on that subject by any declaration that may be required of them? Not the least. And observe, that was the declaration of Dr. Murray before the Emancipation Bill was introduced into this House, and he stated, not that he was anxious to make terms as one who could not make better, but he gave a hearty and sincere adhesion on the part of those whom he represented, and who freely and willingly assented to the arrangement made with them. I take also a statement made by a very eminent nobleman, a member of the Roman Catholic faith, Lord Camoys, who declared— It is also said that the Roman Catholics were parties to the oath of 1829, and that, therefore, they have no right to quarrel with its details. My Lords, there are many of the Roman Catholics who strongly deny this statement; they say they were not in Parliament at the time, and therefore were no parties to the oath. I must candidly acknowledge that I differ from those Roman Catholics in that view, and must confess that we were parties, by consent at least, to that oath. That oath received the sanction of the Catholic prelates; that oath received the sanction of the great leader of emancipation—Mr. O'Connell. That oath was gladly taken by us at the time of the Emancipation Act, and that oath has been taken by us ever since; and though here and there some Members may he found who had felt some doubt as to the interpretation of some passages in it when questions affecting the Established Church had come before Parliament, yet, on the whole, that oath had been no bar to the full discharge of our Parliamentary and other public duties. After that, although I do not contend that an Act of Parliament is a compact which cannot be departed from, but that we must look at all the circumstances which led to the passing of every Act, yet I say it is too much to contend that the form of this oath, in the parts of it to which I am now referring, was not a willing and a cheerful stipulation on the part of the Roman Catholic prelates, and a free expression of their wishes and intentions at the time. What, then, are the objections made to this portion of the oath? It is said that it is ambiguous in form, and that various persons at different times have put various interpretations upon it. I am afraid, Sir, that that is an argument which, if it is worth anything, goes against every form of oath. I do not believe that in regard to an oath in futuro, prescribing a line of conduct for the future, and not merely having reference to things in times past, it would be possible to frame an oath as to which there may not be controversy and difference of opinion. I was surprised to bear an hon. Member say the late Sir Robert Peel held that the oath left every Roman Catholic Member who might take it free to deal with any of the established institutions of the country, and that if he thought fit he might advocate their abolition. I am not prepared to give an answer to a statement based on any information which I have not had the means of examining; but I shall be glad to hear any hon. Gentleman explain the passage in which the late Sir Robert Peel is supposed to have made that statement. I venture most respectfully to doubt whether he ever made any statement of the kind; and I own that I think any statement of that description from the late Sir Robert Peel would be totally at variance with what he said in 1849, when speaking of the Roman Catholic oath. He attached the greatest importance to its retention, and said that Lord Russell had done wisely, in the form of oath he then proposed, in suggesting to the House no alteration in the Roman Catholic oath in those parts of it to which I have been referring. But it is said with regard to the Church Establishment that some people have the opinion that the oath does not touch the temporalities. I do not want now to enter into that; but the words which come before put the temporalities of the Church beyond all doubt. I mean "the settlement of property as by law established," because this settlement of property does not relate merely to the property of individuals—there I suppose that length of possession alone would give a sufficient title, and would protect it—but it means more expressly in this case that settlement of property as by law established, in which the Church is spoken of in the remaining part of the sentence as above all particularly interested. Then, it is said that Protestant Members of this House, those especially of the Nonconformist persuasion who have always very candidly and very consistently expressed their dislike to the Establishment, and their desire in every way to reduce it, and, if possible, overthrow it—it i3 said that they do not take this oath; and it is asked if Roman Catholics take it why Nonconformists and all other Members should not do the same? My answer to that is that this is not a question now of imposing an oath for the first time, but of whether those who have taken it for thirty-five years, and taken it as a condition of holding seats in the Legislature of a Protestant country, are to cease to take an oath to which they assented under the circumstances which I have described. If any person proposed the imposition of a new oath for the first time on other Members of this House, very different questions might arise. It has wisely or unwisely been thought that the Protestant Members of this House did not require to take an oath of this kind; whereas, on the other hand, it has been thought in regard to Members of the Roman Catholic faith, that it could not be and never was disguised that their faith is antagonistic to the reformed faith of this country, that it was right and proper they should take the oath in this form as a condition of having seats in this House. I am obliged to the House for allowing me to state the grounds on which I propose to give my vote in the division which is now approaching. If the right hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell) answers the question put to him by my right hon. Friend beside me (Sir John Pakington) and says he will be satisfied with getting rid of those parts of the oath which are offensive in form, then I can see no reason why those parts should not be repealed, still retaining that part on which I have laid so much stress. But, on the other hand, if that is not the view of the right hon. Gentleman—and I am bound to say I do not believe it is—I am bound to say I believe the right hon. Gentleman desires and has made no secret of the desire to alter the oath to the full extent which he has proposed to alter it in his Bill—then we can vote on this question now just as well as if we were in Committee. If that is the right hon. Gentleman's view, and if nothing will content him but the removal from the oath of those passages in which the person taking it abjures the idea of subverting the Established Church or the Protestant institutions of the realm, then, Sir, I shall cheerfully vote with my hon. Friend behind me.


Sir, I do not rise to follow the hon. and learned Member with the view of making a speech; I merely wish to say a few words by way of explanation. The hon. and learned Gentleman founded a portion of his speech on the assumption that two persons to whom he alluded—one my lamented brother and the other myself—who, he said, were in the habit of abstaining from voting on Church questions because we thought it was not possible to do so conscientiously in presence of the oath we had taken on our admission to the House. He based an argument upon that to show that if you keep this oath as it is, you are strengthening the Church Establishment. Now, Sir, I beg to explain that I do not. think that was the reason which influenced my brother's mind. I believe that my brother was led to take the course simply from a feeling that it would be better taste in him not to vote on such questions. That was the opinion that influenced him; that is the opinion that influences me. But, if one is to be met by arguments of that kind, I, and others who think with me, might look further into the question, in order to see whether we ought not to give our votes on such questions against the view which the hon. and learned Gentleman has attributed to me. I have said I think it better taste for Roman Catholic gentlemen not to interfere in Church questions; but it is obvious that words in this oath are a snare to some honest minds. Is it not very possible, for instance, that I was strengthening the Established Church by voting against church rates? Would it not be better for the Church if the question of church rates were settled? I might have voted against church rates on that ground. But I have never voted against church rates, because I felt it was better taste not to do so. I do think that any Established Church of any country in the world, founded though it be on the law, is still more strongly founded in the hearts, minds, and spiritual interests of those who belong to it, and that without oaths, without legal impediments, without any of those things that bind the consciences of men, you may rely on the true and real establishment of a Church for any country. Therefore, in my humble opinion, it would be better if the wisdom of Parliament would remove whatever may be a snare and is most disagreeable to the feelings of British Gentlemen who give their votes in Parliament with no less loyalty to their Sovereign and no less wish for the prosperity of the Empire than any other Members of this House.


assured the noble Lord that he had not referred to the motives which influenced his lamented brother or himself from any knowledge of his own. He merely repeated the statement which had been made by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department.


said, that he could not accept the proposal of the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington).


, who rose amid loud cries for a Division, hoped the House would allow him to make a single observation, as he could not give a silent vote on this question. Roman Catholics had been admitted to seats in that House on well-understood conditions, and if the spirit of those conditions were not kept the Parliament of this nation would, no doubt, feel it to be its duty to exclude them.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 193; Noes 126: Majority 67.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee,)

Committee report Progress; to sit again this day.

Acton, Sir J. D. Burke, Sir T. J.
Adair, H. E. Butt, I.
Adam, W. P. Buxton, C.
Agar-Ellis, hon. L. G. F. Cardwell, rt. hon. E.
Bagwell, J. Cheetham, J.
Baines, E. Cholmeley, Sir M. J.
Baling, hon. A. H. Churchill, Lord A. S.
Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T. Clay, J.
Baring, T. G. Clifford, C. C.
Bass, M. T. Clive, G.
Bazley, T. Cogan, W. H. F.
Beale, S. Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Beaumont, W. B. Collins, T.
Blake, J. A. Corbally, M. E.
Blencowe, J. G. Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.
Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P. Cox, W.
Bouverie, hon. P. P. Crawford, R. W.
Bowyer, Sir G. Dalglish, R.
Brady, J. Davey, R.
Bramston, T. W. Davie, Colonel F.
Brand, hon. H. Denman, hon. G.
Bright, J. Dent, J. D.
Browne, Lord J. T. Dickson, Colonel
Bruce, Lord C. Dillwyn, L. L.
Bruce, rt. hon. H. A. Dodson, J. G.
Buckley, General Douglas, Sir C.
Doulton, F. M'Mahon, P.
Duff, M. E. G. Maguire, J. F.
Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D. Marjoribanks, D. C.
Dunne, M. Marsh, M. H.
Egerton, E. C. Martin, J.
Enfield, Viscount Mills, J. R.
Ennis, J. Mitchell, T. A.
Esmonde, J. Moncrieff, rt. hon. J.
Evans, Sir D. L. Moor, H.
Evans, T. W. Moore, C.
Ewart, J. C. Morrison, W.
Fenwick, E. M. Murphy, N. D.
Fenwick, H. Neate, C.
Foley, H. W. O'Brien, Sir P.
Foljambe, F. J. S. O'Conor Don, The
Forster, C. O'Donoghue, The
Forster, W. E. O'Ferrall, rt. hon. R. M.
Fortescue, hon. F. D. O'Loghlen, Sir C.M.
Fortescue, rt. hon. C. O'Reilly, M. W.
French, Colonel Packe, Colonel
Gavin, Major Paget, Lord C.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Palmer, R. W.
Gilpin, C. Pease, H.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Goldsmid, Sir F. H. Peel, rt. hon. F.
Goschen, G. J. Peel, J.
Gower, hon. F. S. Pilkington, J.
Greene, J. Pollard-Urquhart, W.
Gregory, W. H. Portman, hon. W. H. B.
Greville, Colonel F. Potter, E.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Potter, T. B.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Powell, J. J.
Gurdon, B. Pritchard, J.
Gurney, S. Ramsden, Sir J. W.
Hadfield, G. Redmond, J. E.
Hanbury, R. Robartes, T. J. A.
Hankey, T. Robertson, H.
Hanmer, Sir J. Roebuck, J. A.
Hartington, Marquess of Russell, A.
Hervey, Lord A. St. Aubyn, J.
Hervey, Lord A. H. C. Salomons, Mr. Ald.
Hassard, M. Schneider, H. W.
Headlam, rt. hon. T. E. Scully, V.
Henderson, J. Seely, C.
Henley, Lord Seymour, H. D.
Hennessy, J. P. Seymour, W. D.
Hesketh, Sir T. G. Shelley, Sir J. V.
Hibbert, J. T. Sheridan, H. B.
Horsman, rt. hon. E. Smith, J. B.
Howard, Lord E. Stacpoole, W.
Hunt, G. W. Stansfeld, J.
Jackson, W. Steel, J.
Jervoise, Sir J. C. Stirling, W.
Johnstone, Sir J. Thompson, H. S.
Kekewich, S. T. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Kennedy, T. Tottenham, Lt.-Col. C. G.
King, hon. P.J. L.
Kinglake, A. W. Trelawny, Sir J. S.
Laird, J. Vandeleur, Colonel
Layard, A. H. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Lanigan, J. Walter, J.
Lawson, W. Western, S.
Leader, N. P. Westhead, J. P. Brown
Lefevre, G. J. S. White, J.
Lever, J. O. White, hon. L.
Lewis, H. Wickham, H. W.
Liddell, hon. H. G. Winning-ton, Sir T. E.
Locke, J. Woods, H.
Longfield, R. Wyvill, M.
Lowe, rt. hon. R.
MacEvoy, E. Monsell, rt. hon. W.
Mackinnon, W. A. Castlerosse Viscount
Adderley, rt. hon. C. B. Jolliffe, H. H.
Arbuthnott, hon. Gen. Sir H. Jones, D.
Ker, D. S.
Archdall, Captain M. King, J. K.
Astell, J. H. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Ayrton, A. S. Knox, hon. Major S.
Aytoun, R. S. Langton, W. G.
Bailey, C. Langton, W. H. G.
Bateson, Sir T. Lee, W
Beach, Sir M. Macaulay, K.
Beach, W. W. B. Mackie, J.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Mainwaring, T.
Bentinck, G. C. Malcolm, J. W.
Benyon, R. Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Mills, A.
Beresford, D. W. Pack- Montgomery, Sir G.
Blackburn, P. Mordaunt, Sir C.
Booth, Sir R. G. Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.
Bremridge, R. Mundy, W.
Bridges, Sir B. W. Nicol, W.
Bruce, Sir H. H. Noel, hon. G. J.
Burrell, Sir P. North, Colonel
Butler, C. S. O'Neill, E.
Cairns, Sir H. M'C. Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.
Cargill, W. W. Palk, Sir L.
Cartwright, Colonel Parker, Major W.
Cave, S. Patten, Colonel W.
Cobbold J. C. Paull, H.
Cole, hon. H. Pevensey, Viscount
Cole, hon. J. L. Powell, F. S.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. Pryse, E. L.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Repton, G. W. J.
Curzon, Viscount Ridley, Sir M. W.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Rogers, J. J.
Du Cane, C. Rose, W. A.
Duncombe, hon. A. Sclater-Booth, G.
Dundas, F. Smith, A.
Du Pre, C. G. Smith, S. G.
Dutton, hon. R. H. Smollett, P. B.
Egerton, hon. A. F. Somerset, Colonel
Fane, Colonel J. W. Somes, J.
Farquhar, Sir M. Stronge, Sir J. M.
Fellowes, E. Stewart, Sir M. R. S.
Fergusson, Sir J. Surtees, H. E.
Floyer, J. Sykes, Colonel W. H.
Fraser, Sir W. A. Taylor, Colonel
Gallwey, Sir W. P. Tite, W.
Galway, Viscount Tollemache, J.
Gard, R. S. Torrens, R.
Getty, S. G. Trefusis, hon. C. H. R.
Goddard, A. L. Treherne, M.
Gore, J. R. O. Trevor, Lord A. E. H.
Gore, W. R. O. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Grogan, Sir E. Vance, J.
Hamilton, Lord C. Verner, Sir W.
Hamilton, I. T. Verner, E. W.
Hardy, G. Walcott, Admiral
Hardy, J. Waldegrave-Leslie, hon. G.
Hartopp, E. B.
Harvey, R. B. Walker, J. R.
Heygate, Sir F. W. Whiteside, rt. hon. J.
Holford, R. S. Whitmore, H.
Hood, Sir A. A.
Hopwood, J. T. TELLERS.
Ingestre, Viscount Lefroy, A.
Jervis, Capt. Newdegate, C.N.